de Freitas: politics cloud his understanding of climate science

The southern summer silly season is here, and newspapers are desperate for copy. That’s about the only good reason I can think of for the nation’s biggest-selling newspaper, Auckland’s NZ Herald, giving Chris “unreliable witnessde Freitas yet more space to re-run some tired old climate sceptic arguments under the headline Emotion clouding underlying science of global warming. Doubt is his product, and he tries very hard to sound reasonable as he spins his tale. It’s a pity then that the Auckland University associate professor not only misrepresents the evidence, but gets it so badly wrong that he’s an embarrassment to his department.

CdF sets out his stall by complaining that the media seldom take the time to explain the science of climate. The “scientific basics”, he says, “are not contentious”, and he proceeds to explain that adding greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will cause some warming. He continues:

Debate focuses on climate feedbacks that may or may not suppress, perpetuate or amplify an initial change caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

The first misdirection: there is no great debate in this area. There are two sceptic scientists who are desperately trying to argue that there is great uncertainty in this area (Roy Spencer and Richard Lindzen have been trying to find negative feedbacks for years), but their publications are not persuasive to their peers.

A doubling of carbon dioxide, by itself, adds only about one degree Celsius to greenhouse warming.

Nearly. CdF is lowballing the number. The “no feedbacks” warming from a doubling of CO2 above preindustrial levels is usually taken to be about 1.2ºC.

Computer climate models project more warming because the modellers build in feedbacks from water vapour and clouds that amplify the initial change. These are the so called positive feedbacks. For example, higher temperature would mean more evaporation globally, which in turn means more heat-trapping water vapour is put into the atmosphere leading to even higher temperatures.

Modellers don’t “build in” positive feedbacks, they emerge from the physics the models are based on. Warming the atmosphere means it will hold more water vapour, which will act to increase warming (as well as add fuel to weather systems and contribute to greater rainfall intensities). The size of this feedback is governed by the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, and is not novel science. This feedback is already observed in action: the atmosphere today contains 4% more water vapour than in 1970.

On the other hand, negative feedbacks might prevail. For example, more water vapour in the atmosphere could lead to greater cloud cover. Clouds reflect the heat from the Sun and cool the Earth, offsetting the initial rise in global temperature.

Another bit of misdirection. Clouds can act to both warm and cool — sometimes both at the same time. The balance between warming and cooling for the atmosphere at large is not clear, but most evidence points to an overall warming effect.

The role of negative feedback processes are played down by global warming alarmists, whereas sceptics point to the four-billion-year-old global climate record that shows runaway global cooling or warming has never occurred because negative feedbacks regulate the global climate system.

This is just nonsense. Positive feedbacks do not have to cause runaway warming (or cooling), but it would be true to say that the balance between natural positive and negative feedbacks over geological time has kept the planet reasonably equitable for hundreds of millions of years (although we got close to trouble several times in the distant past). However, how the climate system behaves under natural (ie non-anthropogenic) forcings and feedbacks isn’t much help to us going forward, because the planet has never had a species come along and increase atmospheric CO2 by 40% in 150 years before. Worse, CO2 acts like a temperature control knob. Over the last 4 million years a change of 100 ppm has been enough to make the difference between cold glacial conditions and warm interglacials, which really ought to suggest to de Freitas that the system is quite sensitive to small changes. To make matters worse, however hard Lindzen and Spencer try, we can’t seem to find a negative feedback (or magic wand) which will save our bacon. And when we add all the forcings and feedbacks together, and consider many lines of evidence, we find that the climate system will warm by around 3ºC for a doubling of CO2 (if we’re lucky).

Most people are surprised to hear that no one has uncovered any empirical real-world evidence that humans are causing dangerous global warming. Finding this evidence is crucial, since scientific issues are resolved by observations that support a theory or hypothesis. They are not resolved by ballot.

This is a straightforward lie. There’s plenty of empirical evidence that warming is happening, and that it’s our fault. Here’s a nifty graphic from Skeptical Science that provides an overview of all the lines of evidence that confirm warming is happening:


Perhaps the weasel word here is “dangerous”. Perhaps CdF agrees that all this evidence exists, but fervently believes that continued warming won’t be dangerous. Perhaps he thinks it would be wise to wait until the “dangers” were undeniable even by him. Perhaps he should stop playing chicken with the future of the planet. But then we return to the sweet voice of unreason…

None of this is to say we should simply walk away from considerations of a global warming threat, but prudent consideration of the scientific facts is essential.

Quite so, Chris, quite so. The problem is that the facts are not as you portray them.

No science should have to rely on one group or authority saying, “Just trust us,” particularly when tens of millions of dollars of public policy decisions are on the line.

And finally we get to the point. Unfortunately, Chris has it precisely arse about face. What he means is…

No policy should be delayed because one small group or PR campaign says “don’t trust the science,” particularly when hundreds of millions of lives are on the line.

202 thoughts on “de Freitas: politics cloud his understanding of climate science”

  1. Nice post. Two links to my SkS posts too! One little nitpick – you didn’t close the parentheses in the sentence “(although we got close to trouble several times in the distant past.”

    CdF is unquestionably hiding behind strategically-chosen wording here.

    “empirical real-world evidence that humans are causing dangerous global warming”

    By specifying “empirical” evidence, CdF discounts all climate model projections which clearly show the current rate of warming is dangerous. And by adding the word “dangerous”, he can say he’s not denying human-caused warming.

    Basically he’s saying that there’s no evidence that global warming right now is dangerous, as long as we ignore all future projections. But of course he didn’t phrase it this way, because that would make his statement sound rather useless (because it is!).

  2. Does anyone know if he’s a “born-again” Christian? It would explain the not-so-hidden agenda of “playing chicken with the future of the planet”, because after all, he’d expect Jesus to come back for him “within our lifetime” but, if not quite so soon, then within just a few more years anyway, so that a bit of warming over the short term of course would be unimportant, and his friends and family would be OK. Until then we should make full use of the coal that God, in his loving wisdom, provided for us. It might get a bit hotter for the unbelievers left behind, but that’s their own fault, of course, and then haven’t they only got 1000 years before they end up in hell anyway? (My fundamentalist Bible knowledge is getting a bit rusty.)

        1. Because he couldn’t possibly be a genuinely smart person who holds a different opinion on this matter to yourself could he? He MUST have some motivation for his evil lies. Did you consider he may be paid by Exxon Mobil?

          I think your statements sum up the problem with the AGW alarmist crowd. If anyone disagrees with them they think they must have motivation. They see themselves as inculpable. The see people who disagree as either stupid, misguided or subverted. When you can not admit a possibility that you may be wrong and the other side may be right then you cannot really have a debate, only a shouting match.

          1. de Freitas is not just some “smart person” who holds a contrarian view. He has a long record of taking part in the campaign to delay action on climate change, from stacking the peer review process at a journal in order to get sub-standard articles by his friends published, to happily accepting Heartland money to appear at their sceptic “conferences” — most recently in Australia.
            The person refusing to consider the evidence that opposes his view is CdF.

          2. The problem is that CdF is trading on his title as a “climate scientist” to spread misinformation through the news media. If he has research results that call the widely accepted value of climate sensitivity (and its associated uncertainty) into question, then he should publish these in a credible peer-reviewed journal. If he doesn’t, then he should be clear that the views he expresses are of those of a very small minority of active climate science researchers.

            The correct analogy is not that of a shouting match, but someone yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre.

    1. Just Wondering – you might not know that many Christians are concerned about global warming and its consequences and are active in trying to educate the public, eg John Cook at Skeptical Science. I am one of them, too.

  3. “Does anyone know if he’s a “born-again” Christian?”

    That’s a good question, but even if he isn’t, it concerns me regarding the total lack of understanding (e.g. the US Republicans) and silence from other non-Fundamentalist Christians. We need to keep a close eye on them. If and when they start building a huge Ark, and collecting two of every species, then we know we are in trouble. I wonder if they have started doing this in Queensland yet.

    1. Don’t be silly; they will only get 2 of the unclean species(*) and SEVEN of the clean. (Or is that the other way round?)

      And I want to be clear that the concept of species is an alarmist conspiracy. Show me the evidence that the number of species has increased with time! Why, evolution clearly shows… oh dang it. Hang on. Um. OK yeah got it. The number of species clearly fluctuates naturally.

      For example in mdedieval times there were more species. Where have those dragons gone? In more recent times the number of species has decreased. But there is no proof humans were responsible: Extinctions have failed to match the world population so there is no caustive link.

        1. Sorry Carol but yours is a typical reaction for someone with beliefs they just can’t talk about there faith without being offended, why? because that’s the way they have been brought up, don’t ask question’s just blindly follow.

