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Poneke: If only scientists were more like god…

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, February 7th, 2010 - 76 comments
Categories: blogs, climate change, dpf, science - Tags: ,

Poneke’s weblog recently wrote a critical post about ‘climategate’ where he has had a look through the subset of  selectively leaked pages of private correspondence thieved from the CRU at the University of East Anglia. His analysis didn’t bother to look at the science of climate change virtually at all, and what science was looked at was full of myths. Furthermore it wasn’t particularly original. Most appeared to have been cribbed from a number of climate change denialist sites and throughly debunked in part or as a whole by many other sites. It was hardly the type of original thinking that David Farrar at kiwiblog should have labeled as being

Poneke’s full post is a must read.  It is also the sort of journalism that should be in the mainstream media.

That was a statement that said more about Davids focus on politics than his understanding of climate science. Now I don’t know Poneke at all. But David describes him as

He has spent at least a couple of decades in journalism, and I think it is fair to say that he was regarded by many as one of the finest investigative journalists we have had.

I’d agree, he writes well on other less global and more people orientated topics. But Poneke is totally useless in his writing at understanding the process that science follows in understanding the world that he lives in. Mind you – so is David from this and previous posts.

But the fascinating thing about Ponekes post was how he was judging scientists behaviour. It focused purely on a personal level rather than on the science. It appeared to lack any understanding of the process that science follows to establish probabilities and principles that decision makers use to make policy. It is an classic example of how some people misinterpret the rule-sets under which science operates, and try to apply their own experiences and skills to an area that they don’t understand. So lets have a wee investigation on Ponekes failings at looking at scientists in general, the use of the scientific method and climate science in particular. It provides a good example of some common fallacies used by many.

To me it appears that Poneke expects scientists to conform to some kind of higher standard of behaviour closer to being a omniscient and omnipotent god than being human. It is apparent that he was seeking absolute truths and that he considered that science should be absolute and certain.

However the processes that science follows to look at and interpret natural phenomena aren’t about being certain, it is about constraining the mistakes by individual humans and allowing a lot of skeptical transparency to establish how credible the data and theories are. Papers are put up for peer review because it is easy for people to mis-interpret the data or to overlook data that doesn’t conform to their preconceptions. The more eyes that are cast over the paper, the less mistakes escape. Even when a paper is published, it is done for the purpose that other people in the field can reproduce or not reproduce the results, and verify or not verify the conclusions and concepts. They aren’t put out as definitive statements. They are published so other knowledgeable people can try to tear them down.

A good example of this is in some recent data about assumptions on the recent behaviour of water vapor escaping into the stratosphere. There will be  flurry of activity in earth science facilities looking to reproduce or fail to reproduce the results, and changes to atmospheric models to accommodate and evaluate the new information. It doesn’t invalidate previous work, it helps to refine it. This has happened throughout the history of the scientific method. Newtons simplistic understanding about gravity is still as valid today as it was in the 17th century, it has been refined – not invalidated. However, it is still under question as science investigates further into space and time.

Mistakes are expected in any scientific papers compared to reality. They are published to draw other people in the scientific community to look at the data and the conclusions and try to figure out if they think that they are correct. You cannot expect as one comment here said here

if one error is involved then whole SCIENTIFIC document is wrong. why? because obviously peer review amounts to getting a friendly chum to stake his reputation on it. because there is obviously little in the way of ethics up at the IPCC.

That is a ridiculous attitude better left to people with a preference to having absolute faith and certainty rather than the probabilistic uncertainties and continuous checking and reevaluation of assumptions that is the essence of the process of science.  But that is hardly surprising, neither the author of this comment or Poneke appear to have a background in science. This was pretty clear in both Ponekes post on ‘climategate’  and the subsequent posts that there were some really basic flaws in his assumptions. He focuses on the trivial at the expense of understanding or looking for more widespread reasons than his first interpretations. In fact in an earlier post, he’d acknowledged that he wasn’t interested in looking at the alternative views and the questioning of assumptions that is the essence of science. He said in a post about moderation being enabled

The AGWarmists are bombarding the comments section with spam. A slightly different IP address and a new ‘message’ and link are being used with each comment to get around the WordPress spam filter. As a result, for the first time in this blog’s two years, I have switched on the moderation feature.

Akismet, the anti-spam engine that both this site and his use doesn’t have a problem with this type of ‘attack’. We use moderation here, but it is based on behaviour in the comments section rather than content. What actually appeared to have happened at Ponekes Weblog from the comments that I read was that he didn’t like people leaving links and text disputing his interpretation of the climate change debate. My interpretation is that he was upset that people were saying that he was being an idiot and then linking to material proving that he was. In my view it challenged his presumptions, and he was not willing to investigate in case he found things to disrupt his view of the world.

His lack of tolerance for dissent and alternative opinions has led to some classic screw-ups in interpreting the evidence. For instance Poneke dedicated a post about the December cold snap in the northern hemisphere to suggesting that the climate change models were incorrect. A moments thought and an basic understanding of the physical dynamics of heat would have led him to question where had the heat wound up. NOAA subsequently released the temperature anomaly for December (image on the right) as they always do, and showed that there were cold anomalies in the areas both in and around the northern polar region. It was colder than usual in the continental areas around the pole. It was warmer than usual at the pole. There was an abnormal movement of cold air outside of the polar regions as discussed in my post “A note to the idiots. Weather is not climate” last month. Ponekes post was simply idiotic even for an investigative journalist because he presumed a conclusion without looking for evidence that showed his assumptions could be wrong.

