Search HotWhopper


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Denier for Hire: Sick, crazy and weird - CO2 is plant food book touted at WUWT

Sou | 10:00 PM 12 Comments - leave a comment

I'm not sure whether to describe this as sick or crazy or weird. Anthony Watts is touting a book written by three science deniers (archived here). They make an unlikely trio, united mainly by their desire to destroy the environment.

About the authors

Arthur Middleton Hughes is described as an economist, but I'm not sure if that's still the case. If it's the same chap then these days he's more of a marketer, and vice-president of some email marketing business.

Madhav Khandekar is apparently some retired Canadian meteorologist who is, or was, on the Heartland Institute payroll.

Cliff Ollier is listed as an honorary research fellow at the University of WA, meaning he used to be employed there but now he's probably no longer on the payroll. Cliff is a second-rate climate science denier from way back. He's not a climate scientist. He featured in one of the early articles here at HotWhopper

The sick - CO2 is plant food, they want more

The sick is that this trio apparently want to world to burn up. The book has the title: "About Face! Why the World Needs More Carbon Dioxide". It's promoted on Amazon as being published by a crowd that calls itself Two Harbours Press, which from the website looks to be a vanity publisher. It says it's owned by Hillcrest Media Group, which has a printing division and on that website it states that: "The year 2014 brings Hillcrest to Europe, setting us apart as one of the first US self-publishing companies to launch a UK division.", so I'd say I was right about that.

The blurb has lots of commendations from people that few would ever have heard of. You can Google some of them and you get a miscellany of odd bods, who mostly seem to be retired academics who have taken up science denial as a hobby in their old age.

Now we've got that out of the way, why on earth would anyone buy a book that no-one saw fit to back except the authors?  Here is how the book is described, according to WUWT:
About Face! is the product of two scientists and an economist. The scientists are Madhav Khandekar in Canada and Cliff Ollier in Australia, plus economist Arthur Middleton Hughes in the USA. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is essential to all life on earth. It is plant food. We believe that the more CO2 there is in the atmosphere the bigger and better plants will grow all over the world. Three million people die each year because the prices of food are too high for them. We want to increase CO2 in the atmosphere and reduce world malnutrition.

The crazy and the weird - sequestering CO2, Arthur wants less ... or more?

The crazy and weird is that the top-listed author, Arthur Middleton Hughes has a blog article at Harvard Business Review on which he has this idea for sequestering CO2. That's got to be good, eh? But wait a minute, hasn't he just published a book where the title says "why the world needs more carbon dioxide". Remember how the book's blurb is about how they want to "increase CO2 in the atmosphere"? Why then is he coming up with ideas to reduce carbon dioxide?

That's not the only thing that's weird. Arthur's article starts off with the following:
The world is increasingly concerned with the need to solve our carbon dioxide problem. There are three basic solution paths. We can reduce the use of fossil fuels, mainly by passing laws to restrict or discourage it. We can spend billions in public funds after the fact to capture and store the CO2 that is generated. Or we can plant trees in Australia.

I wonder if that's where Tony Abbott got his tree planting fantasy? There's more. In order to store CO2 in trees planted in Australia, Arthur Middleton Hughes is proposing to:
  1. Destroy the entire dryland regions of Australia, those regions which could be classed as desert - including all the native flora and fauna on that land, and presumably all the land owned by indigenous and other Australians who live on and/or lease that land. In other words, he wants to destroy most of the Australian mainland.
  2. Build enough desalination plants in Western Australia to pipe the water thousands of miles across Australia so that exotic trees can be planted.
  3. Have the Australian government compulsorily acquire all this land (much of it would be Crown Land anyway, but it doesn't look as if Arthur knows that.)
I bet the right wing extremists would love that last point in particular, not. Nor would they be enamoured by the first two points.

Arthur Middleton Hughes doesn't know if he's Arthur or Martha. One minute he's coming up with a crazy plan to sequester CO2 by destroying most of Australia's natural heritage. Next minute he's arguing that the world needs to increase atmospheric CO2 because CO2 is plant food.

Could there be two Arthur Middleton Hughes? Does one have an evil twin and the other a stark raving mad twin? I looked further and found the answer is on his Linked-In profile. Right on top of each other on the same page, he has his proposal to get CO2 out of the atmosphere sitting right on top of his urging that we put as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible.

