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Why deny: the lobby groups/polluters

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, December 14th, 2009 - 93 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change - Tags:

This is the first in a three part series on the climate change denial industry. I’m trying to understand why there is such a powerful, well-funded, and ideologically solid body of opposition to a body of scientific evidence that even the scientists employed by one of the chief denier lobby groups called “undeniable” (in a report that their employers, naturally, suppressed). We don’t find this kind of denial of any other science, with the exception of evolution. What is it about climate change that leads to such a large lobby turning a blind eye to undeniable science?

As with almost all human affairs, the first question  to ask is ‘who makes a buck out of it?’

There are very wealthy companies that make a lot of money out of releasing greenhouse gases. In fact, greenhouse gas emitting activities, especially burning oil, form the lynch-pin of the global economy – the companies that do it have a lot of money to spend on being allowed to continue their activities. So they fund front organisations with respectable names (eg ‘Greenhouse Policy Coalition’, rather than ‘Solid Energy, Fonterra, Methanex, Rio Tinto and the Coal Association’s Obstructionist Front Group’). The task of these groups is to a) attempt to cast doubt on the science of climate change b) oppose any significant policy to counter climate change so that the polluters can keep on making money by polluting.

All the pseudo-science, all the reports saying that we ought to focus on other issues, and all the op-eds that say whatever climate change policy is proposed is too expensive and will hurt the economy come from these front groups for polluters.

That’s an important point, so I’ll say it twice: everything official-sounding that comes out against tackling climate change has been funded by people who are making a profit off activities that are causing climate change. And he who pays the piper calls the tune.

In New Zealand, you’ve got the Greenhouse Policy Coalition, funded by the country’s biggest polluters, the Centre for Independent Studies, which is more circumspect about its funding, big-business shills ‘The New Zealand Institute and NZIER, and the industry bodies like Federated Farmers. For foreign lobby groups with polluter backing check this list. In each case, these groups exist solely to preserve the profitability of their funders, which increasingly means opposing action on climate change .

That means obstructing any action to tackle climate change and perpetuating mis-inform among the population. But they don’t care if they’re lying to people or dooming us to the devastation of runaway climate change. This is capitalism – companies don’t try to create positive results for society, they’re not even concerned about the long-term viability of the economy or their own business, as long as they can make a buck today. The doctrine of present value, on which modern capitalism is based, means any cost, no matter how big, becomes irrelevant if it is more than a decade or so in the future.

It’s not even that the people controlling these corporates and lobby groups don’t know that climate change is a serious issue. They just put profits first and to continue to be allowed to ruin our climate to make money, they need a population of useful idiots who ardently deny the science, so they work to misinform and obstruct.

Next time you see some official sounding report or whatever denying climate change or opposing action on it, check who’s paying the piper. I bet you the writers were paid by polluters to protect their profits at our cost.

93 comments on “Why deny: the lobby groups/polluters ”

  1. lukas 1

    “As with almost all human affairs, the first question to ask is ‘who makes a buck out of it?'”

    Al Gore seems to have made a few quick bucks out of it…

    The scientists have made many quick bucks out of all the grants they have been given.

    Good question Marty.

    • zelda 1.1

      And the money CRU was lining up from Shell, as shown in the leaked emails.

      • wtl 1.1.1

        You keep going on about this but i don’t see how it suits your anti-AGW cause. Surely if there is any conspiracy (I’m not suggesting there is) behind funding from Shell, it would be that the CRU is trying to undermine climate science to suit the oil industry.

    • By in large, the money being paid to scientists is due to the quality of their work, not for the outcomes it produces. If a legitimate scientist had a theory and real evidence that humans were not really effecting the climate, and this research was of high quality, then that would most likely be worth far more to them financially than the status quo.

    • BLiP 1.3

      Lukas

      Does your ignorance have no bounds?

  2. Lukas you are fast.

    Prey tell, what are your qualifications which allows you to so expertly decry the science of climate change?

    • lukas 2.1

      Micky, you are slow. I did not decry the “science” of climate change in that comment. I simply made the point that both Al Gore and the scientists who come up with these studies have had hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at them.

      What are your qualifications to comment on this?

      • Marty G 2.1.1

        you are a denier though, lukas. you’re one of the polluters’ useful idiots.

        • lukas 2.1.1.1

          Marty, you rightfully question where the money is coming from to fund the fight against CCB’s, yet ask no questions of Al Gore?

          Hypocrisy much?

          • Marty G 2.1.1.1.1

            interesting cognitive dissonance, lukas.

            These posts are about how such a powerful denier lobby group can exist to this body of science but not to, say, astronomic inflation theory.

            • lukas 2.1.1.1.1.1

              so you have no problems with the hundreds of millions of dollars Al Gore has made off the mass hysteria around his film?

              What about the millions of dollars that the scientists have had thrown at them?

              • Draco T Bastard

                The millions of dollars that thousands of scientists have been given to look into the subject so that we are knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions. Seems like a good idea to me because, unfortunately, neither me nor anyone else is omniscient.

