Why is Federated Farmers promoting climate denial during a major drought?

The man who believes Obama's birth certificate was faked, promoted by Federated Farmers.
The man who believes Obama’s birth certificate was faked, promoted by Federated Farmers.

You’d think, in the middle of the worst drought in 70 years, with farmers in crisis, that their national political body might be thinking about  the big picture of climate change and how best to communicate that to farmers.

In Marlborough, where the drought is hitting hard, the local Federated Farmers chapter is sponsoring a talk by crank Lord Monckton.   I asked Conor English, Federated Farmers CEO,  what he thought about this and he said:

“We have 24 Provinces and they get all sorts of speakers on all sorts of things. We simply don’t know.”

OK, one renegade chapter. Fair enough. I’m sure Top of the South farmers will be relieved to know climate change isn’t real.

But on March 8, Federated Farmers’ “Friday Flash” weekly email bulletin was mailed to members right around the country, including a full-on promotion, with dates, links, and phone numbers of Monckton’s wander around the country.  The item even questioned the science of global warming, running out the tired old denier “global warming has stalled for 16 years” argument (rebutted here) that is central to Monckton’s theories.

So I went back to Mr English to ask how they could be promoting Monckton’s visit, right in the middle of this terrible drought, the type of  drought farmers are expected to get a lot more of as climate impacts kick in.

Indeed, how could the only mention of climate change in that Friday Flash newsletter be to advertise a tour by someone who is currently in Australia promoting the Rise Up Australia Party, whose leader, Pastor Daniel Nalliah, says that the awful 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria were God’s retribution for that state’s abortion laws? 

Oh, the comms person said, that was just in our newsletter – we weren’t promoting it.  “Events publicised in the Friday Flash do not necessarily align with Federated Farmers official standpoint.”

Really?  So your newsletter can have any old rubbish in it? That’s not how a number of farmers who have contacted me over the last week see it. They are very much of the view that Federated Farmers are promoting the tour.

John Hart, a Wairarapa farmer, comments:

 “I think Monckton’s climate-change-denial tour couldn’t have come at a worse time, as we battle the worst drought in a generation. In my opinion, Federated Farmers promoting his tour most certainly associates their brand with his. The man is a crank and does Federated Farmers no favours among rational farmers that accept climate change is real and requires meaningful action.”

 Federated Farmers says:   “Our organisation is keen to encourage debate and free speech. That is why we have publicised events from both sides of the climate change debate.”

Hart responds:

 “As for “promoting debate”, they don’t seem to realise that by giving oxygen to cranks like Monckton, Federated Farmers are playing into the hands of the climate change deniers. It’s disappointing to see Federated Farmers wasting time we don’t have when farmers need leadership in sustainable agriculture.”

 Indeed, “debate” like this is exactly what Frank Luntz, the Republican communications guru, told the party to do:

 Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

 Because doubt, after all, is the only product Monckton deals in. Oh, sorry, and conspiracy.

Given that Federated Farmers went on to assure me that they were “well aware that scientists have predicted parts of New Zealand, in particular the East Coast, will get drier and hotter. That is why we have advocated a greater use of water storage and access to new science and new technologies,” what sort of contribution are they expecting from someone who’s going around the country saying climate change is a hoax?

Even that bastion of National Party fervor, David Farrar over at Kiwiblog doesn’t think that Monckton would make a useful contribution to the country.  “He has a history of over-egging his claims,” he says, linking to John Abraham’s thorough rebuttal of Monckton’s science.

So I went back (again) for some further clarification, asking how they think a climate denier like Monckton – with no scientific qualifications and who says Agenda 21 will lead to UN concentration camps and that Obama’s birth certificate was fake –  would further the “debate” on climate change for farmers?

They’re coming back to me on that one, apparently. Deafening silence so far.

What I find astounding is the fact that Federated Farmers refuse to distance themselves from Monckton’s tour.  Including something like this in your newsletter implies tacit approval, doesn’t it? Given that the majority of climate change’s worst impacts in New Zealand are likely to be on the farming sector,  they might consider that including a discredited denier in their newsletter is not going to be particularly enlightening to their constituents, or a helpful contribution on the issue.

129 thoughts on “Why is Federated Farmers promoting climate denial during a major drought?”

  1. I sent an email to David Broome, General Manager Strategic Communications regards Monckton.

    His response was that Rod Oram/Jim Salingers’ tour had also been promoted in the Friday Flash back in 2011 and that FF had received similar emails (to that which they’re receiving now about Monckton) from people opposing the tour then.

    My response was that there’s not really a lot of equivalence between expert scientists speaking about their field of study versus Monckton’s conspiracy theories – let alone the PR ramifications of being seen to promote a denier like Monckton during an exceptional drought.

    1. Absolutely the right response back to him there!

      I’m amazed that Fed Farmers seriously think that there’s still a need to “balance” a climate scientist like Jim Salinger with the likes of Monckton. You’d have thought they’d have moved on from that, but alas, no.

      1. Perhaps this ads some insight to explain why on National Radio, Saturdays, before Kim Hill comes on, in the ‘Country Calendar’ show, the presenters seem to talk significantly slower than one is normally used to on National Radio…. Or perhaps that is just my personal sense of things, as I am impatiently slurping my morning coffee, awaiting the end of that hour, and Kim’s wit to reclaim the airwaves…. 😉

  2. I first learnt of his local lecture via an e-news update from my local branch of the Royal Society – sigh.
    To be sure they weren’t endorsing it, just passing on info, but this man should be starved of the oxygen of any form of publicity.
    I wrote back suggesting they’d be better promoting or organising a showing of this new NZ made doco instead & it features real scientists:
    “In recent years climate science has come under increasing attack, so geologist Simon Lamb took his camera to find out what is really going on from his climate science colleagues.Simon followed scientists at work in the Arctic, Antarctic, Southern Ocean, New Zealand, Europe and the USA. They talk about their work, and their hopes and fears, with a rare candour and directness. This creates an intimate portrait of the global community of researchers racing to understand our planet’s changing climate.”

  3. The US midwest is also experiencing a serious drought. According to one of Joe Romm’s guest bloggers Kristin Hyde, “very few farmers believe climate change is a serious issue caused by human behavior”. ClimateWire reported last October that a survey of almost 5,000 US Corn Belt farmers found “just 8% believe human activities are the primary cause” of the climate change “many” admit they are experiencing.

    This UC Davis study found that farmers in California fear higher fuel prices and more regulation so much they don’t want to hear that civilization has a problem.

    Romm’s guest blogger summed up her observations of what US farmers believe about climate change: “Most feel it’s a political ploy by Al Gore”.

    If farmers in New Zealand are anything like their US counterparts, it isn’t surprising at all that their national lobby group dutifully takes positions in line with their beliefs. The Federated Farmers are calling for New Zealand to get rid of all measures it has taken on climate and that any future measures should exempt specifically exempt them.

    When the farmers change what they believe, their lobby group will change what it calls for.

    You can’t expect political “leaders” to lead, however much you may want them to.

    In the meantime it is astonishing to witness types like our Lord selling his snake oil.

  4. I do love people who strongly believe in climate change so much they don’t do anything about it except talk.
    You either minimize you footprint and change your life. Or you don’t believe in climate change enough.

    It is that simple.
    Too many chicken little’s in the world, not enough people trying to stop the sky falling.

    1. Improvements in an individual’s carbon footprint might raise their smug factor, but it will do little to minimize global warming. That involves a whole scale change in the way humans derive energy. This is what most people here are trying to accomplish – bring about societal change.

      1. Last time i checked the only time this has ever worked was leading by example.

        What makes your reasoning any better than “Monkeytons” if you can’t even change your own lifestyle?
        Are you not a human? Do you have no control as to how your derive your own energy? Can you do nothing on your own to reduce your own effects on global warming?
        Does the world/society need to hold your hand why you test out your protest?

        It’s all very well to complain about stuff. But getting your hands dirty to show solutions on how to fix stuff seems pretty rare these days.

            1. Previous comments obviously.
              No one has said
              “I did”
              “They could use my”

              or similar sentences.

              I would actually prefer to stand corrected on this – what have people done to help themselves? Not help others (shout helping if you will).

              – Do people have their own grid connected solar/wind systems?
              – Have you reduced your consumption by some means?
              – Do you walk/cycle to work now?
              – Have you improved your water use?
              – Have you designed something that helps with others consumption/use?

              If you have – shout it from the roof tops, out volume Monkeyton, blow the skeptics away with the fact that not only have you done something to improve climate change, they can do and it will benefit them (through cost savings usually).

              The do as I say don’t do as I do approach never works. The tools are there – they just need to be used.
              Prove me wrong! Make Hot Topic about solutions!

        1. You don’t appear to be appreciating the situation that we are in. Changing one’s own behaviour to minimize their carbon footprint is admirable, but it will not solve the problem. That involves a radical change to the manner in which energy is derived, and a move away from the obsession of economic growth. Followed by a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere – something which is currently in the realm of science fiction.

          You have no idea of the steps people like myself have taken, or have advocated. So a little less trolling, and focusing on the real issue at hand, might prove somewhat more productive.

