Climatologists and gambling addicts

At Jo Nova’s unthreaded Carbon500 asks

How can the opposing points of view be effectively communicated without using too much temperature data?

There are no easy answers. Start quoting one set of figures and an “expert scientist” will counter with some other figures, call you a denier and say you know nothing.

An alternative approach is to compare climate “experts” with experts in other fields. Hundreds of expert scientists, over nearly three decades, should have gained a track record in predictions through their understanding of the climate system, and learnt from their mistakes. The public relations aspect should now be in emphasising their scientific achievements in predictions and the increasing quality of their work. The PR should not be in banal statements, saying how much they all agree, and denigrating the opposition.

Let me give an analogy. Suppose someone claims, after years of study, to have a developed a scientific system for predicting the winners of horse races. How would you distinguish between that person being a true expert or just a gambling addict, whose system is just a sophisticated way of denying their problem?

Using the climate consensus approach, the true expert would be somebody who has published on the subject in the peer-reviewed literature, and has a lot of similar experts reaching similar conclusions. The gambling addict would be marked out by the one who goes it alone, rejecting the opinion of other “experts”.

My approach would be to evaluate on whether the betting system actually works.

  1. As the purpose of placing a bet is to win, one would expect a minimum requirement is to make money. That is not that you get a winner ever time, but over a series of bets to more than break even.
  2. From a human point of view, a way to identify the expert to see observe they cope with losses. The true expert would learn from the mistakes and use this to improve the predictive ability of the system. Over time, the profit margin would get greater. The gambling addict would come up with a plethora of excuses why their system did not work, then proclaim that a winning streak is just around the corner.
  3. A true expert would know the limits if their system, whilst the addicted gambler would make totally exaggerated claims about the precision and accuracy of their unimpeachable system.

The analogy does break down after this. Catastrophic global warming is a belief system, mainly deriving from extreme left-environmentalist political perspectives. CAGW is a collective belief system, not an isolated individual. The consequences of the climate alarmists to recognize their failure in understanding go far beyond that of someone with a gambling problem.

The Cassandra Effect and Insulting Climate Sceptics

There are two articles published today that are related. Bishop Hill posts about the “reverse Cassandra effect” and Jo Nova comments on Matt Ridley’s article in today’s Times on THE SCEPTICS ARE RIGHT. DON’T SCAPEGOAT THEM.

Bishop Hill refers to a Wired article on the late Julian Simon published some years ago:-

Simon always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they’d been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.

I believe that the Cassandra effect is still working. What is relevant is how you view awful. Take a classic example of the Cassandra effect. Ignaz Semmelweis found that doctors washing their hands between examining each patient reduced mortality rates. The implied “awful” truth that every experienced hospital doctor in 1840s Vienna had to accept was that, due to their ignorance, they had killed people when they were in the business of saving lives.

But for environmentalists the “scientific truth” that the human race is destroying the planet confirms their beliefs. Politicians whose mission is to make a real difference to the world – an honourable motive – can now take part in saving the planet from an evil menace. Maybe not as spectacularly as James Bond, or Flash Gordon, but they can still expect to receive plaudits and a place in history. Or at least a pat on the back from green activists in Bali, Copenhagen, Cancun….

For those who believe materialism is ultimately depraved; or humankind is inherently sinful; or capitalism will collapse through its inherent contradictions; or the rich got where they are through trampling over those like themselves; – all can latch onto the cause as well. For all these people the awful truth for the world is not so awful for them.

This is why the Cassandra effect is still very much with us. The awful truth is that politicians now find themselves in the same position of those doctors in 1840s Vienna. When they thought they were saving the world, they are in fact harming the futures of their constituents. As Matt Ridley points out in the Times today of climate change:-

Sceptics say it is not happening fast enough to threaten more harm than the wasteful and regressive measures intended to combat it. So far they have been right.

My next article will show that even the most extreme climate change believers can postulate a big enough harm from climate change than the wasteful and regressive measures intended to combat it.

Kevin Marshall

Three Positive Ways to Counter Climate Denial

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I am deeply sceptical of the whole global warming scare. That stems from trying to compare and contrast the arguments through understanding different positions. One element I found coming to the fore is trying to shut down any criticism by maligning of opponents through untruths, derogatory comments and questioning of motives. A recent example of is Paul Syvrets’ attack on Jo Nova, a Vince Whirlwind’s follow up to my comment.

Suppose for one moment that alarmists of being on the side of science, and hold the fundamental truth about the coming apocalypse unless the human race repents of its evil ways. As climate science is based on public relations, I would suggest that the whole approach of attacking opponents and shutting them out of the media is a PR disaster. Tell somebody they are wrong and smearing them will get their backs up and help persuade others you are not on the side of truth. Now scientific models are too difficult for the lay public to understand, and outputs ambiguous to the uninitiated.

