How do you analyse horse shit?

I can’t resist posting a link to an article I read in Desmog recently. It includes the contents of a letter written by environment editor of the SMH, Sam Cubby and sent to an Australian climate change conspiracy theorist. He begins,

In considering your request that I identify errors in the report you sent to me – CSIROh! Climate of Deception? Or First Step to Freedom? – I find myself confronting an unusual problem: how does one critically analyse a pile of horse shit?

The full letter can be read at the bottom of the following page:

Climate Change Conspiracy Theorist’s Report “A Pile Of Horse Shit” Writes Environment Editor (via Desmogblog)

BEN CUBBY, the environment editor at Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, admits he has an unusual problem – “how does one critically analyse a pile of horse shit?” The horse excretion in question is a report – CSIROh! – Climate of Deception or First Step to Freedom – sent to Cubby by one…

20 Replies to “How do you analyse horse shit?”

  1. Talking ‘horse shit’ is not just the preserve of climate change sceptics. There are all manner of extremist religious folk, politicians, commentators, and yes, even environmentalists who have it in abundance. I wonder why they call it ‘horse shit’ as it does make the garden grow!

    1. Perhaps because it provides fertilizer for a discussion!

  2. Rachel,
    If I may say,” horseshit” and Desmogblog go well together.As a climate change agnostic,may I point out another reason why alarmists are losing the Carbon Wars.The 13th Annual Weblog Awards have been announced.The Best Science Blog award went to Watts Up With That, for a third year.The best Australia and NZ Weblog went to Australian Climate Madness.The best Weblog about politics went to James Delingpole. No sign of Desmogblog.
    I will also be attending the 70th Anniversary Dinner of The Institute of Public Affairs next week in Melbourne.May I point out that the guest speaker will be Rupert Murdoch,remembered for saying we should give the planet the benefit of the doubt.He and I are both members of an organisation that is more nuanced than merely being occasional funders of the Heartland Institute.

    1. Readers who would like to know the truth about those weblog awards should read –

      Quoting the founder of the bloggies, Nikolai Nolan, from the above article:
      “…legitimate science blogs don’t want to make an effort to compete.”
      and further down:
      “There have been various problems over the years. This year someone used a lot of disposable email addresses to nominate themselves. Occasionally people will submit ballots on behalf of other people. Sometimes people will use fake nominations to get around the three-nomination minimum.”

  3. Doug, WUWT is not a science and technology blog by any means. Nor is Desmog. Desmog however, offers more truthful and accurate journalism. The Sam Cubby letter was indeed written by Sam Cubby and was reprinted by Graham Readfearn, a journalist, on Desmog.

  4. Rachel,
    Well,we have competing blog sites.Let the battle rage,I say.
    I was reflecting on the settled science and the long list of National Academies of Science which you sent me on the other post.Let’s test the views of the National Academy of Science,China through a recent paper by 5 of its climate scientists.See Fang et al 2011.Here we have a peer reviewed paper funded by the Chinese Academy.It should give me the good oil! The findings-
    1.Climate warming occurs with great uncertainty in the magnitude of the temperature increase.
    2.Both human activities and natural forces contribute to climate change,but their relative contributions are difficult to quantify,and
    3.The dominant role of the increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases including CO2
    In the global warming claimed by the UN IPCC is questioned by the scientific communities because of large uncertainties in the mechanisms of natural factors and anthropogenic activities and in the sources of the increased atmospheric CO2 concentration.More efforts should be made to clarify these uncertainties.
    They also state that the UN IPCC Report is no longer the most authorative document on climate change,as it is restricted by political tendencies and some errors and flaws.

