Shorter Clive James

Shorter Clive James on Queensland floods:

I get my climate science from poems.

‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. We are aware of all Internet traditions.â„¢ Acknowledgement copied from Sadly, No!.

Comments

  1. #1 JC
    March 6, 2011

    Shorter Tim Lambert on climate science.

    “I get my climate science from a NZ truffle farmer”

  2. #2 Another Kiwi
    March 6, 2011

    Ah yeah, the hundred year floods and the 50 year bushfires are happening every 5 years now, but that means nothing.

  3. #3 V. infernalis
    March 6, 2011

    I could get used to debate-by-prose:

    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

  4. #4 Chris O'Neill
    March 6, 2011

    James says:

    the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW, to borrow the unlovely acronym) was ceasing to exercise unquestioned thrall in the minds of Australia’s progressive voters.

    I don’t know which progressive voters James is talking about but I suppose he must mean that he himself is a progressive voter and thus progressive voters generally think like him. Nice attitude if you can get it.

  5. #5 jakerman
    March 6, 2011

    JC does it trouble you that New Zealand truffle farmer can trump climate denialists by citing real climate science?

    If you work as hard as Tim and Gareth you too could learn about climate science.

  6. #6 zoot
    March 6, 2011

    Wasn’t JC banned from here after his psychotic episode?

  7. #7 SteveC
    March 6, 2011

    Clive who?

  8. #8 Ezzthetic
    March 6, 2011

    Tim,

    You’re missing James’ central points. These are:

    1. It’s a much better poem than people realise.

    2. Dorothea Mackellar lived quite a long time.

    3. Wordsworth.

  9. #9 John
    March 6, 2011

    Hey anyone remember when Clive was relevant? No, me either. Better ask the “wrinklies”.

  10. #10 Gaz
    March 6, 2011

    This is really quite sad.

    I used to enjoy Clive James’ work, but know that I’ve read this (and another earlier piece along similar lines) I just can’t take him seriously any more.

    I mean, the guy has a reputation as an intellectual, but that piece shows no evidence of any sort of intellectual rigour at all. It’s just recycled talking points from the bullshit industry.

    I haven’t felt this bad since Martha Stewart got busted for insider trading.

  11. #11 John
    March 6, 2011

    I dunno Gaz. He does get his climate science from one of Australia’s greatest climate scientists.

  12. #12 Flying Binghi
    March 6, 2011

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    via #1; “…50 year bushfires are happening every 5 years now…”

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    Another Kiwi, whats a “50 year bush fire” ???

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  13. #13 JoeG
    March 7, 2011

    Dorothy Parker does a lovely job on The Australian’s hymn to James in her piece:“lately The Australian seems pitched at just a dog’s whistle above the moronic”

  14. #14 Another Kiwi
    March 7, 2011

    @Flying Binghi. A 50 year bushfire is a huge bushfire that is so large that it is usually said to arise only once every 50 years.

  15. #15 Paul UK
    March 7, 2011

    It’s interesting how these ancient characters of the media, re-invent themselves these days by making dumb comments about climate science.

    The last thing that Clive James did in the UK was a Sunday morning opinion piece slot before the Archers I think.
    I used to like his dry humour, but one moves on. It appears Clive is incapable of moving on.

  16. #16 JamesA
    March 7, 2011

    > I get my climate science from poems.

    Well, that’s probably a step up from CA or WUWT, so perhaps we shouldn’t knock it.

  17. #17 lord_sidcup
    March 7, 2011

    James was given 2 opportunities to voice his denial of AGW on Radio 4’s ‘A Point of View’ a couple of years ago. The first broadcast was bad ([golf ball potato crisp](http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00n9lm3/A_Point_of_View_The_Golf_Ball_Potato_Crisp/)), by the second it had become embarrassing (I think he cited Morano’s list of 450+ scientists that includes such scientific luminaries as TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh).

    I used to quite admire Clive James and was so vexed when I heard his ‘gold ball potato crisp’ broadcast that I took the trouble of emailing him. I cited Plimer as an example of a scientist twisting and fabricating facts to fit his theory as this is what James seemed to be accusing Climate scientists of doing. I got a polite reply from his assistant thanking me and telling me that James was flattered that so many people had taken the trouble to contact him, some disagreeing and some agreeing. Shortly after this his second item was broadcast on R4.

    I haven’t heard much of James recently. I suspect he will pop up in future to do a Johnny Ball/David Bellamy and claim his career in broadcasting was wrecked because he dared to voice AGW ‘scepticism’.

  18. #18 Acacia
    March 7, 2011

    Did Chris Mitchell really say that the Australian’s editorials on climate change “would make it clear that for several years the paper has accepted man-made climate change as fact”.

    It is certainly just a dog whistle above moronic in today’s editorial. Quotes include ‘we love a sunburnt elder” ‘scaremongers seem afraid of memory’ tempered by ‘this newspaper gives the planet the benefit of the doubt on global warming’. I was gobsmacked by the statement ‘common to scientific and literary method is respect for history’ followed up with ‘ask an octogenarian surfer or two and discover that over the decades not much has changed on our beaches’.

    Well thats the scientific method according to the Australian.

  19. #19 AmandaS
    March 7, 2011

    Thankfully I FINALLY got a response on how to cancel my subscription to The Oz as the homophobia exploded across the front pages last week. It’s even more encouraging to know that one of my very last issues will contain the monument to idiotic lunacy that is that editorial.

    The shark has, almost certainly, never been quite so comprehensively jumped before that editorial.

  20. #20 Bernard J.
    March 7, 2011

    If Mackellar wrote her poem today she’s probably pen:

    …Of droughts and flooding rains
    and droughts and flooding rains…

    Give it another 50 years or so and it’d probably be:

    …Of droughts and flooding rains
    and droughts and flooding rains
    and droughts and flooding rains…

    The thing that bemuses me is that the Clive James brigade are squarking about how scientists do not seem to have memories (or statistics), and yet is is these same people who are currently saying that the floods mean that we do not now need to reform water over-allocation in the Murray-Darling basin.

    Remind me again who it is exactly that suffers from short term memory issues (and from scientific illiteracy)…?

    And Flapping Twinkie, we all know that you’re an ill-educated idiot cast in the Sunpot mould, but remember that it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to [open it and remove all doubt](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/03/shorter_clive_james.php#comment-3434499).

    Just… grow a brain.

  21. #21 lord_sidcup
    March 7, 2011

    ..and another thing..

    You would think that a supposed man of letters would avoid crass, meaningless clichés like ‘Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming’ and ‘Warmists’ that have no value beyond propaganda. I draw 2 conclusions from this. Firstly, James has spent too much time loitering at crank websites and their language has become deeply embedded in his psyche. Secondly, he knows so little about the science of climate change that he can only express it using those very crude and rudimentary terms. A science fail and a language fail.

  22. #22 Wow
    March 7, 2011

    CAGW and “warmist” are bandwagons.

    Those who are becoming C-list celebrities and accelerating toward Z-list can use it to get attention and even, if they’re lucky, a seat on the lecture circuit to Very Important People.

  23. #23 Crispy
    March 7, 2011

    This is so disappointing. Clive is one of my literary heroes. I have a collection of his TV critiques for The Observer in the late 1970’s. So much insight and wit. This is the man who described Arnold Schwarzenegger as ‘like a condom full of walnuts’, surely one of the language’s perfect similes. Forty years on he’s a lazy old man, still writing with aplomb, but talking through his hat. I wish I could sit down with him and go through it, silly point by silly point. I wonder how he feels sharing a brainspace with Andrew Bolt and Piers Ackerman.

