Cranking it out: NZ papers conned by denier media strategy

My inbox in the last month has filled with emails about denier articles in leading New Zealand newspapers. It’s been a veritable crank central across the country. They include the ridiculous opinion piece by Jim Hopkins in the Herald late last year, a similar feature by Bryan Leyland  published in both the DomPost and The Press, then, last week, a piece by Chris de Freitas in the Herald, arguing that desertification in Africa isn’t caused by climate change.

Did Leyland and de Freitas, both leading lights in the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, take advantage of newspapers’ lack of feature material over the holiday break and provide some copy to fill the gap?

An insight to the strategy behind our newspapers’ fairly regular publication of our local deniers can be gained from reading a document I came across recently: the Canadian-based International Climate Science [denial] Coalition’s (ICSC) media strategy, originally posted on the front page of its website last year (pdf here).

Titled Winning Hearts and Minds to Climate and Energy Reality, the strategy is designed, apparently, to “help shift public, media and government opinion away from futile attempts to mitigate global climate change.”

How do they plan to achieve this?

“Continued provision of mass media commentary (either directly, or by assisting national CSCs and other allies) via newspaper and magazine opinion articles, letters to the editor, news releases, and radio and TV interviews, and call-ins, as well as private communication with receptive media players.”

It also aims to…

…take direct aim at dangerous attempts to replace significant amounts of conventional power with “low carbon energy.”

Their shining example of this is an article by Leyland entitled “Wind farms not everything they’re cranked up to be” published in the NZ Herald in late 2010.

They admit it will take “several years” to “completely derail climate alarmism”.

Just what is the ICSC? It is riddled with New Zealanders, who set it up after establishing the NZ Climate Science [denial] Coalition1.

Leyland is its “Energy Issues Advisor”. Its founding chairman and strategic advisor is the NZCSC’s wine expert, Terry Dunleavy. Auckland geographer Chris De Freitas is a consultant scientific advisor. Gerrit van der Lingen and Vincent Gray are on its science advisory board. Alan Gibbs and Owen McShane are on the policy advisory board and the webmaster is Allan Manson, who works for Datacom systems and owns the domain names for the NZCSC, the ICSC and the American Climate Science Coalition.

The rest are a who’s who of climate denial around the world. One member of the Policy Advisory Board is UK denier David Henderson, brought to New Zealand by the Treasury for a speaking tour in early 2007.

Canadian PR man Tom Harris runs the ICSC. Formerly associated with energy lobby groups and another group that lobbied for the tobacco industry, Harris has been a regular speaker at the Heartland international denier-fests.

The full web of connections between the Kiwi deniers, the ICSC and various US conservative think tanks funded by the fossil fuel industry to run campaigns of climate denial can be seen in this ExxonSecrets map. While Exxon isn’t the only one funding these groups, it’s nevertheless a good way of showing the web of denial the Kiwis are caught up in.

Leyland has already admitted that he was funded by the Heartland Institute to go to the 2007 UN climate talks in Bali — and presumably Heartland also paid for McShane and Gray to attend. Leyland has no climate change credentials at all — he works for the power industry and lobbies against renewable energy. In short, he’s an energy industry lobbyist who hates renewables.

De Frietas is not much better: the man is teaching climate denial to first year geography students at Auckland University, a story revealed by the Herald itself and analysed by Hot-Topic. He’s also worked with think thanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute — not forgetting his stint at Climate Research where he published an inordinate number of denial papers.

So why do our newspaper editors keep publishing these lobbyists connected with a bunch of US conservative think tanks? The ISCS strategy is not new — this is the same furrow ploughed by inactivists since the early 1990’s. But which of our papers seem to have fallen for these strategies the most? I’ve done some digging back through the archives to see how they’ve been doing.

The NZ Herald is among the worst, right up there with the National Business Review. Setting aside their opinion writers Jim Hopkins and Garth George (who has finally given up this job and moved to the Bay of Plenty), the Herald has repeatedly published the deniers’ screeds.

De Freitas is probably the most-published denier in NZ. He has helpfully listed all of his publications on his website . A quick look through this list produces some interesting numbers: Since 1982, the Herald has published 36 opinion pieces by de Freitas, 12 of them in the five years since the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment in 2007, surpassing even the NBR, which published only four of his pieces in the same timeframe.

The majority of the Herald opinion pieces (24) have been published during the reign of Herald editor Tim Murphy, who took over the helm in 2001 and moved up to editor-in-chief in 2005. It appears that the strategy of pestering editors has been successful, at least with Murphy — I have been told that he publishes them to get the NZCSC off the phone. Looks like he has fallen for the ISCS’s strategy of “private communication with receptive media players”.

Perhaps the most egregious was a feature page last year, with a de Freitas piece given equal weight as one by the Vice President of the Royal Society, Dr Keith Hunter, with the headline: “The Great Climate Debate”. While there are many “great debates” in the world of climate science, the “is it happening or not” debate is only actively promoted by deniers, just as the tobacco industry ran its “doubt” campaign in the ‘60’s.

This week’s effort by de Freitas has been the first under the helm of the new editor, Shayne Currie. Will he continue in the same vein as Murphy and publish de Freitas regularly?

The Herald has also published several articles by Leyland and one by Dunleavy.

Since 1982, the National Business Review has published 35 editorials by de Freitas denying the science of climate change. In a way, you’d expect that, given the NBR’s right-leaning ideology and strong anti-climate stance. Owen McShane has 46 denier articles and Leyland four.

De Freitas has also managed to get four pieces in The Listener, but none since 2008 when his piece, co-authored by Bryan Leyland, landed the magazine in the middle of a furore over the sacking of columnist Dave Hansford after his column revealing Leyland’s payment by the Heartland Institute.

The Dominion Post has been fairly measured, publishing only two of de Freitas’ pieces, but publishing a myriad of Vincent Gray’s letters (again, a strategy pushed by the ICSC). Leylan seems to get a receptive ear in the DomPost’s business section.

The Press has published very little, apart from a few letters – but it regularly quotes Leyland talking about the power industry, with some occasional stories quoting him as an NZCSC spokesman. I strongly suspect the recent Leyland piece was published by an editor standing in for Andrew Holden while he was on holiday.

Talk to the producers of some of the country’s major radio programmes and they will tell you how reluctant they are to host climate scientists because of the wall of vitriol they get from the denier camp every time they mention anything reflecting the mainstream climate science. They, too, are targets of the ICSC’s media strategy, which urges its members and associates to call in to radio shows.

Perhaps it’s time for New Zealand’s editors and producers — and indeed journalism lecturers — to read the work of former Time, Fortune and Businessweek editor/deputy editor Eric Pooley, who authored a 2009 study on climate change reporting in the US for Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Centre on Press and Public Policy. He looks at the “balance as bias” (or “he said she said”) syndrome in reporting on climate change — “a condition in which journalists stick to the role of stenographer, recording two sides of a debate even when the two sides are not of equal merit.”

“Notions of journalistic objectivity…shouldn’t prevent reporters from recognizing consensus and making judgments based on the best available evidence. Instead, they should help the public decide who is right and who is wrong in a debate where the stakes—our economy, our planet—could not be higher.”

Climate change reporting is not simple, but publishing outright lies by deniers is not helping anyone. Time for New Zealand’s newspaper editors to face facts, and refrain from printing lobbyists fantasies.

[Updated Jan 23 2011: ICSC removed doc link from their site; now leads to copy hosted here.]

