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« Flannery's admission | Main | Comments fix »
Friday
Mar252011

Paul Dennis on Iain Stewart

Paul Dennis posted this in the comments. It's always nice to have some opinion from an expert, and I thought it was striking enough to turn into a head post.

The Iain Stewart article posted on the Met Office website is both misleading, highly selective and largely in error in its presentation of data. Misleading in the presentation of graphics that supposedly represent the timings of mass extinction events in relation to atmospheric CO2 levels. The plot shows extinction events occuring at local maxima in CO2 levels e.g. late Cambrian, Ordovician and Devonian amongst others. The reality is that our knowledge of past CO2 levels during these times is incomplete at best and certainly lacks the resolution in both time and CO2 level to highlight local maxima.

The article is highly selective in suggesting that there is a correlation between earth surface temperature and CO2 levels. Any examination of the data will show that again our knowledge of Earth surface temperatures and CO2 levels are not good enough to make such statements. There is abundant geological evidence for extended periods of wide spread glaciation in many periods of the geologic past that are thought also to be periods of high CO2 levels. For example, during the late Ordovician when there is a mass extinction event. This indicates a decoupling of CO2 and temperature. The isotopic evidence has been interpreted as indicating a widespread decoupling between surface temperature and CO2 (see Veizer et al., 2000, Evidence for decoupling of atmospheric CO2 and global climate during the Phanerozoic eon, Nature, vol. 408, 698-701). Work is ongoing using clumped isotopes to try and refine the temperature estimates.

The article is disingenuous in suggesting that there is 'little patience' for talk of cosmic rays. In my experience very few geologists have studied cosmic rays in terms of their possible effects on climate. Those that understand anything about cosmic rays have often come from a background of radiocarbon dating, or in-situ cosmogenic isotope studies, or from a geophyiscal perspective (e.g. Vincent Courtillot and others) and have a much more open mind to these new ideas. By far the majority of geologists have little knowledge of, or understanding of cosmic rays.

The errors in the article are straightforward and should not have been made and perhaps belies Stewart's point of view. He writes of Details lost in time:

While the recent history of carbon dioxide levels comes from modern instruments, or before that from annual coral or tree growth rings or snow layers, the distant geological history of CO2 marches back in steps of 10 million years. In other words, the further back you peer in time, the more the subtle intricacies of climate are smeared out.

Here he is explicitly linking climate and CO2 levels. Perhaps it is a Freudian slip. The truth is past CO2 levels are not determined from annual coral, tree growth rings or snow layers. He subtly links CO2 and climate in these 2 sentences!

Stewart is writing from a pre-determined position and doesn't represent or understand the views of most geologists. He certainly doesn't represent my views.

[Update 7/7/12 The original article has disappeared from the Met Office site. I've replaced the link with a Wayback Machine copy]

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Reader Comments (31)

Would it help to explain to the reader who Paul is, and why his view is any more interesting than Janice Sixpack's? Or mine?

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

What have you got against Janice Sixpack? She's a nice lady!!!

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Latimer's right, I'm afraid. My opinions aren't very interesting.

But I liked the post and would also like a bit more background on Paul.

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJanice Sixpack

I have studied geology, but only have a BA in the subject; even with that modest background these parts of Mr Stewart's article strike a false note.

What also struck me was the overall lack of scientific or philosophical coherence. To me the article suggests a serious lack of confidence, it almost sounds as if Mr Stewart is trying to jolly people along despite lacking any serious thread of an argument. Not quite a "move along nothing to see here", more a "look at these people, aren't they making a spectacle; no need to take them seriously, just point at them then carry on".

If indeed the geological record doe support his argument then Mr Stewart should have made a coherent argument to that effect, not just written inarticulate descriptions of disjointed claims. If indeed the majority of earth scientists do support his views then Mr Stewart would have let us know exactly what those views were that the 90% surveyed supported, 90% of whom and by whom it was measured under what conditions, because there are lies, damned lies and statistics and 90% is a statistic so not to be trusted until pinned down in a display case with all parts labelled.

