Touch of Gray

gray.jpgOur tame cranks, the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition are trumpeting Royal Society resignee Vincent Gray’s recent update of his seminal paper The Global Warming Scam [PDF], first published on the NZ CSC’s web site in April this year. History does not record if it was first rejected by Nature. In terms of the “science” it contains it’s nothing new. Gray makes muddled (and lengthy) assertions about the impossibility of determining the average temperature of the planet, gets worked up about measurements of CO2 (setting great store by the work of Beck), and is unpersuaded by climate modelling and the IPCC’s use of scenarios. On the positive side, it’s 37 pages long.

In one respect, however, Gray’s magnum opus is most revealing. He devotes a short introduction[2. p3, section 1.1] to the birth of the “scam”:

The global warming scam is the result of the widespread belief in a new religion, based on the deification of a nebulous entity, “The Environment”. “The Environment” is an extension of the concept of “Nature” which was held sacred by the Romantics, but it is a much more demanding deity, requiring constant and increasing sacrifices from humans.

That’s pretty standard stuff on the crank fringe, but Gray opens whole new avenues of thought with his next paragraph…

Environmentalism is just the latest attempt to find a substitute for the theory of evolution and it is paradoxical that it can be so widespread when next year (2009) is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his major work “The Origin of Species as the Result of Natural Selection”.

All of the basic beliefs of Environmentalism are in direct conflict with contemporary understanding of the principles of Darwinism.

This is an astonishing assertion; a genuine breakthrough in crank thinking. Suddenly the people you most despise are not only completely wrong, they’re closet creationists. This novel analysis is worth a paper of its own, and Gray would do crankwatchers a great service if explored this theme in future publications. However, he recognises that the novelty of his thesis might attract objections, so he continues:

Despite this fact, many scientists are supporters of Environmentalist dogmas and some are prepared to claim that they are compatible with Darwinism.

So “many scientists” are Environmentalists, and therefore have to proclaim that evolutionary theory is compatible with environmental action. Or something. Point needs work, I’d suggest.

After a diversion into the biblical roots of environmentalism, Gray then expands his point by providing a considered and provocative insight on current affairs:

The latest and most successful campaign is the claim that the earth is being dangerously warmed by human emissions of greenhouse gases. The widespread restrictions on “emissions” that have followed have led to the collapse of the world energy industry, with soaring prices of oil and electric power and deliberate promotion of world poverty by the use of agriculture to produce “biofuels” instead of food.

This is massive news. Emissions reductions are working[3. They’re not], the world energy business is collapsing[4. Oil companies are making record profits], and there’s a deliberate campaign to increase global poverty. It’s a pity that in comparison the “science” in his paper is just wrong.

Vincent Gray is 86.

[Title reference]

53 thoughts on “Touch of Gray”

  1. wow. Vincent has really gone for it this time.

    I love that he says “climate consultant” . How? he has never published a peer reviewed piece of climate science – ever.

    His last published scientific work was on coal (his specialty subject – makes me wonder where his funding comes from and who he’s consulting for now) – and that was published 17 years ago.

    It goes without saying that this latest paper hasn’t been peer reveiwed either.

  2. This one’s ours, Jo. Wellington – address and email at the top of the pdf file. I rounded up all the stuff I could find on him for the post I did on his resignation from the RS – follow the links there.

  3. As a spin off from the forum here Vincent emailed me direct to express his support for Beck. We exchanged a few emails where I said (again) that since he admitted he was not well qualified to assess the “science” of Beck and seemed unwilling to accept my arguments then he should seek a 3rd opinion. Preferably one of a scientist who has published peer reviewed papers about chemistry in the atmosphere.

    I suggested the NZC”S”C science advisor – Chris de Freitas.

    I have a very low opinion of de Freitas’ ethics but I think he is capable of OK science. If NZC”S”C can’t get “someone on their side” like de Freitas to come out in support of Beck then why do they put so much faith in it?

    And here I mean support as in actually agreeing with the conclusions and methodology NOT just saying (as Vincent did) that since it has been “published” it must be true and they see no reason to look any deeper.

    Sort of related:
    I know Ken Ring isn’t reading anymore but I wonder what he makes of the paper by de Freitas in Atmospheric Environment about ozone:

    Application of synoptic weather typing to an investigation of nocturnal ozone concentration at a maritime location, New Zealand
    Khan, BA; de Freitas, CR; Shooter, D (2007), ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT. Volume: 41 Issue: 27 Pages: 5636-5646. (de Freitas is corresponding author and will be able to supply reprints if you don’t have access).

    Ringworld and this paper are mutually exclusive. But as eli is saying right now they don’t dare criticise each other. The NZC”S”C website link to Ringworld vanished a while ago. Shame. They are so suited to each other.

  4. And here I mean support as in actually agreeing with the conclusions and methodology NOT just saying (as Vincent did) that since it has been “published” it must be true and they see no reason to look any deeper.

    Eli Rabett has a good post on cranks’ willingness to accept any old tripe as long as it supports their general case. Grey’s paper demonstrates how good he is at believing impossible things before breakfast.

