Pseudosceptics are at it again – misrepresenting and attacking climate scientists

I have already mentioned the irony of a failed politician attacking climate scientists, accusing them of treating science like a religion while declaring his own faith that:

“The world stopped getting warmer 17 years ago. That’s incontrovertible.”

(See “Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney? and Confusion and distortion – has global warming stopped?).

But another factor in this sordid little story was the way that Rodney Hide attempted to portray New Zealand climate scientist Dr James Renwick as a religious fundamentalist in his science. Basically he did this by misrepresenting Renwick – Hide told a porkie.

Hide claimed that Renwick “was in no doubt that man-made global warming was causing the summer drought” and went on to give this quote as “proof;”

” . . climate change, global warming. Put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and things warm up.” The host Corin Dann double-checks: “And you’re of no doubt of that?”

“Oh, no, no. There’s no other explanation that’s remotely plausible.”

Hide then went on to declare:

“That’s religious zealotry in action. Science is never that certain.”

Creating the impression that Renwick had “no doubt” that greenhouse gases were responsible for New Zealand’s recent extreme drought.

Problem is – at this stage of the interview the drought had not even been mentioned.

Interview transcript

Here’s the transcript of the interview from its beginning to Hide’s quote:

CORIN DANN: Good morning, Dr Renwick. How are you?

DR JAMES RENWICK: Good morning, Corin. Very well.

CORIN: Listen, thanks for coming on the show. I know you’re literally just back off the plane this morning. Tell us what is happening to NZ’s climate. Paint us a picture of what’s going on.

JAMES: Well, like the rest of the globe, NZ’s climate is warming up gradually. Temperatures have risen by the best part of a degree in the last century, and they’re set to rise by two or three degrees or maybe even more over the course of the coming century.

CORIN And this isn’t some normal- What is this? Is this climate change at work?

JAMES Yeah, it is. Yeah, climate change, global warming. Put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and things warm up.

CORIN And you’re of no doubt of that.

JAMES Oh, no, no. There’s no other explanation that’s remotely plausible.

Full transcript available at: Lack of govt leadership on climate change – Renwick

Simply a clarification that New Zealand’s climate is part of the global climate and that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. The New Zealand drought had not even been mentioned at this stage.

The informal confidence Dr Renwick expressed was  consistent with the current understanding of the role of greenhouse gases in global warming – not, as Hide and fellow pseudosceptics and climate change deniers have claimed, that greenhouse gases were the direct cause of our recent drought.  That claim was a complete misrepresentation, clearly motivated and knowingly dishonest as the perpetrators also had access to the transcript of the interview.

Should Renwick have any doubts on role of greenhouse gases?

Dr Renwick did display, informally, a high degree of confidence that greenhouse gases are contributing to climate change. But that is hardly surprising because that is the current understanding of most climate scientists. Consider what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said.

The figure below shows the results of simulations of global temperature from 1900 to 2005. Figure a included all the natural and anthropogenic influences.  The black line is the actual measured global temperature anomaly (obtained by subtracting the average temperature for 1901 to 1950).  The individual simulations are shown as thin yellow curves. The red line is the multi-model ensemble mean (see Figure 9.5 – AR4 WGI Chapter 9: Understanding and Attributing Climate Change).

Figure b is a similar plot using simulations which consider only the natural influences on climate. The individual simulations are shown as thin blue curves. The thick blue line is the multi-model ensemble mean.

So, climate scientist have considered both natural and anthropogenic influences. And they are unable to reproduce the global temperature changes since 1970 unless anthropogenic influences are included.

That is why the IPCC has concluded that there is a high probability (>90%) that human influences are contributing to the current observed global temperature increase.

Notice also that the experts talk about probabilities. It’s a complex field and things are rarely cut and dried. We are more certain about some influences than others. And the IPCC doesn’t hide this fact – far from it. It doesn’t make sweeping claims in the way that some of their opponents do.

I am sure Dr Renwick accepts this – his comment “Oh, no, no. There’s no other explanation that’s remotely plausible” is simply an informal recognition  of that.

While on the role of greenhouse gases this short video provides some of the data supporting current scientific assessment – in this case not relying on computer models or the IPCC.

Was our recent drought caused by CO2?

