Monthly Archives: May 2012

CSP – getting it wrong….again

Yet again, Geoffrey Brown, the official blogger for the Climate Sceptics Party has done a blind cut and paste job without checking to see how accurate what he has pasted is. In this case it was a paper published by Murray Ford in the Journal of Coastal Research. It discusses the implications of anthropogenic alterations to shorelines in the wake of anticipated sealevel rise in Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Here is his post

Sea Level Rise ~ a spurious notion?

From CO2 Science, a new paper published in the Journal of Coastal Research
Ford, M. 2012. Shoreline changes on an urban atoll in the central Pacific Ocean: Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. Journal of Coastal Research 28: 11-22.

What was learned
The University of Hawaii researcher reports that the rural lagoon shore of Majuro Atoll has been predominantly eroding, but that the ocean-facing shore has been largely accreting, and at a much faster rate. In addition, he finds that “shoreline change within the urban area of Majuro has been largely driven by widespread reclamation for a mix of residential, commercial and industrial activities.” Thus, “despite a rising sea level,” he finds that “the landmass of Majuro has persisted and, largely because of reclamation, increased in size.”

What it means
Ford concludes by noting that as an atoll population increases, “further demands are placed on the limited land available,” and he says that in the case of Majuro Atoll, “it is likely that land reclamation will continue to satisfy this demand,” noting that “the notion that sea level rise is a singular driver of shoreline change along atolls is spurious,” while stating that “adopting such a notion is an impediment to the sustainable management of coastal resources within urban atolls.”
Inhabitants of Tuvalu (and other island states) … take note!

The idea of this cut and paste job is to paint a couple of pictures. First, he is trying to show that through anthropogenic processes, sealevel rise can be beaten.  After all, the landmass has “increased in size”,”despite rising sea levels”.  Aren’t we humans clever?
The second thing is the cherrypicked and misplaced quote that “the notion that sealevel rise……….is spurious and adopting such a notion…………..within urban atolls.” Far from being Ford’s conclusion, this little gem appeared in the discussion and in the context of future projections of island stability based on past shorelines and rightly so. There is nothing controversial in this statement. Of course all things must be taken into consideration and that is what Ford is doing. Nowhere does he give examples of published papers that have adopted that “spurious” approach. The way it has been taken out of context and dropped into the conclusion is a serious misrepresentation and right up Geoffrey’s alley for that very reason.  So, what exactly does Ford conclude? Before reading the conclusion in its entirety below, just go back and read what Geoffrey has reposted as Ford’s conclusion again.



The landmass of Majuro atoll is dynamic, shaped by the continual morphodynamic adjustment of shorelines in response to changes in physical and biological processes. Within recent history, anthropogenic activities have been the dominant processes driving coastal change, with results showing that the majority of villages, both urban and rural, have increased in size (93%). The dominant mode of shoreline change has been through the reclamation along both ocean and lagoon coasts within the urban area. Up to 22 ha of additional land had been added to some villages through construction of an airport, causeways, and landfills and reclamation for residential, commercial, and industrial activities.

Despite a rising sea level, the landmass of Majuro has persisted and, largely because of reclamation, increased in size. The question as to whether the drivers of this trend persist is a necessary focal point for future work, both in Majuro and on reef and atoll islands in general. As a population increases, further demands are placed on the limited land available. It is likely that land reclamation will continue to satisfy this demand. However, the continued expansion of urban atolls through reclamation is in need of critical examination—from the perspective not only of sustainability but also of vulnerability. High-density residential and commercial activities on often poorly designed and constructed reclamation ultimately increase vulnerability of atoll islands to coastal hazards, with such hazards likely to be further amplified by future sea level rise.

I would say that what the author has said is somewhat different to what Geoffrey and his ilk would have people believe. I just don’t understand why they are so deceitful? I think Bill Maher summed it up beautifully in one of his monologues when he suggested Al Gore should bring out a sequel and call it “An Inconvenient Truth 2: what the fuck is wrong with you?”

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Mountain Pine Beetle – climate is the key

The mountain pinebark beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae is a small beetle native to North America from Mexico to British Columbia. This species plays an important ecological role in pine forests by removing old, weak trees, facilitating the growth of saplings. They do this by laying their eggs under the bark of old stressed trees. The larvae, after hatching eat the wood contributing to the tree’s decline. Trees will respond to egg-laying by exuding sap which expels the eggs but also weakens the tree and opens it to infection by pathogenic fungi. In the normal course of things, the ecosystem functions with a high level of predictability.

