Realclimate covers the Journalismgate scandal, where a couple of dishonest reporters (Jonathan Leake and David Rose) have generated a blizzard of stories in British newspapers about alleged errors in the IPCC reports. Despite their best efforts to destroy the credibility of the IPCC reports, they’ve only managed to come up with two actual errors in three phone book size reports:

  • WG2 wrongly said that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035
  • WG2 said that the Netherlands was vulnerable sea level rise and river floodingbecause 55% of its area is bleow sea level when it should have said that 26% was below sea level and 29% vulnerable to river flooding.

I guess its possible that there’s more, but the bottom line is that in three enormous volumes, just two errors have been found. The credibility of the IPCC is in good shape, unlike that of the British press.


  1. #1 JamesA
    February 15, 2010

    > The credibility of the IPCC is in good shape, unlike that of the British press.

    The British press has credibility?!?

  2. #2 John
    February 15, 2010

    What does TV Week say about global warming? I demand answers.

  3. #3 P. Lewis
    February 15, 2010

    Just to add a bit more on the Netherlands “issue”. RC state that the original statement about flooding and sea level was in info received from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA), a Dutch government agency, and that the original statement was corrected by the NEAA on (what looks like) 8 Feb 2010 … almost 3 years after the AR4 release. So, hardly an IPCC error in the first place.

  4. #4 hc
    February 15, 2010

    What gets me is the response to these errors. I can’t understand why it is that the tone of the criticisms is one of uncovering a conspiracy rather than just saying ‘you got it wrong’. In a 3000 page set of reports there are likely to be errors. Correct them, call for changes and get on with the business of making things as accurate as possible.

    BTW I read the section on glaciers in AR2 for a particular reason and did pick up a mildly wrong impression. But I left the discussion with the main point was that glacier responses were likely to be heterogenous with ‘large’ glaciers melting very slowly. I didn’t find the wrong conclusion in the Executive Summary or in AR1.

  5. #5 JamesA
    February 15, 2010

    > I can’t understand why it is that the tone of the criticisms is one of uncovering a conspiracy rather than just saying ‘you got it wrong’.

    The denialists can’t argue the core facts any more, so they have to attack the credibility of what they think to be the source (the fact that the IPCC report is based on already-published material seems to be lost on them). It’s the exact same MO as the ‘truthers’ going over the 9/11 commission report with a fine tooth comb and latching onto whatever perceived inconsistencies they can find.

  6. #6 Charlie
    February 15, 2010

    Casual accusations of dishonesty leave you open libel actions. I knew Dave Rose at university, and if the best you can do to discredit his reporting is make baseless and libelous claims about his integrity then I can only hope you find yourself on the wrong end of a writ. For your information, in British courts – where David Rose could easily bring a case since your blog has readers in the UK – you have to be able to prove your accusation to avoid being found guilty of libel. If I were David Rose, I’d sue you.

    And for the record, our shared surname is a coincidence – I’m not related to him.

  7. #7 JasonW
    February 15, 2010

    Charlie, have you actually read the blog posts about Rosegate? Baseless accusations – anything but. Rose has been caught multiple times distorting and misrepresenting. Why, he even accused the scientists he was misrepresenting of lying.

    In fact, I doubt that any of this will appear in court – Rose would cause himself considerable embarassment if his articles came under such close scrutiny, leaving the Daily Fail to have to retract and publish an apology. Again.

  8. #8 Marco
    February 15, 2010

    for starters, the UK libel law does not apply to publications in another country.
    Second, David Rose may be considered a public figure, and would thus have to prove actual malice to get anything out of a court case. Since David Rose cannot do so (he’s been caught too many times making things up, so the label “dishonest” holds), he’d actually bite himself in the foot.

    And that’s it: he’s been caught too many times making things up. *HE* is the one who should be sued, for dishonest reporting. His most likely defence? Ignorance. Failing to understand what scientists are actually saying.

  9. #9 James Sinnamon
    February 15, 2010

    Being open-minded about too many issues will cause paralysis. At some point we have to be able to stop arguing and act on our convictions.

    I had thought we long ago passed that point with AGW, however, because I keep running into ‘sceptics’ who seem credible, I have to allow my mind to be open once again.

    I was trying to fight the war against global warming denialism on our web site by publishing articles about global warming. However, someone, I otherwise have a lot of time for, posted a lengthy post “How to create a climate crisis” to an article “Global warming melts Peruvian peaks” of 28 January 2010.

    There’s a lot more than I have time to get my head around. The author is Peter Salonius a Canadian soil scientist. Although that would not obviously make him an expert, his field is surely one which will be effected one way or the other by the debate over climate change.

    He also writes that he accepted the theory of AGW until he closesly looked at the data. Now he says he feels as if he has been duped by the AGW proponents and the IPCC.

    My suspicion is that such AGW sceptics are still wrong, but I would like to be more confident about this without having to force myself to study this issue for months.

    Comments on our web site would be especially welcome.

    Another seemingly plausible looking piece of AGW ‘scepticism’ is the YouTube broadcast “What does Average Temperature Mean?”.

  10. #10 Dave
    February 15, 2010


    David Rose showed up in the comments here not long ago, trying to defend his actions when *detailed critiques* of his work were provided.

    He was somewhat less than convincing.

    By the way, pretending that *detailed critiques* do not exist when a simple search of this site shows that, well, they do, is a little odd – as is using your pretense that *detailed critiques* do not exists as a basis for making accusations of libel.

  11. #11 stepanovich
    February 15, 2010

    > The author is Peter Salonius a Canadian soil scientist.

    According to Peter Salonius himself, that is.

    And he writes in ALL CAPS to emphasize certain KEY POINTS.

