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(Reflections on the New Zealand Greenhouse Delusion Debate April May 2006)  


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Letter to Greenpeace 
(includes reflections on National Radio interview with Kirsty Hamilton (ex Greenpeace, "energy consultant") 

Vincent Gray: The Greenhouse Delusion

Greenpeace: Climate Change is Real 
(Vanessa Atkinson)

Climate Science Coalition: A Deconstruction of Greenpeace Statement


March 28-29 of 2006 Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, held what it called the Climate Change and Governance Conference at Te Papa, the National Museum. It was an exclusive affair and the price ($NZ325) plus inflexible conditions of entry meant that the vast majority of moderately paid working people could not attend. I am included in that group. Most of those attending were probably doing so at the expense of their employer.

I can only assess the conference from its public face. This was in the form of several interviews with keynote speakers on National Radio, part of a film evening, a two and a half hour briefing by a very kind delegate, perusal of conference literature and listening to some conference speeches broadcast on a local micro-broadcasting radio station. In general the public impact of such conferences are the acid test of their effectiveness. They have little direct impact on politicians 

My conclusion is that the conference will, on balance, be counterproductive and will work to enhance public confusion of the issues. Fundamentally this is because I detected little evidence in the radio interviews and no evidence in the conference proceedings that delegates addressed the key issue: the lack of science in the communication of climate processes. As a result the conference lacked public credibility. I have alluded to this in my blog in which I describe leafleting the conference calling on it to review its use of climate symbols.

A speech by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, via video link, was publicised as a highlight by conference organisers. A large portion of the general populace rates his performance very poorly on a range of vital issues, including the geopolitics of oil, Gas and carbon emissions. Hence his involvement further reduces conference credibility.

The conference also lacked credibility in the eyes of many because it appeared to be a talkfest in which those wedded to a certain viewpoint talked to others with that same viewpoint – many having flown thousands of miles through our stratosphere to do so. I agree with this opinion though I am aware some delegates went with an open mind and to gain an impression of if and where the science of climate is.

A group of scientists have been sufficiently concerned by what they see as the lack of balance in the conference to set up a group called the Climate Science Coalition. This group has the objective of providing an alternative view. 

The Dominion Post, our capital city’s daily broadsheet, published an article by a member of this group, Vincent Gray called The Greenhouse delusion. It then published an article by New Zealand Greenpeace (Vanessa Akinson) providing what it describes as a counter view of The Greenhouse delusion.

The Climate Science Coalition responded with a detailed deconstruction of the Greenpeace article and also a member, Augie Auer, a prominent and popular New Zealand meteorologist, countered accusations on National Radio that the group is funded by the fossil fuel sector. He pointed out that any group employed in research is on a gravy train and suggested those with one viewpoint (the IPCC viewpoint) find it easier to get funding.

There could be a significant truth in this statement. I have found it impossible to get any funding or support for my call for a review of the symbols we use to portray climate processes. It is clear fund managers do not want to address hypotheses that question the value of present symbol uses and education strategies. The responses to my questions evidence a serious lack of science. 

For the record, I do this work because I am passionate about science and wish for a civilised future for our children. My total income is from my earnings as a school janitor and I do the work at major personal expense. I believe it is well possible that individuals like Vincent Gray are driven by the same motives. Historically I am a supporter of Greenpeace.

In addition to the links I have copied their articles below.

As I deconstructed the work of all these protagonists a pattern emerged. They all employed the same symbols of climate processes and they all promoted the same confusion in the public mind. They all worked against the development in the public of a dynamic comprehension of climate (energy) processes by confusing changing states with static states. 

I then tackled the difficult challenge of identifying the common psychological and social mechanisms operating in the protagonists that cause them to deliberately create cognitive dissonance in the general public. This phenomenon may reflect a deep dysfunction at the primal level of our beings. The difficulty lies in discussing issues of primal conflict within a framework of utmost compassion. The forces involved are powerful and I detect very understandable denial processes operating. I understand these from my own tendency to experience them.

Note that other groups such as politicians and the PR industry deliberately generate the same cognitive dissonance in the public about climate issues. Their psychology is different. They are driven by the desire to control others and to gain short-term dividends such as election wins or favourable quarterly statements to shareholders.