  1. I put the word “denial” in there because their science is somewhat lacking []

119 thoughts on “Cranking it out: NZ papers conned by denier media strategy”

  1. Cindy Interesting definition of denial if your view is different it should be repressed. I’m old enough to remember Russia and Eastern Block regimes, Hitlers Germany and even North Korea. I thought we were past that sort of repressive political thinking. What happened to freedom of the press. Putting the heat on the scientists to get it right is fundamental to good science. It is even more fundamental to good policy formation. Take the ETS, no cost benefit analysis based on Eco alarmist views of climate science, result a policy that makes everyone poorer cost us jobs makes our exports more expensive has no effect on the production of CO2 and no effect on the temperature of the earth either now or in the future. Long live the contrarian view and freedom of the press to publish what it likes. Let the public decide what it thinks.

    1. Cindy Interesting definition of denial if your view is different it should be repressed.

      No, incorrect is the word you are looking for. A person is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

      Brian Leyland cannot say that the world has not warmed since 1998 or 1988 or whatever, when this is not what any of the major temperature records show. That is simply incorrect. Nor can he claim that sea level is not rising when that is not what tide gauges show. Some facts are facts and a paper of record should not allow columnists to simply say them and print them unchecked, year after year. That is failing in their long–held social obligations; slowly losing their right to the editorial “we”.

      Eco–alarmist views

      Hey, nothing being wrong in being alarmist if it is time to wake up (and especially if you are an alarm clock, but I digress).

      Such as knowing that climate change is causing extreme weather incidents. Trenberth had been saying this for a long time, but there is now a hard statistical link been found. Such as large areas of permafrost melting, as they did in the PETM, a major extinction event.

      On this topic, alarmist is now a badge of honour and courage.

      1. That’s better … now you are starting to debate the issues, rather than endless weary insistence that ‘it must be wrong because he’s not a nice man’.

        The link doesn’t go to the major temperature records for the simple reason that they all show a pause for the past decade. Instead, the link says the heat has moved away from the atmospheric record and is now to be found in the ARGO floats of the ocean. It also refers to the recent Tamino effort to disprove a pause by standing on his head and doing clever juggling tricks. But it doesn’t refer to the recent Harvard paper putting the pause down to Chinese aerosols.

        The tide guages show that sea level rise decelerated and recently reversed. So does the satellite record. It’s only the CGMs that say levels are still rising.

        But – if all this is wrong, why shouldn’t I read about your views in the local paper?

      2. Actually you can pretty much claim anything you like in a free society unless you a defaming someone.

        Muslim’s claim Muhammed was God’s prophet and that the Koran is God’s literal word and rules for living on the planet. Christian’s claim that Jesus was the son of God. Now factually these ideas are very likely to be bollocks but we don’t state that people can’t make statements supporting them.

        The most that you can do about people expressing differing viewpoints on the Climate change debate is to counter them. If they take it too far you could possibly sue them. But what you can’t do is deny them a platform.

        1. There isn’t a debate. To suggest that there is, is simply to deny the science and the facts. In this regard the Herald and the MSM as a whole can huff and puff all they like, but the simple fact is that all they are doing is helping to delaying any positive action to mitigate an impending catastrophe.
          In a war would it be permissible or acceptable for Media to allow Op-Eds in support of the enemy?

          1. Weirdly you are sounding more and more like the religious right in America. First it was bringing in the concept of Entropy into the equation of whether we have enough energy in the world, (just like the Creationists do), and now it stating that we are in a War and the media needs to swing behind the right side. That would like stating that the US media shouldn’t have been critical of the Iraq war because it was unpatriotic.

            1. I find your latest enthusiasm for transparent strawman attempts to equate us with Creationists rather funny, Gosman. Not only is the logic convoluted, but on this issue, where do you think the majority of fundamentalists actually stand. By a ridiculous margin!

              Hell, the majority of Republican candidates – heavy Deniers all; even those who once had the brains to accept scientific reality but now lack the courage to stand their ground – in the US don’t even accept a separation of church and state!

            2. Your argument borders on ad hominem and thus is of little relevance. Indeed most of your comments are intended to confuse and obfuscate. They never shed much light on the subject, and are simply put to divert the topic to your own choosing. Do not think that you have “won” by the simple fact that henceforth I shall waste no further time attempting to carry out a logical discussion with you. You are simply tiresome and have no real desire to get to the truth of the matter.

            3. If you don’t want your arguments ridiculed you shouldn’t make ridiculous statements such as comparing the issues around Climate change to war and bringing in irrelevant concepts such as Entropy.

              The trouble is those wanting action on climate change are losing the debate at this this point in time. Now this is probably a temporary blip but it is no good hand wringing about it and demanding the other side of the debate goes away.

              What needs to be done is up the game and possibly change tactics. It would be helpful also to try and broaden the support base beyond the narrow leftist section of society and acknowledge there might be more than one way of tackling the problems.

            4. By the way bill, it was Macro who brought in the issue of Creationists into the discussion in the first place. So any question over whether this was appropriate or not should be directed towards him/her in the first instance.

            5. I’m constantly amazed by how often I’m told we’re ‘losing the debate’. Not in f’ing science we’re not!

              No doubt if there’d been Newspoll, CNN and Fox around in the 17th Century we’d also constantly have been breathlessly informed that the Heliocentrists were ‘losing the debate’, and nongs of all persuasions have been maintaining that Evolutionists were ‘losing’ since about 15 minutes after ‘The Origin’ was first published!

              For the hundred-thousandth time – scientific facts are not decided by polling.

              Thanks to the studied imbecilities of – ironically – highly sophisticated PR strategies ‘public debates’ in The West generally are currently no more edifying than schoolyard popularity contests. This is one of the other things that will also have to change post-Decadence.

              And as for the Creationists

            6. Actually the example of the struggle of getting the Helliocentrist view accepted is a good one. A prominent early proponent of the theory Galileo was forced to recant his theories by the Catholic church so in a sense you could argue that he lost the debate in his lifetime. However what was clear is that eventually over time the weight of evidence eventually persuaded enough influential people that Helliocentrism was correct AND, (this is the critical bit), wasn’t a threat to their way of life.

  2. Cindy a little education for you the quote below is from
    Paul Feyerabend‘s 1975 essay How to Defend Society Against Science.
    “Any ideology that breaks the hold a comprehensive system of thought has on the minds of men contributes to the liberation of man. Any ideology that makes man question inherited beliefs is an aid to enlightenment. A truth that reigns without checks and balances is a tyrant who must be overthrown, and any falsehood that can aid us in the over throw of this tyrant is to be welcomed. It follows that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century science indeed was an instrument of liberation and enlightenment. It does not follow that science is bound to remain such an instrument. There is nothing inherent in science or in any other ideology that makes it essentially liberating. Ideologies can deteriorate and become stupid religions. Look at Marxism. And that the science of today is very different from the science of 1650 is evident at the most superficial glance.

    For example, consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific “facts” are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious “facts” were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago.

    Nobody would deny that it is commendable to speak the truth and wicked to tell lies. Nobody would deny that – and yet nobody knows what such an attitude amounts to. So it is easy to twist matters and to change allegiance to truth in one’s everyday affairs into allegiance to the Truth of an ideology which is nothing but the dogmatic defense of that ideology. And it is of course not true that we have to follow the truth. Human life is guided by many ideas. Truth is one of them. Freedom and mental independence are others. If Truth, as conceived by some ideologists, conflicts with freedom, then we have a choice. We may abandon freedom. But we may also abandon Truth. My criticism of modern science is that it inhibits freedom of thought.”

    1. I think Sam V nailed it in terms of the fact-checking – perhaps the NZ media might like to start publishing stories refuting the link between tobacco and smoking? If something like that was submitted, the editors would send the author packing.

      Ideology based on a climate denial campaign driven by a fear of loss of profits by the fossil fuel industry is not particularly pure, in my view. Indeed Leyland, the power industry expert, could be writing about the fact that investment in renewables in 2011 reached another record. Instead, he gives evidence against renewable energy to the environment court and fools editors into accepting factually inaccurate Op Eds.

