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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Matt Ridley loses the plot, falls back on "CO2 is plant food"

Sou | 9:47 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

I've been watching WUWT waiting for an article on the amazing and appalling one in a hundred year flood in Colorado.  But despite claiming to be an ex-tele weather announcer, and despite living close by in California, Anthony isn't interested in such things.

Instead, joining the list of crank articles on WUWT, Anthony favours a Matt Ridley "CO2 is plant food" bit of idiocy (archived here).  Here is a video from Peter Sinclair that hits that old denier meme on the head:

A spate of silly articles on WUWT - but what's new?

As usual there is a spate of silly articles coming out in advance of the new IPCC report later this month.  Anthony Watts is putting up all sorts of nonsense and it's hard to tell which is worse.

First - Tim "slayer" Ball can't read a simple chart

Yesterday he had Tim Ball, who denies the greenhouse effect, claiming it's been cooling for the past seventeen years (archived here). If Tim was interested in facts, he'd be saying that the average global surface temperature hasn't gone up in two years - not since the record high in 2010.  Instead he tries to bluff and bluster about 17 years.  Here's a chart showing 1995 (2012 minus 17) and 1996 (2013 minus 17) that demonstrates how woefully wrong is serial disinformer and greenhouse effect denier, Tim Ball.

Data source: NASA

Next it's Matt "CO2 is plant food" Ridley

Now the latest spin on WUWT is from Matt Ridley, who has gone completely nuts claiming that global warming will be "good".  All this would be laughable, if it weren't so sad.  What is it that addles people's brains to the extent that they can't accept reality?

Anthony thinks he has "BREAKING: IPCC AR5 report to dial back climate sensitivity" (archived here).  Whether that is true or not (see Justin Gillis NYT article), the article itself shows that Ridley has lost the plot completely. Matt tries to claim: (there is a) very real possibility that, over the next several generations, the overall effect of climate change will be positive for humankind and the planet.

Good grief.  Remember, that's coming from a self-labelled "rational optimist".  Irrational is more like it.  Ridley makes a ludicrous appeal to an "authority" that he pulled out of thin air - unnamed "experts":
Most experts believe that warming of less than 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels will result in no net economic and ecological damage. 
Matt has a habit of making up stuff.  His "most experts" probably include deniers like Anthony Watts.  No rational person thinks that "less than two degrees" will result in "no net economic or ecological damage".  Governments picked 2 degrees to aim for as a cap because they figured that we might just survive that - albeit at great cost to the economy and the environment.

Matt's "most experts" are not climate scientists, that's for sure.  Not only is his claim about "most experts" not true, but at present we are on track to well exceed a doubling of carbon emissions this century which, even with the most conservative estimates of sensitivity, means that we are heading for very serious climate change with dire consequences.  If Matt Ridley and Anthony Watts and other science deniers have their way, we won't be worried about what damage a doubling of CO2 will bring, we'll be facing damage that a trebling or quadrupling of CO2 will bring - or worse.

I had to go to the Wall Street Journal (archived here) to read the rest of his silliness.  For example:
Warming of up to 1.2 degrees Celsius over the next 70 years (0.8 degrees have already occurred), most of which is predicted to happen in cold areas in winter and at night, would extend the range of farming further north, improve crop yields, slightly increase rainfall (especially in arid areas), enhance forest growth and cut winter deaths (which far exceed summer deaths in most places). Increased carbon dioxide levels also have caused and will continue to cause an increase in the growth rates of crops and the greening of the Earth—because plants grow faster and need less water when carbon dioxide concentrations are higher.
"Extend the range of farming further north" - does he seriously imagine that farming is going to suddenly sprout up on the Greenland ice sheet?  I wonder if he thinks that the sun will stay up for longer as the world warms?  And what about all the farming south that will go under?

"Improve crop yields?" - what about the reduction in crop yields as marginal areas extend further, as places like south western USA and south western Australia become even drier and hotter?