  24. #24 John
    March 7, 2011

    >I wonder how he feels sharing a brainspace with Andrew Bolt and Piers Ackerman.

    Probably flattered.

    As for The Australian’s presumably satirical editorial, I wonder if their penchant for wisdom from our elders pertains to those who *have* noticed changes in the climate? Oh who am I kidding. Of course not.

  25. #25 Fred Knell
    March 7, 2011

    Only Philistines could have posted and endorsed Lambert’s attack on Clive James. Shame on you all!

  26. Shorter Fred Knell:

    Global warming is a hoax because scientific papers aren’t written in verse.

  27. #27 John
    March 7, 2011

    Congratulations Fred, that’s the longest bow that’s ever been drawn here.

  28. #28 Bernard J.
    March 7, 2011

    James’ first serious politico-intellectual brain-fart was his belief in the glorious justification of Iraq II, and that it only lasted one week, with a beneficial peace decending across the country afterward.

    For an avowed leftie, he seems to have jumped the rails somewhere along the line. Perhaps he has spent too many years in a field where opinion without evidence was, nevertheless, profitable. The trouble is, with so much undirected opinion-momentum, when the derailment occurs it can be ugly, and irretrievable.

    Old Clive should tear himself away from the Arts trenches and visit a scientist. There may not be much call for his literary hopscotch in that context, but such an excursion might at least open up a wing in his brain that doesn’t seen to have been aired for decades.

    Of course, if Monckton is any example, one might lead a linguistic horse to water, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll drink from the fount of objective knowledge.

    And that, ladies and gentleman, is my humble Philistinian opinion.

  29. #29 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

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    via Another Kiwi #11; “…A 50 year bushfire is a huge bushfire that is so large that it is usually said to arise only once every 50 years…”

    Another Kiwi As a farmer involved in annual burn-offs and fire fighting fer over forty years a “50 year bushfire” an entirely new concept to me.

    Another Kiwi, perhaps yer can provide some links to articles/research outlining the concept ?

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  30. #30 hinschelwood
    March 7, 2011

    #14

    I suspect he will pop up in future to do a Johnny Ball/David Bellamy and claim his career in broadcasting was wrecked because he dared to voice AGW ‘scepticism’.

    Clive James has been boasting for years about how the internet is loads better than mainstream broadcasting. He can’t very well claim he’s been pushed out because of his views, he’s said too much about how it is his own choice.

    It is a shame to see him joining the ranks of the deniers though. Always a sharp and wry view of the world. Now he’s given up on reality. Too hard to understand? Too much effort? Or just assuming that he can’t add to the vast amount of knowledge he acquired 30+ years ago?

  31. #31 Another Kiwi
    March 7, 2011

    @Flying Binghi. Oh I love this. I use of a phrase that is not in common use and it becomes a arguing point. I am supposed to get on my high horse and go off in some vastly convuluted defence so that the brilliant Flying Binghi can smash my point and thus disprove Global Warming.
    Sorry, as a fire fighter you must be aware that bigger fire events are becoming more common. Call them what you will

  32. #32 AmandaS
    March 7, 2011

    Flying Binghi: [This](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary) is a profession known as an actuary. The definition of what they do (assess likelihood of events for risk assessment purposes) might help you with understanding concepts like “an increase in 1-in-50-year events”.

    I also presume they have those big Fire Danger signs near your town, where they move the little swinger to tell you things like today is an Extreme Fire Danger day. This is done because some weather conditions make fires WORSE and some days it’s NOT THAT BAD if a fire starts because it probably won’t spread far. Maybe you should talk to people in your fire brigade about how weather conditions can make fires worse. Otherwise I feel a bit sorry for people around you if you just set fires any day you feel like it. But if the climate changes in one way (so it’s more often hot and dry and the fire index goes off the scale more often) then big fires will happen more often. If things like have been determined as having a specific insurance risk of “one in 50 years” start happening every 10 years instead, probability generally means this is a REALLY BAD THING. Because probability is multiplicative.

    Good luck with the above. I’ve tried to keep it to one syllable words, but “weather conditions” is a bit hard to get down to one syllable. As is multiplicative. If anyone can help with that for Flying Binghi’s comprehension, I’d be grateful.

  33. #33 Zetetic
    March 7, 2011

    I’m wondering how much longer until Flying Binghi gets his/her own thread. It’s already gotten to be rather repetitive.

  34. #34 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

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    Heh, looks like Zetetic is starting to panic…

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  35. #35 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

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    via Another Kiwi #28; “…I use of a phrase that is not in common use and it becomes a arguing point. I am supposed to get on my high horse and go off in some vastly convoluted defence so that the brilliant Flying Binghi can smash my point and thus disprove Global Warming…”

    Another Kiwi, before ah made much comment on the subject i asked the question – “…perhaps yer can provide some links to articles/research outlining the concept ?…”

    Another Kiwi, If you were actually referencing an article or research that had a definition for a “50 year bushfire” then i might critique the reference if appropriate. From reading your reply i’m guessing there is no such research or article so the term “50 year bushfire” is yer own invention – would my guess be correct ?

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  36. #36 Zetetic
    March 7, 2011

    @ Flying Binghi #31:

    Nope…as usual you seem to forget that I’m the one on the side of the scientific evidence while your side still can’t find any even after having had decades to acquire some. Instead you just keep repeating the same old long discredited lies, nonsensical arguments, and making excuses for your refusal to accept the scientific evidence. I did find the way you kept quoting “The Climate Caper” to be amusing, rather like a young earth creationist quoting Bible verses as “evidence” in a discussion about the age of the Earth. All while nations such as Australia (and especially the USA) keep falling further and further behind in the energy race.

    You’ve clearly run “out of material” at this point and have now been reduced to boring repetition since you don’t actually have any credible positively supporting evidence for your position. My question was really more of case of mildly bored curiosity, like watching a malfunctioning toy running out of control and wondering when it will finally run into a wall and be knocked over.

  37. #37 Jim Birch
    March 7, 2011

    Easy on Clive, please. My pet budgie doesn’t believe climate science either, but she sings delightfully.

  38. #38 Another Kiwi
    March 7, 2011

    @ Flying Binghi Call them what you will. You know what I meant. amandaS explained it for you.
    Now, are you going to comment on the thread topic or not?

  39. #39 GGS
    March 7, 2011

    Flying Binghi: the source of your confusion is unclear. Are you saying that you are unfamiliar with the term “_x_-year event” (as in “[hundred-year flood](http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100-year_flood)”) used as short-hand for “a once in _x_ year event”? Or are you simply arguing that the phrase “_x_-year” is never used in connection with forest fires? If the latter, I am afraid you are mistaken; for example, the phrase “1:50 year forest fire” is used on the first page of this document ([pdf](http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/getdoc/527c2500-f67d-42dc-92ae-578eecfdbb86/WIT.3004.028.0227)) from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission:

    >The WMO identifies areas where there is the potential for loss of life and property
    in a 1:50 year forest fire scenario. Under this fire scenario, development requires
    special protection to help withstand the passage of the fire.