      1. Leyland would choke on his cornflakes if he read and comprehended that link on the investment in renewables. But I doubt if he has even smelt the coffee yet, to continue the breakfast theme.

    2. “Scientific “facts” are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious “facts” were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. ”
      Absolute tosh! Paul Feyerabend’s influence on the Philosophy of Science has been minimal, simply because it is based on such unfounded assumptions as that above, and the fact that he set up a straight confrontation between science and other “belief-systems” as if they are all aiming to do the same thing.
      Ironic that one supposedly opposed to any attempt to control greenhouse gas emissions should quote Paul Feyerabend, a champion of environmental issues.

    3. Oh dear Kev! You nailed the coffin in which you seemingly want to bury your wits well with your own words: “My criticism of modern science is that it inhibits freedom of thought”….
      Kev, nobody denies your right to remain ignorant yourself if that serves your wish of living in a state of cognitive dissonance between fantasy and reality.
      However I think humanity as such and our common hope to survive, sustain and prosper in partnership with a healthy ecosystem has all the right indeed to exclude you from grabbing any hold of the steering wheel while we commonly attempt to bring this ship of ours back on a course to calmer waters.
      Science allows us to transcend the tyranny of propaganda, lies and deceit that humanity has suffered under for much of our history. It allows us to share a common language and system of acquiring knowledge and act upon it wisely. It has given us the insight to understand the consequences of our actions and choices.

      The truths uncovered by science may be rather inconvenient to yourself but such is life. Running away from facts or shooting messengers is no way to govern your destiny wisely and trading truth for the vanity of freedom to believe whatever you want is a foolish choice of your “mental freedom” indeed. You have the freedom to play Russian Roulette yourself as long its your own head your aiming for (an I may suggest that not many would care about the outcome of your experiment)…
      But as a society we do not have that luxury as the vast majority of us will want our children to live in a sustainable and healthy world that preserves the fantastic natural heritage of this planet.

    4. Bill –“I’m constantly amazed by how often I’m told we’re ‘losing the debate’. Not in f’ing science we’re not!”

      I’m sure those living in La-la land truly believe it Bill. Sad isn’t it? And yet everyday I read dozens of new peer-reviewed papers which reveal global warming is here, it’s bad, and only likely to get much,much worse. Yes, the scientific consensus only gets stronger, but so does the denial.

  3. A bit harsh to call Bryan Leyland anti-renewables when he built his own small-scale hydro power plant. And while I’m not in a position to judge his estimate of wind power as being 50 to 100% percent more expensive than other power sources in New Zealand, it is pretty obvious that,as he writes, winds are strongest in spring, when snowmelt and rain provide plenty of hydro potential, not in winter, when demand peaks and lakes can be low in a dry year. Read some of for analysis of why wind and solar power have a limited role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Denmark has about 20% wind capacity backed up by Norwegian hydro, but they still have to sell excess wind power, often at very low or even negative rates, to the rest of the European grid. Norway has a huge hydro buildout, producing over four times New Zealand’s, but nowhere near enough to cover the 75% of the time northern Europe’s wind farms are not doing much; as a result these are backed up mainly by gas turbines. In Washington state recently the grid operators had to shut down the wind farms during the spring flood of the Columbia river. Tasmania, like New Zealand, sits astride the Roaring Forties and so gets plenty of wind and rain, but they can sell their surplus over the Bass Strait cable to the mainland.They also benefit from a lot of dirty coal power coming the other way.
    On the good side though, while our weather is predicted to become more variable, it is also supposed to get generally wetter and windier.

  4. Renewable energy isn’t limited to wind 🙂 But Leyland seems to be against renewable energy because it’s an answer to climate change – which, apparently, isn’t happening. He throws a number of different arguments at it as can be seen here .

    The few projects he likes tend to be those that cause environmental damage, such as the Mohikinui .

    Speaking of grid operators having to close down things – this has been the problem with nuclear power stations when the temperature of rivers heats up (no cooling available). See here last year and and here in 2007 .

    This happens in Europe on an increasingly regular basis.

  5. Hello Cindy, Tim Murphy from the Herald here. Your analysis here is deeply flawed, bordering on feeble. You know the Herald has consistently (more than 20 times) written editorials this past decade urging action on climate change, criticizing George Bush’s policies and advocating courage and bipartisanship on the ETS (as opposed to the carbon tax proposal). If you’d taken time to read Chris de Freitas’ pieces published on the oped reader contribution page, which of course carries no implied endorsement of the paper, you’d also know that 14 of the 26 published in the Herald since 2000 were not related to the global warming debate but covered everything a geographer might write about for his local paper – UV sunburn indexes, the temperature risks of leaving kids in cars, motor vehicle emissions, earthquake-prone building developments, dangers of building on flood plains, and, of course a major news phenomenon of the 2000s so far, tsunamis and their effects. Yes, 12 pieces were directly about AGW or climate change policies – one even argued back at you for a piece you’d written and claimed you believe in relation to ‘consensus’ that ‘the advancement of scientific understanding is a matter of voting’ . Twelve pieces over 12 years is not a hell of a lot when this has been one of the big public policy issues of that period. (And hardly surprising that the Herald’s rate of publishing pieces from a geographer and environmental scientist might increase — over the 1982 to 2000 period you cite — as the issue increased exponentially in global debate). Through that 12 years we have run pieces from Greenpeace and many, many others (academic and otherwise) from here and abroad on our oped page. Our readers can view a piece on desertification in Africa without blind partisanship demanding that the author be silenced for daring to debate the topic. Or the oped editor or editor of the paper being accused of being manipulated by a big global PR strategy.
    To suggest by trawling through Chris de Freitas’ website list of where he’s been published that you’ve ‘researched’ the Herald’s use of pieces by deniers is just embarrassing. For the record the Dunleavys and Leylands of this world – who view the Herald as deniers of their rights to appear in our paper – take as dim and hostile a view of the Herald’s treatment of this issue as you do. Wrong, but hostile.

    1. Thanks for commenting Tim. The key point, from my perspective, is to ensure that everybody understands that articles by the likes of de Freitas and Leyland are not being offered out of the goodness of their hearts or as a real contribution to a public policy debate, but as part of a carefully thought-out and well-funded PR campaign to derail action – any action – on climate change.

      De Freitas’ piece on desertification managed to leave out any mention of the role of climate change in the process, and managed to suggest that the local people were causing it themselves – including a dig at aid programmes. All these points are debatable, but CdF’s approach is exactly what one might expect from an article from one of the right wing think tanks he aligns himself with.

      1. This degree of myopia is mind-boggling.

        Articles by the likes of Hot Topic and Greenpeace and the Royal Society and EDS and the IPS are not being offered out of the goodness of their hearts or as a real contribution to a public policy debate, but as part of a carefully thought-out (I hope) and Government-funded PR campaign to push for action – any action – on climate change.

        Does that make you feel you should all be denied access to the media?

        1. Rubbish, Australis. There are two problems with articles by the likes of Leyland and de Freitas being given the privilege of appearing in major newspapers. The first is that they are apparently free to misrepresent the facts to their hearts content, the second is that the papers do not identify their real background. If Leyland is to appear in print, then his pieces should be first fact-checked, and if he passes that hurdle (which is unlikely, given past experience) he should be identified as a member of a group lobbying to do nothing about climate change.

        2. Nonsense. Gareth has made the main rebuttal points already I see. The continued reticulation of downright lies by de Freitas and others is a scandal. What is possibly worse, is that deF among others has appeared often enough in the Herald to be a familiar name, thereby no doubt getting a certain level of “brand recognition” and credibility that is totally unmerited.

