Tuesday 30 December 2008

Vincent De Roeck & the climate change hoax

While the leading politicians grow older and older, it's time for a younger generation to stand up and take over from the present generation. One of the young people walking the trail towards national politics is 23-year old Vincent De Roeck, A Belgian liberal with libertarian influences who is involved in several political groups around the liberal party VLD.

De Roeck is president of the think thank Nova Libertas; vice-president of the LVSV (a student organisation of Flemish liberals, where several liberal ministers started their career). For at the moment he's still unknown to the general public, it might be a good idea to have a look at who is. On his personal website he introduces himself as follows:
I'm a student (law & political sciences) and for years have been publishing and been engaged in politics in Flanders and abroad. As a young dynamic force I’ve put my shoulders below many successful projects. Above that, i’m definitely not an intellectual nobody. Not without a reason in 2007 the well respected American magazine National Review called me a ‘prominent intellectual’ for my razorsharp analysis of Belgian politics and of the negative impact of the actions taken by the central banks during the credit crunch.
Clearly De Roeck is someone who will have interesting thoughts to share, and on the weblog In Flanders Fields (a central meeting blog for a lot of liberal visions) he gave his opinion on the subject of climate change. A subject on his website he calls a hoax:

Devaluatie van een Nobelprijs (Devaluation of a Noble Prize).
(As usual, my translations, J)

For a while already, climate has become an important issue in the media and thereby also in politics. With Al Gore winning the Noble Prize and an Oscar for his pseudo-scientific documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' the eco-militants have won a battle. Suddenly, documentaries on the miserable life of the Indian children living on the streets are considered to be no more valuable than a computer simulation about the weather. Suddenly, the international achievements of world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela & Kofi Annan are placed on the same level as the capers of a failed politician who's no more than a demagogue without scientific support.

Because of the orchestrated media-hype & mindless group-behavior of the doomsday-prophets in our media, nobody doubts the accuracy or correctness of "global warming". Nobody asks real questions any more. Some interesting op-ed's and critical thoughts on this climate-hype can be found here

[I’ve cut the other two links on his site because they are dead. Here is a starting point for more info on Lomborg]

I rarely write on the subject of climate change. Not because i wouldn' know anything about the subject; in contrast to most climate-prophets i actually took some biology classes; but simply because i don't care.
[According to his website, De Roeck is a master student in law. Seems he's refering to his biology class in high school ?

Frankly i don't care what happens to this planet. I'm terribly annoyed when seeing the behavior of scientists and politicians who crave for media attention. Nobody seems to care what the content of the message is as long as the message itself, no matter how wrong it is, is hailed with cheering and applause. It looks like an abundance of knowledge is not what scientists or politicians suffer from, but this fact doesn't bother opinion-makers at all.

Everybody talks about “global warming” while it is a scientific fact that Europe will suffer “global cooling” just because the first fundamental change in climate will be the halt of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NOA)
[actually, IPCC considers such a halt to be “very unlikely” and it's definetely not the first change that will happen] whereas this NAO is what keeps Europe’s temperatures high. New York is on the same latitude as Madrid but during winter it has plenty of snow and a harbor that freezes over.

Another piece of scientific nonsense is the human nature of climate change. Scientific research revealed man is responsible for no more than 5% of the emission of Greenhouse and other gasses that harm our environment. Those same scientists say 5% is a neglectable number.

[De Roeck misses the point the rise accumulates, p.ex for CO2 from 280 ppm to 390 nowasdays, much more than 5% that is.

The Brussels based Ludwig von Mises Institute Europe, in which I’ve been active for a while, follows the vision of the American Cato institute [a libertarian thinkthank, considered one of the better known
astroturf groups. Because of Cato's obvious far from centre position, De Roeck should be aware an exxon funded thinkthank maybe isn't the best possible source for gathering objective information J.]
, which is very critical towards the attempts of eco-fascists to use the media for spreading its lies towards to the general public in an attempt to force taking actions against the emission of GHG’s, even though there’s no scientific reason to do so. Annette Godart, president of LVMI-Europe, wrote an analyses entitled “Climate change: a hot item that requires cold" in which she writes :

Annette Godart Ludwig von Mises Institute global warming
Anette Godart
At the moment, climate change is one of the most discussed topics in the world. It seems, that even on Mars the Southern icecap is in danger and that Neptune appears to be warming too. [i've already adressed the 'argument' that other planets are warming too]

It is a very serious question, no doubt, and the safest way to discuss this, is to let it be examined by the capable scientists. But the problem is the fact, that a lot of emotions and opinions are blurring the outcome. It should not be the first occupation of politicians, but it is. I have only one question and I discovered, that people pay more and more attention to that fact.