Let me suggest three, very positive, ways of winning over people from the “false prophets of climate denial”.

First is building up a track record in predictions

As I have often read, only true climate scientists can understand the science. But people will understand when through the using the climate models clear, bold predictions are made that later come true. Nobody will expect a 100% hit rate, but a good track record will be sufficient to convert the most waverers.

Let me help out with some examples, which I am sure some climate scientists can complete.

  1. More than twenty years ago the models predicted a continuing upward trend in global surface temperatures if greenhouse gases emissions were not severely curtailed. Emissions have exceeded our worst expectations so…..
  2. In 2000 in both Britain and Germany, it was predicted that children would grow up no knowing what snow was. The decreasing can trend can be found ……
  3. Following the massive heat wave in Europe in 2003, it was predicted that would extreme heat waves would become more frequent. This trend is shown….
  4. Following Hurricane Katrina, it was predicted that would be an upward trend in these severe storms. The evidence can be found……
  5. In 2007 the UNIPCC predicted that climate change could lead to a drop fall in crop yields by up to 50% in some African countries by 2020. The latest evidence to support this prediction consists of…..
  6. One of the most visible signs of warming is the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro. This continuing trend can be found…..
  7. One of the most dire predicted consequences of global warming is accelerating sea level rise. The latest data demonstrating this trend can be found at…
  8. One of the biggest contributors of sea level rise is melting of the polar ice caps. Velicogna and Wahr 2006 predicted that the contribution to sea level rise from Greenland alone would rise from zero to 7mm per annum between 2002 and 2012. The actual data to support this is to be found……

Second is that the doubters believe that climate scientists practice pseudo-science.

To counter this

  • Show that the methods are in the tradition of the greatest scientists like Newton, Pasteur, Einstein and Feynman. Where different, explain why climate science’s methods are superior, or more appropriate.
  • Define clearly the boundaries of climate science, and the different skills and specialisms within it. People might then start appreciating what how complex and diverse the subject actually is.
  • Demonstrate how climate science learns from the different philosophies of science.
  • Demonstrate how climate science utilizes basic distinctions of philosophy. For instance the differences between open and closed questions, between positive and normative statements and between a priori and empirical statements.
  • Show how, like in the field of medical science, climate science is advancing and over-turning or modifying previously held views through better quality analysis.
  • Climate science needs to draw upon a number of areas. Demonstrating how the science draws upon specialists in statistics, forecasting and other disciplines where it overlaps.
  • Show how proper controls are being implemented and adhered to in order to prevent any conflicts of interest from, for instance, the same people creating temperature sets who are also the trying to vigorously promote their theories.

Third is the support of policy controls

Medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies fully realise that whilst medication properly diagnosed can deliver huge benefits, it they can also generate great harm if there is not proper diagnosis, or the incorrect medication, or dosage of that medication was proscribed. Similarly, there would be great concern if the armed forces did not have proper control of their weapons, so that rogue elements could seize control of those weapons to start an insurrection.

From a policy point of view, the UNIPCC in the Summary for Policymakers in 2007 that

Peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of carbon in 2005 average US$12 per tonne of CO2, but the range from 100 estimates is large (-$3 to $95/tCO2).

Given that it would be totally immoral to impose policy whose consequences are more damaging that the issue it is supposed to alleviate, proposals for the proper implementation and control of policy are to be found ……

I welcome any discussion or debate on these issues. If you have more examples, or help with links, please use the comments.

Kevin Marshall

Update 29/05/13 23.56

To encourage debate , left the following comment at

In any realm of life, calling people names, or making claims that they think are false will only get their backs up. Further blocking them from any access to the media will generate the idea they are a victimized minority.
The best public relations present positive images about one’s own ideas. Negative images of opponents always backfire. I have made three suggestions how this might be done.
First, loudly proclaim the predictions of climate change that have come true.
Second, counteract the claims of pseudo-science by demonstrating that climate science not only builds of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science, but enhances them.
Third, disperse the claims about pursuing high-risk policies, by proposing safeguards and audit checks against them being usurped by profiteers and swindlers.

Update 30/05/2013 03.00

Watching the Deniers says:

Nice comment. Thanks for posting it.

I hope this leads to positive discussion, and recognition that there are legitimate positions that can be taken contrary to one’s own. 

Update 30/05/2013 00.19

Have also contacted at with the following.

As you are experts in public relations, you must realize that negative images against opponents will create a group of “victims” who will garner support from the alleged “oppression” by the media. Much better is to present positive image of climate science. I have suggested three ways this could be done at my blog.

Best Regards
Kevin Marshall

Update 02/06/2013 20.40

Posted to the Guardian  here:-

Why all this negativity? Imagine if a similar public relations campaign was launched against those who deny that six million Jews died in the Holocaust? Headline would be

“Deniers of the Holocaust are wrong because they disagree with 99.9% of expert historians.”