    Certainly seems credible to me. :-B

  12. #12 Charlie
    February 15, 2010

    @Marco – I think you’re behind the times on British libel law. Although I rather disapprove of this, it is possible to argue that publishing on the net is in effect to publish everywhere, including in the UK. Mr Justice Eady seems in particular to be open to these arguments, if I’ve understood recent press reporting on this subject accurately.

    Yes, I’ve read the Rosegate threads, and been underwhelmed. Rose maintains he accurately quoted his interviewees. He took notes of the interviews, and possibly his interviewees didn’t. To accuse him of lying about the content of the interviews requires evidence amounting to proof if a libel action is brought. Do you have it? I suspect not. Surely best in the circumstances not to cheapen the debate and attempt to argue your corner ad hominem? I think so anyway.

  13. #13 JasonW
    February 15, 2010

    It seems that Peter Salonius is at least what he says:

    Didn’t get round to reading his article yet, but THE CAPS jumepd out at me too.

  14. #14 Dave
    February 15, 2010

    @James Sinnamon

    I don’t wish to be impolite or dismissive, but that post comes across as a carbon copy of the majority of tired, long-debunked nonsense that is regurgitated time and time again.

    I mean come on – the bald assertion that there is no evidence that CO2 causes warming (tell that to Fourier, Tyndall, Arrhenius et al), the claims of “skulduggery” in the stolen CRU emails, hockey stick, vostok cores, “hundreds” of dissenting “climate scientists” blah blah blah.

    I jest… but in all seriousness, I didn’t see anything that’s not long-since been dealt with eg. here:

    If I can summon up the energy and enthusiasm for a polite response I’ll try – but in his own words “There is no one as vociferous as a CONVERT” πŸ˜‰

  15. #15 Charlie
    February 15, 2010

    @Dave – the point is that a detailed critique is not the same as an accusation of lying, for which you need evidence. Of course you may think otherwise, but that would be odd.

  16. #16 Somerville
    February 15, 2010

    Why do all of the denialists say the same thing?

    “I accepted the theory of AGW until I closely looked at the data”

    Peter Salonius certainly appears to be a legitimate soil scientist but he holds some real nutter ideas about the world’s population, check out his little essay at History of Population Overshoot

  17. #17 stepanovich
    February 15, 2010

    Shorter Charlie:

    Rose accuses climate scientists of lying, therefore he can sue other people for libel.

  18. #18 JamesA
    February 15, 2010

    > Why do all of the denialists say the same thing?
    > “I accepted the theory of AGW until I closely looked at the data”

    A while back, this particular phenomenon was dubbed ‘The Mark of Woo’ on JREF. When someone starts out by saying something along the lines of “I used to be sceptical on this, but…”, it’s normally a sure-fire sign that they’re about to launch into a full blown rant about aliens, conspiracy theories, perpetual motion machines, crystal therapy or some other ‘alternative’ belief. Regardless of whatever merit their argument does or doesn’t have, nine times out of ten you find out that the person was already a full-blown moonbat to begin with and needed no convincing in the first place.

  19. #19 Martin Vermeer
    February 15, 2010

    He also writes that he accepted the theory of AGW until he closesly looked at the data. Now he says he feels as if he has been duped by the AGW proponents and the IPCC.

    Yep, that’s always the story. “I used to believe… until I…” gives that precious touch of personal authenticity. They sure know their storytelling, those denialists.

    Hmmm, “theory of AGW”. Giveaway. Wonder if he mentions Al Gore…

  20. #20 Jeff Harvey
    February 15, 2010

    James Sinnamon:

    I understand your dilemma. However, in my humble opinion, it is a bit of a stretch for Peter Salonius to claim to have changed his opinion once “he went over the data”. What data? Given the mammoth amount of work that would entail, methinks something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

    I am also a Canadian scientist in the field of population ecology. Given (1) that climate science is not my field of research, and (2) that I am too busy doing my own research to be able to go through the mountains of data necessary to make a truly informed decision in the debate, I decided to defer to the views of the vast majority of my peers in climate science who argue that the link between the human combustion of fossil fuels and the current warming is a robust one. The summary of the evidence is presented in the IPCC drafts. If someone came up to me with expertise in an unrelated field and claimed that there was no relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and that ecological network webs do not suggest that diversity reinforces stability, on the basis of “going over the data”, I would be highly sceptical, given that one would need to have done a heck of a lot of reading and to be able to understand a comparatively new field, in coming to their decision.

    Therefore, I am afraid that the opinions of a soil scientist with a very modest publication record, if I may say so, does not cut it.

  21. #21 P. Lewis
    February 15, 2010

    Some conversions just appear to lack credulity, even if the holder is sincere about that conversion.

    I used to believe that mummy and daddy placed the Xmas presents at the bottom of my bed. Now I know Father Christmas exists. I’ve seen the movie! /sarc

    I used to believe in evolution…

    I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world.


  22. #22 DavidCOG
    February 15, 2010

    > “I accepted the theory of AGW until I closely looked at the data”

    That’s often combined with “I might have believed the science if you weren’t such a big, mean poopy head and called me horrid names.”

  23. #23 winnebago
    February 15, 2010

    Wait a minute guys that YouTube has the final nail in the AGW coffin , “This shows you can have an increase in average yearly mean temperature without it getting hotter, but by it becoming less cold” (2:21).

  24. #24 Erasmussimo
    February 15, 2010

    winnebago, your comment lacks the URL and is, prima facie, nonsense. Perhaps some elaboration is in order.

  25. #25 Ian Forrester
    February 15, 2010

    James Sinnamon is a truther. See here:

    I don’t think we need give any credibility to anything he says, or to any one he endorses, as actually having any relevance to AGW.

    Seems like it is a case of “birds (conspiracy theorists that is) of a feather flock together.”

