Feb 14, 2012

Death isn’t an option: climate change activists aren’t waiting for deniers to die

Crikey intern Freya Cole writes: Rather than trying to convince climate sceptics with science, should we just wait for them to die off? Th

Crikey intern Freya Cole writes: Rather than trying to convince climate sceptics with science, should we just wait for them to die off?

That’s the argument raised in a recent Grist article, where writer David Roberts argues that “cohort replacement” — that, is people dying and being replaced by a new, more educated generation — may be the best move to combat climate deniers:

 “A great many people believe that one of the primary barriers to action on climate change is the existence of a cadre of ‘climate deniers’ — people who refuse to accept the now-overwhelming scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change …

“I don’t think the climate deniers will ever change their minds. What will happen is that they will, to put it bluntly, die off. We might wish it otherwise, but I fear that change on climate — real change, non-linear change — will not happen until the generational cohort in which climate denialism is concentrated begins passing into the sweet beyond.”

The problem with that strategy, says Australian Youth Climate Coalition national director Ellen Sandell, is death is too far away: “Unfortunately, we don’t have that long to wait, all the science is saying that we have a narrow opportunity in which to act. Action needs to happen before they die because the longer we wait the harder it gets to make a difference.”

But she admits it is frustrating. “It is irresponsible and disheartening to see older people not thinking of the future,” Sandell told Crikey.

“Younger people don’t have any financial vested interest in climate change, and seeing older people denying it annoys young people because they are putting profits and lifestyle in front of the future.”

The demographics of the climate change movement are clear. “At a majority of the anti-climate tax rallies the general age was middle-aged-plus. But if you looked at the rallies GetUp! and other similar groups put on in favour of putting a tax on carbon, there was 40 times the amount of people and a majority were young,” Sandell said.

Conservative white older men are the most likely group to deny the threat of climate change. It’s partly because they feel threatened, writes Roberts at Grist:

“Older white men are a privileged group. They saw their fathers occupy a position of unquestioned normative dominance. And yet history is passing them by; America is becoming more diverse, more urban, and more socially liberal. White men are in the process of losing their position of privilege.”

Mathew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions and the 2010 winner of the federal environment minister’s Young Environmentalist of the Year, agrees with Roberts’s hypothesis.

“I think there are possibilities to why successful people come to the floor during public debate and deny global warming,” Wright told Crikey. “It’s their legacy. They look back at their life and see they provided economical development to the world and back at that time, they may or may not have thought pollution had anything to do with it.

“Then along comes this retrospective story and that is all bad news and dangerous climate change. That rewrites history for them and this consequently could change their happiness and retirement.”

He says people don’t like to revisit the past. “For example, 20 years ago they might have decided that solar is very expensive and doesn’t work very well,” Wright noted. “They might have trouble revisiting that because they are relying on the decisions that they made initially, 20 years ago. But now, things are moving faster than they ever have before, and the fact that solar didn’t work 20 years ago but works now is a problem that for some people is hard to face and admit to.”

According to Wright, the answer to solve the generational divide is in good communication and accepting that a few decades ago people had a different understanding of pollution and the environment.

“It’s about communicating fairly to these people,” he says. “There’s no reason to have scorn on them because 20 years ago they didn’t know any better.”

But the 2011 Young Environmentalist of the Year, Lindsay Soutar, doesn’t think the issue is entirely generational. “The real issue stopping more ambitious climate action is the well resourced, hugely powerful interests like the mining giants and energy utilities, who want to maintain the status quo,” he told Crikey.

“These bodies — and their affiliated think tanks, media commentators and so on — work to spread fear and uncertainty both in our community, and threaten any governments perceived to make moves against their interests. While those bodies maintain their grip on our democratic institutions, we will struggle to take action at the scale necessary.”

Anna Rose, co-founder of the Youth Climate Coalition, strongly contends it is possible to change the minds of climate sceptics and deniers, no matter their age.

“It’s definitely possible to change people’s minds about climate science,” she says. “I know many young people in the AYCC who have changed the minds of their parents, relatives and bosses on the issue. It’s reasonable to have questions about the science, and they deserve answers.”

Rose is used to persuading climate sceptics. Her book, to be released in April, is called Madlands: The journey to change the mind of a climate sceptic. As the blurb states: “Anna Rose goes on a journey around the world to get to the truth, with former Liberal Party powerbroker Nick Minchin in tow. She’s on a mission: to see if she can change the mind of one sceptic and with him the views of a nation confused about the science behind the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.”

Rose, like the other young activists, says Australia simply cannot wait for cohort replacement. “The problem with giving up on solving climate change until the next generation has taken over is the urgency of the problem we face.

“We don’t have the luxury of time being on our side.It’s up to Australians who understand climate science to change the hearts and minds of those who aren’t yet convinced — before it’s too late.”

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53 thoughts on “Death isn’t an option: climate change activists aren’t waiting for deniers to die

  1. kd

    See I gave pete50 two opportunities and at least 5 days to back up his assertions, and what do we get? Silence … See a worthless troll who likes to hit and run with discredited “facts” dragged out of the Heartland Institute, but won’t actually engage in any kind of discussion that relies on anything other than repeating these brainelss repetitions. QED. I rest my case.

  2. kd


    I see you haven’t supplied us with peer reviewed material showing an imminent ice-free future that you referred to before. Perhaps such a thing does not exist? Perhaps your scare mongering about the evil corrupt watermelon climate scientists trying to destroy our God Given Way of Life™ for personal gain is fanciful conspiracy theorising? The laws of physics would certainly support that proposition.

