Thursday, April 19, 2007

Waaaayyyyyyyyy to busy....... post for a little while. Hopefully back in action next week. Probably a slightly wider focus to the blog from now on. Debunking dim-witted denialists has become a little like shooting fish in a barrel (with an anti-aircraft gun).

Thinking of the families and friends of those affected in Virginia. And Baghdad.

Am pretty saddened by this guy, but not surprised.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ian Plimer: Doin' Oz proud.

Ya just can’t make this stuff up.

‘Top scientist’ Ian Plimer, winner of several notable science prizes, debunks global warming.

Says Ian:
When meteorologists can change the weather then we can start to think about humans changing climate.
If meteorologists can’t cast magical spells from their offices to bring about at least one sunny day per weekend they don’t even deserve their jobs, I reckon.
I think we really are a little bit naive to think we can change astronomical and solar processes.
What? We can’t change astronomical processes? Clearly, the destruction of the Death Star and its subsequent replacement demonstrates that isn’t true.
He said he found that about 0.1 per cent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide was due to human activity and much of the rest due to little-understood geological phenomena.
Trolls, perhaps?
Prof Plimer also argued El Nino and La Nina were caused by major processes of earthquake activity and volcanic activity in the mid-ocean ridges, rather than any increase in greenhouse gases.
Seriously, El Nino and La Nina aren’t caused by increases in GHGs? Who woulda thunk it?
Nor does the melting of polar ice have anything to do with man-made carbon dioxide, he said.

“Great icebergs come off, not due to temperature change but due to the physics of ice and the flow of ice,” Prof Plimer said.
Ice melting due to temperature? Bahhhh…..that’s about as likely as the earth being orange-shaped.
There had even been periods in history with hundreds of times more atmospheric carbon dioxide than now with “no problem”, he said.
Hundreds of times? That’s like 38 300 ppm +. That must have happened…oh…never since we had an atmosphere with oxygen in it (and maybe not even then – I couldn’t be bothered looking it up.) Then again, just because last time [CO2] was even 20 times above today’s levels plants and animals hadn’t yet evolved means nothin’. Everyone was happy then. There wasn’t none of that rock music or reality TV. Thems were the days.
“You'd be very hard pushed to find a geologist that would differ from my view,” he said.
If only such geologists controlled the world. A panacea it would be.

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Some mad revel

Usually I’d ignore a treatise such as the following by Eberhard Dennert, but in this case I’ll make an exception. It’s beautifully written and contains some important lessons, which I’ll discuss after the piece. I do urge you read it in its entirety. It’s quite something, particularly the analogy in the second last paragraph.
Today, at the dawn of the new century, nothing is more certain than that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has lost its prestige among men and women of science. It has seen its day and will soon be reckoned a thing of the past. A few decades hence when people will look back upon the history of the doctrine of AGW, they will confess that the years between 1980 and 2007 were in many respects a time of carnival; and the enthusiasm which at that time took possession of the devotees of climate science will appear to them as the excitement attending some mad revel.

From the account which Bob Carter, Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen and others give of the present status of AGW we may safely conclude that AGW had entered upon a period of decay; it is in the third stage of a development through which many a scientific doctrine has already passed.

The four stages of this development are the following:

1. The incipient stage: A new doctrine arises, the older representatives of the science oppose it partly because of keener insight and greater experience, partly also from indolence, not wishing to allow themselves to be drawn out of their accustomed equilibrium; among the younger generation there arises a growing sentiment in favor of the new doctrine.

2. The stage of growth: the new doctrine continually gains greater favor among the young generation, finding vent in bursts of enthusiasm; some of the cautious seniors have passed away, others are carried along by the stream of youthful enthusiasm in spite of better knowledge, and the voices of the thoughtful are no longer heard in the general uproar, exultingly proclaiming that to live is bliss.

3. The period of decay: the joyous enthusiasm has vanished; depression succeeds intoxication. Now that the young men have themselves grown older and become more sober, many things appear in a different light. The doubts already expressed by the old and prudent during the stage of growth are now better appreciated and gradually increase in weight. Many become indifferent, the present younger generation becomes perplexed and discards the theory entirely.

4. The final stage: the last adherents of the "new doctrine" are dead or at least old and have ceased to be influential; they sit upon the ruins of a grandeur that even now belongs to the "good old time." The influential and directing spirits have abandoned this doctrine, once so important and seemingly invincible, for the consideration of living issues and the younger generation regards it as an interesting episode in the history of science.

With reference to AGW we are in the third stage which is characterized especially by the indifference of the present middle-aged generation and by growing opposition on the part of the younger coming generation. This very characteristic feature is brought into prominence by the discussion of the contrarians. If all signs, however, are not deceptive, this third stage, that of decay, is drawing to an end; soon we shall enter the final stage and with that the tragic-comedy of AGW will be brought to a close.

I am not by choice a prophet, least of all regarding the weather. But I think it may not be doubted that the fine weather, at least, has passed for AGW. So having carefully scanned the firmament of science for signs of the weather, I shall for once make a forecast for AGW, namely: Increasing cloudiness with heavy precipitations, indications of a violent storm, which threatens to cause the props of the structure to totter, and to sweep it from the scene.

