More excrement from James Delingpole

There’s nothing quite a like an article written by James Delingpole to spoil my evening and incite anger. His articles are almost always inflammatory, biased, full of inconsistencies and quite often wrong.

I just read his latest turd in the Telegraph and with each line I felt my blood pressure rising and my anger escalate. I probably shouldn’t have read it and I don’t recommend anyone else read it but if you really want to, then I’ve archived it here. Please don’t go to his blog and give him more hits.

Now I intend to off-load some of my anger in this blog post. So here goes.

James Delingpole does not accept the science of climate change. He rejects the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and gives as his reason quotes from the following people:

  1. One climate scientist with known links to ExxonMobil.
  2. An astronomer who doubles as an advisor for the contrarian Global Warming Policy Foundation.
  3. A politician and chairman of the contrarian Global Warming Policy Foundation.
  4. An author/accountant.
  5. An applied mathematician.
  6. One woman with a degree in women’s studies.
  7. An ex-mining industry executive.

Now I’m not saying that people like this are incapable of communicating the science of climate change, but they are all quite clearly on the contrarian side. Furthermore, James Delingpole rejects the science of 209 lead authors from 39 countries and more than 600 contributing authors from 32 countries and instead embraces his 7 dubious advisors.

I put James Delingpole and anybody who agrees with him, in the same camp as those people who think vaccinations cause autism. Like James, they reject the overwhelming majority of qualified individuals for a few outliers.

What’s more, what James Delingpole and the anti-vaccination groups are doing is unethical. The anti-vaccination groups compromise herd immunity, putting everyone at risk, particularly those who are immunocompromised. James and anyone who goes out of their way to misrepresent the science of climate change, are also putting everyone at risk by supporting a trajectory that will leave much of the planet uninhabitable for humans. They are deliberately misleading the public which has the effect that the voting public is incapable of putting enough pressure on our politicians to do something about the problem. The best example here is that Australians have just voted in someone who thinks that climate science is “crap”.  Australians have people like James Delingpole to thank for that. I hope that one day, he and the others, are held accountable.

Accepting the views of just one climate scientist without question is not what a true sceptic would do. True scepticism ought to be applied to the likes of Richard Lindzen just as much as to the hundreds of scientists behind the IPCC report. What James Delingpole and other climate contrarians do is apply scepticism to all the scientists who disagree with their point of view while unreservedly accepting the views of those they agree with.

Why do they do it? I’m not really sure but I have heard people who call themselves sceptical of climate science say they reject the science because they don’t like wind farms.  This is like saying, Gina Rinehart is fat, therefore climate science is a hoax. It is, in short, ridiculous. But accepting the science doesn’t mean one can’t argue against wind farms or a carbon tax. It is reasonable to say that I understand we have a problem, but I don’t like wind farms for reasons x, y and z, so let’s find solutions in a, b and c instead.

I saw this on Facebook today and thought it really summed up the ludicrousness of the position held by James Delingpole and others. It features shock jock Australian radio presenter, Alan Jones (who also happens to reject climate science).

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So Alan Jones didn’t really say this. It’s satire. But what’s the difference between rejecting the existence of the Higgs Boson and rejecting climate science? Climate science critics could just as easily be accusing the scientists at CERN of an elaborate hoax in order to get research funding. They could say this is a huge conspiracy and the UN is planning to take over the world. But most of us would laugh and say, what nonsense.

45 thoughts on “More excrement from James Delingpole

  1. What an amazing article by Delingpole (rather disappointed I actually read it). I notice Paul Matthews has now hit the big time with his notincing a silly graph that takes 160 data points and reduces it to just 16 and hides this fact by being right underneath the graph that has 160 data points. Paul also seems concerned about the time interval chosen for the decadal averages. Well he could just go and use the skeptical science trend calculator with 120 month averages to see how this might influence the result.

    1. I hadn’t actually gone to look at the silly graph but I have now and it’s a graph which shows an extraordinary leap in temperatures from 1950 onwards. I don’t quite understand what “levelling off” Paul Matthews is referring to. Unless he’s referring to the graph above it in the report which he’s removed to make it seem like data has been thrown out. Looks to me like he’s deliberately trying to make people doubt the IPCC report.

      1. And then Richard Betts points out that the two graphs are together and that showing decadal averages is relevant given that this is the timescale over which GHGs operates and Paul does, admittedly, back off slightly.

