“What Does It Take” … to extract climate change action from this Government?

Yesterday the World Met. Organization released its annual ‘Statement on the Status of the Global Climate’.

The report, which investigates the major climate & weather events of the past year, found 2012 to be the 27th consecutive year with above average global temperatures.

Global average temperature in 2012 was 0.45⁰C warmer than the 1961-90 long-term average. The years between 2001 and ’12 were among the top 13 warmest on record.

The WMO is aware of the short-term rate of warming, much touted by climate sceptics: “Although the rate of warming varies from year to year due to natural variability caused by El Niño cycle, volcanic eruptions and other phenomena, the sustained warming of the lower atmosphere is a worrisome sign”.

Reflecting the conclusions of the consensus science around the world, the report concludes that the decline of Arctic sea ice in 2012 is a ‘clear and alarming sign of climate change’.  Let’s repeat that – ‘clear and alarming’.

The report highlights the consequences of rising temperatures for the Greenland ice sheet: in July 2012, 97% of the ice-sheet’s surface had melted – the most in the 34-year satellite record.

It notes the slight increase in Antarctic sea-ice, but shows that, along with Greenland, there is a loss in ice-mass overall.

The report addresses the causality issue – the issue of cause v correlation between climate change and extreme weather events: “Natural climate variability has always resulted in such extremes, but the physical characteristics of extreme weather and climate events are being increasingly shaped by climate change”.

Estimates of casualties and loss from 2012 events are:

–          Sandy: some 230 killed, 62 million affected, and US$70 b. damage;

–          Bopha: over 1,000 deaths, 6 m. affected, $49 m. damage;

–          Cold over Europe/Nth Africa: over 650 deaths, $660 m. damage;

–          Floods in Africa: 340 deaths, 3 m. affected, $6 m. damage;

–          Drought in USA: many $b. damage.

WMO Secretary-General, Michel Jarraud, highlights the sense of urgency in helping the most vulnerable countries to cope.

Meanwhile, down-under:

On 18 April, I asked a question of Prime Minister, John Key: “Will he commit his Government to accept citizens of Pacific Island countries displaced by sea-level rise as a result of climate change?”

The answer: “If rising sea levels caused by climate change were to threaten their long-term survival, which, it is important to understand, would likely be some way in the future, it would be my expectation that future New Zealand Governments would look very sympathetically on their position.”

Check the full exchange, here.  Now compare it with a similar question I asked John Key back on 22 July 2009, and his answer – virtually word-for-word the same response.  Four years on.

During those four years, the onset of climate change has become more obvious, more intense and more alarming.  Yet nothing has changed on Planet Key.  Other than the following:

–          The gutting of the Emissions Trading Scheme to render it totally ineffective;

–          The refusal to enter the 2nd Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-20), and thus any binding reductions for the critical ‘transition decade’;

–          The procrastination in deciding on a formal reductions target for 2020 (the only state still not to have done so).

I spoke along these lines in the Pacific Debate a few hours later.

It is staggeringly difficult to comprehend why this Government is being so truculently dismissive of the increasing global alarm over climate change.  This is not the place to explore the psychological reasons, though I am tempted.

Suffice to say that we in the Green Party are working extremely hard on this issue.

See our plans for a one-day climate change conference, in the NZ Parliament, on Friday, 7 June.

To which you are invited.

130 Comments Posted

  1. “Ten of thousands of animal and plant species are migrating away from the equator, or up mountainsides to escape the warming.”
    or to take advantage of it, like the mosquitos 🙁


  2. Trevor – you missed out a few:

    -More than 95% of mountain glaciers worldwide are in retreat
    -Ten of thousands of animal and plant species are migrating away from the equator, or up mountainsides to escape the warming.
    -The observed intensification of the global water cycle (greater floods and droughts)
    -Poleward expansion of storm tracks.
    -Intensification of the mid latitude westerlies.
    -The observed increased absorption of outgoing thermal radiation by CO2 – as measured by satellites.
    -Rising sea level
    -Deep ocean warming
    -Accelerated global warming in the last 16 years (related to deep ocean warming)

    The reason why 97% of the scientific literature agrees that humans are causing global warming, is because that’s what a vast amount of scientific evidence and observations clearly indicate.

  3. Arana – if CO2’s global warming effects are insignificant, what are your explanations for the reduction in Arctic sea ice, steadily increasing sea temperatures, the higher than average global surface temperatures seen over the last 15 years in particular, and the record-breaking central Australian temperatures that led to their adding two extra colour bands to their television temperature displays?


  4. Understanding the evolution of Arctic polar climate from the protracted warmth of the middle Pliocene into the earliest glacial cycles in the Northern Hemisphere has been hindered by the lack of continuous, highly resolved Arctic time series. Evidence from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Arctic Russia, shows that 3.6-3.4 million years ago, summer temperatures were ~8°C warmer than today when pCO2 was ~400 ppm. Multiproxy evidence suggests extreme warmth and polar amplification during the middle Pliocene, sudden stepped cooling events during the Pliocene-Pleistocene transition, and warmer than present Arctic summers until ~2.2 Ma, after the onset of Northern Hemispheric glaciation. Our data are consistent with sea-level records and other proxies indicating that Arctic cooling was insufficient to support klarge-scale ice sheets until the early Pleistocene.


    The human species is COLLECTIVELY being incredibly stupid, and it is being that way because it is controlled by a perverted form of Capitalism that even Adam Smith would not recognize.

    There is a reason the RWNJ brigate is held in contempt here, and it has to do with the consequences of their fixation on short term “profit” and their studious ignorance of long term “loss”.

  5. Photonz,

    Except for the fact that if they prove there is climate change, they still have a job, but if they prove there’s no climate change, they don’t.

    You are, I am sorry to say, completely ignorant about just how the scientists at a place like JPL, or NASA in general, are employed.

    Believe me, if the climate scientists say we’re actually being warmed by something other than human caused greenhouse gases they will still be employed, and will still study climate, which will still change. This is one of the lies that CEI is explicitly promoting. It is one of the lies that a lot of libertarians believe.

    Try to think about it the other way. These are government jobs. These people almost can’t BE fired and there is more than enough work at the lab that they’d still be working on something. They don’t get bonuses. They don’t get paid for supporting a position. They just do science.

    Moreover, anyone who finds a real flaw in the Anthropogenic theory will have his/her reputation made.

    You may not remember that the energy companies actually hired a group of scientists to find that disproof. So these are scientists whose jobs were dependent on finding proof that it was wrong.

    Nobody on the denial side tells THIS little story. Those scientists basically said, ‘sorry, the theory is sound’. They could not in years of work, find a fatal flaw.


    So big oil went the same route the Tobacco companies took… discredit science…


    … and now we are here … and no sign whatsoever of actually slowing our emissions.


    Homo-Sapiens – A tragic oxymoron.

  6. Others have mentioned this, photonz1, but just to hammer it home. Climate scientists study the climate. That they are finding that the climate is changing (apparently for the worse, as the studies encompass ecology impacts) is a worry (or should be). They are finding that humans are the primary cause of this current change of climate and that the change is happening very rapidly when compared to times past.

    Climate scientists study the climate, not some hypothetical end result of studying the climate. They receive funds to do the former. If their results pointed to another scenario, they would still be studying the climate (and much of it seems pretty tedious work to me – definitely something you’d have to be dedicated to). They are understanding how climate changed in the past, and why. That would be important work regardless of what they found, because it could affect us now and in the future.

