Windschuttle hoaxed

Keith Windschuttle has just published a hoax article full of pseudo-science in Quadrant. And it wasn’t this article by Tim Curtin which contains such gems as the claim that Arrhenius borrowed his formulation of the enhanced greenhouse effect from Malthus (he didn’t), that the water vapour from burning fossil fuels is a more important greenhouse gas that CO2 (ignoring the fact that the CO2 stays in the atmosphere 10,000 times as long) and attributing all of the increase in food production in the last thirty years to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (I swear that I am not making this up).

By comparison, the hoax article seems almost reasonable, though the proposal to use genetically modified mosquitoes to deliver drugs seems a bit of a give away:

A trawl through two of CSIRO’s annual reports reveals that the organisation had previously abandoned plans to commercialise two other projects which involved modifying organisms with an array of human gene sequences. … Another was modification of malaria mosquitoes so they carry genes which produce human antibodies in their gut; thus rendering their bite less dangerous.

And the very first sentence of the hoax is good:

Quadrant readers will remember America’s “science wars”, spearheaded by the masterful Sokal hoax, a “hodgepodge of unsupported arguments, outright mistakes, and impenetrable jargon” designed to challenge standards of logic, truth and intellectual enquiry in scientific debate.

Windschuttle’s response is priceless. He denies that the piece is a hoax:

Rather than a hoax, her article is simply a piece of fraudulent journalism submitted to Quadrant under false pretences.

There is lots of discussion of this matter: Margaret Simons, Larvatus Prodeo, Harry Clark, Andrew Norton and David Marr:

After a terrible two hours, Keith Windschuttle convinced himself he hadn’t been hoaxed at all. He was greatly relieved. How embarrassing such a stumble could have been for this fierce nitpicker, scourge of sloppy academics and current editor of the conservative Quadrant magazine.

Comments

  1. #1 Tim Curtin
    March 15, 2009

    Sod. #393: (1) Read Fig 1 in the Follies of Solomon et al PNAS 2009: their projected growth of emissions is 2% p.a. from now until 2100.

    (2) you said: “how long will it take to reduce CO2 back to former level. they come to a very different conclusion, than you do”. Their Fig. 1 says not before 2200 if emissions stop about now or 2020 at latest. Solly et al have zero comprehension of the dynamics, mainly because they expunge all consideration of terrestrial absorption (their Fig.1 implies it is negative from now for 40 years).

    (3) You have yet to rebut the evidence (in GCP and CDIAC) that terrestrial absorption has been rising continuously since 1958. Please copy me with your communication to them showing the errors of their ways. Meantime I stand by my demonstration of the apparent correlation between observed growth of that absorption and observed growth of global food consumption by all living matter, including trees, food crops, fish, sheep etc, and us.

  2. #2 sod
    March 15, 2009

    Sod. #393: (1) Read Fig 1 in the Follies of Solomon et al PNAS 2009: their projected growth of emissions is 2% p.a. from now until 2100.

    yes. but they (in contrast to you) realise, that latests emissions were growing by 3%:

    3%/year in the period from 2000 to 2005

    it is in their text! they are using a very CONSERVATIVE number for the annual emission increase!

    and they don t ignore all uptakes, as you claimed at the beginning of this discussion. instead, they use a 1.2%
    accumulation in the atmosphere.

    their numbers are all reasonable. it is yours, that are not!

  3. #3 Tim Curtin
    March 15, 2009

    Sod: you said “instead, they [Solly et pals] use a 1.2% accumulation in the atmosphere.their numbers are all reasonable. it is yours, that are not!” So 1.2% p.a. when the observed is 0.4% is reasonable? That is pure Madoff. The truth is that Fig.1 in Solomon et al (PNAS 2009) does not disclose the absorption of CO2, and the paper as a whole hardly refers to it, in fact, it shows no appreciation that increases in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 are the outcome of two processes, (1) emissions from fossil fuel burning, (actually there are many others including our own exhalation but that is usually ignored, and if accounted for would by the accounting identity which is the Carbon Budget result in higher Absorption given [CO2]), and (2) the processes involved in oceanic and biospheric absorption. The latter are NOT a residual in the real world, the actual residual is the atmospheric “sink”, i.e. [CO2]. Solomon et al pervert Science by treating Absorptions as a mere residual arising from their modelling. Check the models and get back to me if you can find the terrestrial biopsheric process by which CO2 is absorbed – you will see it is always a residual and never modelled(check Global Carbon Project).

  4. #4 Chris O'Neill
    March 16, 2009

    “Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units. Increasing the input from 4 units to 8 units causes the same increase in output again etc.” This is what I did: I first took the observed increase in the “input”, 100 ppm of [CO2] from 1900 to 2000, and the resulting increase in “output”, a rise of 0.7 oC in global mean temperature over that period (GISS).