Between 1350 and 1700 there was a period, called “the Little Ice-Age”. That is a common fact. (Though in the 20th century there was a period of cooling too). Josef Reichholf, biologist and director of the zoological State collection has written an article about the topic. In the article “Wärme tut gut”
[translated : "heat does well" J.], he explains, that the climate change came quite suddenly, so suddenly, that the people were thinking of a punishment from God. The high tides were stronger in that period than those we ever knew in the 20th century. Storms were so strong, that they shaped the islands and Halligen between the Netherlands and Denmark. Temperatures could be measured at that period and dropped under minus 25 degree Celsius. People froze to death in their homes. Glaciers were growing longer, wolves came from the North etc.

In the Middle Ages on the contrary, the climate was so warm, that figs were growing in Cologne, Germany, and wine was produced in Bavaria, England, Belgium and the southern part of the Netherlands. Then, in 1700, that period of the “Little Ice-Age” stopped. The circumstances were not different from the period in 1350: no airplanes, no industry, no cars, no central heating and no pollution. There is research going on concerning this phenomenon. The Max Planck Institute of Darmstadt showed, that for example the sun was presently at an 8000 year solar max, which might explain the global warming.
[yes, the same old "it's the sun stupid !" meme]

By looking back in history, this piece of text shows us that causality between human factors and the environment are much less convincing than generally presumed in the media.

of course, this conclusion cannot be made from that piece of text. One needs to look at all factors influencing climate

From an Oscar-comittee I can understand it doesn’t pay too much attention to scientific truth because movies more often aren't depicting reality, but for a Noble Comittee there exist no excuses. A scientific institute that literally insults all previous nominees and mocks their achievements by giving Al Gore the Noble Prize, a cheating failure without any scientific grounds to stand on, and without any social surplus. This is a nice demonstration of the devaluation of the Noble Prize

I am a bit surprised by the high level of hybris in this post as De Roeck seems to very confident in calling a subject he doesn't know anything about 'unscientific'. Above that, De Roeck clearly fails to make distinction between Al Gore and climate science, even though those two clearly are separated subjects.

I hope Vincent De Roeck will make the effort to have a closer look at the scientific reality instead of copying faulty skeptical arguments the astroturf groups fabricate to misguide the public; and that he'll learn to be just as critical towards a source when the presented material says just what the personal bias wants to hear : rejecting science but using the thoughts of a polical thinkthanks instead, common Vincent, do you seriously wanna do that !? Reversed, it would mean basing your 'scientific' vision on reports produced by Greenpeace & Friends Of TheEarth kind of groups... The chance the info presented is going to be one-sided is high.

Yet as I know today Vincent is still a young puppy, i don't want to be too harsh : yes, young Vincent has a lot to learn on the use of sources, but i'm confident he will adopt this knowledge and in future will not just excel in biology, but will know his climate change just as well as he knows his goat.

Vincent De roeck know your goat Biology for beginners

Thursday 18 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 : what does it take to be called a scientist ?

The Inhofe 650-list is a clear case of the use of the authority-argument. The subtitle is :
More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims
The list is an update of 2007 Inhofe 400-list, where the same idea was expressed as :
Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007
If you do want to use such an authority-argument (imho never the best one anyway), then one would think it is necessary the people used do have some authority on the subject.

So it's a bit strange to see that there's a lot of economists on his list. Do they have any authority in the field of climate science ? What about a Philosopher ?

But even in the field of the people who one way or another can be linked to "exact" sciences, there's still room for questioning the authority of the scientists Morano mentions : how about someone who by no means can be considered an international scientist for nor does he have an academic diploma, nor did he ever work as a scientist. Someone like Ferdinand Engelbeen.

Engelbeen writes on his personal website :
After Technical Highschool, obtained a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Chemistry at the Institute of Technology in Antwerp in 1965.
In Belgium, people with this practically orientated degree are granted the title 'technical engineer' (ing), not to be confused with academic engineers (Ir.). It might be a bit confusing for foreigners, and Engelbeen does add to this confusing by often introducing himself as "a process engineer".

