Michael Cox talks complete rubbish

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a retired conservative politician with a penchant for writing opinion pieces and a limited understanding of certain issues will one day start talking bollocks — and that day has arrived with a vengeance for Michael Cox. The former National MP and Waipa district councillor let rip in the Waikato Times this morning:

Those who witter on (to chatter or babble on pointlessly or at unnecessary length) about emissions of green-house gasses, usually come from the left side of the political spectrum. They make me mad.

Mad? Yes, but perhaps not in the sense he intended. His political rage has led him rather a long way off the path of reason into the dark woods where lurk misdirection — and climate cranks.

Cox has been convinced that global warming is complete rubbish. To prove his point he pontificates on the evils of the IPCC:

To cut a long story short it was found that the main editor of these IPCC Summaries introduced many of his own extremely biased views into the texts. Eventually it became clear that the IPCC, which so many governments relied upon, was clearly underpinned by fraud and an unscientific political organisation in which environmental activists like Al Gore were setting the agenda.

That doesn’t sound like any history of the IPCC that I’ve read — but it does sound a lot like the conspiracy theories that circulate in crank circles. Cox then moves on to consider the sun and carbon dioxide:

Today’s rational authors make it absolutely clear that the Sun, Earth, ice and air are the main contributors to changes in our climate. The earth is dynamic and is always evolving; climate has always changed. In fact, the biggest driver on our climate is the receipt of and redistribution of solar energy, without which there would be no life on Earth. [typo corrected]

Hang on a minute. “Rational authors?” A heavy hint there, methinks…

This glaringly obvious fact has been brushed aside and the argument somehow replaced the power of the Sun with the trace gas CO2. The gas is in the atmosphere and exists in tiny amounts [0.001%], with the remainder of it embedded in the oceans, rocks, soil and living beings.

A bit of a “research” failure there, Michael. CO2 is currently at 389 ppm — parts per million of the atmosphere by volume, equivalent to 0.0389% of the atmosphere. But you are good enough to reveal your source for this egregious error:

Professor Ian Plimer is a well-known Australian geologist and is also Emeritus Professor of Earth Science at the University of Melbourne. I have referenced his book entitled Heaven and Earth for some of my research for this article. I recommend it to you.

Ah Plimer, you’ve done it again. Mislead a poor politician. Heaven and Earth is a work of imagination, not science. Here’s what one reviewer (Professor Kurt Lambeck, president of the Australian Academy of Science) had to say shortly after the book was published back in 2009):

If this had been written by an honours student, I would have failed it with the comment: You have obviously trawled through a lot of material but the critical analysis is missing. Supporting arguments and unsupported arguments in the literature are not distinguished or properly referenced, and you have left the impression that you have not developed an understanding of the processes involved. Rewrite!

Cox wraps up by quoting Plimer:

I will let him have the final word:

“If we humans, in a fit of ego, think we can change normal planetary processes that control our climate, then we need stronger medication.”

Cox’s intemperate and ill-informed piece is published as “opinion” by the Waikato Times. I keenly await the newspaper giving equal prominence to someone who believes that the world is flat and the the British Royal Family are alien lizards in disguise. Meanwhile, perhaps we should club together to buy some suitable medication for Mr Cox. During the forthcoming election campaign he may need to calm down a bit…

22 thoughts on “Michael Cox talks complete rubbish”

  1. The crankometer has gone up another notch. Oh dear.
    I guess we should publish the crankometer anomaly together with the CO2 and the Temperature anomaly graphs…. they seem to be closely related 🙂

  2. A few months ago Cox had a column in which he claimed that the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991 put more greenhouse gases into the air than the human race has emitted in its entire time on earth. I put it as kindly as I could in a letter to the editor by saying: “That’s simply ridiculous.The Pinatubo eruption emitted a tiny fraction of the estimated human carbon dioxide emissions in that same year, let alone throughout human history.” But I suspect Cox is impervious to correction. However I’ll try again this time.

    1. Cox may be impervious. But all the people who’ve not taken any time over learning the correct details could do with a reminder.

      Nobody’s perfect. But some people are wronger than others.