  26. #26 Unity
    February 15, 2010

    Oh dear. Leake’s been at it again.

    This time, its knocking out puff pieces on Anthony Watts…

  27. #27 winnebago
    February 15, 2010

    Sorry, I was referring to James Sinnamon’s link in #9 above. Nonsense you say? From a denier YouTube? You’re just trying to silence dissent.

  28. #28 Hank Roberts
    February 15, 2010

    > Some conversions just appear to lack credulity

    This guy’s claim of ‘conversion’ is more typical of the claim; it displays credulity aplenty; it lacks credibility.

  29. #29 Phila
    February 15, 2010

    A while back, this particular phenomenon was dubbed ‘The Mark of Woo’ on JREF. When someone starts out by saying something along the lines of “I used to be sceptical on this, but…”, it’s normally a sure-fire sign that they’re about to launch into a full blown rant about aliens, conspiracy theories, perpetual motion machines, crystal therapy or some other ‘alternative’ belief.

    It’s right up there with “I was a lifelong member of the Democrat Party, but now I have joined the Tea Party because there are serious unanswered questions about where Barack HUSSEIN Obama was born.”

  30. #30 Erasmussimo
    February 15, 2010

    winnebago, I sat through the entire 6 minutes and 55 seconds of the YouTube presentation, and I must say, the guy really is stupid. He claims that it’s not getting hotter, it’s just getting less cold. Doesn’t he realize that “hot” and “cold” are just different ways of talking about the same thing? It certainly permits us to view the world in a more optimistic frame:

    “You’re not getting poorer, you’re just getting less rich!”
    “Terrorism isn’t increasing; non-terrorism is just falling!”
    “More people didn’t die in Iraq today; all that happened is that fewer people lived!”
    “The world isn’t getting warmer, it’s just getting less cold!”


    And I’m not trying to silence you. Go right ahead and keep on saying stupid things; I encourage you to continue to demonstrate the idiocy of the denier position. Go for it!

  31. #31 Dave
    February 15, 2010


    > a detailed critique is not the same as an accusation of lying, for which you need evidence.

    For which, of course, we have Lal stating on the record in the strongest possible terms that he has been misrepresented. David Rose, absent any evidence to back up his version of events, has claimed that Lal is trying to back away from damaging statements he made (ie. is lying).

    Now, you might think that this is a bit he said/she said, but consider that *everything in Lal’s career and demeanor so far* is completely contrary to David Rose’s framing of the issue, while Rose made several other factual errors and misrepresentations in his pieces, and it seems that Rose really isn’t in a strong position to back up his version of events.

  32. #32 Marco
    February 15, 2010

    @Dave: add Rose’s ‘credibility’ when he claimed he had *never* been accused of incorrect citation before (before Lal, that is), only to be proven a liar: Roger Pielke Jr had complained a month or so earlier about being misquoted by Rose.

  33. #33 pough
    February 15, 2010

    Wait a minute guys that YouTube has the final nail in the AGW coffin , “This shows you can have an increase in average yearly mean temperature without it getting hotter, but by it becoming less cold” (2:21).

    That means it’s time to break out the Spinal Tap!

    MARTY: The last time Tap toured America, they were, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues,
    and it seems that now, on the current tour they’re being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas,
    and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh…the popularity of the group is waning?

    IAN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no…no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.

  34. #34 winnebago
    February 15, 2010


    Yes, but ours goes to eleven…

  35. #35 Dave Andrews
    February 15, 2010

    Jeff Harvey,

    Seems to me you just accept whatever ‘consensus’ happens to agree with your point of view.

  36. #36 Chris O'Neill
    February 15, 2010

    Dave Andrews,

    Seems to me you just oppose whatever understanding happens to disagree with your political ideology.

  37. #37 Brian Schmidt
    February 15, 2010

    On the Dutch flooding risks: there are some reasons to think that river flooding will get worse due to AGW. We know to a certainty that ocean flooding of shorelines will be worse. We also, know, to a similar certainty, that low-elevation river flooding will get worse due to AGW, because the rivers hit a sea-level flood zone and back up more quickly due to sea level rise. This could even affect higher elevations, as engineers will be forced to tolerate floods at higher elevations because they can’t let all the water through, due the effect at lower elevations.

    Roger Pielke Jr. hadn’t understood all this as of several years ago, but maybe he’s caught on since then. One can always hope.

  38. #38 TrueSceptic
    February 15, 2010

    6 Charlie,

    If I were one of those misrepresented by Rose, I’d sue him.

    It’s not as if the Mail hasn’t paid out many times for libelling people, is it?

  39. #39 TrueSceptic
    February 15, 2010

    18 JamesA,

    Indeed. They *pretend* to be recent converts in order to make their “conversion” more convincing: “Look, I used to be a believer, so it took a lot of strong evidence to change my mind.”

    (I’m a JREFer but rarely post there these days.)

  40. #40 Michael
    February 15, 2010


    Sea-levels are not rising, they’re just getting less low.

  41. #41 Neven
    February 15, 2010

    I used to live in the Netherlands (about 4 meters below sea level, I believe) and though sea defense is pretty good on the coast, it’s the overflooding of large rivers such as the Meuse that can cause major problems under specific circumstances (high tide combined with heavy westerlies). This is mainly due to the fact that there isn’t enough money invested in upgrading dykes, while at the same time a lot of houses have been built in low-lying areas.

    The Netherlands will have huge problems in the near future, partially because of the fact that AGW skeptics are getting a lot of attention lately due to all the -Gates (media and politicians trying to score points big time), although most Dutch people I know, most of them well-educated, believe AGW is either a scam or a non-problem. Dykes will probably not be upgraded in time, GDP being much more important in the Netherlands than practically everything.