      2. Oh yes, I see. Perhaps I should copy and paste his response here, in case anyone is confused.

        This is a comment from Richard Betts (climate scientist) in response to what Paul Matthews calls a silly graph and on which James Delingpole partly bases his views about the latest IPCC report:

        But the graph you show is panel (b) of Figure SPM-1, directly underneath panel (a) which shows year-by-year variability and shows the recent pause (see page SPM-7. In fact they are joined so closely that the labelling of the y-axis has been chopped in half in your cut-up version above.

        So it’s quite obviously not an attempt to hide something, as it would be impossible to see panel (b) without also seeing panel (a) – unless of course one was to deliberately cut it in half as you have done! Why did you do that?

        It’s valid to show the decade-by-decade changes, because these are the timescales on which long-lived GHGs have an effect. As long as it’s also accompanied by information on the year-to-year variability so that readers can see that there are other processes going on that affect things on shorter timescales, nothing is being hidden here.

        It’s a red herring to say that this graph wasn’t reviewed in the draft SPM, because (as you say) it was in the draft chapters that were subject to review, so it has been reviewed.

        source: https://ipccreport.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/the-decadal-mean-temperature-graph/

  2. Sydney is forecast to have its hottest ever October day today: 39 degrees. This follows the hottest September month on record.

    Of course it’s all a hoax, isn’t it. Warmists have been swarming through the countryside tampering with everyone’s thermometer.

    1. I saw that weather forecast and thought, unbelievable. So far this year, Australia has had the hottest day, the hottest month and the hottest season. It’s hard to understand how anyone can continue to think that climate change is a conspiracy comprising of hundreds of scientists from all over the globe.

    1. From today’s Daily Telegraph commenting on the SMH’s similar view in this regard:-
      “This is an extraordinary stance given that debate about climate change is far from concluded and new information continues to emerge which frequently changes the debate……..Censorship is a poor method method of arriving at the truth.”.

  3. I could probably write a 200 word reply to this Rachel. I consider it a big deal that popular science, a magazine I read daily online shut down their comments for the reason you stated. Here in the states we have three major cable news channels, Fox news leans way to the left, msnbc leans way to the right and CNN tries to stay in the middle. Fox news is the highest rated of the three and they flat out deny global warming and have a few of their own so called experts on their but as a general rule all of their newscasters deny global warming. The few that have even taken a moderate stance on the issue were let go, nice word for being fired. I don’t recall the exact numbers but I was reading on treehuggers the other day that about 20 percent of Americans either don’t believe in global warming or are at least skeptical.Just in the state I live in four out of the five last years have been the overall warmest recorded on record. Most Americans take what they see on the cable news as the absolute truth without doing any research on their own. I like to stay optimistic about this planets future but with so many blind leading the blind it is hard to do !!

    1. Thanks, Bob. The merchants of doubt seem to be thriving in Australia, America and England. I’m not sure why this is the case but I’ve decided not to provide an outlet for their views here on my blog since what they’re doing is unethical to my mind. I also wouldn’t allow someone to spread doubt about vaccination on my blog and I don’t think there is any difference in this case, except that the consequences of business as usual are far, far worse.

      I read two very depressing articles yesterday. One which highlighted the grim future for animals under global warming – http://theconversation.com/as-climate-changes-animals-move-fast-to-escape-the-heat-18511

      And the other which specifically looked at consequences for the Amazon rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/humans-pummeling-mother-nature-against-the-ropes-scientists-predict-which-round-she-gets-k-o-d/

  4. Part of the problem is the way it has been presented. A average rise of 1 to 2 degrees doesn’t seem much but, the amount of heat energy necessary to raise an entire planets temperature by even 1 degree is staggering. It’s the heat energy heat that causes the problem.

    As for sceptics. The conflict has become a business. It sells papers. But it is changing. In 1970 hardly anybody took this seriously. Now most do and the emaphasis is changing to an argument over what’s best to do about it. I’m sure that Australia, just like America, will catch up.

    However it’s a matter of how much damage will occur before there is sufficent action. As you say, the detractors are dangerous. So, keep on pointing it out and roll on.

    With Regards
    Gram 🙂

    1. Your point is very pertinent, Graham. An average rise of 1 to 2 degrees doesn’t seem like much. There is lots of discussion on the internet about how best to communicate this problem to the public because it seems that we are failing. Some people think we need to tone down the dangers so as not to freak everyone out. But from where I stand, all I see are people thinking “1 to 2 degrees, meh, I’ve got other things to worry about.”

      The problem is that people don’t understand what 2 degrees means. It doesn’t sound like much. It doesn’t seem terribly important.

      1. That too is pertinent. Many people can’t handle the things which freak them out and simply turn off. It is particularly true when people feel helpless to effect a remedy. I think the hope must be, that people will take more interest when improving remedy can be presented along with concern.