          You are clearly an early contender for the Recidivist Tedious Troll award for 2012.

      2. You imply that Leyland and de Freitas are paid to promote a particular viewpoint, one which conflicts with yours. That implication, I most sincerely believe is untrue and no supportable. If you have evidence put it on the table. If you have not it would be decent to withdraw the comment.

        1. The article contains no such implication. It notes that their views and that of the organisations of which they are members align so closely with those of the Heartland Institute that it is willing to give those organisations substantial amounts of cash.

      1. Exactly. It should also be noted that whenever a piece on warming appears in the print media or on the newspaper websites, regardless of viewpoint, a torrent of offensive, ignorant drivel always appears in response (e.g. the first few responses to a recent Salinger piece), so it is clear that the general public are a very long way from appreciating the seriousness of the problem.

  6. Tim Murphy: As a newspaper reader I wonder why papers continue to print opinion pieces from climate change deniers. There is so much discussion needed about what we should DO about the problem, I wish there were fewer column inches given to those who continue to deny there IS a problem.

  7. Firstly, Tim, thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Of course the Leylands and Dunleavys take a dim view of your paper: no doubt you’ve been labelled “warmist” a million times over the years. So what? 192 governments at UNFCCC meetings must also deserve the same label. As do the national academies of science across the world.

    But these people are lobbyists in the thrall of a fossil fuel industry-funded campaign against action on climate change, the main point of my piece.

    And yes, the Herald has run a great many stories on climate change, including very good editorials – and indeed you have sent your journalists to climate meetings (well, Copenhagen, anyway). New Zealand’s paper of record has done well on the issue, which is no doubt the argument these guys will use with you to get their next piece of rubbish published, in the interests, they will argue, of “balance”. ugh.

    But questions remain. What is the fact-checking policy at the NZ Herald when it comes to climate denial pieces? I’ve dealt with NY Times factcheckers on Op Eds over the years and they are rigorous . Every sentence, every word, has to be backed up with hard evidence before they publish.

    Why are writers of op eds and the newspapers columnists (even if your paper does not explicitly endorse their views) allowed to get away with factual inaccuracies, not to say outright lies? This includes Garth George and Jim Hopkins in particular, as well as de Freitas, Leyland, Dunleavy and McShane.

    I think it’s important that everyone (not least editors like yourself) takes into account the PR strategy of these guys, as Gareth points out.

    Why did you feel the need to “balance” Keith Hunter’s piece on extreme weather events last year with a denial piece by de Freitas? Sure, the day before there had been a major feature on De Freitas teaching climate denial, but this “balanced” response the next day didn’t get rid of the problem. De Freitas was caught out telling complete porkies to first year university students – so why publish more of them the next day? Balance?

    I can only urge you to read Eric Pooley’s study. Consider that that the deniers’ call for “balance” only serves to confuse the public. Like the tobacco industry before them, “doubt is [their] product.”

    As Pooley says, when it comes to climate science, it’s important that media act as referee and call out the lies. Yes, it’s a tough job, but it’s one worth doing.

    Let’s take de Freitas’ most recent article, last week, on desertification. To claim that desertification is largely down to human activity (burning wood), with a few weather systems thrown in, is patently ridiculous. According to climate scientists I’ve talked with (and I’m talking about climate scientists who are specifically qualified in the issue), all climate models show the subtropical deserts expanding and drying….exactly what has happened over Australia, the Sahel and parts of Africa south of the equator, as climate change sets in. As one of thr comments on the story (Kiwi 23) said: “it’s a classic case of ‘blame the victims'”.

    The BBC recently reviewed its scientific coverage . This sentence stood out for me:

    “we will have to work harder to explain to our audiences the background of contributors – for example, whether they are scientists, policy-makers, lobbyists or whether they are taking an ethical stand.

    Maybe The Herald should adopt the same policy? That, at least, would be a step forward.

  8. Cindy, your link about the Tennessee Valley Authority shutting a reactor down because the river temperature was reaching 90F before it got to the inlet, also says that an extra cooling tower was being built which would have alleviated the problem, but ironically construction had been delayed by the tornadoes which had ravaged the area.
    During the last heat wave in Texas, power consumption reached record levels as people struggled to stay cool.The nuclear reactors in the area grid were all running at 100% capacity, but wind, which has received a lot of investment there lately, was running less than 5% on average.The inland plains wind farms sat inert in the stifling heat, with only the coastal
    plants contributing anything.

    1. “The inland plains wind farms sat inert in the stifling heat…”
      I have to listen to this so often professionally and answer in a polite and considerate manner, but thankfully this is the internet so I can be direct.
      Why would you not take advantage of a renewable energy source when the wind is blowing just because occasionally it is still. There is no logic in ignoring the potential to displace fossil fuel generation most of the time because you can not do it all of the time. Your Texan nuclear reactors would not have been working in isolation, they can not follow demand. There must have been some other power source following the potentially rapid variation in demand – most likely fossil fuel generation and/or hydro + pumped storage. You seem to suggest that it would be preferable that these sources were used at this elevated rate all the time instead of just in rare instances of dead calm. Sorry, but that is just plain thick.
      Usually I hear this stuff from people that on the most part, are not that hard of thinking, they are just territorial about their ‘back yard’ (someone else’s property) and have not stopped to give any thought to the scare stories they use to embellish their NIMBY cause.
      As you are not commenting on a specific wind farm application here, why are you bandying about all this NIMBY tripe? Lets have a look at what else you have to say. “Denmark has about 20% wind capacity backed up by Norwegian hydro, but they still have to sell excess wind power, often at very low or even negative rates, to the rest of the European grid.” Oh do me a favour, how can you claim a distinction between excess wind power and excess power from the prolific Danish CHP coal plants that can not stop generating because no one would have hot water and heating. Ask yourself where is it sold to, what generation is displaced by that export. It appears that you are here to defend Leyland and his anti wind argument. If Leyland had a case with any relevance to the debate he would not be churning out the dross he wrote for the Adam Smith institute.

    2. John yes there is certainly an irony in the nuclear situation – but these shutdowns due to high river temperature are now happening on a regular basis. I gave two links, from 2007 and 2011, but there are many more.

      On wind, I think Beaker covered it.

  9. Okay – energy issues off topic (that’ll shorten my comment).
    Thinking about Bryan Leyland though. I had always credited him with enough integrity to at least think he just had a thing about wind farms (intermittency of supply etc) independent of his climate change denial.

    But, seeing what Cindy has raised I see that it is all just part of the grand denial strategy – kind of the opposite of the Bellamy approach (AGW must be wrong because I don’t like windfarms). The Leyland approach is “I don’t like wind farms because AGW is wrong”.

    Of course Leyland takes as many opportunities as he can to argue that the carbon emission benefits of wind farms should not be considered because there is no AGW.

  10. Cindy:

    1 Please provide evidence that I changed my views on dangerous man-made global warming as a result of Heartland paying most of my expenses to Bali.

    2 Please list the lies I – and others – are supposed to have told.

    3 Please justify you statement that I am in the pay of the fossil fuel industry – and don’t forget that a substantial part of my income comes from our hydropower station. The rest comes from consulting on hydropower worldwide.

    And please refrain from personal attacks. We are supposed to be debating issues, not indulging in character assassination.

    1. Bryan. A more useful start point would be for you to provide the evidence you are relying on. For example I can’t find a 2 degree temperature change in the various /a.

    1. Well you can’t even get that right. The tide gauge data, alone, show a recent sea level trend at Tuvalu of +4.1mm per year. It’s clearly spelled out in the first table. So even the data you link to debunks your claim.

