Mad Lord Monckton’s in town

If you happen to be in Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Paraparaumu, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Gore or Invercargill between April 1st (yes, his tour began in Northland on April Fool’s Day) and April 26th 2013, you are at risk of intellectual abuse from Lord Christopher Moncton. And possibly, verbal abuse, as several members of the audience suffered at the event I attended in Hamilton, at the University of Waikato.

Nexus, the student magazine, had already reported on the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley’s visit, here. The fact that I received a flash colour-printed pamphlet in my home mailbox decided me to attend. Nobody else from the Nexus team was keen.

The event was hosted in the PWC Lecture Theatre building of the Management School, a location I had not visited before, so that also piqued my curiosity.
Why was a journalist being hosted by the School of Management?
It got more interesting after I’d got past the sales table (climate denial bumper-stickers, all important for the Land Rover; books by Ian Wishart, Lord Monckton, and DVD’s of various of Monckton’s talks) into the auditorium, where the crowd (mostly comprising farmers & their wives, it seemed) were welcomed by Dr Ron Smith from the School of Political Science, who was profusely thanked for his hospitality once Lord Monckton had been introduced.
Monckton went on to thank Mrs Smith for her excellent dinner, then made a rather sly dig by suggesting that he’d tried to lure her to his Scottish estate to run the catering there. All the audience laughed at the ‘compliment’; seemingly without picking up that he was making a very upper-class joke about having to eat with the servant class.

It went on in that vein, with dog-whistles, misrepresentations of fact and outright lies.

A young man in the row of seating in front of me took him to task about a logical contradiction performed in the space of two concurrent sentences; Monckton then refused to allow the young man to finish his sentence, then demanded that security come and take him away if further ‘heckling’ occurred.
I then asked for clarification of whether Lord Monckton has meant phrase a, or phrase b, as it appeared confusing to listeners. He then went through a long, convoluted response, during which he neither rescinded from one statement nor the other, confirming in our minds that he was determined not to admit to any fault, more than his determination to deliver clear information.

Obfuscation followed misrepresentation, sprinkled with a few more lies.
He began by claiming that NIWA had been falsifying figures since 1970, in order to prop up the climate change argument, then carried on to impugn the academic and research credentials of the IPCC, various specific researchers output, and then did an analysis of the 2007 IPCC report using a spurious mathematical allusion based on sine waves (most of the audience being older folk for whom Eton’s Tables, slide rulers and sine waves were basic mathematical knowledge… catch a teenager now who would recognise any of those instruments, you’d be lucky), which had no bearing on the graph of temperature differentials that he then spoke over the top of, overlaying broad arrows to provide ‘interpretations’ of the raw data in the chart to show ‘trending’ was neutral … based on his statements about sine waves, of which this chart had none.
My notes taken during the talk get a little sweary around about here, with many “oh, bollocks!” scribbled alongside paragraphs of rapid transcription.

There was also the surprising, and self-aggrandizing, statement that he’d seen an advance copy of the 2013 IPCC report, followed by some critical statements about the contents.
This struck me as precipitous; so I checked the IPCC website for the report publishing schedule.
Yes, it is due out in 2013. Final papers for some sections are not due to be submitted until October this year, however, so I don’t know how he comes to have seen a “scientist’s draft” of the final report in March/April.

He had a go at the Australian Carbon Tax regime, with a very unpleasant few digs at Julia Gillard that were bigoted on about three levels – class, race and gender – and what surprised me most was the venomous approval he got for this – obviously a lot of people who fear any form of reduction in carbon consumption, thus assume that carbon tax is merely about raising income for other Government programs. Refutation of that idea here. There was a lot of rhetoric around the need for farmers to continue to run big gas-guzzling SUV’s/Range Rovers, and very little concept of any over-consumption that could be curbed.

All in all, it was like having bucketfulls of cold, dirty water thrown at me repeatedly, and as I left the campus to walk home, I found myself thinking seriously about the ethics of research, and how it is that researchers who have to conform to stringent guidelines can still be completely undermined by those who misrepresent their research outcomes.

I have linked to sites that proved the actual research referred to so disparagingly by Lord Monckton, and have refrained from linking to any of the climate denial websites where his arguments may be found.
If you desire, out of some intention of fairness, to read his viewpoints, by all means google for yourself. The wikipedia article linked under Monckton’s name may provide some examples of his reasoning.

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Last Thoughts for 2011, Climate Change on top.

