Friday, 24 April 2009

Poisoning children's minds the Australian way

There seems to be a bit of a concentration of outspoken climate deniers in Australia.This link to a pdf file is to an electronic “children’s comic” entitled

“We’re not scared anymore Mr Gore (A Climate change story for little sceptics)”

The very kindest thing that can be said about the writer/s of this piece of cr*p is that they may be stupid, or weren’t paying attention when their so-called answers (to what they claim Al Gore said) were demolished many years ago. I don’t realistically think either of these are the case. They even included the classic misdirection “CO2 lags temperature rise” legerdemain that was covered in the last “crock of the week” I posted below.

Deniers like to call themselves “sceptics” to give the public the impression that they are simply not convinced and need more evidence to come to an objectively reliable conclusion. Nothing could be further from the truth. In itself their attempt to confuse people by masquerading as genuine sceptics is a lie because a sceptic, presented with a good answer to their “sceptical” questions would accept it. Deniers masquerading as sceptics ignore the fact that their BS has been answered and blown up (over and over again) and KEEP ON SAYING THE SAME THING to the next bunch of suckers. This is why  they are either totally stupid (unlikely) or just plain evil. That is why they are nick-named “deniers”.

While I was looking at the incredibly twisted propaganda, that this comic puts forward as some form of reasoned answer to climate science in order to fool children, I had much the same sort of reaction I had to that chilling scene from the classic 1972 movie “Cabaret”  where a fresh faced Aryan blonde youth ecstatically sings in the beer garden in 1931.

At first we only see the face of this boy singing to the seated guests what seems an innocent lyrical song about the beauties of nature. This gradually shifts and darkens to the militaristic power hungry "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" while the camera pulls back to show that the boy is actually one of the “Hitler Youth”. One by one, nearly all guests in the beer garden (except a bewildered old man - or an elderly veteran who has seen this before) get up and voluntarily join in the singing and saluting. Remember Goebbels!

Never forget that there are always people in the world who are so convinced of their own ideologies that they feel justified in lying and distorting and twisting and censoring the inconvenient truth to make their case and thereby get people to support them.


TonyTheProf said...

I would have thought that Austrialia of all places with its drought problems increasing would be the last place to find global warning deniers! I think global warming is taking place, the only question is how much is because of human activity, and how much because of natural cycles. Having done some meterology ages ago at University, one of the things I remember was how difficult it was to predict the stability of weather systems and climate change (for one think partial differential equations can give good weather models but only be solved approximately by numerical methods). I suspect it may be a mix like nature/nurture where it is impossible to separate the elements.

Nick Palmer said...

There are some very active deniers in Australia. One of them (Plimer) is about to publish another book. Your point is good. Maybe it shows the extreme nature of the denier psychology that Australia, which will suffer immensely, spawns such denial.

Even the (credible)deniers admit that increasing levels of greenhouse gases have/are/will warmed/warming/warm the planet. The only credible arguments left are about how much and how severe or otherwise the consequences will be.

As far as natural cycles go towards contributing, consider this. If any natural cycles are currently warming us (the long term trend is we're heading towards another ice age) then the excess CO2 etc we are pouring in to the atmosphere is like throwing petrol onto an existing fire, exacerbating the situation dangerously. If any natural cycles are currently cooling us, then the admitted warming that we are seeing is doubly dangerous because it is in excess of what the science predicts.

Whichever way the natural cycles are going, the results from the test tube (Earth) are not reassuring.

TonyTheProf said...

Actually one of the things that came up in our maths course was that ice ages were pretty impossible to predict. I remember at that time Fred Hoyle bringing out a book on the next ice age.

The Jurassic saw temperatures about 10C more than present globally and no ice caps. The diffence between that and present is that the distribution of land mass /sea will also make a climate difference, so whether we will get back to that, goodness knows.

The asteroid impact caused a massive climate disruption and falling temperatures, which contributed (via the food chain) to the end of the dinosaurs.

My suspicions are that if we go to a Jurassic style temperature, it will probably finish off most human beings.

Of course, there is always the option mentioned by Cosmic Carl (Sagan) back in the 1980s in his TV show, of a runaway Venus effect on Earth, in which nothing except perhaps bacteria will survive. I'd never discount that as a possibility, albeit a very nasty one!

Nick Palmer said...

We're both knocking on a bit now. The Milankovitch cycles (Earth's eccentricity of orbit, obliquity of axis and precession) are now robustly established as the primary drivers of ice ages.

As a fully paid up scare-monger I have to say that no-one credible now expects the Carl Sagan runaway effect to happen. We won't turn into Venus. There are negative feedbacks that come into play to prevent a full runaway. A simple proof is that we have had higher natural levels of CO2, methane and water vapour in the past and the climate did not "runaway" although it got a lot hotter.

Those "deniers" who claim that increased warming and CO2 will be beneficial for plant growth etc by pointing to periods in the very distant past when there was vegetation over a lot more of the planet are right when they say that such a world may be better for life.

However, the one thing they leave out is that it won't be "life as we know it". In order for us to get from now to then we would have to go through many thousands of years of climate chaos, species extinctions etc before things stabilised at the new level. I'm all for taking the longer view, but that is ridiculous!

TonyTheProf said...

Not totally convinced about ice ages being as robust in model as you predict. The Cretaceous has more CO2, but the distribution of land mass was quite different. And it didn't have lots of man made atmospheric effects but lots of volcanic ones before the Tertiary extinction.

Also natural (and random) effects can alter global temperatures - large asteroid (bye bye dino!), volcanic eruptions, not to mention the unpredictable effect of earthquakes - e.g. the Indonesian earthquake affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly changed the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters. Recent New Scientist has looked at the suggestion that Antarctic Ice Melt would shift the Earth's Axis even more significantly, as gravitational forces balanced out.

Nick Palmer said...

The three Milankovitch cycles correlate exactly with past ice ages. As they are have three different period lengths however, they sometimes reinforce each other and sometimes conflict with each other.

They all affect the amount of radiation we intercept from the sun and where on earth the extra radiation affects.

The moving land masses etc that you mention are additional factors which modify the degree of the changes but are not a full substitute offering an alternative explanation.

Big asteroids, of course, overwhelm all other inputs and truly are catastrophic. No-one argues that point...

Nick Palmer said...

Oh BTW Tony, in case you didn't know the amount of CO2 put out by volcanoes these days is only about 1% of that put out by human activity. A lot of suckers believe the deniers who claim that one volcano puts out a lot more CO2 than the whole of human civilisation does.

TonyTheProf said...

Volcanoes tend to be harbingers of global cooling rather than heating, high level ash reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface, lowering temperatures in the troposphere, and changing atmospheric circulation patterns.

They give out mainly sulphur dioxide in huge quantities, not carbon dioxide.

But the latest thinking is that volcanic disruptions to weather can be increased by a depleted ozone layer - another example of a man made input effective a random event.

On asteroids and other hits, did you even come across Jules Verne's "Off On A Comet", where A comet has shot through the Earth like a bullet grazing a grapefruit, and has carried away several portions of the Mediterranean world.

Nick Palmer said...

Yeah, in the short term they do a lot of global cooling *while erupting* but over the thousands of year it takes to come out of ice ages, the CO2 build-up from their lower but more or less constant outpourings is thought to be the trigger that melts the glaciers again. The CO2 builds up faster cos there are fewer plants to sequester it again in the ground. Barring sustained periods of dramatic vulcanism(like the Deccan traps) I think it's true that CO2 levels are rising faster over the last couple of hundred years than they ever have risen before. We are in uncharted territory.

Nick Palmer said...

Didn't come across that Jules Verne story.