  3. pete50

    Peter, no one is denying that we are still coming out of the little ice age, whicht explains rising temperatures.

    The IPCC projections, that have been way above reality in ’90, ’95, ’01 and 07, are based on the contribution of HUMAN PRODUCED CO2. Its the human contribution that is fanciful scare mongering.

    All this stuff about data is not the point that I and the real world scientists who wrote the WSJ op-ed and then the follow-up. Its not the WSJ, its real world scientists. The Warmistanis have been trying to scare us all and its becoming more and more obvious obvious – and its going to get worse for them.

    Screaming about Jo Nova and Christopher Monkton being liars only helps make the Warmists look even more obviously sus. Its like belly-aching on about tobacco and creationism and all the mindless twaddle about how we are secretly funded and organized by wicked puppeteers.

  4. Peter Ormonde


    I had a couple of mates worked for the WSJ – old coms actually – how scary is that!!!!? Back when it used to be a good paper with a reputation for getting it right. Even coms could get a go. Especially coms and lefties actually. Damn democracy!

    Interesting isn’t it when vested interests take over a media outlet like Fox or the WSJ and start skewing the news – distorting facts – or just not reporting them. This is particularly significant and important when the readers aren’t just being influenced politically – but FINANCIALLY and economically.

    The AFR serves the same purpose here. You often read incisive critical stuff that you would never get in a “battlers’ paper” like the Tele or the Hun. Capitalists need good information not propaganda. And the reputation of these business papers for not leading people up the garden path is rather precious. It costs their readers money.

    The thing is though just because the WSJ is running stuff attacking the IPCC and climate science in general, they have to be a bit careful about telling catchable porkies. So even if they can demonstrate the weakness of models and projections, they cannot deny the underlying facts of increasing temperature. Only unabashed liars such as Jo Nova or Moses Monkton can do that. So, in essence, the WSJ is attacking modelling – showing that the projections exceed the measured increases – but in doing so are also confirming that temperatures are actually rising – and that the models are getting better at predicting the short run outcomes.

    Long-run the modelling, the basic physics of it, seems pretty incontrovertible… increased CO2 = increased temperature. Timing on the other hand is much tougher… rates of change more complex. Like weather forecasting. I’m far more likely to believe a forecast of a cool wet summer than I am of a thunder storm with strong winds at 2.15pm.

    It is a serious error for scientists to put too much faith in the works of model makers. Many are very brilliant mathematicians and head up brilliant teams. But models made in the half dark can be a bit awry… no matter how smart you are. Even model airplanes.

    Economists are always getting it wrong short term … this is why there are so few rich economists. When it comes to 12 month horizons, medium to longer term trends, even historical economic shifts … yep they can get that sort of generalised outcome pretty well spot on. But when it comes to what BHP shares will be doing next week, I’d rather ask Suzanne Blake or Troofie or even Bernard Keane. Or buy a lotto ticket.

    So us warmistas should be most careful about aralditing ourselves onto the outputs of models. They are not worth dying in a ditch over. Models are more works of art than an absolute science. They are getting better as our understanding of the connected variables improves, as our theoretical understanding and our records of observation (a feedback loop) gets better.

    To illustrate, the mass balance (the total volume of ice) calculated for Antarctica cited by Pete above, puts their lack of a clear trend down to precipitation … ie snow and frozen rain. This is not purely a function of temperature but also humidity… humidity depends on ocean currents … they depend on the amount and intensity of sunlight falling elsewhere and move about a bit as well …. and so on … the whole basis of the projection starts to unravel. Or the model could be 97% right and just didn’t allow for more rainy days in Antarctica for the last three years or over the Himalayas.

    But like economists – these models are spot on the money when it comes to the medium or longer term trend. That’s the main game.

  5. Peter Ormonde

    G’day Floorer,

    Yes … it’s why I don’t believe in models and projections. I know too many econometric modellers to put much store in their projections. A tiny error, the wrong assumption, can lead to large mistakes. And I’m not sure the science – our understanding of the relationships between variables and outcomes is understood. Not much better than guesswork. So I try and contain my expectations.

    But observations – data – facts, them I believe in. And observations are not looking good.

  6. kd

    Here’s a hint: Don’t use the wall street journal as a source for climate change news. It’s not trustworthy. Rather than falling to the trap of false balance as do some media outlets, it falls into the worse trap of only reporting what the deniers want to hear.

    Here’s a reasonably level headed report of a recent example: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/01/wall-street-journal-climate-change – it’s pretty clear that outlets like the WSJ are trying to supress mainstream views on climate science, presumably in some politically motivated attempt to continue muddying the waters.

  7. floorer

    Hello Peter O. I did read the whole article and linked it in its entirety, not trying to cherry pick. Still, the Himalayas not losing any ice in ten years was a pretty large deviation from expectations.

  8. Peter Ormonde


    Your earlier post and the wsj pic just arrived … don’t know why it’s so late.

    Had a look at the WSJ pic. What are you actually saying? That observed temperatures are not rising… well that’s not right. That the IPCC models are not right – true – but they are getting better. The pic you posted shows that the IPCC models are poor at predicting short run temp changes. But it still shows temperatures rising.

    The end point of all this Pete is that the temps and the other indications of warming are actually rising. You saying that isn’t happening? The WSJ piece you cite shows otherwise.

    But you are saying that these observations and the data showing a pattern of warming doesn’t exist – that it is a fib. And I’d like one serious bit of evidence to support your assertions. Otherwise it’s just wishful thinking mate.