          Lets face it anyone who ‘Believes’ in a higher power will mostly be very susceptible to lie’s and misinformation as this is normally what a lot of them have been force feed from birth, They don’t want to hear the truth!
          It would be very depressing to suddenly wake up to the lie! better to just keep your head down say nothing and keep the faith.
          Science is the enemy of religion and because it searches for the truth and the institution of religion doesn’t deal in the Truth!
          It’s about time we started having this conversation as hiding under the blankets and praying won’t make the problems go away.

          1. You seem to have totally misinterpreted my remark MrSmith, but as Gareth says, this is not a religious forum. Global warming is not a lie, it’s a reality and we need to deal with that reality before it overtakes us.

    2. Tony

      I don’t think “born-again” and “fundamentalist” are remotely equivalent theologically or practically (e.g., someone like Philip Yancey would be born-again but definitely not right-wing fundamentalist). It is disappointing to see the automatic association some people have with “right wing US politics” and Christianity of any kind – although you do make the distinction many others don’t.

      On a tangential point – it always makes me laugh when some deniers liken belief in AGW to a religous belief in perjorative terms. Who exactly are they trying to insult – scientists or the bulk of their support base?

    3. “silence from other non-Fundamentalist Christians”

      Not all are silent. There have been numerous public statements by a wide range of Christian leaders on the significance of ACC. Here is just one from Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (he speaks about this all the time). Various collections of church groups have signed public statements, joined or started campaigns and there is a growing movement of eco-congregations committed to local actions.

      My own modest blog (and PhD work) is (amongst other things) an attempt to critique Christian denialism theologically (of course it can and should also be critiqued scientifically).

  4. “Most people are surprised to hear that no one has uncovered any empirical real-world evidence that humans are causing dangerous global warming.”

    And in reply you post a diagram showing evidence of warming. This is an extremely obvious sleight of hand. De Freitas never claimed warming had not occurred.

    In the link you post the line of evidence runs, humans are raising CO2 levels, CO2 traps heat, temperatures are rising, therefore the theory is correct.

    This is also a sleight of hand. De Freitas acknowledges in the opening part of his article that the theory is correct and these three things are occurring. He is only claiming that forecasts assume too higher rate of feedback.

    The above also assumes that ALL warming that has been measured is due to CO2. There is no empirical real-world evidence for this.

    These are signature Gareth tactics really. If someone criticises any part of AGW theory you react as if they have claimed the world is flat and roll out a series of not directly relevant sceptical science links, instead of considering the argument and giving a balanced response. You may trick a few soft headed dedicated followers into thinking “Gareth showed him”, but anyone with a brain will see through the tactics you have used.

    None of this is to say I agree with everything de Freitas has ever said (which are usually the premise of reply posts that comes now, a bunch of arguments against de Freitas, not me, and further ‘evidence’), only that I think the reply post here falls way short of the mark and is just a cheap reactionary hit peace.

    1. Pure sophistry, R2. There is empirical (ie measured) evidence of warming, human causation, and it underpins the best estimates of climate sensitivity. It’s the latter that gives us reason to expect danger.

      What is really mendacious about CdF’s approach is that it involves a nonsensical approach to risk management — subject on which he is a proven hypocrite.

  5. “The role of negative feedback processes are played down by global warming alarmists, whereas sceptics point to the four-billion-year-old global climate record that shows runaway global cooling or warming has never occurred because negative feedbacks regulate the global climate system.”

    And you say how the planet behaves under natural forcing is irrelevant because this is unnatural forcing??

    I don’t think the planet notices if a change in forcing is natural or unnatural. We were warmer than we are now plenty of times in past inter-glacial and the current inter-glacial. Loss of albedo, methane hydrates or increased water vapour did not cause 4-6C worth of additional warming. Sorry, I don’t follow how ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ affects the response of the earth.

    You seem to disregard the billions of years of natural experiments that have occurred very easily, perhaps because it does not suit your argument to look at the past.

    “Over the last 4 million years a change of 100 ppm has been enough to make the difference between cold glacial conditions and warm interglacials”

    What caused the change in CO2 levels? Are you sure other factors were not causing the change from glacial to interglacial that occurred so periodically? Are you misleading your readers?

    1. Some climate sensitivity estimates are based on “the billions of years of natural experiments”, R2D2. And like all estimates, they fall in the range of 2 to 4.5°C for a doubling of CO2. Nobody is ignoring them.

      Prior changes in CO2 levels were mainly caused by releases from warming oceans, with the warming being caused by ‘natural’ factors like the Milankovitch cycles (orbital forcing). These factors are taken into account in the studies estimating climate sensitivity from paleoclimate data.

      1. Dana, R2 has had this stuff explained to him dozens of times already. He is one of our local contrarian trolls. Either that or he’s like that Guy Pearce character from Memento.

    2. Convenient comprehension problems, R2? How the planet behaves under “natural” forcings and feedbacks is relevant to our understanding of the system, but can only give us limited information about where the system will go when it’s being kicked by human intervention (rapid increases in GHGs, dramatic deforestation, ocean acidification, aerosol pollution, etc), because that hasn’t happened before outside of major extinction events.

      The fact that CO2 is the control knob for planetary temperature is only controversial for those who want to create doubt about the need for action. What turns the knob is another matter — in the past it was changes in insolation, now it’s us — but it is being turned, and fast. All the way to 11, in fact.

  6. A pox on it. The blog software insisted on strippling out the first part of the wayback links. Should have said:

    Probably more venal. There is a family connection to petrodollars.

    This opinion piece was published in the Bulletin of the Canadian Petroleum Geology while his brother was editor.

    The official policy statement from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists on climate change climate change then referenced that. The CSPG later seemed to feel the heat and retreated infinitesimally.

    (Sorry about the wayback links, the blog software insists on stripping out the web.archive bit)

    And of course the Wildean ‘talked about’ issue.

  7. You guys need to spend some time doing some research as your understanding is poor on feedbacks. Especially how the IPCC and the GCM’s treat them.
    Try Judith Currys blog for info on feedback. Roy Spencer is also onto it.
    R2D2 is right.
    There is no evidence of the “extra” warming occurring due to the hypothesis of amplification due to positive feedback.
    There is no correlation between temp rise and the rise of CO2 throughout (known) history.
    If there are any semantics being used then I am afraid it is very much by the alarmists. Your faith is charming but naive.

    What I find fascinating is the rush to smear by making (anti) christian remarks and inferring ‘big oil” connections to denigrate CdF’s view.
    Ad Hominem instead of factual rebuttal.
    Its obvious to me in the time I have spent looking at this blog that your argument is out of date, poorly researched and you guys are really just regurgitating talking points you desparately want to believe.
    I mean, sheesh, youre still banging on about the Islands sinking!

    1. “Ad Hominem instead of factual rebuttal.”

      the only facts Chris mentions are his acknowledgement of AGW. he does not offer any facts to support his claims, leaving us to speculate as to his possible motivation for making these claims.

    2. Its obvious to me in the time I have spent looking at this blog that your argument is out of date, poorly researched and you guys are really just regurgitating talking points you desparately want to believe.

      Do you know what a projection is, David?

    3. “There is no evidence of the “extra” warming occurring due to the hypothesis of amplification due to positive feedback.”

      Yes, actually there is a load of evidence for a climate sensitivity of 2 to 4.5°C, which would necessitate a net positive feedback. The evidence has been provided to you, as I summarized it in my climate sensitivity post on Skeptical Science which has now been linked 3 times (I linked it twice in an accidental double post).

      If you’re going to claim there is no evidence when a large quantity of evidence has been put in front of your nose, it seems to me that arguing with you is a complete waste of time. This is the sort of behavior which earns the title “denier” (not to mention the denial of the link between CO2 and temp changes, addressed by Gareth in his reply).

  8. Doug – Are you implying that any connection to Oil is bad?
    Has your university ever received funding from Oil?

    Has the CRU ever received funding from Oil?

    How much funding have oil companies put into climate science overall?

    And furthermore, do you not consider it a conflict of interest when the BBC, an ardent supporter of the warmist cause, has significant investments in the renewable energy sectors in its pension fund?

    Do you not consider it a conflict of interest that those “independent” enquiries into the CRU emails included the Lord Oxburgh, the chairman of Falck Renewables?

    Do you not consider it a conflict of interest that Pauchauri, the head of the IPCC, is on the board of TERI, a company that stands to make a lot of money from carbon trading?

    Do you consider it a conflict of interest when the head of the UK Met Office is also a director of WWF Europe, an organization that is globally set to make billions of dollars out of the REDD scheme?

    1. I’ll disagree a bit with Doug on this one. I know many geoscientists who share the mainstream view of AGW and who also receive research funding or have other connections with the fossil fuel companies – including myself. Exploration for new sources of coal, oil and gas has provided a rationale (and funding) for the study of sedimentary deposits around the world. This work has included finding new ways to extract paleoclimate information from ancient sediments because, believe it or not, these companies find such data useful in their search for fossil fuels! As least in part, successful transfer of drilling technology and understanding of sedimentary deposits from fossil fuel companies has allowed academic geologists to reconstruct an exquisite record of Earth’s climate and oceans over the last hundred million years from cores of deep-sea sediments.