"Slightly increase rainfall in arid areas"? Not so.  Dry areas are generally expected to become drier and wet areas wetter.  Rainfall intensity will continue to increase.  Downpours aren't good for topsoil.

As for his silly "CO2 is plant food" argument - if everything else is equal, C3 plants (wheat etc) do respond to an increase in CO2.  But if there's no water or too much water it won't help the crop.  And it doesn't matter how much extra CO2 there is when it's too hot and dry.

Then Matt goes into full-on - "people in low lying coastal areas can go hang":
Up to two degrees of warming, these benefits will generally outweigh the harmful effects, such as more extreme weather or rising sea levels, which even the IPCC concedes will be only about 1 to 3 feet during this period.
Matt Ridley dismisses the sea level rise as "only 1 to 3 feet over this period".  "Only"? I'm almost lost for words with that one.  That means he cares little about places like Miami, much of which would be seriously damaged with a one foot rise in sea level.  Just look at the damage that Sandy wrought with a much smaller rise in sea level.  From Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone:
With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won't just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades.
Not that Matt Ridley cares, he lives in England.  So what will happen to his little island after he's departed it? Here is one estimate - with a rise of one metre, the risk that the Thames Barrier is breached goes to one in ten years.  Bye bye London:
"With 50cm of sea level rise we would expect that level of protection to go down from 1 in 1,000 years to about 1 in 100 years, so under that scenario in every year there would be a 1 per cent chance of flooding. If you have a metre rise you go down from 1 in 1,000 years to 1 in 10 years," Professor Vaughan said.
We can expect more ludicrous articles like this one over the next few weeks as the people who don't want to mitigate harmful global warming deny the latest IPCC report of the science.

And to think that Anthony Watts complains about being lumped in with all the other deniers.  If he doesn't want people to think he rejects climate science, he will need at the very least to stop posting any and all contributions from "guest denialist authors" like Matt Ridley, perennially puzzled Bob Tisdale, Tim Ball, Christopher Monckton, Steve "mad, mad, mad" Goreham, David "funny sunny" Archibald and others.  And he'd have to stop making silly claims like he did yesterday, with his "it's natural" and other denier memes.

From the WUWT comments

As usual the fake "skeptics" at WUWT regulars aren't the least bit sceptical.  Here is a sample of the reaction:

Lanny says:
September 14, 2013 at 12:23 am
So basically the whole “Global warming thing” has been a tempest in a teapot.

Steve Jones is an uber conspiracy nutter who says:
September 14, 2013 at 12:39 am
They are putting an awful lot of effort into calculating these temp rises v. probability and none of it is via the scientific method. Their concern is to keep their gravy train rolling whilst distancing themselves from the more ridiculous projections that real world data is falsifying right now.
Let’s hope the IPCC falls off this tight-rope and soon.

JustMEinT Musings thinks global warming is one big joke and says:
September 14, 2013 at 12:41 am
so does this mean that Dr. Train Driver/engineer will be out of a job now :-)

Birdieshooter is completely ignorant of climate science and says:
September 14, 2013 at 12:42 am
Since earlier projections of increases in extreme weather,ie, hurricanes and tornadoes etc, have not come to pass, I wonder how they will address that aspect.

ConTrari is another deluded conspiracy nutter who says:
September 14, 2013 at 12:54 am
The basic question for IPCC in a world that is cooling not only in temperature but also in attitudes towards them, is how to preserve their status and funding. So they must backpaddle a bit, to avoid the danger of being called activist alarmists. It is, however, a razorthin edge to walk along, with the abyss of oblivion and insignificance on the other side of the knife’s edge.
They may adopt the practical view that in order to keep themselves clothed, warm and well-fed, the vision of a boiling globe and a starving humanity must be pushed a bit into the background.

Anthony Watts doesn't want to be thought of as a "denier" - ha! He and his blog are a joke!

1 comment :

  1. Ridley is clearly churning out drivel without reading it. "A forthcoming report points lowers estimates on global warming" - pardon? And "IPPC" (twice). Not one of the bozos at WUWT notices either problem.


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