  7. I don’t believe the free market by it’s self can fix this as the effects are not on the market, but they effect it, just as the social problems society has to confront to keep a sense of order to our community. The buy in to the solutions offered to these factors outside the market, are determined and financed by the society that wants to stay as a coherent functioning unit. This is the basis of social order, and people will sacrifice things for the good of that whole. It has to be a full and fair debate to sort these solutions.
    If elements of the free market, or distortions of the same, are connected with the solution ,society has the right to modify the market accordingly, given the basic human right to function individually in our processes. This right is exclusive of the ability of individuals to effect others rights. If it is clearly indicated that most share an accepted right to health and well being for our children and this includes clean air and water, and stable food production conditions, then excess CO2 production is a violation of that right.
    I wonder how many people agree that we have that right. I claim that right so under climate change deniers approach I should have the right to expect this, just as they have a right to their process of damage (proven).If no solution is possible then society has to have a full debate and determine which rights are accepted as collective. I guess also it opens the door to the fact that if climate change is going to worsen then the polluters are liable, and at some point are up for the costs of storm/drought relief etc., and vice versa. The problem is in the scenario emerging the damage may be greater than anyone can repay, or even survive to seek compensation. In a case like this society has to take the precautionary approach, until evidence is gathered either way. Those in the minority opinion need to accept the wisdom of the majority or find somewhere else to move. This is probably why some wan’t to leave Cuba for the unsustainable US. A greater number are happy to stay put and help make things adjust. The interesting thing is Cuba is liberalising aspects that can be done without threatening the collective. What of those leaving here for Oz?
    Society, not anarchy.

  8. Arana

    It may be insignificant.

    Yeah! Like the industrial revolution is insignificant!


    Except for the fact that if they prove there is climate change, they still have a job, but if they prove there’s no climate change, they don’t.

    You obviously have no idea about how scientists actually determine their findings photonz1. They’re not employed because of what they determine, they’re employed to provide findings. A scientist who provides findings that aren’t correct, and cannot explain why they’re wrong in scientific terms, finds their employment options greatly reduced.

    Once those scientific findings are determined, there’s not much point in reproducing the “test” unless other science contradicts the initial findings. So far, there are no valid scientific findings that contradict those that confirm anthropogenic climate change is real.

    Climate change is proven scientifically to be real, and should therefore be treated as such by governments. It’s a shame that the current government in New Zealand has dismissed that scientific consensus, and moved to undermine the Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure our GHG emissions continue to increase.

    Science is not a debate as such… It’s a test of theories against what’s measurable in the real world. I can see why you don’t understand it photonz1, considering you often rely on defunct beliefs that are ideologically driven.

  9. Yes, Oldlux, that system worked so well in Cuba and East Germany they had people risking their lives, and losing them, try desperately to get out.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands queue up to get into the USA.

    You don’t need a computer. By your own reasoning you should give it away. Off you go….

  10. “How about the role of aerosols from human activity reducing the solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface in the last 15 years and its affects on average global temperatures?”

    The point being that a number of climate change deniers are pointing to the lack of increase in average global surface temperatures over the past 15 years as evidence that the models are wrong and that global warming has stopped. The models assumed certain levels of aerosols, and couldn’t predict the large increase in coal-fired power plants, so in this respect the models weren’t wrong – they just needed to be run again with the correct aerosol levels. Another factor that the models couldn’t predict is variations in solar irradiance. These two factors lower the heating.

    Another significant factor is the El Nino/La Nina oscillation which swung from a El Nino phase giving high surface temperatures (thus the 1998 peaks) to a La Nina phase which gives lower surface temperatures. However the heating is still there – it shows up in the deep ocean temperatures which continue to rise, clearly indicating that global warming hasn’t stopped.

    This is much more relevant than Arana’s choice of topic – the effect of cosmic radiation.


  11. photonz1 – researchers who come up with reliable research that indicates that climate change isn’t happening, or more likely that there is less climate change happening than predicted won’t be losing their jobs. That isn’t how pure research is funded. Even if climate change does turn out to be less of a problem (and that is a very big “if”), the researchers will still be able to conduct research into various facets of the climate, including weather forecasting.

    To think that these researchers are biasing their results in order to keep their jobs is mistaken.

    I am not so convinced about the research appearing in journals whose major sponsors are oil companies…


  12. I would expect global warming to increase Antarctic sea ice. Warming ocean subsurface currents coming from closer to the equator would be melting subsurface ice, producing water of low salinity. Such water would be less dense than sea water so would rise. Being of low salinity it would freeze more easily than the water it displaces. Furthermore the resulting increase in ice area would tend to reflect away solar radiation at wavelength which would not be blocked by the CO2 blanket. So Antarctic surface warming would be slower giving a false sense of security to the those who are persuaded to make their judgements in the wide-spread confusion of such cherry-picked data.
    Hopefully those high 90s percent of climate scientists who are getting more than 50% of their papers accepted by peer-review are able to avoid cherry-picking arguments and increasingly get to the public a feel for the overall picture. Though we know some corporates set themselves up to make a lot of money from disaster, whether it be war, earthquakes, oil spills, epidemics, and I believe they can be well-versed in spreading confusion to achieve their goals, and at the moment seem to have convinced more than 50% of the public that global warming is not related to human action. A brave politician does not give in, however.
    I hope some haste can be given to obtaining more data from the recently developed robotic submarines looking at Antarctic subsurface ice.
    The bulk of our greenhouse warming is caused by water vapour. Our planet would have been very cold without it. Then it only takes a small increase in other greenhouse gases to increase the amount of water vapour which tremendously magnifies their effect.

  13. On the matter of motivations I would say who has the most to lose. There is a huge pool of money floating around the world, purely based on the so called value of present commodities and production methods. This is particularly so in the area of retirement funding for baby boomers. The money has been invested in speculative value of the need generated from people living. Usery for those with a Biblical predisposition. If it is shown that what we have is unsustainable then all these retirement funds become melting jelly. This money should have gone into getting productive resources more efficiently to the community and thus saving resources – sustainable. Then we would be well set up for the population changes and the diminishing supply of resources.
    Those who have large investments in this speculative value have the most to loose and history shows the amount of manipulation coming from this direction.
    My grandkids and kids have told me how proud they are for my unselfish focus on the future and yet they are all relatively, selfsufficient, educated, informed and comfortable. So I think the process of sustainable living isn’t too devistating.
    I am sure that most of the scientists are in that same ilk, wanting to respect the wonders they uncover and share them sustainably with their offspring.
    I have generally found that those with great empires are generally self centred and less social, the money allows them insulation.

    I would put my money on those with a social focus being more reliable at taking the lead for public good.
    If we go back to simple economics of need then the young and old all get a fair go. What leadership is there now?

  14. That’s a very simplistic view photonz1. I’d suggest that the people involved in climate research are, on average, quite intelligent and would move on to new jobs, reasonably quickly. A bit of retraining where required and they’d be the kind of highly skilled people that would be snapped up.
    I suspect that your idea that they would join the ranks of the unemployed is a flight of fantasy.
    Putting it simply, if climate researchers could prove climate change was not happening, they would figure out pretty quickly that they were flogging a dead horse and move on to something worth researching

  15. Trevor 29, “How about the role of aerosols from human activity reducing the solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface in the last 15 years and its affects on average global temperatures?”

    Given the amount of coal burnt in India and China during this period this is probably the case.

  16. BJ says “The science is not.”(political)

    Except for the fact that if they prove there is climate change, they still have a job, but if they prove there’s no climate change, they don’t.

    BJ – you’ll probably know the saying about turkeys looking forward to thanksgiving.

    I’m not saying everyone is wrong – just acknowledging that there is huge incentive to find evidence of climate change, and huge disincentive for those who find none.

  17. Forbes has always been apt to the likes of Larry Bell, who is not trustworthy in the least. The 97% is not BS , though you keep on liking to assert it is.

    Oreskes examined all the papers between 1993 and 2003. There were ZERO papers disputing the AGW science.

    Peiser disputed Oreskes and then retracted after closer examination.

    The 97% comes from Doran in 2009, who surveyed 3146 “Earth Scientists”. The survey results overall got an 82% yes – “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” but after separating the sheep from the goats, the non-publishing, non-climate scientists from the working climate scientists the percentages were 77% and 97% … which sort of follows.

    Anderegg got similar results.

    There are only 5 scientists I know of who are engaging in denial. Christy, Spencer, Lindzen… and Pielke Snr and Jr. and the most one can say about even them, is that they are “Lukewarmers”. Everyone else on the denial side is politically motivated. Rob might name a few more… but the political motivation on the denial side is absolutely Crystal Clear. The hiring of CEI to make the arguments and discredit the science is a smoking gun.

