Dear John Roughan

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, July 19th, 2015 - 41 comments
Categories: climate change, journalism, making shit up, science - Tags: , ,

Dear John Roughan – I don’t think you’re a stupid person, but sometimes you use your platform in The Herald to say stupid things. Over the years you have written many “climate change is real but who cares” pieces. Your latest yesterday was a shocker:

Pluto – credible science without politics

We are in awe of the discoveries in outer space but sceptical about climate change, with good reason.

There are no good reasons to be sceptical about climate change. Ironic don’t you think, that later that day in The Herald: Weather ravages the north.

Science is amazing. Nine years ago, it sent a little spacecraft on a trip to the edge of our solar system, the edge of our consciousness, really.

Yes, science is amazing.

When climate scientists tells us greenhouse gases are warming the atmosphere to a catastrophic degree why don’t we believe it enough to demand remedies?

Because (1) too many people with vested interests in inaction are telling lies about the science, and (2) too many ill-informed opinion pieces tell us not to worry, and (3) because the remedies will involve change and probably some sacrifice and we’d all really rather someone else did that while we got on with our comfortable lives.

But if the worst that can happen is a rise of a metre in sea levels and a few degrees in mean temperatures over a century, I think we’ll cope.

The worst that can happen is a lot, lot worse than that, and if you are going to comment on this in public you owe it to the public to get better informed. Also – the weather systems of the planet have massive inertia. The changes that you may “cope” with in your lifetime are going to devastate the planet for your grandkids. Are you OK with that? Because you are saying that you are.

The climate does seem to be changing. Auckland’s past two summers have been unusually long and lovely, this winter is unusually cold. Droughts and floods we can handle. Science says otherwise, but not the sort of science that sends a probe to Pluto. Climate science is on a political mission.

That is stupid. Science is science, it can’t go on a political mission. If people are upset by science then it may become a political issue, but THAT DOESN’T CHANGE THE SCIENCE. Sorry for shouting. But arguing that politics makes any difference to the validity of the laws of physics is as stupid as it gets.

That may be more exciting, more lucrative possibly, but I find all sciences more credible when their mission is the endless one into the unknown.

And there you go again. Science doesn’t care what you do and don’t find credible. And those NASA scientists that you do like? The ones who sent New Horizons to Pluto? They have a website on climate change. You should read it. Please.


41 comments on “Dear John Roughan”

  1. Jenny Kirk 1

    Great comments ROb – about time someone challenged John Roughan. Thanks for doing that.

  2. Facetious 2

    Anyone who challenges the new religion of climate change deserves to be attacked. The science (?) is settled say all the worshippers.

    • dv 2.1

      You mean like those who said the earth goes round the sun a few years ago F!!!!

    • Macro 2.2

      So have you been to worship at the Temple of the ‘Hidden Hand’ this morning? Made your offerings of money to your god?

    • half crown 2.3

      “Anyone who challenges the new religion of climate change deserves to be attacked. The science (?) is settled say all the worshippers. “

      Yeah, The neo liberal acolyte’s are in denial like some drug addict. Ignore it, deny it, accuse the qualified professionals who are forewarning as some form of “new religion” and if you say it long enough and loud enough it will go away and will not stuff up our greed.

    • Paul 2.4

      Have you watched Alister Barry’s ‘Hot Air’?

      Or if not, have you read the book ‘Merchants of Doubt’ by Conway and Oreskes. The film based on it is showing at the NZ Festival. I recommend you watch it.

      Before opining the nonsense you have typed above again, please inform yourself.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.5

      No scientists has said the science is settled. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to highlight areas of uncertainty.

      More ignorant and pathetic than facetious.

  3. Paul 3

    As soon as I read Roughan’s appalling article, I posted this on Open Mike yesterday.

    John Roughan writes a wilfully ignorant piece on Climate Change.
    It is wilfully ignorant if he wishes to claim to be a serious journalist.
    Wonder if he’s watched Alister Barry’s ‘Hot Air’? As a New Zealand journalist, he should have.
    Or if not, has he read the book ‘Merchants of Doubt’ by Conway and Oreskes. The film based on it is showing at the NZ Festival. I recommend he watches it.

    If he does, he will realise how ridiculous the following statement of his is.
    “But if the worst that can happen is a rise of a metre in sea levels and a few degrees in mean temperatures over a century, I think we’ll cope.”
    Yes, that’s right Roughan is saying, without any Science to back himself up (apart from a chat with a pschchologist), that a 2 per cent temperature rise isn’t much.

    Climate change is according to him “on a political mission.” Yet it is clear from his snide comments about obesity and sugar taxes that the main reason for this article being written was political. For some context , Roughan wrote the hagiography of Key. Despite his claims , it is Roughan who is using politics to muddy the Science.

    Shame on the Herald for publishing this climate denial piece in 2015.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11482780

  4. vto 4

    John Roughnan is a National Party supporter and wrote John Key’s book…..

