Simon Wilson, Herald false on climate change

Bryan Leyland, engineer and fellow member of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, just sent this punishing critique of Simon Wilson’s piece in the NZ Herald to Simon and kindly allows me to publish it here. Tell me what you think.

Simon Wilson’s Herald article on 25 June contained many false or misleading statements and was seriously one-sided. His misleading statements include (in italics):

  1. Droughts: “Geologists say it hasn’t been this bad for 1200 years.” Figure 2.14 of “California’s most significant droughts” shows that abnormally dry periods were much more frequent prior to 1900 with unusually prolonged dry periods around 1450 and 1775. The record indicates that, overall, droughts have reduced in severity since about 1850.[1]
  2. Wildfires: “Last year in California wildfires destroyed 16,500 km2 of forests, farmlands and homes.” While this is true, it is misleading. The fact is that the area burned by US wildfires has reduced by 80% over the last century.[2] The year 2020 was the same as 2017.
  3. Arctic storms: “The Arctic storm in conditions that blacked out cities in Texas and other states last winter killed 80 people.” In fact, the death toll was 111. Most were caused by hypothermia resulting from power supply failures exacerbated by the loss of gas supply to power stations.[3] Similar storms have occurred regularly in the past.[4]
  4. Power outages: “Outages have doubled in frequency between 2015 and 2020.” Quite true. But he does not state that many outages have been caused by wind and solar plants failing to deliver the energy needed. Other factors not mentioned are global warming scaremongering leading to substantial subsidies for intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power that have resulted in reliable coal and gas plants making heavy losses and shutting down.[5]
  5. Geothermal potential: “The US has enormous geothermal potential.” This is simply not true. According to the US Department of energy, the potential is 16,000 MW[6]—a tiny 1.5% of the 1.1 million MW installed capacity in America.[7]

What Simon does not mention is even more significant and demonstrates a serious lack of balance in the article. For instance, he fails to mention:

  1. Efforts to find evidence based on observational data that convincingly demonstrates that man-made greenhouse gases cause dangerous global warming have failed.[8]
  2. According to the satellite record (confirmed by NASA as the most reliable), world temperatures have declined since 2016, have risen by only 0.1 °C since 2000 and are at the 30-year average right now.[9]
  3. Climate model predictions of warming since 2000 are well above actual records.[10]
  4. Sea level rises have been steady at about 1.7 mm per year for the last hundred years and show no recent increase.[11]
  5. There has been a decline in the number of people killed in weather events.[12]
  6. US hurricanes have not increased in frequency or damage since 1900.[13]

According to the Press Council, “Publications should be bound at all times by accuracy, fairness and balance, and should not deliberately mislead or misinform readers by commission or omission. In articles of controversy or disagreement, a fair voice must be given to the opposition view.”

Simon Wilson’s article is inaccurate, lacks fairness and balance and misleads and misinforms readers by commission and omission. It also omits mentioning that climate change is controversial.

Views: 664

18 Thoughts on “Simon Wilson, Herald false on climate change

  1. Amanda Polkinghorne on 16/07/2021 at 8:20 am said:

    I’m absolutely sure Simon Wilson regards Bryan Leyland’s answer as total nonsense – he’s a very clever man.

    Climate deniers have contributed to humanity completely wasting the last 30 years that would allowed us to reduce emissions at a more comfortable rate.

    Anyone who denies more CO2 causes more warming doesn’t know diddly-squat about radiative physics.

    • Richard Treadgold on 16/07/2021 at 9:28 am said:

      Thanks for dropping by, Amanda Polkinghorne.

      Insulting Bryan’s analysis is the least persuasive tactic you might use and doesn’t impress me. But provide some evidence and wow, do we listen!