    On the other side, it is as clear cut as it can be. EVERY scientific organization and all the other publishing climate scientists will tell you that the science is clear and the danger is present. I knew some of the scientists at NASA JPL who were studying the ice. We are talking about people who are SCARED of what they are finding. Who are working to keep from sounding alarmist… but who are privately scared. They aren’t political, they don’t have a religious attachment to ANY ideology, but they are all getting the same answers.

    Your assertion that this is political is true though. It is political on YOUR part. It is political for ALL denialists except when it is simply a matter of money. Mobs like CEI have MADE “climate change” political.

    The science is not.

  18. On the point of precautionary principle and action, I would think the least harmful response for society is to analyse what are needs and what are wants. Food, shelter, clean water, participation in family/community are needs. This then leaves wants and this becomes a bigger debate than what are basic needs. A lot of technology is pure indulgence and this is where our greatest emphasis on savings need to be. There will always be an effect on some occupations and we need to look at the process whereby we shift to needs based job creation.
    For example, with the population aging we need to let the baby boomers move to teaching, childcare, social work etc., an area we have been neglecting, and older people have more overview of life in these things. The much smaller younger population can then focus on the more active roles in society. This turn around can be encouraged with retraining, and flexibility in social assistance programs that are already needed.
    Much air travel is also unnecessary and large savings can be made here. As new technology improves the carbon emmissions of this travel, then things change. Carbon taxing can help fund the extras needed and shift the balance. Monetarist economics and the indulgences of spending huge sums of money just changing who owns some enterprise are indulgences we may not be able to afford. What price survival?

    I think the conference could be a great starting point in starting to define these types of strategies and we can take a lead at showing the world what is possible, just as Cuba has already done.

  19. Arana, you have taken up so much of the time, space and effort of this blog, I can’t fathom you.
    If you don’t understand what is said, then you have a serious problem in communicating or listening. On a Green blog you would expect most people logging in to be either interested in the blog or seeking more information. Doesn’t this make you feel a complete minority? The other alternative is that you are on some crusade to actively turn the tide, or disrupt the process of dissemination and discusion on an issue that most want to act positively or formulate ideas on.
    Where I come from this is considered total bad manners and illustrates an obsession or problem in how you deal with things.
    After such a long time at this process you have totally convinced me that what you offer as information is worthless and your human regard is zilch, self interest is what shines. I am sure that most others feel the same so your cause of getting others on side is totall;y destroyed by your actions.
    If you are doing it all as a political escapade then the same applies and who wants your type of self centered politics.
    This is the last time I make reference to you as it just encourages you.

  20. Depends what we mean by “AGW”.

    By AGW I mean connecting the 3 statements that you made @ 3:35

    (i)”I agree c02 has a warming effect, and”
    (ii)”man contributes c02,”
    (iii) “therefore man contributes to warming.”

    hence the ‘A’ in AGW.

  21. OK Arana, you’ve clearly got a slight bit of awareness but if you don’t think that the planet has been warming since industrial societies got going (the data shows a marked reversal in what was a cooling trend) I suggest you look at the data – there was even a very recent piece of research to add the already weighty evidence. Just to reiterate, it isn’t just “likely” that CO2 causes warming, it has been proven to do so. The warming is already causing problems, primarily because of the rapidity (as shown in umpteen studies), so, hopefully, it’s just a matter of those facts seeping in over time, to get you fully on board. To help that process, I suggest you read science based articles about climate change and with an open mind.

  22. Are you saying that in your estimation while 97% agree (or pick a number) that CO2 is contributed by man and has a warming effect – ipso facto AGW is a reality

    Depends what we mean by “AGW”.

    Man will always have some effect. We’re a closed system (pretty much). Is it a significant effect? Is it worth worrying about? Does the planet compensate? Why do the models appear to be at the bottom of their ranges, and drifting lower, whilst c02 continues to increase? There are a few theories about this, but I come back to…..

    ….who to believe.

  23. At least I’m glad you now accept that warming is happening and that human emissions are the prime cause.

    No, I don’t.

    The planet might be warming, but it’s difficult to tell for sure.

    If c02 causes warming (likely), and man creates c02 (certain), then man contributes to warming. However, we don’t know if man contributes a dangerous amount of warming. It may be insignificant.

  24. OK – so let me get this straight.

    Are you saying that in your estimation while 97% agree (or pick a number) that CO2 is contributed by man and has a warming effect – ipso facto AGW is a reality, and a position that you agree with in your comment @ 3:35 – that the real issue is that this same 97% don’t agree on AGW’s impact?

  25. Arana,

    CO2 doesn’t “likely” have a warming effect, it certainly has a warming effect, unless you know of a repeated experiment that shows there is only “likely” that it has a warming effect.

    That effect has also been calculated. The climate sensitivity is debated, granted, but even the lowest estimate shows that warming of 1.5 degrees is pretty much guaranteed, at this point. That’s before the end of the century. But we’re already seeing extreme events increasing and we’re already seeing other effects of the warming and CO2 increase (such as ocean impacts).

    So it’s nothing like the effects of plunging into a swimming pool. Who do you believe about the likely extent of climate change and its impacts? Do you accept the majority of climate scientists who have expressed an opinion on this, or some other non-climate scientists who are eager to express an opinion on it?

    At least I’m glad you now accept that warming is happening and that human emissions are the prime cause. That is, after all, what the vast majority of climate scientists say.

  26. 97%

    By definition, I’m in the 97%, in that I agree c02 has a warming effect, and man contributes c02, therefore man contributes to warming.

    Then people make out I’m disagreeing with the 97%.

    Then we look at where this 97% comes from, and what they’re actually agreeing on, we find it’s little more than a political and media fabrication.

    Finally, agreement doesn’t mean something is true.

  27. It’s also a political line of reasoning, not a scientific one.

    That doesn’t really hold, unless you are suggesting that any scientific theory must be accepted 100% prior to it leaving the realm of hypothesis and entering the realm of empirical fact.

  28. Agreed with what, though Tony?

    I agree that man contributes c02, and that c02 likely has a warming effect. The question is whether that warming effect is a problem. It may be so minuscule that it is of little or no consequence, especially when many natural factors influence it by a more significant degree.

    Like you have an effect on the temperature of pool when you get in it, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing worth worrying about.

  29. Arana,

    Did you check the results of the AGU survey that your linked story criticises? Its overall result was that at least 82% of scientists (not just climate scientists) agreed with AGW, though your linked article doesn’t mention that, conveniently. Is 82% good enough for you? If you’d read the other links, here and here, you might have realised this and that there was plenty of evidence in other studies for the proposal that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and that greenhouse gases emitted by humans is the primary factor in that.

    Such a consensus is hardly surprising given the fact (proved by many experiments over decades) that CO2 traps heat and the fact that humans have released most of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere in industrial times. In fact, it’s surprising that any scientist, climate or no, would disagree with such proven information.

    Now, is 82% of scientists good enough for you? If not, what percentage of all scientists or, more to the point, what percentage of climate scientists would you believe?

  30. And do you generally?

    Or do you seek out the 3% of doctors, lawyers or mechanics who don’t agree with them before deciding whether you believe them? Or do you go to the 3% first and take their view verbatim?

  31. Do you feel the need to have the same level of detailed understanding in a field of knowledge when taking advice from your doctor, lawyer or mechanic?

    Nope. I need to believe they know what they’re talking about.

  32. Arana,

    If you’d read either of the links, you’d realise that the number is substantially backed up by other studies. There is an overwhelming consensus of climate scientists about AGW. That you choose to fixate on that one potentially flawed survey suggests that you don’t really want to know the facts, or have made your mind up so firmly that no facts on earth would shift.

  33. So you’re saying the lay person doesn’t really need to understand the science, they just need to choose to believe someone?

    Do you feel the need to have the same level of detailed understanding in a field of knowledge when taking advice from your doctor, lawyer or mechanic?