Another example of Ponekes myopic focus on the personal, local and anecdotal rather than the science is in his frequent repetition across many posts of myths regarding the “Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age“. This is a regional issue around the north Atlantic currents, which as I’ve pointed out before, is an anomaly in the global climate system caused by the narrowness of the Atlantic ocean. It is the only region in the world that seems to have had these relative warming and cooling events during these particular periods. That climate system around northern Europe allowed the development of the unusual Neoteny features of Northern Europeans which indicates how unusual this region is climatically. The ‘events’ he places such importance on don’t show up as more than a minor trend in the same time periods (probably related to spin off effects from that region) anywhere else in the world. However Poneke appears to consider them to be so significant that he lambasts moderators with a science background on wikipedia for removing the myth from articles about global historical climate.

The whole of Ponekes interpretation of the CRU e-mails relies wholly on this type of myopic personalization and totally ignores the science and the process of scientific investigation. You get the impression that he has a faith about what the results of science should be and ignores all evidence to the contrary. Rather than deal with the issues raised by science about the risks of anthropogenic climate change he prefers to personally attack people.

I’d have to say that Ponekes myopic focus on people and local events in the posts listed and subsequent ones reflect his journalistic skills in looking at people and lack of skills at looking for patterns. He seems to avoid looking at the contention, disagreement, and reevaluation that is the essence of the process of science because he fundamentally doesn’t seem to understand it. He is seeking perfection where none is claimed and absolute certainty in a scientific process that doesn’t use it.

Poneke isn’t alone in this attitude, I see it every day in the comments from climate change denialists and skeptics on this site. They appear to wish that science is certain and scientists are more like omniscient gods than the humans they are. Poneke joins the ranks of other ‘journalists’ like Ian Wishart in writing about science without understanding its underlying precepts and processes. They are a nuisance because they tend to waste political time and effort in dealing with the consequences of climate change. They certainly don’t add anything to the debate about how to deal with the issue.

My post here may be viewed as being a simple attack on Ponekes credibility. It is, but I’m simply following his lead on concentrating attacks on individuals at the detriment of discussing the issues surrounding climate change. It is a rather stupid way of discussing the problem, but unfortunately required to prevent such a limited viewpoint becoming the basis of debate on this topic.

My next few posts on climate change concentrate more on the more relevant issues in the science and the immediate consequences of shifts in climate patterns.  Because of other work, there is a bit of a backlog of writing  sitting in my partially written queue.

Other interesting posts done on Ponekes diatribe from a science perspective include sciblog, open parachute, and hot topic. There are probably more.

76 comments on “Poneke: If only scientists were more like god…”

  1. Good article.

    What actually appeared to have happened at Ponekes Weblog from the comments that I read was that he didn’t like people leaving links and text disputing his interpretation of the climate change debate.

    Oh he doesn’t. He doesn’t like that one little bit.

    • Richard Christie 1.1

      Funnily enough, this morning I found a link to this article on Poneke’s blog, seemingly placed there by Poneke himself. Rather fair-minded of him I thought – but alas, it was a premature assumption as a few minutes later the link was gone.

      Now you see it now you don’t.

      I posted another link from there to here for those who missed it first time around.
      He hasn’t allowed that either.

    • Spike 1.2

      I won’t read Poneke anymore. His irrationality in the face of dispute, and censorship of people commenting well within his policies tarnish all

  2. quenchino 2

    The largest, most voluble group of CCDs are the over 60’s, white males. Any science they learnt was a very long time ago, poorly remembered and way out of date. But that alone does not explain their behaviour.

    The real driver of their obstinacy is I think, the suggestion that the privileged way of life they have enjoyed all their lives, built entirely on a paradigm of unlimited fossil fuel consumption, was wrong and will have to change.

    It is this psychological barrier to examining false assumptions they have taken for granted all their lives, combined with science illiteracy, which makes them prime targets for the professional disinformers.

    • Bored 2.1

      Thanks Quench, that seems to be pretty much the reality of who CCDs are. There is also another group, those who believe in rational economics and cant quite make out that their theoretical models could be wrong. The biggest issue is the inability to see reality, which relates to the saying that “people prefer what is untrue to what is true” when it is uncomfortable.

    • Macro 2.2

      “The largest, most voluble group of CCDs are the over 60’s, white males. Any science they learnt was a very long time ago, poorly remembered and way out of date. But that alone does not explain their behaviour.”

      Now lookie here sonny! I’m white, male, and over 60 and so is Dr Jim S. And I think we could take offence at your stereotyping. Ageism is alive and well and living on the Standard!

      By the way – a very good summary of the scientific process Lynn.

      It is a sad commentary on the standard of journos in this country that almost everything they write or talk about is based NOT on the content of the issue – but on the personalities behind it. “Is Phil Goff going to win votes with this speach?” “Is his leadership under threat?” “Here’s John Key at the concert – will this win him a few votes” etc etc…..
      I have no faith in any journalist today to actually report accurately or discuss an issue without them delving into personalities if they even deal with the issue at all! They seem to be only concerned about gamesmanship. Quite frankly the sooner newspapers bite the dust as they ultimately will – they are becoming less and less important every day and less and less financially viable – the better.

  3. I find Farrar’s posts on climate change disingenuous to put it mildly. He says that he accepts that climate change through human behaviour is happening but then puts these dog whistle posts up and then the hounds bray away in the comments section.

    His description of Poneke’s article is a classic example of this.

    If he is changing his mind on the subject he should say so and provide reasons. Otherwise he should put away the dog whistle.

    His behaviour is a bit like the National party’s behaviour. No surprise there.

    • Scott 3.1

      Indeed. His posts on the topic remind me of the classic line “I’m not a racist, but…”

    • quenchino 3.2

      disingenuous to put it mildly

      Ha… the man is all disingenuous. It’s pretty much the same with everything he does; if said what he actually believes most grown-up people would snort with derision and ignore him. Instead he covers up with a facade of ‘reasonableness’, while clearly making a covert appeal to the rabid brigade to spew forth the real agenda.

