Tag Archives: global warming

Big Green Hypocrites — Part II

TONY THOMAS

 

One hears it whenever the well-paid warmist elite gets its richly remunerated nose out of the trough: ‘If you doubt our scare stories about global warming, you must be listening to deniers in the pay of Big Carbon.” There’s money in the climate racket, that’s for sure — but precious little goes to sceptics

 

green megaphoneIn the global debate on climate, the sceptic workload is carried by individuals working from kitchen tables or their equivalent. Yet, despite their meagre resourcing, top sceptic bloggers achieve an avid readership. In Australia, both major political parties chant the mantra of dangerous, human-caused global warming. No newspaper is avowedly sceptic, although the News Corp press, unlike its Fairfax counterpart, permits dissenting voices to grace its pages and websites.  Yet despite the overwhelming bias in favour of warmism, especially at the ABC, 47% of the population rejects the mantra: I suspect the bloggers’ message has percolated through.

Of course, News Corp columnists, including the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair of the Daily Telegraph are sceptics, each well-paid and both with massive followings. But they don’t specialise in climate coverage, and a lot of their sceptic items are extracted from the writings of the kitchen-table climate bloggers, who keep close watch on emerging science and controversies.

Here are some 2014 “Bloggies” award results for blogs which happen to be sceptic.

Weblog of the Year and Best Group Weblog: Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That(US).|
Lifetime AchievementJoanne Nova (Perth WA)
Best Topical Weblog: Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit (Canada)
Best Political WeblogGlobal Warming Policy Foundation (UK)
Best European Weblog: Roger Tattersall’s Tallbloke’s Talkshop (UK).

Anthony Watts, of Watts Up, also won the top blog award in 2013. He has achieved 195 million page views since launching the site. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 his blog took first place in the Bloggies Best Science Weblog category. He is on no-one’s payroll, and gets by with half a dozen volunteer moderators. He earns some income from Amazon book referrals and wordpress.com blog ads, donations via a tip button and the sale of mugs, T-shirts etc. He normally takes no directly placed paid ads. In 2012, he received $US44,000 from a donor via the Heartland Institute think-tank to make official climate data more user-friendly. He gets small honorariums and expenses as a Heartland conference speaker.

Joanne Nova earlier was rated best Australasian blog in 2012. She  is blogging full-time while raising a family at a modest outer-suburban Perth home, sans government grants, sans academic salary andsans cheques from Big Oil. Her Climate Sceptics’ Handbook has achieved 220,000 downloads and been translated into 16 languages, but she distributes it free.

Nova’s blog attracted half a million visits last year, but in March of 2014 she wrote, “Our bank account is looking very low. All contributions would be gratefully received. Thanks.” An individual known only as “Jaymez” then offered to add $1 to every $4 raised, to a maximum  grant of $5000.  In the event, she got $20,000 that week from 600 donors globally and $5000 in Jaymez’s matching money.  (Oddly, donations take the form of buying her $1 e-chocolate bars, as she’s not a registered charity).

This donations drive was a unique occasion, as Nova’s normal income is derived from small-change tip-jar contributions and minor web ads and sundries, such as commissioned reports.

Part I of ‘Big Green Hypocrites’

Nova’s real name is Joanne Codling, and she’s married to scientist Dr David Evans. She tellsQuadrant Online, “This battle for logic and reason has cost us thousands, most of it in opportunity cost of what we could have earned. We’d be a lot richer now if we had not got involved in this climate debate. But it has opened some excellent doors and we have friends all over the world. As far as mental stimulation goes, it does not get better than taking on the UN and Western governments with nothing but the web and our wits. I love what I do.

“In reality, as intellectually rewarding as our work is, we have to pay bills. Right now both of us are full-time on this, and it would not be sustainable without the help of those  who like to see cheating and self-serving exaggeration exposed.”

Nova crusades for scepticism with Evans, a self-employed  mathematician and engineer who boasts six university degrees, including a PhD from Stanford University in electrical engineering. Originally a green, Nova did a science degree in molecular biology and toured five years for Shell as performer and manager with its Questacon Science Circus, introducing science to schoolchildren. She then lectured in science communication. She says monopolistic government funding of science is holding science back: “We need independent science, too,” she says, “that means people who are paid to follow the data, not the grants.”

“We need truly independent auditors and investigators — funded directly by the people, not via tax payments. I have a vision where a lot of good people make small monthly donations to the pool of people at the front line. If bloggers and writers can keep taxes lower by 2% to 3%, the donors will be financially better off as well, and this applies to corporations too.

“We need to think big. We can create a permanent industry of people holding the government, and the media, to the task. If we pay bloggers well, there will be serious competition among bloggers, and a new career path for the top independent minds out of school and university. Wouldn’t that be brilliant!

“If protecting the environment is worth $500 million (roughly the turnover of World Wildlife Fund), then protecting our civilization is even more valuable. Nothing trashes the environment like anarchy. Greens should join libertarians and conservatives in supporting an independent watch-dog industry.”

Nova’s sceptic counterpart in Canada is journalist, feminist and author Donna Laframbroise, whoseNo Frakking Consensus placed fourth for Weblog of the Year, 2014. “Time is a non-renewable resource,” Laframboise says. “The past five years have been rewarding in many respects and, given the chance to re-live them, I doubt I’d change much. What they have not been is financially rewarding. I would have enjoyed more spare time and earned more money if I’d spent the past five years working as a barista.”

Until late 2010, Laframboise received no external funding, all her research and publication costs having been underwritten by her household budget. In December, 2012, she wrote, “Despite your support, I’m sorry to say that this kind of work is not financially lucrative. The climate-sceptic community is relatively small and my book [on the IPCC] has not yet broken into the mainstream.”

When invited in January to address the Climate Change Committee of the House of Commons about her five years of research into the IPCC, she had to pay for her own trans-Atlantic flights and sundry costs, with the exception of one night in a hotel, which was covered. Unlike academics and employees, she had no-one reimbursing her costs.

Laframboise in 2011 published her book-length expose of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert“, which shattered dozens of shibboleths about the internal probity of the IPCC. She took the trouble to check, for example, the oft-repeated claim of IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri that all IPCC science was gold-standard, peer-reviewed work. She and dozens of volunteer helpers combed through the 18,351 citations in the 2007 IPCC report and found that 5587, or some 30%, involved government reports, tracts by lobby groups, press releases and even “version one of a draft”. Not one of  thousands of in-the-know IPCC scientists had ever sought to correct Pachauri’s misleading claim to legislators about using only peer-reviewed sources. The Australian edition sells for $A30 on Amazon or $US8 kindle. Her second e-book, Into the Dustbin, about Pachauri himself, sells for $A8.50.

Her blog has exposed many snafus in IPCC affairs, such as bogus claims by scores of IPCC authors to personal Nobel Prize status. “It seems no matter what rock I turn over, a scandal lurks beneath,” she says.

UK sceptic Roger Tattersall writes the 2014 Top European Blog, Tallbloke’s Talkshop, assisted by Tim Channon, who is in his 60s. Tattersall is an engineer and graduate with a specialization in the history and philosophy of science.  In a near-fatal accident eight years ago a hit-and-run driver collided with his motorbike, breaking Tattersall’s spine when he was flung into a tree and forcing him to abandon his IT business. His health has largely recovered and he can manage part-time work at the University of Leeds. “I survive on a pittance,” he tells Quadrant Online.

“I’ve never received any payment for anything related to my work in the climate debate,” he continues. “After I helped organise a climate conference in Lisbon under EU auspices, the EU bureaucracy refused to pay the hotel and travel expenses they promised me because one leg of my four-leg flight receipts was missing.” Tattersall pays blog-site provider WordPress NOT to have advertising on his website, a luxury he can afford because of ‘tip’ money from readers.  He achieved mainstream publicity when police seized his computers during their investigation in December, 2011, into the second Climategate email release. No charges were laid.

He says, “I was libeled as being the Climategate email hacker by Dr Greg Laden and Dr Michael Mann, and I received a substantial sum (around £12,000) in small donations from around the world to a legal fund to defend my reputation. After the legal bills were paid I disbursed the rest of the donations to other sceptics.”

Anthony Watts received several hundred dollars for projects, and Joanne Nova got a similar amount to help fix an IT emergency on her site. To someone like WA University’s Stephan Lewandowsky, who got $1.7m in government grants for ludicrous topics (such as the “psychopathology” of climate “deniers”), these hundred-dollar pittances must seem laughable, but they’re the coin in which sceptic bloggers generally deal.

Another cash-poor but globally respected sceptic blogger is Bob Tisdale, among the few outside the warmist monolith able to re-analyse and critique technical aspects of  the official climate models and ocean-temperature couplings with the atmosphere. He wrote last January on his Climate Observations blog,  “I’m a pensioner, a retiree, or I had been.  Sales of my ebooks and the occasional tip/donation have helped to pay the bills, but they haven’t covered them. So I’ve been forced to find another source of income. I have been spending 8-to-16 hours per day blogging, writing books and producing videos over the past few years, so my new focus will obviously cut into my time for climate-change research and reporting.

“As we well know, sceptics are not on the receiving end of billions of dollars in funding, so it may be a few years before I can afford to go back to blogging full time again. Unfortunately, as all but a few best-selling writers know, it’s damn near impossible to support oneself on book sales…”

In his spare time Tisdale has this year written a series of posts about the now-floundering El Nino effect, which earlier in the year alarmists proclaimed would be bigger-than-big and, inevitably, due to man-made greenhouse gases.  With the cross posts at Anthony Watts’ site, that series helped explain the mysteries of El Niño processes to lay readers.

In contrast to the world-traveling eco-activists, Tisdale travels less than 5,000 miles per year, all in a low-emissions car.  “I’m one of the most eco-friendly people I know,” he says, “I don’t travel, I don’t use air conditioning during the summer and I dress in multiple layers in winter so I can keep the thermostat in the low 60s (about 17 deg C) … that’s the daytime temperature setting. It goes lower at night.  And I kayak as a summertime water activity. No gazillion-dollar houseboats for me, like Al Gore’s.”

Marc Morano runs sceptic information compiler ClimateDepot.com, based in Washington DC, with one assistant. He is amused that the eco-magazine Grist named him as one of the top five“criminals against humanity, against planet Earth itself”. His operation is funded by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) which, in turn, is  funded mainly by US private citizens. In  2011, CFACT had $US3 million revenue, and 15  employees. It paid Morano $US150,000 for full-time work running Climate Depot, making him one of a handful of sceptic bloggers to earn a comfortable living.

CFACT declined to provide more up-to-date financials, but it seems a fairly modest organization – its other 14 workers incomes average $US44,000.

Morano was formerly communications adviser to Senator James Inhofe (Republican, Oklahoma), a long-time campaigner against warmism. A formidable debunker of warmist literature, Morano enjoys taking on prominent alarmists in live debates, which he posts on Climate Depot in a ‘you be the judge’ exercise.

