Anthropologist becomes arrogant climate activist

Here is a letter I sent this evening to Dame Anne Salmond, anthropologist and historian, Professor in Maori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, and 2013 New Zealander of the Year. An opinion piece she wrote on climate change in Stuff today considers climate sceptics beneath an honest anthropologist’s contempt.

Dear Dame Anne,

You expressed pride in a letter you signed ten years ago describing climate sceptics as “climate deniers”, even though ‘sceptical’ has long been a deeply admired virtue of all good scientists.

The letter said there is “compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.” That evidence has never been described. Will you please describe it?

In recent months I have asked the Royal Society, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Minister for the Environment, James Shaw, for evidence of a human hand in dangerous warming. They each referred me to the IPCC or its Assessment Reports.

I knew there was no evidence in the AR5, so I wrote to the IPCC, and though they cited a familiar chapter in the AR5 they provided no evidence. I’ve concluded that evidence of a human cause of dangerous warming does not exist, or the IPCC would certainly have revealed it. It’s what they live for.

Another way of putting it is that if there really was evidence we all would know it by now by heart, but we don’t. Have you forgotten it? I know I wouldn’t have.

However, there’s the matter of your uninformed attack on the sincerity of those posing questions about climate science. For some reason, you say in Stuff:

Climate deniers who attacked this scientific consensus, [the letter] added, were “typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence”.

Your letter writers were mind-readers, for they knew what typically drove the “deniers” and what honest effort did not drive them. I must say that a more patronising piece of twaddle would be hard to find. I have spent over fifteen years studying the climate and questions have naturally risen in response to the study. None have been suggested by your presumed special interests and the suggestion that they were is humiliating.

Some examples of our reasonable questions include:

  • Why do you consider there to be a climate emergency when by ordinary scientific standards no major climate metrics have altered beyond normal variation in the last 100 years?
  • How does the 3% of airborne anthropogenic carbon dioxide significantly heat the ocean from above?
  • Why do IPCC reports consider the atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide important, when its absorptive capacity is determined by its instantaneous amount in the atmosphere, not its lifetime?
  • Why does climate model output drive alarming forecasts when the IPCC admit that 111 out of 114 models run too hot?
  • Clouds are capable of warming or cooling a good fraction of a day’s solar energy. When you don’t even know whether they cause warming or cooling, how can you say that the future will bring dangerous warming?

These and our many other questions are ignored, since anyone asking them is routinely presumed to be insincere. Yet, just answer the questions and we’ll vanish into the night. It’s only having them remain unanswered that makes us persist with our irritation of you.

Finally, I would appeal to you to facilitate a genuine conversation between climate academics of the IPCC view and some of New Zealand’s best-informed sceptics, such as from the NZ Climate Science Coalition. So far, the orthodox scientists run a mile at any suggestion of a public debate. I suppose I ought to enquire whether you have studied enough climate science to consider yourself qualified to answer questions.

Best regards,

Richard Treadgold

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Peter Fraser

Dame Anne Salmond was held in low regard by my late wife who was of Ngapuhi descent and recognised as being knowledgeable in whakapapa (maori history) much of which came from oral traditions of her tupuna (ancestors) which, as was the custom, she learnt at a young age from her aunties many of whom spoke only te reo. She believed many of Salmond’s pontifications were of little value as they were little more than regurgitations of prior English records. It is apparent Salmond is ready to pontificate on matters outside her area of “expertise” as well.

Mack

Very good letter,RT. It will be interesting to see if you get a reply from her. 10 to 1 she won’t even bother…. or it will be along the lines of “we accept the established science…. blah blah blah”. All your questions will be ignored, and her whole reply will reek of rank superiority.
Keep us posted.

Andy

In other news, there is now a school curriculum for “climate change”, that deals with the anxiety and other mental health issues that may arise from the alarmist BS that they are pumping into kids.

At least they provide an 0800 suicide number to call. How generous of them.

Andy

I wouldn’t bank on that election prediction

Adam Shopping

Sceptics I agree have an important role in society. However as a former member of a Sceptics society a key aspect is taking note of the evidence. Unfortunately the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of anthropogenic forcing of climate is increasing average global temperatures through the release of certain gases such as CO2. The evidence has been from multiple disciplines and multiple reputable sources. Even if we put aside what is truth and fiction – do you like the way the world we live in is set up currently? Do you like pollution? What is wrong with a fossil fuel free future? Just what are you trying to achieve? Genuinely puzzled.