If my hypotheses are right and if we can successfully acknowledge the flaws in our current use of symbols then we open up a vast new array of possibilities for our children. They will better understand their trace nature and their Thermal Beings. As a result they will have a more dynamic interconnection with our atmosphere. This will enable them to alter national legislation blocking sustainable development strategies and they will adapt and adopt technology so their activities are in greater harmony with the environmental balances that sustain us.

Letter to Greenpeace

Hi Vanessa and Greenpeace

I have just read with great interest your Dominion Post article re. the science of our atmospheric climate and Vincent Gray’s article The Greenhouse delusion in particular. 

First I would like to say I appreciate that you care to be engaged in the debate – or arguably the war. Yes, I am aware I may be viewed as a bit extreme using the war symbol in relation to our perceptions of the nature of energy and the climate in particular. And I will seem all the more extreme when I suggest that it is a war in which the lives of billions of people are at stake.

It is helpful to understanding my seeming extreme perspective if you have read the history of the origins of Bulk-electricity generation and Edison/J P Morgan’s designs for using it to control the wealth of the Earth or have read Sharon Beder’s Power Play. Sharon provides an account of the century-long Bulk-electricity v distributed generation/ merchant bankers v communities war. It is a valuable read though it is ironic that despite her expertise in media and communications she remains oblivious to the principle weapons used by the bankers involved. For instance, even the book title frames her discussion against her intent and sets the ground to the advantage of the few principal beneficiaries of Bulk-electricity industry i.e. the bankers mentioned. 

Recently I was interested to learn I am not alone in visualising the situation as a state of war. I heard Commander Richard (Lance) Cook, a guest speaker at the Featherson ANZAC day service on Tuesday, talk of the war that is going on. He detailed how it is a different type of war to that which the soldiers we were commemorating fought in. He described it as an Internet war for our minds and culture backed with the occasional strategic bombing. While he and I might diverge on the exact nature of this war I believe both of us would agree it is occurring on an epic scale. Both of us would probably see the geopolitics of our fossil fuel use shaping many of the battles.

I guess I am more keenly aware of the existence of this war as I experienced some of it nasty manifestations in the Electricity Reforms in New Zealand. As you know, this was part of a wider campaign in the late 1980s in which ownership of most of our nations infrastructure was transferred from local communities to a few individuals who mainly reside overseas. While no shots were fired in the campaign here it did not lack brutality.

For many of the years subsequent to the Reforms being introduced I lived with the threats of having our family destroyed (legally) family home trashed (firebombed) and family raped if I spoke out about what I knew was going on and if I did not keep right out of the (Bulk) electricity industry that I had worked in for two decades until in 1997 when I “ceased employment” (Employment Court term). My family is broken up now and the family home sold off now and so there is little else I can be threatened with now except personal demolition. All this gave me an added sense of the ruthless forces involved and insight into some of the psychological strategies.

May I with the greatest care and humility ask a few questions? I ask them in great kindness, knowing your dedication to your work.I use the work symbol here in its finest sense – a person’s work being the activity they are doing when they have the maximal sense that they are fulfilling their reason and purpose for being alive.

I ask that as you reflect on my questions that you be as mindful and empathetic as possible of a series of situations:

As you reflect, please imagine the world of a 10-12 year old child reading your Dominion Post article. Imagine you are that age and are just developing a world-view based on your newly acquired grasp of literacy. 

As you reflect please be mindful of the wonderful quote from the Bad Science site  that suggests when teaching children


Be very, very careful what you put into that head,
because you will never, ever get it out.
Thomas Cardinal Wolsey (1471-1530)

 And imagine you are an adult who has been made fearful of science by our schooling, as many have. You have lost confidence in the “little scientist within” that enabled us to learn to successfully perform and learn from such astonishing experiments such as are used when developing the skills of walking and talking. 

And imagine you are a teacher attempting to introduce ten year olds to their Thermal Beings and the thermal balances that sustain us. Imagine you are one of the 70% of primary teachers who came through the Arts, in many cases to avoid passionless Science as it presently taught. 