              • Bill

                And there I was, about to agree with you on the point of Al Gore and the gravy train.

                But then you fucked it up by going on about his film. The money Al Gore stands to make is in the carbon market, as heavily lobbied for by ENRON and Goldman Sachs and as forced on the world at Kyoto by Gore and then heavily invested in by him

          • mickysavage 2.1.1.1.2

            So Lukas what are your qualifications?

            • lukas 2.1.1.1.2.1

              if you must know micky- started Uni at 16 and gained a Bachelor of Communications before 20, still have my finger in the study pie with a couple of things though.

              What relevance is that?

              What are your qualifications?

              • Mike

                Bachelor of Communications

                You can do a degree in “communications”? For real?

              • LLB, passed scholarship exams in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. I know a bit although I defer to those with much greater knowledge in the area.

                I do this because I respect the collective opinions of the vast majority of Climate Scientists who know this stuff way better than I do, who have identified the theoretical mechanism whereby increased CO2 and Methane would result in an increase of average world temperatures, and who have identified this mechanism working in practice. And I have seen film and proof of the North Pole melting, of the South Pole crumbling and glaciers throughout the world disappearing.

                And I cannot believe the siht that you guys are making up trying to deny that it is a reality. Even if it cannot be conclusively proved the possibility is that chilling that something needs to be done. Now. Not this weak kneed stuff the current Government is trying to describe as action.

              • ben

                Mickysavage

                I do this because I respect the collective opinions of the vast majority of Climate Scientists

                Careful, Micky. If you’re going to defer to the consensus opinions of PhDs in subjects you haven’t studied then, if you’re going to be consistent, you’ll find yourself in support of eliminating all rent control, tariffs, and arguing in favour of minimum wage increasing unemployment. Those are the things that a strong majority of academic economists believe.

                And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center, according to research by a bloke called Bryan Caplan.

              • Clarke

                And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center, according to research by a bloke called Bryan Caplan.

                By “a bloke called Bryan Caplan” I presume you mean Professor Bryan Caplan from George Mason U, a self-confessed “well-known libertarian/anarchist professor” who hosts the Anarchist FAQ … ?

                Of course he thinks the average economist is left of centre – he’s paid by that bunch of libertarian nut-jobs at the Cato Institute to say so. Frankly, everyone this side of Ghengis Khan would qualify for the same moniker by Caplan’s standards.

                You should provide more links in your posts, ben, so everyone can see what a bunch of total screwballs you’re relying on for third-party validation.

              • ben

                Clarke

                Of course he thinks the average economist is left of centre he’s paid by that bunch of libertarian nut-jobs at the Cato Institute to say so. Frankly, everyone this side of Ghengis Khan would qualify for the same moniker by Caplan’s standards.

                Don’t you have anything other than ad hominems to throw? Is this really it?

                The research Caplan uses in his book is not relative to him, it is relative to the population.

                Say something substantive. Anything.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Here’s Caplan:

                This was precisely the approach that I used to analyze the best available data set on economic beliefs, the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy. The overarching finding: Economists and the public hold radically different beliefs about the economy.[4] Compared to the experts, laymen are much more skeptical of markets, especially international and labor markets, and much more pessimistic about the past, present, and future of the economy. When laymen see business conspiracies, economists see supply-and-demand. When laymen see ruinous competition from foreigners, economists see the wonder of comparative advantage. When laymen see dangerous downsizing, economists see wealth-enhancing reallocation of labor. When laymen see decline, economists see progress.[5]

                While critics of the economics profession like to attribute these patterns to economists’ affluence, job security, and/or right-wing ideology, the facts are not with them. Controlling for income, income growth, job security, gender, and race only mildly reduces the size of the lay-expert belief gap. And, since the typical economist is actually a moderate Democrat, controlling for party identification and ideology makes the lay-expert belief gap get a little bigger. Economists think that markets work well not because of their extreme right-wing ideology, but despite their mild left-wing ideology.

                http://www.cato-unbound.org/2006/11/06/bryan-caplan/the-myth-of-the-rational-voter/

                So

                i)it wasn’t him that did the research, he was quoting it;

                ii) laymen are not to the ‘right’ of economists on economic matters;

                and

                iii) he grades economists as being ‘left of centre’ because they are lib dems for non economic reasons. ie, they are lib dems in spite of their more ‘right wing’ views on economcs.

                I’m seeing why you didn’t link.

              • ben

                Pascal – thanks for taking the thirty seconds required to google.

                So

                i)it wasn’t him that did the research, he was quoting it;

                Yep, that would be why I said “the research he uses”. What is unclear about this?

                ii) laymen are not to the ‘right’ of economists on economic matters;

                Left and right is usually a political distinction. Which is why I said, “And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center”

                iii) he grades economists as being ‘left of centre’ because they are lib dems for non economic reasons. ie, they are lib dems in spite of their more ‘right wing’ views on economcs.

                Left and right is usually a political distinction. Which is why I said, “And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center”

                I’m seeing why you didn’t link.