In the UK, the big  climate-sceptic think-tank is the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), with social anthropologist Dr Benny Peiser as its director and no more than a staff member or two. It is, or was, housed in one room.  Peiser’s interests have ranged from ancient sport to asteroids: a 10km asteroid, Minor Planet (7107) Peiser, was named in his honour by the International Astronomical Union.

In its first year, 2009-10, GWPF  had donor  income of 503,000 pounds, falling to 158,000 pounds in 2010-11. It claims to be ‘open-minded’ about the climate debate, and says its members’ views range from support for the IPCC to outright scepticism. Its focus professes to be climate policies and their socio-economic impacts; it disparages climate models and the grandiosity of 100-year climate predictions. Its main and stated goal is to generate sensible and misinformation-free debate in the media, public and political process.

The GWPF board includes four lords, led by chair Nigel Lawson, an ex-chancellor of the exchequer. The other board members are two knights, one baroness and a bishop. Lawson claims GWPF has succeeded in opening the media to the climate debate, with only the BBC now viewing the science as settled and beyond the bounds of legitimate debate.

The GWPF academic advisory board is chaired by former OECD top economist David Henderson, and includes luminaries such as Princeton theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, and economist Samuel Brittan.

The GWPF was embroiled in controversy last May when Danish Meteorology Professor Lennart Bengtsson was virtually forced to resign  from its academic council only three weeks after joining. He wrote, “I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that [it] has become virtually unbearable to me… I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc…I see no limit and end to what will happen… I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.”

Australian-born Sir Michael Hintze, a leading Conservative party donor who runs the five-billion pound hedge fund CQS, is a GWPF patron. Personally worth $US1.4b, Hinze has written, “The fact that we have not had any temperature increase for the last 15-16 years is what makes me worry that we are spending all our money on CO2 rather than cleaning up the crap in the world [plastic islands in oceans for example].”

While The Guardian and its allies hyperventilated at the effrontery of billionaire donor Hintze, another hedge-fund billionaire, Jeremy Grantham, donated 24 million pounds to set up two orthodox climate-change institutes in London, including the Grantham Institute. A year ago, Bob Ward, policy chief at Grantham Institute chaired by Lord Stern (of the infamous Stern Report), tried to get the GWPF shut down by formally complaining to the Charities Commission that GWPF was issuing misleading and politicized statements. The complaint seems to have failed, as GWPF continues. Ward has not complained about misleading by warmism-inclined charities such as Greenpeace and Oxfam.

On an individual basis, sceptic Queensland-based Professor Rob Carter was outed for receiving $US1667 per month from sceptic Heartland Institute in 2012 to work on a project, theNongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. That’s just $US20,000 a year.

The Australian Labor government paid Professor Tim Flannery $A180,000 a year for three days’ part-time work a week heading its Climate Commission. When the Abbott government axed  the Commission last September, Flannery took an unpaid position with the private Climate Council, crowd-funded to the tune of more than $1m. After six months, Flannery and his fellow councilors switched to paid work there (amount undisclosed). Soon after, the Council ran appeals for more crowd funding to replenish its treasury.

Flannery believes the sceptic case is being pushed by “big vested interests”, with the fossil-fuel industry “pulling out all the stops now to turn the tide back.” He is also on top of the fee range at theClaxton Speakers Bank, meaning $15,000-plus per speech. He was wont to charge $US50,000 to speak to US corporations, making him Australia’s top-charging speaker.

If the planet really is in such dire peril, surely he would not be charging people so much to say so?

Again, and bearing sceptic Bob Carter’s $US20,000 a year in mind, let’s look at Canadian planet-saving  guru David Suzuki. Details have leaked about his contract to speak to a small Canadian college (1600 students) in October, 2012 . His topics included the need for cutting back on personal consumption. Suzuki slugged the college $C30,000 (plus an amazing $C11,640 costs) to tell students that “money isn’t what matters, money is not what makes him happy.” Half Canadians in 2012 earned less than $C30,000 a year). Suzuki wants sceptic politicians to face charges of criminality.

It is tempting to label that comment a cheap lie, but it isn’t. Unlike the sceptic community’s kitchen-table climate bloggers, nothing about the leading warmist mouthpieces comes cheap.

 

Ratepayers and Ratbaggery

 

Catastropharian David Spratt came to Moonee Ponds to tell the faithful why Victorians must turf the government of Liberal Premier Denis Napthine. His audience loved the show, but why is the municipality putting ratepayer funds and facilities at the service of a fact-averse and nakedly partisan preacher from the outer limits of the loony left?

 

megaphone manThe Labor-dominated, but notionally non-partisan, Moonee Valley City Council kindly provided a public platform on Wednesday evening (Aug. 20, 2014) for far-left activist David Spratt to advise on how to get rid of Victoria’s coalition government. Spratt summed up, “At the 2010 (State) election, five to six bayside seats, from Brighton to Frankston, fell from Labor to conservatives, basically because the train line didn’t work.”

Warming to his theme, Spratt continued: “A group calledEnvironment Victoria has spent two years and is starting a third, talking to people there, setting up a shopfront, street stalls, door-to-door knocking, phone-banking, asking people to commit when they vote to put the environment first.

“If, across Victoria, by that process they can change 2000 votes in half a dozen seats, that will probably make the difference to the election. So there are a lot of things that can be done, and are being done, at a concrete level to make a difference, and here are my contact details for anyone wanting to continue the conversation at another time.”

The free, two-hour event was meant to be “an information session” on climate change, but the only speakers invited were Spratt and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s national co-director,  Kirsty Albion, who spoke with youthful passion on how to subvert and, hopefully, destroy the Australian coal industry. You can get a very good idea of Spratt’s sky-is-falling catastrophism, political orientation, looseness with facts and general comfort when preaching to the climate choir from the video below.

Mayor Jan Chantry (Labor) opened the show with the council’s tribute to spirits and ancestors and said, “Moonee Valley is proud of its diverse community and acknowledges the contribution that all people make to this diverse, vibrant and inclusive municipality.”

She had somehow overlooked  the biggest minority group in the Valley – conservative voters like myself, who comprise about 40% of her ratepayers. A rate notice for $2358 the same week augmented my pain. I judged that I was the only conservative voter in the audience of 60.

The tone wasn’t set by accident. The promotional brochure says that Spratt’s work “focuses on climate science, communications and climate-movement politics, drawing on experiences that include the peace, anti-uranium and solidarity social movements.”

The mayor left early to go to a Rotary meeting but Councillor Jim Cusack (Labor)  stayed for the duration.

The council is comprised of four Labor people, three independents and two Liberals. It is pretty clean by the standards of north-west councils. Only two of the nine councilors have pleaded guilty to a criminal offence in the past two years, one being a left-leaning independent and the other (whoops!) a Liberal.

Spratt began his talk by painting a terrifying picture of climate change turning the communities of Point Nepean, Point Lonsdale, Altona and Albert Park into vast lakes brought about by 2m sea level rises (even the IPCC  only talks about 60cm rises by 2100). Spratt said, “With three-degree warming we get 20-30 metre rises in sea level. We are drowning human civilization on the coastal fringe – Cairo, Manila, Bangkok, Florida…” Temperate Dubbo would change to a climate like Tom Price or Hermannsburg, agriculture would cease west of the Dividing Range, the Murray River system would go dry, and Melbourne would have to get used to “yucky” 50-degree days. “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us,” he said, to the visible and audible horror of his audience.

His solution to civilisation’s near-term collapse? We should intensify community efforts to get rid of the state and federal coalition governments, which he accused of putting economic and vested interests ahead of CO2 safety. Tony Abbott for example, was “sacking all the researchers” — which would be news to our vast academic climate-change industry. Spratt recommended we all join groups like Yarraville’s Climate for Change, Moreland and Northcote activists, and Brunswick’s door-knocking pests.

Sandra Mack, one of the council’s three sustainability officers whose salaries are underwritten by residents’ rates, arranged the event. She thanked Spratt for his talk and said, “David showed us the impacts and urgency to act. When David and I had a chat before, about what he would be presenting on, I asked him, ‘David can you please present on climate change without trying to make people depressed’. I feel glad that you gave a very positive spin at the end by showing us what can be done. There’s also a climate petition here for people to sign.”

I went over to get a hot cup of tea in one of the council’s “Biovene” degradable plastic cups (not Styrofoam, of course) but found the tureen water had somehow lost its electric heat during Spratt’s talk. Could the council’s ‘zero-emission electricity efforts’ be to blame?

Mack had told me earlier that she had picked Spratt as speaker because she thought his 2008 bookClimate Code Red was terrific. (It claims climate catastrophes will be far worse than governments say, which seems inherently difficult). She had picked Albion after being ‘blown away’ (an apt phrase) by her inspirational talk at another meeting. I asked Mack if it was appropriate for the council to be allowing Spratt to run a public anti-government rally under the council’s roof, but she denied Spratt had been party-political. She explained that the evening was about sustainability issues for the citizenry, e.g. light bulbs and solar panels.

I said Spratt’s politicking was undeniable and asked why, if she was selecting two speakers, she didn’t choose one of them from the government side of the argument, as a sop to us conservative ratepayers. She repeated that it was not a political meeting.

However, she saw fit to make a nervous announcement late in the evening: “I emphasise that we [the council] are not in favor of any political party here. Tonight is a non-political event about community action getting Moonee Valley toward zero emissions. It is all about community action.”

She also disclosed that Spratt and Albion had volunteered their time, but I’m still sore that my rates paid for all these lefties’ and greenies’ pastries and cake.

Mack was kind enough to give me first question in the miserly ten minutes allocated to question time. I asked Spratt if the measured 14-18 year halt to warming made his predictions of death and disaster “a little bit ridiculous”. To murmured approval from the audience, he replied that the heating had continued but, as always, the great bulk of it had gone into the oceans, which were warming. “Because tomorrow’s colder than today doesn’t mean it’s autumn,” he said.

He continued, “Climate denial is not about  science. What interests me is that very few young people are deniers and very few women are. Very few are under 60, they are just grumpy old men.”

Me: “That’s a bit ageist.”

Spratt:  “It is true, many deniers are geologists and meteorologists  struggling to deal with changes in their professions that have surpassed the knowledge they were brought up with. Knowledge has changed, their professional lives are over and it is too difficult for them to deal with. Grumpy old men.”

Me: “How old are you?”  [I’d guess about 60].

Spratt: “I am a grumpy old bloke, too.”

And I certainly am, after last night.

Our Museum-Quality Carbon Freaks

TONY THOMAS

Pity the poor curator filling exhibit spaces with displays of global warming’s depredations. With all that jetting about the world to co-ordinate the alarmist message, not to mention the torments of expense-account dining and the obligation to sleep in nice hotels, is it any wonder that no one has noticed temperatures stopped rising almost two decades ago

climate champersAs the halt to global surface warming continues beyond 17 years, science museums around the Western world are revving up their efforts to frighten  young visitors with visions of climate catastrophe. Indeed, as the “evidence” of a warming planet appears ever more feeble, efforts to promote the cause grow more concerted, not to mention strident. The museums are now coordinating their efforts while pursuing a shared policy of washing their apocalyptic story through multiple displays, including those dealing with history, anthropology, literature and the arts.