  40. #40 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

    via Another Kiwi #1; “…the hundred year floods and the 50 year bushfires are happening every 5 years now, but that means nothing…”

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    via Another Kiwi #35; “…Call them what you will. You know what I meant. amandaS explained it for you. Now, are you going to comment on the thread topic or not?…”

    Heh, took a bit to drag it out of yer Another Kiwi.

    …anyway, …So, Another Kiwi, am i to understand that the term “50 year bushfire” is purely an insurance company term and nothing to do with the actual Australian bush conditions ?

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  41. #41 Another Kiwi
    March 7, 2011

    @ Flying Binghi: see post 36.

  42. #42 chek
    March 7, 2011

    [Flagging Winkie said:](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/03/shorter_clive_james.php#comment-3438429) “Heh, looks like Zetetic is starting to panic…

    Heh, or rather more probable is that yet another line in denialist trolling gets old really, really quickly.

  43. #43 FrankD
    March 7, 2011

    FB, instead of sharing your ignorance with us, why don’t you do some research before assuming something you don’t know is made up?

    Google “1 in 50 year” bushfire and the first two hits are from the NSW Rural fire service (a web tool for bushfire risk assessment) and the NSW Parliament (reviewing building standards in bushfire prone areas).

    So no, like all your other guesses – incorrect.

  44. #44 Jeffrey Davis
    March 7, 2011

    Terms like 50 year event come, loosely, from statistics.

    +-2 standard deviations is normal variation. 3 standard deviations: 2.1 in 100. 4 standard deviations: 13 in 1000. 5 standard deviations: 1 in 32000 or so(?) 6 standard deviations: 1 in 3,500,000(?) [memory is weak at the 5 and 6]

    That’s from high school stats and Psych 101 ~45 years ago.

    The European heat wave of a few years ago was at around the 4 standard deviation level. How they calibrate that stuff in a time of change is a mystery, Like Arctic ice loss in 2007: it was so strange and severe that it has produced really weird numbers subsequent to it.

  45. #45 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

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    From the #36 “50 year bushfire” reference link –

    Warning: Do not print and store a hard copy of this Practice Note.

    Reading the document dont tell us just what is a “50 year bushfire” event…

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  46. #46 rhwombat
    March 7, 2011

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    I’se a Troll. I’se always been a Troll. I’se will always be a Troll.

    Hur. Hur.

    I only has points to use up space.

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    Posted by: Flaying Blowfly | March 7, 1911 7:08 PM

  47. #47 rhwombat
    March 7, 2011

    Oh bugger. Speak of blowflies and the fat man turns up. This thread is starting to smell.

  48. #48 PB
    March 7, 2011

    Gosh Clive has turned into a tedious old bore. I tried reading the article but my eyes just glazed over. Just like they did when I tried reading “The Meaning of Recognition”.

    Clive had a brief flowering of talent, or perhaps just a good editor when he wrote “The Kogarah Kid” and “Falling Towards England”, but since then he’s become increasingly unreadable.

    In his early years as a self-proclaimed intellectual Clive once had a whole Pseud’s Corner in Private Eye devoted to him. Looks like in his later years he’s returning to his roots.

  49. #49 jrkrideau
    March 7, 2011

    At 26. The concept seems more to come from floods and storms at least in my part of the Northern Hemisphere. (Eastern Canada).

    We get forest fires not bush fires and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term used even for the huge Québec fires a few years ago.

    The thing is that it does not mean that you have a 100 years before you get a similar storm or flood, it just means that based on past history the ‘experts’ don’t expect more than one similar storm in the next 100 years. And since the probability in independent of the last storm you could get any number of 100 year storms in one year, it just is not all that likely

    http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/100yearflood.html discusses this.

  50. #50 BraselC5048
    March 7, 2011

    Actually I think you all have a slightly mistaken idea of what a “x year event” is (apoligies if you know this allready). A ’50 year event’ has a 1 in 50 chance of happening in a givin year. A ‘100 year event’ has a 1 in 100 chance of happening in a givin year. So, a ’50 year brushfire’ is a brushfire that has a 1 in 50 chance of happening in a particular year. Obviousily, a ‘1 in 50 year’ event happens much less frequently than a ‘1 in 5 year,’ and as such is usually much more extreme.

    However, if say, global warming changes that probility of ’50 year event’ so that the actual chance is 1 in 15, that event now has a much better chance of happening, and is just as bad as it was before, but now happens more often.

    So if a ’50 year brushfire’ becomes a ’10 year brushfire,’ then those distructive fires will happen more often, and that is a Bad Thing.

    Hope I’ve explained it clearly.

  51. #51 AmandaS
    March 7, 2011

    It’s a shame they don’t do NAPLAN tests for adults. Flying Binghi’s results would be fascinating. Literacy – well, he’d lose some points for punctuation and grammar but let’s say 50th percentile at least. Reading comprehension – nil from about 136 so far. It must be fascinating to live in a world where you can read words and yet are completely unable to assign meaning to them.

    Which makes this pointless for FB but for someone else who may be reading: Practice Note is a term used to mean Guideline or Policy Guideline or Procedural Instruction or How To Do This Thing. You never print out or store Practice Notes or Guidelines or similar because they are updated regularly and the online version will be the updated version. If you print or store them you may be using outdated procedures.

    I decided to treat the inanity of FB’s appearances as a challenge to see if it was actually possible to dumb anything down enough for FB to comprehend it. The Practice Note proves that it’s actually impossible to write anything simple enough for FB to comprehend. Now I have to go back to being bored with his drivel again.

  52. #52 BraselC5048
    March 7, 2011

    Forgot to state this above: a ‘x year event’ has a 1 in x chance of happening each year. Sorry!

  53. #53 ChrisC
    March 7, 2011

    Flying Binghi,

    What Another Kiwi and AmandaS have been trying to explain is known as a “Return Period”. It’s an estimate of the length of time that occurs between natural “events”; bush fires, category X cyclones, wind gusts above 150 km/h, etc…. Return periods are calculated by using probability and statistical theory along with observations of the “event” you’re interested in. For a lot of “events”, the stronger it is, the less frequently it occurs (take an Earthquake: Richter scale 2 events happen all the time, Richter scale 9… rarely).

    Here’s the [wiki page](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_period).

    I’ll try to give you an example. When I used to work as an engineer, we would design a structure to stay up for (say) 30 years. We needed to know, given the local environment, what would be the strongest wind that we would see over the life of the structure, so we could make it strong enough to withstand the wind gust. The design codes specified for a structure that would hang around for 30 years, we needed to design it for the strongest wind gust LIKELY over 50 years.

    We’d work this out, by looking at a bunch of weather station data, and finding out how frequent strong winds were. We’d find a relationship between the gust Strength and it’s frequency and use that to work out what would be the strongest wind over 50 years.

    For bushfires, weather forecasters use an index called a “Forest Fire Danger Index” (FFDI) that takes into account wind, temperature, humidity, vegetation type and dryness. In summer in (say) Victoria, Australia, the FFDI gets above 12 (High) often, above 50 (severe) less often, and, thankfully, above 100 (catastrophic) very rarely. The FFDI of over 170 on Black Saturday (7th Feb, 2009) had never been observed before. According to [this report](http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/science/2010/CAF-extreme-heatwave-events.pdf), the heatwave observed prior to and on Black Saturday was around a 1 in 500 year event.

    Hope this helps.

  54. #54 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

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    via AmandaS #48; “…The Practice Note proves that it’s actually impossible to write anything simple enough for FB to comprehend…”

    Hmmm… AmandaS, i’ll put it again – Reading the document dont tell us just what is a “50 year bushfire” event.