    The great Curtin shows us another of his wonderful discoveries, i.e. that we don’t need to concern ourselves with the actual input values fed to a logarithm function to determine its change in value for a change in input. We only need to know the change in input. Thus the great Curtin showed that the logarithm function is actually linear. A brilliant discovery by one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of all time.

  5. #5 Tim Curtin
    March 16, 2009

    I see Chris O’Neill fails to disclose on this thread that he is himself the author of the quote he gives:”Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units. Increasing the input from 4 units to 8 units causes the same increase in output again etc.”

    I took his statement at face value and first took the observed increase in the “input”, 100 ppm of [CO2] from 1900 to 2000, and the resulting increase in “output”, a rise of 0.7 oC in global mean temperature over that period (GISS). Then Chris left out the next bits from my post, showing how the first doubling (i.e by 100 ppm) raises temps again but just by 0.7 oC, in accordance with his statement, and the next doubling, by 200 ppm to 400 total, for another 0.7 oC, and likewise for the doubling by 400 ppm to 800 ppm for another 0.7 oC, bringing the increase in temp since 1900 to 16.8 oC from 14 oC in 1900, and so on. To get to the IPCC’s rise of 3.5 in T “for a doubling in [CO2] from 280 ppm in 1900 to 560 ppm” we need to have another doubling by 800 pm to a total of 1600 + 280 – 1880 ppm. That is exactly in line with what O’Neill stated to be the logarithimic effect. His failure to give the full quote of my response to him is telling – and highly significant as it shows how equally lacking in honesty the IPCC is in claiming that a single doubling of the increment of 100 ppm since 1900 which brought us to 380 ppm in 2000 will more than double the observed increase in T of 0.7 oC since 1900. When scientists are not involved in political advocacy their case speaks for itself without any need to deny the logarithmic effect shown here and the resulting massaging of projections for the IPCC’s political ends (and those of its most enthusiastic sponsors, Obama, Brown the EU, and Rudd). O’Neill’s inability to be straight tells you all you need to know about the whole IPCC fantasy.

  6. #6 Chris O'Neill
    March 16, 2009

    “Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input”

    The great Curtin:

    I took his statement at face value and first took the observed increase in the “input”

    Here the great Curtin demonstrates his principle of confusion of words in definitions. Thus he shows how to confuse the word “input” from one part of a definition with the word “increase” from another part of the definition. Only the great Curtin has been able to demonstrate this principle. Thank heaven the great Curtin knows that he is right when the rest of the world is wrong.

  7. #7 Tim Curtin
    March 17, 2009

    Chris: just show us your numbers using the actuals for increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration (100 ppm) and increase in global mean temperature (0.7 oC, at most, given zero tropical Africa records in 1900) for the period 1900-2000, using your text “Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units. Increasing the input from 4 units to 8 units causes the same increase in output again etc.”

  8. #8 Jeff Harvey
    March 17, 2009

    Tim,

    You ask too many dumb questions and provide too few real answers. Given your feeble performance thus far on this exasperatingly long thread, I would love to see you debate Susan Solomon. I think she’d eat you alive.

    Prove to me that (1) plant productivity in natural systems is independent of other biotic and abiotic and biotic constraints and interactions including foliar levels of N and P as well as C, (2) that plants in natural systems can adapt to rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of C02 (e.g. that there isn’t a ceiling beyond which they suffer fitness reduction because they have co-evolved under lower C02 regimes) and (3) that your calculations therefore do not exclude a huge range of potentially important parameters (we all know that they do).

    Second, its little use parroting the global mean temperature increase since 1980 (and not, as you always say, since 1900) of 0.6-0.7 C because this ignores much higher regional changes. Some high latitude biomes have seen temperature rises of 5 C or more in only three decades. What are likely to be the effects on systems if this rate continues? What about the effects on invasive species? Let us see your ‘numbers’. For example: The effects on biodiversity. On ecosystem functioning. On vital ecocystem services. On pollinators and seed dispersers. On pest control agents. On nutrient cycling. On herbivore nutritional ecology. All of these data are vital is we are to understand what effects pumping more carbon into the atmosphere will be on the biosphere.

  9. #9 Jeff Harvey
    March 17, 2009

    I have a few minutes today, so here’s the summary of one study by Briones et al. in Soil Biology and Biochemistry on the effects of climate change on the soil community:

    Accordingly, our findings suggest that increasing temperatures associated to climate change will have a profound effect on the rhizosphere in terms of root extension and heterotrophic community’s structure. This will result in new species assemblages (as a result of species losses and increasing dominance of more resilient species), altered functional and trophic structure towards a fungal driven food web and changed vertical stratification, which could led to increased soil respiration and N mineralisation, less incorporation of C rich materials at the surface layers but acceleration of soil organic matter turnover in deeper layers and in turn, could profoundly alter ecosystem carbon function (Fig. 3).

