For the attention of Douglas Carswell MP (and you)

Dear All,

The Hon. Member for Harwich and Clacton recently wrote on his blog that this summer, he would be reading Ian Pilmer’s book Heaven and Earth. This is a book that claims to challenge climate change orthodoxy and prove that man has had little effect on the global climate. It’s also discredited, and this review in The Australian is the best I’ve come across. Despite this, The Spectator went ahead and used it as their front page story.

I contacted the author of the review of Pilmer’s book in The Australian, Professor Michael Ashley. In an email he said  “Plimer’s book is certainly not worth reading, unless you are trying to understand the illogical minds of the people on his side of the ‘debate’.” So what should Mr Carswell read?

As a public service, I’ve been in contact with climate change scientists to find out what would be a good starting point for someone interested in finding out more. It appears the debate sometimes tends towards noise, not evidence, in determining our effect on the environment.

Professor Ashley said “I suggest that you head over to http://www.realclimate.org click on the ‘start here’ button, and then browse through the links. At some stage I suggest that you have a look at the IPCC’s AR4 document itself, since it will give you a good idea of just how much work has gone into the consensus position.”

The IPCC’s AR4 document is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent document outlining the scientific evidence for man’s affect on the global climate. It includes the arguments of sceptics within its findings, hence why he calls it the “consensus position”.

I also contacted the Met Office to find some recommended reading. They also said they would be happy for me to contact them for “further suggestions, eg suggestions that are more / less technical.” So if this isn’t enough, ask me to and I will. Or contact them yourself, I’m sure they’d be delighted to point you in the direction of serious scientific evidence and away from sensationalist garbage. They’ve also got their own online guide here.

Here’s what they suggested as a starting point:

Global Warming – The Complete Briefing
4th Edition (2009)
John Houghton
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
CUP
Paperback
ISBN: 9780521709163

The very comprehensive volumns of the IPCC AR4 can be downloaded from
URL
http://www.ipcc.ch/

I also found this book very useful, although it also deals with more general atmospheric issues:

Atmosphere, Weather and Climate  Roger G. Barry (, Richard J Chorley)
Publisher: Routledge
Binding:Paperback Pages: 528
Publication Date: 2009-08-27 (not yet published)
Edition: 1 (or 9)
ISBN: 0415465702

So if you’re scouting around looking for an informative read this summer, why not try these? Alternatively, read Ian Pilmer and believe what you like. Just be aware that most of its argument has been discredited and it proves nothing.

Sincerely,

Josh

PS. Don’t go crazy with your comments until you’ve read the books. It’s not about who can shout the loudest.

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11 Responses to “For the attention of Douglas Carswell MP (and you)”

  1. Anthony Says:

    Not about who can shout the loudest? That’s not the internet I know.

  2. Richard Says:

    Only problem is that the review in the Australian is barely coherent.

    The only points it manages to land soundly other than one side issue are points that could equally well go the other way. Pilmer not a climate scientist? Well neither is Al Gore; neither are most of the people involved in reporting on ‘global warming’. More importantly the people deciding on the findings of the IPCC reports are not only not climate scientists, they are not scientists at all. They are politicians. Ironically the reviewer isn’t a climate scientist either!

    However there are plenty of climate scientists who think that anthropogenic global warming is complete nonsense.

    Pilmer uses a graph that has since been corrected. The “hockey-stick curve” is key to climate panic, yet it has been shown that it is essentially independent of data input, it is an artefact of the data processing. It shows nothing meaningful at all, and hides some essential information contrary to the climate panic assumptions.

    Pilmer plays loosely with the measurement of carbon dioxide. That is actually irrelevant to the argument, unlike the figures for temperature which are, until the 1970s, essentially made up. The data uncertainties due to unknown levels of heat island effect are larger than the measured temperature change.

    I need not continue, you see where I am going here. That review is an ironically bad piece of science journalism.

  3. Obsidian Says:

    Problem is the IPCC are pretty much a busted flush, and I’m *on* the side of anthropogenic GW.

    I rarely bother commenting on the whole thing these days, as neither side seem particularly interested in the science itself and, as you say, more interested in who can shout the loudest.

