TDB Today: Bought and paid for – the dirty politics of climate denial

It was always going to be difficult to avoid writing more about the impact of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics and what it tells us about the way the present government and its supporters have behaved, so in my post at The Daily Blog this week — Bought and paid for – the dirty politics of climate denial — I take a look at the latest revelations from the hacked correspondence. It ain’t pretty…

70 thoughts on “TDB Today: Bought and paid for – the dirty politics of climate denial”

  1. It bothers me that many of the general public still talk about “belief” in climate change, as though it’s some kind of religion. What term would readers of this blog suggest?

    1. The problem with asking “Do you believe in Topic X…” is that the question implicitly assumes Topic X is a matter of faith. Topic X can be climate change, evolution, astrology: it doesn’t matter. The crucial word is “in”.

      Invite your questioner to consider the difference between “Do you believe Politician X?” and “Do you believe in Politican X?”. One is a question about faith and ideology: “Do you believe in this person’s vision of NZ’s future?”. The other is about evidence: “Is this person honest?”. The difference is non-trivial: I can identify lots of X’s for whom the answer to both questions is “No”; others for whom the answers are “Yes” and “No”, respectively; and – unfortunately all too rarely – a handful for whom both answers are “Yes”.

      It’s the same with science. As a leading question, “Do you believe in …” is only marginally less devious than “Have you stopped beating your wife/child?”. Science is about “What is the evidence for …” and “How strong is that evidence …”, not about belief.

      1. When asked if I “believe in global warming”, I answer that its not a question of belief, but that I “accept the evidence for global warming” or “understand the science of global warming”.

        I have found this approach creates an opportunity to discuss the evidence and the science with all but the most hidebound deniers.

  2. Acceptance? Acknowledgement?

    You no more “believe” in climate change than gravity. It simply is. Greenhouse gases keep our planet warmer than it should be given the sun’s output and our distance from it, flood the atmosphere with 100 to 300 times more GHG than the natural processes and something has to change. End of story!!

    1. Acceptance. Yes, I like acceptance. More than once I have been asked “Do you believe in climate change?” which quite honestly I think is a stupid question, and I refuse to say Yes. “I accept the evidence” is much better.

        1. The key difference between gravity and climate change is that the former is well-defined by the gravitational constant.
          Climate change encompasses a range of outcomes as presented by probability distributions

          1. The absorption and re-emission of infra-red energy by CO2 is probably similarly well-defined. And while I can demonstrate gravity by just picking up this pencil and letting it go in mid-air, we don’t really know what gravity is or what causes it. We probably understand the behaviour of green-house gases better.

            1. We probably understand the behaviour of green-house gases better.

              There is no “pause” in Gravity that scientists are struggling to explain

            2. Andy, your ignorance re gravity is matched only by your insouciance re global warning!

              FYI, both “dark energy” and “dark matter” are gravitiational mysteries that together comprise about 96% of the universe and are completely unexplained.

              Next to that, the natural variations in the Earth’s surface temperature are truly insignificant.

              LOL – what did you say your degree was?

            3. I am referring to the Newtonian physics of gravity which provides us with sufficient understanding for most everyday applications.

            4. The “pause” was a hoax. Mostly achieved by carefully selecting a starting point of an El Nino (warm) followed by La Nina (cool) and by equally carefully ignoring ocean temperature rises.
              To be fair, it appears that as the Argo float data comes in, we’ve learned more about the thirty-year cycle of oceanic temperature oscillations that has affected the atmospheric temperatures. No-one ever claimed we knew everything about the climate, but we do know enough to predict that it’s very unwise to dump vast quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

  3. Well, andy, this is fun…

    As the world’s top gravity scientists have openly ADMITTED, the Newtonian theory of gravity cannot explain the precession of Mercury’s perihelion, therefore it must be FALSE and the so-called “gravitiational effect” just the invention of physics troughers seeking research grants.

    Just like the AGW deniers fabled “Tropospheric Hot Spot”, eh boy?

    AL GORE!

    1. Reluctant as I am to play these games, it occurs to me that you, Rob, are now stating that Gravity isn’t that certain, ergo, climate change isn’t that certain.

      Seems an appropriate place to leave this discussion after a rather lack lustre “leaders debate” on TV NZ tonight.