The 97% is of course the most egregious statistic. It is no more enlightening than to say that 97% of those earning their sole living (pardon the pun) from the priesthood claim to believe in the divinity of Christ. Not only would admission otherwise threaten their job, not only would they never have bothered with the career if not but they would earn a pretty poor living if they did not at least profess to believe in the one true faith.

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Paul Dennis, is this you?

http://eastanglia.academia.edu/PaulDennis

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

How many on this thread have heard of another (and possibly rather better?) geologist than Iain called Vincent Courtillot?
I hadn't, but I thought his presentation on www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGz80DGA&feature=player-embedded was pretty good.

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

If you look at the periods of glaciation over the past 550 million years you see that there is no link between global temperature and levels of CO2. Generally levels of CO2 have gone down massively over this period whilst there has been an upward trend in global temperatures from 550 million years up to 75 million years ago. Geologists have known this for a long time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_Climate_Change.png

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/guest-writer/iain-stewart

It is also generally accepted that several extinctions are associated with periods of glaciation.

Ian Stewart has taken his agenda as a starting point and has deliberately misrepresented and conflated the complexities of life on this planet with simplistic assumptions on CO2.

That makes him a Climate Liar.

Mar 25, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Paul Dennis is obviously in the pay of Big Oil. The science is settled. Recant, heretic.

Mar 25, 2011 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

@Nicholas Hallam (8.56)

Yes that's me.

Mar 25, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

For those interested: Google reveals the Courtillot et al. (2007) paper posted here; with a comment here and response from the authors here

Mar 25, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterR2

Palaeontology research is not a good basis for deciding to levy a new tax nor to cap the output of energy, which is the basis of the developed world's ability to raise people out of the short and brutish life that came before.

Dreaming that oil and coal and gas can be replaced by renewables is just a childish game of "if only" and "I wish".

We need to return to the adult governance of our various countries.

Mar 25, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

Richard (and Paul):

The study to which Stewart refers doesn’t, as he seems to think, provide evidence that “earth scientists” agree with him that “contemporary changes to climate are out of kilter with past natural cycles and were very likely to reflect human activity” – in itself, a weak and rather meaningless statement.

The study (much cited by warmists) on which such claims are based is a paper by Peter Doran and Maggie Zimmerman written in 2009, entitled “Examining the Scientific Consensus in Climate Change”. It was a technically inadequate online survey asking two questions:

(1) When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
(2) Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

Although they’re both absurdly vague (what do “pre-1800s” and “a significant contributing factor” mean?), I suspect that, given no other choice, most contributors to this blog would answer “risen” to the first and “yes” to the second (as mankind’s pre-1800 “contribution” was negligible, almost any “contribution” now (say 5%) would be “significant”).

The survey doesn’t mention past natural cycles, global warming or GHG emissions. Nor does it attempt to investigate the two key issues: were human GHG emissions a primary factor in any warming and would more such emissions be dangerous, justifying action? No, all it finds that 82% of earth scientists in North America (only 4% of respondents came from elsewhere) agree that the planet has warmed since 1800 and that human activity has contributed to an unspecified amount to that. The surprise is that 100% didn’t agree. But I suppose that was because of the poor drafting of the questions.

Mar 25, 2011 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

@ Robin

Indeed; if you thought that human land use change had caused 5% of temperature changes since either 1800 or 1899 (the question being that vague) but 0% for say 1,000 years beforehand, you would have to answer Yes to the second question. You would thereby find yourself co-opted into the consensus.

Mar 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Stewart claims "it is clear that the bulk of geologists appear entirely satisfied with the prevailing scientific view."