    1. So you don’t consider it a conflict of interest that an organisation that is involved in climate science is also has financial motives behind that science’s outcomes.(e.g the Met Office)

      How very illuminating.

      ( I am finding it difficult to attribute the LOLs and WFTs to specific points but I can provide evidence to support my claims if you wish. ).

          1. Oh sorry. I thought when you said you’d provide links you meant that you had links to credible sites. If you just want to post the same rubbish you usually do then yes you are wasting your time.

            But don’t feel bad, you just have the wrong forum. Take it to microwatts – they’ll love it (and their time is easily as valuable as yours).

          2. Ah, John, you raised your hotchpotch of conspiracy theories, and then volunteered that you’d provide ‘evidence’. I think you’re just afraid that any links you’ll provide will all come from WUWT or Jo Nova.

            Your BBC claim, for instance, is so bizarre as to warrant its own call-out box in the forthcoming DSM V! But to any mentality capable of believing such paranoiac nonsense in the first place all counter-argument merely augments and confirms the conspiracy. Epistemic closure strikes again!

            1. The BBC issue is well-known,. It is not a conspiracy theory.
              The BBC made a policy decision sometime ago to cover only “consensus views” on climate.

              Try googling “bbc green pension funds”.

              However, I am not going to play games with you guys, wasting bandwidth digging out links for you to dismiss them with a wave of your arm.

              I understand that your interest in “science” extends as far as a game of “Whack a Mole” so that you can all fall around in a self congratulatory heap high fiving each other at another “troll” who provided a link to WUWT, Autonomous Mind, EUref, JoNova, or any of the other sites that are off limits for the “liberal intellectual elite”

            2. Moob! – John’s argument implodes! Hissy-fit ensues!…

              I know it’s hard, John, but the ‘conspiracy theory’ bit is believing that the BBC systematically frames its reporting to spruik global warming and thereby support its pensions fund investments in renewable energy

              (Which are in themselves rather far-sighted, don’t you think? No, that’s right, you don’t; because the future post-oil is actually impossible, isn’t it? Do they invest in anything else, BTW?)

              The fact that it manages to report what the overwhelming majority of actual climatologists say – not to mention all national academies of science – as if it was the most credible position is ‘proof of bias’ in your sealed world.

              So I was right about the links, then? Remember you did say you’d provide ‘evidence’? Storming off in a huff won’t save you!…

            3. So Doug claims DeF has canadian oil connections and that is OK but when the shoe is on the other foot it is a crazy conspiracy theory? You should look up Doublethink.

  9. “What caused the change in CO2 levels? Are you sure other factors were not causing the change from glacial to interglacial that occurred so periodically? Are you misleading your readers?”

    The simplest solution is to let nature run its course, and then if it turns disastrous we’ll just wind the clock back and do it differently.

    The point is that we haven’t seen CO2 past 400ppm for 15 million years or more, and the way we are going it will not stabilise until well above this level. To argue that it might not be all bad and the worst thing that can happen is our grandchildren may suffer, is the height of irresponsibility.

    I notice when talking to my work colleagues that if it came to their own lives being threatened, they would make drastic changes to avoid calamity. But when it comes to their grandchildren being threatened, they don’t give two hoots. When you point out to people the potential hazards of climate change, their instinctive reaction is not to change their lifestyle to better the environment, but how they might try and adapt to the new environment.

    Sadly, R2s attitude is consistent with that of most people, we think we are bullet proof until nature says otherwise.

    1. And here we go again. Because I disagree with the notion that changes in CO2 levels have been the primary driver for past interglacial-glacial cycles I somehow don’t care about my grandchildren. And a psycho-analysis is done determining if it was my own life I would think differently. Yes I just think I’m bullet proof don’t I.

      1. Oh, you’re such a martyr, R2. Those nasty warmists say such awful things about you.

        Of course, it’s got nothing to do with the fact that you ignore the most basic science, constantly come up pseudo-scientific nonsense like “man-made hurricanes”, and argue steadfastly against taking any measures to combat CO2 pollution.

    2. Tony,

      R2’s schtick is to always play the doubt card – ‘how do you know it wasn’t plagues of moths, or too many beaver lodges, or rampant weasels, or something’?

      Since real science always accept the virtual impossibility of complete proof R2 cheerfully rolls in and announces ‘oh, but wait, you have to admit there’s some doubt, a 5% chance something else is going on’. To which most rational people respond ‘And?..’; but R2 smiles smugly and folds his arms.

      I’m sure the Artful Dodger could refer us to a ‘pseudo-sagacity’ card in that deck he likes to cite.

      And notice he’s run away from Dana and Gareth’s rather convincing refutations of his ‘convenient comprehension problem’ above to team up with John on this tangent? Bit hot in the kitchen for ‘anyone with a brain’, R2?…

        1. Nobody disputes that there are uncertainties in climate science, and there always will be in any scientific field. The term ‘uncertainty’ is used literally hundreds of times in the IPCC report. “Playing the doubt card” is like playing the gravity card. You’re not saying anything that anyone disputes, unless you’re saying that the uncertainty is too large for us to take action to reduce CO2 emissions, which it’s clearly not.

          1. Dana, Bill is referring to comments I have made in the past where posts or people in the media have claimed that events like the Pakistani floods would not have happened if GHG weren’t at current concentrations. I don’t believe such statements are necessary to justify action to reduce emissions and also do not believe such statements can be made definitively with the information we have. Some will say our best guess (in their opinion) is that these events were caused by AGW, and that this is what we should go on. For me I think the null hypothesis has to be these events were natural and unless you can prove they had a human influence then they should be kept out of the debate. Note the title of the CdF article, natural disasters are loved by some because they can use emotion to claim the moral high ground.

            Bill, you speak as if I have made a conscious decision to think with logic and scepticism because I judge it the best way to have an argument with you (“R2′s schtick is to always play the doubt card”). This is reverse logic. I naturally think with logic and scepticism and because others passionately don’t this leads to debates/arguments.

            1. Though we can’t say that any single event like the Pakistani floods wouldn’t have happened without AGW, what we can say is that these types of extreme weather events will happen more frequently as a consequence of AGW. I’ve found that the media usually does a decent job of making this distinction, especially when they interview climate scientists, who *always* make this distinction. Nasty events like the Pakistani floods aren’t going to be 1-in-1,000 anymore as a result of AGW.

            2. Dana, just to warn you that you’ll be going round the houses with R2 on this issue. It doesn’t seem to matter how may times you explain “loading the dice” or “made worse by”, R2 is fixated on causation and apparently incapable of accepting/underdstanding nuanced answers.

            3. No I understand. As the planet warms more moisture is held in the atmosphere. As natural events occur there is more moisture so they will be larger than they otherwise would have been. But not all warming is caused by GHGs and all events would have occurred at a slightly lower intensity without the small amount of warming that has occurred since 1850.

              Any build of moisture in the atmosphere is created by a myriad of causes. In this case a blocking of the jet stream caused more moisture to accumulate over Pakistan and more heat over Russia. This blocking event was observed. Due to the planet being warmer that it was 150 years ago more moisture was available so the event was slightly more damaging than it would have been 150 years ago. But it would have still occurred. Some of this increased temperature was caused by increased GHGs. So there was some unknown increase in the intensity of the event due to AGW, but no one knows by how much. The event was absolutely not caused by AGW.

            4. Gareth, I’ve been ‘debating’ with ‘skeptics’ for about 4 years now. I know the drill 🙂

              R2, that depends how you define “proof”. There is of course evidence, for example climate model projections, which I’m guessing you’ll reject because “they’re just models”. The problem there being that all future projections are based on models (by definition), so if you reject all model-based evidence, you reject all future predictions and projections, period.

              But there’s also the fact that the number of hazardous weather events has already increased. And there’s ‘common sense’, which tells you that continually adding energy to the climate system will result in more intense weather. For example, hotter temps = more water vapor in the atmosphere = more intense precipitation.

            5. How do I define proof? I don’t define proof, that is done by the standard scientific method. In the case of relationship between variables usually a coefficient with 95% confidence is required (of course correlation does not always equal causation if there is an omitted variable bias – two variables may be correlated and the actual significant variable may be omitted from the regression).

              I don’t think anyone defines a model as proof, models are used to model the effect of a change in the future. Models can use proven relationships or theoretical relationships. If a model uses a theoretical relationship and that model proves to be correct, with 95% confidence, then that could be used as proof of that theory (as long as no omitted variable bias).

