More Monckton invention: what Myles Allen didn’t say

Poor old Chris. The discount Viscount has not been having a happy time with the New Zealand press, as my Sciblogs colleague Peter Griffin noted in Monckton’s nightmare week in New Zealand last week. According to the Waikato TImes, he may even be about to hang up his sceptic spurs1. He was given a much more gentle ride by the SunLive news web site in Tauranga, who were pleased to give him a chance to continue to misrepresent and misdirect in a video interview posted yesterday. As ever, I watched it so you wouldn’t have to…

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  1. Hurrah! []

Unstoppable waves of innovation in the Waikato?

A pleasant surprise this morning to see across the front page of the Waikato Times the headline “Waikato’s plan to harvest sunlight”.  The article reports that lines company WEL Networks has been evaluating photovoltaic cells and is now investigating the feasibility of solar power production in the Waikato region.

Commercial viability is the determining factor. It’s the dramatic fall in the cost of photovoltaic cells which has caused WEL Network’s investigation. CEO Julian Elder said that the low price of the cells, compared with where they were a few months ago, made solar power stations affordable in New Zealand. He said that in the space of a few months the return on investment had gone from about half a century to under 10 years.

We are looking at the whole range, from 1-2 kilowatt units on a house, up to the thousands of kilowatts for a large-scale pilot,” Dr Elder said.

He said it was not a case of if they built such power stations but a matter of when.

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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.

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What a waste(land)

I was pleased to catch sight of the first two words of the headline on the Eco Issues page of the Waikato Times this week — “The Arctic”, it said, and I assumed thankfully that they were going to focus on the alarming developments there. And so they were, but not in the sense I presumed, for the headline continued “– site for an icy cold war?”  The article was all about the competition for seabed resources as the ice diminishes. Nothing at all about the threat to the global climate. The omission was compounded by another headline for an inset panel: “A frozen wasteland no more”. In other words, with the melting of the ice the Arctic is becoming useful.

Incidentally the word wasteland reminded of me how a few years ago the chairman of a local trust, a subsequent national president of the ACT party, opposed making a grant for wetlands restoration. “Wetlands are wastelands,” he said.


The terrible irony of referring to the Arctic as a wasteland is presumably lost on many Waikato Times readers. And not too many journalists are likely to question the focus on resource extraction. We can expect a plethora of journalistic analysis of the international tensions over the rights to natural resources from the Arctic as it moves inexorably to losing its sea ice. That appears much more likely to be the substance of reportage and discussion than the consequences for global warming. Political leaders will come alive on the issue. Indeed they already have. Vladimir Putin hosted an international conference last month on the future of the Arctic, and although he claimed development would be sensitive to the environment he also made it clear that he’s no believer in anthropogenic global warming, as reported in the Energy Tribune.  Expect much closer political attention to the exploitation of newly accessible mineral resources than to the implications for global warming.

It is obvious to anyone who follows climate science that a frozen Arctic is pretty well essential to the climate in which human civilisation has developed. The loss of Arctic sea ice and a diminishing Greenland ice sheet carry between them incalculable consequences for change which it is by no means clear we can manage.  That’s why apprehension is the most rational human response to what we are seeing, accompanied by a determination to stop making it even worse. But how much longer do we have to wait for apprehension to be manifest on a wider scale than is so far apparent?  Putin’s no help:

“Is it changing because of human influence or because of unavoidable changes in the planet’s development that humankind cannot prevent? Is it really disastrous for the planet? I don’t want to say that we should give up our efforts to combat global warming, but maybe it is happening regardless of our influence? It is most likely so.”

Nor is there any sign of awareness from the numerous Republican political candidates in the US who have become bogged in a mire of unreason as they variously deny the science altogether, or treat it as highly uncertain, or downplay it in favour of fossil fuel energy. It’s almost unbelievable to see the list of gubernatorial candidates, for instance, whose stances have been reported by the Wonk Room. There are many other articles in the Wonk Room climate section, by the way, reporting the sad story of a major political party’s descent into denial of the most pressing issue of our time.

Back here in Hamilton I shall write a letter to the editor pointing out that far from a wasteland the frozen Arctic is vital to life as we have known it since civilisation began.  I shall deplore the continuing failure of political leadership to come to terms with the reality of climate science, and urge readers to be concerned for their children and grandchildren in the world we are creating. A year ago I could have said this in a column, but the paper’s anxiety about ‘balance’ put an end to that. A letter will be better than nothing.

[I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway station…]

Doug digs denial

Waikato farmers who deny human-caused climate change will be cheered by the support lent by a real live scientist in an interview prominently reported in the latest issue of the Waikato Farmer, a monthly feature supplement of the Waikato Times.  Admittedly not a climate scientist – a soil scientist actually – but one who has done much reading on the subject, including Nigel Lawson’s A Cool Look At Global Warming.  Thus fortified he is able to substantiate the opinions of the 99 percent of the farmers consulting him who he says think global warming is a hoax and the Emissions Trading Scheme unnecessary.

Doug Edmeades is his name.  He’s not listed as a member of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, but his “coming out” as a sceptic was posted on their website. To be fair, in his statement on his joining the ranks of the sceptics he acknowledges that he does not read the scientific literature on climate change and cannot be considered as an authority on the subject. Indeed he says he’s a layperson who must rely on the views of others who specialise. However those whose views he then goes on to cite don’t include any climate scientists. Willem de Lange and Bob Carter are the two scientists he mentions, and they are buttressed by Bjorn Lomborg, Ross McKitrick and, yes, Christopher Monckton who demonstrated there is no scientific consensus.

Back to the Waikato Farmer interview. It’s the usual farrago. Climategate was a scandal which confirmed most farmers’ suspicions that global warming is a politically driven theory. Phil Jones has admitted there was no global warming in the past 15 years, calling into question the reliability of climate models and temperature records. Water vapour is the biggest greenhouse gas; why aren’t we taxing it? Doubled carbon dioxide will increase food production by about 30 percent. Carbon dioxide doesn’t determine global temperatures.  Humans and the natural world are good at adapting to survive.  Even if the alarmists are right and the average temperature increases by 2-4 degrees the likelihood is that we could be better off. And so on.

Edmeades’ expressed views are mostly wrong or reckless or silly. There’s nothing in what he says to deserve time spent countering it here. But it’s depressing that views of this nature should be regarded as worth highlighting in a farming publication and are evidently nourishing the opinion of many farmers that global warming is a matter of no great moment or still under dispute.  The edition of the Waikato Farmer in which the interview appears is much concerned with the cost of the Emissions Trading Scheme to farmers.  One can understand that this should be a matter of concern and debate.  But to couple it with denial of the seriousness of climate change is a different matter.  One of the farmers reported didn’t go as far as that, but said, “The science is not robust enough. Some of the research has been a bit shaky.”  This is perception, not knowledge. It’s high time the NZ farming community discovered that the essentials of the science are established and did its thinking about the ETS or other mitigation schemes without dallying with the idea that perhaps there’s nothing in climate change to be worried about. Then people like Edmeades can be valued for their soil science and ignored for their rejection of climate science.