And also imagine what people might be feeling at deeper levels as they read your article. Think primal as do the PR experts for the bankers of sectors such as the Fossil Fuel/Bulk electricity/Bio fuel(Monsanto etc) sector. Think Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and the brain’s emotion centres of people glowing in direct contradiction of what their owners are saying. Think people’s walk, not their talk. In doing so you will be mindful that each symbol we use resonates to different degrees with life experiences long imbedded below consciousness yet vital in our everyday choice of activity. In doing so you will be aware of primal senses of confusion in people as symbol uses work against life experiences gained using every sensory mechanism in the body. 

And also be aware of those greed-driven humans who thrive on confusion in others and use it to obscure people’s innate common sense so they can exploit and manipulate populations.

Vanessa, your article involved the use of some of our most potent symbols. You employed ones that underpin our view of the Earth and indeed of the universe. They are some of the main pillars of our worldview. Consequently our use of them does involve great responsibility and care. If we make flawed uses of these symbols our children will pay dearly.

 I gently ask you where is Vincent wrong when he says and I quote you: 

***Gray opines that the IPCC always uses ‘deliberately ambiguous language.’**

To a naïve person like me in which the ten year old still thrives this fifty years later I read that and say he is quite correct.

 “Climate change” is the chief symbol of the IPCC. As you say it is endorsed by thousands of scientists and if they are the reasoned people you say they are then they have deliberately chosen this symbol.  

Every one of these climate scientists wakes up to a new dawn each day and experiences the resultant change of climate. Every cell in their body knows its life ends the day there is no dawn. Most of the scientists have families, friends and neighbours that they are intimate with. So they know that a large number of us associate “climate change” as a most welcome and positive thing in our lives in a multitude of ways. 

Indeed we know climate change is the natural order for it enables our crops to grow and refreshes the air of our cities (I am a smog refugee after 20 years living in Christchurch.) Without climate change droughts endure and rains never cease. Climate change is something we embrace as part of being alive. We know without climate change there is no life. Planets with no climate are barren. As I said, every cell of our body knows this truth. The symbol resonates in a positive way in depths of our being we can barely be cognisant of. If there could be simple science, this paragraph would express it.

If you are correct that these scientists know their stuff then we must assume their choice of use of the climate change symbol is deliberate and based scientific considerations. They know our dominant common experience of “climate change” is of constancy in change (energy input=energy output). This balance or net zero change ensures the general stability of the system that has sustained us these hundreds of thousands of years. This knowledge (in=out) is what resonates in our cells. We would not be here without such stability. In this use climate change is life.

So climate scientists surely have knowledge of all the associations of the climate change symbol with health and sustainability. With this knowledge in mind they deliberately choose to use “climate change” symbol to evoke experiences of threat, danger, unsustainability and inconstancy of change (energy input > energy output). In this use climate change is death.

If these people are the scientists that you say they are, what is the reason they have chosen to evoke conflict and confusion in people? Why do they promote deliberate ambiguity? And who most benefits from that state of deliberately induced conflict?

Have you ever wondered why climate scientists generate so much conflict in people and evoke such scepticism in the general public?  They do it with all the key symbols they use. Why, for instance, do they incite conflict by confusing warming ( steady state/constant temperature: in=out) with warming up (changing state/altered temperature: in > out). The confusion is so easily avoided by adding the simple word “up”.

Why do they attempt to evoke images of extreme weather events, great volatility and chaos using symbols of great peace, calm and control (greenhouses)? 

Why do they confuse our understanding the properties of air by saying the atmosphere (highly convective) is a blanket (non convective?) Indeed it is air’s wonderful capacity for convection that enables life on Earth as we know it. Surely the chief message our children should be taught is that the convection of the warmed masses of air warms and moderates the surface of the planet far more than direct sunlight. Earth is the great transformer (sunlight to infrared). Indeed when air movement stops our climate quickly becomes extreme. Our cities become septic ponds of poisonous gases. As in greenhouses with jammed shutters. Think of the ocean analogy with our present concerns about the possible slowing of the Gulf Stream thermohaline.

What impact does all this seeming deliberate confusion have on our children’s comprehension of our world? Could it blunt their sensibilities to the awesome organic nature of our existence?

 How does it impact on our builders, architects, electricians and plumbers comprehension of the knowledge of the powers of insulation? They are some of the great decision makers of our time and their decisions affect the options of our children for four or more generations. The options that are my cottage were decided 80 years ago. Could it be that climate scientists are destroying the knowledge base that enables the ameliorating design and activities we so desperately need?