There have been some insights into the issue of global responses to Climate Change during this year. The Durban round has highlighted that the rich nations, particularly the USA, want to keep denying reality, denying science, and continue with ‘business as usual’ until their activities constitute genocide for those who live in ‘less favoured’ nations. Good roundup at Hot Topic shows the inconsistency in the NZ Government position.

The resource wars have been going for nearly a decade now.
If there’s anyone left out there who thinks there really were WMD in Iraq when Bush invaded, now would be the time to check into that hostel for the delusional, and settle into the nice padded room with abundant security staffing and food service.
Iraq was a genocidal war to control oil resources, as is Afghanistan/Pakistan currently, as have been the insurgencies in the whole ME region.

We sit on our hands and ignore the rapacious and genocidal mania of the USA at our peril.
They have sunk, by means of their own economic policy of stealing from the poor, killing foreigners to gain resources, and lying to their own countrymen (and women) in order to extract the greatest profit from every human being within their sphere of influence, from being the great hegemony of the 20th Century to being a genocidal, imperialist facist state for whom surveillance and control of their own citizens is becoming a higher priority than any of the many wars they have engaged in on many fronts in the 21st C.

So as we roll towards NYE 2011, and New Years’ Day 2012, here’s my New Year’s plea:

To our neighbours in the Pacific Ocean, I pledge that we as citizens of NZ, and myself personally as a member of the Green Party, will do our utmost to reverse the decisions being made by selfish, greedy, over-consuming rich people in our country.

We will fight to get climate refugees from Tokelau, the outer islands of Fiji, Samoa, Rarotonga, Tonga, Kiribati (and other Pasifika nations who were not historically under the protection of NZ) some justice, some recompense, and above all, a safe haven to come to.

We in New Zealand have benefitted for decades from the willingness of our pasifika neighbours to come to our country, to work in our factories and fields, to do the jobs that our nice, pakeha, middle-class and educated children don’t want to do [because they’re ‘worth more’ to us working in corporations overseas, paying back their student loans] which is why we need a brown underclass to clean office buildings, work in biscuit factories, and pick fruit and vegetables during our harvest season while our office workers holiday at the beach.

In short, for all the racism and class warfare we have inflicted on our pasifika neighbours (and I’m speaking here as a university-educated pakeha, a seventh-generation NZ’er of predominantly UK extraction, so there’s a large ‘we’ who identify in that category, you know who you are!), we owe a future to those who have not been driving SUV’s and European sports cars around the car-obsessed suburbs of our major cities.

In 2012, when the argument comes up about bringing the inhabitants of Tokelau to NZ in one big block, I don’t want to hear about your petty racism. I don’t want to hear you say that it’s a huge drain on our country to allow in the elderly grandparents of Tokelauans who have worked here for decades.

Have some compassion, the islands are salinating to the point where food cannot grow, and even the racist fiction that keeping the old people in the islands where they are ‘comfortable’ and have ‘familiar routines of life’ isn’t going to wash any more.
Remittances from their children and grandchildren who work here in NZ for minimum wages are not going to compensate for the inability to grow food that has been engendered by our carbon-rich, resource-greedy lifestyles.

Why am I getting rude and angry about this now, you ask?

Because christmas in my extended family has been about these issues, as my son-in-law’s father has flown back to Fiji to visit the old folk who remain, while his wife stays here and works through the christmas period, caring for elderly white folk in a provincial NZ town.
She can’t get her own mother into the country to look after her, because our immigration laws are so strict for brown people with the normal conditions of infirmity of aging.

Before you ask, every member of my extended family who has moved here from Fiji is in work, as is my daughter.
It’s all minimum wage or deeply working-class work, but it’s work.
They are exemplary citizens, plugging their way through the paperwork loops from work visas to residency, and eventually to citizenship, and they are the most uncomplaining, grateful, and apolitical members of my family, including my blood relatives who are much better off materially!

So as you pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly this New Year, listen to music at a festival, or just relax on a beach with family and loved ones, count your privileges and acknowledge them, and consider the possibilities:

1) that a small reduction in your life consumption over the next twelve months might be achievable,

2) that sustainability in business and personal life is not only acceptable but necessary, and

3) that Labour wasn’t just stealing policy points from the Greens in the run-up to the election to score media points, but because the time has come when these things have to be faced, and the Greens have already thought it through, in excruciating detail, driven by members with a conscious and conscientious input to policy development.

