Book review of the insane

Written By: - Date published: 12:37 pm, May 3rd, 2009 - 49 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: , , , ,

Robinsod is no longer here to do the book reviews of Wishart‘s latest insights into the world of the paranoid. As he said before pronouncing his severe disappointment with Wishart in his last book..

I had high hopes for Absolute Power, I really did. If Faulkner taught us anything with The Sound and the Fury it was that a tale told by an idiot could be a masterpiece, if Nabokov’s Pale Fire offers us any lesson it’s that an exposition of paranoia and madness can make for damn fine reading.

However Gareth Renowden at Hot-topic has stepped up to review Air Con, Wishart’s latest foray into exposing his mind in the post “Somethin’ stupid“. Gareth has a lot of fun tearing the ‘science’ in Wishart’s opus to bits. As he points out, Wishart doesn’t actually understand the fundamentals of any of the science. It would involve learning and thinking, something that Wishart appears to consider is below his dignity.

Gareth finally realises the point of the book

Having disposed of the science, he moves on to consider why this great propaganda coup has been undertaken. Turns out it’s all the fault of an evil cabal of child-eating greens, supported by mega-rich capitalists (George Soros gets a chapter to himself) who are intent on imposing socialism on the world through the UN. So all the world’s climate scientists, save a brave few supported by the downtrodden fossil fuel companies of the world, are complicit in a global conspiracy to impose socialism and world government. With this penetrating analysis, Wishart ultimately undermines his own work. If his cavalier attitude to climate science and the facts of climate change weren’t enough to destroy any credibility he might possess, then his portrayal of a great global conspiracy manipulating the world condemns his opus to the lunatic fringe.

Like Robinsod, he is ultimately disappointed

Not having read any Wishart before, I was expecting something racy, pacey and persuasive. Air Con is none of these things. It’s a crude mishmash of crank propaganda, wild and intemperate accusations against the people the author defines as the enemy, and displays a marked lack of any ‘investigation’ worth the name. It’s not even well written. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Air Con, with its back cover cover blurb by potty peer Christopher Monckton and IPCC proof-reader Vincent Gray makes a compelling case for so doing. It’s certainly not worth the money, time or trouble to read.

Gareth Renowden’s post is worth reading however.

Talking about Gareths, Gareth Morgan is on The Big Warm on Sunday tonight on TV1 at 7:30pm. The blurb says

Gareth Morgan, shocked by what he has seen on his motorbike travels, just wants to know the truth. He has spent considerable amounts of his personal fortune to find out who’s right about climate change…

I have a soft spot for Gareth Morgan even when I disagree with his conclusions. He is disturbingly right in most of the things that he produces data on, from polls to economic trends. He is someone worth listening to. However he should be aware that he is probably now classed with George Soros as a enemy of mankind by Wishart, which if you are defined by the class of your enemies, puts Gareth Morgan amongst the exceptionally sane.

Update:The Sunday program is available online. Gareth Morgan is already promoting his book Poles Apart – it is available on most local online bookshops. The blog on film about Takuu is here. All are far more interesting and use better science than the trash from Wishart. Unlike Wishart, the latter two didn’t just rely on warmed over reports off the internet. They went out and had a look at what was happening, and talked to working scientists.

49 comments on “Book review of the insane”

  1. Incidentally. whatever did happen to Robinsod?

    Haven’t seen him in a while. While he may have had a penchant for ‘filth and gutter’ politics, the left does need it’s equivalent of whaleoil

    • lprent 1.1

      He got peeved with the local blogosphere, especially that he’d managed to get banned from virtually every blog there was. Took up his toys and disappeared. Pity.. We need a direct counter for people like Wishart. I’m almost sorry about how many times I banned him myself.

  2. Ag 2

    These cranks would rather millions of people starved than to allow the “gubmint” to do anything substantial about climate change.

