Category Archives: Climate

Global Warming or Climate Change?

Here’s a video to watch so you’ll be prepared the next time some idiot tries to tell you that the IPCC started using “climate change” instead of “global warming” because the warming stopped in the last decade. Actually you probably don’t even need to watch the video as this claim is self-evidently stupid since

  1. Warming hasn’t stopped (note that’s 3 different links). We’ve just finished the hottest decade on record, yet there are still people claiming that it’s cooling.
  2. The “CC” in IPCC stands for “Climate Change”. The IPCC was formed in 1988.

It is a good video though, so watch it anyway

See further commentary on this from Joe Romm and Greenfyre.
By the way, the answer to the question in the title is that (as you can see from the video) both terms have been used by scientists for a long time, for most purposes they are interchangeable. Deliberate use of “Climate Change” as a less scary term has however been a tactic employed by Republicans who want to delay action on it.

Prof. Inferno reviews Jaws

Renowned Blog-Scientist, Professor Inferno, reviews Jaws.

An excerpt:

Synopsis

A group of so-called government funded “experts” whip up alarmist fears of a killer shark off the coast of Amity, a sea side town. Their goal is to destroy the local tourist industry, send Amity back to the dark ages and thus achieve their underlying socialist agenda of wealth redistribution. The heroes of this tale are the local major and business leaders who lead a successful audit of the alarmist claims and by doing so manage to delay action long enough that the beach remains open. In the end it turns out a shark has been eating people.

go read the rest

Update: See also a compelling argument on this at Friends of Gin & Tonic.

Zero Carbon 2020 Stationary Energy Plan – Adelaide Launch

The Beyond Zero Emissions organisation have developed a plan to meet Australia’s energy needs using renewable energy and only making use of existing technology. You can read details here or hear about it at the Adelaide launch which is to be held at Elder Hall at the University of Adelaide on Friday December 3rd at 6pm. Event details here. The featured speakers are

  • Mark Ogge, Communications Director at Beyond Zero Emissions and originator of the Zero Carbon Australia concept
  • Cr Eddie Hughes, Whyalla City Council
  • A/Prof. John Spoehr, Economist, University of Adelaide
  • Patrick Hearps, lead author Zero Carbon Australia Plan

Walk Against Warming

While the major parties are bickering over who will stop the boats (see this blog for a couple of great posts on this issue, also see the latest Media Watch for the sort of ignorant bigotry they are pandering to, and the refugee council of Australia for more info, and the graph at the bottom of this post *), they are ignoring climate change. Sadly it hasn’t gone away though, see the following links:

Climate Progress on unprecedented hot weather in Russia.

Michael Tobis on how much this can be attributed to AGW.

Watching the Deniers on the extent of the tragedy in Russia.

Hot Topic on the massive island of ice that broke off Greenland.

This Sunday you can get out to remind the major parties that climate change is still an issue by taking part in the Walk Against Warming, it’s at 11am at Victoria Square.

* This graph is from Crikey, and is by Robert Corr

The Harassment of John Abraham

John Abraham is an Engineering Professor at the University of St Thomas. After seeing a presentation by Christopher Monckton he set about fact checking it and posted a presentation to his website carefully documenting the large number of errors. Monckton has now responded by urging the followers of a popular climate change denier website to bombard Abraham’s University with letters demanding disciplinary action against him. This is an outrageous response and is just another episode in the long running war on science being fought by climate change deniers. Sadly it’s far from the first time that they have resorted to this sort of harassment (while at the same time complaining that climate scientists are in fact silencing them). I was going to do a list of links on this issue but Brian Angliss at Scholars and Rogues has already done a superb summary. Please go and read it, and then visit Hot Topic where you can leave a message in support of John Abraham.