    The combination of extreme vulnerability, demographic density and high level of denialism was enough for me to leave. Public opinion on the streets of South Germany isn’t that informed either, but at least they’re a few 100 metres above sea level! πŸ˜‰

    Just kidding, I know we won’t be seeing scenes from A Day After Tomorrow for many years to come. It’s slightly easier in Germany to live sustainably without having to have considerable financial means.

  42. #42 P. Lewis
    February 15, 2010

    Re Hank‘s comment.

    Aargh! Did I say that? Posted in haste at a busy time and a messed up edit to boot. Yes: an abundance of credulity and a minimum of credibility.

  43. #43 tristan.croll
    February 15, 2010

    Erasmussimo @24 and 30: time to change the batteries in your sarcasm detector, methinks.

  44. #44 Megan
    February 15, 2010

    Ian Forrester, and anyone else:

    What is the working definition of “truther”?

  45. #45 Anonymous
    February 16, 2010

    >*What is the working definition of “truther”?*

    9-11 Truther? Or 9-11 conspiracy theorist.

    I’ve personally seen more whack jobs into AGW denialism than truthers so I wouldn’t feel confident comparing nor conflating the two.

    I’ve studied more about AGW than heard about 9-11 truthers so I wouldn’t feel competant to judge their argument’s equally.

    Conspiracies do happen, but most cospiracy theories are wrong. I think many people have been lied to and are angry for valid reason eg GFC, Iraq, level of Democarcy.

    I think various interest benefit if that anger is directed towards AGW etc, if the results is to redirect anger away from some other issue; I.e if AGW is a scandle then coverage of financial reform gets less energy, as does focus on corporate consoliation, and analysis of finanical influence in democratic processes.

    How did the anger about the GFC get so quickly redircted? And where is the coverage and rigerous following of the movement for reforms to protect democracy from subordination to concetrated wealth and power?

    To cite one combined motive and method look at media consolidation.

  46. #46 Erasmussimo
    February 16, 2010

    Erasmussimo @24 and 30: time to change the batteries in your sarcasm detector, methinks.

    Sorry. I’ve been reading so much denialist nonsense that it’s becoming difficult to distinguish between sarcastic exaggerations of denialist arguments and actual denialist arguments.

  47. #47 Jeff Harvey
    February 16, 2010

    Dave Andrews,

    Your posts are always a hoot (NOT). No substance whatsoever, just vacuous quips. Please go away.

    As far as opinions, everyone has one. But, unlike many of the denialati, who probably cannot tell a mole cricket from a giraffe, I have enough common sense in my profession to side with the empirical evidence with respect to the recent warming. If anyone is ideologically driven, it is those in the denialist camp, many of whom, as I said, have no expertise whatsoever in climate science but somehow think there is some huge conspiracy underway aimed at undermining their freedom. They have used their two brain cells to link AGW, scientists involved in research on it, and this conspiracy.

  48. #48 Hasis
    February 16, 2010

    Just kidding, I know we won’t be seeing scenes from A Day After Tomorrow for many years to come.

    I was at a Floodrisk conference last year, at which the keynote address was given by a leading Dutch coastal engineer. Throughout, I couldn’t help but smile [in an ironic way] as image after image of massive embankments, designed and tested to a 1:10,000 SoP, were flashed up in front of us and these “indestructible dykes” were discussed with a nuanced confidence by the speaker. Even so, his conclusion was that even these structures would need to be improved during the next 50 years.

    My uncomfortable smile resulted from the fact that I’d recently been doing fieldwork along the Lincolnshire coast in the UK. There is literally no comparison between the dunes and sea walls there, which protect towns like Mablethorpe and Skegness from inundation, and the sheer scale of the Delta Project.

  49. #49 John
    February 16, 2010

    Sea-levels are not rising, they’re just getting less low.

    And I’m shouting quietly.

  50. #50 Lotharsson
    February 16, 2010

    Sea-levels are not rising, they’re just getting less low.

    “The oceans are not acidifying, they’re just getting less alkaline.”

    (Actual defensive quote from Monckton or one of the other prominent denialists, IIRC. Apparently ocean acidification is “impossible”, but some alkalinity reduction might occur…)

  51. #51 James Sinnamon
    February 16, 2010

    Firstly, thanks for all the responses to my post.

    Ian Forrester @ 25,

    Firstly, if you had properly read my post @ 9 you would know that it was not intended to promote AGW ‘scepticism’.

    The fact is that a large number of people out there who are rightly critical of those now in charge of the world’s destiny have also been taken by a slew of anti-AGW arguments that seem plausible to people who, like me, do not have a very good understanding of the reasoning behind the AGW hypothesis.

    In fact to be honest, I can’t entirely preclude the possibility that they may be right, although it seems to me far more likely that they are profoundly and dangerously wrong. However, I need to gain the confidence to be able argue my case and hopefully without my having to devote an inordinate amount of my time towards studying AGW. I believe some people here may be able to help. The link to “Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says” looks most useful, but what would be even better still would be a post on my web site in response to Peter Salonius’s arguments. If no-one here can manage it, I will have to try my best, making use of the responses here.

    Assuming they are wrong, then it should not be too difficult to show most of them that they are wrong and have them, instead of helping to sow more confusion, direct their energies towards demanding effective action against global warming. At the moment, the most urgent task is to stop Premier Bligh’s and Clive Palmer’s environmentally criminal plans to massively increase Queensland’s climate changing (I believe) coal exports.

    Secondly, what has the fact that I am a ‘truther’ got to do with the issue I raised?

    I didn’t come here to discuss 9/11 Truth, but to discuss global warming, but since you have, have you even bothered to read the article “Why Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should take another look at the ‘image of the twin towers coming down'” of 30 Nov 09 that you cited in an attempt to discredit me?

