Our very own climate deniers, now in Parliament

I know there’s probably not too many ACT voters here, but ffs, Rodney’s latest speech on climate change could have been written by the nutters. It’s like looking into a parallel world, where words don’t mean what you or I might think they mean:

“ACT’s commitment to freedom commits us to something else too – something vitally missing from our politics at the present time – reason. Side-by-side with freedom stands reason – our human ability to think, to discover, to know, and to grow our knowledge by testing our ideas against logic and experience makes freedom possible.”

“I remain sceptical that greenhouse gases are the cause of a global warming.”

“A warmer climate with more CO2 in the atmosphere is an unambiguous benefit to New Zealand and to the world.”

“All official measures of global temperature show that temperature peaked in 1998 and has been declining since at least 2002”

Not surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at any of the scientific talks that the Royal Society has organised at Parliament.

23 thoughts on “Our very own climate deniers, now in Parliament

    1. Colour me skeptical, but I doubt that someone with his qualifications could really believe the bollocks that he’s sprouting. So either a) he lives in a bubble of wing-nuttery, or b) he knows he’s lying, and doesn’t care.

      Neither is a good option.

  1. The scientific debate was over ten years ago. No reputable scientist would make these claims, because they are provably wrong.

    And yet we still have people who should know better doing propaganda not science. When they claim that they are still doing science, at what point should we throw our toys out of the crib?

  2. Uh, dude.

    For serious yo – go back through his archives.
    The only reason he’s grumpy is because he’s had this argument repeated times, and could knock you on your ass.

    Seriosly – unscientific, emotional and therefore irrational

    Dude, it’s scientists who are backing up climate change theory, and ignorant right wing nutters who keep making out like they can demolish it. Most of the major fake arguments are addressed in New Scientist – try going through this: http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2007/05/climate-myths-special.html
    (myths addressed here – http://environment.newscientist.com/climatemyths )

    And then their general section – http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change

    Then, get back to me if you really want to try ‘knocking someone on their ass’, and I’ll only throw it to the guy with the Phd in Chemistry, if I can’t handle it, k?
    ;P

  3. Not threatened and defensive-it’s just you get tired of having to prove the same sh*t over and over again to people who have a vested interest in Not Getting It.

    And for someone claiming that it is the scientists being emotional and irrational, you’re using a LOT of emotive adjective as a framing device.

    1. The problem is that global warming requires community action to address and that’s incompatible with ACT’s “there is no such thing as society” ideology.

      Plus the media is incapable of understanding that no, a botanist/TV presenter who hasn’t done any real science in 40 years isn’t the same as a *real* atmospheric researcher. If you were on a plane and a train driver suggested that they could do a better job of landing than the pilot, would you let them?

      The only positive thing is that it’s the beach houses of ACT supporters that’ll be the first to get submerged. Bet they’ll want state intervention to build dykes, though.

  4. Right then:

    Total human energy consumption is 15 TeraWatts, 15×1012 W, +/- about 10%

    Total energy input from the sun, at ground level, is 174 PetaWatts
    174.0×1015 W, +/- 3.5%.

    This works out a heat radiation of 1366 w/m2, on average. The effect of additional greenhouse gases can be summed up as extra radiative forcing, effectively increasing that input by about 1.5 W/m2. Thus the additional heat from global warming is 174 PW x 1.5 / 1366, which works out to 190 TeraWatts, 190×1012.

    So this very simple analysis suggests that the extra heat from the human race burning fossil fuels is less than a tenth of the extra heat from the greenhouse gases that result from burning fossil fuels. The main warming effect of burning fossil fuels comes from the greenhouse gas emissions.

    Now, any real planetary physicist would be busy here pointing out that you can’t just look at the changes to the heat going into the system, you’ve also got to look at the changes to the heat going out of the system. Any climatologist would be pointing out that you’ve also got to look at the distribution of that heat. Any botanist would be pointing out that claims of the release of methane, not nitrates, from plants is massively overstated and that carbon absorbtion is their major effect on greenhouse gases, but also that changes in albedo (how much light the land absorbs or reflects) also need to be taken into account.

    It is a complicated system but we know an immense amount about it. I recommend reading the IPCC’s latest technical summary, in fact read the whole of Working Group I on the physical science basis for these claims.

    But back to the orginal point of the post – Rodney knows all this. He knows the vast amount of scientific work that’s been done. He chooses to base his claims on the rantings of a few nutters, whom reputable climate scientists disagree with. Fine, he can do that. But then to say that he’s basing his ideas on reason, logic and experience? At that point, then he can get lost.

  5. Awwwww!
    You got there before me Happy! Well hey, it is your journal.
    And given that I don’t know those kind of figures off the top of my head… ;D

    Here’s what I found:
    Linky!

    Working backwards – trees are good because water while is a greenhouse gas, but it isn’t the problem:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11652
    (in summary, atmosphere can only hold a limited amount of water vapour until it rains, whereas Carbon Dioxide going up there is adding extra insulation that we didn’t have before – and yes, this does additionally screw us as increases in temperature increases the amount of water vapour the atmosphere can hold)

    And yo, we’re in agreement that burning stuff is heating the planet, but yes, the waste heat from burning oil/fossil fuels etc has already been calculated and it’s a smaller factor than greenhouse gases.

