Archive for the ‘Pseudo science’ Category
As it says on my About page, “The driver of an accelerating car about to hit a brick wall might well say ‘so far so good’ – but that does not mean that the wall is not there!” — John Dryzek (2005: 70).
This is the almost-ubiquitous advice of stockbrokers but, sadly, it is almost universally ignored.
I have never died before. Does this mean I can presume upon my immortality?
I would therefore like to take this opportunity to make a few suggestions to all those who think concern for the environment is a false alarm, a new religion, or an excuse to curtail your freedom or tax you more heavily:
1. Grow up.
2. Go back to school.
3. Open your eyes and look out the window.
4. Stop cherry-picking data that reinforces your prejudice.
5. Stop ignoring all the data that contradicts your misperception of reality.
6. Read this Wikipedia article on the New World Order – it might just open up your mind.
7. Read this Skeptical Science article on the History of Climate Science – it might just resolve your confusion.
…The Sunday Telegraph starts advocating polices that will accelerate anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).
Two days ago, one of Britain’s oldest and most-respected broadsheet newspapers decided to shred the last few bits of credibility it might have had by publishing an anonymous editorial piece calling for the Climate Change Act 2008 to be repealed.
I am therefore sorry but, I just had to post this response:
Thank goodness the Sunday Telegraph is not a widely-read newspaper. This kind of advocacy for policies that will accelerate anthropogenic climate disruption is short-sighted to say the least.
If you don’t like our countryside being despoiled by windfarms, new sets of National Grid power lines, and new nuclear plants… What you should be advocating is greater subsidies for households that install solar PV panels on their roofs, which will reduce UK demand for centrally-generated electricity of all kinds.
Oh and, by the way, shale gas is not low-carbon intensity: Because of the methane release it involves, it is extremely high-carbon intensity. Now we know we need to reduce our global CO2 emissions and that further delay will mean greater ultimate cost (i.e. Sir John Beddington, today)… the international push to extract shale gas – and all other unconventional hydrocarbons – is completely irrational.
If anyone is curious, the pronouncements of the UK Government’s Chief Scientist, Sir John Beddington, to which I referred above, can be seen and heard in this video on the BBC website. This was a fascinating development, coming, as it did, on the same day that the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) announced that it was willing to enter into discussions with the Royal Society – to try and resolve the fact that the two organisations hold diametrically-opposed views regarding the validity of the scientific consensus that ACD is already happening.
This prompted me to send the GWPF’s Director, social anthropologist Benny Peiser, the following email:
Dear Dr Peiser,
I note, with genuine interest, your acceptance of the offer by the Royal Society to put the GWPF in touch with mainstream climate scientists.
I note also the public statement by the Sir John Beddington – who says evidence of anthropogenic climate disruption is now unequivocal and further delay in reducing emissions will mean harder and more expensive policy changes in future.
I should therefore be very grateful to know how much longer you think the GWPF is going to continue to insist that the science is uncertain and that calls for action are politically motivated. For example, how long will it be before the GWPF accepts that we need to decarbonise our power generation systems – by implementing a revenue-neutral Fee and Dividend system as proposed by Dr James Hansen and many others.
Yours very sincerely,
No answer as yet.
Presumably Lord Monckton (et al) will now sue the film-makers for defamation of character?
Or, maybe, just maybe, this new 90 minute documentary film could be the final push that US Congress needs to investigate the corporate misinformation machine that – like Frankenstein – just refuses to die. However, we killed it once; so we can kill it again. As Brenden DeMelle (of the De-Smog Blog website) has said in an email to all site subscribers:
Just imagine a Congressional investigation, like the one Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) headed up against the tobacco companies and their efforts to downplay the scientific findings that cigarette smoke causes cancer. Imagine, David and Charles Koch and Exxon’s Rex Tillerson, alongside Marc Morano, Fred Singer and all the others, in a Congressional hearing… It could happen. Both Rep. Waxman and Senator Boxer have the power, right now, to hold such a hearing.
