Rachel recycles climate con

The Taranaki Daily News two days ago published a polemic notable more for its rancour than its precision regarding climatic facts.

It’s a good example of one-eyed thinking, skewed views and perfectly furious ad hominem attacks — all teeth and talons and only the hissing missing.

Rachel Stewart

Written by the doubtless-locally-renowned scribe Rachel Stewart, it strikes some of the sourest notes I’ve come across in the climate debate since finding Hot Topic. But her thunderous venom simply accents her foolhardy logic. She wears a filthy expression in the accompanying photo. Did someone steal her favourite cuddly toy? It would certainly explain the spleen.

With a headline recalling Gore’s thoroughly discredited film “An inconvenient truth”, you’d think the article was about global warming. But it quickly becomes clear that Miss Stewart has it in for farming itself, not just its emissions. Don’t know how she thinks we’ll eat. Or, in this country, import buses or computers.

Last refuge of the defeated

She repeats lies about Bob Carter and the alleged funding of his opinions, as though that’s all that produces his opinions, but I would like to point out some of the fraudulent assertions she repeats about global warming. I like Bob and I could listen to him all day, but he would himself agree that his personal reputation, though valuable, is meaningless beside the lies being told about climate science. They are my target.

The Taranaki Daily News article opens with:

OPINION: The only intelligent way to make sense of the very few remaining scientists vocally denying climate change is to first look closely at their political views.

This is not intelligent, because in fact the only way to make sense of what a person says is to hear what they say and analyse it. Their political views are not just irrelevant; to ignore the argument and attack the man is the last refuge of the defeated.

She only suggests this outlandish course because she is avoiding what the sceptics say. If Miss Stewart considers the facts of the climate she will notice for herself, as I have, that they provide a good reason to look more carefully at the generally accepted statements about dangerous anthropogenic global warming.

Doubts even without funding

To hear, for example, that sea levels are not rapidly rising, the polar ice caps have not disappeared, the inhabitants of Tuvalu have not been forced to evacuate ahead of rising seas and that the global average surface temperature has not increased much in the last 15 years or so is to raise automatic doubts about the conventional wisdom — even without being offered “funding” by an oil company.

We sceptics are not stupid, and we don’t “deny” anything; we just look at the evidence. Does Miss Stewart have evidence to show there’s going to be dangerous warming? We haven’t found any.

Now, who denies climate change? Climate changes all the time and reasonable people don’t deny the obvious. Just who are these scientists who are allegedly denying it? She mentions Bob Carter, but he doesn’t deny climate change, so she’s telling lies. He disagrees that humanity causes dangerous global warming, but that’s something entirely different. That’s an argument our Rachel will lose.

What is the evidence?

She alleges denial of what is not being denied, but anyone thinking properly won’t be fooled. I wonder what persuades Miss Stewart that global warming is happening now and is about to happen more intensely in the future?

What evidence does she have? Is the global average temperature rising? I can tell her it isn’t, and it hasn’t risen appreciably since about 1995. Are sea levels rising? I can tell her they are, but they are not rising dramatically and they’ve slowed down in the last few years, anyway (giving the lie to strident predictions of accelerating rise).

Is the Arctic ice cap melting, perhaps? I can tell her it melts every summer, then freezes over again in the winter, and in the last three years, there’s been more ice going into winter than in 2007, the year of the great melt. So the ice is recovering — isn’t that good news? In the Antarctic, the ice cover has been increasing for about 30 years.

dairy farmers are feeling the winds of environmental change so profoundly that they desperately need to hear that it couldn’t possibly be their industry contributing to any, er, global warming.

She makes it sound as though everyone in the whole world agrees that farmers contribute to global warming, doesn’t she? But they don’t. How do we know they don’t?

Because New Zealand is the only country that put agriculture into their Kyoto emissions profiles and we are the only country that has put farmers into the ETS to make them pay a carbon tax. Mind you, we’re the only country outside Europe WITH an ETS. Everyone else is far too sensible.

Tractors up the Eiffel Tower

Imagine the ruckus if you told the French farmers their emissions would incur an extra carbon tax! They’d be driving their tractors up the Eiffel Tower quicker than you could say “Champs-Élysées.” Or do I have that back to front?