Several years ago I attempted to find out why the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) employed such a needlessly confusing central symbol. I wrote to the organisation suggesting that it could clarify itself by adding the words “Human-induced” to its title. I pointed out that it is the possibility of increasing anthropomorphic impacts on the climate that were the prime focus of discussion and shaped public perceptions of what the organization is about. 

In turn the institute was reshaping the climate change symbol. I was particularly aware of this as the authority/prestige/mana accorded the IPCC meant it was moulding the format of our new Internet search engines in 2000. (Check today six years later and you will find any search on “climate change” primarily defines it as human induced and a negative process.)

Someone at the IPCC kindly wrote back saying the panel uses the term “climate change” because the IPCC is concerned with all types of climate change. 

However its current activities remain a living lie of this universal definition of climate change. Almost all the public politics and perceptions of the organization revolve around one central issue – the possibility human activity may be affecting the climate balances that sustain us.  It seemed extraordinary to me back in 2000 when I received this response that the organization could not see this giant flaw in its self. The flaw has now propagated and grown so that almost every published utterance the IPCC makes is within a framework that confuses all climate change with Human-induced Climate Change/Thermal Build-Up..

This blind spot no longer seems so extraordinary to me now. The reason is I more understand the psychology of climate scientists and the sociology of climate issues. I see climatologists as ordinary fallible human beings like you and me who just happen to have some extra insight into the astonishing fine balances of the atmosphere that sustain us. At the same time they are subject to all the usual pressures and forces of fractured egos, family demands, career structures and societal expectations that affect almost every one of us. 

Could it be their propagation of such profound confusion reflects a dysfunction they experience in their primal beings? Most professional climate experts, and most “energy efficiency experts”, are in the top few percent of carbon emitters in the human species. As such their daily activities are in direct conflict with the knowledge they have of their impact on climate balances. This imbalance has the potential for enormous tension.

As mentioned they persist in using symbols that work to superimpose constant states of change (1.warming, 2. greenhouse calm, 3 constancy in climate change) on variable states of change (1. warming up 2. atmospheric convection 3. Thermal buildup/human induced change). A pattern of the use of symbols emerges. In general the use tends to work to generate images and sensations of rigidity. In other words there is a restriction of thermal change being evoked. The arguments are self-nullified. A denial and disconnect is maintained.

Could it be this restricting or freezing practice reflect the paralysing stress of this primal dysfunction? Perhaps it is a mechanism that enables them to continue to function as family members, in their chosen careers and in their societies? Could it be part of an attempt to retain a sense of control of their affairs in a world at odds with their finer insights of atmospheric processes? Most professional climate scientists live in families and communities where the private vehicle, air travel, large homes etc are the norm.

Also questions can be asked about the nature of science in the West since the advent of the so-called Industrial Revolution. As a study of the history of the use of the greenhouse symbol* reveals, science has been colonised by those who see it as a way of controlling the wealth of the Earth. In this process science becomes a shell of itself as it is used to assert “Man’s dominion over nature”.  This creates a fundamental disconnect between “scientists” and the world they explore. Vital elements of science such as honesty and a love of revelation are lost. Research becomes dominated by its potential to generate short-term trade dividends. This is the unsupportive world that climate scientists live in too.

* The use of the greenhouse symbol by King Albert with the Great Exhibition of Britain in the Crystal Palace gave the symbol immense weight as the quintessential example of Mans industrial might, scientific prowess and dominion over all.

The big question is what is the impact on our children of this dysfunction and confusion? Perhaps they grow up even more deeply disconnected from their environment? Perhaps they inherit rigid and unrealistic visions of how our atmosphere works and so act in maladaptive ways. The negative impacts of their activities compound as surely as the effects of our emissions of Warmer Trace Gases compound long after our deaths. Perhaps they learn arrogance? 

In proposing this explanation for the current crisis of our civilisation I am not dumping on climate scientists. They are humans like you and I with the same strengths and frailties. I am proposing that each of us need review our activities and the symbols we use. By altering the norms and language we can reduce the conflicting  pressures climate scientists are surrounded by and we can open the way for them to more fully communicate their insights in clear, unambiguous ways.