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  55. #55 Flying Binghi
    March 7, 2011

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    via ChrisC #50; “…Hope this helps…”

    Thanks for that ChrisC, i’ll have a read.

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  56. #56 MikeH
    March 8, 2011

    Shorter Flying Binghi

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  57. #57 jakerman
    March 8, 2011

    Longer Flying Binghi

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    Random talk

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    Dodge, change subject.

  58. #58 zoot
    March 8, 2011

    Seriously folks, get Killfile for Grease Monkey. All you’ll have to deal with is:

    Comment by Flying Binghi blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

  59. #59 allen mcmahon
    March 8, 2011

    Clive James is entitled to exercise his democratic right to express an opinion despite the fact that is contrary to AGW theory. Clive James has accomplished much in his life and criticism from a bunch of intellectual pygmies will not effect his place in history.

  60. #60 John
    March 8, 2011

    And we are exercising our democratic right to call him a wrongheaded old fool who wouldn’t recognise scientific evidence if it gave him a handjob.

    We won’t affect Clive’s place in history. He’s doing a perfectly good job at destroying it on his own.

  61. #61 Vince whirlwind
    March 8, 2011

    Allen, where in our constitution does it say ex-pats who live in London have a democratic right to publish utter shite in the Australian press?

  62. #62 Vince whirlwind
    March 8, 2011

    Allen, where in the Australian constitution does it say that London-resident authors of execrable poetry have a right to publish utter shite in the Australian press?

    Isn’t it funny how easy it is to catch science-deniers making false assertions? Like shooting fish in a barrel.

  63. #63 jakerman
    March 8, 2011

    >*Clive James has accomplished much in his life and criticism from a bunch of intellectual pygmies will not effect his place in history.*

    Record your prediction and ask your grandchildren to play it back in 40 years when a hundred million refugees are fleeing starvation and civil unrest.

    Using stupid arguments to support delayers of carbon mitigation may well end up being his most significant contribution in history. That is unless he rectifies this idiotic step and reversed direct to assist mitigation and hence lessen our rate of emissions.

  64. #64 ohnoherewego
    March 8, 2011

    I agree with James, Tim Flannery makes the most ridiculous statements about cities running out of water and Perth becoming uninhabitable and we give him loads of media attention and make him Australian of the year. Anyone with a more moderate view is treated with derision or no media attention at all. Hell if Flannery stated tommorrow that Adelaide was about to be submerged under the ocean we would probably award him the nobel peace prize or make him queen of England.

  65. #65 allen mcmahon
    March 8, 2011

    John;your eloquence is truly amazing do you work hard at it or is it just natural talent.
    Vince; at least get your facts straight its not his poem.Clive is best known for his essays although as they are based in logic and reason and delivered with clarity they will probably be over your head.
    jakerman; fact is mitigation will not happen so the future is looking somewhat bleak for you, I on the other hand am an optimist and find enjoyment in each and every day.

  66. #66 jakerman
    March 8, 2011

    Good for you allen, I’ll listen to the weight of evidence I keep pushing for mitigation. Some of us are prepared to carry your dead weight.

    Your grand kids can thank mine.

  67. #67 Crispy
    March 8, 2011

    No Allen, I think Vince means Clive is the author of execrable poetry of his own, not ‘Core of My Heart’.

    From Clive’s ‘Fashion Statement’

    *I see it now, the truth of what we were*

    *Back then when we were young and Sydney shone*

    *Like a classic silver milk-shake canister*

    *Trapping the sunlight in a cyclotron*

    *Of dented brilliance. In our student kit*

    *We were dandies. We just didn’t look like it.*

    Yes, I’ve often remarked on Sydney shining like a milk shake canister. Nailed it.

  68. #68 Flying Binghi
    March 8, 2011

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    Heh, looks like zoot @55 don’t like the intrusion of reality to the debate.

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  69. #69 Flying Binghi
    March 8, 2011

    .

    ChrisC @50, i’ve had a read of the link you provided to the CSIRO preliminary study on heatwave events. Doing a search of the report don’t bring up any references to bushfire’s.
    The report also fails to mention any reference to urban heat island effects. IMO, a faulty report. As it is a preliminary report perhaps they will look at UHI in the final report…

    .

    via ChrisC #50 “…For bushfire’s, weather forecasters use an index called a “Forest Fire Danger Index” (FFDI) that takes into account wind, temperature, humidity, vegetation type and dryness…”

    ChrisC, IMO the FFDI you reference there is still not a scale that can be used to get the claimed “50 year bushfire” event. The variables in the FFDI that you quote can have many different outcomes.

    For example, my own personal experience of the worst fire event on my little farm were during a mild conditions controlled burn-off of a paddock that had not been fired for 15 odd years. Most of the parameters were considered – “…wind, temperature, humidity, … and dryness…” My inexperience with ‘vegetation type’ and terrain caught me out though. I ended up with a nice little raging crown fire going.

    The opposite to the crown fire experience were very hot conditions wind driven wild fires that i have fought over the years which were easy to control because the paddocks had been burnt off in preceding years, had minimal ‘bulk’ to sustain an intense wild fire, and were easily controlled via breaks.

    IMO, due to all the variables affecting bush fires, attempting to make claims of a “50 year bushfire” is not correct.

    As to the biggest baddest bush fire in Australia’s written history that prize goes to the 1851 Victorian fire.

    .

    .

    .

  70. #70 Vince whirlwind
    March 8, 2011

    @Crispy, Oh god no, you just made me read it again.

    @Allen, I have a good selection of Clive James in my bookcase and I used to very much enjoy reading it. His latest essay is, however, quite clearly not founded on logic and reason but on glib nonsense he’s gleaned from moronic denialist bloggers.

  71. #71 Jacob
    March 8, 2011

    McCrann and the great big new tax on dirty bits of grit

    “Astonishingly,” says Herald Sun columnist Terry McCrann, “the PM, the Cabinet and members of the Canberra Press Gallery don’t know the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide.”

    Apparently it has to do with nomenclature, because the Gillard Government wants to put a price on carbon, rather than carbon dioxide. McCrann seems to believe that carbon comes in only one form, namely “dirty bits of grit.”

    The reason the term is used by Gillard is an exercise of quite deliberate despicable dishonesty. It is the modern political form of those subliminal advertisements that are banned.

    To suggest that it is about stopping dirty bits of grit — the very real carbon pollution of yesterday’s coal-burning home fires which gave London its sooty smog and killed thousands every year.

    Most people are familiar with the term ‘carbon sink’, which has been around for decades, but perhaps only a very few including McCrann believe it refers to something that absorbs dirty bits of grit.

    McCrann also excoriates the Gillard Government for “peddling” another lie, that “putting a price on carbon is the 21st century equivalent of the tariff reforms of the 1980s.”

    This lie has been peddled not just by the government but also by Treasury. Be afraid, be really afraid that we have a Treasury which is that incompetent.

    I’ll indeed switch from being mildly amused if McCrann or somebody can refer me to exactly where Treasury said that.

    There’s no doubt, however, that McCrann’s niche readership of the habitually afraid will find his exposition really, really frightening. They’ll indeed find confirmation that the guv’ment wants to tax human respiration.

    The last word on this belongs to a commenter on an online forum, who seems to be precisely on McCrann’s wavelength:

    Remember if they could kill you they would.

