Saturday, August 1, 2015

#2 - Matt Ridley let's debate your "cheerleaders for alarm"

Matt Ridley this is the second installment of my review of your blogpost What the climate wars did to science where I describe the various failures in your arguments.  Last week I contacted you about the first installment and to offer a formal invitation to debate.  But, you've remained silent.  
(Admittedly Matt, I can appreciate that hiding from my intellectual challenge, like Jim Steele does, makes more sense than joining the debate in a fair and square manner and revealing how bankrupt your arguments are - still the invitation remains.)

Now on to considering your "cheerleading for alarm" section.

Policy-based evidence making is all too frequent in climate science
By Matt Ridley |  The "Rational" |  Published on Sunday, July 05, 2015
Part Two ±450-935 (out of 5950 words)
Matt Ridley:  Cheerleaders for alarm. This is precisely what has happened with the climate debate and it is at risk of damaging the whole reputation of science. 

What precisely?  You define nothing!

"Cheerleaders for alarm" ? - Who, What, Where, When?
"climate debate" -  It's tough to get any more inclusive than that.

Then you pull the dirty trick of jumping from the nebulous "climate debate" to the "whole reputation of science."  Matt, where do you get off pinning what pundits have said onto scientists?  That's pure dishonestly!

By playing this game you allow yourself to smear any scientist with whatever nonsense you like.  Even though that nonsense never came from any real scientist to begin with.  

That's called fraud and has nothing to do with learning about the why and how of the scientific understanding that underpins the current global warming "consensus."
Matt Ridley:  The “bad idea” in this case is not that climate changes, nor that human beings influence climate change; but that the impending change is sufficiently dangerous to require urgent policy responses. 

Matt, I suggest your "bad idea" is to tailor your sentences toward belittling scientists and rejecting their evidence without ever even considering that evidence.

Here you deliberately ignore the severe impacts that past climate changes had on the biological systems that had developed under their previous climate regime. 

On top of that you show profound disregard for the wonders and complexities of our modern society and zero appreciation of how utterly dependent all that is on the relatively benign and predictable weather regime, and sea level, under which our human society developed these past thousands of years.
Matt Ridley:  In the 1970s, when global temperatures were cooling, some scientists could not resist the lure of press attention by arguing that a new ice age was imminent. Others called this nonsense and the World Meteorological Organisation rightly refused to endorse the alarm. That’s science working as it should.

Here's another example of dragging the discuss away from the real topic at hand.  

You conjure a lurid narrative intent on hanging scientists for what some magazine pedaling journalists wrote (perhaps aided by an extreme outlier scientist) but not for what actually appeared in the scientific literature.  

What about the nuances, or the questions scientists were asking each other, what about how accumulating evidence settled many unknowns with ever decreasing uncertainty margins?  Why never actually look at what the scientists were saying?

Why this effort to confuse the topic and misdirect attention?
What happened to passion for learning and understanding? 
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Here's some of that missing background:

Global Cooling Myth in the 70's

Many claim that in the 1970's all scientists believed the earth was cooling. Factual examination of the controversial report reveals that there was a consensus. The consensus was we don't know enough yet. The confirmation of the Milankovitch cycles indicated that we were to begin a cooling phase, the introduction of industrial greenhouse gases indicated we could interrupt the natural cycle. More study was needed.

As in all things science and reason, context is required to understand relevance of any data or scope of understanding. In the case of the global cooling myth, let's take a look at the context.

This is around the time that the "Milankovitch Cycles' were confirmed by the deep ocean sediment core studies, thus solidifying the understanding that the earths climate system is subject to long term natural cycle influences that significantly alter our climate.

Ice age predicted in the 70's? As we show below, not really. We came out of the last ice age 15,000 years ago. Typically we would go back into an ice age as that is the natural cycle. The industrial imposed climate forcing is so large that we can not at this level of forcing, return to an ice age.