The Greens and the ETS

Lately the efforts by the ALP to attack the Greens over their failure to support the ETS seem to be stepping up, no doubt it is in preparation for the upcoming election, with Labor fearing that the Greens may pose a threat in certain lower house seats. Often this takes the form of trying to group the Greens together with the Coalition and Family First in their opposition to the legislation (including in a ridiculous piece by Bob Carr in the Australian recently), though I doubt that efforts to lump the Greens with the climate deniers will have too much influence on the main target  – ALP voters who may consider voting Green thanks to Labor’s failure to take action on climate change, so for this audience the argument is a little more subtle. The idea is to paint the Greens as holier than thou idealogues whose hearts may be in the right place on the issue but who would never comprise on principles and agree on action that would actually work in the real world. Frankly, this is a load of bollocks. The Greens took a position which would, were it not for the extreme positions of the major parties, be considered as mainstream. It was the Greens who were largely following the recommendations of the independent report commissioned on the issue, while Labor largely ignored it, and meanwhile the Coalition, post-Turnbull, were off in loony communist conspiracy land. What’s more, there are always people saying that the Greens had a chance to do something, they could have made a start on tackling the problem but were such purists that they wouldn’t negotiate and voted against it. For a start, the Greens can’t be blamed for lack of negotiation. They put in the work, they told Labor exactly what they didn’t like and offered amendments – but Labor chose not to negotiate. The Greens have been quite open about why they could not support the bill as presented – it’s not just that it wouldn’t achieve much in the first place (which would still leave open the claim they should have voted for it at least to support the principle), it was, as they pointed out repeatedly, that it would “lock in failure”. It wasn’t going to be a good first step because it prevented any further steps. You can get the full story from Senator Christine Milne’s site here.

At Crikey, Tim Hollo (adviser to Christine Milne) suggests that Labor’s strategy all along was to deliberately keep the Greens out of the picture on this issue for political reasons, which really seriously undermines the argument that if only the Greens had been more realistic about it we’d have an ETS already.

So in summary, claims that

    • The Greens don’t really want action on climate change, and
    • The Greens wouldn’t negotiate with Labor on the ETS.

    are straight out rubbish, and

    • They should have voted for it to at least do something.

      is at the very least arguable, and it’s not just the Greens themselves who would argue with it. If the Greens had voted for the ETS, I imagine that at some point in the future they’d be criticised for naively voting for bad legislation (which did not reduce emissions) just because they wanted to look like doing something for the environment!

      There’s plenty of room for argument over what to do about climate change, but cheap political point scoring of the “you didn’t vote for the ETS so you don’t want action on climate change” is not helpful.

      While preparing this post I saw an excellent article in the SMH by Ross Gittins which has many anti-Greens comments of the sort discussed above in the comments section.

      Videos about the CRU Hack

      I’ve noticed that some of the disinformation being spread about the CRU hack (called Swifthack or Climategate – lots of info here) is starting to creep into reports on climate change on the ABC, for example this morning some radio reports regarding the WMO’s finding that the last decade has been the hottest on record has been qualified by mentions of the hack, when there is no credible reason to believe that the leaked emails indicate a problem with the instrumental record –  I note that the online version of the story doesn’t do this though).

      The following videos show how comments have been taken out of context to generate controversy

      The Adelaide Heatwave in Context

      We’re just coming to the end of the first November heatwave on record in Adelaide. Since last Sunday the max temperature has been over 35 degrees Celsius every day. A change is due to bring the temperature down for a day or two before it climbs back up again over 40 in the middle of the week. As usual when there’s a heatwave there are a lot of people (particularly at Adelaide Now) who downplay the heatwave, saying that Adelaide has always had heatwaves and it isn’t anything different, but in this post at Brave New Climate, Professor Barry Brook does an excellent job of putting it into context. The current weather is quite extraordinary in a couple of ways, firstly as something that is quite unprecedented for this time of year (the previous record for November being 4 days over 35 in the 1890’s), and secondly because it adds to a number of extreme weather events in recent years, with heatwaves that smashed previous records in the last two Summers. Meanwhile, in South Australia, we are represented in the Senate by the likes of Nick Minchin and Cory Bernardi, who showed themselves to be totally delusional on the topic of climate change in a recent Four Corners program.

      NICK MINCHIN: For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion.

      SARAH FERGUSON: Minchin encourages his junior colleagues to speak out too.

      NICK MINCHIN: I don’t mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change – of global warming. I don’t accept that and I’ve said that publically. I guess if I can say it, I would hope that others would feel free to do so.

      SARAH FERGUSON: The junior south Australian liberal senator, Cory Bernardi, takes his cues from Minchin.

      CORY BERNARDI: The fact that Nick has publicly supported the right of back benchers and others to speak up on a very critical issue is certainly encouraging.

      (Excerpt of footage of Cory Bernardi at book launch, 27 January 2009)

      CORY BERNARDI: The challenge for Australia, and the Australian parliament is to examine the facts of climate change and not just the opinion polls.

      SARAH FERGUSON: Earlier this year Bernardi launched the book, Thank God For Carbon, a publication of the vehemently sceptical Lavoisier group.

      (End of Excerpt)

      CORY BERNARDI: Well I think that scientists need to justify their own actions. They will keep putting forward and saying we’ve got all this evidence, the evidence is increasingly discredited, why have they done it, what’s their motivations for doing it? Are they afraid to stand up to the extreme green lobby?

