Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Is it now time to admit defeat?

with 89 comments

This is a transcript of an email I sent to Lord Monckton yesterday (and copied to Directors of both the GWPF and the IEA).

Dear Lord Monckton,

I am pleased to note that you were satisfied with my attempt to rectify a somewhat careless remark I made in my email to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on 13 March 2012 (viewable here if you scroll down). I must admit that the comment that attracted your attention (presumably MIT sent the email to you for comment?) was unusual for me, in that I generally try to limit myself to textual criticism (i.e. exposing fallacies in the things people have actually said).

As such, although I am confident than none of it is libellous, based on the research I did for my MA in Environmental Politics (i.e. my dissertation), I believe I have produced a great deal of criticism of so-called climate change “sceptics” and apparently “sceptical” organisations, such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the Institute of Economic Affairs, that you and your fellow “sceptics” may be interested to read. If so, a good place to start would be the following: A brief history of mine (12 March 2012).

In the mainstream media there is a distinct lack (no pun intended) of objective criticism of such “scepticism”, which I believe Peter Jacques (University of Florida) is right to conclude is not in the public interest. Furthermore, I believe that all remaining climate change “scepticism” can be reduced to economic rationalism (i.e. the belief that we must not wreck the economy in order to fix the problem). However, even this tired old argument is now looking decidedly unsound, given the findings of Lord Stern (2006, 2009), the International Energy Agency (2011) and, most recently, William Nordhaus (2012).

In addition, of course, we have ongoing observations and/or incoming data revealing that, just as the climate models predicted it would, the warming of the oceans due to the Earth’s current energy imbalance is giving rise to more frequent and more severe weather of all kinds. Thus, although no single event can be categorically blamed on anthropogenic climate disruption, the dice are clearly now loaded – making extreme events that break century-old records (as in the UK and US last month) ever more likely (see the SREX report, as recently-published by the consistently overly-optimistic IPCC)…

I am therefore left wondering when you “sceptics” are going to throw in the towel; and admit that you are wrong?

Yours sincerely,


International Energy Agency (2011), World Energy Outlook 2011.
Stern, N (2006), The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.
Stern, N (2009), A Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity.
Nordhaus, W (2012), Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong.

89 Responses

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  1. Throw in the towel; and admit that they are wrong? Why would they do that? They continue to achieve their desired end of disinforming, misinforming and delaying action over climate change. This is all they want and their strategy is working. Perhaps they are sufficiently amoral as to have no qualms about the future they are committing us to, but it strains my credulity to believe that supposedly-intelligent people such as those are unaware of the truth.

    When the game is being played to their rules, why would they give up?


    11 April 2012 at 04:56

    • Thanks owlbrudder, although I have taken the liberty of replacing your “although” with “but”, I have rarely seen the position of so-called “sceptics” summarised so sucinctly and poignantly as this:
      “Perhaps they are sufficiently amoral as to have no qualms about the future they are committing us to, but it strains my credulity to believe that supposedly-intelligent people… are unaware of the truth.”

      Martin Lack

      11 April 2012 at 07:22

  2. Lord Monckton, Prof Lindzen and a few others are what I call “Professional Contrarians” who spend their lives going against the so called “grain” of public opinion on any issue whatsoever, the issue doesn’t matter, as long as by opposing it they somehow end up in the spotlight and get lots of offers for public appearances and so on. …. I believe a quick check would reveal to anybody that they are all either members of the Skeptics society or friends of James Randy, someone with whom I personally had some difficulties in the past, the man’s an idiot and as far as I am concerned he still owes me a million Dollars, no, truly, he does, I chose not too sue the old fool, not worth the bother. :-).

    Take Lord Monckton’s latest ideal project in which he traveled to America solely for the purpose of examining evidence on President Obama’s birth certificate, in his now “expert” opinion the paper is false and there should be some kind of an enquiry as to why it is so …. on and on … blah, blah, blah.

    But the one thing that people never ask is …. why was he above all people invited to verify the validity of a photocopy from an original photocopy of a photocopy of an old birth certificate?

    He is of course totally disregarding the fact that the truth of the matter is that once a person becomes a President of the USA then all his records are “sealed” in order to avoid any possible extortion attempts that might endanger the security of the USA. This happens to be the real reason why nobody can get any kind of records on Obama but do you think it matters to these libertarian idiots? … not one bit

    Such issues never appear to matter to these people, the only thing that matters to these fools is that by complaining they somehow end up in the spot light and get to complain about all sorts of Democratic principles …. and it is democracy that they are all against … they want to destroy it..

    The one thing that people should be looking at is the “connections” between all the organizations that invite these people and turn them into some sort of ‘front-man” for their ideals in a manner that never reveals the dirty, lousy, stinking organisation behind whatever issues are in the latest news … in the end, the people behind all these issues are always the same guys …. so-called “Libertarians” who are little better than socialists with dreams of a communist world except they call it “Republicanism”.

    I would dearly love the Lord to take me up on this, unlike others I would love to have a day in Court with these farce-holes😦


    11 April 2012 at 05:05

    • Thanks, Donald – I took the liberty of modifying the spelling of the very last word in your comment.

      To think that these libertarians are in fact on an anti-democratic crusade is an intruiging idea but, to the extent that they indulge in organised attempts to disenfranchise poor black Americans and dress-it up as seeking to prevent electoral fraud, you would appear to be correct.

      However, as owlbrudder has above echoed the view of James Hansen – policy inaction is the goal of those who dispute global warming: They are not seeking to go against the grain of public opinion in pursuit of their own aggrandisment – the goal they seek is the maintenance of the Establishment, the preservation of the Status Quo, and the continuance of business as usual. Unfortunately, this is exaclty what Jared Diamond predicted:

      Faced with the reality of the environmental degradation laissez-faire is causing, rather than tackle the problem by reforming the way the World works, governments spend ever-increasing amounts of money ensuring their own survival…

      Even more unfortunately, this is a strategy that I think spells doom and… if we have the eyes to perceive it, the analogy presented to us by what has been going on in Syria for the last 12 months… should be a warning to us all.

      Martin Lack

      11 April 2012 at 07:52

      • What you have not noticed, Martin, is that any kind of Climate action would by necessity take two forms, one is a unity of thought amongst many nations … Democracy, but the other is the certainty that many of the constitutions of the western world would have to be amended and that is a Nefarious thought to all those republicans who see themselves in a future world with less government to rule them,

        Lesser government control would be a heaven given gift to those who want to live in small communities where they can rule over groups of people as they wish and hand out punishments any way they please …. and god forgive what some of these fools will do to any children who happen to be near them.


        11 April 2012 at 16:41

  3. Martin. It seems you’re approach to the AGW debate indicates you do not understand Science. It is legitimate to believe in AGW and to disbelieve it. As a very new science, with as yet inconclusive evidence, the debate remains open. To claim the ‘science is settled’ is either dishonest or grossly naive with regard to Science, on a par with religious faith (as an atheist, I find strong parallels between religious debates and that of AGW). Chris Monkton is not a key AGW sceptic. Debatinng with him is like debating Al Gore (if he would even rise to do it). Both are over-enthusiastic communicators for their ‘side’, both sometimes embarrasing, and certainly eccentric. The debate has become ridiculously polarized to the point that rational scientific debate has become near impossible. Unfortunately, it is led by agenda setters and politicians more than the scientists themselves. And too many scientists who do communicate on it, apply advocacy rather than science (see James Hansen). Yes, you can find fault in the work of leading sceptics, but of course you can find plenty of fault in the work of AGW believers. If you have followed the Hockey Stick debate, you will know this. Also, any scientist makes choices about which data and graphs he/she will use in their presentations. This is inevitable. This is what communication is about. Thus the accusations of cherry-picking are just too easy. To suggest it occurs only on the sceptic side is dishonest. At least 9 important errors were identified in Gore’s film. And the story of ‘hide the decline’ is well known – in which leading climate scientists chose to hide from their audience the fact that tree-ring proxies fail to correlate with instrumental temperature in recent decades – the very period that man-made global warming is claimed to be evidence (thus, if they don’t correlate now, they can not be relied on for previous centuries. Simple fact). With regard to the IPCC SREX report, I suggest you read it a bit more carefully. In its sections on OBSERVED extreme events, its conclusions are completely non-commital. At best, their confidence levels are “low” to “medium”, which in every day language means ‘maybe’. Where its confidence is high, is limited to things like rising sea level and increased temperatures over the past century. These are not extreme, and within natural variations, and a simple outcome of the fact the world has warmed about 0.8 degC over the past century. They also make strong predictions on future extreme weather – from computer models. As you may recall from your science studies model results are highly sensitive to assumptions and parameter selection. By all means, support your side of the debate, but trying to smother legitimate scientific debate will ultimately be bad for society and environment.