Later in the interview Renwick did comment on our drought. Here’s the relevant section of the transcript:

JAMES: Well, no, I don’t think panicking is very helpful.

CORIN : But it feels like that with this drought, though, doesn’t it?

JAMES: It’s a pretty exceptional event, yeah. It’s probably the first time in 50 years that it’s been this dry over this much of the country. So, sure, it’s exceptional. You know, a farmer would only see this once in a working lifetime.

CORIN: But if we’ve only seen it once in 50 years, should we not be that worried? That suggests it’s not going to happen for another 50 years.

JAMES: Well, the way the climate’s changing, the likelihood is that summers will become drier, so what’s a one-in-50 year event now will be, say, one in 20, one-in-25 year event by the middle of the century. And in some parts of the country, it might be a one-in-five year event by the end of the century, which means the farming sector’s going to have to adapt to that. We’ve got time – it’s decades we’re talking about, and farmers are very adaptable, but things will have to change.

Again, I think Renwick was just informally conveying what seems to be the current scientific assessment of the role of global warming in extreme weather events, like New Zealand’s drought and US storms. This is that one can’t prove a direct link of atmospheric CO2 to single specific events. However, scientific analysis analysis suggests that such events will become more frequent as the planet warms.

As Dr Renwick expressed it – “what’s a one-in-50 year event now will be, say, one in 20, one-in-25 year event by the middle of the century.”

Given the informal nature of such interviews I think Dr Renwick presented the scientific assessment pretty accurately. But of course this won’t stop the pseudosceptics and climate change deniers. Most of these, and certainly Rodney Hide, have a ultraconservative political agenda. They commonly paint scientists as plotters and schemers, part of an evil world-wide conspiracy wanting to bring in a One World Government. And claiming scientists have manipulated global temperature records to create false evidence for fclimate change.

And, yes, despite the availability of the interview transcript local climate change pseudosceptics are still misrepresenting Dr Renwick’s statements. (see Hide sticks it to Renwick and Renowden a scaring warmist). They are studiously avoiding the transcript and instead interpreting reporter’s comments.

And, of course, sticking the boot in while they are at it.

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38 responses to “Pseudosceptics are at it again – misrepresenting and attacking climate scientists

  1. They’re funny. Did you know they described you as a creationist? I’m not sure how you manage that given your non-theist views, but then the lads at Climate Conversation Group don’t waste time applying logic or reason to what they say.

    The problem is, people listen to them and take them seriously.


  2. Ken, I replied to your link here:

    You are correct, in fact, in your statement that there was no mention of the drought in the beginning of the interview. However, Susan Wood introduces the piece with extensive mention of the drought (thereby leading the viewers), and furthermore the executive summary that TV One released on scoop here explicitly makes this statement

    Dr Renwick told the programme that global warming was the only explanation for the drought, saying the average around which temperatures vary is changing and will be hotter over time.

    So I think the issue lies with TV One rather than any sceptics or Rodney Hide or the NBR. TV One were quite clearly trying to sell a message which Renwick might not actually have meant


  3. A reasonably made point Andy.
    You state S Wood led the viewers, however, did she lead Renwick in the same manner? or was her introduction a voice over added later to a pre-recorded interview.

    The answer to the interpretation might be found here.
    Given his expertise and later comments in the interview, I would be very surprised indeed that Renwick meant, or outrightly stated, that the drought was directly caused by global warming.

    Can you supply a link to the video?


  4. The issue also lies with Rodney Hide for presenting an opinion based on false information.


  5. The video is here

    Susan Wood does the intro but this is a pre-canned piece that is separate from the Renwick interview. The transcript on Scoop seems like a fair summary of the video

    I don’t think Renwick, or any other scientist, would make such a 100% claim about any weather event, regardless of anyones views on climate change


  6. First of all, Andy, you are surely aware I cannot comment at Treadgold’s blog so it’s pointless having a discussion with me on that blog.

    However, I appreciate the fact that you have acknowledged I am correct. Good on you. Let’s see if it will cause your mates to withdraw their shocking comments about Renwick.