In fact, De Smog Blog has an excellent summary of the movie and some great quotes from (or links to) reviews of it: http://desmogblog.com/2013/03/08/greedy-lying-bastards-new-film-pulls-no-punches
Here are a couple more I have found:
[The Director, Craig Rosebraugh] scores points by contrasting his film’s emotional title with the temperate rationality of his talking-head scientists. But the film’s effectiveness largely stems from the flat-out lameness of the opposition arguments, the lack of scientific credentials of those making them, and the self-interest of their corporate bosses. (Ronnie Scheib in Vanity magazine)
Although lacking the cinematic finesse and frequent doses of humor that such filmmakers as Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock bring to their similarly polemical projects, Rosebraugh advances his arguments with undeniable persuasiveness. The sheer volume of damning information, imparted in clear and comprehensive fashion, gives the film a power that might indeed succeed in changing some people’s minds. (Frank Scheck in The Hollywood Recorder newspaper)
This film deserves to do well. Indeed, it is in all our interests that this film should do well because, as I point out in the Preface to my new book, The Denial of Science:
…because of the economic and political realities of the world in which we live, politicians will not take any action that will be unpopular with business interests and/or the wider electorate. If this is the case, Peter Jacques (2009) would appear to be right to conclude that anti-environmentalism (i.e. environmental scepticism) needs to be exposed as being “in violation of the public interest”.
This means that the US Congress will only overcome the power of vested corporate interests (by which it is encircled and controlled) if there is sufficient public demand for this misinformation campaign – surely the greatest and gravest false flag operation in human history – to be brought to an end. We can but hope…
However, if there is anyone reading this who somehow remains unconvinced about who it is that has been lying to us for so long, please read this excellent article by international environmental journalist Stephen Leahy: http://stephenleahy.net/2013/03/07/climate-change-b-s-detector-sorting-fact-from-fiction/
Regular and longer-term subscribers to this blog may recall some of my exchanges with Doug Swallow (a.k.a. jdouglashuahin) who claims to be a US citizen resident in SE Asia somewhere. Whoever or wheresoever he may be, English is clearly not his mother tongue; and rationality is clearly not his strong suit.
Anyone who is not familiar with Doug Swallow, should take a quick trip to the Climate Asylum blog of Barry Bickmore, Professor of Geological Sciences at the Brigham Young University in Utah, where Doug’s entirely repetitious modus operandi is played out in one single (lengthy) exchange:
Those of you who need no such reminder may wish to cast a quick eye over the exchange of comments leading up to those appended below, over on Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week blog (search for “jdouglashuahin”). However, even if you cannot be bothered to do that, the following is pretty self-explanatory…
charleszeller: To revisit this site is like making a trip through the graveyard with the ghost of Martin Lack howling like a banshee and, as usual, saying nothing and that is about like the video that I wasted 11 minutes watching a guy trying to sell books and no where addressing my challenge about providing an experiment that shows that the amount of a trace gas, CO2, at .037-9% of the total atmosphere and that naturally decreases with altitude to where at 18,000′ there is only 50% of the atmosphere there is at sea-level present, nor have I seen any link or information coming from you about this experiment ever having been done let alone an answer to the point about the mathematical derivation of CO2 forcing.
The reason I do not generally say much to you anymore, Doug, is that I have previously said it all (and so have you). Furthermore, as many others have said, the fact that you go from website to website endlessly repeating the same questions and cutting-and-pasting the same spurious information tends to suggest you are being paid to waste the time of people who are trying to clear the fog of misinformation peddled by the fossil fuel industry (i.e. as was the well-documented tactic of the tobacco industry before it). Either that, or you are not paying attention to the rebuttals you receive, or you are simply incapable of understanding their implications.