  34. Arana,

    I chose to believe that AGW was bunkum. That was before I started to read some of the science behind it. Looking at both sides, I came to realise that there was only really one side, that the deniers claims were always countered by the science and only very rarely the reverse. I came to realise that deniers continually re-raised debunked arguments or tried to ingrain a meme (e.g. that global warming had stopped) that had been shown to be false. I suppose that I still “believe” in something (though the reverse of what I had believed in) but it is, at least, now based on science, rather than not wanting it to be true.

    As a lay person, I understand only some of the science but I can still glean an overall picture from reading about the actual science and the fact that an overwhelming majority, of those who actually do the work of improving our knowledge of what affects climate and how the climate is changing, accept that GW is happening and that humans are the primary cause just tops it off. There really is no plausible reason for a lay person to be a denier.

  35. Tony, 97% is nonsense.

    “The number stems from a 2009 online survey of 10,257 earth scientists, conducted by two researchers at the University of Illinois. The survey results must have deeply disappointed the researchers – in the end, they chose to highlight the views of a subgroup of just 77 scientists, 75 of whom thought humans contributed to climate change. The ratio 75/77 produces the 97% figure that pundits now tout”.

    It might be you who is dismissing the majority view. In any case, the majority is not proof of anything. Following that reasoning, God must exist because more people than not believe in God.

    Why do you think the precautionary principle should apply in the case you’re advocating but not in the case that environmentalists are advocating?

    My point is we should act on what is known to be true.

  36. It is a problem

    It is. Rather an obvious one, I would have thought, but many here won’t admit the obvious.

    That they’ve chosen to *believe* something.

  37. Arana,

    I provided a link to a NASA website that explains the consensus. There are plenty of others. Here’s another from the Washington Post. They refer to multiple sources for stating that an overwhelming majority of climate scientists (and, indeed, other scientists) accept AGW. What proportion would you say is necessary for a lay person to believe that majority? If not 97%, would it be 90%, 80%, what? And if you can find solid evidence that some small percentage of climate scientists have an opposing view, why would you choose to believe that minority, and how large would that minority have to be for you to side with it?

    You can’t keep claiming to have little direct knowledge of climate change, that the lay person has trouble knowing who to believe but keep dismissing the majority view. If you came to a fork in the road and had no local knowledge, so asked 10 locals which is the better route, would you take the advice of the one who said “go left”, against the 9 that said “go right”, even if they all gave apparently plausible reasons (though you didn’t have the knowledge to discern how valid any of them were)?

    Regarding the precautionary principle, you seem to be saying that it should only apply to the most immediately comfortable route. That is, you think taking action to severely reduce greenhouse gases could be too costly and damaging (i.e. the risks, in your own lay-person opinion, outweigh the advantages); but the reverse could also be true: that the risks of doing nothing outweigh the advantages of doing nothing. Why do you think the precautionary principle should apply in the case you’re advocating but not in the case that environmentalists are advocating?

  38. Arana notes:

    So you’re saying the lay person doesn’t really need to understand the science, they just need to choose to believe someone?

    I’d go further: I recently noted that I, as an example of a (fairly) lay person “…do not have the PhDs, the years of experience in the field, access to the data and the time to make an independent scientifically defendable determination on climate change, and thus have to believe what others say”

    It is a problem. One to which I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. The problem is that the rhetoric (for that is what it is) is dominated by “sides”. As gets illustrated in this very place time and time again.

  39. There are only three things that are important to note, and none of them requires an appreciation (or indeed, an understanding, or even a position) on climate science.

    The first is that New Zealand’s total emissions are about a tenth of one percent (source: wikipedia) of the world’s emissions; assuming CO2 emissions are the root of climate change which might kill us all, whether we are fooked or not doesn’t depend on us, but on many, many other countries. We are not in control of our own (or anyone else’s) destiny. It might be nice, and indeed righteous, to “do our bit”, but the truth is that it wont matter a jot in any timeframe that is relevant.

    The second big truth is that no-one really cares anyway: “Seventeen years of continuous surveys covering countries around the world show that people not only do not care about climate change today – understandably prioritising economic misery – they also did not care about climate change even back when times were good”. (Source: TheReg). The data is from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Report: PDF, 684K.

    Thirdly, Easter Island reminds us that mankind is not above consuming resources until it is too late. There is no real evidence that we have learned the lessons of what happens when one pushes an environment to the brink.

    The fourth item (of three, yeah I know) is that Mother Earth really doesn’t care, she’ll be alright no matter what happens.

    So Kennedy’s question, while a sort-of interesting question, is scoped somewhat narrowly, so narrowly as to make it irrelevant.

  40. Well, quite, but Rob, and others, are labeling me anti-science, and damning me for admitting I don’t understand the science.

    So you’re saying the lay person doesn’t really need to understand the science, they just need to choose to believe someone?

  41. Oh FFS, there is about the same need for a lay person to “understand the science” of climate change as there is for a cancer patient to run out and do a degree in biology.

  42. Pretty meaningless statement when you examine it closely.

    There are various estimates. I think you do accept that there is an economic cost i.e. carbon credits – to mitigation. The more we mitigate, the higher the cost. We can’t cut all human-created c02, we can only cut a fraction of human created c02, which is, in itself, a subset of all c02.

    This outlines the economic issues well:


    So, one question is even if we spend a lot, how much real difference will we make?

  43. You should note that I did not refer to anything. I knew. You need to know… BETTER… than to challenge science if you are admittedly NOT a scientist.

    I know you’re able to discuss it, BJ. I’m asking how many lay AGW believers can do likewise.

  44. How about the role of aerosols from human activity reducing the solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface in the last 15 years and its affects on average global temperatures?

    My point is not whether these things are true or not, it’s how many AGW believers could discuss them i.e. demonstrate they understand the science.

    I contend most lay people could not without looking it up. Therefore it is likely true that many people hold their position based on belief. They’ve chosen to believe what someone tells them.

  45. Arana – A 2000 word essay? Sure, but that’s too many words. There are two or three things about Svensmark’s theory.

    The first is that in terms of AGW it is a “competing theory” or a “supplementary theory”. It doesn’t have to disprove AGW but has to prove better at explaining things than AGW is if it is to compete/supplant. To work that out one HAS to cope with the science. My view is that it is a supplementary theory which provides some small marginal improvement in estimates of cloud cover… which of itself does not provide much explanation due to the lack of any demonstrated significant connection to climate. Remember that at NIGHT a cloud is a warming feature and at noon it is a cooling feature.

    The second one you won’t get from most of the literature is that IF it were an explanation for the warming we have it would be one hell of a coincidence for it to occur just at the time the CO2 emitted by our industrial age overwhelmed the natural balance and started to increase the atmospheric concentration which obviously would have to have no effect then. Relying on 1 in a million long-shots isn’t how science proceeds.

    The 3rd is that there isn’t much real evidence that there is a significant change in the GCR over this timescale, and apart from the short term Forbush event stuff that shows that the GCR can have small effect on clouds we just aren’t seeing it. CERN showed nucleation effects but connecting the dots in the real world at sizes and quantities that would affect the climate… hasn’t happened.

    So it is real, but it is small and while it helps us understand/predict some of the clouds it is a tiny bite out of a lot of randomness.

    You should note that I did not refer to anything. I knew. You need to know… BETTER… than to challenge science if you are admittedly NOT a scientist.

  46. ” It’s estimated in the US alone Kyoto measures would cost $300b a year – all to reduce the temperature by 2100 by 0.14%.”

    0.14% of what? Or do you mean degrees C or degrees F? Who made this estimate? Is that $300 billion gross or net? (Many Kyoto measures result in other savings, such as more efficient light bulbs that last longer saving labour costs to swap them, or more efficient building insulation.) “Could cost” so what other figures could they cost? $200b? $100b? $0?

    Pretty meaningless statement when you examine it closely.


  47. How about the role of aerosols from human activity reducing the solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface in the last 15 years and its affects on average global temperatures?

    (This would be the period for which AGW deniers say that global warming has stopped, so the AGW theories must be wrong.)