Anyway, what makes her think that farm animals create carbon dioxide? That’s the only way they could contribute to global warming. But plants eat carbon dioxide, animals eat the plants and the carbon dioxide from the plants gets breathed out until the animal dies. That’s been the natural cycle for a billion years! In and out, in and out, nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about.

Miss Stewart just doesn’t seem to know very much about the global warming debate, and presents a shambling attack on farming leaders which is pretty hard to follow. I mean swallow.

Weather is doing something

The only delusional man in the “bring the farmers into the ETS two years early” announcement by Labour was Phil Goff! In a stroke, he guaranteed that no sane farmer will vote Labour. Good one, Phil!

Miss Stewart hits us with the dramatic news that “the weather is obviously doing something out there.” I’m completely underwhelmed. That beats everything. I’m flabbergasted. The weather’s doing something. Amazing. And we should be concerned about that because …?

When Miss Stewart conflates climate change with dirty dairying she reveals her blatant anti-farming agenda. Can she tell the difference between clean, green carbon dioxide, the invisible, odourless, airborne plant food, and animal effluent that poisons waterways with an excess of nutrients?

Obviously not, or she would understand that they are completely different substances and need to be managed with completely different strategies. You just cannot refer to them both with the blanket designation “pollution”. She’s obviously doing her best to criticise farmers for “ordinary” polluting and encourage them (in her own self-defeating way) to adopt better environmental practices, but she conflates that with the non-polluting emissions of carbon dioxide and ends up giving a most motley message. For example:

Of all sectors farmers have the most to lose by denying climate change.

What does that mean? They certainly have a lot to lose by agreeing to the ETS. MAF estimates the impact of the ETS on an average dairy farm will be over $3300 per year. I’d bet it will be well over that.

We all lose when global warming is being “fought” with our money. Everything that uses energy in its production or distribution goes up in price. That’s most things — all right, it’s everything.

And what do we get for our money? Nothing at all. And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes the cost-benefit result of our ETS very expensive.

Nick Smith, Minister of Climate Change Issues, agrees we won’t affect global warming because New Zealand’s emissions are only about 0.1% of total emissions.

Ah well, at least the facts aren’t slowin’ ol’ Rachel down!

16 Thoughts on “Rachel recycles climate con

  1. Alexander K on June 3, 2011 at 1:58 am said:

    Richard, youv’e rebutted the nasty Ms Stewart’s rant very comprehensively.
    But what on earth motivates such people? Her combat-ready features reminds of my Mum’s old saying about such people,
    “She’d be savage if she had pups!”
    Ms Stewart lives and works in an overwhelmingly farming community in a country which is overwhelmingly agricultural; NZ is the only country that defines ‘primary industry’ as agriculture, every other nation in the developed world refers to industrialism as ‘primary’, so the motivation for biting the hand that feeds her escapes me completely. She embodies the nastier side of small-town Kiwi provincialism – bitter, devoid of joy, refinement or optimisim and attacks everything that isn’t a clone of how she thinks; her evidence-free and billious rant reminds me, for some odd reason, of the NZ newspaper pic that appeared some years ago, of a little boy seated with his parents in a Christchurch grandstand waiting for the start of a Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Auckland Blues. The wee boy was waving a large placard that said ‘We Hate You, Auckland’.
    I worked around Taranaki for a short time over fifty years ago and there were still some very strange inhabitants around, who were preparing, in all sorts of practical, if slightly mad ways, of carrying on with WWII ‘when the buggers land this time’!. It never occurred to any of them that the first time hadn’t happenned yet!

  2. Andy on June 3, 2011 at 11:27 am said:

    The funny thing about the likes of Ms Stewart is that they have no sense of self awareness. They accuse the likes of Bob Carter of having political views that cloud his judgement, and that he is funded by “think tanks” or whatever.

    I can almost guarantee you that Stewart’s political views fall somewhere in the “Socialist Workers Party” spectrum ( a quick Google shows her admiration for Hone Harawira).

    Is she aware that Joe Romm (formerly of Climate Progress) is paid for his blogging efforts? Paid, that is, to spew forth his one-sided view of the world? Is Ms Stewart aware that Greenpeace and WWF, both multi-billion dollar organisations, have huge financial and political incentives to push the climate change agenda, and that they have successfully managed to promote their world view throughout IPCC reports and by lobbying governments?

    OK, now onto the ETS.
    In the emotion-charged world that our eco-activist friends live, farmers are evil because they pollute the environment.