In this coordination, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in New York, and Australia’s National Museum, in Canberra, are taking leading roles. The institutions convened a joint conference in New York last October on more effective climate  displays. It was called Collecting the Future: Museums, Communities & Climate Change.

Participants were all chummy once again at a similar conference in Sydney in February,Encountering the Anthropocene — the Anthropocene being “where it seems humanity may bring on its own demise”.  Declaring a new geologic era, the “Anthropocene”, is a big call. The warming late last century lasted only 25 years,  compared with the previous Holocene period’s 12,000 years.

The New York joint organisers were our National Museum’s environmental historian, Dr Libby Robin, her  catastrophist colleague Dr Kirsten Wehner,  the AMNH’s Dr Jenny Newell (who thinks Pacific islands are “in the line of fire from climate change events”) and AMNH’s Jacklyn Lacey  (who imagines that Hurricane Katrina was climate-change related).[i]

My own visits to climate displays at world-leading science museums have found them error-ridden and bizarre. At the Smithsonian in Washington, I witnessed children being invited to play a computer game involving a nuclear war over resources. Michael Mann’s discredited ‘hockey stick’ temperature reconstruction may be a dead letter, even with the IPCC these days, but it’s alive and well in museum displays for students.

The Sydney Anthropocene conference was run by the Sydney University’s “Sydney Environment Institute”.  An SEI offshoot called  Australia-Pacific Observatory in Environmental Humanitieshelped fund the New York conference, and is itself funded by the New York-based Andrew Mellon Foundation.

Everyone seems to be rolling in both money and Sydney-New York contrails. (I counted at least seven academics attending both conferences). The Sydney University climate push scored $650,000 in grants in 2012-13 for two projects alone: “Rethinking climate justice” and  how  human societies “understand and adapt” to climate change that “has arrived, and will continue and expand”.

The tenor at both conferences was  darkest green, with complaints about the allegedly pernicious effects of ‘economic progress’ and accompanying predictions of catastrophe unless green zero-carbon agendas are adopted forthwith.

Fiona Allon, from – you guessed it! – the University of Sydney gender and cultural studies department, opined:

“In The Order of Things, Foucault expresses his ‘profound relief’ that Man is only a recent invention and that he will disappear again as quickly as he appeared. Ironically, the concept of the Anthropocene confirms this sense of relief as both prescient and as somewhat optimistic.”

And try this speech title from  Dr Libby Robin: The End of The Environment: Apocalypse, the Anthropocene and the Future.

Robin gloomed:

If we can say ‘the environment’  began in 1948, the advent of the Anthropocene in 2000 marks its end… No longer can we afford to limit our thinking to ̳’probable‘ futures: they are too grim. Finding possibilities for living with the Great Acceleration is the greatest human problem of our time. The Anthropocene offers a metaphor to stimulate the imagination.”

Indeed, the imagination is stimulated to the extent that a recent polar vortex in the US, and the previous Australian hot summer, were deemed in Sydney to be facets of human causation. Sydney participants competed for the catastropharian crown. A good contender was research associate Ben Dibley (UWS), who spoke of the Anthropocene as showing  “the relative insignificance of human life, and thus of the interval in which it appeared and, most likely, will disappear.”

The New York conference was an irony-free zone. Speakers even trotted out the “striking images” of distressed polar bears on crumbling ice floes (bear populations in fact are doing fine, Al Gore notwithstanding). Arctic sea ice minima in 2007 and 2012 were paraded with no reference to the rebound in 2013 (let alone the current record extent of Antarctic sea ice and rising sea ice in total).

The arrival of artists into the climate-change hullaballoo enabled participants to enjoy fictional fantasies even more free from the discomfit of considering empirical facts about climate than their academic conference confreres. One of the three themes at the Sydney conference was

“The roles that artists and writers play in the interpretation and popularization of scientific ideas and themes 
in the broader cultural landscape.”

Here’s an example from the New York conference:

Perched on the roof of his small house, armed only with a typewriter and a rare imagination, a dog attempts to adapt after a [“Sandy-like”] hurricane that left him stranded and floating far away from home. Inspired by [Peanuts cartoonist] Charles Shultz’s iconic beagle, incorporating leading climate science [yeah, right!] and featuring live music and unique physicality, Don’t Be Sad, Flying Ace! is a multi-disciplinary tour-de-force arousing hope for a changing world.

To cultivated minds,  the three-minute Youtube précis below (42 views)  seems interminable, but the full thing goes on, alas,  for 45 minutes.

Another example of catastrophists co-opting artists was the Sydney talk by Professor Kate Rigby (Environmental Humanities, Monash University) on a book for children 8+ years, the late Colin Thiele’s “February Dragon” (1985). Rigby says the kids’ story  “affords consideration of the educational potential of narratives of eco-catastrophe for young readers.”  But hey, Kate, what about the under-eight kids! Surely they’d also benefit from a dose of eco-catastrophism?

A celebrated artist, Mandy Martin,  titled her talk Vivitur Ex Rapto (Man lives off greed), referencing her paintings series

about the rapacious wave of mining sweeping across Australia and the changing climate chasing it. It is time to draw a line in the dirt … as we face the sublime state of extinction (we) must look for ways to stop rising carbon emissions and wholesale destruction of environments now.”

One can even feel sorry for some arty presenters. Joshua Wodak, an inter-disciplinary artist exploring climate change, told the Sydney audience:

“Models of climate change trajectories show the shape of things to come for the biosphere and its inhabitants this century. Scientific organisations worldwide overwhelmingly maintain that the window to avoid runaway catastrophic climate change is closing fast: being one decade…at most.”

Nice try, but the IPCC  acknowledged this year that 111 of its 114 models are running too hot.

An example of how remote Australian curators have become from mainstream Australians was the New York conference talk by Dr George Main, an environmental historian  whose specialty is “people and the environment” at our National Museum.

Most Australians are proud of the stump-jump plough, invented in South Australia in 1876, but Main pans it for ‘erasure of indigenous biological communities’, ‘devastating changes in land and climate [huh?]’, and ‘the release of immense [huh?] volumes of carbon into the atmosphere’. Main reinterprets the plough’s history  “to reveal and undermine cultural foundations of climatic and ecological disorder.”

It is worth recalling that the Canberra museum’s designers slyly inserted the coded words “Forgive us our genocide”, and “Sorry” in braille on the museum facade, as intended mockery of then Prime Minister Howard, who officially opened the museum in 2001 and had declined to apologise to Aborigines for the British takeover of Australia in 1788. Maybe ‘forgive us our stump-jump ploughs’ should be added to the facade, also in braille.

At both conferences, speakers were big on new concepts of “justice” – particularly “environmental justice”  — in line with the UN’s push for unlimited climate  ‘compensation’ from ( as a wag put it)  the poor in the First-World  to the rich in the Third-World. New York keynote speaker Rob Nixon banged on about ‘widening inequalities’ in the so-called Anthropocene, as if humanity’s climb from poverty in the past half-century (think China and India) is a myth.[ii]

Another theme at these museum conferences is about the imminent drowning of  coral-island communities like Tuvalu and the Maldives. It is tiresome that Quadrant needs to point out yet againto expert museum curators that these islands are not being swallowed by rising seas, and that any salt-water contamination is due to over-population and environment mismanagement. This is true no matter how many Maldives scuba-tank cabinet meetings are arranged as picture-opportunities for the gullible world media.

In the two conferences, only one presenter, Raluca Ellis, from the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, was off-message. Her biography reads, Raluca is very passionate about sharing the fun and wonderful side of science with the public, engaging in lifelong learning, and encouraging young kids, especially girls, to pursue science.”  Assuming, we hope, that the Anthropocene doesn’t do the girls in first.

MUSEUM NEWS UPDATE: Climate change is maybe not Uganda’s most pressing problem. But the British Government decided in 2009 that a new and permanent climate change exhibition would be great for the Uganda Museum in Kampala.

The  display shows that if Uganda’s climate gets 2degC hotter, lots of bad things will happen to the people and the country. Moreover, the display fibs that climate change’s impacts have already hurt the country, as in floods and droughts, which never occurred previously (sarc).

So the exhibition urges Ugandans to do more bike-riding, and even switch to mini-cars and ‘buses’ powered by human pedaling to save CO2 emissions. So much for progress.

Uganda Radio Network did a report on the exhibition and said that although admission was free, “Ugandans are not giving it a second thought”The radio noted that in two hours, only two Ugandans went in, one of them a professor. This contrasted with the earlier rush of ministers, MPs and flunkeys to the exhibition opening, sponsored by the British High Commission and doubtless including wine and cheese.

On the same day, the radio station aired another report about the  ‘filthy’ police mortuary at Hoima, 200km to the north-west. A horrible stench from murder and accident victims was escaping, along with swarms of flies, through the big holes in the mortuary roof.  In such a Ugandan  milieu, forecasts of climate doom in future decades don’t get much traction.

Tony Thomas blogs at  tthomas061.wordpress.com


[i] The   conference  was back-ended by a soiree at the Ocean Grill, Columbus Avenue,   “ to explore, over a glass of wine, how museums are shifting their agendas, roles and practices to respond to the global challenge of climate change.”

 

[ii]  Nixon happens to be the “Rachel Carson & Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English” at Wisconsin University. Carson’s error-filled attack on DDT in her 1962  book  Silent Spring led to millions of malaria deaths in the Third World.

 

Chatting With ‘A Climate Heretic’

TONY THOMAS

Doing science by consensus is not science at all, says the climatologist all the alarmists love to hate. Not that the enmity bothers Judith Curry too much — and certainly not as much as the debasement of impartial inquiry by which the warmist establishment keeps all those lovely grants coming

sweaty planetWhen climatologist Judith Curry visited Melbourne last week she took the time to chat with Quadrant Online contributor Tony Thomas. The professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology is something of a stormy petrel in the climate-change community, as she has broken ranks with alarmist colleagues to question the articles and ethics of the warmist faith. This has made her less than popular in certain circles, even inspiring Scientific American, house journal of the catastropharians, to brand her “a heretic” who has “turned on her colleagues.”

Such criticism leaves Curry unmoved. If anyone needs counselling, she says, then it is those academics who continue to preach the planet’s sweaty doom despite the fact that no warming has been observed for almost two decades.

The edited transcript of Curry’s conversation with Thomas is below:

TONY THOMAS: If the skeptic/orthodox spectrum is a range from 1 (intense skeptic) to 10 (intensely IPCC orthodox), where on the scale would you put yourself

(a) as at 2009

(b) as at 2014,

and why has there been a shift (if any)?
JUDITH CURRY: In early 2009, I would have rated myself as 7; at this point I would rate myself as a 3.  Climategate and the weak response of the IPCC and other scientists triggered a massive re-examination of my support of the IPCC, and made me look at the science much more sceptically.