      This ‘dog-whistling’ act he pulls… one that he’s perfected over years of online activity….is an especially loathsome, hypocritical and dangerous form of lying.

    • Andrew W 3.3

      Micky, I think you’re way too harsh on David, he’s taken a lot of flack from the denialist crowd at kiwiblog and continues to argue his position with them. The dog whistle posts argument is over used, obviously Iprent has put up a dog whistle post here and this time you’re the dog?

  4. BLiP 4

    Top work, lprent.

    Poneke’s blog annoys me greatly from time to time and I was particularly pissed off with his attitude in relation to comments countering his indolent research and unprofessional fact checking on the IPCC posts. Seems a tad hypocritical that he’s quite happy to have a go at the scientists but can’t take it when the boot’s on the other foot. He should stick to his usual tabloid knuckle-dragger junk-news if he doesn’t want to keep making a twat of himself.

    For what its worth – the Minister for Climate Change Issues agrees with you:

    Dr Smith said they (the IPCC errors) did not affect the crucial conclusions by working group one, which deals with the scientific basis for concern about global warming and human activities.

  5. Scott 5

    Good article, lprent. You’ve nailed it.

  6. “That is a ridiculous attitude better left to people with a preference to having absolute faith and certainty rather than the probabilistic uncertainties and continuous checking and reevaluation of assumptions that is the essence of the process of science”

    you’re right LP. absolutely no background in science. but when i intend to make life changing decisions that will affect me adversely, i like to be 99% certain. while i admit there is no room for error on the either side of this debate, i would like to see more emphasis placed on ways to improve our relationship with nature, so that humans can still benefit. not the heavy handed hectoring we get from gore et al, and the near constant badgering to slam people and business with more tax. being hounded by a group with an agenda, on an issue that is still up for debate, with evidence that has been manipulated and cheated, wouldn’t you retain some scepticism if you didn’t believe?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      RWNJ Translator engaged:
      I want to be absolutely certain that I must change my ways before I give up my nice, comfortable life and illusions. As this will never happen, I’ll never change my ways.

      being hounded by a group with an agenda, on an issue that is still up for debate, with evidence that has been manipulated and cheated, wouldn’t you retain some scepticism if you didn’t believe?

      The agenda that they have is saving humanity from itself, the issue isn’t up for debate – it’s already happening, the evidence hasn’t been manipulated or cheated, and your not sceptical about it – you’re disbelieving (ie, working on faith that you’re right and that the scientists are wrong).

      • TightyRighty 6.1.1

        not all scientists agree though? or are the ones sceptical not scientists?

        • quenchino

          Demanding that ALL scientists agree is of course a fallacious nonsense. There will of course always be dissenters, it would be wholly abnormal if there were not. But the fact of their dissention is not proof of the validity of their claims.

          That has to be judged on the science itself.. that is all that actually matters. (And why of course CCD’ers are always trying to shout it down with drivel and distractions.)

    • Richard Christie 6.2

      Strange argument to apply to AWG, and one that is logically inconsistent.
      How about applying your standard to the “life changing decision” to burn vast supplies of carbon that has been sequestered over millions of years. That decision was made by default over the course of the past 120 years without any real thought to possible consequences. Nowhere near the 99% certainty threshold that you demand.
      That process of evaluation is now being undertaken by climate research.
      So what’s your agenda?

  7. ieuan 7

    iprent you seem to have taken it upon yourself to defend the ‘scientific method’ and particularly in relation to climate change.

    I don’t really think the science (or the method) is in question here, it is the use of this science to make projections and the (sometimes) selective use of the results (by the IPCC and others) to present their version of a climate in crisis, that is in question.

    The recent glacier melting and Amazon deforestation predictions that have now been discredited are examples of this.

    I don’t doubt that human activity is affecting our climate but the big questions are ‘by how much’ and ‘what can we really do about this’?

    • quenchino 7.1

      And has anyone been keeping count of the endless number of utterly wrong, totally discredited claims made by the CCD crowd? And never admitted to or corrected?

      By contrast the IPCC have immediately corrected a relatively minor mistake, that appears to have had it’s origons in a typo.

      The CCD’ers have made a hundred errors for every one the science community has made… yet for some reason their ‘credibility’ is never the stuff of headlines.

      • zelda 7.1.1

        You are totally wrong A typo

        Check out this detailed analysis of the Glacier reference. There are many many errors even in the single paragraph- some of which were identified but not corrected


        WG2 is riddled with references to popular rather scientific journals ?
        Why ?

        • lprent

          references to popular rather scientific journals

          Idiot. That has been asked and answered to you previously. Are you thick, slow, or just a person in love with jerking off in public?

          Read the preface to AR4. It explains what material is included in the report and why.

          Or to get something closer to your reading and comprehension level, read the Economist on the section marked “Shades of grey”.

          • zelda

            Really. Does masturbation come to mind every time you disagree?
            Whats next ?
            Puppetry of the penis !
            There seems to be a psychological component to your train of thought.

            captcha disturb

            • lprent

              Nope, it is the self-exposure effects that I’m referring to – you know the ones – running around in public acting like a maniac on P without any kind of social behaviour.

              When you learn to argue rather than simply asserting in public that you are a scientific idiot, then I’ll start treating you as someone worth arguing with.

              In the meantime, I’ll simply do my best to ensure that you find talking to me to be unproductive and embarrassing.

      • Sonny Blount 7.1.2

        Should a document of the import of the IPCC AR4 have mistakes like this in it?


