Friday, April 5, 2013

Climate Freedom

Good news today for all you comedy fans (and climate change sceptics): that one-man testimony to the wisdom of culling hereditary House of Lords positions, Viscount Christopher Monckton, is touring New Zealand. Curiously, the good Viscount told TV3 his tour was being organised and supported by Federated Farmers, however they have since issued a press release denying this. Evidently someone's wires got crossed.

Climate change is easy to ignore or wish away. Dealing seriously with anthropogenic (man-made) climate change will require a massive reduction in humanity's energy consumption. And that's quite difficult to get your head around when you drive a car to work, heat your house with gas in winter, and consume highly processed and packaged goods and services. The people who use the least energy are rural peasants in far-flung locations but none of us REALLY wants to give up our trips to the mall to live in a thatched hut and transport washing water by hand.

The art of climate change denial is supported by businesses who either produce greenhouse gases directly (dairy farmers) or make products that do (oil and mining companies). They spend many millions supporting bogus thinktanks, pseudo-academic journals and churning out media kits all with the aim of persuading you, gently reader, that climate change is not proved, that there is disagreement within the scientific community and there is no reason - no reason at all - to change your profligate habits and, say, start growing your own veges or ride your bike down to the shops instead of taking the car. Viscount Monckton is one of the happy hacks who are out there peddling lies such as climate change is a vast conspiracy in which Barack Obama will cede US sovereignty to the United Nations, which will then enact a communist world government. (BTW - if you interested in this, it's easy to find. A good start is the RationalWiki page which has a number of links.)

There's no shortage of people happy to take on the possibly confused Viscount. One of our favourite rebuttals comes from John Abraham, a real scientist. It's quite a lengthy presentation but well worth the effort if you are slightly interested in your children's future. But our favourite piece of evidence that Monckton is little other than a snake-oil salesman is his supposed refutation of rising sea levels. Again, for those of you who are interested, there is a bunch of research on the University of Colorado at Boulder's website. Right there on the front is a graph showing actual (not predicted) sea levels. Showing a great deal more public spirit than, for example, thinktanks that don't disclose their funding sources, you can also download the data. Here's the graph:


Here's the Monckton version showing no rise in sea levels. How can this be? Look closely, and you'll see that the graph has been tipped on its side so the rise looks flat. Genius! Of course it's completely invalid (you can see the writing in the original graph down the bottom right hand side):

But the best thing about the Monckton tour? It's called the Climate Freedom Tour. What on earth does that mean? In case this has escaped anyone's attention, New Zealand is only now starting to recover from one of the hottest driest summers on record. There is no escape from the climate: not for suburbanites, not for farmers, not for Viscount Monckton. The Australians are taking it seriously, insurers certainly are, isn't time our government stopped pandering to farmers and coal miners and started planning for the future now? To be sure, there is no such thing as climate freedom.