  9. Peter Ormonde

    Floorer …

    Welcome to the wonderfully certain world of econometrics and modelling … some damn butterfly in a rainforest somewhere is making our numbers waddle about. Who knows?

    The models are not too good but the data – the actual measurements going in – seem incontrovertible. Too many over too wide an area over too many disciplines

    Worth quoting this bit from the Guardian article:

    “The surprising finding, reported in this new study, that satellite evidence shows that there wasn’t any loss in ice mass between 2003 and 2010 in the wider Himalayan region has, again, been welcomed with much delight by climate sceptics. However, the headline finding distracts somewhat from the rest of the data presented in the paper. It shows clear evidence that other regions, most notably Greenland and Antarctica, recorded a significant loss in ice mass over this same period. But, because this was largely expected, it didn’t become the headline.”

    I’m still not popping my champagne yet I’m afraid.

  10. floorer

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/feb/09/glaciers-ice-melting-climate-change Anybody not having read this might find it interesting.There’s been no change to the ice on the Himalayas in the last ten years.Elsewhere they(these guys are climate change scientists)say the ice has retreated.Predictions keep being made that just don’t stack up.

  11. Peter Ormonde

    Kd …

    Yes I’m not given to cassandra like pessimism as a rule but I’m afraid we like our Tim Tams and the remote to even think of living on our own energy… getting up and walking, all that sweating and stuff.

    So I suspect that while the end of the world scenarios are not necessarily inevitable, our refusal to accept reality- to pretend it will go away – that we don’t need to get off the couch – will make a slow creeping process of climatic change into a millenarian collapse. Rather than making plans we make excuses.

    It’s Tuesday. Always a depressing day. I’ll try and be chirpier tomorrow.

  12. kd


    Which is why I was pretty precise in the way that I asked my questions.

    Remember delusionalf$£¶wit50 said:

    [ other models say there will soon be an ice-free world ]

    Wheras Hansen is asserting (reasonably in my opinion) that if you double CO2, that would “eventually get us to the ice-free state”. “Soon” and “eventually” are clearly mutually exclusive. Neither is Hansen’s quote a direct report of the results from a near-term model. I don’t think you’ll find any peer reviewed publications of demonstrating that near term models will get us to an ice free state “soon”. The energetics of ice/water chemistry just make it impossible given the mass ice at or close to the poles.

    Given a business as usual scenario, there might be enough inertia in the system that my great grandchildren’s climate might be recognisably similar to my climate, but given current evidence it doesn’t look likely.

  13. Peter Ormonde

    Actually KD, Hansen from Nasa’s Goddard centre made this statement last year I think it was …

    “If you doubled CO2, which practically all governments assume we’re going to do, that would eventually get us to the ice-free state” and “we would be sending our climate back to a state we haven’t adjusted to as a species”.

    He made that statement last December at the US Geophysical Union conference. Here’s a chat about it from Climate Spectator http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/world-without-ice

    Now Pete, why are you just giving me the results of models … we know what models are worth don’t we? Data Pete actual real live measurements of ice sheets, glaciers, ocean temps and heights, the coral which apparently isn’t dying (on average!).

    Let’s trade facts not theories and speculation. You have made a series of veryu optimistic assertions. I hope you’re right. Show me where you got your facts.

  14. pete50

    Ah, there you are kd. The reference you wanted: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/notyet/inpress_Hansen_Sato.pdf

    You’ll remember the name Hansen. He’s one of the very senior theologians of all Warmistan.

    You’ll probably like the one I’ve got for Peter too. Its in today’s wsj. Its quite a long article, but the jpg, below, all about model results and reality: http://junksciencecom.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/wsj-16-scientist-response-graph.jpg

    I do hope it doesn’t make you yawn too much – that can give you a sore jaw.

  15. kd

    [ other models say there will soon be an ice-free world ]

    Care to provide the reference to the peer reviewed journal publications that suggest this? No. Didn’t think so.

  16. pete50

    You may have missed the point, Peter. The model referred to says no significant ice loss in Antarctica, while other models say there will soon be an ice-free world. Models are normal stock-in-trade in Warmistan, but useless as a means of making scientific predictions.

    They have persuaded the gullible, but in doing so they’ve committed the fallacy of appeal to authority which renders their argument invalid. Invalid arguments are worthless.

  17. kd

    Climate change denier relies on models to draw flawed conclusions shock. It’s amost[1] like they have no intellectually coherent case to make.

    Cue the deniers telling me that the phrase “intellectually coherent” is some kind of dog whistle code to set the cabal of climate change conspirators onto them …


    [1] For values of almost asymptotically approaching zero.

  18. Peter Ormonde

    Aside from wishful thinking … some sources for your “facts” please Pete, namely:

    “On average, corals are not dying – glaciers are not shrinking and sea levels are falling. I guess that fish probably move and ice sheets break apart in summer and reform in winter.”

    Now as to the PDF … Pete these are not observations … not data …. This is test running of a model … they are looking to see how well they are able to put local snow drift and precipitation into a model – that is, how well their model explains and conforms with reality. It is not a study about whether the ice sheet is actually melting or not. And yes, like the day’s temperature, the amount of snow and refreezing rain changes year on year.

    Give me the data – not the model projections – on which your optimism is built.