THOMAS: The US debate has been galvanised in recent weeks by strong statements against CO2 emissions by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. What is your view of the case they made out, and your thoughts about why the statements are now being made?
CURRY: I am mystified as to why President Obama and John Kerry are making such strong (and indefensible) statements about climate change.  Particularly with regards to extreme weather events, their case is very weak.  Especially at this time, given that much of the rest of the world is pulling back against commitments to reduce emissions and combat climate change.

THOMAS: Re the halt to warming in the past 15-17 years, has this been adequately explained to the public? If it continues a few more years, is that the end of the orthodox case?
CURRY: Regarding the hiatus in warming, I would say that this has not been adequately explained to the public, the IPCC certainly gave the issue short shrift.

The hiatus is serving to highlight the importance of natural climate variability.  If the hiatus continues a few more years, climate model results will seriously be called into question.  When trying to understand and model a complex system, there is, unfortunately, no simple test for rejecting a hypothesis or a model.

THOMAS: What empirical evidence is there, as distinct from modelling, that ‘missing heat’ has gone into the deep oceans?
CURRY: Basically, none.  Observations below 2 km in the ocean are exceedingly rare, and it is only since 2005 that we have substantial coverage below 700 metres.

THOMAS: Should there be a 6th AR from the IPCC? Why/why not?
CURRY: In my opinion, the IPCC has outlived its original usefulness.  The framing of the climate-change problem by the UNFCCC/IPCC, and the early articulation of a preferred policy option by the UNFCCC, has arguably marginalized research on broader issues surrounding climate change, and resulted in an overconfident assessment of the importance of greenhouse gases in future climate change, and stifled the development of a broader range of policy options.

The result of this simplified framing of a wicked problem is that we lack the kinds of information to more broadly understand climate change and societal vulnerability.

The first place to start is to abandon the consensus-seeking approach to climate science that has been implemented by the IPCC.  Scientists do not need to be consensual to be authoritative. Authority rests in the credibility of the arguments, which must include explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance and more openness for dissent. The role of scientists should not be to develop political will to act by hiding or simplifying the uncertainties, either explicitly or implicitly, behind a negotiated consensus.

THOMAS: Since the first IPCC report a quarter century ago, what has been the most significant advance in the case that 50+% of recent warming is human-caused?
CURRY: The period of global warming from 1976-1998.

THOMAS: Similarly, what has been the most significant advance in the case that 50+% of recent warming is NOT human-caused?
CURRY: The stagnation in global temperatures since 1998 is causing scientists to take a much closer look at natural climate variability.

THOMAS: What was the main take-away point from your congressional testimony last Aprilon climate?
CURRY:
 My testimony made the following main points: The IPCC AR5 presents an overall weaker case for anthropogenic climate change [and] variations in nearly all extreme weather events are dominated by natural variability, not anthropogenic climate change

THOMAS:  Are you supportive of the line that the ‘quiet sun’ presages an era of global cooling in the next few decades?
CURRY:
 One of the unfortunate consequences of the focus on anthropogenic forcing of climate is that solar effects on climate have been largely neglected.  I think that solar effects, combined with the large scale ocean-circulation regimes, presage continued stagnation in global temperatures for the next two decades.

THOMAS:  Are you supportive of the arguments of Varenholt, Svensmark et al that indirect effects of solar irradiance are seeding clouds and causing cooling in this phase of the sunspot cycle?
CURRY: It seems to me that solar effects on climate are much more complex than the sun as a source of heating, and that there are indirect effects of the sun on climate.  What these indirect effects might be is at the frontiers of knowledge – the method proposed by Svensmark and others could be important, but we don’t yet have sufficient understanding of this.

THOMAS:  Are you aware of any national science bodies that reject or have backed away from the orthodox position? What weight do you give to the fact that these bodies are virtually unanimous in support of the orthodox line?
CURRY: The major scientific societies continue in their unanimous support of the IPCC consensus.

THOMAS:  Why is academia so strongly supportive of the orthodoxy, if the orthodox case is flawed?
CURRY:  Well, that is a topic for social psychologists at this point.  The academic community has a lot invested in the case for anthropogenic climate change – substantial government funding, prestige, and political influence.

THOMAS:  There seems very little direct debate (i.e. in public fora) between orthodox and skeptic people. Why is this education tool neglected?
CURRY:  The establishment scientists who support the IPCC consensus do not debate sceptics, for two reasons.  They do not wish to lend legitimacy to the sceptics and the sceptical positions.  Secondly, the few public debates that have been held did not go well for the establishment scientists – formal, oral debate is not a format for which most scientists have experience.

THOMAS: Young people tend to follow the orthodox line. Have you seen any change in this?
CURRY:  Young people tend to have a rebellious streak that is critical of the older generation, I’m not sure if I would call that an ‘orthodox line’.  Climate-change orthodoxy is certainly infiltrating the educational system.  The most interesting thing I have seen is the emergence of Austrian social critic and rap musician Kilez More who produced and posted a climate science sceptic video.

 

 

Suitable Cases For Treatment

TONY THOMAS

Wreathed in self-importance but boasting little grasp of the science, the Australian Psychological Society is no fair-weather friend of the warmist movement. Indeed, its dire prophecies and ill-informed endorsements of the most dubious methods and “evidence” make it a case study in institutional delusion

shrink madProfessor of Psychology Stephan Lewandowsky is much in the news of late because the science publishers Frontiers dumped his paper, Recursive Fury (pathologising climate skeptics), because of its ethical shortcomings. Lewandowsky  is a favorite of the Australian Psychological Society (APS).According to UK Guardian, the APS backed him all the way. The APS, said The Guardian, offers  “a good example for journals to follow when subjected to organized bullying from contrarians trying to censor sound but inconvenient research.”

It seems time for a look at the APS, a 21,000-member international pacesetter among psychology bodies for ministering to alleged mental health impacts of alleged climate change. It cites as me-too organisations the American, British and Canadian psychology societies (APA, BPS and CPA).

Long-time senior psychologist at the APS is Dr Susie Burke, who also co-authored  the APS position statement on climate change. In October, 2013, she put out a statement on the 5th IPCC report: “The threats that unmitigated climate change pose to physical and mental health rise every year”. This is a bit hard to reconcile with the halt to warming since 1997, but Burke’s inclination to gush about her role models remains undiminished. Here’s a sample, re a Perth APS conference, which is headlined lugubriously, The Hopeful Space between Denial and Despair:

“Exhibitors have packed up, the corridors are empty, voices echo, the complimentary coffee trolley has gone home. You’d be forgiven for thinking the Conference was over. But wait, not yet, what’s this? Down the corridors stride three professors to talk about one of the most serious environmental and health threats of the 21st Century, and why mental health professionals care about it.”

Who were these eminent psychologists who “lowered the mood, and raised the pulse”? Professor Carmen Lawrence, a former  Labor premier and ALP president;  Lewandowsky, the chronicler of the now-failed Recursive Fury; and Professor Joseph Reser, the APS’s opinion survey guru. (There will be more on Reser in Part Two of this series).

PART II OF THIS SERIES WILL BE PUBLISHED TOMORROW

The APS endeavours to out-do Greenpeace in climate catastrophism. Here’s some samples from the APS website  (heaven knows what gets written in the ‘member-only’ sections):

Perhaps the APS could take its own advice:

“We generally cope better, and are more effective at making changes, when we are calm and rational…  don’t over-react and start behaving as though catastrophic change is imminent. Lasting change requires sustained commitment, and fanning short-term panic can have the opposite effect.”

The APS has only the most tenuous grasp of the on-going  warming debate. For example, it is  incapable of distinguishing weather (including droughts, floods, storms etc) from longer-term climate, let alone critiquing the IPCC’s climate modelling. But the APS is happy to discover and see treated whatever neuroses and depressions that warming talk (including its own) is generating. The APS clearly expects these conditions to become epidemic as CO2 does its deadly work. In  its own words, the APS goal is  “to position psychologists as a professional group with expert knowledge, skills  and resources that can help in climate change science, including mitigation and adaptation.”

While excoriating sceptics as part of a giant conspiracy backed by Big Oil, the APS was fretting in the queue for some  oil money itself: “We need to lobby the Australian Government to divert at least some of its climate change research budget towards psychological research … There may also be money available from fossil fuel companies(such as coal and oil producers and consumers) in the same way that tobacco companies contributed to research designed to prevent adolescents from taking up smoking.”

The APS’s big coup  was to publish a “Tip Sheet” on how children can be indoctrinatedwith the warming messages without sending them clinically insane. This is a worldwide issue. As an American journal put it, “Before she had even lost  her baby teeth, a small girl was saying, ‘I worry about [global warming] because I don’t want to die.’ Surveys across the Anglosphere have shown children under the age of 11 are fretting that global warming will destroy the planet before they can grow up. And slightly older children can be more worried about climate change than dating.

So the APS Tip Sheet was timely:

Alarmed small children may show behavior changes  —“ e.g., in their play, drawing, or dreams that might suggest that something is unsettling them.” They might find it easier to talk about environmental issues via a toy or puppet. Try asking, “And how are you feeling today, Teddy?”. [This seems to  be cut and pasted from child-sexual-abuse counseling].

Climate issues have the potential to bring up strong feelings like fear, anxiety, frustration, sadness, depression, helplessness, anger or despair:

“Worries and anxieties about these threats can become difficult for children of all ages to deal with.”

Parents should reassure small children “that their home is a safe place” [but who is telling them it isn’t?]

Climate talk, like sex and divorce talk, is to be avoided in front of small children.

“Adults need to be conscious of the presence of children when discussing climate change and other worrying environmental problems…Be mindful of how you are reacting to news about environmental problems in front of your child. If your reactions are too strong, these can upset and confuse your child.”

Children may need to be reassured that environmental catastrophes are not happening near them.

Small details can quickly turn into large generalisations (e.g., ‘If the planet is getting hotter, will we all get burnt?’).”

The Tip Sheet promotes activist groups, with even primary school-aged children being urged to help choose an environmental group for family donations. [Is pointing children towards green activist groups likely to improve a tot’s equanimity?]

Adolescents are encouraged to precociously pester the talk-back radio and newspapers, and lobby the government and industry. Activist websites are recommended.

“Encourage your whole family to be part of a world-wide movement of people who recognise that there are limits to the world’s natural resources,”

The above advice is either a platitude or drawn from the discredited 1972 Club of Rome forecast, “Limits to Growth”. More than four decades later, and despite its dire prognosis for the planet having failed to materialise, the defence of that flawed and foolish tract continues.

The Tip Sheet encourages adolescents to study diverse views, but   implies that skeptic views are beyond the pale. Recommended authors include environmental zealot David Suzuki,who wants sceptic politicians gaoled on criminal charges. Elsewhere, the APS positively urges that children be shoved into the front lines as warmist climate-fodder:

Schools also increasingly include environmental education in the curriculum. Psychological research can help optimise the effectiveness of schools’ efforts by identifying factors influencing ESB [environmentally sustainable behavior] in young people. These include lack of knowledge, believing actions won’t make much difference, frustration, action paralysis, and pessimism…

Schools can provide students with experiences of ‘active citizenship’, like writing letters, signing petitions and making complaints. This pro-environmental concern can be passed on from children to parents…although there is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of children as environmental change agents.