    John Roughnan also has zero science backing up his useless opinion….

    what a waste of some sunday minutes john roughnan is

    out

    • Paul 4.1

      It is a serious concern the Herald gives so many deniers a platform.
      Rodney Hide is another culprit.

      • vto 4.1.1

        The Herald is a National Party supporter and writes many puff pieces on their hero john key..

        no credibility

        unfortunately inexcusable influence

    • Stephen 4.2

      As an aside, I wonder how far above sea level is Key’s holiday place in Omaha?

      • vto 4.2.1

        approx. 1.5m above mean high water……

        on top of billiontrillionzillion sand particles that will at some point all decide to move at once and depart the wondrous shores of Omaha and head to somewhere new and clean

  5. sabine 5

    I guess John Roughnan does not own a property near the beach then?
    And that highway in wellington, the one that got pummeled the other weak with ‘freak’ waves..we can do without that?

    Okai then, move along, nothing to see here.

  6. Yes Roughan *is* a stupid person, recall his many sycophantic pieces fawning over JK. Most of the time he pulls his opinions out of his arse. 95% of commenters on TS are better informed. Why the herald continues to publish this reactionary dope mystifies me.

    (well no actually Roughan is a supporter of the status quo and old Granny Herald is firmly pro establishment…)

    • Anne 6.1

      You claim Roughan is not stupid Anthony. I beg to differ. He’s utterly stupid.

      Just because he’s educated and can string sentences together quite nicely doesn’t mean he’s clever. Anyone who has knowledge of weather and climate change (two different things as you know but the Roughans of this world can’t comprehend the difference) would read that piece of ignorant waffle with horror and sadness. And coming from a major newspaper editor no less…

      His talk of the science being politicised is a case in point. He cannot even comprehend that it’s him and fellow deniers who are the ones doing the politicising. That’s dumb!

  7. maui 7

    There are so many dumb paragraphs in his article, I’m seriously starting to wonder if he’s a troll on the Standard.

    • greywarshark 7.1

      @maui
      Who is he that you refer to? Anne is disagreeing with Anthony. I imagine that you are underlining John’s stupidity.

  8. Fustercluck 8

    Reposting this here too:

    The article was a mix of confusion because that is the whole point: Keep people, especially those that care about the planet as confused as possible. That way they will limit the debate to the agreed terms, i.e., the amount of CO2 in or to be released into the atmostphere in the hope that this will somehow prevent climate change. Keep the masses following the Al Gore model. Well folks, when you let plutocrats frame the debate you have already lost!

    At the risk of getting banned from this site again for taking an alternative view on climate change, I offer the following:

    1. Climate has always changed and will continue to do so no matter what we do.

    2. Severely restricting our CO2 output will not change the above.

    3. Focusing on CO2, especially the model of using markets to regulate CO2 permits industrial powers to pay ineffective lip service to being ‘green’ while continuing to pillage our ecosystem for private profits.

    I suggest that we stop obsessing about CO2 which is, in terms of environmental destruction, at best a lagging indicator and instead focus on regulating industry in effective and immediate terms with a view to slowing or halting the daily process of ecosystem destruciton.

    And example:

    If we commodify CO2, then there is not barrier to fracking, merely a cost to burning the products of that process. If we adopt a principle of properly protecting all freshwater on our planet then fracking becomes effectively impossible. The oil stays in the ground and is not burned, hence less CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, if that is what is important to you.

    Another:

    If we adopt a principle that Appalachian mountaintops are precious old-growth deciduous forest environments, then open-cast mines do not happen and the coal stays in the ground and is not burned, hence less CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, if that is what is important to you.

    Another:

    If we value forests and do not allow wanton clearcut then the trees are not slashed and burned, CO2 remains sequestered, hence less CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, if that is what is important to you.

    Meaningful and effective international regulation of industry will slow/halt environmental destruction and automatically restrict greenhouse gasses. Focusing on the gasses and ignoring the need to restrain industry (financed by rapacious capital) essentially hands the debate to those that value profit ahead of our collective survivial.

    FFS people! Wake up!

    Have a nice day.

    [RL: If this is a re-post it needs a link urgently or it will be taken down.]

    • Macro 8.1

      1. Climate has always changed and will continue to do so no matter what we do.

      2. Severely restricting our CO2 output will not change the above.

      Half truths are worse than un-truths, because whilst they seem to hold a modicum of truth within them – they obscure reality.
      Whilst it is true that in the past the Earth’s Climate has always changed, the sad fact is that on this occasion it is not the result of natural forcings but the direct result of human activity caused primarily by humans adding CO2 in enormous quantities into the atmosphere, and felling trees. If people cannot accept these clearly demonstrable facts, for whatever reason, then they need to go and sit in a corner quietly whilst the rest of humanity get on with attempting to undo the damage we have done.