  72. #72 Connor
    March 9, 2011

    Flying Binghi said at # 51:

    Hmmm… AmandaS, i’ll put it again – Reading the document dont tell us just what is a “50 year bushfire” event.

    It’s called “probability”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100-year_flood#Probability

  73. #73 Connor
    March 9, 2011

    Flying Binghi said at # 51:

    Hmmm… AmandaS, i’ll put it again – Reading the document dont tell us just what is a “50 year bushfire” event.

    It’s called a “probability”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100-year_flood#Probability

  74. #74 VincentR
    March 14, 2011

    It saddens me to see such bickering and ad hominem attacks in discussions of this important subject, AGW.

    We get nowhere with such an approach.

    I used to just accept the science-backed theory that mankind was in danger of causing catastrophic climate change, until I began investigating the issue for myself on the internet.

    I have a general understanding of (and great respect for) the scientific method and the fact that all data have to be interpreted, checked and rechecked, and all alternative theories thoroughly examined and tested.

    What I have discovered on the internet, regarding this subject, is an appalling inability of scientists to communicate with the public and present convincing arguments that give credibility to the theory that our emissions of CO2 (as opposed to particulate carbon, sulphur dioxide and other nasties emitted from coal-fired power stations) are a serious threat to our well-being.

    Time and again I hear the same old political spiel which gives me the clear impression of an appalling ignorance on the subject. Back and forth insults are the norm, as on this site, with little progress on understanding the issue.

    When attempts are made through media interviews with notable scientists who support the AGW hypothesis, the explanations from such experts always seem biased and politically motivated to me. Their explanations simply do not address the concerns of the doubtful and the skeptical, and we end up going round in circles.

    Take the term, ‘Climate Change Denier’, for example. Anyone who knows anything at all about climate change must surely know that climate is always changing. A few million years ago, Uluru in the centre of Australia was battered by an inland sea. A few thousand years ago, about 20,000 years ago, sea levels were so low that the first settlers in Australia were able to walk across, from what is now Indonesia, to Northern Australia, and walk across mainland Australia to Tasmania.

    A couple of centuries before the birth of Christ we had a warming period at least as warm as the current warming period, known as the Roman Warming Period. This was followed by a cooling period, which in turn was followed by another warming period known as the Medieval Warming Period, which was followed by another cooling period known as the Little Ice Age.

    We are now out of the LIA, thank God, and luxuriating in another warm period. I actually prefer warmth to cold. I think most people do.

    Whenever I hear on the news, or during an interview, the appellation ‘Climate Change Denier’, or hear Julia Gillard declaring that climate change is ‘real’, I feel weak in the knees that our destiny might be in the hands of such people with apparently such little understanding.

    As a skeptic, I can list some of my concerns as follows. I wish someone would convincingly address them.

    (1) How can such a small percentages of CO2 in the atmosphere be a major concern? In pre-industrial times the atmosphere contained about 1/4th of 1/10th of 1 percent of CO2.
    As a result of our CO2 emissions, the atmosphere now contains a bit more than 1/3rd of 1/10th of 1 percent, ie. 380ppm as opposed to 250ppm.

    Considering all the major influences on climate, the sun in particular, as well as other radiation from outer space, changes in the earth’s orbit, earthquakes, volcanoes and a million undersea fissures emitting CO2 which we simply do not monitor, how can anyone accurately and credibly quantify the effect on climate of mankind’s CO2 emissions?

    (2) If we really could convincingly demonstrate that the current warming period is significantly exacerbated by our CO2 emission, and other GHGs, how do we demonstrate that this is a bad thing?

    The argument that weather extremes become more severe and more frequent is certainly frightening, but I see no evidence of this so far. The recent floods in Queensland, according to my research, are not quite as severe as similar floods in the 1890’s when we had a similar cluster of La Nina weather patterns.

    Again I see a tendency for politicians to excuse their own incompetence by using the word ‘unprecedented’. This is a great ‘face saver’. If something is unprecedented, we can’t be held responsible.

    The fact is, none of these natural disasters are unprecedented. This is the point that Clive James was making. Those who are unable to see this point really should do everyone a favour and desist from posting if you really want to further the cause of AGW, because your arguments so far, in this thread at least, are greatly lacking in scientific rationality.

  75. #75 adelady
    March 14, 2011

    VincentR “….volcanoes and a million undersea fissures emitting CO2 which we simply do not monitor, how can anyone accurately and credibly quantify the effect on climate of mankind’s CO2 emissions?”

    Hours of happy reading following up all the references in the comments on this thread. (Sorting the ‘direct heating’ from the ‘CO2 released’ items is a job in itself.)

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/volcanoes-and-global-warming.htm

    As for the 1890’s floods being higher or worse than 2011 remember two things. One, the Somerset and Wivenhoe dams had not yet been built (and nor had the extensive drainage system that Brisbane now boasts). Two, and more importantly, all **major** previous Brisbane floods were associated with cyclones. 2011 wasn’t.

    Quite a simple mental exercise for the 2011 flood. If we presume that water content of the air in January in the SE Queensland area held 4% more water than 100 years ago (the standard relationship for 0.7 degrees warmer air holding more water vapour). Then we subtract 4% from the volume of water flowing into the Wivenhoe dam alone in those 3 crucial days, would there or wouldn’t there have been a major flood?

    As a whole cubic kilometre of water flowed in on at least 2 of those 3 days, I tend to think probably not. Taking out 4% of 2.7 cubic kilometres of water from the flow into Brisbane takes the flood right back into the routine, not-so-bad, we-can-cope category.

  76. #76 VincentR
    March 14, 2011

    [b]As for the 1890’s floods being higher or worse than 2011 remember two things. One, the Somerset and Wivenhoe dams had not yet been built (and nor had the extensive drainage system that Brisbane now boasts). Two, and more importantly, all major previous Brisbane floods were associated with cyclones. 2011 wasn’t.[/b]

    That may be so, but is it not reasonable to suppose that the far greater amount of forestation and landcover in and around the catchment areas in the 1890’s would be at least as effective in containing water as a couple of dams near full capacity?

    As for better drainage, you certainly need it with the greater urbanisation that has taken place since the 1890’s.

    I understand also that the amount of rainfall that caused the flash flooding in Toowoomba was not unprecedented, although the extent of the damage may have been.

  77. #77 adelady
    March 14, 2011

    “forestation and landcover”?

    Absolutely terrific – until the soil is saturated, then it might as well be concrete.

  78. #78 Iain
    March 14, 2011

    Oh how reasonable VincentR sounds, except if he really had read widely and been able and or/willing to distinguish between actual science and outrageous lies he would already have all the answers he is looking for…

  79. #79 Iain
    March 14, 2011

    But what the hell, throw a few crumbs under the bridge. Why is human caused planetary warming at an unprecedented rate bad? Because everything is kind of set up for the climate we have (or used to have). And because humans don’t have gills..

  80. #80 Wow
    March 14, 2011

    Vinny, if there is a massive source of CO2 that we aren’t measuring, where is the CO2 it’s producing supposed to go?

    We already pump out enough to explain the atmospheric and ocean increases from human processes. If there is a much larger source, where is it putting the CO2?

    Antivolcanoes?

  81. #81 Lotharsson
    March 14, 2011

    I call “Bingo!” on VincentR’s collection of well-known denialist talking points!

    I especially like the deeply ironic charge that the “arguments so far…are greatly lacking in scientific rationality”. Psychological projection is truly amazing.