Also see: 
What were climate scientists predicting in the 1970s? 
1970s ice age predictions were predominantly media based. The majority of peer reviewed research at the time predicted warming due to increasing CO2.
Matt Ridley:  In the 1980s, as temperatures began to rise again, some of the same scientists dusted off the greenhouse effect and began to argue that runaway warming was now likely.

What a disgusting sentence, "Some scientists dusted off..." again you're working real hard to be as derisive as possible toward scientists.  

Why not explain the differences between aerosols and greenhouse gases?  Why no attempt to remind people that sunlight reflecting aerosol air pollution was sky rocketing during those decades, so much so that politicians were forced to confront the problem.

Clean Air Act of 1963; 
Air Quality Act of 1967; 
Clean Air Act of 1970; 
major amendments 1977 and 1990.  
~ ~ ~
United Kindom Clean Air Act 1956 and The Clean Air Act 1968
~ ~ ~
Japanese Clean Air Act of 1971 
~ ~ ~
The EU's Council Directive of July 15th, 1980 (80/779/EEC), which set air quality limits for SO2 and suspended particulates.
~ ~ ~
International law
International law includes agreements related to trans-national air quality, including greenhouse gas emissions:

{ supplemental reading: 
Six Myths About Climate Change and the Clean Air Act

"Dusting off atmospheric greenhouse gas studies"  Who's kidding whom?  Matt here you're trying to make your audience believe that scientists act like fickled fashion mavens or something.

Do a little Google Scholar searching, atmospheric CO2 has been a continuous topic of study and increasing understanding.  As for your 70s, the most superficial search reveals a plethora of research during those years.

JS Sawyer - Nature, 1972 -
... 239 SEPTEMBER 1 1972 23 Man-made Carbon Dioxide and the "Greenhouse" Effect JS SAWYER
Meteorological Office, London Road ... Thus certain atmospheric gases, principally water vapour
and carbon dioxide, absorb a significant part of the outgoing radiation and ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
PE Wilkniss, RA Lamontagne, RE Larson… - Nature, 1973 -
... Increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have been suggested as a cause of ground
level global warming through the “greenhouse” effect1. Variations in total ozone, to a large extent,
control the ultraviolet radiation Received at ground level2. Certain inert gases such as ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
CH Reitan - Monthly Weather Review, 1974 -
... Quanzhen Geng, Masato Sugi. (2010) Possible Change of Extratropical Cyclone Activity due
to Enhanced Greenhouse Gases and Sulfate Aerosols—Study with a High-Resolution AGCM.
Journal of Climate 16:13, 2262-2274. Online publication date: 1-Jul-2003. Abstract . ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
JW Mastalerz - 1977 -
... characteristics of many components are given.The subtitle is "The effect of environmental factors
on flower crops" and the chapters are arranged as follows: Introduction; The greenhouse
environment; Temperature; Solar and luminous radiant energy; Gases; Growing media ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
TP Barnett - Monthly Weather Review, 1978 -
... Journal of Climatology 7:1, 13-30. Online publication date: 1-Jan-1987. TP Barnett. (1986)
Detection of changes in the global troposphere temperature field induced by greenhouse gases.
Journal of Geophysical Research 91:D6, 6659. Online publication date: 1-Jan-1986. ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
T MIYASAKA, T WATANABE - Nature, 1979 -
... i uncertainties, but at least it produces a first estimate for the .. ;. variability of atmospheric CO2
over geological time. ~ Although Hart! has considered the greenhouse effect from ~. enhanced
CO2, as well as other gases, he uses grey gas radiation li~ modelling. ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
WC Wang, YL Yung, AA Lacis, T Mo, JE Hansen - Science, 1976 -
Abstract Nitrous oxide, methane, ammonia, and a number of other trace constituents in the 
earth's atmosphere have infrared absorption bands in the spectral region 7 to 14 µm and 
contribute to the atmospheric greenhouse effect. The concentrations of these trace gases ...
-~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
V Ramanathan - Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 1976 -
... (2005) Evaluation of surface air temperature change due to the greenhouse gases increase
with a statistical-dynamical model. Journal of Geophysical Research 110. ... (1993) Greenhouse
gases in the stratosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research 98, 2995. ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
GM Woodwell, GJ MacDonald, R Revelle… - A Report to) Council on …, 1979 - Citeseer
... Because the United States and others failed to act on early warnings like that given
by Woodwell and his co-authors, the prospects of halting the buildup of greenhouse
gases at safe levels is now fast slipping away. It is important ...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Developments in Atmospheric Science
Volume 10, Pages 1-327 (1979) 
Man's Impact on Climate