    11 April 2012 at 08:35

    • Thanks for your concern but, I think I understand Science well enough; and I would question your belief that climate science is “new” (as it is at least 150 years old). Is the theory of gravity equally a matter of belief in your opinion? Furthermore, does your atheism extend as far as you also not believing in paragraphs?:-)

      I agree the debate has become polarised, but this is mainly due to the fact that the reality of ACD challenges the status quo so fundamentally that it triggers ideologically-driven denial – exactly as it has done on each and every other occasion that profit-oriented human activity has been found to cause environmental damage (smoking, pesticides, CFCs, long range transboundary air pollution, etc).

      There is no parallel between atheism and climate change denial. To deny the reality of ACD is now an act of faith; it is irrational. Andrew Montford’s Hockey Stick Illusion was itself a delusion. I think you need to read Michael Mann’s new book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. There is nothing in modern science that is more clearly attested – and about which we should be more confident in our undersanding – than the truth that pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere many times faster than it can be assimilated – and more importantly recycled – by the environment is endangering the long-term ability of planet Earth to support life. The only people who do not want you to accept this are those whose business interests will be damaged by attempts to mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, in selfishly adopting this intransigent stance, they are choosing to treat conservation of a habitable planet as a problem instead of an opportunity to invest in our common future.

      I suggest you stop looking for false comfort and start engaging with the reality that SREX concedes “Low-probability, high-impact changes associated with the crossing of poorly understood climate thresholds cannot be excluded…”. We are now playing with fire and very likely to get our fingers burnt.

      Martin Lack

      11 April 2012 at 09:07

      • [paragraphs included]
        In fact I said the science of AGW is new, not climate science in general, especially the work of John Tyndall. But the view on whether Man is warming the planet or cooling it, varies with the trends. To compare AGW theory with gravity is preposterous and a common and silly propaganda trick. 100s of scientific theories come and go. Only a few stand the test of time, and only after a long period of debate. Gravity, spherical earth, evolution by natural selection, water as carrier of cholera, are examples of those that have. Many more have not. AGW theory is new, and the evidence is far too uncertain to claim the debate is over. As an example, while it is often claimed, as you do, that the science with regard to the cause of 20th C warming is certain, the cause of slight cooling mid-century, and the lack of warming during the past decade remains uncertain, with nothing more than speculation that ‘it could be the sun, or aerosols’.

        You demonstrate the increasingly common approach of trying to theorise why others don’t agree with you – that AGW sceptics must be driven by selfish denial. This allows you to present an argument against AGW sceptics that cannot be tested. Well, I can theorise that AGW alarmists are driven by the age old human characteristic of fearing ‘the end of the world is nigh’, and ‘we will be punished for our sins’. I suppose that sounds ridiculous to you, but your own theory is just as much.

        In my case, my concern for AGW alarmism is that it is diverting attention, effort and money away from the genuine environmental and social problems. 5000 children die each day as a result of unsafe drinking water: fact. Not one single death can be clearly attributed to AGW: fact. We can save the lives of millions of children by investing in drinking water infrastructure and treatment systems. If we stop CO2 emissions tomorrow, we have no idea whether there will be any benefit, unless of course we have great faith in the man-made computer models.

        I’ve read both Montford and Mann’s books. I agree that anyone should read both of them and then draw their own conclusions on which sound more plausible, honest, and science rather than ideologically based.

        I also agree “we are playing with fire”. The proposed cuts in CO2 emissions, if they were actually applied, would put a massive halt on necessary human development in Africa and Asia. To do so based on a very uncertain theory is certainly playing with fire. Those most affected will be those who do not yet have our luxuries of long life expectancy, plentiful food, central heating, municipal sewer systems, advanced medical care, advanced education, etc, etc. Of all those advocating the dramatic cut back in our indulgent lifestyles, who is actually demonstrating such sacrifices? Gore, Blair, Prince Charles, Michael Mann, James Hansen….?


        11 April 2012 at 12:06

        • Oakwood, I really do think you need to rummage around on this blog a bit more. The brief history of mine post is a very good place to start. I am not your typical environmentalist; I am not even a Socialist. But yes, I do theorise about why people deny the reality of environmental problems… That is what this blog is all about… Asking me not to do it would be like asking a philosopher not to think.

          Furthermore, I think everybody should do this because, if they did, they might just understand the motives driving those that are lying to us – and have lied to us for decades over so many other issues… They might also come to appreciate what a complete house of cards the supposed Watermelon conspiracy theory is because – even if it were theoretically possible – there would be no motive for such a political and/or scientific conspiracy.

          To blame the problems of food shortages, starvation and death on mitigation of ACD is a facile but entirely spurious argument. It is not food distribution that is the problem; it is over-population. If there is no soil and/or no water in a desert, even a single person can constitute over-population (i.e. if their environment cannot support them)… Furthermore, our failure to minimise and/or mitigate ACD will result in suffering and death on such a colossal scale it will make what has happened in East Africa last year – and what is happening in West Africa this year – seem like a minor car crash by comparison.

          This is not some kind of misguided and misanthropic doom mongering, it is the lesson we should learn from history: No civilisation – be it that on Easter Island, the Maya, the Anasazi of whoever – has survived by ignoring the problems of over-population, resource depletion, and/or environmental degradation. Our civilisation will be no different: Technology cannot save us from our own stupidity. This is because technology cannot deal with exponential growth in resource consumption and/or the exponential acceleration of positive feedback mechanisms – such as meting ice caps and thawing permasfrost – that threaten to make change uncontrollable and irreversible…

          We have been warned by history and we should be alarmed by self-evident changes going on around us – including increased frequency of extreme weather of all kinds: Just as reality does not cease to exist when you close your eyes, these warnings are not invalidated just because you choose to ignore them.

          Martin Lack

          11 April 2012 at 14:21

  4. I would agree with most of what has been said and add my impression which is that these men [not many women in the debate] are attention seekers. I would extend this to the blogosphere in that you get a lot more hits and followers if you appeal to the extreme rather than measured and balanced conversation. These guys evidently love the attention otherwise they would quietly be producing papers or active in the peer revue process, but I guess that would be being a real sceptic.

    As a parent it reminds me of my teenager going through that stage of seeking an identity, thankful mine has just gone for a little goth-metal rather than being completely rebellious. Most young adults end up compromising their ideals when they have to get a job and eventually grow out of it, these guys get paid so there is little to modify their behaviour.

    I think it is healthy to have idiots as they are easy to expose [do keep up the effort], the really enemy is those who give them bias airtime whether the like of Fox news or the Telegraph. It is the media that can be truly amoral.


    11 April 2012 at 11:09

    • “these men [not many women in the debate] are attention seekers”. Do you include the AGW climate scientists in this statement? Michael Mann, Phil Jones, James Hansen, etc, etc. Judtih Curry is a well known semi-sceptic.

      “These guys evidently love the attention otherwise they would quietly be producing papers or active in the peer revue process, but I guess that would be being a real sceptic.”
      Many do. Richard Lindzen was a lead IPCC author and expert on hurricanes, until he resigned in protest and Trenbeth’s claim of a link between AGW and hurricanes, especially Katrina. Lindzen’s stand has since been proven correct. We also know from Climategate emails how the peer review process is manipulated by the highest funded cliimate scientists.

      By the rest of your comments, you seem to assume most AGW climate scientists are shy and retiring.