How does he 'know' this? We have not been surveyed on our views. He gives the 'Climate Change Position Statment' of the Geological Society of London - of which I am a Fellow - as an example. But that statement was written behind closed doors with no open consultation. Members were invited to email their views to the committee (which I did), but we have no idea of what these said. I once proposed to the Society to survey its members on this supposedly critical issue. But the response I got was that 'only a few nay sayers remain'. So it was simply assumed there was a concensus among members. As it happens, the GeolSoc statement is not an unambiguous commital to the concensus, conclusing with: " In the light of the evidence presented here it is reasonable to conclude that emitting further large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere over time is likely to be unwise, uncomfortable though that fact may be."

Mar 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

Of fellow Earth Scientists I bring up the subject with, most are either on-the-fence or sceptical. The only ones I find zealous for AGW or those working in Environmnetal Consultancy where selling your expertise to reduce carbon or tackle climate change is an important consideration. Even those, when I challenge them normally admit the AGW-scare is well over done.

Mar 25, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

I use the world temperature graph in a training course for professional geologists. I use it to illustrate the critical importance of the stationarity assumption in estimation/mapping. ITs a good icebreaker to get interaction with the class. The conversation then usually diverges into a brief discussion of climate change and that the temp/CO2 curves in ice cores are lagging 800 years the wrong way for CO2 to cause temperature change and therefore this cannot be evidence for "CO2 causes warming".

I have taught about 60 course attendees per year, for the last ten years. I can only recall one profesional geologist attending the class who strongly supported the AGW view. The typical view of the attendees is that the AGW theory is rubbish and clearly bears no relation to what they know or have learnt aboout natural climate change over geological time periods from their day to day working experience with large datasets from all over the world. Remember professional geologists working in sedomentology etc have to understand a huge amount about paelo-climate as part of their job.

Mar 25, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Stewart is a [snip - too strong] but he has a job because he is a truly great communicator (sorry if this brings the website into disrepute). Fortunately for his employers he seems not to mind what he communicates as long as the pay is good and he gets free holidays for himself plue family.
Paul Dennis talks about decoupling of CO2 and temperature and is praised as an expert. I have been ranting on ad infinitum about that for a long time on this forum and nobody even commented :(
The interglacials in the current ice age (of which we are now in the seventh) have all ended in the same way: CO2 rising for several thousand years while the planet returns to ice age and there is no warming for 100,000 years. If that does not show a decoupling then I am a scotsman (apologies Mr Bish hehe)

Mar 25, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

oakwood:

As you say, Stewart claims "it is clear that the bulk of geologists appear entirely satisfied with the prevailing scientific view". But what does he think is “the prevailing scientific view”? Well, judging by the survey to which he refers (see my post above), it’s no more than agreement that the planet has warmed since 1800 and that human activity has contributed to an unspecified amount to that.

But, if that’s the consensus, it’s hardly controversial, let alone a call to action. Even Richard Lindzen seems to accept it. When asked the same two questions (here), he said:

my answer to (1) is probably, but the amount is surprisingly small -- suggesting that global mean temperature anomaly is not a particularly good index. My answer to (2) would be yes, but dependent on what is meant by significant.

So what does Stewart mean by “pockets of resistance”?

Mar 25, 2011 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Oakwood:
"How does he 'know' this? We have not been surveyed on our views. He gives the 'Climate Change Position Statment' of the Geological Society of London - of which I am a Fellow - as an example. But that statement was written behind closed doors with no open consultation. Members were invited to email their views to the committee (which I did), but we have no idea of what these said. I once proposed to the Society to survey its members on this supposedly critical issue. But the response I got was that 'only a few nay sayers remain'."

The position in the Royal Society of Edinburgh is, if anything, worse. I wrote protesting that the Inquiry "Facing up to climate Change" had a panel of eight members (mostly social scientists), but only two Fellows. The Summary Report, recently issued, has solved this problem by stating in the Preface tht RSE is "uniquely placed to offer informed, independent comment on matters of national interest" and then somehow forgetting to attach the customary "FRSE" to named the panel members. I fear the general reader may conclude that all the members were Fellows, although this was not the case.