    Climate change policy, like medical policy, shouldn’t be up for a vote. It’s just too specialized and complicated for ordinary people (and I include myself) to make a meaningful decision about.

  3. Zorr 3

    Saw the half-baked Wishart on “Breakfast” (cannot remember the name of the show) with Paul Henry to present this book and getting asked how he manages to put out such a large amount of work, a book a year apparently. At the time I concluded it must be due to the fact that putting words down on paper isn’t the difficult part of a book… it is organising and understanding the facts and then writing them in to a readable format that takes all the time!

  4. Phil 4

    These cranks would rather millions of people starved than to allow the “gubmint’ to do anything substantial about climate change.

    The same could (and should) be said of the environmentalist lobby.

    Take India as an example. I was there for the first time in March, and saw first-hand the absolute poverty some people face – it’s a real eye opener.

    If the international community allows India, and other developing nations, to improve the standard of living of their citizens, the supposed impact of climate change will be more severe and prolonged than might otherwise be the case.

    Alternatively, we consign future generations of Indians (many many millions of them) to live in absolute poverty, so that we might save the worlds environment sooner.

    • lprent 4.1

      Yes, but it’d be better to develop the ‘green’ technologies so they can build with a better infrastructure than the industrialised nations currently use. That would allow their living standards to rise without the same footprint as the current industrialised nations.

      Frankly the industrialised countries have been dragging the chain because to improve the engineering of lower impact technologies costs, and with an existing infrastructure in place, they have been unwilling to do it. That also means that off-the-shelf low impact technologies have not been engineered to lower the costs. Since India and China are industrialising rapidly now, they are constrained to the same old dirty technologies.

      That is why regulations like the ETS are so important in industrialised nations. They cause the technlogies to develop. For instance in NZ to provide the incentive to develop low methane farming techniques.

    • Tane 4.2

      Phil, false dichotomy. But in any case, check out West Bengal and Bangladesh at a very plausible sea level rise of 7m.

      http://flood.firetree.net/

      That’s a couple of hundred million people displaced right there.

      Mumbai ain’t looking too flash either.

      • Macro 4.2.1

        Nor is Central Wellington, Petone, downtown Auckland, Dunedin, Invercargill, Tauranga, Paunui, or Omaha. But do we care? Well not our current crop of Lawmakers anyway!

    • Quoth the Raven 4.3

      What Tane said. It is fallacious to think that you can’t have economic development whilst being environmentally friendly. Ther are numerous projects in India that are environmentally and socially conscious that are improving the living standards and economic prospects of those involved.

    • Ag 4.4

      You act as if there is any alternative. There is not. Some internationally enforced means of limiting carbon emissions will have to be found, or those people will likely starve to death and others will create a massive refugee problem and there will be resource wars, etc. Green tech might help, but on its own will not solve the problem.

      It’s not a matter of saving the world’s environment, but of preventing it from degrading to an extent that will cause massive and prolonged conflicts and an end to democratic government in most countries.

      I’d hate to be Bjorn Lomborg when it hits the fan. I don’t like his chances. If right wing clowns want real Environmental Stalinism, then they should just keep acting the way they are.

  5. Tom Semmens 5

    To understand Wishart’s book, you have got to understand where the opposition of the wingnuttery right to climate change is coming from. It isn’t an opposition born from an overly-optimistic belief in the regenerative powers of the earth or a skepticism born from a healthy questioning of facts.

    The first reason the likes of Wishart are convinced climate change is a fraud is they see it as a direct attack on their fundamentalist religious beliefs. Wishart is a full-blown biblical literalist. He believes the earths bounty is inexhaustible and that the bounty of the planet is here as a gift from God to be exploited by mankind. Climate Change implies that this world view is wrong.

    Secondly, to neo-liberal free market ideologues climate change implies there are finite limits to what the planet can sustain, and that free market offers no answers. Yet they are committed to a quasi-religious belief in infinite growth delivered by the free market. They see climate change not as a conclusion drawn from careful scientific analysis of the evidence but as a Trojan horse attack on their core beliefs, to be resisted at all costs.