    I have not bothered to listen to Susan’s comments in detail but am aware that a report in NBR also gave the impression you refer to. However, that same report included the transcript. So I think it was dishonest of Treadgold to ignore, hide, the transcript while quoting the reporters sentence – and not Renwick’s. he did so because he wanted to create the false impression.

    Don’t ignore the fact that Gareth has also pointed out that Treadold and Hide were dishonest in their interpretation – he presented the correct position, but yet again Treadgold scathingly attacked him.

    But, again, thanks for being honest about the transcript.


  7. David, the “lads at Climate Conversation Group” really aren’t in their right minds when they chuck off at me. You can tell by their foaming mouths.


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  9. Having viewed the video and read the transcript in my view it is obvious both Hide and Treadgold are misrepresenting Renwick and the interview.

    Hide I put down to mendacity – and Treadgold…well…I couldn’t possibly comment.


  10. Do you not think that TV One are also misrepresenting the views of Renwick, given the executive summary on their press release, and the positioning of the lead-in item with Susan Wood?

    It seems to me that TVNZ are the primary culprit here


  11. Fair comment in regard to the release so add TVNZ as well, but the lead in doesn’t affect the interview. Wood talked about a period of extreme weather. The interview, after introductions, started from the fundamental issue – climate – note Renwick’s answer included the description “slowly warming”, this is not a description of drought. Later the interview turns to the specific topic of the recent drought.
    Hide is many things but he’s not stupid (unlike some of his fan boys). It is hard to put his misrepresentation down to simple error in comprehension.


  12. Andy, the positioning of Susan’s was, as far as I can see, legitimate. The whole point of the interest was because of NZ’s extreme drought so of course she is going to talk about the drought. In the interview they started on climate in general – this is the bit that both Treadgold and Hide misrepresent, dishonestly seeing they have access to the transcript. Later in the interview Renwick specifically discusses droughts – and it’s interesting that both Teadgold and Hide keep well away from that. They actually couldn’t find anything to complain about or misrepresent there.

    The report, whether at Stuff or NBR made a mistake in claiming that Renwick had blamed the droughts on greenhouse gases – but a sensible reader would not have seen that as a quote. It was not presented as a quote.

    Of course someone could complain about that – it will be the fault of one person and got carried over into another publication. But at least they weren’t sticking the boot in like Treadgold and Hide.

    Andy, I think you are trying to avoid facing up to the dishonesty and maliciousness with which Hide and Treadgold have treated this whole issue. That dishonesty should not be laid at the feet of the reporter (although she/he made a mistake) or Susan Wood.


  13. Andy, your last comment on Treadgold’s blog really shows you as a whimp. Your should be taking Treadgold to task for his lies – not trying to get him off the hook by blaming it on TVNZ. Treadgold referred to the NBR page with the interview transcript. Any honest person would have checked it instead of relying on a reporter’s one sentence mistake, not even presented as a quote!

    After all, Hide had already quoted from the transcript.

    And meanwhile Treadgold remains silent!! How does he sleep at nights.


  14. Treadgold is still at it, even after viewing transcript and video. Nonetheless, viewing the video clip, especially including Susan Wood’s introduction, makes it clear from the participants’ body language, timing and tone of voice that Renwick was asked about the drought and answered accordingly.

    Now he’s inventing imagined body language to invent a question that plainly, from all records, was not asked.

    The man is clearly a lunatic.


  15. What he missed was the fact that Dr Renwick blinked twice fast then touched his nose before looking up. That is the nail in the coffin for climate change because that is a secret code for space aliens to turn off the heat rays they’re using to warm the planet.


  16. Several hours ago I sent the full text of the interview transcript to Treadold’s blog as a comment. Suggesting his readers should have a chance to read what was actually said.

    It appears Treadgold is refusing to allow the comment. Instead he sent me an email saying

    “I acknowledged Renwick didn’t say the word “drought” and I explained very clearly why everyone has taken that meaning from his answer. It’s not hard. Please watch the video with the sound on.”

    A rather extreme form of denial I think.

    He is clearly trying to hide the fact that he and Hide have been blatantly lying in this matter.