                And why is that exactly? Please explain.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Sophistry

                Yep, that would be why I said “the research he uses’. What is unclear about this?

                Here’s what you initially said: And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center, according to research by a bloke called Bryan Caplan.

                Left and right is usually a political distinction. Which is why I said, “And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center’

                This is what I mean by sophistry. Economics is a large part of the political divide between left and right. When you say that economists tend to be left wing in comparison to the population at large, people will tend to infer that you are talking about their views on economics. Otherwise, what is the point?

                If you care to explain that point more coherently, I’d be much obliged.

                On Caplans idea that perhaps we should be a little less democratic and give the pro’s a veto, as it were, he seems to just discount the fact the pros vote lib dem. It seems reasonable to infer that professional economists would place a premium on economic matters when casting their votes, so the fact that they hold a more right wing view on a few matters x,y, and z, may well just be noise.

              • Pascal's bookie

                sorry about the HTML fail, edit not working for me at the mo’ 🙁

                captcha ‘mistakes’

              • ben

                >Yep, that would be why I said “the research he uses’. What is unclear about this?

                Here’s what you initially said: And, by the way, your average economists is left of the political center, according to research by a bloke called Bryan Caplan.

                Oh my mistake. And you think this is relevant why?

                The only reason I raised the point at all was to head off the inevitable cry around here to the effect, “of course economists believe those things, they’re all right wing nutters”. Well, no, they’re not, They’re more likely than average to vote the way you do, comrade.

                That’s the only point I was trying to make. It is actually an irrelevant point – why should anybody’s trust in the research of economists be affected by their voting patterns? It shouldn’t. But around here, absent clear thinking at times, it does matter.

                So I don’t see what your point is. If you think I am in any way trying to lie or mislead you’ve misunderstood me.

            • zelda 2.1.1.1.2.2

              What are Al Gores Climate qualifications ?
              We know hes an internet expert, but his other fields where he is an expert are ?
              Not geology as he thinks the mantle temperature of the earth is ‘millions of degrees’

              • wtl

                Whoever suggested that Al Gore was an expert on climate science? All he did was try to provide a voice for the scientists who were experts in the field.

              • lukas

                All he did was make a film full of inaccuracies and flew around the world in his private jet promoting it.

                Wonder how many ice bergs are melting because of Gore?

  3. lprent 3

    Bearing in mind the very large anonymous contributions to National and Act party coffers from 2004 onwards you’d have to ask if these are also part of the polluter front bodies. The ETS sure looks like a do-nothing bit of fluff that does essentially nothing about climate change apart from costing tax-payers.

    There is an easy way to refute this suggestion. Make donations visible to public scrutiny.

  4. As with almost all human affairs the REAL reasons for anything are complex, many faceted and constantly shifting.

    There are plenty of bucks to be made out of green energy and the people most likely to make those bucks are the Companies with the bucks to invest in the necessary R&D – ie. presently the petroleum producers and vehicle manufacturers.

    We NEED climate deniers and questioners. That’s what makes good science.

    • lprent 4.1

      I’d agree. There are a lot of skeptics in science – that is how reputations are made. But working scientists move on to the next idea or study when they are sure that an idea is not viable.

      My issue with the CCDs we see in the blogosphere is their habit of some of them to ignore any responses to their quibbles and just keep pounding away on the same old tired lines that have been proven to be incorrect. This is a PR strategy rather than a scientific one. It is useful for fighting a delaying action. It is not useful for eliciting new approaches to the science issues. It is purely there to delay action – as far as I can see – largely to allow people to make short-term profits.

      • Andrei 4.1.1

        But working scientists move on to the next idea or study when they are sure that an idea is not viable.

        Then why hasn’t Michael Mann moved on from his discredited tree ring data?

        • lprent 4.1.1.1

          As far as I’m aware it isn’t ‘discredited’ apart from the crazies misreading e-mails.

          Tree ring data is always problematic because it looks at quite short-term local terrestrial events. All it takes is some oddball storms, a ocean current change, or strange wind pattern for an area. However it is usually tied into tree-ring from other areas and other data covering wider areas. In particular isotope balances in semi-organic sediments tend towards being more reliable because of the buffering actions of oceans. However even that has issues with preferential leaching and ocean current movements.

          Regional events are just that. For instance the medieval mini-ice-age when the Thames froze that CCDs so love. It was a regional event largely affecting Western Europe and virtually invisible outside of the North Atlantic regions. Last I saw, they were pretty sure that it was a change in the flow rate of the Gulf Stream northwards.

          One of the things that pisses me off the most with CCDs is that they are looking for ‘exact’ answers. Those do not exist in earth sciences because of the timescales and volumes that have to be looked at. It is science – not some kind of faith based system where assertion makes something true.

          • lukas 4.1.1.1.1

            “Tree ring data is always problematic because it looks at quite short-term local terrestrial events. All it takes is some oddball storms, a ocean current change, or strange wind pattern for an area.”

            Yet this data is used all the time to tell us how much trouble we are in.