Mar 25, 2011 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kennedy

Thank you Robin. Not sure how I missed that information (I had of course heard the 97%, but not seen the source), as I have been interested in this global warming malarkey since 2009, having lost faith in about2007 when I actually bothered to look into the claims..

Further to Justice4Rinka, some could answer "yes" to the second if they believed that the urban heat island effect had changed temperatures. All depends on the idea of significant.

Note the one question they fail to ask that is most relevant to those 90% of geologists - "Is the warming unprecedented?". I don't think they really want to ask geologists that one.

Mar 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

@Dung

I always value your comments but usually arrive too late to respond;)

Mar 25, 2011 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

Paul Dennis wrote:

"In my experience very few geologists have studied cosmic rays in terms of their possible effects on climate."

I highly recommend the 2008 Surveys in Geophysics paper "Cosmic Rays and Climate" by Jasper Kirkby, a senior researcher at CERN, to anyone who is interested in climate change. It is available at
http://88.167.97.19/temp/COSMIC_RAYS_AND_CLIMATE_0804.1938v1.pdf . The paper includes graphical evidence of strong links between cosmic rays and climate over periods from inter-annual to over hundreds of millions of years.

Kirkby is carrying out the Cloud experiment at CERN to investigate in a controlled laboratory experiment the links between cosmic rays and cloud mechanisms. In my view, this is a key experiment. Initial results should be available before too long.

Mar 25, 2011 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

@Nic

The paper by Jasper Kirkby is excellent. Thanks for flagging it up.

Mar 26, 2011 at 2:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterR2

Agree with oakwood

My experience is that most geoscientists outside of academia or government employ, excluding a few hard rock geos who don't usually follow the developments in earth history, think 'anthropogenic global warming', or its aliases, are mostly rubbish and definitively overhyped.

Follow the money - if you need government funds you are more likely to agree that 'we' are dangerously warming the planet.

I saw this in action at a recent Geological Society of Australia branch meeting I attended.

Ciao

John Gorter

Milan

Mar 26, 2011 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn gorter

My opinion might not count for much but the only "extinction level event" I care much about is the one not marked on his first graph. I know that 600 million years is far too short a time to jump to rash conclusions but I see a clear downward trend in CO2 there.

Correct me if I'm wrong but that CO2 trend is heading toward zero and as it approaches that level the current food chain will cease and all dependant life will cease with it. I geological terms, sometime next week.

Mar 26, 2011 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJanice Sixpack

@ Sixpack

Smack on but try to engage anyone in governement about that. estimates of CO2 4 billion years ago are around the 800,000 ppm and today people are wailing that 380 ppm is dangerous. Humans have trouble at 10,000 ppm (slight) and would become extinct at 100,000 ppm but all the way from 380 to 10,000 all vegetation would flourish in a way humans have never experienced.
CO2 does not always cause warming, this is a fact and is shown by the ice cores going back 750,000 years. There is nobody who can prove that statement incorrect.

Mar 28, 2011 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

@Sixpack

I have read various estimates but the level of CO2 at which surface vegetation dies out is not zero, it is somewhere between 180 ppm and 280 ppm and so as you say we are soo close to the end of all life on earth that you have to wonder about the sanity of those who want to remove CO2 from the atmosphere at this time :)

Mar 28, 2011 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Approximately 24 years ago, it was a geologist who made me realize that my teenage starry-eyed belief in AGW was complete and utter bunk. The vast majority of geologists that I come into contact with hold the same beliefs. And I think I've met over 100 of them as they come through our area frequently. Perhaps less than 1 in 20 believe in AGW. The rest denounce it for utter hogwash.

Mar 28, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterladynitewolf

Ladynitewolf, I wish your geologist friends would kick some public backside on the AGU, because it's nailed AGW colors to the organizational masthead.

Mar 30, 2011 at 3:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterPat Frank

The following comments in the article rang a bell with me QUOTE: .. The Iain Stewart article .. is both misleading, highly selective and largely in error in its presentation of data. Misleading in the presentation .. Stewart is writing from a pre-determined position .. UNQUOTE.