Recently, pine beetle outbreaks have been more intense, longer in duration and have covered larger and larger areas, resulting in large swathes of mature, usually healthy trees dying. It has been hypothesised that human-induced climate change has been partially responsible. A number of isolated studies in various locations have added weight to that hypothesis. A new study  published in the journal Ecology investigates multiple outbreaks over large spatial areas and models these against known climate and weather variables. The authors report that climate is affecting weather patterns resulting in longer droughts, altered rainfall and increased temperature. These in turn are acting as stressors on mature trees,increasing opportunities for beetles to reach plague proportions. 

More and more studies of this sort will be comingout in the next few years, adding further weight to the copious evidence for biological effects of climate change that already exist.

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Cherrypicking shits me to tears

Well, I was going to go to pick on the Climate Sceptics Party again so went to their site and felt myself losing IQ points with every sentence I read. Feeling suitably less intelligent than minutes earlier, I felt I was ready to go and visit the official blogsite of the party. I wasn’t disappointed. The latest blog entry is a newsletter style piece written by someone called Viv Forbes. Of particular interest to me in this entry was a bunch of high school level analyses of CO2 uptake by the oceans with some of the usual simplistic rumblings but of note was the following quote. Make sure you are sitting down….

 “We are told that the tiny bit of natural soda water in still-alkaline sea water will dissolve corals and shells, kill fish and create oceanic mayhem? If soda water is so dangerous, then how come people consume it in copious amounts in beer, scotch and fizzy drinks?”

I’m not quite sure what to say about that. It is quite possibly one of the most moronic things I have read yet. I think it speaks for itself.  The point of this particular entry though is to highlight a couple of things. To justify their riciulous assertions that acidifying oceans won’t harm marine shellfish and molluscs they actually provide a link to this site.  Here is what they say.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Facts: Ocean Acidification Impact On Marine Species Overestimated, Study Finds

New research is documenting the actual carbon dioxide emission facts – the impact of ocean acidifcation on marine species has been exaggerated by alarmists

Read here. Alarmists and anti-CO2 activists have loudly suggested that sea water that becomes more “acidified” will significantly harm marine species. Listening to the alarmists, one would surmise that mollusks such as clams and oysters would literally have their shells disappear from lower pH levels of oceans.

A new peer reviewed study by Parker et al. punctures this hot air balloon of alarmism with empirical evidence from actual experiments.

“The authors write that studies on the impact of ocean acidification on marine organisms that have been conducted to date “have only considered the impacts on ‘adults’ or ‘larvae’, ignoring the potential link between the two life-history stages and the possible carry-over effects that may be passed from adult to offspring,”…placed adults of wild-collected and selectively-bred populations of the Sydney rock oyster which they obtained at the beginning of reproductive conditioning – within seawater equilibrated with air of either 380 ppm CO2 (near-ambient) or 856 ppm CO2 (predicted for 2100 by the IPCC)…found that the larvae spawned from adults living in the “acidified” seawater were the same size as those spawned from adults living in near-ambient seawater; but they report that “larvae spawned form adults exposed to elevated CO2 were larger and developed faster.”…concluding that the results of their work suggest that “marine organisms may have the capacity to acclimate or adapt to elevated CO2 over the next century.”” [Laura M. Parker, Pauline M. Ross, Wayne A. O’Connor, Larissa Borysko, David A. Raftos, Hans-Otto Pörtner 2012: Global Change Biology]

Conclusion: Climate alarmists claims of the ocean acidification impact on marine species has not been factual. As researchers continue their research, the carbon dioxide emissions facts are being firmly established with empirical evidence while exposing the frequent fearmongering and exaggerations to scientific sunlight.

Rather than launch into a long spiel about cherrypicking, I will just include and highlight the very important parts of the results, discussion and conclusion that were left out so that readers of this blog will have all the important information. Here they are…

“There was no effect of ‘adult exposure’ on the percentage survival of larvae after 19 days. There was, however, a significant effect of both ‘oyster type’ and ‘Pco2’ and no interaction. The larvae from the wild oysters had a lower percentage survival than the selectively bred larvae [mean square (MS) = 2410.58, df = 1 × 16, F = 10.39, < 0.01; Fig. 2a]. After 19 days under ambient conditions, the average survival of larvae was 82% in the wild oysters and 91% in the selectively bred oysters (Fig. 2a). In addition, elevated Pco2 caused a significant reduction in the survival of larvae (MS = 3012.74, df = 1 × 16, F = 12.99, < 0.01; Fig. 2a). At the elevated Pco2 level of 856 μatm, the average percentage survival of larvae fell to levels of 48% and 79% in the wild and selectively bred oysters respectively

“This adaptive strategy can reduce the time that larvae spend in the water column, reduce their dependence on exogenous food and provide them with a competitive advantage following settlement (Allen et al., 2008; Moran & McAlister, 2009). One disadvantage of such an investment, however, is that it can come at a cost to fecundity, with fewer larger eggs produced by a mother in contrast to more numerous smaller eggs (Allen et al., 2008). In this study, gametes needed to be obtained from adults via strip spawning, which makes it impossible to accurately determine fecundity.”