Firstly, to all my paid and unpaid colleagues in the Green Party around Aotearoa/NZ, let’s leave behind the many tragedies of 2011, and work towards a better year in 2012. Because we’re worth it, and so is every single citizen of our country, and every single worker who is here propping up our low-wage economy without the benefits of citizenship that we so blithely bestow upon our children at birth.

Secondly, to the fourteen Green MP’s who were sworn in before christmas, thank-you for standing, for campaigning so strongly, and for stepping up to serve us for the next three years. I’ll try not to be on your office threshold every week, but you may be seeing more of me, lol.

Thirdly, thank-you to every candidate who stood, campaigned, and contributed to this historic rise in our representation in Parliament, your efforts all around Aotearoa lifted the water-level for everyone who got in. Some of you are now my especial friends, we will work together in the future on issues of importance, arohanui a koutou, you also know who you are.

Arohatinonui ki a koutou katoa.

See ya in the other side in January 2012, I’m going bush, don’t expect replies to comments. ūüėČ

Labour’s disgraceful greenhouse gas polluter backdown

I’ve been fuming for the last couple of days about National yet again watering down the Emissions Trading Scheme.

But today, I’m even angrier. But with Labour, not with National. Today, Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson, David Parker, released this media statement. The headline looked good, most of the rhetoric castigated National’s position, but buried in the middle of the release was this statement:

Although Labour believes National’s approach to industrial emissions is imperfect, we are willing to go along with it due to the desirability of settling across both main parties.

When Labour were in government, they were not prepared to give any concession to the Greens to strengthen their weak Emissions Trading Scheme.¬† But now, in opposition, Labour are prepared to cozy up to yet another National Party proposal to further subsidise greenhouse gas polluters, purportedly in the interest of “unity and certainty”.

Meanwhile, it is you and me as taxpayers who pay for this, rather than the polluters.

If there is ever a reason to vote Green rather than Labour or National on November 26, this has to be it.

Don’t give the potty peer oxygen

New Zealand’s climate cranks are trying to get √ľber-denier Viscount Monckton of Brinchley to visit New Zealand for a debate with a NZ climate scientist.

Here’s NIWA scientist Dr Jim Renwick’s response:

Dr Renwick said he was unsure whether he would want to participate even if he was available as it would simply give publicity to Lord Monckton. “Sure we can debate things, but the evidence and observations that are out there, there’s nothing to debate. To debate the whole idea of climate change is long past.”

Good!¬† The place for debating science is in scientific journals, and nothing Monckton has ever produced has a snowball’s chance in hell of being published in one. He has no qualifications in climate science and is a charlatan and a showman who manipulates and cherry picks data and relies on distorting facts and telling outright lies.

What’s more, Monckton is litigious. When Professor John Abraham of the University of St Thomas, Minnesota gave his crackpot assertions a point-by-point debunking.last year, Monckton’s response was to claim US$110,000 in libel damages and ask Abraham to issue an apology, a retraction, and to remove the critique from all public places.

Debunk Monckton for sure, but debating him only gives oxygen to his pseudoscience.

One of these things is not like the others (Part 2)

From the front page of the Dominion Post this morning:

  1. Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate-analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado: “It’s as clear a warning as we’re going to get about prospects for the future.”
  2. Professor Lionel Carter, of Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre:¬†Antarctica was losing mass, and the West Antarctic ice sheet in particular was causing concern as much of it was below sea level. A change to its mass could see the ice sheet lift off and raise the sea level by three to five metres
  3. Professor Martin Manning, of Victoria’s Climate Change Research Institute: humans were a primary driver for climate change, and the question now was how we dealt with the problem.
  4. ACT candidate and agriculture spokesman Don Nicolson: “No-one can give me conclusive proof that mankind is actually having an effect on the weather.”
No, they can’t Don, not when you’ve got you’re fingers in your ears.

Climate change coverage from Australia

I have been reading The Conversation recently Рit is an Australian project where journalists team up with academics, scientists and experts from universities to share their research and ideas in a way that is (hopefully) accessible to the public. It is a fascinating read Рalthough, given the recent death threats to climate scientists in Australia Рit probably has some way to go before it reaches its goal of bringing university research and debate into the media mainstream. Continue reading

No-Hopenhagen? COP-out? The UN FCCC-ed up?

It’s now just over a month since I got back from Copenhagen at what was the experience of a lifetime. The COP15, the event that was built up to be where world leaders decide whether to save us all, or sign a suicide pact. So, I’ve had some time for reflection.

