Miranda Devine tells her readers what GIGO means:

The outputs are totally dependent on the quality and accuracy of the inputs. At university we had a name for what often happens: GIGO – garbage in garbage out.

And then perfectly illustrates it:

Yet a paper published last week by the Lavoisier Group, Nine Lies about Global Warming, says the real censorship is applied by the scientific establishment to those scientists who express scepticism about the global warming “consensus”.

A retired climate expert and founder of the Antarctic Co-operative Research Centre, Garth Paltridge, says he was threatened by the CSIRO with funding cuts in the 1990s if he expressed his doubts about the extent of the effect of greenhouse emissions.

As for the supposed consensus among scientists about climate change, the Lavoisier report also cites a study (rebutting a more celebrated study) which found that of 1117 learned papers on a scientific database between 1993 and 2003, “only 13 (1 per cent) explicitly endorsed the consensus view”. Almost three times as many (34), “rejected or questioned the view that human activities are the main driving force of ‘the observed warming over the last 50 years’.”

The Lavoisier report, Nine Lies About Global Warming * is the garbage that went in and Devine’s piece is the garbage that came out. First, Paltridge’s story doesn’t add up. Second, the study she mentions is Benny Peiser’s. The nice thing about that study is that you can judge it for yourself. You don’t require any specialized knowledge and you don’t have to take Devine’s or the Lavoisier Group’s or Peiser’s word for it. Peiser sent me the abstracts of the 34 papers that he claims reject or question the consensus. You can read them here and make up your own mind. Or you can save time and read what Peter Norvig (Google’s director of research) says:

Another thing that jumps out at me is that some of these abstracts are difficult to classify, but for others it is completely unfathomable how Peiser could consider them as rejections of the consensus. For example, in #18, Analysis of some direct and indirect methods for estimating root biomass and production of forests at an ecosystem level, the conclusion is that “one root method cannot be stated to be the best and the method of choice will be determined from researcher’s personal preference, experiences, equipment, and/or finances”. That certainly seems to me to be a highly technical article on how to measure roots, with nothing at all to say about the consensus on greenhouse gases. Or consider #24, Regional climate change: Trend analysis of temperature and precipitation series at selected Canadian sites, which explicitly talks about regional climate change and purposely avoids any discussion of global climate change. Because of these obvious errors, I support Science in rejecting Peiser’s letter on the grounds that it is a poorly-executed experiment.

Devine continues:

But as sceptics are silenced and consensus is feigned, increasingly confident pronouncements are made in the media and at climate change conferences about imminent catastrophe, without the necessary layer of scepticism or proof. For instance, a story from the Reuters news agency in December claimed that residents of the Pacific island of Tegua in Vanuatu were among the first, “if not the first”, climate change refugees, forced to flee sea level rises caused by global warming.

Yet the Lavoisier report points out that the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project, funded by AusAID, has found no evidence to support increasingly hysterical claims that islands are being submerged because of rising sea levels caused by global warming. Tegua has had no overall sea level rise in the past 50 years, and there has been a decline in the number of tropical storms in the South Pacific.

The South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project hasn’t been monitoring sea levels at Tegua. Its monitoring station in Vanuatu is in Port Vila and has found:

The sea level trend to date is +6.1 mm/year (as compared to a global average of 1-2 mm/year) but the magnitude of the trend continues to vary widely from month month as the data set grows. Accounting for the geodetic survey results and inverted barometric pressure effect, the trend is +4.8 mm/year. A nearby gauge, with longer records but less precision and datum control, shows a trend of +6.21 mm/year.

The Lavoisier report relates the SPSLCMP finding like this:

The South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project, funded by AusAID and managed by the National Tidal Facility (NTF), has found no evidence of rising sea levels.

GIGO is an apt description of how Devine’s column was produced. A different mechanism is required to explain the Lavoisier report.

* It’s good that Lavoisier is admitting that they are lying about global warming, but their report contains more than nine lies.


  1. #1 mark
    March 4, 2006

    I was hoping you would review Devine’s piece. Nice one.