    Adaptations in the longer-term can also not be discounted and therefore, the magnitude of the response to induced warming will highly depend upon the ecological flexibility of soil biodiversity and species adaptability. It can be concluded that soil decomposer communities do not exhibit constant biomass in all compartments as some models assume (Hunt et al., 1987). The results of this study provide further evidence for the use of dynamic rather static models for predicting community and carbon responses to climate change (Mcgeoch et al., 2006). From our study it is also obvious that it is *not possible to make generalisations regarding soil community responses to climate change* [emphasis mine] and that soil biology needs to be properly incorporated in C models to make better predictions of the fate of SOC under warmer scenarios.

    Now the summary of a paper by Hedhly et al. in Trends in Plant Science:

    The sexual reproductive phase in plants might be particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming. The direct effect of temperature changes on the reproductive process has been documented previously, and recent *data from other physiological processes that are affected by rising temperatures seem to reinforce the susceptibility of the reproductive process to a changing climate* [emphasis mine]. But the reproductive phase also provides the plant with an opportunity to adapt to environmental changes. Understanding phenotypic plasticity and gametophyte selection for prevailing temperatures, along with possible epigenetic changes during this process, could provide new insights into plant evolution under a global-warming scenario.

    Another study by Mattson et al. in Global Change Biology:

    For example, when confronted with typical CO2-induced diminished plant N content, and increased allelochemical content, mammals may more readily, and more broadly than insects, seek alternative, more palatable food sources, at least until their options are exhausted. Insect larvae, being less mobile, may be obliged to directly cope in situ with the consequences by exercising some local microselection opportunities, increasing consumption rates, or dispersing, resulting in prolonged developmental times, and perhaps even short term developmental stasis. After food ingestion under no choice circumstances, both may be similarly physiologically challenged by the altered food stoichiometry, and secondary chemistry, causing heightened metabolism due to diet-induced thermogenesis, and elevated detoxication.

    All of this points to complex nonlinear effects of increased atmospheric C02 levels and temperature. This is just a sample from thousands of such studies which have reported all kinds of effects on primary and secondary plant chemistry and on associated consumer behavior and development. One coudl write many volumes on the subject but not be able to extrapolate general conclusions. We just do not know enough to assert that increased C02 leveles in the atmosphere is the answer to eradicating hunger. For me, it is a little bit like saying burning our house down is a good way of keeping warm. Natural systems will (and are) responding non-linearly to both increased atmospheric C and to warming of the biosphere.

  10. #10 Tim Curtin
    March 18, 2009

    I see that Engelkes Harvey et al 2008 do not provide data on the impact of rising [CO2]. Why not? That is a serious deriliction! My preliminary response to your citations is to asky why Solomon et al do not refer to them? Pending my direct comments on them, which I’m working on, I’d like your own comments on the following papers, all of which are cited in my upcoming paper. Note expecially from Levy et al at 7. below this comment: “As CO2 is the dominating influence on the vegetation, the scenarios with high fossil fuel emissions,and thus the highest CO2 concentrations (A1F & A2) generate the largest net terrestrial sink for carbon.” True or false?

    Meantime the Bern Model used by Solomon et al. has only this to say on the Terrestrial biosphere “A potential fertilization by elevated atmospheric CO2 is taken into account by a logarithmic dependence of net primary production [which is not supported by any evidence] and Land surface processes are poorly represented.”

    1. from GLOBAL BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, VOL. 15, NO. 1, PAGES 183–206, 2001
    Carbon Balance of the Terrestrial Biosphere in the Twentieth Century: Analyses of CO2, Climate and Land Use Effects With Four Process-Based Ecosystem Models, A. D. McGuire et al.
    Abstract
    The concurrent effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, climate variability, and cropland establishment and abandonment on terrestrial carbon storage between 1920 and 1992 were assessed using a standard simulation protocol with four process-based terrestrial biosphere models. Over the long-term(1920–1992), the simulations yielded a time history of terrestrial uptake that is consistent (within the uncertainty) with a long-term analysis based on ice core and atmospheric CO2 data. Up to 1958, three of four analyses indicated a net release of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems to the atmosphere caused by cropland establishment. After 1958, all analyses indicate a net uptake of carbon by terrestrial ecosystems, primarily because of the physiological effects of rapidly rising atmospheric CO2. During the 1980s the simulations indicate that terrestrial ecosystems stored between 0.3 and 1.5 Pg C yr−1, which is within the uncertainty of analysis based on CO2 and O2 budgets… Simulated interannual variability from 1958 generally reproduced the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-scale variability in the atmospheric CO2 increase, but there were substantial differences in the magnitude of interannual variability simulated by the models. The analysis of the ability of the models to simulate the changing amplitude of the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2 suggested that the observed trend may be a consequence of CO2 effects, climate variability, land use changes, or a combination of these effects. The next steps for improving the process-based simulation of historical terrestrial carbon include (1) the transfer of insight gained from stand-level process studies to improve the sensitivity of simulated carbon storage responses to changes in CO2 and climate, (2) improvements in the data sets used to drive the models so that they incorporate the timing, extent, and types of major disturbances, (3) the enhancement of the models so that they consider major crop types and management schemes, (4) development of data sets that identify the spatial extent of major crop types and management schemes through time, and (5) the consideration of the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition…

