Climate cranks and the man in the moon

How shall we name them, those who protest loudly against the reality of global warming and the need to do anything about it? Some call them sceptics, but they are not true sceptics. They never change their minds. They like to pretend that denialist is a vile reference to the holocaust, but it is apt. Contrarian is accurate, but doesn’t roll off the tongue. Delusionist is another good one, coined by John Quiggin, for they do their best to manufacture delusions in the minds of men, but it is another long word.

I am a great believer in short words, and so for Hot Topic I adopted the term climate crank to describe all those people covered by the terms above. I had thought I might claim some originality, but that seems impossible on the interweb. There’s a marvelous post about the Unified theory of the crank at denialism blog from last month.

My favourite NZ-based climate crank is Ken Ring, the moon man. His world view is so far out of the ordinary that the lads at the NZ Climate Science Coalition haven’t enrolled him, but they do link to him from their site. Here’s some of his wisdom from his current (April 29) weather e-zine:

The continents have also drifted around, shifting the positions of both poles, with the result that all continents in their geological past have gone through alternating regimes of desert, jungle forest, and glaciation. For example why there is oil in the Middle East is because the Sahara Desert was once the Sahara Forest. Two interglacials ago Antarctic was 5C warmer than today. 20,000 years ago the south pole was near Perth and Antarctica was still forested and had human occupation. Western Australia was then covered with snow. At this time the North Pole was not far from Chicago, an area referred to by geologists as the Illinoisian Ice Cap. The snow then reached right to Mexico.

That’s right. 20,000 years ago Antarctica was forested and people lived there, and the South Pole was near Perth. Not content with rewriting the art of weather forecasting, he seems to be embarking on the whole of the earth sciences. Classic crank.

17 thoughts on “Climate cranks and the man in the moon”

  1. Thanks Hans. I find that I possess a Hapgoodian tome – The HAB Theory, by Alan W Eckert, Favorite Ohio Writer of All Time (with Toni Morrison). I bought it in the 70s, but have no recollection of its content. I’ll have to dig it out…

  2. Thats probably the papers fuck-up.

    He might have meant 200 000 000 years ago.


    Well surely you have the evidence if you are just blazing ahead with the name-calling.

    What we wanted was evidence for the likelihood of catastrophic warming. And evidence that a little bit of human-induced warming could be a BAD thing during a brutal a pulversing ice age.

    I feel surely that it is YOU who must cleary have the evidence.


  3. Icefree antarctica 20000 years ago is typical for Hapgood.

    In 1958 Hapgood published his first book, The Earth’s Shifting Crust. In this book, and two successive books, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (1966) and The Path of the Pole (1970), Hapgood proposed the radical theory that the Earth’s axis has shifted numerous times during geological history.

    Hapgood’s Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings used numerous archival maps, including the Piri Reis Map, which he claims show a vast southern continent roughly similar to Antarctica in shape, to propose that a 15 degree pole shift occurred around 9,600 B.C. (aprox. 11.600 years ago), and that a part of the Antarctic was ice-free at that time. By implication an ice-age civilization could have mapped the coast at that point in time. In 1976, Allan W. Eckert used Hapgood’s theory as the basis of a novel: “The HAB Theory”.

  4. OK, I’ve dug out The HAB Theory. According to Eckert’s novel (which is formulaic and forgettable, presumably why I forgot it), accumulation of ice on Antarctica (put at 290 cubic miles per year in the 60s) would force the earth to wobble on its axis, until it suddenly flipped to a new stable state with the Antarctic at the equator. Ice would accumulate at a new South Pole, until the process repeated itself – every 5,500 years on average. The book finishes with the world ending, but I have no intention of re-reading any more of its 720 pages to discover what happens before civilisation comes crashing down.

    If Ken weren’t so ardent a climate crank, he might welcome the fact that Antarctica seems to be losing rather a lot of ice at the moment…

  5. So have any of you [edit] got that evidence yet?

    What a bunch of * you are. Just powering ahead with your lies and bullshit and not a scrap of evidence.

    We wanted evidence for the likelihood of catastrophic warming…

    .. And/or evidence for the proposition that a little bit of warming is a BAD THING during a brutal and pulverising ice age.

    Well lets see it then????………… [edit].

