Monday, April 7, 2014

Let’s Cut The Bullshit: Rodney Hide Is A Crank

We need to talk about Rodney. It won’t exactly surprise many people that Rodney Hide is full of shit. Disturbingly however his frothing climate denialism (Paid) continues to be published in the National Business Review and other media. To NBR’s credit they also published Kennedy Graham convincing rebuttal of Rodney’s most recent trash piece.

What I find so hard to comprehend is that Rodney Hide is supposedly a man of science. He has a degree in zoology and botany from the University of Canterbury as well as a degree in resource management from Lincoln. I can only assume these degrees require some kind of scientific comprehension because Hide certainly doesn’t have any. Everything we have seen from him over the years show’s us that he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. 

Take for example a piece written by Hide back in January in the New Zealand Herald  that I was alerted to by Morgan Godfrey last week:


The stupidity displayed in Hide’s piece of writing is so astounding it has led me to conclude one of three things; either Rodney Hide is a complete and utter moron, he is utterly bat shit insane or he is a sociopath who understands the science but uses his platform to manipulate and provoke people. He writes:

“Future historians may point to this one ironic event as the trigger that finally ended the public fear of global warming. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was stuck fast over Christmas and New Year in Antarctic sea ice. In summer. The ice beat back three ice-breakers.”

This is not unusual. Boats get stuck or have to make large detours due to Antarctic sea ice almost every summer. It is true that Antarctic sea ice has been growing, although this is at almost the same pace as the Arctic has been losing ice which has led to very minor net change.

So just why is the Antarctic gaining ice? Guy Williams published a great explanation over at The Conversation in October last year. The basic points are:

  1. Sea ice is completely different to continental ice and can move considerable distances with wind and currents. This means it is very difficult to predict just where sea ice will be thickest on a year to year basis.
  2. The net increase in sea ice masks large declines in particular regions around Antarctica, such as in the Bellingshausen Sea, which are equal or greater than sea ice losses in the Arctic.
  3. No one quite knows why net Antarctic sea ice is growing but Antarctica has also lost about 100 billion tonnes of continental ice a year since 1993. It also  doesn’t preclude the fact that the decline in Arctic summer sea ice extent in 2013 was 18% below the mean from 1981-2010.

But let’s hear from Hide again, he sounds like he knows what he’s on about:

“The expedition relied on computer models, not real world reports. "That can't be sea ice, the computer says so!" And please, keep worrying: our being stuck proves global warming!”

It’s a bizarre claim to make as there is an abundance of real world reports of climate change impacting people and ecosystems going back years now. Just one example from 2008 the Solomon Times Online reported 40 Carteret Islanders were to be resettled in Bougainville, the first of the population of 1500. Sea levels around the atoll have risen 10 centimeters in the past 20 years, inundating plantations and making the islands largely inhabitable.

Hide finishes by repeating a lie:

“The world is not warming. It hasn't warmed since 1997.”

Skeptical Science refutes this one the best:

“There's also a tendency for some people just to concentrate on surface air temperatures when there are other, more useful, indicators that can give us a better idea how rapidly the world is warming. Oceans for instance -- due to their immense size and heatstoring capability (called 'thermal mass') -- tend to give a much more 'steady' indication of the warming that is happening.  Records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon (Figure 1).  More than 90% of global warming heat goes into warming the oceans, while less than 3% goes into increasing the surface air temperature.”

Fig 1

Figure 1:  Land, atmosphere, and ice heating (red), 0-700 meter ocean heat content (OHC) increase (light blue), 700-2,000 meter OHC increase (dark blue).  From Nuccitelli et al. (2012).

Free speech is a great thing but when people with a platform such as Rodney Hide use it to distribute bullshit and lies they need to be called out loudly and often. In an election year we need to drown out batshit insane moronic sociopaths such as Rodney Hide or in the not too distant future a sizeable portion of humanity will be drowning as the sea rises around them.  

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