        This means that support and encouragement for environmental scientists and engineers is just as important as defending against the seceptics.

        I’m sure we’ll get there, even if it is more like reluctant schoolchildren dragging there heels. Nevertheless all efforts will reduce the suffering. Good Luck. Gram

      2. There are solutions to the problem though. We are not as tied to fossil fuels as some people think. But I’m hopeful we’ll get there too. The reluctant schoolchildren dragging their heels is a good analogy.

  5. Here, here re: similarities between MMR/autism and climate change denial. It’s maddening. I read a website recently where the author denied that the polio vaccination effectively wiped out polio….sheesh!

    1. The world could be free from Polio if it wasn’t for the campaign of doubt spread by religious leaders in Nigeria who were/are suspicious of Western medicine. Similarly, global warming would be significantly less worrisome had we taken steps 20 years ago to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. Instead we’ve let the campaign of doubt sway public perception of the science. Unfortunately it’s public perception of the science that will influence policy. If the public is suspicious of the science – thanks to the widespread smear campaign – then they’re not going to pressure governments to solve it. But the science is very strong, just as strong as the science which says cigarettes cause cancer.

  6. I’ve just learnt that the LA Times is no longer publishing letters to the editor that deny climate science.

    Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy

    source: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-climate-change-letters-20131008,0,871615.story

    Phil Plait has written a satirical response to this at Slate – http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/10/10/an_open_letter_to_the_l_a_times_editors.html

    1. How do you “deny climate science”? What are the boundary conditions for this affliction?.
      For example, the IPCC AR5 SPM states that Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity may lie in the range 1.5 – 4.5 degrees C, with no central estimate anymore, because there is too much disagreement.

      Previously, the IPCC claimed that ECS was in the range 2-4.5 degrees C, with a central estimate of 3 degrees

      If I thought that ECS may be 1.5 degrees, before IPCC AR5 was released, I would presumably be “denying climate science”, but it’s OK now because the IPCC think so too

      1. I don’t think someone who says the ECS is 1.5 degrees is denying climate science. The LA Times seems to draw the line at people who say climate change is a hoax or who don’t accept that humans are causing climate change.

      2. Rachel,
        AndyS has nailed the issue neatly.I believe you correctly identify the essence of the LA Times ban when you note it is limited to people who claim CAGW is a ” hoax”,but beyond that it seems to be open to debate,
        If it is not denying the science to say that ECS is 1.5 degrees Celsius , given the AR5 assessment of ECS at 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C ,with no mean figure nominated, what of the contributor who wishes to argue that Lindzen and Choi 2011 is correct.That peer reviewed paper argues that ECS is much smaller than the IPCC estimate and that climate models disagree with observations and produce a sensitivity that is far too high and hence are producing falsely alarming projections. The contributor is prepared to debate Trenberth et al 2011 and Dessler 2011 in rebuttal, and Dr. Judith Curry in criticism of Lindzen and Choi 2009.-See Lindzen and Choi ,Part II, at Climate etc.
        Discussion denied?

      3. What’s there to argue about Doug? One paper puts climate sensitivity within the range given by the IPCC. It would be silly for the IPCC to peg climate sensitivity on the basis of a single paper. Instead they give a range because they recognize that there is more than one way of calculating ECS and also that it’s difficult to know which way is correct.

        So the Choi paper puts ECS at 1.5 and the IPCC puts the range at 1.5 – 4.5, then what’s the problem? There’s nothing to argue about here. Unless you think the IPCC should dismiss every single paper that pegs ECS at higher than 1.5 and accept just the one or two that put it at 1.5 or lower? Is that what you’re arguing for? Because I don’t think that would be a very smart thing to do and it would certainly be very biased and misleading.

        The other thing is that we’re in for a great deal more than just a doubling of CO2. By the end of the century we could be looking at a quadrupling of CO2 which, if ECS is 1.5, would take us to 3C. If the ECS is 3 though, that takes us to 6C. Is it worth buying insurance for that? I think so.