There was this:

VP Director of Research and Strategy
CO2 Capture Corporation
September 2012 – Present (2 years)Fort Lauderdale, FL
Doing research on solving CO2 buildup by planting millions of trees in the deserts of Australia. Workiing with Australian firms and individiuals we have put together a plan to solve the world CO2 crisis by converting Australian deserts to profitable forests. The project involves conversion of sea water to fresh water used to grow fast growing profitable Paulownia trees for sale in the Far East. FOr information go to : 

Followed immediately after by this (excerpts):
January 2012 – Present (2 years 8 months)Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Author with Cliff Ollier and Madhav Khandekar of About Face! Why the world needs more carbon dioxide. This 315 page book explains that contrary to what many people believe, increased carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) does not and will not heat up the climate. CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere ...Instead, CO2 is plant food. ...

What a doozy.  Talk about denier for hire.

From the WUWT comments

There aren't many comments yet. And even in those few there isn't universal acclamation.

M Courtney complains about the content, writing:
August 27, 2014 at 3:06 am
“The book also explains how, as an inhabitant of the Solar System, Earth’s climate is influenced mainly by our Sun, and that should come as no surprise.
But are changes to earth’s climate influenced mainly by our Sun?
Are we so desperate to get rid of dodgy science that we’ll clasp to our breasts any other dodgy science that comes along?
Is it still OK to say, “We don’t know?”

johnmarshall is one of WUWT's regular greenhouse effect deniers, who reckons the sun is causing global warming even though there's a bit less energy coming from the sun these days. In other words, it's magic.
 August 27, 2014 at 3:35 am
If you can think of another source of energy like the sun, but unseen, then carry o n your belief but if the sun is the only major input then it is the major influence.

Has SasjaL read the book already or is he or she judging by its cover?
August 27, 2014 at 3:36 am
This is basically a book that cover most of the stuff that should be tought/learned in late primary school (7th- grade), some even earlier. At least it used to, when I was at that age during late 1970’s …

Weather in Rutherglen with WUWT, Jennifer Marohasy and Australia's denier newspaper

Sou | 3:50 PM 5 Comments - leave a comment

Update: see below.

Once again we are drawn into the "making up stuff for the sake of a bad yarn" territory at WUWT (archived here) .

Anthony Watts has written about articles by science denier and "environment" writer for the Australian, Graham Lloyd and one of Australia's resident deniers, Jennifer Marohasy. They are raising a big kerfuffle about the record of temperature trends from the agricultural research centre at DEPI Rutherglen.

I'd normally leave it up to Nick Stokes of Moyhu to analyse denialist claims like this, but he hasn't done so yet. So I'll give it a shot myself.

Rutherglen is wine-grape country just north west of the Great Dividing Range in north eastern Victoria. As well as wine grapes there is dryland farming - animals and cropping, among other things. There has been an agricultural research centre there since the year dot. Well, since the late 1800s - doing viticultural research and education (from 1880), as well as other agricultural research from the early 20th century.  (There used to be two research centres, now one.)

My family has lived in the region since the 1950s. I worked for the Victorian Department of Agriculture in the early 1980s, was on the agriculture faculty at Melbourne Uni in the 1990s, headed the Victorian branch of the ag science professional body for a while, and have since done work with the Victorian primary industries department (including its research arm) so the research centre at Rutherglen is not unfamiliar territory, although I've never worked on site there.

Picking cherries in Rutherglen

Now what the deniers are complaining about this time isn't the mean temperature, nor the maximum daily. Nor is it the climatology of Australia or Victoria or even of the region. What they are talking about is the minimum temperature and in particular, the minimum temperatures up to around the mid-1960s early 1970s recorded at Rutherglen. That's more than forty years ago. A single weather station. The ultimate cherry pick.

I couldn't find another weather station close by that has records going back to the turn of the century, so Rutherglen is about it as far as I can tell. Here is a chart of raw average annual temperatures (from daily). I've included the raw records from Corowa, which is not far away on the Murray as well as Benalla and Wangaratta. Click to view larger.

Data sources: Bureau of Meteorology - Raw as recorded and ACORN-SAT

As you can see from the above, the raw records are shown as lower than the ACORN-SAT (adjusted/corrected) records for the period prior to the gap between 1959 and 1965. I'm not in a position to say why that is the case. I will say that the proper explanation is not nefarious intent. You can leave the conspiracy ideation to deniers who congregate at WUWT. There are any number of plausible explanations for why an algorithm would have detected a break in the record and made an adjustment, some of which I've described below.