For the 2010 election, the APS issued its climate change manifesto calling for “development and implementation of school based curriculum promoting sustainable values, attitudes and behaviour in school aged children, and developing a series of guidelines for educators.”

Business is business, and the APS sees money-making potentials with its kiddie tip sheet.

“There are many ways you can use APS Tip Sheets as a marketing resource for your practice. Start by always remembering to place your practice’s name and address stamp in the empty box provided on the back page, then try the following ideas:

  • Distribute Tip Sheets to clients and their families as an extra tool for education and understanding
  • When updating a GP about a jointly managed patient, enclose a Tip Sheet and business card. GPs are a great distribution channel for Tip Sheets
  • Enclose a Tip Sheet with every introduction/thank you letter you send to referral sources
  • Display Tip Sheets in your waiting room
  • Mail Tip Sheets to phone enquirers
  • Distribute Tip Sheets at public speaking  engagements

The APS’s bestie was the now-axed Climate Commission. The APS saw the commission as a font of “independent” warming advice, notwithstanding federal funding that included   $180,000-a-year for three days’ work a week by its chief commissioner Tim Flannery, of whom the APS gushed:

“At the meeting’s end, Tim leant forward in his chair, gazed out the 13th floor window and asked ‘Did you know you had a falcon nest above your office?’ What a fitting way to end our exchange, being reminded of the wild and wonderful world, even in the heart of a major metropolitan city, that we have a responsibility to protect by restoring a safe climate.”

Not surprisingly, the APS provided the Commission with  “additional psychological principles” to reinforce Flannery & Co.’s  crusade.

Apart from the much-admired Tim, other alleged authorities revered by the APS include Al Gore plus Inconvenient Truth,  Professor Ian Lowe, president of the activist Australian Conservation Foundation, and any other green propagandist the APS encounters.  Fiction films like the crazed Day After TomorrowThe Age of Stupid, and The 11th Hour are described as “addressing climate change”. Even  APS people can have brief moments of lucidity, such as in these comments:

  • Trust [of scientists and government] is easily damaged, and when e-mails are stolen and selectively quoted, or a single overeager scientist exaggerates future climate change outcomes even in one region, widespread distrust can be created.
  • Disparaging sceptic blog comments, namely: It figures that a bunch of psychologists need to mess with people’s heads to get them to fall in line with this “eco-friendly” nonsense. … Climate change is a problem invented by “scientists who are pursuing a phantom issue” and   scientists are ignoring research “proving” the problem is overestimated or does not exist.
  • Disparaging sceptic blog comments, namely: The host of a popular show on a leading U.S. television network held up a copy of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and said, “The shrinks are trying to brainwash us again.”

A little scepticism can’t shake a true believer’s faith however, so the APS pumps out advice like that below. If the tone seems a tad patronising, it may just be that the author had in mind the anxiety-prone warmists who purport to report climate news for The Age, SMHand ABC:

  • Although environmental threats are real and can be frightening, remaining in a state of heightened distress is not helpful for ourselves or for others.
  • Remember, other people may well be like you and feel anxious or unsettled at learning about some of the environmental threats looming.
  • Spending time with loved ones can be helpful in keeping yourself grounded and energised. Enjoy friends and family, and make sure there are at least one or two people with whom you can share your concerns when feeling dispirited.
  • Ensure you are familiar with common arguments and useful counter-arguments that will help you respond more comfortably and smoothly. Asking a friend to role-play a sceptic, and practising how you’re going to handle these different perspectives can be very helpful. 
  • Sometimes taking a news break can be helpful. Turning off the radio or TV, and having a break from the newspaper for a few days can be a welcome relief. Taking a deliberate break is quite different from becoming desensitised.

Tony Thomas achieved a B-pass in Psychology 101 at UWA in 1959. He blogs attthomas061.wordpress.com

The Head-Shrinking Scourge Of Sceptics

TONY THOMAS

Professor Joseph Reser of the Australian Psychological Association fears that “climate deniers” are hobbling the push to save our poor, sweating planet. He would be better advised to check his “facts”, because many aren’t merely wrong, they are ludicrously so

shrink brainThe  eminence grise of the 21,000-member Australian Psychology Society (APS) is Professor Joseph Reser of Griffith University, a contributing author to the 5th IPCC report. With funding support from the since-axed Department of Climate Change, he and his team ran two large-scale Australian surveys in 2010 and 2011 (3096 and 4347 respondents), to document people’s climate change views.  From the results he has filed two academic reports totaling 340 pages, endlessly quoted by the APS.

Reser found that  “genuine distress at the implications of climate change appeared to be a reality for possibly 20% of survey respondents” (p141). Amazingly, 52% of the total 7443 respondents thought that global warming impacts were “currently” being felt in Australia, 45% thought they had personally witnessed the environmental impacts, and 59% thought their home turf was vulnerable to climate change horrors.

Climate worrywarts, according to Reser, are suffering

“…apprehension, anxiety, or loss due to the threat and projected consequences of climate change, for oneself, humanity, and/or the natural world”,  along with hopelessness, dread, “uncertainly” (sic) , resignation, pessimism, real sadness, preoccupation, psychological distress, genuine alarm and fear, “and a clear sense that things will likely get worse”.

He also has discovered supercharged sorrow because of  the alleged loss of species and ecosystems through lately non-existent warming.

PART I OF THIS SERIES: SUITABLE CASES FOR TREATMENT

The APS sees all this as a great opportunity to provide ‘stress and distress’ counseling to our panicking citizenry, and to help   design behavior-change programs. Considering the APS favors 30% emission cuts by 2020, and 90% by 2050 (back to the caves, everyone!), our behaviour would  certainly need some changing. Yikes, we’re nearly to 2020 already. Even Kevin Rudd wanted only a 5% cut by 2020, from 2000 levels.

Amusingly, Reser imagines that human emissions have been damaging the planet “for at least the past several hundred years” (p123). Those 600 steam engines 18th century Europe clearly have a lot of global warming to answer for. So, apparently, do  the Virgin Queen’s fireplaces.

In the 2010 survey, Reser asked how concerned you are that “electricity will become unaffordable”. A whopping 85% said they were fairly or very concerned. This embarrassing question disappeared from the bigger July-August 2011 survey, without explanation.

While professing to play a straight bat with his 2011 survey, Reser includes a question about what strategies you are relying on re climate change, “such as, ‘Pretend that climate change is not happening’”. Well, for 15 years that warming hasn’t been happening, so no need to “pretend” anything. Another question precludes any sceptical answer:

  • Which of the following statements best describes how you feel about climate change?
  • The issue is overwhelming and I feel helpless
  • I am frustrated that not enough is being done
  • I am hopeful that if we take action now, we can stop it
  • I am tired of hearing about it, and I want to see some action taken. (author’s emphasis).

Maybe we need a fifth choice here:

  • I wish Professor Reser would stop frightening the horses.

The tenor of Reser’s surveys also can be judged by the ten questions he asks to test respondents’ “objective knowledge” about climate “facts”, then cross-tabulated against a myriad of other survey findings. Below are five statements he rates as “True” and he marks down anyone saying they are “False”. The result: most respondents struggled to get the 50% pass rate on Reser’s ‘facts’ (but Greens voters got the best scores):

1.  Australia is one of the most exposed nations with respect to projected impacts of climate change 2. Climate change will increase the risk in Australia for diseases transmitted by water and mosquitoes over the next 100 years.[1]
3. Globally, the current burning of fossil fuels accounts for 80-85% (CO2) emissions added to the atmosphere.[2]
4. The change in global temperature for the last 100 years is greater than for the last 1000 years  [Hello to Michael Mann’s discredited “Hockey Stick” reconstruction of global temperatures].
5. 
The number of weather-related disasters around the world has doubled since the mid 1990s.[3]

Regarding 1, we can discover elsewhere in Reser’s report  that CSIRO and  Bureau of Meteorology and Professor Will Steffen merely ‘deem’ Australia to be more exposed than other continents (not ‘nations’) to this hypothetical warming, because of hypothetical flooding of our long coastlines and all that.

The four “fact” options are, in fact, a mix of futurology (1 and 2), a Nobel Prize-worthy discovery, if ever established (3), paleoclimatology – a highly-uncertain science (4),  and vagueness multiplied (5). In the first survey, he muddled his own preamble to a  question, wrongly claiming (p78) that the 2007 census asked people about their concern about climate change.

While Reser is a whiz at survey-processing, his lack of smarts on the man-made warming debate let him down. Not once in 340 pages does he mention the halt to warming since 1997 – although even the IPCC now acknowledges a 15-year hiatus.  Instead, Reser discovers   “more and more … a profoundly changing global environment” (p134). He spends scores of pages, and much of his survey, on making or noting illegitimate connections between various recent big weather events and the ogre of (not-happening) global warming. Even IPCC scientists reject links between climate change and specific weather events, other than heat waves and precipitation.

But he suggests that since nearly half the public is convinced such links exist (eg., between climate change and 2009′s Black Saturday bushfire catastrophe in Victoria), the misperception should be harnessed for warmist-indoctrination purposes.  (One respondent was convinced about the global warming narrative because he/she had seen snakes in mid-winter). Reser continues that it makes “considerable practical as well as psychological sense” to bring climate change “home” to people via the climate/weather-extreme linkages, to prompt people to swap light globes and other green activities (p134).

He’s personally convinced there ares links and evidently feels no moral discomfort. He believes the “hard-line position” of science against linking specific extreme weather events and climate change is crumbling in favor of a ‘more pragmatic’ stance, which will accept the need for ‘near real time’ causal accounts and explanations. In any event, scientists can fall back on the meme that linking climate change to a storm etc., can be done, if couched in ways involving “the probabilistic nature of attribution”, he says. So let’s go with the link, he says, since “ newspaper, new media, and popular science headlines and images around the world repeatedly proclaim this interconnection between climate change and the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events” (p136).

I suspect the Reser formula for this climate “education” has gained real traction, given the drumbeat of stories lately making the dud climate/storm/drought linkages.

Reser is rattled by surveys – including CSIRO’s – finding ‘sceptics’ in the community numbering 40% or so. He insists on a figure for sceptics of 4.7-8.5%, based on his own surveys. His concern is that larger sceptic numbers, like 40%, from other polls and even from the ABC, are broadcast by the media, and  then plunge believers into swamps of “confusion, frustration and pessimism” (p145).

His solution is simple: he redefines ‘sceptics’ so stringently that hardly anyone would qualify. To Reser, a stringent sceptic (4.7% of population) believes the world’s climate is not changing . They also believe that climate change is entirely natural and Australia will never start feeling any impacts of climate change. A more-inclusive Reser-defined sceptic  (8.5%) embraces a sceptic take on most of those propositions. The CSIRO is more plausible. It reported in January that, of of mid-2013, less than half of all Australians (47.3%) thought climate change was happening and humans were causing it.

