Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Usual suspects, usual tricks

Climate change denier Bob Carter was recently in New Zealand to give a lecture [pdf] on climate change some pseudo-scientific cant even I can poke holes in (1).

One of the point he promised to delve into is that the Earth's temperature has not increased since 1998. That immediately confirms his credientials as a denier (2).

Further points of interest: the lecture was supported by the 'The Employers and Manufacturers Association and the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition,' which pretty much tells you where the 'elite' of the business community are at whith regards climate change. What was it I said a while back, when the Business Round Table released their misleading study intot he impact of the governemnt's policies on climate change? Oh yes:
the Business Roundtable consists entirely of very old rich men (even the ones who might be young, and/or female) and so they don't give a damn about saving the planet. In fact, they probably want to destroy it out of vicious spiute, the same bitterness that drives all capitalists, and stems from the time when some kid snatched their toy away in kindergarten and they vowed that they would not rest until they owned all the toys in the world. (3)
You get my point, right?

Fact is, the business community - okay, some parts of the business community - will be continuing their deliberate obfuscation. Why should they stop, after all? It isn't as if there is any new science that will convince those who are ignoring what is currently available.

The other interesting thing is that those interested in attending Mr Carter's talk were advised to contact Brian Leyland. Mr Leyland was the gentleman who penned an article some time ago that has been quoted as an exemplar of Lurgee's Paradigm in action (4).

Which tells us one cheering thing - that the climate change denier camp in New Zealand is small. They make a big noise - because they have wealth - but their numbers are very few. Even so, they don't even have enough credible, science based arguments to go around. Hence the continual regurgitation of the same old nonsense.

[Hat tip: No Right Turn (5)]

1 - 'Climate Change: a Review of the Evidence,' invitation to a lecture by Bob Carter, delivered on the 18th of April, 2008 at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron at Westhaven. (
2 - The claim that the Earth's temperature was the first example of Lurgee's Paradigm outlined. So it is fitting and righteous that Carter should prove my hard work worthwhile. The fatal flaw in the argument was described previously on lefthandpalm:
3 - The report in question is critiqued on lefthandpalm: and
4 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: The article has been cited in both the first two demonstrations of Lurgee's Paradigm: and P.S. quoting yourself is okay. Karl Marx does it in the opening line sof Capital.
5 - 'Hilarious,' posted by Idiot/Savant on No Right Turn blog, 23rd of April, 2008. (

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Some how, we made Ahmadinejad look good - again

When the Iranians seized fifteen British sailors in March last year, there was a tremendous fuss about the lack of resistance and the diplomatic approach taken to resolving the crisis.

There was no question, however, about the justice of the British case - the sailors had been in Iraqi waters. The Iranians were lying when they claimed otherwise. In fact, it turns out that it was the British government that was being economical with the truth:

Ministry of Defence papers showing that the Britons were seized in disputed waters, not Iraqi territory.

The MoD also rejected an application under the Freedom of Information Act to provide details of the location.

Mr Browne has told the Commons repeatedly that the patrolling Britons, who were held for a fortnight and paraded on Iranian television, were seized boarding a vessel in “Iraqi waters”. (1)

Not so simple, as it turns out. I has been admitted that, in fact, the sailors had strayed out of Iraqi waters and were in a disputed area. Worse, the US/COalition forces hadn't bothered to tell the Iranians where they'd drawn the line on the water to demrcate Iraq waters:
An internal MoD paper released to The Times blames the incident on the lack of an agreed border in the waters between Iraq and Iran.

The seizure occurred, the top-level document states, because the US-led coalition created a notional sea boundary but omitted to tell the Iranians where it was. Revolutionary Guard patrol boats were crossing this line three times a week, the partially censored document shows. (2)
'Cheating Arab' is a colloquial term in Britain for someone who is not trustworthy. Perhaps a term like 'Lying Brit' is gaining currency in Tehran. It would be justified.