Whichever is the case, your repetitive request (reminiscent of [most-recently] Matt Ridley on the GWPF website) to be given the results of laboratory experiment that proves that CO2 is the primary cause of warming presupposes that the vast majority of relevantly-qualified scientists (who have concluded that it is) are either being stupid, illogical, or mendacious. Unfortunately, such a presupposition can only be made by people who believe in a scientific conspiracy or believe that they are cleverer than the climate scientists themselves. This is not only highly improbable; it is not consistent with all the available evidence (i.e. of both historical industry-led misinformation campaigns and of theoretically-deduced science validated by empirical observation and computer modelling).
However, I am already repeating myself so I will simply conclude by apologising for my earlier impolite remarks (which were prompted – but not justified – by your unfounded, illogical and disparaging remarks about my blog). Goodbye.
Dear Peter, Can you confirm whether this contribution from Doug is the longest-ever single sentence comment your site has received? Credit where credit is due it; it is a pretty impressive piece of syntax avoidance.
I hope he took a breath during that.
I admit that, in the above, some of my own sentences are quite long, but, they do at least make sense. However, if this were not so sad (and/or evidence of criminal insanity and/or intellectual incapacity), it would be funny.
For this spoof of the Anglican version of the Nicene Creed I apologise to all those who lack a sense of humour:
We believe in some gods,
like Professor Ian Plimer,
writer of ‘Heaven and Earth’,
of all that is mean and not green.
We believe in some lords; John Christy
and in Richard Lindzen.
Endlessly they are proven wrong and yet still,
from their shite we recite,
true lies from sad guys,
opinions, not facts,
of one thing we are certain,
through them all truths were made.
For us and for our salvation
they came down from science:
by the power of our human folly,
they became embedded in ideology,
and made their plan.
For our sake they were crucified by climate scientists;
they suffered ‘death’ and were ‘buried’.
On the third day they rose again
in accordance with the sceptics;
they returned to their jobs,
and are seated in academic tenure.
They will come again in future to fudge the reason and the facts,
and their soapbox will have no end.
We believe in the wholly spurious, our god, the slither of doubt,
which precedes our judgement of evidence.
With the money and the vice it is worshiped and glorified.
It is supported through the profits…
We believe in one wholly cynical and irrational church.
We acknowledge one purpose; for the pursuance of greed.
We look for the perpetuation of growth,
and the life of the World to shun.
[Please be seated]
Copyright © Martin Lack 2013
I just want to pre-empt the almost inevitable piece of journalistic garbage – by Christopher Booker, James Delingpole, Melanie Phillips, David Rose, or whoever – suggesting that the current snowy weather in the UK proves that global warming is not happening.
As any number of weather presenters have explained in recent days, the UK is experiencing record-breaking falls of snow this weekend because of disruption to our normal weather patterns. Once again, this abnormal weather is the result of changes in the stratosphere; with the position of the Jet Stream blocking the weather systems we would normally have coming off the Atlantic; and allowing much colder air from the European continent to sweep over us instead.
Apart from that, it is simply the case that moisture + cold air => snow: The Earth’s atmosphere today typically contains 4% more water vapour than it did 50 years ago. More moisture in a body of warm air will result in heavy rainfall; in colder air it will result in heavy snowfall. End of story. Almost.
There are just a few more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that you might be missing:
– It is now several decades since the Earth experienced a single month of weather that was cooler than the long-term monthly average;
– Every decade since the 1970’s has been warmer than that which preceded it.
– The ratio of heat records broken to cold records broken in 2o12 was 11 to 1.
I think even my 14-yr old daughter could identify the long-term trend in that data set.
To mark the occasion of James Delingpole making a complete ass of himself once again by publishing an article in the Daily Mail, which drew this response from the Met Office…
As regular readers of this blog will know, I submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission last October regarding David Rose’s similarly repetitious attempts to paint the Met Office (MO) as either incompetent or willfully deceptive. Sadly, the PCC were forced to deal with my complaint because the MO declined to get involved (even though the PCC asked them if they wanted to). I am afraid I got tired of the obfuscatory responses submitted by the Mail on Sunday and told the PCC to just go ahead and make a decision. However, the PCC have said I can publish their decision in the case, so here it is:
Commission’s decision in the case of
Lack v The Mail on Sunday
The complainant was concerned that an article, which reported on new global temperature data, contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. In particular, he considered that the article had misleadingly referred to the update of HadCRUT4 dataset as a report. The complainant emphasised that global warming has never been consistent, and was therefore concerned that the article had implied that the data showed that the Earth’s climate had stopped changing, and that carbon dioxide had not contributed to such changes as had occurred.