    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Physics-1358/Global-Warming-waste-heat.htm
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080805210359AAMriBd
    http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/04/global-warming-is-not-from-waste-heat.html (follow-up http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/05/global-warming-is-not-from-waste-heat.html )

    Yes, we’re turning the heater up a bit, but between that & the sunshine, it’s the double glazing that’ll really get us.

  6. So, would it be a fair assumption that your argument implies that using heat pumps to move the energy around is a smarter move than simply burning fossil/nuclear fuel for heating?

    And that using renewables (Hydro/wind/wave/geothermal) to generate the electricity required is better?

    FWIW I have held for some time that CO2 per se isn’t as much a problem as the release of CO2 locked up in fossilised hydrocarbons – ergo panicking over CO2 released by burning trees or the emissions of grass eating ruminants is totally barking up the wrong gum tree. If we’re going to worry about carbon cycles, then at least worry about the one which runs over millenia not weeks or years…

    1. Given that 85% of the total energy used by humanity comes from fossil fuels, it’s reasonable to ignore renewables at this level of analysis.

      But yes, if we’re just extracting energy from already existing flows of air, water or insolation, then no heat is added.

      You’re right that added CO2 from buried hydrocarbons is the main cause of our current problems. However, burning forests produces soot, which is black, and thus can cause more warming than the CO2 from the forest. Similarly, the main emission from ruminants is methane, which is 22 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. So reducing that is worthwhile. Hell, in the same vein, it’s also worth capping landfill sites, capturing the methane, burning it and then letting the resulting CO2 go free. You’ve already reduced the impact of the emissions by a factor of 21.

  7. Power (watts) is the correct measure. The amount of energy is just a factor of the power and your measurement interval.

    If you run your burner for 1 minute, you produce a certain amount of heat energy and transform a corresponding amount of methane into CO2. If you run it for 10 minutes at the same rate, you produce 10 times as much heat and CO2.

    Either way, the CO2 has 10 times as much effect in raising planetary temperature as the heat. If you had an electric oven fueled by wind or water, then you wouldn’t produce any CO2 and you’d just create heat.

  8. you cannot actually compare the two.

    o_O
    So,
    you’re saying it’s impossible to calculate whether slowly installing thermal insulation in your house or using a small heater will lead to a warmer home in winter (or summer?).

    (Or which will give you a lower power bill?)

    But I’m still not getting your point –
    you can convert Happy’s figures to joule measures if you really want, his figures were for a year, so just multiply those PetaWatts or TeraWatts by 31,556,952 (ie seconds per year).

    You can look up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_resources_and_consumption to calculate it yourself, it looks like the source for Happy’s figures – 2005’s energy consumption was 500 EJ, or 15 TW (86% +/- 10% of that coming from fossil fuels).

    Since I’m guessing that’s the same source you were using Happy, should that have been 89PW at ground level instead?

    1. Oh,
      and that last statement was erm, mostly just a mild request for terminology I can use to search for information if it is 174PW (so’s I can figure out the why’s etc).

      Not my field (dammit, wish I HAD a field), I really don’t know much about it etc.
      🙂

    2. Yup, that’s the source. The approach I’m using is sufficiently rough that a factor of two won’t matter either way. The numbers used by Global warming is not from waste heat are at least as valid as mine, and they get GHGs having 80 times the impact of heat from fossil fuels.

      And as for whether it should be Joules or Watts, I’ll just claim that I’m looking at a steady-state situation, so time divides out, and either can be used.

  9. There’s a bunch of different mechanisms involved, each with their own timescale. After the 9/11 attacks, the ban on flying produced a few days of hotter days and colder nights in the US. When Mt Pinatubo exploded in 1991, the aerosols and dust gave cooling over a few months.

    The strongest factor controlling the rate of response is the oceans. They store far more heat than the atmosphere, get have their own decadal cycles and they can turn over on even longer timescales than that. They already shift vast amounts of heat around the globe, that’s what drives the El Nino/La Nina weather pattern.

    There is already warming. We’ve had about 0.1C warming per decade over the last 50 years. We’re going to have about 0.2C per decade for the next few decades (where “about” and “few” are matters of some complication). That’s not a big change, not for a while, but it is relentless and it all adds up.

    It won’t be a big change for 20, maybe 30 years time. Then, we’ll be old men, so why should we care? Well, coz there’ll be plenty of young men, justifiably pissed off with old folk for fucking up their world…

  10. It can be steady state, with an excess of heat, resulting in a steady rate of warming.

    Now, whether that leads to positive feedbacks and increasing rates of warming is a matter for climate scientists to argue about. There’s all sorts of potential feedback mechanisms, some positive, some negative, and no-one knows which will win. However, given that this planet has spent several billion years managing not to turn itself into an ice-ball or a Venus, then it’s doubtful that runaway warming will occur.

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