Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Johann Hari and the Toynbee Conundrum

In the Devil's lexicon, the Toynbee Conundrum runs as follows: is the eponymous Polly peddling her shit because she's totally fucking ignorant or is she being deliberately mendacious? The wonderful thing about the Toynbee Conundrum is that, whilst Polly is the most egregious example, you can apply it to so many people.

Johann Hari for instance.

I found this particularly stupid article via The Reptile (who contrasted it with Littlejohn) and it's just a massive fucking load of shit.
Back in 2001, I wondered out loud – and in print – if it would take "an environmental 9/11" to finally break the corporate brake that is holding up all action on global warming in America. Since then, New Orleans has drowned, the South-east has dried up so severely the city of Atlanta is nearly out of water, and the skies over California have been turned red by the worst wildfires since records began.

Note how Hari lumps together the hot conditions of this year with the Katrina Hurricane of over two years ago.
More than a thousand people have died, and more than $70bn worth of property has been destroyed. Seeing Americans huddled together in refugee camps is something that no longer shocks us on the nightly news. Yet still the political debate in the US remains stuck far short of the drastic cuts in carbon emissions we need now if we are to stop this Weather of Mass Destruction.

I have only one thing to say: melodramatic horseshit.
The science is clear: these apocalyptic weather-events are unlikely to be freak one-offs. While it's hard to link any single hurricane or vast fire to global warming, Katrina and California's wildfires fit into the wider warming pattern of increasingly freaky weather predicted by climatologists as the world gets warmer.

Professor Tim Flannery, Australia's most distinguished scientist and a leading expert on climate change said: "Americans might feel they're suffering from a whole lot of severe weather at the moment, but look globally and you see exactly the same thing around the world. Anywhere with a Mediterranean climate, such as Greece or Australia or California, is suffering extreme wildfires. Now, why is that happening? The climate is slowly shifting, so that the desert regions adjacent to those Mediterranean areas are starting to expand."

He's not alone. The prestigious journal Science recently published the results of a long study into wildfires – and they found that man-made global warming is driving their new ferocity. Professor Thomas Swetnam of the University of Arizona concluded: "Lots of people think climate change and the ecological responses are 50 to 100 years away. But it's not 50 to 100 years away – it's happening now in forest ecosystems through fire."

Well, this is a lovely theory but it just isn't born out by... well... by the data.

Far from hurricanes being even more frequent and even stronger, the very opposite is happening.

Florida State University’s COAPS (Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies) says that hurricane season 2007, which ends November 30th, is looking well below normal, in fact they are calling it "historic inactivity".

According to COAPS: "Unless a dramatic and perhaps historical flurry of activity occurs in the next 11 weeks (ACE is based on calendar year, not traditional June-November hurricane season), 2007 will rank as a historically inactive Tropical Cyclone year for the entire Northern Hemisphere. During the past 30 years, only 1977, 1981, and 1983 have had less activity to date (Jan-December). For the period of June 1–October 19, 2007, only 1977 experienced LESS tropical cyclone activity."

Oh dear, poor old Johann. Maybe next year will be devastating, eh?

But surely Johann must be right about all this drying out, yes? I mean, the 0.6°C rise over the last century must have made a massive fucking difference, right? Er, no...
So does rising global temperature cause drought?

In the context of what appears to have been a one-degree Fahrenheit rise in mean global temperature since 1900, the observed relationship between temperature and precipitation in North America does not favor the hypothesis.

During the period 1900-2005, precipitation seems to have actually increased in areas above 30 degrees north latitude—including California and the rest of the U.S.—according to the most recent assessment from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This does not mean, of course, that droughts haven't occurred in North America over the last 100 years, but it doesn't support a link between rising global temperature and increased drought.

And, again...
In fact, one almost certain effect of global warming will be an increase in the evaporation rate of the oceans. Megatons more water is put into the sky as temperatures of the air and oceans rise. Presumably, much of this water will fall as rain somewhere, so it would probably be more logical to guess that warming would cause more rain rather than less.

In fact, just last week I posted drought maps that showed that while Southern California has had drought conditions over the last year...

