Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Readers may be interested in an email exchange that occurred between me and a couple of our local politicians here in Jersey in the run up to the Cancun conference.  I have decided to leak a few…

A local “climate change friendly” politician, along with all other elected States members, had been sent  a piece of anti-global warning science propaganda about the so-called Climategate emails originally sourced from a far right wing American website (The American Thinker) and I had it passed along to me for comment. Click for link to original propaganda piece  Here’s a bit of the “debate” that ensued.


Dear (name removed),

Here's a list of links to credible responses as to whether the  "Climategate" emails dent the case for AGW (short answer - not in a million years).

Nick Palmer

On the side of the Planet - and the people - because they're worth it

Blogspot - Sustainability and stuff according to Nick Palmer



Nick, my complaint is that the politicians are wanting to sacrifice the world economy on the basis of fraudulent science.  Adaptation not mitigation.  And please make a clear distinction between CO2, a useful gas, and pollution.


name removed



Hi (name removed),
             Oh, don't be so silly. The science isn't fraudulent. You quote from Pielke who you describe as "another genuine scientist". I agree. There are very few credible "contrarian" scientists left who dispute the basic IPCC position. Pielke is one of them. Similar credible darlings-of-the-deniers are  Lindzen, Christy, Spencer and Pat Micheals. For the purposes of this argument, I will include S. Fred Singer in this list too - although he is no longer a credible voice.
Here is what Pielke said, in his own words, in the extract you sent in, in which you rather shoot your own position in the foot:

"The role of added carbon dioxide as a major contributor in climate change has been firmly established. However, as you know I have questioned its relative role and our ability to accurately predict its longer-term effects.  But that it has an effect is clear...

Policies focused on controlling the emissions of greenhouse gases are justified for many reasons beyond the climatic effect of CO2, so I want to be clear that the science questions are not necessarily directly translatable into policy implications.  But one implication of my own work and that of others is clear — however successful we are in reducing emissions, a significant problem of human-caused climate change will remain as the other equally or even more important major contributors to climate change are not addressed by emissions reductions.

So I am urging that we take this broader perspective.  It is not an argument against reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, but it is recognition that the human role in the climate system is much more than just the added CO2. I have no problem with well thought out policies focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  I do have a problem with equating such policies with a comprehensive approach to climate change."

All the other darlings-of-the-deniers scientists hold similar views. Several of them are on film confirming this in this Climate Crock video

link to Smacking the Hack Attack

but it's also easy to find longer statements confirming their views online. As an obvious consequence, the vast majority of the thick, evil or politically blinded and deafened denialosphere's rhetoric and arguments and claims can be seen to be the complete garbage and lies and breath-taking stupidity that anyone who understands the basic physics of the radiative/absorptive transfer characteristics of gases knew they were all along.

Where the "Ds of the Ds" scientists differ from the overwhelming majority of credible climate scientists is that they believe the climate sensitivity (the figure by which global temperature is expected to rise for each doubling of CO2) is less than the IPCC estimate of about 3 degrees. If so, then the horror stories won't come to pass. If it is 3 degrees, then the predicted shock-horror stories are likely to come to pass. If it is greater than 3 degrees, then we face climate Armageddon and the almost certain extinction of large numbers of species with large areas of the globe becoming uninhabitable not to mention the elimination of most marine life, in a mass extinction event.

The thing about the figure for climate sensitivity is it is not known exactly. It is estimated from how past climate changes played out plus from the basic physics of greenhouse gases. How all the feedbacks work is also subject to a fair amount of uncertainty. We do know that the climate has changed catastrophically in the past under less "forcing" than we are currently applying.
Without the use of a time machine to go back and run different experiments on the planet's atmosphere it is not possible to definitively establish a figure until we have run the experiment through to the conclusion/bitter end, checking observations as we go. If we take no serious action then, if sensitivity is a lot less than 3 deg, happy days. If it is 3 deg, then we're in for increasing trouble that won't stop for thousands of years. If it is more than 3 deg, then our world as we have known it ends, along with civilisation and the death of most the population. It might end with a bang or a whimper but wouldn't it be fun if it ends with someone telling the (local politician’s name removed)s "I told you so"?

The point is (name removed), it comes down to whether you believe we will be lucky or not. The majority of scientists say we won't be - all the computer models (20+) say we won't be - none even hint that the opposite is probable. You have a perfect right to risk your own future neck and I will just about fight to the death to defend that right, however, you haven't got the right to risk everybody else's future that you may drag down to climate hell with you, if your "optimistic" view prevails. As complete certainty of the eventual outcome is not possible to know before it is far too late to reverse the accelerating bad stuff, deciding what to do is a matter of calculated risk assessment.

Do you feel certain enough of your views that you will risk billions of lives? Do you feel lucky, punk?

Oh, BTW. I think the person interviewing the "Ds of the Ds" scientists in the video may be Martin Durkin, the (edited) who put together the appallingly mendacious "Great Global Warming Swindle". As you can see they set him straight. I suppose he is even worse than Anthony Watts.

Nick Palmer

On the side of the Planet - and the people - because they're worth it

Blogspot - Sustainability and stuff according to Nick Palmer

p.s  Adaptation is not possible to some of what is likely if nothing adequate is done. What hubris to imagine adaptation is a viable strategy!
CO2 in excess can be called a pollutant when its deleterious effects begin to overwhelm its positive effects. Obviously vital in the correct proportions, excess CO2, like excess water or cheeseburgers, can kill. I am surprised to see you stoop to that cheap Competitive Enterprise Institute piece of propaganda - watch their achingly funny but sinister video on Youtube  - Global Warming - "Energy" with the fantastically stupid end quote - "they call it pollution - we call it life". You couldn't make it up!

Oh finally, exactly what sort of economy do you think the world could support if the few left have been forced back to the mediaeval times? At least that would be a genuine mediaeval warm period...



Nick, I am not going to indulge in a point scoring match – I am merely concerned with what is the best answer based on solid evidence.  If there had been a proper debate on the science instead of the political approach taken, then there could have been a much more constructive debate.  Instead we have ignoramuses like Al Gore prancing round making totally ignorant statements and making a great deal on money to boot.

You know perfectly well that the science is never settled – there are always improvements, better data and evidence and so forth.  The important thing is to look at new data objectively and not politically.


(name removed)



The email “debate” fizzled out after that. It shows the sheer incorrigibility and imperviousness to argument of those who call themselves sceptics or contrarians. Whatever  evidence or logic one brings to bear is just shrugged off with a political shimmy. Some people really do seem to be convinced that what they believe, or want to believe outranks reality. Should we trust such people with positions of power no matter how much we ourselves may want to believe the things they are saying?




TonyTheProf said...

Sarah Ferguson from the style and approach!

Nick Palmer said...

me lips is sealed, guv!