    I hope you will agree that this paper confirms my own position; my co-author and I are addressing their point (3). The same applies to the next papers:

    2. Evaluating ecosystem responses to rising atmospheric CO and global warming in a multi-factor world. Richard J. Norby and Yiqi Luo
    Summary
    Analyses of ecosystem responses to global change must embrace the reality of multiple,
    interacting environmental factors. Ecosystem models demonstrate the importance
    of examining the combined effects of the gradually rising concentration of
    atmospheric CO2 and the climatic change that attends it. Models to forecast future
    changes need data support to be useful, and data–model fusion has become essential
    in global change research. There is a wealth of information on plant responses
    to CO2 and temperature, but there have been few ecosystem-scale experiments
    investigating the combined or interactive effects of CO2 enrichment and warming.
    Factorial experiments to investigate interactions can be difficult to design, conduct,
    and interpret, and their results may not support predictions at the ecosystem scale
    – in the context of global change they will always be case studies. An alternative
    approach is to gain a thorough understanding of the modes of action of single
    factors, and rely on our understanding (as represented in models) to inform us
    of the probable interactions. Multifactor (CO2 temperature) experiments remain
    important, however, for testing concepts, demonstrating the reality of multiplefactor
    influences, and reminding us that surprises can be expected.

    New Phytologist © New Phytologist (2004) 162: 281–293 http://www.newphytologist.org

    3. Persistent stimulation of photosynthesis by elevated CO2 in a sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) forest stand. Johnna D. Sholtis et al.
    Summary
    • The photosynthetic response of trees to rising CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) can be
    affected by plant source–sink relations, in addition to seasonal changes in environmental
    conditions. Characterization of biochemical and morphological feedbacks is important
    for understanding ecosystem responses to elevated atmospheric [CO2]. The seasonal responses of leaf gas exchange and related biochemical parameters were measured during 3 yrs of exposure on established plantation sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ) trees at a Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) facility in eastern Tennessee, USA….These results suggest that established L. styraciflua
    trees in closed-canopy forests might exhibit a long-term positive response to elevated [CO2] without reductions in photosynthetic capacity.
    New Phytologist (2004) 162: 343–354

    4. Nature: 403, 11 October 2001 ………………………………….
    Acclimatization of soil respiration to
    warming in a tall grass prairie
    Yiqi Luo, Shiqiang Wan, Dafeng Hui & Linda L. Wallace
    Department of Botany and Microbiology, University of Oklahoma, Norman,
    Oklahoma 73019, USA
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
    Change (IPCC) predicts a 1.4±5.8 8C average increase in the global
    surface temperature over the period 1990 to 2100 (ref. 1). These
    estimates of future warming are greater than earlier projections,
    which is partly due to incorporation of a positive feedback. This
    feedback results from further release of greenhouse gases from
    terrestrial ecosystems in response to climatic warming. The
    feedback mechanism is usually based on the assumption that
    observed sensitivity of soil respiration to temperature under
    current climate conditions would hold in a warmer climate5.
    However, this assumption has not been carefully examined. We
    have therefore conducted an experiment in a tall grass prairie
    ecosystem in the US Great Plains to study the response of soil
    respiration (the sum of root and heterotrophic respiration) to
    artificial warming of about 2 8C. Our observations indicate that
    the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration decreases or
    acclimatizes under warming and that the acclimatization is
    greater at high temperatures. This acclimatization of soil respiration
    to warming may therefore weaken the positive feedback between the terrestrial carbon cycle and climate.