I have been discussing similar aspects of Professor Iain Stewart’s offerings about the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CAC) hypothesis recently on the Science Forum of “The Naked Scientists … a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University .. ” (http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/about-us/)”. The discussion is available (for now, until their admin team decide to remove all traces of me) under the thread title “What does Iain Stewart's "CO2 experiment" Demonstrate” http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=38723. That thread was cut short on 5th May by the forum administration team before the discussion was over, despite it attracting significant viewer interest, as it continues doing. Another blogger had raised the question about what had motivated Professor Stewart in Part 1 of his September 2008 BBC Climate Wars series to present that demonstration of IR absorption in the misleading manner that he did and I wanted to pursue it on the thread.

I have taken the discussion elsewhere (http://globalwarmingsupporter.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/suzuki-elders-we%E2%80%99re-doomed/) but you may be interested in this extract about The Naked Scientists and Professor Iain Stewart QUOTE: ..

,. Both appear to be extremely biased in their attitude towards the CACC issue and both are closely associated with one of the larger global media organisations, the BBC. As I said on that thread, the BBC was accused of bias on this issue back in 2008, as reported in the Daily Mail’s article “BBC investigated .. ” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1063110/BBC-investigated-peer-says-climate-change-programme-biased-sided-polemic.html). This reported Lord Monckton’s complaint about distortion by (then) Dr. Iain Stewart’s cherry-picked report of his 90 minute interview with Monckton.

There are numerous sites that decry the biased manner in which the BBC favours the CACC claims and one of the best that I’ve come across is (David Bellamy’s?) wn.com (http://wn.com/BBC%27s_biased_reporting_of_Global_Warming__the_consequences) which offers A/Vs demonstrating this. Interestingly, that blog offers commentary by several well-known CACC sceptics including Professors John Christy, Pat Michaels and Fred Singer who all are named in the Daily Mail report of September 2008. The BBC broadcasts programs by Professor Iain Stewart and by The Naked Scientist so it is worthwhile looking to see if there is evidence of bias in favour of CACC with those parties.

Professor Stewart (or Dr as he was then) presented a series “Earth: Climate Wars” for the BBC, initially shown on BBC2, then BBC1. Part 1 “The Battle Begins” was on 7th Sep 2008, Part 2 “Fightback” was on 14th Sep and Part 3 “Fight for the Future” was on 21st Sep. These are not available on the BBC site now so if anyone can pont me to other sources then I’d appreciate links. There is a good analysis of Part 2 “Fightback” on the “Biased Broadcasting Climate” thread of the Climate Resistance blog on September 17th 2008.

I understand that Part 1 “The Battle Begins” included a demonstration by Professor Stewart purporting to “ .. show you how carbon dioxide affects earth’s climate .. ”. This is the misleading demonstration that I started discussing on The Naked Scientists forum, because in my opinion the demonstration doesn’t show how CO2 affects the different global climates, as claimed, but worse, it was deliberately set up to grossly exaggerate how much heat CO2 absorbs.

.. I found some interesting facts relating to what is being discussed here and also introduces another important issue, the indoctrination of our gullible school children. This is something that Al Gore has been pursuing for several years through his organisation “An Inconvenient Youth” (http://www.inconvenientyouth.org/).

On 3rd March 2008, several months before that demonstration, the organisation “Green It Like You Mean It” was launched in the UK by its founder Duncan Stewart. One of the presentations at that launch was by “Dr. Iain Stewart – The Problem” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrPjddK2t-I&feature=player_embedded#at=256). If you are interested we can take a closer look at what he tells us there about his motivations, which might explain his obvious bias during the Climate Wars series (and there’s lots of good criticism of that series. e.g in the 17th September 2008 Climate Resistance blog article “Biased Broadcasting Climate” - http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/09/biased-broadcasting-climate.html).