  19. pete50

    Oh, and regarding he antarctic ice claims, and model-based scare mongering, of the warmists, take a look at: http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL050713.pdf

    You’ll see that “A high-resolution surface mass balance map of Antarctica shows “no significant trend in the 1979–2010 ice sheet”

  20. pete50

    Peter told us that:

    “Models don’t make coral die, Pete. Models do not make fish move, glaciers shrink, sea temps increase or ice sheets break apart. The models just interpret those facts.”

    Where are the facts among these claims? On average, corals are not dying – glaciers are not shrinking and sea levels are falling. I guess that fish probably move and ice sheets break apart in summer and reform in winter.

    You’re right about one point though – its models all the way down in Warmistan.

  21. kd

    [ Shows a leveling of temperature anomoly from the base years (1951-1980) from around 2001/2002 ]

    *Yawn*. Well you’re perfectly right. So long as you:

    1. Take the data at the timeframe you nominate out of a broader context (biggest solar lull in a long time, warmest La Niña ever, warmest decade on average in post-industrial history to name three important bits of missing context)
    2. Make the assumption that there is no measurement noise.

    Now get back under your bridge and stop bothering us with your pathetic counter-evidential arguments.

  22. Peter Ormonde


    Thanks for the links. I had a look and to be honest I can’t see anything in these observations that would suggest any optimism let alone a denial of the underlying trends.

    It is the trends that are significant Scott – and while it is possible to cherry pick the data and find specific short periods where US temperature figures were either higher or lower than they are currently, the underlying trend in the data – not the models – is pretty unarguable.

    If there was a simple linear relationship between CO2 and temperature then it would be pretty simple maths wouldn’t it? Sadly no such luck. Variables everywhere.

    The head of the Goddard Centre – Hansen has just released a paper foreshadowing a world without ice … http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110118_MilankovicPaper.pdf. This is not based on models and projections as comparisions of paleoclimate studies – ice cores and the like. Given that it is Hansen’s data that gives you heart, I think you should have a read of how he actually interprets his own data before leaping to wishful thinking.

    Same story for the sea level observations, in that while the NASA JPL data shows a “pothole” in the road … this is a temporary effect opf el nino and la nina dumpting water on the land surface. According to JPL they expect the identified trend of slow 3 – 4mm rise in sea levels per year to continue. And again not necessarily lineal but exponential in line with Hansen’s calculations.

    There really is not much joy in the data Scott.

  23. Coaltopia

    I hope the geriatric, industry shill authors of the WaPo-published denialist letter denied the effects of smoking and actually smoked, and won’t be with us much longer.

  24. Scott

    @Peter Ormonde

    Temperature data. I use NASA GISS – http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/, Shows a leveling of temperature anomoly from the base years (1951-1980) from around 2001/2002

    Sea Level – Best satellite data is from University of Colorado. http://sealevel.colorado.edu/
    Shows while the long term increase continues (at a miniscule 3 mm a year), it has certainly slowed over the last 5 years

    All this, while CO2 emissions have been increasing. Plenty of theories as to why this temperature levelling has occurred however (cloud feedbacks, more aerosols in the air) but no one has really been able to model this effect successfully yet as most climate models keep relative humidity (amount of water vapour) constant and aerosol measurement is still in its embryonic stage.

    This is why it is a bit premature to say that the science is in. Climate is complex, and the econometricians have only been in the field for a short time munching on the data. While not an econometrician myself, in my time series models with temperature change being the dependent variable, when you add a few lags, aerosol effects, solar effects and elnino/lanina to the model as well as CO2 forcing, you find that that the CO2 forcing is not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (it is at the 72% level however).

    This is not to say that CO2 forcing is not a player in climate change, it’s just that it isn’t the silver bullet yet. More research required in my opinion.

  25. Peter Ormonde

    Ah Pete… they’re wrong…. these experts, these modellers, these “improper scientists”. You’re right. You and all your scientific mates down at the club.

    Makes you wonder why they’d go off to uni and stuff don’t it? Not worth a pinch all that book-schooling. It’s all just commonsense innit? Maffs? Who needs maffs at all ever.

    Models don’t make coral die, Pete. Models do not make fish move, glaciers shrink, sea temps increase or ice sheets break apart. The models just interpret those facts. They might be wrong. Let’s hope so. But hope is not enough unless you have some actual evidence to the contrary.

    Give it your best shot.

  26. pete50

    kd, don’t be sorry, look on the bright side. Children are not growing up not knowing what snow looks like. It’ll all be alright for you. When you turn up some of this evidence, to which you assert I am completely resistant, let us know – we are all waiting.

    Global warming is not real science – its models, all the way down. You know the sort of thing – Barrier Reef dying, low lying islands going under. The nearest the warmists have got to science is a few cherry-picked tree rings. And guess what – temperature hardly effects tree rings at all.

    Peter is no doubt still trying to find an example of global warming’s equivalent of eclipses predicted by science – which is a mark of proper science.

  27. kd

    Peter: I’m sorry, pete50 is a worthless troll. He has nothing worthwhile to say, and just parrots out discredited climate change denier talking points ad infinitum. Yet another example of a denier with complete resistance to any evidence. I think he just enjoys getting a rise to be honest.

  28. Peter Ormonde


    “There has been no global warming for well over 10 years; sea levels are now flat or falling; ocean temperatures are flat or falling and CO2 levels continue to rise.”

    Sling me a decent reference for that will you. Not Jo Nova that means.

    “If the warmists want to be taken seriously by the real-world scientific community and rational normal people generally…”

    Ah now there’s the problem innit? We ARE being taken seriously both by science and politically while your lot are out wandering in the scientific wilderness being led around by Moses Monkton.

