Leyland and Carter: the rebuttal that isn’t and the hypocrisy that is

CarterFlatEarth.jpgSciblogs editor Peter Griffin recently gave climate denial activists Bryan Leyland and Bob Carter a “right of reply” to my post pointing out the errors and inconsistencies in a Dominion Post op-ed penned by the pair. Griffin took this action because of vociferous complaints from Leyland, who took offence at my discussion of his expertise (non-existent) and history of campaigning against action on climate. The result is billed as a “rebuttal”, but it isn’t, as I shall demonstrate.

The Sciblogs “rebuttal” is a mishmash of a so-called “fully referenced” version (pdf) of the op-ed that Leyland says was supplied to the Dominion Post, but he and Carter also prepared a very long-winded “response” (pdf) to the debunking of their piece by David Wratt, Andy Reisinger and Jim Renwick in the DP. The latter is a real eye-opener…

Life is too short to do another point-by-point demolition1, so I’ll select a few key issues that demonstrate that although they claim to be discussing science in a scientific manner, what they are actually doing is having the equivalent of an argument in a pub — prepared to say anything if they think it will help them “win”.

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  1. Leyland & Carter may be retired, with nothing better to do than promote their crank viewpoints, but I have grapes and truffles to nurture through to harvest, and a book to write []

In defence of banning the bulb

I see Canterbury University economist Eric Crampton politely disagrees with my post on the failure to ban incandescent light bulbs. I’d like to comment on a couple of the points he raises. The first concerns the non-priced carbon embodied in the production and distribution of fluorescent and LED bulbs, and the possibility that it may be so large as to negate the advantages of lower carbon emissions during the lifetime of the bulbs.

Crampton admitted he had no clue, but assumed that the more complex efficient bulbs would have a higher carbon footprint in their manufacture than the incandescents. However, he allowed that the longer life of the efficient bulbs probably gave them the overall advantage. I had no clue either, though I’m familiar with the need to take embedded carbon into account when making comparisons and guess I assumed that was not something that had been overlooked in the advocacy of CFLs and LEDs. However I had a look to see what I could find, and came across this assessment of CFLs from a writer initially inclined to be sceptical about them, and this report on LEDs. It doesn’t look to be an issue.

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Cranks in court: sciblogs podcast plug

This week’s Sciblogs podcast is something of a climate special. The Science Media Centre’s Peter Griffin opens the show by talking to me about the High Court hearing of the case brought against NIWA by Barry Brill and his boys, and then discusses what we know about the state of the climate with Jim Renwick, now ensconced at Victoria University. Peter also talks to Dr Melanie Massaro about her paper Trapped in the postdoctoral void. You can listen to the podcast at Sciblogs, or subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher. Recommended.

A note on readership, and a challenge

What is it with so-called sceptics and dodgy statistics? Is comprehension failure a precondition for believing six impossible things before breakfast, or does wishful thinking trump all common sense? It can’t be an unwillingness to do research, because they find cherries in the most unlikely places. Recently Richard Treadgold put his finger into the world of web statistics and pulled out a plum:

Just a quick note to draw your attention to a new feature on the sidebar: scroll down one page and you should see it. There’s a little table showing the recent Alexa rankings for the Climate Conversation, SciBlogs and Hot Topic. At the moment we’re leading them by big margins.

[…] it’s humbling to see that this modest little blog is more popular and thousands more people visit it than other, brasher sites around the country that even get into the newspapers.

What should be humbling is the fact that Treadgold’s claim is almost certainly nonsense. To show this, I need to explain something about web statistics — and in particular the Alexa metric Treadgold has discovered. Apologies for this detour off the climate beat — normal service will be resumed shortly…

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Four years on…

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the first post at Hot Topic — four years since the blog’s birth, and as my mum would say, hasn’t time flown? This birthday post is number 1,080, and it will be read by many, many more people than those first brief paragraphs announcing the book and blog. I’m not one for tootling my own trumpet (at least, not loudly), so I won’t be making great claims about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve achieved, but I will take this opportunity to muse a little on what I’ve learned. A lot, but not perhaps enough… 😉

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