      It is reasonable that not all parliamentarians are experts in every area, but what they show here is a complete failure to assess the credibility of sources. They ignore the CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science and Australia’s leading experts in the field of climate change in universities around the country (such as Adelaide’s chair of Climate Change Barry Brook, linked above), and find their own “experts” (e.g. Ian PlimerBob Carter) who have a stance they find more politically appealing but which does not stand up to critical analysis (e.g  debunked  claims like it isn’t warming or volcanoes are more important than human CO2 emissions). I think that South Australians could do better than to be represented by conspiracy theorists who are too worried about reds/greens under the bed to be able to deal with the serious issue of climate change.

      Update – John Quiggin’s latest post touches on some of this.

      Plimer Update

      I don’t have much more to say on the topic of Ian Plimer and his views on climate change, however an old post from a couple of years ago dealing with an interview he did on the ABC Science show continues to get lots of visits thanks to a link from Brave New Climate. Since these hits are likely to be people looking for info on Plimer due to his recent book and various interviews/opinion pieces in the press I wanted to put in a post to direct people to up to date info. In general you can keep up with the latest by following Deltoid, Open Mind, Greenfyre’s and George Monbiot. In particular much of the recent discussion about Plimer relates to the ongoing saga of a possible debate between him and Monbiot, which has had lots of coverage. Basically Plimer challenged Monbiot to a debate, but given that Monbiot’s problem was that Plimer makes (in his book and in recent interviews) certain claims that do not appear to be backed up by the evidence, then he saw little point in a debate in which those claims would probably just be repeated, so he made a condition that Plimer answer certain questions first. These questions are all about sources for specific claims in Plimer’s book, but thus far he has not answered. Instead he responded with his own set of questions which appeared to be either an attempt to ridicule Monbiot’s (very reasonable) questions, an attempt to intimidate him with technicalities (many of which don’t appear to be terribly relevant – see the Real Climate link below), a rerun of a bunch of the usual denier arguments dressed up as exam-style questions, or some combination of the above. Note  that a two way exchange of questions was not part of the deal anyway. More recently there has been more delay – all the details are in the posts below. There has been plenty of commentary on this and I don’t feel the need to add any more to it, but for anyone who has come here looking for the latest then here are plenty of links to follow.

      For reviews/debunkings of Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth, see my earlier post Details of Heaven and Earth which contains many links.

      The Debate

      These are all of George Monbiot’s posts on the matter:

      George Monbiot has harsh words for a Spectator article which quotes many claims from Ian Plimer’s book.

      Plimer challenges Monbiot to a debate, but Monbiot wants him to source his dubious claims first.

      Plimer accepts Monbiot’s conditions and Monbiot publishes his questions for Plimer, which are all about Plimer providing sources/justification for claims made in his book.

      Plimer responds with a list of questions of his own (not part of the original agreement as far as I can tell) and without answering Monbiot’s questions.

      Plimer continues to avoid Monbiot’s questions.

      (Added 15/9) Monbiot gives up on getting answers.

      Commentary on Monbiot’s questions

      Tamino can’t wait for the answers

      Analysis of Plimer’s Questions

      Answers at Real Climate.
      Tim Lambert’s comments
      Greenfyre’s – here and here
      Chris Colose

      The latest
      Commentary at Greenfyre’s on Plimer avoiding the questions.

      (added 16/9)  (Tim Lambert on why it must suck to be one of Pimer’s students.

      The ABC Unleashed Article

      Another recent development is that the ABC published an opinion piece by Ian Plimer.

      Tim Lambert says that Plimer is not entitled to his own facts.

      Tamino questions Plimer’s claims about Volcanoes and then   says that Plimer’s pants are on fire.

      Deep Climate complains to the ABC, more here, and the ABC’s unsatisfactory response.

      Details of Heaven and Earth

      The following post has been sitting around in draft form for a while and was delayed by my computer problems,  so it’s a bit outdated and there isn’t so much discussion on this book now. However, since Steve Fielding appears to be a fan of Plimer’s book I guess it’s still worth posting. I’ve added a few updates to the original post here and there, most notably excerpts of, and links to, reviews from ABC radio at the end.

