Rachel recycles climate con

Richard Treadgold | June 2, 2011

The Taranaki Daily News two days ago published a polemic notable more for its rancour than its precision regarding climatic facts.

It’s a good example of one-eyed thinking, skewed views and perfectly furious ad hominem attacks — all teeth and talons and only the hissing missing.

Written by the doubtless-locally-renowned scribe Rachel Stewart, it strikes some of the sourest notes I’ve come across in the climate debate since finding Hot Topic. But her thunderous venom simply accents her foolhardy logic. She wears a filthy expression in the accompanying photo. Did someone steal her favourite cuddly toy? It would certainly explain the spleen.

With a headline recalling Gore’s thoroughly discredited film “An inconvenient truth”, you’d think the article was about global warming. But it quickly becomes clear that Miss Stewart has it in for farming itself, not just its emissions. Don’t know how she thinks we’ll eat. Or, in this country, import buses or computers.

Last refuge of the defeated

She repeats lies about Bob Carter and the alleged funding of his opinions, as though that’s all that produces his opinions, but I would like to point out some of the fraudulent assertions she repeats about global warming. I like Bob and I could listen to him all day, but he would himself agree that his personal reputation, though valuable, is meaningless beside the lies being told about climate science. They are my target.

The Taranaki Daily News article opens with:

OPINION: The only intelligent way to make sense of the very few remaining scientists vocally denying climate change is to first look closely at their political views.

This is not intelligent, because in fact the only way to make sense of what a person says is to hear what they say and analyse it. Their political views are not just irrelevant; to ignore the argument and attack the man is the last refuge of the defeated.

She only suggests this outlandish course because she is avoiding what the sceptics say. If Miss Stewart considers the facts of the climate she will notice for herself, as I have, that they provide a good reason to look more carefully at the generally accepted statements about dangerous anthropogenic global warming.

Doubts even without funding

To hear, for example, that sea levels are not rapidly rising, the polar ice caps have not disappeared, the inhabitants of Tuvalu have not been forced to evacuate ahead of rising seas and that the global average surface temperature has not increased much in the last 15 years or so is to raise automatic doubts about the conventional wisdom — even without being offered “funding” by an oil company.

We sceptics are not stupid, and we don’t “deny” anything; we just look at the evidence. Does Miss Stewart have evidence to show there’s going to be dangerous warming? We haven’t found any.

Now, who denies climate change? Climate changes all the time and reasonable people don’t deny the obvious. Just who are these scientists who are allegedly denying it? She mentions Bob Carter, but he doesn’t deny climate change, so she’s telling lies. He disagrees that humanity causes dangerous global warming, but that’s something entirely different. That’s an argument our Rachel will lose.

What is the evidence?

She alleges denial of what is not being denied, but anyone thinking properly won’t be fooled. I wonder what persuades Miss Stewart that global warming is happening now and is about to happen more intensely in the future?

What evidence does she have? Is the global average temperature rising? I can tell her it isn’t, and it hasn’t risen appreciably since about 1995. Are sea levels rising? I can tell her they are, but they are not rising dramatically and they’ve slowed down in the last few years, anyway (giving the lie to strident predictions of accelerating rise).

Is the Arctic ice cap melting, perhaps? I can tell her it melts every summer, then freezes over again in the winter, and in the last three years, there’s been more ice going into winter than in 2007, the year of the great melt. So the ice is recovering — isn’t that good news? In the Antarctic, the ice cover has been increasing for about 30 years.

dairy farmers are feeling the winds of environmental change so profoundly that they desperately need to hear that it couldn’t possibly be their industry contributing to any, er, global warming.

She makes it sound as though everyone in the whole world agrees that farmers contribute to global warming, doesn’t she? But they don’t. How do we know they don’t?

Because New Zealand is the only country that put agriculture into their Kyoto emissions profiles and we are the only country that has put farmers into the ETS to make them pay a carbon tax. Mind you, we’re the only country outside Europe WITH an ETS. Everyone else is far too sensible.

Tractors up the Eiffel Tower

Imagine the ruckus if you told the French farmers their emissions would incur an extra carbon tax! They’d be driving their tractors up the Eiffel Tower quicker than you could say “Champs-Élysées.” Or do I have that back to front?

Anyway, what makes her think that farm animals create carbon dioxide? That’s the only way they could contribute to global warming. But plants eat carbon dioxide, animals eat the plants and the carbon dioxide from the plants gets breathed out until the animal dies. That’s been the natural cycle for a billion years! In and out, in and out, nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about.

Miss Stewart just doesn’t seem to know very much about the global warming debate, and presents a shambling attack on farming leaders which is pretty hard to follow. I mean swallow.

Weather is doing something

The only delusional man in the “bring the farmers into the ETS two years early” announcement by Labour was Phil Goff! In a stroke, he guaranteed that no sane farmer will vote Labour. Good one, Phil!

Miss Stewart hits us with the dramatic news that “the weather is obviously doing something out there.” I’m completely underwhelmed. That beats everything. I’m flabbergasted. The weather’s doing something. Amazing. And we should be concerned about that because …?

When Miss Stewart conflates climate change with dirty dairying she reveals her blatant anti-farming agenda. Can she tell the difference between clean, green carbon dioxide, the invisible, odourless, airborne plant food, and animal effluent that poisons waterways with an excess of nutrients?

Obviously not, or she would understand that they are completely different substances and need to be managed with completely different strategies. You just cannot refer to them both with the blanket designation “pollution”. She’s obviously doing her best to criticise farmers for “ordinary” polluting and encourage them (in her own self-defeating way) to adopt better environmental practices, but she conflates that with the non-polluting emissions of carbon dioxide and ends up giving a most motley message. For example:

Of all sectors farmers have the most to lose by denying climate change.

What does that mean? They certainly have a lot to lose by agreeing to the ETS. MAF estimates the impact of the ETS on an average dairy farm will be over $3300 per year. I’d bet it will be well over that.

We all lose when global warming is being “fought” with our money. Everything that uses energy in its production or distribution goes up in price. That’s most things — all right, it’s everything.

And what do we get for our money? Nothing at all. And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes the cost-benefit result of our ETS very expensive.

Nick Smith, Minister of Climate Change Issues, agrees we won’t affect global warming because New Zealand’s emissions are only about 0.1% of total emissions.

Ah well, at least the facts aren’t slowin’ ol’ Rachel down!

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