Brett Keane

Evidence is everywhere of cycllicity not linearity.
https://notrickszone.com/2020/01/20/north-atlantic-sea-levels-have-been-falling-at-a-rate-of-7-1-mm-yr-since-2004-in-tandem-with-2c-cooling/
Remember who was crying out “We are all gonna Freeze” in 1979. Same mob and their new acolytes.
The new evidence is about the Tayler Instability and its cyclic solar-planetary effects. Destructive of food supplies and promising modest cooling. As admitted by Nasa Heliophysics Dept. Brett Keane

Andy

Adam Shopping, I don’t like the way the world is set up right now. I’d like to live in a world where I get to be on holiday everyday, all children get given a free pony when they are 12 years old, and no one gets fat from drinking beer and eating pizza.

In the meantime, we might need fossil fuels for a few more years yet,

Pyat

just answer the questions and we’ll vanish into the night If only I thought this might be true: but here goes… Why do you consider there to be a climate emergency when by ordinary scientific standards no major climate metrics have altered beyond normal variation in the last 100 years? Lots of metrics are well beyond “normal variation”: atmospheric CO2, for one. But there’s also greatly reduced sea ice, the huge decrease in glacier volumes, not to mention global temperatures, which have soared by 1C in the last 100 years – a rate of increase 10 times faster than when an ice age ends. How does the 3% of airborne anthropogenic carbon dioxide significantly heat the ocean from above? I don’t know where you get that number from. Current CO2 is 40% higher than 150 years ago, and humanity is solely responsible for that (multiple lines of evidence). CO2 doesn’t heat the ocean – the sun does that, but just as it does over land, CO2 slows the rate at which heat leaves the earth. So temperatures rise. Ocean heat content is steadily rising (measured). The earth is trying to get back into… Read more »

Andy

It’s a complicated subject, because the impact of clouds depends on what kind they are, where they are, and what they’re doing. It’s probable, however, that on balance they add to warming

Oh OK, it’s “probable”, even though we don’t know the net effect, but we just need “faster computers”

Pyat

You can be as snarky as you like, but that won’t change the facts. If you’re really interested in the subject, here’s some detail:

Simulating clouds in global models at relevant scales is computationally costly: https://www.ecmwf.int/en/about/media-centre/news/2020/ecmwf-scientists-simulate-global-weather-1-km-resolution

Overview of current models and their cloud handling: https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/01/the-latest-generation-of-climate-models-is-running-hotter-heres-why/

Andy

It won’t change the facts. No it won’t. The facts are that we can’t model clouds currently, and possibly never will be able to. There was even an article on Stuff recently that admitted we don’t know about clouds. But hey, we think clouds “probably” cause warming, because that’s what clouds do eh? Everyone knows that cloudy days are warmer than sunny cloudless days.

Pyat

If we can’t model clouds, how do weather forecasts work?

Andy

Weather forecasters don’t model clouds

Pyat

We may be getting into semantics: weather forecasters rely on their models to produce cloud forecasts. An example: http://www.myweather2.com/forecastcloud/player.aspx?fc=12

Cloud representations are also crucial to rainfall forecasting.

It is true that clouds in weather models are parameterised, because even the fine scales used by local weather models can’t capture individual clouds. But the physics is realistic, and the forecasts are pretty good.

Pyat

Nobody is whining Richard. I thought you prided yourself on your politeness?

I don’t have to prove anything: the evidence is in the work people are doing, to which I provided some links.

Now, what about my other points? Are you going to disappoint me, and fail to “vanish into the night”?

Pyat

These inline replies are getting stupidly narrow. See my next comment at full width.

Pyat

I think when you reply inline, the system makes them nest more than three deep, but when you reload the page that clears.

Pyat

Replying to Richard re AR5 and clouds:

I suspect you’ve been misinformed about what AR5 actually says. It is entirely consistent with what I said above.

From AR5, Chapter 7 [PDF]:

Cloud feedbacks on long-term greenhouse-gas induced surface temperature change are likely positive. Robust positive feedback mechanisms have been established while no mechanism for strong negative global cloud feedback has convincing observational or model-based support.

Andy

no mechanism for strong negative global cloud feedback has convincing observational or model-based support.

