Monday, January 30, 2017

Icy climate fakery from Philip Lloyd in Cape Town, @wattsupwiththat

This time I'm going to keep it short so you can get back to watching the nasty shenanigans of Donald Trump, who seems very keen to start another war. Some chap called Philip Lloyd has written an article for Anthony Watts about temperature trends in Cape Town (archived here). (Anthony must have written the headline because he changed Cape Town to Capetown.)

Never mind about that. The article is by Philip Lloyd, who's been denying science for a long time. He's another engineer. Not the decent sort of engineer. He's the type you'll see in droves at climate conspiracy blogs like WUWT and Judith Curry's place. I've written about his particular brand of denial, e.g. in 2013 and 2015.

Philip was wanting to distract deniers from the hottest year on record by claiming that the historical temperature of Cape Town was fraudulent or something. Temperature data expert, Nick Stokes disabused him of that notion e.g. here and here. (Yes, I'm joking. Nick Stokes disabused any reasonable reader of that notion. However, deniers are not reasonable, and there's no sign that Philip Lloyd was the slightest bit interested in researching the subject.)

The explanation is quite simple. At one point early on (around 1888) the weather station was probably changed to a Stevenson Screen. At a later time (1960) the weather station was moved to a different location at a higher altitude, along with the airport.

Philip picking on a single weather station without investigating it is the sort of nonsense you read all the time on denier blogs. Some people still go on about Rutherglen, and even Darwin, where the weather station was moved to Darwin airport in 1941. The interesting thing about that is that I first found out about this from one of the denier stalwarts, Tasmanian engineer John Daly, who posted information about the move. Just goes to show that deniers deny their own when it suits them :)

Faking Time

However, weather stations, whether moving or stationary, are not the main point of this article. Down the bottom of his short screed, Philip put up two pictures and wrote: "Time magazine covers showed the 1970’s were indeed cold."

Well, the 1970s were cold in some parts of the world. I don't know about South Africa, but it was cold in the USA and Canada. (I spent a very cold winter in Edmonton in the early 1970s). It wasn't particularly cold in Australia compared to previous decades, although compared to now it was. Here's what happened over time, from BoM:

The cover on the left that Philip put up to support his point, didn't. It was this one from December 1973:

Yes, the man looks cold and has icicles dripping. However the chart isn't an upside down temperature chart, it's a graph of oil prices. The cover story isn't about global cooling, it had the headline: "SHORTAGES: A Time of Learning to Live with Less". It was all about the oil crisis, which I remember well. The opening paragraph is:
Heavy with cargo, low-riding oil tankers bucked through the windblown South Atlantic last week on their way from the Persian Gulf to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, New York and other U.S. ports. In a week or so, they will tie up at their destinations—and the U.S. will enter a sterner, more painful new era of energy shortages. These huge ships were the last to be loaded before the Arab states blocked all petroleum shipments to the U.S. in retaliation for American support of Israel. The Arab move is expected to diminish by a disruptive 18% or more the minimum flow of fuel that the nation needs to run its industries and farms, heat and light its homes, schools and offices, and keep its cars, trucks, buses and planes moving.

Now making a blunder like that was bad enough, but Philip fared even worse on his second image. It was a fake, as Bryan Walsh explained at Time, three years ago in 2013. Below is the picture that Philip Lloyd posted on the left, and on the right is the real cover.

Not only is Philip's cover not real, the real one isn't even from the 1970s. It's from April 2007. Not only is it not about global cooling, it's about global warming and how to survive it.

Here is some of what Bryan Walsh had to say:
Ads, jokes and protests are one thing, though — hoax covers are something else entirely. And that’s the problem with a faked TIME cover about global warming that’s been floating around the Internet for some time. (Hat tip to the science blogger David Kirtley, who posted on this a couple of days ago.) ...

...The cover on the right is real. (I should know — I wrote the story about China and India that’s mentioned in the subhead.) The one on the left is very much not. It’s a doctored version of this cover, from 2007:...

...But the hoax does touch on an important part of climate science — and one that’s often misunderstood by skeptics. Call it the Ice Age Fallacy. ...

...But as John Cook points out over at Skeptical Science, global cooling was much more an invention of the media than it was a real scientific concern. A survey of peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 1965 and 1979 shows that the large majority of research at the time predicted that the earth would warm as carbon-dioxide levels rose — as indeed it has. And some of those global-cooling projections were based on the idea that aerosol levels in the atmosphere — which are a product of air pollution from sources like coal burning and which contribute to cooling by deflecting sunlight in the atmosphere — would keep rising. But thanks to environmental legislation like the Clean Air Acts, global air-pollution levels — not including greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide — peaked in the 1970s and began declining.
I deliberately quoted the parts that named the two people from SkepticalScience - David Kirtley and John Cook. That's just me being mean, because I know how climate "hoax" conspiracy theorists just hate to be reminded that there are top notch websites devoted to real, solid, climate science. And they get particularly riled up when you mention SkepticalScience :)

Now these days it's easy to do some basic research. I'd say the reason people don't isn't that they are lazy, it's either because they want to disinform readers, or they are immensely gullible, and trust other deniers rather than anyone knowledgeable. (That's what authoritarians and pathological liars like Donald Trump trade upon.)

