Sceptics In My Neighbourhood

I wrote to various people in my neighbourhood about a Transition Towns project plan for the local Public Library.

One person wrote back to say he was already in Transition, but that he was a Climate Change sceptic (read “denier”) and he quoted all sorts of current “denier” arguments and sources.

I honestly thought about not bothering to reply at all. I’ve replied to so many Climate Change sceptics (read “deniers”) over the last couple of years. They trot out the same stuff again and again and again, never bothering to update themselves or check the real truth of the matter.

Also, all of them to a man seem to jump on the latest “argument”, so I get to hear and read the same nonsense over and over and over, even when it has a perfectly good rebuttal. It gets so, so tiring after a while. It’s like it’s a game to wear us all out.

And why are the Media contributing to this assault on science ? Surely there are rules about this ?

But, if my neighbour is genuine, he does need a reply of some sort, so I tried. And I tried to stay polite, but I’m not sure if it worked out that way. I didn’t cover all his points (some of which he got from “phone a friend” sources).

Why do I, personally, have to answer all this wearing, grinding non-science ?

Why can’t the Government step up and have a weekly public briefing on Climate Change, refuting the latest sceptical myths that transmit like viral disease ?

Why can’t Gordon Brown or John Prescott or Ed Miliband go on record with a “Climate cam” or something ?


from: jo abbess
to: Highams Park, London E4
date: Tuesday, 25 August, 2009
subject: Will the lights go out on Tesco supermarkets ?

Dear Highams Parkers,

Most of you are by now aware of the problems that Climate Change is causing worldwide, and the threats it holds for all of us :-

http://www.saferworld.org.uk/publications.php/404/climate_change_and_security_in_bangladesh

http://www.234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Home/5449220-146/Experts_warn_that_global_warming_may.csp

http://blogs.usatoday.com/sciencefair/2009/08/study-global-warming-worst-in-western-europe.html

But did you also know about Peak Energy – the world reaching a peak in production of supplies – followed by an inevitable decline ?

This is not just a theory or a fantasy. Peak Oil is admitted by Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bed9186c-8514-11de-9a64-00144feabdc0.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/warning-oil-supplies-are-running-out-fast-1766585.html

There are a variety of reasons why Energy will become more scarce and possibly much more expensive.

But it is sensible to accept that the possibilities of both scarcity and expense are real risks.

It could completely destroy the supermarket model of food delivery, such as Tesco Stores, making the food unbearably expensive.

The Transition Town movement is working to develop community resilience to both Climate Change and Peak Oil, and there is a new project in Waltham Forest :-

http://www.transitionwf.org

Each group is independently organised, but they tend to develop the same key working groups : Energy, Transport, Food, Economy and Community Engagement.

Part of the community work already going on is a series of film screenings, of which several have already been shown, for example The Age of Stupid at the Asian Centre in E17.

Hale End Library have offered community space to Transition Waltham Forest for a Climate Change project, and I would like to hear from anyone interested in working with me on two key activities that would be good to do at the Library :-

1. Film screenings

The film-screening group have all the equipment needed that can be taken everywhere by bicycle trailer. Some of the films that we want to show in the Autumn at various venues are in this list :-

The Power of Community (about Cuba’s experience of Peak Oil)
An Inconvenient Truth (the Al Gore film)
The 11th Hour (Leonardo DiCaprio narrates)
The Truth about Climate Change (David Attenborough)
Earth – The Power of the Planet (Dr Iain Stewart)
A Crude Awakening (about Peak Oil)
The End of Suburbia (about Peak Oil)
Who Killed the Electric Car ?
What Would Jesus Buy ? (about consumerism)

2. Book reading club

The Library have said that they can purchase ten copies each of these two books :-

The Transition Handbook (Rob Hopkins)
The Transition Timeline (Shaun Chamberlin)

which could form the basis of a fortnightly or monthly reading group, to get interested people involved in how to take part in a Transition Towns project.

Please do get in touch if you are at all interested in taking part or helping me organise the events.

The next film screening is intended to be at the end of September, possibly in Hale End Library, possibly in Leytonstone Library (if we can’t organise for Hale End by then).

Regards,

jo.


from: M S
to: jo abbess
date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009

Dear Jo

For your interest

I too have concerns of Peak Oil and am a member of the Transition Community but I believe that Global Warming and Cooling are just natural cycles.

This site that explains how CO2 enhanced Global Warming could come about:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_absorption

It turns out that the experiment cannot be performed in laboratories on Earth because you cannot remove the effects of conduction and radiation.

For the greenhouse effect to work you need both water vapour and CO2 in the atmosphere at the same time. Because the CO2 absorbs in the bands where H2O does not.

We have always known that nights are warmer when it is cloudy and when it is clear there are frosts.

CO2 dissolved in water sinks, so our oceans are like soda water. When they warm, the CO2 in the air increases and when they cool the reverse happens.