              In this case we don’t need models. We can look at the last 150 years and see what the relationship is. I think you posted a link trying to do this but it doesn’t seem to be working. Re-post?

              Note you need to be careful with how the data is captured. A common mistake is to observe a trend of the cost of weather events rising, which is of course incorrect.

            6. Its kind of funny how you try to classify climactic events as natural / man-made, R2. nature does not work like this.

              lets say you have a precariously balanced bucket that is “naturally” 99% full. along comes man and pours a glass of water into the bucket, upsetting it’s equilibrium and tipping it over. now would you say the tip wasn’t caused by man because they didn’t add much water? most of the water was naturally there to begin with so it’s not possible that us adding a little bit of water could have caused the bucket to tip, right? you may not have noticed but we are a part of “nature”.

            7. That seems like a pretty unscientific report to me. Comparing the media reports of floods, hurricanes andn earthquakes. Published in “Environment and Poverty Times”. The frequency of disasters increases from 1 in 1900 and 0 in 1901 to over 400 in 1999. Seems like a lot of noise in the data.

              I had a quick look for actual scientific studies and found these two letters to nature.

              “Hurricane activity in the North Atlantic Ocean has increased significantly since 1995 (refs 1, 2). This trend has been attributed to both anthropogenically induced climate change3 and natural variability1, but the primary cause remains uncertain. Changes in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the past can provide insights into the factors that influence hurricane activity, but reliable observations of hurricane activity in the North Atlantic only cover the past few decades2. Here we construct a record of the frequency of major Atlantic hurricanes over the past 270 years using proxy records of vertical wind shear and sea surface temperature (the main controls on the formation of major hurricanes in this region1,3–5) from corals and a marine sediment core. The record indicates that the average frequency of major hurricanes decreased gradually from the 1760s until the early 1990s, reaching anomalously low values during the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, the phase of enhanced hurricane activity since 1995 is not unusual compared to other periods of high hurricane activity in the record and thus appears to represent a recovery to normal hurricane activity, rather than a direct response to increasing sea surface temperature. Comparison of the record with a reconstruction of vertical wind shear indicates that variability in this parameter primarily controlled the frequency of major hurricanes in the Atlantic over the past 270 years, suggesting that changes in the magnitude of vertical wind shear will have a significant influence on future hurricane activity.”


              “Extreme river floods have been a substantial natural hazard in Europe over the past centuries1, and radiative effects of recent anthropogenic changes in atmospheric composition are expected to cause climate changes, especially enhancement of the hydrological cycle2, leading to an increased flood risk3,4. For the past few decades, however, observations from Europe1,5–7 do not show a clear increase in flood occurrence rate. Here we present longerterm records of winter and summer floods in two of the largest rivers in central Europe, the Elbe and Oder rivers. For the past 80 to 150 yr, we find a decrease in winter flood occurrence in both rivers, while summer floods show no trend, consistent with trends in extreme precipitation occurrence. The reduction in winter flood occurrence can partly be attributed to fewer events of strong freezing—following such events, breaking river ice at the end of thewinter may function as a water barrier and enhance floods severely. Additionally, we detect significant long-term changes in flood occurrence rates in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, and conclude that reductions in river length, construction of reservoirs and deforestation have had minor effects on flood frequency.”


              I think the conclusion from both articles can be there are a number of factors that influence extreme weather events and small changes in global temperatures is not a major one. I agree if we see the temperature changes forecast by the IPCC a greater effect may be expected but we are talking current extreme events here.

              For a self proclaimed sceptic you seem to be a little biased with the direction you through your sceptisism.

            8. I’m doing nothing of the sort! I have never st… oh, forget it, it’s a waste of time. R2 always pulls this stunt, and it is both transparent and tiresome. He also claims not to be an AGW denier but will quibble with any piece of evidence for it. ‘Rampant weasels’, that’s the answer!

              For the benefit of the non-ideologically blinded reading this Dana has summed it up neatly – AGW means things like the Pakistani floods, or the latest Queensland floods, are not 1 in 1000 year events anymore. ‘Loading the dice’.

              No individual event can be ascribed in some bizarre false-dichotomy between ‘natural’ and ‘man made’. This is a deliberate attempt to have rational questions of risk derailed in to nit-picking searches for ‘fingerprints’.

              People like R2 are simply trying to muddle you into doing nothing, in his case in order to preserve the prerogatives of his beloved Free Enterpriseâ„¢ system, something that ALL of the ‘skeptics’ and trolls here appear to have in common. Capitalism triumphant trumps ecology and community.

              Are you silly enough to take the risk, dear reader? Ask yourself the same question none of the skeptics/deniers here will ever answer; what is the conservative position on conducting a radical experiment with the one atmosphere we possess?

            9. R2 says “…not all warming is caused by GHGs …” Seeing as we have recently been through a period of low solar activity, I would like to know what else could have caused recent (last 30 years) warming other than an increase in GHGs? Who turned up the thermostat?

            10. Well I never said 30 years did I. The 0.6/0.7 figure that is quoted is since 1850. At that time the Dalton Minimum had just finished. The current period is known as the Modern Maximum and extends back to 1900.

            11. See, now this would be an example of where you need to back up your statements with actual science, R2.

              Carol’s comment is relevant because in the last 30 years there has been a significant divergence between global average temperature and solar activity. Carol’s question is perfectly reasonable – what, other than GHGs, could have been responsible for this divergence? Clearly, solar activity cannot be responsible, for all your talk of the Dalton Minimum.

              So what, in your opinion, has been the main driver of temperature in the last 30 years?

            12. Just to be clear, the planet has warmed approx. 0.55°C over the past 50 years, and 0.45°C over the past 30 years (satellites confirming the latter figure). Over both of these periods, solar activity has been flat.

              Frankly only GHGs can explain this long-term warming, but that’s what Carol and CTG are challenging R2D2 to provide an alternative explanation for.

          1. Judith Curry has a post back in October 2010 on What constitutes “dangerous” climate change? that is more informative than anything that has appeared so far on this thread. Michael Tobis from Only In It For The Gold directly addresses the question about empirical evidence for “dangerous” climate change in the comments to that post. His responses are worth reading in full but here’s a particularly pertinent bit:

            If you are standing on a railroad crossing in the fog, hear a loud whistle, and see a bright light in the distance, but have no knowledge of anyone standing on this very track before, one could easily argue that there is insufficient evidence to attribute the factors you see to a train in a statistically significant sense. It would still make sense to get off the track.

            In this sense, the extreme summer in Australia in 09, in Russia this year, seem like they might well be the beginnings of actual consequences of climate change. But we can’t know for sure yet. It may become statistically clear (in a frequentist sense) retrospectively once more data arrives. The question is more of a Bayesian one; not what can we eliminate at the 95% level but what do we suspect at the 50% level. Here, our different expectations play a role, but that’s exactly what a pure Bayesian approach says they should do.

  10. de Freitas has a long history of misdirection.

    “the recent good news according Dr de Freitas is that the resulting concentration of methane in the atmosphere has been falling even faster, so much so that now the amount in the atmosphere is actually decreasing.”

    NOAA data for the time (de Freitas press release is 2002) shows the fatuous and deliberatively deceptive nature of his comment. Which is kind of funny when you read that 2 days later “[de Freitas] told [Federated Farmers] that politicians have selectively used scientific data to support their Global Warming concept.”

  11. Treadgold runs CdF’s article in full, with this gushing introduction:

    From the pen of Chris de Freitas comes this short but compelling narrative, inspired and inspiring, and calming, like a cool balm on an inflammation. Read it and watch the heat from the global warming debate dissipate and important issues clarify.

    And the comments are a hoot as well. There’s a whole lot of cognitive dissonance going on — of which more later…

  12. The NZ Herald doesn’t seem to be allowing comments to the on line article by CdF, or they are being held up in moderation for hours. None there so far . Ha anyone else attempted to comment there?
    There’s always the possibility that all comment so far has been abusive, lol.

  13. The facts show that Chris de Freitas is mendacious and incompetent.

    Some denialists are rapture xian. Some are in it for the money. Some just have the Wildean talked about complex. Others are tinfoil hat libertarians and realise that CC will involve action world (capital G) Government and like ID cretins they deny on the basis of the implications of the truth.

    ‘Just wondering’ asked if de Freitas is rapture xian. I don’t think he is. I think de Lange is a tin foil hat about government but I think de Freitas is in it for the money and the ego boost from being talked about. But regardless, his motivation is of mild interest only and does not change the fact of his deliberate misdirection.

  14. Gareth: “The balance between warming and cooling for the atmosphere at large is not clear, but most evidence points to an overall warming effect.”

    This key sentence in your post reveals that the two sides are not far apart. Feedbacks are both positive and negative and the peer-reviewed papers cannot yet agree on the net impact – although the IPCC prefers models which show an overall warming effect.