Yet, in my opinion it's Morano who is "using" Engelbeen for his own political agenda and Engelbeen himself isn't that much to blame for the confusion. After all, the latter always has been open about his background and doesn't pretend to be more than an amateur, p.ex. on this forum where he introduces himself in his first post with the words :
Ik ben geen wetenschapper in de strikte zin van het woord, maar redelijk wetenschappelijk aangelegd en volg het debat over het klimaat al ruim 30 jaar.
in English (my translation) :
I'm not a scientist in the strict sense of the word, but i have some talent for it and folow the climate-debate for 30 years
In Inhofe's report, Morano cites something Engelbeen wrote on his personal homepage. Which is the very same website Engelbeen gives a short biography of his life. Morano apparantly didn't do much effort profiling his "scientists" when compiling his list, for he easily could've known Engelbeen isn't a scientist, and certainly no scientist to be used as an authority.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Inhofe's 650 list misrepresents Belgian climatologist

Marc Morano in his '650 skeptics' list copies a misrepresentation, made last year, of the words of Luc Debontridder, scientist at The Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute.

Morano's report writes :
Climate scientist Luc Debontridder of the Belgium Weather Institute's Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) co-authored a study in August 2007 which dismissed a decisive role of CO2 in global warming. The press release about the study read, "CO2 is not the big bogeyman of climate change and global warming.

This is the conclusion of a comprehensive scientific study done by the Royal Meteorological Institute, which will be published this summer.

The study does not state that CO2 plays no role in warming the earth." "But it can never play the decisive role that is currently attributed to it," Luc Debontridder said according to the August
2007 release.

"Not CO2, but
water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. It is responsible for at least 75 % of the greenhouse effect. This is a simple scientific fact, but Al Gore's movie has hyped CO2 so much that nobody seems to take note of it," Debontridder explained. "Every change in weather conditions is blamed on CO2. But the warm winters of the last few years (in Belgium) are simply due to the 'North-Atlantic Oscillation'. And this has absolutely nothing to do with CO2," he added.
Source for Morano is a website of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, a well known group of skeptics who produce more noise than actual science.

Their website points to articles in two Belgian newspapers, one being on the website of "De Morgen" which is no longer online. The other article is on the (paid section) website of "De Standaard". I bought entrance to the article in which to my surprise Debontridder actually denies minimalising the role of CO2 (i'm not quoting the exact text, to not violate copyrights).

Moreover, Debontridder states in this article in De Standaard that what happened is that yet another Belgian Newspaper (Het Laatste Nieuws (HLN)) grossly misrepresented him and the RMI report.

The article of HLN also disappeared from the net, but the story was quickly picked up by well known Flemish climate skeptics, like the aforementioned Jos Verhulst and they copied the news in a forumpost on politics.be so we can still see what was written back then.

In HLN, Debontridder was quoted saying :

"... nu moeten we toch eens terug naar de échte realiteit. De hele reeks warme winters die we de laatste jaren hebben gehad, bijvoorbeeld, zijn simpelweg een gevolg van de Noord-Atlantische schommeling. Dat heeft nu echt eens niks met CO2 te maken".
Over de 'global warming-storm' ofte media hype zou hij hebben gezegd: "
Over enkele maanden hoor je er niks meer over. Precies doordat er zo overdreven op die CO2 werd gefocust, en alles op één hoop werd gegooid"
in English, my translation :

"... now we really need to enter reality again. the series of long winters we have known are simply a result of the NAO. It's totaly unrelated with CO2."
About the global warming hype he [Debontridder] said : "in a couple of months you won't hear about it any more. Just because everything was focussed on CO2."

People with a little bit of background on the subject will probably quickly understand by themselves how and where the confusion has risen. And how Debontridder could've gotten so misrepresented.

In an article (in Dutch) with Belgian magazine Knack, Debontridder leaves no doubt what his opinion on the subject is.

Some key passages (my translation) :
Luc Debontridder Inhofe 650 global warming misrepresentation
Luc Debontridder
"CO2 isn't the big cause of global warming" is what newspaper HLN concluded. "A complete misrepresentation", climatologist Luc Debontridder of the RMI says.


"as a scientist, i'd be absolutely crazy if i'd be saying CO2 isn't the main cause of global warming"


"RMI's new climate report has been wrongly interpret. Earth's warming of the past 20 years is caused mainly by CO2"
Later on, the Knack-article has a closer look where the confusion comes from and explains that without greenhouse gasses it would be minus 18 °C. Debontridder explains wator vapour is the most important GHG, but unlike what the NZ-coalition wants to insinuate, Debontridder is not minimalising the role of CO2 :
"The increased greenhouse effect is causing problems and of 60% of the effect comes from CO2"
Debontridder concludes :
"we cannot go on, following a busines as usual policy like this, but there's no need either to needlessly frighten the public. Bruges will not be on the coastline by 2050."
I think it is clear Morano's claim that Debontridder is a "climate-skeptic" is incorrect. Something Morano could've known without speaking Dutch, because the misrepresentation had already been mentioned on Michael Tobis' initforthegold blog

UPDATE : do also read how this post lead to a quote-mined erratum in the Inhofe 700