Under Clause 1, the press “must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”.
The Commission first considered the complaint in relation to the description of the data update as a “report”. This appeared only in the headline, and was not used to describe the update elsewhere in the text of the article. The Commission noted that it considers headlines in the context of the article as a whole rather than as a standalone statement. This is due to their brevity – they can represent only a limited summary of a potentially complex set of circumstances. The Commission noted that in the body of the article it was made clear that this referred to the update of the HadCRUT4 dataset on the Met Office’s website. Given this, the Commission did not consider that the reference was significantly misleading, as readers were made aware of the precise way in which this new information had been released.
The Commission noted that the complainant did not dispute the fact that the new data did not show a significant increase in temperatures over the last fifteen years. Instead, his concern was that the article wrongly implied that climate change had stopped, and that carbon dioxide had not contributed to previous increases in temperature. The article had made clear that there was disagreement between climate scientists as to the significance of the data, and to the potential for drawing major conclusions from it. As such it was apparent from the article that there was a variety of expert opinion as to how the new data was to be interpreted. Furthermore, the Commission noted that in the accompanying commentary, the newspaper had made clear that the plateau in temperatures did not mean that “global warming won’t at some point resume”, had stated that global warming was real, and that carbon dioxide had contributed to it. As such, the Commission was not able to find that the article was in this way misleading. Although the headline referred to climate change having “stopped”, it was clear from the article that this was not necessarily permanent. The Commission was aware of the complainant’s view that the article had contained other inaccurate and misleading statements; however it noted that the complainant had repeatedly declined to specify these, and consequently the Commission was not in a position to comment further. As such, there was no breach of Clause 1.
Reference no. 124521
As I have said in comments on the Met Office blog, I really do think that the time has come for the Met Office to stop issuing rebuttals and take these idiots to Court.
UPDATE (15 January 2013): As I have said to Barry Woods in the comments appended to this post…
I repeatedly referred the PCC to other websites where all the factual inaccuracies had been explained in detail – such as The Carbon Brief – and made it clear to the PCC that I had much better things to do with my time. In other words, I made a conscious decision not to waste more time on my complaint because it was obvious the PCC was not going to find the Mail on Sunday guilty of any offence (under the Code). However, that does not make the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, or James Delingpole any less guilty of repeatedly publishing very misleading articles…
I would hereby like to draw together two separate pieces of research published last week:
Need I say more? Sadly, yes, because – with people like Lord Lawson and Benny Peiser influencing the policy of the current Chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne – reality seems no nearer to dawning on the people with the power to change the way things are done.
This is a transcript of an email I sent to Paul Clark, the owner of the website Woodfortrees.org – from which graphs have appeared in presentations by numerous people who dispute the reality of anthropogenic climate disruption.
RE: Your Comparison of HADCRUT3 and HADCRUT4 datasets
I have found my way to your website via a comment by Dan Olner on Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week.
I note that on your Home Page you say:
I have no particular axe to grind in the “Global Warming Debate” one way or the other. Indeed, as a life-long Green I think a shift to an efficient and sustainable way of life is a Good Thing whether or notCO2 is a significant problem in and of itself.
Whilst I am not questioning your sincerity in making this statement, I am afraid I am bound to ask you two things:
1. What do you think the data tells us? and
2. Is it really appropriate to encourage non-experts to play around with it?
With regard to (1), my attention was drawn to your comparison of HADCRUT3 and HADCRUT4 and, yes, my first reaction was, “Why are they so different?” If I were David Rose, Christopher Monckton, or even Richard Lindzen, I would no doubt be very suspicious of the fact that HADCRUT4 anomalies are generally higher than those calculated for HADCRUT3. Therefore, I ask you, what purpose does it serve to present this comparison without a legitimate explanation as to why the two data sets are different? If you are in need of one, try this by Dana Nuccitelli on the Skeptical Science website.