One thing you'll notice is where Benalla overlaps with Rutherglen in the earliest records for Benalla, the difference in raw minimum temperature is much less than later on (I've highlighted the two bits to look at). This suggests that BoM was not in error in regard to Rutherglen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

David Archibald in a momentus denial of gravity at WUWT

Sou | 2:26 AM 19 Comments - leave a comment

Anthony Watts' blog is where science deniers congregate so they don't feel so alone in the world. Usually they are simply rejecting climate science, the greenhouse effect, rising global surface temperatures and anything else that takes their fancy that's to do with climate. They don't normally get into rejecting biology or not openly at least. They will from time to time reject chemistry, usually in relation to ocean acidification.

Today I see that a guest essayist has decided to reject gravity and probably momentum. He was writing about a paper in Science from last week, which got denier blogs all a twitter. The paper is probably raising some eyebrows among scientists too. It's an interesting take on where the heat is going.

Before I get to that, though, let me show you what David "funny sunny" Archibald wrote about thermohaline circulation (archived here). He posted this image from an article in last week's Science, which Eli Kintisch wrote about the subject:
The Atlantic Ocean may be storing vast amounts of heat (red), keeping global surface temperatures from rising.
Credit: Xianyao Chen, Ka-Kit Tung, Source: Science Vol. 345 no. 6199 pp. 860-861 

David Archibald said it can't be so. He wrote:
The illustration shows heat plunging into the depths as far as 1,500 metres. The oceans don’t work like that. Most of the heat energy of sunlight is absorbed in the first few centimetres of the ocean’s surface. Waves mix the water near the surface layer such that the temperature may be relatively uniform in the top 100 metres. Below that there is almost no mixing and no vertical movement of water.

Some of what he wrote was okay, sort of. Some of it was very wrong. In particular, he he is rejecting thermohaline circulation, arguing there is no vertical movement of water in the ocean. He's wrong of course.  Thermohaline circulation is the convection in the ocean driven by pressure gradients and gravity. Saltier water is denser than fresh water. Cold water is denser than warm water. Colder saltier water sinks in the ocean. This process doesn't stop and start, or not easily and not often. There's a lot of momentum behind the conveyor belt. There's a huge amount of water going through this cycle. Just because some of it is a bit warmer at times doesn't mean the water stops moving.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Frozen in ice at WUWT

Sou | 6:41 PM 19 Comments - leave a comment

A smidgen of snow on a mountain and we're heading for an ice age? What utter nutters!

Science deniers who congregate at blogs like WUWT are really, really odd creatures. I wonder what proportion of them also follow non-climate conspiracy theory blogs. Today I found on Anthony Watts reformatted blog, another article about ice (archived here). It's about a science trip on the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis, probably the most famous mountain in Scotland. The team reported new finds of fauna as well as spots of "compacted, dense, ice hard snow call neve" on the the mountain's North Face, which I guess is the cold side of the mountain (seeing it's in the northern hemisphere).

Eric Worrall decided that this means an ice age cometh. He wrote:
This is how ice ages start – a buildup of snow which does not melt in the Summer, which leads to a positive feedback loop, as the growing ice sheet reflects more and more sunlight back into space.

Well, no. Not exactly. How an ice age starts is Earth starts to lose more heat than it gains from the sun.  A build up of snow and ice happens because it's colder. It's not colder because of the build up of snow and ice. One could argue that it's a chicken and egg thing but it's not. Not usually. Once the snow and ice builds up then that hastens the cooling, because the snow and ice surfaces tend to reflect more radiation back into space. What causes the snow and ice to build up is the earth getting colder. Most of the time. Sometimes it could be changes in ocean currents for one reason or other. The system is complicated.

Anyway, without getting too bogged down in details, the BBC had an article about the survey that's being done on Ben Nevis. There was no suggestion that what was being recorded and observed was anything new. It was just that some things hadn't been reported before. Like:
So far, many new populations of rare fauna [sic] such as highland saxifrage, tufted saxifrage and wavy meadow grass have been recorded.
Sou: fauna?
Lead survey botanist, Ian Strachan, said: "Many of the rare arctic-alpine species we are searching for are relics from soon after the last ice age.
"Ben Nevis and a few other peaks in the Scottish Highlands provide the most southerly refuge for some of these species which can only survive due to the altitude and presence of semi-permanent snow fields."
Cathy Mayne, of SNH, said work so far had exceeded the project team's expectations.
She said: "Not only have we gathered potentially ground-breaking geological data and significantly added to the known populations of arctic-alpine species, the team have also discovered alpine saxifrage, which has never been found on the mountain before."

You can read the article here on the BBC website.