      4. No, the Lindzen and Choi 2011 paper puts ECS at 0.7 not 1.5, and therein lies the debate.See page 385 of the paper-
        “As a result, the climate sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 is estimated to be 0.7K (with the confidence level 0.5K-0.13K at 99% levels).This observational result shows that model sensitivities indicated by the IPCC AR 4 are likely greater than the possibilities indicated from the observations.”
        The paper follows upon the ECS given by Spencer and Bracewell 2010 (0.6C)
        The change of the ECS lower estimate from 2 to 1.5 in AR5 is a recognition not of ” 1 or 2 that put it at 1.5 or lower “but a number of recent papers that estimate sensitivity from observations to be between 1 and 2, e.g.Aldrin et al 2012, Ring et al 2012, Lewis 2012 etc. Retention of a “most likely ” figure of 3C was no longer credible (as the IPCC effectively acknowledged),given the considerable debate and disagreement.
        I don’t know who estimates a quadrupling of CO2 by 2100.In any event the effect of increasing CO2 emissions is negatively logarithmic and not linear.

      5. Doug, I have a degree in computer science. I cannot argue with you on the merit or otherwise of a paper that pegs climate sensitivity outside the range of IPCC estimates because it is beyond my capabilities. I will ask one question though: how can ECS possibly be 0.7 when we have already seen a 0.8 rise in temperatures and we’re not yet double preindustrial CO2?

        I can also direct you to a range of papers that put climate sensitivity higher than 1.5.

        Here’s one that puts it at 2.2-4.8 – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11574.html

        Here’s one that puts it at 3-4C: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/371/2001/20120294

        Here’s one that puts it at 2C:
        http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n6/full/ngeo1836.html

        You cannot blindly accept all papers from just one end of the range while rejecting all papers from the other. Can you see that it would be biased to do this? I implore you to go to your local library and search the literature for climate sensitivity to see the range of research on the topic rather than just the snapshot view you get from WUWT. I could search for more stuff to give you but I really don’t want to discuss this with you, my internet connection is painfully slow with even the library databases struggling to load, I have other things I need to do and you don’t seem to be interested in considering other estimates for ECS other than those at the bottom. So what’s the point?

      6. ECS is the equilibrium response which may happen after millennia. Transient climate sensitivity TCS is the theoretical value for a doubling of co2 at the specific time it happens, and this is much lower.

        Rachel, you say that we have already seen 0.8 degrees of warming, but you assume that all of this is man made. This seems unlikely as he IPCC attribute the pre 1950 warming to natural causes mostly. Furthermore, they only attribute most, ie greater than 50% of post 1950 warming to humans. Given the lack if warming in the 21st C, it seems up unlikely that all of the 20 th C warming is from humans

        Are there any scenarios that predict a quadrupling of co2 by 2100?

        This seems to assume an awful lot about the economic future of the planet.

      7. My limited reading of the state of the literature on climate sensitivity has all the recent papers that are based on empirical measurements (e.g Otto et al) giving a low value for sensitivity.
        The ones showing higher values are based on what? Models, paleo?

        The empirical observations not only show low sensitivity, they are better constrained than the ones with higher values (i.e the pdfs have a sharper curve), so we should expect more confidence in them

      8. AndyS says “Rachel, you say that we have already seen 0.8 degrees of warming, but you assume that all of this is man made. ”

        No, I don’t. I understand that natural variability plays a role as well. But if the Lindzen/Choi figure of 0.7C is correct, then most of the warming we have seen already would have to have been due to natural variability. This seems unlikely as it’s my understanding that the component of temperature change attributable to natural variability is usually small. Also, we have not yet reached equilibrium for the amount of CO2 currently in the atmosphere. I think 0.7C is a bit extreme as a value for climate sensitivity.

      9. In response to your second comment about empirical observations and climate sensitivity calculations, it’s my view that the estimates based on paleo-data, basic physics and climate models are probably better simply because the empirical observations do not cover a long enough period of time and we still haven’t reached equilibrium. Even if we stopped emitting CO2 today, the temperature is still going to go up.

      10. Rachel – if you think that models provide better estimates of CS than empirical observations, then you have just turned the scientific method on its head.

      1. We are acting now. Most of Europe is pushing up energy prices so it will become unaffordable for many people, killing quite a few via fuel poverty.

        Isn’t this “doing something”?

      2. Carbon emissions in the USA have fallen to 1990 levels, thanks in part to the shale gas revolution. The eu are currently blocking this technology.

        So EU regulation is preventing emissions reduction in Europe

      1. I’m not surprised to hear you don’t buy papers, Andy. New Zealand has no newsagents! I’ve wasted many hours tramping the streets of Auckland and Christchurch looking for one just so that I could buy an international paper. In Brisbane, it is always a joy on weekends to sit with a pile of national newspapers complete with their weekend magazines, editorials and other inserts.

  7. Thanks, Andy, but they only sell local papers which as you say yourself aren’t inspiring. It’s something I missed very much when visiting New Zealand – the ability to go into a news agent and get local, national and international papers!

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