It would have just created an underclass of believers in denial, claiming that the “truth” was being suppressed. I know that projections about the future are more difficult to persuade people of than historical facts, but a positive public relations campaign might include:- 
1. Short-term predictive successes. A track record of bold predictions that turn out true is highly persuasive.
2. Showing that climate science is building on traditions of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science.
3. Third is the support of policy controls. Many nay-sayers point to alleged policy failures that enrich businesses at the expense of the poor. Campaigning for independent auditing of policy outcomes would show concern for wider society.

Dehumanizing Climate Sceptics

Steve Mcintyre did some research on Dr Paul Bain – the same who Jo Nova had a long correspondence with a few months ago.

Dehumanizing Language
A few months ago, in an article in Nature Climate Change, Paul Bain, another Australian psychologist, repeatedly used the term “denier” to refer to climate skeptics. Bain defended this usage at Judy Curry’s on the basis that it would “activate the strongest confirming stereotypes” in his target audience:
By using the term “denier” we wanted to start with something that would activate the strongest confirming stereotypes in this audience
Bain’s usage was sharply criticized by skeptic blogs (though it was not an issue that I bothered with.) Judy Curry made the following interesting suggestion:

Somebody needs to research the sociology and psychology of people that insist that anyone that does not accept AGW as a rationale for massive CO2 mitigation efforts is a “denier.”

Judy’s invitation unfortunately was not followed up in the comments. Had this been done, people would have made the surprising discovery that, in his “day job”, Bain primarily wrote about the use and function of derogatory epithets (e.g. cockroach in the Hutu-Tutsi and other racially charged terms). Bain observed that a primary function of dehumanizing language is to reinforce the self-esteem of the “in group”:
For example, Bain observed

Subtle forms of dehumanization are often explained with reference to …the idea that the in group is attributed “the human essence” more than outgroups, and hence outgroups are implicitly seen as “non-human”. ..

People typically evaluate their in-groups more favorably than out-groups and themselves more favorably than others…

such labeling has the effect of denying full humanness to the out group, reinforcing the self-esteem of the in-group..

The denial of full humanness to others, and the cruelty and suffering that accompany it, is an all-too familiar phenomenon…

Despite Bain’s prolific writing on the use and abuse of dehumanizing epithets, he was oddly oblivious to the function of the term “denier” as a means of dehumanizing IPCC critics.

My interpretation of Bains’ scientific research is that likening sceptics to Nazis or pedophiles shows the collective insecurities and feelings of inadequacy of those making the comments. Deep down they know that their beliefs are built on sand, and are desperately finding ways not to acknowledge this. Dehumanizing those who challenge their beliefs is nothing new. It is an easy position to fall into, and takes courage to challenge.

Lewandowsky et al. 2012 (LOG12) – Questionnaire examined

The latest paper from Lewandowsky is

Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation : Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook1,, Klaus Oberauer and Michael Hubble

The authors explain

This article analyzes the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions. Using established criteria to identify conspiracist ideation, we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking.

In order to respond, it is first necessary to gain a proper understanding of the original questionnaire and the conclusions the authors reached. This posting starts with examining the forty questions to see if the questions were balanced or designed to support the authors’ hypotheses. The full list can be found at Joanne Nova’s website.

Free-market Politics Questions

1. An economic system based on free markets unrestrained by government interference automatically works best to meet human needs.
2. I support the free-market system but not at the expense of environmental quality
3. The free-market system may be efficient for resource allocation, but it is limited in its capacity to promote social justice
4. The preservation of the free market system is more important than localized environmental concerns
5. Free and unregulated markets pose important threats to sustainable development
6. The free-market system is likely to promote unsustainable consumption

There were two areas that the questionnaire tried to test around the motivated rejection of climate science – free-market ideology and conspiracist ideation. The first six questions dealt with belief in free markets. There are a number of issues.

First, those who believe in free-markets are libertarians. They value individual liberty above all else and see laissez-faire capitalism as the only means to achieve this. The reason for many rejecting climate change policies is a belief that it would lead to a suppression of individual choice. They can also see that those who oppose the “scientific” consensus are stigmatized, and criticism suppressed. They might see historical parallels in the rise of communism, Nazism and in the McCarthyist era. Without such questions, rejection of the consensus could be viewed as much shallower and more dogmatic than is actually the case.

Second is that these questions are framed by somebody who clearly does not understand nor like the market mechanism. Most free-marketers would not view it a structural system, but a spontaneous order. Nor would they see a market mechanism as being antagonistic to development or preserving the environment.

Third is that there are a large group of people who may general reject environmentalism, but be quite centrist in their political views. Conversely, there might be some people who are highly antagonist to capitalism, but also sceptical of global warming. Without questions for a broad range of political views, responses will be more polarized than is actually the case.