  48. Building wind farms, photovoltaic solar arrays and concentrated thermal solar power systems (which can generate power at night) now

    I think we should:

    a) build these things if it makes economic sense in their own right
    b) keep asking questions about AGW in order to gain a clearer picture

    Because the reality is we can’t do much about AGW at present. It’s estimated in the US alone Kyoto measures would cost $300b a year – all to reduce the temperature by 2100 by 0.14%.

    That’s cutting off a patients leg because he has a sore toe.

    Which might be imagined….

  49. reflected solar radiation

    Erm….you would need an understanding of it in order to understand the greenhouse effect.

    In any case, it was just one example. Another might be “discuss the role of cloud albedo as it relates to AGW theory”. How many pro-AGW lay people could discuss it at length without looking it up?

  50. Building wind farms, photovoltaic solar arrays and concentrated thermal solar power systems (which can generate power at night) now will preserve our oil and gas resources for the future and cut down on CO2 emissions without starving the poor.

    Investing all our resources into adapting to the climate change that we have already caused (even if it hasn’t all eventuate yet) is a losing bet as when those resources start getting really scarce, we will find the temperatures climbing even faster due to all the CO2 we have just released, and we will be up the creek without a paddle having wasted the resources needed to build renewable generation.


  51. Given that cosmic rays are not related to the core theory of AGW, does it matter? The impression I get is that the whole cosmic ray/cloud cover argument is another red herring raised by the AGW deniers.


  52. Viv says “Or to reduce our emissions and have needlessly accepted, for a time, the less immoderate lifestyle implied, if the scientists are proven wrong?’

    We could put all our resources into reducing carbon emissions, and STILL fail badly, when the same resources may be better used ADAPTING to any changes.

    Green Party policy says we need to reduce our carbon emissions to 90% less than 1990 levels if we are going to stop climate change.

    That’s a 93% reduction from today’s levels.

    How are YOU going with that?

  53. No one has answered my question, I see.

    “For example, without looking it up, how many non-scientist AGW believers could discuss, in a 2000 word essay, the main arguments surrounding the correlation between cosmic ray incidence and reflected solar radiation?”

    I could do it, and I’m the first to admit my knowledge isn’t that great. How many AGW believers could do it?

  54. Viv, the problem with the precautionary principle is you may be vastly overstating the risk, which may result in a cure worse than the disease.

    For example, if a patient presented with a cold, do you chop both his legs off, just in case he’s got a leg problem. After all, he did mention his toe was a little sore.

    In the case of AGW, the risk is you may pay a very high price to make no change in temperature, whatsoever. That price can result in death.

    This has already happened i.e. they incentivised biofuel on the back of AGW policy, which led to increased food prices, which meant more poor people starved.


    “European targets to replace fossil fuels with biofuels are contributing to spikes in food prices and global hunger, according to the latest analyis by Oxfam.”

    That’s the downside of raising the cost of living. The poor suffer the most.

  55. If you don’t know who to believe, why do you choose to not believe 97% of climate scientists? For the lay person, believing that huge consensus seems to be the obvious tack to take.

    a) because the 97% figure is nonsense (look up how that figure was arrived at, and who was agreeing with what)
    b) consensus isn’t proof anyway (the consensus in the 70s was cooling)

  56. How we respond to climate change and ocean acidification should be a discussion about risk. Dugald MacTavish said it very well in a letter to the ODT on May 2nd. He asks what if there was, say, a 50:50 chance of skeptics being proved right and scientists wrong? ‘If so, is it more rational to follow the sceptics’ advice, do nothing and destroy our children’s future if sceptics are proven wrong? Or to reduce our emissions and have needlessly accepted, for a time, the less immoderate lifestyle implied, if the scientists are proven wrong?’ It is incredibly reckless to gamble with our children’s future and do not reduce CO2 emissions. I’m sure everyone would rather be living in a zero carbon society in the future and listening to Arana gloat about it not having been neccesary, than the alternative of Arana finding out WE were right and we have destroyed the carrying capacity of the planet to sustain human civilisation. Only dumb, greedy bastards with f**k-all braincells would carry on business as usual when the possible (probable) consequences are so severe.

  57. For example, without looking it up, how many non-scientist AGW believers could discuss, in a 2000 word essay, the main arguments surrounding the correlation between cosmic ray incidence and reflected solar radiation?

  58. Denial is strong in some.

    If scientists who do this 24/7, for decades, can’t agree on the complexities, then there’s no way a lay person is going to be able to make a sound judgment on many of these issues.

    I don’t think it’s projection to make the observation that a lot of people arrived at their view on AGW with only a surface understanding of the science. Mostly, it was choosing to believe someone.

    I don’t know why some have such trouble admitting it.

  59. Yes, Arana. How long could you talk sensibly on climate science, oceanic weather, or economics?

    You even admit it is not for very long.

    Then you assume the same lack of effort to find out on everyone else’s part.



  60. Or admit your ignorance and shut up.

    I think if you put most believers into a room and got them to talk about the science, they would all dry up within ten minutes.

    Their position has been arrived at by choosing someone to believe, not because they understand the cryptic science of a massive, chaotic system.

  61. Rob, I agree that this is a question of science. The problem is that most lay people cannot weigh the merits of the science.

    For example, “Melting land-ice is unable to make up the deficit, and it is physically impossible for this to happen anyway”. If another scientist says this is wrong because X, Y, and Z (calculations, graphs, citations, pages of detail), then at that point I have to choose who to believe. The alternative is to delve deep into the science, which is not practical for most people.

    97% of publishing climate scientists accept that global warming is human-caused.

    That is false and undermines your credibility.

  62. Rob. i am not really concerned about Arana’s ill judged opinions. He/she is a lost cause.

    Like most people who claim to be libertarian, if you scratch them you find a mean spirited authoritarian follower.

    Just ask them what they think of more police powers or the removal of workers rights, and you soon see their true colours.

    There are many people who read this blog who do not post however.

    I think we do need to counter bullshit wherever it occurs.
    Constantly repeated crap seems to take on a life of its own if not constantly de-bunked.

    RWNJ extremists know that. Which is why they endlessly repeat the same mindless memes and slogans until, many people who should know better, start parroting them.

  63. Arana – various sources who are not able to do climate science you mean…. and 450-800000 years back we were still having glacial and interglacial events in this ice-age(which is over for good now)… so whichever source you got THAT from is being far from honest. You don’t cite those sources because you know that WE know them for the rubbish they publish.

    It is hard for me to work out just what part of your position is actually active here… just what ideological notion drives your refusal to consider the actual science. A lot of times this is a quasi-libertarian thing. Not real libertarian… real libertarians are smart enough to know that their ideology depends on the ability of the individual to discern the truth… not lying to themselves is IMPORTANT to real libertarians.

  64. I wouldn’t bother, Rob.

    Arana is individual whose opinions are lightly formed but firmly held – somewhat of an reactionary anti-intellectual masquerading as a worldly contrarian.

    Other such recent pearls of Arana wisdom, unsupported by nothing but logical fallacy and uninformed opinion have included:

    – why no one should listen to a politician under 40 as they have nothing to offer

    – why Hugo Chavez was a horrible dictator who did nothing for Venezuela

    – why progressives couldn’t understand the massive popularity of George Bush (apparently we are too smart for our own good)

    – why the NZ press is made up of enviro-lefty rags and TV stations

    – why the Greens are unpopular with an ever increasing vote

    ..I could go on.

  65. Heaven forbid I read various sources.

    Only one is necessary – the scientific literature.

    “Perhaps I should undertake deep ocean research personally, Rob? Do you?”

    Yes. Note my previous comment.

    In any case, I did find sources that were highly dismissive of you paper

    Indeed. But no substantive scientific point to make. Let me put it this way; Douglass & Knox infer thermal expansion of the ocean stopped between 2004-2008. However, sea level continued to rise at a steady rate of around 3.18mm per year. Melting land-ice is unable to make up the deficit, and it is physically impossible for this to happen anyway. The oceans cannot simply stop accumulating heat without any mechanism to do so, and they certainly aren’t capable of instantaneously switching from warming to no warming accompanied by a massive influx of land-based ice melt to hide this. Especially when no such massive influx occurred, and when the measured warming ocean temperatures contradict such an idea.

    so, once again, it comes back to the question of who to believe

    Well, if one isn’t prepared to understand the science they should rely upon the overwhelming scientific opinion. 97% of publishing climate scientists accept that global warming is human-caused. More on that soon….