Climate scientists and even the media certainly have the ability to be clear and unambiguous. For example they can talk of “warming up” and “cooling down” with ease and precision as they describe the thermal processes involved when they exercise their own bodies. The simple addition of “ up” (in > out) and “down” (in < out) makes it very clear they are talking of different states to the one when their body remains at a constant temperature (in=out). Indeed they use these symbols with precision and ease for almost any activity except for the great body that is our Earth. 

It is up to all of us to address the phenomenon. We can do it with the examples of our own lives. We can remind scientists of the difference between static states and altering states by continually asking them if they really mean warming up or warming up, global or net raised temperatures, energy or energy forms etc. We can ask them what they know of trace gases. 

Our own continual, caring use of vital symbols will gradually work to provide them with a resonance that promotes greater meaning and insight in the greater society. And scientists will feel more able to use them as they feel pressures ease and the symbols reshape the media of our children. Science will flourish in our people.

I could go through your article and deconstruct it in detail. Rather I will simply highlight a couple of sentences and leave the questions above to reveal the levels of sense in them to you.

**** Gray sets out to systematically debunk the scientific theory and
evidence that climate change is caused by human activities. He tries to
argue that climate change is probably not happening, but if it is then
it is probably caused by natural sources.****

In particular reflect on this from the point of view of the child of ten and know that much of our being resonates with the knowledge of our childhood. Think of a teacher trying to use the sentence to teach children in “Our weather” or “Hot topic”. Think of what might go through the child’s mind.:

“Wow, do human cause the weather? We must be really powerful! ... What a silly man this Gray is – everyone knows the climate changes…. Wait a minute, it says if the climate is changing -which of course it is all the time - then it is caused by natural sources – so does that mean we don’t cause the weather after all?”

Think of the teacher’s visceral despair at their inability to make sense.

Or reflect on the sentences:

"Propaganda has no place in climate change. Hard scientific data proves that global warming is real, happening and is mainly caused by human activity. Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) produces carbon
dioxide. Carbon dioxide contributes to global warming."

Is not this a description of the wonderful, real and happening process that enables life on Earth? Is not this good and welcome? If carbon dioxide was not present  and warming the globe then Earth’s surface would be a couple of crucial degrees cooler and crops would fail on a huge scale. Why would any one say this is bad?

I point only lightly to the ambiguity of this paragraph. What is most valuable is the sentence

" Propaganda has no place in climate change"."

Now the intent behind the use of the “propaganda” symbol can only be guessed at from the general tone of an article. As Wiki points out 

"In some cultures the term is neutral or even positive, while in others the term has acquired a strong negative connotation. Its connotations can also vary over time. For instance, in English, "propaganda" was originally a neutral term used to describe the dissemination of information in favor of a certain cause. Over time, however, the term acquired the negative connotation of disseminating false or misleading information in favor of a certain cause.

Propaganda is a specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions of people, rather than impartially providing information. In some cultures the term is neutral or even positive, while in others the term has acquired a strong negative connotation. Its connotations can also vary over time. For instance, in English, "propaganda" was originally a neutral term used to describe the dissemination of information in favor of a certain cause. Over time, however, the term acquired the negative connotation of disseminating false or misleading information in favor of a certain cause."

I suspect it is no mistake that the Wiki examples of propaganda posters feature WW11 posters. Indeed one is particularly illuminating to this discussion perhaps. I have long been aware that the meaning of the  “propaganda” symbol has changed in my life-time. I suspect that the negative associations we now have with the symbol dates from the Third Reich activities.

I assume all uses of “propaganda” in your article are denigratory. The communication described thus is viewed as negative and of malicious intent.

I alluded to our being in a state of war in which the control of our minds is being battled over. I understand the PR industry is now the largest human industry. It certainly dominates our education curricula now and provides the framework that teachers operate in. Could it be that Greenpeace has been enlisted to promote the view that energy is only that which can be traded and that we can trade our way out of all environmental demands and responsibilities? And to teach that human’s have dominion over nature?

I know it is the intent of Greenpeace to awaken humans to the wonders of the environmental balances that sustain us. I know it is now consciously seeking to evoke a sense of awe and beauty in us by reconnecting us to the stunning intricacy and majesty of the energy flows and forms we are born of. However is it not possible that Greenpeace has adopted the use of key symbols that are designed to suppress that vision and to replace it with one that works only for the short-term interests of a few bankers?