“no mechanism”?? Cloudy days are often cooler than sunny days. Conversely cloudy nights are often warmer than clear nights.

But hey we need to keep pushing the narrative so lets assume, for sake of argument, that clouds warm the planet

Pyat

You appear to want to misinterpret what they’re saying. Local effects – your examples – are not global.

As I said in my original comment, if there were a strong negative cloud feedback at the global level, then the climate system would find it very hard to warm itself out of an ice age. Climate scientists have been looking for negative feedbacks (wouldn’t it be great if they were real?), but can’t find them.

Pyat

Sorry Richard, but those sections explicitly support what I said. Nobody assumes that clouds have a net positive effect on warming, but the balance of evidence suggests they do. As the second article I linked to above discusses, this effect emerges from the model results – it’s not programmed in.

As I said to Andy above, it would be great if there was a negative cloud feedback – then we wouldn’t have to worry about too much warming. But it looks very unlikely. Long odds do not make a good bet (although I do buy a lottery ticket every week).

Bottom line: even if clouds do turn out to have some cooling effect, it isn’t going to be big enough to cancel out the warming caused by current and future expected CO2 levels.

Pyat

You tasked me on what AR5 says, and I responded with a direct quote from the relevant chapter of AR5.

Your quote from the same source concludes:

Based on all available evidence, it seems likely that the net cloud–climate feedback amplifies global warming. If so, the strength of this amplification remains uncertain. – FAQ 7.1 p. 593

That’s in complete agreement with what I said – and it would be strange if it didn’t, given it comes from the same source.

There is no “proof” in something like this. Only the balance of evidence – which will change as our knowledge advances.

Mack

@ Pyat
“CO2 slows the rate at which heat leaves the earth”

What sort of garbage physics is that…. It’s called the “radiative greenhouse effect” so therefore it must be energy in terms of watts which must be “delayed” leaving the Earth according to the “greenhouse” hypothesis.
Heat is not “trapped” or “slowed”. The atmosphere, including CO2, COOLS the surface. Heat is just rapidly DISSIPATED by the atmosphere.
The rest of your questions are unsubstantiated nonsense. …eg the hyperbolic temperature rises, “melting” of ice, …all data fiddled tripe by goverment departments all intent on preserving The Cause and their jobs.
Then there’s this…

“The earth is trying to get back into energy balance with the new higher than normal levels of CO2”

So one minute we’re talking about heat being “slowed”…the next thing is an “ENERGY imbalance” . Aaaahahahaha… the old “energy imbalance”. Got any figures to substantiate this “energy imbalance”?

Pyat

Hi Mack, you appear to have a problem with “data fiddled tripe”, so I very much doubt anything I can say will change your mind.

The radiation physics of the atmosphere is very well understood – the basics were established more than 150 years ago – and if we were wrong, things like lasers and heat seeking missiles wouldn’t work.

The earth’s current energy imbalance is around 1.6 W per square meter – equivalent to 25 ZettaJoules of energy entering the system per year, most of which goes into the oceans. See here for the latest on ocean heat content: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00376-020-9283-7

Mack

Gidday Pyat, you’ve just sent me off to paywalled scientific crap from the usual band of corrupt AGW deluded suspects …Abraham, Trenberth, Fasullo etc who’ve come up with this 1.6 watts/ sq.m. modelled, with false algorithms. This figure just may well have been pulled from their collective asses.
Trenberth and Fasullo are also responsible for coming up with this piece of insanity…
https://www.google.com/search?q=trenberth+energy+balance&rlz=1CATVZD_enNZ857NZ870&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=kTUaxU-Qu6d-xM%253A%252CfSeCUfxmfAN-EM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kQDL8_5S_P30QUEq7KVvvONUMps8g&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwja2_LN1JjnAhUdIbcAHVETB6cQ9QEwBnoECAsQDg#imgrc=kTUaxU-Qu6d-xM:

Pyat

Actually, it’s a free download.

Mack

Oh! so it is…and I’ve just noticed that the little fat f..k , Mann, also had a hand in it.

Mack

Btw also @ Pyat.
The cloud issue..
Cloud cover at night keeping things warmer than the previous night (note.. no increase over, say a week) does fool you into thinking that there is a “greenhouse effect” in the atmosphere. You can say that there’s a “greenhouse effect” every night when there are a “blanket”of clouds. But what happens during the day ..the blanket of clouds shield the surface from the Sun keeping us cool….say, a negative “greenhouse effect”. Globally there is equality of day and night, therefore NO nett “greenhouse effect” of clouds.
As the Joni Mitchell song says…clouds have to be looked at from both sides.