“The negative effects of elevated Pco2 on the larvae of S. glomerata, as found in this study could have major consequences for oysters at the population level (Gazeau et al., 2010). A reduction in the survival of larvae will reduce the number of individuals reaching settlement (Ross, 2001; Ross et al., in press). Under natural conditions, juvenile mortality of benthic invertebrates is already thought to exceed 90% (Thorson, 1950). If survival were further reduced during this critical stage of development due to exposure to elevated Pco2, reduced numbers may also be seen at the population level. In addition to reduced survival, reduced larval size and rate of development will increase the age at metamorphosis, increase the time for predation of larvae and presumably reduce the competitive ability of larvae during settlement (Byrne, 2009).”

“Despite this, the capacity for genetic adaptation may be limited such that elevations in atmospheric Pco2 over the next century will still have negative ecological and economic consequences for the wild population of S. glomerata and potentially other marine invertebrates. In addition, synergistic stressors such as increased temperature and food-limitation may add to the negative effects of ocean acidification. Multi-generational and multi-stressor experiments are needed to anticipate the adaptive capacity of wild S. glomerata and other marine organisms over the next century given the current rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 (Royal Society 2005).”

What this exercise demonstrates is this. Not only do idiots running these denier sites not understand climate science, but they continually cut and paste from each other without checking the voracity of the claims being made. I have come to the point now whenever a climate denier claims that they have “peer reviewed” evidence that supports their lunacy, I become extremely sceptical and cannot help but satisfy the desire to actually read their source. Inevitably it becomes evident that either the source isn’t legitimate, they haven’t read it, have read it but don’t understand it, or have deliberatley cherrypicked and/or misrepresented the conclusions of the paper. Meanwhile, the Climate Sceptics Party, themselves scientifically illiterate, will take the word of these idiots and formulate their policies based on garbage. Garbage in, garbage out.

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More garbage from the Climate Sceptics Party

“Renowned engineer and aviation/space pioneer Burt Rutan, was named “100 most influential people in the world, 2004” by Time Magazine and Newsweek called him “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer.” Rutan has received “hundreds of awards including: Presidential Citizen’s Medal, Two Collier Trophies, Academy of Achievement Golden Plate and the Charles Lindbergh Award. He has developed 44 new aircraft types since 1972 including; Voyager, SpaceShipOne, and the first commercial spaceship – SpaceShipTwo. Rutan, declared himself skeptical of man-made global warming.”

Burt Rutan has a very impressive CV. He clearly knows a lot about aviation engineering. His expertise in that area is almost unrivaled. He is the real deal…. but his OPINION on man-made global warming is worthless on a professional basis.

This paragraph comes from a “report” put out by titled, “More Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims. Scientists Continue to Debunk Fading “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009 & 2010” and is linked on the Climate Sceptics Party (CSP) website. Now, I’ve covered the issue of long lists in a previous entry called “Does size matter?” so I won’t get too much into that again other than to say that when it comes to science, quality is more important than quantity. The climate sceptics also link to two other lists. One is the seriously debunked and much ridiculed Oregon petition with its more than 30000 “scientists” who disagree with AGW. In case you are unfamiliar, less than 0.1% of the signatories on the petition actually identify themselves as climatologists and the vast majority identify as having a Bachelor degree “or equivalent”. The rest are medical doctors, dentists, vets, lawyers, economists, chemists………… you get the picture. The other is a link to a Wikipedia entry with a list of the usual suspects from the climate denial industry, most of whom are associated with the oil-funded thinktanks in the US like Heartland, Georce C Marshall and the like. I especially like the inclusion of Fred Singer on that list, the same Fred Singer who took money from tobacco lobbyists and spouted the health benefits of smoking.

