Monckton in New Zealand: His reputation for fabrication preceded him

August 9, 2011

John Abraham’s work ended up giving Christopher Monckton a bumpy ride into New Zealand, according to Country 99 News:

Monckton was lucky the news channel labeled him “Climate Skeptic” and not “Barking Mad.”

More: 


Rep. Markey: “Those who deny global warming . . . have been refuted”

May 7, 2010

Chairman and scientist witnesses at May 6 hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

Members of commitee and scientist witnesses at May 6 hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. From left: Rep. Jay Inslee, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Dr. James Hurrell, Chairman Ed Markey, Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Dr. James McCarthy, and Dr. Chris Field

Excerpt from the opening statement from Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, at a May 6 hearing:

Those who deny global warming point to past uncertainties that have been refuted. They ignore the overwhelming observational evidence that the increased levels of heat-trapping pollution are already warming the planet. Instead of trying to understand the science, they use stolen emails about analysis of tree rings in Siberia to turn an honest discussion into a Russian Tree Ring Circus. Or they manufacture a cooling trend by cherry picking a few years out of a longer record of warming temperatures.

While the deniers hope to confuse the public, the real world consequences of inaction mount. Over the weekend, killer storms blew through Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. In Nashville, nearly 13 inches of rain fell in just over two days time – almost doubling the previous record that fell in the aftermath of a hurricane in 1979.

These storms follow the wettest March on record in Boston. Two 50-year storms occurred within 2 weeks of each other. The National Guard was mobilized. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes. The region suffered millions of dollars in damages.

No single rainstorm can be attributed to climate change. Nor can a snowstorm disprove its existence. But the underlying science and the observed trends do point to more extreme weather events, especially heavy precipitation events because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.

Extreme rainfall is just one of the consequences of the carbon pollution we are releasing into the air. Our witnesses today will explain how science has revealed this unseen pollution for what it is and discuss the very real consequences of its continuing accumulation in the atmosphere.

As we approach summer, our clean energy debate needs to acknowledge what many would like to deny. Our dependence on oil carries with it national security, economic and environmental risks. As gas prices rise and the oil slick spreads, perhaps we will finally acknowledge that we cannot drill our way to independence. We have less than 3 percent of proven oil reserves. Perhaps we can also acknowledge the basic facts that have been known for decades—increasing carbon pollution in the atmosphere is warming the planet and that the only way to put a halt to such warming is to move to clean energy solutions.

Tell the anti-warmists to refute this:

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Climate denialism as Mrs. Gump might see it

May 7, 2010

Stupid is as stupid does.

Climate denialists trumpeted a hearing scheduled for Thursday before a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives at which the madcap, veracity-challenged Christopher Monckton will carry the banner for denialism:

Also testifying to the panel will be another Briton, Lord Christopher Monckton, a hereditary peer in the House of Lords and prominent critic of the scientific consensus supporting anthropogenic climate change.

Of course, Monckton is not a hereditary peer of the House of Lords.  He has a peerage, but in Britain, they won’t let him near the levers of government.  No one has a hereditary peerage any more, and Monckton has never sat in Lords or Commons.

If Monckton can lie about stuff like that, what won’t he lie about?  If the denialists can be suckered so easily, what makes anyone think they are skeptics, and not gullibles? Bogus history, voodoo history, and voodoo science from the Republican end of the Select Committee.  Astonishing.

At the hearing a letter from 250 scientists, members of the National Academy of Sciences, called on Congress to act wisely and soon to fight human-caused global warming.

Incredibly, Monckton was the sole witness from the Republican side.  Remember the title of Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican War on Science? It’s still a valid title, it appears.

Witnesses at May 6, 2010 hearing before House Select Committee on Global Warming

Monckton squirms among the scientists: From left, Dr. James Hurrell, Dr. James McCarthy, Lord Christopher Monckton, Dr. Chris Field, Dr. Lisa Graumlich; photo from the Select Committee

The hearing was before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.

Written statements from the May 6 hearing:

Statements are in .pdf format.