          1. It gets too hard to keep track of this long conversation so i must make a post on walking the talk – erm literally as well!

            First I agree with Rob and others that it becomes much easier to walk the talk if the environment is structured to promote reduction of GHG emissions which, in spite of various token actions has in fact been made hostile under this government. Had the Govt built on what was already in place, poor though it was, we would have now an environment where people were putting their thought toward achieving it. That would make a great and increasing difference. The individual and collective ingenuity of farmers when they get their teeth into someting is a phenomenon I’ve noted all my life.

            I am conscious that there are farmers who do take climate change, mitigation and adaptation, sustainability and environmental issues seriously.

            The chief effect of walking the talk in one’s own life is to influence the thinking and ideas of those one associates with, but they tend to wait to see if I make it first.

            I take climate change issues seriously so when my car died early January I decided I would not fix it, but scrap it. Then I had quite literally to walk the talk. My bank balance started to grow a little. Three things reduced the enjoyment thereof: the heat of the pavements, the weight to be sometimes carried, and then a backinjury to add to the 5 already established which I get treated every 2 months. The last injury affected my ability to walk. With 3 treatments it was fixed but I had to take to the buses – every bus I’ve been on so far has been a spine shaker. A driver told me that a program to replace them with smooth ride (and quieter) buses would begin next year.

            Then I had the misfortune to get a driver running particularly late, trying to catch up. He violently accelerated, braked hard at lights then accelerated again all while I was still away from finding a seat. The resulting whiplash of the spine in the lower back set me much further awry than before – $240 in treatments with accident compo since. Later, during the same ride, an Indian woman made a strong speech on not making off before she was seated while she stood on the boarding platform keeping the door open, so maybe that particular driver was known. I must add that the many other drivers I have experienced have all been careful of seeing the elderly seated before they clap on the speed. Also, with the exception of what may be some asian eldest sons, the young mostly wave the elderly on the bus before them, making it easier to find a seat in time.

            My back in the last week has seemed OK again but the biggest improvement in walking effected in this time was the purchase of a 2 wheel shopping trolley from a “$2” shop at a reduced price of $14. These can be taken on the buses and one can easily draw along a load too heavy for me to carry, if the slope is not steep, thus reducing the number of trips to stores and library.

            Now to end this pathetic tale, the electric car is still some months off, the water tank capacity, with dew fall, has proved adequate to the drought thus far, the garden is good but what do you do with a bumper crop of wood apples? The solar power stuff is quite brilliant, but I will now be able to keep up with any further discussion here, if any :).

  5. The Otago Daily Times has an short article about ‘leading global warming sceptic …. Lord Monckton is a British politician, public speaker, hereditary peer and former newspaper editor’. Is that all true? I’m going to write a letter to the ODT and would like to get my facts right (unlike Monckton).

    1. Yes, all of that is true, Viv.

      He’s a member of UKIP (UK’s version of ACT) and still has some sort of role in the party (was deputy leader but I think not now).
      Yes, is a public speaker.
      Yes, a hereditary peer (but not a member of the House of Lords)
      Former managing editor of the Sunday Telegraph in 1981.

      Maybe the ODT might like to know that he thinks Agenda 21 will lead to UN-run concentration camps (as per Gareth’s blog).

  6. Yep, at first it made perfect sense because the Dunedin Fringe Festival is running at present, but the notty-lord will be here next month. One of the local wack-job contarians, Jock Allsion, is quoted prominantly in the article and appears to have been the source of most of the “information”. Interestingly, there was no attempt at “balance” in the story. I’m not happy that Monckton will be speaking at the university, but I’m not sure what can be done. Perhaps it is best to simply ignore him.

  7. I’m amazed at the comments here. Two questions …
    1 – Has NZ never previously experienced a drought?
    2 – Can anyone conclusively demonstrate that the drought has been caused by human activity?

    1. 1 – It has previously experienced a drought
      2 – no

      Now mcljd show us how clever you are by providing a reasoned conclusion drawn from these two answers.

      Don’t be shy, explain it all for us, in detail.

    2. Two questions, mcljd:

      1 – Do you smoke cigarettes?

      2. If not, why not? Something to do with the overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking causes cancer, perhaps?

    3. I’m amazed at the commenter here. Two questions…
      1 – What was the point of your even asking yours if you’re just going to run away from the responses?
      2 – Did you actually read the post or the comments you’re supposedly responding to?

      1. I think his point was based around the fact that while NZ is in a drought – having someone talk about climate change is irrelevant from the fact. (at least that is what I think he was getting at).

        Unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that the symbolism will still upset people. I do think this tour should have been cancelled (on Fed Farmers end) so that they could concentrate on the disaster at hand.
        This would be my response if it was drought, fire or flood. Hell if it were a tsunami I would still recommend cancelling the event. Fact is that people will naturally associate the 2 without any evidence, so it is not wise to put one next to the other.

        – Increase in Chinese food takeaways in New Zealand
        – Decrease in wild cat population in New Zealand

        are 2 headlines that should never be next to each other.

        Same could be said about

        – Drought devastates New Zealand.
        – Climate change skeptic to tour NZ.
        are 2 headlines that should never be next to each other.
        The drought could be caused by any number of things (including climate change). And while correlation does not indicate causality – people will very easily assume that 2+2=4.

  8. If anyone is in the mood for a climate debate pop over to Homepaddock blog on the post about ‘govt doesn’t give special treatment….’ Tracey wants me to provide her with a link to counter the one she put in about C02 levels following warming. I’ve not got the online time to do so.

  9. I am a Federated Farmers member. I am very pleased to see them publicising Lord Monckton’s tour in Friday Flash. All farmers know that the climate is continually changing and most, if not all, appreciate the need to design a farming system that is resilient to these variations. While I do not have hard evidence in the form of official surveys, I believe, on the basis of my conversations with fellow farmers, the scope of remits at Federated Farmers meetings etc, the proportion of farmers who believe that combustion of fossil fuels or animal belches have a significant impact on the climate is vastly lower than the proportion of their urban counterparts who believe they do.
    It is obvious from the size of this tour that it has been a long time in the planning and that there would have been no hint of a drought when the ground work was laid. But far from agreeing with farrst that it should be cancelled, I consider that the timing is perfect. Dr Renwick claimed on Q & A this week that increasing greenhouse gas levels are the only plausible explanation for the changing climate and that he had no doubt about that. I cannot accept that lack of doubt. The global temperature is currently below the 95% confidence level of the IPCC’s midrange temperature projections. This means there is a massive amount of doubt over the validity of those projections. These are the same projections that form the basis of the advice NIWA and the Ministry of Primary Industry are providing to farmers. We need to have a balance in order to make quality decisions.
    Cindy tries to dismiss the statement about the lack of global warming for 17 years in the Friday Flash. But she did not tell Hot Topic members who made that statement. It is none other than Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC. She also did not tell you that Pachauri also said it was good for controversial issues to be thrashed out in the public arena. So I say that it is good for farmers to have the opportunity to discuss this issue of drought while the issue is ‘hot’. Is this current drought just part of the normal pattern of hot/cold wet/dry, or is something new happening? Remember last summer was abnormally wet over the entire country and ranked as the sixth wettest in over 70 years. Renwick, Salinger and NIWA do not have a monopoly on the truth. Lord Monckton is entitled to challenge their assertions, just as you challenge his.

    1. Fair call – if you don’t think farmers are upset about the drought and that Lord Moncktons visit will be salt in the wounds for farmers then fair enough.
      If all my animals were starving and the only help I got was someone berating me with their advice for or against climate change…..I’d want to punch someone in the face. (At the very minimum I’d want the presentation delayed until such a point as the wound was raw).

      As I prefer a balanced debate on issues – I congratulate the farmers on being a bigger person that I on this particular matter, I would not have the strength to look away from the coal face.
      Kudos to you for thinking the debate is worth it.

      (I still don’t trust NIWA after seeing first hand some of their test stuff ups…..but can’t comment on the others – who are most likely smarter than I).

        1. Jaren is dutch for years no?
          So I am looking at something that is showing “Temperature Anomalies” for the last 23,000 years? Seeing as Ice core samples go back about 4,000 years I am assuming this is off something else – dirt samples? Calcite’s?
          Why does the red line go past the others? Is it a model?
          Is a temperature anomaly, delta (change) in temperature or selected results. Or are anomalies measured like fractals?

          Note I am not a skeptic when it comes to climate change – I know we are screwed purely of what we are doing.
          But bad modelling helps no one. Especially when we could be working out ways forward to IMPROVE the situation.
          Unless your still not convinced there is a problem? and feel the need to provide more evidence that a problem exits…..

            1. I have little time for people who have miraculous psychic powers regarding the internal states, lifestyles and intentions of others, and yet they somehow cannot manage to read the legend on a chart.

              The passive-aggressive ‘please explain’ game is also both trite and tedious.


            2. Meaning all are models then? What is hard with facts these days?
              There are certainly plenty of facts out there that reinforce cases better than models do.

              In all honesty though most of my questions are based around the axis. Defining these are most critical for any model.
              You have plenty of time to waste telling people to not answer my questions. How about doing something useful with it?
              Or is this a torches and pitchfork type scene Mr?