    5 How do elevated CO2 and O3 affect the interception and
    utilization of radiation by a soybean canopy?
    ORLA DERMODY, STEPHEN P. LONG, et al.
    Abstract
    Net productivity of vegetation is determined by the product of the efficiencies with
    which it intercepts light («i) and converts that intercepted energy into biomass («c).
    Elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) increases photosynthesis and leaf area index (LAI) of
    soybeans and thus may increase «i and «c; elevated O3 may have the opposite effect.
    Knowing if elevated CO2 and O3 differentially affect physiological more than structural
    components of the ecosystem may reveal how these elements of global change will
    ultimately alter productivity. The effects of elevated CO2 and O3 on an intact soybean
    ecosystem were examined with Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment (SoyFACE)
    technology where large field plots (20-m diameter) were exposed to elevated CO2
    (_550 lmol mol_1) and elevated O3 (1.2_ambient) in a factorial design. Aboveground
    biomass, LAI and light interception were measured during the growing seasons of 2002,
    2003 and 2004 to calculate «i and «c. A 15% increase in yield (averaged over 3 years) under
    elevated CO2 was caused primarily by a 12% stimulation in «c, as «i increased by only
    3%. Though accelerated canopy senescence under elevated O3 caused a 3% decrease in «i,
    the primary effect of O3 on biomass was through an 11% reduction in «c. When CO2 and
    O3 were elevated in combination, CO2 partially reduced the negative effects of elevated
    O3. Knowing that changes in productivity in elevated CO2 and O3 were influenced
    strongly by the efficiency of conversion of light energy into energy in plant biomass will
    aid in optimizing soybean yields in the future. Future modeling efforts that rely on «c for
    calculating regional and global plant productivity will need to accommodate the effects of global change on this important ecosystem attribute. Global Change Biology (2008) 14, 556–564, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01502.x
    Can improved photosynthesis increase crop yields?
    S. P. Long
    et al.
    6. Can improvement in photosynthesis increase crop yields? STEPHEN P. LONG et al.
    ABSTRACT The yield potential (Yp) of a grain crop is the seed mass per
    unit ground area obtained under optimum growing conditions without weeds, pests and diseases. It is determined by the product of the available light energy and by the genetically determined properties: efficiency of light capture (ei), the efficiency of conversion of the intercepted light into biomass (ec) and the proportion of biomass partitioned into grain (h). Plant breeding brings h and ei close to their theoretical maxima, leaving ec , primarily determined by photosynthesis, as the only remaining major prospect for improving Yp…. Plant, Cell and Environment
    (2006) 29 , 315–330 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2005.01493.x

    7 Modelling the impact of future changes in climate, CO2 concentration
    and land use on natural ecosystems and the terrestrial carbon sink
    P.E. Levy*,M.G.R. Cannell,A.D. Friend
    Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK
    Abstract
    We used a global vegetation model,‘HyLand’, to simulate the effects of changes in climate,CO 2 concentration and land use on natural ecosystems. Changes were prescribed by four SRES scenarios: A1f,A2, B1 and B2. Under all SRES scenarios simulated, the terrestrial biosphere is predicted to be a net sink for carbon over practically all of the 21st century. This sink peaks around 2050 and
    then diminishes rapidly towards the end of the century as a result of climate change. Averaged over the period 1990–2100,the net sink varies between scenarios,from B2 to 6 PgCyr_1. Differences are largely the result of differences in CO2 concentrations. Effects of climate change are substantially less,and counteract the effect of elevated CO2. Land use change results in a loss of
    carbon to the atmosphere in the B2B scenario,in which the increase in cropland area continues. In the other scenarios, there is a decrease in croplands and grassland,with a corresponding increase in natural vegetation,resulting in a net sink to the biosphere. The credibility of these results depends on the accuracy of the predictions of land use change in the SRES scenarios,and these are highly
    uncertain. As CO2 is the dominating influence on the vegetation,the scenarios with high fossil fuel emissions,and thus the highest CO2 concentrations (A1F & A2) generate the largest net terrestrial sink for carbon. This conclusion would change if these scenarios assumed continued deforestation and cropland expansion. Without the beneficial effects of elevated CO2,the effects of climate
    change are much more severe. This is of concern,as the long-term and large-scale effects of elevated CO2 are still open to question….
    Global Environmental Change 14 (2004) 21–30

  11. #11 Jeff Harvey
    March 18, 2009

    Great Tim, you can read. That’s a start. But all you are doing is citing research that for the most part EXCLUDES interactions with soil and above ground biota. And for every one of these studies, I can find an equal number or more of others that provide different or very uncertain results. How many of the critical studies are you going to cite in your ‘paper’? Or are you going to do a classic Lomborg and make your paper ‘cherry picking heaven’?

    Note also the closing remarks from the last paper that you cited:

    “The credibility of these results depends on the accuracy of the predictions of land use change in the SRES scenarios,and these are highly uncertain… This conclusion would change if these scenarios assumed continued deforestation and cropland expansion. Without the beneficial effects of elevated CO2, the effects of climate change are much more severe. This is of concern,as the long-term and large-scale effects of elevated CO2 are still open to question…”

    Note that deforestation and agricultural expansion have not stopped. We have already lost something like 50% of tropical wet forests worldwide in the pasdt 100 years and the projection is that more will go over the coming years.

    I want to know if the studies I cited in my last post, as well as the following will end up in your earth shattering article:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7073/abs/nature04420.html

    http://www.optimumpopulation.org/blog/?p=397

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/rainforest-razed-so-cattle-can-graze-1521677.html

    http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0314-amazon.html

    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2006/acidification.shtml

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v430/n7002/abs/nature02808.html

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7089/abs/nature04539.html

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v416/n6879/abs/416389a.html

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/2641830

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VR3-4KF6XV2-C&_user=521928&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000026118&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=521928&md5=d6c230cd2d2114f93d590f29a81f1598

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118993325/abstract

    This is just a small sample. There are hundreds of studies which illustrate similar uncertainties. I’d be shocked if I heard any scientist (economists do not count) claim with complete certainty that it is a good thing to continue pumping carbon into the atmosphere, given all of the nasty surprises that are likely to be in store. You are advocating policy based on highly fragmented information on complex adaptive systems. I want to reiterate: how many of your ideas are politically (rather than scientifically) driven? This is vitally important, a point that is usually ignored by the msm.