Brett Keane

Mack, in discussing and researching the situation on Venus, mainly on Tallblokes Blog, we found that clouds seemed to work as an internal cycling of energy. Albedo was a net zero forcing on planetary energetics, so to speak. I can see how that works as the rising sun evaporates dew and fog formed from the previous day’s input
It was the old solar input (AU), and Atmospheric Mass that governed surface T in the end. On any solar system atmosphere above 0.1bar pressure. Recent work seems to confirm this. It was one of those Black Swan moments that make Physics strangely fascinating sometimes…. Brett Keane

Mack

Yes Brett… The Venus issue The Venus atmosphere has originally been thought .. by the “greenhouse” believers …to have had a “run-away Greenhouse effect” in the atmosphere. They pointed this out by saying that Venus has a higher surface temperature than Mercury , but Mercury is closer to the sun.. so it must be this “run-away Greenhouse effect” in the Venus atmosphere, causing it to be hotter. You know, some more lunatic thinking, like there would be more “backradiation” from the CO2 , more “heat trapping” crap. etc etc. They seem to forget that the surface area of Venus is much larger than Mercury and therefore has a much bigger area exposed to the sun…much more heat accumulating. They also forget that Venus revolves very slowly backwards..it’s one day being about one Earth year. so the side facing the Sun gets hot enough to oxidise the rock into a sea of supercritical CO2…..of course, the other side of the planet in the “shade” side is much cooler ..so an extreme temperature dipole is set up and the sea of supercritical CO2. which covers the entire planet, races round and round the planet at… Read more »

Brett Keane

Mack, I only mentioned Venus as my teaching-point on albedo’s internal action and net zero effect ontemperature. Since corroborated. Venus is well -measured re Temperature. But also by Magellan radar of land surface in all ways. Better than Earth indeed. But Nasa also has good readings of Temp which show no GHE. Only the common effects of solar input and atmospheric mass, as with all bodies in our system that have at least 0.1bar atmospheres.
Quantum Mechanics forbid self-heating of anything. Else we would have had an “infrared catastrophe” just like the feared Rayleigh one that quanta saved us from fearing…..

Brett Keane

Mack, I have also seen how OHC, when stripped of zettajoule camouflage given it by the above twerps, becomes about 0.1degC. Far less than any margin of error possible in this guess-workey hokum called climate science. where the dogs always eat the data. Leaving the models in their radiant vainglory. Brett

Pyat

Well, you are at least right about Joni Mitchell. But not much else…

Pyat

Thanks for the extended reply, Richard, but I’m not sure it gets us very far. Let me try and deal with your points in order. CO2 is certainly a climate metric, because it determines global temperature – and that certainly does affect the weather. I think you might accept that ice ages have different weather to interglacial periods. On a slightly different level: the Stuff weather page also agrees with me. It features current CO2 levels at Baring Head. The current rate of global warming (the “global” is important, because regional changes can be rapid) is more than ten times faster than the warming out of the last ice age (see here for references). The latest reconstruction of global temps over the last 2,000 years (Pages2k – discussed here) shows that global temp is now a long way above levels preceding the “little ice age”. The other metrics I mentioned in my first comment still stand as incontrovertible evidence of warming. You say it’s “widely accepted” that “Anthro CO2” is 5% of atmospheric. The 40+% increase since preindustrial levels is entirely down to human activity, so I have no idea how you get… Read more »

Pyat

Hooks are baited. Breath is bated. It begins to look as though we are talking past each other. I am trying to present what we know about climate, answering the questions you posed to Anne Salmond. Unfortunately, your blustering replies show that you have some rather large gaps in your understanding of some pretty basic science. That CO2 is the “biggest control knob” of global temperature is not in the least controversial. Try watching this excellent talk by ice core expert Richard Alley. It’s 10 years old, but none the worse for that, and very entertaining. Sea ice is a climate metric because it reflects polar warming. The Arctic is the fastest warming part of the planet, and sea ice there has declined steeply over the last 30 years. Again, not remotely controversial. See the Arctic Report Card from NOAA for detail. For glacier volumes, there isn’t a working glaciologist who thinks the last few decades of ice loss isn’t due to warming. Let me know if you find one. Recent temperatures and the rate of change are well outside normal variation. Please check the references I’ve already provided. That the increase in… Read more »

Pyat

You either don’t understand, or deny the facts and reasoning in my answers. To have an intelligent debate we have to have common ground in science and reality.