      11 April 2012 at 12:14

      • “Lindzen’s stand has since been proven correct”! Which planet are you on? No doubt – whichever one it is – you will claim evidence of warming exists there as well – supposedly invalidating concern over ACD.

        All we know from the climategate emails is the mendacious lengths supposed “sceptics” will go to in order to try and discredit climate science and scientists:
        Climategate 2.0 – the first nail in coffin of climate change denial (27 February 2012)

        Martin Lack

        11 April 2012 at 13:56

        • Lindzen’s main reason for resigning from IPCC was that he disapproved of a senior IPCC representative (Trenbeth, not a hurricane expert) stating in a press conference that there was a link between global warming and hurricane activity. Hurricane’s are a category of tropical cyclone. The IPCC’s recent SREX reports states:”There is low confidence in any observed long-term (ie. 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (ie. intensity, frequency, duration).” (SREX says little about hurricanes specifically) ‘”Proven” is too strong a word, but at least the IPCC, and the facts, agree with him. That is the planet I live on.

          Anyway, its the arguing over ‘he said/she said’ that gets no-one anywhere in the AGW debate. We wil not agree. But my main point is that any claim that the science is settled on AGW is either naive or dishonest, and is not Science.


          11 April 2012 at 14:36

        • Lindzen has a 20-year track record of denying links between human activity and environmental problems. He started by helping tobacco companies deny their responsibility for making people more likely to develop lung cancer – now he focusses on helping the fossil fuel lobby deny their responsibility for making people more likely to trash the very environment that recycles all our waste and sustains us.

          As for Trenberth, I am sure that the point he was trying to make is the one I made: “…the warming of the oceans… is giving rise to more frequent and more severe weather of all kinds. Thus, although no single event can be categorically blamed on anthropogenic climate disruption, the dice are clearly now loaded…” (emphasis added).

          Given that the entire palaeoclimatic history of the Earth demonstrates a very clear link between atmospheric CO2 and temperature (i.e. whereby temperature changes that build up over hundreds if not thousands of years have always triggered CO2 changes – in order to restore energy imbalances), I just do not see how you can (despite all the evidence pouring in that indicates you are wrong) continue to believe that we can upset this equilibrium and somehow expect the Earth not to warm up as a consequence? Indeed, you seem to want to deny that palaeoclimatology alone – not climate models – gives us sufficient reason to be very concerned about a 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 in the last 200 years (i.e. a blink of an eye in geological terms).

          Significant uncertainty or doubt evaporated a long time ago. We are way beyond the balance of probability now; adverse consequences are a dead certainty (as they are already happening). Therefore, we are now firmly within the territory of “just how bad do we want to allow things to get”? Furthermore, although climate models are not the basis for our concern, when used retrospectively, they confirm that we understand the climate system because, when we go back and look at models in the light of actual emissions trajectories we find them to be remarkably accurate…

          Therefore, the science underlying concern over anthropogenic climate disruption was settled 20 or 30 years ago, to continue to deny it is understandable if you are a oil company executive but – for everybody else – it is just insane. So, the only question that remains is which one are you?

          Martin Lack

          11 April 2012 at 15:21

        • Hey Martin,

          What evidence do you have that Lindzen helped tobacco companies deny their responsibility for making people more likely to develop lung cancer?


          11 April 2012 at 16:38

        • Are you suffering from short-term memory loss, John? Maybe you have been inadvertently inhaling and/or ingesting too many organic pesticides!

          Lionel Smith has provided numerous links on this blog to evidence for this trait in Lindzen’s character. He (Lindzen) has even given sworn evidence – in at least one Court case – seeking to cast doubt on the validity of statistical evidence of a link between an individual smoking and the likelihood of their developing lung cancer.

          I know you know this. Therefore, once again, you are exposed as someone who just wants to waste my time and/or misdirect and confuse susceptible people.

          Martin Lack

          11 April 2012 at 16:52

        • Hey Martin,

          Yes, I read those links. Links to other links. But do they cite any actual evidence of such or just Hansen’s statement?

          Just asking.


          11 April 2012 at 17:38

        • No need to ask, just follow the trail wherever it leads, read what is said, and actually take on board what it means…

          Martin Lack

          11 April 2012 at 18:21

  5. Dear Oakwood, re your last sentence, “But my main point is that any claim that the science is settled on AGW is either naive or dishonest, and is not Science”… I am not a scientist, just a person who cares deeply for the safety and security of my children and grandson. Your approach reminds me of the tale of an airliner falling to the ground after a total engine failure and 100 metres before impact, one of the cabin staff popped his head around the cockpit door and asked how it was looking. The Captain responded, “So far, so good!”

    Hence the old saying amongst pilots, “There are bold pilots and old pilots. But no old, bold pilots!” Which leads on to another old saw within the pilot community, “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt”… I’m sure that’s not Science but it’s damn good common sense. Taking steps now to reduce our use of energy, reduce the demand for meat products, recycle more, consume less, and move away from carbon-based fuels… is just damn good common sense. Or would you disagree with that?

    Paul Handover

    11 April 2012 at 15:28

    • I am a scientist, and a person who cares deeply for the safety and security of my children. Hence why I am highly disturbed at how AGW alarmism is diverting attention from real problems and leading to a complete distortion of the scientific process and the science establishment.

      Martin’s last comment: “to continue to deny it is understandable if you are a oil company executive but – for everybody else – it is just insane. So, the only question that remains is which one are you?”… shows he lacks the capabilty for rational debate or balanced thought. Instead, a need to revert to slur and insult. He is clearly trying to make a mark through his blog and letters (I was directed here from GeolSoc). But he will not be taken seriously with this approach.


      11 April 2012 at 16:02

      • What kind of a scientist are you? Which field?

        I only ask because so far you have not put forward a single scientific argument, only junk skeptical science, ie, you say nothing but contrarian statements that offer nothing to argue or debate about, every statement you make can be copied.cut/pasted from various sites and is merely parroting what others say and none of those who say it are scientists in any way, even Lindzen who is a scientist would put forward a far stronger counter debate than what you have so far. (Please, no anomaly charts, we’re rather sick of them around here).


        11 April 2012 at 16:07

      • So, are you a (petroleum) geologist then?

        I am sorry if you take offence at my insistence of calling denial “denial”… I am only doing what the government’s Chief Scientist says we should do – be much more intolerant of pseudo science…

        If you want to prove yourself more capable of rational debate than me, please provide some peer reviewed scientific evidence to falsify my point that it is palaeoclimatology – not models – that provides ample evidence for concern over ACD…

        At what point would you part company with the Geological Society’s position statement on climate change (as referenced here)?

        Martin Lack

        11 April 2012 at 16:33

        • You should be careful what you say about petroleum geologists. More than 10% of GeolSoc members register ‘oil and gas’ as an interest, and Shell has sponsored quite a few lectures with a climate change theme. So I think your prejudice is misguided. I am a hydrogeologist with much of my work related to sustainable water resources management. Now water scarcity is a growing concern for the world – but due to growing demands, especially for agriculture, and pollution. Perhaps due to man-made climate change? No evidence for it yet.

          Yes, I’m familiar with the Geol Soc position statement. However, there is no way of knowing how it reflects the fellows views as there was no open consultation. We were invited to send in comments (as I did), but did not get to comment on any draft. It was a political exercise. GS was becoming conspicuous for not having a position. To avoid criticism, they had to. And the final wording is pretty balanced. I was not overly disappointed given the pressure for political correctness. It does a good job of stressing that climate change is the norm. Otherwise its conclusion mainly reflect those of IPCC (themselves based more on opinion than scientific deduction). The final sentence, under the circumstances, is refreshingly weak on its commital:”In the light of the evidence presented here it is reasonable to conclude that emitting further large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere over time is likely to be unwise, uncomfortable though that fact may be.”

          On other questions/comments above and below, it’s just turning into the standard snapping routine. I can see some influence of Bob Ward here – the one who became an FGS just in time to slag off a positive review (and of the reviewer) of the Hockey Stick Illusion.