        • BLiP

          Should the Apostles of Denialism frequenting this board be allowed to ask questions before they have explained the past failings of those they base their current beliefs upon?

          According to an August 12, 2005 New York Times article, Spencer, along with another well-known “skeptic,” John Christy, admitted they made a mistake in their satellite data research that they said demonstrated a cooling in the troposphere (the earth’s lowest layer of atmosphere). It turned out that the exact opposite was occurring and the troposphere was getting warmer.

          “These papers should lay to rest once and for all the claims by John Christy, Spencer and other global warming skeptics that a disagreement between tropospheric and surface temperature trends means that there are problems with surface temperature records or with climate models,’ said Alan Robock, a meteorologist at Rutgers University.

        • lprent

          All documents have errors in them if you obsess over them enough. Scientific ones are no exception. The area you’re describing was in a descriptive portion of the report and yes, more care should be taken. However the inaccurate value changes nothing in the findings of the report.

          Scientists are not gods. They are human. So your point is?

    • Andrew W 7.2

      “I don’t really think the science (or the method) is in question here”

      I’d judge that it’s not in question here, it sure as hell is in question at Poneke’s though.

    • lprent 7.3

      you seem to have taken it upon yourself to defend the ‘scientific method’ and particularly in relation to climate change

      Did you read my post?

      Not really. I get annoyed with the stupidity I see in attitudes of some of the CCDs. The scientific method tends to work past petty little mistakes. That is its strength.

      What I was taking aim at was people who ignore it and expect that humans can be perfect. Who look at the petty errors and think that it somehow discredits the process.

      I find those petty people to be pretty weird. They take the benefits of the scientific process and then criticize what they really don’t understand.

      The point is that bits of science are ALWAYS wrong – otherwise using the scientific process would be pointless . That is the point of my post.

      It is the self-correcting process of science that tends towards getting more correct over time. I find people who pick at bits of it without understanding the weight of evidence and corroborated theories to be rather pathetic. Especially since they usually seem to only to be able to repeat their ‘arguments’ by rote and ignore the underlying principles.

      I don’t doubt that human activity is affecting our climate but the big questions are ‘by how much’ and ‘what can we really do about this’?

      That is the question. However in my experience around this site and as far back as the early BBS’s in NZ, it gets swamped in the discussion by people avoiding the topic and nitpicking.

      As you’re probably aware, my original degree was in Earth Sciences. However I don’t work in the field (although I keep reading there) which gives me more freedom to speculate than working scientists.

      The short answer is that the IPCC reports are very very conservative, especially on the icepack melt rates which weren’t included at all in AR4 – ie large sealevel rises. Similarly I suspect they are understating the effects of the increased energy in the system being expressed in larger and extended duration air movements. That means more storms, more heat patches and even more cold patches. etc.

      I’m anticipating that we’ll start to get refugees from climate change induced catastrophes in either this solar cycle peak or the next. Same with extensive crop failures.

      It is pretty clear that most people around the earth sciences area feel much the same – they give the impression of being scared shitless at the lack of action on something that has been predicted as being an issue for more than 30 years.

      How much do you think is worth doing? Or are you one of the ones that say “it doesn’t matter to me – I’ll leave it to my kids to clean up”.

      • ieuan 7.3.1

        iprent ‘How much do you think is worth doing? Or are you one of the ones that say “it doesn’t matter to me I’ll leave it to my kids to clean up”

        No I don’t take a ‘leave it to my kids attitude’, but really what can I realistically do?

        Even if New Zealand took massive and expensive steps to reduce its emissions I doubt we are ever going to see any realistic reductions from the USA or China or India.

        (In my opinion) the reality is things are probably not going to be as bad as the environmental movement would like us to believe and New Zealand is better served by planning for a slightly warmer and dryer climate than simply trying to reduce our emissions.

        • quenchino

          Even if New Zealand took massive and expensive steps to reduce its emissions I doubt we are ever going to see any realistic reductions from the USA or China or India.

          The obvious answer is to divide the world up into thousands of very small nations of about 4m people each. Then the emissions from each one would be so small as to not have any effect. Right?

          Or are you just saying that NZ should do nothing and parasite of the rest of the world?

        • lprent

          You do what you can at a personal level, which often winds up as being a cheaper living style. Slap down the idiots who just seem to think that if it gets ignored it will go away.

          Support people at a political level who are trying to bring about change at a national and global level.

          Bring up your kids and grandkids with mental tools that science provides to be able able to evaluate risks. They’re going to have to take far more of them than we are doing.

          The US and China will both eventually (I’d say this solar cycle) start taking it seriously. They do already from their actions, but they’re still in advantage seeking mode rather than risk avoidance mode.

          NZ isn’t going to have any major direct problems – we’re buffered by the cold currents that flow around us.

          However we are a trading nation and any major disruptions in our trade like widespread war (common with climate changes), massive refugee issues, etc will drop our current economy directly in the shit. We depend on our exports to get the imports of essential goods that we don’t produce here.

          By your argument, we should be shifting the economy towards a closed self-sufficient economy. Personally I had more than enough of that in the 70’s.

      • zelda 7.3.2

        “Similarly I suspect they are understating the effects of the increased energy in the system being expressed in larger and extended duration air movements. That means more storms, more heat patches and even more cold patches. etc.”

        What a load of babble.

        “More storms more heat patches even more cold patches” I suppose you are talking about the ‘weather’ or is it a computer program fix?
        The more hurricanes idea has been comprehensively debunked

        • lprent

          Z: It is apparent you don’t understand physics – specifically the thermodynamics. If you add energy to a closed or nearly closed system, it will cause energy transfer effects.