    Finally, the two above belief systems seem to attract a lot of people who are, to put it plainly, suffering from mild to moderate mental illness. From Danton to Loudon, from Fiinkensein to Wishart, these people display a marked paranoia, a lack of introspection, an axiomatic acceptance of a variety of conspiracy theories and a compulsive-obsessive need to cling to simple dogmas.

    Since ideology will always trump common sense, it is hardly surprising such a person, who may also be saddled with the additional burden of a mild cognitive disorder, would construct such a rambling piece of rubbish as “Air-Con”.

    • Chris G 5.1

      That was all very well said and I issue a hearty Amen.

    • Anita 5.2

      Tom Semmens writes,

      The first reason the likes of Wishart are convinced climate change is a fraud is they see it as a direct attack on their fundamentalist religious beliefs. Wishart is a full-blown biblical literalist. He believes the earths bounty is inexhaustible and that the bounty of the planet is here as a gift from God to be exploited by mankind. Climate Change implies that this world view is wrong.

      I have been assuming Wishart is a premillennialist, but I’m not 100% sure, and I can’t pick dispensationalism from other types of premillennialism. Have you got a read on which kind of literalist he is?

    • robk 5.3

      Tom, “He believes the earths bounty is inexhaustible ” How do you know this? If he really does believe this then you may be right – otherwise are you telling lies, or just shooting off at the mouth?

  6. John Dalley 6

    The trouble with Climate Change and the idiotic deniers is that if they are right and Global Warming is a crock then nothing is lost except money, but if as i believe Climate change is being affected by humans then i would rather err on the side of caution, confront it and solve it as best as we can.
    To do nothing is not an option and the fruit loops like Wishart want.

  7. Stephen 7

    …very plausible sea level rise of 7m.

    “very plausible”? According to who, exactly? Around what year would that be?

    • lprent 7.1

      Where have you been?

      It depends on how fast the greenland icecap melts and what the glacier speedup is in Antarctica after the sea ice sheets melt.

      Essentially ice sheets that are not grounded on land have very little direct impact on sea levels because they are floating. That is what has been melting enormously fast at present. Compared to the IPCC’s worst scenario, we are already past what they anticipated would happen in the next 20 years. In their ‘norm’ example that wasn’t expected to happen for 50+ years or so.

      However icesheets on land melting does affect sealevels. The potential sea level rise from that and thermal expansion is somewhere around 50 metres. Or more pessimistically more than that. Difficult to estimate the exact quantities of wate locked up as ice.

      The sea ice sheets slow the progress of movement of the on-land ice sheets that are behind them. The latter have been shown to speed up by a factor above 5x for the west Antarctica sea ice that has melted. The exact factors are still being worked out.

      Similarly the surface melting in both Antarctica and more extremely in Greenland are increasing the speed of glacier movement.

      Neither factor is currently in the IPCC’s calcs (nor is the sea ice melting rate). In short the prognosis is a lot worse than it was when the IPCC last reported.

      Personally I’m now expecting to have metre high sealevel rises within the next 20 years. It would not surprise me to have 5 metre rises in the next 50 years. If we hit a ‘tipping’ event, then expect these to be conservative.

      Have a look at hot-topic, they are a lot more conservative than I am. But even the stuff they are looking at is worse than I thought it would be 5 years ago. Meanwhile Hide fiddles…

      Incidentally, the sea level rises, bad as they are are not the effects that I expect are the major issues for human civilization. People can and will move, literally hundreds of millions of them.

      The changing weather patterns are far more dangerous because they affect food production. Agriculture depends on reasonably static weather patterns.

      • Gareth 7.1.1

        Some good discussion of current “unofficial consensus” on SLR here. A metre by mid century is enough to make me very worried indeed…

  8. Chris G 8

    That piece of crap book will become another book of gospel for the likes of redbaiter.