  • OPENING STATEMENT: Chairman Edward J. Markey
  • Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, and member of the “Oxburgh Inquiry” panel
  • Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of new IPCC report due in 2014
  • Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University, past President and Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of IPCC report published in 2001
  • Dr. James Hurrell, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, contributor to IPCC reports
  • Lord Christopher Monckton, Chief Policy Adviser, Science and Public Policy Institute

The hearing got precious little press, but it’s interesting to see the blogs that lead the denialism charge try to ignore most of the hearing.


Debunking Monckton’s “no warming” hoax, Part 2

April 17, 2010

So, Maggie Thatcher, his boss, also rejected Christopher Monckton’s preposterous claims against the science of climate change?

Who knew?

It’s clear Christopher Monckton doesn’t know . . . much of value.

Sorta disappointed Peter Sinclair didn’t go after Monckton’s preposterous insults of Jackie Kennedy and Rachel Carson, but there’s only so much debunking one can do in a limited period of time, and so much of Monckton’s work requires debunking, even cries out for debunking.

Is there anything Monckton claims which is not hoax?


Monckton’s global warming denialism debunked

April 12, 2010

Peter Sinclair’s Hoax-Exposing Supervision found Christopher Monckton — and this is just part one.  More hoax in Monckton than anyone really feared:

Tip of the old scrub brush to the indefatigable Tim Lambert at Deltoid.


Monckton among the Mormons

March 25, 2010

Christopher Monckton took his “pathological liar” comedy routine to Orem, Utah, last Tuesday night.

Peg McEntee wrote about it for the Salt Lake Tribune, “Monckton:  Believe it or not.” McEntee saw through him, had the good sense to check the list of Members of the House of Lords, and noted that contrary to his claims, Monckton does not appear on the list.

But the priceless piece is this comment to McEntee’s article by adjustablespanner:

I like him much better as Dame Edna.

Christopher Monckton tries to get a clue

Christopher Monckton tries to get a clue - image, The Age

Dame Edna

Dame Edna, already clued in - InsideSoCal image

More:

Is Monckton still in the country?  If he’s going to be in Texas, I’d love to debate him.  Is he still chicken?


Monckton lies again (and again, and again, and again, and again . . .)! The continuing saga of a practicer of fictional science

October 18, 2009

When Monckton claimed that Jackie Kennedy was responsible for malaria in Africa, I thought it a great stretch.

Holy cow!  Monckton gave a speech in Minnesota, and if this quote is representative, it was a one man re-enactment of the Burlington Liar’s Club quarterfinals for 2002 through 2008 (he was disqualified for lack of humor).  Monckton spoke at Bethel University in St. Paul on October 15, 2009:

Here is an excerpt from his speech:

Here is why the truth matters. It was all very well for jesting Pilate to ask that question and then not to tarry for an answer. But that question that he asked, “what is the truth?” is the question which underlies every question and in the end it is the only question that really matters. When you ask that question what you are really asking is “what is the truth about the matter?” And we are now going to see why it matters morally, socially, and politically, as well as economically and scientifically. That the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth should inform public policy on this question. Now, 40 years ago, DDT, the only effective agent against the malaria mosquito was banned. And you saw in that film [Cascade Policy Institute film “Climate Chains” was shown prior –ed] what the effect of that ban was. Before the ban, the inventor of DDT got the Nobel Peace Prize because he had saved more lives than anyone else in the history of the planet. Malaria, one of the greatest killers of children in the Third World had all but been eradicated. There were still 50,000 deaths per year. But when DDT was banned by exactly the same faction, that is now trying to tell us we must close down five sixths of the United States economy that figure is actually in the Waxman- Markey bill. That same faction banned DDT worldwide. The consequences are on the slide there. The number of deaths went up from 50,000 to a million a year and stayed there. For 40 years. 40 million people, nearly all of them children, died of malaria solely and simply because DDT had been banned for no good scientific reason or environmental reason whatsoever. And it was only after every single one of the people responsible for that dismal, murderous decision had retired or died that on September the 15th 2006, Dr. Arata Kochi of the World Health Organization said “Normally in this field, science comes second and politics comes first. But we will now take a stand on the science and the data, and he ended that ban on DDT and made it once again the front line of defense against the malaria mosquito. After pressure from me, among others.