The failure of the coalition to establish the border with the Iranians is beyond belief. It is so klutzish an oversight, particularly in light of the frequent violations of the boundary, that you have to wonder if the failure to tell the Iranians about the boundary was deliberate. This would allow a steady stream of stories about Iranian incursions to suggest the Iranians were being provokative, and if an incident like the one in March last year was not desired by the Powers That Be as a causus belli.
1 - 'Des Browne ‘misled MPs over seizure of British sailors in the Gulf’,' by Dominic Kennedy in The Times, 18th of April, 2008. (
2 - ibid.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

So much left to do

Reading the Wikipedia biography of British Labour party leader Keir Hardie (1), I noticed this snippet, relating to his election to the Commons in 1892:

In Parliament he advocated a graduated income tax, free schooling, pensions, the abolition of the House of Lords and the women's right to vote. (2)
The astonishing thing about this programme is that so much of it has still not been accomplished, or the achievemnts of the intervening years are under attack. Consider:

  • NuLabour are gleeefully undoing the graduated income tax. Gordon Brown's suicidal decision to scrap the 10p tax rate increased the tax burden for those earning least- the treasury calculating "childless single people earning under £18,500 will lose up to £232 a year" (3). It seems Brown's successor at Number 11, Alaistair Darling, has admitted this (4). While he can't undo Brown's blunder, he is pledging "to do as much as we can to help people on low incomes... and I intend in future Budgets to return to this subject" (5). But that a Labour chancellor increased the tax burden of the lowest earners challenges comprehension.
  • There is still too much wealth-based privilege in the schooling system. Yup, you can get it free of charge. But the 100+ years that have passed since Keir Hardie was elected haven't eradicated the fundamental inequality of opportunity in the British educatiuon system. Money still distorts opportunity.
  • Pensions are miserly. Whiole I don't buy into the Tory lies machine that spews out nonsense about Brown raiding pension funds (6), pensions are still rubbish. The promised restoration (7) of the link between pensions and earnings has not materialised, and has been pushed back to 2012. Given Brown's opposition to it (8) it is unlikely to ever happen, whether or not he wins the next election (the Tories certainly won't do it). A labour chancellor continuing a viciously unjust Tory policy(9)? Who would have thought it?
  • The House of Lords is STILL with us. Unbelieveably, Britain is still ruled in part by a cabal of hereditary peers, bishops and allsorted appointed grandees and donors. It's dazzling that this absurdity has continued to survive into an era when we can send men to the moon and dinky little robots to Mars. Utterly, staggeringly bizzare.
  • While women might have the right to vote, because we still labour (pun intention) under the archaic first-past-the-post system, they might as well not have bothered. Unless you are tribally devoted to the Tories or Labour, voting in Britain isn't really a very relevant experience.

So Keir Hardie probably wouldn't be very impressed to see how little has been accomplished in the century-and-a-bit since he first entered the commons. Yes, lots of good stuff has been done. But reviewing what he hoped for shows how utterly, horribly screwed up and dreadful Britain still is.

Still, Hardie's programme, as radical now as it was in the 1890s (unfortunately), might provide Gordo with a way back from electoral oblivion, if he wasn't such a feeble Tory-lite scum licker and disgusting whore to international capitalism. Even dusting off Labour's 1997 manifesto and seeing the number of policies that still haven't been carried through would be a start.

1 - Biography of Keir Hardie, on Wikipedia, as of 20th April 2008. (
2 - 'The Scottish Labour Party, MP for West Ham and the ILP,' from the biography of Keir Hardie on Wikipedia, as of 20th of April, 2008. ( 3 - 'Chancellor hints at 10p tax help,' unattributed BBC article, 20th of April, 2008. (
4 - ibid.
5 - ibid.
6 - 'Davis in pledge to end £5bn pension 'scandal',' by George Jones and Ian Cowie in The Telegraph, 29th of October, 2005. ( A typical example.
7 - 'Turner accepts delay in restoring pension-earnings link,' by Will Woodward and Phillip Inman in The Guardian, 13th of May 2006. (
8 - ibid.
9 - ibid.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Lurgee's paradigm: "AGW can't account for previous variations."

Of all the bollocks spouted by climate change deniers, this is a favourite. It goes something like this:
It cannot explain why, before the days of man-made CO2, the world was
warmer during the Middle Ages, Roman and Minoan warm periods. (1)
Commonly, this sort of argument will be followed with a quip along the lines of "Dinosaurs / Romans / Medieval kings didn't drive 4x4s and fly about in Lear Jets." But the answer is very, very obvious. The science that underpins anthropogenic global warming does not attempt to explain previous variations.