      1. Bong!

        No, it don’t make a ‘deuce’, do it? Because Rob’s point is that no-one seriously doubts gravity despite these ‘disconfirming’ quibbles in the same way that no-one sans rocks in their heads seriously doubts climate change on the basis of over-amplified disconfirming quibbles.

        Or, if you like – is anyone here who isn’t a muppet unhappy with the idea that climate change is as uncertain as gravity? Didn’t think so…

        There are times, andy, when describing you as being ‘as dumb as a sack of hammers’ is an insult to good hardware.

        1. Bing!

          Bill, if I drop a stone off the side of a building, I can predict with a fair degree of certainty when that stone will land

          Admittedly I am as dumb as a sack of hammers an d a NIMbY twit, but forgive me just a second if I ask a simple question

          Do we need to have international conferences and Bayesian studies and all sorts of convoluted probability distribution functions to determine when that stone will land?

          Do we need “award winning” economists, scientists, a railroad engineers and journalists to agoniise when the stone will land?

          Do we need endless Guardian hacks asking deep and meaningless questions about the exact trajectory of said stone?

          1. Equally, do we have large multinational corporations with a vested interest in falling stones devoting millions of dollars to creating confusion as to when and where the stone will fall?

            Do we have politicians & media barons vehemently denying that there is any danger from falling stones, to cosset favour with afore-mentioned MNC.

            Is civilization as a whole at risk from falling stones?

            Could falling stones cause mass extinctions, right up to life itself?

        1. One of the key differences between Gravity (Newtonian or otherwise) and AGW is that the former actually has a theory that you can express as an equation and test experimentally.

          1. AndyS, yes you can test gravity experimentally fairly easily.

            Unfortunately you can’t put the entire planet inside a test tube, alter CO2 quantities and observe carefully. If you have a way of doing that, please advise.

            Instead we have to do the best we can with observations, theories, understandings of climate sensitivity, modelling and predictions.Currently the IPCC are 95% sure.

            So far temperature trends are near predictions even with the alleged “pause”. Certainly within error bars. An interesting new paper by some Japanese (?) researcher suggests most of the heat energy is going into the deeper layers of the Atlantic ocean, more so than in the 1990s. This may explain the slowdown since 1998 in land surface temperatures. I don’t actually think there has been much of a slowdown, it depends which dataset you are looking at.

          2. Your ignorance may be blissful Andy but to the spectators it is just plainly stupid.
            The interaction of GHG molecules with light has been studied in detail for decades. CO2 lasers for example are ubiquitous.
            We can see the absorption of light in the IR bands by GHG molecules from observations of the emissions spectrum of Earth taken by satellites and we know what the resulting climate forcing means for the planet. We see it in the data from every corner of the globe. The physics behind it all is very well established indeed through observations, lab experiments and a consistent theory to link it all.
            Anybody who still questions the basic science behind the interaction of GHG and the energy budget of the planet is simply either in need of education or willfully ignorant. The later is certainly true for you as we all know from the never ending trail of same old same old denial that we hear from you.

            1. There is a bit more to climate change than just the radiative effects of CO2

              Like, for example, clouds, convection, land use change, aerosols,

              Overlaid on a very complex non linear physical problem is the predictions of economic and emissions pathways.

              On top of that is the human aspect and our relative attitudes to perceived risk

              Mike Hulme wrote a book called ” Why we disagree about climate change” which is on my list of books to read.

              I don’t see any books entitled “why we disagree about gravity”

            2. AndyS, saying climate change is complicated does not make the weight of evidence wrong.The fundamentals about the greenhouse effect are very solid. There is some debate about the effects of clouds and feedbacks but the weight of evidence favours positive feedbacks. We are not in a position to have the luxury of 100% proof, as we are facing a time constraint on how we respond. That is the reality.

              One point. There are over 12,000 papers on climate change. Unless you read the whole lot, or at least the 1000 most critical ones, how would you know? You haven’t read them all and neither has any one person. This is why the IPCC review that uses an integrated team of people to review the science has considerable validity.

    1. Physics doesn’t care about opinion polls. The radiation behaviour of CO2 is understood in great detail, and that means warming is inevitable.

      I could probably find an opinion poll that found that the majority of Americans didn’t believe in evolution, but that wouldn’t make them right.

    2. Harry B, Einsteins theory of gravity is highly respected and virtually certain. However if you explained Einsteins theory of Gravity to the average person, few would understand and many would say that is a bit weird. I only partly understand it myself.