    This debate seems to be hotting up – with two opposing papers recently released. Maybe we’ll know the answer by year’s end.

    1. I don’t think there are any models which show a net negative feedback. There are *studies* which suggest the net feedback may be negative (usually shoddy ones, like Lindzen and Choi ’09), but no models I’m aware of show less than about 2°C climate sensitivity, which is a significant net warming feedback. Most models are between 2.5 and 4°C for 2xCO2.

      So saying the IPCC prefers models which show an overall warming effect is just saying that the IPCC prefers models which exist!

      1. No, I don’t think all researchers deliberately ignore the possibility that net feedbacks may be small or negative.

        An example of a model which concluded that carbon sensitivity (after feedbacks) might be as low as 1.6°C is mentioned at /new_model_doubled_co2_sub_2_degrees_warming/

        It is significant that this model was chosen for their personal research work by Dr Bounoua and other leading modelers from NASA and NOAA, who must be amongst the most experienced anywhere.

        1. Sorry Australis but the article you reference is, not surprisingly, factually wrong.

          The study it references discusses a photosynthetic cooling factor which is not accounted for in climate models (but which is still disputed), which if they are correct would lead to an additional 0.26°C cooling effect. In the study the scientists stated that if applied to a climate model with 1.94°C sensitivity (which is on the very low end of possible values), it would result in a sensitivity of 1.68°C for 2xCO2.

          In short, the only way to get 1.6°C from study you reference is to take their disputed effect, apply it to the least sensitive models available, and then round the sensitivity down from 1.68 to 1.6. This article is a good example of why it’s dangerous to rely on the mainstream media for climate science information. Always go to the source.

          1. Okay, I’m not going to argue about 8-hundredths of a degree. The point is that the 2°C you mention is factually wrong.

            If NASA and NOAA researchers are using models which assume less than 1°C of net feedback, then there are probably others using models with less than 0.1°C of net feedback.

            And yet, the IPCC chooses models which show net feedback of 2 – 4°C.

            1. NO! Wrong again. You continue to demonstrate a consistent misunderstanding of basic mathematical and statistical concepts. I’m not even going to attempt to demonstrate your error – you would only argue white is black. It is clearly apparent you really have no interest in understanding the truth of the matter. But all things being equal, (and assuming that the photosynthetic cooling to which you refer DOES occur) then the chances of only 1.6 Degree C warming with doubling CO2 is less than 1%. Which is why the figures are what they are. Not fiddled with by someone such as yourself who has either no understanding of the mathematics, or has a vested interest to argue to the contrary.

            2. Give me a freaking break, Australis. Did you really just say “there are probably others using [non-existent models]….The point is that the 2°C you mention is factually wrong”?

              You do realize that “factual” means “supported by facts”, right? And you do realize that “there are probably…” is complete supposition not even remotely resembling a fact?

              Sorry but there are no climate models with anything close to a 1.3°C climate sensitivity to 2xCO2. Your illogical supposition is neither factual nor remotely correct.

            3. And yet, the IPCC chooses models which show net feedback of 2 – 4°C

              Don’t be silly. All the available General Circulation Models (GCM’s) are used in the IPCC reports.

            4. Just because the GCMs broadly agree with each other doesn’t make them right.

              This is one of the weakest arguments in the book.

            5. It’s called multiple independent lines of evidence. Each of the major earth systems models is a separate effort to take non-controversial physics and use that to model the climate system. You can’t tar them all with the same brush just because you disagree with their results. Oh, sorry, that’s your modus operandi.

              If any of the great brains driving the sceptic case could build a model that showed the earth was not going to warm from first principles, do you think they would keep it quiet?

            6. CTG January 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm

              That is the most ignorant and ill-informed comment I have ever read on this site, John.

              But no explanation why

            7. Not only are the GCMs all in broad agreement, but they’re also in agreement with the many other lines of evidence all putting climate sensitivity for 2xCO2 at 2 to 4.5°C. I have yet to see a single decent piece of evidence that all of these estimates are wrong.

            8. CTG January 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm

              That is the most ignorant and ill-informed comment I have ever read on this site, John.

              Actually, this is a statement (more or less) that Lindzen made at the Heartland conference last year, and it received wide applause.

              Maybe “cranks” brains are wired differently?

            9. Gee, I wonder why people attending an oil-funded right-wing think tank’s climate conference would applaud a meaningless pot-shot against climate models showing that global warming is dangerous.

              “Maybe “cranks” brains are wired differently?”

              Yes, that would be a good explanation.

  15. Pleased to see that De Freitas’ stupid ramblings have been given the treatment they deserve. A hearty “Boo” to the Herald and the family of trolls who have been duly polluting this thread.

    “I’m not aware that Chris did any science” – an acid comment I heard from a nameless scientist some years back

  16. I posted on the Herald site re this piece and I think my comment was pretty polite. I wonder who does the moderation. It seems a bit unethical to pretend to allow feedback but then not publish it…

    PS R2D2 and Australis, you are way out of your depth. Dana’s analysis has pretty much knocked you out of the park

    1. Really? I still have not got a reply from Dana on the two papers I linked to which showed no increase in extreme weather events. Although I am well aware of my limits, I don’t think Dana’s one page article on increasing media reports of disasters was too deeper water for me to handle!

      I also find Dana usually ‘proves’ something I never said wrong. Such as when I said ” In the case of relationship between variables usually a coefficient with 95% confidence is required” and he said “That’s not proof, it’s statistical significance (at a 95% confidence level)”, which is of course exactly what I was saying in the first place (in order to prove a relationship significant usually a 95% level is required, not 95% is proof).

      It gets tiresome and circular arguing when you get into arguing about what you said. He seems to mainly want to feel superior by trying to find holes that aren’t always there, if there is no holes he will twist what you say.

      1. Yeah R2D2, you won the argument because I got tired of arguing with you. But fine, I’ll respond to your claims.

        First you rejected the paper I provided you because “That seems like a pretty unscientific report to me.” A totally transparent and pathetic tactic used to dismiss results you don’t want to believe. Now you mischaracterize the study as “media reports”, when in reality the data came from the International Disaster Database.

        Then you claim the papers you linked “showed no increase in extreme weather events.” Of course the studies didn’t even examine the frequency of extreme weather events. The first is a study of Atlantic hurricane activity in the 1970s and ’80s. Last I checked, it’s 2011! First off, hurricanes are only one type of ‘extreme weather’, and while their intensity is likely to increase in a warming world, their frequency may decrease due to increasing wind shear disrupting hurricane formation. Secondly, the study you linked only looks at North Atlantic hurricane activity. You really think a study of hurricane activity in one small region 30 years ago is evidence that extreme weather has not increased??

        The second study you link is once again regional (Europe) and once again just one type of extreme weather (floods).

        As for your next comment, I was simply correcting your error. I said “it depends how you define ‘proof'”, and you proceeded to define stastistical significance at a 95% confidence level. The two are not equivalent, in fact they are completely different concepts. In science we rarely encounter “proof”.

        1. There you go again. Where do I say I won the argument? I am not actually after an argument, if you can show proof extreme weather events are increasing then I will be satisfied. But I don’t believe you have done that.

          I honestly don’t know if events have increased or not. I am not a scientist in this field. I simply see reports by AGW action proponents that they have and counter reports by others saying they have not. The thing I do in this situation is a quick google scholar search. I found the articles I posted. I found no articles that showed increasing events over a period longer than 1970 to present (this is a tactic used by both ‘sides’ when trying to find a trend, pick a convenient start date).

          I don’t see why regional, disaster specific, studies are insignificant. If there was a trend on total disasters then it would have to be reflected in some regions and disaster types, it would be good to know which ones. The useful thing about these regional specific studies is they paint a picture of why a trend has not occurred – as I say in my comment my only conclusion from the papers is that they show the picture is more complicated than simply more moisture more events.

          Please don’t tell me you think the article you posted is the authoritative piece of work on this issue. Are these physical criteria:
          “EM-DAT includes all disasters from 1900 until present, which fit at least one of the following criteria:
          •10 or more people killed;
          •100 or more people affected;
          •declaration of a state of emergency
          •Call for international assistance”

          I’m not going to go round in circles on the second issue.

            1. I think this belief that ‘Beck’ (and ‘Ring’) are the knockout punch is a little delusional and immature Doug. First of all, I’m not a ‘denier’. I accept CO2 is increasing, temperatures are increasing, and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I am simply sceptical of an extreme green policy position and of using events like Pakistani floods to promote that position. I am open to discussing this scepticism if people on this blog are willing to do so in a mature manner.

              Is it really worth my time reading ‘Beck’?

            2. Yes. For three reasons:

              (1) Bob Carter – founder of NZC”S”C puts great faith in EG Beck. Bob Carter also promotes many of the same arguments you use. If EG Beck is shown to be a moron it shows Carter is incompetent, a liar or both. This in turn calls into question the claims made by Carter and yourself.

