Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Monty Python Climate Change Phrasebook?

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set up a blog, with the first topic for discussion climate change. One Malcolm has taken up the opportunity to post copious volumes of alleged “facts” that purport to show that the PM has failed to exercise “due diligence”. The blog bizarrely prevents posting of internet links of any sort making it hard to point directly at factual content to debunk this stuff.

I am guessing here at the specific book “Malcolm” has used as source material but I won't name it since he doesn't (he mentions the author's name, Plimer, but I don't have the book I’m thinking of in front of me so I will take it as Malcolm’s contribution; if anyone has the Plimer book, feel free to comment on the “Malcolm” interpretation).

This whole thing reminds me of the Monty Python Hungarian Phrasebook sketch, in which pranksters have published a phrasebook rendering commonly-used tourist questions from the original Hungarian into inappropriate English (e.g., “Can you direct me to the railway station?” in Hungarian is translated to “Please fondle my buttocks.”).

Let’s look at some of “Malcolm’s” quotes from his phrasebook (approximate page numbers from the PM’s blog; they shift around as responses go up):

  • [p 85] The warmest year in modern times was 1934. The next three warmest were 1931, 1938 and 1939. All before humanity’s latest industrialisation with higher CO2 production. Other warm years: 1998, 1921, 2006, 1999 and 1953. Uh, no. The Hadley data set HadCRUT3 shows that 1998 was 0.7° warmer than 1934. The source of “Malcolm’s” error is NASA’s correction of their US data set, that has been misrepresented around the blogosphere as a significant change in worldwide trends. No data set that anyone takes seriously does not show significant warming over the twentieth century.
  • [p 81] Other likely climate drivers in the solar system include variations in: solar system centre-of-gravity; sun’s centre of gravity; Earth's orbit and distance from sun; Earth’s axis tilt and precession; moon’s orbit; sun spot cycles and solar irradiance or energy output; ...........
    The IPCC’s mandate prevents considering these and other natural climate drivers. Why? The IPCC is not a scientific organisation, it’s political.
    Rubbish. Read the IPCC's report Understanding and Attributing Climate Change, easily found by searching for attribution of climate change, and you will find this claim is completely false.
  • [p 89] Krakatoa’s 1883 volcanic explosion dwarfs humanity’s CO2. Nature rapidly absorbed Krakatoa’s sudden, huge CO2 into oceans and biomass, quickly rebalancing Earth’s atmosphere. False. Krakatau in 1883 is estimated to have produced 9.1x1011 moles of CO2. One mole of CO2 is 44g so this amount of CO2 is about 40-million tonnes. The latest figure I can find for total human carbon emissions is 8,230-million tonnes of carbon in 2006, or about 29-billion tonnes of CO2. So in one year, total anthropogenic CO2 emissions are more than 700 times the amount Krakatau vented in 1883.

That’s all I have time for. Be assured, there is a lot more where these came from.


Anonymous said...

Greetings, Philip.
It was an active discussion on the PM's blog.

True, the limitations of the particular blog protocol (e.g., no links) made references difficult, but the limitations did have the effect of requiring postings to actually be written communications summarized and stated by the contributors.

I thought the conversation was by and large civil and above all illustrative of both misconceptions and also honest differences in analysis and interpretations of data and climate drivers.

I appreciate your intellectual engagement on the subject, but I would urge you to resist the tendency to classify too quickly as 'rubbish' attempts to offer interpretations and comments which are critical of what you refer to as 'mainstream science'. I can say in all fairness that is also a suggestion which those who disagree with some of the conclusions of the 'consensus' should practice as well, and I will do my best to do the same.

In any event, and owing to your main background in computing, I would look forward to future discussions of the modeling topic in particular, as I have interests and expertise in both parallel processing and large-scale, compute-intensive modeling of dynamic systems.

Having said that, Monty Python bits are always good for a laugh, and we can always use more of that.



Anonymous said...

p.s., the link at your former page on the site for the 'alleged comprehensive solution' to video on demand is broken (not found at Syracuse). Would you by any chance have a fresh link or, if not, a copy of the document ?

Thanks much,


Philip Machanick said...

JeffB, my frustration with contributions like that of Plimer is that he has the background and knowledge to mount a genuine challenge, which is what any branch of science needs to test its theories and findings. That he has published a book riddled with errors that puts people using it as a source into the position of making fools of themselves is inexcusable. I like to be right, but accept that I can make mistakes, which is why I am pleased to live in a democracy. If you page through this blog you will see there have generally been robust but on the whole friendly discussions (with minor exceptions mostly from anonymous contributors, which I do not delete even if I take them less seriously than those who have some sort of name).

As for discussions on modelling, I'm not sure if we can go to far on something like the PM's blog because it would lose most readers. Feel free to discuss issues as relevant here.

Philip Machanick said...

The video on demand thing was part of a project that didn't get too far (I moved on to other things) but you can pick up the basic ideas at (unfortunately I no longer have login access to that site so I can't fix bad links).

Ian MacDougall said...

I have not been to the PM's blog, but I have read Plimer's book 'Heaven + Earth' (H+E) and reviewed it at my site NOAH'S RAINBOW SERPENT. There is much argument in it relating to data re atmospheric warming, and Plimer understandably attacks the reliability of any data which does not agree with his case.

But as James Lovelock has pointed out, the best guide to global heat content is sea level, which is steadily rising according to the U. of Colorado data.