No curiosity? Then be a journalist

This story is datelined London, December 1, and comes from the Australian Associated Press. It was posted on the web site of the Royal Society of New Zealand—behind a paywall. [Full article at the end.]

First: it is frustrating, suspicious and avaricious for our Royal Society to hide its “news” behind a paywall. How widely, really, does it wish the news to spread, when it publishes only to its members?

Second: the level of uninterest evinced by this reporter in the matter he is reporting is quite awe-inspiring. There is not the merest evidence of curiosity, investigation or the most rudimentary checking of facts.

Be a journo — or join our Royal Society

The main assertions in this story are inane, blatantly alarmist, undisguised advocacy and wrong. That the story is promulgated by our once-proud, independent, trustworthy and in particular scientific Royal Society is now a source of shame to all New Zealanders. There is no doubt that our Royal Society has abandoned, in respect of the global warming controversy, any pretence to objective investigation. It has instead adopted such a strong intention to champion the hypothesis of man-made control of the climate that it blinds itself to the necessity of finding evidence.

Their intention moves them to breach their founding principles. Look them up. Their behaviour is a matter of law, so it will give way, given enough pressure, to legal or parliamentary sanction. Swell, public opinion, swell!

Our Royal Society even helps champion, through web site connections, the blatantly alarmist web site Hot Topic, which routinely insults scientific sceptics asking reasonable questions with terms like crank, denialist and worse. We have come to expect that from the likes of Mr Renowden and his bigots, but the support for it from the scientists of the Royal Society is reprehensible. It is scientific misbehaviour.

Here is a sampling of the AAP story’s errors, inadequacies and naked prejudice.

Winter temperatures in west Antarctica have increased by as much as five degrees Celsius – and that allows cushion plants and grasses to thrive.

Since winter temperatures in west Antarctica are in the range -30°C to -20°C, how does an increase of 5°C encourage plant life? It’s still colder than the freezer in our kitchen, and there are no plants growing in that. You might say there’s no light in our freezer, and that’s true. But there’s no light in an Antarctic winter, either. Dr Summerhayes says this allows plants to “thrive”? This is errant nonsense from our Royal Society.

The report’s authors said its findings were consistent with human-induced climate change and the explanation for the warming was the hole in the ozone layer, which has brought stronger, cooler winds.

Its findings are also consistent with natural climate change, if I’m not mistaken. But how can warming be explained by stronger and cooler winds? It is inane. It is disgraceful that the Royal Society approved this statement. Is the responsible minister paying attention? Mr Wayne Mapp, will you bring them back under control?

Some western Antarctic glaciers were retreating 10 metres a day

Forgive my chutzpah (not being a scientist) but if a single iceberg can measure kilometres on a side, why is 10 m per day necessarily significant? It’s the width of a small road. How can any number be understood in isolation? Give some context, such as “10 m per day is 20% faster/slower than the average over the past 30 years” or something.

Icebergs are spinning off the end of that glacier much faster than they ever did

How do you know how fast they have “ever” spun? What scientific understanding do you illuminate by the term “icebergs spinning off the end” of the glacier?

They are melting and contributing to sea level rise,” he said of the Amundsen glacier.

As they always necessarily did. Now, contributing how much, exactly?

Melting of the western Antarctic ice sheet would likely contribute “tens of centimetres” to a global sea level rise of up to 1.4m by 2100.

So it’s likely—it’s just as likely not to. Does “likely” mean “possibly” or “probably”? We seldom see these two excellent words used to describe the author’s assessment of the likelihood of an event, which is so useful to know. We are left to guess between them.

There’s no evidence mentioned for the 1.4 m sea level rise by 2100, although it keeps increasing; not long ago it was around 70 cm. for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) to start substantially melting would be governed, I have read, by the ocean. The air has not warmed recently. But neither has the sea, so it is not substantially melting now. The future is presently being decided by computer models, nothing else. Sea levels are not now increasing. There is no justification for claiming a 1.4 m rise by 2100.

Our Royal Society is dead

The above makes for depressing reading. It sounds like the end of science as we know it. But take heart, dear reader, there is hope. There are more scientists of a truly sceptical mind than signed their names to the IPCC reports; they will eventually prevail. Truth will emerge, for it needs no support. Lies must fade, for they need constant support and it will wither. Remember, too, that there many real scientists in the warming camp; their enduring love of science deserves respect.

But the real scientists need support so I intend to challenge all the pieces of nonsense I have time for. Without the sobriquet “scientist” the rationality of this lay challenger is not established and must be presumed meagre. But I don’t any more, quite honestly, give a damn! You can like me or lump me, just take my words at face value.

Don’t waste your time attacking me; I cheerfully admit to having no authority of either qualification or position, nor do I seek any. I am not important. I am just repeating the statements of the warmists to draw attention to their own contradictions. Let them answer to that, I have nothing to answer to. Some will wake up when they hear this. That is enough.