    Nutters. I mean honestly…

  9. gingercrush 9

    That is what frustrates me about global warming. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think its real. The fact is Europe, North America and increasingly Asia do believe its real. I think global warming is absolute bullshit but that doesn’t matter. What these people don’t understand, is that if countries and people are increasingly believing it. Those that deny it become more and more on the fringes of society. Europe in the future and the consumers in Europe have already started using global warming as an excuse to purchase goods and services that are not carbon-intensive. Even though many of their claims such as air-miles etc in isolation are bullshit. Since its proven that despite the miles traveled to export food, our food tends to use less carbon.

    The point I make despite my denial about global warming is that exporting of goods and services will very much be a factor of global warming. Those countries that go from being carbon-intensive to being more carbon-neutral will ultimately benefit in a world that increasingly becomes concerned about carbon emissions. To do nothing, might benefit us economically in the short-term as we don’t spend and spend on green measures. In the long-term if we are not able to address our carbon emissions. We will not only have to pay other countries a fortune for our carbon emissions excess but increasingly we’ll be shut out from exporting because of our excess carbon emissions.

    Don’t get me wrong. The Greens suggestions simply go too far and I don’t tbhink they weight up the economic implications. Labour’s policies were rather an incoherent mess but at least they were starting to address it. National needs to stop listening to Act and realise not taking action will do more economic damage than actually implement schemes to rid us of carbon emissions.

    • aj 9.1

      Do you advocate doing the right things even if they might for for the wrong reasons.

      • jarbury 9.1.1

        gingercrush… please please tell that to the government.

        I’m curious to see why you still think global warming is rubbish, considering the weight of evidence. You could say “I’m still not totally convinced”, but simply dismissing it seems a bit swift don’t you think?

      • Quoth the Raven 9.1.2

        Ginger – I’m interested to know why you think global warming is bullshit. Lets break it down: Do you accept that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has increased since the industrial revolution? Do you accept that this increase is man made? Do you accept the greenhouse effect?

        • gingercrush 9.1.2.1

          My opinion on global warming has nothing to do with rationality. Just a theory of mine that scientists etc overstate things completely. Thus, my opinion is itself irrational.

          I accept CO2 has increased and it would make sense that the increase has been a result of greenhouse gases. I utterly and completely do not believe that those greenhouse gases cause global warming. I also believe that global warming predictions have been overstated and that any increase in the warming of the globe is due to natural events. I do not read up on the science. I do not have an informed view. Yes I’m aware that makes me sound like a dickhead. But I just can’t believe in global warming.

          • lprent 9.1.2.1.1

            Ummm yes a little physics knowledge is required. However there is an easier alternative. Read up on Venus and its atmosphere. It is closer to the sun and therefore get a higher energy flux, but has a substantially greater albedo. However on the runaway greenhouse effect is what caused the 460C ground temperatures.

    • Chris G 9.2

      See this cracks me up. What I think deniers dont quite grasp is a) the purpose of science and b) that there is a Shit load of science out there on climate change. These scientists aren’t going out there and all making shit up (No they’re not doing it as some vast socialist conspiracy to take over the world either) These people practice the scientific method – its also their job.

      Science(if we take the definition by Arthur Strahler) could be described as: “the aquisition of reliable but not infallible knowledge of the real world, including explanations of phenomena”

      Adding to that: “Science gathers, processes, classifies, analyzes and stores information on anything and everything observable in the universe” For something to be a subject of scientific inquiry it must be measurable in one way or another. Science is, therefore, empirical in that it relies on observation and experience.

      Lee JA (1999) The Scientific Endeavor: A Primer on Scientific Principles and Practice

      Basically, science is a means of ascertaining as close as we can the truth. Now I’ll admit this sounds all high and mighty, but its the reality, we rely on said science for all sorts of shit we take for granted (Medicine, Food, Production machinery, that the highest building in the world Can be built, that we live on a rock some million light years from the Sun etc etc)Somehow I dont know if this is truly appreciated.