              (2) It is further proof, if any were needed, that denialists like you (and please don’t insult us by pretending otherwise) are unable – due to cognitive dissonance – to criticse each other. Once you start calling people on science errors then where would it stop? Once Bob Carter is shown to be incompetent then who would be safe?

              (3) Do it to find why EG Beck is right and prove me wrong.

          1. I’m not really interested in arguing about it or researching further, R2. It’s ‘common sense’ that when you add more energy and moisture to the climate system, extreme weather events are going to become more common. It’s a projected result in climate models, and there’s strong evidence that it’s already happening. If you don’t want to believe it, that’s your perrogative.

            1. We already looked at the data, which confirmed common sense (and physical reality). You didn’t want to believe the data – that’s your problem, not mine. Feel free to look for more data, but I’m not going to do the work for you.

            2. “You didn’t want to believe the data – that’s your problem, not mine”

              I didn’t believe the data? No I believed it, but found it misleading (where do I claim the data is fraudulent?). Dana grow up please, this is very frustrating. As I said above I am not actually claiming I have the data for this – if you can show me a robust study showing an increase I will accept it. As you say it should be expected with increasing moisture. My problem is that the claims are made without proper evidence – I am a sceptic when such things are done. Are you?

          2. Are these physical criteria:
            “EM-DAT includes all disasters from 1900 until present, which fit at least one of the following criteria:
            •10 or more people killed;
            •100 or more people affected;

            In that they are objectively measurable, yes. So long as population growth is corrected for they should be perfectly adequate metrics of extreme weather intensity I’d say.

            1. Re: EM-DAT

              Are you suggesting that we have reliable data going back to the 1900’s on disasters and number of people affected?

              This seems very unlikely to me.

            2. Sam V: Really? Are you kidding me? Surely it would be better to use physical metrics such as sediment discharge from a flood. My post giving examples of this was shouted down while Dana’s one pager link was given the thumbs up….

              “So long as population growth is corrected for”, and wealth of the region (10 people die in Somalia or 10 die in France), and average age of the population (more people die of heat stress is older populations), and population density (more people living on dangerous areas such as flood plains), and and and and. By the time you correct for all these things you aren’t left with much of a study. The study uses earthquakes as a control, but we know that as building codes increase smaller earthquakes can largely be mitigated, where as floods will continue to affect people. There are just so many problems I could write a 1000 words but better stop there.

              From the author of ‘sceptical science’, referring to this article does not show much skepticism.

              This is such a silly issue but a very important one. The claims are all too often made that climate change is causing damage through droughts and floods, yet the foundations of these claims seem very weak.

            3. Dude seriously, what’s your problem? If you’re “skeptical” then go research the issue and stop harassing me about it. No, I’m sorry, I’m not terribly skeptical of the laws of physics. It’s a no-brainer. If I tell you that when you step off a bridge you’ll fall into the river below, are you going to be a ‘skeptic’ and test my theory?

              I’m not stopping you from researching this issue. Just get over yourself, stop bugging me, and get on with it. Gareth was right, I should have just kept my mouth shut to begin with.

            4. Yes Dana, [smiley chide on] maybe you should have kept your mouth shut. You just give them a chance to Gish gallop, derail the thread and make people forget that they have yet to address the very simple question about EG Beck being a total fool and Bob Carter being a fraud for pretending to believe EG Beck. [smiley chide off]

              [Lee Van Cleef eyes on] Hammer them on this until they give up and have to make new identities. [off]

            5. R2, thumbs moderation does not imply agreeing or disagreeing with the content. It probably more often means, “is this person being a t******k”. It’s about saying, “don’t bother with reading this comment” to the other readers. You might have one or two facts right here and there, but that doesn’t make it worth reading.

              You are right that data on impact of catastrophes has multiple issues, but all you are doing is waving and shouting and saying that must mean they are meaningless without having any real analysis to back that up. We’re only talking 100 years here, this is by no means prehistoric. The data certainly has a place as supporting evidence of a world which is seeing more intense weather events.

            6. “The data certainly has a place as supporting evidence of a world which is seeing more intense weather events.”

              Yes I agree Sam. Supporting evidence. But robust evidence is needed for this anecdotal study to support. The causes of individual weather events are very complicated. What may seem like a simple theory needs to be supported by empirical evidence. If this is done it will be the benefit of everyone.

              I am willing to change my mind and believe extreme weather events are increasing if a robust study is presented. But I am not going to accept a ‘common sense’ theory on this if the empirical evidence I have seen suggests it is wrong, and I have not seen any robust evidence supporting it. This is healthy scientific scepticism.

              Some say that if I care so much about this I should research it myself rather than asking others to provide the evidence. The issue of course is that I have tried to do this and only found papers showing no trend. The problem with such a comment is that I am not the one trying to push an alternative hypothesis. The null here has to be that extreme weather is random. I have tried to find papers proving this null hypothesis wrong but failed. I do not then need to present a whole body literature proving this null hypothesis right (the whole “prove to me this rock does not bring good luck conundrum”).

            7. The issue of course is that I have tried to do this and only found papers showing no trend.

              Using a google scholar search for “hurricane intensity”, the top hit (Webster et al, 2005) is a paper studying the intensity of hurricanes in the last 35 years and showing a positive trend. There is Emanuel (2005), published in Nature, which writes:

              Theory and modelling predict that hurricane intensity should increase with increasing global mean temperatures, but work on the detection of trends in hurricane activity has focused mostly on their frequency3, 4 and shows no trend. Here I define an index of the potential destructiveness of hurricanes based on the total dissipation of power, integrated over the lifetime of the cyclone, and show that this index has increased markedly since the mid-1970s.

              “Common Sense” is perhaps understating the factual and evidence-backed basis for the argument that increased temperatures means more energy in the climate system which leads to more extreme weather events.

            8. It’s worth pointing out that R2 is demonstrating the behaviour so nicely described in the Skewed views animation I posted yesterday.

              He’s been pointed at the evidence he seeks, every time he raises his “doubts”. Wilful ignorance, in other words.

              I find it interesting that the “sceptics” always push back very strongly against extreme weather attribution to climate change — perhaps because they realise that this is where the rubber hits the road, and where public opinion will move fastest.

            9. I wrote from the start there was plenty of evidence of a trend since 1970.

              “The thing I do in this situation is a quick google scholar search. I found the articles I posted. I found no articles that showed increasing events over a period longer than 1970 to present (this is a tactic used by both ‘sides’ when trying to find a trend, pick a convenient start date).”

            10. Sam V: Sorry the reply was to you not Dana. I have begun to read over the papers Dana posted. Will reply once I have done so.

  17. John D: Maybe “cranks” brains are wired differently?

    You set these zingers up deliberately don’t you?

    Damn straight John, didn’t you read the “Impossible” post? You are suffering from cognitive dissonance. BTW, how is the search for truthiness in Beck going?

      1. Do you mean Watts (on the fence) and Bob Carter (loves Beck) have the beginnings of a disagreement? How exciting.

        But, since you have so many opinions about other areas of climate science, what is your opinion? (It is OK to admit that you don’t have the skills to form such an opinion).

        1. I am reading about Beck. You asked me to do this. He sounds like an interesting guy.

          This line interested me:

          “In Germany the situation is
          comparable to the times of medieval inquisition.”

          Perhaps you can explain to me what you think this means.

            1. What I think it means is the usual bullying tactics and violent threats that we see from the climate science establishment.

              Or, actually to be more generic, the “liberal” sector of society in general, whom I have grown to associate with something akin to the Nazi party over the last few years.

            2. “…bullying tactics and violent threats that we see from the climate science establishment.”

              Such as? I can easily recall the death threats against climate scientists such as James Hansen. And the howls of “sack him” against John Abraham. But violent threats from the climate science establishment? Nope, nothing comes to mind (other than private expressions of frustration, stolen and published on the internet).

            3. I think we can all agree that this comment crosses the line. Goodbye John D, it wasn’t nice knowing you, you won’t be missed.

            4. Violent threats?

              Try this from dear old Moonbat

              …every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned.


              Wonder if “death trains of coal” Hansen thought that when he got off his plane to support the honest protesters.

              Nice to know that the “liberal” media are so charming.
              You want more examples? Of course you do. You want me to push up the Google rankings so that everyone can see what a total fraud CdF is.

              Goodbye? I have only just started.

            5. Yep, there’s such abounding evidence of rampant fascism on our side of the debate that John only has to nip back to December 2006 to quote Monbiot out of context.