So the amount of CO2 in the air merely reflects the temperature of the oceans. The CO2 in the atmosphere is at its lowest for 300 million years:-

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1644060/posts

And back in 1820 it was 450ppm

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/07/25/beck-on-co2-oceans-are-the-dominant-co2-store/

It is not a difficult experiment and even I have measured it at around 400ppm there is no reason to doubt early measurements.

Misleading claim by Greenpeace:-

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http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=3893

Greenpeace Leader Admits Arctic Ice Exaggeration by Phelim McAleer & Ann McElhinney

Wednesday, August 19th 2009

The outgoing leader of Greenpeace has admitted his organisation’s recent claim that the Arctic Ice will disappear by 2030 was “a mistake.”

Greenpeace made the claim in a July 15 press release entitled “Urgent Action Needed As Arctic Ice Melts,” which said there will be an ice-free Arctic by 2030 because of global warming.

Under close questioning by BBC reporter Stephen Sackur on the “Hardtalk” program, Gerd Leipold, the retiring leader of Greenpeace, said the claim was wrong.

“I don’t think it will be melting by 2030. … That may have been a mistake,” he said…

=========================

Maybe Global Cooling is now on the cards:-

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10783

http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/601511/an-emerging-truth.thtml

On the other hand if the Oceans were given a great stir by an asteroid or earthquake then vast quantities of CO2 could be released:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-05/teia-csh051107.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limnic_eruption

So you see why I am very sceptical about CO2 enhanced Global Warming.

It is in the National Curriculum so teachers have to teach this as being true whether they believe it or not. A whole generation of kids have been frightened into thinking that the world is going to end by overheating.

Kind regards

=========================

from: R B
to: M S
date: Thursday, 20 August, 2009
subject: FW: Global B/S

Found this article in the Telegraph. Thought you might find it interesting

==========

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5955955/Weather-records-are-a-state-secret.html

Weather records are a state secret

The IPCC’s computer models have proved just as wrong in predicting global temperatures as the Met Office has been in forecasting those mild winters and heatwave summers, says Christopher Booker.

By Christopher Booker
Published: 01 Aug 2009

Everyone has enjoyed the discomfiture of the Met Office, caught out over its April forecast that we were in for a “barbecue summer” – not least because this is the third year running that our weathermen have got their predictions for both summer and winter hopelessly wrong. In 2007 and 2008 they forecast that summers would be warmer and drier, and winters milder than average – just before temperatures plunged and the heavens opened, deluging us with abnormal rain or snow according to season.

One cause of the blunders that have made the Met Office a laughing stock is less widely appreciated, however. It is that the multi-million pound computer it uses to assist its short-term forecasting for Britain is also one of the four main official sources of data used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to predict global warming. In this respect the IPCC’s computer models have proved just as wrong in predicting global temperatures as the Met Office has been in forecasting those mild winters and heatwave summers.

Back in 1990, Mrs Thatcher, temporarily under the spell of the prophets of runaway global warming, authorised lavish funding for the then-head of the Met Office, Sir John Houghton, to set up its Hadley Centre in Exeter, as a “world-class centre for research into climate change”. It was linked to the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, to create a record of global temperatures based on surface weather stations across the world, a data set known as HadCrut. Sir John himself played a key role at the top of the new IPCC as chairman of its scientific working group.

Sir John was a fervent believer in the theory that the cause of global warming is man-made CO2, and the HadCrut computer models, run by his CRU ally Professor Phil Jones, were programmed accordingly. Sir John (and the Hadley Centre) continued to play a central part in the running of the IPCC, selecting many of the contributors to its reports that were the main driver of global warming alarm. He and Prof Jones were also prominent champions of the IPCC’s notorious “hockey stick” graph, which rewrote climate history by suggesting that global temperatures had suddenly shot up in the late 20th century to easily their highest level in history.

In recent years, however, the whole theory has come under increasing fire because, as CO2 levels continue to rise, temperatures have failed to follow suit as the IPCC’s computer models predicted they should. Part of the reason why the Met Office has made such a mess of its forecasts for Britain is that they are based on the same models which failed to predict the declining trend in world temperatures since 2001…

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Dear M,

I’m sorry to hear you’re suffering from Climate Change scepticism.

It’s disappointing that you quote so many sources that I consider unsound.

Have you read the IPCC reports ?

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf

I trust this report more than I trust Melanie Phillips, The Spectator, CO2 Skeptic, Global Research, Free Republic, The Daily Telegraph (sceptics’ corner) and Watt’s Up With That.

The reasons are quite simple : those who contributed to the IPCC reports are a diverse group of the world’s experts on all the relevant areas of science. And yet despite their differences, even differences about the evidence of Climate Change, they have come to a consensus opinion which should not be ignored in my view.