    From a “textual” point of view, I was struck by the numerous elisions in her piece. The way a detailed, technical scientific debate is elided with notions of a “consensus” then suppression of the “truth” then the implication that the global warming is a lie. Similarly, the politics of global warming, the popular debate, and (as always) journalistic hyperbole is elided with the actual science, as if “greatest threat”, “screamed”, “apocalypse scenario”, “panic industry” reflect the scientific process.

  2. #2 Graculus
    March 5, 2006

    Speaking of GIGO, I see thta junkscience.com is a member of the anti-quakery ring.

    Isn’t that fraud?

  3. #3 tigtog
    March 5, 2006

    What dost thee have against Quakers, friend?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

    Regarding Miranda, I note that like so many global warming skeptics she also elides the skepticism that does exist toward human contributions to global warming with skepticism towards the measured phenomenon of global warming itself. She makes the distinction weakly in the beginning of the article, but then shifts goalposts later in the article as she sinks her fangs into the Cry wolf story she’s peddling.

    Human contribution skeptics may well have a point that the Kyoto Protocols or even more robust greenhouse emission reductions will not reverse global warming. But does that mean that planning for the inevitable coastal refugees and infrastructure loss that rising sea levels will produce is useless?


  4. #4 Tim Curtin
    March 6, 2006

    Tim Lambert: You assert that Abstract #24 should not be cited as sceptical of global warming because it deals with climate only in Canada, even though of nine “spatially distributed” observation sites, only one (Toronto, BTW a big city) showed significant warming. A very big country, Canada, but not big enough to be part of the globe? Only if “global warming” means “warming everywhere except Canada” do you have a point. Also BTW, is it true that Australia is represented in “official” global warming data only by its cities? However I agree that abstract mining is a dubious activity, but who started it?

  5. #5 Ken Miles
    March 6, 2006

    Tim C, the concept is quite simple and I really don’t understand how you could misunderstand. But then again, I don’t really understand how one could misunderstand how temperature scales work.

    Canada, while being a big country, isn’t representative of the whole globe. When people talk about global warming, they are refering to the globe. Not Canada. And not the globe minus Canada. Global warming means that the globe undergoes a net warming.

    As the abstract state “Global climate change does not necessarily imply that temperature or precipitation is increasing at specific locations

  6. #6 Jeff Harvey
    March 6, 2006

    I read this bilge and its exactly that – pure garbage. Nothing more to say, except that the Lavoisier Group had dredged up just about every disproved tenet to support its corporate, deregulatory continue to plunder the planet for profit position. Moreover, they had trouble getting support from any statured scientists to produce this crap. Shows yo how desperate the denail lobby is really getting – they are clinging to the edge of a cliff and are about to fall, so their rants are becoming more and more shrill.

  7. #7 Tim Curtin
    March 6, 2006

    Ken Miles said “Canada, while being a big country, isn’t representative of the whole globe. When people talk about global warming, they are refering to the globe. Not Canada. And not the globe minus Canada. Global warming means that the globe undergoes a net warming. As the abstract state “Global climate change does not necessarily imply that temperature or precipitation is increasing at specific locations” ”

    Why not? … or anywhere at all? Ever heard of Karl Popper? If “global” does not include Canada (or the Arctic or WA) what or where does it cover, and when? NH winters are also excluded.

    Anybody who endorses such flexible use of language probably does not understand much else.

  8. #8 Tim Curtin
    March 6, 2006

    Jeff Harvey: unless you nail Lavoisier’s “Nine Lies” one by one, point by point, your mere rhetoric is like dear Miranda’s GIGO. Lambert’s allegedly AGW supportive Abstract #24 is clearly in fact supporting “Lie No.4″ – that the consensus evidence for AGW is invalid. However I disagree with their No.9 – replacing coal with nuclear would not cause unemployment etc because as I have shown under “NAS deja vu” nuclear is competitive with coal even in Australia, but you did not address this issue. Rhetoric without evidence is BS.

  9. #9 Tim Lambert
    March 6, 2006

    Abstract 24 isn’t about global climate change. It’s only on the list because it contained the phrase “global climate change”. You can play global warming skeptic bingo with the Lavoisier report. I think that takes care of most of it.