    The embedded video “Cutter Charges at Work in the North Tower of the World Trade Center” takes all of 3 minutes to watch and is vastly easier to grasp than the science of AGW. I guarantee that any year 10 physics student with an open and critical mind will be able to understand that the official account of the ‘collapse’ of the WTC North Tower on 11 September 2001 is a lie.

    So, why not prove me wrong by posting a comment? Anyone is welcome to post either anonymously, or with an account.

  52. #52 Bernard J.
    February 16, 2010


    I’ve actually had to correct the “less alkaline” nonsense on at least two occasions myself, [here]( and [twice at the Bog, and repeated here](

    These occasions really serve to underscore how a very little amount of scientific knowledge in the hands of a Dunning-Kruger afflictee can lead to completely erroneous conclusions.

    All we can do is to continue extinguishing the spot-fires.

  53. #53 Mark Schaffer
    February 17, 2010

    Hi all,
    I wondered if anyone would gather a list of the more salacious, and wrong articles published in these ragsheets and then, whenever a denialist uses them to try and make a point, the sane people could respond with such a list. When your source is shown to be just as good as the Enquirer (here in the states) it might discourage the denialists from using such shoddy sources in future. Just a thought. Any takers?

  54. #54 James Sinnamon
    February 17, 2010

    Excellent idea, Mark Schaeffer (@ 53). I certainly have received a large number of such documents in recent months.

    Perhaps a blog entry to which we could all simply contribute links to such articles, together with our summaries of what they contain, could be set up.

    Eventually, I think the list should contain most of the significant anti-AGW articles and perhaps, articles or comments in response to them.

    Or has this already been done?


    BTW, whether or not Peter Salonius’s views on AGW are correct, he is absolutely right on the need to restrain population growth. It is stupid beyond belief that our political ‘leaders’ expect that we can add millions more people, most aiming to have the relatively higher ecological footprint that the average citizen of this has, to this country and yet expect us to reduce our carbon emissions.

    They must know that is a lie.

    So, why are they lying to us?

    Why would they deliberately set about to destroy what little chance we now have of emerging from this crisis as a relatively equatible, sustainable and compassionate society?

    In what kind of sick basket case economy does anyone stand to gain by necessarily making each member of society, on average, poorer by undemocratically increasing the numbers amongst which our resources must be shared?

    Some of the answers may be found in my article “How the Growth Lobby Threatens Australia’s Future” of 9 Feb 09 published on Online Opinion.

  55. #55 Ian Forrester
    February 17, 2010

    James Sinnamon, I agree with you 100%, you are not promoting “skeptism” you are truly an AGW denier. The reason I brought up the truther comment is that it shows that you do not live in the real world but in a fantasy land where you seek out others with similar irrational views to your own.

    That is definitely a symptom of ASS (anti-science syndrome).

  56. #56 James Sinnamon
    February 18, 2010

    I note Ian Forrester has still made no effort to refute the views that he has cited in an attempt to discredit me.

    As I said, any member of the public is welcome to add comments to my blog. All comments so far posted to our site, both critical and supportive, have been published (that is, with very few exceptions where the posts have consisted of nothing other than personal attacks). So, If Ian Forrester knows for a fact that I am wrong then why won’t he show me where I am wrong?

    How Ian Forrester arrived at the conclusion that I am denier, I don’t know.

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for him to substantiate his claim, but if others would on his behalf, I would be grateful.

    I thought I had made it clear that I am a very reluctant sceptic. I have to remain a sceptic at the moment, because my own knowledge of the field is not yet good enough for me to be able to accept the theory, with quite the same certainty that I accept the theory of evolution the theory.

    A number of people, I have a great deal of admiration for in other regards, have put to me anti-AGW arguments. I strongly suspect that they have been taken in by fraudulent chalatans. Certainly I can see that a a lot of anti-AGW arguments put to me are garbage, but I am not yet in a position to be able to prove to my friends that all of them are.

    It would be much easier for me to simply dismiss those arguments without properly understanding them (or without having seen them demolished by others with more expertise than myself), but I don’t consider that intellectually sound.

    One thing I plan to do is challenge my anti-AGW friends to put their arguments on a forum such as this. I could even do it myself on their behalf, playing the role of Devil’s advocate. On the other hand there is nothing to stop anyone here from confronting the anti-AGW arguments that have been posted to our web site.

  57. #57 Ian Forrester
    February 18, 2010

    James Sinnamon is a prime example of a concern troll. Do not believe a word he says since he is anti-AGW.

  58. #58 Jeff Harvey
    February 18, 2010

    James Sinnamon:

    Some advice from a scientist. Extraordinary claims (like those from Peter Salonius) require extraordinary proof. The data trail of those denying the human impact on climate warming, as well as on other environmental iussues usually goes cold very quickly. Solonius reveals his hand when he refers to several sources of information to support his views – such as generally right wing think blogs – that do not conduct empirical research.

    I could see right through the Salonius post right away: a reliance on non-peer-reviewed sources on the internet; a claim to have gone over the data when this would entail immense amounts of reading and a clear grasp of scientific areas beyond the expertise of a soil scientist. This was followed by an anti-AGW rant. It appears to me that Sartorius did not need much convincing – he wears his denialist heart on his sleeve. His post on your site was fatuous and irrelevant. Ignore it.

  59. #59 James Sinnamon
    February 18, 2010

    Thanks, Jeff Harvey.

    Apologies if any of the following appears to be stating the obvious.

    Statement of the obvious

    Firstly, I had been meaning to write that the AGW hypothesis has intuitively seemed to me to be highly likely.

