UPDATE – see below
Dr Jarrod Gilbert, a sociologist at the University of Canterbury, advises us to trample on the right to free speech by making it a crime to “deny climate change”, wants climate sceptics to stop “ignoring best evidence” and “turning against experts” and gives us all the juvenile middle finger by saying amusingly “the term climate sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.”
He says those who ask questions about climate change want only to secure some advantage for themselves and he compares climate scepticism with denial of the harm caused by smoking, tarring both with the same malodorous brush. For all that he professes to be an academic, his sole argument is an appeal to authority, his only evidence a vague reference to comprehensively debunked “meta studies”.
The reference to “97% of climate scientists agree…” is not backed by evidence. Paul Homewood records that the infamous Cook et al. (2013) paper studied 12,000 papers on climate change and found 4,011 papers that expressed a position on man-made climate change of which only 65 supported the supposed consensus—hardly 97%; actually 1.6%. It’s one of the worst pieces of scientific chicanery ever published yet climate deniers from President Obama to Dr Jarrod Gilbert grasp it eagerly to bolster their claims of climate catastrophe.
Jarrod, please listen for a moment. I don’t know anyone who denies that climate changes—that’s a risible straw man argument. Climate sceptics don’t ignore the evidence—in fact they work hard around the world to hold climate scientists to high standards, constantly checking data and adjustments. Time and again sceptics have discovered mistakes and deceptions, and brought them to public notice.
Right here in New Zealand, the examination of New Zealand temperature data and queries to NIWA by scientists and studious amateurs with the NZ Climate Science Coalition resulted eventually in NIWA deciding to reconstruct the national temperature record, because the adjustments made to the data years before had been lost and NIWA could no longer say what they were. This marked a victory for climate scepticism, and our temperature record is consequently of a much higher standard than it was. NZCSC scientists published a paper only in 2014 establishing a new national temperature record that is still unanswered by NIWA. So it leads the field and shows very little warming in New Zealand over the previous 100 years—about 0.30 °C.
I understand through a personal communication that Dr Gilbert did not choose the headline Why climate denial should be a criminal offence. It was written by the Herald and HE DOES NOT STAND BY IT. He describes it as “a nonsense from which I distance myself. Never in a million years would I criminalise speech, even that which I strongly disagree with. The content of the column I completely stand by, though.”
So the good news is he doesn’t advocate that climate denial be a criminal offence; the bad news is that he makes five separate statements in the article that mean the same thing: does he also disavow these statements? If not, who does he think he’s kidding? Here they are:
* There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny climate change.
* The scientific consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud.
* It ought be seen as a crime.
* One way in which everyday crime can be discouraged is to ensure that “capable guardians” are around to deter criminal activity.
* There may be differing opinions on what policies to pursue, but those who deny that climate change exists ought [to] be shouted down like the charlatans … they are.
Perhaps he’s seen more opposition to his opinion piece than he expected.
Sceptics have valid questions which don’t go away just because Dr Gilbert offers obfuscation and abuse. For example:
* Constantly rising atmospheric levels of CO2, according to the IPCC, cause the global mean surface temperature (GMST) to rise, yet it has failed significantly to rise for about 20 years, while CO2 has increased by about 10%.
* Climate models predict temperatures far higher than the observed GMST.
* The IPCC predict ever-increasing warming from increasing levels of CO2 but refuse to acknowledge that the amount of warming from each increment of CO2 decreases logarithmically.
Any one of these facts invalidates the hypothesis of dangerous anthropogenic global warming. Be in no doubt that this is still an hypothesis, not a theory!
It’s demeaning to be accused of climate denial, Dr Gilbert, when our questions are perfectly valid. Please answer them!
We’re not, as you allege, sitting on the fence, wondering if it’s true. We’re asking you why it is true. You’re the ones making predictions, we’re just asking questions about them. Why don’t you answer? What are you afraid of?
UPDATE 31 July 2016 1700 NZST
The Herald has changed the inflammatory headline on Jarrod Gilbert’s piece attacking free speech from Why climate denial should be a criminal offence to Climate change deniers dangerously wrong. Gilbert had not written the headline, describing it in a personal communication as “a nonsense from which I distance myself. Never in a million years would I criminalise speech, even that which I strongly disagree with.”
One cannot but feel some sympathy for a chap so egregiously misrepresented. However, he presents us with a nasty wee riddle by then insisting: “The content of the column I completely stand by, though.”
As I explain above, there are five obnoxious statements in his article that would make illegal all questions or doubts about the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis or reported climatic observations. He would lay a criminal charge only against those who “deny climate change”. So I’ll be all right, and most of you should be safe too. The rest of you, the true climate deniers — and you know who you are — won’t have a leg to stand on.
Serve them right, too. Can’t have people going around questioning what we tell ’em.
But seriously, I hope Gilbert recants as well on those five poisonous assertions. Not because I don’t like them or even because they potentially apply to me, but because of the harm they will do to science and the search for truth. I hope he’s even half a scientist, and I hope he looks at his students and wants more than anything that they can pursue their studies free from interference by people steeped in ignorance.
It’s not rocket science. Stifling questions will establish ignorance; allowing questions will banish ignorance.