      I’m not a climate denier, so kindly stop your abuse. But I wasted time? The last 15 years I’ve spent studying and writing about the climate have been very well spent. In the meantime, all these ridiculous industries have sprung up, for 30 years making money from windmills, solar panels (gathering sunbeams), zero carbon certification companies, climate change consulting, closing down profitable coal-fired industries, solar this, solar that and all manner of strange new occupations in education and research. From Al Gore to Obama, opportunistic scaremongers have been raking it in. None of them can save us from dangerous global warming, because it doesn’t exist, but you should join them, at least make some money.

      “Anyone who denies more CO2 causes more warming doesn’t know diddly-squat about radiative physics.” Well, anyone who can say that doesn’t know diddly-squat about the piffling magnitude of the warming from the minuscule portion of atmospheric CO2 man is responsible for — only 0.002% of the atmosphere. Bear in mind, too, that the elephant in this radiatively-warmed room of our atmosphere is that water vapour out-muscles every one of the GHGs. Yet water is never mentioned (because they can’t tax us for it).

      The level of the trace gas Argon is slightly less than 1% of the atmosphere, yet it’s about 22 times more abundant than total CO2, at only 0.041%.

    • Richard Treadgold on 16/07/2021 at 9:42 am said:

      On the 30-year delay, have you not observed the 200-odd countries bickering over what to do? They have NEVER been able to agree with each other. They tried to make the Paris agreement legally compulsory, but couldn’t, so it’s entirely voluntary (whatever the activists tell you). But it was nothing to do with honestly-expressed queries and doubts about the science (what you call denial), it was all about the money.

    • Rick on 18/07/2021 at 11:52 am said:

      Hi Amanda,

      You accuse so-called “climate deniers” (literally: deniers of climate, whatever that is supposed to mean) of having “contributed to humanity completely wasting the last 30 years that would allowed us to reduce emissions at a more comfortable rate”.

      Please explain what specific “emissions” you think humanity needs to reduce, by how much, and why in each case. Thanks.

      You assert: “Anyone who denies more CO2 causes more warming doesn’t know diddly-squat about radiative physics.”

      Please also explain how you think radiative physics implies “more CO2 causes more warming”. Thanks again.

  2. Harry Cummings on 16/07/2021 at 10:43 am said:

    Hi Amanda
    The last 30 year delay caused by all those deniers ? maybe 30 years of we all gonna die in 10 years prediction haven’t help or maybe 500 million climate refugees which should be wandering around the planet by now or all the 100’s of small island that should have disappeared by now etc etc
    Then people who produce hockey stick graphs that become a laughing stock then there is always climate gate
    So don.t blame us deniers

  3. Roger on 17/07/2021 at 10:38 am said:

    Historic predictions of doom, disaster, pestilence and plague can be checked – the internet has a memory –

  4. Esra Dral on 17/07/2021 at 1:05 pm said:

    Thanks for the link Roger. Very interesting. The problem is that these loonies make these outrageous predictions because they make headlines and are really there to boost profiles and egos. It is strange that once their claims have been proven wrong, the same people go on to make more outrageous predictions and make headlines all over again. You only have to look at serial offenders such as Prof. Tim Flannery and Al Gore and don’t get me started on James Hansen. Most of his predictions have failed miserably. When asked if he would still make the same predictions given another chance he said yes he would. It wasn’t him who was wrong, it was the Earth that wasn’t behaving as it should do. When Michael Mann was asked to provide the data to support his hockey stick graph, his team said no, because it would only be used to prove them wrong. Mind you, it isn’t really surprising when some people believe a hack like Simon Wilson rather than a very experienced and credible engineer like Bryan Leyland.

  5. Amanda Polkinghorne on 19/07/2021 at 12:14 pm said:

    Dear Rick,

    How much are you paying for private tuition?

    Get a textbook or two.