Right there Monckton disqualified himself from ever being a Boy Scout with egregious disregard for the first point of the Scout Law. Oh, Monckton is dependable, but dependable only to tell falsehoods and stink up the place.  That excerpt provides the Recommended Annual Dose of both voodoo science and voodoo history.  Count the problems with me:

1.  DDT has never been the only effective means to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes. DDT was  a very effective pesticide, though dangerous — but never the “only effective agent against the malaria mosquito.”  The U.S., for one example beat malaria (and yellow fever, and other mosquito-borne diseases) well enough to finish the Panama Canal in 1915 without DDT, by controlling mosquito breeding areas and using screens to protect sleeping workers from mosquitoes.  Malaria, once endemic in much of the U.S., was practically eliminated by 1939.  DDT was used in limited fashion to complete the eradication in the U.S., after World War II — but most of the work had already been done.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (founded to control malaria) relates at its website:

Control efforts conducted by the state and local health departments, supported by the federal government, resulted in the disease being eradicated by 1949. Such measures included drainage, removal of mosquito breeding sites, and spraying (occasionally from aircrafts) of insecticides.

Aircraft spraying insecticide,  1920's
Aircraft spraying insecticide, 1920s
Drainage activities, Virginia, 1920's
Drainage activities, Virginia, 1920s

We still have the non-pesticide solutions, and they still work.  But 40 years ago, there were other pesticides that worked against the malaria vector mosquitoes.

The national library of the ancient Kingdom of Ghana had volumes on how to eradicate malaria, more than 500 years ago.  Monckton can’t even be bothered to Google the topic, let alone visit one of America’s more than 15,000 free county libraries, to get the facts?

2.  No Nobel Peace Prize was ever given for DDT, and the prize given wasn’t for saving malaria victims. Paul Müller won the Nobel in Physiology or Medicine in 1948, for his discovery that DDT killed insects.  There was no Peace Prize awarded in 1948.  A chemist working in biological chemicals won the Peace Nobel later — but it was Linus Pauling, who won in 1962 for his work against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  [UPDATE:  Listening to Monckton’s speech, I note that the transcriber made a serious error.  Monckton did not specify the Nobel Peace Prize; it is still true that the Medicine Prize that Müller won was not on the basis of DDT’s saving an uncountable number of lives.  The chief medical advantage cited was the use of DDT fighting typhus; malaria gets a mention.  Monckton can’t be bothered with accuracy on such things, however, as is clearly shown.]

The bizarre claim about saving “more lives than anyone else in the history of the planet” comes from a wacko claim of the Lyndon Larouche cult, apparently based on a typographical error in a 1980 book from the National Academy of Sciences.

3.  Malaria rates have been greatly reduced in the 20th century, but malaria has never been “all but eradicated.” In the past 120 years, malaria has always killed more than 900,000 people a year; for most of the past 60 years, the death toll has been more than a million people a year, sometimes as high as 4 million people killed.  Annual malaria deaths have never been under a half million, let alone as low as 50,000.

4.  DDT has never been banned for use to control malaria. 40 years ago, in 1969, DDT was freely available world wide.  Sweden banned the stuff from agricultural use in 1970; the U.S. followed with a ban on agricultural use of DDT, especially sprayed from airplanes.  DDT for fighting malaria has always been a feature of the U.S. ban.  As a pragmatic matter, DDT manufacture on U.S. shores continued for more than a dozen years after the restrictions on agricultural use of the stuff.  In an ominous twist, manufacture in the U.S. continued through most of 1984, right up to the day the Superfund Act made it illegal to dump hazardous substances without having a plan to clean it up or money to pay for clean up — on that day the remaining manufacturing interests declared bankruptcy to avoid paying for the environmental damage they had done.  See the Pine River, Michigan Superfund site, or the Palos Verdes and Montrose Chemical Superfund sites in California,  the CIBA-Geigy plant in McIntosh, Alabama, and sites in Sand Creek, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, and Aberdeen, North Carolina, for examples.