      If the theory predicted major long term problems for the planet requiring some government response or evasive action I suspect many people would immediately say “Einstein is bonkers and the science isn’t certain”.

  4. That has long been my view too Gareth. I have never understood why that survey that says 97% of scientists think climate change is happening would somehow be used as evidence it’s happening.

    I have read above that the ‘pause’ is a myth and climate change is still happening. That could well be the case. Do you not agree that the levelling off of warming in recent years is sowing some doubt in the certainty of the science? Can you really blame the people (and scientists) who are not yet convinced. It’s a brave man to say climate change does not exist, but it’s an even braver man (or woman for that matter) that says the future is certain when the now has not exactly followed predictions.

    1. Its not that 97% of scientists think that climate change is happening, its that the evidence of research relevant to climate change is overwhelming that climate change is happening and a big problem.
      Its a brave person who thinks that idle musing on a so called global warming pause they read about on the Mail website trumps an actual understanding of the subject.
      I can not exactly predict when a wind NIMBY will next say ‘Birdchoppers’ or ‘inefficient’, but I can still have a very high degree of confidence that they are a twit.

    2. I suspect you’re not ‘getting’ it, Henry. The 97% don’t ‘believe’ in climate change, they are satisfied there is strong enough evidence demonstrating that the climate is changing that we must do whatever is necessary to avoid it.
      While uncertainty is always present in science, the confusion over the so-called pause has been carefully cultivated by the fossil fuel industry. It has been explained clearly, in fact anyone citing it is admitting to being wilfully ignorant.

    3. Henry, the fact that 97% of scientists agree on climate change is not evidence for climate change, but it is a powerful judgement by the people best educated to judge these matters that the facts are clear.

      Compare it to a law case: The guilty verdict of the jury is not part of the evidence in case, it is a judgement based on the evidence made by those who have carefully considered it.

    4. Henry B, you say temperature trends have not exactly followed predictions. But they are certainly roughly within predictions. The early modelling in the 1990s predicted flat periods but was unable to specify when, which is why the modelling has error bars. Temperatures are within the error bars.

      Of course this is confusing for the public, but claiming things are not exactly within predictions doesn’t help clarify the debate as it creates a straw man that lack of absolute precision devalues a fundamental theory. But it doesn’t. Others who claim the models are proven to be wrong are just being totally misleading.

      Regarding the “97% consensus” this has considerable power. You cannot lightly dismiss the views of such a strong majority position. It is hard to say any particular physics equation is 100% absolutely proven, philosophically and in fact proof is only really possible in mathematics.There are always little criticisms. In the end maybe all we have is consensus.

      However in common sense terms the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect are well understood and very solid.

  5. A good article in New Scientist by George Marshall: Faulty Thinking: Hear no climate evil discusses the psychological reasons for the ongoing climate change denial of parts of society.

    The situation is not good. Psychological biases distort humanities ability for rational decision making. The article cites Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel prize in economics for his research on the psychological biases that distort rational decision-making.

    KAHNEMAN is not hopeful. “I am very sorry,” he told me, “but I am deeply pessimistic. I really see no path to success on climate change.”

    One of these [psychological biases] is “loss aversion”, which means that people are far more sensitive to losses than gains. He regards climate change as a perfect trigger: a distant problem that requires sacrifices now to avoid uncertain losses far in the future. This combination is exceptionally hard for us to accept…

    Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University says: “A psychologist could barely dream up a better scenario for paralysis.”

    Let us hope that humanity will mature in the face of the challenges ahead and arrives at a rational consensus which holds the long term survival of the species and the ecosystems that predicate the same above the consumer satisfaction of the current generation.

    The Fermi Paradox’s easiest explanation however is, that once a species evolves into the technological age, it will in an explosive outburst of greed and excess consume all resources required to sustained its survival and perish as a consequence….

  6. ‘ …once a species evolves into the technological age, it will in an explosive outburst of greed and excess consume all resources required to sustained its survival …’
    The problem isn’t running out of resources, it’s managing flows. Medieval cities grew, and flung all their sewage into the street, causing disease and squalor. Victorian cities got sewage systems in, then proceeded to bury themselves in horse dung. Modern cities got cars, inflicting smog, lead pollution, and now climate change on the citizens. We’re not running out of oil and coal, at least not fast enough to matter, we’re choking ourselves on the wastes. The time people take to realise that, and do something about it, will determine whether the biosphere is growing a brain or a tumour.