    Secondly, it seems highly implausible that humankind can make massive changes to the invironment, that is, in this case taking massive quantities of what had been lying under the ground for at least tens of millions of years and effectively putting it into the atmosphere by burning it, without having a massive detrimental effect on our environment.

    Whether that effect would be warming the atmosphere, cooling the atmosphere, causing there to be substantially more rain or substantially less rain, blocking out too much UV radiation, allowing in too much UV radiation, etc., etc., is somewhat beside my point. Very few significant and sudden changes to any natural system to our system are benign. Most are detrimental.

    In general, it is obviously folly to interfere too much with working natural system, without understanding extremely well what we are doing, so I would not have any time for any ‘sceptic’ who claimed to the contrary.

    (end of statement of the obvious)

    So I would suggest my reluctant ‘scepticism’ probably comes very close to the views in support of the AGW hypothesis, anyway.

    Nevertheless, I can’t just dismiss all views that are inconvenient for my own world view, particularly when they come from people I have a lot in common with, unless I have a very good reason to.

    Your post seems to be a good start to providing me with the reasons I need, but I may need a little more.

    In Salonius’s case, he is a soil scientist and an environmentalist and is concerned with the principle driver of all our environmental problems, including AGW (if he were to accept that hypothesis), that is human over-population.

    Others, whom I have a lot in common with are a good many who have taken the trouble to critically examine what we have been told about a number of well known events, particularly events that have occurred since 2001, that have had a profound impact on our history and have concluded that we have been lied to.

    Fixing up what is wrong with our world entails acknowledgement of those realities as well as the (highly likely) reality of AGW. Even if we were only get any two out of those three completely right, but not attend to the third we would still be headed, as a species, to hell.

    Because those people are correct on those other critical issues (that a good many in the AGW camp, unfortunately, deny), then I feel obligated to take their views on AGW seriously, too.

    Of course, I am close to certain that they are dangerously wrong on AGW, but I have to make sure that when I try to explain that to them that I don’t appear to be as unreasonably dismissive to them as, for example, people who assert that a steel framed building can suddenly, as a result of fire alone, drop uniformly for 8 stories at exactly free fall speed, and then drop uniformly for a further 39 stories forming a neat pile of rubble within its own footprint, exactly as if a controlled demolition had occurred.

    If I can do that it may be possible to get on-side a lot more people out there who are now working against us.

    I come across the term ‘peer-reviewed’ a lot. This may seem like a naive question, but how do I tell a peer-reviewed document from one that is not?

    How are you able to judge the documents and sites referred to by Peter Salonius as not having been peer-reviewed, whilst accepting that others are?

  60. #60 James Sinnamon
    February 18, 2010

    I should have added that one thing that causes a lot of people, who rightly distrust our governments, to embrace AGW-denialism is that many prominent AGW proponents are in favour of the Rudd Government’s Emmissions Trading scam.

    In order to reduce Australia’s CO2 emmissions by all of 5%, virtually every aspect of human economic activity is going to be enmeshed in a tangle of red tape and financial obligations.

    Having had this insanity lumbered onto the cause of demanding action against global warming makes it very easy for many normally intelligent people to be led to believe that AGW is hoax invented to serve the interests of the same kind of thieves who have destroyed much of the world’s economy through financial speculative markets or who have largely ruined the Murray Darling basin with the water-rights trading scam.

    Is it any wonder that AGW-denialist Tony Abbott’s popularity has now surged?

    Thankfully, some in the AGW camp, such as David Spratt are opposed to Emissions Trading, but that has been far from sufficient to have undone the harm.

  61. #61 Lotharsson
    February 19, 2010

    …virtually every aspect of human economic activity is going to be enmeshed in a tangle of red tape and financial obligations…

    That seems a little hyperbolic.

    I would have thought it was only the *Australian* activities that *contribute GHGs to the atmosphere* would come under the *Australian* *ETS* scheme. For example, I doubt when I buy a packet of chips from the corner store that my cash will be turned down if I don’t have enough carbon credits(!) in my pocket to go with it.

    Accordingly it hardly seems any more pervasive than
    (say) the GST – if anything it should be significantly less so. That’s not to say it’s the best scheme or that I heartily endorse it (or not). Just that maybe a more realistic assessment would be useful for debate.

    Is it any wonder that AGW-denialist Tony Abbott’s popularity has now surged?

    I think you’re reading that wrong, but it’s only my amateur opinion.

    He has basically proposed an ETS Lite – where the taxpayers pay instead of the emitters, who themselves may or may not volunteer to reduce their emissions.

    His popularity is not due to going up against vested financial interests or even cutting through red tape; it’s in part by being so unserious about it that he’s dog-whistling that “it’s really nothing to worry about”, which many people find a comforting refrain in the face of unpalatable challenges – or a deep-seated belief in their above-average ability, shared with all of their like-thinking mates, to see through the scams of the conniving scientists and their front organisations.

  62. #62 James Sinnamon
    February 19, 2010


    I was under the impression that a good many more activities than most people realised were likely to be designated as carbon emitting and hence require permits. So, have you any rough idea of how many economic activities are likely to be and how many are not?

    I cannot see how the ETS scheme cannot become administrative nightmare for many Australian busineses.

    Water rights trading a complex mess, contrary to proponents’ promises

    When water-rights trading was being introduced, I well remember the promises made at the time, including by the larger supposedly pro-environmental NGOS such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, about how, contrary to most people’s common sense and intuition, it would be simple, straightforward and logical.

    In fact, it has turned out to be anything but and farmers and the broader community have had to bear the immense bureacratic and technological cost of managing the scheme as well as for the profits of speculators who have profited from this scheme.

    Of course, a major cost (probably borne by farmers) is the installation of metering equipment to measure the flow of water onto and out of any piece of land.

