A gish gallop or a genuine set of questions?

Someone has left a comment on a post I did about Christopher Monckton (you know, the sane and rational peer-reviewed scientist who also claims to cure HIV). It’s a long ‘un, full of questions that denialists use, and with unreferenced claims. It may be a denialist indulging in a little extended trolling, or it may not. Sticking with the principle of charity, I’ve gone with the benefit-of-the-doubt option. My bits are in plain, his are in italics.

Thanks for getting in touch, Mr X. Shall we call you Matlock, as per the old cop show on TV?

It is my understanding that satellite thermal data has been left out of the Governments Climate Committee’s computer modelling because it conflicts with the data gathered on the ground.  (i.e. ground data when allegedly collected in carefully selected places show increased global temperatures and satellite thermal data shows a cooling earth.

I had not heard that. Can you provide a link to a newspaper or media account?

 (I think it was Dr David Evans who was a committee member who left to committee because of dishonesty in recording and selecting of data to prove a point.

Again, I’d need to see an media account. If you are going to make strong claims like this, it would be helpful to all if you provided a citation. (And the words “I think” are later replaced in your reply by some level of certainty!) Who is Dr Evans. Why did he quit? What was the response to this Dr Evans’ demands and claims from the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate Commission and the other Commissioners? (by the way, I’ve made an unofficial ‘bluffers’ guide’ to the Climate Commission – it’s here.)

I still don’t know what to think about data apparently showing Arctic ice thinning – in the meantime the last two European and North American winters have been particularly cold.

Those are two separate issues. I think the ice thinning is pretty robust science – a mix of satellite data (!) and on0the-ground observations.
To my knowledge the world experts on this are the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the States.

It’s slightly old (2007) but the book “Field notes from a catastrophe” by Elizabeth Kolbert, has lots of useful information about the Arctic.

On the question of cold European winters, well, that’s not a global phenomenon (as in, it being cold in one place doesn’t disprove global warming), and in any case, with all that extra water vapour in the atmosphere, extra snow and rain is hardly surprising. – This post at Climate Progress may help you. It’s also interesting that you’ve chosen just two (and popular-with-denialist) events from a 2009 and 2010 that was just full of extreme heatwaves etc… (See what the insurance giant Munich Re had to say about 2010.)

Further data shows a slowing of sun spot activity with eminent global cooling.

Again, it would be helpful if you supplied a citation for your claim. Further data from where? Sun spots have certainly had an impact on the Earth’s climate, there’s no doubt, but can’t explain the kinds of temperature increases we’re seeing. See this page at Skeptical Science for further explanation.

Julia Gillard announced yesterday that CO2 levels are the highest they have been for millions of years.

It seems odd to personalise it like this. Julia Gillard doesn’t claim to be a climate scientist. She is reporting the scientific consensus.

I would like to know why they were so high before and why was life on earth not wiped out?  Indeed in the time of the dinosaurs, CO2 levels were much higher and life thrived.  Am I missing something here or what?

The planet was warmer than it is now. The thing is, it’s not about C02 levels being so high as to make it impossible for mammals and reptiles to breath – it’s about the planet having a lot more energy “sloshing around” under a blanket of carbon dioxide. This will mean much higher temperatures than we have now, melted icecaps and glaciers (though of course the North Pole’s melting means zilch for sea levels) and sea level rise, more frequent “extreme events”.
For further information, check out this post on Skeptical Science about “C02 levels were higher in the past.

It is these missing links which fail to prove the argument in the Global Warming argument.  

I don’t think they do (but then, I would say that, wouldn’t I!). I will take you at your word though, and expect that you will read the info above and then – if you’re convinced – become an advocate for reducing human greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the changes “in the pipeline.”
I think if you want the scientific case for climate change, there are various sources that might help you – Royal Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science (Royal Soc equivalent) The list of groups concerned about climate change goes on and on, far beyond the scientific community; The US military, the insurance industry etc.

I am a former police officer and whilst I am not a scientist, gathering of evidence to prove a case – either on the balance of probability or beyond all reasonable doubt is my area of expertise.  

And doubtless as a police officer you often had to consult specific experts (forensics, etc). And you didn’t just go to the guy down the pub, you went to the people with a track record, who could explain (to you and to a jury) what they were talking about. Or am I missing something?

It is on this basis I am not able to accept the argument at there is in fact global warming or any kind of rapid climate change.  One of the things I have also been very suspicious of as a copper was when witnesses were untruthful or failed to tell the entire truth.  

Then by your previous statement, you must be very very suspicious of the denialist lobby, which has constantly re-used fallacious and disproved arguments and “evidence” to meet their needs. Are you aware of the “Global Climate Coalition,” funded by oil companies, that spent the 1990s casting undue doubt on the science of climate change, in exactly the same way tobacco-company funded scientists cast doubt on the link between cigarettes and lung cancer?