5.  Nothing in Waxman-Markey anticipates closing down any part of the U.S. economy. This is a claim Monckton appears to have plucked from between his gluteals.  Here’s one summary of the bill (notice the money allocated to boost industry), here’s another, and here’s the summary from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

6.  There’s no way to blame malaria deaths on a lack of DDT. As noted, DDT has been available for use in Africa and Asia since its patent.  More importantly, malaria death rates have been influenced by the failure of effectiveness of pharmaceuticals against the malaria parasite itself in humans.  DDT fights only the mosquitoes that carry the parasite.  But the difficulty wasn’t in beating the mosquitoes; the difficulty was in curing humans (from whom the mosquitoes get the parasite to pass along).

7.  DDT was restricted on the basis of overwhelming evidence of harms. This is one of those charges that is self-refuting in the hands of DDT advocates and anti-science people.  You don’t have to go far to find claims that EPA acted contrary to an extensive hearing record that took months to compose.  But then they turn around and claim, as Monckton does here, that there is no such record?  The facts are that the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) hearings were conducted under the gun.  Two different federal courts had ordered the review, which had been started with the Department of Agriculture before the creation of EPA.  The hearing record itself fell out of favor with some officials, and even EPA’s library had difficulty finding a copy of the decision by Administrative Law Judge Edmund Sweeney — but intrepid fact seekers like Jim Easter tracked down the documents and posted them for all to see.  Easter notes that the record is clear on harms to wildlife, bio-magnification, and other dangers of DDT.  In fact, the only place Ruckelshaus differed from Sweeney was on the issue of cotton.  Sweeney thought he couldn’t prohibit use on cotton, Ruckelshaus found authority in the law and did so.

Be clear:  EPA banned DDT use on agricultural products, especially cotton, and broadcast spraying.  EPA’s “ban” allowed continued manufacture of DDT, and it allowed use for health emergencies and other emergencies.

8.  There never was a ban on DDT by the World Health Organization (WHO). So Monckton’s bizarre fiction that “. . . it was only after every single one of the people responsible for that dismal, murderous decision had retired or died that on September the 15th 2006, Dr. Arata Kochi of the World Health Organization said normally in this field, science comes second and politics comes first,” and then Kochi ended the ban, is whole cloth.

9.  There is no evidence anybody ever paid any attention to Monckton on DDT, but Monckton took credit for the imaginary end of the imaginary ban: ” After pressure from me, among others.”  There’s a distant possibility that Monckton might have written a letter to WHO — but let Monckton produce the thing from the archives of WHO.  Until that time, we should classify Monckton as an emboldened prevaricator, perhaps a victim of Munchausen’s Syndrome (not by proxy in this case).   I’m calling Monckton’s bluff.   Let’s see his cards on this issue:  When did he say anything to WHO about DDT, to whom, and what did he say?  He’ll not be able to produce any documentation, I’ll wager — and I’ll bet he can’t even produce hearsay testimony.

Nine falsehoods in a paragraph — a rate of falsehood not equalled even by Jon Lovitz’s pathological liar character. What is wrong with the excrement detectors of the people who sit in those audiences with this guy?

How far out of bounds is Monckton?  Even the shrill discussion at Little Green Footballs puts Monckton in the not-to-be-taken-seriously category.

Monckton, the Burlington Liars Club called:  They want their good reputation back.  Check your answering machine, too — the Bethel College group should be calling any minuted, to ask you to pay for the exorcism of their building after you spoke there.

By the way, how do we know Monckton is a coward?*  He has refused to debate me.  As he notes, anyone who refuses a debate is a coward.  And yet, he refuses each of my challenges.  Now he’s refusing to debate a Tenderfoot Boy Scout using Boy Scout Law rules.  How much of a coward does that make him?

_______________

* Of course that logic is flawed.  But he uses it against Al Gore.  Monckton can’t get Gore to suffer him, and so, Monckton, a moral pipsqueak, calls Gore a coward.  The “Freemarket Institute” people ate it up.  It’s more likely that Gore simply refuses to get into a urination contest with a known skunk.  Still, Monckton refuses to debate — what is he afraid of?