    How carbon emissions can be adequately quantified without also requiring expensive monitoring equipment, I have not worked out. Please let me know.

    In fact the GST you claime Emissions Trading compares favourably to is a massive impost on many businesses and I am personally aware of a number of businesspersons who just through in the towel after it was introduced.

    The undemocratic imposition of the GST by Howard, Lees, Beattie and Beazley

    Furthermore, the GST was imposed undemocratically against the wishes of the majority of Australians. The Coalition actually lost the popular vote in the 1998 elections, gaining only 48.5% on a two-party preferred basis. And they only gained even that as a result of a massive taxpayer funded propaganda campaign in favour of the GST. Many of the claims made about the GST during the course of the election campaign were found to be false in subsequent Senate hearings.

    As the majority of Senators were elected on a basis of promising to oppose the GST, it should have been buried by the Senate.

    However, popular opposition was undermined by Senator Meq Lees’s unprincipled deal with the Howard Government and by the ‘Labor’ premiers, Peter Beattie foremost amongst them, whiteanting popular opposition by falling over themselves to reach deals wiht the Howard Government to get the greatest slice of the GST revenue.

    Kim Beazley then took away from voters the only remaining chance they had to get rid of it by refusing to commit the next Labor Government to repealing the legislation.

    ETS a needless additional impost

    Even if Emmissions Trading turns out to be less of an impost that the GST, I think that is beside the point. It will be an additional impost on top of already too many others. The goal of a 5% reduction is ridiculously unambitious, so we will be putting many of our businesses, as well as consumers, through a lot of pain to achive practically nothing.

  63. #63 Chris O'Neill
    February 19, 2010

    The goal of a 5% reduction is ridiculously unambitious, so we will be putting many of our businesses, as well as consumers, through a lot of pain to achive practically nothing.

    The 5% reduction is with a 20% increase in population, so the reduction per person is a lot more than 5%, something around 20%. People who emphasize the 5% figure without mentioning the per person figure are being dishonest.

  64. #64 Ian Forrester
    February 19, 2010

    Shorter James Sinnamon:

    I don’t like the political solution to AGW and what’s more it will mean more work for me therefore I will deny the science behind AGW and I won’t have to do anything about it and the huge costs can be borne by future generations and not by me.

  65. #65 James Sinnamon
    February 19, 2010

    Ian Forrester,

    How is a scheme that its architects expect to achieve a 5% reduction in emissions, when the consensus amongst AGW scientists is that a reduction of the order of 50% is necessary, a ‘solution’ to AGW? How can the Rudd Government claim to be serious about tackling global warming when he is allowing the Premier of the state in which he lives to emabark upon a massive expansion of Queensland’s already record level of coal exports?

    In any case, if you want to label me an AGW denialist against my objections, then how about referring to what I have actually written instead of putting words into my mouth?

    Also, why won’t you at least give me credit for arguing for a reduction, rather than an increase in coal exports? Where have you ever said a word against increasing Australia’s coal exports?


    Chris O’Neill,

    Obviously, if Rudd aims to dramatically increase Australia’s population, then it makes his target much more ‘ambitious’. (I would suggest it is about as ‘ambtious’ as the Queensland Government’s goal of recent years solving South East Queensland’s traffic congestion problem whilst dramatically increasing its population, and as likely to succeed.)

    Anyone, who, unlike Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier Anna Bligh, seriously wants to act against climate change must also demand our Governments act to stabilise the world’s population and our own population.

    We can achieve the latter by scrapping Costello’s idiotic baby bonus and by reducing the Rudd Government’s high immigration progam as Labor MP Kelvin Thomson has called for. We can help achieve the former by massively increasing the birth control components of all of Australia’s foreign aid programs to developing nations.

  66. #66 Lotharsson
    February 19, 2010

    I am personally aware of a number of businesspersons who just through in the towel after it was introduced.

    No doubt the GST was the ONLY reason they did it, and no doubt other businesses did not take their place and the economy remained permanently underperforming whilst the rest of the developed world laughed at us for our stupid tax mechanisms which are totally unlike anything they have in (say) the UK, or the US…

    …Oh, wait, maybe not.

    It will be an additional impost on top of already too many others.

    So James Sinnamon appears to argue that businesses are oppressed by “too many” government tariffs so they’re failing (or about to fail or they don’t even start when they otherwise could have) left, right and center putting/keeping millions out of work; our economy is derided around the world for its poor performance and high business failure rate and high unemployment; and this will be the straw that really breaks the economy’s back in a bad way? Never mind any other consequences – businesses must not be forced to adapt to changing circumstances, the business status quo is sacrosanct?

    The goal of a 5% reduction is ridiculously unambitious, so we will be putting many of our businesses, as well as consumers, through a lot of pain to achive practically nothing.

    The other James Sinnamon appears to argue that the AGW consequences are really important and 5% ain’t even close to cutting the mustard, so we should aim for a lot more.

    I can’t figure out which James Sinnamon to engage with πŸ˜‰ I wish they’d get together and agree. But maybe if we aim for much larger reductions both of them will be a lot less unhappy about it?

  67. #67 James Sinnamon
    February 19, 2010


    You are attacking a straw man and not my actual arguments. Of course the GST was unlikely to have been the sole cause of these business’s failure.

    However, the point remains that, from news reporting and from my own anecdotal experience, it is the straw that broke the camel’s back for many businesses.

    Furthermore, I have shown that this tax was imposed undemocratically and aided by a massive taxpayer funded deception of the Australian public. There was a groundswell of popular opposition to the GST in 1998 and 1999, largely coming from small businesses, but that was thwarted by the cynical political manoevrings of the likes of Peter Beattie, Meg Lees, Kim Beazley and John Howard himself.