This was a way to determine if a witness was a hostile witness and therefore sided with the accused and not to be trusted or was a truthful and honest witness and produced evidence to support their argument or claims and even identified evidence that was not in their favour.   Climate change protagonists have allegedly persistently hidden evidence that did not support their argument or tended to debunk their argument.  

Sorry, the phrase “allegedly persistently” seems odd to me. Could you give some examples? (I suspect you mean the Climategate emails, but I could be wrong). If you DO mean climategate, please read this from Skeptical Science

This is why people such a Dr David Evans left the Government Climate Committee

again, please supply a citation

and Patrick More, a co-founder of Green Peace left that organisation.

Patrick Moore (please note spelling) left Greenpeace (see previous) for various reasons, but climate change was a distant worry back in those days. I’ve just googled – the straw that broke the camel’s back, Moore says, was Greenpeace’s oppostion to chlorine as an additive in water supplies.
Wikipedia says “He has sharply and publicly differed with many policies of major environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, on other issues including forestry, biotechnology, aquaculture, and the use of chemicals for flame retardants.[1]”

The global warming protagonists call us sceptics, rednecks and in general insult us or belittle those of us who do not accept their argument.

My preferred term is denier or denialist, since it captures the denial of well-established science. I think sceptics do something different, something valuable. Scepticism is how science progresses, denialism is one of the things that slows it down. Redneck is a stupid term, full of city-folks’ disdain for rural dwellers, (not that I romanticise rural life – it is hardly perfect itself) and with not a little class hatred in it too.

Since when has science been proven by the biggest insult?

Science is proven by evidence, with results in line with a theory’s predictions, and its ability to explain new findings parsimoniously (Occam’s Razor). Interestingly, a recent commentary on Nature Geosciences points out that climate models are not very good at explaining the likelihood of “tipping points” – the kinds of rapid climate change that you doubt.

I have also taken note of human behaviour in conflict as a police officer and largely, people who have lost the argument, debate or whatever and have little or no evidence to support their claims, resort to insulting the other party.

Several of the regular commenters on this blog made initial contact with salvos of abuse. If you are looking for people “insulting the other party”, well, you might just as easily start there. I have now blocked a couple of those people because they only ever offered personal abuse and false accusations (for example that I had retrospectively changed videos). Are all advocates of climate action saints? No. Am I a saint? Most definitely not. I plead guilty (it’s a fair cop) to flinging back mud. I am trying not too in future though, since I acknowledge the wisdom in the saying “never wrestle with a pig – you both get muddy, but the pig enjoys it.”

This again is evidence that global warming is not well supported by scientific evidence.

No, I’m afraid it’s not. It’s evidence only that humans disagree and often resort to abuse of those who they disagree with.

Assertions about humans not even being able to predict the weather is a prime example.  Yesterday in Adelaide I was supposed to receive a blast of winter with strong winds and up to 30 mm of rain.  I had a few drops (2mm) and some wind, no damage to trees or anything.

Well, I’m glad there was no damage to your trees, but there is a big difference between weather and climate, and our ability to predict the two. You might like to read the following, again from skeptical science.

This claim is based more on an appeal to emotion than fact. The inference is that climate predictions, decades into the future, cannot be possibly right when the weather forecast for the next day has some uncertainty.

In spite of the claim in this myth, short term weather forecasts are highly accurate and have improved dramatically over the last three decades. However, slight errors in initial conditions make a forecast beyond two weeks nearly impossible.

Atmospheric science students are taught “weather is what you get and climate is the weather you expect”. This is why this common skeptical argument doesn’t hold water. Climate models are not predicting day to day weather systems. Instead, they are predicting climate averages.


I hope this has helped you? I see that you’ve subscribed to the blog, so there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing this reply, which has taken a considerable amount of my limited time.


7 Comments to “A gish gallop or a genuine set of questions?”

  1. As I said, there have been allegations of evidence being hidden – for an example see http://sciencespeak.com/rally.pdf