In conclusion, these six questions seem aimed at marginalizing sceptics.

Conspiracy Theory Questions

A total of 15 questions

7. The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove WMD from Iraq
8. A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order are planning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government, which would replace sovereign governments
9. SARS was produced under laboratory conditions as a biological weapon
10. The US government had foreknowledge about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but allowed the attack to take place to as to be able to enter the Second World War.
11. US Agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970’s
12. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr was the results of an organized conspiracy by US government agencies such as the CIA and FBI
13. The Apollo Moon landings never happened and were stages in a Hollywood film studio
14. Area 51 in Nevada US is a secretive military base that contains hidden alien spacecraft and or alien bodies
15. The assassination of John F Kennedy was not committed by the lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, but was rather a detailed, organized conspiracy to kill the President
16. The US government allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place so that it would have an excuse to achieve foreign (eh wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and domestic (eg attacks on civil liberties) goals that had been determined prior to the attacks
17. In July 1947, the US military recovered the wreckage of an alien craft from Roswell, New Mexico and covered up the fact
18. Princess Diana’s death was not an accident but rather an organised assassination by members of the British royal family who disliked her
19. The Oklahoma City Bombers, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nicols did not act alone but rather received assistance from Neo Nazi groups
20. The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate “research”.
21. The Coca Cola company intentionally changed to an inferior formular with the intent of driving up demand for their classic product, later reintroducing it for their financial gain.

When I first looked at these questions it struck me that some were related to the climate issue. Therefore I left them out as biasing the results.

I think there are five broad categories of question, which I have colour-coded.

Blue questions are neutral to the climate change issue.

Red questions are those that see the climate consensus as some sort of conspiracy.

Green questions are those that see motivations for rejecting the climate consensus as some sort of conspiracy.

Pink Questions are conspiracies that those who reject the climate consensus might believe in, but unrelated to the climate issue.

Brown Questions are conspiracies that those who accept the climate consensus might believe in, but unrelated to the climate issue.

What is clear is that there are no questions that ask if scepticism was underpinned by of some sort of conspiracy. A common theme is that denial being promoted by secretive funding by fossil fuel interests. For instance searching “Koch” on Desmogblog reveals 2440 hits. With such a question, there would have been symmetry. I have rated question 7 (WMD) as possibly appealing more to the climate consensus types, as they tend to be more to the left of centre and certainly are mostly anti George Bush. This was the only question NOT reported in the LOG12 paper. So two conspiracy-type questions specifically appealing to sceptics, and none (reported) that no conspiracy-type questions specifically appealing to “pro-science” types out of 14 would have been sufficient to bias the results towards “finding” that sceptics are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.

Climate Change Science Questions

22. I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperature to some measurable degree
23. I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has increased atmospheric temperature to an appreciable degree
24. I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years will cause serious negative changes to the planet’s climate, unless there is a substantial switch to non-CO2 emitting energy sources
25. I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has caused serious negative changes to the planet’s climate

There is an complete absence of questions about future projections of accelerating warming; or of future catastrophes well in excess of anything so far observed; of the strength of the science or the uncertainties; our trust in what scientists are telling us; nor of the ability of policy to do anything successfully combat it. These are the questions that many sceptics, including myself, are grappling with. As Warren Meyer concludes, it is the projected catastrophe that sceptics “deny”. Joanna Nova, Lord Monckton, Prof Richard Lindzen, Anthony WattsBishop Hill (Andrew Montford), Prof Bob Carter and Lord Nigel Lawson all recognize to some extent that humans might be causing some global warming and that this may continue.
Many, like Lord Lawson (and myself) conclude that the policies to “combat climate change” are both ineffective and hugely harmful to economic prosperity, yet there is no recognition of this aspect. The whole thrust of the questions appears to be one of polarization, making sure that those who reject the consensus is as large as possible.

Environment questions

26. The problem of CFC;s is no longer a serious threat to the ozone layer
27. The problem of acid rain is no longer a serious threat to the global ecosystem

Two questions on the environment, that quite rightly see where people stand on other environment issues.

Personal Questions

28. In many ways my life is close to my ideal
29. The conditions of my life are excellent
30. I am satisfied with my life
31. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life
32. If I could live my life over I would change almost nothing
39. Out of 100 people in your neighborhood, how many do you think earn more than you do?
40. Out of 100 people in your country overall, how many do you think earn more than you do?

Six psychology questions. They do not appear in the conclusions of the paper. This might be because there was no relationship to respondents’ self-esteem and their views on climate science.