          11 April 2012 at 18:52

        • I didn’t say anything about petroleum geologists but will do so now: It is very hard for anybody to bite the hand that feeds them – It is far better for all those that can to change their diet as I have done – Despite having to consider returning to hydrogeology, I am determined that I shall not get involved in facilitating the mining of coal anymore because I accept the observational evidence, science and logic, which drives James Hansen to take the position that he does: See What’s wrong with dirty coal? (22 November 2011).

          Having discussed the position statement with Colin Summerhayes (VP) at some length, I am aware that the position statement is very carefully worded so as not to upset those who are ambivalent (a bit like an IPCC report). However, to reduce concern over ACD to misguided drive for political correctness is a very appealing fallacy for all those with concerns over job security (etc) but, the fact remains that the scientific consensus is real and “sceptics” are not like Galileo; the obscurantist Establishment is the fossil fuel lobby that does not want its business as usual programme of resource exploitation (and environmental degradation) derailed.

          Having originally got into hydrogeology myself in the hope that I could make life more bearable for people in Africa, I can understand your reluctance to accept that humans may be well on the way to causing far greater problems than those caused by over-population and/or natural variations in climate. It is very discomforting indeed – a bit like admitting that giving to Sport Relief and/or Red Nose Day does not addrss the basic problem that birth rates are still unsustainably high in much of Africa – but, as David Aaronovitch says in Voodoo Histories, one of the main reasons people believe in conspiracy theories (such as that which holds that concern over ACD is a hoax) is too make themselves feel better and/or absolve themselves of responsibility for bad things in it. See AGW denial – Possibly the greatest ‘false flag’ operation in human history? (10 September 2011).

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 07:58

      • “…he will not be taken seriously with this approach…” Rather than feigning your indignation at my very modest display of a tendency to be sarcastic, I think you would do well to direct this advice to Lord Monckton; as he is far more consistent than me in reverting to “slur and insult”… Unfortunately, this is not surprising because, for those who persist in denying reality, there is really little other choice left…

        Martin Lack

        11 April 2012 at 17:07

      • Lots of subjects and no point? What is your field? You seem to talk a lot about people and organizations but very little on the science, personally I think you’re just another contrarian jumping from site to site pretending to be a somebody.

        Which part of Climate Warming don’t you believe in and what scientific basis do you have for such beliefs, what makes you feel AGW is not right, is it the maths, the research methodology, the presentation of facts or the equipment used?


        11 April 2012 at 23:43

        • Hey PS,

          What is the case for harmful AGW?

          From what I have heard here it is:

          1. Recent warming is “unusual” or “unprecedented.”
          2. Models indicate that the warming is caused by increased atmospheric CO2.
          3. We can’t explain the warming any other way.


          12 April 2012 at 00:13

        • Well done, JZK, now we have a basis for a debate, sorry I took so long to respond I thought you guys were all in bed, I’m in Australia.

          Recent warming is unusual or unprecedented? Yes it is but not in the way it is explained by denialists in sites such as WUWT and so on.

          The average world temp. is 15 degrees and we haven’t arrived at it yet, almost there though, tipicaly our planets temperatures range (modern history) from between 13 and even 18 degrees as a year average, what makes it unusual now is that before such ranges went up and down like yo-yos everty couple of
          years but very rarely did it reach 15 although sometimes it did … the ranges changed on average every two or so years BUT …. since 1880 the average temperature HAS NOT STOPPED increasing , bit by bit it has steadily climbed upwards …. skeptics claim there was a period last decade in which warming stopped ..

          A) By saying this they are already stating that warming did occur up until the decade prior
          B) They are lying, warming never stopped, what they do is to point to silly numbers (annomalies) which are hardly understood by the common man, the anomalies by the way, ceased to be used/are not used in our common era because of the invention of modern measuring equipment.

          The real temperatures, explained in a manner that may easily be understood are never shown (By anybody) but they do exist and may be found at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), you may read them as anomalies but you may also read them in both Celsius and Farenheight.

          Here is a link to the easy to read version

          You will of course wish to verify them, in which case you will find the complementary annomaly data at the following link

          You will find verification of the chart here:

          One look at all the data mention above will clearly show you, temperatures are steadily climbing., I have more on this but I think it is enough to get a debate going:-)


          12 April 2012 at 02:07

        • Oakwood is clearly very selective about which points of mine he picks me up on – and which ones he ignores. It is called cherry-picking; and it is what those that dispute reality must do in order to survive.

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 08:07

        • PS,

          We have had warming, but it is it “unprecedented” or “unusual?” From the evidence that I have seen, it is not. Even worse for the believers, some really bad science has gone into a desperate attempt to try to prove that it is. If a team of scientists are going to study proxy data to try to determine what the temperatures have been over the last 1,000 years, I would prefer it not be the same team that is ideologically motivated to find a certain result. Whether the real warming we have seen is .7C or 1C as you cite is of little concern.

          Even worse for the believers, the current temperature of the earth does not pose a danger to anything. What the polar bears, sea turtles, or any other animals are experiencing has been experienced before and quite recently geologically speaking. If you don’t believe me, look at Al Gore’s chart.

          I guess another way to state it is this. The Earth has experienced about +- 7C from where we are today. To say that 1C warmer than we are now is “terrible” while 1C cooler is “optimum” is just silliness, and there is no evidence to support it.

          The question of course, is where are we headed. It is only because of this question that I am a skeptic and not a denier. I am concerned about this question, and I do believe it ought to be fully, fairly studied.

          If the believers were saying things like “everything is ok today, but we are headed for disaster,” I would find it much more credible.

          Then of course, there is the models and the very small funding for finding alternative causes for the warming.

          Finally, the number one reason for my continued skepticism is that most believers are not really beilevers. “What would you do if you knew what I knew” – James Hansen.

          I would not be jetting all over the world spewing CO2 into the atmosphere. Hasen is in Scottland to accept an award, no? I would think his grandchildren are more important than some award. And, he could even make a bigger statement if he refused to fly anywhere and just accepted the award on some big monitor. Imagine the show that would make. He should hire me as a PR consultant.


          12 April 2012 at 11:48

        • John, your questions are addressed to Donald/PS, which is just as well, because I am not prepared to waste too much time on them. However, if you and he don’t mind, I will just say this: So far, we have seen 1 Celsius of warming in response to a 40% (and rising) increase in CO2. However, more warming is already inevitable because the Earth is still a long way from radiative energy equilibrium. Therefore, self-evidently, Lindzen cannot be right to claim climate sensitivity is as low as 1 Celsius for a 100% increase in CO2. In addition to that, all the positive feedback mechanisms now kicking-in raise the spectre of non-linearity in climate sensitivity; and/or of equilibrium never being reached.

          Given all of the above, now is not a good time for any of us to be second-guessing genuine experts or questioning their integrity. On the contrary, now is a good time for humbly conceding that it would be sensible to make a serious attempt to prevent a runaway greenhouse effect taking hold. Hoping the experts are wrong is asking for trouble (IMHO).

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 12:46

        • Martin,

          Whenever I ask someone a question on your blog, by all means consider it an open invitation to comment if you chose to so waste your time. That way, you can also chose not to waste your time.

          You cite a correlation based on empirical measurements. The question for the science is whether that correlation is also causation. To satisfy that question, many of us would like to see the actual science, not just as statement that some group of “experts” believe a certain conclusion. Currently, the state of that science is all based on what models do based on certain inputs and rules created by the modelers. I would point out that those that created the models did so already having a conclusion in mind. I find that troubling. Resources need to go into developing the science free from prejudice, to the extent that is possible.


          12 April 2012 at 15:02

        • As I have now said to you many more times than I care to remember – concern over ACD is not based on models (but it is validated by them) – it is based on our understanding of how the Earth has regulated its temperature throughout geological history.

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 15:14

        • Yes Martin, I have heard you say that but without any supporting evidence. Check out how Michael Mann says it is based on the models:

          He restates the hockey stick conclusion that the recent warming is unusual, but then goes on to state about the evidence that the warming is our fault: “that conclusion has actually been established by taking models, theoretical models of the climate and subjecting them both to natural factors like volcanic eruptions and changes in behavior of the sun and human factors of increasing ghg concentrations, and what those more recent studies show is that you can’t explain that anomalous recent warming from natural factors, we can only explain it when we include the effect of humans on the planet.”

          at 2:40.