            3. I tell you what; why don’t you go and discover what HadCRUT 4 is?

              ‘Torches and pitchforks’ is pure ‘you’re all out to get me, you oppressors, you’ trolling. I’m not explaining this for your benefit – you already know this – I’m helping the reader to identify common troll tactics. This doesn’t constitute a waste of time to my mind.

          1. Especially when we could be working out ways forward to IMPROVE the situation.

            Improving the situation is indeed what is needed. And foremost what needs to happen is leadership that is united in rejecting the denial stance and gets on with solutions to de-carbonise our economy. The Moncktons of this world however do to their best to delay the very action you call for. So much should be clear to everybody.

            1. He would like to think that.
              Fact is that the world has moved and is moving regardless of what he states. It is only the ignorant that a blissfully unaware of this.

              A grid connected alternative energy source can be purchased and installed in New Zealand for less than the price of the average carport. Off grid solutions are cheaper again. Both of these are become heavily subsidized in some countries (I am hoping this is pushed for in NZ by 2014 – and will pursue it myself if I have to). Solar water heating has gone from a “nice thing” to the norm is many major cities around the world (with some countries making it compulsory in new construction).

              Emissions are being tightened regardless for many manufacturing business as they find ways to improve consumption efficiency. There is a major push for this as it has found most systems installed correctly have a 2 year pay-back period. Note that this has happened without a carbon tax. But also has a feel good factor that allows the marketing team of the various firms to go spread the word about.

              This is without other stuff like efficient heating, LED/OLED lighting and displays (something I begged people to use 15 years ago), biofuels and other great advancements that Monckton probably uses but has no idea that there was a green driver behind them.

              So I can’t really claim that no one is doing nothing. As I have seen it with my own eyes that people are working towards these goals.
              Just not everyone. Not even everyone who believes in it.

              The Moncktons of this world will always be there. Perhaps it’s the engineer is me – but it’s it just wiser to ignore them and go about your business?
              Unless your one of these guys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_climate_scientists) – then disproving Monckton should be a piece of cake.

              Anywho best I leave this thread alone for a bit as people are getting genuinely upset. While my intention was for people to get defensive (and hopefully prove me wrong) – it has past that point, and time is no longer petty.

    2. Neil, 30 years is the standard period to assess changes in climate, not this year compared to last year. Propagandists such as Monckton use short-term variations to try to confuse people such as yourself, but disinfurmation and rhetorical tricks are no substitute for science.

      If you genuinely want to improve your understanding of the evidence for global heating due to greenhouse gases, I suggest you check out the many science sites available, such as the Royal Society, NASA, NOAA, NIWA, NAS, etc, etc.

      You can also find a comprehensive debunking of denialist themes here:


    3. I am a Federated Farmers member. I am very pleased to see them publicising Lord Monckton’s tour in Friday Flash.

      I wonder if you’ll be willing to restate that position in a decade’s time.

      the proportion of farmers who believe that combustion of fossil fuels or animal belches have a significant impact on the climate is vastly lower than the proportion of their urban counterparts who believe they do.

      Doubtlessly true. You vote for the laws of physics out in the country, do you? If so, you have nothing to worry about.

      The global temperature is currently below the 95% confidence level of the IPCC’s midrange temperature projections.

      According to whom, I wonder – David Rose? When was the warmest decade, would you say? How, I wonder, do you explain the melting of the Arctic ice-cap? I assume it’s all just an amazing coincidence that Australia just had it’s warmest summer ever, and you’re locked in your worst drought?

      Maybe, but it’s quite a stretch, don’t you think? What do you stand to lose if your wrong?

      If you want to actually learn the facts in this matter, you might want to go here. All the other points you raise are also dealt with elsewhere on the site, as well as here.

      Otherwise, of course, stick with the man who claims Obama’s birth-certificate is a fake, that Australia’s ABC is a ‘fascistic’ organization, and that environmentalists have killed more people than the Holocaust! The very soul of responsible ‘debate’…

    4. Just for the purpose of disambiguation, could you confirm that you are the Neil Henderson, prime mover of the NZ “climate realists”, and chief promoter of Monckton’s NZ tour?

      If so, could you please confirm that you stand by all the claims about Agenda 21 that Monckton makes.

      1. Could you also comment on the remarkable opinions he expresses here (lest anyone think I was being hyperbolic above), particularly as to whether they constitute any part of a ‘reasoned’ or ‘reasonable’ debate?

      2. I do not pretend to know all the claims Lord Monckton makes about Agenda 21.
        Let me provide some background. At the time Kyoto was signed I believed it was necessary because the greenhouse gas theory made sense.Then I discovered that animal emissions were to be included. This is wrong. A constant number of animals maintain the atmospheric methane level at a constant level. Warming can only occur if there is an increase ingreenhouse gases. An increase can only occur from an increase in animal numbers. If the whole world were to double livestock numbers the amount of extra warming would be an unmeasurable 0.01 degrees in 100 years. Is it any wonder that farmers are cynical about AGW when they see the flaws in the ‘tax’ on animals?

        As I investigated further, on both sides, watching Al Gore’s film, listening to Gareth Morgan etc, I became more and more convinced that it was all wrong, but more significantly that it was just a piece of a far bigger picture. that included Agenda 21, global control and oppression of the masses etc.

        On the face of it Agenda 21 seems good stuff to anyone who cares for this planet and all that is on it. I agree 100% with Greenpeace that there is no Planet B this side of heaven. But Agenda 21 is not a lily white angel. I do not live in Horizons Region, but I have followed the ‘One Pla’n enough to see its signature and am concerned that Horizons is the blueprint for a roll out across NZ.
        Two years ago a consultation went round on biodiversity. It seemed innocent enough at first glance. But if implemented if farmers allowed manuka to grow to 5 metres it would then be protected biodiversity.
        Indeed even now under the ETS, land that was poorly managed and now covered in scrub but that could be farmed profitably is locked up as permanent forest.
        This is one small example for Bill below of people starving because of emissions reductions. Sure the poor of the world can’t afford the food we produce. But it means the wealthy of the world consume the food they would have because we didn’t supply them.
        The amount of arable land in biofuels is a crime against humanity. I note Lord Monckton uses the word ‘probably’ in comparing numbers with the Holocaust. The holocaust is over, this death toll is rising still. This is why I cannot understand the likes of Tear Fund, World Vision and Oxfam backing emissions reductions.
        Bill has also asked what if I am wrong? While not stating it in the reply, many have used the argument that we must do something just in case. it is cheap insurance.That still carries a cost, as Lord Monckton pointed out very poignantly in 2011 last time he was here. A few dollars can cure an eye disorder and allow a mother to comtinue to care for her family. It can provide a well with clean water. He also pointed out it is not cheap insurance. I would also throw back the question ‘What if the solar physicists are right and the world is about to cool’? Should we insure against that too? Rather than trying to stop the climate we should prepare oureselves as well as we can to handle what ever comes, be it hot, dry, cold or wet.

        1. Perhaps because the folks at Oxfam have some idea what they’re talking about?

          Which ‘solar physicists’, incidentally? Are you really so locked in the bubble that you seriously think that there’s some large homogenous group called ‘solar physicists’, diametrically opposed to the rest of the physics community, just waiting to burst the chains on ‘the team’ and reveal ‘The Truth’?

          Dream on.

          And ‘Probably’? Keeeriste! So you can write any old vile insult, can you, if you put a ‘probably’ in front of it?

        2. Warming can only occur if there is an increase in greenhouse gases.

          Neil, this is simple nonsense, as you can quickly demonstrate for yourself.
          Just turn a stove element on to a fixed setting and put the palm of your hand on it; does warming occur?

          If you think not, just leave your hand there a little longer….

          The rest of your post makes just as much sense, but help is available; rather than waste your time and energy on a snake-oil salesman like Monckton, there is a free course you can do online:


          1. Your stove element is not a correct demonstration.Your example is equivalent to going from no animals to lots. That is when warming will occur, though the actaul warming is likely to be so insignificant that it will be impossible to measure. But a constant number of animals will keep the stove element at a constant temperture.

            Let us remember that an animal is merely recycling, via grass, carbon atoms, in the form of carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere back to the atmosphere, albeit via methane for a time. It is totally different to burning fossil fuels and releasing carbonatoms back to the atmosphere that have not been there for a long time.

            1. Like many AGW deniers, Neil, you are woefully ignorant of the difference between heat and temperature. Should you dare to educate yourself, here is a link:


              The point you fail to grasp is that, were the amount of GHG in the atmosphere to somehow be kept constant from now on, the heat content of the Earth system would CONTINUE TO INCREASE until thermal equilibrium is reached at the top of the atmosphere (just as your hand would continue to heat up until it reaches thermal equilibrium with the stove element – or you no longer have a hand).

              Under these conditions, TOA thermal equilibrium would take several thousand years; in the meantime, the increasing heat energy will continue to cause phase changes, such as ice at 0 C melting to water at 0 C, and temperature increases in Earth system components such as the atmosphere and ocean.