    2. Human civilization has emitted 40,000 times more CO2 than the Mt Pinatubo eruption. Cox was relying on a chain e-mail as his source. What use do “skeptics” have for science?

      1. You know as well as I dw – they don’t do science. Science is a closed book for them.
        “Deniers” – they don’t deserve the term “skeptics” – would rather believe some made up nonsense. They have absolute faith in the certainty of their “knowledge”.

  3. The hon gentleman has certainly under-stated the percentage of the trace gas CO2 at 0.001%. But then again, he was referring to that portion of CO2 which is blamed for planetary heating, so was concerned only with the anthropogenic contribution to current concentrations. That, I think, is 0.00116% of the atmosphere.

    Close enough for Government work.

    1. Not what he said, Australis. You may be prepared to give him the benefit of some doubt, but not me. Cox has an accountancy background, and should understand the need for accuracy with numbers…

    2. You mean some of the CO2 is transparent to IR and some isn’t? How do you determine which molecules of CO2 are responsible for planetary heating and which aren’t?

    3. The industrial age moved CO2 from 280ppm to 400ppm so far.
      If you took all the CO2 in the atmosphere down to ground level it would have been a 2m layer in 1900 and will soon be a 3m layer. Perhaps that is a better way to put the numbers.
      CO2 is an excellent IR absorber. To picture the equivalent in the visual part of the spectrum you would need to picture a 3m layer of dense black smoke. Perhaps that makes it more palatable to those who can’t comprehend anything they don’t see.

      1. Yes Thomas I’m well aware of the physics, What I was referring to was Australis’s sentence:
        “But then again, he was referring to that portion of CO2 which is blamed for planetary heating”
        As we all know, we depend upon all the Greenhouse Gasses in the atmosphere to maintain the Earth at a viable temperature for life. What I can’t understand, is Australis reasoning, that only some CO2 causes heating!

    4. Even if that’s what he was saying, which as Gareth points out he wasn’t, it would still be out by a factor of ten. The concentration of CO₂ has gone from 0.028% to 0.039%, which is a change of 0.011 percentage points.

      So the figure of 0.001% bears no resemblance to any relevant CO₂ concentration whatsoever.

      As the saying goes, he is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts.

  4. I hope he shares his medication with the elderly gent who wrote to the Southland Times, “Wisdom and understanding from above are needed since the warming doctrine is chiefly a doctrine of demons, not primarily a scientific contention.” The same man says of Monckton, “… is a man of integrity and truth…” after I gave evidence of Monckton’s machinations with the truth (not a member of the House of Lords, claims to have cures for AIDS & the common cold, misrepresents findings of scientists – complete with references). Sheesh.

  5. Unlike the young, the elderly (who appear to make up the bulk of the denialist ranks) can expect to have died before things get too bad.

    Denialism lets some escape the pangs of conscience for the mess they leave behind – its just selfishness wrapped in intellectual and moral cowardice and garnished with ignorance.

  6. As I commented on Perrott’s blog

    2011 November edition contains a woeful opinion piece by staff editor Graham Adams trying to paint environmental issues, including climate science, as being akin to religious belief systems.


    “Critics of climate-change “denier” Lord Christopher Monckton point out that he has many daft ideas – including cures for HIV, multiple sclerosis and influenza – but, unfortunately, a similar charge could be levelled against that towering genius Sir Isaac Newton, who was obsessed with biblical prophesy and alchemy.”

    [I found that comparison hard to swallow]

    In well researched fashion he ploughs on to bring up the Oregon petition

    “31,000 scientists [who] reject the views of 2000-odd scientists cited by the IPCC…”

    [31,000 vs 2,000 – gee, that’s persuasive then],

    Not finished there we get that CERN’s CLOUD study shows that galactic cosmic rays are the dominant influence on earth’s clouds and climate.

    Local deniers feature large, with quite a few column inches given over to de Freitas’s viewpoint.

  7. The statement “In a place like the Waikato, where scientists abound in greater than normal numbers…….” was interesting.

    Leads me to a “shorter” version of Cox.

    Because I have read a book which reinforces my own opinion about increased government intervention I feel obliged to balance the influence of higher education on the wider populace of the Waikato.

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