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« Leading Gareth into deep waters | Main | Air Con book debuts at #1 on bestseller list »


John Fouhy

Ian, I've been skim-reading this blog war, and I can't quite figure out your central point.

On the one hand, you seem to be saying: "The Earth is not actually warming." You support this with quotes about Antarctica cooling since 1980, the Argo robots detecting no warming and slight oceanic cooling, and Arctic sea ice at the same levels it's always been at.

And on the other hand, you seem to be accepting that the Earth is warming, but saying that it's not our fault. For example, the aerosols causing warming in the (cooling?) Antarctic. Or the increased output from the sun that warms the oceans, forcing CO2 into the atmosphere (despite the oceans not warming, as mentioned earlier?).

What's your stance? Is the Earth warming?

[I'll try DPF's trick.
John, over the past century, the Earth has warmed. The IPCC suggests about 0.7C, and I don't think too many scientists have a problem with that figure.

However, the closer you get to the end of the 20th century the dodgier the data on warming gets, because there's extremely good evidence that most of the surface stations are becoming influenced by urban heat island effect which is not being accurately corrected for.

To add more confusion to the warming issue, 1998 was a peak temperature year because of El Nino, and no temperatures have been that high since. Indeed, yearly temperatures have actually fallen overall creating either a temperature plateau or even a slight cooling, depending on where you put the baseline.

What we have been arguing in these blog posts is largely about Antarctic and Arctic warming. Satellite data confirms Antarctica overall has not warmed since 1980, and in fact has cooled slightly.

Some studies show much stronger cooling over the bulk of Antarctica of up to 0.7C downwards per decade.

Gareth and other global warming believers try to take the Antarctic Peninsula out of context, because the peninsula is showing warming of around 2.5C in 50 years.

But the peninsula gets washed by subtropical ocean currents in a natural cycle, and there's no evidence that CO2 is the cause of Antarctic peninsula warming.

It just so happens that the peninsula is quite media accessible, and provides spectacular shots of disappearing ice floes.

However, studies have shown the area has regularly melted and refrozen in the past in totally natural cycles, so current break-up is not anything unusual.

Additionally, our observations of Antarctica are so short, in geological time, that we are trying to extrapolate long term implications from short term data.

While the peninsula has warmed by 2.5C in 50 years, the nearby West Antarctic area has only warmed by 0.5C over the same period, and the biggest area of Antarctica has cooled overall.

These all illustrate strong regional climate differences, rather than an overall global warming which the models expect.

Antarctic sea ice is at record levels, and Arctic sea ice is about to approach its historical average for the first time in years, which again we don't expect to see if climate predictions of global warming are true because sea ice is a good indicator of warming or cooling - it responds much faster to change than glaciers or ice sheets do.

The full argument, with the scientific studies referenced and in many cases accessible online, is contained in Air Con, and like I said I'm not re-writing the book in blog form.

There is nothing simple about climate. the computer systems used by the major weather agencies have difficulties predicting the weather three weeks in advance, let alone 50 to 100 years.

The Earth has come out of a Little Ice Age around 1850, and temperatures have risen since then, coinciding with a big increase in solar activity, but the sun began to go quiet in the early 2000s and is currently the least active it has ever been since the space age began.

Climate records show the planet warms when the sun is active, and cools when it isn't.

Which may be why the ice is growing, and why the oceans don't appear to be warming in line with predictions.]

the Ref

"Whilst I can understand your joy at getting at least one point on the board, your track record this week has been none too hot."

Ian - you don't just get to award yourself points and/or have your idiot cronies award them for you. That just wouldn't be fair now would it? In order to score a point you need to have your opponent concede as you have above.

So I'm scoring it 1-0 at present in favour of your opponent.

Good luck with any future diatribes.

[What was the importance of the point I conceded? Nil. Try reading the words of the GNS team again, about submarine volcanism: "contribut(ing) significantly to the global inventory of heat and chemical emissions entering the oceans".

