Monday, October 26, 2015

Gerry Eckhoff: Climate Change Lecture

The recent lecture by Sir Geoffrey Palmer on climate change held at Otago University does highlight some rather interesting issues. It also appears that scorn and derision inevitably follow a question from any intrepid soul brave enough challenge the latest circulating theory on climate change.

The venerable Sir Geoffrey is something of an authority on NZ constitutional law and related legal matters. It is a rather heroic assumption however that his status within the legal profession qualifies him to deliver an address at the University as any sort of authority on the environmental science of climate change.

He is of course entitled to address this subject but just why he was invited to speak at the University on an area well outside his field of expertise is something of a mystery. Perhaps speaking at a church hall does not hold the same status as speaking at a university.  That will not be lost on the organizers.

It is also not unreasonable to expect an address at a University to uphold the highest standard of scholarship in lectures and subsequent debate on any given subject.

There appears now to be world wide propensity to engage in celebrity or political contribution rather than scholarship to controversial subjects to somehow justify the convention wisdom of the day. Are we soon to expect celebrity chefs to be invited to the University to deliver lectures on the alleged “evils” of genetic modification in agriculture - by way of an example?

Perhaps a “star” from a NZ TV show could soon be invited to Otago University to breathlessly deliver a dissertation on water quality and the wider environment as they tell us all (wait for it) “I just love the environment”. Leonardo de Caprio, well known for his unswerving devotion to climate variation, could be free for a day or two as well so as to add international ‘intellectual rigor’ to the event?

It is however the intolerance and the boorish pride of pseudo intellectuals throughout the world who pontificate on an issue they have limited knowledge on, that is very troubling. They hold onto a belief that there is a solution to every problem but pay no price for being wrong. It is the public who pay that price. The poorer you are, the higher the price. 

They are inclined to serve up a double helping to all those eager to hear their own view complemented. Why do we as a society tolerate those who engage in personal abuse to intimidate all those who dare to question?  That should really concern us all.

To have such behaviour occur at any University should be a source of huge disquiet to all who value freedom of speech and the right of those to hold a different opinion. Our society appears to have adopted and accepted a process of ruthless challenge to all those who dare to not agree. One can only but wonder how Galilee Galileo, Charles Darwin and Christopher Columbus managed to survive long enough to prove the conventional wisdom  - wrong.

It was reported that Otago University Vice chancellor Ms Harlene Hayes intervened (to her eternal credit) during question time after Sir Geoffrey Palmers presentation, to point out that while the assembled might not agree with the expressed views of the preceding gentleman, it was in this forum that he should be able to be heard. Questions which challenge any existing theory should be encouraged.  Derision from some attendees smacks of facism.  The question however arises that if the Vice Chancellor was not there -how would the lecture and question session have ended?

As to whether climate change is mostly anthropogenic or not and its impact on our world is a legitimate question.  Another legitimate question is - why is the same amount of energy  not put into the provision of fresh clean water where sickness and death are the only constants for so many of the worlds population. What does that tell us of the environmental lobbyists who favour resources being put into climate change over the provision of safe water to those who will undoubtedly die from water borne disease? Where does their value system sit?

The determination by tens of thousands of those interested in climate change and who tell us all that the science behind climate change is settled -  is a curious one.  History has shown that it takes only one person to prove the masses wrong which includes those who occupy the hallowed halls of our institutes of learning.

Personally I have always somewhat valued the idea behind what is known as “Pascal’s Wager”.

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century mathematician who stated that it is better to believe in God – just in case he does exist - than not to believe in God. If God really does exist and you are a nonbeliever ….. well,  one day, you will be in a deal of trouble.

It is therefore not unreasonable to express the view that society should move towards systems that will replace fossil fuels but always mindful that such a system will also deplete the worlds stock of rare minerals and other unintended consequences.

The debate over global warming, climate change or climate variation as it now known, should continue without abuse, without rancour but especially with the help of Universities such as Otago where one can enter into reasoned public discussion on any subject - in safety.

That is simply not the case any where in the world. Not just at Otago University and not just at one of Sir Geoffreys lectures where he would have been thrilled to see at least some of the audience were still awake.

My after thought. Human beings rarely engage in deceit and half truths as much as they do when rehearsing the science behind their personal environmental concerns. 


david said...

I was with you until the bit about Pascal's wager, which I always thought was good mathematics but bad logic - God is supposed to be omnipotent and hence would not be fooled by such a cynical strategy. Anyway as to the main subject I am heartened to hear that the Vice Chancellor intervened in favour of the questioner. Too often we hear of universities capitulating to the demands of those who would censor contrary views.

Brian said...

Climate Change Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
Well he has been a politician and a very high one, perhaps he still thinks he is the duplicate of an Oracle of Delphi....but of course with the added advantage of never being wrong.
It is always a wonder that subjects such as climate change and our human influence upon it are so followed and believed. The era of snake oil has never passed us by, or as Hitler and Goebbels found out to the advantage of the Nazi Party machine. “Tell the people enough times and in the end they will believe it”. Whether it contains an element of truth is merely academic, the end game being the objective.
In a similar way we too, here in New Zealand, have been bamboozled by the recent introduction of the new and much vaunted safety laws, which in practical terms removes the onus from the individual onto the employer. One might also add, in deflecting any such deaths away from the political arena. A sort of modern day Political Pontius Pilate Parliament washing its hands of the matter? In an American phraseology “Pass the Buck”.
Nevertheless the theory and abuse of this Climate change has stuck a deep chord, and resonates especially with the young; fear after all, being one of our greatest emotions.
My question has always been seeing that our present and local climate experts are for the most part proved wrong time and time again, how “on earth” can they predict hundreds of years ahead with any certainty? Or are they just showing us all that we the people, can alter the world to such an extent?
In the end eventually we will all pay a United Nations climate tax towards this fearful drama; and no doubt it will increase that organisation bureaucracy and power, leaving us all in a case of “acta est fibula”!

paul scott said...

haha We tried to send old long tooth to Greenland straight after the RMA was published,
but he wouldn't go, so we just have to put up with his nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Anthropogenic climate change has little or no scientific basis. It is in fact a politically constructed myth to empower the unelected UN One-Worlders, who currently remain dependent on the USA for both the footprint of their New York headquarters and the lion’s share of their funding.