    The public were similarly deceived over water-rights trading (although, on that occasion, without having been billed many tens of millions of dollars to be lied to) and are being deceived today about Emissions Trading.

    I think the situation where (if memory serves me correctly) 80% of businesses fail within the first 12 months should be regarded as completely unacceptable. Can such a high proportion of small businesspersons be so inept that they deserve to fail and incur the ruinous financial penalty of failure? If that is not a sign that something is profoundly wrong with the economic, financial, land use planning and regulatory environment in this country then what is?

    Clearly the tax and regulatory regime, including the GST, water-rights trading, and possibly soon, emissions trading, must have a lot to do with it.

    Of course, sacrifices have to be made to confront global warming, but unless the sacrifices made stand any chance of making the decisive difference, instead of such an obviously piddling inconsequential 5% of difference, they are simply not worth the effort.

    Furthermore, if they don’t achieve the support of the electorate at the next elections, they cannot hope to succeed.

    We have to accept that the expectations that many of us have to be able to have an annual holiday in Europe or South America, or to be able to buy a new mobile phone every one or two years are incompatible with action against global warming.

    I believe it is possible for all of us to lead perfectly satisfactory lives, with a considerably lower level of consumption of natural resources. This would be made far easier if we were to remove the insane inefficiencies that have been added to our economy as a result of the almost universal imposition of the dogma of economic neo-liberalism in recent decades and, instead, to allow our democratically elected Governments rather that secretive meetings of company boards to decide the direction of our country.

  68. #68 Chris O'Neill
    February 19, 2010
  69. #69 Bud
    February 19, 2010


  70. #70 James Sinnamon
    February 20, 2010

    Chris O’Neil,

    How is is Australia’s record high population growth of recent years, driven by record high rates of immigration under Howard and Rudd, “business as usual”?

  71. #71 Chris O'Neill
    February 20, 2010

    How is is Australia’s record high population growth of recent years..”business as usual”

    Well it is now. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, just that it is now normal. Regarding carbon emissions, if you wanted to minimize growth in such emissions, would you avoid or encourage rapid population growth in the places with high per-capita emissions such as Australia? The answer to that is obvious but these days, discouraging population growth is politically incorrect and attracts smears such as accusations of racism. So you’re right that things like the baby bonus are a crazy idea. But that doesn’t mean that schemes that reduce per capita emissions by more than 20% are insignificant. The solution to the problem of not being able to reduce total emissions by much is not to get rid of the scheme for reducing emissions per capita by more than 20%, it is to hold down population growth.

  72. #72 Lotharsson
    February 20, 2010

    …I have shown that this tax was imposed undemocratically…

    True, if by “undemocratically”, you mean entirely according to the rules of our representative democracy. A.k.a. not true.

    We don’t have a direct democracy. We did not hold a vote specifically for the GST, or for any other piece of legislation. It sucks quite often, but it’s not easy to see a better way (especially not the whiff of business laissez faire that seems to be associated with your position). Deal with it.

    I think the situation where (if memory serves me correctly) 80% of businesses fail within the first 12 months should be regarded as completely unacceptable.

    That’s a silly assertion. And so is:

    Clearly the tax and regulatory regime, including the GST, water-rights trading, and possibly soon, emissions trading, must have a lot to do with it.

    Got any evidence? Or is it just another unsupported assertion?

    Business is inherently risky. Businesses that can’t compete on the current conditions generally should fail. It’s not the government’s responsibility to set conditions so that a certain percentage of businesses succeed; if they set the bar too high a whole load of bad businesses would start up to exploit government guarantees. Bad outcome for society as a whole.

    I worked for a few years in Silicon Valley. Something like 98% of startups fail within a year or two. No-one there says that level of failure is completely unacceptable – they understand the inherent risk/reward tradeoff and they’re too busy lauding the successes.

    …it is the straw that broke the camel’s back for many businesses.

    Which means nothing. If I surveyed all businesses that failed I could find complaints about any number of such straws. But choosing one concern out of all of the conditions businesses have to operate under is misleading.

    You are heavily invested in the fallacy of the status quo – that we should never change anything because some parties would be disadvantaged by the change. Sometimes certain changes for the benefit of the overall economy or society or system are more important than protecting vested interests in the status quo. No business has a right to an unchanging business model.

    It’s as if people had just invented cars and they had wheels, seats, engine, a primitive handbrake and not much more. The government legislated indicators to much grumbling, but they became a standard feature. Some time later the government determined that far too many fatal accidents were occurring and hydraulic brakes would prevent many of the fatalities. You come along and complain that adding hydraulic brakes will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and that it will send some manufacturers broke.

    But if they can’t make money once the rules have changed (for overridingly important and business-external reasons) – then tough. They simply should not be in business in the new environment. Government has responsibility for the interests of the whole of society, not just business.

    Or as I and others have said in the past – “I live in a society, not an economy”. In other words, economic interests are a subset of societal concerns, not a superset.

  73. #73 jakerman
    February 20, 2010

    Improve the GST, make it a GCT.

    Tax bads not goods.

    If Abbott can support the GST we can make it a little uncomfortable for him to oppose a direct carbon tax, which targets harmful consumption as opposed to broader consumption. He supported a worse scheme which target all consumption (cept food) rather than target demonstrably harmful and unsustainable consumption.

  74. #74 Gaz
    February 24, 2010

    Wait a minute guys that YouTube has the final nail in the AGW coffin , “This shows you can have an increase in average yearly mean temperature without it getting hotter, but by it becoming less cold” (2:21).

    Winnebago, I thought you were joking. You weren’t. I checked.

    What a breathtaking, but strangely beautiful piece of idiocy.

    Someone should make a T-shirt out of it.

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