              By the way, the growing incidence of cold weather extremes in the Northern Hemisphere are a CONSEQUENCE of the AGW-driven melting of the Arctic ice:


              Also, here’s a film review you might find interesting, if only to check out the cameo appearance of your reality-challenged mate, the Third Viscount of Bullshit!


        3. Neil

          “A constant number of animals maintain the atmospheric methane level at a constant level.”

          Really? So the number of animals on the planet is constant. What a fascinating fact! In 1981 NZ had 2.92 million dairy cows. By 2010 we had six million, ie double the number. Who has less cows now, since we’ve got 3 million more? Presumably someone has to, in order for this constant number to be kept up.

          Re: Agenda 21. We want to know if, like Monckton, you think that Agenda 21 will lead to “UN-run concentration camps”. Do you? Because this is a Big Thing for Monckton.

          Do you also believe that Obama’s birth certificate was faked?

          re: solar astrophysicists. You must mean Willie Soon, who has scarcely written a single paper in his professional life that hasn’t been sponsored by big oil, big coal or the Koch brothers. Poor Willie, shame the graphs show he’s a bit wrong. http://skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm

          1. I had a look at Neils “climate realists” website. What a hoot! The good old Prof. emeritus Duffy (former Auckland University) has a lot to answer for with his confused and rambling nonsense, etched into the archives of the net for eternity and linked to the good name of Auckland University. What an embarrassment he must be for his former employer!

          2. No, the number of animals is not constant. You have missed my point. Global warming can only occur by increasing numbers. If the entire world doubled its livestock, not just our dairy herd, the global temperature change would be 0.01 degree in 100 years.
            By the way, we have doubled dairy numbers, but we have as good as halved sheep numbers. Our total stock units have actually fallen. One of the things that has been discussed in farming circles is why the calculations of our methane liability has not also decreased.

            re Obama’s birth certificate. Lord Monckton is not the only to claim that. I have not studied it so I have no opinion one way or the other. I do however believe that Obama is a bad news for democracy. But would Romney be any better? I do not know.

            Agenda 21. I have no illusions that we are heading to a one world government. It is no longer if but when. Exactly how it will come about is the only remaining question. There will come a time when dissenters will be silenced, either by execution or incarceration just as they are in places such as North Korea, mainland China, the former Soviet Union etc,.

            1. A cow emits 284 to 427 g/day of methane whereas a sheep only emits 9–35 g/day.
              Once again, skepticism about global warming seems once again intertwined with global conspiracy theories.

            2. This is correct. But if the ETS were in place for livestock now the liability for my sheep would be greater than for my cattle on a livestock unit basis because of the flawed rules and methodologies in calculating them. True, this includes the nitrous oxide as well. I admit I do not know the breakdown of this between sheep and cattle, but it is about one third of livestock emissions. If anything I would expect cattle to be responsible for a greater portion of nitrous oxide as that is associated with urine patches and cattle have bigger patches than sheep.

              No conspiracy theory is involved at all.

            3. Neil said: “If the entire world doubled its livestock, not just our dairy herd, the global temperature change would be 0.01 degree in 100 years.”… Neil, you are truly ignorant. Dream on and wipe the egg of your face. You are looking ridiculous.

              For the reader who is interested to learn more:

    5. Neil, if you are still farming, and your farm is is one of the dry regions it’s probably headed for biiiig trouble.

      Continued intensification of the global water cycle is going to make dry seasons/periods drier, and therefore hotter, and wet seasons wetter. This occurs because a warmer atmosphere is able to hold and to redistribute more moisture than a cooler one. As the atmosphere warms this increased moisture holding/redistributing capacity increases at a rate faster than the warming (the Clausius-Clapeyron Relation). The end result is that rainfall and snow (conditions permitting) is greater when moisture is converged, and less when moisture diverges. In New Zealand, this convergence/divergence is typically associated with El Nino/La Nina, and with the warm/cool seasons.

      This current drought isn’t just some run-of-the-mill phenomenon either, it’s unprecedented in the observational records.

      If the sub-tropical dry zones (bands parallel to the equator which experience drier-than-average weather and are home to many of the world’s deserts) continue to expand poleward, they are going to affect New Zealand in a very negative way.

    6. “… Remember last summer was abnormally wet over the entire country…”
      That is not true. I was living in Southland last summer, and we had least 6 weeks without rain. Farmers were sending stock to other provinces because of a lack of feed.

      1. Last summer the strong La Nina pushed the weather system we normally have further south (to you in Southland and south otago), leading to a long, hot, dry summer for the southern part of the South Island. For the rest of us, it was wet, wet, wet.

        1. Cindy, I was pointing out Neil’s error.
          I am feeling a bit paranoid though, last summer I had drought in Southland, now I am north of Auckland and we have drought here … am I some sort of cosmic sponge?

          With at least 4% extra water vapour in the atmosphere, due to warming, plenty of places are going to experience stronger precipitation events – as we see in Britain this weekend.

    7. Neil, “all farmers know that climate is continually changing..” …er,’continually’? No. Farmers know seasons can be variable,but none of them forty years ago would tell you that the Tasman Glacier was going to retreat dramatically because their daddy had seen similar. Daddy hadn’t. Observant farmers now can know climate has changed.

      IOW,farmers have not ‘seen’ climate change…until now,with the aid of scientifically rigorous lengthy observation,they can ‘look’ back a century. The ‘climate changes continually’ mantra is a deliberate confusion of seasonal variation and real climate change,intended to dismiss and obfuscate real change.

      Renwick,Salinger and NIWA represent decades of genuine study,and are part of a global science and observation. Monckton,as a self-appointed inexpert commentator, is not able to challenge their assertions,he is only able to misrepresent their work in order to fake a challenge. He does not represent a rival theory or rival body of knowledge. Everything he knows about climate he owes to generations of real scientists like Jim Salinger. A Monckton performance is the very mockery of a real challenge.

      1. Nobody is denying long term changes ,except perhaps Micheal Mann. Apart from him we all know we are coming out of the Little Ice Age. The climate system managed that without any help from mankind.

        The melting of the Tasman glacier has nothing to to do with global warming.Because it is buried by moraine its melting lags any climate change, and its initial course was set before greenhouse gases increased. Its recent dramatic melting has only occurred because its valley now has a depression and the melt water sits ponded at its toe, thus accelerating its melting. It woul take an ice age to cause it to advance again.

        Renwick, Salinger and NIWA do not hold a monopoly on the truth. Nobody understands all the components of the world’s climate system. Therefore noone can claim that is certain that a particular event such as the current drought is caused by human activity.

        Points have been made in this blog about the hot summer here and in Australia implying this is proof of warming.
        What about the lowest January temperaures for 28 years in China, 44 years in India or 50 years in Russia? That covers a large area of the globe.

        1. This is what is known as a strawman argument – an attempt to misrepresent, in this instance, the scientific case.

          Droughts occurs naturally – a warming climate makes them more severe and more frequent – as explained in more detail earlier in this thread.

          And the evidence for global warming is that the globe keeps on warming. See Balmaseda (2013) linked to below.

        2. Cheap shots like the Mann thing make you seem about, what, 12, Neil? Your are insulting one very bright guy… much brighter than you or me, I suggest.

          Speaking of which; ‘ever recorded’ as opposed to 28 or 44 years. You went to primary school, I assume? I ask – facetiously, I admit – because most kids still there would have little difficulty spotting the difference…

          For example; the hottest December and January – and probably the entire summer, pending final results – in the entire frickin’ SH. Big enough an area for you?

          Nobody says ‘is caused’ as in is ’caused solely by’ – this is a straw man you have constructed in order to dismiss the real argument that you don’t wish to acknowledge – is exacerbated by, and will increasingly be exacerbated by.

          And what’s melting the rest of the glaciers? Please don’t insult our intelligences by cherry picking the 1 in 20 or so that aren’t. Not to mention the north polar icecap. Oh, you didn’t.

          Here’s a question for you. Your mate Monckton is rather keen on suggesting other people should be put in gaol; given the truly appalling consequences that will result if you’re wrong, what sort of sanction or punishment do you think that society should be entitled to take against you in particular and deniers in general?

          Is this consistent with your general attitude to punishment? Answer honestly, now. If not, why not?

          Are you aware that while global warming can be slowed, it cannot be reversed on any humanly meaningful timescale?

          And, finally, I note you didn’t respond to this question (don’t feel bad; none of you ever does) –

          What is the conservative position on conducting a radical experiment with the one atmosphere we possess?

          In other words, who are the radical extremists here, Neil?

          (PS. You’re wasting your time here, though – Balmaseda is going to be the next Marcott; you should really be coaching yourselves on how you’re going to disbelieve that one. Just think of what all that heat irreversibly stored in the ocean is going to mean; if you’re wrong – and you are – there’s not going to be any way to undo it…)

          1. Bill, I believe it’s a total waste of time engaging with nNeilH other than to enlighten other casual readers..

            Neil is a person who thinks it is more worthwhile to promote total nutcases such as Monckton over the views of NASA, the Royal Society and every significant scientific institution on the planet. Little more need be said.

            Neil thinks it is clever, on his website, to describe the concentration of “man made” atmospheric CO2 as negligible and elevate this to the number one position in his list of (mis)information presented as “climate change facts”.