If America jerked the rug, the UN would be goneburger and the UN knows it.

The UN has floated a number of unsuccessful wheezes to become self-funding (e.g. a proposed tax on global air miles, the so-called Tobin Tax on international movements of capital, a tax on the use of the “global commons” to be levied on fishing in international waters).

All have come to naught because widespread member-state buy-in hasn’t been achieved.

“Global Warming” (which following evidence of a cooling trend since 1997 that couldn’t be waved away was renamed “Climate Change” to keep the scam going) is carefully crafted to promote the fiction that, to avoid a looming catastrophe, member states must act together in surrendering control over environmental matters to the UN.

Through the emissions trading scam, the UN intends set up a global welfare state in which “rich” countries are compulsorily soaked for the benefit of so-called “poor” countries, with unelected UN bureaucrats in the middle clipping the ticket.

The UN thus achieves its long-held goal of becoming self-funding, and its One-World agenda of progressively subverting the Nation State out of existence moves a step closer to completion

Unknown said...

Never forget your elected officials have bought into this scam to extract more money from the electors. Does anyone in the population who has taken anytime to study the data still believe in this global warming myth. We just had a nice long cold winter here in the South. Where did common sense go to in this country? Ignorance is our enemy and it is growing like a fungus.

Sam Esler said...

Sir geoffrey Palmer eh, was he not the chappie that allowed treaty claims to go back as far as 1860, then stated that it would not result in a tsunami of claims, that are mostly dreamt up by some of the indigenous inhabitants of Aotearoa riding the treaty gravy train
In so far as climate change is concerned it has been happening for millions of years if one cares to look, where did our lakes in the Sth come from, where did these bloody great boulders one sees sitting all alone out in a paddock in the McKenzie country come from, certainly not from some Maori who threw them at a Moa. As a driller for oil,( what a horrible person), and having a opportunity to become very interested in the Geology of the earths crust by discussing it with our geologist, and seeing where the CO2 was as low in the past eocene where apparently trees died but did not decay until some enzyme appeared on the scene and caused the dead trees to decay into what we now harvest as coal. Had this enzyme not appeared our geologist told me that CO2 levels would have got so low that all things growing on the planet would have died, he also stated that by drilling into the earths crust he had found indications that the planet had CO2 levels hundreds of times greater than what we have now,before we had the industrial revolution by some millions of years. Acording to my research from university databases we need a minimum of 180ppm of CO2 just for the world to survive, presently we are sitting at 400ppm and half of this is supplied by the burning of fossil fuel. Insofar as the publicity about the terrible ecological disaster that the utilisaion of the oil from the tar sands in Alberta is concerned, those company's involved arwe cleaning up the greratest natural oil spill the planet has ever seen, and they are planting the recovered sands back into forest that will serve the province well for many thousands of years. Sir Geoffrey you may well be a well informed lawyer but I think you are an alarmist that is poorly informed of the facts, by the way, you dont work for the reserve banks of the world do you?

Anonymous said...


There are political aspects to this debate and facts that haven't been widely shared (though they should have been) ...

Post-1990's scientific research has a political agenda (you don't conform to government thought, you don't get funded). Pre-1990's there may have been the academic empire building and "fashionable thought" but by-and-large the thinking was independent. Check your texts, pre-1980 [e.g. Press F & Siever R (1974). "Earth". Published by W H Freeman & Co, San Francisco, USA. ISBN 0-7167-0261-4] for information based on raw data not interpreted or re-interpreted data.

Historically, there's a glacial or interglacial (or mini-events) that follow an approximately sinusoidal pattern with a period of about 16,000 years. We are at the bottom of the sinusoidal curve and it's been about 16,000 years since the last event. We only have about 150 years of measured data for an event with period of 16,000 years (<1% of the event). If we are looking at the upswing of a sine curve, wouldn't that look like Al Gore's "hockey stick" ? But it's a natural pattern, previously established by pollen records, tree ring data, oxygen isotope studies from ice cores, stratigraphical records, volcanic dust, shifts in the magnetic poles recorded in basaltic rocks, the limits of glacial advances (moraines and a whole bunch of other physical data. Also look at the energy received at the surface of the earth and how that relates to peturbations in the earths orbit and Milankovitch wobble that currently drive climatic variation such as "El Nino0 La Nina" cycles over the Pacific and NZ.

Also, look at how accountants have driven rationalisation of climate station networks so that the position of the stations is more affected by the cost to service a station than the necessity for a balanced climate network (see Investigate magazine for further details). Conclusions may have been swayed by lack of critical assessment of data sources.

Why isn't water vapour included in the list of greenhouse gases ? It is the very high enthalpy of water that is responsible for much of the shielding and trapping processes and water vapour is far more effective than other GHG's (sorry I've lost my reference; check the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics).

The point of the rant is: it's a natural process. Yes it is true that man's activity
has had an effect on global warning ... but in the same way that you can truthfully say
that if you tip a cup of water into Lake Taupo, you have raised the water level. Look at the current historical position of the Earth in relation to it's historical record - it was going to happen. Instead of putting the financial effort into remedial measures, move cities and infrastructure inland and look at helping some of our Pacific friends now.