Established Science Questions

33. The HIV virus causes AIDS
34. Smoking causes lung cancer
35. Human CO2 emissions cause climate change
36. Out of 100 medical students how many do you think believe that the HIV Virus causes AIDS
37. Out of 100 medical students how many do you think believe that smoking causes lung cancer?
38. Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

There are two sections. Three questions on what the respondent thinks about three propositions and three questions of about where the respondent thinks the scientific consensus lies. The questions are somewhat sneaky. That HIV causes AIDS and smoking causes lung cancer is quite clear to the vast majority. But human CO2 emissions causing “climate change” is something more ambiguous to anyone who thinks about the issue. Does a small amount of warming really mean a change in the climate? Is it a change of climate system – from rainforest to savannah for instance? Or is it the same climate type, but with more extreme weather events. As a political concept in the minds of the authors it might be quite clear, but to respondents who have a less polarized view of the world it may not be so clear. The ordering is quite clear though. The questions are viewed by the question-setters are equally valid, so answering the third question differently is indicating to the respondent something of how they are viewed.


The questions appear to have been devised to obtain verification of the hypothesis that rejection of climate science is motivated by belief in free-market ideology and due to a conspiracist ideation. In more colloquial language, the questions were biased to support the view that denial of climate science is due to free-market ideologues who are incapable of evaluating the evidence. The questions on free-market ideology betray the question-setters prejudices. The questions on conspiracy theories are show something of the question-setters own beliefs or a deliberate ploy to bias the results in the desired direction. The questions on climate science show a desire to show consensus amongst pro-science views, along with trying to ignore the possibility that policy questions are a matter of contention as well as the “science”.

Kevin Marshall

Wonthaggi Desal plant – Mothball to save Money and the Environment

Jo Nova has posted on the flagrant waste of money involved in the new Desalination Plant to serve the people of Melbourne. Here is my comment

Remember Topher, with his excellent “Forbidden History” video? Well, his earlier videos were on the problems of water shortage in Melbourne, and the Labour Government’s attempts to solve this problem. In his “Unpopular View #3” made in 2010, he looks at a magic solution. Rather than build a 150GL desalination plant, the Victorian Government could have spent $2.6bn on a pipeline from Tasmania producing 350GL of water. Topher further argues it would have helped Tasmanians. Why? the water is currently used for Hydro. Sold as water to the Victorians, the Tasmanians would make loads more money than they get from the electricity. This in turn could
Yet, in a huge report published, the authorities ignored this win-win solution, despite having four submissions that mentioned it.
Spend 15 minutes, and check it out for yourself.

Now for a bit of beancounting.

On these projects, the more you dig, the worse it gets.

Comparing Topher’s costs of the Tasmanian pipe-line (TPL) with your Shiny Desalination Plant (SDP).

Capital Cost – TPL $2.6bn, SDP $3.5bn (+$1.0bn?)

Annual costs – TPL $0.11bn (+up to $0.04bn running/maint costs?), SDP ($1.0bn)

Increase in Victorian Water Bills – TPL <5% (my estimate), SDP 34% (Herald Sun).

But it does not end there. The Tasmanian Pipeline would have nil power to deliver 350GL of water down a 2.5m pipe, as it would be gravity fed. The SDP requires massive amounts of power. The capital cost of wind generators to meet that power (as the project is committed to do) is estimated at $1.2bn. However, to be properly carbon neutral in operation, like the TPL, the desalination plant would require an estimated investment of approximately $6.0bn (See appendix)

Even though there is already at least $3.5bn already spent, there is a serious economic case for mothballing the desalination plant – and still building the Tasmanian Pipe-Line. In finance, one should only look forward, and let bygones-be-bygones. In politics, it is different. There are five possible scenarios.

  1. Mothball the desalination plant, and build the Tasmanian Pipe-line. Additional investment and damages might be $10bn, but is carbon neutral. Over 24 years it will pay around $2.5bn to Tasmania (paying for additional water infrastructure and/or protecting the wilderness), but with huge economic benefits for Victorian farmers with plentiful water supplies. Would require first voting out the Victorian Labor administration. Could recover $1m or so by suing the Labor administration of Victoria for gross negligence. (Financially not worthwhile, but would prevent others from doing similar mad schemes for a generation)
  2. Go ahead with the desalination plant and make it properly carbon neutral. Additional investment, and damages might be $7bn, but with around $10-$24bn of running costs, this “Green and honest” policy is expensive and electoral suicide.
  3. Go ahead with the desalination plant and pretend to carbon neutral by using actual capacity of wind farms. Additional investment, and damages might be $2.2bn, but with around $10-$24bn of running costs, this “Green and pretending to be honest” policy is expensive and would enough votes to guarantee an election would be lost.
  4. Go ahead with the desalination plant and pretend to carbon neutral by using nameplate capacity of wind farms. Additional investment for 100MW is $240m, and damages might be $1.0bn, but with around $10-$24bn of running costs, this “proclaiming to be honest” policy is expensive, but would lose votes for throwing money away.
  5. Go ahead with the desalination plant and forget about the green commitments. Additional investment is nil, and damages might be $1.0bn, but with around $10-$24bn of running costs, and this “ducking the issue” policy is expensive, but would lose less votes than being honest. However, the carbon tax at $10MWH, equates to $360,000 per annum if 150GL is produced. That is a trivial amount on the water bills and when it rises year-on-year, will hardly be noticed in the much bigger costs of the desalination plant.