            “However it is usually tied into tree-ring from other areas and other data covering wider areas.”

            Yet with most of the current studies, a very small amount of data of a very large area is used.

            • lprent 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Nope it is PART of the data used. Of course the CCDs don’t look at that.

              FFS humans can’t say absolutely what happened within recorded history with temperature. Which is why we use things like tree-rings for short-term, oxygen isotope ratios for longer term. Data is consolidated out of local data to regional. To do that you remove local variations – like the differences in temperature depending on how high you are above seal level. Which some f*ckwit local CCDs seem to think is not required – at least they put out charts with uncorrected data when a weather station moved uphill during the sequence of the graph. The temperature drops as you move uphill. The f*ckwits used an uncorrected uphill move to claim that tempatures are dropping. How moronic can you get?

              Let me ask a question? What was the temperature at sunrise on the day you were born? I bet you can’t find out exactly what it was – why – because the data gets lost and consolidated. That is what time does.

              Non-scientific CCDs are like that all of the time. They criticize but fail to actually look at the work required.

              • Andrei

                What was the temperature at sunrise on the day you were born?

                What was the temperature at What was the temperature at sunrise on the day you were born? The temperature where?
                Ulan Bator? Minsk? Zagreb? Ljubljana? Prague? Strasbourg? Lisbon?

                Without knowing where exactly it is an unspecified question with no real answer which means any number between -20C° and 20C° could be quoted and would be correct as well as some numbers outside that range..

                I am not being banal here although I expect you will think I am.

                And what meaningful conclusions could you draw from such knowledge in any case?

                Trying to detect a small signal (warming) in noisy data where the measuring instruments, protocols and even positions where the measurements have been taken have changed over time is an exercise in utter futility

                • lprent

                  It is a valid point. But I was pointing out that you probably can’t find definitive data for the temperature in the town you were born in. Information is lossy with time.

                  In my case it’d be Auckland Womens Hospital, 4th June 1959.

                  That was a bit over 50 years ago – I have no idea where to get data. But I’ll take a bet that the best you can get is an estimate.

                  It is probably the first date you could get any continuous measurements for Antarctica (geophysical year). Now imagine trying to get an accurate temperature for:- say 500 years ago in NZ. Or say 5000 years ago in what is now London.

                  If you looked at temperature measurements for the start of last century, you’ll find that they didn’t measure elevations or even record the actual position of the sensors.

                  All measurements outside of the last 50 years (and many within that period) are estimates, and aren’t accurate. Outside of the last couple of hundred years in Europe, you can’t get measurements for most of the globe. So temperature measurement or CO2 levels or H2O vapor are just estimates from multiple correlations amongst diverse data.

                  All of these things are science in a lossy information system. For anyone to think that anything can be a 100% accurate is just fooling themselves. That is what my point was.

              • ben

                Lynn, another difficulty with the climate data is that many adjustments to the raw data seem to go in the wrong direction. We can all agree an upwards adjustment is appropriate when a weather station is moved uphill. However, what is much less clear is why adjustments to the raw data remain upwards when stations do not move and are in areas subject to urbanisation over the last century. Urban heat island effect is real and introduces a strong upwards bias to temperature, particularly at night, yet Hadley et al continue to apply upwards corrections to data from previously rural, now-urban, weather station. The satellite and ground based temp measures have diverged in the last few years and it is suspected that these adjustments are the reason why (satellite is not affected by UHI effect). The single best thing that will, I hope, come out of climategate is a clear understanding of how these adjustments are being done.

                Note that around 80% of all the warming in the past century is due not to the raw data, but to the adjustments. The raw data shows warming, but only a fraction of the reported figure. Plainly, the process for adjusting needs to be done in plain view because the case for action depends in good part on what is happening there. If we’re going to be taxed and regulated, we need to be sure the books are not being cooked.

  5. Doug 5

    Is this how Scientists work, eliminate the hard questions.

  6. ben 6

    Truly an awful post, Marty. Let me count the ways.

    First, there is the usual confusion of denying science and denying policy. To be fair, almost everybody in the warmist camp makes the mistake. But it is fundamental and obvious and, consequently, a smear. A more mature response would be to acknowledge that hardly anybody denies the planet is warming, and only a few more think humans have nothing to do with that, and then address the main body of skeptics who are not convinced the problem is as serious as others and/or are not convinced any of the policy responses will make enough of a difference to be worth the tremendous cost.

    Second, nearly the entire post is an ad hominem fallacy: deniers receive money from the self-interested, therefore their message must be corrupted. Um, no. While this rhetorical trick allows you to usefully skirt the argument, its still just a rhetorical trick. What tells you that funding is not going to good ideas? Nothing. And by the way (and, to go into the playground for a minute: you started it), warmists receive money from the self-interested. Governments are not in the habit of fundings a uniform selection of research on climate change. Their funding is conditional on looking at the problems of climate change, how bad its going to be, and the policies required to fix it. Government is a lot less interested in hearing there is no problem. This funding dwarfs, by two or even three orders of magnitude, the funding received from skeptics.