  66. Who to believe? Well, if you find one paper that someone else (you don’t say if it’s a research based rebuttal or an opinion based rebuttal) is dismissive of, then look at other research that addresses the topic. There have been several pieces of research that highlight the uptake of heat into the oceans, over the last few years. If climate scientists seem to be in broad agreement, then believe that.

  67. Heaven forbid I read various sources. Perhaps I should undertake deep ocean research personally, Rob? Do you?

    In any case, I did find sources that were highly dismissive of you paper – particularly on matters of evaporation – so, once again, it comes back to the question of who to believe.

  68. Kerry – I’ve observed that it is a waste of time responding to every climate myth constantly regurgitated by anti-science people like Arana. He/she is simply visiting denier blogs and coming here to parrot what they’ve written. That’s why his/her claims are full of self-contradictions and internal inconsistency.

    My advice is to stick to a few points and explain them for the benefit of readers. For instance; a number of scientific papers, including one of which I was a co-author, show that global warming has accelerated over the last 15-16 years. It’s just that the majority of global warming has gone into the oceans (around 93%). Only just over 2% goes into heating the atmosphere, due to its small heat capacity.

    The small amount of recent surface warming is just a temporary consequence of heat pouring into the deep ocean. When the global climate moves toward a period dominated by El Nino (or the positive phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) surface temperatures will rise rapidly, because less heat is going into the deep ocean during El Nino-dominant times.

    This is thoroughly consistent with basic oceanographic principles – strengthened off-equatorial easterly trade winds, during La Nina, create stronger ekman convergence and therefore stronger vertical heat transport in the oceanic gyres.

    Meanwhile, greenhouse gases are trapping more heat in the ocean – by lowering the amount of heat lost through the surface cool-skin layer, and the strengthening of the mid-latitude westerlies, and southward shift, is also pumping more heat down into the deep ocean via the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

  69. Arana,

    Well, I can see the holes in the argument. It’s harder for me to spot the holes in the research as I’m not a climate scientist.

    I’m not sure what holes you mean though all contrarian arguments have been answered many times over. The research, however, tell us what is actually happening to our climate, and environmental research, generally, tell us that the impacts appear to be significant. In global terms (locally, there are different stories for periods of time), I can’t think of anything about the environment that appears to be getting better and climate change is playing a big part in much of that.

    It appears to be agreed that c02 traps heat. But the question remains how much heat is trapped and whether this is an issue.

    But the amount of heat that is trapped has been calculated, it’s not really open to opinion. What may be opinion is how that extra heat is manifested, what changes it causes and what changes it may cause in future. Some of the effects may multiply the basic effects of trapping more heat though increased CO2 concentration. Every year gives us more information, through often very painstaking work by scientists, and the picture is not getting any better. So waiting for more information before taking a position doesn’t appear to be a good strategy.

  70. In Winter?? Bullshit Arana.

    Things change. Between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago, much of Greenland was green and covered in forest.

  71. Most of the people who attempted it in past times, died.

    Many mariners used to die. Travel is now a lot safer.

  72. Where there are “pretty large” holes in the research

    Well, I can see the holes in the argument. It’s harder for me to spot the holes in the research as I’m not a climate scientist.

    It appears to be agreed that c02 traps heat. But the question remains how much heat is trapped and whether this is an issue.

  73. In Winter??

    Bullshit Arana.

    You obviously do not know what the fuck you are talking about as usual.

    Transits, of the Arctic ocean, before the last few decades were IN SUMMER and with difficulty.

    Now insurance companies are allowing summer transits by, non-icebreakers.

  74. Yeah right. And ships using the Arctic route in winter, for the first time in written history, is a sign of cooling

    Since the 1600’s, you mean. It was open then. Also, the route was open again in 1878.

  75. And the constant cherry picking and misrepresentation by climate change denialists show just how desperate they’re getting as the science continues to discredit most of their unscientific opinions.

    Fixed it for you, Arana.

  76. Arana,

    You’re right, it’s difficult for the lay person to understand all the science, so I’m surprised that your posts on this subject seem to suggest that you have a firm grasp of the science.

    Try the science magazine articles that report the science and perhaps read parts of the research, where possible, to cross check with the report.

    Where there are “pretty large” holes in the research, I’m sure these will be picked up either in peer review or in subsequent critiques and research. I’m not aware that there are many large holes in the science that I’ve seen, certainly not large enough to discard what is very well known; that CO2 (and some other gases) trap some heat, thus causing the earth’s atmosphere to need to heat up to maintain a balance between what comes in and what goes out, and that humans have added an extra 120 ppm of CO2 (not to mention amounts of other greenhouse gases) to the atmosphere since pre-industrial times. There’s lots more to understand but it’s crucial that these two facts are understood as they can dispel a lot of incredulity that is reported in the mainstream media.

  77. “There has been very little warming in northern hemisphere oceans”.

    Yeah right. And ships using the Arctic route in winter, for the first time in written history, is a sign of cooling?

    Shouldn’t be any. Oceans take a long time to warm or cool.

    Arana. “I do not know anything and so not believe anyone else does either”.

  78. Kia Ora,

    Good korero, Kennedy. I think the response to Key and big business is to continue the fight against the Nats climate change policies at every level and in a holistic pattern- at governmental; tangata whenua community; ordinary Kiwi community; unemployed; working class; middle class; Pacific community; media, ecological; environmental; women; children, and academic and scientific groupings simultaneously.

    I have lots of respect for the Greens, and the work they do. I remember helping host a GE Hui for anti GE farmers from Tai Tokerau in Auckland more than 12 years ago- Green people are very fine people.

    The best resistance to a juggernaut like climate change is a holistic one that can explode the one dimensional, neo- liberal economic viewpoint apparent, and put into action by the Nat govts climate change, energy, transport, petroleum, mineral policies.

    Ultimately, the people of Aotearoa and the vast majority of people in the Pacific Islands should be collectively deciding what the next generation gets to inherit from the planet. Leaders and the rich few should not get to unlaterally make that call for the majority of people.It is good the Greens are pushing the issue of Pacific communities and climate change in the house.

    I believe meaningful change has to come from below, from ordinary kiwis understanding the facts regarding climate change, and then having opportunity not only to be heard but opportunity for their korero to be acted on. I believe in grassroots communities, their worth, and their dignity- even if Labour and Nat govts have spent the last 30 yrs trying to take away working class Pacific, working class Maaori, and working class kiwi communal self worth and self-esteem away through poor wages, poor housing, while these same governments have tried to imbue in working people a fatalism that ‘nothing can be changed’. Thats b.s. Anything can be changed at all times. People that downpress others never understand that at any time, people will and do resist and fight back- look at Nelson Mandela on the Isle of Makana, or Steve Biko on the Eastern Cape. People that seem most docile, or weak can turn on those that oppress them in an instant. This is the lesson Frantz Fanon taught in Wretched of the Earth. If people on the planet do not wake up, the planet will turn on us- as chaos theory outlines.

    Climate change isn’t simply just a corporate, governmental, or high level economic issue. It isn’t an ‘soft’ bleeding heart liberal issue- not for people losing their islands in the Pacific. Climate change is an planet issue, then secondly an human issue that concerns ordinary working kiwis. It is good the Greens are talking about climate change as a planetary and human issue in the house.

    The way to continue making climate change an issue for ordinary people is to talk with them about how climate change is affecting their everyday lives now-like the weather patterns from the last summer. The issue of climate change may have less immediately recognizable importantance for blue collar NZ families just trying to survive on poor wages, cockroach farm quality housing, and cheap non-nutrious food- but the issue of climate change is intimately inter-related with all of these issues of survival. I know the Greens have bought the issue of climate change out to communities already in different ways, that is great work.