  82. #82 VincentR
    March 14, 2011

    Further to your points in your previous post, Adelady, I believe that a Brisbane flood in 1841 was also worse than the 1974 flood when, of course, the Wivenhoe dam had not been built.

    The following site contains graphs for flooding of the Brisbane and Bremer rivers going back to 1840. I believe the source is the BOM.

    One major issue which people tend to confuse, perhaps understandably when they are emotionally impacted by a flood, is the extent of the damage caused by the flood, and the degree of rainfall which caused the flood.

    Whilst the degree of property damage and loss of life may be unprecedented, the rainfall and weather patterns which caused it may not be.

    I find it alarming that the number of properties damaged in Brisbane as a result of the 2011 flood is greater than the number damaged during the 1974 floods, despite the fact that flood levels were about 1 metre lower than 1974.

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11483&page=1

  83. #83 foram
    March 14, 2011

    Well that article sure is brimming with “scientific rationality”

    There was another flood of about the same dimensions in 1974. There was no peak of CO2 at that time.

    Speechless.

  84. #84 VincentR
    March 15, 2011

    Well that article sure is brimming with “scientific rationality”
    There was another flood of about the same dimensions in 1974. There was no peak of CO2 at that time.
    Speechless.

    How about the graphs? Are they speechless too?

    Considering the general context and point of the article, I would say that the reference to there being no peak of CO2 at the time of the 1974 flood is an editing error.

    It’s clear to me at least, that the article is making the point that the 1841 and 1893 floods appear to have been greater than the 1974 and 2011 floods despite the quantities of human CO2 emissions during the 19th century being less than they are today.

    I’m surprised you missed that point.

  85. #85 adelady
    March 15, 2011

    The earlier floods may ‘appear’ to have been worse than 2011.

    This list shows what the flood height would have been if Somerset **and** Wivenhoe Dams had both been operating at the time of big flood events.

    17/2/1893 at 3.31 meters,
    4/2/1893 at 3.36 meters,
    14/1/1841 at 3.43 meters,
    27/1/1974 at 3.48 meters, and
    13/1/2011 at 4.46 meters.

    Lots more good information and analysis at
    http://bybrisbanewaters.blogspot.com/2011/02/2011-and-history-how-big-was-brisbanes.html

  86. #86 VincentR
    March 16, 2011

    Well, it’s certainly an interesting comparison to make, what the flood levels might have been in 1841 and 1893 if the Somerset and Wivenhoe dams had been built at that time.

    It would be interesting to see what data was used to get these probable and estimated heights.

    In general terms, it seems clear to me that during the 170 years between 1841 and 2011 we have laid hundreds of square kilometres of tar, concrete and roof tops in Brisbane and surrounding areas. Whilst modern drainage is no doubt an improvement over those early settlements, drainage in urbanised area does not help riverine flooding one bit, unless such drainage has its own route through concrete pipes directly into the sea.

    As I understand, most drainage in areas that are not on the coast flows into inland creeks, rivers, swamps and other catchment areas. Such drainage must inevitably contribute towards riverine flood levels.

    In addition to these large areas of land that have been made impervious to water, we also have even larger areas that have been deforested and turned into pastures or used for crops. A rainforst can hold an enormous amount of water on its leaves and in the rich humus and litter on the ground. I believe the extensive root system of a rain forest also allows for greater penetration of water into the ground.

    However, clearly it is true as you mentioned earlier, when a forest has been subjected to prolonged, heavy rainfall and the ground and vegetation is fully saturated, the water will run off as easily as it runs off a concrete surface, or flows out of a full dam.

    But have you considered what happens when flash flooding flows from one area, that has experienced heavy rain, across other areas that have not had such heavy rain?

    If the moving bank of water has to pass through forests which are not yet saturated, the extent of riverine flooding will be significantly mitigated.

    If it’s flowing through urbanised areas and grassland, then what do you expect!

  87. #87 Chris O'Neill
    March 16, 2011

    VincentR the troll:

    How can such a small percentages of CO2 in the atmosphere be a major concern?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/the-co2-problem-in-6-easy-steps/

  88. #88 adelady
    March 16, 2011

    “If the moving bank of water has to pass through forests which are not yet saturated, the extent of riverine flooding will be significantly mitigated.”

    Maybe so. But irrelevant to the situation of SE Queensland in January 2011.

  89. #89 foram
    March 16, 2011

    How about the graphs? Are they speechless too?

    Most certainly not. It’s the discussion around them that rendered me speechless. Making the perfectly legitimate point that single extreme events cannot be simply and directly attributed to anthropogenic climate change doesn’t require “skepticism” of the mainstream science. It simply requires reading the mainstream science. You could have made the point by linking to the BoM and the IPCC reports rather than an article littered with misrepresentation and absurdities.

    Considering the general context and point of the article, I would say that the reference to there being no peak of CO2 at the time of the 1974 flood is an editing error.

    It’s not an editing error. It’s a rhetorical flourish – and a straw man, just like the article taken as a whole.

  90. #90 VincentR
    March 17, 2011

    “Considering the general context and point of the article, I would say that the reference to there being no peak of CO2 at the time of the 1974 flood is an editing error.”

    “It’s not an editing error. It’s a rhetorical flourish – and a straw man, just like the article taken as a whole.
    Posted by: foram | March 16, 2011 9:42 PM”
    ————————————————————

    I think the most blatant and extreme example of a ‘straw man’ argument I’ve ever come across is when a believer in the alarming consequences of human induced CO2 emissions, such as yourself apparently, calls a person who is skeptical about the severity of the threat and the degree of possible harmful consequences of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, such as myself, a Climate Change Denier.

    I recall Phillip Adams goes even further and equates AGW skeptics to Holocaust Deniers.

    This is a great pity because there are many intelligent members of the general public who are not convinced by the arguments put forward by AGW believers, but who do have a respect for the scientific method.

    We would like our doubts addressed clearly and intelligibly, without bias and without conveniently glossing over historical facts and geological records that do suggest that the climate, which is always in a process of change, is currently changing due to natural causes, in the main.

    Since no-one is doubting that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it’s quite reasonable to suppose that increases in CO2 in the atmosphere, as a result of our emissions, will affect climate to some degree.

    Having spoken to a number of scientists on this issue, some of whom I don’t know and just happen to have met briefly by chance, and having read of the way certain scientists employed in organisations related to Climate Change have been treated when they object to the interpretation of the data which they think is often biased in favour of the AGW hypothesis, I tend to think there are probably lots of scientists employed in the field of Climatology, who are privately very doubtful about the way their data and results are being interpreted and presented, but are reluctant to speak out for two main reasons;

    (1) They need the employment to feed their families.

    (2) It’s easy to rationalise their personal doubts with the argument that no harm is done if the AGW hypothesis is eventually proved to be a great exaggeration, because it’s clear we are gradually running out of fossil fuels, particularly oil, and we can only benefit in the long term from the development of efficient, alternative energy supplies.

    This second point is very seductive and one that Tim Flannery often makes.

    Unfortunately, it is a deeply flawed argument. Every business manager knows that one needs accurate and reliable information to properly assess risk factors, not exaggerated scenarios.

    I find it deeply ironic, and frankly disturbing, that there are plans to handicap our most efficient energy producers in some vain attempt to control the climate by reducing CO2 emissions, whilst at the same time we continue to build houses in flood plains, that are not protected by riverine flooding insurance and would continue to be damaged by the levels of natural flooding that we could expect irrespective of any increases in human induced CO2 emissions.