No lie!

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Monckton will lie about anything

October 10, 2009

Lordy! Monckton said to the Winnipeg Sun (in Manitoba, but you knew that) :

He continues: “Remember DDT, the pesticide used to kill mosquitoes that carried malaria. Jackie Kennedy read a book saying it was harmful, got her husband the president to bring pressure to have it banned and in 40 years 40 million people, mainly children, died. Now we’ve come to our senses and re-introduced it but only after the fashionable left did their damage.

Not so fast.  Here are a few of the errors.

1.  Key phrase:  “the pesticide that used to kill mosquitoes that carried malaria.”  It’s not very good anymore.  Mosquitoes acquired alleles that allow them to digest DDT, rather as food, instead of getting poisoned by it.  This evolutionary response was speeded when DDT was overused (abused, that is) by big farmers.  The World Health Organization had a campaign to use DDT to knock down a mosquito population for about six months, quickly treat all the humans who had the disease, and so when the mosquitoes came roaring back after six months, there would be no malaria for them to get from one person to spread.  WHO stopped the program when the quickly-evolving resistance to DDT made it impossible.  This was in the years 1964 through about 1966.  DDT was not banned, and production and use of the stuff continued around the world.

2.  President Kennedy was asked about DDT at a press conference.  He said he’d read the book.  It wasn’t “meddling” by Jackie Kennedy — though she would have been right had she done it.   Jackie Kennedy proved her mettle later as an editor of books, a real force to be reckoned with and a woman of great judgment.

(Yeah, I had sound trouble with it, except for the press conference with Kennedy.)

3.  Kennedy didn’t act against DDT.

President John F. Kennedy at a press conference on August 29, 1962; he announced the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter and the appointment of Arthur Goldberg to replace him; in questions, he was asked about DDT and Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring.

President John F. Kennedy at a press conference on August 29, 1962; he announced the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter and the appointment of Arthur Goldberg to replace him; in questions, he was asked about DDT and Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring.

4.  Kennedy did ask the experts to check out Carson’s book.  The President’s Science Advisory Commitee (PSAC) (including Nobel winners) spent several months studying the book and its footnotes, and checking with other experts.  In May 1963 they issued a verdict:  Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was accurate and true, but suffered one flaw:  Carson’s alarm wasn’t loud enough nor demanding action quickly enough.  PSAC urged Kennedy to act immediately to slow or stop the use of DDT.  Alas, he was assassinated six months later. (Full text of the PSAC report is available on this blog, here.)

5.  Though the federal government stopped massive use of DDT on its side, large agricultural interests used it extensively.  After a decade of devastation across the country, in two separate trials federal judges ruled DDT a dangerous substance — they withheld injunctions when the newly-formed EPA promised to expedite hearings on tighter regulations for the stuff which had been floundering for a few years.  So it was that in 1971, more than seven years after John F. Kennedy’s death, a full administrative hearing on DDT began at EPA.  DDT had been fully available world wide for 9 years after Carson’s book.

6.  In 1972, still under court order, the EPA administrative law judge Edmund Sweeney ruled that a new label for DDT would be adequate control.  Under the new label, use would be severely restricted, and broadcast spraying on crops would be prohibited, but DDT would be freely available.  If someone wanted to, they could buy DDT and broadcast it themselves.  Under the labeling rules, nothing could be done to such violators.  Judge Sweeney carefully documented in his hearings all the benefits and drawbacks of DDT.  A more restrictive proposal, such as a ban, would not do much more than the new label (if the label was followed), and Sweeney said that he did not find that EPA had the power to do any more.  EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus got a more detailed review of the law from his legal team, and concluded that EPA could indeed ban broadcast use, and so he did.  At least two of the DDT manufacturers sued, claiming there was no scientific basis for a ban.  Under U.S. law, if the scientific data do not back up such a rule, the courts are obligated to overturn the rule.  Both courts granted summary judgment for EPA, meaning that even if all the evidence were interpreted to favor the pesticide manufacturers, they would still lose on the law.  There were no further appeals.