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  18. Poor Andy, what a dilemma, he clearly has clue enough to realise that Hide and Treadgold are deluded, but all Andy’s buddies hang out at CCG.
    So it appears that the only support that he can offer Treadgold is to offer, in mitigation, that TVNZ’s press release was incorrect.
    Treadgold, in turn, is willing to accept any lifeline and uses TVNZ’s sloppiness as evidence that Renwick was answering an imagined question, a question that only the voices in Treadgold’s head ever uttered.


  19. I think Andy is not the only one with a dilemma, and probably the reason the deniers are becoming increasingly vitriolic and nasty. Each passing day their position gets less stable and I think a fair few of the sharper ones are realising that they’re supporting a completely specious concept and wondering how the hell they can exit with grace and retain any credibility. I have challenged a couple of high profile deniers with that and suggested they will get a fair bit of respect for saying “looks like I was wrong all along” and be able to salvage their credibility. I was mighty impressed with the caliber of the abuse they returned my way, they made the French knights in the Holy Grail sound like cheerleaders.


  20. I don’t have a dilemma


  21. Andy, you are a joke. “I don’t have a dilemma” you say. Yet you managed to acknowledge here that the claims made by Hide and Treadgold were completely wrong. Then you go back to Treadgold’s blog, continue snarky comments about our scientists and defend Treadgold’s silly blunder. Even going on to the attack and blaming TVNZ and NBR for the dishonest claims of Hide and Treadgold.

    Looks like a dilemma to me.

    Why don’t you ask Treagold why he banned my comment which gave the full text of the interview transcript? Why don’t you ask him and Hide why they knowingly distorted the transcript text (which they had) to produce the wrong interpretation (forget about what the TVNZ reporter wrote – that is an extremely weak excuse seeing the transcript was in exactly the same report).

    Treadgold has been pathetically emailing me trying to justify his behaviour. I told him that if he had any integrity he would apologise for this attack on one of our scientists. Hide should also apologise.

    Just stop your bloody whining. You guys have made a dishonest blunder and maligned another person. Do the manly thing and apologise for it.

    You never know, it might win you some respect. At the moment it’s just made you guys into a running joke.


  22. Why don’t you ask Treagold why he banned my comment which gave the full text of the interview transcript?

    I don’t need to because I provided a link to the full transcript.myself.
    It is linked on CCG

    I provided the text where TVNZ made the claim that Renwick claimed that the drought was “caused by GW in the executive summary by TVNZ on scoop.

    I also acknowledged that you were correct in pointing out that there was no mention of drought in the lead in to the infamous Renwick statement

    My only issue is that TVNZ appear to have deliberately misled the public. If Rodney Hide read the interview the way he did, then it is probably because that is how TVNZ intended it

    I don’t have a dilemma because I can chose to comment on blogs. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything that people say on that blog.

    I am not anyone’s moral custodian, although in the case of TVNZ I take issue because it is a publicly funded broadcaster


  23. So, Andy, you want to hide behind a link and therefore excuse the banning of the full text. You know Treadgold was hiding behind confusion over what was said – a link is not sufficient. And be honest, your link was not really to the transcript but to the reporters misrepresentation in the same article.

    Mind you with that crowd at Treadgold’s blog the full text is probably pay irrelevant anyway. . See how Cummings is accusing Renwick of “splitting hairs” because of his simple answer! Bloody hell.

    I don’t think TVNZ deliberatelymislead over this – the dishonest lies were those of Treadgold and Hide – especially as multiple people were pointing out to them what was actually said.

    Don’t forget the interest in the weather, and in having an expert interviewed , was the extreme NZ drought. So while the actual report confused two parts of the interview and hence brought in a certainty to the drought question that Renwick didn’t convey, the message was OK in that we should be seeing that the drought is the sort of consequence of global warming that our farmers must prepare for. These sort of events are predicted by the science to become more frequent in future.

    So blaming the reporter for his/her mistake is a dishonest cop out and attempt to divert the blame. A childish one at that. An ethical person would have no trouble apologising for their own mistake.

    Both Hide and Treadgold have made themselves look like the fools they are. And I have no sympathy or them because I think ethically the way they have been maligning honest people is despicable. Those two, and others who contribute to such cowardly behaviour, deserve all he derision they get.

    Don’t forget, this pathetic incident is just one example in a whole history of such behaviour by those two.


  24. In this comment

    I copy the entire executive summary and provide a link to the rest.