    Talking with and learning from ordinary people can lead to exchanges of ideas, synergies, the development of new alternative ways of understanding the world, before acting to change it. If people want real movement on climate change, it is great to fight in parliament. There needs to be a multi lateral struggle fought on many fronts. But I think the most important challenge to the government must come from below, from ordinary people in Aotearoa and the Pacific promoting new ideas, concepts, people just talking about climate change and the relationship of this issue to many others they face. When people can see climate change in a holistic framework- so this issue is related to Peak Oil; poverty, Maaori rights, housing, employment or any other concern, then change can occur. The government, and the bald head media collectively try their best to obscure, and deny the linkages between climate change and other areas of social concern. That doesn’t mean ordinary people can’t get together and talk with other sections of the NZ society. Climate Change cuts across all class boundaries, and the middle classes are being squeezed just like blue collar people are.

    It is good to read your korero Kennedy,

    Tony Fala

  79. Try not believing anyone and look at the science. That would be a good starting point to find out what’s going on.

    I do, but there is only so deep any lay person can go. I’ve come to the conclusion most lay people who claim to understand large chaotic systems are kidding themselves. Many climate scientists resist doing so.

    I can spot the holes in the argument, however, and some of them are pretty large.

  80. There’s an echo in here.

    It’s hard to know who to believe, Arana? Try not believing anyone and look at the science. That would be a good starting point to find out what’s going on.

  81. Think what you want, but other opinions suggest that there is lot more negative forcing going on than has been included in the IPCC models.

    Hard to know who to believe, really.

  82. Think what you want, Arana. Some recent research shows that the deep ocean (below 700 metres) has warmed markedly. It’s pretty simply; CO2 traps heat. That has to go somewhere. Some people like to believe that it must have miraculously disappeared.

  83. There has been very little warming in northern hemisphere oceans i.e. half the oceans. There’s still very little data, particularly below 200 meters. So, you’re still really only talking about surface temperatures.

  84. Arana,

    The earth appears, at best estimates, to have been warming, up until 15 years ago.

    The earth has been warming, not through estimates but through measurements. All datasets show that the surface warming has slowed in the last 16 years or so. We now know that while surface warming has slowed, ocean heat content has accelerated, and that underlying warming has continued apace over the last 16 years or so. We also know that the Arctic sea ice has continued to decrease, as has ice mass in the Antarctic (though extent has increased slightly there).

    But you, no doubt, will continue to believe what you want to believe.

  85. Humans, plants and animals tend to thrive better when it’s warmer as opposed to colder. If man-made c02 is raising the temperature ever so slightly i.e. heat island effects, then this is not necessary a bad thing.

    It’s up to the alarmist to prove man raises the temperature a) significantly and b) to dangerous levels. They have proven neither, therefore that can’t be asserted as truth, only conjecture.

  86. The evidence for AGW is already overwhelming.

    No, it isn’t. And the constant cherry picking and misrepresentation by alarmists show just how desperate they’re getting as fewer and fewer people are listening to them.

    Most scientists agree that there is a relationship between c02 and temperature. The earth appears, at best estimates, to have been warming, up until 15 years ago. It has since flatlined. They don’t know why. We don’t know if man-made c02 is dangerous. It may well be beneficial. In any case, we’re well within historic tolerances, so no need to panic.

    That’s the truth, Ruth.

  87. The evidence for AGW is already overwhelming.
    Except in the minds of willful ignorami, like Arana.

    Who I suspect take contrary positions, to protect their income, like some oil companies, or to stir, rather than from any conviction

    Climate extremes are just even more confirmation of what we already know.

  88. Thanks for the link, SPC, and the explanation, Rob. From the linked story:

    We have already passed critical thresholds. Even if we stop emissions now, acidification will last tens of thousands of years. It is a very big experiment.

  89. SPC – of all the consequences of fossil fuel burning, ocean acidification is the most troublesome of all. In Earth’s ancient history, every time the oceans became corrosive (through natural CO2 emissions much slower than today) there was a massive die- off of marine life. Humans are now putting CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate that is unprecedented in 300 million years. We are already seeing the consequences – oyster larvae off the North American Pacific Coast have been dying because the waters there are seasonally too corrosive. And pteropods in Antarctic waters are being periodically exposed to seawater so corrosive it is dissolving their shells.

    Ocean acidification is a tad complicated – the ocean chemistry is not straightforward, but can be understood by noting that it is the concentration (activity) of carbonate ions that is crucial to making calcium carbonate shells. Ocean acidification reduces the concentration of carbonate ions, which makes shell-building (calcification) energetically more costly. Reduce them enough and seawater becomes physically corrosive to many marine calcifiers (but not all).

    The oceans only become corrosive when the atmospheric increase in CO2 is so fast that it overwhelms the chemical weathering process, which supplies alkalinity back to the ocean. A good example of this are the White Cliffs of Dover. They consist of enormous deposits of the shells of fossilized coccoliths – tiny surface-dwelling marine plankton. CO2 was very high during the Cretaceous (when these deposits were formed)which shows that low pH can be adapted to, but the oceans were not corrosive because the weathering process can supply alkalinity back to the ocean over very long periods – such as the evelvated CO2 levels of the Cretaceous.

    Not much help today of course, but it may help some readers understand why it is only geologically-rapid change that is problematic for marine calcifiers. Sustained long intervals of high CO2 are countered by the chemical weathering mechanism.

  90. A warmer atmosphere naturally leads to more extreme floods and droughts. As explained above, this is just simple physics.

    Indeed, globally the increase in the daily maximum rainfall rates (that’s flooding) has already been observed. See Westra (2013), and note this part:

    Furthermore, there is a statistically significant association with globally averaged near-surface temperature, with the median intensity of extreme precipitation changing in proportion with changes in global mean temperature at a rate of between 5.9% and 7.7% per degree, depending on the method of analysis. This ratio was robust irrespective of record length or
    time period considered, and was not strongly biased by the uneven global coverage of precipitation data

    In other words, the warmer the near-surface temperature is, the more moisture it can support, and the heavier the rainfall. No doubt if better historical data existed, this intensification of the global water cycle would be much more obvious.

    I’m writing articles for Skeptical Science on this subject, but they won’t be ready for a while – I’m currently working on explaining deep ocean warming and why the oceans only become corrosive when atmospheric CO2 rises in a geologically-abrupt manner – such as today.

  91. Kerry says “How about? ….Most floods in one decade.”

    How many are there now? I’ve already given figures for 1920-1983 (15 floods / year).

    One of the big problems of course is we now have thousands of weather stations in places that didn’t previously have them (and that’s just in NZ).

    So we simply don’t have much in the way of any weather records for hundreds of locations.

    I’m quite prepared to be convinced, but the opposite happens when every extreme event is pointed to as “evidence”, and events are repeatedly falsely labelled as “record breaking”.

  92. Kerry, if that cherry-picking fallacy is the basis of your position, then you best give up now.

    You cannot possibly be serious.

  93. Extreme or not extreme. Hot or cold. What we need to be told if we are to spend horrendous amounts of money on this thing is what are we proposing to do and what effect will it have. Otherwise we are simply shouting at each other due to the uncertainties….

  94. It is not when the longest drought happened, Photo, it is how often we get long droughts.

    For example, I remember the 60’s as having much more settled weather than now. In fact, weather records show we did have extremely long periods of settled weather in the 60’s.

    Is less settled weather going to be a constantly worsening trend? is the question we are looking at now. So far this decade the answer looks more and more like, yes!

  95. How about?

    Most droughts in one decade.
    Most floods in one decade.
    Most days of high winds in a year/decade.
    Most tropical storms in a decade.
    Frequency of other extreme weather events.

    It is the long term frequency of extreme weather events, not the magnitude, which is evidence for, or against, AGW influencing weather.

    Which is what climate scientists have been saying.

    As even Arana appears to be saying in his/her own sort of way, we need to show there is a trend to prove causation.

    Climate scientists say the frequency of extreme events does seem to be increasing, which is what you would expect as you add more energy to a system. We haven’t seen enough individual events, yet, to be sure it is an indicative trend.