7.  The EPA ban allowed DDT to be used in emergencies, especially if there were an emergency involving malaria or other insect-borne disease; specifically, EPA’s order allowed DDT use against any insect “vector” to fight disease at any time, for indoor residual spraying (IRS) the preferred method of fighting malaria.   The EPA ban did not cover manufacturing, and U.S. DDT manufacturers ran a lively export business through 1984. On the day before the Superfund law took effect in 1984, requiring manufacturers to clean up toxic wastes they had dumped in violation of law, several of the DDT manufacturers declared bankruptcy, leaving the Superfund to clean up DDT sites in Texas and California, and other places.  Clean up continues today, 25 years later, costing tens of millions of dollars a year.

Manufacture of DDT today is chiefly in India and China.  Pollution problems abound near those sites.

8.  DDT use was never banned in Africa, especially for use to fight malaria.  Considering mosquito resistance and immunity, however, Africans generally chose not to use DDT.  DDT’s reputation was further tarnished when it was revealed that broadcast outdoor spraying had killed food fishes in several places, leading to near starvation for local populations.  South Africa used DDT right up through 1996, then stopped.  When mosquitoes with malaria flowed over the border from neighboring nations without adequate disease control programs, malaria rates shot up, and DDT was again used as a last-ditch defense.

9.  Generally, malaria infections and malaria deaths continued to decline in Africa and Asia after Silent Spring, and after the U.S. banned DDT use on crops. Malaria in Africa rose after 1985 when malaria parasites developed immunity to the pharmaceuticals used to treat the disease in humans.  Without an effective drug regimen, death rates rose, too.  DDT could not offer any help in this fight.

10.  One of the greatest barriers to fighting malaria in Africa has been unstable governments.  For example, it is difficult to believe that Idi Amin, the horrible dictator who ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979,  and claimed to have eaten some of his executed enemies, refused to spray DDT because he wanted to be environmentally friendly.  If Monckton wants to make such a claim explicitly, he’s nuts (he may be nuts anyway, but this unspoken claim of his is particularly insane).   Other nations had less spectacular misrule, but the effect was the same:  When governments could not, or did not mount fights against mosquitoes and malaria, malaria spread.  This had nothing to do with DDT, nor with a lack of DDT.

11.  When WHO suspended their campaign against malaria using large-scale DDT spraying out of doors, malaria killed about two million people annually, down from a peak of nearly four million 15 to 20 years earlier.  Today, malaria kills about 900,000 people annually.  Monckton says the lack of DDT has been responsible for 40 million deaths in the last 40 years.  That’s a good trick, really — it’s a lower rate than others have claimed, but it assumes that every malaria death could have been prevented with DDT, something we know is not the case.  More, it assumes that the U.S. ban on spraying DDT on cotton in Texas in 1972 somehow caused Africans to stop using DDT in 1965, a neat feat of time travel, and an astounding feat of regular travel, Texas being about 10,000 miles from most of Africa, too far for mosquitoes to migrate.

In three sentences, Monckton crammed in 11 grotesque falsehoods.  And that paragraph was not even the topic of the article.  And what is it about these propaganda attacks dead women?  Unholy attacks on Rachel Carson are bad enough — now Monckton goes after Jackie Kennedy, too?  Do these guys carefully choose targets who cannot respond, and who, because dead, cannot sue for libel?

Is it true that a Lie can get halfway around the world before Truth gets its boots on?  Isn’t there some Truth Police who could stop Monckton from spreading that crap?

Oh, and while I’m thinking about it:

Spread the word, stop the madness:

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Is Texas the state most vulnerable to global climate change?

June 6, 2009

John Mashey occasionally graces these pages with his comments — a cool, reasoned head on hot issues like global warming/global climate change, despite his history in computers or maybe because of it (which would put the lie to the idea that computer programming explains why so many computer programmers are wacky intelligent design advocates).