          Models are not used to validate the science, but to establish it. Listen to Mann use the exact word “establish.”

          I find that very troubling.


          12 April 2012 at 15:20

        • Nope, sorry, I don’t have a problem with that. The conclusion that we now have a problem (i.e. anthropogenic CO2 change will induce an unnatural temperature change because the Earth always seeks to eliminate energy imbalances) is established as a fact by the retrospective use of models (i.e. models validate the theory because they only replicate historical climate data when they take account of all climate forcings – natural and anthropogenic). Your perception that there is something “troubling” about this is entirely bogus.

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 19:01

      • “Taking steps now to reduce our use of energy, reduce the demand for meat products, recycle more, consume less, and move away from carbon-based fuels… is just damn good common sense. Or would you disagree with that?”

        Would love it if you could reply to that question. (I’m not trying trickery here – my views about a whole range of aspects are open and public, as is my identity, see )

        Paul Handover

        12 April 2012 at 01:01

        • Please see my response to PS/Donald – I suspect that selective responses from Oakwood are no accident (or else he is attempting to invoke moral and or scientific superiority in not lowering himself to answer such a non-scientific question).

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 08:09

  6. Something to think about, a rather stupid thought of mine but I thought it might make for some interesting conversation:-)

    A massive earthquake hit off Indonesia a few hours ago, thankfully only a small Tsunami was generated but it made me think and later on an article in the Guardian re-enforced my thoughts …

    “There has been an average of 17 large earthquakes (magnitude 7 or greater) a year around the world since 1900, “BUT” about 15 a year since 1990″.

    That is a huge increase so ….

    Is it possible that as the seas rise there is a greater body of water applying more pressure on the Earth’s crust thus increasing the possibility of massive earthquakes? 😦

    OR …

    Was the Devil after Cameron? (he was in Indonesia when it happened) :-)


    11 April 2012 at 16:13

    • Sorry, forgot to mention, since 1990 most of the world’s biggest earthquakes (with few exceptions) have all been sea-borne quakes, thus my mention of a huge increase … in sea quakes.


      11 April 2012 at 16:31

    • Donald – I do not think this is very helpful. Whilst it may be possible that warming oceans might just possibly be contributing to increased speed of plate tectonics, frequency/severity of earthquakes, and/or violence of volcanic eruptions, I do not see how an increase in sea level – so far only measurable in millimetres – could possibly be blamed for applying more hydrostatic pressure on the sea floor. Come on, be reasonable…

      Martin Lack

      11 April 2012 at 16:43

      • I openly admit to knowing nothing about ocean science or tectonics, as I said, a stupid thought but one worth pondering since an increase in sea levels is bound to mean greater pressures. I find it rather odd that the greatest earthquakes since 1990 have all been below the sea … only two big ones have been on land.

        Also … mm? not here in Oz, some areas have seen up to 1 foot rise.. ie: Western coast of Tasmania, I shall look up some related links for you.


        11 April 2012 at 16:49

        • The land is probably sinking… For example, in the UK, post-glacial isostatic rebound in one place (e.g. Scotland) is causing the land to sink elsewhere (e.g. Cornwall).

          Martin Lack

          11 April 2012 at 16:56

        • Well, apart from the fact that Bob Brown’s arrogance is growing day by day which must surely be placing much greater pressure on the Tasmanian landscape ….. :-)

          There is a guy over here from the CSIRO who is a world leader in the field of sea-level rises, his name is John Hunter and his studies in Tasmania are awesome, but I can’t find his research papers at the moment, perhaps I’m wrong. Regardless, he’s a good guy to keep an eye on.


          11 April 2012 at 17:14

    • I don’t want to sound dozy but isn’t 15 a year since 1990 less than 17 a year?


      12 April 2012 at 00:13

      • Yeah, my comment was too rushed and not well worded, the 17 shakes were mostly land based, some at sea, the 15 are the complete opposite, mostly sea based, that is the massive increase I meant to mention, the sea quakes.


        12 April 2012 at 02:48

  7. Hey Martin,

    Given that James Hansen says that the skeptics are winning the public debate, why would you think they would be close to throwing in the towel?


    11 April 2012 at 17:42

    • Perhaps because, somewhere between 20 and 150 years ago, they lost the scientific argument?

      Martin Lack

      11 April 2012 at 18:19

      • Well given the fact that you are unable to or unwilling to even make the scientific argument on this blog, why would they throw in the towel when they are winning?


        11 April 2012 at 18:57

        • I left you a long reply, JZK, but it has 3 links and Martin has to approve it first:-)


          12 April 2012 at 03:01

        • For the sake of helping to preserve a habitable planet, peut-etre?

          Martin Lack

          12 April 2012 at 07:59

  8. Seeing sceptics [I am being positive here Martin] comment here is great, as it is easy to hang out at Bishop Hill or WUWT to find like minds. However, JZK, this blog is more the mind of the issue than the science [it says so at the top]. And OAKWOOD, most scientists actually get on with the job, I don’t include Gore, or Greenpeace, so they are less concerned with publicity- my partner is a [non climate] scientist who is fine with her peers but loaths any kind of publicity. One anitdote doesn’t make a fact but Mann [for instance] has been dragged into the limelight by deniers.


    11 April 2012 at 23:56

    • Jules: Please note that JZK is John Kosowski. He has been blacklisted once but returned to this site using a different ID, email and IP address. I am continuing to allow him to comment because he is being careful not to break house rules. However, in accordance with the “by their actions shally ye know them” principle, you should be aware that he frequently asks questions to which he already knows the answer (mainly because I have already told him). This may explain why I do not waste too much time on him any more…

      Martin Lack

      12 April 2012 at 08:05

  9. Anyway, the answer to the headline question is ” no”. The AGW faithful have been asking the same question for many years. Since the peak of Gore’s film ( “the link between CO2 is complicated”), doubt regarding the reality of the alarmism has only increased, Copenhagen and Kyoto replacement have failed, and so far dire predictions fail to arise – unless of course you choose to blame every disaster and event on CC, which is the standard approach of the most faithful.


    12 April 2012 at 07:28

    • Oakwood, repeating your fallacious assertions does not make them true. I have already (twice now) conceded the point that everything cannot be attributed to ACD. In stark contrast, you have not conceded anything; and continue to make unsubstantiated statements that are clearly at odds with the observed reality of accelerating rates of sea ice reduction, melting icecaps, thawing permafrost, ocean acidification, etc.. Therefore, I put it to you once more that, based on all this evidence; the lessons we should learn from Earth History (i.e. that all life on Earth is adapted to the way things now are – thereby making irrelevant the fact that things were much different in the more distant geological past)… it is ACD denial that is now the (blind) faith-based belief system.

      Martin Lack

      12 April 2012 at 08:27

  10. Here is a question on denial, Martin relating to Oakwood’s last comment: I read on the mad March weather, [of the US] and along with other comments on extreme weather events elsewhere the scientific response is- ‘could be linked’, yet the denialosphere insists that any event is blamed on AGW. So is the denial community acting like the media in seeking the most inflammatory spin or believe that when a scientist is saying- AGW is very likely to increase extremes they are really saying AGW is responsible [ we are just downplaying it a little but you get the message- it’s AGW]?

    Is it just confirmation bias that seeks to reinforce the belief in them that environmentalists are really just self hating eco-nazis who worship the Earth and want all humanity dead?

    I should, I suppose ask the question of Oakwood- When Martin and others speak of the limitations of resources and the dangers of over-population do you see them as exhibiting totalitarian views or do you think ‘I can see the point but we are not there yet’?


    12 April 2012 at 11:52

    • These discussions are quite incredible. You accuse me of “confirmation bias”, but you assume AGW sceptic = anti-environmentalist (a very common pro-AGW trait). I am an environmentalist, and managing environmental impacts is linked to much of the work I do. It is because I am an environmentalist that I find the distraction of AGW a particular concern.