Anyway, back to the list of 1000. I’ll admit I hadn’t actually heard of this list until I found it on the CSP website so I thought I’d take a good look at it. Now, first things first. 1000 scientists sounds like a very impressive number of scientists…but is it really? According to AAAS, in 2006 there were approximately 5.8 million scientists in the world in all OECD countries plus Argentina, China, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa and Taiwan. This number does not include scientists in India. That means Climatedepot managed to rustle up 0.00017% of all the scientists in the world to put forward their dissenting position. The next thing to do is to look at the disciplines of science these scientists specialise in. Rather than going through the full list, I will assume that the scientists they have gone to the trouble of highlighting are the cream of their crop. Here are their listed professions… Director of Technical Services & Development for U.S. Magnesium, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace, Physicist, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Head of geomagnetic variations laboratory at the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radiowave Propagation of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Geologist, Chemistry Professor, Research ChemistClimatologistEngineer and aviation/space pioneer, Atmospheric Physicist, Earth scientists, Biologist, Hebrew University Professor, Astrophysicist. Look everyone, a real climatologist…..or is he? His name is Dr Hans Jelbring and he works at the Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics Unit at Stockholm University. As far as I can tell, this Swedish climatologist has never published a single paper in the field of climatology. Oh well, that’s a shame.

Anyway, my point is this, scientifically illiterate people like those within the Climate Sceptics Party don’t seem to understand that just as oils ain’t oils, scientists ain’t scientists and that there many different disciplines within “science”. Not only that, but there are disciplines within disciplines. I recall in my first year of university writing a research assignment about a particular animal. I was extremely interested in how this animal concentrated urine to extremely toxic levels whilst it was in stasis. I went to a leading ecologist at the university who had written several papers about this particular animal and asked him about the mechanisms  it used to concentrate urine. He replied, “How would I know? That’s physiology.” This was a real eye opener for me into how specialised scientists are. The way I like to try and explain this to laypeople is to suggest that when their house needs rewiring, they will call a tradesman, but not just any tradesman. They will call an electrician because plumbers don’t rewire houses. It is the same with scientists. If you want information about climate science, you go to a climatologist, not a geologist or a chemistry professor or a space pioneer.

So what the CSP are doing is relying on non-specialists, more often than not with vested interests, to give them information. I can only wonder, if they will apply the same logic if their house needs rewiring or if they need to know how to treat brain cancer? Rather then take the advice of specialist oncologists will they instead seek advice from the retired veterinarian up the road? After all, he’s a doctor too.

So why do they do it? I think deep down, the CSP know they can’t possibly cater to mainstream voters so they deliberately target and play to the fringe elements, the far rightwing, gun obsessed, loony Christian ultraconservatives who for whatever reason failed science in school. Maybe that’s their tactic or maybe they are just anti-establishment for the sake of being anti-establishment with very little understanding of anything they are talking about. Whatever it is, they are a neverending source of giggles for me.

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8-fold underestimate in flowering time predictions

Climate scientists have estimated that since 1900, our global average temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees C with most of the warming occurring since 1979 with a 0.2 degrees C/decade increase since 1979. A recent paper published online at Nature by Wolkevitch et al  draws on evidence from plant life cycle studies and experiments performed on 1634 species from four continents. It found that some experiments had underestimated the speed of flowering by 8.5 times and growing leaves by 4 times.

“Across all species, the experiments under-predicted the magnitude of the advance – for both leafing and flowering – that results from temperature increases,” the study said, “Predicting species’ response to climate change is a major challenge in ecology.”

What this study demonstrates is, that because of other factors not considered or under-considered in warming experiments, they fail to accommodate things like a drier soil or other multidimensional drivers. In a nutshell, its worse than we’ve been told.

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Heartland Posters

This comes from Peter Sinclair’s climatecrocks. He has inspired me to have a go at this myself.

Here’s looking at you Clive.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

What the hell. It’s Friday. I’ll play.

Heartland Institute, the purveyors of climate disinformation and fine tobacco promotions, has begun a billboard campaign using the images of mass murderers and psychopaths to represent science literate citizens who understand climate change.

Lovely, right?

I couldn’t help but create my own. Rather like shooting fish in a barrel.

Kind of like eating peanuts. I could do this all day, but more important tasks beckon.

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Climate Sceptics Party – oh dear!

In a democracy it is important that all parts of society feel they are represented by their elected officials and it seems there is a new political party on the scene. Well, they aren’t really new as they have been around for a few years now, but the demographic they wish to represent is quite obvious when you take a look at what they stand for. For a start, it is imperative that for this party to represent you, you must be stupid. I was going to come up with a long list of human character flaws that would appear to be a requirement but just leaving it at stupid will do.