Mashey offered a comment over at RealClimate on a post about hoaxer and science parodist Christopher Monckton — a comment you ought to read if  you think about Texas ever, and especially if you like the place.  It’s comment #413 on that Gigantor blog.

Monckton wrote a letter to the New York Times and attached to it a graph.  The graph, it turns out, probably would need to be classified in the fiction section of a library or book store, were it a book.  Much discussion occurs, absent any appearance by Monckton himself who does not defend his graphs by pointing to sources that might back what his graphs say, usually.

In short, the post and the extensive comments shed light on the problems of veracity which plague so many who deny either that warming is occurring, or that air pollution from humans might have anything to do with it, or that humans might actually be able to do anything to mitigate the changes or the damage, or that humans ought to act on the topic at all.

So I’ve stolen Mashey’s comment lock, stock and barrel, to give it a little more needed highlight.

If you follow environmental issues much, you probably know Count Christopher Monckton as a man full of braggadocio and bad information on climate.  He is known to have worked hard to hoodwink the U.S. Congress with his claims of expertise and policy legitimacy, claiming to be a member of the House of Lords though he is not (some climate change deniers in Congress appear to have fallen for the tale).  He pops up at denialist conferences, accuses scientists of peddling false information, and he is a shameless self-promoter.

After much discussion, Mashey turned his attention to claims that Texans don’t know better than Monckton, and other things; Mashey notes that denialists cite Monckton’s performance at a conservative political show in Texas, instead having paid attention to real climate scientists who were meeting just up the road, for free:

AGW’s impact depends on where you live
OR
Texas is Not Scotland, even when a Scottish peer visits

1) SCOTLAND
Viscount Monckton lives in the highlands of Scotland (Carie, Rannoch, 57degN, about the same as Juneau, AK, but warmer from Gulf Stream.)

a) SEA LEVEL, STORMS
Most of Scotland (esp the highlands) is well above sea level, and in any case, from Post-Glacial Rebound, it’s going up. [Not true of Southern England.]

b) PRECIPITATION
Scotland gets lots of regular precipitation. From that, he likely gets ~1690mm or more rainfall/year, noticeably more than Seattle or Vancouver.

Scotland has complex, variable weather systems, with more rain in West than in East, but has frequent precipitation all year.

c) TEMPERATURE
Scotland’s climate would likely be better with substantial warming. See UK Met Office on Scotland, which one might compare with NASA GISS Global Annual Mean Surface Air Temperature Change. Scotland average maximum temperatures are 18-19C in the summer, i.e., in most places it might occasionally get up to 70F, although of course it varies by geography. +3C is no big deal. The record maximum was 32.9C (91F), set in 2003. Maybe there is yet a good future for air-conditioning/cooling vendors.

If one does a simple linear regression on both sets of annual data, one finds that SLOPE(Scotland) = .0071C/year, SLOPE(world) = .0057C/year, i.e., Scotland is warming slightly faster than the world as a whole.

d) AGRICULTURE
The combination of b) and c) is, most likely *good* for agriculture in Scotland. There is plenty of rain, and higher temperatures mean less snow and a longer growing season. Great!

In addition, the British geoscientist/vineyard archaeologist Richard Selley thinks that while it may be too hot for good vineyards in Southern England by 2080, it will be fine for some areas of Scotland.
Future Loch Ness Vineyard: great!

e) OIL+GAS, ENERGY
Fossil fuel production (North Sea oil&gas) is very important to the Scotland economy. Wikipedia claims oil-related employment is 100,000 (out of total population of about 5M).

Scotland has not always been ecstatic to be part of the UK.

2) TEXAS
The Viscount Monckton spoke for Young Conservatives of Texas, April 28 @ Texas A&M, which of course has a credible Atmospheric Sciences Department. Of course, many of them were unable to hear the Viscount because they were in Austin at CLIMATE CHANGE Impacts on TEXAS WATER, whose proceedings are online. See especially Gerald North on Global Warming and TX Water.

Monckton delivered his message: “no worries, no problems” which might well fit Scotland just fine, at least through his normal life expectancy.