With regard to (2), I am concerned about the frequency with which your website is used by climate change “skeptics” (such as those mentioned above) and therefore feel that, however good your motives are, you are merely encouraging unqualified people to bolster their unwarranted confidence in their unreasonable conclusions.
Returning to the comparison of HADCRUT3 and 4, I note that you have inserted a trendline for both over the last 1980-2010 (in addition to trendlines for the complete data sets). Have you considered inserting trendlines for both for the periods 1850-1910 and for 1910-1980? In fact, I suspect you don’t really need to do this: Just looking at these graphs, it is clear that there are three distinct changes:
– 1850-1910 – a downward trend of about 0.06/decade;
– 1910-1980 – an upward trend of about 0.08/decade;
– 1980-2010 – an upward trend of about 0.18/decade.
This is, therefore, yet another confirmation that the MBH98 ‘Hockey Stick’ cannot legitimately be dismissed as an artefact of statistical manipulation of data. In other words, it is signal not noise.
You call your website WoodForTrees but, with the greatest of respect, I think you are facilitating the denial of plain facts by people who don’t want to accept the nature of reality (mainly because of an underlying libertarian agenda). On your Home Page you may well pose all the right questions but, sadly, the vast majority of people who use or refer to your website appear to be coming to invalid conclusions.
Whereas a variety of natural factors contribute to global cooling – the Sun, ocean currents, and volcanic eruptions; only anthropogenic CO2 can explain the accelerating warming trend of the last 100 years.
I suspect you feel you are doing the right thing in encouraging everyone to play around with the data and satisfy themselves that they know what is happening. However, all the evidence suggests that your website is encouraging the unconsciously incompetent to play around with things they don’t really understand and reinforce the prejudicial insistence that we do not have a problem.
Irrespective of whether you respond to this email (I hope that you will), I am going to publish it on my blog at midnight tonight (British Summer Time [UTC+1]).
After my last exchange of emails with Christopher Monckton (back in May this year), I did promise myself I would not waste any more time on him. However, following the recent flurry of publicity surrounding the pronouncements of first Richard Muller, then John Christy, and then James Hansen (all of which have been covered on this blog recently – here, here, and here), I decided to try once more to see if there is any scope for having a rational discussion of facts with this aristocratic Classics graduate and former newspaper proprietor turned climate expert.
Sadly, it has thus become quite apparent that this is not possible. Therefore – and I mean it this time – I do not intend to ever email him again. However, first of all some context: Of the three incidents above, it was Christy’s highly misleading testimony to the US Senate – and the disgraceful attempts by his supporters to defend it by inverting reality and accusing mainstream scientists of abusing their positions of influence – that prompted me to email Monckton again. However, this time, I decided address my email to three people not just one; the other two being Rev Phillip Foster (Repeal the Act) and Dr Benny Peiser (GWPF). For now, I will focus on the exchange of email I had with Monckton after I sent this email (under the title ‘An appeal to you to be reasonable’)…
Dear Lord Monckton, Rev. Foster, and Dr Peiser,
We have had a few exchanges of emails in recent months and, unfortunately, they have not been very constructive. Being an eternal optimist, I am hoping that this time may be different. However, before reading any further, I should like to ask you, as I did in a recent email to the Bishop of Chester (currently on holiday), to bear in mind that I am a Conservative voter and hold very conservative views on a range of social issues; but have been concerned about the environment for as long as I have been a Christian… In other words, I am a very long way from being a“Watermelon”…
I recently tried to watch the video of the 1 August 2012 hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works but, for me, the volume was too low. Fortunately, the same web page has links to the prepared text of both the opening statements of Senator Boxer and Senator Inhoffe; as well as to PDFs of the written testimony from all six Witnesses.