Put simply, there is lots of stuff that can change climate. On the macro scale, the biggest influence on the climate is the sun. Variations in the Earth's orbit around Sol are responsible for kick starting ice ages, and for ending them. On a less dramatic scale, solar activity influences climate. So do weather patterns such as el Nino and la Nina. And human activity, resulting in the release iof CO2 into the atmosphere and forcing warming, also contributes.

The coincidence of significant solar activity, el Nino weather patterns and anthropogenic global warming lead to a searing month in 1998. The switch to a cooler la Nina pattern, and reduction in solar activity, means subsequent years haven't been quite as hot. But as they haven't been significantly cooler, the contribution of anthropogenic warming to the sum is obviously considerable.

But, as deniers love to point out, those dinosaurs / Romans / Medieval kings didn't drive 4x4s and fly Lear Jets. So how come warming. Answer simple - all the other stuff that makes up our climate was going on. Sometimes it got hot, sometimes it got cold. But now it is getting hotter and hotter, in a manner that is not consistent with natural climate variation - the stuff that should be heating or cooling the planet is being overshadowed by something else, which is complementing the natural warming tendencies, and countering the natural cooling tendencies (2). There is no reasonable mechanism that explains current warming, other than anthropogenic activity putting more CO2 into the atmosphere.

So the theory that accounts for current warming (and no, not all of it - just the significant part that can't be attributed to natural causes) doesn't account for previous variations. It doesn't try to. It would be outlandish if it did. It's even more outlandish that deniers pu up that sort of arguement and expect it to be taken seriously.
1 - 'Powering our future or wrecking the economy?,' by Brian Leyland in the NZ Herald, 7th of January, 2008. (
2 - As described previously on lefthandpalm:

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Feed the world

The perfect storm of climate change, peak oil and the natural desire of those in the developing world to imitate a western lifestyle is coming to a head.

According to The Independent, rising food prices have provoked unrest around the world, as the poorest people in developing countries suddenly find themselves, once again, unable to get enough to eat:
This week crowds of hungry demonstrators in Haiti stormed the presidential palace in the capital, Port-au-Prince, in protests over food prices. And a crisis gripped the Philippines as massive queues formed to buy rice from government stocks.

There have been riots in Niger, Senegal, Cameroon and Burkina Faso and protests in Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Morocco. Mexico has had "tortilla riots" and, in Yemen, children have marched to draw attention to their hunger. (1)
The cause isn't that there isn't enough food - there is always enough food - but, inevitably, that there isn't enough food in the right places. Instead of giving food to hungry people to eat, we are giving it to cows and hickens so that rich people can eat meat instead of grain. As the independent poitns out, it takes 8 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of beef (2). In the developed world, we've been squandering food like this for decades, but the practice has now spread to the developing word, where the rich are aligning their tastes with western norms, and eating more meat:
Diets are changing radically in nations such as China, India, Brazil and Russia, here economic growth has boosted meat consumption. In China, it is up by 150 per cent since 1980. In India, it has risen by 40 per cent in the past 15 years. The demand for meat from across all developing countries has doubled since 1980. (3)
This has a parralel in the devloped world, where food crops are now being used for bio-fuels as well as cattle fodder - food being used for almost anything except eating, infact. This further drives up the price. It is very nice that rich westerners can tell themselves their doing their bit for the environment by running their car on a bio-fuel mix (though Heaven forbid they do something more effective like stop using it so much!), but not so nice that this is making it impossible for the poorest and most vulnerable to eat. Still, they're only little brown people and far away. Hortense and Tarquin don't need to trouble themselves over that. By filling up the 4x4 with bio-fuel, they are doing their bit, I'm sure.

Climate change factors in again, as it makes it more difficult to grow crops, as droughts, floods and other climactic ills destroy crops and arable land:
Floods in central China this year displaced millions of people and devastated rice and corn crops. Overall China's grain harvest has fallen by 10 per cent over the past seven years. Last year, Australia experienced its worst drought for more than a century, causing the wheat harvest to fall by 60 per cent. The UK wheat harvest is expected to be 10 per cent down this year, partly because of the flooding.

