Michael Cox talks complete rubbish

By Gareth Renowden 17/10/2011


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a retired conservative politician with a penchant for writing opinion pieces and a limited understanding of certain issues will one day start talking bollocks — and that day has arrived with a vengeance for Michael Cox. The former National MP and Waipa district councillor let rip in the Waikato Times this morning:

Those who witter on (to chatter or babble on pointlessly or at unnecessary length) about emissions of green-house gasses, usually come from the left side of the political spectrum. They make me mad.

Mad? Yes, but perhaps not in the sense he intended. His political rage has led him rather a long way off the path of reason into the dark woods where lurk misdirection — and climate cranks.

Cox has been convinced that global warming is complete rubbish. To prove his point he pontificates on the evils of the IPCC:

To cut a long story short it was found that the main editor of these IPCC Summaries introduced many of his own extremely biased views into the texts. Eventually it became clear that the IPCC, which so many governments relied upon, was clearly underpinned by fraud and an unscientific political organisation in which environmental activists like Al Gore were setting the agenda.

That doesn’t sound like any history of the IPCC that I’ve read — but it does sound a lot like the conspiracy theories that circulate in crank circles. Cox then moves on to consider the sun and carbon dioxide:

Today’s rational authors make it absolutely clear that the Sun, Earth, ice and air are the main contributors to changes in our climate. The earth is dynamic and is always evolving; climate has always changed. In fact, the biggest driver on our climate is the receipt of and redistribution of solar energy, without which there would be no life on Earth. [typo corrected]

Hang on a minute. “Rational authors?” A heavy hint there, methinks…

This glaringly obvious fact has been brushed aside and the argument somehow replaced the power of the Sun with the trace gas CO2. The gas is in the atmosphere and exists in tiny amounts [0.001%], with the remainder of it embedded in the oceans, rocks, soil and living beings.

A bit of a “research” failure there, Michael. CO2 is currently at 389 ppm — parts per million of the atmosphere by volume, equivalent to 0.0389% of the atmosphere. But you are good enough to reveal your source for this egregious error:

Professor Ian Plimer is a well-known Australian geologist and is also Emeritus Professor of Earth Science at the University of Melbourne. I have referenced his book entitled Heaven and Earth for some of my research for this article. I recommend it to you.

Ah Plimer, you’ve done it again. Mislead a poor politician. Heaven and Earth is a work of imagination, not science. Here’s what one reviewer (Professor Kurt Lambeck, president of the Australian Academy of Science) had to say shortly after the book was published back in 2009):

If this had been written by an honours student, I would have failed it with the comment: You have obviously trawled through a lot of material but the critical analysis is missing. Supporting arguments and unsupported arguments in the literature are not distinguished or properly referenced, and you have left the impression that you have not developed an understanding of the processes involved. Rewrite!

Cox wraps up by quoting Plimer:

I will let him have the final word:

“If we humans, in a fit of ego, think we can change normal planetary processes that control our climate, then we need stronger medication.”

Cox’s intemperate and ill-informed piece is published as “opinion” by the Waikato Times. I keenly await the newspaper giving equal prominence to someone who believes that the world is flat and the the British Royal Family are alien lizards in disguise. Meanwhile, perhaps we should club together to buy some suitable medication for Mr Cox. During the forthcoming election campaign he may need to calm down a bit…