    1. The paper Doug is referring to is “Global warming, human-induced carbon emissions, and their uncertainties” by Fang et al 2011. It’s available on line via Springerlink –
      I have managed to get a copy through the University of Auckland library and had a quick read. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make with this paper because the first sentence of the conclusion reads: “Global warming is an objective fact with great uncertainty in the magnitude of the temperature increase”. I agree with it! Whether or not the IPCC is the most authoritative source of information in the subject of global warming is irrelevant. There is so much literature on the subject from all areas of science. Here’s some very recent research for your perusal (one is from Geophysical Research Letters, another from Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres and lastly from Climate Dynamics):
      I can provide you with many more. If all you’ve got is a paper that acknowledges the existence of anthropogenic global warming, then we agree with one another.
      Perhaps the debate should be about what you think should be done about it.

  5. Rachel,
    The Fang et al paper is acknowledging that the earth has warmed but does not subscribe to the CAGW nonsense being pushed by the UN and the National Academies.
    After 20 years, it is clear that climate catastrophe is not in process.The modest 0.5C warming from 1975 to 2000 was not abnormal compared to the MWP and other eras.There has been no global warming for 17 plus years as is now generally admitted.The Antarctic Icecap which contains 90 percent of Earth’s ice continues to expand.Ocean levels are rising at 7 to 8 inches per century not 20 feet per century predicted by Dr. Hansen and Mr. Gore.Cyclones,hurricanes and tornados are neither more frequent nor more powerful on a global scale than those of the past.Polar bear populations are at a 50 Year hIgh and stories of the bear’s demise are wildly exaggerated.The fear of ocean acidification is based solely on Computer model projections,lacking empirical evidence.
    Climate science jumped to a wrong conclusion more than 20 years ago and alarmism is now driven by money.It is a trillion dollar industry today.For every Charles Koch you quote you ignore a George Soros pouring millions into green foundations.The entire budget of the Heartland Institute is peanuts.The money going to shoring up the Global Warming industry dwarfs any remaining contributions from Big Oil.One estimate is 3000 to one for Green versus “denialists”.Chevron and BP spend millions in advertising telling us how green they are.
    Kyoto is dead and regrettably Australia is one of 37 nations left in the post-Kyoto club.Those countries ,(not NZ or Canada or USA),are in the gun to pay $100 billion to developing nations by 2020.There is no prospect of any international agreement to limit world Carbon dioxide emissions,after the failures of Copenhagen,Cancun,Durban and Doha.Domestically Australia has had fostered on us a Carbon tax and later an ETS.The U.K.has a maniacal Climate Change Act 2008,which will achieve nothing but fuel poverty for its citizens and the slow destruction of its energy system.This week,for the first time a major UK newspaper editorialised for the repeal of the Act.There are now issues about gas shortages in the present bitter extended UK winter,and the “energy gap” concerns with its power grid.Blackouts are a future concern.The UK coal powered generators are being phased out with no effective replacements.The EU stupidity on climate change defies rational discussion.
    These are the reasons why I am not a member of the First Church of Settled Climate Change!

    1. Doug says, “The Antarctic Icecap which contains 90 percent of Earth’s ice continues to expand.”

      Scientists say:

      Central West Antarctica – some 1500km inland from the Peninsula – has warmed over the past five decades at a rate rivaling that of any other location on Earth. And from the same article, “..sea ice cover has declined nearly monotonically in the region (West Antarctica) for at least the past 30 years.”
      Overall Antarctica lost about 81 billion tons per year in the same period (2005 – 2010).
      See also, Antarctic ice-sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves.

      All three journal publications above are from the last year. The next one, a little older at 2009, finds that not only is it melting, but it’s melting at an accelerating rate.

      In Antarctica, the mass loss increased from 104 Gt/yr in 2002-2006 to 246 Gt/yr in 2006-2009. (Gt = gigatonne.)

      Doug says, “There has been no global warming for 17 plus years as is now generally admitted.”

      Scientists say:

      Global warming is not ‘at a standstill’ according to these four British scientists.
      The oceans are heating up. Global mean temperature measurements are surface temperatures and do not incorporate the heat absorbed by the oceans. Scientists expect the ocean will probably start releasing that heat, later this decade.