It seems bizarre to me that your sources should dispute the facts laid out by the IPCC.

The Daily Telegraph piece continues with one of the more ridiculous lines of argument : weather is not the same as climate. The British climate can be said quite accurately to be “temperate”, and I think we’d all agree about what that means. However one cannot know exactly when a particular rain cloud is going to tip on London. Hence weather forecasting cannot be confused with climate predictions.

The Greenpeace issue is well documented and refuted :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/aug/21/greenpeace-sea-ice-mistake-climate-sceptics

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/greenpeace-admits-bbc-got-it-wrong-about-arctic-sea-ice-melting-20090820

To be honest, I’m more concerned about missing sea ice than whether or not someone put the word “sea” in the expression “sea ice”.

I’m sorry to say that I will not be able to cooperate with you on Transition Town work if you continue propagating Climate scepticism, which has wasted a lot of time since I learned the basic science in the 1980s.

And no, the science hasn’t been debunked since the 1980s. It’s all coming out exactly as predicted.

jo.


Dear Jo

I do not propagate “Climate scepticism” I am just giving you my view – it is not a broad posting. I suspect that CO2 levels will naturally level off in the next few years and the politicians will call their meetings a grand sucess. The CO2 in the atmosphere is at its lowest for 300 million years – that is an undisputed fact.

Regards M


Let’s come back here in a “few years” and see if M’s suspicions about a “level off” in Carbon Dioxide are justified or not ?

I’m genuinely too tired to respond, but if anyone wants to write to M, please let me know and I’ll forward your material.

5 thoughts on “Sceptics In My Neighbourhood”

  1. “why are the Media contributing to this assault on science ?”

    It’s fair and balanced reporting, that’s what it is. In 2008 the media was in favour of AGW and brutalized us daily with it’s AGW crusade, but now the media is against AGW. It’s completly fair. This year the media tells the public not to believe in AGW anymore and so the public does not Beleive. The skeptics are winning! Wahoo!

  2. Dear Jo Abbess and M.S.

    I would like to know if it’s true or not that the CO2 level in the atmosphere is “at its lowest for 300 million years”?

    Could you, if you reply, both cite the sources for your reasoning?

    In any case, even if Climate Choas is certain or not, even if the end of the world is nigh, or not, transition towns sound like a sensible positive response, to current events alone. It would be a shame if you could not work together on one, while agreeing to differ.

    Best wishes,

    T (Troughton)

  3. Hello Jo,
    We have tried to get in touch with you via your e-mail address but have failed
    We do not use skype, so how can we get in touch.
    Your Tesco item was brilliant
    Arthur Allen Vickery

  4. Firstly, it is true that levels of CO2 have declined over geological time, that bit of the graph is correct. The drop is due to plate tectonics, buried organic matter, and the trapping of greenhouse gases on the ocean floor.

    The deniers would have you believe that scientists are constantly trying to prop-up climate change theory in the face of new evidence uncovered by a plucky minority defending the truth ‘that the earth is in fact flat’.

    The reverse is the reality. Every month we remove more and more doubt, the contentious areas are clearer and the anomalies explained using peer reviewed science.

    Science has no absolute truths, theories are put forward to explain our physical discoveries, these theories are then subjected to rigorous scrutiny with fellow scientists searching for any flaws in the analysis.

    As a theory is subjected to review and alternative theories put forward it is possible for a theory to be disproved. However if a theory is unsuccessfully challenged or more supporting evidence is uncovered then the level of certainty surrounding the theory is increased.

    This is the case with climate change science, we are more certain that climate is changing as a result of CO2 today than we were yesterday. In 2007 the IPCC (a very conservative body which ignores science which for which there is no consensus) stated that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that this “is very likely” (IPCC speak for greater 90% certain) “due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations.”
    Take a guess what their level of certainty would be today?

    Back to that graph, all theories can be disproved and the theory which underlines the tempreture line in that graph is one of those disproved theories. See…..

    Scientists have found a better way of measuring the carbon in the shells of Carboniferous mini-beasts and this is what they have to say – “results indicate that tropical sea surface temperatures were significantly higher than today during the Early Silurian period (443–423 Myr ago), when carbon dioxide concentrations are thought to have been relatively high, and were broadly similar to today during the Late Carboniferous period (314–300 Myr ago), when carbon dioxide concentrations are thought to have been similar to the present-day value. Our results are consistent with the proposal that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations drive or amplify increased global temperatures”.

    Technobable – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v449/n7159/full/nature06085.html
    Translation – http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13025

  5. As I feared, no amount of scientific clarification will clarify this for me. But, from personal experience, I have observed is that the monsoon in India is faltering disastrously, and that the UK weather is getting increasingly erratic. I have read that parts of China are becoming dustbowls, and seen pictures of the icecaps melting. Transition towns are a good idea, so is turning the rainforests into protected parks.

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