    Now, there are issues around water management that need to be addressed, I acknowledge that.
    However, the “pollution” that we are referring here is methane, that is a part of the natural carbon cycle. CO2 , sunlight and water makes grass grow. Cows eat grass. Cows emit methane. The methane reacts with the OH radical in the atmosphere and, over a period of 8-10 years or so, forms CO2 again. Then the process repeats itself.

    Furthermore, according to IPCC AR4, methane levels globally are not increasing, although there have been some more recent studies that have shown that levels are picking up. What is causing this is not known.

    So the next favorite argument is that methane has a “warming potential” of around 21 times that of CO2. This, in my view, is a bit contentious and is on my list of things to research.

    Having established that methane doesn’t appear to be a major concern (i.e the cycle is carbon-neutral and levels are not changing to any degree), we now move onto the emotional arguments.

    We are told that farmers need to “do their bit” and it is not “fair” that they get away with polluting.

    Hang on, are farmers not already doing their bit by paying for the current ETS that affects power and fuel? They are very big consumers of both. Would it not be fairer to bill everyone for breathing? After all, we each emit about 1 kg of CO2 a day. It is also part of the carbon cycle, and has a warming potential of 1/21 of methane we are told. So why don’t the Green’s try to tax us for breathing? Because it is “not fair”, we are already doing our bit, unlike the farmers (like a goldfish in a bowl, we have forgotten the original argument that farmers are already “doing their bit”)

    If you have ever had one of these conversations, you’ll probably understand why we are pulling our hair out by this stage.

    I’ll let Robin Grieve have the last say
    http://breakingviewsnz.blogspot.com/2011/05/robin-grieve-ets-to-slash-farm-incomes.html

    Even the Aussies realise that your actually have to provide farmers some incentive to reduce emissions. Robin’s article sums it all up rather well.

  3. Andy on June 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm said:

    Update:

    Some searching dug out this little gem from the US

    http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-national/taranaki-daily-news-pulls-texas-gun-critique

    Seems our Rachel has been pissing off the Texans with her views on guns, and then the Taranaki Daily News does the disappearing act with the original article, only for it to re-emerge again, as if by magic.

  4. Wal, gosh-darn, that’s a right howdy-do! What a fascinating find, Andy. Nothing to do with the climate, of course, but Miss Stewart’s certainly got a reputation for taking on the establishment in several tough, testosterone-filled arenas. I wonder if she’s agin’ men farming, or just agin’ men?

  5. This is a good find, Andy, thanks. We need to know more about the practical effects of the ETS because it needs to be an election issue, starting soon.

  6. Richard C (NZ) on June 4, 2011 at 12:12 am said:

    Andy, I did a quick search (best I can do – working 11/7 this week) and turned up this paper that provides Greenhouse Warming Strengths of the Key Gases and Fuel Effect on Fossil Carbon Intensity:-

    http://www.treepower.org/globalwarming/CO2-EPRI-EvanHughes.pdf

    Quoting:

    “In Table 5-1, different timeframes, as well as the four different gases, are shown because
    the non-CO2 gases gradually are converted into CO2 over the years and will eventually
    be at the same strength as CO2, but not until well beyond the timeframes of interest here.
    In order to assess emission controls applied to different gases on a common basis for
    global warming purposes, the emissions of the different greenhouse gases are normalized
    to a common basis by expressing them as equivalent CO2 emissions. On a mass basis,
    and for a 100-year timeframe, methane (CH4) absorbs 21 times as much of the earth’s
    outgoing infrared radiation as carbon dioxide (CO2). Therefore, we say that the mass of
    the equivalent CO2 emission is 21x the mass of the methane put into the landfill gas
    energy system. In this section of the report the costs of greenhouse gas reduction will be
    expressed and compared on the basis of dollars per metric ton (tonne) of elemental
    carbon ($/tonne C), based on the absorbing strength when that carbon atom is in a CO2
    molecule–the “CO2 equivalent.” When methane is the fuel, the carbon atom is in a CH4
    molecule. Hence, the factor per unit of energy will be less than the 21x. Here we use a
    factor of only 7.64, which is 21 x (16/44). The 16/44 is because each molecule of
    methane has a mass of 16, molecular weight, and goes into one atom of carbon in a
    carbon dioxide molecule of weight 44.”

    So what?

    If we take the Specific Heat Capacity of CO2 as 0.819 (kJ/kgK) at 275 K.