    • Esra Dral on 19/07/2021 at 8:47 pm said:

      Hi Amanda,

      Interesting. As you are clearly well educated in the field of global warming, you may be able to explain the following to me.
      NASA state on their web site

      “Part of what makes Earth so amenable is the naturally-arising greenhouse effect, which keeps the planet at a friendly 15 °C (59 °F) on average. But in the last century or so, humans have been interfering with the energy balance of the planet, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels that give off additional carbon dioxide into the air. The level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has been rising consistently for decades and traps extra heat near the surface of the Earth, causing temperatures to rise.” NASA are clearly stating that the average global temperature should be 15 °C without any interference from man. We can therefore reasonably conclude that global average surface temperatures must be above 15 °C due to man made warming.

      According to NOAA “Averaged as a whole, the global land and ocean surface temperature for March 2020 was 1.16°C (2.09°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F)”. So in March 2020 the average global temperature was 13.86°C. This is one of the last updates where NOAA actually states the 12.7°C average for the 20th century. This figure is now omitted from the monthly updates. So looking at the entry for June 2021 ( NOAA state that the temperature was 0.88°C above the 20th century average, without actually stating what this average is, no doubt in an attempt to obfuscate the true temperature. So, according to NOAA, the average global temperature last month was 13.58°C a fall of 0.28 °C over the past year.
      In other words, according to trusted sources such as NASA and NOAA, there is some warming, but not beyond normal limits. Indeed, according to these temperatures, we are actually cooler than we should be and we are not at the climate optimum. Please comment.

      Seim and Olsen, University of Oslo, “The influence of IR Absorption and Backscatter Radiation from CO2 on Air Temperature during Heating in a Simulated Earth/Atmosphere Experiment ” shows no increase in temperature with an increase of CO2. Grantham laboratories, University College London. Temperature increase due to increasing atmospheric CO2 is logarithmic. Once CO2 reaches 280 ppm any further temperature increase is super logarithmic. It is so small it can be calculated but not measured. By the time CO2 reaches 280 ppm the infrared wave lengths that interact with CO2 are saturated, William Happer. Over 400 papers published in 2020. Rick can get a much better education from these.

    • Rick on 20/07/2021 at 5:55 am said:

      That’s your answer, Amanda? A supercilious put-down that ignores the questions I asked? How disappointing. And boring.

      I gave you an opportunity there to expound your superior knowledge of climate science to us climate rationalists and to do what no-one who has come here before you has been able to do, which is to show us, rationally, scientifically and objectively, how the world is in any danger whatsoever from human emissions of carbon dioxide. And you ducked out of it.

      It would appear that you’re just another phony climate-expert, Amanda. Maybe some personal tuition and study of text-books are what you yourself are in need of?

  6. Amanda Polkinghorne on 20/07/2021 at 6:53 pm said:


    This is not a forum for discussing science, it’s a wee whingeing hole for cranks.

    If the best scientists on the planet can’t explain the evidence to your satisfaction then you are beyond reach.

    • Esra Dral on 20/07/2021 at 8:36 pm said:

      Hi Amanda,

      Another interesting post. You are clearly hiding your climate expertise and could easily enlighten us with your insights. Please just provide one example of evidence so we can be in awe of your pontifications. Since the beginning of 2002, carbon dioxide levels have risen from 372 ppm to 419 ppm, so we should expect significant warming in line with this rise. From 2002 to 2014, the average global surface temperature actually fell slightly. We then had the well known strong El Nino event of 2015 and 2016, which caused a temporary temperature spike, but since then, the actual temperature trend has been downwards again. Since 2016, average global surface temperatures have fallen by just over 0.7 c, in spite of a continuous rise in CO2. Given that temperatures should rise in line with CO2 but hasn’t, can you please give us your maven insight in to this cooling trend.

      Thank you.

    • Rick on 21/07/2021 at 3:38 am said:

      Thanks for another dismissive, supercilious put-down that continues to ignore my questions, Amanda.

      You say: “This is not a forum for discussing science,…”.

      By my reading of the ‘ABOUT’-page for this site (link at the top of this page), the forum’s owner has decided that it is for discussing science (provided it’s relevant to the topic in hand, of course) and I think his authority is weightier than yours on that question.