  9. rhinocrates 9

    Good for a giggle (it causes less bruising than facepalming):

    https://storify.com/gtiso/john-roughan-explained

  10. NZJester 10

    Those nice warm long hot summers he thinks will be nice will in fact get hotter and cause a lot more drought in the summer.
    The dairy farmers, sheep farmers, all of the various crops like apples or corn and the grapes used to make wine will all start to suffer from lack of water and extreme heat.
    The grass the farmers need to feed their stock as well as the hay crops they grow for feeding in winter are not going to grow without water.
    Bees will not be able to survive the weather getting to hot and will die off not only killing of the honey industry but also making expensive manual pollination methods something we will have to work out to get our crops to grow once all the bees start to die off.

  11. Macro 11

    Interestingly the cost of the Pluto Mission is estimated to be $700m, Another mission to determine the effect of aerosols on climate forcings was abandoned at about the same time. The cost of this satellite was around $400m. The one area of evidence we really need to know which affects the whole of humanity is abandoned whilst an interesting but frankly do we really need to know that right now experiment costing almost twice as much proceeds. One wonders where our priorities as a human race lie?
    http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=PKB&Display=ReadMorehttp://deadlinelive.info/2011/02/25/434million-launch-of-nasas-glory-satellite-abandoned-five-minutes-before-take-off/

  12. Kevin 12

    Dear John Roughan – I don’t think you’re a stupid person, but sometimes you use your platform in The Herald to say stupid things. Over the years you have written many “climate change is real but who cares” pieces. Your latest yesterday was a shocker:

    Pluto – credible science without politics

    We are in awe of the discoveries in outer space but sceptical about climate change, with good reason.

    There are no good reasons to be sceptical about climate change. Ironic don’t you think, that later that day in The Herald: Weather ravages the north.

    * When you’re advocating control over the amount of CO2 industry produces and therefore control over industry itself, there’s big reasons to be sceptical. And if bad weather is proof of global warming, is good weather proof that it is not happening?*

    Science is amazing. Nine years ago, it sent a little spacecraft on a trip to the edge of our solar system, the edge of our consciousness, really.

    Yes, science is amazing.

    When climate scientists tells us greenhouse gases are warming the atmosphere to a catastrophic degree why don’t we believe it enough to demand remedies?

    Because (1) too many people with vested interests in inaction are telling lies about the science, and (2) too many ill-informed opinion pieces tell us not to worry, and (3) because the remedies will involve change and probably some sacrifice and we’d all really rather someone else did that while we got on with our comfortable lives.

    *What about those with vested interests in global warming happening? But you’re right – people act out of self interest. Which is why if you want to the public to take action with regards to AGW you need to appeal to people’s self interest instead of what amounts to threats, for lack of a better word.*

    But if the worst that can happen is a rise of a metre in sea levels and a few degrees in mean temperatures over a century, I think we’ll cope.

    The worst that can happen is a lot, lot worse than that, and if you are going to comment on this in public you owe it to the public to get better informed. Also – the weather systems of the planet have massive inertia. The changes that you may “cope” with in your lifetime are going to devastate the planet for your grandkids. Are you OK with that? Because you are saying that you are.

    *Yes, Roughan has it wrong here. The worry is that with AGW we will experience massive storms causing billions of dollars worth of damage. And that’s just one example. But of course you already know this.*

    The climate does seem to be changing. Auckland’s past two summers have been unusually long and lovely, this winter is unusually cold. Droughts and floods we can handle. Science says otherwise, but not the sort of science that sends a probe to Pluto. Climate science is on a political mission.

    That is stupid. Science is science, it can’t go on a political mission. If people are upset by science then it may become a political issue, but THAT DOESN’T CHANGE THE SCIENCE. Sorry for shouting. But arguing that politics makes any difference to the validity of the laws of physics is as stupid as it gets.

    *Except AGW isn’t science because it can’t be falsified. Sure, we can do experiments do test the science behind AGW but that doesn’t mean AGW is science. I’m not saying just because AGW is not science that it’s wrong or that it lessens the chance of AGW being real however.*

    Here’s an analogy for how I see the Left pushing action on AGW:

    Let’s say I have a mansion. Somebody comes to me and says your mansion is going to be destroyed unless you replace it with a shack. He shows me all sorts of graphs and other stuff and it looks pretty solid. I work out that there’s a 97% chance that what he’s saying is true with a 3% chance that if I do nothing nothing will happen and I get to keep my mansion.

    So presented like that my choices are:
    – do nothing and risk a 97% chance of becoming homeless but with a 3% chance I keep my mansion.
    – do something, lose my mansion, but instead of becoming a homeless at least I have a shack to live in.

    A lot of people would choose to do nothing.

  13. Brutus Iscariot 13

    Roughan is also rightly pilloried on NZ Transport Blog for his contradictory, neanderthal, and so-often-proved-plain-wrong views on public transport.

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