Anthropogenic Global Warming Scepticism: stupid, or just plain dishonest?


Jennifer Marohasy posted the above graph to her blog as partial justification as to “why I am an Anthropogenic Global Warming Sceptic”. According to her interpretation:

“Since the IPCC’s task is to prove any global warming is due to human CO2 emissions, they decided to proclaim that carbon dioxide was long-lived in the atmosphere – a fabricated assumption.

“They did this despite the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies (and corroborating empirical measurements) finding that CO2 in the atmosphere remained there a short time. Literally, a fabricated assumption, driven by political agenda, became a cornerstone of fraudulent climate model science. As a result, billions spent on climate models that are unable to predict climate with any accuracy…

It took just one post to correct Marohasy on this:

Two distinct concepts may both be referred to as ‘residence time’. One is the time that a given CO2 molecule, individually, spends in the atmosphere before it is transferred into the oceans or the biosphere. All the black lines – every single one – refer to this ‘residence time’.

The other is the time taken for the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere to reach equilibrium, after it’s been pushed out of equilibrium. The red line refers to this ‘residence time’

So your comparison is meaningless, and it’s the old question once more – are you being stupid, or dishonest?

Don’t expect Marohasy to actually own up  – Tim Lambert has tried to pin her down on the dishonesty and lack of truth before with little success (see here and here too). Which leaves the honest (and unanswered) question: stupid, or just dishonest?

4 thoughts on “Anthropogenic Global Warming Scepticism: stupid, or just plain dishonest?

  1. Ove, I am uncomfortable with the language you have used for this post as it reads very much like a personal attack.

    Personally, I think Jennifer is intelligent but makes the same error as Bjorn Lomborg of disgarding any evidence and theory that does not fit her pre-conceived conclusion.

    Some readers might be interested in further explaination of why her argument about CO2 atmospheric residence is wrong at, which notes:

    “Archer and Brovkin (2008) reviewed long-term carbon cycle models from the recently published literature. They noted, ‘carbon cycle models respond to a release of new CO2 into the atmosphere in a series of several well-defined stages lasting for many millennia.’ In the first stage, fossil fuel CO2 released into the atmosphere equilibrates with the ocean, which takes centuries or a millennium due to the slow overturning circulation of the ocean.

    Archer and Brovkin (2008: 284) noted that the lifetime of individual CO2 molecules released into the atmosphere may only be a few years because of the copious exchange of carbon with the ocean and the land surface. However, the CO2 concentration in the air remains higher than it would have been, because of the larger inventory of CO2 in the atmosphere/ocean/land carbon cycle.

    That is, the equilibrium processes removing fossil fuel CO2 emissions from the atmosphere operate at a system-wide level and individual CO2 molecules do not last for millennia in the atmosphere. Thus today’s fossil fuel CO2 emissions will not be ‘in’ the atmosphere (literally) for a long period but they will continue to ‘affect’ the atmosphere, the climate, and the oceans for many thousands of years.”

  2. Chris, you’re being unfair to Lomborg. He doesn’t stake his credibility on this sort of basic misunderstanding of the science.

    Marohasy and her like (e.g. Plimer and Carter, to name a couple more local examples) have political views that are difficult to support in the face of the science, so they dress them up in scientific terms, not caring at all whether they tell overt lies in the process, and then make claims to authority based on their largely irrelevant scientific credentials. The traditional means of academic and scientific aelf-correction are useless against such people.

    As Marohasy has a science PhD, in this particular case is there any conclusion other than that she’s being disingenuous? Of course accusing someone of intentionally lying is a personal attack, but why should that be avoided if all of the evidence points to an intentional lie?

  3. Chris McGrath if you are “uncomfortable with the language you have used for this post as it reads very much like a personal attack” you must be unfamiliar with Marohasy’s record. To take just one example this is the lady who denied there was any problem at all with the Murray River, certainly no need to reduce irrigation, because it had been dry before, and what was going on now was absolutely natural. She worked, very comfortably, for a right wing think tank which is apparently determined to stop any conservation measures any environmental regulation, to stop anything which gets in the way of big business (including big agribusiness). I personally stand amazed at Ove’s restraint. Whether her misunderstanding of residence time was deliberate or not is beside the point.

  4. I wonder at the motivations of climate science’s True Disbelievers; how much is free market ideology and dislike of regulation and the framing of all issues in terms of battles of ideology? And how much is it the ongoing effect of the politically expedient tactical decision of the Right to choose to blame the loudest voices – conservationist/left-green voices – for climate change intruding into the realms of politics at all? That latter has set some misinformed opinions solidly in place amongst their loyal adherents and it’s now not in their political interests to alienate those voters by confronting them with it even if the brightest on the Right can see that it is a real issue of world shaking magnitude. Not that the political Left has necessarily embraced the issue because they are better informed and really think climate is a major issue; I suspect many simply saw the weakness of their opponents’ position and saw votes in growing mainstream concern for the environment. Changing social structures rather than infrastructures is more what they’ve had in mind and having chosen to push the issue are finding they lack the vision and drive to carry it through.
    Meanwhile Denialists, having chosen to disbelieve, find their choices of ‘reliable’ sources of information narrowed; since mainstream institutions of science, despite basing their views on the strength of the science, are presumed suspect. The abundance of professional looking and sounding information sources that cater to their preferences, who’s objections and arguments sound quite reasonable (so long as they remain their primary sources), feed their prejudices against real science and encourage a preference for the improved truthiness of sources that don’t have actual scientific institutions ‘tainting’ their conclusions.
    The Bolt’s, Marohasy’s, Lawson’s, Carter’s, Plimer’s etc can’t turn around and admit that their arguments are wrong now and their respective publishers are probably pleased with the interest their articles generate as well as sharing some of the ideological biases that underpin them. Controversy attracts readers and it’s profitable to add fuel to it.
    It will take some real world events – more record global average temperatures, more heatwaves and consequent firestorms, the permanent abandoning of previously productive farm lands, coastal inundations etc to really shift those opinions. Although I think the tide is turning, the sense of urgency that goes with the knowledge of the seriousness is lagging far behind.
    The rush to lock in future export sales of fossil fuels by State and Federal governments confirms to me that denialism is alive and well within leading policy circles even now.

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