...they have had absolutely average rainfall over the last five years and North America has been downright soggy:

Oh, sorry, Johann, better luck next time, eh? Oh, but Johann isn't finished with his hyperbolic fantasies yet; the fat little fuck is on a roll.
The fires will speed up as global warming speeds up. If we hit three degrees centigrade of warming, most models predict the Amazon rainforest itself will dry out and burn up. The most important carbon skink on earth will turn to ash – ensuring the world warms even more.

Really? It's the first that I've heard about it. But that's the think about these MSM columnists: they can simply sit there and write their bullshit and, unlike blogs, never actually link to any sources or evidence.

But is 3ºC warming likely: well, if you utterly ignore the warming rate that we have already seen, it might be, yes.
What we arrive at is a sensitivity of about 1.2 degrees Celsius for a CO2 doubling (where the blue line crosses 560ppm). In other words, we can expect another 0.6ºC increase over the next century, about the same amount we experienced (and most of us failed to notice) over the last century.

But, you are saying, global warming catastrophists get so much higher numbers. Yes they do, with warming as high as 9-10ºC in the next century. In fact, most global warming catastrophists believe the climate sensitivity is at least 3ºC per doubling, and many use estimates as high as 5ºC or 6ºC. Do these numbers make sense? Well, let's draw the same curve for a sensitivity of 3ºC, the low end of the catastrophists' estimates, this time in red:

To get a sensitivity of 3.0ºC, one has to assume that global warming due solely to man's CO2 (nothing else) would have to be 1.5ºC to date (where the red line intersects the current concentration of 380ppm). But no one, not the IPCC or anyone else, believes measured past warming has been anywhere near this high. So to believe the catastrophic man-made global warming case, you have to accept a sensitivity three or more times higher than historical empirical data would support.

So, we are looking at a temperature rise of about 1.2ºC; but what would happen then? That kind of temperature rise could be quite devastating, couldn't it? I mean, we don't know what would happen, do we?

Oh, no, yes, we do, actually. It happened a few hundred years ago, during the Mediaeval Warm Period (roughly the tenth to fourteenth centuries). And was that catastrophic? No. In fact, it was a time of incredible prosperity, when the rising temperatures led to increased crop yields and a population explosion.

(The trouble came when the Little Ice Age kicked in, and the sharp fall in temperatures led to lower crop yields and failed harvests. People starved by the hundreds, by the thousands. We know this because we have documents from the time.)

You will note though, that humans survived and relatively easily too. And with our current massive wealth and thus adaptability, I believe that—if only the ignorant, power-hungry politicians, the corrupt, greedy scientists and the know-nothing lackwit MSM commenters would stop trying to force unnecessary actions upon us—we would barely notice that any shift was happening. After all, the 70s global cooling scare utterly failed to wipe us out (or cause us any real problem at all).

So poor Johann. I would fisk the rest of his article but since it is all predicated on the bullshit that I have just fisked above, there seems little point.

I have done enough, I think, to ask the question: is Johann Hari a lying fat cunt or a ignorant fat cunt?


DocBud said...

"Professor Tim Flannery, Australia's most distinguished scientist and a leading expert on climate change"

Here are a couple of serious rivals:



Tim Flummery is not even a climatologist, but that doesn't stop him spouting crap on areas he knows little about. He is a great media junky and his books have certainly made a significant contribution to his bank balance if not the sum total of human knowledge. I'm personaaly disinclined to view as distinguished a scientist who believes that showing cause and effect is so old hat, wide speculation and scaremongering are the tools of Flannery type scientists.

Flannery is not fat, and I don't think he is ignorant, but he is an insincere, lying, bearded twat.

poohbear said...

What a great article! BUT you could rub Hari's nose in the truth and he would'nt see it! Him and all his leftist twat chums don't give two fucks about the truth, all they care about is the 'agenda'
All the evidence in the world will never change their beliefs because their world view is political NOT ecological! In reality they don't give a flying fuck about the 'enviroment', what they care about is a socialist world agenda! The only cure that the Hari's of this world will ever understand is a rope and lampost scenario and I hope that one day they will meet!
In reality CO2 is a life giving gas and we would not exist without it! In fact CO2 is humanity's saviour and we need MORE not less CO2 in the atmosphere! More CO2 means more plant growth and that means more food for a growing world population! This is something that the fat little toad Hari and all his nasty chums never tell you, why would that be? Because their dearest wish is to see their evil beliefs dominate and the sad part is that they are winning! BASTARDS!

poohbear said...


