May 22, 2008 | Graham

A Schneid look at Aitkin

Robyn Williams carried on his campaign to politicise ABC science last Sunday by broadcasting a response to Don Aitken’s Ockham’s Razor piece from Professor Stephen Schneider. He has never felt the need before to broadcast rebuttals of global warming enthusiasts.
One thing in Schneider’s talk caught my eye:

“We’ve seen intensification of hurricanes and the destruction of New Orleans, the latter of which is not specifically due to global warming, but rather due to insufficient levees.”

If it wasn’t due to global warming, why is it in there? And why does he so confidently assert that the strength of hurricanes is going to get very much stronger when so many studies show little anticipated change?
The whole piece is full of straw arguments and misstatements like this. Like John Quiggin, he even throws in a reference to “tobacco lobbyists”. (Talking of Quiggin, some of his brown-shirt friends have been visiting earlier threads on this blog).
Schneider also dwells heavily on the “consensus”. Bad luck for him that the Global Warming Petition Project has gathered 31,072 signatures on a petition that says in part “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” To sign the petition you have to have a science degree at least, and live in the USA.
The petition also attaches a peer reviewed article by Robinson, Robinson and Soon. It takes a different approach to the science in that it looks at trends over 100 or so years and their relationship to emissions of CO2, the argument being generally that trends were well established before significant emissions of CO2, and show no change after, or that they are well within natural variability. Well worth a look.
It’s a pity that science is being argued on the basis of popular support, but that does demonstrate the silliness of the proposition in the first place. And before anyone does an “Ah ha”, yes I know that the article was peer reviewed in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons which is not a generally acknowledged source of climate science. They would have been better not to do that, but it doesn’t invalidate any of the arguments that they put.
BTW, Robyns did let one heretic slip through in In Conversation, a sister program to Ockham’s Razor. Chris Turney lets slip that the Little Ice Age probably wasn’t limited to the Northern Hemisphere and that we don’t have enough proxy data to know about the Medieval Warm period in the Southern Hemisphere. Both of these observations were effectively denied by the Hockey Stick graph. If you argued it couldn’t be right because it didn’t show these events as significant, you were told that it was because they were localised. Overall Turney is a global warming alarmist, but it’s well worth a read.

Posted by Graham at 9:15 am | Comments (5) |
Filed under: Environment


  1. Graham, I think the evidence is clear enough that we are altering the climate. In any case, we’re running out of oil, so we must move to a low carbon economy anyway.
    Besides that, we have too many people and too much pollution, also urgent problems that are entwined with global warming.

    Comment by ronda jambe — May 22, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

  2. Yes, one of the things that Don Aitkin said – running out of oil is a bigger problem than burning it. And you might have noticed that if you want to read about peak oil in Australia, OLO is about the only place you can.
    Schneider ignores most of what Aitkin says and puts words into his mouth to boot.

    Comment by Graham Young — May 22, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

  3. “If it wasn’t due to global warming, why is it in there?”
    Man, you must have the education of a year 3 student. The quote says the “latter of which is not specifically due to global warming”.
    Now Graham sit up and pay attention and stop playing with Jen. Now what in the following sentence is the “latter”:
    “We’ve seen intensification of hurricanes and the destruction of New Orleans”
    Is it
    a) “intensification of hurricanes”
    b) “destruction of New Orleans”
    c) None of the above because both of them don’t exist or if they do I’m not responsible.

    Comment by Patrick B — May 23, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

  4. Patrick, it’s relevant only if the damage is due to global warming. Katrina was not especially severe, it did the damage because it was a direct hit. So he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too by invoking Katrina and then crossing his fingers by pointing out it had nothing to do with global warming.
    I see you’re using John Quiggin’s technique of trying to divert attention from a serious issue by starting a skirmish on a non-existent one. The big issue here is why he is distorting and exaggerating the projections. If you’re going to rely on projections, then at least represent them correctly.
    The historical record suggests that the projections may be wrong anyway, because proxy data from the 18th Century say colder seas, but more cyclones

    Comment by Graham Young — May 23, 2008 @ 1:00 pm

  5. […] A Schneid look at Aitkin […]

    Pingback by Paedophilia, climate science and the ABC « Ambit Gambit — November 24, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

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