Even on Reser’s stringent definition, scepticism grew from 2010 to 2011. His desperate rationalisations include media campaigning biased against true believers – this argument relying on axe-grinding work he cites  by researchers like Wendy Bacon. [Bacon, a journalism academic,  thinks any coverage whatsoever of sceptic views constitutes media bias]. Noting that  sceptics are ‘conservative white males’ sharing a weird worldview (p31), he suggests that they are dismissing the ‘science’ to reduce their anxieties. It never occurs to Reser that an unpredicted halt to warming of well over a decade might be encouraging a bit more scepticism about the IPCC.

In fact, his 2011 survey showed that only 29% bought the IPCC line of dominant human influence on warming, and nearly 70% did not (p176).

Reser’s view seems to be that sceptics can’t face the terror of global warming, so they are ‘frantically shoring up’ their equanimity by trying to discredit “the science, the scientists, and confronting documentaries” – I assume he means Gore’s  error-riddled Inconvenient Truth. Reser at no point grasps the importance to the science debate of the IPCC’s 51%-plus attribution of warming to human activity.

He brushes aside notions that “climate change” means any climate change, and insists that by the conveniently-circular United Nations definition, “climate change” means “human-caused climate change”. However, he concedes that his use of the term “climate change” in the survey might have led to confusions among respondents. Nonetheless, he thinks, “climate change” ought to “immediately raise issues of responsibility, accountability, and guilt” (p126).

He blames some rising scepticism on “oversaturated and sensationalized media coverage” (p142), as if his own output isn’t full of sensational claims about storms, disasters and planetary crises. As he puts it,  “Unfolding environmental changes and dire science prognoses are strongly suggesting that Australia and the world will be facing very serious and life-affecting challenges. …what is at risk are not only cherished aspects of familiar local and global natural environments, but life support systems and livelihoods as the world alters” (p160).

He discovers that Hurricane Sandy has generated “the global significance of much of New York City being inundated by a disaster associated with climate change”, although there is no evidence whatsoever that the hurricane was climate-change related (p152).

Reser’s endemic confusion between “climate” and “weather” probably stems from his use of the American Psychological Association definition, which fails to specify any time period, let alone the normal 30-year averaging of weather. The 2011 survey was funded not only by the late Department of Climate Change et al, but also by the Australian Red Cross.

Thus your Red  Cross donations, which you might imagine help feed starving Somalis,  may be  funding academics to labour over  mental health impacts in Australia of less than a degree of warming in the past  100 years.

Tony Thomas has suffered resignation, pessimism, real sadness, preoccupation, psychological distress etc from having to plough through Reser’s reports. He blogs attthomas061.wordpress.com

 


[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818112001658  Changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human emissions.

 

 

 

 

UNexpectedly, climate change is a global yawn

No amount of deft tweaking and manipulative definitions can hide the simple fact that the world body’s very own poll demonstrates that global warming is, globally speaking, a huge non-issue


What fun! I have just voted in a global poll being conducted by the United Nations to discover what the people of the world care most about. I was global voter Number 623,813 and the 9246th voter from Australia.


As the UN puts it modestly, “Now citizens from around the world have an exciting opportunity, as never before, to be part of the new goals to end poverty and create a sustainable environment from the earliest stages of the process.”

The results of the poll to date are that worldwide, we people of the world view the fight against climate change as the least important of 16 issues suggested by the UN. Top-voted issue for importance worldwide is “better job opportunities”, second is “a good education”, and the lower-ranked issues are “better health care”, “affordable and nutritious food”, “support for people who can’t work”, and so on.

Whichever way you slice and dice the results, the climate-change fight is more or less bottom-ranked globally out of the 16 causes. Male voters: bottom. Female voters: bottom. Aged 34-or-under, bottom. Aged 35-54, second-bottom. Over 55, second bottom.

In other categories, still not much enthusiasm. Voters living in a less-developed country, bottom. In a medium-developed country, second-bottom. In a highly developed country, and here’s a change: tenth-ranked. In a very highly-developed country, eighth-ranked.

Make your voice heard! Vote in the UN poll by clicking here

The 9246 Australian voters (despite myself and some fellow cynics) were among the outliers, ranking the climate-change fight at Number 5, behind “protecting forests, oceans and rivers”, “good education”, “affordable and nutritious food”, and “phone and internet access” (as they say, ‘First World problems’). Congrats to Will Steffen, Tim Flannery and David Karoly for keeping the climate flag flying here, if only a bit above half mast.

To sum up, the UN’s planet-saving crusade for the past 30 years, on which taxpayers’ countless billions have already been sprayed against the wall, has gained no traction, even when measured by the UN’s own polling.

The Australian results to date have interest in that “honest and responsible government” ranks sixth priority — as if we haven’t been a textbook democracy for more than a century, what on earth are people carrying on about [sarcasm]?

Our results don’t vary much by sex or age, except that, as you would expect, youngsters put ‘good education’ tops. The results are also probably biased towards those who enjoy internet polls and are rivetted by UN conferencing, so middle-aged garage mechanics from Rooty Hill and  young hairdressers from Pascoe Vale are probably under-represented.

Of course, this being a UN exercise, there are curiosities, shonky stuff, covert manipulations and general tawdriness embedded in the fine print, involving everyone from the top (Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general) down. The anomalies (which don’t affect the results I’ve cited) have already been ventilated by bloggers Hilary Ostrovand the inestimable Donna Laframboise. (Donna was the gal who first discovered a third of the citations in the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were not blue-chip sciency stuff but non-peer-reviewed documents, ranging down to World Wildlife Fund press releases).

The background to the UN poll: Anyone in the world is invited to choose six issues out of 16 offered by the UN Development Program (UNDP) as most important to them and their families in a post-2015 world.

The first UN fudge is that although the issues offered seem straightforward, when you drill down, the UN has twisted the definitions. For example,

  • If you vote for “Reliable energy at home”, the UN deems that you have also supported an underlying notion that “More of that energy should be sustainably generated” (“Sustainably” was not defined).
  • If you vote for “Action on climate change”, the sub-text is that you want governments to mandate cuts in carbon dioxide emission that will (magically) keep global warming below 2 degrees.
  • If you vote for protecting “forests, rivers and oceans”, the UN considers you are implicitly also voting for a “move to sustainable agriculture” and you want the UN to generate global agreements to “protect biodiversity and fragile ecosystems”.

As Laframboise puts it, “It never occurs to these people that I might cherish pristine wilderness and yet regard the UN as a bloated, unaccountable organization whose mandate needs to shrink rather than expand.”

The UN’s next fudge defies explanation. The poll was trumpeted by Ban Ki-Moon last March after it had been running three months, and he viewed it as input to the “High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda”. This group is to set out new goals for progress once the Millenium Development Goals of the UN hit their use-by date of 2015.

Who comprises this impressive-sounding 27-member “High Level Panel of Eminent Persons”? Well, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was one of three co-chairs, along with the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia. The rest are beautifully balanced among men (13) and women (14) and those from developed and developing countries, the latter including Cuba, Yemen, Benin, and wherever, with plenty of New York trips and similar perks thrown in. Sadly, Australia’s Eminent Persons, such as Quentin Bryce or Tim Costello, failed to get a spot.

Somehow Ban Ki-Moon and his team inputted the first months’ ‘results’ of the poll into the workings of the “The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda” and this report was published last May. Yet the methodology section of the poll says voting on the poll continues until at least December 31, 2014:

“From now until 2015, we want as many people in as many countries as possible to be involved: citizens of all ages, genders and backgrounds, particularly the world’s poor and marginalized communities.”

Not to worry, later results of the poll will continue to be inputted to the UN’s verb-fests on an on-going basis.

UNDP apparatchik Olav Kjorven said, “There’s been something really important missing in the way we at the United Nations and at the global level have been deliberating and deciding on issues over the last decade, and that something has been you — people all over the world.” He added that the era of making decisions about global issues behind closed doors with little citizen involvement was coming to an end. As Ostrov remarked, that would be news to the warmist in-group currently closeted over the drafting of their 5th IPCC report.

Your voting can be on-line, by mobile phone, or offline. UN-organised teams, including boy scouts, “Global Young Greens”, “World Student Christian Federation” activists and all that, have ventured into trackless villages by bike or on foot, waving ballot papers at people cooking their porridge with smouldering cow dung.

Tony Thomas has a gas-fuelled Weber Baby Q, but his successes equate with those cooking with cow dung

Climate Catastrophism For Kiddies

Get ’em young and fill their heads with warmist propaganda — that seems to the unofficial motto of Britain’s education establishment, which has just been warned by the Home Secretary that peddling propaganda as fact is a punishable offence

climate kid brainwashedAlarming climate  and eco-activist messages are saturating the British school system, according to a report by noted UK bloggers Andrew Montford and John Shade. On the same  day of the report’s publication, April 8, the response of UK Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove was to warn   teachers they are breaking the law if they fail to provide balanced coverage of climate change and similar issues.

The affair suggests a similar independent inquiry into “climate teaching” in Australian schools would be worthwhile. Anecdotal accounts of brainwashing by activists masquerading as teachers in our primary and secondary schools are legion.

Montford runs the Bishop Hill climate blog and authored the earlier forensic study, The Hockey Stick Illusion. Shade is a retired statistician and physicist who focuses on climate indoctrination in schools worldwide. The report was sponsored by The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Gove’s spokesman said,  “The Secretary of State read this report with concern. Ministers are clear that the new national curriculum must equip young people with the core knowledge they need to understand the weather, climate, the earth’s atmosphere, physical geography and the interaction between nature and the environment.

“That means in both science and geography, pupils must learn the facts and processes which underpin public discussion of climate change. They must be equipped with the scientific knowledge to make their own judgments about political responses. They must not be directed towards a particular campaigning agenda.

“Schools should not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right – indeed it is against the law for them to do so. Great care should be exercised to make sure information provided to students is scientifically rigorous. It is important that any material used in the classroom is rooted in science, not driven by the aims of a campaign.”

The UK conservative government is beginning to push back against activist indoctrination in the curriculum, legitimized by the Labour government in 2005-07. Last year it put out a draft revision of the National Curriculum for discussion, with less climate activism, but retreated under activist attack.