    I’m a recovering economist. I know about models, their limitations and assumptions. But it’s not just about models is it – it’s about observation and fact.

    So show me where your observations are coming from Pete.

  29. pete50

    It seems that trying to “convince climate sceptics with science” has failed. It should be remembered that warmist “scientists”, despite the name, don’t actually use science – they use models, and models are not science or facts of any kind.

    Model projections aren’t science predictions based on facts, such as the date of the next eclipse. Model projections is a clever term for: if my picture of the future resembles reality, then it’ll be CAGW. For them the world is flat and is supported on models; its models all the way down in Warmistan.

    How does: “now-overwhelming scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change” stack up?

    There has been no global warming for well over 10 years; sea levels are now flat or falling; ocean temperatures are flat or falling and CO2 levels continue to rise.

    If the warmists want to be taken seriously by the real-world scientific community and rational normal people generally, particularly in view of the enormous cultural and financial upheaval they propose, then give us the climate equivalent of the date of the next eclipse.

  30. floorer

    Middle aged white man here.The article is abhorent and ridiculous,to consign all people of a particular age group to one category is stupid and naively simplistic.Only someone young an idealogical without presentable life experience (laps round the sun) could present this dribble with a straight face.Having said that I am a sceptic,ha.Anybody with even a slight knowledge of history knows how often some burke pops up (in my time Nader/not to mention religion forever) with the “we are all doomed and here’s why scenario”.Some people just need something to bang on about.I just hope it gets disproved in my time so I can scream “told you so”.

  31. Scott Grant

    I am another oldie (and a whitey to boot) who has been faffing on about climate change and overpopulation to anyone who would listen (roughly zero) since at least the seventies. I tend to agree with D. John Hunwick. We will probably do nothing effective and humanity is heading towards a catastrophe beyond my ability to imagine. The carbon dioxide problem, could probably, even at this late stage, be solved if there was a willingness to treat it with the seriousness it deserves. It does require a substantial reorganisation of our economies, of about the same magnitude as in World War II. But it could be done, without completely destroying our civilisation. The thing that will destroy our civilisation is the inevitable consequences of doing nothing.

    Then, having solved global warming, we would still have to deal with the underlying issue of population. Then there is resource depletion, and the eco-catastrophe’s looming from the destruction of habitat and bio-diversity.

    As to the extraordinary piece by Mr Ross (or is it Mr Mcleod?). I rate it as either extraordinary ignorance or as one of the deliberate obfuscations put about by the well funded denier organisations. I didn’t read the whole thing either. I read enough to see he is not entirely ignorant of physics. He possibly knows about as much as me, which is not much. If I thought it worthwhile (I dont), I might possibly be able to pick apart and demolish his thesis, but I would rather it were done by someone who really does know some physics. (For the purposes of his argument, there is nothing wrong with treating the moon as a “planet”.). On the other hand, perhaps it would be saner to simply ignore it.

    As Robert Manne said, it is not what to believe, it is who to believe. Personally I tend to place a lot of trust in James Hansen, whose whole career was in studying and modelling planetary atmospheres and temperatures, and whose early work was on the planet Venus.

  32. mattsui

    According to Wright…..
    “It’s about communicating fairly to these people,” he says. “There’s no reason to have scorn on them because 20 years ago they didn’t know any better.”

    Not true. Anyone who cared to educate themselves of these matters Knew in the 70s that human activities would cause global climate change if they followed their predicted trends. As they have.
    Mcleod Ross – backward name, backward nature? – comments are rendered invalid by his reference to pre war German politics in the opening stanza. I notice he hasnt been back to defend them.

  33. Boerwar

    PO @ 17
    *laughs wryly*

  34. claudedwalker

    The lunatic said

    “BUT – Mathew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions – probably has an undisclosed financial interest in promoting offensive drivel like his views on personal motives!!”

    a) I doubt it
    b) We all have an interest in promoting renewable energy
    c) This is prima facie defamatory but I think Wright would have trouble proving any damage since the author is clearly such a lunatic that no reasonable person would actually put any weight behind what he wrote.

    PS- can he really not realise that the moon is at times closer to the sun than the earth?!?!?

  35. claudedwalker

    Wow, that McLeod Ross is a complete lunatic – I don’t think he’s realised that the moon is not a planet!

  36. claudedwalker

    Good article. Really interesting stuff.

  37. Peter Ormonde

    Mr Huntwick…

    This brings me back to snacking on all these fat western white dudes.

    Wars won’t do it anymore … not with the yanks doing it all by remote control … the only people to get killed are skinny poor swarthy civilians somewhere else. We’d have to kill nearly all of them to make a dent in our global emissions – and then who would do all the hard work?

    No Kath Knight showed the way … a bit of home slaughtering followed by a nice casserole for the kids. Fatties first. Then SUV drivers. A big overlap there if you’ll pardon the expression.

    Mr and Mrs Johnston … you know it makes sense!

    What a silly silly article.

  38. D. John Hunwick

    Anyone reading the 14 comments so far can only return to the original article and comment that these comments reinforce what was discussed. The idea of waiting until climate sceptics die is a good one except that I believe we do not have the time within which to act effectively. But then I do not believe that we will act within the time to save this beautiful planet for the reasions given above by Whistleblower. The problem we face is is produced by an ever-expanding population (ie in the last 60 years – from 3 billion to over 7 billion) and that our economic system is based not on minimum consumption but on ever increasing consumption to keep everything working. So two things will need to happen. We will either have to radically reform our consumption habits (not a chance in hell) OR reduce our population to a level where no matter how profligate our consumption it will be miniscule compared to the cycles in the ecosystem. So, don’t bother trying to reform the denialists – not enough time and the opposition to change is too powerful, just wait for the inevitable. Its exact form is as yet unknown but it will be an ecological disaster of such a magnitude that even the sceptics will cringe, and will involve so many people that the Earth will get some sort of reprieve. Want a longer version of this argument? Then read Keith Farnish’s book “Times Up” subtitled “an uncivilized solution to a global crisis” and get used to the idea.