The only reason you hate Flannery is because he is telling the truth and is not spouting the FOE/GP bullshit & lies that you swallow so easily! Tell you what, why not fuck off and to your fat,crooked and ignorant bastard leader AL(show me the money)GORE's blog instead? On this blog we like the truh NOT your sick and twisted lies!

PS you don' have to be a "climatologist" to understand and comment on the AGW/MMGW lies and propaganda!
The truth will out in the end and even you evil bastards cannot hide it forever!

poohbear said...


Please accept my appologies for the slurs and insults! I got the wrong end of the stick and read DKs post wrong. I have re read and realise That I was talking horseshit! Well, at least I got things upside down!
Must remember to engage my brain before I open my big gob!
I am very sorry and I hope that DK can find it in his heart to delete my mistaken post to minimize my shame!
I will read things through before I post again!
I feel like a complete twat right now and so I should!

DocBud said...

Poohbear, apology accepted. You are afterall one of my childhood (and adult) heroes. I was most stunned to find someone defending him so passionately, I think even those who support him don't like him.

If you want Australia's more intelligent view on climate change, look up Ian Plimer or Bob Carter.

I take your point on not having to be a climatologist, it is more a case of pointing out that Tim Flannery is not a climate change expert. I tried to engage him in debate once but his stock response was "read my upcoming book". He is a real git who would like to see the Aussie coal industry closed down and have all it's employees tossed out of work, and for what? His huge ego and a theory which is increasingly looking like a load of bollocks.

DocBud said...

I can't believe I made that mistake with "it's", the adrenalin must have still been pumping after reading poohbear's first comment to me, I've never been so insulted in my life (yes, I don't get out enough).

Roger Thornhill said...

I would say that until we have more evidence, the first graph seems to still show an upward trend. Best to ignore outliers, yet right now, with the outlier we have and the trend in 2000-3, Hari is on thin ice (ha). If we do not get over 600 next year, Hari is truly in do do.

It is all a "Green Religion" anyway.

mitch said...

A toynbee by any other name would create such sweet bullshit!

Paul said...

"Roger Thornhill said...
..the first graph seems to still show an upward trend. Best to ignore outliers,"

It has been suggested, that recent upward trend is due to improved detection methods over the last 50 years, as the number of severe tornadoes which have always been reasonably detectable with earlier technology (category 3 to 5) then the upward trend is completely eliminated.

Prodicus said...

This global warming preaching is just the latest version of the same old old We Are All Guilty! crap (copyright Peter Simple, c. 1965). Johann Hari makes Gore look scientific, by comparison. What an idiot. Not that proper science matters, eh, Johann?

Forest fires have rockall to do with global warming. There are far fewer of them than when nature controlled north America and lightning regularly set the mountainsides alight, providing for the sort of natural renewal which human agency now prevents. It was the same during both cool and warm periods and is bugger all to do with climate change.

Anonymous said...

Californian fires=arson

Shug Niggurath said...

I think it's quite interesting to note this;


Where we see mention of natural increases of CO2 levels around six hundred years after a warming period and then to remember the Mediaeval Warm Period which ended around about... six hundred years ago.

I'm a layman here, as are most, but the correlation (and corresponding tiny real increase in temperature) is inescapable.


This is the begining of the precession of the equinox,fire ,flood, upheaval,crust displacement ,every thirteen thousand years,melting ice in the arctic,increased ice in the antarctic,interference with the earths wobble,look to the ancient folk tales to learn what happened last time and forget "global warming"

Anonymous said...

Dk, did you manage to find out exactly who sits on the IPPC yet?

Anonymous said...

This is a satirical website, right?

W J Edwards said...

What a nasty little bastard is the devil's kitchen writer! Johan might not always be right but he performs a valuable social service through his writings. Personal attacks via his looks etc. just reflect the poverty of their author!