          I wasn’t referring directly to hurricanes – which is just a regional name for a cyclone. I was referring to air-masses which are what moves energy around the atmosphere. They’re usually ‘relatively’ stable and predictable. With increased energy in the system they will move faster and for longer. The weather will get more unstable until it reaches another semi-stable equilibrium.

          But cyclones in general will get bigger, more dangerous, and probably more frequent because there will be more energy in the system to drive them.

          Should I translate that into baby language for you?

        • quenchino

          What a load of babble.

          Well no.. that is exactly what we have seen these last month or so when parts of the Northern hemisphere were unusually cold, and others warmer. In itself a minor and trivial weather event, but consistent.

          Increasing CO2 traps more energy into the troposphere; it’s not ‘babble’ to suggest that this extra energy will result in changes to the system.

          The only babble here is the ignorant dreck being trotted out by fools who regurgitate read propaganda churned out by disinformation professionals.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    I accept that C02 has a slight direct warming effect. However, the sensitivity of the climate to C02 increase may be substantially less than alarmists are predicting. This is due to natural cycles that over-rule these cycles.


    • quenchino 8.1

      So how is it that in your world the Daily Mail is a better science source than any actual … scientist?

      For a start the term ‘mini ice age’ in the headline is utter bollocks. The natural 30-40 yr cycle of cooling/warming that is referred to in the body of the article is so far removed from the notion of an actual ‘ice age’ that conflating the two is the height of stupidity.

      For a second even if Latif is right, then all he is doing is confirming what the scientists have been saying all along, that the CO2 warming process is a small steady underlying trend, buried under a lot of much larger signals from various natural cycles.

      Of course if the cooling trend does occur in the next few decades, that in no way stops the CO2 warming effect from still accumulating… and logically when the next warming cycle occured, we can expect another round of more record high temperatures and damaging consequences.

    • lprent 8.2

      You don’t double the amount of the 2nd largest greenhouse gas in the atmosphere without some major effect. Especially when you do it within a century.

      The only substantive cycles you’re talking about take many thousands of years to complete. We’re seeing abnormal change outside their ranges right now.

      Lattif is talking about a minor cooling effect. It moves the crisis point by at best a couple of decades – assuming he is right. That hasn’t been replicated yet.

      What you’re really saying is that you don’t want to deal with the issue. Go away so and do it quietly. In the meantime the responsible people can get on with the job.

    • quenchino 8.3

      David Rose’s filthy bit of disinformation heavily relies on statements made by Mohib Talif.

      So here is what Talif actually said in Sept 2009.

      This is the raw evidence you need to see the professional CCD liars in action. It is there before your eyes.

    • Macro 8.4

      Ok so lets look at some of those assertions by David Rose in the Daily Mail

      “According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.”



      Here’s what they actually say – you can read it for yourself in the link above.

      “Arctic sea ice extent averaged for January 2010 was 13.78 million square kilometers (5.32 million square miles). This was 1.08 million square kilometers (417,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for January, but 180,000 square kilometers (69,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in January 2006.

      Ice extent remained below normal over much of the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, including the Barents Sea, part of the East Greenland Sea, and in Davis Strait. The only region with above-average ice extent was on the Pacific side of the Bering Sea.”

      If you continue to read what the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre say you will see that

      “Analysis of data from the last three decades shows that the summer Arctic sea ice melt season now lasts nearly a month longer than it did in the 1980s. A later start of freeze-up and an earlier start to the melt season both contribute to the change.”

      Hardly the start of the mini ice age and a total MISREPRESENTATION of what the scientists are saying.In fact they go on to say that the ice is disappearing at the rate of around 3.2% in January (supposedly the coldest month in the Artic winter) per decade at the present time.

      David Rose again
      “They say that their research shows that much of the warming was caused by oceanic cycles when they were in a ‘warm mode’ as opposed to the present ‘cold mode’.”

      A complete misinterpretation of the Artic Oscillation. The effect of which of which is presented by Iprent in the graphic to this post, and which he goes at some length to explain.

      From these two examples alone, if you take anything that David Rose says as true – then you are being very stupid indeed.

  9. Bill 9

    Depressing that it takes two seconds to set a smear loose or throw a lump of mud ( not just in reference to climate change), that will get picked up again and again to be thrown over and over while much more time and energy is taken/wasted to refute and dismiss bullshit and…well, it doesn’t get spread around to anything like the same extent.

  10. Andrei 10

    The one of the problems I have always had with this whole “climate change” thing is that I have known since childhood that the planet is always changing and always has.

    I know for example that hippopotami once swam in the Thames where the English houses of Parliament now stand. The fact they don’t now has nothing to do with anything we have or haven’t done.

    Nor are the current levels of CO2 particularly high despite all the noise made about it – indeed it has been substantially higher in the past.

    The world is changing we can’t really do very much to stop that nor can we predict in any useful sense how these changes will occur.

    It is the scale on which the changes occur that really matter and on the scale of a human lifetime they are undetectable and thus don’t matter

    What will the planet be like in 1000 years? Who knows and who really cares we have enough problems in the here and now to take care of – like trying to ensure that everybody gets enough to eat – which they don’t.

    • Bill 10.1

      Lower a glass to the ground very slowly from a height of six feet or so. Observe the result.

      Now drop a glass from six feet or so. Same result?

      Amazing the difference time can make, innit.

      • Andrei 10.1.1

        Thats the problem isn’t it Bill – the doom and gloomers have put a lot of effort as well as our money into trying to convince us the “changes are unprecedented” and it is no apparent to all but the faithful few that the “evidence” they put up is shall we say bogus.

        The hits are coming thick and fast and are undeniable – some of them are mentioned in this post

        • quenchino

          it is no apparent to all but the faithful few that the “evidence’ they put up is shall we say bogus.