  91. #91 zoot
    March 17, 2011

    This is a great pity because there are many intelligent members of the general public who are not convinced by the arguments put forward by AGW believers, but who do have a respect for the scientific method.

    Have you any appreciation of the stupidity displayed in this statement?

  92. #92 Lotharsson
    March 17, 2011

    > …there are many intelligent members of the general public who are not convinced by the arguments put forward by AGW believers, but who do have a respect for the scientific method.

    Really? So they can express their lack of conviction on this issue by mounting scientific arguments that (a) fairly represent the scientific case for AGW, and (b) present a scientifically plausible alternative to that case and the evidence that supports it? Care to name any of these people or their arguments? Bear in mind that this particular audience is more familiar than the average newspaper reader with both the science and with the reasons why most of the arguments for “doubt” in this space do not hold water…

    > …without conveniently glossing over historical facts and geological records that do suggest that the climate, which is always in a process of change, is currently changing due to natural causes, in the main.

    And yet the scientific method that you imply you respect (a) is not glossed over by climate scientists, who spend a great deal of time and effort to understand the forces acting to change the climate and – both natural and anthropogenic – and their relative magnitudes, and (b) does not show what you claim it does. It is true that a superficial look at a certain subset of the facts might lead one to think as you claim, and certain parties promote carefully selected sets of facts, apparently for this purpose. However a deeper scientific understanding clearly indicates this is very unlikely to be the case. Anyone who actually has a respect for the scientific method must agree that a deeper understanding consistent with all the evidence trumps a more superficial one that is inconsistent with significant chunks of that evidence.

    > They need the employment to feed their families.

    And yet it’s objectively clear that there’s a lot more money for those who are prepared to produce work that supports conclusions that big business would prefer to hear, so this motivation looks unconvincing.

    Never mind that anyone who debunked AGW would most certainly receive a Nobel Prize, great professional acclaim, significant financial reward and enviable future career prospects – and yet no-one, not a single scientist, has stepped up to claim these kinds of rewards. Odd, that.

    > Every business manager knows that one needs accurate and reliable information to properly assess risk factors, not exaggerated scenarios.

    And yet (for example) the IPCC scenarios made in past reports have proved to be the opposite of exaggeration in many respects – things are worse than anticipated, not better.

    > I find it deeply ironic, and frankly disturbing, that there are plans to handicap our most efficient energy producers in some vain attempt to control the climate by reducing CO2 emissions, …

    Your use of “vain attempt to control the climate” suggests that you don’t understand the science that you claim to respect…

    > …whilst at the same time we continue to build houses in flood plains, that are not protected by riverine flooding insurance and would continue to be damaged by the levels of natural flooding that we could expect irrespective of any increases in human induced CO2 emissions.

    Which is indeed a valid concern, but also a red herring for the debate about what to do about AGW – and it’s certainly not an either-or proposition as you seem to position it to be.

  93. #93 Chris O'Neill
    March 17, 2011

    VincentR the troll:

    We would like our doubts addressed clearly and intelligibly

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

    I tend to think there are probably lots of scientists employed in the field of Climatology, who are privately very doubtful

    So your real reason for commenting here is to push your personal barrow. Spare us, please.

  94. #94 jakerman
    March 18, 2011

    >*I tend to think there are probably lots of scientists employed in the field of Climatology, who are privately very doubtful about the way their data and results are being interpreted and presented, but are reluctant to speak out*

    Opinion with a distinct lack of supporting evidence.

    Roy Spencer aint affraid to speak out, its [just his bad science](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/03/roy_spencer_fitting_an_elephan.php) that keeps people from accepting his calims.

    Same [for Lindzen](http://www.skepticalscience.com/a-case-study-of-a-climate-scientist-skeptic.html). Same [for Christy](http://www.skepticalscience.com/christy-testimony.html).

  95. #95 Bernard J.
    March 18, 2011

    I tend to think there are probably lots of scientists employed in the field of Climatology, who are privately very doubtful about the way their data and results are being interpreted and presented, but are reluctant to speak out for two main reasons;

    (1) They need the employment to feed their families.

    You clearly have no idea about the work of a scientist.

    If there was any “doubt” about the validity of the consensus, scientists would be bending over backwards to demonstrate this to the world, because it would guarantee a sky-rocketing of their careers, exactly as Lothasson has already told you.

    Your “tend[ency] to think” would appear, based upon objective critical analysis, to be a greatly exaggerated reflection of the reality of your capacities.

    As to your comment about climatologists needing employment to “feed their families”, once again you have no idea about the operation of science. If climatology were suddenly demoted in the funding scheme of things, there would be work for the same people in other disciplines. Having lived for decades on 12-, 24- and 36-month grants I can attest to the perambulatory nature of scientific employment.

    Science funding is a competitive process – the requirement for a particular number of individual scientists in a particular discipline might change, but the overall funding for science doesn’t (except when science-phobic conservatives have their ways).

    In fact, if climatology was to be pushed down the list of disciplines to be funded, there would probably be more overall funding for scientists in other areas, because a large part of the cost of climatology is swallowed by expensive equipment such as satellites and rockets. For the price of one climatological group a government could probably employ an army of ecologists, or at least an overall excess of physicists/chemists working on alternative fuels. “Doubting” climate scientists should be screaming their concerns from the rooftops, so that they can open up new fields of work and secure more overall scientific employment.

    Of course, the demise of satellite-based climatology might worry the techies and the aerospace companies, because their services would no longer be as much in demand, but that’s the free market for you.

    …it’s clear we are gradually running out of fossil fuels, particularly oil, and we can only benefit in the long term from the development of efficient, alternative energy supplies.

    This second point is very seductive and one that Tim Flannery often makes.

    That second point is also inescapably true, and is not solved by trying to insinuate that it is an attempt at seduction. Seriously, what is the “seduction”? What is your implied version of the truth, if Flannery’s points are not valid and centrally relevant?

    The longer that we do not address Peak Oil (or global warming) the harder it will hit our societies economically. Those who might have to pay tax now, or find new jobs now, will have to pay more later or search harder for new employment in the future, if we do not address the issues now. It’s no different to spending on credit: not addressing Peak Oil/climate change/general resource overuse is simply a matter of increasing the credit limit on the card, without ever paying off the debt.

    The trouble is that sooner or later the natural environment will call the debt, and there will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

  96. #96 Wow
    March 18, 2011

    > I tend to think there are probably lots of scientists employed in the field of Climatology, who are privately very doubtful about the way their data and results are being interpreted and presented, but are reluctant to speak out for two main reasons;

    And David Ike tends to think that lizard aliens have taken over the planet and are made up to look like humans.

    This doesn’t mean he’s right. It DOES mean he’s probably a paranoid nut.

    And just because you tend to think that doesn’t mean you’re right. But it DOES tell us a lot about you.

  97. #97 VincentR
    March 21, 2011

    Well, Bernard, thanks for at least attempting a sensible rebuttal, instead of the usual personal insults.

    When the subject is exceptionally complex with so many variables which can be chaotic and unpredictable, bending over backwards may not be sufficient. Even massive amounts of funding for research may not be sufficient.

    As I understand (but correct me if I’m wrong) the scientific method is essentially based upon experiment, observation, deduction, hypothesis, falsification.

    A consensus that results before all of those stages are complete cannot be a true and meaningful scientific consensus. It can only be a concocted, political consensus.