PS I omitted the link to David Kirtley's original article, which was published on Greg Laden's blog. Here it is - thanks to David. [Added by Sou 8:00 am 30 Jan 2016 AEDT]


  1. There is clear (photo, subway-use) evidence that the Trump in inauguration had a nice size (250.000, so much people never came for me), but that this is also one of the smaller sizes in recent history and by no means the biggest ever. Still half of Trump voters still claim it was the biggest ever.

    This is tribalism over reality. The more ridiculous the claim you are willing to support, the more you show you value your group. If this group is willing to deny the photo evidence, which they can see with their lying eyes, there is no use debating complicated science with them. Someone who loves them should taken them into their arms, cuddle them and tell them everything is going to be all right.

    1. Our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was also a populist who pandered to fear, but he didn't last long. Our current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, showed promise before he took on the role, but is now reverting to populism himself. He's not able to make a decision, keeps talking about "terror", shows no compassion for refugees, and will no longer do anything about climate change.

      I don't know what it is about the world but I'm sure there will be lots of academic work on the phenomenon in coming years. That's if the world manages to stay in one piece.

      What seems most strange is that the people who like to be scared the most seem to be those who would claim (wrongly) to be rugged individualists - who should laugh at fear.

      You're spot on, Victor. Most of these people seem to be in desperate need of a hug and heaps of reassurance.

      Perhaps it's because, except for climate change, by many indicators (education, health, income, toys etc) people overall are better off than they've probably ever been, and people are bored. Or maybe it is that people resent the gap between the low/middle and billionaires, which is why they voted all those billionaires into power - oh, wait.

    2. But that too would be denial. Sadly lots of things are going to suck. Rather than the cuddles, maybe pacifiers would allow a slow adjustment to that concept.

    3. I did not say that *we* should cuddle.

    4. He he - then again, maybe we could have a "cuddle a denier" day and see what happens.

    5. "I'm sure there will be lots of academic work on the phenomenon in coming years"

      I hope you're right! My worry is there might not be much research at all, if the denialist right gets its way.

    6. Didn't a few of the scientists have a 'cuddle a denier' dinner and drinks with dear Tony a while back? And I think we all know what happened in the aftermath. Once bitten...

    7. I'm only into Chapter 2 of The Authoritarians, so apologies if this observation is wildly irrelevant.

      About 15 years ago, i.e. not very long after 9/11 and before An Inconvenient Truth, we sold a semi detached house which admitted direct sunlight only to the front till about 11am, and to the back after about 4.00pm. The front was an enclosed verandah opening from a bedroom. The back was a working area - toilet, laundry, uneven floor - set up to suit plumbing rather than living. The living room and one of the two bedrooms virtually never got sunlight. It had some good features and a lot of potential, but what has stuck in my mind is that the very first word in the real estate agent's description was "Sunny", below a photo taken from the front at about 9.30 on a bright and beautiful morning.

      I was so gobsmacked by this that I started studying real estate ads for themselves, rather than for information about houses. After a while I concluded that the methodology, conscious or not, must be: "Identify the strongest sales negative about the property and blatantly lie about it. Photos that might be construed as evidence for the lie are optional."

      Not all real estate agents apply Fishpaw's Method (is it ok to claim a method, or should I wait for external attribution?) but a lot that I saw do. Real estate isn't unique of course. You might even say that most advertisements are brazenly unrealistic. In this they are clearly similar to Trumpist tweets about crowd sizes, but I doubt that tribalism is a sufficient explanation for why advertising works.

      Don't know where I'm going with this so I'll stop with a request: even for the sake of civilisation and my cherished honorary grand-daughter, please don't ask me to cuddle Tony Abbott.

    8. " If this group is willing to deny the photo evidence, which they can see with their lying eyes, there is no use debating complicated science with them."

      Which was the point of that Big Lie. I found it one of the best demonstrations of Bernays/Goebbels I've seen in years.

      Concentrate on it and don't see the real things that are happening while globe and media attention obsess with a Big Lie that was clearly presented to be exactly that.

      Another truly fine result of the Big Lie is continuing total underestimation of the new regime and the people (those that are not puppets, or who are not put there with the object to fail like for instance Carlson).

    9. Erratum, that would be Ben Carson.

    10. "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

      Groucho Marx

  2. Based on one of Sou's remarks above, I thought a tweet from Australian climate scientist Sophie Lewis was worth repeating:

    When I retire, I'll take time every day to email young engineers. As a retired climate scientist, I'll tell them how to do their jobs better

  3. Very interesting. Looks like a slightly newer version of the fake Time magazine cover nonsense. Here is my debunking of a similar image, as mentioned in Bryan Walsh's article:

    1. Hi David, I should have linked to your original article too. I'll add it now.

  4. I believe Roy Spencer has used it as well

    1. Two people point out that the cover is fake, Spencer did not update his post and the other comments do not care.

      We should concentrate our energy on getting corruption out of US politics. Discussing "science" with such people will not do much. There is enough information on this blog to see the WUWT is not serious. Scientists and media present enough information to see which side is right. Additional energy best goes into fighting the underlying political problem.