    One thing you are also ignoring is the capacity of vegetation to soak up C02 (while also ignoring the fact that humans are continuing to fell forests and convert them to grasslands over much of the world as I said above). I spoke with a colleague in Germany recently who said that forests will absord C02 until some threshold is reached, then they will either start becoming net emitters of it or, even more worryingly, many will die because they do not have the capacity to maintain an optimal C:N:P balance. Its all a crap shoot. The evidence, as you well know, paints a very worrying picture, and especially if other biotic factors are included.

    Where do you intend to submit this opus of yours? Mad Magazine perhaps? Have you published any related articles in the peer-reviewed literature? If not, why not? Where did you obtain your formal training in plant physiology and environmental science? What can you tell me about the effects of global change on context and trait dependent parameters amongst species in food webs? I have asked you this a zillion times and I never get a response. To conclude, also for the zillionth time: plant productivity depends on an array of biotic and abiotic processes, including multiple interactions with soil and above-ground biota. How will these interactions be affected by multiple aspects of global change? Will this discussion appear in your ‘article’? I want to know.

  12. #12 Tim Curtin
    March 18, 2009

    Dear Jeff. Thanks for all those refs. I will respond when I have had time to digest them.

    Meantime I note that you say “deforestation and agricultural expansion have not stopped. We have already lost something like 50% of tropical wet forests worldwide in the past 100 years and the projection is that more will go over the coming years”. Here you display the neo-racism of so many environmentalists, especially in Holland with its colonial hangups. Brown people are not quite as stupid as you and the Dutch believe. When Indonesians and Malaysians replace moribund old growth forest with oil palm trees and the like, those trees actually soak up more CO2 annually than the clapped out stuff they replace, and generate a commensurate higher income to all involved, to the chagrin of taxpayer funded intellectuals like yourself so well shielded from the real world of having to find a living not funded by the well-heeled burghers of The Netherlands. The process of switching from senescent old forest to vibrant oil palm not only helps to feed the world but also very largely explains why such a high proportion (57%) of ever growing CO2 emissions is still soaked up by the terrestrial biosphere.

    BTW, have you ever come across “A History of Atmospheric CO2 and its Effects on Plants, Animals and Ecosystems”, Ehleringer, Cerling, Dearing, Springer 2005? That is when I bought my extensively annotated copy, which is the basis of my own views. Apart from the offering by serially truth-challenged Ian Enting, all chapters are seminal, I particularly draw your attention to J. Ward in Part 2 devoted to “Biotic responses to long term changes in atmospheric CO2″, and to my sometime compatriot N.J van der Merwe, “CO2, grasses and human evolution”.

    But when you had nothing to offer in response to my previous listings in my last post, I shall not lose any sleep in expectation of a coherent response to that book from you.

  13. #13 Bernard J.
    March 18, 2009

    I wince that my absence for the last day or so has seen the number of points, to which I would respond, outstrip the time that I currently have in which to answer them.

    In response to Jeff’s question though:

    I want to reiterate: how many of your ideas are politically (rather than scientifically) driven?

    I would note that Curtin already seems to have provided an answer when he comments:

    …I intend to use it [Solomon et al] to defeat ETS everywhere.

    And a few queries…

    Radium Water Tim, who is your co-author? to which journal are you submitting? When are you submitting, and do you intend to make your reviews available, given their relevance to this thread?

  14. #14 Tim Curtin
    March 18, 2009

    Bernard: you asked: “who is your co-author?” after the threats I received aftr posting at Barry Brook’s, I choose not to reveal at this point (I have proof of these threats).

    “to which journal are you submitting?” same reply, the editor of the journal I first submitted to, received similar threats, hence my switch to Quadrant, Keith had more bottle.

    “When are you submitting?” asap, but actual appearance is not my decision.

    “and do you intend to make your reviews available, given their relevance to this thread?” Yes.

  15. #15 Jeff Harvey
    March 18, 2009

    Tim, if anyone is neocolonialist, it is you. I find it takes remarkable hubris – or downright ignorance – for you to write these utterly pathetic words:

    *Here you display the neo-racism of so many environmentalists, especially in Holland with its colonial hangups. Brown people are not quite as stupid as you and the Dutch believe. When Indonesians and Malaysians replace moribund old growth forest with oil palm trees and the like, those trees actually soak up more CO2 annually than the clapped out stuff they replace, and generate a commensurate higher income to all involved, to the chagrin of taxpayer funded intellectuals like yourself so well shielded from the real world of having to find a living not funded by the well-heeled burghers of The Netherlands*.

