Educating Richard (or not)

By Gareth Renowden 03/05/2011

If ever you wanted a demonstration of the strange version of reality occupied by those that would deny the need for action on climate change, then Richard Treadgold — he of the oddly one-sided climate conversation — provides a perfect example in his recent attempt to respond to a post of mine. You may remember that Treadgold challenged the PM’s science adviser to come up with evidence for human-caused climate change (amongst other things), and that I took the bait — delivering carefully referenced replies to each of Treadgold’s demands. And I noted in my conclusion:

When offered evidence, Treadgold adopts the Nelson defence. He can’t see it, so it doesn’t exist. But he’s been playing this game for so long that his demands and protestations cut no ice. Being blind to the evidence is not scepticism, it’s denial, and that’s an estate Treadgold has occupied for a very long time.

Treadgold’s riposte demonstrates my point nicely — and at great length. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to enumerate the many ways in which his application of the wrong end of a telescope to a blind eye serves him ill, but I will note that in the land of the Climate Cluelessâ„¢ it’s apparently acceptable to get numbers wrong, fail to read references, ignore inconvenient data and misrepresent facts.

One example will suffice. With respect to the graphic from Skeptical Science that I used to demonstrate the various lines of evidence supporting a human fingerprint on climate change, Treadgold says:

Where are nights warming faster than days? (Not that it shows a human influence anyway.) What is the evidence for a lower level of atmospheric oxygen and how does it show a human influence?

Had he followed the link to Skeptical Science, he would have been able to find the references to supporting evidence. Instead, he parades his ignorance as some kind of virtue. Nights warming faster than days is clearly seen in global temperature records, and is a sign that the warming is driven by greenhouse gases rather an increase in solar energy (which would increase temperatures when the sun is shining, funnily enough). Thus:

The decrease in atmospheric oxygen levels is also clearly seen in atmospheric gas measurements, and is a sign that a lot of oxygen is being used up in combustion of fossil carbon — which is leading to increased atmospheric CO2. Thus:

(Both images from The human fingerprint in global warming at Skeptical Science).

If Treadgold were a genuine sceptic, really interested in learning about how the climate system operates, then he might take some time and trouble to educate himself. Instead he prefers to occupy a strange twilight zone where reality is what he wants it to be. The rest of us don’t have that luxury.

[C,S,N & Y extol the benefits of education]

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