The message was delivered to Texans typically in their 20s, many of whom would expect to see 2060 or 2070, and whose future children, and certainly grandchildren, might well see 2100.

Texas is rather different from Scotland, although with one similarity (oil+gas).

a) SEA LEVEL, STORMS

Texas has a long, low coastline in major hurricane territory.
Brownsville, TX to Port Arthur is a 450-mile drive, with coastal towns like Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Port Arthur listed at 7 feet elevations. The center of Houston is higher, but some the TX coast has subsidence issues, not PGR helping it rise. The Houston Ship Canal and massive amounts of infrastructure are very near sea level. More people live in the Houston metropolitan area + rest of the TX coast than in all of Scotland.

Of course, while North Sea storms can be serious, they are not hurricanes. IF it turns out that the intensity distribution of hurricanes shifts higher, it’s not good, since in the short term (but likely not the long term), storm surge is worse than sea level rise.

Hurricane Rita (2005) and Hurricane Ike (2008) both did serious damage, but in some sense, both “missed” Houston. (Rita turned North, and hit as a Category 3; Ike was down to Category 2 before hitting Galveston).

Scotland: no problem
TX: problems already

b) RAINFALL
Texas is very complex meteorologically, and of course, it’s big, but as seen in the conference mentioned above (start with North’s presentation), one might say:

– The Western and Southern parts may well share in the Hadley-Expansion-induced loss of rain, i.e., longer and stronger droughts, in common with NM, AZ, and Southern CA. Many towns are dependent on water in rivers that come from the center of the state, like the Brazos.

– The NorthEast part will likely get more rain. [North’s comment about I35 versus I45 indicates uncertainty in the models.]

– Rain is likely to be more intense when it happens, but droughts will be more difficult.

Extreme weather in TX already causes high insurance costs, here, or here.

Scotland: no problem
Texas: problems.

c) TEMPERATURE

Texas A&M is ~31degN, rather nearer the Equator than 57degN.
Wikipedia has a temperature chart. It is rather warmer in TX, but is also more given to extremes.

Scotland: +3C would be dandy,
Texas: +3C not so dandy.

d) AGRICULTURE
Between b) and c), less water in dry places, more water in wet places, more variations in water, and higher temperatures (hence worse evaporation/precipitation difference) are not good news for TX agriculture, or so says Bruce McCarl, Professor of Agricultural Economics at TAMU.

For audiences unfamiliar with Texas A&M, the “A” originally stood for Agriculture, and people are called Aggies. One might assume that agricultural research is valued.
Politically, “Aggie-land” would not be considered a hotspot of hyper-liberal folks prone to becoming climate “alarmists”.

Scotland: warmer, great! Wine!
Texas: serious stress.

d) OIL+GAS, ENERGY
Here, there is more similarity: fossil fuels are economically important.

On the other hand, Scotland was settled long before the use of petroleum, and while places like the highlands are very sparse, cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow are relatively dense, and many villages are quite walkable. Warmer temperatures mean *lower* heating costs.

Texas has naturally developed in a very different style, and with forthcoming Peak Oil, this may be relevant. In 2006, according to EIA, Texas was #1 in energy consumption, 5th per-capita (after AK, WY, LA, ND) and uses 2X/capita of states like NY or CA. Some of that is inherent in different climate and industry.

Sprawling development in a state with water problems, subject to dangerous weather extremes, and already seriously-dependent on air-conditioning, may end being expensive for the residents.

Scotland: makes money from fossil energy, but it was mostly built without it. Warmer temperatures reduce energy use.
Texas: already uses ~2.5-3X higher energy/capita, compared to Scotland. Warmer temperatures likely raise energy use.

3. SUMMARY

Gerald North’s talk ended by asking:
“Is Texas the most vulnerable state?”

That sounds like an expert on trains, hearing one coming in the distance, standing on the tracks amidst a bunch of kids, trying to get them off the tracks before there’s blood everywhere.

On the other side, someone safely away from tracks keeps telling the kids that experts are wrong, there is no danger, so they can play there as long as they like.

You will be well informed if you also read Mashey’s comments at #120 and #132.


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