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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