      “…it’s a wee whingeing hole for cranks.”

      If that is what you think this forum is for, then what are you doing here? Are you yourself a ‘crank’ who’s come only to ‘whinge’ – about ‘climate deniers’ and Bryan Leyland’s devastating fact-based critique of Simon Wilson’s apparently fantasy-based article in the NZ Herald, perhaps? Or have you come to make some positive, informative contribution that may actually advance our existing knowledge and understanding of our world and its ever-changing climate? It seems to me that, so far, all you have demonstrated is that you have come for the former purpose and not at all for the latter.

      “If the best scientists on the planet can’t explain the evidence to your satisfaction then you are beyond reach.”

      From my own research and investigation into these matters, what I have learned is that the best scientists on the planet are of one mind and one voice in saying that there is no credible threat to human society or the planet from human emissions of CO2 or any other greenhouse gases, whether taken singly or collectively. If you can show that this view is wrong, what is stopping you from showing it – right here and right now? But if you can’t show that this view wrong, then you have no grounds on which to deprecate it or the people who hold it, do you?

  7. Amanda Polkinghorne on 21/07/2021 at 2:08 pm said:


    Read some textbooks, then go to and check your understanding with Gavin Schmidt and the other experts.

    Go on, off you go little man.

    • Richard Treadgold on 21/07/2021 at 3:19 pm said:


      You’re nothing but a snide, useless troll. You’re unwelcome. Farewell.

  8. Graham on 05/08/2021 at 1:59 pm said:

    Well said Richard.
    The constant propaganda has converted her to the cause .Another useful or should it be useless idiot for taking the world back into energy poverty and eventually famines .
    The western world has been subjected to 30 years of biased propaganda blaming every climate event on rising levels of CO2 .
    It is no wonder that people like Amanda believe these lies that CO2 is the control knob of our climate .
    This is the biggest scam and fraud ever attempted ,and what is the end goal of these people pushing these unproven theories ?
    Examine the FACTS as have been posted above on severe weather events ,wild fires and sea level rise .
    There is no emergency and history tells us that it has been warmer in the past and sea levels were also much higher .
    I would like to point out how our politicians have lost all credibility by introducing carbon farming .
    This is the stupidest concept ever thought up and this is how it is going to destroy our countries wealth .
    Investors are being encouraged to purchase hill country sheep and cattle farms and plant them in pine trees that will never be harvested .
    The investors will be paid for carbon credits for 50 years and as I understand the scheme the land then reverts to government ownership .
    What is wrong with that some of you will question?
    Our native bush is very slow growing but it does not readily burn .
    On the other hand 50 year old unpruned pines will be a fire hazard as they die ,blow over and decay .
    They will burn and every carbon credit that has been paid to these investors will never be paid back .
    What an absolute waste of productive farm land ,turning it into infernos in the vain quest of sequencing carbon .Once the trees are planted no more worker are needed and small communities are hard hit.
    Plantation forestry has its place on farms but not this stupidity.
    When will politicians start thinking for themselves or are most of them mentally challenged ?
    Graham Anderson

  9. Peter F. Smith on 30/08/2021 at 3:14 pm said:

    Hello Richard,
    I visit your site from time to time as I find it interesting and a good place to catch up on climate news in NZ. After reading the above exchange I couldn’t help commenting if a little late. Amanda Polkinghorn needs to take a chill pill. Sadly these deranged carbon dioxide fanatics seem to be drawn to ferocious ad hominem attacks. You have put her in the place she needs to go, in the waste bin. You are wasting your time trying to rationalise with a fanatic. Our education system is now turning them out by the thousands. Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards,
    Peter F. Smith

    • Richard Treadgold on 30/08/2021 at 4:21 pm said:

      Appreciate your thoughts, Peter, and thanks for your encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation