People outside Australia are probably unfamiliar with Piers Akerman, who is an absurdly partisan columnist for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. Tobias Ziegler finds Akerman not only denying the existence of global warming but also the existence of any criticism of Plimer’s book and even the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere.

i-25faa79bb1c61b7d09adcb6e326c1db3-piers.jpg

Comments

  1. #1 Mark
    July 29, 2009

    > Even in homeopathy you have to start with something tangible.

    > Posted by: Gaz

    However, for severe symptoms, they (rather strangely) tell you to take two tablets, rather than a half…

    So maybe that logical disconnect is why you equated Bob with Homoeopathy.

  2. #2 bluegrue
    July 29, 2009

    Billy Bob Hall,
    instead of whining how all we are doing here is “attacking the man” you could [answer the questions I posed to you](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/07/jim_lippard_on_plimer.php#comment-1788841).

  3. #3 Mark
    July 29, 2009

    See, there you go, bluegrue, attacking poor ole Billy again…

  4. #4 Jeff Harvey
    July 29, 2009

    I think Lurker is correct. BBH is here just to wind people up. He clinched it for me when he wrote:

    *Oh, forgot to mention just then Mark. I’m not convinced about CO2 Forcing. However, despite the vehement opposition from some, I’m starting to really think that Solar Forcing needs a lot more attention*

    He also actually wrote that, *Right now the climate is cooling*. This si further evidence in support of Lurker’s view.

    And we are supposed to take him seriously? This isn’t a scientific discussion with BBH. It’s someone with what appears to be a grade school understanding of the science giving their opinion, and dismissing the vast majority of the scientific community as being ‘warmest guys’.

    I feel that I have more than countered BBH’s simplistic vbiews in my previous posts. ‘Do nothing’ he says. I am sure that BBH belives we should have done nothing about CFCs, or about widespread habitat destruction, or to counter the threat to recipient ecosystems posed by invasive species. Do nothing. These kinds of words come from someone who obviously thinks humans are exempt from the laws of nature. Do nothing and all will be fine. At least for the privileged few. For the rest? Don’t worry.

    This is the sprint of folly.

    BBH isn’t convinced eabout AGW either (a) because he’s a low quality prankster, or (b) if he is serious, he hasn’t got much of clue about the empirical data and does not read the primary sources. It is one or the other.

    When he claimed that ‘solar forcing needs a lot more attention’ this clearly suggested to me that the answer above is (a). Once the denila lobby could no longer rely on the ‘it isn’t warming’ canard, they switched to a number of other tactics, including the ‘it’s natural’ argument, with solar forcing being one of their first arguments. But this hypothesis has been demolished many times. This is why the denialists also constantly dredge up the equally flawed ‘medievel warming period’ and, more recently, the ‘it stopped warming in 1998′ arguments.

    And now we have BBH claiming that it is cooling. What is the point in responding to this comic level book analysis?

  5. #5 Mark
    July 29, 2009

    > BBH isn’t convinced eabout AGW either (a) because he’s a low quality prankster, or (b) if he is serious, he hasn’t got much of clue about the empirical data and does not read the primary sources. It is one or the other.

    You sell our little winker short!

    He could be BOTH!

    (PS call a troll a troll. Not a “prankster”).

  6. #6 Jeff Harvey
    July 29, 2009

    Mark,

    I stand corrected. Troll it is. I was just giving him the very tiniest benefit of the doubt. Even that is too much, I realize.

  7. #7 Bernard J.
    July 29, 2009

    Troll, prankster, recalcitrantly uneducatable idiot…

    …whatever BBH is, it is a sad thing indeed that he derives his jollies by making light of a profoundly significant and potentially life-destroying phenomenon. And all for the sake of his narrow-minded ideology, whatever it might be.

    Very sad.

  8. #8 Mark Byrne
    July 29, 2009
  9. #9 Billy Bob Hall
    July 29, 2009

    What are the terms Mark Byrne ? If they are acceptable, I’ll go a step further and transfer the ($1000 was it ?) to you, in one of your bank accounts for you to hold ‘in trust’ for the duration of the bet. Now you wouldn’t steal it from me would you ? People on the green side of politics unfortunately tend to be a little untrustworthy.

  10. #10 Gaz
    July 29, 2009

    “People on the green side of politics unfortunately tend to be a little untrustworthy.”

    Yep, definitely a troll.

  11. #12 Billy Bob Hall
    July 30, 2009

    Thanks Mark, I see you want to use the corrupt Hadley Center… We would never reach any agreement if you insist on this lot being one of the arbiters.

  12. #13 Jeff Harvey
    July 30, 2009

    BBH says, *Thanks Mark, I see you want to use the corrupt Hadley Center*

    Evidence? Or is the evidence that this highly respected body produces data that you don’t like?

    BBH also says, *People on the green side of politics unfortunately tend to be a little untrustworthy*

    What a hoot. And so people on the corporate (= right wing) side of politics are more honest and trustworthy are they? Gimme a break. Your analyses are descending to comic book level. Given that western so-called democracies are dominated by pro-business governments and routinely lie to promote their agendas (just look at the Iraq war and the current conflict in Afghanistan and their ‘justifications’) I find such a glib remark by BBH to certainly qualify him for troll-dom.

    Bernard sums BBH up quite well (# 107).

  13. #14 Mark
    July 30, 2009

    > Thanks Mark, I see you want to use the corrupt Hadley Center…

    > Posted by: Billy Bob Hall

    Use the GISS data then.

    Duh.

  14. #15 Mark Byrne
    July 30, 2009

    Billy Bob, I suggest you [opt for](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/07/piers_akerman_takes_denial_to.php#comment-1802224) GISS if you don’t like Hadley.

    Will you take my bet?

  15. #16 Mark Byrne
    July 30, 2009

    Billy…. Bob….?

  16. #17 Billy Bob Hall
    July 31, 2009

    Mark, I just been checking the latest propaganda from GISS, firstly they have James Hansen, and if that’s not bad enough I just seen a recent paper where D Karoly is a co-author.
    So GISS is corrupt too as an arbiters. I cannot win with you here on this one Mark, I give up. I’ll just send you the $1000 bucks because it’ll be just too hard to deal with all the dross.

  17. #18 Gaz
    July 31, 2009

    “I cannot win with you here on this one Mark..”

    That’s because you’re wrong, Billy Bob.

  18. #19 Mark Byrne
    July 31, 2009

    Billy Bob,

    I agree you cannot win this bet. And it’s not because of the quality of the data.

    The planet will be warmer than the mean temp record anomaly. And it will be warmer despite a recent La Nina phase, solar minima, and near record high aerosol emissions.

    This year will be warmer than the mean tempeture record beacuse of a contiual build up and thus a higher content of trace gases that which have the property of slowing the escape of heat (more opaque to heat than to visible light).

    And like a dam blocking a river, slowing the excape of heat causes the temperature level to rise.

    LB sugggests [an experiment](http://www.espere.net/Unitedkingdom/water/uk_watexpgreenhouse.htm) we can all try to at home to test the principle on a rough scale.

  19. #20 TrueSceptic
    August 4, 2009

    16 Billy Bob Hall,

    Who are you talking to? And where are you talking about?

    And please find out what “ad hominem” means. If I say you are as thick as a fencepost, that’s not ad hominem; it’s an observation that you never cease to provide evidence for.

    It’s possible that you are an incorrigible liar, of course, but it’s hard to tell. All we know is that your grip on reality is somewhat tenuous.

  20. #21 Chris O'Neill
    August 4, 2009

    So GISS is corrupt too as an arbiters.

    You forgot to mention Billy Bob that they’re all part of the greatest conspiracy of all time that was started more than 100 years ago by Fourier, Tyndal and Arrhenius who knew they could create opportunities for research grants more than 100 years into the future. In fact, the vast majority of scientists are in one this conspiracy because of the interlocking nature of science. Well spotted Billy Bob. You deserve a Nobel prize.

  21. #22 TrueSceptic
    August 4, 2009

    Why not use Wood For Trees? You can use the Wood For Trees Index, which is an average of all the main datasets, or any of the individual ones.

  22. #23 Jeremy C
    August 5, 2009

    I think by posting on here BBH has achieved everything he set out to do. Amazing stamina and imagination. I bet he even thinks he is doing it for noble reasons. I wonder what would’ve been the outcome if he had just been ignored?

  23. #24 Mark
    August 6, 2009

    > I think by posting on here BBH has achieved everything he set out to do.

    This DOES presume some sort of intelligence.

    Something that does seem lacking in the evidence presented by billy.

  24. #25 Bernard J.
    August 6, 2009

    Ha!

    Guess who’s booked to appear on the [ABC's Q&A](http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/) next Thursday AEST, at 9.30pm?

    From the blurb at the end of tonight’s episode, it appears that issues of climate change will be the order of the day – I can’t wait to see how Piers performs…

  25. #26 t_p_hamilton
    August 6, 2009

    Maybe one of the ABC Q&A questions should be where the CO2 layer should be if it existed. It is obvious we live in the oxygen layer, and the proof is that mountain climbers need oxygen once they get out of the oxygen layer.

  26. #27 Fran Barlow
    August 6, 2009

    I was just running my eye down this thread and surprise surprise, I noted the painfully predictable dance in which one really persistent troll simply hunkers down and utters nonsensical claims one after another. People with scientific insight try hard to stay civil, attempting to lead the troll to something like insight with reasonable arguments and attempts to urge him onto some shared ground so that progress can be made.

    I am as guilty of taking my turn in this progressive barn dance as anyone on various blogs but of late I have come to wonder why we do it. Deep down we know that from the point of view of the troll, this is not an exercise the troll thinks he can win, nor an exercise in which, eventually, the troll will see reason when it butts up against his nose. I often want nothing more than to know why the troll is doing this at all. Mostly — and BBH fits this exactly, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could be paying them. But whatever reason drives this — angst, loneliness, poor social skills, sociopathy, sheer boneheaded stupidity we’re unlikely to find out. Nor do the trolls raise anything novel that could become a ‘teachable moment’ for their parties. Plainly someone who says “I don’t believe in radiative forcing” or speaks of the corrupt “Hadlee Center” as if this is simply obvious is not adding anything that needs discussion.

    So my question is — why are we persistently tempted to respond to this arrant tosh? There’s that old aphorism — apt here I think — never wrestle with a pig — you both get dirty and the pig likes it. It has been remarked here that in BBH’s case his stated goal was to waste the time of better people than him. He’s a kind of cyber equivalent of a suicide bomber. Perhaps he thinks that wasting so much of our time on him his better equipped buddies can wreak mayhem where people really are making up their minds. I heard Patrick Michaels speaking on PM yesterday and despite the interviewer’s best efforts, he was in full Gish Gallup mode, trotting out one red herring and specious claim after another and essentially interviewing himself.

    For me, I find them irritating and offensive on any number of grounds. They are the embodiment of misanthropy and ignorance and venality — unwitting catspaws in a larger game. It’s like an allergic itch — it doesn’t help to scratch — we know that — but it’s hard to resist.

    Do others here have better explanations? Just wondering.

    Fran

  27. #28 Barton Paul Levenson
    August 7, 2009

    Fran,

    No one, I think, expects to change Billy Bob’s mind. We respond in case he should say something that sounds impressive to a lay lurker on the thread. It’s the honest person just beginning to learn about this subject that we hope to influence, and that means, among other things, protecting such a person from misinformation and disinformation put out by the Billy Bobs of this world.

  28. #29 Fran Barlow
    August 7, 2009

    I often resort to this idea myself Barton, but I’m not convinced.

    Anyone lurking can easily read the comments made repeatedly on any matter rasied by the BBHs of this world — or ask for clarification.

    Don’t get me wrong — your efforts are commendable — I suspect I get more from them despite being familiar because your summaries are better composed than mine, but at times one tires and wishes we’d treat the trolls with the disdain they deserve.

    I realise I just uttered a paradox, but I suppose it’s the wrestling with this paradox that prompted my post.

  29. #31 Jeff Harvey
    August 7, 2009

    Hi Fran,

    Barton nailed it in my view. The main reason I, speaking as a scientist, write in here occasionally, is that there are those posting here, like BBH, whose kind of radical innocence may appeal to some lay readers. I’ve experienced the kind of position espoused by the likes of BBH even amongst students before, so, as Barton said, I feel we have a responsibility to nip it in the bud.

    As for motives, its hard to say. I think ignorance is a pretty good one. On the other hand, a lot (though not all, of course) of those in denial are, in my view, distorting science as a camouflage to promote a political agenda that is in line with their way of thinking. These people see any kinds of government regulation as a denial of freedom, and often draw the simple conclusion that one environmental law will lead to another et al. until many activities are curtailed or eliminated. Furthermore, many in the denial camp – and I refer to the general public – know very little about science and anyone who suggests that everything is OK, and that we are NOT part of the problem (I am speaking about the global injustices and inequity dilemma) will be seen as a guilt release.

    BBH has made some points that suggest he actually knows very little about global environmental change and the number of synergies involved. He speaks about climate change as if natural systems – already stressed by a wide range of anthropogenic processes – will adapt. Like many of the other pseudoscientific scribes, he also appears to believe that humans are exempt from the laws of nature, and that no matter how much harm our species inflicts on ecosystems across the biosphere, that somehow we’ll pull through. The bottom line is this, as I have said a million times before: the question is not whether humans can adapt, but whether natural systems that generate life-sustaining conditions for human civilization can adapt. In other words, how much can humans simplify nature and still expect these complex adaptive systems to effectively filter toxins, cycle nutrients, replenish soil fertility, moderate climate, control pest outbreaks, ensure clean water, and many other ecological services. These services emerge over variable scales – from that a very small local community to vast biomes, and are the by-product of trillions of interactions amongst billions of individuals and populations and millions of species. We certainly know enough today to say that nature functions as a sum of all of its parts, and these functions permit humans to exist and to persist.

    Climate change, in combination with habitat loss and fragmentation, other forms of pollution, invasive species etc. are simplifying nature at an astrounding rate. The extinction rate is higher now than at any time in 65 million years. Humans are consuming aquifers at rates well beyond renewal. We are depauperating soils at an alarming rate. In other words, we are spending natural capital as if there is no tomorrow. Given my background in population ecology, I am well awre of these changes and of the potential consequences. The BBHs of this world clearly aren’t, or cannot connect the dots. They do not realize that, in the long run, human well-being is intimately tied up with the state of the biosphere.

    Another thing that strikes me about the denialists (e.g. the Tim Curtin thread) is that they cannot comprehend that humans can influence processes they think as being wholly determinisitc and beyond our control. But humans have profoundly interefered with the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorus cycle, as well as flows of water and through very large scale systems. Humans dominate the planet’s surface, and thus have had a huge effect on large scale biotic and abiotic processes already. But many people just cannot get it through their heads that we can influence climate. Of course we can – and are.

  30. #32 Bernard J.
    August 7, 2009

    For the non-Australians reading Deltoid, and who might be wondering what this Q&A thing is that Fran, T P Hamilton and I have mentioned, here’s some background.

    As Fran says, the program consists of a panel of various well-known members of Aussie society, including politics, journalism, science, law, medicine, and so on. It is hosted by Tony Jones, the ABC reporter who got up the noses of Plimer supporters when [Heaven and Earth first crawled into the light of day](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/04/the_science_is_missing_from_ia.php), and it covers nationally and internationally important subjects, usually with a decidely political bent.

    The novelty about it is that there is live input in the form of both comments and of questions from the audience (sometimes stacked when interest-groups rush to book tickets – I’ll bet that the Sydney Denialati are there in droves…), as well as from pre-supplied video and email contributions from members of the public.

    To this end, if any international (and Aussie!) folk would like to try their hand at having a question put to Akerman on live television, visit the [Q&A site](http://www.abc.net.au/qanda) and follow the appropriate links. It would pay to understand the type of questions that are likely to be selected, so some homework might be in order.

    I don’t know to what extent the program’s researchers would be interested in being supplied with background material to a question, in order to thoroughly ground the context od said question, but I suspect that they might not be averse to such because there have been occasions in the past when Jones has slapped around the person questioned, once an (inadequate) answer has been given. On these occasions he has been obviously anticipating a slippery response, and has been determined not to let the offender off without some reexamination of the matter.

