Drop conspiracy talk, just look at your thermometer

The other day in the Herald, Mr Chris Barton took up the topic of global warming in an article headed “Climate debate adrift on rising tide of lunacy“.

With hardly a mention of the subject, Barton gets stuck into those who question the orthodox view of the subject. He tries various techniques to get the opposition to shut up; in fact, he tries everything except actually, well, listening to them.

He gets a bit confused, too. At one point he says, of the “madness” of the climate change debate, “there is a lot of it about”. But later he’s forgotten that and, trying to mis-characterise the strength of the opposition, he says “Like the rest of the world we have a small but very vocal group spreading their stupidity”.

He picks up on a typographical error by a correspondent and makes merry with the new word as though it represents a marvellous new insight. But it’s just old-fashioned stupidity.

This is a professional journalist who ought to support a vigorous debate for the good of the community, but instead he’s thinking up dirty tricks to silence a well-informed, well-meaning opposition. I’m ashamed of him.

If he wants to be taken seriously, he can address these questions: Why are global mean atmospheric temperatures falling as carbon dioxide rises? Why is the heat content of the oceans falling as carbon dioxide rises? What is the evidence that the temperature increases of the late 20th century were caused by carbon dioxide? What is the evidence that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide will result in dangerously higher temperatures? Is he happy to bring our productive systems into disarray and ruin our lovely environment with noisy, ugly windmills on the basis of climate models that are known to be wrong and without performing any cost-benefit analysis?

If Barton actually observes the climate and its history he will quickly discover for himself why we’re so doubtful that anything dangerous is about to happen. Perhaps then he will hear the shrill voices of alarm as we hear them: as dogs barking and fleas biting but nothing of consequence.

What else can be said to him? I tried this the next day:

Dear Chris,

In “Climate debate adrift on rising tide of lunacy” in the Herald today, it’s gratifying to see that you acknowledge the existence of a debate, since many people say the debate is over. Indeed, our politicians have just abandoned all pretence of inquiry. Denying the debate, of course, denies the constant clamour from thousands of scientists around the world saying there’s no reason to “fix” the climate and no way we can.

But you explode, don’t you, with more a torrent of abuse than an explication of substance.

In fact, do you realise how very much like an old-time preacher you sound? You fulminate and wax lyrical in your persuasive efforts on your congregation without introducing an atom of fact, just as they used to.

That is, you expect them to believe you without giving them any reason to. This Sunday’s theme: Denying climate change is stupidity.

You seem to think that your readers will respond to your intellectual bullying and character assassinations by falling at your feet and crying: “Crikey, Chris, you are the bloody Messiah!”

I’d like to point out, Chris, that in matters of worldly observation, like atmospheric gases, air temperature, sea level, ice extent and predictions of harm, morals matter not.

What carries the day is fact. Truth, that is to say, is more persuasive than ethical innuendo. Please note that the observations themselves also trump the scientist’s paymaster. For confirmation of that, please consult Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, who pay a great many scientists and neither scold them for accepting payment nor doubt the results they provide just because they were hired to provide them.

Just why it should work in reverse on the other side of an argument is unclear; to assert that is moronic. It severely misunderestimates (a Bushism) your intelligent readers.

There are too many people, including scientists of excellent standing, from too many spheres of life, to continue to assert that they are all subject to payment by the “oil lobby”. It’s clearly now ridiculous. It’s an old one, Chris. Try to let it go.

You say: “the Royal NZ Herald has given all of them vast amounts of space to expound their views. In a democracy, debate, no matter how barking, is allowed.” Sceptics would dispute your definition of “vast”. Besides, you ought not to apply the protected designation “Royal” where it has not been bestowed.

Now you really must turn your attention to the facts.

To help with that, consider first this graph, showing temperatures for the last 30 years, and explain… well now, quite honestly, at this point I wanted to quote what you say about global temperatures, but you say nothing.

Is it stupid or glorious that you can talk for so long on a topic without once mentioning that topic?

click to expand

Anyway, would you please observe that no unprecedented warming is visible in the graph? And that if there is not, we need not accept your pungent criticism for not believing the warmist cant? Without being paid by anyone!

There are other facts for you to consider which disprove both the assertion of dangerously rising temperature and man’s involvement with that, including no abnormal rise in sea levels, normal ice extents, increased polar ice mass, no increase in tropical storms (in fact, they’re late this year), no unusual change in precipitation levels, normal glacial behaviour (including the Himalayan glaciers) and incontrovertible evidence that CO2 levels follow temperature rather than drive it.

But I’ll let you absorb this simple fact first: that the world is currently cooling.

It’s possible it will again warm, but nobody knows that. Everybody is just waiting to see what will happen. I repeat: nobody knows whether it will warm or cool in the future and it could go either way.

Please stop telling us, on no visible evidence, to spend our taxes on the stupid attempt to stop climate change. It’s impossible, completely wasteful and insults our intelligence.

Your final statement that “to deny that climate change is happening really is stupidity” is true, of course. Climate has always changed and always will and to deny that is truly stupid, as you say.

Your mistake is to assign the reasons for those changes to human activities. A little reflection will let you see the truth of that, I’m sure.

Please have another look at the Internet, though it “crawls with misinformation”, note the huge number of people talking about the facts and resolve to use some of them yourself.

Richard Treadgold,
Climate Conversation Group.

Barton mentioned a “tide of lunacy”, clearly to stain any who disagree and spoil any argument they make without having to refute them. But in a final attempt to provide some real-world perspective, let me say this: considering that man-made carbon dioxide makes up only about 0.0002 of the atmosphere, surely any lunacy involved is in believing that such a trace amount might dominate the climate!

That’s worth serious reflection.

Let’s see if this leads to a dialogue.

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