  39. Boerwar


    [AGW advocates are prepared to preach…]

    No one is advocating AGW. ‘Preaching’ relates to the religious domain and is therefore an inappropriate term.

    The either/or you posit is a strawman. You do demolish it effectively.

  40. Whistleblower

    @Ross McLeod
    I found your dissertation very interesting. Is there an Internet link to any of the background information referenced in your commentary? If so would you please post it on this site.


  41. Whistleblower

    “credible” in the above post should read “critical

  42. Whistleblower

    The real problem of global warming is that to seriously address it, you need to effectively destroy world civilisation in its current form. All the chest beating about carbon pollution and carbon taxes is a complete waste of time because communities as a whole will not make the necessary adjustments to a carbon free future because it is impossible without completely restructuring the whole world economy. The current population of some 7 billion is only possible because of the mining of fossil fuels for the last 300 years has increased productivity to the point that we can sustain such a large population.

    Those wishing to change the world, do not understand the changes necessary in lifestyles and consumption, and tokenism like solar panels and wind turbines etc can only provide a fraction of the current energy requirements of the world. People will make adjustments within their life span if they think it is necessary. not many people are prepared to sacrifice their current standard of living to give a future generation a better standard of living. However a AGW has become a religion, and it is as amoral and corrupt as the Catholic Church which professes a love of Jesus whilst condemning millions of its followers to poverty as a consequence of failure to accept birth control

    AGW advocates are prepared to preach but not conform to their own professed beliefs, because if they did they would cut themselves off completely from any fossil fuel impact and live totally on renewable energy. This would mean for example no electronic goods, no motor vehicles, no cement steel and aluminium, and virtual isolation from the modern integrated economy. To this to my knowledge other than a few tribes and the Amish no such structure exists on earth.

    A simple review of the input output tables of a modern economy showed a credible dependence on oil coal and in some cases nuclear energy. Remove these energy sources and we would have to go back to subsistence economies.

    There is however one possible solution. Instantaneously eliminate 6 billion the world’s population, and place most of the world’s agricultural land under energy crops. The consequent output could probably sustain a population of say 1 billion using modern technology totally fuelled by biofuel renewable energy which could provide 24 seven baseload power and fuel vehicles ships and aircraft.

  43. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    McLeod Ross: too long, didn’t read, and I’ve got better things to do with my time. I stopped reading about “2 planets about the same distance from the Sun” bit. That’s automatic Astronomy fail.

    I know Neptune and Pluto cross orbits, but usually they’re far apart from each other, and Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. Too small.

  44. Boerwar


    [As an “oldie” who has done more to fight pollution during my employment as an Environmental Health Officer I am offende at the attitude expressed by stupid advocates of AGW – it reminds me of the starting point for the Third Reich – if these intellectual midgets even know what that is.}

    Ad hominemx2; reductio ad Hitlerum. You lose.

    Next, please.

  45. Boerwar

    MF @ 1

    I listened carefully to one of Ms Bailey’s interviews of Mr Moncton on one of his trips here. It was painfully clear that she was doing one of her standard interviews. Someone had prepped her with a set of questions. She had no grasp of the detail whatsover.

    Mr Moncton effortlessly baffled her with whatever.

    It was pathetic. As was the management decision to provide ‘balance’ by giving him air time at all.

  46. Boerwar


    [Whereabouts in Australia are you from Ross? I have never heard an Australian say ‘heck’ before, it would make them sound too much like some American doofus.]

    We country kids used it in Victoria in the 1950’s.

  47. Boerwar

    I accept that there is a generational issue with AGW science acceptance. That vested interests are spending large amounts to muddy the waters is incontrovertible. I suggest that denialism is a far more complex animal than the discussion above suggests it is.

    For example, it would be well-worthwhile doing some comparative work on why some nations treat AGW as done and dusted science, confining the debate to the best way to deal with it, while in other nations there powerful rumps of denialism.

    Similarly, there are substantial numbers of aged white males who are not denialists. Why is it so? How do they differ? What about young denialists? Where do they come from?

    It would be useful to do an analysis around real acceptance and pseudo acceptance of AGW science. In Australia our three main parties all purport to accept AGW science and have policy and have commitments to substantial program responses. However, we only have to examine Mr Abbott’s history and his current AGW mantra, that he is all for a ‘cleaner environment’ to understand that a very substantial proportion of the Opposition are AGW deniers who have been forced to hide their denialism. Not surprisingly, the Coalition’s AGW package will not achieve the stated 5% reduction aim.

    Finally, there would be worthwhile project to examine the gap between accepting AGW science and accepting the real level of social, economic and environmental consequences. Any analysis of denialism and acceptance of AGW science needs to take into account the link between these and acceptance of the consequences.

    Assuming that we are running out of effective time, I suggest that we need to pursue multiple pathways to achieve pro-action majorities.