ISBN: 978-0-444-41766-4

So on and so forth, Matt do you realize that most of our quantitative knowledge regard CO2's radiative properties and its behavior in the atmosphere comes from military research?  The US and Australian government's spent decades dedicated to accumulating a thorough quantitative understanding of greenhouse gas behavior throughout the atmospheric column. 

Much of the work on the details of interaction between radiation and gases in the air was done by the US Air Force just after World War II and applied to topics such as sensors on heat-seeking missiles, as told in the introduction to this chapter. A missile uses a sensor to “see” the infrared radiation from a hot engine, but greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor block the view in some wavelengths by absorbing that radiation. Because the gases interact with radiation traveling in any direction, and there is much more energy in those wavelengths going up from the sun-warmed Earth than coming down from military bombers, the warming influence of the greenhouse gases is unavoidable. 

CO2 & the Atmosphere 
Earth: The Operators' Manual - Published on Apr 9, 2012
Air Force research on missiles and the story of Ice Ages both reveal the effects of carbon dioxide.
Matt Ridley:  At first, the science establishment reacted sceptically and a diversity of views was aired. It’s hard to recall now just how much you were allowed to question the claims in those days. 

Here again nothing but conspiracy ideation.  The scientific community is skeptical and many questions and challenges are made.  The scientific community really is a skeptical intelligent lot.  Richard Alley has an excellent perspective to share:

What's the scientist's ethic? What motivates scientists? Professor Alley

Matt, challenges and claims rise and fall according to their relevance and ability to stand up to scrutiny while explaining the evidence.
Matt Ridley:  As Bernie Lewin reminds us in one chapter of a fascinating new book of essays called Climate Change: The Facts (hereafter The Facts), as late as 1995 when the second assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out with its last-minute additional claim of a “discernible human influence” on climate, Nature magazine warned scientists against overheating the debate.

Who is Bernie Lewin?  What has he studies?  What about hearing from an actual expert in the field !? 

I can't find anything about him except that he's another one-hit wonder playing the Republican PR circuit.  All he has to offer is more self-certain opining!  We need honest curiosity and learning.  

Oh, there was another mention of Bernie Lewin and his "FACTS" book over at

"Anthony Watts has finally written a promo for a book put out last month by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) (archived here). The book is called, somewhat ambiguously: Climate Change the Facts 2014. Given the publisher and the contributors, the meaning is pretty obvious: Climate - change the facts - 2014. 