    Reading the arguments from the AGW protagonists on a number of sites, whether from scientists, members of the public, or politicians, I get a strong sense that there’s an extraordinarily simplistic and naive notion prevalent, that we can control our climate by controlling our levels of CO2 emissions.

    The illusion of having control can be very powerful. The CO2 control knob. Wow!

    We can control the rate of economic growth by reducing, or increasing interest rates. Can we do the same with our climate by reducing or increasing our CO2 emissions?

    Don’t kid yourselves! Climate is far too complex, variable and unpredictable for such a simplistic approach.

    I notice that some commentators on my previous points have implied that I’m sometimes not relevant. I often get a sense from the AGW protagonists that they suffer in general from an inability to appreciate in practical human terms the broader picture and the significance of the price of energy.

    We don’t prevent another flood, like those that occurred in Pakistan and Australia recently, by reducing our CO2 emissions.

    We prevent a recurrence of such disasters by spending lots of money (energy) in flood mitigation dams, reforestation of surrounding areas, and new house designs that resist flooding better, such as elevated houses on solid piers.

    Of course, I doubt very much that that’s going to happen. It seems that for most of us, most of the time, the economic pressures of the moment outweigh the lessons of history.

    As someone who is a resident in the general Brisbane area, although outside the city and unaffected by the recent floods, I’m amazed that the same mistakes that occurred in 1974 have been repeated in 2011.

    We had a devastating flood in 1974, attributed to inadequate dam capacity and too much clearing and deforestation of surrounding areas, so we build a massive flood-mitigation dam to prevent a recurrence.

    But it now seems we have had a recurrence, not because it was unavoidable as a result of massively unprecedented rainfall (although the rainfall may have been greater for reasons which cannot be directly attributed to CO2 increases), but because we repeated the same mistakes we made in 1974.

    The latest Weekend Australian has a report from an engineer who has done the calculations. He’s not engaging in psychological distraction. It’s very easy to quote the cliche, ‘You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t”, or, “It’s easy to be wise in hindsight”, but the fact is, it now seems, Wivenhoe was not fully used as a flood mitigation dam. Someone wants to have their cake and eat it.

    After the emotional trauma of a previous long drought that many attributed to AGW, the economic flow-on of a harvest of full dams that might tide us over the next drought without too much expenditure on more desalination plants, seems to have won the day.

    It now seems clear to me, to put it in the simplest terms, that the recent floods in Brisbane and Ipswich resulted because we had a flood mitigation dam which wasn’t being fully or competently used for flood mitigation purposes.

    The lesson here is that we should pay more attention to the practical basics, learn from past mistakes and not let economic greed cloud our judgement.

    It simply makes no sense to me to act foolishly by building houses in flood plains, which are uninsured because the insurance is either too expensive or not available, then kid ourselves that we might solve the problem by spending twice, or three times as much reducing CO2 emissions as it would take to protect such dwellings from future floods or cyclones using well known and tested procedures with reference to past events.

    The number of house damaged by this flood this year, in Brisbane, exceeded the number of dwellings damaged in 1974. Is this because the 2011 flood was higher? No. It was about 1 metre lower.

    Can any of you guys understand that I’m a little skeptical about the claims of any group of people (scientists or politicians) that they can control our climate, in theory or in practice, by reducing CO2 emissions?

    We can’t control wars. We can’t control poverty. We can’t control floods, even in the best of circumstances with a flood mitigation dam that holds 2.5x as much water as the Sydney harbour, yet some people think we can control our climate with a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme.

    My mind truly and honestly boggles at such foolishness.

    Get real, for Christ’s sake!

  98. #98 Wow
    March 21, 2011

    > As I understand (but correct me if I’m wrong) the scientific method is essentially based upon experiment, observation, deduction, hypothesis, falsification.

    As your “essentially” means “in broad strokes”, yes.

    > A consensus that results before all of those stages are complete cannot be a true and meaningful scientific consensus.

    You seem to forget that your essentially doesn’t mean “essential”.

    > It can only be a concocted, political consensus.

    Absolutely false.

    It could be just mistaken. You’re writing in on the thoughts of others the thoughts you yourself entertain. It’s called projection. It’s supposed to make you feel better for being a heel since everyone else is one, therefore you’re not a bad person.

    > Reading the arguments from the AGW protagonists on a number of sites,… I get a strong sense that there’s an extraordinarily simplistic and naive notion prevalent, that we can control our climate by controlling our levels of CO2 emissions.

    It isn’t naive. Just because you don’t like it and don’t believe it doesn’t mean you get to jedi-wave it away with “this is not the notion we are looking for”.

    Why do you think it is not possible to change the temperature markedly with CO2, the single biggest forcing parameter we have control over?

    Or do you think that nature will notice us not burning fossil fuels and decide to throw out a few CO2 volcanoes to keep the numbers up?

    > Don’t kid yourselves! Climate is far too complex, variable and unpredictable for such a simplistic approach.

    Really? How do you know this? It’s a fairly simple process.

    Heat goes in. Heat goes out. The sun produces what it produces.
    We can change the CO2 we pump out. Why is this false? Because you don’t like it?

    > We don’t prevent another flood, like those that occurred in Pakistan and Australia recently, by reducing our CO2 emissions.

    Indeed not. However we can reduce the number of them by reducing CO2 emissions.

    Or do you not believe that water evaporates?

    > although the rainfall may have been greater for reasons which cannot be directly attributed to CO2 increases

    It CAN be attributed to higher sea surface temperatures.

    You DO know that heating something that is in contact with something else will warm that something else too, don’t you?

    > Can any of you guys understand that I’m a little skeptical about the claims of any group of people (scientists or politicians) that they can control our climate, in theory or in practice, by reducing CO2 emissions?

    We understand it isn’t skepticism. You seem absolutely sure it’s wrong for a start.

    That’s not skepticism.

    We also understand your denial. You don’t like it.

    > We can’t control wars. We can’t control poverty.

    We can control the amount of CO2 we produce that exceeds the natural capacity to take up the pollution.

    Funny how you think we can control wars and poverty when you think it’s impossible to control CO2 emissions.

    Show me where we’ve controlled either poverty or wars. But emissions of CFCs were controlled. Emission of sulphur was controlled.

    > My mind truly and honestly boggles at such foolishness.

    Your inability to get past your dogma is causing your mind to boggle. It has nothing to do with AGW science being foolish.

    > Get real, for Christ’s sake!

    A demand you should be looking to start on yourself.

  99. #99 VincentR
    March 25, 2011

    How old are you Wow? 10 or 11?

    May I suggest that you do not opt for a career in science. You don’t appear to have the sense of logic and rationality required.

    Debating for the sake of debating is probably your forte. A career in the Entertainment industry might be appropriate.

    I would hesitate to recommend politics. We already have too many scientific illiterates in politics, people who think that 4,000 scientists can’t be wrong, and people who think that life-giving CO2 is a pollutant in the miniscule percentages that currently exist in the atmosphere.

    No hard feelings I hope.

    Bye!

  100. #100 Chris O'Neill
    March 25, 2011

    VincentR the troll:

    We already have too many scientific illiterates in politics, people who think that 4,000 scientists can’t be wrong

    And people such as yourself who have been lied to that they are all scientists when that’s not true and some of them have declared that they do not want to be on that list but can’t get taken off.

    You’ve been lied to Vincent and misled.

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