    Anyway, that’s Q&A.

  31. #33 Fran Barlow
    August 7, 2009

    Jeff Harvey@131

    I very much take your point. Indeed, I’ve just come back to this topic after skimming the TC thread. I very much appreciated your comments on the importance not merely of species richness, but of genetic diversity. It ought to be an obvious point, particularly as you pointed out, when we are asking unanswerable questions about the capacity of species to adapt to the changes driven by human activity to the biosphere — yet one rarely hears this come up. It does trouble me though that what is implied in ‘adaptation’ is precisely a change in the composition of the genetic pool which will almost certainly be narrower in scope than prior to the adaptation. Is this inference fair? Another point that gets little mention — since we know even less about this than is known about DNA — is the implication for the underlying epigenetics of species of changes to biomes.

    In broad terms, when I discuss these things with my (high school) students I ask them to consider what they’d do if confronted by a mass of wires and switches connected to circuit boards in turn connected to machines that maintained someone’s vital systems on life support. Which knobs, if any should they ‘adjust’ to improve the patient’s life chances? They agree they can’t know without knowing what each switch does and how it affects all the others — and then I note that amongst other things, the biosphere is a human life support system, and people are fiddling with it without knowing what will happen. I point out that as far as we know, we terrestrials are the only example of life in the universe and very little has to change for us to vanish and become like every other planet we know about. But I digress …

    I actually came across someone in the TC thread raising the point I did above and you answering! At the same time I could hear both your disgust and that of Bernard J at the conduct of TC. It seems a repellent thing that those of you for whom robust scientific inquiry is a given should spend so much of your valuable time enduring and responding to the disingenuous, malign and defamatory commentary of trolls such as TC. I mean it when I say that you and those possessed of similar expertise in the fields germane to Climate Change do all of us a great service when you give up your time to make complex and valuable information more accessible. I do fear that if you persist in responding to such arrant nonsense that far from setting the record straight, you will simply provide the trolls an enlarged platform to play out their misanthropy all the while becoming more drained by the effort. This latter outcome especially would be a serious loss for us all, but would no doubt be counted a victory by the trolls. For those at entry level in this matter, there are many mythbusting sites to which those confused by denier talking points could be referred and if further clarification is then needed, on some point it could be at that point you might respond.

    There might well be some value in offering some scientific assistance to TJ prior to the show, but having gone on the show (as an audience member) a couple of times, I can assure you it will not get past the usual memes: “cooling since 1998″ is virtually a shoe in; “China and India are laughing at the first world”; etc … (Patrick Michaels is out here at the moment with CIS (described as a Climatologist no less!!) and he did the Denier Gish Gallup on PM — and since that’s on the ABC one can assume some of this is likely to come up. (see PMWed 5 Aug)

    Anyway, all the best. You are made of sterner stuff than I am. That we have come to a point where the denier dance is predictable enough to be parodied means that I’m at a point where I struggle to maintain composure and am tempted to respond viscerally rather than analytically. I’ve had to adopt a certain cognitive dissonance just to avoid becoming angry and morose much of the time.

    But that’s what prompted my question.

    All the best …

  32. #34 Barton Paul Levenson
    August 8, 2009

    Fran,

    Thank you for the high praise. It helps to know someone thinks I’m making a difference.

    I understand the point you’re making and I think it’s a valid one to a great extent. One coping strategy I’ve begun to develop recently is to lay out specific arguments on web pages at my web site and then just give a URL to respond to certain denier comments. It saves a little space on the blogs, which means people can read through a thread a bit faster. One guy on the amazon.com boards keeps posting “It’s the sun, stupid!”–he has done so at least 15 times now. I always post back, but my posts only occupy two lines of text:

    MW: “It’s the sun, stupid!”
    Science: http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Sun.html

  33. #35 carbonglee
    December 12, 2009

    Since nothing interesting will happen by 2050 by which time I will be gone I clearly have no incentive to do anything that will cost me any amount no matter how small. So the enjoyment comes from paying people in the third world to burn coal for no useful purpose other than to annoy climate change supporters and leave, maybe, an unpleasant world for them at some later date. Am sure this is more fun than driving a Hummer