      And secondly, sea level at Tuvalu (up to 2009), has increased in absolute terms over 200 mm’s since the El Nino-associated dip of 1998. Do you honestly think that 200 mm of sea level rise is little movement?

    2. Figure 12 shows the monthly mean sea level anomalies, or departures from normal conditions after tides, annual and semi-annual seasonal cycles and the sea level trend
      have been removed.


      For the sea level trends see the first chart, as Dappledwater has pointed out

    3. *crickets* on Bryan’s concession that the very document he refers to does not say what he claims it says.

      Quite the opposite.

      Let’s be a bit more explicit. Look at the chart on page 4. The Sea Level Trends in the study area vary between +2.9mm p.a. for Kiribati – slightly under the global average, the only regional result that is below – to 17.7mm for Micronesia (something interesting happening there! But it’s by far the most recently installed gauge, and we all know the issues with short term trends, don’t we?). Tuvalu is +4.1. All rates are, of course, positive. Most rates are significantly above the global average. Gauges have been in place since ’92, ’93 or ’94, with the exception of Micronesia’s 2001.

      This SLT chart is also reprinted on page 11, immediately below the discussion of Figure 12. The one you cited.

      This means that if you were to persist in telling people that the seas are not rising in the region, and claiming that the BOM backs you up on this, you are talking bollocks. And that’s being polite about it.

      I’m sure the locals will be watching with interest…

  11. All I want is the evidence. It would seem that you do not have it.

    BTW, what about that global warming bet. Temperatures are not increasing and will stay away from significant warming until July at least… These pesky La Ninas…

    1. Bryan, there’s no shortage of evidence of warming and its cause. Getting you to accept it is quite another matter.

      So, please defend your statement that there has been no warming since 1988. Peer-reviewed papers, please.

  12. “All I want is the evidence. It would seem that you do not have it”

    Why do you write such nonsensical things? Do you think readers won’t bother to check?

    The oceans are warming, there’s no way around that, it’s a function of the increased greenhouse gas forcing of the temperature gradient in the cool skin layer of the ocean. You might think this La Nina-dominant period is pesky, I consider it worrisome. Reduced solar activity due to the solar cycle, increased industrial aerosols (small particles of manmade pollution) and a La Nina dominant period have barely been able to hold back global temperatures since 2006. Two of those cooling factors, the solar cycle and La Nina, are not likely to last much longer.

    1. Bryan, you don’t have a very good grasp of this climate science thing do you?

      The MSU satellites measure the temperature of the lower & upper atmosphere, using the microwave radiation given off by oxygen molecules in the atmosphere as a proxy. The do not measure ocean temperature.

      Ocean temperatures are measured by the ARGO floats, three thousand of which constantly bob up and down to around 2000 metres (but not all), and send their data back to awaiting scientists via satellite. Those ARGO floats are revealing a massive accumulation of heat in the ocean.

      Now what do you think is going to happen when we switch back to a El Nino-dominant period and all that heat finds it’s way back to the surface, and from there – the atmosphere? Here’s a clue hot, hot, hot

      1. I understood satellites had been measuring sea levels since about 1992. And the global average (a notional metric) has been close to constant over the 20 years since they began. The change from 1.5mm to 3mm was simply an artifact of changing measurement systems.

        Do you have a link to the data reported from ARGO floats over the past 5 years?

        How much increase has been detected in ocean heat content during that period?

        1. “The change from 1.5mm to 3mm was simply……..”

          Wrong. Tide gauges still exist remember? And although generally poor communicators, scientists are a lot smarter than fake-skeptics and therefore factor instrument changes into their analyses anyway.

          “Do you have a link to the data reported from ARGO floats over the past 5 years?”

          Yes. SkS post: Ocean cooling corrected, again. A link to the full paper is provided in the blog post.

          “How much increase has been detected in ocean heat content during that period?”

          Lots. IIRC, since 2000/2001 0.5 watts per square metre have been pouring into the oceans, mainly into the subsurface layers. A yet-to-be published Nature Geoscience paper (Loeb [2012]) reports as much. Should be out in a day or two and Skeptical Science will have a blog post up soon.

          In other words the oft-misquoted Kevin Trenberth’s “missing heat” wasn’t missing at all, it was in the deeper layers of the ocean. And yes, Skeptical Science has reported on how it’s possible for heat to be mixed down to deeper layers. See Meehl (2011).

  13. As I have already pointed out,1988 was a typo for 1998.

    Go to to see a composite of all the temperature records. You will see no statistically significant warming since 1998 or, if you prefer, 2002.

    Where is your evidence that all those statements of mine were wrong?

    1. All over the site. There’s a link to skeptical science so why go further than John Cook’s piece on it:

      A multi–media version from Peter Sinclair, Party Like it’s 1998 is now two years old.

      1998 is a tired old foolish lie, referring to “stastically significant warming” on such time scales obviously wrong or willfully ignorant. Especially now that there have been hotter years since then anyway.

      Let me guess, you’ve got just the lie to follow up with (sorry, your “opinion”). How about referring to an uncorrected satellite temperature series that turned out to be an instrument error?

    2. Let’s just take one, shall we.

      …we cannot explain why the sea level is no longer rising.

      Actually, we can. Evidence from the GRACE satellites shows that there has been so much extra rainfall over land that the long term sea level rise has taken a brief dip downwards. See this post last year for more information.

      So your statement is wrong, and misleading.

  14. Dappled water, you don’t have a very good grasp of this climate science thing do you?

    The AMSR-E satellites that I referred to measure the temperature of the surface of the ocean.

  15. Bryan, yes my bad – saw the Roy Spencer reference and overlooked you were referring to AMSR-E, not Roy Spencer’s baby. Notice how rational people admit when they’ve made a mistake?

    You on the other hand have yet to apologize for all your mistakes/lies in your recent article at the Dom Post, nor does the AMSR-E measurements of sea surface temperature have anything to do with ocean heat. As I stated earlier, the oceans are steadily accumulating heat. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011) and the NODC ocean heat content data.

    That heat buried in the subsurface layers of the ocean isn’t going to stay there much longer. And that’s exactly what some prominent climate scientists, such
    as James Hansen are making abundantly clear.

    As NASA climate scientists, James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Makiko Sato and Ken Lo point out – we’re headed into the warm part of the 11 year-long solar cycle. That and the fact the La Nina-induced cooling of global surface temperatures won’t last much longer, means rapid warming of surface temperatures are on the horizon. In fact if you weren’t a climate science skeptic with a half-arsed understanding of the climate you would appreciate how this all fits together.

    But no worries, I’m working on stuff at the moment for another blog which will demonstrate for a general audience how this ocean heating/air-sea heat exchange works. Always nice to illustrate the pauper-like thinking of the climate skeptic, and how the climate really works at the same time.

  16. “You on the other hand have yet to apologize for all your mistakes/lies in your recent article at the Dom Post”,

    I am still waiting for Cindy or Gareth to produce hard evidence of my “lies”. And I have already admitted too a mistake – the typo.

    Cindy I note has failed to respond. I draw my own conclusions.

    But I do note that there seems to be agreement that there has been no significant warming in the last 10-15 years and that there is no abnormal sea level rise. Instead, there has been a decline in the rate of rise.


    1. Cindy’s in Southland. No doubt she’ll get back to you…


      But I do note that there seems to be agreement that there has been no significant warming in the last 10-15 years and that there is no abnormal sea level rise. Instead, there has been a decline in the rate of rise.

      There is no such agreement: I note that you fail to understand the meaning of statistical significance, and would observe that the long term trend in SLR continues to be in excess of 3mm per annum, an acceleration from the 20th century average.

    2. OK, I’ll track you down here.

      Do you acknowledge that the Figure 12 in the BOM document you cited and endorsed has specifically had the Sea Level Trend removed?