    But note: the entire issue of funding is a fallacy and nothing more than a distraction.

    Third, the diatribe against capitalism is useless. Name a modern economic system that doesn’t produce enormous quantities of carbon emissions. Communism was not known for its environmental friendliness. While you are generally right that firms will not respond to incentives not put before them, economics offers standard tools for doing just that: carbon taxes. That solution, however, has been rejected by governments in favour of another which will achieve much less but, coincidentally, massively enhance the power of every government that adopts it: cap and trade.

    Fourth, skepticism about policy is almost unrelated to climate science. A policy’s value is a question of economics and of personal values. The massive resources being co-opted to fight carbon emissions require forgoing other things. Economics tells you how much of those other things. The value judgment is then whether that is a trade worth making.

    It requires no money at all from Shell to believe that a) other policy approaches are likely to achieve more at less cost b) handing an institution as irresponsible as central governments a lot more power is dangerous, and c) the trade may not be worth making at all while other more pressing issues (e.g. dirty water in the third world kills 2 million/year) remain unresolved.

    Until you start addressing these issues and stop with the facile ad hominems you will not be taken seriously by anyone except the converted.

    • Bill 6.1

      How is funding for a lobby group in any way similar to funding for scientific enquiry?

      And why should querying the cynical funding of front groups that attempt to manufacture a misleading and false ‘consensus of discontent’ be regarded as nothing but a distraction?

      Just asking.

      • ben 6.1.1

        How is funding for a lobby group in any way similar to funding for scientific enquiry?

        They are similar when funding for scientific enquiry is conditional on finding a problem.

        And why should querying the cynical funding of front groups that attempt to manufacture a misleading and false ‘consensus of discontent’ be regarded as nothing but a distraction?

        If the extent of your querying is to look at who pays their bills, then it must be a distraction: who pays the bills can tell you absolutely nothing about the quality of the argument. Addressing the argument, on the other hand, can tell you about the quality of the argument. Perhaps Marty could do that.

  7. Doug. “Is this how Scientists work, eliminate the hard questions.”

    No. What scientists try to do is to break down the hard questions into a lot of easy ones, so that the hard question answers itself.

    That pumping more CO2 etc into the atmosphere is going to have an effect on the climate is, generally, no longer in dispute. What is in dispute is the nature and effect of the changes because no one effect can be taken in isolation. What the climate is going to do over the next ten or one hundred years cannot be modeled because of the butterfly effect, and to some extent scientific ignorance. What all but the most idiotic or pea-brained do believe is that you don’t run uncontrolled experiments with something as fundamental for our survival as the climate, and as we do know more or less how the status quo works and can take informed guesses as to how small changes might affect it, common sense dictates not charging off blindly into the unknown to see what happens, which is what CCDs would have us do.

    • Andrei 7.1

      That pumping more CO2 etc into the atmosphere is going to have an effect on the climate is, generally, no longer in dispute. What is in dispute is the nature and effect of the changes because no one effect can be taken in isolation. What the climate is going to do over the next ten or one hundred years cannot be modeled because of the butterfly effect, and to some extent scientific ignorance

      Excellent until you spoil it with this

      What all but the most idiotic or pea-brained do believe is that you don’t run uncontrolled experiments with something as fundamental for our survival as the climate,

      Unfortunately everything we do is an “uncontrolled experiment” on the climate and everything else beside cf butterfly effect and any measures we take to mitigate “climate change” are just as likely to have detrimental effects on humanity as doing nothing – there is absolutely no way of knowing.

      What is abundantly clear though is significantly cutting emissions means cutting back on human economic activity and there is no doubt about what that means – it means that some people, at a minimum, are going to be poorer. And the more significant the cuts are the more the ranks of the poor will have to swell. And being poor is not good for people – although having a poor marginalized peasantry is good for the ruling classes – which is possibly why they are so attracted to this idea of AGW if you ask me.

      • Clarke 7.1.1

        Unfortunately everything we do is an “uncontrolled experiment’ on the climate and everything else beside cf butterfly effect and any measures we take to mitigate “climate change’ are just as likely to have detrimental effects on humanity as doing nothing there is absolutely no way of knowing.

        It’s this kind of comment that never fails to amaze me with you CCD lot. We know that (a) the planet is warming, and (b) additional CO2 increases the temperature retained in the atmosphere. These things may not be causally related – although no useful hypothesis has been advanced to explain away the linkage – but even the most cursory understanding of risk management should lead to a more responsible approach than what you’re advocating.

        To conduct planet-wide experiments on a live system with no backup plan and no rollback is simply the heights of irresponsibility. We don’t do it on a production software system, so why on earth would we do it on the biosphere?

    • Doug 7.2

      There was 5 times as much CO2 in the air during the dinosaur years, and 20 times as much before that, because oceans absorb CO2 and tie it up as calcium carbonate in coral reefs gradually forming limestone. There is now 1/3 as much CO2 in the air as plants need to grow on

      • wtl 7.2.1

        Only a 1/3 enough for plans to grow? That explains why there are no plants alive today. Seriously though, are you that daft to not realise that modern plants have probably evolved to function optimally at modern CO2 levels? And what was the climate like when the dinosaurs were around?

