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Here’s a round-up of some of the published opinion regarding the new Superfreakonomics book (since the last time I weblogged about it) [ UPDATE : adding a few more links at the end. ] :-

“An open letter to Steve Levitt : raypierre @ 29 October 2009 : Dear Mr. Levitt, The problem of global warming is so big that solving it will require creative thinking from many disciplines. Economists have much to contribute to this effort, particularly with regard to the question of how various means of putting a price on carbon emissions may alter human behavior. Some of the lines of thinking in your first book, Freakonomics, could well have had a bearing on this issue, if brought to bear on the carbon emissions problem. I have very much enjoyed and benefited from the growing collaborations between Geosciences and the Economics department here at the University of Chicago, and had hoped someday to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance. It is more in disappointment than anger that I am writing to you now.”

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Friends First, Science Second

I must say, the Daily Telegraph gets top marks for loyalty.

On the occasion of the publication of a book based on Global Warming myths and mendacities, by Christopher Booker, the author himself gets a huge chunk of online column to promote himself, his views and his opus, without the shred of a question about a possible conflict of interest :-

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Clive James’ Lighthearted Ignorance

So Climate Change scepticism is not only a legitimate position to hold, it’s a bag of laughs, a jolly jape, a wheeze and a pile of fun. Well, that’s according to Clive James writing on the BBC Online :-

“Friday, 23 October 2009 : In praise of scepticism : Claims over global warming are not accepted by all : A POINT OF VIEW : In a light-hearted essay, Clive James takes a look at Montaigne, golf-ball crisps and our attitude towards climate change sceptics…”

Yes, it’s all erudite : in terms of philosophy it’s even quite appropriate to apply scepticism to various branches of science…I’m thinking social sciences…But not to Climate Change Science.

Empirical science, as you all know by now, is the study of things natural, taking measurements, postulating mechanisms and predicting the results of further observations, against which the theory is evaluated.

From this piece from Mr laugh-a-minute James, I would posit a theory : that Clive writes poorly-informed opinion pieces about Science.

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Superfreakonomics Flunks Climate Science

Now even friends break ranks with Levitt and Dubner over their new tome Superfreakonomics – a clear throw-back to the 1980s.

Is it time to ask for a reprint with all the errors corrected ?

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) — Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner are so good at tweaking conventional wisdom that their first book, “Freakonomics,” sold 4 million copies. So when Dubner, an old friend, told me their new book would take on climate change, I was rooting for a breakthrough idea.

No such luck. In “SuperFreakonomics,” their brave new climate thinking turns out to be the same pile of misinformation the skeptic crowd has been peddling for years.

“Obviously, provocation is not last on the list of things we’re trying to do,” Dubner told me the other day. This time, the urge to provoke has driven him and Levitt off the rails and into a contrarian ditch.

…Having downplayed the problem, they try to solve it with a set of silver-bullet technologies known as geoengineering. One would shoot millions of tons of sulfur dioxide 18 miles into the air to artificially cool the planet. This could work; it also could have dire unintended consequences.

Caldeira, who is researching the idea, argues that it can succeed only if we first reduce emissions. Otherwise, he says, geoengineering can’t begin to cope with the collateral damage, such as acidic oceans killing off shellfish.

Levitt and Dubner ignore his view and champion his work as a permanent substitute for emissions cuts. When I told Dubner that Caldeira doesn’t believe geoengineering can work without cutting emissions, he was baffled. “I don’t understand how that could be,” he said. In other words, the Freakonomics guys just flunked climate science.”

“It all started with climate activist Joe Romm accusing the authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner of global warming denial and misrepresenting the research of a key climate scientist. They pushed back, and fellow New York Times blogger and celebrated columnist Paul Krugman jumped in the fray…”

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Superfreakonomics – Ooh Baby !

“The headlines have been harrowing to say the least. “Some experts believe that mankind is on the threshold of a new pattern of adverse global climate for which it is ill-prepared.” one New York Times article declared. It quoted climate researchers who argued that “this climate change poses a threat to the people of the world.” A Newsweek article, citing a National Academy of Sciences report, warned that climate change “would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale.” Worse yet, “climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change or even to allay its effects.” Who in his or her right mind wouldn’t be scared of global warming ? But that’s not what these scientists were talking about. These articles, published in the mid-1970s, were predicting the effects of global cooling…”

And so, in just a few short paragraphs from Chapter 5, in the new Superfreakonomics book from the Freakonomicsts Levitt and Dubner, the authors show they’ve been taken in by a Climate Change sceptic Trojan horse.

