Prat watch #11: don’t fone us…

By Gareth Renowden 16/06/2013

Bill McKibben must have been doing something right during his New Zealand tour: he’s drawn the ire of the local climate cranks in no uncertain fashion. Perhaps it was the packed houses he addressed in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington, or his interview on RNZ National’s high-rating Saturday Morning show with Kim Hill, but the clarity and certainty of his message drew a vituperative response from “Climate Conversation” blogger Richard Treadgold. In an ill-tempered personal attack, Treadgold described McKibben as a “climate nutcase” and “a madman”.

His voice is engaging, almost reasonable, but his wild eyes cannot help but flash his burning lunacy at the camera.

It’s par for the course for Treadgold, whose tenuous claim to fame is as the man who kicked off the climate cranks’ losing attempt to sue the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)1, but his fact-free and ill-informed rant was not the only attempt to counter McKibben’s message.

At Stuff Nation, Joe Fone teamed up with the executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, Canadian PR man Tom Harris to string together a lengthy list of standard crank nonsense. It’s the usual stuff — long debunked factoids and misrepresentations — but the pair set new standards for incoherence.

It is also important to recognise that commercial greenhouse operators routinely run their internal atmospheres at up to 1500 ppm CO2. This is more than four times McKibben’s so-called “safe” limit. Yet there is no hint of any consequent temperature rise, while the plants inside grow far more efficiently than at the 400 ppm in the outside atmosphere. This is not surprising. Grade school students understand that CO2 is plant food and so anything but “climate pollution” as former Vice President Al Gore wrongly labels it. In fact, CO2 concentrations on submarines can reach levels well above 10,000 ppm, thirty times the “safe” limit, with no harmful effects to the crew.

Quite remarkable, as stupid arguments go.

Words might fail me in dealing with Fone et al, but they never fail former ACT Party leader Rodney Hide, who uses his National Business Review column this week to claim that the Green Party has started downplaying the importance of global warming.

The down rating is huge. Green co-leader Russel Norman in his speech to this month’s annual conference never once mentioned global warming.

Hide did manage to notice that the following week the Greens hosted a one day conference on climate change in Parliament, bringing together scientists, activists and politicians for a discussion on how to make progress on climate action, but claimed that Norman’s speech there confirmed his view, because it lacked “fire and brimstone”.

As fatuous arguments go, Hide’s takes the biscuit. But it is confirmation, if any were needed, that the delusional denialists on the crank fringe have to continually reassure themselves that they’re winning, however pathetic the case they make, because reality is telling a rather different story…

  1. They still haven’t paid a brass farthing of the costs awarded against them.