            He represents a class of person that can be accurately described as willfully scientifically illiterate. Whether due to limited intellectual ability or a priori bias due to his self serving political world view is moot, but from the arguments presented here I’d say a mixture of both.

            1. I agree. One beats him with a stick only for the benefit of onlookers.

              So, Dear Lurker, let me just reiterate –

              There has never been a more dangerous bunch of radicals than the literally wilfull ignoramuses that make up the AGW Denial movement.

              These people are not conservatives. Endangering the planet’s very life support systems is not a conservative strategy – not unless the word is to lose all meaning – it is the very embodiment of the colossal hubris of a bunch of aging and truly radical reactionaries.

              Please make an effort to try to comprehend just how deep in the merde the reality revealed in papers like Balmaseda 2013 puts us. Sealing yourself off in the bubble with a bunch of frothing – and ulimately truly, deeply, and pathetically silly – conspiracists might mean you don’t have to contemplate any scary changes in the short term, but in the long term the price we will all – non-fools and non-‘sapients’, too! – have to pay is truly appalling.

            2. The only thing these “conservatives” are desperate to conserve is their assumed entitlement to “know what’s right and what’s wrong by the gut” bugger the science, the scientists and the truth.

              Plus, in the age of the Internet where expressed opinions are never forgotten and one’s record is there for all to read, admitting to having it wrong all along is only possible for those who have the wisdom to question their own paradigms and convictions with abandon. Now that quality of mind and humility is absent in those “conservative patriarchs” accustomed to ruling sovereign over their family, farm, firm or fiefdom. So fight the windmills they must to their last breath, as being wrong is not in their vocab, never has and never will be. Instead they prefer to call the rest of humanity names and conjure specters of global conspiracies… lunatic I say…

  10. Cindy tries to dismiss the statement about the lack of global warming for 17 years in the Friday Flash. But she did not tell Hot Topic members who made that statement. It is none other than Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC.

    Well actually Rajendra Pachauri didn’t say that. The Australian newspaper said it, after an interview with Pachauri. And you’ll note, Neil, if you look at the article that none of the words are in quotes . Because he didn’t say it. Because Graham Lloyd, the journalist made it up.

    What more can you expect of a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch? The Australian has such a reputation for getting its climate facts wrong that the Deltoid blog has a long-running series called “The Australian’s war on Science”. It’s up to number 81 now.

    So. Give me that direct Pachauri quote, by all means.

    1. Cindy, that sound you hear is the chirping of crickets. Don’t expect Neil to back up his claims, he’s just parroting a contrarian myth.

      On a related note, there’s a paper about to be published which demonstrates that global warming accelerated in the last 16-17 years (take your pick). Most of this went into the ocean (around 90%). Which confirms the finding of Nuccitelli (2012) of which I was a co-author. More heat is finding its way down below the 700 mtr layer.

      Atmospheric warming takes up 2-3% of global warming and can deviate from the long-term oceanic warming trend over short time frames, but it will self-correct and follow the ocean heating trend. So expect a spike in global surface air temperatures when we enter the next period of El Nino-dominant weather.

      Skeptical Science will have a post on this soon.

      1. thanks Rob, you’re right. Cherry-picking, distorting, twisting and lying. Usual stuff. But my challenge is for them to give me the actual Pachauri quote they keep going on about. (There isn’t one: it’s actually a Graham Lloyd quote).

        Looking forward to that article.

      2. Yes Rob and I think this is indeed one of the most widely misunderstood aspects of the Earths Ocean/Atmosphere system – the relative sizes of the respective heat content and their change.
        Its a bit like somebody pushes and accelerates a heavy trolly (resembling the ocean) with a pendulum mounted on it (the atmosphere) over a somewhat bumpy track. Taking short term observations of the swinging pendulum (atmosphere) may induce the misconception that the acceleration has stopped….
        The latest edition of Scientific American dedicates its back page to the subject. 8 x 10^22 J is a large amount of energy indeed and roughly what the oceans seem to have gained over the past two decades. Graphic and links to the AS article here.

    2. Deltoid blog has a long-running series called “The Australian’s war on Science”. It’s up to number 81 now.

      And the count would undoubtedly be much higher had Tim not gone into a publishing hiatus.

      The Australian is now a far-Right thinktank whose house journal is the national broadsheet. Think an inverse Pravda cheering on monopoly capitalism.

  11. Wow I have stirred things up haven’t I!
    Sorry I can’t answer all queries tonight. I haven’t been near the computer all day.
    Yes, congratualtions, I am Neil Henderson of Climate Realists.

    1. congratualtions, I am Neil Henderson of Climate Realists.

      Surely, Neil, you mean Climate Fantasists?

      I would not be surprised to hear that you dream of being spanked by a fake Lord with bulging eyes, who is wearing nothing but an American flag and a 10-gallon hat…

      Has to be more fun than reading through all that boring science stuff that you found so hard at school, right?

    2. Wow I have stirred things up haven’t I!

      Don’t flatter yourself.
      All you did was arrive with a big bag of stupid from which you parroted done to death (I wish) PRATTs. Basically stupid on display.

    3. Oh dear Neil…. I had a look at your “realist” website and at the writing of your Prof. Duff (emeritus, Auckland), who’s confused ideas about climate and the greenhouse effect you seem to rely on heavily for your information.

      The level of nonsense that you base your stance on is breathtaking.

      Let me just cite one of the good old Prof’s remarkable ideas:

      A man-made ‘greenhouse’ does not create new heat. A man-made ‘greenhouse’ can only increase the residence time or holding-time time of heat just like a blanket. Likewise in the atmosphere, the ‘greenhouse effect’ acts as a mechanism to smooth out fluctuations or falls and rises in temperature (that is advantageous). It is a dampener! It cannot be a dominant factor for global temperature change.

      It is amazing that people still fall for the simplest of misconceptions about the entire physics of the greenhouse effect.
      This is truly Moncktonian territory Neil and an embarrassment for you, the good old professor and anybody who associates themselves with such tosh.

      Let me know if you want me to explain the physics to you….

      1. Poor Neil, no wonder he and his good wife are so confused, they’ve read Ian Wishart’s “Air Con”, a bizarre mish-mash of cannibal conspiracy theories by a sicko journalist who wears his ignorance of basic science as a badge of honour.

        What they [“wild greens”] really mean is that they want ordinary families and kids to become extinct, leaving space for the Green elite to run the planet and enjoy exclusive bird-watching excursions while feasting on the bones of six-year-olds who’d earlier been sold to Asian brothels.


        Plus, of course, they’ve watched “The Great Global Warming Swindle”, complete with doctored graphs and fake quotes. I guess he hasn’t seen the film-maker squirm as he was taken apart by a TV interviewer who had done his homework…


  12. The Skeptical Science post on Balmaseda (2013) is here.

    Strangely enough, science disagrees with non expert opinions published in the mainstream media. Global warming has actually sped up in the last 16 years – which is probably not that surprising to rational people.

  13. Thomas said ‘Neil, you are truly ignorant. Dream on and wipe the egg of your face. You are looking ridiculous.’

    I briefly trawled through the website you gave. It has plenty of figures of tonnes of methane created, but no figure for the temperaure rise that results from this methane obviously jumped out.
    You say my figure is ridiculous. You can only do that if you can provide an alternative. Thomas, what is your alternative figure?

    1. For the benefit of this blogs readers:

      The attribution of livestock based agriculture to humanities green house gas emissions is in the order of 18%, or higher than the contribution of the entire transport sector (UN report). For the reader who does not want to download and read the full UN report, here is a summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock%27s_Long_Shadow

      Doubling the world wide livestock herds would obviously cause a very significant further contribution to AGW, let alone the other significant environmental impacts this would cause.

      Taking a 4 Deg warming scenario seriously as we must, one can easily see how much a doubling of our livestock agriculture would contribute to making the situation significantly worse. A far cry from the nonsense that Neil dished up above, without any reference to any science as he simply stated:

      If the entire world doubled its livestock, not just our dairy herd, the global temperature change would be 0.01 degree in 100 years.

      Neil is obviously completely out of touch with reality on this issue and either willfully or negligently misleading those whom he tries to influence on the matter.

      1. Nevertheless, methane degrades within 10 years. The real issue relative to methane is that CO2 levels can maintain enough heat in high latitudes to release methane principally from melting tundra and from methane hydrates on the sea bed in volumes that overwhelm our capacity to do anything to maintain our current biosphere. The evidence is that release of methane from arctic sources is increasing.

        As Ray Pierre Humbert argues, if we can stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere and further pull back this CO2 then agricultural release of methane is not an issue. My wording. The issue for NZ farmers is that methane is lumped in with CO2 in considering carbon costs. I have argued this before and I noted that James Hansen acknowledged during his tour of NZ that an error had been made in lumping the two together. Of course, whatever the source of GHGs, and whatever the quantity they continue to contribute to the overall problem for everyone if we don’t progress on the main issue, that is pulling back on CO2 a long way.

        A big issue is the degradation of soil quality. Maintaining a stock level through the application of fertilisers rather than through the maintenance or improvement of the soil is the wrong way to go but that said, in drought prone pasture lands the management of grazing and the retention of water and nutrients in the soil are larger issues than stocking levels. Rather they are determinants of stocking levels.