    Both sides like to focus on small elements of a horrifically complex subject, and take a ‘god of the gaps’ attitude to each side – it’s like watching two sets of creationists squabble over which day of the week God got his planetary playmobil set out whilst something is undergoing evolutionary change next to them.

    GW will happen, we won’t see a runaway effect as the Earth has handled excess CO2 before. The results will mean misery for a large portion of humanity, life in general will adapt and the planet will see it’s second biologically-originated major extinction event (the first being when photosynthesizing bacteria unleashed oxygen on an unsuspecting, anaerobic biosphere).

  4. Richard Says:

    Obsidian, the current human contribution to the greenhouse effect is 0.28%. This is not a side issue, some god of the gaps. This is a key point that suggests there will be no misery, at least not for a large portion of humanity.

    As for the mass extinction it’s already happened. Human activity has been causing extinctions for tens of thousands of years. The only way to stop it is to wipe out humans. Fundamentally to Earth it doesn’t matter though, life will re-establish its diversity once we are gone. The only reason it matters is human environment and human ethics, and without humans both ideas are utterly meaningless.

  5. Keith Says:

    Global warming may be indirectly exacerbated by all the hot air from the ill-qualified and misinformed who launch into the ‘debate’ and bandy terms like ‘carbon footprint’ along with pseudo-statistics. A couple of centuries back a chap called Malthus provided statistical proof that the growth in human population would abruptly result in starvation for multitudes because of a finite level of food production. Changes in agricultural practice rendered his equations wholly irrelevant and the global population has mushroomed far beyond what he thought possible. Similarly any significant changes in the climate, whatever the cause, might promote technological or socio-economic changes that enable man to benefit and indeed thrive. Am I convinced that climate change is happening because of what man does? Well, I might be more sympathetic to the argument that cutting down swathes of the equatorial rainforest has more damaging effects on weather patterns than a few Porsche Cayennes in Chelsea. The green lobby should expend a bit less bile on motorists and examine the behaviour of the custodians of the Amazon basin, equatorial Africa and other areas where natural vegetation has been ravaged for timber, agriculture and mining purposes.

  6. Obsidian Says:

    Well Richard thank you for proving my point.

    That 0.28% figure is based on including water vapour and of taking a black and white view of natural/anthropogenic contributors. The Clausius–Clapeyron relation disproves your point.

    In other words you’re peddling bad science. But it’s okay, the other side does as well.

    I’m hoping sometime within the next couple of decades the grown-ups will start to take an interest, and we’ll see business-based solutions to the problems. I’m pretty sure once being more environmentally friendly equates to profitability, we’ll see many of the current deniers perform a volte-face and the greenies and communists sliding back into their luddite obsolescence.

  7. Richard Says:

    The Clausius–Clapeyron relation does no such thing. You just made that up!

    Of course I include water vapour – the whole idea of the greenhouse effect is meaningless unless you include water, given that the greenhouse effect was first described to account for the effect of atmospheric water vapour on radiation, and given that 95% of the greenhouse effect is caused by water!

    Since the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide significantly overlaps with that of water, the water is not only already providing so much greenhouse effect that the proportional difference carbon dioxide can makes is small, but the absolute effect of the carbon dioxide is reduced, as much of the radiation that could be absorbed is already absorbed by the water vapour. Carbon dioxide has three main absorption peaks in the infra-red part of the black-body radiation spectrum at around fifteen degrees centigrade, and one much less strong peak. One of them is entirely within an absorption peak for water that rapidly saturates (i.e. water absorbs all the radiation anyway in a trivial distance; incidentally that is a broad peak in water, that also covers one of two methane peaks) and also saturates rapidly at current carbon dioxide levels; one of them is entirely within a strong water absorption peak, and also saturates rapidly already for carbon dioxide; one of them already saturates in carbon dioxide at current levels. The weaker peak overlaps with a water absorption peak that saturates in a short distance.

    So water has a huge influence, not only as a primary greenhouse gas but in suppressing the effects of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

    You can’t just throw out the name of a scientific equation, ignore 95% of the effect your considering and say I’m peddling bad science.

    It is especially ridiculous to ignore water when the whole effect is estimated to contribute around 33 degrees centigrade to the atmospheric temperature. So the remaining 5% only makes about 1.6 degrees difference and that 0.28% makes less than 0.1 degree difference. Set that against wild claims from the panickers that suggest a 2 or 3 degree change in the next century. It is just fantasy.