  48. Recalcitrant.Rick

    Gosh! Mike Flanagan, you know everything, I am in awe of your staggering intellect. To think that you and a handful of others know the scientific facts about “global warming” and “proved it” in a 4/5 paragraph essay and all those thousands of stupid scientists got it so wrong. I bow to your superior intelligence and will ignore any “professional” advice herewith and listen only to those who assert in letters to the editor that their knowledge is far superior to the rabble majority!

  49. Peter Ormonde

    Don’t know why we have to settle for a natural mortality rate to solve this problem. Why start going all herbal and gaian just because it’s us? Just exclude fat people from Medicare. Job done.

    In more primitive societies – like the USA – where that wouldn’t help because they don’t care if poor people die – we might just have to resuscitate the old slogan: Eat the Rich.

    Ross McLeod … love the elegant demolition of the overwhelming bulk of known and observed professional science. A few pars… who would have thought it was so simple. Nobel Prize stuff that! Makes me wonder why I haven’t heard more of your ideas. I wait with bated breath. Where’s the remote?

  50. icer

    Whereabouts in Australia are you from Ross? I have never heard an Australian say ‘heck’ before, it would make them sound too much like some American doofus.

    And BTW, your first post illustrates the Stephan Boltzmann equation quite beautifully. The adiabatic lapse rate (not dry, as you mistakenly write) is 6.5 deg/km to counter the imbalance between incoming shortwave and outgoing long wave radiation. That is why the lapse rate is shallower at the poles (less incoming) and steeper and the equator (more incoming).

  51. McLeod Ross

    The only thing about why solar panels work now is the government subsidizes the cost of them to the level I received I paid about $1800 for my panels in 2009 and the government paid ~$11,000.

    Also I get 44 cents per kilowatt hour generated.

    Even so it will take about 25 years to pay off my investment – proven by the difference in my bills – a FACT – and the government will never recoup the money they gave me.

    If advocates of this scheme support “welfare for the rich” fine but I no longer do.

    It simply isn’t fair to provide subsidies to the wealthy for the privilege of allowing them to reduce their electricity bills whilst charging the poor, the vast majority of whom will never be able to benefit from this “ripoff” – heck a large number of Australians don’t own the home they live in and cannot benefit from this”middle class welfare” even if they could afford it.

    So older white males like me angry at arrogant and STUPID claims like – “and the fact that solar didn’t work 20 years ago but works now is a problem that for some people is hard to face and admit to.” – is that it is derived from stupid prejudice without any evidence wharsoever.

    As an Environmental Health Officer I prosecuted many polluters and had a positive influence on the Environment.

    But I do not subscribe to the mantra of AGW that Mathew Wright obviously does.

    And who has the financial motive he so disparingly describes applies to deniers like me – well certainly not me – I feel no guilt about how I live!!!

    BUT – Mathew Wright, executive director of Beyond Zero Emissions – probably has an undisclosed financial interest in promoting offensive drivel like his views on personal motives !!

    If AGW collapses, as it will – totally discredited as a shameless con – so does his company and all those lucrative government subsidies which the targets of his offensive tirade pay for !!

  52. McLeod Ross

    As an “oldie” who has done more to fight pollution during my employment as an Environmental Health Officer I am offende at the attitude expressed by stupid advocates of AGW – it reminds me of the starting point for the Third Reich – if these intellectual midgets even know what that is.

    Try this one for size – I challenge any of you AGW advocates to provide any type of logical rebuttal to this proposal :-

    There is no “greenhouse effect” – here is the argument for this assertion – it is simple so at least a few of you ought to be able to understand BUT I WARN – it contains FACTS – you know – those things “climate scientists” don’t have any of.

    There are 2 planets about the same distance from the Sun. One has “greenhouse gases” and the other doesn’t. Both receive the about the same amount of solar radiation.

    Which one gets hotter during the time the Sun is heating the surface (that is the day time for those of you who need explanation) ??

    That ought to be a no brainer for you guys – the one with the “greenhouse gases” – right ??

    WRONG !!!

    The observed FACT is that the daytime temperature on the Moon reaches about 120 degrees C during the day. I don’t care about the average or the temperature on the night side where there is no solar radiation – This is an argument about radiative heating !!

    Another observed FACT is that the daytime temperature on Earth has NEVER exceeded about 55 degrees C and hardly ever exceeds 50 degrees C.

    Now, why is that ??

    The ludicrous theory says “”Without naturally occurring greenhouse gases, Earth’s average temperature would be near 0°F (or -18°C) instead of the much warmer 59°F (15°C).” – a direct quote from NASA.

    And this – again from NASA – “During the day the temperature on the Moon can reach 253 Fahrenheit (123 Celsius), while at night it can drop to -387 Fahrenheit (-233 Celsius). The Earth, which has an atmosphere, has a much more comfortable range of temperatures. ”

    So there you have it – you probably don’t think this establishes anything but it completely destroys the principle arguement of the “greenhouse effect” and that is TRACE gases in the atmosphere are responsible for the difference in temperature between what these clowns claim is the calculated surface temperature of the Earth – minus 18 degrees C and the observed average of ~ 15 degrees C.

    Before you hurt yourselves laughing explain this –

    The Moon has no “greenhouse gases” so the temperature during the day is solely the effect of the solar radiation.

    If you use the accepted albedo for the moon of 0.12 and use the Stefan-Boltzmann equation to calculate the MAXIMUM temperature the solar radiation can produce you see it agrees with the observed temperature.

    So there is good agreement between scientific theory and observed fact.

    Now consider Earth.

    The IPCC claim that about 51 % of the solar radiation heats the Earth’s surface.