    You have lost it big time when you to resort to this kind of garbage. Of all people I am well aware that every country in the developed world fosters an enormous ecological deficit. This includes all of the developed countries in the ‘qaud’. Government and corporate planners in the rich countries are well aware that there isn’t enough capital to go around equitably. This is why the rules of trade are stacked against the poor. The deficit is not shrinking either; it is growing. The rich countries need to be able to reach beyond their borders and effectively take (= loot) natrual capital and resources from the underdeveloped countries. The Netherlands is no exception as I am well aware. The US and the Netherl;ands have the biggest per capita ecological deficits in the world and remain rich because they are the beneficiaries of a neoliberal economic system (which is neither new nor liberal) based around the ‘Washington Consensus’ that concentrates wealth among commercial elites. To be honest, our countries do not give a jot about eradicating hunger and poverty, at least where this compromises profit margins amongst the powerful transnational corporate elite and the governments that are beholden to them who run things. Our planners know all too well that if everyone on Earth lived like the average European or American, we’d need an additional 3 or more ‘Earth like planets’ to sustain ourselves. This explains why the US and China in particular are in a mad grab to secure vital resources from other nations; it explains why we routinely cozy up to vile regimes and explains why the US strategy towards Latin America shifted from ‘hemispheric defence’ to ‘internal security’ 45 years ago. That policy had immediate and horrific consequences for all of those fighting to free themselves from poverty and inequality. But it is clear to me that you do not know the half of it Tim.

    Dmitri Simes a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote commented on the three ways in which he thought the United States could take advantage of the end of the cold war and remain the pre-eminent world superpower. One of the ways he argued was that the US would no longer be ‘manipulated by the poor countries of the south’. the United States can end “the manipulation of America by third world nations.” The manipulation of the rich by the undeserving poor has always been a serious concern, particularly acute with regard to Latin America, which in the preceding five years had transferred some $150 billion to the industrial West in addition to $100 billion of capital flight, amounting to twenty-five times the total value of the Alliance for Progress and fifteen times the Marshall Plan.

    Even before the United States entered the second world war, high-level planners and analysts concluded that in the postwar world the United States should seek “to hold unquestioned power,” acting to ensure the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. They recognized further that “the foremost requirement” to secure these ends was “the rapid fulfillment of a program of complete rearmament,” then as now a central component of “an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States.” Iam sure the world’s poor has never been at the top of the agenda of western planners.

    As far as suggesting that oil palms would soak up carbon, you have really lost it here. And what about the teeming biodiversity of tropical forests? What would happen to it under such a conversion? Oil palm plantations are ostensibly biological deserts, like banana plantations and the like. They harbor rats, cockroaches, and little else. The consequences of converting mature tropical forests to oil palm plantations on a large scale would be catastophic not just for biodiversity but for us as well. For the entire biosphere. It would almost certainly lead to a massive shift in climatic patterns, altering evapotranspiration regimes; it would also alter soil chemistry, and in no time would turn much of the tropical world into a desert. Vital ecosystem services would be lost forever. What little credibility you had in my eyes washed away in a second when you wrote this utter nonsense. If this is the kind of sober sense you are bringing to your ‘article’ I cannot wait to see it. It will be a belly laugh out of all proportions.

  16. #16 sod
    March 18, 2009

    When Indonesians and Malaysians replace moribund old growth forest with oil palm trees and the like, those trees actually soak up more CO2 annually than the clapped out stuff they replace, and generate a commensurate higher income to all involved,

    i have serious doubts about those numbers. what was your source again?

    they did factor in that the palm oil gets burned, didn t they?

  17. #17 P. Lewis
    March 18, 2009

    When Indonesians and Malaysians replace moribund old growth forest with oil palm trees and the like …

    WHAT! So it’s f#ck the poor old orang utan then (not that it isn’t heading that way already)!?

    They’re priceless, as in beyond price.

    But then so is the self-appointed new Emperor of Antarctica’s view on replacing old-growth forest with oil palm priceless, though in the meaning of worthless, mindless and absurd in his case!

    Dim Tim just gets dimmer.

  18. #18 Jeff Harvey
    March 18, 2009

    Sod, P. Lewis,

    Tim appears to be one of those guys who believes that we could cut down every forest on Earth and replace all of the temperate forests with birch or maple and the tropical forests with oil palm and then we’d all live happily ever after. This kind of simplistic drivel sums up the views of many contrarians: divorced from the real world.

    I recall right wing economist Peter Huber in his book ‘Hard Green’ a few years back saying that ‘Humanity can survive just fine in a planet-covering crypt of concrete and computers’. I don’t know if he actually believed this silly claptrap for a second, but of course if this was the case humanity would be staring extinction squarely in the face.