The IPA scoured the world for the more prominent climate science deniers and mixed them up with some less prominent and more wacky ones. The editor, Alan Moran, managed to get entries from the following:
  • Ian "iron sun" Plimer who has been fairly quiet since his heaven and earth fiasco (I sometimes wonder who really wrote that book)
  • Patrick J Michaels - one half of Pat'n Chip from CATO, who argue that global warming will be okay because we can just buy air conditioners
  • Richard Lindzen of the flawed iris hypothesis, who spends time these days talking climate science denial to anyone who'll listen
  • Willie Soon who has had to resort to lending his name to a paper by the potty peer Christopher Monckton and the ratbag William M Briggs and scrounging funds from the Heartland Institute to publish some nonsense in a little known Chinese journal (not a climate science journal)
  • Robert M Carter - an Australian who retired from his job as an academic to take up science denial for the Heartland Institute and related organisations. He's recently "come out" as an ice age comether.
  • John Abbott, who I've never heard of
  • Jennifer Marohasy, a denier from Australia who makes silly accusations about the Australian Bureau of Meteorology when she's not campaigning against the environment in general
  • Nigel Lawson, an ex-public servant, who now heads up an anti-mitigation, pro-global warming lobby group in the UK appropriately named the Global Warming Policy Foundation
  • Alan Moran who works for the IPA (he, like Patrick Michaels, is just doing what he's paid to do)
  • James Delingpole, a sensationalist blogger, who doesn't do science and describes himself as an "interpreter of interpretations"
  • Garth Paltridge, an ex-climate scientist turned global warming campaigner
  • Joanne Nova, the pseudonym of Australian Jo Codling, an ex-children's television entertainer turned climate science denier who, with her partner the rocket scientist from Luna Park, promotes Force X and the Notch
  • Kesten Green and Scott Armstrong, who write very dumb papers claiming that the world isn't really warming or if it is it's "natural"
  • Rupert Darwall, who I've never heard of
  • Ross McKitrick, an economics professor who keeps trying and failing to prove there aren't any hockey sticks in the world, or something
  • Donna Laframboise, who thinks that no scientist should be paid any mind if they write or achieve anything while they are younger than 40 - presumably including Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, Ernest Rutherford, or any of hundreds of other scientists who did some of their most amazing work when they were young - often before they received their higher degrees. (She wrote another "book" putting her instructions on the cover.)
  • Mark Steyn, a sensationalist blogger/hack, who speaks of climate scientists with allusions to child molesters and is being sued for defamation
  • Christopher Essex, about whom I know little except that he seems to be a one man organisation that grandly calls himself the "World Federation of Scientists" and moves and seconds motions decrying climate science then carries these motions himself
  • Bernard Lewin, another person I've never heard of
  • Stewart Franks, an engineering academic from Australia who belongs to the same anti-environment organisations as Jennifer Marohasy (above)
  • Anthony Watts, an american who runs a blog for science deniers and conspiracy theorists and who wonders if global warming is being caused by Russian steam pipes
  • Andrew Bolt, an Australian blogger who got his own television segment here. Similar to James Delingpole in that (so I've been told) he prides himself on his ignorance, confusing ignorance with independence.  His tone and language is usually a tad milder than James, but the sentiment is the same.

As for  The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) it's a right-wing, corporate funded think tank based in Melbourne. It has close links to the Liberal Party of Australia, with its Executive Director John Roskam having run for Liberal Party preselection for a number of elections. Following the 2007 federal election defeat for the Liberal Party, The Australian's journalist Christian Kerr noted that a new group of federal Liberal politicians were "receiving support from former Howard government staffer John Roskam" at the IPA.[1]

The IPA key policy positions include: advocacy for privatisation and deregulation; attacks on the positions of unions and non-government organisations; support of assimilationist indigenous policy (cf. the Bennelong Society) and refutation of the science involved with environmental issues such as climate change.


Here again, it's all about fabricating a storyline and peddling it.  Matt, everything you accuse the scientific community of, are the very things you yourself are guilty of, in droves.  

Endlessly wasting precious irreplaceable time with unproductive rhetorical tricks and disingenuous gotchas intent on ignoring how increasing greenhouse gases impact our global weather engine; and how that impacts everything else in our lives.
Matt Ridley:  Since then, however, inch by inch, the huge green pressure groups have grown fat on a diet of constant but ever-changing alarm about the future. That these alarms—over population growth, pesticides, rain forests, acid rain, ozone holes, sperm counts, genetically modified crops—have often proved wildly exaggerated does not matter: the organisations that did the most exaggeration trousered the most money. In the case of climate, the alarm is always in the distant future, so can never be debunked.

Oh boy, now we're getting into Republican/libertarian hysteria range.  You think with one causal wave you can dismiss that entire laundry list of complex issues.  That's an appeal to willful ignorance.

Regarding our current transitioning climate conditions, you ignore the documented shifts in rain patterns because there's more heat and moisture driving weather patterns?  

