Friday, 21 November 2014

Cairns Post Letters from the Wingnuts #27: The usual Schutz

With the recent release of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summary report, I had expected the wingnuts to flood the Letters to the Editor page of the Cairns Post. I was disappointed. The only early correspondence was a trivial aside from the pseudonymous Black Adder of Mt Sheridan (who has popped up previously), but I gave it a miss. 

On Wednesday, however, a letter appeared from Bill Schutz, who is also from Mt Sheridan. What are the odds?! I would have liked a new correspondent to discuss, but will make do with this serial offender for now. Read on below the fold. Spoiler alert: it's his usual bollocks.

And so to Mr Schutz's letter:
What a conundrum. The Climate Council and everyone's favourite global warming alarmist, Professor Tim Flannery, have forgotten to tell Australians the real truth behind this scam.
Truth is something with which Mr Schutz has always struggled. Let's plow on through for chuckles.
This is the same man who warned us five or six years ago "the rains that fall will not be enough to fill our rivers and dams". Currently all major Australian dams in the capital cities are above 80 per cent.
This is a lovely example of quoting someone out of context to make it seem they said something that they didn't. Tim Flannery did not predict the dams would never fill again, though some deniers like to present this snippet to suggest otherwise. 

Flannery was discussing an IPCC report which discussed a future of greater extremes - some periods of rains and floods, some of droughts resulting in dry riverbeds and dams. Flannery was and is aware that we will alsoto have periods of wet weather and even floods.
Here are the facts: there has been no global warming for 18 years, despite a rise in human produced CO2 levels of about 20 per cent. That is available for anyone to Google on the Global Temperature Satellites.
That's not a fact. It's a standard denier cherry pick. Back in 1998 we had an extremely strong El Nino year, and global temperature soared far above the trend at that time. It was an extreme outlier, and temperatures soon reverted to their previous trend. What we see is variation around that upwards trend. 

This year is not an El Nino year, though it does have some similarities to one. It is definitely not a strong El Nino year like 1998. Despite that, 2014 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record. For now, one can only imagine what a return to 1998-like El Nino conditions would do for record temperatures. Unfortunately, we probably won't have to wait too long to see.

Mr Schutz is right that global temperature data is available online. One excellent resource is the interactive charts at Wood for Trees. You can choose which of the major data sets you want to look at, plot the data, add trend lines, etc.

Here's a plot of temperatures from the favourite data set of deniers, the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Deniers like the UAH data set because 1998 is a stronger peak in it than others. I've added trends for 1983-97 and 1999-2014. Imagine a spike like 1998 above the trend line at right.
Human-produced CO2 is only 3 per cent of total CO2 output in the world's atmosphere. Of that 3 per cent, Australia only produces 1.6 per cent of the world's CO2 - a very insignificant amount.

We are chicken feed compared with the big global economies of the world.
Yes, humanity's carbon dioxide emissions are a small percentage of nature's emissions. The problem is that they're a small percentage that wasn't previously there. Nature had come to a balance, with carbon dioxide sinks and sources evening out and giving us a long period of stable carbon dioxide levels. Some of that small percentage that we add also goes into carbon sinks, but the sinks are not fast enough to take it all up. As a result, carbon dioxide levels have risen dramatically over the industrial age.

Following that attempt to downplay humanity's total emissions, Mr Schutz tries to downplay Australia's. He is right that Australia's total emissions are dwarfed by the total emissions of larger economies. Looking to estimates of 2012 emissions, China pumped out 9.86 million kilotons. Australia's emissions were 0.43 million kilotons. "See," Mr Schutz would say, "we're not the problem!" The problem is that Australia's per capita emissions were 18.8 tons, while China's was 7.1. It's a fairly simple question of fairness. Why should an Australian be more entitled to pollute than anyone else?
We have had recently Dr Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, touring Australia, telling us that the climate change hoax is just that, a hoax.
Here Mr Schutz is going for an argument from authority. The first problem is a simple matter of fact: Patrick Moore was not a co-founder of Greenpeace. Mr Moore joined Greenpeace in 1971, the year after it was founded. He left the organisation in 1986.

The second problem is that Mr Moore is not an authority on climate change. Mr Moore is a qualified ecologist, and was once an environmentalist. Trading on his exploits of the distant past, Moore is now a paid lobbyist for companies and industry groups in the timber, mining and nuclear industries among others, affording them a green veneer.

Moore's arguments against anthropogenic climate change consist of the usual denier memes, particularly the 1998 cherry pick (see above) and the Antarctic sea ice ruse.

One lousy attempt at an argument from authority isn't enough for Mr Schutz, and he decides to try another:
And the co-founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, has also said it is a load of baloney, only last week.
John Coleman is a journalist and businessman with some training in meteorology. He was a TV weather presenter who started a TV Channel devoted to weather. Coleman left the Weather Channel after only a year, and it has gone on to be highly successful without him. Coleman has recently been on a publicity tour spouting nonsense, trading in part on his ancient history with the Weather Channel. Perhaps sensing that Coleman was both damaging their brand and misinforming the public, the Weather Channel released a position statement on climate change that affirms mainstream science. Mr Schutz would do himself a favour if he read that statement.
Stop the scaremongering Mr Flannery, and concentrate on the positive aspects of life, not the same Chicken Little scenarios you are famous for!
Tim Flannery is an excellent spokesperson for the Climate Council, and his statements on climate change are in keeping with the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists. Perhaps if Mr Schutz read more of the Council's work he wouldn't make a fool of himself on this subject so often.

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