In the place of AGW principles, new ideas are gradually winning general acceptance, which, while they are in harmony with the principles of moder physics, were enunciated before the time of the AGW, nevertheless attribute a far-reaching importance to our own star, the sun. These new conceptions necessarily involve the admission that climate change has not been a purely human-initiated process.
Now, you’ll probably notice something about the style of writing. Not what you’d commonly find today. The reason being is that it was published in 1904, and the topic wasn’t AGW, it was Darwinism (obviously I’ve switched AGW and Darwinism, changed dates, put in some modern contrarians and swapped Lamarckism for solar-induced recent climate change).

What I find fascinating is how little has changed over the past 100 odd years. The same condescending tone is adopted by denialists. The same argument that those convinced by good science are in fact caught up in some kind ‘mad revel’ as Dennert terms it, a mere fad, if you will. The fervent wish that against all evidence the theory is crumbling and that the world will soon return to its senses due to the 'thoughtful', who were never swayed by the siren song of consensus.

I would note, however, that your modern wing-nut doesn’t possess quite the dexterity with the written word as Dennert. But, then again, a fat lot of good it did him.

(H/T PZ Myers, whose post contains the original piece)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Photoblog updated

Well Easter's been and gone. The good bit: trekking and 4wd-ing through one of the most ancient and beautiful landscapes on Earth (and only 4 hours drive from Adelaide). The bad bit: hitting a kangaroo in my newish car with no roo-bar. Cosmetic, but expensive to repair, damage to the car. The kangaroo...well..... he's up in marsupial heaven with lots of green grass and water, and no cars or roo-shooters to be seen anywhere.

Check out the photos and note, from a climate change perspective, that the South Eastern half of the country is predicted to get dryer. The top photo and bottom four photos are taken from operational and currently viable sheep stations. There's actually been some recent rain (note the Gum trees regenerating). The way things are changing their money won't be coming from farming much longer, I suspect.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Going nuclear

I'm not overly for or against nuclear power. It may well be a vital part of the Australian response to climate change. However, maybe it's nonviable. Maybe novel renewable technologies will be sufficient. Maybe clean coal technology will provide cheaper and safer energy.

But when I read the following interview featuring Hugh Morgan, one of a triumvirate of businessman trying to kick-start the nuclear industry in Australia, I sort of I really hope they fail.
Jon Faine: Have you seen Al Gore’s film?

Hugh Morgan: (clears throat) I have.

JF: What did you think of An Inconvenient Truth?

HM: I thought the whole thing was a Hollywood beat-up of monumental proportions.

JF: Do you believe in global warming?

HM: Ah, I believe that there’s been climate change.

JF: Because of?

HM: Ah, maybe part of anthropological issues but because ah, there are other explanations for which many people have not been prepared to turn their minds to.

JF: But you’re still prepared to talk about nuclear power as a cheap alternative because of climate change, although you’re not sure it’s in fact, the climate change phenomenon that this nuclear industry would be based upon is caused by…

HM: Yes I’m very relaxed about this.

JF: … the very things you’d exploit to create this new industry?

HM: Sure. In other words … The practicality of this is that the community mood is going to demand higher energy cost. That’s a fact. It doesn’t matter whether it’s based on fact, the fact of life is this is what the community is demanding.

JF: So a complete mistake being made by the bulk of the population around the world at the moment to link global warming with greenhouse gas emissions is something you’ll cheerfully exploit to create a nuclear power industry?

HM: Not at all. If that’s what the community wants, I’m there to help them.

JF: Even if they’re wrong?

HM: Well that’s happened a lot in the past, we’ve had many occasions when the community has gone in a particular direction and actually hasn’t got its assessment right on many issues but that’s not the point … I think that the community needs to make sure it has a basket of options about its power sources. It would be wrong to dismiss the nuclear option from its basket of commitments to ensure that the community has a regular, reliable supply of electricity.
From today's Crikey

Anyway, I'm off travelling over Easter. Catch ya afterward with some (hopefully) nice piccies of the Flinder's Ranges and surrounds for the photoblog.

Happy Easter!!!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Silent Bob

I’m not one for silencing dissent. I believe people can and should be skeptical of all scientific output, particularly that which impacts on the well-being of our own and future generations.

Having said that, if a person claims to falsify the research of others, and are then shown to be incorrect, they should be politely called on it. Disputes over the validity of particular results happen all the time in all scientific fields, and it’s certainly better to question and be incorrect than to never question at all.

But, and this is a big BUT, if the questioner or others knowingly repeat the same dodgy claims ad infinitum, they deserve to be the subject of ridicule.

Bob Carter deserves to be the subject of ridicule.

Here’s a man who claims massive mainstream media silencing of skeptics. At the same time Bob's own output can be seen on the editorial pages of the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Telegraph among other broadsheets, on ABC radio and at Online Opinion.

Perhaps Bob uses the little-known definition of silenced:
In the friggin’ media blathering on constantly.
Unsurprisingly, Silent Bob has produced yet another ‘report’. Same old, same old.

Bob does, however, reach new levels of chutzpah on the front cover.

You probably didn’t know this, but Bob and some bloke by the name of 'Galileo' are, in fact, soul-mates.

So, before anyone else claims him, I shall begin all my future posts with a piccie of my good soul-buddy; Isaac Newton.

Go straight for the best, I say.

Though, all that alchemy stuff Isaac got up to I’m not so sure maybe I won’t go for him after all. Einstein perhaps?

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