    Note: While I encourage debate, I would prefer if it remained polite, and free of profanity. If you can manage that, you’re welcome. – G

  6. Gareth Renowden and his venomous postings was partly responsible for the Climate Coalition, the website of global warming skeptics of which the late Prof Augie Auer was chairman, closing its doors to free discussion. His insulting comments were widely considered reminiscent of the rantings of a religious zealot. Gareth is one of the alarmists dedicating himself to suppression of alternative viewpoints. Hence his labelling of people as cranks if they have different opinions. The fact is there is no evidence of any warming above 0.6C over the past century, and 1C over the past 8,000 years. This is from NIWA’s own website. If anyone wants sources they can email me ( No one disagrees there has been warming, but miniscule and preceding man’s contribution, and due to sun and moon’s varying orbits over thousands of years. CO2 mainly comes out of volcanoes and falls, being heavier than air. It doesn’t rise. How does anyone think that CO2 got into the air before cars came along?

  7. Ken, stop telling lies, the excuse the NZCSC used for closing discussion was commercial spamming on the comments section (which they blamed, jokingly I hope, on “alarmists”) the reason was that Gareth and others were blowing their denialist position out of the water, NZCSC members almost never had the balls to address the reasoned arguments against their nonsense.
    Gareths comments that you describe as “venomous” were reasoned points against your moon weather forecasting nonsense. People really should visit your site to better understand you Ken.

  8. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. Readers interested in the full story of our dialogue on the NZ CSC site might like to check Ringworld, which tracks my assessment of Ken’s moon forecasting system (which doesn’t work, by the way).
    Andrew deals with your misrepresentation of the facts, Ken, so I’ll only focus on your points about CO2. Emissions due to human activity are about 150 times greater than the amount coming out of volcanoes (see here). It’s true that over geological time, volcanoes are probably the main source, but human emissions are the reason the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by over 30% in the last 150 years. You are also completely wrong about how the gas behaves in the atmosphere. Molecules of CO2 are indeed “heavier” than oxygen or nitrogen, but they don’t separate out from the air and “fall” to the surface. It gets mixed up to become a part of the atmosphere. Here’s an analogy. Molecules of sugar are heavier than water, but when you stir sugar into your tea, it dissolves and becomes well mixed. You can taste it in every drop. That’s how CO2 behaves in the atmosphere.

    Might be time to visit Ken’s site and see what else he gets dramatically wrong…

  9. Thought I’d share the essence of an email exchange I had with Ken Ring. Another fine example of writing something that can really only be interpreted one sensible way and then wriggling to make it say something else.

    Unfortunately all the documents written by NZCSC members and associates have been removed from their website. (Now I’m not claiming credit for this or anything but it is a spooky coincidence that in June, the day after I took Chris de Freitas to task for poor science in some of his work posted at the NZCSC website *all* his articles vanished. Fortunately, offline copies of the website are archived and I’m sure I could supply people with the goods).

    I began by asking Ring what University he had qualifications from based on the phrase below (from an open letter Ring sent to all MPs in 2006)

    >begin quote
    Skeptics are not made up of “the very top of the world’s wealth pyramid”. I wish. No, most like myself have university training and science degrees.
    >end quote

    It took several quite defensive exchanges before I was able to establish that in a masterstroke of clarity Ring meant that:

    Most sceptics, and Ken Ring is a sceptic, have university training and science degrees but Ken Ring does not himself have university training or a science degree.

    Then I tried to move on to the issue of CO2 being heavier than air – addressed with much hilarity at Deltoid. Suffice to say I got nowhere but the comments are funny and I’ll sort it out and post here soon.

    BTW I’m no fan of textual analysis but some of the phrasings by batnv seem similar to emails I’ve had from Ken Ring. Cranks never differ or great minds write alike?

  10. [Fixed your link, Doug]

    Unless Ken’s mastered the art of omnipresence, allowing him to use two IPs at the same time, Ken and batnv are different people. But, as you say, great minds…

  11. While Ken is here I thought I might ask for a bit of explanation of the CO2 is heavier than air bit (incidently Gareth – I think it was the Ringworld article that first got my attention onto your stuff).

    So Ken – if CO2 sinks how thick a layer does it form down at ground level?
    and why don’t small creatures suffocate?

    Conversely – how is it that up in the Alps the Andes and even the Himalaya, humans can still breathe (given that we need a bit of CO2 to stimulate the breathing reflex)

  12. Whoops – an unnecessary post of mine above. I should have read the Deltoid link first. Still it might give the casual reader a taste of where Mr Ring’s thinking might take you!

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