From the WUWT comments

WUWT-ers must be bored. There were 132 comments, almost none of them having any value whatsoever. Many deniers are falling for the line that just because compacted snow is on cold Ben Nevis, it means an ice age cometh.

fenbeagleblog  August 24, 2014 at 4:07 am
I guess that doesn’t fit in terribly well with the narrative, does it……Another re-write needed.

johnmarshall  August 24, 2014 at 4:15 am
I am surprised that the BBC reported this sign of global cooling. Out of character.

David Johnson  August 24, 2014 at 4:30 am
I wonder how old these climbers and scientists were! I used to go rock climbing in Scotland quite a lot back in the 70s and 80s. It was nothing unusual to see patches of old hard snow that had survived the summer in North facing corries and gullies On one occasion, as late as August 1990, it was quite difficult to get to the start of my chosen climb on Ben Nevis because of a small bergschrund!

jdseanjd  August 24, 2014 at 4:42 am
Looks like the 1974 CIA report may be on right track.
How the Eugenicist 1%s who have birthed, marketed & profited from this deadly scam must be laughing.
They’ve been selling the World global warming caused by deadly plant food, while a very possible New Little Ice Age approaches.
Holdren & Ehrlich will also be pleased.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Denier Smorgasbord: Old men want freedom to vacuum madly, the Arctic and Judith Curry's "interesting"

Sou | 8:26 PM 39 Comments - leave a comment

There are two reasons why you've not seen the usual number of articles here the last few days. The first is I've been busy on other things, unrelated to climate science and its denial. The second is that deniers have been deadly dull. They've been recycling the same old tired and wrong denier memes for the most part. Nevertheless, there's always some entertainment to be had at denier blogs, even when the pickings are thin.

Making criminals of "average" people who clean their home?

The ageing conservative American men who dominate WUWT have been bemoaning the latest news about their favourite task, vacuum cleaning. A subject I'm sure they are intimately familiar with. They probably see it done several times a week, from the comfort of their favourite rocker. If they aren't out playing golf. And I'll bet that most of them swear they could do the job better than the person who actually does the vacuuming. What they are up in arms about is the idea that were they to live in Europe, in a few weeks they wouldn't be able to buy their womenfolk vacuum cleaners that suck up any more than 1600 watts of electricity (archived here). Anthony Watts even goes so far as to claim that:
"One more reason to dump the EU- they are going to make criminals out of average people who just want to keep their home clean. – Anthony". 
He probably meant "who just want their women to clean up after them". And of course, he's wrong. People can continue to use their old vacuum cleaners. Even men can do so. Even conservative ageing men who deny climate science can do the vacuuming any time. It's just that in future, if they want to buy a new vacuum cleaner, their purchasing choice will be restricted to more energy efficient units.

The Arctic is melting and it's driving deniers mad

Anthony Watts posted an extremely long (>13,000 words) and what seems to me a convoluted article by Tony Brown, of central England temperature / an ice age cometh fame. It was more of a novella than a "guest essay". (Archived here.) I might come back to that one later on. I did notice a comment by Steve Mosher at Curry's place, which related to Tony's article. Steven Mosher wrote:
August 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm
tony “However, the conclusion must be that drawn that warming was more widespread in the arctic generally -not just the Atlantic side-than is currently noted in the official sea ice data bases covering1920-1945/50 and that the official records appear to substantially overstate the ice area extent. Some of the thinning of the ice and reduction of glaciers noted today appears to have had their genesis in the period referenced, or earlier.”
with no actual numbers, no actual method, no actual uncertainty calculations, I fail to see how your conclusion MUST BE drawn.
In general we have a collection of text that is long on adjectives and short on quantitative analysis. Further since we have apples and oranges to compare its hard to say anything MUST be drawn.
Finally, I find it odd that today when it warms and the arctic melts, skeptics, such as Anthony point to the wind and soot .. as if warmer temps did nothing. but when looking at historical records they quickly assume that warmer temps mean less ice. I dont doubt the latter, I only note the inconsistent application of a principle amongst skeptics

Judith Curry finds John McLean "interesting"

Judith continues to wallow in the depths of denialism, finding an article by Australia's John McLean "interesting". John's the computer operater / climate science denier who somehow managed to get a paper published, in which he removed the temperature trend from global surface temperatures and then looked at what remained and declared there was no trend. To much hilarity from all whose knowledge of statistics was at least sufficient for them to calculate an average of two numbers. John also declared, in 2011, that  "It is likely that 2011 will be the coolest year since 1956". Guess how that turned out! John is a denier of the utter nutter kind and so is Judith Curry, for giving him the slightest bit of credibility.

