I’ve got a summary of the Emmott story so far at
Donna Laframboise gave us a great write-up at
and Jo Nova has an interesting perceptive take on Emmott’s position at
As always, Donna and Jo manage to be bitingly sarcastic without being rude – something I’ve never managed, I’m afraid.
What’s important here is that the Emmott story has got on to the bigtime sceptic blogs. From there, one hopes, it will get on to the Amazon reviews, and eventually out into the media.
This very minor blog has seen its readership treble over the past few days thanks to links from Donna Laframboise, Tom Nelson, and Jo Nova. The idea is not so much to expand the reach of this blog, but to encourage its readers to get the message out to the big wide world.
In order to facilitate analysis of the infamous thirteen worst graphs in the world, I reproduce from Newsbuzz the sources for each graph, before they, too disappear.
1. World Population
Adapted from UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
2. Water use
Adapted from UN Environment Programme Water Statistics, 2008, FAO
4. Coal consumption
Adapted from US Energy Information Administration, International Energy
Outlook 2011 (EIA, 2011)
5. Global carbon emissions
Adapted from data from the US Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
6. Global CO2 in the atmosphere
Adapted from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UC San Diego) CO2
program, ŒClimate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Working Group 1
contribution to IPCC, Fourth Assessment Report, CUP 2007; C.M. MacFarling
Meure et al. ŒLaw Dome CO2 CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000
years BP, Geophysical Research Letters 33, 14 (2006)
7. Global temperature increase
Adapted from J.E. Hansen et al. Goddard Institute for Space Studies,
8. Fires in the Americas
Compiled from data from the US National Interagency Fire Center, 2010;
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, 2005. Data for 2000-2010 are USA
9. Loss of tropical rainforest and woodland
Adapted from Steffen et al. ŒThe Anthropocene: From Global Change to
Planetary Stewardship?, AMBIO, October 2011 (Royal Swedish Academy of
10. Global ocean warming
Adapted from data from the NOAA Ocean Climate Laboratory and World Ocean
Databse; S. Levitus et al. World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea
level change (0-2000 m), 1955-2010, Geophysical Research Letters, 39, 10,
11.Floods in Asia
Compiled from data from ICIMOD and UNEP-Grid Arendal, 2010; Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment Resport, 2005
12. Exploitation of the world’s marine species
Adapted from Steffen et al. The Anthropocene: From Global Change to
Planetary Stewardship, AMBIO, October 2011 (Royal Swedish Academy of
Sciences); FAO, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012 (FAO,
2012); B. Worm et al. Rebuilding global fisheries, Science, 325 (2009)
13. Species extinction
Adapted from S. Pimm and P. Raven, Biodiversity: Extinction by
numbers, Nature, 403 (2000); A. barnosky et al. Has the Earth’s sixth mass
extinction already arrived?, Nature, 471 (2011)..
(Alex’s second comment at
has more on this reference)
Thanks to Alex also for the text of Emmott’s interview in the Times (reproduced in the Australian) by a journalist who seems to specialise in articles about Spitfires and other WW2 memorabilia.
From the interview:
He affects bafflement at climate scepticism: “I have no idea why people don’t believe what is overwhelming evidence for climate change,” he says..It’s what you might call the spurious balance problem: “I think well-intentioned broadcasters and newspapers tend to give equal weight to a climate scientist and a climate denier in the interests of balance, so what you get is presented as a two-sided, balanced discussion and yet the evidence is overwhelmingly on the side that climate change is happening. You get equal time being shared by someone like Nigel Lawson, who last time I looked was not a bio-geochemist or an atmospheric physicist…It’s fine to have a view,” he says, politely. “But it has to be based on something sensible.”
If the past is any guide, soon after this article goes up online the comments section will start filling up with attacks on Emmott and his position, some sober, some vituperative, from people with modest scientific credentials and none at all.
[Hey Alex, that’s you and me! (I’m the vituperative one, I think – and certainly not sober)]
Emmott is braced for it. He sees the nastiness as part of a trend among climate change deniers to attack the messenger as evidence for the message mounts up. It surfaced in the original “climategate” scandal over emails between scientists at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia four years ago…and it’s “worrying” that the attacks continue, Emmott says. Apart from the fact that he would prefer not to be vilified for his views as a scientist, he’d like some credit for his own scepticism. “Science is organised scepticism,” he points out. “Being sceptical is what scientists do all the time. What else might explain this? And the reason almost everyone in the science community is of the view that climate change is happening is there are basically no other explanations for what we see.” In fairness to many so-called deniers, what they question is not climate change but the idea that we’re to blame. In fairness to Emmott and his profession, a recent survey by the Skeptical Science group of 12,000 peer-reviewed climate change papers found that 97 per cent of them backed the idea that… we’re to blame.
“There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception,” John Cook, who led the survey, said. “It’s staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.”
In public he gently mocks the rational optimism that sustains Matt Ridley, and the rather less rational version that sustained George Bush throughout his presidency. He points out that just because old-time doom-mongers such as Thomas Malthus – the original population alarmist – were made to look blinkered by the march of human progress, this doesn’t mean we can go on breeding, plundering the planet’s resources and pumping carbon into its atmosphere at unsustainable rates.
Why is 2013 so different from 1813, or 1963 for that matter? Because right now all the graphs in his book, which you suspect he carries around in his head as well – graphs for world population, CO2 parts per million, global ocean heat content and loss of tropical rainforest and woodland, for instance – are lurching upward in ways they never have before.
“It’s precisely because of those graphs that I think we are in trouble,” he says. But despite everything, behind the scenes, he’s a bit of a rational optimist himself.”
Well of course he is. He’s got Microsoft, the European Union, the United Nations, the Guardian, Times, Observer, Financial Times, Penguin Books, Vintage Books, and European publishers Suhrkamp/Insel and Feltrinelli on his side. Until last week, he was opposed by Alex and me, plus Ben Pile at Climate Resistance and Tim Worstall at Forbes. Now we’ve got Anthony Watts, Joanna Nova and Donna Laframboise on side. Plus our readers, who will, I hope, start a systematic deconstruction of his anti-humanist message.
Come out with your hands empty, Stephen Emmott – and tell your friend’s kids to lay down their arms. You’re surrounded.