    2. In the age of Trumpery that is not a fake cover its an alt-cover. The 'warmists' never used it but its what they were thinking. Or some other garbage rationale along those lines.

    3. Quite clearly, record breaking global temperatures heralds an Ice Age. Therefore the "real" Time cover was fake news and the Internet has corrected the headline!

  5. The author of the 1975 article in Newsweek has this article linked to below. Peter Gwynne gives a link to his article and repeats in other magazines in that period.
    For those who are interested please read.

  6. I could have added the comment that in Australia in 1973, the same year that the oil crisis article came out, it was the hottest year on record by a long way (up till then), before swinging back to a couple of cooler years. (See the BoM chart above.)

  7. "What seems most strange is that the people who like to be scared the most seem to be those who would claim (wrongly) to be rugged individualists - who should laugh at fear."

    For an explanation of this, it's worth reading Bob Altmeyer's book The Authoritarians:

  8. Our New Yorker represents the best of us in our beleaguered land. "How arguments about nuclear weapons shaped the debate over global warming."

    Here's a lengthy extract. Many of the names are still in action. Fred Singer has met with Trump.

    "The biggest consequence of the nuclear-winter debate, though, has had to do not with nuclear-weapons policy but with the environmental movement. In the short term, the idea of a nuclear winter defeated the idea of deterrence. In the long term, Sagan’s haste and exuberance undermined environmental science. More important, the political campaign waged against nuclear winter—against science, and against the press—included erecting a set of structures, arguments, and institutions that have since been repurposed to challenge the science of global warming.

    "In 1984, in an effort to counter Sagan and to defend the Strategic Defense Initiative, the George C. Marshall Institute was founded by Robert Jastrow, a NASA physicist; Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences; and William Nierenberg, a past director of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Jastrow argued that “the Nuclear Winter scenario could not serve the needs of Soviet leaders better if it had been designed for that purpose.” .... With funding from the Marshall Institute, Seitz’s cousin Russell Seitz, a physicist at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs, published an essay in The National Interest, in the fall of 1986, dismissing the nuclear-winter paper as nothing but “a long series of conjectures” and declaring nuclear winter dead: “Cause of death: notorious lack of scientific integrity.” In 1988, funded, in part, by ExxonMobil, the Marshall Institute turned its attention to the science behind global warming.

    "Another of Sagan’s most vociferous critics, S. Fred Singer, had repeatedly challenged nuclear winter on the grounds of its uncertainty. “Sagan’s scenario may well be correct,” Singer wrote in 1983, “but the range of uncertainty is so great that the prediction is not particularly useful.” A longtime consultant to ARCO, Exxon, Shell Oil, and Sun Oil, Singer is currently the director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project at the Heartland Institute, founded in 1984. Its position on global warming: “Most scientists do not believe human greenhouse gas emissions are a proven threat to the environment or to human well-being, despite a barrage of propaganda insisting otherwise coming from the environmental movement and echoed by its sycophants in the mainstream media.”

    "The nuclear-winter debate has long since been forgotten, but you can still spy it behind every cloud and confusion. It holds a lesson or two. A public understanding of science is not well served by shackling science to a national-security state. The public may not naturally have much tolerance for uncertainty, but uncertainty is the best that many scientific arguments can produce. Critics of climate-change science who ground their argument on uncertainty have either got to apply that same standard of evidence to nuclear-weapons strategy or else find a better argument. Because, as Sagan once put it, theories that involve the end of the world are not amenable to experimental verification—at least, not more than once."

  9. "The nuclear-winter debate has long since been forgotten..."

    Not quite. Russell Seitz raised it again just a few days ago at Eli's, when he suggested that the Iraq oil fires disproved the hypothesis of a nuclear winter.

    I begged to differ.

  10. I know this is totally off the subject but perhaps it is of some interest.
    I think Russell Seitz post best be forgotten as the amount of particulate matter emitted was not enough to have a global effect.

    This is an email today.
    They include tax cuts that will put more money back in the hands of workers and enable small businesses to invest more.

    This from the Prime Minister.
    Tax cuts for large business will put more money into the workers.

  11. In related news, the scientists at the Univ. of Washington's Polar Science center have released the latest fake data in their continuing quest to trick us all into believing the earth is warming. Their latest Ouija Board arctic sea ice volume numbers try to convince us that we are at an all-time low for this time of year. By a lot.

    Nothing to see here. Move along. WUWT will have the truth of the matter shortly.

    1. I was worried until I remembered there is now an alt north pole.


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