              You know that bit in the video link I posted yesterday? The one where Dave Mitchell as a BBC presenter says –

              Yes, why not? What possible reason could there be for you not to e-mail us? Certainly ignorance shouldn’t be a bar. You may not know anything about the issue, but I bet you reckon something. So why not tell us what you reckon? Let us enjoy the full majesty of your uninformed ad hoc reckon by going to – all one word – clicking on ‘what I reckon’ and then simply beating on the keyboard with your fists or head

              That’s you, that is! I guarantee you I’m not alone in thinking it… But cheer up; it’s even more ‘David’ ‘Graham’ and, particularly, ‘Joe Fone’.

            6. …and whereas, John? Currently on the font page of this turkey’s website. Today. Not 2006. To come up with this inflammatory drivel so shortly after the Giffords shooting is an indication of utter moral depravity. Seriously.

          1. That line does not appear in EG Beck’s meisterwerk. I meant that you should try reading the ‘paper’ and not go for secondary sources.

            I especially enjoy the connection to Ken Ring (full of bullshit) where EG Beck says that CO2 levels are correlated with the phase of the moon. He promises to explain all in a paper in preparation but I don’t recall ever having see it. Shame.

            If I recall correctly, Chis de Freitas has “reservations” about EG Beck so maybe you can ask him for help if you need it.

            1. Phase of the moon?! I missed that bit – or perhaps my temporarily fried brain zzzzzed it from short-term memory.
              Thereby saving the long-term from being burdened by it.

            2. Ring says some things that are so extraordinary that the next day you really can’t quite be sure that you really can have read that right.

              Like the poetry of the Azgoths of Kria – you’d almost think some major organ of the body might leap out in a desperate attempt to save life kind!

            3. Doug,
              Can you provide me with a link to E G Beck’s meisterwerk?

              It might help push up your Google rankings for
              “Chris de Freitas is a fraud”


            4. John D who is so adept at finding links to dodgy claims can’t find EG Beck? Bryan Leyland used to have it (and may still do so). I expect that Bob Carter who is thanked twice in it will also have a copy. Ask them.

              Then, after you have worked your way through Beck and come to an opinion we can discuss matters arising.

            5. Chis de Freitas has “reservations” about EG Beck so maybe you can ask him for help if you need it.

              Cheers, I will.

              Now, please explain to me how my opinions of E G Becks paper is going to support your thesis that “Chris de Freitas is a fraud”, (hello, Googlebot!) if the aforesaid gentleman has “reservations”.

              Just so that all the readers that will be rushing to this blog after typing “Chris de Freitas is a fraud” (hello Googlebot!) into their Google toolbar will find the pertinent information quickly and will be able to see a well-reasoned argument laid out before them.

              Otherwise, they might get confused, especially if they are suffering from the post-modern networked cretinous syndrome that I alluded to earlier.

            6. Doug,
              You are doing a very good imitation of a troll on this thread. Kind of ironic really since you wrote the piece.

              If you actually wanted me to critique a paper, it would actually help to give me a reference rather than send me off on a wild goose chase across the internet.

              Never mind. I think it is fair to say at this point that I have lost the will to live.

            7. Gareth January 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

              John D also demonstrates many of the approaches used in the “Skewed” video…

              No need to Google. One search here leads to a post with a link to Eli’s, whence:

              404 Not Found
              The requested URL /agri/BeckCO2short.pdf was not found on this server.

              Been there, done that

            8. Well, that took about 50 seconds. Like Eli says – as available on Beck’s own blog. (It’s amazing what Google and the words ‘E G Beck blog’ can achieve!)

              And as crucified everywhere – except Boehmer-Christiansen’s ‘Energy and Environment’, of course.

            9. bill January 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

              Well, that took about 50 seconds. Like Eli says – as available on Beck’s own blog. (It’s amazing what Google and the words ‘E G Beck blog’ can achieve!)


              Which paper are you referring to in this index list?

            10. Me? I’m not referring to any!

              I thought you were looking for Beck’s CO2 papers, and here’s a blog called ‘the Real History of CO2 gas analysis’ by E G Beck, and there’s a paper called ‘180 YEARS OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2 GAS ANALYSIS BY CHEMICAL METHODS’ which was published (*cough*) in Energy and Environment and responded to by Meijer and Keeling. This isn’t the ‘meisterwork’ referred to?

              I don’t feel any obligation to read it: I’m quite happy to live with the consensus opinion that this is all completely hatstand!

            11. @bill
              I don’t feel any obligation to read it: I’m quite happy to live with the consensus opinion that this is all completely hatstand!

              What a priceless comment.
              I shall treasure this.

            12. Ho ho – good! 😉 So we can look forward to your thorough analysis of the paper you made such a fuss about and subsequent critique then, John?

            13. bill January 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

              Ho ho – good! 😉 So we can look forward to your thorough analysis of the paper you made such a fuss about and subsequent critique then, John?

              Actually, it was not me that was making the fuss about the Beck paper at all, it was Doug.

              Remember, he was the one who brought it up in his article, that “deniers” never criticise each other.

              So, I asked for the paper that he was referring to and have now found it. I can chose to read it and understand it, or use someone else’s opinion upon which to judge the paper.

              In order to do a fair appraisal of the paper, I’d probably have to study CO2 science for quite a long time, so don’t hold your breath that I am going to come to any conclusions any time soon.

              However, it is unfair to (a) claim that I was making a deal about the paper, when it was Doug that was, and then (b) claim that I am not capable of criticising other work, and (c) constantly criticising me that I don’t read articles or papers, because I do.

            14. You see, John, when I said I couldn’t be bothered reading the paper I’d already read the precis on the front page of his web site, and decided it was gobbledygook. So, being a moderately intelligent human being and not wishing to train myself in atmospheric chemistry I decided that the opinions of the majority with such training – whose reaction was consistently reported as something along the lines of ‘this is a joke, right?’ – outweighed this maverick outlier.

              I think that’s perfectly reasonable. Now, if you don’t, you have to either come up with your own interpretation of the paper or find qualified people who will back it. Good luck with either! Running away will simply leave us all wondering how you manage to make any coherent assessments about anything…

            15. Mike Palin January 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

              Gosh John D, now that you’ve pointed it out, all those groups and institutions do agree about the science of climate change. Hmm, I guess that means there really is a consensus

              Did I ever say otherwise Doug?
              Please stop trying to pidgeonhole me.

              Oh, and by the way, science doesn’t work by consensus, that’s for politics.

            16. I agree that science doesn’t work by consensus. But, would you agree that science can reach a consensus through its work?

            17. John D – Monbiot is not part of the climate science establishment. Unless by that you mean ‘anyone interested in climate science’?

            18. Carol,
              By “climate science establishment”, I refer to all the institutions, whether it be media, universities, Royal Societies, etc, that support the “consensus” view on climate science.

              Monbiot is very much part of this group.

            19. Gosh John D, now that you’ve pointed it out, all those groups and institutions do agree about the science of climate change. Hmm, I guess that means there really is a consensus. Thanks for clearing that up.

              (Oh, and don’t worry, your contrarian friends won’t “out” you on this slip. Remember, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, you never criticise each other.)

          2. John-
            He must have been noting that, like in the MWP, recent temperature anomalies in Northern Europe do not extend globally. Nobody expected this as it could have been used as a chief weapon of surprise and fear against the contrarians.

        1. I’m not sure that he is actually capable of forming his own opinions, or even for that matter sufficiently clearing his mind of the distorted world view that he holds, to determine the truth. He has to chase round the denial-o-sphere to see what others are saying. Shame really.

        2. Who forms your opinions, John D?

          Do you want a complete list of all the books I have read, all the blog posts, scientific papers, newspapers, magazines I have read?

          All the movies and plays I have watched?

          All the people I have spoken to?

          Or were you expecting that I am just a cretin that gets all my info from the Daily Mail?

          Maybe you can tell me who forms your opinions Carol? That is, assuming that you don’t just download them from some kind of boilerplate opinion generator.

          1. I form my own opinions, John. The ones on climate change are based on study (31 years of study, so far) and observation.

            I no nothing about the Daily Mail except that it used to print “Rupert” stories.

            1. Then I know nothing about the Daily Mail. Thanks for the correction, Gareth. I learned about origami first from Rupert. Kind of funny, a kiwi child learning Japanese art from an English bear.

  18. I understand the reasoning now.

    If I can prove that Beck is a cretin, then anyone who cites him is also a cretin.

    This is of course a process of induction. However, does this not also apply to any other field of human endeavour?

    If I can prove that there exists a cretin in the world, who has been cited by anyone, then by induction everyone is a cretin. That is, assuming that eventually all links will lead to the originating cretin, thanks to the power of Google, Facebook and Twitter, and academic citation.

    Thus we see the emergence of the worldwide cretin.

    But then, my cognitive ability would be impaired by my induced cretinous nature, making any form of cretinous theorem impossible to prove.

    Thus we see the post-modern Schroedingers Cat, the cretin who can and cannot think at the same time.