Worldwide, an area of fertile soil the size of Ukraine is lost every year because of drought, deforestation and climate instability. (4)
On top of that, rising fuel costs make it more exensive to move food about, so even when there is food available for those that need it, it is harder to get it from where it is to where it is needed. Again, this is a result of the developed world's oil habit - we've created a world which is almost totally dependant on a transport system that is becoming impossible to run.

None of this is anything new or supsrising, of course. The wealthy and the powerful have always expropriated more than their fair share from the mouths of the weaker and powerless. When Marx was writing Capital, 150 odd years ago, he considered reports of the near starvation of workers receiving barely enough sustainance to keep them alive (5). Now, of course, in the developed world, things have got somewhat better. But the tragedy is that it isn't the result of a genuinally socialistic amelioration of poverty and want, but a displacement - the old injustice has been out sourced , like so much else, to the'developing world,' where cheap goods are manufactured by workers with no rights and living on wages that would have the worst Victorian factory owners feel queasy, so that people in the 'developed world' can delude themselves that they are living in a comfortable, wealthy society. The poorest of western proles can enjoy a Big Mac, without having to think about the people being forced closer to starvation by our addiction to luxury. In the west, we're all part of the aristocracy of labour.
1 - 'The other global crisis: rush to biofuels is driving up price of food,' by Paul Vallely in The Idependent, 12th of April, 2008.
2 - ibid.
3 - ibid.
4 - ibid.
5 - In Capital, by Karl Marx, published in english in 1887. In chapter 25, 'The General Law of capitalist Accumulation,' in the subsection, 'Illustrations of the General Law of Capitalist Accumulation,' he comments on the finding of various reports into the plight of 'The Badly Paid Strat of the British Industrial Class.' Courtesy of

Evil old bastard refuses to quit

Two weeks after the elections in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe is refusing to admit he has been ousted by the people he has lied to, mislead and impoverished for years.

Rather than try to exit with a pretence of grace and legitimacy, the evil little toad seems set to tough it out and impose his will on the country, yet again (1). Political gatherings have been banned, while Zanu-PF thugs have been staging political gatherings (!) in rural areas to intimidate people into supporting Mugabe in a possible presidential run-off. Occupation of white owned farms have resumed since the election, as Mugabe desperately tries to shift the blame for the country's ruin onto other shoulders (2).

It's a hideous situation for the people of Zimbabwe. It looks like the only way to remove Mugabe and his cronies will be through a popular rising, but given the power and ruthlessness of the Zanu-PF regime, the likely bloodshed resulting from this would be terrible.

Mugabe is an evil old man. An ideal world would see him tried for the manyevil things done by his regime. That will probably not happen, however, because of the miserable, fucked-up world we live in, where monsters rarely meet justice. I'd sooner see him jet off into luxurious exile than see the blood of Zimbabweans spilled in ousting him - haven't they sufferred enough? But the evil old man may not give them any choice. Mugabe has been a vile, debased little cretin all his life, and has worked against the interests of Zimababwe with almost every word and action. It would only be in character for him to make the extinction of his ugly regime as painful and bloody as he can.
1 - 'Intimidation mounts in Zimbabwe as police ban rallies,' by an
anonymous special correspondent in Bulawayo, published in The Independent, 12th
of April, 2008. (
2 - ibid.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Lurgee's Paradigm: "The planet isn't warming!"

This is an argument typically put forwards by deniers undermine the credibility of anthropogenic global warming. It is fair to say that any source making this claim can be dismissed as denier propoganda, rather than sceptical. The reason being that of all the claims made by so-called sceptics, this is the easiest to discredit. Anyone advancing the claim that the planet isn't warming has either failed to do even the minimum of research, or is deliberately trying to confuse and mislead.

Here are two examples, typical of how the claim is made:
  • In The New Zealand Herald, Ian Leyland stated "The surface temperature record used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the world has not warmed since 1998." (1)
  • In The Australian, Martin Durkin, director of the shoddy anti-AGW 'documentary' The Global Warming Swindle, claimed claimed that, "To the utter dismay of the global warming lobby, the world does not appearto be getting warmer. According to their own figures ... the temperature has been static or slightly declining since 1998." (2)

In absolute pedantic terms, this is true. The high of 1998 has not been exceeded. It is also, however, irrelevant, as year-on-year temperatures are not critical - the overall trend is.