      And that the same document shows sea level rises either pretty-well at (2 instances), or significantly above (the remainder), the global average for the entire region, including Tuvalu? (Did you glance at Figure 13 at all?)

      What evidence do you have –

      that there is no abnormal sea level rise. Instead, there has been a decline in the rate of rise.[?]

      Because this information you yourself provided shows the opposite. And how on earth can you claim a decline in the rate of rise (deceleration)? This wouldn’t be based on last year’s risible cherry-picking from The Australian, would it?

      For those lurking who want actual information on sea level, you could read the BOM report Bryan provided (I’m tempted to add ‘which is apparently more than he did’!) or consult Wikipedia, the CSIRO, and NOAA.

      1. Yes bill. I cannot for the life of me see how he can come to the conclusion he does after reading the link he provides. NOWHERE does it say that there has been a decline in the rate of rise. What it does say and this is quite understandable and within the science is that:

        “Observed trends in sea level include natural variability, for example, events such as El Niño and effects due to many other atmospheric, oceanographic and geological processes.”

        As far as Tuvalu is concerned the table simply concludes:
        Location Instillation Trend mm/yr delta
        Tuvalu Mar 1993 +4.1 0.0

      2. I note, Bryan, that you apparently cannot reply to me, despite the fact you’ve swooped by and dropped off another other squishy little nugget well after the post I made above. Nor have you responded to my two previous posts on this point.

        I put it to you that this is because you are, simply, wrong. So wrong that even you cannot hope to convince yourself otherwise, so your only solution is to stage a tactical retreat.

        My concern is that this uncomfortable little revelation will disappear into the memory hole, and you’ll be cheerfully trotting out nonsense about SLTs and how the BOM backs you up on all this in the future, because in my experience that’s how Denial works.

        I doubt that other readers will share any such delusion, however, at least those who are not already hopelessly Ideologically Afflicted.

  17. “But I do note that there seems to be agreement that there has been no significant warming in the last 10-15 years”

    Well that’s another lie. I just above pointed you to the ocean heat content data. More than 4 times as much heat has gone into the oceans since the early 2000’s than has gone into heating the atmosphere, land and ice since 1960!!!!!

    “And I have already admitted too a mistake – the typo.”

    But you haven’t apologized for either lying or erroneously reporting about sea level rise at Tuvalu. You even debunked yourself there!

    no abnormal sea level rise. Instead, there has been a decline in the rate of rise.

    Wrong again. Sea level has temporarily fallen because of the short-term exchange of water mass between the oceans and land. This has occurred since the year dot, and is why sea level exhibits multi-year fluctuations even as it steadily rises from ocean warming and additional ice melt volume. All you’ve done is this: Actual sevel rise vs skeptic sea level rise

  18. Based on his past performance, Bryan Leyland will exit the conversation about now, preferring to spend his time feeding disinformation to the ignorant and the gullible, rather than debating with those well-informed on those topics he merely pretends to have knowledge of.

    IMHO, he is merely a simple-minded propagandist for the denialist faith; part of an intellectually dishonest and discredited PR campaign that spins pseudo-science and dodgy data in an attempt to confuse the public and stall action on global warming.

    As for Terry Dunleavy, here is some light relief:


    Tuesday, 12 June 2001, 8:03 pm
    Press Release: Blue Greens

    Media release
    12 June 2001

    Boycott Mobil Say Bluegreens

    New Zealanders have been called on to boycott Mobil motor fuels as part of a growing international move to persuade the United States government to agree to support the Kyoto protocol on climate change. The call comes from Terry Dunleavy, national convenor of Bluegreens, an organisation that advises the National Party on environmental and heritage issues.

    “While we commend Greenpeace for its gesture in sandbagging the Mobil head office in Wellington today, it’s a gesture only and doesn’t hit Mobil where it hurts – at the gas pump.

    “Bluegreens call on New Zealanders to join British environmentalists who are boycotting Mobil’s sister company Esso. This uses market forces to tell Mobil we won’t stand for the emissions which cause the global warming which looms as a climatic threat to the country we enjoy living in, and which is so dependent on primary produce for our prosperity,” said Mr Dunleavy.

  19. Cindy, I do not wish to employ ad hominem, as seems to be the case with so many, but to speak with such authority against scientists who happen to hold views contrary to yours on a deeply concerning matter which affects every person on this planet, one must assume that your credentials in this field are impressive. I would be genuinely interested in knowing your background in this field.

    1. Ross, does the fact that the climate skeptics constantly contradict each other not concern you? That includes the 1% of publishing climate scientists too.

      They’re great ones for proclaiming global cooling is about to start, and yet it just keeps getting warmer and warmer. Not monotonically of course, but then no one expected La Nina and El Nino to just mysteriously vanish.

      Nothing wrong with having a contrary view, it’s another thing to hold such a view in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence.

    2. That’s not an ad hominem, that’s an ‘argument from authority’.

      In this case many of us find the ‘authority/s’ in question rather less, um, authoritative than you appear to.

      Remind me again; the world’s Academies of Science – where do they stand on this matter?

  20. What we are supposed to be debating is whether or not I have told lies. I have said that the world has not warmed significantly in the last 10 to 15 years and this is obviously true.

    I have said that recently sea level rise was at a lower rate and possibly falling slightly–and this too is true.

    I also pointed out that the 1998 El Niño had a big effect on the sea level trend for Tuvalu.

    I am still waiting for Gareth and Cindy to respond to my requests. I shall ignore all attempts to divert the discussion on to different areas like whether or not the sea has warmed–a complex subject which I do not have a position on.

    Regarding Terry Dunleavy, the answer is quite simple “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do sir?” The same thing happened to me. Perhaps more people should examine the facts and compare them with their opinions.

    1. Asserting that the world “has not warmed significantly in the last 10 – 15 years” is a straightforward lie. This is not a matter of opinion or semantics. It is not a matter of legitimate debate amongst scientists. There are multiple independent lines of evidence supporting the continued warming of the planet.

      Denying the evidence only makes you look silly.

    2. Another lie was when you claimed that ENSO is the dominant driver of the climate and is responsible for the long-term warming trend.

      There is no scientific basis to that statement whatsoever, and that has been repeatedly pointed out to you, so for you to claim that yet again can only be construed as intentionally misleading.

      McLean et al 2009 conclusively proved that ENSO is only responsible for short-term variability in the temperature record. If there was a correlation between ENSO and the long-term trend, that correlation would have been removed by their “filter”, along with the long-term trend. The fact that ENSO showed such a strong correlation with the short-term residuals indicates that ENSO cannot be responsible for the long-term warming trend.

      This is further backed up by Foster and Rahmstorf 2011, which showed that removing ENSO and other short-term factors clearly leaves a linear warming trend, which continues up to today.

      A further problem with your statements (although technically a sin of omission) is that you failed to mention that 2011 was the warmest La Niña year on record. It’s unsurprising that you “forgot” to mention that, as it gives the lie to both your assertion that ENSO drives climate, and that it hasn’t warmed since 1998.

      Is that enough for you, or shall we continue?

    3. Brian Leyland – “I have said that recently sea level rise was at a lower rate and possibly falling slightly–and this too is true.

      Which is a lie by omission. You deliberately distort the reality of the situation. Sea level always drops during La Nina dominant periods, such as the last 3-4 years. That much is clear throughout the record. But sea level rises sharply during El Nino – as the tropical basins dry out and rainfall shifts over the ocean. Sea level rose 20 mm during the monster 1997/1998 El Nino. La Nina/El Nino average out to zero over the long-term, so the next El Nino dominant period will see a return to higher rates of sea level rise.

      Again, there no way around this as ice melt on the Greenland & West Antarctic ice sheets, and glaciers worldwide is accelerating. That melted ice and thermal expansion from ocean warming must contribute to sea level rise.