Reading these has left me feeling very uneasy because, just as they did in the hot summer of 1988 in which James Hansen testified to a similar Committee, truth and integrity seem to have become lost in political farce:
– Before listening to any witnesses, Boxer and Inhoffe make two completely mutually-contradictory statements (of their views on climate change) containing numerous conflicting truth-claims.
– Both Democrats and Republicans call Witnesses that (one could argue) simply tell them what they want to hear.
– Witnesses are cross-examined by Senators from both parties but no-one changes their opinion (based on the balance of the evidence).
– No prejudices are challenged or dislodged; and truth remains in the eye of the beholder.
However, given the completely opposite views stated -they cannot all be right -some of the Witnesses must be wrong. Furthermore, truth is not whatever you want it to be; the truth is what it is and… If we cannot be sure what the truth is, then we should act according to the balance of probability; not according to our prejudice.
Therefore, with regard to the evidence presented in Panel 1 of these Hearings (PhDs Christopher Field, John Christy, and James McCarthy), the choice is as follows:
– John Christy is probably right and almost everything the majority of climate scientists tell us is wrong; or
– The majority of climate scientists are probably right and almost everything Christy says is wrong.
Forgetting arguments about science for a moment – and putting all our prejudices aside (because we all have them) – which of these scenarios is more likely?
In my humble opinion, the answer to this question is simply far too important for humans to continue to argue about it based on pre-existing ideological prejudice; or concerns regarding the motives of those making unpalatable statements. We all need to stop dodging the issue: The predictions made by James Hansen in 1988 have not only been proven accurate – the situation is now worse than that – as he said in his op-ed in the Washington Post last weekend, this “is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened”.
With the greatest of respect, therefore, is it not time that we all acknowledged that we are all equally likely to be prejudiced – and/or suspended our disbelief – long enough to take a cold hard look at the facts of history and science; and ask ourselves what would be the wisest thing to do? Indeed, this is a question I posed on my blog some months ago – in typically light-hearted fashion – and find myself asking it still.
Assuming you will make one, and do so in a similar reasonable-minded fashion, I await your response(s) with interest.
Yours very sincerely,
I have reproduced this email in full here because, despite being what I thought was entirely polite, reasonable, and conciliatory, the response I got from Monckton was none of the above. Instead, he chose to take offence at the title of the email; suggesting that this was insulting (because it implied that he or his current position is unreasonable). Here, the phrase “me thinks he dost protest too much” comes to mind. However, I cannot quote from his exact words because, as he has done in the past, Monckton has invoked his right to privacy.
One of the many ironies in dealing with Monckton is his ability to invert reality (and apparent blindness regarding his own failings when criticising others). He is on record as having criticised me for waffling and not being concise but, on its own, his initial response to me on this occasion was 1984 words; and was followed by 550 words; 1634 words; 875 words; 111 words; and 612 words (a total of 5766 words with an average of 961 words per email). This compares with my original 650 words (above), 219 words; 298 words; 253 words; 97 words; and 74 words (a total of 1591 words with an average of 265 words per email).
To be fair to Monckton, he did spend most of his time lecturing me on his superior grasp of Latin and/or trying to bait me into discussing his version of climate science. However, I stuck to my principles; and kept insisting that I did not want to “debate” science – I wanted to discuss what actions are now most likely to be in the best long-term interests of humanity. Monckton, however, was not willing to engage in such a discussion; which is a great shame for all concerned.
Despite Monckton’s claim to a right of privacy in his initial response; supposedly extending to a prohibition against my even acknowledging the existence of his email (which sounds like Super Injunction territory to me), he did not assert any such right over subsequent emails. I am therefore tempted to publish them but, when set in chronological order with my emails, the whole thing runs to over 8000 words, which I doubt anyone would read; even though it reveals a lot about Monckton’s modus operandi. For all Plebians out there, that is Latin for ‘method of operation’.