Gareth still calls it "trivial". Do we believer truffle hunters or volcanologists?

More to the point, I argue in Air Con that the effect of submarine volcanism is unlikely to be major on a global scale, but that it may be a factor in hotspots. With active volcanoes under Antarctica and the Arctic, this becomes very relevant for further investigation.

We know the Arctic volcanoes became massively active in 1999, just ahead of the record ice loss. It may be coincidence, or it might be relevant.

Given that Gareth embarrassed himself by endorsing TVNZ's Takuu story without checking the facts about volcanism in the area and tectonic subsidence, given that he quoted Air Con out of context at every opportunity, given that he tried to imply the Arctic is suffering record ice loss, given his claims on polar bears and Antarctic warming, like I said, he's lost on a number of credbility fronts.]

Carol Stewart

"Which may be why the ice is growing"
But Ian, the Arctic sea ice isn't growing. You yourself link to the NSIC website and they say that the sea ice is in long term (ie around the past 30 years or so) decline.

[Forget what they 'predict', Carol, and look at the graph. The sea ice has grown. They are trying to excuse away this unexpected development by now saying they expect high variability year on year, which is another way of covering all bases when earlier daft predictions failed to materialise.]

As for awarding points - how about letting an independent and respected organisation do that? Hmm, let's see, like the Royal Society for example. Whose book did they nominate for a Science prize?

[I've already shown where Gareth's science is dodgy. If global warming believers in the RS want to hold a vote and pat him on the head, so be it. He has failed miserably to deal substantively with anything in the book Air Con.]


Ignore the left wing nutjobs and keep on giving them their very inconvieniant truth Ian!
Gosh they'll soon be sounding as desperate as when you so brilliantly exposed evolution to be the fraud we in the church know it to be.

Dylan Horrocks

Um... I had to read Craig's comment twice to make sure he wasn't joking (I'm still not sure). But assuming he's not...

At what point did the bulk of the world's scientists (and scientific institutions) become "left wing nutjobs"?

I must have missed something...


"At what point did the bulk of the world's scientists (and scientific institutions) become "left wing nutjobs"? "

Actually the claim that the bulk of the World's scientists support Manmade Climate Change appears rather erroneous in the first place!

Carol Stewart

Apparently MediaWatch next Sunday are going to be discussing the coverage of climate change in the media, and who gets coverage.
I predict that a) they will be unfavourable to Mr wishart and b) he will then dismiss it as a left wing nutjob conspiracy.

But happy to be proved wrong on both points!


If you are talking the local Russell Brown version, I can save you the trouble of any speculation, left-wing nutjob conspiracy would definitely cover it.

Too late, however, as the pulic have already wised up to the con job that global warming alarmists like Russell and Gareth are part of.

Carol Stewart

Ah, but Ian, other than book sales, how do you know that?

Carol Stewart

And I don't think Russell is involved with Mediawatch any more, though I could be wrong about this.


Last time I looked, MediaWatch had not turned into an objective, centrist programme, so no, I don't think I'll rescind the claim, particularly as you seem to have their ear in advance.

As for Russell, he still hasn't recovered from past joustings.

And as for book sales, well, I've never had a book debut at #1 during a peak marketing period like Mother's Day. That tells me something about demand. Likewise, latest polls are showing growing disbelief in anthropogenic global warming, and in fact the head of Gallup in the US came out a day or so ago and said Al Gore had failed - belief in AGW now just over 30%.

Tide has turned.

Carol Stewart

Well, Ian, I have in my possession the findings of a survey done by the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development, dated March 2009, on 'New Zealander's attitudes to climate change: national survey of 2851 New Zealanders. And before you immediately dismiss it as part of the vast left wing conspiracy, consider that it was actually administered by an independent survey company (like Gallup). One of the questions was:

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says that “the
time for doubt has passed” on whether or not climate
change is occurring as a result of human activities. Do
you agree or disagree?"

