Stuff and nonsense (ministerial condescension and media fossil fools)

A select few politicians have the ability to make me (and others) shout at the radio. New Zealand’s minister of climate change issues Tim Groser is one such. On Radio New Zealand National’s Morning Report this morning he gave vent to his feelings on NZ’s Colossal Fossil winning performance at Doha. It was an “absurd and juvenile prank”, apparently, put together by “extreme greens and youth groups”. He definitely had it in for the youth groups, referring to them twice. His extreme condescension to young people who think that his policies are at best wrong-headed, at worst disastrous for the country they will inherit, caused me to interrupt my tea making to shout at the radio, much to the dog’s surprise. Hear the full interview here, and see if you are immune to Groser’s aggressively smug assumption that only he holds the key to climate action:

Tim Groser on Morning Report

And then, over the now brewed cup of tea, Google’s morning newspaper presented me with a news item from the Dominion Post (via Stuff) about a new paper in Nature Climate Change co-authored by Dave Frame of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute. The basic news item’s straightforward enough: Frame and co-author Daithi Stone, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have looked back to the IPCC’s 1990 projections, and found that they were remarkably close to what has actually happened over the last 20 years — bad news for climate deniers who insist that model projections have failed and that warming has stopped. (See also VUW press release,, The Conversation). Perhaps that’s why the journalist, one Tom Hunt, chose to close his piece with a quote from physics denier Bryan Leyland (cue coughing and spluttering):

But Bryan Leyland, from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, said science had shown global temperatures had not risen in 16 years and the world was more likely to get cooler.

Leyland, as we discussed at Hot Topic recently, is now happy to align himself with the über cranks who deny the reality of the greenhouse effect. Quoting him on climate research is about as meaningful as seeking the flat earth society’s opinion on orbital mechanics.

For that stupid piece of false balance, Tom Hunt and the Dom Post win my inaugural Media Fossil Fool award. Anyone care to design a nice badge they can wear with shame?

Climate Change and the End of Exponential Growth

An intriguing title for what promises to be an interesting seminar in Wellington later this month. Pieter Tans of NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Lab in Boulder — a carbon cycle specialist and winner of the Roger Revelle Medal at the 2010 Fall AGU — will be the guest of the NZ Climate Change Research Institute. Here’s a flavour of what he’ll be talking about:

Man-made climate change is a clear manifestation that we have reached limits of resource consumption by our species, and that continuing business‐as‐usual has a substantial chance of destroying civilization. It is also likely that fossil fuel resources will not remain cheap for much longer, with high energy prices becoming an impediment to development. Vigorous policies to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels are necessary to continue enabling development and to safeguard it by reducing the risk of catastrophic climate change.

Tans’ talk is scheduled for Wednesday 26 October at 6:00 pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Old Government Buildings. I’d be there, if I were in Wellington. I’m not, so I’d welcome first hand reports. For more information, contact Liz Thomas at the CCRI.