      This has been already made clear to you, and yet you repeat a known falsehood. Therefore you are a liar.

    4. Brian Leyland – “I also pointed out that the 1998 El Niño had a big effect on the sea level trend for Tuvalu”

      No you lied about that too. You said sea level at Tuvalu had not changed much since the El Nino-associated dip of 1998 (El Nino shifts warming to the central & eastern tropical Pacific – so the easterly trade winds shut down and the warm water mass which piles up around Tuvalu during La Nina gets pushed away and sea levels at Tuvalu fall). Your choice of words was “little movement. Yet the Becker (2011) analysis shown in the SkS link clearly illustrates it has risen by over 200 mm since then, and was even higher in the mid 2000’s.

      Bill has challenged you on your misrepresentation of the Tuvalu BOM tide gauge data, and your response has been bubkes.

      Bryan Leyland why do you repeat known falsehoods?

    5. Bryan Leyland – “the sea has warmed–a complex subject which I do not have a position on.”

      Yes, denier blogs tend to shy away from that one, so not much misinformation available to you huh? Bob Tisdale is the only denier who seems to write about it and, assuming to can get beyond his interminable waffle, he thinks La Nina is causing the oceans to warm. So he’s not much help either.

      “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do sir?”

      Ah, the searing self-irony! You know what would be great Bryan Leyland? If you started researching some scientific facts. Twaddle gleaned from reading denier blogs is certainly not the same.

      1. It seems to me that would be an easier and clearer exercise to list the true statements (tautologies apart) that Leyland has made about climate issues. Methinks that list would be rather short.

  21. Aha, now we have a Clintonian defence, along the lines of “it depends what the meaning of ‘warmed’ is”. This legalistic hair-splitting is to avoid Bryan admitting the incontrovertible fact that the inflow of heat from the sun is greater than the outflow of heat from the Earth, thus the world is, indeed, warming, in the sense of “heating up”.

    The expression of this accumulation of heat in the form of temperature readings, however, is a complex process, with many linked systems – ocean heat content, heat required to melt ice at 0 C to water at 0 C, heat absorption in the air and land. Short term cycles and local conditions cause noise in the temperature and sea-level record, etc, which is the grey area that Bryan and his ilk scurry away to hide in whenever the bright light of science is shone in their direction.
    Notice, if you will, the denialist desire to discuss short time periods and specific years…

    1. Your PDF just repeats the falsehoods, and I note ocean heating falsehood is in there.

      I referred you the Von Scuckmann & Le Traon (2011) who clearly show the oceans have warmed considerably since 2005. And there is the NODC data which shows the same. Yet above above you had the audacity to write:

      “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do sir?”

      When I called you out on your lack of knowledge of ocean heating you wrote:

      “….the sea has warmed–a complex subject which I do not have a position on”

      But you have yet to change your PDF. You imply the oceans haven’t warmed, which is a falsehood. The oceans have warmed dramatically – as we would expect them to given scientific knowledge of how the oceans are heated. That’s why the temperature tracks CO2 in the ice cores over the last 650,000 years – the oceans warm from greenhouse gas forcing of the cool skin layer.

      Are you going to change your PDF to correct all the falsehoods? If not why not? It has been demonstrated that the peer-reviewed scientific literature i.e, the actual experts on this topic, have decimated your claims.

    2. “My statement is based on the various temperature records being the test of warming or not.”

      Looks like yet another case of proof by contradictory citation. Bryan Leyland’s claims are rendered suspect by his citation. For example, his claim about the slowing of sea level rise is based just on the temporary dip in 2011 that is due to the transfer of water to land during a La Nina (we know all about that in Australia). To use the popular words, there has been no statistically significant slowing in sea level rise.

  22. Oceans are largely insensitive to the long-wave energy re-radiated by greenhouse gases. It is the shortwave (solar) and convectional (air) exchanges that matter in upper ocean heat. So how does the OHC rise if the upper ocean does not?

    In any case, warm water doesn’t sink. And if the heat somehow reached the deep ocean, the warmed water would upwell to the surface.

    If the rise in OHC has been constant in recent years, the resultant thermal expansion should have been reflected in a similarly constant rise in eustatic sea levels.

    There are many mysteries here.

    1. Australis – “Oceans are largely insensitive to the long-wave energy……… “

      Incorrect. The oceans are heated by sunlight entering the surface layers, but this is just lost to the atmosphere as the oceans become warmer than the overlying air, through radiation, evaporation, etc.

      The cool skin layer is the oceans interface with the atmosphere, and where the heat exchange takes place. Because the atmosphere acts as a boundary, molecular forces take over from the turbulent mixing that occurs in the ocean bulk. The cool skin layer is therefore controlled by thermal conductivity. This process controls the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere.

      Add more CO2 to the atmosphere and the increase in longwave (heat) radiation penetrates into the cool skin layer. It can’t enter the ocean proper, but by warming the top of the cool skin layer, it lowers the thermal gradient and thereby reduces heat lost by the ocean. Over time the oceans get warmer.

      There is no way around this because carbon dioxide is a well-mixed gas in the atmosphere, therefore any subsequent change however, and wherever, arising now has to negotiate this reduced thermal gradient, and have a little bit of heat stolen away in the process.

      This is why global temperature tracks atmospheric CO2 as shown in the ice core records, and is why (generally) CO2 and global temperature are tightly coupled throughout Earth’s past.

      Not that CO2 is the only factor to consider however, it’s just that is a large control knob on Earth’s climate.

      1. “Because the atmosphere acts as a boundary, molecular forces take over from the turbulent mixing that occurs in the ocean bulk”

        Flow in the ocean, below the wave base at least, is laminar and not
        turbulent. It is utter blithering nonsense to suggest that turbulent
        mixing occurs at depth. The transition between laminar flow and
        turbulent flow occurs over a small range of Reynolds Number. In no way
        is this Reynolds Number approached in the deep ocean. It may well be
        reached when the wave base impinges on the bottom but only then.

        1. “……. approached in the deep ocean”

          Roger, must say your repeated brain infarctions have not been missed. Doesn’t take long for you trundle out strawmen does it? Did I mention deep ocean? Err No, you just made that up.

          If readers are confused by Roger’s technobabble nonsense I direct them to this diagram which illustrates the difference between turbulent mixing and laminar flow:

          Now golly gee, which process is likely to describe the well-mixed layer? And yes there are numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers on this topic.

          Here we have yet another denier trying on the ol “Wizard of Oz” routine – spouting latin/technical terms and not really understanding climate at all. Who’d have think?

          1. I was about to say the same dw, and was just thinking of a “polite” way of saying it – but you beat me too it. :).
            Roger – who also supposedly boasts a “scientific” past, is also notable in the fact that he, as well as Bryan L, have failed to open even the most elementary of modern texts. Their knowledge and understanding is out of date and sadly incomplete.
            It is possible to be a senior citizen, and keep up with the play, but I confess that many of my contemporaries, think that age confers wisdom, and that’s all they need, whereas sadly it doesn’t.

            1. “failed to open…..” In other words to swallow the latest hansenist propaganda. Grow up sonny before the real world bites your bum.

              There are texts on hydraulics which will not be surpassed by the rantings of [snipped].

              Try one.

            2. It’s a tired old canard is it not? Some these deniers just copy and paste technojargon, as if semi-informed people like ourselves will fall for that age-old con. I’d say well-informed, but considering the breadth and depth of climate science who truly can be?

              What I think has happened is that on some denier forum, or forums somewhere the tinfoil-hatters have seen this cool-skin layer/skin layer parameterization discussion pop-up, and they’ve got nothing on denier blogs to counter it. Why? Because they don’t actually read scientific studies, they just parrot or copy/paste stuff from denier blogs.

