Alarmists refuse to take on skeptical geologists

Alarmists refuse to take on skeptical geologists” (June 8th, 2011). Anthony Watts agrees with the assertions of Canadian right-wing lobbyist Tom Harris in the reliably denialist Financial Post newspaper (No Climate Debate). Funny how fast Anthony was to copy-and-paste this one. Harris says that if “alarmists” won’t be caught dead presenting at the same symposium last month in Ottawa, “Earth climate: past, present, future“, as debunked denialists (make that “leading geoscientists”) like Bob CarterIan PlimerHenrik Svensmark and “Friends of Science” director Norm Kalmanovitch, they’re chicken. (They couldn’t squeeze Lord Monckton in there?) Friends of Gin and Tonic ask some interesting questions about this.

Unlike medical researchers, who are rushing to embrace discredited and debunked anti-vax fraud Andrew Wakefield in debate.

According to Harris, “climate skepticism was widespread” at the recent industrial GAC-MAC conference (Joint Annual Meeting of the Geological Association of Canada, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the Society of Economic Geologists and the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits), but we’ll have to take his word on that. It doesn’t seem to show up in any of the 26 other Symposia or Special Sessions though.

Here’s Professor Andrew Miall’s Symposium preface, with a few editorial remarks:

Earth climate: past, present, future
Andrew Miall
The scientific debate about climate change is far from over [not contested]. Some of the projections of climate change and its consequences contained in the 2007 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been called into question [successfully?].. This symposium will address some of these issues and present a geological perspective on the scientific debate. For example, what is the relative importance of water vapour versus carbon dioxide as a medium of heat retention in the atmosphere? How important have variations in solar output and in sunspot levels been in determining energy input to the Earth’s atmosphere? Is the current global temperature regime now warmer than the Medieval Warm Period or the Holocene Hypsithermal? [Gosh, no-one’s ever thought of studying those things before! Someone should get on that.] This is a significant question, given that many damaging ecological, faunal and weather changes have been predicted based on such warming. Yet Earth and its assemblage of life forms clearly survived these and even earlier exceptionally warm periods [not so good for some species of course, but perhaps we should roll the dice anyway]. Is it possibile [sp] that other causes, such as the density and ubiquity of the human presence on Earth, rather than climate change, may be the cause of the observed deterioration in many environmental indicators? [Of course they are factors! This is not an either/or situation.]

“The scientific debate about climate change is far from over.” Ooh, that stings. Could this prove that the alleged alarmist chorus of “the science is settled” is a despicable alarmist tactic? No, that evergreen denialist straw-man argument that has never been true. Climate scientists don’t make that claim. Just like plate tectonics, we’re continually refining our understanding. This doesn’t mean the core principles are teetering on the brink of rejection. Funny how often questions like “is it possible that” show up in these ‘criticisms’. Plenty of things are possible, but showing them to be more likely is the tricky part.

To repeat the words of  George Bernard Shaw; “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.” Credible scientists apparently understand this and stay out of the pig pen.

On a personal note, I once studied under Dr. Miall. It’s sad to see him in his late sixties endorsing such sloppy discredited arguments. While geologists know that huge environmental changes have affected the Earth in the past, some of them seem incapable of connecting the dots that the extinctions that resulted from those changes could have any bearing on this species, or that the evidence shows that these environmental changes are occurring at rates never recorded before.

13 thoughts on “Alarmists refuse to take on skeptical geologists

  1. I don’t understand how Geology seems to be the last holdout of denialism, on a Geological time scale the current rise in temp. CO2 etc and decline in Arctic looks like a Meteor strike, Geologists are perfectly placed to see and understand the rammifications of such rapid changes…does this capability mean they can’t bring themselves to look?…or is it just good old fashioned corruption? being so closely linked to Coal and Oil, throw in some guilt and this is a heady mixture no doubt.

    [Don’t forget the “we can fix anything”/”your numbers aren’t five nines” engineers. – Ben]

    • The big money in Geology is in fossil fuel location and extraction. If you want a private sector job in geology (and perhaps many government positions, as well), you can’t upset the Fossil Fuel Lords. And if you’re now retired after a private sector career as a geologist, you owe your life savings and any creature comforts you enjoy to those same Lords.