    I highlight the statement made by TVNZ in bold

    I don’t think i could have made it much clearer, although I didn’t read the whole transcript in detail and I later acknowledged your input here

    I don’t think I am hiding behind anything


  25. Andy, you could have made it clearer by copying the transcript and ignoring the misleading reporter’s comments.

    You highlighted the misleading part of the reporter’s article because you were attempting to support Treadgold and Hide. Harfly a clarification.

    Yes, you are hiding. An honest person would have confronted the lies told by Treadgold and Hide. You behaved like a whimp.


  26. So you think that I should not provide any links but should cut and paste entire documents into blog posts?

    Is that your policy here?
    I am happy to oblige. Just say the word


  27. Don’t be disingenuous Andy.

    In this case you chose to post the full text of the misleading part, including highlighting the bit Treadgold was clinging to. And you chose not to highlight the actual transcript – which provided the evidence showing Treadgold’s dishonesty.

    Yes. I do think sometimes it’s best to cut and paste text (although don’t go silly like Cumming does, poor soul). Often people have not got the motivation to bother with a link.

    And I did not say at all that links should not be provided. Don’t misrepresent me – or does that come intuitively to you guys?


  28. The reason I didn’t provide any further info was because I didn’t actually examine the text in detail, so I didn’t pick up on the issue that you raised.

    This is getting a bit tedious don’t you think?


  29. Andy – ” was because I didn’t actually examine the text in detail,” might in reality be true, if lazy.

    But I think when people like you and Treadgold are into maligning honest scientists you should put in the effort. You should check what is in front of you.

    Instead you went straight to the reporter’s mistake because it suited your bias!

    Hence your mistake.

    Yes, I know we all do this sort of thing. We all go in for confirmation bias – and I repeat we are not a rational species, more a rationalising one.

    But, I am approaching this from an ethical perspective. If you are going to malign an honest person you should really check on your facts.

    Otherwise you are setting yourself up for a gutser – as this case shows.


  30. Hang on, you are blaming me for the articles in the NBR and CCG? How exactly?

    Or am I supposed to feign some moral outrage for associating with the likes of RT et al?


  31. No, I am not blaming you for other’s lies. That’s a diversion.

    Feign whatever you like, Andy. But we are all free to draw conclusions about your own morality by the people you support and positions you take.


  32. Andy,

    Unfortunately I can’t reply to you on Treadgold’s blog for obvious reasons but this comment of yours is easily answered:


    Those that follow the scriptures of the warmist creed tell us that CO2 is a major “control knob” of the Earth’s climate

    Tell me whether you agree with this looking at this graph

    Just have a look at the video in my article above – it specifically deals with that image and question. Short answer, you can’t find a simple correlation of paleo global temperatures with either CO2 or solar energy – but there is a good correlation when both are combined.

    If you spent more time looking a what is known about climate instead of reiterating these sort of denier memes you might actually learn something.

    And be careful of Cumming – who shouts that CO2 is a refrigerant so can’t cause warming, or Treadgold who has found that when he goes into a glasshouse with high CO2 levels its cold so CO2 can’t cause warming. They are characters aren’t they – real simpletons, poor souls.

    Christ that blog is real madhouse tonight.


  33. Andy could do the right thing. It would be really impressive if he did but I’m not going to hold my breath. It’s painfully clear what happened and he must be able to see it for himself even without Ken’s prodding but…(shrug).


  34. I could do the right thing. It would be impressive if I did

    The problem is, I have no idea what the “right think” is in this case. I have already laid out all the facts as I see them.

    I am sure this rather trainspotterish discussion must be fascinating to a vanishingly small part of the population. Maybe we should move on. Maybe we could talk about how cool Chris Hadfield is? My son certainly has taken an interest in Space which he didn’t have otherwise.


  35. Andy, care to comment on my point above about how you got confused in the comparison of CO2 levels and paleotemperatures? Frustrating I can’t call you out on Treadgold’s blog but I guess he doesn’t like me pointing these things out. You have a chance to put yourself right here.

    But please, no Gish galloping here.


  36. Pingback: A New Zealand climate change pseudosceptic apologises! | Open Parachute

  37. pseudoskeptics Nietzsche on James Randi

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