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/carbon-dioxide-d_974.html

    Methane holds 2.7 times more heat

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/methane-d_980.html

    Water vapour holds 2.27 times more heat

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/water-vapor-d_979.html

    Adjusting for atmospheric composition and setting CO2 at 1

    Methane is 0.01 relative to CO2

    Water vapour is 157.6 relative to CO2 (using 2.5% atm composition) which is 15,764 times greater atm heat capacity than methane.at 275 K.

    http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/qt/atmcomposition.htm

    So much for methane being a “potent” heat “trapping” greenhouse gas (although I will have to get Rachel Strewart to check these calcs).

  7. Alexander K on June 4, 2011 at 5:39 am said:

    Wow! The lady in question’s little blog story about her experience in a Texas diner appears to be a fabrication – so she’s not only anti farming, she”s anti guns and also a fiction writer. Making blogs vanish then reappear later is a really dumb tactic too, but hey, feminists appear to imagine they have licence to do this stuff. Does the newspaper which employs her not have a few questions about her professional behaviour, or has NZ gone so far down the PC route that employers have little influence about what their staff can and can’t say or do?

  8. Andy on June 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm said:

    Richard – thanks for the links. I still can’t find where these figures for 21 times CO2 for methane are calculated.

    It would be interesting to see how it is done. The figure keeps getting recycled but no one quotes a source document.

  9. That’s a good defence following her original story. The impression I gained from David Codrea’s comments was misleading in alleging Miss Stewart was making stuff up. This is an excursion off the topic, of course, and does nothing to alter my criticism of Miss Stewart’s misrepresentation of the facts of global warming.

  10. Mike Jowsey on June 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm said:

    I just won’t be able to sleep tonight with that graphic image in my mind. That gaze would make a rottweiller cringe. She looks like someone just called her [ad hominem removed]

  11. Richard C (NZ) on June 4, 2011 at 8:40 pm said:

    AR4 WG1 2.3.2 Atmospheric Methane cites Ramaswamy et al., 2001

    Quoting:-

    “Methane has the second-largest RF of the LLGHGs after CO2 (Ramaswamy et al., 2001).”

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-3-2.html

    Which turns out to be Chapter 6 of The Physical Science Basis.

    http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/product.biblio.jsp?osti_id=899821

    But I can’t see any support for the above statement in Chap 6. Back at the bottom of the Atmospheric Methane page they say:-

    “The RF due to changes in CH4 mixing ratio is calculated with the simplified yet still valid expression for CH4 given in Ramaswamy et al. (2001). The change in the CH4 mixing ratio from 715 ppb in 1750 to 1,774 ppb (the average mixing ratio from the AGAGE and GMD networks) in 2005 gives an RF of +0.48 ± 0.05 W m–2, ranking CH4 as the second highest RF of the LLGHGs after CO2 (Table 2.1).”

    Table 2.1 is here:-

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-3.html#table-2-1

    But I haven’t come across the “simplified yet still valid expression for CH4”. I suspect it’s in one of the Chap 6 References:-

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-references.html

    That’s all I can manage on the hunt for the CH4 RF forcing expression for now.

    Your shift now Andy.

  12. Andy on June 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm said:

    OK, no pressure.
    I’ll stick to the peer reviewed stuff soon, but I see “Skeptical Science” kindly reproduces the “methane no problem” graph from AR4 here

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/methane-and-global-warming.htm

    It’s always fun to hit the warmists with their own propaganda. Here’s one, then.

  13. Andy on June 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm said:

    Re GHG forcing calculations, this may be the paper we are looking for

    Myhre, G., E. J. Highwood, K. P. Shine and F. Stordal. 1998. “New Estimates of Radiative Forcing Due to Well Mixed Greenhouse Gases.” Geophysical Research Letters 25, 2715–2718.

  14. Well howdy-doody indeed. Interesting website. It’s a shame you fullas always miss the point. I thought you dinosaurs were extinct!
    Cheers for the link to the skeptics against skeptics website, it’s great ;o)

  15. Hi em.

    You say we “always” miss the point. But, strangely, you yourself miss mentioning our missed point; like the pot scoffing at that black kettle?

    Rachel’s post accused Fed Farmers of climate “denialism” and in my post I asked Rachel for evidence of human-caused “climate change.” But please: feel free to explain the point we “missed.”

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