  8. Craig Says:

    Tim over at the Castle is right – you put too much stock in a predictable negative review.

    Having said that, I’ve just read the book Tim is now reading, Air Con: The Seriously Inconvenient Truth About Global Warming by Ian Wishart.

    Great Scott, that book slays dragons! When I went sniffing around for reviews, I found this from an environmental consultant:

    “Wishart has a practical, hard-hitting writing style, that is easy to read and quite convincing. Our work at GreenBizCheck demands that we read copious amounts of literature on Climate Change and until now, I haven’t read anything that even remotely sways my views toward the climate skeptics’ camp.

    “Read it yourself and then see what you think. Good on him for courageously sticking his neck out on a topic most of us were convinced was fact! If he is correct and the Climate Change lobby is full of self-interested parties scaring the public and lining their pockets then millions of dollars will be wasted on useless carbon trading schemes and meaningless regulations. Nevertheless, even Wishart admits that good environmental citizenship is of utmost importance – we must protect and nurture our extremely valuable natural resources. His book now makes me sleep a little better at night, pondering that maybe we are not doomed and that our planet is powerful enough to regulate temperature…”

    Amazon have it here
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Air-Con-Seriously-Inconvenient-Warming/dp/0958240140/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1

    But for some reason the bulk of the product info on the book is on the US site:

    http://www.amazon.com/Air-Con-Seriously-Inconvenient-Warming/dp/0958240140

  9. T. Mann Says:

    Science is science guys. It is trial and error, discussion, and the development of theories towards the best truth of the time. The real ‘climate sceptic debate’ is encapsulated within that process.

    If you haven’t published a paper on this subject after decades of primary research, then I guarantee you have completely missed the intricacies of the science behind climate change – and so have most of the writers you are talking about.

    If all you’ve done is read some books and blogs then shut up, and keep your misinformed opinions to yourself and your libertarian friends.

  10. Richard Says:

    T Mann

    Your faith in the ways of science is utterly misplaced. Scientists are vain, spiteful, arrogant, prejudiced, under-confident, bullying or dishonest just as often as the rest of us. They are influenced just as easily by incentives. They talk crap, perhaps a little less often.They jump to conclusions, perhaps a little more often.

    Scientists are human. In this case, they have followed the old herd instincts.

  11. T. Mann Says:

    You have noted that I refer to a scientific consensus, and not an individual piece of science.

    My proposition was that the ‘Is anthropogenic climate change real’ debate occurred amongst the educated in the 1970’s.

    Since then, with that question answered in favour of: ‘Yes, clearly that amount of GHG is having a large effect – and besides have you noticed we are causing quite a lot of other damage too’, the debate has moved on to a far more interesting ones about how to enable change, social drivers, and technological innovation.

    Let us have that debate, please. By all means, let us debate whether funds can be better spent on mitigating the effects of malarial spread, or reducing oceanic plastic pollutants, rather than reducing GHG emissions – but not whether the greenhouse effect is real.

    It does concern me that we cannot have a serious debate about these issues whilst some lag behind in their analysis. Environmentalists often euphemise and simplify about their findings because a serious debate cannot occur whilst one particular group of people sway the agendum.

    By this I mean: take a fictional paper, reporting the findings that their particular study found no anthropogenic climatic impact. In the scientific community, this would merely add weight to one or other side of the seesaw of research. Unfortunately in this debate, that research would be banded about by ‘climate sceptics’ – and it is for some reason always one type of person, with the same political views – as definitive proof of their opinions. The fear for environmentalists is not that the public will not believe them – being pretty ignorant in general anyway, this is expected – but that these reports will hinder action.

    1. Do you really actually seriously believe the entire political and scientific community – the same one which literally created the world in which you find yourself – is wrong in this debate? Really? Sincerely? Do you really think there is a big bad green lobby? If so who are they? What are they going to do if they get their way and make a tonne of money? Buy a lot of organic fruit and a really nice bicycle? – Don’t answer this, I don’t want to know –

    2. If we are wrong, what is there to lose from increasing economic and resource efficiency, and reducing waste and natural degradation?


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