Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cairns Post Letters from the Wingnuts #14 (So much stupidity, so little time)

I've held off from the Letters from the Wingnuts for a while, despite a few ridiculous letters to the Cairns Post from the usual suspects. Today, however, the stupidity reached new levels. And so I need to add the next post in the series.

Bill Schutz is a regular writer to the Cairns Post, and has parroted many false arguments in the past (he was the subject of #13 in this series, back on 18 July). In today's letter he has exceeded his previous efforts, and this is going to be a long post. One thing that struck me as particularly amusing was Mr Schutz claiming to be interested in truth in one paragraph, only to repeat a recent, well understood lie in the very next.

To Mr Schutz's letter:
In response to Rob McNamara (CP, 19-10-12) and his criticisms of me.

You assess that I am wrong talking about Antarctic sea ice without including land ice, yet it is OK for Dr Karl to talk about Arctic sea ice without including land ice and his doomsday predictions.
The Arctic and Antarctic are markedly different systems, and climate scientists have long expected the Arctic to show earlier marked indications of climate change. The sea ice melt in the Arctic this northern summer has been a spectacular record low. The record high in the Antarctic have been slight and not terribly surprising given normal seasonal variation and the contribution of some Antarctic land ice moving out to sea. The idea that the two balance out and all is well in the world is simplistic thinking.
The sea-levels around the world are not rising like predicted. Just go look at the Cairns wharf. Hasn't moved much for 200 years!
The Cairns Wharf is not 200 years old, but even if it was the argument is baseless. The rise so far has been relatively small and gradual, and would not stand out to someone looking at the Cairns Wharf now and comparing it to their not terribly precise memory of the past. What's really happening with sea levels?

So yes, sea levels are rising, and measurably so. Not all the observed rises are due to warming, but the above is more than sufficient to rebut Mr Schulz's argument. A discussion of sea level rise can be found at Skeptical Science.
But just wonder, how did the Aborigines get here 40,000 years ago. They walked across. Didn't they Rob? No coal fired power stations back then to blame!
Yes, not all climate change in all of Earth's past is man-made. Similarly, the fact species have been going extinct for hundreds of millions of years does not prove mankind is not responsible for the paucity of dodos in Mauritius. This is possibly the most idiotic climate change denial argument around. It gets trotted out by Mr Schutz and the other Cairns Post wingnuts regularly.
You ask what motivates me on this topic. It's very simple really. I want the truth to be told on this topic instead of the green ideology that permeates every facet of man made global warming.
Truth would be a fine thing. Alas Mr Schutz immediately parrots a blatant falsehood:
Just last week, the British Meteorological Office released a report stating that the world has not warmed for 16 years, that is despite CO2 emissions from man reaching an all-time high.
Mr Schutz's claim is based on a recent article by David Rose, a well known climate denier, in that bastion of journalistic excellence the UK's Daily Mail. Rose's article has been exposed as deeply misleading and simply a case of cherry picking. Carbon Brief has a guide to the best rebuttals.

I'll let the Met Office's own words rebut both Mr Rose and Mr Schutz's blind parroting of them:

Firstly, the Met Office has not issued a report on this issue. We can only assume the article is referring to the completion of work to update the HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset compiled by ourselves and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

The Met Office's article included the advice that they provided to Mr Rose before his article was printed:

The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period, but equally we could calculate the linear trend from 1999, during the subsequent La Nina, and show a more substantial warming.

As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.

Mr Rose was given this information prior to his authoring his misleading article. Note the words "As we've stressed before". Rose gas been warned about cherry picking before. He wilfully, deliberately chose to misrepresent the truth. Mr Schutz, or course, doesn't actually care about truth either.

Let me stress that, as the Met Office made clear, even in Mr Rose's carefully cherry picked period, the record shows a slight, though not statistically significant, rise in temperature. This is only because 1998 was, for understood reasons, a particularly hot year.
This in itself is proof that the science is not settled.
No, it's proof that dishonest individuals like David Rose can cherry pick data to end up showing that over a short time period they can have only a very small rise in temperature. One of the best ways to understand how deniers like Mr Schutz are thinking is Skeptical Science's climate elevator:


The planet earth is 4.5 billion years old, and to think humans have any effect is ridiculous.
The Earth is old, therefore man can't change it? This seems to be the dodo argument again, just stated even more stupidly.
It is a known fact Mr McNamara, that natural factors such as volcanoes and oceans, account for 97% of all CO2 produced on this planet, humans only make up 3 per cent (source Prof David Karoly, IPCC lead author).
Our civilisation has developed over a period of stability, during which CO2 has cycled through plants, the oceans, and atmosphere. Below is a CSIRO chart showing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Note how in recent times, during the period in which mankind's use of fossil fuels has boomed, the CO2 has spiked. That's an odd coincidence, isn't it?



Does Mr Schutz think that volcanos and other natural sources of CO2 realised mankind was using CO2 rich fossil fuels and decide to increase their output? What would cause natural CO2 emisssions to suddenly jump in the very time period in which we humans started to take CO2 which was long sequestered in fossil fuels and release it into the atmosphere?

That most CO2 in the global system is not anthropogenic emissions is irrelevant to the point. We are responsible for the increase in the concentration in the atmosphere from the stable environment we have enjoyed in the past.
But CO2 is not a pollutant, it is essential for all life on this planet. Trees and crops need it to breathe.
Mr Schutz's argument is a simplistic one - he has learned plants use CO2 as a source of carbon, and concludes more CO2 means happy plants. We eat plants, therefore more CO2 = happy fun time for all!

Reality is not so simple, but of course Mr Schutz is quite divorced from reality. Some plants would indeed benefit from more CO2. Others would suffer. It depends on the individual plants and the availability of other nutrients.
As you are reading this letter you are exhaling CO2. It is not toxic. It is not dangerous. It is a critical trace gas that we all require.
Perhaps Mr Schutz would like to type his next letter to the Cairns Post with a plastic bag secured over his head.
Yet all the government funded scientists want us to believe that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant that must be stopped. This misinformation must be told for what it is, poppycock.
More simplistic thinking from Mr Schutz, who seems to think if it's natural and plants use it to grow then no matter how much of it we dump into the environment it isn't pollution. How about ammonia, phosphate or manure? Are these things not pollutants when their concentrations are artificially high? Perhaps everyone should get their dogs to take a dump and a pee on his lawn. Plants love natural fertiliser! See Skeptical Science's discussion of CO2 as a pollutant.
They simply want to justify a tax and burden us all with guilt.
Climate change deniers tend to fall into two categories - those who are so wedded to anti-regulatory ideology that they refuse to admit inefficient markets in the past (markets that did not internalise all costs) could cause major problems, and those who believe that God wouldn't let it happen. Perhaps the above sentence suggests Mr Schutz is more the former. He could of course be both.

Either way, Mr Schutz has his head up his arse and desperately wants to deny reality.

I should say, in Mr Schutz's defence, that he is not necessarily dishonest. I think it far more likely that he is just deluded, gullible, and/or a simpleton.

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