So, in the interests of Melbourne and Tasmanian citizens, the best policy is to vote out the Labor Administration both nationally and locally. What will actually happen is the worst of options. Politicians will duck the issue, lumbering the Melbourne population with huge extra costs for a generation, going against national Labor policy on the environment, and failing to provide income to Tasmania, that could help Tasmanian farmers and finance the protection of the Tasmanian wilderness.

Appendix – Carbon Offsetting the Desalination Plant

The SDP will require 90-120MW to operate. Further, says Wikipedia, “additional energy will be required to pump the desalinated water from Wonthaggi to Cardinia Reservoir in Melbourne” To make the SDP carbon neutral, I will assume usage of wind power, as it is most popular type of renewable at present. To make the numbers easy I will assume 100MW is required (see below). The most popular type of renewable is wind power at present. Two such recent plants in the State of Victoria are the 192MW Waubra Wind Farm, which cost $600m, and 195MW Portland Wind Farm, projected to cost $330m. So that is $3.1m or $1.7m per megawatt plate capacity. That averages at $2.4m Wind turbines only have, however, an output of around 20% of nameplate. So to produce the average of 100MW, requires 500MW of capacity. However, if you want to be properly carbon neutral in Victoria, you need to allow for the coal-fired power stations running as back-up. True abatement levels are around 4% of nameplate. So for the SDP to be properly carbon neutral in Victoria, to offset the 100MW will require 2500MW of nameplate capacity wind farms To produce the required electricity from wind farms will mean investing $2.4m times 500 = $1.2bn. To be properly carbon neutral means investing $2.4m times 2500 = $6.0bn

Note – Power Requirements.

The figure of 100MW is calculated as follows. To produce 150GL of water assumes the plant is operating at 410 megalites per day 365 days a year. This gives the 90MW usage in normal operation. The extended capacity of 550 megalites per day is extended operation needs 120MW, which will be needed to allow some maintenance downtime. Let us assume 30 days normal downtime. So to produce 150GL in 335 days requires running the plant at 90MW for 224 days and 120MW for 91 days. Assume pumping adds around 10% to this gives and annual requirement of 36168 MWH, or a load of 99MW. Rounded is 100MW. 

Kevin Marshall 



Stephan Lewandowsky on Hurricane Sandy

Jo Nova posts on Stephan Lewandowsky’s analysis of Hurricane Sandy. Below is my comment, with the relevant links.

Lewandowsky has a lot to say about the overwhelming evidence for smoking causing lung cancer, but in substance has just this to say about the impending catastrophic global warming.

Trends such as the tripling of the number of weather-related natural disasters during the last 30 years or the inexorable rise in sea levels. Climate scientists predicted those trends long ago. And they are virtually certain that those trends would not have occurred without us pumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

There are 3 parts to this.

First, the economic analysis of natural disasters is Lewandowsky’s own. He ignores completely the opinions of Roger Pielke Jr, an expert in the field, with many peer reviewed studies on the subject. Pielke Jnr has shown there is nothing exceptional in the normalised cost of Hurricane Sandy. Furthermore, a 2009 report showed that New York is vulnerable to hurricanes, and the shape of the coastline makes it particularly vulnerable to storm surges.

Second, the sea level rise is a trivial issue. From the University of Colorado graph, it is clear that sea levels are rising at a steady rate of 31cm a century.

Third, he claims the predictions of unnamed “experts” have been fulfilled. A balanced analysis would point out that the CO2 levels have risen faster than predicted, but temperatures have not.

Last week I posted a proposal for analysing the costly impacts of global warming. Using the “equation”, I would suggest Lewandowsky overstates both the Magnitude and Likelihood that Sandy was caused by global warming. He misperceives the change in frequency (1/t). Furthermore, given than he has a track record in the highly biased use of statistics in his own field, and his deliberate lack of balance, the Weighting attached to anything he says should be negative. That is, like to newspapers of the Soviet Union, if Lewandowsky claims something, we should read between the lines see what he does not say. However, unlike the Soviet Union we are still able to look for alternative opinions.

Normalized US Hurricane damage impacts

2012_rel4: Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals removed)

Lewandowsky et al. 2012 MOTIVATED REJECTION OF SCIENCE – Part 3 Data Analysis of the Conspiracy Theory element

A month ago made two postings on the paper Lewandowsky, Oberauer & Gignac – NASA faked the moon landing:Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (in press, Psychological Science). In the first I showed that an opening statement about the beliefs of climate scientists was not supported by the references. The second raised some questions, which owing to a lack of data I was unable to answer.