If propaganda is a bad thing, why does the article adopt the same frames (weapons) that Vincent does? Could it be you are fighting on the same side in the battle? Is it a coincidence that both Vincent’s and your article might evoke the same confusion in the readers I write of? You both use the same framework. Who set the framework? For whom do you truly fight?

Of course these questions will seem familiar at the moment in Australasia. They are the same questions that troops in war get to ask as the futility of the battles sets in and as they learn their enemies are just poor, miserable and decent humans trapped in the same hell- hole as themselves. Military generals and politicians well know that such questions can destroy the motivation to commit slaughter. They always work to raise such questions in the enemy and suppress such questions in their own troops.If you can get the enemy troops to slaughter themselves then all the better. As mentioned, Commander Cook alluded to the power of ideas on ANZAC Day. 

And here I am at risk of framing my discussion with symbols commonly associated with machines like guns. So I will evoke more subtle images of war. 

Think of how people argue whether Pepsi or Coca Cola is the best drink.They are failing to be aware that neither is particularly good for you and so both trades thrive. Meanwhile the family chicken gets sold off to buy the bottle of sweet drink and the children become malnourished for lack of eggs and meat.

Think of how people argue whether margarine or butter is best for you.Both thrive on the competition, as people do not stop to consider that neither is needed nowadays with our wide range of juicy breads.

Think of how people argue which is the best – the Big Holdens or the Big Fords (National Radio last week). In the heat and humour of the discussion it would have been a philistine who asked whether either group of big cars is good for humanity.

Is it possible that while you are arguing with Vincent that the very argument reinforced an unsustainable situation? Is it possible both of you evoked the same confusion in the popular mind of how our atmosphere works? Could it be you both combined to work to suppress visions of the atmosphere as a vital, pulsing, incredibly fine veneer of atoms surrounding the planet? Could it be your use of key symbols worked to destroy our sense of the vibrant organic nature of the thermal flows that sustain us ? Could it be you further disconnected people and elicited flawed visions of human dominion over the structure? 

Also countenance the possibility that your evocation of a greenhouse world unwittingly blinded our children to the trace nature of their existence and lessened the chances that they will understand we are sustained by balances of gases that exist in only parts in ten thousand or even parts in a million of our atmosphere. There was not a single mention in either article of the vital issue: we should be and we are not talking of trace gases. Why not?

Surely it is easy to evoke concepts of rare gases with powerful leverage on our thermal balances? There are a key group of trace gases that are warmer than all other gases and they act as warmers. They are the Warmer Trace Gases and inherent in that symbol is a whole new vision and school curriculum.

Incidentally it is possible Vincent may have made a most valuable contribution to a more sustainable view of how our atmosphere works. Unlike most climate “experts’ he alluded to our dominant sensory experience of the atmosphere after our thermal experience of it. We are each mini-oceans and are acutely sensitive of small variations in moisture levels. Nothing makes sense in discussion of how our climate works if we do not include the Warmer Trace Gas, water vapour, in the picture.  Vincent wrote:

****The most important greenhouse gas is water vapour, 60 to 90 per cent of the total – uncertain because its infra-red spectrum overlaps with carbon dioxide.****

In doing so he immediately makes a profound link to the general reader’s experience and we can accord him authority that is not found in your article. Have you ever wondered at the phenomenon whereby our Climate Change Office omits reference to water vapour and teaches our children and adult citizens that carbon dioxide is the dominant Warmer Trace Gas? (Of course, they don’t talk of trace gases. Instead they employ the term“greenhouse gas” with all its evocations and confusions.)

At present the Climate Change Office is founded on the premise that money can be made from trading carbon-based gases. Could it be that water vapour is irrelevant to it because at present we cannot trade water vapour as we can carbon dioxide? After all we do see this same process of omission as merchant bankers redefine energy as only those energy forms that can be traded and define fuel as energy, thereby omitting the atmosphere out of the combustion equation.

