The Australian's War on Science XVII - hysterical knavish Nazi inquisition edition

This piece by Arthur "Let's bomb Iran!" Herman published by the Australian and the CIS, has it all.

  • the author is a historian, not a scientist
  • every single claim about the science is wrong
  • climate scientists are called "knaves" , "a priesthood" and likened to the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazis
  • there is ridiculous alarmism about the costs of mitigation ("trim Australia's GDP by several percentage points a year")

Nexus 6 and Gary Sauer-Thompson have already taken Herman's article apart, but I think it is still interesting to look at what he got wrong about the science (everything!) to see if there is a pattern to his errors.

Here's Herman:

It's been a tough year for the high priests of global warming in America. First the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) had to correct its earlier claim that the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States had been 1998, which seemed to prove that global warming was on the march. It was actually 1934.

In fact, NASA never claimed that 1998 was the warmest year in the US. And if you are interested in global warming, then the relevant temperatures are global ones, not those in the US. And the correction that left 1998 and 1934 virtually tied in the US was made last year, not this year.

Then it turned out the world's oceans have been growing steadily cooler, not hotter, since 2003.

There was a paper published, not this year, and not last year, but in 2006 which claimed that oceans had cooled from 2003 to 2005. But it turned out that there was an error in some of the data. Remove the erroneous data and the cooling goes away

Meanwhile, the winter of 2007 was the coldest in the US in decades after Al Gore warned us that we were about to see "the end of winter as we know it."

This is a cherry pick, since one season in one country doesn't tell us much about long term global temperature trends. And it's also wrong. The NCDC report on the winter of 2007-2008 states:

In the contiguous United States, the average winter temperature was 33.2°F (0.6°C), which was 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century average - yet still ranks as the coolest since 2001.

I don't think that 2001 was decades ago. Back to Herman:

In the May issue of Nature evidence about falling global temperatures forced German climatologists to conclude that the transformation of our planet into a permanent sauna is taking a decade-long hiatus, at least.

Not exactly. Here's the researchers' own summary:

"Just to make things clear: we are not stating that anthropogenic climate change won't be as bad as previously thought", explains Prof. Mojib Latif from IFM-GEOMAR. "What we are saying is that on top of the warming trend there is a long-periodic oscillation that will probably lead to a to a lower temperature increase than we would expect from the current trend during the next years", adds Latif.

Their conclusions aren't forced by falling global temperatures (because global temperatures aren't falling, duh), but are based on periodic oscillations being superimposed on a warming trend. And they did not say that warming would stop for at least a decade, but rather that warming would slow for a decade and then catch up with the long term trend. (Their conclusions are also disputed.)

Herman's final piece of evidence:

Then this month came former greenhouse gas alarmist David Evans' article in the Australian, stating that since 1999 evidence has been accumulating that man-made carbon emissions can't be the cause of global warming. By now that evidence, Evans said, has become "pretty conclusive."

Unfortunately, Evans got all his evidence wrong.

I think it's clear from the pattern of Herman's errors that he didn't bother to find out what NASA or the the NCDC or that May article in Nature had to say, but got all his information about climate science second or third-hand from ideological sources like the Australian and Rush Limbaugh. This picture shows how the system works:


Over on Planet Janet we find a bit more from Herman:

Arthur Herman, another panel member, predicts that in five years there will be a spate of books and articles wondering how politicians, the media and the people were all so comprehensively conned by global warming alarmism.

I wonder if he really thinks that? Do you think he would be willing to put money on it?

More like this

Those "up/down" arrows on your wonderful bullshit cycle just beg to be superimposed with a dollar sign.

By John Armour (not verified) on 09 Aug 2008 #permalink


A simple question from an antipodean (from where you are): is 'The Australian' really the only national newspaper you have? I sincerely hope not!

By TrueSceptic (not verified) on 09 Aug 2008 #permalink

Yes, TrueSceptic, the Oz is our only national newspaper (apart from a finance and business paper).

It's even worse than that, in many cities the only alternative daily to The Oz is the local tabloid published by News Ltd as well.