And the answers for the whole sample were:
Strongly agree 24%
Agree 39%
Neutral 15%
Disagree 8%
Strongly disagree 7% Don't know 5%

Not opinion, Ian, but data.


Great Carol, now we have a baseline. Let's revisit those questions in three months' time. I predict a big change.

As a former pollster, by the way, I would point out that the questions Gallup used were leading. The question is an appeal to authority which will subconsciously trigger a response in the survey group.

I would wager the Business Council, which is a political organisation, had a hand in devising the questions and Gallup merely clipped the ticket and ensured the sample was statistically valid.


Carol Stewart

I'll go with 'great, now we have a baseline', and I agree that it would be worth revisiting the questions in three months.

The rest of your response is entirely predictable.


I'm not trying to be obnoxious, Carol. Seriously, if you take an objective look at the question you quoted, it is designed to get a weighted answer.

Why does it matter who claims the time for doubt has passed? It only matters as a baitline to get UN and Ban Ki-moon in there.

A neutral wording of that question would have been:

Do you believe climate change is human caused?

You could still have the same sliding scale of answers, but you are not pre-loading it.

If you felt you absolutely had to have the emotive set-up, a more neutral way of asking it would be:

Some people say the time for doubt on climate change has passed. Do you...etc etc

If you honestly can't see the Gallup question is loaded, then I truly suggest you read this book on the subject:

"In general, one should be particularly leery of a poll question that begins with 'Do you agree..' or 'Don't you agree...'. Audiences tend to want to cooperate with the person asking the question and to avoid controversy."

In short, the Business Council for Sustainable Development survey is a thinly disguised form of push polling pre-determined to create a specific answer, and I could have predicted that result in advance.

But then again, I have experience in the field.

Carol Stewart

The NZIER also did a survey on public views on climate change in the middle of last year. The fact that its findings were seized upon by the Business Round table can give you confidence that it was not a product of the Vast Socialist Conspiracy. Au contraire.
But even this survey found that most people clearly believe climate change to be real.
Respondents were asked "Do you believe climate change is happening?" (Please rate on a scale from 1 to
10, where 1 means ‘Don’t believe at all’ and 10 means ‘Completely believe’).
26% of the sample said '10'(completely believe).
A further 33% had responses between '7' and '9' on the same scale.
In other words almost 59% were at the 'believe' end of the scale (from '7'-'10').
Just 18% were at the other end of the scale (responses between '1' and '4').


And that would equate with similar US surveys a year or so ago. But as Gallup, Pew and Rasmussen have found, attitudes in the US have flipped on their axis this year.

Carol Stewart

Ian, I have experience in social science methods too, so don't be patronising. I actually agree with your comment about the appeal to authority - it would have been a better question with the reference to the UN guy left out.

How do you suggest asking a question without using term 'do you agree' or 'do you believe'?


Apologies if it sounded patronising, it wasn't intended.

I think there is an inherent problem with "do you agree" type of questions, because they imply some kind of definitive statement as the set-up which is almost always leading.

As I said, the most you can probably get away with is something like, "Some people say..." or "It has been suggested that..."

There is nothing inherently wrong with asking:

Do you believe the science on climate change is settled?

But any poll with a sliding scale of agreement is usually a push-poll.

It is better to construct a series of options:

Which of the following best describes your assessment?
a) climate change is happening
b)climate change is not happening

If you answered a), Which of the following best describes your assessment?
a) Climate change is being caused by humans
b) Climate change is being caused by natural cycles

And so on, each answer can lead to its own specialist pathway, without bullying a respondent into a certain position. When I did polling, I wanted genuine answers, so I always constructed questions careflly.

Carol Stewart

And on that constructive note, let's leave it there for the weekend. I like your proposed questions. You just have to be prepared to accept the answers! (that goes for all of us).

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