      In the various comments above, I am accused of cherry-picking, quoting denialist blogs, repeating ‘the same old’ trolling memes, etc. Step back and look at yourselves. You are guility of all of these (but of course AGW-alarmist websites rather than sceptic ones). One key difference between you and me is you use terms of abuse to those who simply disagree with you (a normal part of the scientific process). You also use the very common pro-AGW method of ad homming those on the other side – as in the Lindzen-tobocaco link. I’ve not heard of this before, but when I look at the links, the accusatios are nothing more than hearsay. Stick to the science. I have used the term ‘dishonest or naive’, but not for believing in AGW. Instead for trying to claim the science is settled. I can totally accept that you believe AGW, I can accept that others can have a different point of view. What I don’t claim is that those other points of view are driven by lying, confirmation bias, or a logic blindness. Most of us are scientists who have followed the different parts of the debate, often reading exactly the same material, but draw different conclusions. That is science. And to compare AGW with gravity, evolution, flat earth, etc, is just a silly propanda tool, and meaningless.

      I am asked to provide evidence for my views. But there’s no point. Such two-way polarised discussions have been played out a million times on blog sites. We will never agree.

      Stop trying to philosophise or theorise as to why people don’t believe the same things you do. That will get you no where other than to re-inforce your own ‘cofirmation bias’.

      I’ll leave you to chat amongst yourselves.


      12 April 2012 at 12:26

      • Oakwood – you are clearly a well-educated person and your decision to comment on my blog is commendable. However, you cannot get away with claiming we “AGW believers” are the only ones throwing insults around: Lord Monckton does this all the time; and you did it in your very first sentence – by questioning my understanding of science.

        I would therefore humbly suggest that you need to stop being a hypocrite; and admit that your decision to assume that ACD is a false alarm and/or a political conspiracy (or whatever your justification is – because you have not yet provided one) is as much open to being labelled unscientific as you think we are.

        Spitting out your dummy and/or taking your ball home is no substitute.

        Martin Lack

        12 April 2012 at 12:58

        • I have not claimed AGW believers are the ONLY ones throwing insults. This comes from both sides, reflecting the extreme polarisation of the debate. There are extremists and nutters on both sides. I have little interest in what the likes of say Monckton or Delingpole say. For one thing, I am far from both of them politically, being a europhile and centrist myself, and I certainly don’t approve of using your hereditary title to raise your own importance. Monkton benefits the sceptic side in the way Gore does the believer side (though he has been quiet lately). They both help generate debate, but also fuel the polarisation. Attacking the extremists is a lazy form of debate. George Monbiot does this too much, spending a lot of his time attacking other journalists. There are a lot of silly amateur blogs on AGW, but certainly a few good ones that genuinely add to the scientific debate. Eg. and The work of Stephen McIntyre of Climateaudit has unquestionably had a huge impact, and has genuinely progressed our understanding of AGW science. For example, doing much of the auditing that was not otherwise being done. He raised some very uncomfortable questions, many of which still have not been properly addressed by the believer community.

          With regard to questioning your understanding of science. As I indicated earlier, its not because you believe AGW. That is totally acceptable. What is not acceptable, and not scientific is to claim that AGW science is in anyway settled. Many uncertainties remain, and we can only better understand these by having the debate. To brush them under the carpet is a political rather than a scientific judgement. My own faith in the integrity of science is on a par with a faith in a god. It is sacrosanct and must not be distorted by politics, social agendas, political correctness, etc. Policy makers could conclude: ‘while the danger of AGW remains unproven, we must take the precautionary approach and act as if it is real’. I see this as legitimate. I do not see it as legitimate for scientists themselves to make claims about certainty when they clearly do not exist.

          I do not believe AGW is a political conspiracy, though I do believe much of the communication around it is alarmist. It is a highly legitimate subject of study, and it may be a concern. But what so far remains a theory, should not take precidence as ‘the biggest danger facing the planet/mankind’ over many other problems we need to be addressing.

          I have my own theories as to why AGW alarmism has taken such a hold over recent years. These include: (1) ‘the end of the world is nigh’ syndrome mentioned earlier. In my life time, we’ve had: overpopulation, nuclear armageddon, Y2K bug, birdflu, mad-cow disease, WMD in Iraq, now ‘the water crisis’ (2) most people have short memories regarding weather events. How often do you hear: we’ve never had weather like this before; never so much snow; never such droughts, floods, etc? Most of these views are not supported by the facts. ALso, extremes do happen from time to time, and always will. Eg. the 1963 winter snow, the 1952 floods, 1976 drought, etc. Often only once in a lifetime. (3) advent of modern communications: TV, satellite TV, video, mobile phones, Youtube. 100 yrs ago, a big flood in say China might have merited a paragraph on an inside page. Now, if the pictures are dramatic enough, its the headlines. (4) Cimate science in the past was unsexy, and mostly associated with ‘the weather’. With the AGW scare, it has become very sexy, and very highly funded, with pro-AGW funds being much much greater than anything AGW sceptics may get.

          I do not “assume” anything about AGW/ACD. I have been following the debate closely for years, both in the peer-reviewed literature and blogs and have drawn my conclusions as a scientist.

          I do not fit the common assumptions about what an AGW-sceptic is. In my work, I have often brought the subject up with colleagues (often over a beer), and find many share the same scepticsm, or at least agnosticism. Also, like me, they are aware that publicly raising their doubts may damage their career. Its a very sad day when science gets to this.

          We at least see the debate begining to open up again, Judith Curry being a good example. Admitting defeat on either side I’m sure is many years away.


          13 April 2012 at 07:10

        • Dear oakwood, I am genuinely grateful to you for “coming back” to explain your position so thoroughly. Thank you for not getting upset by the final sentence in my previous comment. However, you continue to insist that the science is not “settled” and that concern over ACD is a matter of “belief”, even though neither of these statements withstand scrutiny. I say this because, dismissal of the genuinely-settled view of the vast majority of relevantly-qualified experts necessitates belief – either conscious or subconscious – in one or more of the following: some kind of political conspiracy; or scientific stupidity, slopiness, or mendacity; and/or invocation of the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas.

          As I said in my email to you, I did not wake up one day last year and decide I was going to be an environmental nutcase. Far from it, I have been mulling this whole (AGW/ACD) thing over pretty much since the first time I learnt about it (doing A Level Geography in 1981). Furthermore, I have always been extremely wary of “alarmists” such as those who claim to know when the World is going to end. Therefore, although I sympathise with your intellectual (but unscientific) decision to assume that concern over ACD is as much a false alarm as was fear of an approaching Ice Age 30-40 years ago, you really do seem to have forgotten that, the moral of the story about people crying “wolf” is that he eventually arrives. Familiarity may well breed contempt, and you may well think you have heard it all before, but the bulk of our knowledge of palaeoclimatology, earth systems science, thermodynamics, atmospheric physics – combined with the magnitude (40% and rising) of the change we have wrought on the atmosphere and the speed at which we have done it (at least 10 times faster than palaeoclimatic changes) – all make it extremely likely that you – and all other naysayers – are fundamentally and dangerously in error.

          My concern over the inter-connected nature of all our environmental problems (i.e. seeing them all as problems of scale and/or limits to growth issues) is admittedly much more recent.

          And please don’t tell me your sob stories about having to keep quiet about your “scepticism”. Given that I do not seem to be able to do what I wanted to do (i.e. get into climate change mitigation advocacy/lobbying/policy), I am now faced with the prospect of having to go back to hydrogeology and – because so little of my experience is clean water/resource related – potentially prostitute my principles by facilitating coal mining once more. It almost makes my physically sick to think about it.

          Finally, I hope it will not be many years before humility, logic, and sanity take hold because we do not have the luxury of much time left to choose our destiny:
          4 Degrees and Beyond International Climate Conference (at Oxford in September 2009) (N.B. See all the peer-reviewed papers presented as references at the bottom of this Wiki page).
          The solution to all our problems (13 March 2012).
          ‘Global warming close to becoming irreversible’Scientific American (26 March 2012).

          Martin Lack

          13 April 2012 at 08:50

        • Martin,

          The more one looks at the science, the more one sees that it is unsettled. If you want to change that, you have to show how it is settled. You can’t just say it is settled. And you can’t just cite to others that say it is settled. Not if you want to convince anyone of anything.