I believe most of the questions in the above few paragraphs can be answered with a yes. If I am correct, then much of the current confusion and ignorance can be avoided. The reason for my faith is that as I have explored the origins of the symbols we use and as I have identified their confusions I have been privileged to enjoy an immensely more exciting and awesome universe.

You used Lord Oxburgh in your article as a symbol of authority. For the many like me, we see a man who flies around the world as though there is no tomorrow. Are we to emulate him and start investing in air travel too?After all if he is revered as an expert on the impact of our uses of the atmosphere and oil. In that capacity he came with tales of doom and dire warnings of the unsustainable nature of our activities. For many reasons I find it easy to agree with him when he says that oil reserves are being depleted.But, what of his science? What of his solutions?

When asked what we can use instead of the fossil fuels that he sells he talked of an impossible stuff called “renewable energy”. As he talked of this stuff he sounded unconvincing of its reality in the way salespeople of magic potions waver when asked to take it themselves and leap off a building to prove its efficacy. He confuses energy with energy forms in his writings and interviews in a way no scientist should.

Perhaps his real message was revealed when he spoke with what could be construed as envy of the cheap price of petrol in New Zealand compared to his homeland, Britain. These cheap prices and low taxes shape our economy so that it reflects the culture of the Cheap Oil-Gas Age. That Age is fading and those nations that do not adapt to the new reality face extended poverty and misery. Surely a wise man would have said we will pay a dear price for selling oil so cheap in New Zealand and other nations will benefit for having put a muchhigher price on it?

Understand I am reflecting on Lord Oxburgh as I imagine many reflective and concerned listeners might in their guts. We are left confused about his credibility. We sense there is something deeply inconsistent. Could it be his vision would take us over the cliff of false hopes? Is he the oil company Spin Dr sent to fill us with false hopes so we continue to use oil? What was there in his actions and symbol use that evoked any sense of a purposeful need to change our behaviour?

My comments should not be construed as judgemental of Ron the person. Rather I am commenting on him as the symbol you make of him.Much of the authority of your article is based on such symbols and much good climate science hangs on the credibility of such pillars of your discussion.

I am well aware that I touch on very deep matters in this letter. Civilisations are based on religions. Some religions make the sun central to existence. Some, like ours, make minerals central to existence. Some religions image humans as part of our environment. Others image the environment as something to be dominated. Some image energy as a universal force or potential. Others image energy as that which can be traded. Each religion generates symbols to express the meaning the adherents find in it.  

Sometimes we get “religious wars” as those conflicting visions of our existence collide. Sometimes those visions conflict and collide with the environmental balances that sustain us. Invariably that generates misery and tragedy for us. It is a rare symbol that enables us to transcend the conflict and I am keenly aware of the limitations of these words that I write. 

You evoke images of Earth’s atmosphere as a greenhouse and probably draw greater meaning from it than you know. I find little sustenance in such an image. Indeed it invokes in me a sense of loss of meaning and rings alarm bells. I recognise that resolution of our differences is fundamentally beyond words. I can only hope that my use of them enables glimmerings of something greater in another. So it is in such a spirit I write to you.

Which indirectly brings me to the US poster I have just encountered at the Wikilink associating German Nazism as a knife stabbed through the Bible. It is titled This is the Enemy.

The other week on Maureen Garing’s National Radio programme Spiritual Outlook I heard someone talking about Hitler and Christianity. He saw it as fundamental to the sustenance of the Third Reich and his military ambitions. If I heard right, Hitler made it mandatory that every smallest village in Germany should have a Christian church and a pastor. He saw such institutions as essential to the coherence and stability of his order.

I am searching as I write to find the link I sense there is in this to this discussion. Maybe it is the idea that we can be our own worst enemy? Maybe it is the idea that the more an institution or agency is associated with some quality or expertise the more potent its leverage for good or bad when it speaks in the context of its perceived excellence? 

An example of the latter can be seen in the recent revelations by the PR agents for pharmaceutical companies of how they targeted and co-opted Consumer Rights groups to create literature and posters for their minority groups warning them of the dangers of the “disease” of osteoporosis in women. The PR experts talked openly of how they exploited the public prestige and credibility of the consumer advocacy groups to encourage younger women to ask their doctor for Hormone Replacement Therapy. The PR companies know well that such Consumer Rights groups are their most potent and free weapons in their marketing armoury.