The new report says that children are being treated as political targets by activists who wish to change society in fundamental ways: “This is unacceptable whether or not they are successful.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • The  Climate Change Schools Project, included an activity for children to be given police officer-style notebooks. They were to ‘book’ themselves, friends or family members if they saw them wasting energy or performing other ‘climate unfriendly’ actions. This is reminiscent of Stasi philosophy in East Germany.
  • One Scottish education programme is intended to create teams of ‘eco- warriors’ (their term) who are involved in proselytising.
  • In a French A-Level language course, the French text set for translation reads, in English, “Nobody can deny it, scientists are unanimous and we see it every day: never in the history of humanity have the dangers been so great. . . We are in the course of meticulously destroying the air, the water, the climate. . . and the animals. You and your friends have a rendezvous with history. Become responsible consumers. . . and be advocates for life and citizens of the Earth.”
  • A revision guide for English adjectives gives zero marks for “global warming is bad” but if the student writes, “global warming is a serious and very worrying issue” it will be “much better – the adjectives will impress the examiner”.
  • A General Certificate of Secondary Education revision guide says, “Climate change isn’t something that is going to happen in the future – it’s happening now! Disasters, like the severe droughts in Niger, in sub-Saharan Africa, in 2005–06 and 2009, are wrecking people’s lives more and more frequently. And it’s going to get worse.”
  • A geography textbook suggests that climate change is worse than nuclear war, famine and plague — a claim taken directly from a pamphlet published by a ‘passionate’ green activist.  
  • A report of a joint visit to a Norfolk school by a group from the University of East Anglia — epicentre of the Climatergate scandal — and renewable energy companies  set out: “As the day begins, the students are informed that the Earth’s remaining reserves of fossil fuels have finally been exhausted and, as a result, the fabric of what we consider normal life has immediately started to crumble. No more light, no more heat, no more iPods. No more anything, in fact, meaning something needs to be done – and soon – before the world falls into total chaos.”
  • A physics question included: ‘I think wind turbines are a good idea as global warming from burning coal is an increasing problem and needs to be stopped.’
  • An economics paper included, “Explain why developed rich countries should provide money to poorer, developing countries so that they can reduce their CO2 emissions.”

The Montford-Shade report says, “We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend. In every case of concern, the slant is on scares, on raising fears, followed by the promotion of detailed guidance on how pupils should live, as well as on what they should think.

“In some instances, we find encouragement to create ‘little political activists’ in schools by creating a burden of responsibility for action on their part to ‘save the planet’, not least by putting pressure on their parents.”

climate scam lesson chart

The authors did find an example of a responsible and balanced text on climate in a textbook. “For example it introduces a section on managing the causes of global warming and climate change by noting ‘if we believe that today’s global warming is simply part of natural climate change, then there is nothing we can do to stop it. All we can do is to adapt to the consequences…However, if we believe that the increase in greenhouse gases is the main cause of global warming, then we can certainly do something’. Thus in a few words, two ends of a range of views are presented, along with some simple inferences to help frame the following section on international cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The norm, however, is to ignore all findings that are off-message, or mention them in order to nullify them. An example:  “All scientists care about is evidence…All these graphs can be mighty confusing, especially when people manipulate the data to try to show that climate change isn’t happening.”

Examining online repositories of past papers for study, the authors found nearly 1000 references to climate change, with warming popping up in papers on economics, chemistry, geography, religious studies, physics, French, humanities, biology, citizenship, English and science.

In religious studies papers, students were asked for “two reasons why many religious believers are concerned about climate change. (4 marks)
…
(d) Explain actions religious people might take to look after the planet. (3 marks)”. Marks were to be awarded for students noting “The effects of climate change on life, e.g. loss of life, food shortages, devastation of livelihoods because of severe weather, droughts, floods, famine, destruction of crops, effects on plants and animals/long term effects/religious reasons – stewardship, dominion, responsibility, etc.”

Marks were also to be awarded for students who saw the need to “protest when necessary/ join action groups such as Greenpeace and religious organisations which raise awareness/encourage others to protect the planet, etc.”

One teacher posted this query on a teachers’ forum: “I’ve got [a job] interview coming up in which I have to teach English to a mixed Year 7 group on the theme of Environment and Sustainability. Any ideas folks?”

An Environmental Science paper awarded marks for students making the incorrect statement that fossil fuels are running out.  Recycling is depicted in textbooks as always a positive thing to do, even if uneconomic or wasteful. Biofuels are advocated and costs ignored in terms of driving up food prices in poor countries. Scotland’s  climate-change education promotes  fiction films such as The Day Before Tomorrow (about a climate apocalypse) and The Age of Stupid (a man sits in a climate-devastated world in 2055, bemoaning his predecessors’ lack of care).

The saturation of students with green messaging  could well be counter-productive to the activists, the report says.  Teacher feedback found online at the Times Higher Education site included

  • “It’s done to death in UK schools across a range of subjects and in nearly all year groups. We risk turning them off it.”
  • “Blimey, it is virtually impossible to do any science topic without some reference to greenhouse effect/global warming/climate change having to be included.”
  • “It has become a bit of a joke in my higher groups that on the long exam questions the words carbon dioxide and global warming will always get a mark regardless of the question!”

The climate  emphasis could have been a springboard for enhancing scientific thinking. However, having unqualified primary school teachers explain complex physical phenomena to small children has not been a successful strategy and children’s understandings remain poor, the report says.

Children are also becoming fearful of the future. US and UK surveys have found primary school children pessimistic – sometimes losing sleep – about their future because of global warming. A sub-teen group was twice as worried about the climate, as about going on dates.

The report’s authors recommend that concerned parents review the curricula, texts and visiting speakers (such as from World Wildlife Fund, and complain politely about bias and pessimism, and any  prejudice against growth and technology. Parents should urge schools to encourage children’s inquiring minds, it continues, rather than succumb to appeals to authority.

They say, “The seriousness of what we have seen is hard to overstate. The fact that children’s ability to pass their exams – and hence their future life prospects – appears to depend on being able to demonstrate their climate-change orthodoxy, is painfully reminiscent of life in communist-era Eastern Europe or Mao’s China.

“Politicians seem to have given the nod to this process, effectively handing much of the curriculum to green activists. The question of whether what is taught in the classroom is scientific or political, balanced or biased, true or false seems to have gone unexamined…

“The piecemeal information and examples we have reported on here seem to us sufficient grounds for concern that children remain at risk of being targeted by zealous campaigners, and of being frightened into premature personal and political actions. They are also at risk of being deprived of a more meaningful education appropriate for the 21st century – an education that would equip them to question and evaluate all claims, not least those of fear-mongering campaigners.

“But only a systematic evaluation can truly determine the extent of the indoctrination as well as the emotional and educational harm to pupils that is undoubtedly resulting.” #

Tony Thomas blogs at tthomas061.wordpress.com

Climate Papers Without Peer

TONY THOMAS

Want your, er, highly innovative research to get lots of attention, the sort that keeps those grants coming? You could do worse than start with some kind words from a peer-reviewer whose work is glowingly cited in your own paper. After that, apply for the next batch of grants

scratch my backPeer review is claimed to be the gold standard for scientific papers. Yet in the establishment climate science world, “peer review” operates differently. Professor Stephan Lewandowsky’s now-retracted paper Recursive Fury, about conspiracy-mindedness of “deniers”, raises a few issues about peer reviewing.

The background is that in 2012  Lewandowsky, Winthrop professor of psychology at the University of Western Australia, wrote a paper on climate “denialism” with the provocative title “NASA Faked the Moon Landing-Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”.  This caused an outcry on climate sceptic blogs, where it was alleged, among other things, that the survey was based on only 10 anonymous internet responses.  Lewandowsky, now at Bristol University, surveyed and analysed the outcry and created last year a new paper, “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation”.

I won’t go into this paper’s merits, except to note that its host journal, Frontiers, has retracted the paper, saying,

As a result of its investigation, which was carried out in respect of academic, ethical and legal factors, Frontiers came to the conclusion that it could not continue to carry the paper, which does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects. Specifically, the article categorizes the behaviour of identifiable individuals within the context of psychopathological characteristics.[1] [2]

Lewandowsky is undeniably a heavy hitter in his psychology patch. He’s been publishing scores of papers for nearly 30 years (20 in the past three years alone) since gaining his Ph.D. He has taught at UWA for nearly 20 years and was awarded the UK Royal Society’s Wolfson Research Merit Award last year.

So who peer reviewed his Recursive Fury paper? It was an ambitious paper, and when published,it got 30,000 online views and more than 9000 downloads, a record for the journal. The editors would hardly have selected as a peer reviewer a mere post-graduate Sydney student in journalism, would they?

Step forward Elaine McKewon, student at the sub-august  Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney, one of the three reviewers.  (Check the output of its star researcher Wendy Bacon here).[3]

McKewon’s academic lustre shines with a BA (Hons) in Geography, UWA, and a Grad Dip in Journalism at UTS.

Her studies for a PhD involve, a la Wendy Bacon, “examining coverage of climate science in Australian newspapers during 1996-2010.” The primary aim, she says, “is to explain how the scientific consensus on climate change was reconstructed as a ‘scientific debate’ in the Australian news media.”  In other words, how and why have evil sceptics been casting doubt on the certain, absolutely settled case for catastrophic human-caused global warming that will occur in the late 21st century. Or in her own words, “I am developing an interdisciplinary model of the social production of scientific ignorance — the process whereby a coalition of agents from different social fields constructs a false scientific controversy at the public level in order to undermine authoritative scientific knowledge.”[4]

Here also speaks McKewon, terrifying the horses at a journalism education conference in Perth:

“The latest report of the (IPCC) in 2007 raises the  prospect of unthinkable scenarios over the coming century: millions of people without adequate water supply, devastating droughts and bushfires, mass starvation, catastrophic floods, more frequent extreme weather events, rising sea levels, millions of people displaced in an environmental refugee crisis and one-third of the world’s species committed to extinction…”[5]

I’m not surprised that the Australian Psychological Society (which adores Lewandowsky’s papers) has put out a special bulletin on how to educate kiddies about climate change without traumatizing them permanently.[6]

Lewandowsky is a fan of McKewon’s work. In a 40-minute video he did last month at Bristol University, he quotes (at 28:04) from his Recursive Fury conclusion about “a possible role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science”. He adds that this “is a finding that aligns well with previous research”. His graphic then pops up alongside, reading  “Other research aligns with our basic thinking, e.g. McKewon 2012.”[7]

 

McKewon published two studies in 2012.  Lewandowsky is probably referring to both of them:  “The use of neoliberal think tank [i.e. Institute of Public Affairs] fantasy themes to delegitimise scientific knowledge of climate change in Australian newspapers” and “Conspiracy theories vs climate science in regional newspaper coverage of Ian Plimer’s book, Heaven and Earth”.

In the Recursive Fury paper, Lewandowsky cites McKewon’s two papers no less than five times.[8] I imagine McKewon would have noticed the citations she was getting, but not let that affect her objectivity as peer reviewer. As it happened, she seems to have missed, as reviewer, the ethics issues identified by Frontiers’ journal management.

McKewon’s own account is: “Satisfied that the paper was a solid work of scholarship that could advance our understanding of science denial and improve the effectiveness of science communication, I recommended publication. Two other independent reviewers agreed.”[9]

The peer-review guidelines of the Frontier family of journals, including Frontiers of Psychology, advise that it is mandatory for review editors who endorse publication of a manuscript to have their identities listed on the published article.[10] On the Recursive Fury article still on the UWA website, I can’t find any reviewer names. There may be some routine explanation for that, but it’s odd.

The Frontier guidelines also say that review editors are “appointed to the Frontiers editorial Boards from the community’s top experts  worldwide”. We must assume that McKewon met that criterion.