Where's the simple foresight to realize what's happening at the poles is going to radically damage coastal infrastructure and all who inhabit them.

Or appreciating that very simple cumulative interest stuff holds true for natural systems and dynamics.  What's so tough to understand about that?
Matt Ridley:  These huge green multinationals, with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, have now systematically infiltrated science, as well as industry and media, with the result that many high-profile climate scientists and the journalists who cover them have become one-sided cheerleaders for alarm, while a hit squad of increasingly vicious bloggers polices the debate to ensure that anybody who steps out of line is punished. They insist on stamping out all mention of the heresy that climate change might not be lethally dangerous.

Yet more emotional candy for right wingers, a list of things they wish wasn't so.  

Matt, bet you don't want to talk about the Republican/libertarian PR campaign of climate science contrarianism? Or do you?  Here's a little overview for the interested:

For instance:
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on public health, environmental science, and other issues affecting the quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. 

In their new book, Merchants of Doubt, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway explain how a loose–knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. In seven compelling chapters addressing tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming, and DDT, Oreskes and Conway roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.  …"

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes, PhD.
Massive corporations dominate the U.S. media landscape. Through a history of mergers and acquisitions, these companies have concentrated their control over what we see, hear and read. In many cases, these companies control everything from initial production to final distribution. In the interactive charts below we reveal who owns what.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 Paul Hartley, April 26, 2013, Published in Book Reviews
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David Donovan 14 March 2011,
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


By: Alex McKechnie, December 20, 2013

A new study conducted by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle, PhD, exposes the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the powerful climate change countermovement. This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort.

Through an analysis of the financial structure of the organizations that constitute the core of the countermovement and their sources of monetary support, Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are “dark money,” or concealed funding.

The data also indicates that Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, two of the largest supporters of climate science denial, have recently pulled back from publicly funding countermovement organizations. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to countermovement organizations through third party pass-through foundations like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, whose funders cannot be traced, has risen dramatically."

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Concealing their sources - who funds Europe’s climate change deniers?
Corporate Europe Observatory December 2010
"... But the voices of climate deniers, are amplified in Europe by a handful of extremist free marketeers and right- wing think tanks, which try to block action to tackle climate change. Using non peer- reviewed publications, hijacking scientific debates, and targeting the mass media, they create confusion in the minds of the public about both the reality of global warming and the policies designed to curb emissions.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks
Suzanne Goldenberg |  February 14, 2013
Matt Ridley:  Today’s climate science, as Ian Plimer points out in his chapter in The Facts, is based on a “pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored and analytical procedures are treated as evidence”. Funds are not available to investigate alternative theories. Those who express even the mildest doubts about dangerous climate change are ostracised, accused of being in the pay of fossil-fuel interests or starved of funds; those who take money from green pressure groups and make wildly exaggerated statements are showered with rewards and treated by the media as neutral.

Ian Plimer, now there's another example of a person who's in this to win political battles.  He's never spent any time learning about, or studying, our climate system.  Nope, his interests are in minerals and extraction and making as big a profit as possible.  Those are his proud priorities.  

But Matt, you were supposed to be talking about the integrity of science and scientists.  Making a know-nothing like Plimer your chosen "authority" underscores what a phony piece of work I am reviewing.

Matt Ridley, why should we listen to prospectors and know-nothings and ignore the experts and scientists who are actually doing the scientific work?

As for Ian Plimer:

Ian Plimer's Mining Connections
by Bob Burton on November 12, 2009

1 comment:

citizenschallenge said...

I've again invited Matt to respond with the following message submitted at his so-called RationalOptimist blog:

"Matt, though it doesn't surprise me that you've done your best to ignore Part1 of our 'virtual debate' I should still let you know that Part2 has been posted. Part3 will probably take a couple weeks as I have other more important commitments.

My offer to you stands and I remain ready and willing to receive and respond to any comments you have regarding what will be my on-going section by section review of your deceitful blogpost: "What the climate wars did to science."

#2 - Matt Ridley let's debate your "cheerleaders for alarm""