    This gives the maximum temperature for the surface subject to that solar radiation of ~60 degrees C.

    Gee – where is that “greenhouse effect” ?? The Earth hardly ever records temperatures much above 45 degrees C.

    This is definitive proof that there is something wrong with “climate science” and I’ll spell it out.

    If the Sun can heat the Moon to ~ 120 degrees C why doesn’t it heat the Earth similarly – both are about the same distance from the Sun and subject to the same solar “constant” ??

    The answer is simple – the Earth has an atmosphere and the effect of that is obvious – see the difference in temperatures.

    A freely convecting atmosphere and evaporation of water from the oceans act like a refrigerator – there is no added heat from the “greenhouse effect” – simple logic plus observed facts prove this.

    The so called minus 18 “effective temperature” of Earth occurs ~5 km ABOVE the surface !! This is an observed fact – the higher one goes in the troposphere the lower the temperature.

    So what about the surface temperature ?? To paraphrase an Americanism – it’s the Sun stupid !!

    Think about this – a constant volume of gas increases in temperature as pressure increases without any input of heat. It’s why a diesel engine doesn’t require a spark to ignite the fuel – there are literally hundreds of applications.

    Why does this matter ?? I’m glad you asked.

    The density of Earth’s atmosphere decreases with altitude. At the altitude where the Earth is radiating InfraRed to space at ~ 240 W/sq m – about 5 km – the temperature is minus 18 degrees C which agrees with the Stefan-Boltzmann equation.

    There exists such a thing as adiabatic heating and adiabatic lapse rate – it is about 6.5 degrees C per km in a dry environment – an observed FACT.

    So starting 5 km high at minus 18 degrees C and adding 6.5 degrees C / km X 5 km = ~32.5 degrees C we arrive at – surprise surprise – ~ +14.5 degrees C.

    Check my arithmetic – minus 18 Plus 32.5 = 14.5 = the “average” surface temperature of the Earth without any “greenhouse effect”.

    There is no “greenhouse effect” – the Sun is capable of heating the Earth to very high temperatures. The temperature on the Moon proves this beyond doubt.

    To revive the “greenhouse theory” it is therefore necessary to explain why the same solar radiation produces ~120 degrees C on the Moon and less than half that on Earth.

    If you answer – it’s the atmosphere stupid – then you simply prove the “greenhouse effect” doesn’t add to the heating at all – in fact the atmospheric effect is to reduce the surface temperature – it cools the Earth during the day and protects us from fierce solar radiation.

    At night retained thermal energy in the surface, atmosphere and oceans radiates to space slowly cooling down. Fortunately the Earth’s period is 24 hours so 12 hours after sunset the Sun rises replenishing the energy.

    This also explains the cold lunar night – it is some 29 days long and the cooling during that time is severe.

    Ah-hah, you moron I hear you say – if the lunar day is so long – 29 days – that is why it is ~120 degrees C.

    Well, no! You see the maximum temperature associated with a radiative power is dependent on the intensity of the radiation and little else. So leaving anything exposed to the same level of radiation will not raise the temperature above the maximum no matter how long it is exposed once it reaches equilibrium.

    The Moon heats quickly from very low temperatures fairly quickly- see NASA web pages for graphs etc.

    Venus and the famous runaway “greenhouse effect” ??

    Well it doesn’t exist either – the probes that landed there prove it again. True science conquers “mumbo-jumbo” again.

    At ~ 50 km – yes 50 km – in the Venusian atmosphere the probe found temperature and pressure conditions similar to the surface of Earth – ~ 1 atmosphere pressure and 14 – 15 degrees C. It also recorded an adiabatic lapse rate similar to Earth’s saturated adiabatic lapse rate – ~ 9 degrees C per km.

    So 50 km X 9 degrees per km = 450 + 15 = 465 degrees C and Venus’ high surface temperatures are no longer a mystery.

    And it has NOTHING to do with any “greenhouse effect” – check out how “climate science” explain this and you’ll see their explanation cannot explain a radiative power of 16,820 W/sq m – yes that is right 16.8 thousand watts per square metre.

    According to “climate science” Venus receives 132 W/sq m solar radiation.

    So the “greenhouse effect” on Venus is 16,688 W /sq m – WOW !!! Where did this extra energy come from ??

    The maximum solar radiation at Venus is onl 2640 W /sq m and Venus reflects some 88 % of that.

    “Greenhouse effect” – rubbish – the atmospheric pressure on Venus is 92 times that of Earth and the probe explained all the mystery of Venus without any mythical “greenhouse effect”.

    So there it is – the “Inconvient Truth” of the “greenhouse effect” – it doesn’t exist.

    Once you realise the “average minus 18 degrees C” claim as the maximum the Sun can heat the Earth to is demonstrably nonsense then you can free yourself from the yoke of believing that TRACE GASES can create energy and destroy the planet.

  53. Mike Flanagan

    Whilst I applaud the youth of the nations action and concern about anthropogenicly induced climate change there are some of us ‘oldies’ that are deeply concerned about the matter and our inadequate reaction to it.
    It is hopeless trying to carry on a rational discourse with the most the sceptics. When presented with the facts and science on the matter they retreat to aphorisms and perjoratives and never support their sceptism with researched data.
    Rinehart who owns massive Queensland coal tenements is planning to fund another tour of this country by the fraud and imposter Monkton again in June or July. One can only presume the ABC and Fran Bailey will irresponsibly collaborate with the Murdoch press to give him the largest platform for the rubbish he spouts.

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