      Also – GO AND LOOK at scientific papers. I went and searched on Science magazine (admittedly via the vic uni network so I may have had easier access) but if you search anthropogenic climate change, words to that effect, you will find a huge wealth of papers over the last 20 years that are all basically evidence of scientists testing and researching to work out whats going on with climate…. And thats just on arguably the most prominent scientific journal in the world. But thats how we gain knowledge and how we’ve done it for a long time. Gaining a consensus with a scientific backing (Not on some emotive ramble by wishart or others) to try and work out what is true.

      What I’d suggest is Not the best thing to look at is Ian Wishart one man, speculating about what he thinks is going on. Or gingercrush saying its absolute bullshit.

      Fuck, if we went by that way of gaining knowledge.. I could just say that gravity is bullshit. I could go on and on about this but its actually a bit tedious.

      disclaimer: Fuck spell checking or checking for grammar, if theres problems just read it like it should read.

      • robk 9.2.1

        Have you read Wishart’s book? No, you haven’t. Just about every point has references to scientific papers. You might choose to dismiss these papers, but they are published none the less. NOT just “one man speculating” You too are just heating up the globe!

        • lprent 9.2.1.1

          rob – back again – how *surprising*.

          I haven’t and have no intention of doing so. I read the last rant from Wishart, a lot of it was totally unfounded speculation about some of my friends. Quite simply Wishart lies comprehensively.

          Gareth who has read aircon (and lived to regret it), and who knows the whole topic area well, wrote a pretty effective review which was largely concentrated on Wisharts clear inability to understand what he was reading.

          Hopefully if anyone does get unfortunate enough to read Wisharts rant, they will also find the review to give them some context. Perhaps you should have a look at the review. It might help your education.

  10. Whacky Lefty 10

    Most of the literature I’ve been reading holds a conservative 5m in 100yrs. This doesn’t account any massive changes in global systems strongly indicated by the changes in ice shelves, just tracking the current trends.

    Anywhere east of Cathedral Square in Christchurch will be beach front property or house boats.

  11. Stephen 11

    Most of the literature I’ve been reading holds a conservative 5m in 100yrs. This doesn’t account any massive changes in global systems strongly indicated by the changes in ice shelves, just tracking the current trends.

    I’d be interested in a ref there, i was under the impression these gigantic ‘metre’ rises were guesses based on the assumption of some rate of melting of Greenland and Antarctica – something not taken into account in the last IPCC report.

    • lprent 11.1

      Try hot-topic or real climate as a start points. Neither are extremists.

      If you want to know what I think, well I’m rapidly heading towards the viewpoint that Wexlers prognosis is conservative. There are two many potential tipping points (what he refers to as runaways).

      I’ve watched the prognosis for climate change get steadily more severe and earlier ever since I did earth sciences in the late 70’s. I’m becoming more and more of a pessimist

  12. BLiP 12

    So all the world’s climate scientists, save a brave few supported by the downtrodden fossil fuel companies of the world . . .

    Down trodden fossil fuel companies . . . my arse.

  13. Tom S:
    “Finally, the two above belief systems seem to attract a lot of people who are, to put it plainly, suffering from mild to moderate mental illness. From Danton to Loudon, from Fiinkensein to Wishart, these people display a marked paranoia, a lack of introspection, an axiomatic acceptance of a variety of conspiracy theories and a compulsive-obsessive need to cling to simple dogmas.”
    To cut a long story short, “Exploit the Earth or die. It’s not a threat, it’s a fact.” Obviously these guys have never been to Nauru or Easter Island.

    Gingercrush: agree on the long-term trade implications of doing nothing. Were that to happen, it could send NZ the way of Iceland (financially) and set the stage for a green sequel to the 1981 Tour.