McKewon lists in her online CV her “reviewer” status for Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences, and presumably she has reviewer status also for Frontiers in Psychology, since she herself has announced she was a peer reviewer of the Lewandowsky Recursive article there.[11]

She also says she is Reviewer for Australian Humanities Review and Journal of Applied Communication Research. I imagine a climate sceptic, submitting a piece on, say, “Failure of Academics to Notice the 17-Year Warming Hiatus” might get some trenchant questioning from McKewon as reviewer.

Of McKewon’s other three papers, one also involves the rubbishing of Plimer’s book, and two are about prostitution in WA. She has also written a book on Kalgoorlie prostitution.[12]

Her grants include $12,696 from the federal Department of Industry this year towards her Ph.D. rubbishing the alleged coalition of IPA, News Corp, fossil fuel barons etc for “undermining authoritative scientific knowledge”. (How kind of Industry Minister Ian McFarlane to pay the government’s enemies to crusade against it and its supporters). McKewon also scored an earlier $70,881 grant over three years for Ph.D. work, funded by a Rudd department.

“Peer review” has been a feature of IPCC science. Who could forget the Climategate email of East Anglia’s climate guru Phil Jones:  “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

I have not been aware of any controversy over credentials of peer reviewers themselves. So let’s take a closer look at Ms McKewon, “a top expert worldwide”, according to the Frontier journal group’s criteria.

She’s from New Orleans and has been in Australia a couple of decades. Her journalism to 2008 seems to be 200-plus news items for a New Orleans blog called BayouBuzz, these items being mostly rehashes of mainstream media reports – part of any journo’s stock-in-trade. The main exception is her climate reports, which are long, passionate pieces on planet-saving themes.

Her recent item titles speak for themselves:

  • The journal that gave in to climate deniers’ intimidation‘. — The Conversation, April 2, 2014  [Frontiers new explanation for pulling the Recursive Fury piece seems to render McKewon’s story obsolete].
  • The Big Oil-backed climate denier who hoodwinked Fairfax. — Crikey, January 13, 2014. Opinion piece based on doctoral research.
  • Think tank a false climate prophet’. Opinion piece based on doctoral research.  –  SMH, 20 June, 2013
  • Think tank talking points deepen the divide over climate change’.  The Conversation, February 16, 2012   Opinion piece based on doctoral research.

Her twitter account is alive with disparagement of “deniers”.  Sceptics are equated with anti-vaccine campaigners; Melbourne sceptic John McLean is a “Big Oil-backed climate denier” (show us the Exxon cheques, John!). She’s enthusiastic about banning sceptic commentary from the media;  “climate denial” is a “machine” or “industry” powered by the IPA;  polar bears are starving; climate-change diseases are rife; and the Marshall Islands are drowning.

I mentioned peer-review standards in climate science are sometimes not as high as in proper science. The use of junior people as purported experts and authorities is also a feature of  IPCC climate science. Here’s some examples, unearthed by investigator Donna Lamframboise for her 2011 book Delinquent Teenager:

  • Richard Klein  in 1992 turned 23, completed a Masters degree, and worked as a Greenpeace campaigner. Two years later, at the tender age of 25, he found himself serving as an IPCC lead author. He became a top-level coordinating lead author at age 28, six years before he completed his Ph.D. in 2003.
  • Environmentalist Laurens Bouwer in 1999-2000 served as an IPCC lead author on an chapter devoted to insurance before earning his Masters in 2001. His insurance expertise? He’d been a trainee at Munich Re.[13]

My scientist friends tell me that peer review generally has degraded, partly because of the upsurge in numbers of papers seeking publication. Since each paper needs a mimimum of three reviewers, the demands on serious-minded reviewers are so great that many now refuse to fritter their time on that task. Hence publishers are reduced to begging would-be authors to come up with names of five reviewers, any reviewers, academic stature be hanged. Publishers may even ask authors for a list of reviewers who should not be asked, hence the growth of groupthink in academia.

The unravelling of issues around  Lewandowsky’s Recursive Fury paper has some distance to run – particularly in respect of UWA giving it a tick for ethical procedures.

I hope McKewon can find time for a follow-up on her April 2 piece in The Conversation, where she seems to have grabbed the bull by the tail:

“The journal’s management and editors were clearly intimidated by climate deniers who threatened to sue. So Frontiers bowed to their demands, retracted the paper, damaged its own reputation, and ultimately gave a free kick to aggressive climate deniers.

I would have expected a scientific journal to have more backbone, certainly when it comes to the crucially important issue of academic freedom.”[14]

Her think-piece was considered so outstanding by Scientific American, it republished it in full.[15] So did Social Science Space.[16]

But as Frontiers now says, “Frontiers did not “cave in to threats”; in fact, Frontiers received no threats.”[17]

UPDATE: The Recursive Fury paper was edited by Viren Swami, University of Westminster. Strangely, he is also one of the two peer reviewers of the paper, along with McKewon.  The Sydney Morning Herald reported on April 2,  that McKewon was one of  “three independent reviewers”.
Dr Swami’s Ph.D was on body-size ideals across cultures.  His papers include :
>Female physical attractiveness in Britain and Malaysia: A cross-cultural study
>Female physical attractiveness in Britain and Japan: A cross‐cultural study
>The missing arms of Vénus de Milo: reflections on the science of attractiveness
>A critical test of the waist-to-hip ratio hypothesis of women’s physical attractiveness in Britain and Greece
>Unattractive, promiscuous and heavy drinkers: Perceptions of women with tattoos.

Reporter Tony Thomas is still hoping for a Professorship in Journalism at UTS. He blogs attthomas061.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] http://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Retraction_of_Recursive_Fury_A_Statement/812

[2] Joanne Nova sums up the thrust of the Recursive Fury paper: “that sceptics who objected this previous paper were barking-mad conspiracy theorists with nefarious intent”

[3] http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2013/11/wendy-bacons-warmist-wonderland/

[4] http://uts.academia.edu/ElaineMcKewon/CurriculumVitae

[5] http://www.academia.edu/1293123/Resurrecting_the_war-by-media_on_climate_science_Ian_Plimers_Heaven_Earth

[6] https://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/children_environment/

[7] http://vimeo.com/89099432

[8] On p3, 5, 29, and 36 (twice)

[9] http://theconversation.com/the-journal-that-gave-in-to-climate-deniers-intimidation-25085

[10] http://www.frontiersin.org/about/faq

[11] see 8

[12] http://uts.academia.edu/ElaineMcKewon

[13] http://www.amazon.com/Delinquent-Teenager-Mistaken-Worlds-Climate-ebook/dp/B005UEVB8Q

[14] http://theconversation.com/the-journal-that-gave-in-to-climate-deniers-intimidation-25085

[15] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-deniers-intimidate-journal-into-retracting-paper-that-finds-they-believe-conspiracy-theories/

[16] http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2014/04/reviewer-journal-wilts-under-climate-of-intimidation/

[17] http://www.frontiersin.org/blog/Retraction_of_Recursive_Fury_A_Statement/812

Gergis findings re-surface – the Hockey Stick lives!

By Tony Thomas

Hello Hockey Stick again, goodbye global Medieval Warming Period.
These are the conclusions of a multi-proxy 1000-year climate reconstruction published today (March 31) in Nature Climate Change, by Dr Raphael Neukom of the Oeschger Centre at the University of Bern, and Dr Joelle Gergis of the University of Melbourne.
Dr Neukom summed up for a University of Melbourne press release: “The study showed the ‘Medieval Warm Period’, as identified in some European chronicles, was a regional phenomenon.
“During the same period, temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere were only average. Our study revealed it was not a common climate event that many people have previously assumed.”

The paper claims that in 99.7 percent of the results, the warmest decade of the millennium occurred after 1970.
The press release says, “And surprisingly, only twice over the entire past millennium have both hemispheres simultaneously shown extreme temperatures.
One of these occasions was a global cold period in the 17th century; the other was the current warming phase”.”

The paper’s content has had a convoluted history. It appeared on-line at Nature Climate Change about May 17, 2012, with Gergis cited as the lead author. The multiple authors, who included IPCC stalwart Dr David Karoly, withdrew it three weeks later after an altercation with blogger Steve McIntyre, who had spotted that it used invalid statistical techniques, involving the ‘screening fallacy’.
Moreover, Dr Gergis, a la Michael Mann and Phil Jones, was loathe to provide McIntyre with the raw data for checking, citing third-party confidentialities. She told McIntyre to go seek the data from the third parties:
“The compilation of this database represents years of our research effort based on the development of our professional networks. We risk damaging our work relationships by releasing other people’s records against their wishes. Clearly this is something that we are not prepared to do.”
She then added, “This is commonly referred to as ‘research’. We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.”
The Nature Climate Change paper, as described by the University of Melbourne press release, has Neukom as the lead author, and Gergis as co-author. The release says,

A new international study has published the most comprehensive Southern Hemisphere reconstruction of past climate records, revealing a clearer climate picture of the globe’s temperature history than ever before.
The study revealed that over the past 1000 years temperature variations have differed greatly between the two hemispheres, yet it confirmed they shared the one warm period after the 1970s.
Led by the Oeschger Centre at the University of Bern, the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL and the University of Melbourne, the study Inter-hemispheric temperature variability over the past millennium was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Co-author Dr Joelle Gergis, ARC Fellow from the University of Melbourne, said the study finally put the Southern Hemisphere on the map in terms of recording past climate variations over the past 1000 years.
“Our findings showed there were considerable decade-to-decade regional temperature variations in the Southern Hemisphere, that were different to the Northern Hemisphere,’’ she said.
“The Southern Hemisphere is a vast oceanic region that is influenced by ocean circulation features such as El Niño. Our study showed that these internal climate cycles may have played a role in influencing regional climate compared to the land-dominated Northern Hemisphere, where external changes in volcanic and solar variations have a more direct influence.
“But despite the two hemispheres behaving differently over the past 1000 years, what is consistent is the recent warming in the last 40 years.
“This study provided an opportunity to refine regional climate model predictions in the Southern Hemisphere for countries like Australia and South America by extending our understanding of natural temperature variations recorded since 1850 back over the past 1000 years,” she said.
The study involved the coordination of an international scientific team with expertise in past climate information from tree-rings, lake sediments, corals, ice cores and climate modelling.
Scientists compiled climate data from hundreds of different locations and used a range of methods to estimate Southern Hemisphere temperatures over the past 1000 years….
The study showed that regional differences such as these were larger than previously thought.

As far as I can establish, pending clarification from the University of Melbourne, Neukom, Gergis et al reworked the maths in their original paper and re-submitted it to the Journal of Climate some time ago, but it has not reappeared there.
Meanwhile, the paper’s underlying data, allegedly certified by an independent team of scientists, was incorporated in a paper by third parties in Nature Geosciences in April 2013. Today’s release is in Nature Climate Change, and bears a strong family resemblance to the original Gergis/Neukom exercise.

Melbourne-based Tony Thomas writes for Quadrant.org.au.