This age of ignorance needs an antidote. The antidote is knowledge and reason.

Here is the original story

Antarctica turns green

London, Dec 1, 2009; Australian Associated Press

Parts of the continent warming, other areas stable or cooling – SCAR report

Antarctica is turning green. Images of a white, barren continent could need updating as climate change brings more plants to Antarctica’s formerly frozen shores. An international report issued on Tuesday has found that winter temperatures in west Antarctica have increased by as much as five degrees Celsius – and that allows cushion plants and grasses to thrive. “We’re seeing more plant growth,” Dr Colin Summerhayes, executive director of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), told AAP. “It’s getting a bit greener.”

The SCAR report found warm temperatures brought summer rain instead of snow to western Antarctica – that’s the bit near South America – so more rock and soil was exposed to the sky and to plants. And thanks to human visitors, ‘alien’ species like flies and bacteria were also increasing. Dr Summerhayes, speaking from Cambridge University in the UK, said part of Antarctica was starting to look like Macquarie Island. But scientists and tourists heading to the South Pole shouldn’t leave behind their snow shoes just yet.

Antarctica’s climate is a mixed bag, the report found. Part of the continent is warming up, but other areas are stable or cooling – which has prompted some to question whether climate change is actually happening. The report’s authors said its findings were consistent with human-induced climate change and the explanation for the warming was the hole in the ozone layer, which has brought stronger, cooler winds.

The report found there has been little change in temperature over most of Antarctica, and sea ice has increased by 10 per cent in the last 30 years. But sea ice doesn’t affect sea levels – it’s the ice which sits on land that counts. And Antarctica’s land ice, in the form of ice shelves and glaciers, is melting. Dr Summerhayes said some western Antarctic glaciers were retreating 10 metres a day. “Icebergs are spinning off the end of that glacier much faster than they ever did, and they are melting and contributing to sea level rise,” he said of the Amundsen glacier.

The SCAR report found that melting of the western Antarctic ice sheet would likely contribute “tens of centimetres” to a global sea level rise of up to 1.4m by 2100, which is a greater rise than UN scientists have predicted. Dr Summerhayes said the ozone layer was tipped to close later this century – good news for Aussie beachgoers who may escape skin cancer, but bad news for Antarctic penguins because warming would accelerate. The SCAR report, Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment, is based on work from 100 scientists in 13 countries.

AAPreg 01/12/09 13-13NZ

4 Thoughts on “No curiosity? Then be a journalist

  1. John McLean on December 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm said:

    I would like to draw your attention to an extract from an excellent analysis of the CRU emails affair:

    “As tempting as it is to indulge in Schadenfreude over the richly deserved travails of a gang that has heaped endless calumny on dissenting scientists … the meaning of the CRU documents should not be misconstrued. The emails do not in and of themselves reveal that catastrophic climate change scenarios are a hoax or without any foundation. What they reveal is something problematic for the scientific community as a whole, namely, the tendency of scientists to cross the line from being disinterested investigators after the truth to advocates for a preconceived conclusion about the issues at hand.”

    Perhaps the RS will reflect upon that last sentence.

  2. Barry Brill on December 6, 2009 at 7:41 pm said:

    Did the 100 scientists working on the SCAR report (thanks to taxpayer grants) find anything new at all? They clearly want to discredit the UN’s IPCC, which claims 2,500 scientists, and expects a global sea level rise of 18-59cm by 2100. Well, they’ve succeeded with me – I don’t believe either guess.

    Perhaps the following is why the Royal Society thought this PR piece was worth real money:
    ” The [SCAR] report found there has been little change in temperature over most of Antarctica, and sea ice has increased by 10 per cent in the last 30 years”.

    Why would Antarctic sea ice increase so much during the very period the IPCC suggest was the warmest 30 years since instrumental records began? This is a scientific mystery worth bringing to the attention of the public – and that might well have been the true intention of the Society.

    If I’ve got it pegged aright, this tends to disprove the well-known contention that “the Royal Society has gone from a learned institution to a trade union in only 30 years”.

  3. Thank you, Dr Pitt. It’s quite possible I made a mistake about the ecology; I’m not an ecologist. But I thought my comments were reasonable, or I wouldn’t have made them. To use the word “thrive” in an environment of those low temperatures seems outlandish. What was mistaken?

    I must correct your assertion about using offensive comments. Some of my comments may offend, but I try to direct them to words and actions and not to persons, as far as I can. The same cannot be said for the people I complain of.

  4. I’m sorry, but your comments about the first piece of quoted text just show your complete ignorance about ecology.

    Public statements are necessarily dumbed down for the public, not because the public is stupid, but because scientific papers can be up to 6 pages of dense text. And even THAT isn’t enough to properly outline the assumptions and possible influences.

    You complain about people calling you denialist and cranks, and yet you use equally offensive (but succinctly descriptive) words yourself.

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