              Roger is the Black Knight they have dispatched to teach us sane people a lesson. Careful though, Roger might just bite our legs off.

              The deniers are going to be apoplectic when they read the SkS post on subsurface ocean warming – Loeb (2012). It appears Trenberth’s missing heat isn’t missing at all – it’s in the oceans. Doh! Expect more Black Night-ism!

            3. Roger, as a retired Naval Officer, perhaps I am more aware of the layered thermal structure of the oceans than you think. After all, submarines use this facet all the time. So maybe, one might have had reason and occasion to keep up to date with the topic.
              And I’m no relation to you, as far as I know, and probably just as ancient. So you can drop that “sonny” if you don’t mind.

          2. I am afraid that you did imply deep ocean:

            “the turbulent mixing that occurs in the ocean bulk. ”

            It is a wee bit sad that you cannot remember what you posted, or what it meant. Or perhaps you cannot even read it. Now that would be par for the course.

            1. Yawn, another fake-skeptic meme is destroyed and rather than admitting his laughable insinuation about laminar flow is in error, he turns to quibbling over words. No, turbulent mixing does not occur in the deep ocean – no wind down there for starters. You realized that right? Right?

              Do you still stand by the assertion that ocean flow beneath the waves is laminar? You have insinuated that there is no turbulent mixing in the well-mixed layer. Do you still support this nonsensical and clearly wrong notion?

              Let’s be clear here – I am not an expert. An expert in this matter would be someone whose work has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and whose work stands up to scrutiny by other experts.

              Roger Dewhurst, have you published in the peer-reviewed literature
              in regards to the cool-skin layer and the ocean-atmosphere heat flux? If not, why do you think you know better than actual experts? Why does your simplistic understanding fall apart upon the slightest inspection?

    2. “In any case, warm water doesn’t sink. And if the heat somehow reached the deep ocean, the warmed water would upwell to the surface.”

      In a bathtub maybe, but the oceans are not a bathtub.

      Paleoclimate proxies consistently show that both the polar oceans and the deeper oceans were much warmer in the past. In fact the thermal gradient from the tropical to polar seas were lower in Greenhouse/Hothouse periods, as too were the thermal gradients from the surface to deep ocean. Doesn’t that puncture a rather large hole in your “the oceans are a bathtub” hypothesis?

      The oceans have responded to the extra carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning by warming up and changing their circulation. This is apparent in modern day observations.

      The climate modeling work of Meehl (2011) suggests that, in the models at least, ocean heat is funneled down the the depths through the spin-up of oceanic gyres – primarily at mid latitudes. There’s a big one of the east coast of New Zealand. The model indicates that this occurs when the climate is in a La Nina-like period – kind of like it has been for the last 4-5 years.

      If you take a goosy-gander at Von Schuckman & Le Traon (2011) they find ocean are warming greatly down to 1500 metres, yet the surface 700 metres (as shown in other studies, and the NODC data) has not warmed anywhere near as much.

      Do you see how the mainstream climate science framework meshes together to form a coherent and consistent picture?

    3. “There are many mysteries here.

      Yes, for instance why does Bryan Leyland continue to repeat known falsehoods?

      Why do deniers act so cocky and confident when they don’t actually read climate-based scientific studies, and have the climate knowledge of a gnat?

  23. “If the rise in OHC has been constant in recent years, the resultant thermal expansion should have been reflected in a similarly constant rise in eustatic sea levels’

    No one here, apart from you, claims the rise ocean heat is constant. That would be absurd, and could only occur if all factors, such as cloud cover, remained the same. What the observations do show is that the oceans have gained a considerable amount of heat in the last decade.

  24. Bryan’s problem is that he adheres to the “core principles” of the International Climate Science Coalition, of which he is a senior member. These principles amount to a denier’s catechism, and must be held to be true despite what happens in the real world.

    1. When you read that litany of “Core Principles” you wonder if those who follow the “true way” have to put their hand on their hearts and bow to the west or east and recite it word perfect to be allowed admission. It’s like a religious creed.
      “I believe that Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant – it is a necessary reactant in plant photosynthesis and so is essential for life on Earth.” etc etc.
      I particularly like this bit:
      ‘Science is rapidly evolving away from the view that humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ are a cause of dangerous climate change.”
      Yeah right! I mean, how can any one with a modicum of supposed scientific knowledge believe that! Mr Leyland, I am lead to believe, is a consulting engineer. He must have studied physics in the past, but obviously has stopped short of opening a text book on Quantum Mechanics. He certainly has a very limited understanding of climate science, upon which he claims he is an expert. On what authority, can he make such an assertion? Because he says so? How egotistical is that!
      What I cannot understand is why anyone, and this is directed to the Editor of the Herald et al as much as anyone else, gives him space to repeat his nonsense.
      He wants a cathedral door to nail his tenants to as Martin Luther did his in 95 theses in 1517. The simple fact is that there is a power of difference between Martin Luther and Byran Leyland. And there is a power of difference between what Luther was concerned about and what the so-called “Climate Science Coalition” are on about. The first was about truth and justice within Christianity, the second is about maintaining the status-quo for the fossil fuel industry.

  25. I understand that Gareth, but if he shows his face here or at SkS he’s gotta expect we’re going to hold his feet to the fire.

    The deniers are going to shed a great deal of public support in the next few years as the climate goes really wonky and denial becomes untenable for the semi-reasonable. Of course Bryan Leyland and his cronies will just retreat further into their fantasy world.

    What I don’t get is that people like Australis are anomymous. He’ll later deny he was ever a denier. But Bryan Leyland and co. have identified themselves, they’re on public record and will have to face up to the consequences eventually.

    I wonder whether that ever occurs to them?

    1. It’s an interesting thought. I’ve no doubt some will take their denial to the grave, whatever happens in the real world. For the rest, much depends on how bad things get, and how quickly. There will be a backlash, of that I’m certain…

  26. I have asked Cindy to provide evidence that I changed my views as a result of Heartland paying some of my expenses to Bali. She hasn’t. I also asked her and Gareth to provide hard evidence supporting their claims that I and others were telling lies. They haven’t.

    Instead the discussion has, as I expected, descended into ad hominem attacks and abuse.

    I leave you with this:

    1. Gee thanks Bryan Leyland, have you just discovered the AVISO website? Do you think it supports your falsehoods about sea level rise? It doesn’t.

      The latest AVISO sea level update merely affirms what you have been repeatedly told on this thread – sea level undergoes temporary fluctuations as water mass is exchanged between the land and ocean. That doesn’t change a jot the contribution of accelerating ice melt and thermal expansion from ocean warming. That is why sea level is rising, these periodic La Nina/El Nino (down-and-up) fluctuations are exactly that, and they average out to zero over the long-term.

      Is any of this sinking in? Or are you just going to carry on repeating known falsehoods.

      Instead the discussion has, as I expected, descended into ad hominem attacks

      Bryan Leyland, you keep repeating lies and you will be accurately described as such. Don’t you understand what an ad hominem is either?

  27. I’m going to put in the recent quote from Paul Krugman that Eli cited recently. I’m sure it will resonate with many here:

    Let me instead go meta; this is an example of why policy debate is so frustrating, and why I’m not polite. The key thing about how the conservative movement handles debate is that it never gives up an argument, no matter how often and how thoroughly it has been refuted. Oh, there will be more sophisticated arguments made too; but the zombie lies will be rolled out again and again, with little or no pushback from the “respectable” wing of the movement.

    In comments and elsewhere I fairly often encounter the pearl-clutchers, who want to know why I can’t politely disagree, since we’re all arguing in good faith, right? Wrong.

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