          No its apparent to all but the indoctrinated fools, that every lying bit of bogus bullshit produced by the CCDs has been shown to be wrong over and again.

          And you always change the subject when challenged.

        • Bill

          You do understand the stupidity of observing a falling glass and thinking; ‘No need to do anything such as trying to catch the glass, because it’s not as though it’s going to smash or anything because unbroken glasses have sat on the floor in the past.’?

          • Pascal's bookie

            But Muuuuuummmmmm, TV’s, stereos and windows have always been breaking and needing replacing and stuff, my playing cricket in the lounge… has therefore got fuck all to do with anything.

          • quenchino

            Yes Andrei does understand this, but he will never ever say so.

            I recall him telling us once that the increasing CO2 record itself was a hoax because the well-known Manu-Loa observatory, was sited on a volcano.. and was corrupting the results.

            This is of course a howling idiocy, easily refuted in any number of simple ways… but at no point did Andrei admit his error in uncritically repeating something he had read somewhere. When proven wrong he just blithely changed the subject.

            The truth means nothing to him.

    • lprent 10.2

      A: It is a question of timescales and the fact that we weren’t there.

      If it didn’t affect me and my family – say if it was happening on Mars, then I really couldn’t give a shit. If it was going to happen over tens of thousands of years, then I wouldn’t be more than vaguely concerned.

      That is the case you’re presenting…

      However because the effects will start hitting home on this planet over the next few decades and unsteadily get rapidly worse this century, then I’m concerned.

      {damn: the admin reply is popping my comments in the wrong place }

  11. tsmithfield 11

    Quenchino “So how is it that in your world the Daily Mail is a better science source than any actual scientist?”

    So has Latif and Tsonis been misquoted or had their views inaccurately represented in this article? Note that Latif is described as “a leading member of the IPCC”. So he obviously is not some wild-eyed CCD.

    Iprent “You don’t double the amount of the 2nd largest greenhouse gas in the atmosphere without some major effect. Especially when you do it within a century.”

    However, there is general agreement that the direct effect of C02 on temperature is slight.

    Iprent “The only substantive cycles you’re talking about take many thousands of years to complete. We’re seeing abnormal change outside their ranges right now.”

    Disagree. Carrying on from the points that Latif was making, Roy Spencer has provided evidence here of the direct effect of known ocean cycles on temperature and how they have impacted on temperature recently. As can be seen, a lot of the increase in temperature in recent times is to do with natural cycles, as Latif was also saying. If that is the case, then natural cycles can also decrease temperatures apart from human activity.


    There is evidence that alarmist scientists are overstating their case for political effect.


    Therefore, while I agree there is a human impact on climate, I believe the case is being way overstated in some quarters and that a reasonable case can be made for a more significant impact of natural factors.

    • quenchino 11.1

      Oh and I’ve taken a quick look at Roy Spencers site… he’s and out and out lunatic. Drivelling nonsense dripping from every paragraph… page after page of unsupported assertions with precious little actual science.

      Contrast Spencers vapourising with some real science. See if you can spot the difference.

      • TightyRighty 11.1.1

        an out and out lunatic? he’s no WO. did you actually go and read what Dr Roy is saying? he is a scientist, and used to work for NASA, so should be a good one too. there is plenty of evidence too. oh wait the penny just dropped. it’s not that you think he is full of it, you just hate his stance so you’ll smear him. so changing the subject is bad, but smearing people is ok?

        • quenchino

          It isn’t possible to smear lying scum like Spencer.

          Take this bit of egregious dreck from him:

          It is interesting to note that, even though carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth to exist, there is precious little of it in Earth’s atmosphere. As of 2008, only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air were CO2, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions 5 more years to increase that number by 1, to 40.

          While in literal terms this is an accurate paragraph, the real message he is making goes along the lines: “CO2 is such a small part of the atmosphere it cannot be changing anything, and human activity is an insignificant contributor to even that”… which is of course a deliberate lying distortion.

          The current rate of increase due to human activity is in absolute terms about 2ppm per annum. Of course to compare this with a baseline of 0ppm is a nonsense; the CO2 level never gets that low, in fact all life on the planet would cease if it did. The lowest is around 200ppm at the coldest period of the interglacials, naturally rising to around 285ppm during the warmest part.

          Digging up and burning fossil fuels has taken us to almost 390ppm, almost 105ppm above the naturally occuring maxiumum… in just a short 150yrs.

          Indeed if we take the ‘safe baseline’ level of CO2 to be very generously no more than 350ppm, then every year we are exceeding that limit by about 2/(390-350) *100 = 5% which in climate terms is an explosive rate of change.

          Minimising this reality as Spencer does in the para quoted is a dumb trick intended to fool dumb suckers.

          When faced with this depth of intellectual depravity, I name it for what I see… a man who shames himself and his legacy with self-important lies and delusions.

          • TightyRighty

            pomposity abounds. you must be a Dr then?

            • quenchino

              ts accuses me of just ‘playing the man’, so I play one of Spencer’s balls, smashing it out of the park… and that’s not good enough for you either.

              Got an argument or just dribbling?

              • Pascal's bookie

                nah q.

                If the IPCC do something dumb that makes no difference to the underlying science —– they are completely discredited.

                If a CCD walks into the room with his underpants on his head and declares that ‘therefore AGW is false’ —- laughing at him proves that AGW is completely discredited.

    • lprent 11.2

      However, there is general agreement that the direct effect of C02 on temperature is slight.

      Wrong. The effect is small per year. However it is cumulative. There is a general agreement amongst earth scientists the effect is strong on shifting climate given decades.