        Now before anyone expresses an opinion on this please download and watch this TED presentation by Alan Savory on stock management and desertification. It’s not a simple matter. The mp4 blew me away despite having kept an alert on forms of the stock management process presented for several years. Climate change issues can take an urban vegan into strange places!

      2. Here is how I get my figure. It involves one assumption only. That is that a doubling of carbon dioxide will cause a two degree rise in temperature. From there it is simple maths: ratio of methane in the atmosphere to carbon dioxide, times global warming potential of methane, adjusted for relative molecular weight of the two, times percentage of methane from livestock.

        That nobody here has heard this figure shows that you all are easily seduced by the scare stories of all the thousands of tonnes of methane mentioned in the articles you referred me to, most of which were not news.You completely overlook that methane is a pathetically small part of the atmosphere even allowing for its higher global warming potential. However I pardon your ignorance, because I once fell for the same sort of propaganda.

        Just try harder to ask the hard questions.
        For example, the change in the jet stream may be the primary cause of the colder Northern Hemisphere winters. But it is colder right? So therefore the world is not getting hotter, right? So therefore is it really all that urgent to crash the world economy to fix a problem that may actually not need fixing.

        Remember the current temperature is way below the IPCC projections. Whether it is inside or outside the 95% certainty band is insignificant. The fact is it is well away from the central projection and showing no sign of closing the gap, is significant. What is the probability of it crossing this central line and spending a enough time in the upper half to balance out the 17 years below the line?

        Another hard question to ask is about the need for thirty years to establish a trend. We had cooling from 1941 until the early 1970’s. That is over thirty yeasrs so establishes a trend. Yet by 1992 we had the Rio Earth Summit set up to combat global warming. That is less than 20 years after cooling stopped. A warming trend had not been established by the yardstick being used to dismiss current lack of warming. Surely a scientist applies his methodology consistently in both directions.

        The next hard question is really a series relating to the heating of the oceans at 700 metres.
        First, who measured the temperature 200 years ago, 100 years ago or even fifty years ago at 700 metres depth, to give a yardstick to see how current temperatures compare historically? Even 200 years is too short a time interval.
        How many sites are temperatures being recorded at now? Consequently, what is the margin of error of these readings?
        How well does anyone understand the ocean currents at this depth to know where this heat is being transferred from?
        Finally let us assume the figures are all robust and now consider how global warming is causing this heating. Carbon dioxide makes up less than 1 gram per cubic metre of atmosphere. How can this one gram significantly warm a cubic metre of ocean weighing more than a million times as much? If carbon dioxide is this powerful why don’t our smart scientists encase a large cylinder of water in a carbon dioxide filled cacoon, or better still fill it with nitrous oxide and really concntrate the power, and turn the water to superheated steam and solve our energy needs with copious quantities of thermal power. Perhaps the reason it hasn’t been done is because it doesn’t work. Just perhaps the real reason the sea is warming at 700 metres is simply because the sea is directly absorbing heat from incoming solar radiation?

        1. For example, the change in the jet stream may be the primary cause of the colder Northern Hemisphere winters. But it is colder right? So therefore the world is not getting hotter, right?

          Seriously? The change in the jet stream is caused by the melting Arctic, caused by warming temperatures. Which, in turn, is causing a “frozen spring” in Europe. New science just out: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/11/4074

          Remember the current temperature is way below the IPCC projections.
          Well no, actually. Check out the new study showing that the models have been pretty much on the button.


          These two statements from you alone give me cause to doubt everything else you say.

        2. Neil, for your own sake, stop.
          You are making a spectacle of your inability to grasp reasonably simple scientific concepts. This is the internet, your comments are here for all to gasp and giggle over for a long long time.

          Nor is this a schoolroom. There is so much stupid in your comment above that any prerequisite to explaining to you the reasons why would require you to first take a remedial course in secondary school science.

          Take for example

          You completely overlook that methane is a pathetically small part of the atmosphere even allowing for its higher global warming potential.

          Neil Henderson, may I offer you a pathetically minute amount of polonium to ingest. You may wash it down with copious amounts of water, as much as you like..

        3. Neil wrote:”If the whole world were to double livestock numbers the amount of extra warming would be an unmeasurable 0.01 degrees in 100 years.”

          Hmmm… I think you’re out by a factor of at least 10, Neil. if we take current forcing from CH4 to be ~0.5Wm^-2, and we assume that agriculture’s share is ~40% of that, then doubling the current share of agricultural CH4 would give us an extra 0.2Wm^-2 of forcing. If we assume that overall feedbacks (F_2x/climate sensitivity)~1.3 (corresponds to a climate sensitivity of ~2.9) then we expect an equilibrium warming from the total agricultural methane amound of around 0.3C (of which doubling has added half, ie 0.15C).* A climate sensitivity of 2C would reduce these numbers to a little over 0.2C from all agriculture (or an extra 0.1C from the new cows/sheep). Maybe you’re treating the doubling of the herd as a pulse emission, rather than as a sustained forcing to which the system equilibrates (which is how it should be treated if the larger herd persists)?

          *Using Forcing=lambda*temperature change in equilibrium, where lambda=forcing at 2xCO2/equilibrium climate sensitivity.

          “Remember the current temperature is way below the IPCC projections.”

          No it’s not. The rate of climate change at the surface is broadly in line with what we’ve long expected. There have been two papers in Nature Climate Change on this in the last 4 months. Probably more to come. There is a hiatus in global mean surface temperatures. But the range of temperatures we have seen in the last decade are still higher than those of (say) 1961-1990, and they are consistent with IPCC 1990 and with more thorough probabilistic predictions made in the very late 1990s (see Myles Allen’s new paper in Nature Climate Change). If the hiatus persisted indefinitely that would obviously cause us to revise down our predictions of future change, but it is not yet of sufficient length to greatly affect estimates of long-term change (as a community we can and do argue about these things – some folks think that our estimates should move a bit in response to the hiatus, others disagree, and the disagreement depends on how one weights different lines of evidence).

          “Carbon dioxide makes up less than 1 gram per cubic metre of atmosphere. How can this one gram significantly warm a cubic metre of ocean weighing more than a million times as much?”

          The same way ozone – which occurs in even lower concentrations – can play a decisive role in the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere. It’s the magic of perfectly reasonable, well-understood, textbook radiation physics. I suggest David Andrews’ Introduction to Atmospheric Physics as a starter, and Ray Pierrehumbert’s Principles of Planetary Physics as good places to start reading about this. [But basically, I think your problem lies in thinking that all those few Watts per sq m don’t matter, when they actually amount to a huge amount of energy since (1) Watts=Joules per second and these effects are taking place over hundreds of millions of seconds (per decade); (2) there are lots of sq m over the world’s surface (510*10^12m^2). If you multiply the time over which the effect is taking place by the spatial scale across which it’s taking place, you get a lot of energy ~10^23J per decade… comparable to the figures for changes in OHC… just like we expect.]

          1. I agree with much of what Dave said, but…

            the consensus seems to work more towards a 4Deg C scenario with a business as usual model combined with a very reasonable risk of going to 6Deg C.

            Further, doubling animal husbandry is never going to be a “pulse effect”. Much of the effect of an increase of animal farming is created by the conversion of land to grazing plus the application – at infinitum – of fertilizers etc. and the continuous need to use carbon derived energy to feed, care for, water and process the animals and their products. The GW impact of animal farming land use thus is not limited to the direct Methane emissions of the herds but includes the entire effect this has on the global carbon cycle as well as N2O emissions.

            Also, with our world climate approaching several likely tipping points, one could certainly argue that the GW impact of any additional emissions will probably be highly non-linear! In fact non-linear responses to the system are likely going to be the real price we pay for all future increases in GW gas content in the atmosphere.

            Conversely the positive (in a conservation sense) impact of emissions reductions now could arguably be much more important than the “tiny effect” often cited by the GW deniers in their “this is going to only affect temperatures by 0.0001 degree” nonsense. It is the sum total of all the many small steps and sacrifices we individually or as regions or countries could and should make, that add up to significant steps towards avoiding non-linear responses and potentially catastrophic excursions of our climate!

            1. Thomas wrote: “the consensus seems to work more towards a 4Deg C scenario with a business as usual model combined with a very reasonable risk of going to 6Deg C.”

              But where the world ends up is a function of both the climate response and the scale of emissions. Neil’s claim was narrow, about the climate response to a specific forcing. He doubled one thing (in perpetuity) so I was just doing a back-of-envelope calculation of the equilibrium response to that forcing.

              FWIW, I do think methane is a second order issue. If you’re talking about getting ~4C from CO2, then it seems a bit odd – to the point of being a displacement activity – to get stuck in to the ~0.4C that might come from methane. It’s clear that this is primarily a CO2 problem. [And, interestingly, cuts made now to methane, make very little difference to the peak warming decades hence. This is something that initiatives like CCAC run some risk of misrepresenting.]

            2. That’s a good point. The rational response here is to debate the policy approach. The non-rational (i.e. bonkers) response is what Neil espouses – to deny that there is a problem that requires policy debate in the first place.