      Meanwhile, Australia had its hottest year since records began in 2012. So did the United States. England had its wettest. Arctic summer sea ice was at its lowest level since satellite imagery began. The Economist produced a table in 2010 which shows that the hottest years on record were all in the last 15.

      Doug says, “Polar bear numbers are at a 50 year high”.

      Scientists say:
      The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) puts data online.
      Currently there are 19 separate populations of polar bears. 7 of those have insufficient data to determine whether they are increasing or in decline; 3 of the groups are stable; 8 groups are in decline. PBSG say: “Due to decreasing arctic sea ice habitat, polar bear populations are expected to decline more than 30% over the next three generations”.

      Doug says, “Cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes are neither more frequent nor more powerful…”

      Scientists say:

      A paper published in the PNAS last year found a “statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923.”
      Research out of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark shows that a two degree warming in climate will result in a tenfold increase in the frequency of extreme storm surges.

      The very bitter winter British citizens are experiencing can be attributed to loss of arctic sea ice, says Jennifer Frances from Rutgers Univesity. “The region (UK and Europe) has been prone to bad winters after summers with very low sea ice, such as 2011 and 2007”. 2012 saw a record loss in arctic sea ice.

      See also “Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall”. From the abstract, “We conclude that the recent decline of Arctic sea ice has played a critical role in recent cold and snowy winters.”


      There is a view held by people who deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change that scientists are being alarmist. Recently I came across some evidence that illustrates the exact opposite of this. That is, scientists are being told to downplay the risks so as not to alarm the public. Kevin Anderson, a professor from the University of Manchester, was told this month to present a “much more optimistic view of the challenges if we are to win a sufficient constituency to bring about meaningful change”.

      James Stafford from recently interviewed Dr John Abraham, thermal sciences researcher and professor at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota.

      The main message he wants to get across:

      Humans are causing climate change, we’ve know that for well over 100 years
      We can do something about it now, with today’s technology
      If we make smart decisions, not only will we help the climate, we will create jobs, improve national security, and diversify our energy supply
      Doing nothing about the problem is a choice, with tremendous costs

      There is now a Climate Science Rapid Response Team whose aim is to connect climate scientists with lawmakers and members of the media. They say there is a wide gap between what scientists know about climate change and what the public knows. They are advocates for science education and encourage media and government officials to send requests using their enquiry form.

      I encourage readers to get their information from scientific sources such as the ones available from the Climate Science Rapid Response Team.

  6. P.S.Errata- fostered should read foisted.

  7. Rachel,
    See today’s Economist ‘A Sensitive Matter’, which acknowledges the hiatus in world temperatures and speculates as to its cause. I had previously read the response by Myles Allen and others which is unconvincing. There is no empirical evidence that the deep oceans are warming and the upper 700m of ocean clearly are not.
    As to the PBSG concerning polar bears their figures are inconclusive and speculative. Interestingly satellite counting of emperor penguins show their numbers at 595,000 and rising steadily (far higher than previously thought) whereas alarmists asserted in June last year that by 2100 they would suffer a 75% decline in numbers.
    I can only laugh at the suggestion that climate scientists are being urged to downplay the coming catastrophies. Dr Hanson and the Team have spent several decades frightening the public with ill-advised predictions.
    On the issue of climate surges, leading climate scientists like Dr Ryan Maue and Professor Roger Pielke Snr and Pielke Jr have comprehensively demolished the PNAS claims.
    I am familiar with the Climate Science Rapid Response Team. I expect that they will have a declining effect on the public and policy makers.
    Lastly, Dr John Abrahams’ statements are flawed propaganda. Contrary to his statement we do not have the technology today to adequately tackle climate change ie to cap any world temperature increase to 2’C by 2050, which is unlikely to eventuate anyway on present trends. In 2011 the UN World Economic Summary nominated a figure of 76 Trillion dollars to accomplish that. That sum which will be largely contributed by the developed nations is indicative of the pure fantasy world in which the UN and the post-Kyoto nations live.