      Both Barry Brook and Tim Lambert have posts which go into the details of what’s in Ian Plimer’s new book which is getting quite a bit of attention in the press. There is also more from Ian Enting. Having previously seen Plimer’s arguments for the non-existence of anthropogenic global warming in interviews and not been terribly impressed by them (see here and here) I was not expecting much from the book, but it seems that it’s much worse than what I might have expected. Both of the links above outline many problems, and it’s important to realise that these are not just nitpicking minor errors. For example, citing the work of EG Beck. This is a graph which shows that before 1957 atmospheric C02 jumped around wildly, with huge amounts of carbon dioxide entering and leaving the atmosphere on a yearly basis to an extent which appears to be far beyond what is physically possible. And after 1957 that behaviour stopped, remarkably right at the time that measurements began from Mauna Loa, a site remote enough to remove local effects and give a true representation of the atmospheric level. It is stunning that Plimer could cite this. We are left with the conclusion that either he believes that huge fluctuations in C02 actually happened until right at the moment we started measuring it more accurately, or he doesn’t and he threw it in there anyway. Neither option reflects well on him, especially as he seems to always be claiming the scientific high ground on the issue of AGW.

      This isn’t an isolated example. The paper referred to above was published in Energy and Environment, a journal renowned for publishing anything that questions AGW, no matter how bad it is. For example Khilyuk and Chilingar, which, believe it or not, argues that human C02 emissions are negligible since they are tiny compared with natural degassing over the entire history of the planet. Actually not so surprising that Plimer should cite this, it’s not so different from the sort of arguments he’s been making based on geological timescales.

      There’s more from E&E such that the famous Shulte paper, which even they were initially reluctant to publish. There is quite a story behind this one, details here.

      And it goes on, Plimer actually uses Martin “You’re a big daft cock” Durkin’s dodgy graph from The Great Global Warming Swindle. Both Brook and Lambert give the details … and many more. Much more on this in one of Peter Sinclair’s excellent youtube videos as well.

      The coverage in the mainstream media has been pathetic (or at least was at the original time of writing, there were subsequently a few articles that improved things slightly). Can’t they find anyone who is at least a bit scientifically literate to evaluate the claims that Plimer makes? Instead it has been wall to wall puff pieces which amount to little more than advertising for the book and its central claim that AGW is not a problem. As well as the SMH article I wrote about earlier there’s one in the Independent which is full of irrelevant details of change in the distant past and pushes Plimer’s conspiracy theory about climate scientists. Of course the coverage in the Australian has been a continuation of their usual war on science. The press coverage is full of journalists who are terribly impressed by all those sciency looking footnotes in Plimer’s book but haven’t bothered to see if any of it makes sense. They have missed that many of the references are to such an un-scientific source as Energy & Environment, that old data is used, that bold claims are made without evidence being cited, that flawed and misleading graphs have been included. Just because it’s a book written by a scientist about a scientific topic and it has lots of footnotes and refences it doesn’t make it science. Lambert and Brook have documented in detail (linked above) why it’s not science.

      Update: Since writing this there have been a number of reviews on the ABC’s Science Show and Ockham’s Razor, all rather negative (which is either evidence of left-wing bias at the ABC or just indicative of what actual experts think depending on your point of view)

      David Karoly’s Review

      Given the errors, the non-science, and the nonsense in this book, it should be classified as science fiction in any library that wastes its funds buying it. The book can then be placed on the shelves alongside Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, another science fiction book about climate change with many footnotes. The only difference is that there are fewer scientific errors in State of Fear.

      Malcolm Walter’s Review

      I think Plimer is entirely sincere in his efforts to argue against anthropogenic climate change. But he is misguided, and his interpretation of the literature is confused. Why do I have any credibility on this issue? Like Plimer I am a geologist, with a very long experience in basic fieldwork. I have particular experience in working on the evidence for severe glaciations in the past, and on understanding the early history of the Earth. I am also a planetary scientist with an interest in other planets in the solar system, including their climates.

      Reviewing this book has been an unpleasant experience for me. I have been a friendly colleague of Plimer’s for 25 years or more. I admired his support for innovative geological research during his early career as a mineral explorer in industry. I cheered him on when he took on the so-called creation scientists and their bogus nonsense, a crusade that cost him dearly in the end. I have enjoyed his always lively and entertaining lectures. But this time, in my opinion, he has done a disservice to science and to the community at large.

      Kurt Lambeck:

      If this had been written by an honours student, I would have failed it with the comment: You have obviously trawled through a lot of material but the critical analysis is missing. Supporting arguments and unsupported arguments in the literature are not distinguished or properly referenced, and you have left the impression that you have not developed an understanding of the processes involved. Rewrite!

      UPDATE: A nice summary by George Monbiot, via Deltoid.