            3. AGW being primarily a CO2 issue, the figures of the “long shadow report” (who is actually reading these when pointed to them???) state:
              “the report estimates that livestock contributes to about 9% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, but 37% of methane and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions.”
              So here you go, even if you relegate Methane to a side show issue (I actually don’t quite agree to that) livestock is calculated to contribute at current levels at 9% to our CO2 emissions. N2O is another matter with an GW potential of 300x that of CO2 (molecule for molecule) and an average time of life in the atmosphere of about 120 years.
              But just looking at the CO2 contribution it is obvious what would happen if we doubled our livestock numbers.

              Further Dave, you seem to be silent on what I think is my main point and I stress it here again: We are potentially close to (and according to some scientists already past some) so called tipping points past which the climate response to further GH additions could turn decisively non-linear. And Methane as you know could play a vital role in that (Permafrost). So I repeat again, all this hand waving about how little this or that is contributing to the problem… you could say that the last 5% of the crack in the Titanic’s hull caused the one additional crucial compartment to flood too, which caused… you get the idea.
              So exempting any sector of our human enterprise from making their contributions to reducing GH emissions (the whole spectrum) is highly contra-productive, is demoralizing those who are prepared to do so or already doing their bit and is making non-linear responses a lot more probable from the current situation going forward.

            4. Neil made a claim about methane so that was what I addressed. Agree that N2O is not so simple – it would accumulate rather than amount to a doubling of an existing forcing component.

              As for tipping points:you don’t see abrupt changes in GMST in the CMIP5 models. You sometimes do in some simpler models, and you might well expect threshold effects in regional climates in complex models. My view is that “tipping points” are overplayed in public fora like this compared with their presence in the best available models. [Obviously this is the sort of thing climate modellers can and do disagree about, but views like mine are quite common in the climate modelling community.]

            5. I think the tipping point aspect is overplayed because people expect this might generate momentum on actually addressing global warming. I see little evidence for that.

              It may be down to how you define tipping points however. In the public discussion this typically refers to a situation whereby natural mechanisms take over and accelerate a given process. But a better way to think about it is reversibility, or irreversibility.

              Some of the ecological consequences to come are essentially irreversible on useful human time scales because of the lag in the climate system. The retreat of coral from the equatorial oceans is perhaps one of those.

              The small tropical sea surface warming at the high stand of the last interglacial (around 120-130,000 years ago) saw a rapid retreat of coral from the equator, and we’re getting very close to those sea surface temperature in the tropics now.

              The Amazon rainforest is showing signs of permanent forest canopy alteration too. Exceptional drought typically occurs once-a-century, however we’ve had three in the last 15 years. It’s taking a toll on the rainforest. The Amazon rainforest may not enter a death spiral, but it’s exhibiting worrying signs. Hopefully the carbon fertilization effect suggested by a recent study can offset some of the drought and heat stress on rainforest trees, but they haven’t explained how nitrogen and phosphorus (two other limiting nutrients) are supposed to increase.

          2. Professor Frame, thank you for taking the time to contribute to this topic.
            Firstly, I should have made it clear that the calculations are not mine, but I have sent them to various places and I know NIWA has seen them. The standard response has been that they seem to low. But no one has ever provided an alternative figure. Therefore I applaud you for being the first. We now have something on which a discussion can be based.
            Your calculation differs from mine in three places. You consider agricultures share of methane emissions is 40%.With due respect I think you are including the methane from rice paddies in your figure. I was under the impression livestock were less than 20%. The source of my figures used 15%.
            Your calculation makes no allowance for the fact that for animals to produce 1kg of methane, 2.75 kg of carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere. An allowance must be made for this reduced carbon dioxide. The Pastoral greenhouse gas research Consortium makes this allowance in its calculations of emissions.
            Finally, you calculation includes feedbacks which I deliberately excluded. Adjusting for these differences brings our final results to less than a factor of two.
            The feedbacks are probably the most widely contested assumption of the whole global warming equation. How much empirical evidence is there to back the claim of two units of warming from feedbacks from every unit of greenhouse gas warming? How well is this aspect really understood? For example Cindy, above points out that ‘global cooling’ in the Northern Hemisphere maybe caused by ‘global warming’. Surely this is an example of a negative feedback. Is it factored into the models? Given that we were being told a few years back that snow will soon be a novelty I think not!
            However this discussion over how much warming a doubling of livestock would cause overlooks an important point. No one is expecting livestock numbers to double. Therefore the temperature effect is less than either of us shows. When those few farmers who have taken the trouble to assess the effects of the ETS on their operations (sadly, far too many naively believe that no government will bring in such a cost on the nation’s major export earner) it is not surprising that they conclude the cost far outweighs the benefit. We knew this without the help of Lord Monckton. You do not insure your house against fire if the premium in a few years exceeds the total value. At a carbon price of $25/tonne the full cost of methane and nitrous oxide is more than a tenth of the value of the lamb. It is considered that a carbon price of at least twice this will be needed to effect behaviour change. Who can seriously justify this present day cost for such a minute future benefit?
            Further, for Thomas above, when the ‘carbon footprint’ of lamb was calculated as a result of the ‘Food Miles’ program, it was found that the major portion of the emissions occurred post the supermarket shelf, even with shipping it halfway round the world in the first place.
            Professor Frame, I have previously seen your comments that you consider the world is warming broadly in line with what is expected. I trust this also means that if warming had occurred faster than projected so that it was now at the upper end of the 95% confidence level that you would be similarly relaxed that there was no cause for concern. More significantly, would you have been prepared to talk down the inevitable demands from the likes of the Green Party that more urgent action was desperately needed should temperatures have tracked at the upper end of projections?

            1. Hmmm… I wonder if this “Neil Henderson” is the same scientific illiterate who posted originally?

              Raise the shields and warm up the phasers, Dave, I sense a sockpuppet uncloaking off the port bow!

            2. Hi Neil – thanks for that.
              You’re right I was including rice – basically I looked at a flow chart and thought “well the agriculture sector globally might include these things” and it turned out this led to round number – it was very back of the envelope. But you can scale the calculation by just multiplying by
              / and the numbers will make sense for an appropriately smaller (or bigger) percentage.
              And you’re right I was ignoring the fact that agricultural methane is using atmospheric CO2. I was also ignoring the fact that methane does have a residence time of around a decade – I was just treating it more simply than that. I could have a think about how to this a bit more thoroughly but not till next week.

              As for the physical points about feedbacks doubling the direct CO2 warming, the basic physics is actually fairly uncontroversial – we expect four main feedbacks: lapse rate, water vapour, clouds, and albedo. The lapse rate and WV feedbacks combine to give you ~1W/m^-2/K, clouds seem to be positive, but are quite uncertain. The albedo feedback is expected to be positive. See, for instance, Brian Soden & Isaac Held’s summary of feedbacks in models http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/bjs0601.pdf .

              As for the points about policy – that’s all much more up in the air in my view. Personally, I think the obvious thing to do, globally, is to go after CO2. Given our unusual portfolio of emissions and our economy, it seems reasonable to at some point include agriculture in our ETS. But I would argue against simply putting a GWP price on these gases – I think GWP is a metric that is badly-aligned with the social costs of GHGs. [Personally I’d start with N2O, since reductions to N2O have really important co-benefits – cleaner waterways, etc.]

              As for the world warming much as we expected – it is. The fact that some communities choose to use 1998 as a start point to minimise warming, and others use 1991 as a start point to make Pinatubo look like a climate change effect shouldn’t (and doesn’t) alter the fact that overall, the problem is evolving much in line with the expectations of the climate modelling community.

            3. D’oh!
              This bit: “But you can scale the calculation by just multiplying by
              / and the numbers will make sense for an appropriately smaller (or bigger) percentage.”

              Was supposed to say:
              “But you can scale the calculation by just multiplying by (Neil’s view of agriculture’s fraction of methane emissions)/(Dave’s 40% figure) and the numbers will make sense for an appropriately smaller (or bigger) percentage.”

              [In the original I used angle brackets, which I guess confused the html code..?]

              PS – I’ll get back to this next week.

  14. Can we move on please. If Neil and his Fuddleheaded Farmer group want to listen to a boggle eyed idiot telling porkies about pretty much anything he thinks will gain him attention and a sponsored trip somewhere then so be it. I`d be interested to see how many other poorly educated misguided idiots there are in Neils neck of the woods.

    1. I rather thought I had moved on a long way or does managed grazing seem awfully tedious? It does sound tedious, but what Savory has to say is one of the best pieces of demonstrated news about mitigation of climate change I’ve come upon Imagine a flock of 25000 sheep regenerating desertfying land in Argentina. Where they stop for the night that’s cropland. Imagine offering 5 pounds to anyone who can find a blade of grass within a hundred miles then using managed grazing to regenerate that land without salting the mine with feed in any way? Pay particular attention to the question at the end of the presentation. I reckon this should be a good sized wedge in any wedge diagram on mitigation but I’m not sure I’ve reckonised it before now. In a world of worse news I could almost feel cheerful. (Entish 🙂

  15. Heres how I get my figure…………. Really, thats utterly amazing Neil. I totally did not realize they could measure sea temp at 700mtrs 200yrs ago.
    Jules Vern musta done it when he was chasing that bloody great squid thing. Truly amazing. Or maybe it was Mouwi when eh slung his hook like an pulled up the South Island.
    And those calculations mate, really make my head spin. You must be a genias or do you own a calculator.
    You ought to go on tour wiv dat Monkton fella cause I fink your stories are far better than his. You could really pull the punters in wiv dat sorta real scientific stuff like.
    Don`t know how big you are so yuz gonna have to work out which ones Lorrel and which ones Hardy though.