    1. Thanks for the Economist article, Doug. Interesting read. They put the expected increase in temperature in the range 2-4 degrees, which is what I’ve been reading elsewhere.
      It is a fair argument to accept this higher temperature and plan for adaptation rather than mitigation. But you have to provide a compelling reason. To say, “it’s not possible” is a bit defeatist. Bill Gates is pushing for TerraPower – – the first plant should be ready to go by 2020. That’s not far away.
      I’m not an economist so I give weight to the views an article in the Economist has in regard to economic policy and even they think research into fossil fuels alternatives is good public policy –
      I personally don’t think there’s enough money going into research in this field. I don’t just want the Bill Gates of the world to be doing it, I want our governments to do it too. The Chinese are investing in this field too.
      The other aspect to the argument for adaptation rather than mitigation is that I feel it’s a little shaky coming from someone who won’t be here for the largest increase in temperature. I will be on this Earth for a period of time after you’ve gone. My children will be here for longer after that. It’s all very well to say, “Let’s just adapt to a 3 degree warming” when you’re not going to be here for it.

  8. P.S.
    On large surge events,and extreme weather events,after the UN IPCC SREX Report,I would have thought it was completely untenable to argue that there was empirical evidence linking climate change to these occurrences.

    1. It looks like his paper is available online if you’re interested. They used tide gauges:

      “Here we construct an independent record of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity on the basis of storm surge statistics from tide gauges. We demonstrate that the major events in our surge index record can be attributed to landfalling tropical cyclones; these events also correspond with the most economically damaging Atlantic cyclones. We find that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923.”

      It is fair enough to read one paper and remain pragmatic. Wait to see what else comes out. But it’s not pragmatic to disagree with everything that challenges your point of view especially when you’ve not done any research in the area yourself.

  9. Rachel,
    I note that you regard Desmogblog as providing more truthful and accurate journalism than WUWT.Anthony Watts is the founder of his blog and its contributors are shown transparently.Read the Wikipedia entry.With Desmogblog I read on Wikipedia that only one of its co-founders is identified,a James Hoggan,the Chair of the David Suzuki foundation.A major benefactor is John Lefebvre.A less favourable summary of Desmogblog appears on ,with interesting commentary on Mr.Lefebvre.
    I do not think you are going to get objective journalism from Desmogblog.

    1. You don’t need to go to Wikipedia to find out who the Desmog team are. They put it all on their website,, where you will see that not only does Jim Hoggan serve as chair of the David Suzuki Foundation but he’s also a trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. The three other members of the team are also there with full bios.

      This is irrelevant anyway. None of the links I’ve provided in my comments above come from Desmog. They are all links to academic journals. The link to the Ben Cubby letter in my original post was easily verified by Ben Cubby himself from twitter – – and is duplicated on Graham Readfearn’s own blog –

  10. Rachel,
    Thanks for the Guardian link.It may show one projection has been on the money.However, the IPCC scenarios of 1990,and the Hansen scenarios of 1988 were wide of the mark .If you look at the chart “Falling off the scale” at the head of the Economist article of 30 March,you will see the emerging problem for mainstream climate scientists.Flat surface temperatures this century mean the temperature line will fall outside the GCM’s projections is a few years.More immediately, the Figure 1.4 accompanying the leaked Second Order Draft of the UNIPCC’s AR5 (Dec 2012) shows the temperature line ( at end 2011)similarly diving through the lower GCM’s projections.If 2012 global temperatures are added,the line is certainly “off the scale”.Indeed the graph shows global cooling this century!
    This is what I have been addressing in earlier posts.The AR5 Report next year can’t fudge this issue but must give a plausible explanation of the temperature hiatus.Telling us that GCMs show the earth heat content growing while air temperatures are static is not going to be well received by the public or policy makers.
    On this topic see Hansen et al 2013,”Climate Forcing Growth Rates:Doubling down on our Faustian bargain”,just published.The authors seem to be saying-
    The effect (forcing) of man-made greenhouse gas emissions has fallen below IPCC projections despite an increase in man-made CO2 emissions exceeding IPCC projections.
    The growth rate of the greenhouse gas forcing has “remained below the peak values reached in the 1970’s and early 1980’s,has been relatively stable for about 20 years,and is falling below IPCC (2001) scenarios.”
    Hansen believes the explanation for this conundrum is CO2 fertilisation of the biosphere from the ” surge of fossil fuel use, mainly coal”.
    Is Dr. Hansen turning sceptical of the IPCC?

