Tag Archives: pseudosceptic

A New Zealand climate change pseudosceptic apologises!

Credit where credit is due, and I admit I never thought I would say this about local climate pseudosceptic Richard Treadgold – but “good on you mate.”

richard1

Richard Treadgold, New Zealand climate pseudosceptic and blogger

I have often got into heated debate with this guy – my main concern being his willingness to effectively accuse honest climate scientists, include New Zealand scientists, of scientific fraud. He also has a bad habit of misrepresenting climate science and climate scientists on his blog Climate Conversation Group. I have often raised with him his moral obligation to apologise for such misrepresentation and accusations (see Apologies would be nice).

Without result. But now he has apologised for recently misrepresenting local climate scientist Dr James Renwick (see Hide sticks it to Renwick Renowden a scaring warmist,  and  Renwick blames drought on man-made global warming, which has been now changed to Renwick doesn’t blame AGW for drought).

In his post today, Climate porkies from TV One, Richard actually says (and we have to get this on record):

“I apologise to Dr Renwick for misquoting him so badly — that is, over a statement so disastrously incorrect.”

So, good on you, Richard.

This whole incident started with Richards thoughtless endorsement (Hide sticks it to Renwick) of a snakey NBR article by failed NZ ultra-conservative politician Rodney Hide (see Faith, not facts, drives global warming) and I won’t rehash the time line here (read my posts “Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney?,  Confusion and distortion – has global warming stopped?   and  Pseudosceptics are at it again – misrepresenting and attacking climate scientists for details).

Richard admits he wrote his misleading posts “after reading the transcript and studying the video,” but the final blow for him seems to be Renwick’s email which “politely confirmed that he never blamed the drought on global warming: “This is just not so.””

I believe the transcript and video were extremely clear and am surprised Richard’s apology only came after personal confirmation from Renwick  (see transcript at Lack of govt leadership on climate change – Renwick, and video of interview at Q+A: Corin Dann interviews Dr James Renwick).

Mind you, some other climate pseudosceptics are more resistant than Richard. On of the commenters on Richards blog responded to Renwick’s confirmation by accusing him of “splitting hairs.” And one faithful climate change denier on twitter I debated  refused to take the video and transcript as evidence – instead claiming that the offending claim had been made while the camera wasn’t running, or had been edited out. Poor soul.

I am also aware that local climate change pseudosceptics will have not qualms twisting Renwick’s confirmation into another misrepresentation. Some of the commenters on Richard’s blog already seem to be doing so. Renwick’s confirmation – that he never declared global warming had directly caused our recent extreme drought and that there was no other explanation –  to mean he claims that global warming will play no role in future extreme weather events. Richard himslef comments:

“. . it’s useful to have his firm statement on record that weather events are not caused by global warming. Everyone and his dog has been looking around at this warm record or that storm and saying that’s global warming, we’re all doomed. It will be handy to slap them with Renwick’s authoritative statement.”

Let’s be clear, the current scientific thought is that while one can never prove a direct link to specific events, global warming will probably increase the frequency of such extreme weather events in the future. Renwick made this clear in the interview – read the transcript Richard.

Meanwhile, I hope Treagold’s ethical chickens really have come home to roost for good – there are still a few apologies outstanding. For example his egregious  claim that NIWA scientists had manipulated New Zealand temperature data to create evidence for warming (see  his infamous article “Are we getting warmer yet?” and my posts New Zealand’s denier-gate and Painted into a corner?).

However, let’s celebrate this rather rare event – a scientists getting an apology foir their misrepresentation.

There’s a few other New Zealand bloggers who should take note and start thinking about their own ethical obligations.

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“Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney?

I wonder if many politicians, or in this case ex-politicians, are capable of seeing the irony and contradictions in their public statements. Or perhaps porkies are just the stock in trade of politicians so irony doesn’t even come into it.

But hows this for irony – Rodney Hide is lecturing scientists about the nature of scientific knowledge (see Faith, not facts, drives global warming). Here’s what he says about claims by climate scientists that greenhouse gases like CO2 can lead to global warming.

That’s religious zealotry in action. Science is never that certain. The best-ever scientific knowledge was Newtonian mechanics. And Einstein blew it to bits. That’s the nature of science. It gets nearer the truth but can never declare the truth.

Only religious fundamentalists have certitude. Their knowledge is a belief system that’s immune to real world experience and facts.

I guess Rodney sees himself as more a religious fundamentalist than a scientifically literate person because he then goes on to declare – with the ultimate amount of “certitude:”

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

“Incontrovertible” is it Rodney? That sounds like a statement of faith.

Let’s look at some data

Firstly global temperatures: Here’s the data for the last 17 years:

17-years

Global temperature anomalies for 1996-2012 (Average annual temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Sciences),

Yeah – I know. There’s a lot of noise so all we can say from that data is the warming rate is in the range of  -0.02 and 0.17 °C/decade (95% confidence level). That’s the problem with such short time periods. Perhaps we should put that data in the context of the long-term trends:

Line plot of global mean land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with the base period 1951-1980. The dotted black line is the annual mean and the solid red line is the five-year mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. [This is an update of Fig. 1A in Hansen et al. (2006).]

Still believe that “The world stopped getting warmer 17 years ago. That’s incontrovertible,” Rodney? Willing to put money on it? More important – would you as a politician be willing to commit the fate of your grandchildren on such an extreme claim?

Well, if you still think your claim is “incontrovertible” have a look at some more data. Here’s data for the change in the total earth’s heat content – storage in the ocean as well as atmosphere, land and ice.

Total_Heat_Content_2011_med

And some more detailed data for the melting of ice – globally, Antarctic and Arctic (Click on the image if the animated gif is not changing):

GlobalSeaIce

(The last two figures are from Skeptical Science: A Big Picture Look at Global Warming)

Rodney assures us that “Anyone can do science. And scientists can often fall short.” Sure – but we surely expect more than this from scientists – professional or not. Rodney has simply taken a bit of non-representative data, extracted it from context, ignored everything else and declared his firmly held belief (one could even say “religiously” held belief) as “incontrovertible!”

Worse, while he is telling such porkies he is dishonestly demanding something from scientists which is extremely silly. That they just shut up with their ideas and conclusions until their data is completely “incontrovertible.” Until it can be presented with absolute “certitude.” They should STFU till they have the absolute truth – after he has already acknowledged that science “gets nearer the truth but can never declare the truth.”

He would love that, wouldn’t he? It would give him and his ultra-conservative political mates a completely clear field.

But wouldn’t it be irresponsible to gag scientists like that? Surely we want governments to use the country’s scientist to get the best current data and conclusions – even as we acknowledge that it is never the final story.


Footnote:

Perhaps this is what is leading Rodney Hide astray. In a comment at the climate pseudosceptic/denier/contrarian blog Climate Conversation Group Rodney acknowledged he is using that blog as a resource (a fabulous resource and mine of information“) Bloody hell, no wonder he has it so wrong. He really has to widen his reading.

Mind you, one of the resources he may have used is Richard Cummings who claims in comments on that blog he has shown that our scientific understanding of the fundamental properties of greenhouse gas molecule is all wrong! I suggested that he should present his findings at this year’s New Zealand Climate Change Conference. And this crowd could also present their analysis of New Zealand’s temperature record which they produced as an alternative to that of NIWA. However, they seemed to consider these suggestions offensive and banned my comment!

Incontrovertible my arse.

See also: Dear Rodney Hide

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