When Katabasis offered in the comments at Jo Nova’s blog to provide the raw data for the paper I took him up on the offer.

The paper’s major findings were on the link between climate denial and belief in free markets. However, I first want to deal with the aspect of the link with beliefs in conspiracy theories due to

  1. the title
  2. The articles that have appeared in the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers.
  3. The following from the conclusion
  4. Also consider this from the conclusion

    “However, to our knowledge, our results are the first to provide empirical evidence for the correlation between a general construct of conspiracist ideation and the general tendency to reject well-founded science.”

The lead author, Prof. Stefan Lewandowsky has a history of dogmatically defending climate science, often by attacking the opponents. However, that is no reason to reject the results of a published scientific paper if those results are substantiated by the evidence.

The survey was posted on a number of climate blogs of all the same persuasion. Depending on your point of view, they are either pro-science or alarmist. These are

If you sample some of their articles, you will find a dogmatic defence of climate change, and blocking, editing or denigration views that are contrary to their own. The claim in the paper that they contacted five sceptical blogs to improve the spread of views is highly suspect.* Jo Nova contacted 24 such blogs (including all the most prominent ones), with not a single one remembering such an approach. Prof. Lewandowsky is currently refusing to divulge the names of the blogs contacted. As there was no proper control of the answers, there could be rogue results generated.

Identification of those who “Reject the Science”

There were four questions on beliefs about “Climate Science”

CO2TempUp I believe that burning fossil fuels increases atmospherictemperature to some measurable degree.
CO2AtmosUp I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has increased atmospheric temperature to an appreciable degree.
CO2WillNegChange I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years will cause serious negative changes to the planet’s climate unless there is a substantial switch to non CO2 emitting energy sources.
CO2HasNegChange I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has caused serious negative changes to the planet’s climate.

The answers were from 1 (totally Reject) to 4 (complete agreement).

I found the average score for each respondent, graded and plotted the count.

Or summarising into 3 categories

As to be expected from the nature of the blogs where it was published, more than 4 in 10 gave the highest score and 85% are more positive than negative in their beliefs. The poll only includes 125 or 175 responses of those who “reject the science”.

Linking to Conspiracy Theories

The survey is about those who reject the science being more likely to believe in weird conspiracy theories than acceptors of the science. As Jo Nova puts it, the climate sceptics are meant to be nutters.

There were 14 conspiracy theories presented. Two (on New World Order and Climate Change) I will leave out for now as they are not entirely independent of the subject. Of the 12 remaining I took the average score. If the general hypothesis is correct, the more strongly the rejection of the science, the greater the score on conspiracy theories.

There is no significant relationship here at all. The typical respondent gives little or no credence to conspiracy theories.

To understand this better, I rounded the average score for each respondent to the nearest whole number. The pivot table is now.

There is no relationship here. The outlier is the two respondents with an average score of 4. One put a 4 for all, and the other put 4 on 11/12 and 3 on the other. These are clearly rogue responses and should have been removed as outliers from such a small sample. If removed, the average conspiracy theory score for those who dogmatically reject climate science conclusions drops to 1.49, the lowest of any group.

So what of the conspiracy theory that most the moon landings were faked? The one in the title “NASA faked the moon landing:Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science

45 out of 48 of those who dogmatically reject climate science, also dogmatically emphatically reject the conspiracy theory. The two who score 4 are rogue results.

In fact, the response is pretty emphatic in every group. Consider the abstract.

We additionally show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings, above and beyond endorsement of laissez-faire free markets.

Maybe the correlation was with the Climate Science Conspiracy Theory?

If you take out the two rogue responses, then if any comment were to be extracted it would surely be the other way round. However, it is not significant, and internet responses get some rogue results on all sides.

Let me be quite clear. The title of the paper makes a false claim from authors with an agenda of silencing opponents. It is entirely without any proper evidence.

The other eleven results are below

Finally, the two conspiracy theories not included.

*Update 11th Sept see reply to Prof Lewandowsky at comment 120

Lewandowsky et al 2012 – Data Analysis part 1

Katabasis offered in the comments at Jo Nova’s blog to provide the raw data for the paper

“NASA faked the moon landing  — Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax:

An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”

  Lewandowsky, S., Oberauer, K., & Gignac, C. E. (in press) Psychological Science

I took Katabasis up on the offer. Here are some preliminary results.

Please see DR_UK’s comment below

The CONSENSCO2 question was

Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

In other words is it a questions about what you believe about what others believe. The comparison should be with the results of the four questions on the respondent’s own beliefs in Climate Science to be found on Page 27 of the paper. The results I hope to post up later today. The sample skew is the similar. 75% of the respondents have strong beliefs in climate science, 14% have weak beliefs and just 11% – 125 respondents – reject the science. I will post later on the revised tables. 