    Al Gore is a big supporter of global warming with rising sea levels, yet he allegedly has bought sea side property and further more there has not been any movement either by people or property values from sea side property. (Even Cate Blanchett has apparently bought an island off Vanuatu in spite of allegations the sea level is rising at a rate of 2.5 cm per annum. My sister had a property near the sea and it was supposed to have water in it by 2005. Not even a millimetre of sea level rise.
    Tim Flannery claimed Adelaide would be out of water by 2009 – we built a huge de-sal plant. Still waiting to be commissioned – but our reserviors are full. So much for running out of water.
    Senator Bob Brown has been called a fraud publicly and yet has failed to pursue anyone for defamation. If it was me I would.
    Now when some of these predictions start coming true – when they can actually predict the weather for tomorrow and get more accurate for the week, then they may have some credibility about climate change – but at present- there has been increased CO2 levels if the scientists are to be believed, but satellite data (check the link) shows the earth is cooling. Even Professor Plimer said (among many other things) there was a greater likelihood of an iceage. (He is not alone as there are many scientists who also claim global warmng is bumpkin and they can be found on google)
    Now when we have eminent scientists who have opposing opinions, how am I expected to accept any global warming claim? Science is either conclusive one way or the other. So until someone can prove to it to me, I will adopt the true scientific approach of skepticism (yes that is what science is about) until proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Theory predictions are not proof. They are suppositions. When data is left out of the computer modelling – you will get the answer you want whether it be global warming or cooling. If there was true CO2 global warming, there would be laws passed to limit the amount of CO2 producing fuels and energy sources, not some blunt instrument called a carboin tax. At present most of the world has ignored such schemes. Europe has an emission trading scheme – USA, China and Canada have nothing. Why?
    Quotes and passages mean little to you and me – I am in my mid fifties and I have a mind of my own and I do my own research and one thing I do not do is accept and take on board as gospel, anything I am simply told, parfticularly people who have a particular barrow to push because regardless of how moderate they try to be- they are baised. They will willingly believe anything and push their point of view. Another reason I am so skeptical is that it is more or less the left side of politics that has picked this up and run with it? Why? Is it that the right wing side of politics are all fools? Too much muddying of the waters here. Never has science been in such conflict before. Ever wondered why?

  2. Mr Beinke,

    I spent a great deal of time today replying to your questions and hunting down links that I thought may have been helpful to you. (I suspected you might be a very determined denier, but decided to give you the benefit of the doubt).

    I posted that work, and within minutes you have sent through another long piece filled with assertions and ad hominems and so on. Your Dr David Evans was NOT, as you claimed on the Climate Commission. I’ve scanned his speech, and may, at some time, bother with a rebuttal. I am not particularly minded to do so because you have made no effort (you haven’t had time) to look at the links I suggested.

    Nor am I particularly minded to spend more of my limited time on your further points. As someone in your mid-fifties, I am sure you can understand that time is a finite resource.

    You suggest that everyone is biased. Well, maybe you are too? Do you understand that science is a way (imperfect in the short-term, but pretty damn good in the long-term) of not fooling yourself.

    You suggest that some people will “willingly believe anything and push their point of view”. Well, maybe you do to?

    I don’t say these as attacks. I say them to point out that the scepticism bordering on nihilism that you apply to science can just as easily be applied to your views. The difference is, my views are based on the scientific consensus, and yours appear to be based on a thoroughly-debunked work by Ian Plimer, with presumably a little Bob Carter thrown in for flavor.

    I will be posting tomorrow about Adelaide Climate News’ comments policy. I suggest you wait until then and actually read the policy before spending more of your limited time sending comments.

    Thank you.

  3. You’ve got to love the “many scientists say…” without reference. Clearly, when the overwhelming consensus within the climate science community is that AGW is real, there is no question about the the greenhouse properties of CO2 and that this all will lead to environmental shifts and Mr Beinke continues in this nature, he couldn’t give a stuff about what the science states on the subjects, nor what the leading experts on the actual topic (Evans and Plimer are not climate scientists) are actually saying. Here are many recent papers on the subject (scroll down to the topic header “Consensus” for genuine “many scientists say…” arguments)

    The anti-vax crowd, the creationists and the New Age remedies lot all use the same, “many scientists say…”, “studies have shown…”, “many scientists are starting to disagree with the ‘ivory tower’ consensus…” etc, without actual evidence to back ’em up. If you want to be taken seriously, mate, I’d suggest backing up your hot air with substance.

  4. http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/climatology/trends.shtml
    I thought cyclones were to increase in number and severity with man made global warming.

    • Well done, Mr Beinke,
      you’ve ignored every bit of evidence that undercuts your thesis, ignored the efforts that people have made to get through your self-imposed ignorance, and cherry-picked one piece of data that ends in 2005. Bravo! Keep this up and you’ll be doing guest posts for Watts Up With That .

      a) it’s local
      b) it ends in 2005
      c) Obviously all those expensive analysts working for the insurance companies worried about the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters are wrong, aren’t they. Obviously your superior intellect and ability to listen to evidence is triumphant. Bravo again, sir.

  5. Honestly mate, this guy’s obvious a troll who doesn’t listen or care for accuracy. He just continues to shovel out tripe. I decided to block such people – what’s the point in wasting your time on someone who clearly thinks “googling” trumps a life dedicated in a relevant field of science….

  6. Hey Mr Bienke. You have to realise if you don’t follow the line of the true believers they don’t let you comment. If you want to speak your mind and have balanced debate go to Andrew Bolt, ABC.Net, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Age etc etc. Adelaide Climate News is an inbred group of about 4 bloggers from last count. Have a look at the contributions. Really weird. Sunday will be a hoot. Julia’s Carbon Tax release is already getting panned and is overshadowed by the Indonesian Steak Factory Saga.
    I love my waterfront property.

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