What about this opinion piece by Mirko 'yay torture' Bagaric in The Age today?…

some choice quotes:

"Greenhouse warming concerns have only resonated with the mainstream since climatologists have started making predictions of adverse climate events in our lifetime. In truth, we don't care an inch about future people.Concrete proof of this is that we live in a community where the only post-womb environment experienced by one in four embryos is the bottom of an abortionist's bucket."

"Green groups are particularly misguided in their criticism of the major developing economies of India, China, Mexico and Brazil for not committing to greenhouse cuts."

and then,

"We have to be strategic in how we empty our sympathy gland."

ah ha ha ha ha.... what?! I mean is this guy serious?!!

By Antechinus (not verified) on 09 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Nobody expects the IPPC!"

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 09 Aug 2008 #permalink

Herman claims David Evans is a "former greenhouse gas alarmist".

I am sceptical about this. I mean, where is the proof? As far as I'm concerned it's only a theory. There is no evidence!

> This picture shows how the system works:

Is the diagram accurate? I thought Tom Harris said that the ICSC is meant to be a sort of hub for all the Climate Realist⢠groups out there. Or perhaps ICSC is actually a sort of nexus for lots of interlinked disinformation cycles... Anyway, whatever the information looks like, I'm quite certain it's by design.

So how do we feedback to the Australian to tell them that this stuff sucks? We should launch an e-mail campaign or some such. For great justice! :)

Antechinus quoting Mirko 'yay torture' Bagaric:

"Green groups are particularly misguided in their criticism of the major developing economies of India, China, Mexico and Brazil for not committing to greenhouse cuts."

Bagaric obviously subscribes to the theory that if you don't like the facts then make up your own. Proposing China and India cut greenhouse gas emissions along with Australia is a favored position of conservative politicians.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 10 Aug 2008 #permalink

You caught me out once before with the numbering, Tim, but this time I think I'm correct - aren't we up to AWoS XVII?

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 10 Aug 2008 #permalink

I've mentioned before that I am old enough, *sigh*, to remember when The Australian was one of the best newspapers in the whole whirled. Seriously. In the early 70s it was anti-war (Vietnam), anti-establishment, funny and irreverent. As I understood it then, it was Rupert's attempt to establish his journalism cred. That was before he made his move outside Oz, first to England, then the US. He owned all the other papers in the country (more or less), tabloids all, except for the Morning Herald. I held The Australian in such high regard then, that it is especially painful to see what it has become. I kinda hate to read your Oz posts, Tim, because it brings sad memories of what usta was. On the other hand, there is a sort of car crash fascination, but it's like there was someone I knew and loved in the wreck. Very sad for an old fart like me. rb

Shorter Herman: "Al Gore is Pius XII with a wig".

By James Haughton (not verified) on 10 Aug 2008 #permalink

What is wrong with being an alarmist? real, if Rome is burning, shouldn't we listen to the smoke alarms that are going off?

Well, I thought the Oz couldn't sink any lower...I was wrong. Short of being wrong about pretty much every scientific point he tries to make,

OT, have any Melburnians noticed that The Age buisness pages seem to be giving the climate change deniers a run? I've noticed Kinninmonth a few times, with the odd piece by Carter and Plimmer. Although I hardly read The Age these days (the Canberra Times in now my staple) it used to be a fine paper back in the day, and I would hate to see them giving over space to nobs with no knowledge of science to prattle on about stuff they don't know about. There is the Herald Sun and the Daily Terror for that.

I had Ian Plimer as a lecturer in geology back in the 80s, and he was a decent scientist, at least back then.

To his credit he put his money where his mouth was when he took on a Creationist, although to the discredit of the legal system religion somehow won out over science...

It seems that many of the truly educated scientists who dispute AGW come from the geological sciences. It fascinates me that this is so...

Some might argue that it is because geologists are better able to think in 'geological time', but then so do evolutionists, who do not seem much predisposed to denialism. And anyway, it could be argued that an appreciation of time scales in fact enhances one's capacity to understand the nature of the current climate changes better than others might.

What think the other good souls here about the sceptical bent of our geological brethren?

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Which scientific discipline is more closely related to the finding of coal and oil?

Geology? Or biology?

I don't think it's a huge surprise that geology has been a center of denialism for such a long time...