      Lattif was talking about a small effect that might be sufficient to reduce the absolute increase in global temperatures for a matter of decades. However the CO2 still increases so when that ocean cooling effect is over, the normal temperature increases will happen again. Furthermore the energy accumulated during the meantime has been pushed into ocean, and will at some stage release into the atmosphere.

      In other words it adds a delay, not a cessation of the process. Furthermore at present this is a hypothesis – not proven. You’d be an idiot to rely on that level of confidence for peoples lives.

      The effect and consequences are understated, not overstated. The IPCC reports make it perfectly clear that there are a number of factors that they haven’t quantified yet, which are likely to add to the consequences and are not factored into the existing models.

      Basically you just seem to be determined to live in a fools paradise. I looked at Spencers post. All he is doing is saying the models aren’t perfect – which leads directly back into the contents of my post. Scientists are not god. The data is imperfect. The risks from what we do know are so high that you’d have to be a fool to ignore them.

      You look like a fool to me.

    • Macro 11.3

      ts – instead of “researching” denialist sites you could spend your time far more profitably reading sites in which some real scientists congregate and offer their opinions.
      for a start.

  12. quenchino 12

    So has Latif and Tsonis been misquoted or had their views inaccurately represented in this article?

    Yes he has been. His comments about natural variability have been twisted and perverted… even as he predicted they would.

    Therefore, while I agree there is a human impact on climate, I believe the case is being way overstated in some quarters and that a reasonable case can be made for a more significant impact of natural factors.

    No you are in the business of minimising the impact in the hope that we will do nothing about the problem. Which in some ways makes you more dishonest than the outright deniers… many of whom are at least sincere in their delusions.

    However, there is general agreement that the direct effect of C02 on temperature is slight.

    How ‘slight’ ? That is another ‘minimisation’ on your part.

    • tsmithfield 12.1

      I agree with Latif about the long-term trend. However, it is the amount of the trend that is due to natural factors and human factors that I am questioning. When a multiple regression is done for natural factors, then the human impact might not be as dramatic as you would like us to believe.

      You haven’t commented on that link by Spencer. He is arguing in a similar way to Latif. Have a look, it is an interesting read.

      BTW, do you agree with Beddington that some scientists are exaggerating their views about climate change?

      • BLiP 12.1.1

        Spencer is a nutter dedicating his time and tattered reputation to defending the Rapture Fantasy. Next time, if you want to be taken a little more seriosly, try linking to the Easter Bunny.

      • quenchino 12.1.2

        You haven’t commented on that link by Spencer. He is arguing in a similar way to Latif. Have a look, it is an interesting read.

        Cross posted.. yes I did read it… its nonsense. Take this:

        This demonstrates one of the absurdities (Dick Lindzen’s term, as I recall) in the way current climate change theory works: For a given observed temperature change, the smaller the forcing that caused it, the greater the inferred sensitivity of the climate system. This is why Jim Hansen believes in catastrophic global warming: since he thinks he knows for sure that a relatively tiny forcing caused the Ice Ages, then the greater forcing produced by our CO2 emissions will result in even more dramatic climate change!

        But taken to its logical conclusion, this relationship between the strength of the forcing, and the inferred sensitivity of the climate system, leads to the absurd notion that an infinitesimally small forcing causes nearly infinite climate sensitivity(!) As I have mentioned before, this is analogous to an ancient tribe of people thinking their moral shortcomings were responsible for lightning, storms, and other whims of nature.

        That’s interesting as the contemptible ravings of a madman. It’s an obscene strawman argument for a start, a self-evident inside out perversion of the truth for a second.

        How about a real scientist (not a retired nutter) who does real research (not gutlessly sniping from the sidelines) who writes

        Thus, although there continues to be some
        uncertainty about its exact magnitude, the
        water vapor feedback is virtually certain to be
        strongly positive, with most evidence supporting
        a magnitude of 1.5 to 2.0 W/m2/K, sufficient
        to roughly double the warming that
        would otherwise occur. To date, observational
        records are too short to pin down the exact size
        of the water vapor feedback in response to
        long-term warming from anthropogenic
        greenhouse gases. However, it seems unlikely
        that the water vapor feedback in response to
        long-term warming would behave differently
        from that observed in response to shorter-time
        scale climate variations. There remain many
        uncertainties in our simulations of the climate,
        but evidence for the water vapor feedback—
        and the large future climate warming it
        implies—is now strong.

        (Incidentally Dressler also states that Spencer has emailed him privately and says that he agrees. But unlike the deniers … Dressler has the integrity to respect the privacy of private communication.)

        When a multiple regression is done for natural factors, then the human impact might not be as dramatic as you would like us to believe.

        Got a result to impress me with?

        PS Thanks BLiP… I hadn’t spotted that Spencer was a fundie nut job.. no wonder I find his dribblings so repellent.

  13. ALBORE 13

    IPrint. What are your thoughts on “manbearpig”?

  14. lprent 14

    Ts: you’re disingenuous about co2. It has a small effect per tonne. However it has a big effect when you burn vast amounts of fossil carbon.

    If you’re so inaccurate on a basic factor like that – why bother pretending you understand the science?

    • Sonny Blount 14.1

      “If you’re so inaccurate on a basic factor like that why bother pretending you understand the science?”

      The same could be said of the IPCC:

      [lprent: There is no reason to put the same link in twice in the same topic unless you’re making a different point. I tend to regard that as a symptom of link whoring. ]

  15. tsmithfield 15

    Iprent “Ts: you’re disingenuous about co2. It has a small effect per tonne. However it has a big effect when you burn vast amounts of fossil carbon.”

    Recent research published in “Nature” suggests the effect from C02 has been overstated.


    quenchino “PS Thanks BLiP I hadn’t spotted that Spencer was a fundie nut job.. no wonder I find his dribblings so repellent.”