    1. “…The problem isn’t running out of resources…”, John the most precious resource of all is a diverse and well functioning ecosystem. However, our current state of affairs in this regard is one of steep decline and degradation from the deforestation of our jungles to the train wreck we cause in our oceans through relentless overfishing and changing the acidity at an alarming rate (30% so far in cold oceans due to CO2), just to name two hot spots. So yes, we are choking ourselves on the detritus of society and at the same time extract many other non-renewable resources at rates that are utterly unsustainable. Oil included in particular.

  7. Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. has estimated that the producible reserves of the Orinoco Belt are up to 235 billion barrels (3.74×1010 m3)[2] which would make it the largest petroleum reserve in the world, slightly ahead of the similar unconventional oil source in the Athabasca oil sands, and before Saudi Arabia[3] In 2009, the US Geological Survey increased the estimated reserves to 513 billion barrels (8.16×1010 m3) of oil which is “technically recoverable (producible using currently available technology and industry practices).”
    It’s there if we choose to burn it.

  8. Looks to me that the Climate voter count has been hacked. Yesterday, early afternoon it was in excess of 55,0000, today whwn I looked about 11:30 the count was set to zero.

      1. but the count appears to be frozen as my brother’s registration has not so far been added, though confirmed. Now I wonder who would want to mess up this initiative?

    1. Nice that the newly minted DeSmog UK managed to uncover this shocking revelation that oil companies may be linked to GWPF

      Is DeSmog UK also bankrolled by a convicted money launderer like its parent US organisation?

        1. I was referring to John Lefebvre who is one of the principal benefactors of DeSmogBlog. This is of course old news, unlike the current criminal conspiracy to bring down the NZ government

          1. AndyS, what about the current governments possibly criminal and certainly unethical conspiracy, as outlined by Nicky Hager?

            However the current ignorance from National on climate change is actually equally concerning. But this is what happens when a bunch of BCom graduates and lawyers are in charge. To them science is just a nuisance in the way of raping the planet.

            1. There isn’t much chance of anyone discussing climate change or anything else of substance in this NZ election campaign whilst the media are salivating over a set of stolen emails

            2. AndyS, I watched the video on dotcom. He is one weird dude and totally unreliable. I have never been a fan.

            3. AndyS, the media must think Christmas has come early for them. But it is all rather entertaining. Thanks for the tip on the debate.

          2. Yes John Lefebvre seems to be a great person indeed. His philanthropy assists DeSmogBlog with its work to shed light onto the dirty politics of oil money, right wing elements of government and medial and their fabricated climate change denial campaign. He seems to deserve acclaim for his good work, don’t you think? Or would you prefer if the right wingers of this world could pull the rug over voters eyes without fear of being caught in the act of “dirty politics”, secret scheming, back stabbing and muck raking aka Slater?

            1. I agree John Leferbre is a Great Man,
              We should all celebrate those that manage to subvert the political process to further their own agenda using criminal means

              Indeed, Herr Dotcom is probably one of the Greatest Men to have walked on our land. His philathophy knows no bounds. His personal signed copy of Mein Kampf, his organized chanting of F*** John Key, his open admission of hacking the German Chancellors credit raising, at his own party launch no less

              Even better is his failure to pay his own staff and yet somehow manges to buy a political party for 3 million dollars.

              So proud

            2. Sorry Andy, your implied cynical suggestion that Leferbre is using criminal methods is ridiculous. And in case of the National Party’s pig dogs, it was clearly them who are now under the spotlight for potentially engaging in certainly unethical and possibly criminal behavior (the police has been asked to inquire). Sure, Slater has been hacked, which in itself is a criminal offense. But what it has revealed is stunning and caused the Justice Minister her job. Who knows what else is to come? Certainly the dump of Slater’s email barrel is doing good for NZ politics.

              And surely the NZ voter is better of knowing the facts about the dirty back room politics linking the Nats with the grime of investment fraud, meddling with SFO investigations and a long list of rather dirty laundry.

              I am glad that DeSmogBlog exists and shows the connections between right-wing conspirators, big money and climate denial. Where would we end up if it was not for the effort of upstanding individuals who shine a light though the fog created by big corporate media, big corporate undue influence on politics and will-fairy right-wing spin doctors? Probably in a land of your dreams Andy?