  8. ben 8

    Credit where its due, by the way: not every leftist site publishes every comment but the Standard does. Appreciate it.

  9. Clarke 9

    The definition of a lobbyist that I liked the most came from H.L. Mencken:

    One who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

    • lukas 9.1

      So Al Gore?

      • Clarke 9.1.1

        Nah – Monckton.

      • Macro 9.1.2

        No! – lucas!
        Al Gore is not lobbying.
        But everything that you write is straight from the PR garbage factories of the petrochemical industry – including that last comment of yours! You may not think it was – you might have thought it was original thought on your part – but you have been well and truly brainwashed my friend.

      • Lew 9.1.3

        Lukas, surely, if you think Al Gore is an idiot rather than an evil genius, then even you have to admit that he believes AGW is true, thus failing Mencken’s second criterion.

        L

  10. tsmithfield 10

    I concur with Ben.

    There is a massive strawman argument in classifying anyone slightly skeptical of the alarmist perspective as being a CCD. That sort of classifier should only be used for the fringe minority who don’t believe the world is warming and don’t believe that C02 has any greenhouse effect.

    Most scientists, skeptics or otherwise, now believe the fundamental aspects of AGW. The disagreements are more at the level of climate sensitivity to these affects, and the best response to it. For instance, what is the true level of climate sensitivity? Is the cap and trade model the best solution? Are we better to focus on immediate problems (peak oil, deforestation, etc) that will solve the long-term problem, regardless of its scale, along the way? Are we better to accept that a high degree of climate change is inevitable, and invest more in adaption rather than mitigation?

    These sort of discussions are at the level of healthy debate, rather than blind denial, and is where most skeptical scientists are at, I think you will find.

    • wtl 10.1

      But the vast majority of people who post on blogs such as this are not arguing about the issues you raised, which are very debatable, but the science itself. How on earth are we supposed to have discuss the best response to AGW and such when as soon as you start a discussion about AGW, people start babbling on about no real warming, CO2 doesn’t do much, it’s good for trees etc.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    For instance, what is the true level of climate sensitivity?

    Not know-able at present. Ballance of probability based on the current state of knowledge would suggest that there is a problem, and it may well be very severe. It is at least more likely to be ‘very severe’ than it is to be ‘a trifling problem’.

    Is the cap and trade model the best solution?

    Prabably not, but not a scientific question so much as a political one. Most of the people actively opposing efforts at C&T want to do nothing instead. They tend to be quiet about alternatives or were opposed those alternatives in favour of C&T until recently.

    Are we better to focus on immediate problems (peak oil, deforestation, etc) that will solve the long-term problem, regardless of its scale, along the way?

    False dichotomy. we can and should do both.

    Are we better to accept that a high degree of climate change is inevitable, and invest more in adaption rather than mitigation?

    False dichotomy. We can, and will need to do, both.

    • lprent 11.1

      Are we better to accept that a high degree of climate change is inevitable, and invest more in adaption rather than mitigation?
      False dichotomy. We can, and will need to do, both.

      Shudder. That is a question that really scares me. Shows someone hasn’t been listening about risk levels.

      Climate change is already irreversible from what has already been poured to the atmosphere and oceans. But it is probably manageable with adaption if we can stop the bloody growth in greenhouse gases.

      The problem is that there are a lot of unexplained climate change events in the current glacial period (approx 40 million years since Antarctica fully moved into the polar region) where the climate has abruptly shifted to a different equilibrium. From what can be seen of them these have involved substantial and abrupt shifts in temperature and sea level after periods of slow warming similar to what we are seeing now.

      The question is what are these tipping points from. We don’t know although there are a lot of theories. We do know that they happen after warming periods after relatively cool periods. We’re warming the climate faster than ANY we can see in the past. We’re likely to hit one of the tipping events pretty damn shortly. The IPCC reports concentrate on what is absolutely known. So they describe the minimum effects using certain science. They do not say what is likely.

      Suspects are everything from methane on the seafloor to peat bogs and melting permafrost in the arctic. What we do know is that they can cause big shifts and that the scale of these shifts mean that adaption is not an option for our technological based society if they happen. We would lose billions of people world wide, and they won’t go quietly.

      There are alternatives. After all the simplest way to get rid of a sea-level rise in the tropics is to cause an ice-age in northern hemisphere. Throwing nukes around Europe and North America should cause a nuclear winter through dust and ash and delay global warming significantly. I’m sure that someone has thought of it.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    Pascal “False dichotomy. we can and should do both.”

    Not quite right. I see the debate as a matter of emphasis. So the false dichotomy does not follow.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    wtl “But the vast majority of people who post on blogs such as this are not arguing about the issues you raised, which are very debatable, but the science itself. How on earth are we supposed to have discuss the best response to AGW and such when as soon as you start a discussion about AGW, people start babbling on about no real warming, CO2 doesn’t do much, it’s good for trees etc.”