  14. forgetaboutthelastone 14

    Looks like Ian Wishart’s book cover is a rip-off of this World Fair Trade day poster:

    Link

  15. forgetaboutthelastone 15

    Look you guys – here is the opinion of a real scientist – ‘one scientist’ at least – from Wishart’s website:


    As one scientist has already said after reading the book:

    ?I started reading this book with an intensely critical eye, expecting that a mere journalist could not possibly cope with the complexities of climate science ? [But] He gives chapter and verse for almost everything he says and he has been far more far-ranging in searching the web than anyone else I know. The book is brilliant. The best I have seen which deals with the news item side of it as well as the science. He has done a very thorough job and I have no hesitation in unreserved commendation. It has come along at the time we most need it and I hope it is published and publicized widely.?

    Hear that – ‘he has been far more far-ranging in searching the web than anyone else I know.’ And we all know how far-ranging scientists are at searching the web. Classy touch that – an ‘unreserved commendation’ from an anonymous source. Journalistic integrity is all about protecting the anonymity of your sources. And what scientist would be caught dead saying anything in support of this obvious bollocks.

  16. forgetaboutthelastone 16

    fixed link:

    link

    • Pascal's bookie 16.1

      That’s pretty blatant. Can’t really see any fair use, or satirical defence. It’s just flat out pinching IMV.

  17. Stephen 17

    Thanks lprent, your first comment took a long time to appear though (?) (i.e. after everyone else’s), or i may have responded to that.

  18. ieuan 18

    IPrent: ‘Ummm yes a little physics knowledge is required. However there is an easier alternative. Read up on Venus and its atmosphere. It is closer to the sun and therefore get a higher energy flux, but has a substantially greater albedo. However on the runaway greenhouse effect is what caused the 460C ground temperatures.’

    I guess all the Venusians drove around in big SUV’s and burnt lots of coal, well look at them now! How stupid were they?

    That’s your argument for climate change being real – ‘look at Venus’? Why didn’t you pick Mars instead, it once had oceans, like earth and now it’s a cold, desert.

    ‘Look at Venus – global warming is real’, it would make a great t-shirt.

    • lprent 18.1

      It is likely that Venus had oceans as well – once – that this is the most common working hypothesis of planetary scientists. Then it got stuck in a runaway greenhouse effect. Don’t need SUV’s volcanoes emit gases as well (just as they do on earth). On earth the biosphere and oceans wound up partially regulating the extremes in CO2 and CH4. Venus shows what happens when those are not present.

  19. Stephen 19

    Heard about the greenhouse effect ieuan?

  20. ieuan 20

    Stephen – yes I have. And? Are you saying that the Earth will turn into Venus?

  21. Stephen 21

    No, but it is a decent example of the greenhouse effect (with the stated different input levels), was all lprent appeared to be saying. Maybe i misinterpreted your comment?

    • aj 21.1

      If I may, Venus has for how long been a runaway greenhouse? 4 billion years, and it is thought the runaway greenhouse effect may have been caused by the total evaporation of water from the planet’s surface. Water vapour is the primary greenhouse gas.

      Earth has more or less stayed inhabitable for at least 4 million years with wildly varying amounts of Co2 in the air, although during that time climate conditions and sea levels have varied widely.

      The comparison with Venus or Mars or any other planet is just nonsense methinks.

      Adapt or die.

  22. insider 22

    I would have thought you, me and every living thing on this planet is an even better example of how the greenhouse effect works…

    captcha the diesel

  23. David 23

    Obviously there are alot of you who have not read or understood some of his arguements, and are equally coming from a point of view where you feel he has attacked your religeous beliefs of Environmentalism. Where is an honest unbiased review these days? rather than the knee jerk reactionary claim? If what the book has to say is even slightly truthful, it seems that you are all asking for higher prices of food, higher taxes to pay for something we as a country have had little impact on globally. Good one.

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