An open letter to John Boscawen and his party

Dear John, four months ago, when you were sitting in for Rodney on an ETS Review committee hearing, you wondered why the evidence I gave in my submission was so different to the submitters who preceded me at that session. You asked me if I would, as a personal favour, examine their evidence and explain why they were wrong. The chairman, Peter Dunne, made your request a formal one, and I happily agreed. I submitted my comment on the McCabe Environmental Consultants evidence on April 22, and I slept easy in the knowledge that I had met your request. You see, I think it’s important that those who seek to guide the ship of state are well-informed, and I was glad of the chance to cast a little light into the dark corners of your understanding of climate science.

But you didn’t read my evidence, did you John?

Continue reading “An open letter to John Boscawen and his party”

ETS report: wishy-washy and a waste of time

The ETS review committee has published its report [PDF here], and recommends that an all sectors, all gases emissions trading scheme should be the “primary economic mechanism” in the government’s response to climate change. However the report makes very little in the way of substantive recommendations about how the current ETS legislation should be amended. Agriculture should be included, and forestry given legislative certainty, but there’s no detail on how the current ETS timetable could be altered. The report’s main conclusions appear to echo climate change minister Nick Smith’s recent comments on the likely future course of climate policy — but effectively give him a free hand to do what he wants.

The majority report — supported by National and United Future — is accompanied by minority reports from Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party and ACT. Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party want tougher action, while ACT still denies the reality of climate change. The Maori Party and ACT would prefer a carbon tax to an ETS, but are otherwise on different planets. This leaves National trying to drum up support for amending legislation, but unable to rely on anyone other than Peter Dunne. Meanwhile, Labour is still offering an olive branch: they’ll support amending the current ETS, but not if it means huge taxpayer subsidies to big emitters or cripples forest planting.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

Continue reading “ETS report: wishy-washy and a waste of time”

Unreliable witness

NZETS.jpgDuring my appearance before the ETS Review committee earlier this month I was asked by committee chairperson Peter Dunne to comment on the evidence presented by the submitters who appeared immediately before me — McCabe Environmental Services, being one Bruce McCabe and Kathleen Ryan-McCabe. ACT member John Boscawen was clearly wondering how two sets of evidence could present such diametrically opposed interpretations of the basic facts.

The committee secretariat were kind enough to provide me with a recording of the McCabe’s oral evidence, as well as their written submission. My comments on the MEC submission were delivered to the committee on April 22nd, and are now available on the parliamentary web site here (direct link to PDF). The McCabe’s evidence is here. Not to put too fine a point on it, the MEC evidence is wrong in just about every material respect, choosing as they did to rely on Fred Singer’s Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change booklet as their primary source. You’ll find chapter and verse in my evidence, but I also took the opportunity to provide the committee with a quick list of arguments that signal the presence of cranks arguing for inaction:

  • Cooling since 1998, 2001, 2005, etc
  • There is no correlation between CO2 and temperature…
  • Climate models cannot forecast the future/are unvalidated…
  • Future warming from CO2 will be tiny/the greenhouse effect doesn’t work the way the IPCC thinks it does.
  • The hockey stick is broken.
  • The sun/sunspots/cosmic rays are the real cause.
  • “There is no consensus” or “The science is not settled”.
  • Any mention of Al Gore.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to see how Bob Carter’s evidence (given today) stacks up against that list…

[PS: At the recent European Geophysical Union meeting Fred Singer’ announced his NIPCC is not yet dead. Apparently there’s an 800 page report due this year. Must be costing Heartland a fortune…]

Hows about telling a story

NZETS.jpgPeter Dunne’s assurance that the ETS Review process won’t turn into a re-examination of climate science is set to run into a few problems. Looking through the full list of submitters who will make oral presentations to the committee (below the fold), I count no fewer than eleven (plus one “possible”) who will or have already argued the crank position — and remarkably, that includes two Hungarian scientists (Miklos Zagoni and Ferenc Miskolczi) who assert that the greenhouse effect doesn’t work the way we think it does, and that global warming is therefore not a problem — even though their views, and “calculations” have been extensively debunked. M&Z are effectively on the furthest reaches of the climate crank fringe, and yet they’ve been invited to give “evidence” to the ETS Review. I wonder who wangled that little feat, and if the chairman realises what he’s got in store?

You can watch Miskolczi and Zagoni in action in Heartland’s 2008 crankfest “proceedings“. Rabett Run and others comprehensively rebutted the Miskolczi paper last year, and even the ever-welcoming Heartland didn’t ask M&Z for a repeat performance this year. So why are they turning up in New Zealand? It appears that Zagoni is in Australia visiting relatives, so perhaps he’s just arranged a holiday for himself and his friend Ferenc to coincide with his submission date (set for May 4th). What a lucky coincidence! I wonder if they have had any help with their airfares? That would seem like a fair question for someone on the committee to ask, if they want to get to the Heart of why their valuable time is being so egregiously wasted.

The ETS Review crank list in full:
Bryan Leyland, Carbon Sense Coalition (Australia), Centre for Resource Management Studies (aka Owen McShane), Dr Ferenc Miskolczi, Dr Kesten Green, McCabe Environmental Consultants(*), Miklos Zagoni, NZ Centre for Political Research, NZ Climate Science Coalition, Dr R M Carter, Vincent Gray.

NZ attendees at Heartland conferences (2008 and/or 2009) underlined. Muriel Newman’s NZ CPR was one of this year’s “sponsors”, but she didn’t have to fork out any money for that privilege, just proselytize. (*) Not known. To see full list of submitters making oral presentations click on “now read on…”.

Continue reading “Hows about telling a story”

Bob’s big lie

homer.jpgTime to revisit events at crank central. In the course of researching the NIPCC (at the behest of Peter Dunne), I popped over to the International Climate Science Coalition site, and then on to their Australian spin-off. The Aussie crank collective is greatly enriched by the presence of Prof Bob Carter, known here as “the great communicator” because of his accomplished presentation skills and ability to make outrageous nonsense sound almost plausible. The ACSC points to Prof Bob’s latest article for Aussie magazine Quadrant, and so — noting that one R M Carter is due to give evidence to the ETS Review committee at some point — I thought I ought to catch up on the great man’s current thinking. Prepare yourself for a jaw/desk interface event:

Get this. First, there has been no recent global warming in the common meaning of the term, for world average temperature has cooled for the last ten years. Furthermore, since 1940 the earth has warmed for nineteen years and cooled for forty-nine, the overall result being that global average temperature is now about the same as it was in 1940.

Global average temperature is now “about the same” as it was 69 years ago? Obviously, the “cooling since 1998” lie no longer cuts the mustard. Bob has to bend the facts beyond breaking point to bolster his case. Here’s the NASA GISS graph:


And here’s the Hadley Centre version:


It is quite clear that global temperature is only “about the same as 1940” for definitions of “about the same” that consider variations ±0.5ºC to be inconsequential. You might as well say that because the world hasn’t warmed by 10ºC then it hasn’t warmed at all. But if you do that, then you can’t also insist that the world has cooled since 1998…

And how on Earth (or off it), did Research Professor Robert Carter of the James Cook University (Queensland) and the University of Adelaide work out that the world has warmed for 19 years but cooled for 49 since 1940? He must have a sophisticated statistical analysis to bring to bear on the topic. Or perhaps he has been counting all the little ups and downs in the GISS graph… Great science, by a great… something or other.