    I agree with you there. However, it does not accurately reflect the views of most skeptical scientists, who IMO are often unfairly labeled as CCD’s.

  14. Bored 14

    Oh dear oh dear, lots of Titanic deck chair shuffling, and quoit point scoring whilst the ship goes down….we have got somewhat hotter since this post was posted.

    The questioning peoples qualifications above reveals a trivial pursuit of the ego. As a holder of degrees in history, geography and geology a long time since, (meaning I am incredibly unspecialised in any discipline relevant to climate change) I must have crap opinions. At least thats the tenet of what I saw above.

    Then there is the delving into and quoting of infinite detail, as if they constitute or contain some Holy Grail that will swing the argument. Well heres a detail that getting warmer during the above debate confirmed empirically…Dantes Inferno has just been expanded to an eight ring of Hell, its the hottest of the lot and features all of us for creating the issue of climate change with our desire for industrial consumer goods….the devils tripods are being used to spike climate deniers who have just been transfered from Purgatory where they spent eight thousand years being mauled by hot and angry polar bears.

  15. lukas 15

    On a slightly different note, but still on the topic of climate change… how is it OK for RNZ to make an editorial decision not to give any air time in general broadcasting to those opposed to AGW?

    • snoozer 15.1

      That’s fine. Why would they? They don’t give time to people who deny the theory of relativity either.

      If there was some scientific basis to climate change denial, they should cover it. But there isn’t, so they shouldn’t.

      anyway, isn’t Jim Mora a denier?

      • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1

        Ian Wishart was on the Panel recently.

        • lukas 15.1.1.1

          “Ian Wishart was on the Panel recently.”

          My guess would be that was a specific show on the issue?

          • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.1.1

            It was the panel, he was a panelist, communications guy.

            Where is this coming from anyway? Got a cite for this editorial ban? What does it mean?

      • lukas 15.1.2

        So a public broadcaster can now take positions on issues rather than presenting both sides of the argument? Good to know.

        “If there was some scientific basis to climate change denial, they should cover it. But there isn’t, so they shouldn’t.”

        So you think that the science is 100% settled?

        • lprent 15.1.2.1

          So you think that the science is 100% settled?

          Stupid question. Ask a physics lecturer if they think that it is certain it is that Planks constant has always had the same value, and they were say that they are not 100% certain. However they are a 99.9999…..% certain that it will be the same for the next day.

          Explain why you think that any science can be 100% certain. Explain how you can think ANYTHING can be 100% certain.

          Nothing is certain in science – it is only illiterate fools like you who think it can be. There is nothing that I can think of that is 100% certain in any area.

          • ben 15.1.2.1.1

            Lynn, you can put the relationship between CO2 and warming into the same area of comfort as Planck’s constant, but you can’t do it for climate sensitivity – not even close, and most of the warming in the scary scenarios that demand a policy response depends on very high climate sensitivity that the available evidence currently does not support. Neither the sign nor magnitude is in any sense settled. This is one reason why skeptics distrust warmists – the consensus on the bit of the science that is settled is being leveraged to say there is consensus for other parts of the science, and it turns out these other parts are where most of the warming is!

            This not to say nothing should be done, this is not to say everything must be settled first – but the basic charge against skeptics for being skeptical when there really is a very significant lack of consensus on a good deal of the science amounts to a poor show by warmists. There is still a serious discussion to be had.

            • Bill 15.1.2.1.1.1

              Can’t resist the obvious. You say, Ben…

              “There is still a serious discussion to be had.”

              (sigh) So what the fuck you putting your 2c in for again?

              • ben

                You’re asking the guy who says the debate is not over why he is debating?

                What is the opposite of touche?

              • felix

                I believe Bill meant to emphasize the word serious, and the opposite of touché is douché.

        • Bill 15.1.2.2

          Since when did a broadcaster not take positions on issues?

          Since when were issues simple either/or propositions/phenomena?

        • snoozer 15.1.2.3

          but there aren’t two real sides to the issue, lukas. Not on the science of climate change.

          I mean you could find some nutter to argue against anything (Planck’s constant, for instance) but that doesn’t mean that argument has any legitimacy and deserves airtime.

          There is no scientific argument against climate change. That has been the case for 20 years or more. At least since the Framework Convention on Climate Change was established, whereby the governments of the world recognised that climate change was so serious it needed a specialist scientific body, the IPCC, to enhance understanding of the problem. Nothing has changed.

          • ben 15.1.2.3.1

            Actually Snoozer, the other side of the argument doesn’t have to be outright denial that the world is warming. How many times must it be said?

            You’re just knocking over an old straw man.

            • Pascal's bookie 15.1.2.3.1.1

              There are plenty of these so called strawmen about. (Andrei, Wishart, Monkton etc) Never seen you confront them though. Funny that.