      Geologists are, seemingly, a very loyal bunch.

      Just not to their fellow denizens of this planet.

  2. “It’s not us denialist geologists, it’s people in general, and anyway carbonic acid is solid and can’t react with anything unchanged”

    • Actually, it is winter. But the Met Office changed the goal posts to prove Global Warming. Enlightening comment below the Snowdon thread:

      Knuts says:
      June 12, 2011 at 4:38 am
      The BBC (amongst others) have also been telling us how its been the driest Spring here for 100 years and drought orders are coming into force and were all going to starve to death with crop failures. What they fail to mention is that the Met Office decided to move the goalposts by declaring that Spring now starts on March 1st and ends June 1st, its currently tipping it down here in the middle of the UK. I wonder if the normal spring dates that have been the same for yonks would show the driest for 100 years, only a week to go and the forecast is for more rain. I suspect a fudge factor is being used to satisfy their own agenda.

  3. ….or perhaps geologists have a very long term view and aren’t fazed by the current changes in co2.

    I particularly like the (nudge, nudge) jcrabb suggestion maybe they’re all in the pay of big oil or big coal. How very 1998 of you. If you’re going to make an accusation, come right out and say it!

    You can laugh and point at former professors, or perhaps you could hear them out and show everyone where the holes in the arguments are. Like it or not, it looks like running from debate. Show everyone where they’re wrong. Hear their arguments and prove them incorrect. You would be applauded by many. People did debate Andrew Wakefield. And proved him wrong, and discredited him.

    [So, just as an example, Plimer’s continued emphatic claim that undersea volcanoes produce more CO2 that humanity despite being conclusively contradicted (by a factor of at least 130) by the US Geological Service doesn’t count as a “hole” (search for “Plimer” in this USGS publication). As another example is Bob Carter’s claim that human CO2 emissions amount to 3% of total atmospheric CO2, about 11 ppm, when it’s clear that human CO2 emissions have produced ten times that amount (read Bob Ward’s 2010 Comment for additional bunking, or perhaps Australia’s CSRIO rebuttal). – Ben]

    • Head on over to, and your wish will be granted.

      Or you can just hang around WUWT (the original!) and keep getting more and more confused.

  4. Emission omission by Carter et al, yes.
    Reality adds one word: human CO2 emissions amount to 3% of total atmospheric CO2 emissions (per annum). A criminal like a denialist would even f##k up a simple statement like that. Never even mind what happens with close to half that tiny human emission… Nothing, just stays in the air basically.

    Meantime, the denialists have shown their real intentions: “Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated”. Steve McIntyre. I kid you not, it’s really there for the world to register. (My comments here contained some factuality about denialists, read: [snip]).

    Original: IPCC WG3 and the Greenpeace Karaoke. There, my comment remained – and was proven by one ‘Richard Drake’. There is something quite rotten in the State of Denial.

    [Natural CO2 emissions are in rough balance. Human CO2 emissions are always accumulating. Funny how that gets glossed over by people like Carter. – Ben]

  5. One irony is that Big Carbon trashes climate models via their corrupt proxies at every turn, but what do they use when they want to investigate climate regimes of the deep past that may lead to promising areas to search for fossil fuels?

    Climate models.

    I bet Master Watts has no idea about that.

    [GEOCARB III and such are way more dodgy than our modern climate models! This will be his line: it’s courageous to use limited knowledge to gamble on finding wealth, it’s unethical to act on “limited knowledge” to protect humanity. – Ben]

  6. Geologist denialist Circus too rich for CSIRO and Geo Science,

    “The CSIRO asked to be removed as a principle sponsor of a mining industry conference after organisers booked notorious climate change denier, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, Christopher Monckton, to deliver the keynote address.”


    [Are you suggesting that the organizers are under-handed denialists? Why, it’s clearly a sign that those chummy consensus climate scientists fear Monckton’s withering criticism! – Ben]

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