Q. Was the sample size sufficient?

Lewandowsky et al 2012 say

We report a survey (N > 1100) of climate blog users to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science.

However they do not state the proportion of respondents on which they based the results – that is those who reject the science. The data summarizes the climate results as “Consensus C02″ on a scale of 0 to 100. That is 0 is complete rejection through to 100 as complete acceptance. The CONSENSCO2 question was

Out of 100 climate scientists how many do you think believe that human CO2 emissions cause climate change?

I divided the results into 5 bands to see the skew.

Fully 86% of responses largely accept the C02 consensus respondents believe that the vast majority of climate scientists believe that human CO2 emissions  and just 3% (32) strongly reject it. believe that a the vast majority are concealing the truth or lying.

This is not surprising, as the survey was only published on militant alarmist blogs such as SKEPTICALSCIENCE, TAMINO and DELTOID. Jo Nova has so far contacted 24 “skeptic” blogs, not one of whom says they received a request to publish the link to the survey.

Some of the raw results

Some quick pivot tables against the results.

Moon Landings

Comment: “Alarmists” are just as much conspiracy theorists as “Skeptics”

JFK Assassination

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Martin Luther King Assassination

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Diana “Assassination”

Comment: A slight much difference here between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics” – by 5 or 6 skeptic responses.

9/11 Conspiracies

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Pearl Harbour Conspiracies

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

SARS Conspiracies

Comment: Not much difference here either between “Alarmists” and “Skeptics”

Preliminary Conclusion

Readers the climate alarmist blogs are full of weird conspiracy theories. Where people that frequent these blogs rate themselves on acceptance of the CO2 Consensus makes little difference to this conclusion. Given that these blogs exist to discourage any views but their own, it is not surprising that their readership:-

  1. Share a similar, unbalanced, way of evaluating evidence to the blogs authors.
  2. Are predominantly in agreement with the views promoted.

Julia Gillard’s Carbon Taxes– An ineffective policy

Jo Nova claims the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, lied to the Australian public by being circumspect about a carbon taxes, then when in office to introduce a carbon tax to be followed by cap and trade.

Betrayal of promises is to be expected and welcomed if to meet changed circumstances. For instance new taxes to close a deficit brought on by a recession. But in this case nothing has changed. However, there is a much better reason for Australian’s to oppose the policy – it will inflict economic pain and hardship for little or no returns.

The political argument for the introduction of the policy is that we should meet international obligations. OECD countries “need” to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 to constrain CO2 levels to around 550-600ppm. It is claimed by the IPCC & the Stern Review that this can be achieved by at a cost much less than the costly consequences of global warming. My example below suggests that a gasoline tax of 6.5 cents a litre would be almost totally ineffective. It would only serve to reduce living standards. Yet this is the start of CO2 reduction policies, when there should be some easy wins. It is as bigger inroads are made that reductions in CO2 should become more costly. Unless more effective policies can be devised, the CO2 reduction policies will leave us and future generations worse off than if nothing was done. Therefore, those who believe in the impending climate catastrophe, but are policy realists should join the climate sceptics in opposing the introduction in Australia of a carbon tax and carbon trading.

I try to explore demonstrate the case for climate change mitigation policies graphically here and which the policy will never link

A Carbon Tax on Gasoline

Consider a motorist in Australia who travels high distances in an old, inefficient truck. He travels 30000km a year and consumes a litre every 6km (6km/l or 17mpg in British terms). So the cost of 5000 litres used will increase the fuel bill by AU$325. If there are no gasoline taxes in Australia, fuel prices will be around $1.20 per litre, so the motorist will already be paying $6000 per year for fuel and (if he is lucky) $2000 for insurance, other taxes, maintenance and depreciation. So the tax will add 4% to his motoring costs.

At a more moderate level, consider a British example (in Australian dollars). Somebody has a medium sized car that is three years old, travelling 10,000 miles (16,000km) per year at 40mpg (14km/l). Fuel is $2 (£1.30) per litre , so costs $2280 for 1140 litres. With no serious maintenance issues, tax, depreciation, insurance and servicing cost around $4500 per annum. Total costs (rounded) are $7000 per year. A 6.5 cent carbon tax will add $71.25, or 1% to this bill.

For a newer car the percentage increase will be lower. Upgrade the specification and the percentage will be lower.

As real incomes rise people are able to afford more luxury. Compare the typical car in Australia with say Brazil, or Brazil with an African nation. In Brazil the best-selling cars have mostly one litre capacity and low specification. Many cars new cars still do not have air conditioning or electric windows. A carbon tax will take people in the reverse direction a long way before they will give up the utility of a private vehicle.


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