    1. With regards to the “Falling off the scale” graph from the economist, I choose to go to its source – Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading. He made the graph and posted it on his blog to Updated comparison of simulations and observations. He is a climate scientist at the University of Reading. If you’re after a legitimate science blog to follow, then I recommend his. He says the observations are at the lower end of the projected range and he provides some possible explanations – Global temperatures over the past decade. These are plausible explanations. Have you got a reason for dismissing them?

      It looks to me like global temperatures have gone up and down a fair bit over the last century and are sometimes at the lower end of the projected range and sometimes at the higher end. The projection Myles Allen produced in 1999 which has so far been remarkably accurate, shows that temperatures rose faster than projected in the early 2000s and have now returned to the forecasted trend.

      Myles Allen also writes in The Guardian about this apparent “lack of warming” which the climate science dismissive community has become very excited about. According to him, all it means is that values greater than 5C are looking less likely but we’re still looking at warming of 4C plus by the early 22nd century. This is hardly something to get excited about.

      Myles Allen says, from the article above,
      “I think it’s interesting because so many people think that recent years have been unexpectedly cool. In fact, what we found was that a few years around the turn of the millennium were slightly warmer than forecast, and that temperatures have now reverted to what we were predicting back in the 1990s.”

      On the topic of the leaked report from IPCC. I thought I’d check it out for myself. So, I Googled “leaked AR5”, and of all the legitimate results (i.e., reputable news publications or science blogs), I found the report confirms human-induced climate change. Further info at The Guardian, New Scientist and Scientific American.

      On the issue of Hansen’s latest publication in Environmental Research Letters, Climate forcing growth rates: doubling down on our Faustian bargain, I recommend you to read it for yourself. Don’t read the analysis on the blog of someone who is not a scientist and who is clearly biased. The article is available for all to read. The sentence immediately after the sentence cherry-picked by climate science dismissal blogs reads, “However, the greenhouse gas forcing is growing faster than in the Alternative Scenario.” The conclusion reads,
      “The principal implication of our present analysis probably relates to the Faustian bargain. Increased short-term masking of greenhouse gas warming by fossil fuel particulate and nitrogen pollution represents a ‘doubling down’ of the Faustian bargain, an increase in the stakes. The more we allow the Faustian debt to build, the more unmanageable the eventual consequences will be. Yet globally there are plans to build more than 1000 coal-fired power plants (Yang and Cui 2012) and plans to develop some of the dirtiest oil sources on the planet (EIA 2011). These plans should be vigorously resisted. We are already in a deep hole-it is time to stop digging.”

      Lately I have become concerned that people would take the word of an individual who has no scientific background and writes opinions on a weblog, over those of someone who has an undergraduate degree or two, postgraduate study of 3-5 years, plus postdoctoral research, not to mention years of experimentation in the field, of reading and analysing academic literature, of attending academic conferences and seminars, access to other intellectuals for reasoned debate and discussion. Yesterday I saw an interview on the SMH website in which Lord Monkton tried to tell us he had a peer-reviewed paper. An article in a physics newsletter does not constitute a peer-reviewed paper. I decided to interview Ben about what exactly peer review means and have posted the transcript on my blog – Peer review and hot cross buns

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