  5. This may be mean, but when will this guy just ‘fade’ away. No point trying to change their minds, just wait till they no longer stop spreading their lies.

  6. Or as Max Planck put it:
    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

  7. …so the 31 000 + peolpe with a minimum of a science degrre who have signed the petition questioning the claims of even the existence of global warming are ‘cranks’ to? Or should I say ‘climate change’, as since the planet isn’t actually warming (it snowed in London while parlimment read a carbon tax bill – the first October snow since 1922) the advocates of climate change have employed a little Orweillian style phrase change.

    Less that 2% of the gas in the atmosphere are green house gasses, Of the 2% less than 1% is carbon dioxide, Of that percentage the amount of human produced emission is negligible. If the planet was warming, which it isn’t, then to even connect human activity is absurd.

    So we are now facing a finincial meltdown and a carbon tax to sink any chance of an economic recovery. Of course because the mainstream media doesn’t tell you this then naturally it can’t be true! The same media that helped fuel the property boom that has left up to 130 000 home owners with negative equity.

    Sometimes I think people have actually been hypnotised, and by the time reality kicks in it will be to late. The window of oppurtunity is closing and if you stay in your media muddled minds it will close while you remain seated in your pre programmed opionions.

    An interesting point is that in a disaster 80% of people generally do nothing. I guess that accounts for the comments posted here. I am sticking with the cranks, even if they don’t get all the facts right, they at least question things. No need to respond, 2 out of 10 of you may consider googling.

  8. “Less that 2% of the gas in the atmosphere are green house gasses, Of the 2% less than 1% is carbon dioxide, Of that percentage the amount of human produced emission is negligible. If the planet was warming, which it isn’t, then to even connect human activity is absurd.”

    No you’re absurd.

    Yes a newbie to give sh*t too

  9. So can anybody actually refute what this guy is saying? I only read personal insults so far. I am not saying I agree but shouldn’t you be able to refute his claims instead of condesending and insulting him?

    I actually did find his claim of the petition and that much is true.

    I used to be a part of a religiuos sect and when people disagreed with the leaders they would be ridiculed (at best). How about setting him straight with the truth (as you see it). Stephen, Carol and Jonno

  10. …what a nutter Mal! People have a massive impact on the environment. The problem is overpopulation. Hopefully your prediction of a collopsed economy will slow down population growth.

    With aids, war and famine spreading, we can all look forward to a better future with less of us around.

  11. but shouldn’t you be able to refute his claims instead of condesending and insulting him?

    Given that Mal came into Gareth’s thread and then totally ignored Gareth’s blog post in favour of spewing the usual talking points… why should we bother?

    He’s spewing talking points, and somehow that makes us the ‘religious cult’? Good sense of ‘balance’ there, yeah right.

    Next you’ll be claiming that there’s perfectly no irony when someone appears on the media talking about how the media are censoring him. (Unfortunately for Vincent Gray, the media haven’t bothered to publish his irregular updates to his thesis and talk about it 24 hours a day. Ergo, he’s being suppressed. Like in a “religious sect”.)

    — bi, International Journal of Inactivism

  12. Sorry Linda, but if folks like you and Mal want to join in the debate here with any degree of comprehension or sophistication, it’s incumbent on you to inform yourselves about the science. If you have a good search on this blog you should find lots of good material.

    Mal’s second paragraph is laughably naive. The potency of GHGs doesn’t just depend on their atmospheric levels, it also depends on, among other things, the way in which they absorb thermal radiation and their atmospheric residence times. And so on.

    I’ll leave it to the others, if they can be bothered, to describe the many other ways in which Mal is just plain wrong.

  13. Linda, you’ll find that all Mal’s “points” have been dealt with repeatedly in this blog and elsewhere. Try clicking on the Sceptical Science link in the blogroll for a summary. Drive by commenters like “Mal” get short shrift because they’re not offering any more than a “ya boo sucks”…

  14. Press coverage on climate change issues which do not reflect a doomsday scenario are few and far between. For example you don’t see headlines saying that the Arctic sea ice cover rebounds in 2008 and increases over 30% on 2007 levels.

    Why not? The press are always keen to show melting polar ice and polar bears drowning.

    The Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center of Bergen Norway keep satellite derived arctic sea ice cover plots which are updated daily and which show the standard deviation over the recording period. The current sea ice extent and sea ice cover area data endpoints are approaching the edge of the standard deviation for both data sets.

    Yes, that’s correct, sea ice levels are close to normal for this time of year in the Arctic so why all the fuss and doomsday predictions?

  15. “Global warming is here, happening now, and we caused it.”

    One of the thirteen facts mentioned by Gareth. ….I am sorry but I have misunderstood the purpose of this article and associated site. I did not realise that the approach was so fundamental. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and so I hope you enjoy yours.

    Thanks for responding to my comments though. I appreciated the reply.

  16. “I used to be a part of a religiuos sect and when people disagreed with the leaders they would be ridiculed (at best)” (sic)

    Might explain a lot :).

  17. Linda:

    Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and so I hope you enjoy yours.

    You are entitled to your beliefs, but not to your own facts.

    I made a simple statement of fact.