From the WUWT comments

This is a bit of a mish mash from a couple of WUWT articles. First from the vacuum-cleaning experts:

Andrew N has done his sums. I wonder how many times he's pulled out a vacuum cleaner? He says:
August 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm
It appears the ecocrats of the EU have confused power with energy. If it takes you twice as long to clean while using half the power then you have used the same amount of energy. Have they factored in the CO2 generated by the increased effort required by the vacuumer in any of their saving the planet calculations?

Eric Worrall decides that using an energy efficient vacuum cleaner is the worst punishment that could be doled out to anyone, causing much pain and misery all around. He visits from time to time. Perhaps he'll share some tips from his years of experience with vacuuming cleaning his floors. He says:
August 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm
In a totalitarian state, the measure of your power is how much misery you can cause.
Anyone can be nice – but spreading pain and misery proves to your colleagues that you are powerful. 

There were 58 comments to Tony Brown's book. Here is a sample:

Nick Stokes says, of Tony Brown's article:
August 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm
Congratulations, Tony
A very informative post
I don't know which bits Nick found informative.

Paul Homewood says (extract):
August 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm
It’s a bit long!!

FergalR says:
August 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm
I can’t possibly read all this while drunk. Maybe tomorrow afternoon. More likely Monday evening.
Hans H says:
August 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm
Dunno why u spread this Noaa/Giss stuff ? Check raw data n do it again. ” as seen in the graph” is not ok..n really Wuwt must know by now ?

Sorry for the paucity of articles the last few days. I'll hope to do better this coming week.  BTW, feel free to point out how sexist I was, poking fun at all the old conservative men getting upset about vacuum cleaners. I think I was being ageist rather than sexist. And there's good grounds for the stereotyping, don't you think?

Foster, G., J. D. Annan, P. D. Jones, M. E. Mann, B. Mullan, J. Renwick, J. Salinger, G. A. Schmidt, and K. E. Trenberth. "Comment on “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature” by JD McLean, CR de Freitas, and RM Carter." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012) 115, no. D9 (2010).  doi:10.1029/2009JD012960

Friday, August 22, 2014

For Arctic ice watchers - a satellite view from NASA

Sou | 1:47 AM 8 Comments - leave a comment

From NASA:
"While this year is not heading toward a record low minimum extent in the Arctic, sea ice is well below normal and continues an overall pattern of decreasing sea ice during summer in the Arctic,” said sea ice scientist Walt Meier, based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

While I'm here, might as well add a couple of live linked charts (click for larger view, or the links below) and a link to Neven's Arctic Sea Ice blog.

Arctic ROOS

Unsurprisingly there's no recovery, but no record this year either, from the look of things.

Arctic ROOS is a bit strange today, so I've added another (Sou: 22 Aug 14)

AMSR2 U Bremen

How scientists feel about climate change plus Anthony Watts mixes logic and emotion

Sou | 12:55 AM 13 Comments - leave a comment

Joe Duggan has a blog on which he's posted letters from Australian climate scientists, expressing how they feel about climate change.

There are a lot of them and they are heart wrenching and frightening. They remind me of the seminar I attended earlier this year, which caused my stomach to knot up with dread for the future. At the seminar, none of the scientists spoke about their feelings. They didn't have to. The science spoke for itself. At the time I could only wonder how they had the stamina to continue to work in their field, knowing what they know.

In these letters we get a glimpse of what must at times be personal torment. These are from people who understand more than anyone else what we and our children and their children are going to have to try to cope with.

Take a few minutes and go and read the letters at Joe's blog.

If you are a climate scientist or do research in a related field, then you won't need to read what your fellow scientists are dealing with.  I've worked a lot with scientists. As a general rule, scientists don't wear their heart on their sleeve. They tend to be analytical rather than emotional. These letters were in response to a specific request. They are a rare opportunity for human insight rather than just plain science, from people who understand, more than the rest of us, what the future may bring.

Anthony Watts mixes logic with emotion

Anthony Watts copied and pasted the blog article in full. Then he wrote (archived here):
Two things:
1. Logic (Science) and emotion (feelings) are polar opposites. Mixing the two is a sure recipe for logical disaster. Ref: fMRI reveals reciprocal inhibition between social and physical cognitive domains. NeuroImage, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.061
2. I feel like I want to hurl.
(h/t to Maurizio Morabito)