    Clearly Tim has some kind of in-built mental wall to exclude all relevant scientific data that does not fit in snugly with his world view. But when he made his oil palm remark, to say I was dumbfounded would be the understatement of the month. After all I have written on this thread, after all of the volumes and volumes of articles which have been written that demolish this kind of simple crap, out comes this. But then, it is not necessarily surprising. Tim has shown his lack of scientific acumen here once more. I don’t know of a single scientist who would ever make such a rash remark, because they would be fully aware of the horrific environmental consequences that would emerge from it. To reiterate, oil plam plantations are biological deserts. Hardly anything, apart from rats and cockroaches, lives in them. There is virtually no understory. No shrub layer.

    The Malaysian government was cunning when it included oil palms in its national data set for forest cover, because it is fully aware that these forests are ostensibly the ‘living dead’. When I was in Malaysia in 1996 I drove with my brother from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and I saw mile after mile of terrain that had lost their primary forests and had been replaced by west African oil palms. I can assure you that I would have been lucky to see half a dozen bird species in them the entire day had I searched.

    If the equatorial regions were to convert old growth tropical forests to oil palms, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. Certainly 95% of the species inhabiting the forests would vanish. They wopuld take with them an array of vital services they perform as part of larger communities and ecosystems. Hydrological cycles would be annihalated. As Jugudush Shukla has shown, South American rainfall is endlessly recycled after convecting over the Andes. A single emergent rainforest tree can recycle up to a million gallons of water in a single year. Moisture passes along a west-east gradient, nourishing the Mata Atlantica forests of eastern Brazil. Already there is concern that widespread deforestation of Amazonia may interrupt this vital cycle, which would lead to rapid changes in the Mata Atlantica, some of the most biodiverse regions on Earth.

    A poll taken a few years ago amongst Brazilians showed that more than 90% of the people of that country believed that their forests should get more, not less protection, and that cutting the forests down would not make the country or the people better off. A survey at about the same time in Brazil revealed that people living in forested regions were much better off than those living where the forests had been clear cut. Deforestation and poverty go hand in hand. Moreover, the ‘development model’ proposed by many who espouse the benefits of neoliberal economics rarely alleviate poverty, because the proceeds from development are primarily appropriated by the rich.

  19. #19 Bernard J.
    March 18, 2009

    Radium Water Tim.

    At #408 you reveal to us the violent predilections of the Global Conspiracy of Scientists:

    Bernard: you asked: “who is your co-author?” after the threats I received aftr [sic] posting at Barry Brook’s, I choose not to reveal at this point (I have proof of these threats).

    “to which journal are you submitting?” same reply, the editor of the journal I first submitted to, received similar threats, hence my switch to Quadrant, Keith had more bottle. [my emphasis]

    OK, so that would be scary stuff. I’d be tres curious to know the nature of these ‘threats’, but really, they are neither here nor there, because my primary concern at the moment is the inconsistency of this claim with the first reason that you gave, at #188, for publishing in Quadrant; namely:

    My Quadrant piece had 3 peer reviewers, albeit for another journal, but that could not find space until about June, and has little impact in Australia, so given that Garnaut is already dead and buried here, I opted for bigger and more immediate impact.

    So, which is it? Were you in fear of your safety, or were you after an expedited publication?

    As to your outrageous

    When Indonesians and Malaysians replace moribund old growth forest with oil palm trees and the like, those trees actually soak up more CO2 annually than the clapped out stuff they replace, and generate a commensurate higher income to all involved, to the chagrin of taxpayer funded intellectuals like yourself so well shielded from the real world of having to find a living not funded by the well-heeled burghers of The Netherlands. The process of switching from senescent old forest to vibrant oil palm not only helps to feed the world but also very largely explains why such a high proportion (57%) of ever growing CO2 emissions is still soaked up by the terrestrial biosphere.

    I second sod’s call for your numbers, because they are way out of line. Just how long do you think that carbon fixed by plantation palms stays ‘fixed’?

    And in addition to the task above, can you add a precise of comparative species analyses for forest versus plantation, with justification for the decimation of biodiversity that follows plantation, and in particular can you explain why extensive plantation of palms should not be of concern for the orang utans that are being displaced?

    Finally, Tim Lambert, if you are following this thread down to the dungeon level where we are currently bogged, might I suggest that we commence a new thread for the benefit of Curtin’s tardy justification of his Quadrant pseudoscience? You could leave a link at the bottom of this page, and at the top of the new one, and then shut this bugger down. Your tolerance of the lack of evidence and of scrutinisable science on Curtin’s behalf is amazing, but I am growing a bit fed up downloading and scrolling through the whole bleedin’ thing in order to follow it!

  20. #20 Jeff Harvey
    March 18, 2009

    Bernard,

    I second your request to Tim Lambert. Scrolling down this page is a pain in the butt and I feel like I am halfway to China…

    With respect to threats, after Stuart Pimm and I critically reviewed Lomborg’s book for Nature, I received all kinds of nasty emails. I was also called everything under the sun by some of the think tank brigade, so I am used to that kind of thing.