Meanwhile, here’s a short extract from what Professor Stewart says of The Problem (from 3.50 mins to 5:20mins)" .. I’m going to go and campaign about this .. I believed it was happening .. we are putting out stuff that we don’t have to deal with because we’ll be dead, but our kids and their kids will have to deal with it .. what we are doing this for is that we value the way that our society works and we want that to continue for our children and not for them to have an impaired future ".

.. I think that it is worth pointing out that although Professor Stewart has a PhD in Geology he is not a professor of geology but is Professor of Geosciences Communication, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth. I could find no mention of his having done any research into the process and drivers of the different global climates .. “ .. His main research interests are in the broad areas of Earth hazards and natural disasters, with particular focus on studying ancient earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. The majority of his field research has been in the Mediterranean region .. ” (http://royalsociety.org/science-books/2008/general-prize-judges/). There’s no mention of climate or processes or drivers there.

He was appointed Professor of Geosciences Communication around Spring 2009 and was reported by the Spring 2009 Ireland edition of the Earth Science 2k magazine, in its article “Man on a Mission” to have said “ .. Excite children firstly with the big stories - like volcanoes, earthquakes and climate change .. I say the debate is over. The climate is changing. The question is how quickly the change will take place and there have been times in the distant past when it has been very rapid. We all know how precious our planet is. We also know that it is very robust but that our relationship with it is fragile. We are in danger of messing up that relationship long-term!”

All of this leaves little room for doubt about Professor (then Dr.) Iain Stewart’s motives for making those claims for his contrived CO2 demonstration.

It was also stated in that Earth Science 2K magazine that “ .. It is a treat to have someone presenting Earth science who knows what he is talking about .. ” but does he (or any of the scientists) know much about the processes and drivers of global climates?

Not according to Professor Barry Brook, Adelaide University, who in April 2009 said when criticising the book “Heaven & Earth” by his fellow Adelaide University Professor Ian Plimer “There are a lot of uncertainties in science, and it is indeed likely that the current consensus on some points of climate science is wrong, or at least sufficiently uncertain that we don’t know anything much useful about processes or drivers. But EVERYTHING? Or even most things? Take 100 lines of evidence, discard 5 of them, and you’re still left with 95 and large risk management problem. .. ” (http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/04/23/ian-plimer-heaven-and-earth/).

The most significant part of that statement is in the first sentence, which is fact. The third sentence is in my opinion simply speculation, similar to that used by the IPCC when attempting to quantify such uncertainty, but please read the whole article for the full context. You may also find the comments of interest, especially Barry Brook, on 23 June 2009 at 5:02 AM and the moderator’s comment in response to mine of 24 June 2009 at 6:12 AM. That’s another blog run by disciples/supporters of the CACC doctrine that dislike hearing the voices of sceptics.
UNQUOTE.

I notice that the Earth Science 2k Issue 3 Spring 2008 stated that “ .. ES2k has the same aim as the UN, raising awareness of Earth Science .. Climate change is a global emergency to which we must respond. But we cannot respond unless we are informed. We cannot take action unless we listen to our scientists. The message is clear – urgent action is needed to protect and preserve our planet .. the challenge is to limit damage to our climate by investigating the potential for underground storage of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels .. ” (http://www.habitas.org.uk/es2k/newsletter/Earth%20Science%20Ireland%20Issue%203.pdf).

BTW, I’m sure there were plenty CACC sceptics who were upset by the implication in that issue that ES2k is eager to promote the CACC doctrine in true UN style but the issue apparently upset creationists even more (http://creation.com/earth-science-ireland-chastised-over-anti-christian-anti-creationist-attitude).

Beat regards, Pete Ridley.

May 9, 2011 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete Ridley

While checking up on Professor Iain Stewart’s climate change activities in 2011 I came across the WhatDoTheyKnow blog’s “Iain Stewart” thread (http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/iain_stewart) about Andrew Montford’s December 2008 FOI request to the University of Plymouth and the evasive responses that he received. Can anyone tell me what the final outcome was of that FOI request?