  18. Mal,

    The 31,000-strong list you found is probably the same one I found, and is something of a sham. On Wikipedia there is a more accurate list, and previously on this blog I was challenged to randomly sample it and see which ones were actually producing reputable papers. You can read the findings from here.

    The factors for the financial crash are complex, but do realise that recovery from them and moving away from carbon inefficiency are not mutually exclusive – in fact, being more efficient is very conducive to that – especially in the face of skyrocketing fuel prices.

    As for the “80% of people do nothing” comment – bear in mind that by representing the skeptical side, you’re in the “do nothing” camp.

  19. Does anyone else think that the influx of “new” people commenting might actually be NZC”S”C folk in disguise and trying to lay down chaff to draw attention away from Vincent’s rant?

    Vincent is wrong. Laughably so. The very few NZC”S”Cers with any science know this but can’t admit it (a la Eli’s thread) or let Vincent be critiqued; so they drag discussion off topic by raising nonsensical points so outrageous that some people take the bait and patiently waste time trying to explain to some “newbie” who is in reality one of the NZC”S”C regulars.

  20. I’ve seen accusations of other organisations’ use of ‘plants’ in other forums, and they usually look a bit silly…simplest explanation: just your average conspiracy theorist.

  21. I’m surprised that Roger Dewhurst or Owen McShane haven’t popped up to defend Vincent. Perhaps they recognise (at last) the indefensible when they see it…

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  22. Their problem is that, while the fact that Vincent, Beck and Ring are wrong does not *prove* everything NZC”S”C says is rubbish, if they were to ditch this obvious nonsense they would be left with precious little.

    As I said to Vincent: His (and Roger et al.’s) continued support for the likes of Beck weakens their case and shows how poor their judgement of science is. (BTW didja see that Bob Carter is listed in Beck’s acknowledgements for his help?).

    And Gareth – you gotta see if you can get spellcheck set to NZ/UK as wot she is spoken by HM. e.g. The spellchecker wants acknowledgment but the OED says: “acknowledgement (a spelling more in accordance with Eng. values of letters). ” (same for judgment, recognized etc).

  23. Maybe people aren’t popping up and attacking your arguments because mostly it is mumbo jumbo and absurd. Oh hang on, isn’t that what everyone who presents a view contrary to this site is accused of being?

  24. Gray’s comment is even more bizarre to my eyes. One of my activities has been the creationism-evolution wars, which is a long time issue in the US. Perhaps usage differs in New Zealand, but ‘Darwinism’ is, here, always a phrase out of the mouths of young earth creationists. Why he’s reading out of the young earth creationist book might be something to follow up with.

    For yet another look at just who and how many signed the OISM petition, with not enough on how many are even alive, folks can swing by my blog. In July I wrote a pair of notes ‘petitioning on climate’, or you can pick it up from the ‘weeding sources’ tag.

  25. To quote Gray: “The widespread restrictions on “emissions” that have followed have led to the collapse of the world energy industry,”

    Poor energy industry, let’s give ’em a tax break. This from the ‘Daily Grist’:
    “Exxon Mobil on Thursday announced that it raked in $14.83 billion in its third quarter, breaking its previous record for the highest quarterly profit ever for a U.S. company. John McCain, campaigning in Ohio, declared that “we’re not gonna let that happen” again if he’s president, neglecting to mention that his tax plan would afford Exxon $1.2 billion in savings.”


  26. Robert,

    To be fair to Vincent, he’s originally from Britain (degree and doctorate from Cambridge), and “Darwinism” in British usage doesn’t have the creationist overtones present in the US. If I recall correctly, Richard Dawkins has described himself as a Darwinist…

    That said, I still find it almost impossible to work out what he’s on about.

  27. At the heart of Darwinism is the principle that ecosystems are self-correcting. Deep-green environmentalism is based on the opposite: the assertion that nature is a delicate flower that will be pushed to “collapse” by humans (when did we stop being part of nature?)

    VG is absolutely right to point out the contradiction between green ideology and the facts of the environment’s resilience.

  28. Steve Wrathall… you’re right.. your simplistic thinking is great… let’s continue the way we behave and let nature self-correct and kills us all!

  29. Actually, Steve Wrathall, you’re wrong. ‘Ecosystems being self-correcting’ does not lie at the heart of Darwinism. What on earth do you mean?

  30. Isn’t Darwinism another theory Steve Wrathall? (Of course evolution is observed fact). So why do you believe in this theory, when you don’t believe in the theory of AGW? Both are based on scientific evidence.

    It seems that you don’t really understand science at all!

  31. Yeah, that was what I thought.
    Besides it is kind of pointless to assert that the planet is resilient. ‘Habitability’ would seem to be a more relevant concern.

  32. Well, yeah. And it’s not like you need to be an environmentalist to think climate change is an important issue, anyway. But these kinds of simplified caricatures of political & ethical opinions do the rounds in some of the internet echo chambers. I’m half expecting the “environmentalists are anti-humanists” one to pop up.

  33. Stupid old fool. He is beyond contempt. Another in the long list of those whose actions support my observation that they’ll be conveniently dead before they can be fully called to account.

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