Prat watch #11: don’t fone us…

Bill McKibben must have been doing something right during his New Zealand tour: he’s drawn the ire of the local climate cranks in no uncertain fashion. Perhaps it was the packed houses he addressed in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington, or his interview on RNZ National’s high-rating Saturday Morning show with Kim Hill, but the clarity and certainty of his message drew a vituperative response from “Climate Conversation” blogger Richard Treadgold. In an ill-tempered personal attack, Treadgold described McKibben as a “climate nutcase” and “a madman”.

His voice is engaging, almost reasonable, but his wild eyes cannot help but flash his burning lunacy at the camera.

It’s par for the course for Treadgold, whose tenuous claim to fame is as the man who kicked off the climate cranks’ losing attempt to sue the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)1, but his fact-free and ill-informed rant was not the only attempt to counter McKibben’s message.

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  1. They still haven’t paid a brass farthing of the costs awarded against them. []

Bill English’s weasel words on weather, climate and drought

Occasionally — but only occasionally — the political pantomime that is parliamentary question time throws up something interesting. Yesterday, NZ’s deputy prime minister Bill English managed to dig himself into a drought-ridden hole, only to emerge looking like a climate denier. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman tried to get English to expand on his earlier comments that the government would not be able to help farmers hit by increased incidence of droughts, which led to this astonishing little exchange [Hansard transcript here]:

Dr Russel Norman: Does he agree with the Government’s own research body the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) when it states: “Droughts are projected to become more frequent and more intense under climate change.”?

Hon Bill English: I would not want to question the scientific effort that has gone into that, although there is always uncertainty about these predictions. I recall similar predictions made by similar scientific bodies in Australia just 4 or 5 years ago and it has not stopped raining since.

Astonishing stuff. English gets the uncertainty issue completely wrong1, and then manages to insult Australians who have been suffering through their hottest summer ever. Here’s a little chart from the Aussie Climate Commission that he might find helpful.

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  1. The best evidence (NIWA summary pdf here) we have indicates that the frequency of droughts is going to increase — the uncertainty is by how much and when. []