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Horrible Headlines

Last year I complained to Roger Harrabin of the BBC by electronic mail regarding what I considered to be an unhelpful headline to an online article concerned with Global Warming. I also criticised the way that part of the article was written, as it had the potential to be misinterpreted.

Some of the people who read this web log who are in personal communication with me will know what happened next, but I’m not going to go over it again at this juncture, suffice it to say that a person or persons unknown reported the electronic mail exchange to a group of people who self-style as “Climate Change sceptics”, after which I found myself curiously infamous, and found it best to lie low for a while.

Even after this furore, why do we continue to see horrible headlines ?

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The Hudson Tunnel

The computer equipment you are at this moment using relies on an effect known as “quantum tunneling”, delivering an energy payload across a seemingly inpenetrable medium.

It is, if you like, a subversion of the apparent macro-scale laws of the universe. Nothing is quite what you think it is.

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Patrick Michaels : The Skeptical Propagandista

***************** College, University of ****************
MSc ******************************* programme
Year : 1 : Course Module : Climate Change

Reading Task : 6th October 2009

Read : Michaels, P.J. (2009) : “Global Warming and Climate Change”.

In : Cato Handbook for Policymakers (ed. D. Boaz, 7th edition). Cato Institute, p. 475-485.

Available from :-

1) How does he explain the observed periods of warming in the IPCC record?

Michaels states : “human activity has been a contributor since 1975.”

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Praise & Criticism

After a week of parry and counter-riposte, it is time to shout “en garde” to the editors at the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

In a peaceful way. Without swords.

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Good Faith Can Move Mountains

Image Credit : Icecap

The British Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband has admitted at the Labour Party Conference that there are low commitment levels to dealing with the causes of Global Warming :-

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James Delingpole Is Most Definitely Misguided

My attention has been turned, once more, to the writing of James Delingpole this week.

This article, in my view, contains a number of pieces of misleading information, which in my view should be re-framed into their proper context by the author.

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Jennifer Marohasy : Muddying the Water

Jennifer Marohasy is muddying the water again in Australia, with a piece entitled “Why I am an Anthropogenic Global Warming Sceptic (Part 3)”.

She quotes a disputed work by one, Lawrence Solomon, called “The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud”.

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Climate Science for Beginners


Each year the Climate Camp run a wide-ranging agenda of workshops, with subjects from Climate Change Policy to how to build efficient camping “rocket” camping stoves.

Here follows the text and graphics from this year’s “Climate 101” workshop. Do follow up the sources and check when you encounter the myths and ask yourselves why they are still being propagated.

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Climate Denialism for Beginners

I thought the issue was settled by now, but oh no. People are still denying that Climate Change is a problem.

Whatever Climate Change event you go to these days, the organisers will still feel obliged to run a session on Climate Change Science, explaining why there is actually a very real and already present problem, and why the sceptics are mistaken. And why some of them are paid to lie.

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Bjørn Lomborg : Climate Joker

In his own, special, blond, way, I feel Bjørn Lomborg is as dangerous as Martin Durkin. They both act like incarnations of The Climate Joker in my view, showing different capricious sides to the destructive force of mankind’s inhumanity to man (and beast and tree).

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Wind Turbines Give You Apoplexy

Reactions to the article “Wind Turbines Give You Spots” is encouraging, if contentious. Looks like we’ve mined a thick vein of dispute. Could a simple, happy, smiley Public Relations campaign to promote Wind Power counter this ? I think not !

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Wind Turbines Give You Spots

I don’t know whether to laugh or shed tears in comic agony at this, which looks like the latest in a very long line of environmental “hoaxes”.

A person allegedly a paediatrician from New York claims to have diagnosed a new disorder, with a wide range of symptoms, relating to Wind Turbines.

Provisionally named “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, this “visceral vibratory vestibular disturbance” can be detected in folks unlucky enough to be living within the spinning shadow of new wind farms.