    Pity to see you resorting to playing the man rather than the ball. Actually Spencer is a lot more qualified in this area than most. Here is his bio:


    Notice his peer reviewed research in Geophysical Research Letters in 2007 on cloud feedbacks. You can read the paper here:

    Click to access Spencer_07GRL.pdf

    • quenchino 15.1

      There have been plenty of big name scientists who did great work during their lives only to lose the plot in their later years trying to relive their glory days. In fact it’s common, although not necessarily universal, pattern. It was Max Planck who, in the face of an older generation of physicists resisting the advances of quantum mechanics, acerbically observed that “science progresses one funeral at at time”.

      And it is very notable that the majority of prominent CCDs are older, retired scientists, unable to cope with the idea that much of what they taught as conventional wisdom during their working life is now obsolete and irrelevant.

      Sadly Spencer is one of those who has shamed his legacy in his retirement.

    • lprent 15.2

      Recent research published in “Nature’ suggests the effect from C02 has been overstated.

      Yes, by a small amount – and that still has to be confirmed. At present it is a hypothesis that hasn’t been checked. When and if it is confirmed, then it will go into the models. At present it is effectively speculation.

      However it makes little difference to the end-effects if we keep pouring CO2 in the atmosphere.

      Have you no brain – do the maths.

      Pity to see you resorting to playing the man rather than the ball. Actually Spencer is a lot more qualified in this area than most

      Did you read my post – what else do you think that Poneke did. There was no science in his post. Why should he or you be able to point out the fallibilities of individual scientists, but we are not?

      Sounds pretty damn hypocritical to me….

  16. tsmithfield 16

    Quenchino “Sadly Spencer is one of those who has shamed his legacy in his retirement.”

    So you didn’t read the paper then?

    Iprent “However it makes little difference to the end-effects if we keep pouring CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Have you no brain do the maths.”

    Are you sure that adding more means a linear increase in warming. There is an argument that the effect of C02 reduces in a logarithmic fashion as C02 increases. Sort of similar to the way that additional layers of paint will have a progessively lessor effect in cutting out light from getting through a window.

    Click to access 139rmg~1.pdf

    • lprent 16.1

      Yes, but not in the short-term. For the short-term it can be assumed to be pretty linear, unless evidence is found to show that it isn’t (and there will be climatologists looking).

      If we continued to pour out CO2 at the current rate, then we may start to see that non-linear effect happening about the end of the century – as Lindzen himself points out in that paper. However we’d hit the limits of oil usage well before then (as Lindzen points out). Of course we could start using more coal.

      Did you actually read the paper? Or just the headline?

      But in any case before the slope becomes non-linear, we wouldn’t have an issue. I don’t think that civilization could survive an average 5C increase in the next century – do you?

    • quenchino 16.2

      Yes I read it ages ago. Spencer has been hammered all over the park:

      Here and here.

      Are you sure that adding more means a linear increase in warming. There is an argument that the effect of C02 reduces in a logarithmic fashion as C02 increases.

      Umm yes that is Climate 101.

  17. @ TightyRighty

    …did you actually go and read what Dr Roy is saying? he is a scientist, and used to work for NASA, so should be a good one too.

    So you are impressed by a single scientist that USED to work for NASA?
    Then you’ll no doubt be really, really REALLY impressed by thousands of scientists who work for NASA….right now!
    Read what NASA as to say on global warming.
    They’re quite clear on the subject.

  18. BLiP 18

    I think I’ve sussed it – the trolls here have no ability to understand the science but are quite capable of cutting and pasting from that clown Wishart’s science fiction classic. How much damage to understanding and searching for a solution has that godless slave to the love of money done?

  19. Bomber 19

    Great post – Hot Topic also did a great job of debunking much of what the Pon wrote as well – http://tumeke.blogspot.com/2010/01/poneke-climate-denial-deserves-contempt.html

    • lprent 19.1

      That is why I didn’t bother with most of the detail in the Ponekes post. They and others had covered it pretty throughly. I was more irritated about the assumptions about how science operates. Perfection isn’t what scientists are interested in, it is the skeptical questioning of assumptions (and data) that is the norm.

      Open Parachute had a amusing post on that topic “I thought the award for mistakes was mine!“.

      One of my old papers has far more errors than the IPCC reports. These were all misspellings of my own name in the reference list.

      Bloody spell checkers!

      At least I usually write code far more than writing english, so at least the language and syntax gets checked by a compiler with no sense of humour and a fetish for valid machine code.

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    15 hours ago
  • Gang crime, meth harm targeted in Waikato
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    1 day ago
  • Supporting victims and families to attend mosque attack sentencing
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  • Boost for community freshwater restoration projects
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  • More support for women and girls
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  • Crown accounts stronger than forecast with higher consumer spending
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  • Funding for Predator Free Whangārei
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  • New Zealand to review relationship settings with Hong Kong
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  • Funding for Whangārei’s infrastructure projects revealed
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  • Managed isolation and quarantine update
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  • New transformational tools for the Predator Free 2050 effort
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  • Govt confirms investment in better radiology and surgical services for Hawke’s Bay
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  • Specialist alcohol and drug addiction services strengthened across New Zealand
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  • Coastal Shipping Webinar
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  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
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  • Major investment in safe drinking water
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  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
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    4 days ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
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  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
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  • Feedback sought – Commercial Film and Video Production Facilities
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  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
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    5 days ago
  • New Report on Auckland Port Relocation
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    5 days ago
  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
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  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
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  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
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  • Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022
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    6 days ago
  • New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways
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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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  • PGF top-up for QE Health in Rotorua
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  • Building a more sustainable construction sector
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