We don’t.

Pyat

Press release for Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019 by Cheng et al here.

Free download here. (PDF)

The facts are the facts, wherever they come from. You seem rather keen to shoot the messengers.

Pyat

A little more on the climate metrics: I stumbled on this page earlier today. There’s a lot going on, but you can click on the little bars on the top right of each graph to get a more detailed look at each dataset. If you do that for temperature, you can then extend the scale back in time (the little circular arrow top left) and look at the warming rate out of the last ice age. About 20k years ago, temps were 4C below the graph zero. 10k years ago they were 0.5C above. 4.5C in 10k years, or 0.045C per century. Current rate of 1C/century is 22 times faster.

Richard Treadgold

Pyat,
Is that all? Nothing to say to my other rebuttals? Nothing to say after I destroy your arguments? Disappointing, but I accept the win. By the way, pointing to a possibly high recent rate of warming proves what, just to be clear?

Pyat

There should be a reply in your moderation queue.

Pyat

Your original claim was that there was nothing unusual in the recent warming. The data on rate of warming proves you wrong.

Pyat

I posted a long reply yesterday, which you have not published. It contains detailed answers to the questions you posed. [Edit: I see you have now found it. Perhaps you might apologise for your tone above?]

Not a “random period” – the end of the last ice age, when 4-5C of warming was enough to change the face of the planet. It took 10,000 years. CO2 rose from about 185 ppm to 280 ppm over the same period.

Over the last 100 years, atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 to 410+ ppm and global temps have risen by 1C and continue to rise. We’re hitting the system with a bloody big hammer, and we’re the ones who are going to get bruised.

Andy

I tend to be wary of scientists who claim certainty, or near certainty, of a particular subject, when in fact we have little knowledge of subjects such as climate

Even Darwinian evolution is implausible according to various (secular) scientists, yet this is treated as “fact” in most schools and university

Simon

Evolution is scientific fact as is the greenhouse effect and anthropogenic global warming. The scientists you refer to simply do not exist.

Andy

I presume that I have been casually reading and following people that don’t exist, which is a worry.

I tend to find people who are less certain and more circumspect on various issues more engaging. It doesn’t necessarily push me in a particular direction but it does make me realise than we know less about the universe than we think

Harry Cummings

No Simon they do exist you just don’t want to listen to them

Simon

If you review the scientific literature, you will find no dispute over the concept of evolution for over 100 years. Ditto for anthropogenic global warming; the facts have not been in dispute since at least the mid-1980’s. YouTube doesn’t count, and nor do books by people with no actual knowledge of the subject matter.
I can’t believe you are disputing evolution, this isn’t 19th Century Tennessee.

Andy

There is dispute on the Origin of Species as described by Darwin, not micro-evolution. David Gelertner and David Berlinski are two secular scientists who pull apart Darwin’s theory from a purely mathematical point of view

Most people, myself included, have never even bothered to look at this subject. We just take it as read, like most other theories.

EDIT – and as I just re-read RT’s comment, I see that he describes the issue quite well. The Origin of Species isn’t a well-defined theory, unlike for example, Quantum Field Theory

Pyat

While I wait for Richard to make a substantive reply to my original comment, I will just point out that Berlinski is a “fellow” of the Discovery Institute, which promotes the nonsense that is “intelligent design”. Forgive me for suggesting that you might want to talk about evolution with scientists rather than propagandists.

Andy

If Berlinski is a propagandist he is pretty bad at it

Andy

Forgive me for suggesting that you might want to talk about evolution with scientists rather than propagandists.

Funny how most of the world gets their info about climate change via propagandists. How many in the general public can name a single climate scientist?

Simon

If you apply the laws of physics, specifically:
1. The laws of thermodynamics,
2. Stefan-Boltzmann Law
3. Clausius-Clapeyron equation
4. Navier-Stokes equations
you will find that global surface temperatures increase consistently with greenhouse gas concentration.
The hypothesis works and is falsifiable. No alternative theory has been found which explains reality as well as these.

Andy

Yet we still don’t have an explanation for the pre-1950s warming, nor the cooling in the middle of the 20th C

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