What the climate change deniers are doing is fixing on on data point - irrelevant in itself - and using it to draw our attention away from everything else that is going on which runs contrary to their claims. It's basically no different to looking out the window and deciding global warming can't be happening because it it is a bit colder today than it was yesterday. What is realy important in that example is how today and yesterday compared the same days in previous years and decades - the long term trend.

A more accurate picture is gained by looking at the five year rolling average temperature (3), which irons out the vagaries of individual years (which may have been unusually hot for all manner of reasons - there is more at work that human CO2 emmissions) and shows the real trend quite clearly:

This is a more accurate picture of what the global temperature is actually doing. Of course there will be years that are hotter than others. Climate is a complicated thing, and there are many factors involved in it. In 1998, El Nino and the impact of anthropogenic climate change combined to give us a stunningly hot year. In 2008, La Nina may mitigate the impact of anthropogenic climate change somewhat, but that doesn't signal a reversal. It's just one more data point.

It's important to keep this in mind because the suggestino that the planet isn't actually warming suggests directly that the whole concept of anthropogenically caused global warming is a hoax. It is the logical inference. After all, if the planet isn't warming, there can't actually be global warming, can there? But this is only credible if you assume climate is only influenced by one factor - human activity. No sane person is suggesting this. Climate is complex, composite. There are natural climactic patterns and variations due to solar activity. There is also the impact of human activity, mainly through the release of CO2 and the depletion of natural carbon sinks. Over time, the effect of human activity becomes more significant in the composite picture. That is what we are seeing now.

The climatologists at Britain's Hadley Centre produced a ten year forecast in 2007, factoring in global weather patterns. They predicted a slight dip in global temperatures in 2008, but saw no reason to think that the overall upward trend would not continue:

... at least half of the years between 2009 and 2014 are likely to exceed existing records.

However, the Hadley Centre researchers said that the influence of natural climatic variations were likely to dampen the effects of emissions from human activities between now and 2009.

But over the decade as a whole, they project the global average temperature in 2014 to be 0.3C warmer than 2004. (4)

It is unlikely the predicted a dip in temperature will be treated with proper scientific caution by the deniers. They'll shrill and squeal endlessly about it, claiming it proves the Earth isn't warming. They are wrong, and it is likely they know it, but it won't stop them. They aren't interested in truth, but in promoting their agenda.

1 - 'Powering our future or wrecking the economy?,' by Brian Leyland in the NZ Herald, 7th of January, 2008. (
2 - 'Up against the warming zealots,' Martin Durkin in The Australian, 21st of July, 2007. (,25197,22105154-30417,00.html)
3 - "Global Temperature" graph, viewed on Wikipedia on 31st July 2007. (
4 - 'Ten-year climate model unveiled,' unattributed BBC article, 9th of August, 2007. (

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Climate change - sceptics versus deniers

Sooner or later in any debate (sic) on climate change, something odd happens. Rather than actually talking about science and facts and stuff that might actually win them the argument (there is a reason for this lack, but we'll come to that later), the anti-anthropogenic global warming climate change start bemoaning the fact they get called mean things like 'deniers' for expressing scepticism about the 'new religion' of 'St Al Gore.' They complain that being called 'deniers' rather than sceptics is demeaning, as it is suggestive of Holocaust deniers like David Irving and his repulsive ilk. Mention is often made of Galileo before the inquisition and others martyred int he man of truth in the face of frightened orthodoxy.

(This rant was brough on by the immediate and predictable response (1) to the news (2) that the global temperature for 2008 may drop slightly, as a response to the el nino warming cycle being replaced by the la nina cooling cycle.)

It's a good trick, garnering some moral authority and suggesting your opponent is a mindless apparatchik. The anti-AGW contender gets to play the underdog. Of course, it doesn't matter that their opponet may not have made any such suggestion, justified or other wise. It's enough that someone one some distant and irrelevant blog might have suggested that climate change doubters are on a par with Holocaust deniers for the doubter to dismiss all criticism and appear hard done by.

So is the charge valid? Is there any space for scepticism in climate change?