  10. #10 John Cross
    March 6, 2006

    Dr. Curtin:

    I can only assume that you are trolling with your comments about global temperature. Never the less I was curious enough to read some of your site where I found the following tidbit:

    The sacking of editors at Climate Change for publishing a critique of Mann’s infamous hockey stick is another symptom of the “true believers” approach you have adopted with your dismissal of all dissentients as being in the pay of Lavoisier et al.

    I was impressed at how wrong such a simple statement can be. In fact what happened was that the Editor-in-chief (a fellow named von Storch who, if you follow the discussions here, you know is not a strong supporter of Mann) resigned since Soon presented conclusions that could not be justified by the methodology and references in the paper.

    Von Storch wished to have the paper held up for further review but Climate Change printed it anyway and von Storch resigned. Several others (I believe 5) also resigned in protest. The next issue of Climate Change carried a note from the publisher saying that in this case peer review had failed and the paper never should have been published. This is all documented by von Storch as well as by Climate Research.

    I trust we will be seeing you either justify your statement or print a retraction.


  11. #11 z
    March 6, 2006

    ‘”Global climate change does not necessarily imply that temperature or precipitation is increasing at specific locations” ”
    Why not? …
    or anywhere at all?
    Ever heard of Karl Popper? If “global” does not include Canada (or the Arctic or WA) what or where does it cover, and when? NH winters are also excluded. ‘

    This is a joke, right? Sarcasm?

  12. #12 Tim Curtin
    March 6, 2006

    John Cross:

    I apologise for a poorly researched and invalid comment. However I note from your links that the situation at Climate Research was rather complex and that van Storch’s resignation was over the peer review process at CR and not only over S&B per se. I see that he himself has subsequently published on “exaggerated science” and “how global warming research is creating a climate of fear”, both positions not far removed from that of Soon & Balunias whatever their defects.

    Thanks for the Ph.D.

  13. #13 John Cross
    March 6, 2006

    Dr. Curtin: For such a reasonable reply you can keep the Ph.D. I agree that the problem at CR was complex and involved the peer-review process.

    However I tend not to agree with your comment regarding the positions of von Storch and Soon. Or rather I agree that they both write about the problems of exagerated science as all good climatologists – including the hockey team – do. But von Storch and the hockey team use valid science to backup their opinion, not the crap (and I don’t use that word lightly) that S&B produce on the topic.

    I will also point out that some of your facts regarding Chris Landsea seem to be misguided. But shall we leave that for another day?


  14. #14 Tim Curtin
    March 7, 2006

    John Cross:

    Thanks again for promotion! But I don’t recall commenting on a Chris Landsea, or did you mean Chris O’Neill?

    I see my contribution re nuclear enegy on the NAS deja vu thread is now in the Deltoid Archive for Feb 06.


  15. #15 Nabakov
    March 7, 2006

    “But as sceptics are silenced…” she writes in a prime op-ed possie in one of the nation’s biggest newspapers.

  16. #16 John Cross
    March 7, 2006

    Tim Curtin: No, I did not mean Chris O’Neill – I meant Chris Landsea (and I have taken away your PhD for not knowing what you wrote ;-) ). From the same paragraph as your comment about CR firing the editors:

    Also notable is Chris Landsea’s resignation from IPCC (January 2005) after its dishonesty in imputing the active 2004 hurricane season to global warming in flagrant disregard of his work on hurricanes for IPCC.


  17. #17 Tim Curtin
    March 7, 2006

    John Cross

    I blame the find function, which could find no mention of Landsea, but it does not search all threads. Apologies again. What is the truth about Landsea?

    More generally, can anybody explain the death wish of Labour in Briatin (evidenced by House of Lords Select Committee report yesterday ruling our nuclear) and also yesterday ALP’s Beazley ditto. 60% cuts in emissions without use of nuclear imply a dark future, and unless the ANU’s sliver really does create massive new storage options, I see little to hope for from windmills and solar panels.

  18. #18 Tim Curtin
    March 7, 2006

    John Cross

    Oops – just after my last I found notice of an upcoming lecture on sliver technology for solar panels at ANU on Friday, it does not address the storage problem but does make solar panels cheaper and more efficient. Sadly the wind forecast for Friday is not good so I doubt my sail-car will make it to the lecture!