          How could you possibly even consider working for a coal mining company given your strong conclusions that coal mining is going to cause 5 m sea level rise this century, a mass extinction event this century, and the oceans to boil within several centuries?


          13 April 2012 at 11:52

        • If you think it unsettled, you are looking at misinformation – rather than science – like that put out by Roy Spencer’s sidekick John Christy. However, irrespective of whether or not you choose to ignore it, I am confident that each and every piece of misinformation is – and has been – debunked. For example, please take a look at:

          1. The way Christy has been most recently caught out misrepresenting the work of others in relation to snowfall in the Sierra Nevada; or
          2. How the National Science Foundation reports recent research confirming that CO2 is not just plant food

          Martin Lack

          13 April 2012 at 12:17

      • Oakwood- I posed a question, I said nothing about my assumptions on whether you cared for the environment. You claim that those who accept AGW are alarmist yet I pointed out that I mainly see caution and moderate statements with regards to extreme weather events. I wonder why the two views fail to tally. [please do not cite Al Gore or Greenpeace]


        12 April 2012 at 13:09

  11. Where would we be now without the historical benefit of fossil fuels? (keeping aside current or future concerns)


    13 April 2012 at 12:26

    • When we realised how dangerous mining asbestos was, we stopped doing it. Now we know burning fossil fuels is affecting the Earth’s climate, we need to minimise our need to carry on doing so – and invest in long-term solutions to the energy needs of 10 billion people (e.g. Fast Breeder Reactors).

      If we do not change course, the Carbon Age will end with the migration, starvation and/or death of 100s of millions of people. Based on palaeoclimatolgy, this is an almost dead certainty because unmitigated ACD will lead to continuous sea level rise at rates achieved at the end of the last Ice Age; making many of our largest cities and most densely populated areas uninhabitable – and rendering much of our most intensively farmed land unproductive.

      This is why labelling ACD mitigation as an unnecessary “distraction” is so insane.

      Martin Lack

      13 April 2012 at 13:41

  12. “And please don’t tell me your sob stories about having to keep quiet about your ‘scepticism’. Given that I do not seem to be able to do what I wanted to do (i.e. get into climate change mitigation advocacy/lobbying/policy), I am now faced with the prospect of having to go back to hydrogeology and – because so little of my experience is clean water/resource related – potentially prostitute my principles by facilitating coal mining once more. It almost makes my physically sick to think about it.”

    Two thoughts come to mind in reading the selected paragraph, as above.

    The first is that Oakwood deserves a big ‘thank you’ for taking a calm and moderate stance and putting together a long and informative reply. Whether or not we agree with the points made by Oakwood is a side issue. Oakwood has set out his case clearly. Using the term ‘sob stories’ in response seem inappropriate to my mind.

    The second thought concerns facing the possibility of having to accept a job associated with the coal mining industry. Perhaps I am being insensitive or naive but if one has taken such a stand against the AGW/ACD skeptics as has been done so frequently on this Blog then I could see of no circumstances where taking employement in one of the very sectors that is the at the root of climate change is an option.

    Paul Handover

    13 April 2012 at 16:54

    • As ever, Paul, thanks for “playing with such a straight bat”. However:

      1. I think Oakwood has proved himself well capable, if necessary, of ignoring inappropriate language (and also ignoring your questions). He may well have provided a lengthy response but, as ever, it is very light on actual sound science to justify what I consider to be his cynicism (rather than genuine scepticism).
      2. Although JZK’s attempt to make me feel guilty and/or imply I am being a hypocrite is entirely predictable, I did not actually say I was considering working for a coal mining company. In fact, quite the opposite is the case: Although I am being put under a lot of pressure by recruitment consultants not to rule anything “out of bounds”, I do not see how I could possibly now go and work (as I have done in the past) for a firm of consultants where I might well get asked to justify the unjustifiable. The only potential get out clause is that coal mining may be justified where a country has no alternatives (e.g. China may well carry on mining it for the next 30 years – but it is also investing heavily in renewables). However, this just makes it all the more important that, where countries have the luxury of a choice, they do the right thing and leave the stuff in the ground.

      Martin Lack

      13 April 2012 at 17:19

      • Martin,

        You are the one that said you are faced with the prospect of potentially prostituting your principles by facilitating coal mining once more. Certainly no one can force you to do such work against your will? Whether or not you are a hypocrite is all in your control, I have nothing to do with it.


        13 April 2012 at 21:12

        • And if I have the luxury of a choice, I will not choose to work for a firm of Consultants that have coal mining clients.

          Martin Lack

          15 April 2012 at 14:10

        • How is it that you would not have “the luxury of a choice?” Do they still allow slavery in the UK?

          Also, I noticed that you deleted my post on the Titanic, and made the suggested change to your article. Why delete my post?


          15 April 2012 at 16:14

        • My apologies. Thank you for alerting me to my misuse of terminology.

          Martin Lack

          17 April 2012 at 17:33

      • “light on science”? This blog is not about discussing the science, but – as far as I can tell – about the psychology of AGW denial. As you well know, you get nowhere discussing the science on these blogs because we will never agree. We have all developed our viewpoints over years and are not going to have them changed by a few acid words from a stranger on a blog. We have all been reading the same science from the same scientists, and have drawn our own conclusions on which are the more credible. And if you quote Michael Mann as a sound scientist, we are poles apart. He is the biggest embarassment to the pro-AGW cause. The establishment is quietly dropping him. The NSA report and the last IPCC report reduced his work to ‘not being reliable beyond 400 years’. Which means he has shown the world has risen out of the Little Ice Age. Nothing new there then. Also, his hockey stick work was a statistical exercise rather than ‘climate science’, and there are much better statisticians them him. So, I go back to my main point. I am not interested in converting you to being a sceptic. I am trying to get you to realise that serious AGW-scepticsm is based on consideration of the science and not some psychological weakness that you and other believers keep trying to theorise about (but bearing in mind there are irraitional extremists on both sides of the debate). I have some principles of my own. I judge science by the science, not by joining a ‘concensus’ or a bandwaggon; I would not work for a tobacco company, or arms manufacturer; I never have and would never vote Conservative (or anything to the right of it); many years ago I was made redundant shortly after turning down a posting to (then) apartheid South Africa.

        As for “sob stories”, I’m simply stating a reality. I think you’re own struggles to be taken seriously are more to do with your approach and language than your actual beliefs.

        As for ethical geology: Geology has been critical to getting to the point in our civilisation where life expectancy, wealth and quality of life (on average), are far greater than at any time in history: minerals fossil fuels, building materials, etc, etc. Yes, there remain many problems to address. But mankind has always had problems, and we have proved pretty successful in addressing them. Over population fears do not come frome selfishness, but from the success of people (especially children) dying much less than in the past. We need to adjust to this success, which most developed countries are already doing (but then we have the pension time bomb. You can’t win!). Similar with the ‘obesity crisis’, which comes from our success in making food plentiful and dramatically reducing malnutrition, and increasing wealth. In the water world, we have: understood water borne disease (eg. cholera), developed water treatment and distribution technology, developed groundwater (previously a massive untapped source of high quality water), desal, etc. I am an environmentalist, but find the often exaggerated pessimism of many environmentalists misjudged and blinkered to man’s capabilities.

        Sorry, getting carried away. Perhaps I’ll start my own blog…


        14 April 2012 at 08:15

        • I am an environmentalist, but find the often exaggerated pessimism of many environmentalists misjudged and blinkered to man’s capabilities.

          Have you read ‘The Future of Life’ by E O Wilson


          ‘Driven to Extinction’ by Richard Pearson?

          If not then I suggest a visit and I don’t think that you will be so sanguine about human ability to overcome this problem. Biodiversity impoverishment is accelerating rapidly as global average temperature climb and climates change ensuring that species isolated by geography, human developments, temperature, humidity or any of the other separating factors can only respond in one way, become extinct.