              BTW: I do share your disgust with Mr. DotCom actually. DotCom’s meddling in NZ politics has in my mind only one reason and nothing else: A desperate, cunning and calculated attempt to avert spending a considerable time of his future in a USA penitentiary institution! (Leila Hare beware, you are an end to his means, no more!)

              However, if DotCom had anything at all to do with busting the wayward brood of former National party president, Cam Slater, then he has done this country a significant favor as a by product of his personal struggle!

            3. Hi Thomas
              It is good to hear that you are comfortable colliding with convicted fraudsters, criminals and money launderers to achieve your anti capitalist and anti human worldview.

              It doesn’t surprise me at all of course. It does slightly concern me that you are allowed to indoctrinate children at the taxpayers expense.

              Luckily most kids can see through the propaganda

            4. Goodness Andy! I do not condone money laundering and made my thoughts about DotCom and his motives pretty clear, did I not?

              And your idea that my stance on taking the climate matter rather serious is “anti human”, well how on Earth Andy?? You act like you are reading of a George Orwell script, inverting truth and lies, and mistaking the voice of reason for propaganda and vice versa.
              We are used to your illogical rants, but this one surely ranks rather high on the “sick, sicker, vomit” scale!

            5. Oh sorry I thought you said that convicted money launderer John Lefebre was a great man.

              You also stated that Kim Dotcom, a convicted criminal, had done NZ a favour.

              Excuse my confusion

      1. While you’re clutching at your pearls, Andy, there’s this:

        the latest climate models confirm the melting of West Antarctic glaciers and predict that Antarctica’s ice sheets could contribute more than a meter of sea-level rise by the end of the century – significantly more than the projections in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

        “A lot of the Antarctic ice sheet is sitting on bedrock that is well below sea level, in some places more than a kilometre below sea level. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is essentially just bathed in ocean water.”

        Two past periods of particular interest are the Pliocene, from about three to five million years ago, and the Last Interglacial, about 125,000 years ago.

        During the Pliocene, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were about the same as we have today, about 400ppm, but temperatures were 2-3ºC warmer than today. “Today’s global climate hasn’t caught up with the level of CO2 that we already have in the atmosphere,” says Rob DeConto.

        During the Last Interglacial period, sea levels were five to nine metres higher, but CO2 was only about 280ppm, with temperatures similar to those today.

      2. Once again andyS doesn’t know what he is talking about, DeSmogBlog is a Canadian operation out of Vancouver BC, not the US.

        As for his comments about criminal behaviour, what he doesn’t mention is that it was only in the US that NETeller’s activities were considered illegal. The rest of the world considered what they were doing quite appropriate. The reason the US is against online gambling is that many US citizens are just fed up with the major criminals (Mafia etc) who run most of the casinos in the US and turned to online gambling to get away from those thugs. Of course, these “legal” gambling promoters paid off their political friends who turn a blind eye to their “legal” money laundering which was on a much larger scale than NETeller.

        So andyS, stop your whining and smearing of a decent person.

  9. More news of the real from TV3 this evening:

    “We’re seeing already a trend toward more frequent and probably more intense weather events than we’ve had before,” says Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton.

    In the past two decades, fire callouts to wind and flooding incidents have more than tripled, up from 1204 in 1994-1995 to nearly 4490 in 2013-2014.

    “Whether you buy into the reasons for climate change, the climate has changed and that means that our services are required more often,” says New Zealand Fire Service chief executive and national commander Paul Baxter.

    1. Samantha Hayes of TV3 let it be known after last night’s interesting and entertaining debate that TV3 will be down in the Antarctic later this year pursuing the matter of climate change. I expect she is looking forward to being there. After the debate a microphone chanced to catch her saying “I could talk about climate change all day”, refreshing for the news media.

  10. Good point, Andy – but let’s not forget the Unabomber, or that Hitler was a vegetarian, or that Saddam Hussein loved his mother.

    By your logic, that invalidates AGW, meatless diets and filial affection.

    What else have you got the goods on? Breathing, perhaps?

    1. Most of Andy’s arguments are sophistry. from the Greek Sophists about 300 BC. Clever sounding rhetoric devoid of actual logic but good at fooling the gullible. The unibomber is a good example if rather a blunt one.

        1. There has been no warming in 17 / 15 / 10 / 5 years.

          Climate sensitivity is now revealed to be low (most research shows the opposite)

          Climate changed in the past……

          Oh this is fun.

Leave a Reply