Here are the main things I learnt from the mad house of the UNFCCC:

1. Every country is in it for themselves – they just have differing analyses of what that actually means. In the case of China, it appears they believed their economic growth to help them become a superpower in the future was more important than the climate which that will be based on. The US was similar in terms of the minor cuts they were willing to commit to. And countries like the Maldives realised that they needed a deal in Copenhagen to stop from drowning under rising seas. Capitalism is no small player in creating these differing world views, and as always the poor and vulnerable loose out, the rich and powerful who win, no matter how stupid they actually are. We need to keep pushing for a recognition that the collective good being put first will increase all our prosperity.

2. The UNFCCC process could work, and work well, if countries were not subject to the gross illogicalities I just described.

3. Carbon trading is worse than I thought. It could work well if it wasn’t subject to the political process – but that’s the case with most things! There are so many outs for rich but selfish countries like New Zealand to exploit (Clean Development Mechanism, REDD, and other such flexibility mechanisms) depending on the system (ie the one that the current NZ government supports) emissions could continue to sky rocket. No wonder Minister for Climate Change Issues Nick Smith is so keen on many of these things.

4. The solutions are out there, but it’s up to the people to lead. And they are. This is too big to give up on, so lets keep working towards climate justice, and keep coming up with ideas. We’re closer than we think, and there’s a massive global movement on what Desmund Tutu called “the winning side” – the side where we get to keep a stable climate, and make a more equitable world! It was fantastic to see so many thousands of young people and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Copenhagen supporting this winning effort.

5. There’s a lot of smart people out there, but there’s also some wackos… Climate change deniers can join the many other crazy conspiracy theorists and retire to their tight-knit communities of nonsense!

6. The Copenhagen Accord said and achieved very little. However, it is political will that is most important if we are to ever reach an agreement for a stable climate. Is there political will? More than we’ve ever seen. Is this enough? No.

7. But, with the Copenhagen Accord being the only thing to come out of Copenhagen, there seems to be even more uncertainty than there was before Copenhagen – and that was a huge amount. This uncertainty is bad for the climate, bad for us, and bad for business. Who knows what will happen this year?

8. The Green movement is needed now more than ever before.

To see some my most cherished pictures from Copenhagen see the original post on Zackarate Island.

FLOP15 “Takes Note” of Copenhagen Accord

It remains to be seen if the money promised in the Copenhagen Accord ever materialises. Every penny pledged so far at COP15 has been old money, taken from Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), and handed back to the developing world as adaptation assistance. It leaves me sceptical that any of the money that Clinton and Obama talked about during their touch-and-go diplomacy is actually real.

The most interesting thing I noticed as the COP wound up is that it “took note” of the Copenhagen Accord, rather than ‘adopting’ it. That means it has no formal standing within the Conference of the Parties (COP).

Basically, they said ‘yeah, right’.

If it was going to have any legitimacy, the COP would have to ‘adopt’ the Copenhagen Accord. It didn’t. Ironically, the press around the world is saying it has.

Others have been more frank about what this agreement is about:

There is, finally, a Copenhagen Accord – a deal that is so unfair, so unambitious and so devoid of commitment that the countries of the world could agree only to “take note” of its existence. There was no hope whatever that everyone would actually “approve.”As reported through the night, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a modestly celebrated accord late last evening, taking fulsome credit for having saved the day in a private negotiation with China, India, Brazil an South Africa – what Bill McKibben later described as “a league of super-polluters.”

Here in Denmark, the newspapers are kicking with the story of FLOP15. It’s a clever headline that crosses all the language barriers and has strangers striking up conversations in cafes across town.

AOSIS Strikes back at Copenhagen

As I write, the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) is fighting a rear guard action on the floor of the conference at Copenhagen. They want the words “legally binding instrument” inserted into the mandate to extend the work of the Adhoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA).

They are not going to win this, but it is telling which countries are backing the call of AOSIS and which are not. I cannot be sure, but if previous statements and behaviour from our embarassing¬† Minister Tim Groser mean anything, New Zealand won’t be backing our pacific neighbours.

It looks like the hideously watered down Copenhagen Accord, which is a small nail in the coffin of Kyoto, is going to be the only thing comming out of Copenhagen.

The big noters like Obama may already have left the building, but the grit and determination of those countries already affected by climate change is inspiring.

It looks like the real work is going to be left to those of us outside the halls of power, through peaceful, non-violent protest and civil disobedience.

Time to brush up on my childhood reading – David henry Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience“.