In my previous comment I made reference to Professor Iain Stewart, his BBC Climate Wars series and a misleading demonstration about how CO2 absorbs IR. While checking up on the designer of that demonstration set-up by Googling – “Jonathan Hare” “climate change” - I came cross a longer extract of that demonstration from Part 1 of the BBC’s “Climate Wars” series (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVASs4_zb78). This one shows Professor Stewart introducing the demo with a graph based upon Dr. Charles Keeling’s attempts to estimate the mean global atmospheric CO2 content from 1958 (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/) using measurements on top of a Hawaiian volcano at the Mauna Loa Observatory (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/mlo/aboutus/siteInformation/siteinformation.html, http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/datasets/mauna/welcome.html#ded & http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/home/index.php).

Stewart states “ .. This relentless year-on-year rise in carbon dioxide is the one undisputed piece of evidence in the whole global warming debate .. the human race has steadily increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. The significance of Keeling’s discovery is simple, because carbon dioxide is a remarkable gas”. That’s the point at the start of his “CO2 absorption” demonstration where he makes his misleading claim about what the demonstration would show. He says “I can show you how carbon dioxide affects earth’s climate .. ” which the demonstration does not do.

Professor Stewart ended that part of his demo with “ .. as temperatures rose in the 1970’s Keeling’s carbon dioxide graph seemed to provide the perfect explanation .. ”. I would be interested to know if in “Climate Wars” he followed that by saying something like “ .. however, although Keeling’s graph continued to rise during the period 1998 to 2008 the temperatures stopped rising .. ” but I somehow doubt it.

On my thread “What does Iain Stewart's "CO2 experiment" Demonstrate” http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=38723 at The Naked Scientists blog I said in my comment of 16th April that “. In my opinion the demonstration set-up was specifically designed to emphasise the extent of absorption by CO2 but no mention was made by Stewart of that extra IR filter placed in front of the camera”. I then went on to quote from the designer of that set-up, Dr. Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex, Brighton, who described how the experiment was set up (http://www.creative-science.org.uk/hollywood15.html) making quite clear how the illusion was achieved. More on this can be found in my comment of 15th April on that thread (which continues to attract significant numbers of viewers, despite being locked by the moderator on 5th May).

Considering his Oct 1989 comment "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest." (http://www.john-daly.com/schneidr.htm) I suspect that ecologist Professor Steven Schneider (deceased) would have argued that it was necessary for Stewart to hide that fact from the lay audience because it would improve any scare-value of the presentation.

In my previous comment I mentioned the question about what had motivated Professor Stewart in Part 1 of his September 2008 BBC Climate Wars series to present that demonstration of IR absorption in the misleading manner that he did. Perhaps talking about presentations given at the launch in 2008 of the “Green It Like You Mean It” (GILYMI) organisation will enlighten us on this. At the launch Professor (or Dr. as he was then) Stewart made a presentation (I’ll come back to what Professor Stewart told us then about his motivations) “The Problem” (http://www.youtube.com/user/greenitlikeyoumeanit#p/u/4/hrPjddK2t-I).

In his introduction he said “Duncan E-mailed me .. then he phoned me .. ”. but I had no idea who was the “Duncan” he mentioned. On that page the “greenitlikeyoumeanit” button links to a list of 8 videos from that session, with media professional Professor Stewart’s presentation forging ahead with over 7000 views, with his closest rival being Duncan Stewart, with just over 400. It turns out that he was the “Duncan” to whom Professor Stewart was referring.

Duncan Stewart was the founder of Green It Like You Mean It and let’s first look at that organisation itself. Shortly after the launch it became a member of the Social Enterprise Coalition (http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/newsletter_archive.php?action=view&id=51) and a quick look at that organisation might tell us something about where GILYMI stands in relation to the CACC doctrine. After all, you can often judge a person by the company kept.