          We have put biodiversity under pressure by fragmenting habitats, clearing forests, planting hundreds of square kilometres of mono-culture crops and then introduced GM crops some of which develop their own pesticides but still require large doses of herbicides to keep down competitors. We have laid waste to huge tracts of natural habitat to mine any number of raw materials, blown the tops off of mountains destroying water courses and polluting others and now we are hell bent on poisoning much of the remaining groundwater by fracking.

          Groundwater is also being depleted, particularly in third world countries where it is already scarce, by industrial production especially for such non-essentials as carbonated drinks. A biscuit, palm oil, and cola (taking water from the populations that live where the plants have been built) are abominations we can no longer afford. That is if they were priced to take into consideration the true cost of production.

          Check in Wilson for a calculation of the true economic value of the biosphere to our way of doing things – nearly twice that of the GDP of all countries in the world put together but being degraded year on year. This of course is something that Monckton, with his recent focus on economic factors, has not a clue about. Unless that is he is being deliberately obtuse.

          Do you still think the future looks rosy?

          Lionel A

          14 April 2012 at 15:10

  13. For the record: Lord Monckton did send me a long reply containing a great number of words but saying very little. He also refused to allow me to publish his reply and, therefore, I have not attempted to refute the generally tired old arguments he put forward. However, if nothing else, his lengthy reply demonstrated that he is not short of time and, therefore, begs the question why he chooses not to respond to Peter Hadfield (a.k.a. Potholer54)…

    See Barry Bickmore’s ‘The Monckton Files: Squealing Tires’ (26 March 2012).

    Martin Lack

    13 April 2012 at 19:43

    • How can Monckton refuse to allow you to publish his response?


      14 April 2012 at 00:23

      • I asked if I could publish his reply as guest post and reply to it as comment. He accused me of being unprofessional and underhand because he had thought he was replying to a personal email from me. However, this is typical of his Lordship – total nonsense – I asked permission, it was declined, and I have not published it. There was and is nothing unprofessional or underhand in any of that. However, I am not going to waste my time replying to Lord Monckton either. According to people like Lindzen and Monckton, publishing a reply from someone once they have asked you not to would not only be unprofessional, it could also leave you open to being accused of breach of Copyright.

        As for me, I have always thought letters and emails are the property of the recipient; and been told that you should never write or email anyone anything unless you would be content for it to be broadcast on TV. Therefore, I would like to see this claim tested in Court.

        Martin Lack

        15 April 2012 at 14:19

        • Martin,

          I am aware of no legal rule preventing you from publishing an email sent to you, as long are truthful about it.


          15 April 2012 at 16:12

        • It seems that since making this remark you have discovered that I am right about something (wonders may never cease).

          Martin Lack

          17 April 2012 at 17:35

        • Hey Martin,

          It seems that Lindzen and Monckton are right, their email to you is copyrighted. You can describe the email, and even quote from it, but you can’t post it without permission. However, it is hard to imagine what damages they might get from you.


          16 April 2012 at 00:39

        • That has been my point all along – hence my penchant for inviting people to sue me.

          Martin Lack

          17 April 2012 at 17:36

  14. For the record: Lord Monckton did send me a long reply containing a great number of words but saying very little.

    Was it similar to this dire tribe:


    Lionel A

    14 April 2012 at 15:14

    • Lionel, I presume that “dire tribe” is a deliberate – and ironic – mis-spelling of “diatribe”?

      Martin Lack

      15 April 2012 at 14:08

  15. I wish I could comment on much of what has been said here, especially much of the science rubbish that so many of you are erroneous about .. considering you done no research of your own to back up even a smidgeon of the things you mention … unfortunately when I mention my views on science my comments get amended and half of what I type is deleted or re-worded because according to Martin this would be “feeding ammo to the enemy” … therefore .. I am outta here. It’s a shame but if my comments are to be re-worded or half deleted then I feel my views are not being cast as they should….MY VIEWS … no some one elses. 😦


    14 April 2012 at 16:51

    • I am sorry you choose to react like this. I deleted the second half of your very long comment because it was off-topic; likely to confuse other readers; and/or provide oakwood and others with more reasons to dismiss the scientific consensus on the primary cause of ACD. I am not sure what you mean by me amending the remainder of what was left; normally all I ever do is correct your grammar.

      Martin Lack

      15 April 2012 at 14:06

  16. I want to stop, but just have to pose a question to Lionel A.

    You are certainly pessimistic about the future. If its worse and getting worse now, can you identify which date in human history you would preferred to have been born?

    1920, and you could have lived through WW2 (perhaps you did).

    1895, when you could have been sent to fight and die in Flanders, after several months in a living hell.

    1850, when you may have had to take a job down the mines, working 6 days a week without sunlight, no health and safety, breathing in coal dust all day. You would not have had the luxury to even worry about whether coal could contribute to global warming.

    1800 (or any earlier date), when you had a high chance of dying before the age of 5, or at least 80% of your siblings would have.

    1700, when if a woman, you had a high chance of dying in childbirth

    1630, when you could have lived through the Great Plague that swept across Europe

    Anytime earlier, when if you survived to adult-hood, you would have spent at least 6 days a week working in the fields from sunrise to sunset, just to grow enough food to feed your family, and to return to a shack with no central heating, no runnning water, no toilet or bath, and in a world with practically no health care, and limited education. And if you survived to 60, no pension.

    Of course, many people in the world still live with such conditions. But, gradually, their lot is improving. It won’t improve however, if they are forced to restrict their CO2 emissions before we develop a truly effective and realistic alternative energy source, that is not going to destroy our countryside (like wind farms).

    If its so bad now, there must be a period in history that was better. When was it?

    We could return to living as Australian Aborigines traditionally did, or perhaps it was better before homo sapiens even existed.


    14 April 2012 at 18:00

    • A brilliant piece of rhetorical histrionics, with which I have only one problem: If concern about ACD is justified, it threatens all life on Earth including – but not limited to – human civilisation. In which case, all our great achievements will have been for nothing. Must we really cut off our nose to spite our face?

      You appear content to gamble the future habitability of the planet upon the rightness of your own judgement, the opinions of non-experts, and/or those of an extreme minority of genuine experts (who have a track-record of spouting ideologically-prejudiced contrarian views and/or having their research funded by the fossil fuel lobby). Your only response to this appears to be to question the integrity of the vast majority of relevantly-qualified scientists and professional bodies – and thus invoke a scientific and political conspiracy of such unprecedented size it would make that required to have faked the moon landings and/or the terrorist outrage of 9/11 seem like card trick by comparison.

      You may feel it is necessary to invoke conspiracy theory in order to justify all the collateral damage caused by human progress. I do not. Unfortunately, we are thus engaged in a global experiment in atmospheric physics that will not be reversible on any timescale remotely relevant to humans. Therefore, I am not seeking to throw the baby out with the bathwater: I just want to the baby to stop urinating in the bath; because it’s the only water we’ve got…

      Martin Lack

      17 April 2012 at 20:48

  17. And another thing.

    Yes, we need to worry about the environment. Protecting biodiversity and natural habitats is critical. But… is a luxury to be in a position to worry about the environment. It is only because we have got so many things sorted, that we now have a high life expectancy, and comfortable and wealthy lives – in the developed world – that we can care. It is BECAUSE we have that luxury that we are in a position to care and even cry about it.


    14 April 2012 at 18:31

  18. […] Yesterday, I began a review of the recently-broadcast Australia: The Time Traveller’s Guide. However, this is such an information-rich programme, I went well over my 1000-word limit without even getting to the end of Episode 1. Also, it was clearly too much of a challenge to the unwarranted optimism of people like my (sadly-mistaken) fellow-hydrogeologist Oakwood who has, for the second time now, said “goodbye” (his first “goodbye” can be seen here). […]

  19. […] In April this year, I invited Monckton to review my own assessment of him as a non-expert in climate science (September 2011) and tell me where I have gone wrong. However, in his long-winded and disparaging response – full of reality inversions and obfuscations – he did not address any of my factual criticism of either him; his absence of any relevant qualifications; his repeatedly having been shown to be peddling misinformation; and to have misinterpreted – if not misrepresented – genuine climate science. He also declined my request for permission to publish his response. […]

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