Of course there is, and there is plenty of it. Science is an inherently sceptical proceedure. Given their way, scientists would probably still be boiling and re-boiling water, just to check if it still boils at the same temperature, just to be sure. Thankfully, they don't have unlimited funding, so they can't spend their time staring at the thermometer's and quivering with anticipation, and have to do something to justify their existance.

But ther is a difference between legitimate scepticism and denerism. The difference is very simple. The former is based on sceince, the latter isn't. It might appear to have some scientific validity, but even a quick investigation proves that it is phoney. Given the ease that most claims can be dismissed by a moderately dilligent amateur (me), it is not likely they are the product of honest mistakes, but a sign of a more invidious attempt to spread confusion and misinformation. Hence the comparison to Holocaust deniers, who also lie through their teeth, misrepresent and mislead, is justified.

This doesn't mean that everyone who raised a question about climate change or the best waty of respnding to it should be called a denier. Far from it. As long as they are operating honestly and working from careful research, they can be given the honourable title of scpetic. If, on the other hand, their claims can be demolished by a quick check of Wikipedia, then they can probably be dismissed as a denier.

Let me give you an example. Martin Durkin claimed that, "To the utter dismay of the global warming lobby, the world does not appearto be getting warmer. According to their own figures ... the temperature has been static or slightly declining since 1998" (3). In absolute pedantic terms, this is true. The high of 1998 has not been exceeded. It is also, however, irrelevant, as year-on-year temperatures are not critical - the overall trend is. A more accurate picture is gained by looking at the five year rolling average temperature (4), which irons out the vagaries of individual years (which may have been unusually hot for all manner of reasons - there is more at work that human CO2 emmissions) and shows the real trend quite clearly.

So Durkin can be judged a denier. Yes - I am the scientific test of denierdom. This is Lurgee's Paradigm:
If, by taking moderate care and engaging in a little bit of thinking, lurgee can show that a so-called scpetic has neglected to do so, they are a denier.
And if they don't like the association with holocaust deniers, stop using their tactics. Use proper science instead, not lies, misrepresentations and propganda. Only, of course, when they have to fall back on real science, they find there isn't much for them to use.

(And no, Lurgee's Paradigm isn't a case of "Anyone who disagrees with me is wrong." It's more like "Anyone who appears stupider than me in matters of science has to be faking. Because you just can't get stupider than me.")

Unfortunatley, deniers still have to be answered, because their purpose isn't to win the argument by convincing the AGW camp it is wrong - I suspect most deniers know that their case is weak. Instead, they are trying to mobilize public opinion against climate change, create the impression there is still a lot of reasonable doubt surrounding the issue. In their favour, there are two things: climate change theory is moderately complex (though not so much so that a scientific imbecile such as I can't get a grasp of it) and it would be much nicer if it wasn't happening, because accepting it is and doing something about it means changing and limiting our excessive lifestyles.

So its important to rebutt the deniers, as often as they produce their twaddle. To save time, I'm going to compile a list of standard responses to common denier claims, that I can deploy without having to re-write from scratch everytime. Anyone reading this is welcome to use them to rebutt deniers oand to judge whether or not a particular commentator qualifies as a denier, by use of Lurgee's Paradigm.
1 - 'Global temperatures not risen since 1998,' a discussion thread on MSN News discussion forum, started by Kog, 5th of April, 2008. (
I post there as la la.
2 - 'Global temperatures 'to decrease',' by Roger Harrabin for the BBC, 4th of April, 2008. (
3 - "Up against the warming zealots," by Martin Durkin in The Australian, 21st of July, 2007. (,25197,22105154-30417,00.html)
4 - "Global Temperature" graph, viewed on Wikipedia on 31st July 2007. (

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Wot he said.

The Indy's editorial (1) focuses on the implications of the silence screaming from Zimbabwe. Is a massive fiddle about to be announced, or are Mugabe's henchmen eyeballing each other nervously and muttering, "You tell him," "No, you tell him"?

But, the silence suggests one thing very strongly - the results were disasterous for Mugabe. As the Indy said, the people have spoken. Mr Mugabe must listen.
1 - 'The people have spoken. Mr Mugabe must listen,' leading article in The Independent, 1st of April, 2008. (