  96. When the most extreme weather in NZ happened –

    1939 – longest Drought
    1973 – highest air temperature (NI and SI)
    1903 – lowest air temperature (for SI, 1937 for NI)
    1938 – lowest grass temperature
    1931 – most sun in a year
    1959, 1962, 1970 stongest wind
    1964 – lowest rainfall in a year
    1934 – most sun in a month (for SI, 1950 for NI)
    1935 – least sun in a month (SI, 2002 for NI)
    1978 – most rain in 12 hrs
    1989 – most rain in a day
    1948 – most rain in ten minutes

  97. More extreme than when? What does extreme mean? What weather? Where? What happens when you get less extreme weather than in the past?

    Like this, for example:


    Shame on them

    Shame on you for spouting empty rhetoric.

  98. Several studies in recent years show weather most certainly is becoming more extreme. Of course, this could be natural variability but attribution studies are starting to show that many recent events are statistically improbable, without human caused climate change.

    I’m not sure how extreme our weather has to become before the Aranas and photonzs of this world start to take their blinkers off. By then, though, it will be far, far too late. Shame on them.

  99. Rob says “Ironic that someone whose position is without scientific foundation claims that science is a cult. Perhaps you need to consult a dictionary? ”

    The cult part of it comes when people stop questioning, and start making extreme and false claims, like calling everything “record-breaking” when it isn’t.

  100. Cherries are the AGW proponents favourite fruit, it would appear.

    Conflating weather events with AGW and using that as “a sign” is beyond misleading. It certainly isn’t science.

    Define what an extreme weather event is, and then specify your time frame. If we get fewer/more “extreme” weather “events” between now and X compared with X range in the past, then this signifies – what?

    For example, we’re experiencing significantly reduced hurricane activity in the US, when it was predicted we’d see a lot more, according to many AGW blowhards. What does this signify?


  101. Photo – “I have no doubt that humans are having some effect on climate. But when we get exaggeration after false claim after exaggeration, and every slightly unusual event is blamed on climate change, you either have to question or blindly join the cult.

    Ironic that someone whose position is without scientific foundation claims that science is a cult. Perhaps you need to consult a dictionary?

    And do note that global warming has been going on for well over a century. All weather events in that time have been affected by the increased moisture holding and redistributing capacity of the warmer atmosphere under man-made global warming. This will worsen as the world grows warmer.

  102. The evidence that this is happening is already out there in Hansen’s “Loaded Dice” paper Photonz, the variability of our resulting weather, incidence of extremes, is not only expected to increase, it is actually increasing, and while it is still early in the process it won’t be more than two decades before people are angry enough to lynch the current perpetrators of the lies that maintain inaction…. who, being by and large old white guys with ideological fixations, will probably be dead.

    By that time we’ll have locked in a hell of a lot of damage to our civilization.

  103. BJ says “Yes Photonz…. we are getting the extremes”

    We’ve always had extremes.

    BJ says “We get more than 2 good years consecutive it’ll be newsworthy.”

    With a hundreds of different weather stations around the country, measuring highs and lows in numerous different weather aspects (wind, rain per hour, rain per day, rain per month, rain per year, sun, drought, high temperature, low temperature, average temperature, average monthly temperature, high and low river levels, high and low lake levels, snowfall, etc etc) we should be getting at least few dozen all time records in many places EVERY year even if there wasn’t any climate change.

    Statistically it’s virtually impossible not to get lots of all time records every year.

    And the more things we record from more weather stations in more places, and the more we report publicly on it, the more all time records we’ll have – regardless of climate change.

  104. Rob says “We’ve yet to have the record-breaking floods ”

    So you claim to have had them, and ANOTHER record breaking drought after them, but now you are saying you haven’t had them yet.

    And the record breaking isn’t really record breaking – it’s just the worst since the last biggest droughts 30, 50, 60, and 70 years ago.

    I have no doubt that humans are having some effect on climate. But when we get exaggeration after false claim after exaggeration, and every slightly unusual event is blamed on climate change, you either have to question or blindly join the cult.

    Every time there is a flood, it’s blamed on climate change. You’re already blaming climate change for the next flood, and we haven’t even had it yet. From 1920-1983 NZ averaged 15 floods a year – FIFTEEN.

    From Encyclopedia of NZ “Floods are the most frequent and costly natural disasters in New Zealand – between 1920 and 1983, the country experienced 935 damaging floods.”

  105. Photonz seems to think that it’s just NZ. ?







    Yes Photonz…. we are getting the extremes… We get more than 2 good years consecutive it’ll be newsworthy.

  106. Photo – We’ve had a record-breaking drought in NZ very recently – by many measures. Notable in the sense that it afflicted a great proportion of the country. Up here in Northland the 2009-2010 drought was perhaps more damaging, certainly in the Far North, but it was largely confined to here and the Hawkes Bay (IIRC).

    We’ve yet to have the record-breaking floods but, due to rather straightforward physics, it is only a matter of time. An observed reduction in light-blocking sulfate pollution from China since about 2007 has probably added to this intensification of the hydrological cycle too.

    I don’t expect to convince anyone in denial of climate science, but this is a Green Party blog and many readers are therefore likely to be interested in a better explanation of the scientific basis behind claims made by climate experts.

  107. Rob Painting says “As we move from record-breaking drought….”

    But it wasn’t record breaking – there were worse droughts, 50, 60 and 70 years ago, though many reports are now just calling it the worst in 30 years.

    Rob says “….to record-breaking flood, ….”

    What record breaking flood?

    Rob says “….back to record-breaking drought again…”

    What other record breaking drought?

  108. THIS government? Climate change action? Someone has to cross their palms with silver.

    They don’t answer to any OTHER imperative. Just the money. Whose money they care not a whit. What they must do for it? They won’t even ask. They just do what the money says to do.

    I reiterate my assertion that they are not working for New Zealand, only for the money, and that makes their actions treasonous.

  109. Suffice to say that we in the Green Party are working extremely hard on this issue.

    And that is one reason why the Green Party has had my vote over the last several elections.

    While the weather continues to grow ever more extreme, the penny is going to drop for Joe and Jane Public. As we move from record-breaking drought, to record-breaking flood, back to record-breaking drought again, people will start to connect the dots.

    Of course, droughts and floods have always happened, but a warmer atmosphere makes them more powerful. The warmer atmosphere is able to transport more moisture (the Clausius-Clapeyron relation) leading to more extreme floods at times of intense moisture convergence, and more extreme droughts at times of intense moisture divergence. And we are already observing a dramatic global increase in the most intense rainfall events.

    It is already too late to prevent some tragedies from unfolding but, when you’re speeding towards a brick wall, slamming on the brakes never becomes a bad idea.

  110. Since you are calling for ‘action’ I think we should be told what action you believe should be taken, what the effect of this action is likely to be and finally what the effect of such action is likely to cost the economy. Finally, in the light of the other environmental imperatives we have to deal with how would you prioritise the proposed climate action?

    I think that we the voters should be told the answers to these question in terms of facts and numbers rather than rhetoric.

  111. Cherry on the tree, consider yourself picked.

    That is the only thing that is clear and alarming.

  112. What will it take? Easy, but it’ll be to late, and that would be the world falling apart around us all, at the point of no return. Then it would be, “Oh yeah, we should have done something to stop this years ago”

    Get a Green govt, or a strongly influenced by Green govt in is the only answer. People like Key won’t do anything unless it has dollar signs associated with it.

  113. Key is really no different to other so-called leaders around the globe. Almost all of them play down the danger and almost all of them focus on economic growth. The emissions trading scheme would not have been effective anyway, so you shouldn’t keep harping on about that being watered down. We need to guarantee reductions, and severe reductions, in emissions not hope for a paltry few percent by some far off year.

    Many trolls here will no doubt be keen to tell you that climate change isn’t happening or that we can’t do anything about it, because it is natural variability. I suspect that this is also what John Key and almost all other so-called global leaders think. Otherwise, they would be pro-active in educating the public so that effective measures can be taken irrespective of the near term economic impact. But many don’t realise that the economy is a subset of the environment, rather than the other way round.

  114. You need business leaders, farmers and financiers at that conference. They’re the people that the current government listens to.

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