  19. Did someone esle write that for you John? What happened to dim but stubborn John?

    Still not answering the question though are you? And what that proves is my original thesis that denialists like you will jump through any number of hoops to avoid criticisng another denialist.

    Now, since you are anonymous what do you have to lose? Well, two things. (1) A carefully crafted persona (as dim but stubborn) here that the locals have ‘invested’ in so they waste time debating it. (2) You probably are not quite so anonymous to the moles and, as a sockpuppet – even an anonymous sockpuppet – don’t want to criticise them/yourself.

    Pull the plug John and come back next week as a new persona.

      1. The problem that I have with criticising other deniers is that I don’t know any. This is because, being deniers, they deny that they are deniers.
        We don’t have any kind of “denier university” where we can go to learn about denying things, in fact, even if Denier University” existed, I would have to deny its existence ( a part of the graduation process).

        So if a denier denies the existence of deniers, then it is hard to criticise a denier because of the lack of material evidence of deniers.

        I hope I make myself clear.

  20. Ah dim but stubborn John is back.
    Questions were: Ring and EG Beck.

    You gave your assessment of Ring as full of bullshit.
    (I wonder why lil’ ole John on his own with no help worked this out but the whole of NZC”S”C didn’t. Doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in anything else they say).

    Shame they didn’t ask you really isn’t it. Hey, I know. Since their science advisors Chris de Freitas has done such a poor job (on account of being a frauds and liar – if Beck is correct), why don’t you offer your services to NZC”S”C?

    Next: Beck (so beloved by Bob Carter).

    As for not knowing any other denialists. Golly, I thought you knew a few here. [Rod Serling voice] Ahh, unless of course you are trying to tell me that you are all sockpuppets.

    BTW, thanks for helping to keep this Chris de Freitas thread going. I want it to be high on the google list when people look him up.

    1. Got a bit side tracked by this Doug

      This second case gets to the crux of the matter. I suspect that
      deFreitas deliberately chose other referees who are members of the
      skeptics camp. I also suspect that he has done this on other occasions.
      How to deal with this is unclear, since there are a number of
      individuals with bona fide scientific credentials who could be used by an unscrupulous editor to ensure that ‘anti-greenhouse’ science can getthrough the peer review process (Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Baliunas,Soon, and so on).
      The peer review process is being abused, but proving this would be difficult.

      The peer review process is being abused! Oh golly gosh, what a terrible thought.I never imagine that anything like that could be said of The Team, eh Doug?

  21. There! I just knew you’d come through in the end. Well done on finding a link to Beck. (Big smiley gold star for John).

    Now, will you need any help reading it? Just ask us here about any words or concepts you have trouble with. That is what we are here to help with.

    #14 on google’s list for “Chris de Freitas” so far. Keep up the traffic and soon we will make the magical top 10 so anyone looking will see what a phony Chris de Freitas is and see the denialists run for cover when asked about the credibility of a dodgy source beloved by the cranks at NZC”S”C and Bob Carter. You really do go out of your way to make it easy for me John.

  22. Yes indeed Doug (6.01 post – can’t reply inline). R2D2 pretends to be a rather dimmish but seriously concerned individual who just wants some reasonable questions anwered clearly before he’ll commit to anything – but in fact is a hard-nosed troll who wants to give the impression to any naive visitor that the issues are all “cloudy”, while all the time endlessly repeating himself so as to waste people’s time.

  23. Yes John, keep up the idiocy. Google rating stuck at #13. More godwin should do it.

    BTW, make any progress with reading about EG Beck (who gave his name to an award won by your Piers Corbyn)? The same EG Beck whose meisterwerk proves Chris de Freitas (please, no abbrevaiations like CdF; Google won’t pick up on them) is a fraud.

  24. In line reply not possible. John, it takes only 5th form science to understand that EG Beck is ‘not even wrong’. All ‘scientists’ who are unwilling (or unable) to say EG Beck is bullshit (e.g. Bob Carter and Chris de Freitas) are thus incompetent and/or liars.

    You lack the skills to assess the ‘paper’ by EG Beck. Yet you have expressed many opinions about climate change science. How do you form these opinions? Whose voice do you trust?

    1. Doug,
      Which opinions have I expressed on “climate change science”?
      Are you able to give me an example?
      Generally, I pose questions rather than make statements. I believe this is the sign of an inquiring mind, not a closed one. I am open to all ideas but I rail against dogma and groupthink.
      To be fair, I do see this on both sides of the fence in climate discussions.

      Your comment on 5th form science is interesting. We should put that to the test by including Beck’s work in an NCEA paper.

      1. So John D, let me get this straight. You have an inquiring mind and are open to all ideas, unless those ideas happen to be held by a large majority of the scientists who have carefully studied a subject and come to a consensus. Can I ask, have you found this to be a sucessful strategy in life?

        1. Really? I mean how successful can you be given the amount of time you must spend searching the contrarian blogosphere for new material to post here? I guess your retirement investments didn’t pan out as planned. Those damn financial experts!

  25. John, not sure who you are writing that for. Nobody (including other trolls) here thinks you are anything other than a denialist troll.

    As I have said, my strategy here is to:

    1) demonstrate to a few of the regular Genuine People ™ here that denialists like youself (even though anonymous) will go through any contortions to avoid criticisng another denialist. (Where would it stop?)

    4) demonstrate to a few of the regular Genuine People ™ here that as part of the long term denialist strategy, trolls such as yourself establish viable identities that Genuine People ™ invest in and are reluctant to give up on. However, the flip is that trolls like you are unwilling to abandon identities that have been built up. Your identity has been compromised. If nothing else, linking back to your godwin comment in a reply to every post you make will show that. John D plays the Nazi card

    (Strategies 2 and 3 are secret and can only be told to level 4 and above operatives in the great climate change conspiracy).

    1. Very good Doug.

      For the sake of the new reader, here is my comment:

      Or, actually to be more generic, the “liberal” sector of society in general, whom I have grown to associate with something akin to the Nazi party over the last few years.

      So terribly offensive, I know.

      Now compare this:

      How about we hand his file to the courts in Islamabad (among others) so that the early victims of climate change may find some satisfaction in going after those knuckleheads who tread their prospects with so much disdain and bad will. A fatwa by an Ayatollah might look like a walk in the park compared to the understandable anger of the survivors of Pakistan’s floods, heatwaves and starvation in the coming decades.

      Or this:

      It’s deeply worrying that the Deputy Editor of the Guardian has gone over to the dark side. Next time I take a cab I’ll see if I can get a fatwa issued against him!

      Now these “Genuine People” ™ (or should we call them the Master Race, or The Chosen Ones) probably didn’t really mean that they wanted Muslim extremists to behead deniers in front of webcams, did they, any more than Monbiot really wanted to drown airline executives, any more than me comparing “parts of so-called liberal society” with the Nazis actually means that Obama wants to shove people into gas chambers.

      I hope that clarifies a few issues.

      1. Gee, John, and how many such quotations could I cherry-pick from WUWT or Jo Nova, I wonder? How about the link I appended above? Now that really is pouring petrol on the flames – nothing theoretical about the danger there!

        This ‘you’re all Nazis’ stuff is not only absurd, it’s clear evidence of desperation as with every day that passes it’s obvious you can’t cut it with intellectual argument.

        Monbiot’s quote in context is appended. Ever heard of Jonathon Swift’s modest proposal, BTW? That intellectual elitist was advocating cannibalism…

        There was one proposal in Sir Rod Eddington’s report to the Treasury with which, when I first read it, I wholeheartedly agreed. He insists that “the transport sector, including aviation, should meet its full environmental costs”. Quite right too: every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned.

        Reading on, I realised that this is not exactly what he had in mind. Instead, he meant that airports can keep expanding and the capacity of roads can be increased, as long as people pay more money for their pollution. He has even been so kind as to put a price on other people’s lives: £70 per tonne of carbon. This, we discover, is the “social cost” of global warming, derived by the British government’s department for the environment, and unquestioningly accepted by Eddington, who was charged by Gordon Brown with keeping the country moving.

        Hitherto I’ve only red-buttoned your most outrageous/abusive comments, and have been frustrated when posts that were actually quite reasonable or have actually been a boon for our side of the argument have become hidden. However, this Godwin bullshit has gone too far (‘Master Race’ – dork!), and until such time as you apologise, I for one will be voting down every comment you make, and I encourage others to do the same! Grow up, Man!

          1. No, it is not a reasonable summary. No one on this forum has proposed a fatwa – but you, a person communicating on this forum, have made a number of references to nazis.. Not cool, John.

  26. John, it belatedly occurs to me that perhaps you are not a troll after all and that you actually really truly mean that stuff you say. If so, then my appologies and condolences.

    Never fear, you are not alone. The summary here is priceless.

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