The SEC made clear its position on CACC in its 2009 “Response .. to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on delivering secure low carbon electricity (www.socialenterprise.org.uk/.../response_by_the_coalition_to_decc_consultation_on_delivering_secure_low_carbon_electricity.doc) “ .. The Coalition agrees on the urgency of the need to decarbonise the UK economy to mitigate climate change .. ”.

Does “Green It Like You Mean It” think the same? Let’s see what its founder had to say in his “The Delivery” presentation at the launch (http://www.youtube.com/user/greenitlikeyoumeanit#p/u/0/vxPmtkL1_FI) “ .. Problem – Green Costs .. who pays .. we’ve got to find the money to make it happen .. we need the money .. and that is what Green It Like You Mean It is all about .. the company will be formed as a community interest company .. a split between a charity and a normal limited company .. the difference is .. as a CIC .. you have an asset lock. .. the profits that are raised by the company stay within the company .. It’s a great vehicle for achieving the sort of aims that we want .. We raise the money by .. just doing your regular shopping on line .. when you shop at one of our partner retailers that’s the beginning of everything .. EcoReward Card ”

That card was launched by Duncan Stewart in November 2007 through his CarbonCred organisation (http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Resources/Energy-saving-news/Eco-reward-card-goes-live/%28energysavingtrust%29/17948). There is an interesting comment on one of the launch sites (http://www.ukwinesonline.co.uk/wp/carboncred-green-it-like-you-mean-it/) “John Logan, January 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm This site is just a rip off affiliate site. Basically, they are trying to cash in on the “green” movement to make thousands for themselves. If you really want to do something like this then go to a cashback site and donate the money to a real scheme rather than a rip off scheme. carboncred.it? NoCred.it I think”.

Duncan Stewart responded to that comment but there are some even better exchanges between John Logan and Duncan Stewart on the Forum for the Future blog “Green Futures” thread of December 2007 (http://www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/streetcred). Stewart’s response on 29th January 2008 included comments that touched on what he said in his “The Vision” presentation 5 weeks later (0:53mins to 2:00 mins).

(As a matter of interest one of the founders of Furum for the Future was the UK sustainability champion Jonathan Porritt, one time Chairman of the Sustainability Commission, which I understand is to be disbanded. Not to be disheartened, Jonathan is involved in a new venture “The Peoples Sustainability Commission” and look who is helping to publicise it, our friend from the biased BBC, Richard Black.) If you want a little more about Jonathan have a read of Appendix 5.4 of “Politicization of Climate Change & CO2” at http://nzclimatescience.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=374&Itemid=1).

(Please see the Addendum to this post for more on this CIC and another that was proposed at the end of last year but so far appears not to have materialised.)

So, all that “The Delivery” tells us about is that GILYMI has a keen interest in making money. What does Duncan Stewarts “The Vision” presentation tell us? I’ll cover that in my next submission.

Best regards, Pete Ridley

Addendum:

One important thing that Duncan Stewart chose not to mention about a CIC is that, like any private company, the shareholders have the power to pay members of the board of directors and place contracts, so who is/was on the board? According to Companies House (http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/8df627c3155387478b2fe5281c9ea07e/compdetails) Green It As You Mean It, Registered Office: Suite 9, 2 Pinchin Street, London, E1 1SA, Company No. 06709753, was incorporated on 29th September 2008 and was dissolved on 11th May 2010 and no accounts were filed.

I wonder who comprised the Board of Directors. If any of you are prepared to pay the £18 to find out (http://ukdata.com/company/06709753/GREEN-IT-LIKE-YOU-MEAN-IT-COMMUNITY-INTEREST-COMPANY?details-button=View+Details) then I’d love to know, but I have my suspicions about who might have been the CEO.

What a coincidence. Only a few months ago I heard those same sentiments expressed about another proposed CIC, Principia Scientific International. You may be interested in reading more about that organisation at their “begging bowl” site- http://funds.gofundme.com/1v39s). I have a lot more on PSI for anyone who is interested.

May 11, 2011 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete Ridley

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