  16. Rob Painting wrote: “I think the tipping point aspect is overplayed because people expect this might generate momentum on actually addressing global warming. I see little evidence for that.”

    Likewise. I think it’s because portrayals of risks as “dread risks” increases public appetites for regulation (Slovic 1987). But I actually think this move backfires, because it actually makes the problem harder to solve as a coordination problem (which is the main barrier). [I also think it’s bad form, scientifically, to misrepresent the tails of distributions as the middle of the distribution.]

    “Some of the ecological consequences to come are essentially irreversible on useful human time scales because of the lag in the climate system.”

    Completely agree.

    “The Amazon rainforest may not enter a death spiral, but it’s exhibiting worrying signs.”

    Have you read the recent paper in NCC by Chris Huntingford et al?

  17. “Some of the ecological consequences to come are essentially irreversible on useful human time scales because of the lag in the climate system.”

    Yes I think this is a key thing. I have been wondering if there is a word for it. My examples would come from the persistence of CO2 in the atmosphere even if we magically stopped adding to it. I suppose the word commitment might apply. Thus when the arctic started melting we were already committed to it melting completely. It could be hundreds of years, given the hoped for changes, before the heating effect of atmospheric CO2 diminished sufficiently to allow the ice to reform.

    Therefore we are already committed to the continuing release of an uncertain volume of methane. Could we possibly pull back on the CO2 to compensate for that?

    On the other hand I put a simple example of a real tipping point with limited consequences and hopefully a known end. When a robotic submarine ventured under the PIG in west antarctica it was found that the glacier had lifted off the seaward lip of the basin it is in by about a hundred meters, estimated to have begun in the mid nineties. The melting of the PIG will thus continue until the grounding line rises above sealevel on the other side of the basin. Last I looked there was a belief the base of the adjacent Thwaites glacier was also penetrated by sea water to the same end.

  18. Yes Dave, but the carbon modelling (CO2 fertilization effect) paper I was alluding to was Cox (2013). I hope they’re right, but a paper, Saatchi (2013), shows long-term alteration of the forest canopy (tree mortality) in rainforest regions which endured the exceptional 2005 drought. These lasted until the 2010 exceptional drought. So they’re probably still feeling the after-effects of that 2010 drought even now.

    The area seems to be experiencing greater extremes in rainfall in recent years – more intense droughts and record floods. The models project this intensification (as you well know), but nothing like we’re seeing. Something else may be going on. Something the models are not simulating very well.

    The Amazon has been around for about 50 million years, and survived periods much warmer than present – even though it appears to have migrated polewards then. So if it gets enough moisture, I am confident the rainforest can endure. But, as the models indicate, more moisture is drawn away by the warming tropical Atlantic Ocean, and shifting Walker Circulation – leading to more intense periods of drought, then things might get a iffy.

    The next El Nino will be interesting. If that is of a reasonable magnitude, and it doesn’t lead to an exceptional Amazonian drought I will be greatly relieved.

    1. Was also approached by newstalk to “balance” Monckton’s views. It’s a pity the NZ media don’t show the same enthusiasm for real climate experts who visit the country. In the last year or so we’ve had seminars from folks from Princeton, MIT, LSE and Oxford (to name a few). These were advertised. I don’t recall newstalk or the NZAP rushing to cover these people. My suspicion is that in the depressing world of media in New Zealand, this effect probably dominates: http://www.theonion.com/articles/actual-expert-too-boring-for-tv,1764/

      1. Too boring? They do have a point. Being an expert doesn’t necessarily mean ones public speaking, or communication skills, are likewise expert.

        I’m not suggesting that better communication, and making a lecture more interesting and relevant to the observer would fix the problem, but it would be a damn good start.

        People only seem to recognise the relevance when their region is baking under an extreme heat wave, or suffering from drought, or some other extreme weather event.

        A worrying anecdote on the current drought too. In one of the local forests up here in the far north many of the old mature Tairare trees appear to be dying. None of the other native species seem to as vulnerable to drought. Very sad, but only likely to worse with time.

        1. While working in a lab I took a particular interest in the ability of scientists and technicians to communicate with the public. Most were not too hot, mathematicians zero, technicians rather poor. But climate scientists in particular are improving in communication skills in leaps and bounds.

          I personally have thought that the denialists strategy of intimidation has played a part in silencing our sheepish media but TVNZ were quick off the mark when NIWA and Bill English opened the gate for a day or two, although I thought their presentation rather silly toward its end.

          Could we use the denialists to score scientists on communication skills? I suspect a near 100% correlation between TV or newspaper communication skills and ferocious and sustained attack by the fake sceptics. We could all name a few climate scientists on this scoring approach.

    2. PS – Rob: I was actually quoting Malcolm Turnbull* with the “Vaudeville” line. I wasn’t meaning to claim it as original. So it’s not that I’m objecting to the fine old form of entertainment, but that it’s evidently fallen foul of the modernising wing of the Australian Liberal Party. 🙂


  19. Still, Dave, I think it best you apologise to all those vaudeville performers, living or dead, whose artistic integrity has been slighted by association with Lord Monckton.

    Monckton’s style of entertainment is not vaudeville, but Narcissistic Confabulation, and he is a true master of the genre. We have not seen his like since the glory days of L. Ron Hubbard, or even Joseph Smith.



    1. Yes Monckton is all of those – but I do think he sees himself as an entertainment as well.
      I thought Dave’s statement, together with those of Dr Mullen, and Dr Renwick was all that was needed. He is a dangerous individual, and Fed Farmers et al should be considering just what they have let loose, and just how appropriate their sponsorship of a clearly unhinged person (whether or not he is a British Viscount) is.

  20. Good news, folks, you can ask Lord Bonkers himself the hard questions tomorrow, when he is on Leighton Smith’s talk-back show (10 – 11 am, ph. 0800 80 10 80).

    There’s no guarantee he’ll even try to answer them, though!

  21. Oh dear, Bonkers is having a hissy fit about the Herald article – it’s High Noon in Vaudeville!

    I shall also be complaining to the universities of some of the “scientists” cited in the article, on grounds of serious breach of ethical standards. I shall be inviting the authorities in the United Kingdom to remove the name of one of the universities concerned from the list of academic institutions whose degrees are recognized in Britain.


      1. Has anyone ever kept a tally of His Lordship’s threatened legal actions and their results?

        My guess is that while there’s a whole lot of sententious windbaggery regarding the former – with him being such a firm believer in Freedom of Speech*, and all – there’s not really very much going in the way of the latter.


    1. Monckton claims:

      I studied mathematics during my Cambridge degree course

      Mmmm seems as if “mathematics for journalism and classical architecture students” is not quite the same as mathematics for scientists. It doesn’t seem to have included the decimal system since he cannot correctly calculate the amount of sea level rise occurring after a century of warming at 3.2 mm per year. Either that or he is using dodgy graphs to show current rise in global sea level is not what it actually is.

    2. Another of Monckton’s lies exposed:

      The statement that I once argued for the quarantine of AIDS patients “in internment camp-like facilities” is inaccurate.

      The original article in the American Spectator can be found here:


      Any intelligent person can read this article and see that he is, in fact, arguing for physical quarantine of those persons found to have anti-HIV antibodies. In fact he sounds upset that it isn’t already happening.

      The reason he never follows through on his calls for legal action is, of course, that once in court he will be shown up for the dishonest scumbag he is. Perjury has serious consequences.

      1. Perjury has serious consequences.

        Slightly off topic but this isn’t really true. According to criminologist Greg Newbold writing in N&S last year our courts are little more than lying competitions. Counsel for both sides do it, the police almost specialise in it. This agrees with my observations.
        Facing further action for committing perjury is extremely rare.

  22. Press release from Federated Farmers

    “5 April 2013 Lord Monckton tour of New Zealand

    In an interview on 3News Firstline this morning, in which Lord Christopher Monckton said his tour was being organised and supported by Federated Farmers of New Zealand, but this is incorrect.

    Federated Farmers of New Zealand has not invited Lord Monckton to tour. Nor is Federated Farmers of New Zealand sponsoring or organising his tour either directly or indirectly

    Federated Farmers of New Zealand is aware our Marlborough province may be supporting the tour in some capacity and that some farmers may be involved, but the national body is not.

    The Federation’s ‘Friday Flash’ e-newsletter has carried an event notice of the Lord Monckton tour, consistent with the promotion the Federation gave in 2011 to the “Maintaining farm productivity and profits in an uncertain climate” tour by climate scientist, Dr Jim Salinger, Professor Caroline Saunders and business commentator Rod Oram.”

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