              • ben

                On this blog? No. I don’t like everything Monckton says, I think he goes a little to far at times. I deliberately avoid Wishart for other reasons, never read a word he’s said.

                Anyway – what’s your point? That two wrongs make a right? Or is it that one or two nutcases disqualifies absolutely everything said by your opponent?

              • Pascal's bookie

                My point is that these are not strawmen. You keep claiming that most sceptics are quite moderate, and yet the most famous sceptics are what you describe as strawmen.

              • ben

                My point is that these are not strawmen. You keep claiming that most sceptics are quite moderate, and yet the most famous sceptics are what you describe as strawmen.

                Now you are making things up. “the most famous sceptics are what you describe as strawmen” does not even make sense. I haven’t even addressed anything those skeptics say. What are you on about?

            • snoozer 15.1.2.3.1.2

              well, are you denying that it is serious then?

              Where’s the science on that? Because the body of evidence is pretty clear that it is a serious issue.

              Or are you saying it’s not man-made? Again, no scientific evidence on that, and irrelevant anyway because we suffer the effects no matter the cause.

  16. The reason that I get peed off with CCDs is that their stupidity is used as an excuse for inaction. They confuse the lack of “conclusive” proof being justification for inaction for what is at least likely to be a planet changing problem and they never move from this position.

    I am really confused by Ben’s position. He seems to accept that climate change is happening but seems to be saying that it should be proved conclusively that remedies will work before action should be taken. We should do nothing unless it will definately work.

    I can see us having this debate in 30 years time as the last polar bear disappears off the face of the earth.

    • lukas 16.1

      I do not know many people who believe that the world is not getting warmer, what most of us have an issue with is the human induced part.

      As for the polar bears- I think you will find that they are increasing in number, despite alarmist posts by Marty.

  17. tsmithfield 17

    Mickey “The reason that I get peed off with CCDs is that their stupidity is used as an excuse for inaction.”

    Mickey, I consider myself to be an environmentalist at heart, and am very concerned at what is happening to the planet in a lot of ways. My position on global warming is that I am unsure about the degree of sensitivity the climate has to C02. I would not rule out the possibility that the extreme scenario’s might be right, neither would I rule out that the least extreme scenarios might be right. I like to debate the other side simply because I like being a bit of a contrarian, though I am not really committed to that side of the argument.

    I think a major problem at the moment is AGW fatigue amongst the general population. The AGW issue has been pushed so hard, and has been proven to have done so with a fair degree of misinformation that skeptics have picked up on. For instance, a documentary on Tuvalau that focused entirely on the AGW aspect of the island sinking under the water without once mentioning that the island was sinking anyway due to geology, probably at a much faster rate than any effect from AGW.

    I believe, from a number of polls I have seen, that there is a growing skepticism amongst the populations of various countries towards AGW. This is not necessarilly all to do with the skeptics IMO. It is also due to a lot of the perceived over the top scaremongering that comes from the alarmist side, whether that is justified in fact or not.

    This has to be bad for the overall cause. I also very much doubt that a cap and trade solution will achieve very much.

    That is why I am very much in favour of cleaning up immediate world problems that everyone can see and understand. I think it will be much easier to get buy-in from this type of solution. Solving peak oil, saving rain-forests etc is something I can definitely support, and will have a major effect on emissions at the same time. I believe if measures to solve AGW can be sold in this way, then there will be a lot more buy-in from the population in general, which is really necessary for a long-term solution.

  18. wow that’s a sorry example of commentary. you lot ought to be ashamed.

    Anyone want to talk about the post? What’s the point of it? The major point I got out of it was the one that was repeated, and seems to be pretty much irrelevant. Consider this fact, everyone who has issued an official report advocating reducing emissions is also funded by someone causing emissions. Face it, funds don’t happen without causing some emissions somewhere along the way. Greenpeace money is tainted, and in fact Greenpeace activities are tainted!! Schlepping about on a boat with a motor….what is wrong with rowing?

    Why on earth does this post need to come in three parts? If all three parts are this info-light, it could have come across in three sentences…wihtout repeating the really super important part, of course.

    • Marty G 18.1

      danielle. That’s a stupid and purposely stupid interpretation. The point is the reports are funded by companies whose main activity involves emitting lots of greenhouse gases or supplying fossil fuels.

      It is not about the incidental amounts of greenhouse gases that are emitted in the fight against climate change (by incidental, I mean less than, say, a thousand megatonnes a year)

  19. Outofbed 19

    Climate Change Performance Index 2010
    A comparison of the 60 top CO2 emitting nations
    Just released
    We are NUMBER 57
    http://www.germanwatch.org/klima/ccpi2010.pdf

  20. Eden 20

    Ian WIshart on the National Programme Panel? Oh my God! Mind you I have heard Hoots Hooten on there and he is almost as bad!

    Al Gore has made good money out of his excellent work as a Climate Change advocate. He has talent. He is smart. He has credibilty. He was wealthy to start with. He did not need donations like these denying wannabes!

    Al power to Al Gore for his advocacy and independence on this vital issue!

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