My normal position would normally be to not pay too much attention to idiots like this for fear of inadvertently promoting them but I don’t think they have much of a chance at securing the 14% they need to get someone into a senate spot. They certainly have no chance of ever securing a lower house seat in any electorate…ever.  The reason, is that they are pretty much clueless about everything they stand for. So let’s take a look at what they are about.

Oh, I should probably mention who they are. They call themselves the Climate Sceptics Party. When you go to their website, the idiocy starts almost immediately with a blurb from their party president,  Bill Koutalianos. He begins

“Dear Fellow Australians,

I welcome you to the Climate Sceptics Party site. We began our party in 2008 when a number of climate sceptic bloggers and thinkers realized, there were no political parties that were standing on the principle of truth in climate science. The apparent politicization of science lead us to form a hard nosed common sense party, in order to drag Australian politics back to practical basics.”

Now, I don’t know about you but a political party formed from climate denier bloggers and “thinkers” is hardly a strong basis for a political party. Climate denial bloggers continually demonstrate a severe lack of intellect and understanding of very basic science. Most of them don’t have an individual thought of their own, merely cutting and pasting garbage from intellectual lightweights like Andrew Bolt, “Lord” Monckton and Anthony Watts. What I really appreciate though is the distinction between “sceptic bloggers” and “thinkers”. I would agree that the two are mutually exclusive. What I find amazing, is the complaint that science has been politicised when they themselves are a political party which is patently based on an anti-science platform. Hypocrisy?

 “We are not merely a one issue party. Our policies are based on true science as opposed to politicized science, we are pro small business, we are for minimal government, and we are against the extreme green religion (a belief that clouds the thinking of the two major parties and many policy areas) .”

Not merely a one issue party? Then why call yourselves the Climate Sceptics Party? This mob are so “one issue” they sit comfortably alongside the former Nuclear Disarmament Party, The Fishing Party, The Sex Party, The Marijuana Party and numerous other fringe elements in terms of their tunnel vision. Their idea of “true science” is scary because according to these clowns, anyone cutting and pasting misrepresented scientific papers can qualify as a true scientist, but more on that later.

“In short, we know there is no scientist in the world that has evidence CO2 will overheat the planet. Six scientific peer reviewed papers show that CO2 cannot cause dangerous global warming. We are not just against the carbon tax or emissions trading scheme but against the need to reduce CO2 emissions in any way that damages our economy. CO2 is plant food and the more there is in the air, the more food we can grow.”

This is my favourite paragraph because it gets to the heart of how scientifically illiterate this lot are. I’ll deal with the last sentence first. The denial meme “CO2 is plant food” is so simplistic it beggars belief. Deniers will quote this or that glasshouse study as evidence for their meme, failing to understand the fundamental rule that you cannot extrapolate a glasshouse experiment to real world situations. In the real world, increased CO2 comes with increased temperature, altered rainfall, changes in nitrification, increased pest and disease susceptibility not to mention changes in the latitudes or elevation at which plants can grow. No, it is much more convenient for these idiots to wilfully ignore these things and just spout the meme knowing that some equally illiterate members of the public will agree. But let’s get back to the “six scientific peer reviewed papers” link. Clicking this link takes you to a Senate Submission where the Climate Sceptics Party repeat a number of denialist memes. I won’t bother listing them here but here is their list of references for their assertions.













































This could potentially be the most impressive list of garbage I’ve ever seen. Blogs, newspaper clippings, opinion pieces, industry websites etc. The only lists of garbage that outstrip this one for garbageness are Popular Technology’s list of 900 and the Oregon petition. If, on the off chance that there are six peer reviewed papers, I will be 100% certain they are being misunderstood or misrepresented in some way as is the usual thing when deniers meet science.

“We reject the Murray Darling Basin Plan because it is based on flawed climate assumptions. Instead, we support bringing a percentage of the freshwater that flows into the sea from Northern Australia, into our Murray Darling basin.”

That’s right, this mob seriously wants to take water out of northern flowing rivers and divert the water into the Murray Darling catchment. I can only wonder if they have considered what the effect of reduced environmental flows would have on those rivers, not to mention any important wetlands downstream? Do they even know what an environmental flow is? Would they have cease to take levels and where would they place them and on what basis would they decide on those levels? Would it be an ecological one or economical one? I think I know, but let’s pretend they got their way, how the hell would they pay for it? There’s no mention of cost or feasibility.

This is only the start of the craziness. I could go on, but I think I might make these guys a pet project and focus on one or two things at a time so consider this a teaser. I will endeavour to engage them and see if they have any actual policies they plan to implement or if their policies are just simple one paragraph statements filled with non-descript rhetoric based on false premises, as it appears on their policy webpage. Watch this space.

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