Sharon Beder details such processes in Power Play and describes how bankers have used universities and service groups to push for the privatisation of community owned Bulk-electricity systems since the 1920s. Before then, during the original battles for control of our wealth using Bulk-electricity, Edison et al encouraged humanitarian groups to push for the development of the Alternating Current (AC) Electric Death Chair so as to promote his Direct Current (DC) interests. You will probably know more examples than I do of how well meaning groups are exploited and leveraged off as agents of Spin and Greenwash by the unscrupulous.

As I observe the use of key symbols by our consumer and environmental protection groups and review my own history of using such symbols such as energy and power I am constantly caused to ask the question: could it be that all these groups that I am a member of and support are our own worst enemy? I am thinking of the NZ Green Party, NZA for Environmental Education, schools, SEF, Greenpeace, The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, The Consumers’ Institute, the Citzens’ Advice Bureaux,the NZ Ministry for the Environment, Oxfam and other such environmental activist groups)

Could it be that we most promote the use of symbols that cause fatal confusion of our relationships with the natural world that sustains us? Could it be the Green movement, which is so acutely aware of pollution of our natural world, cannot see the worst pollution of all – the pollution of our images of the nature of energy? That pollution poisons all our activities and relationships.

Thank you for being patient with me if you have got this far, Kirsty. As you can see as I kind of blog away I am trying to refine my insights into how we came to be where we are. Slowly I find a picture of a greater hope and beauty is emerging as I peel back and expose the flaws in our current images. I trust you see my commentary on your article as a valuable contribution to a picture of a vibrant, pulsing atmosphere.

Maybe you and Greenpeace will join me in a call for an international review of the images we use to portray the nature of energy? I received no positive feedback to my review call to the recent Climate Change and Governance Conference, only personal vilification and silent dismissal. That is not my idea of science and a creative response. I hypothesise that serious research would indicate that the net effect of the conference is counterproductive for a wide range of reasons – some of which I have outlined above. Others involve its exclusive structure.

I have heard environmentalists saying with glee that the conference has given the Government a wake-up call. From my point of view the CC&G conference is the confusion that shapes the constituency and legislation of our current Parliament re. the carbon use issue. It perpetuates the ignorance, not enlightens. It is well probable that positive changes will happen despite of, not because of the conference. I venture that a person has to be living in a greenhouse insulated from our political-economic climate to believe the conference enlightened our Parliament. 

As you repeatedly say in your article Vanessa

***The science is not so simple.***

The public debate of the science of climate is the only way the public can judge the credibility of the proponents. Many people sense at some level of their being that they detect a serious lack of science. I have no idea whether they understand that that lack of science they detect is mainly in the communication and not so much in the climate research itself. However I do find hope in the fact they detect a lack of science.

My concern is that there is anecdotal evidence that the PR industry is employing a considerable degree of science. In general, this research all remains confidential to the sector interests who contract the research. Revelations of some of the recent fMRI research suggests the PR industry’s research is developing on its already detailed research into the relationship between symbol use and impacts.

I cannot perceive any such science in the communication of the climatologists and their propagandists like yourself. In using this word I am using the positive meaning some use. (Was your first impulse to assume I was abusing Greenpeace describing it as a propaganda agency? If so, I hope I have made a point.) 

I look forward to your response and hope I have added a layer of meaningful reflection to your use of symbols. Maybe Vincent’s title was more profound, self revealing and accurate than even he could begin to imagine when he framed his discussion:

**** “The Greenhouse delusion” ****

Perhaps all who use the symbol to describe our atmosphere are in delusion? What different articles if they had been framed: 

“Why not the Trace Vision of our Atmosphere?

Our schools, our parliament and our economy might be so different. Does this thought intrigue you and Greenpeace? 

I will leave you to reflect on what might be read out of another sentence in your article when interpreted in the context of my discussion. Does it still make sense? Can there be propaganda for or against the naturally occurring phenomenon of climate change? Does a climate sceptic deny the existence of Earth’s climate? Could it be that science tells a different story to the common vision of climate processes that you and Vincent share?

***Gray’s article demonstrates that propaganda against climate change is
the climate sceptics’ last resort because the science tells a different story.***

All the best and with humble respects to you Vanessa

Kirsty Hamilton interview reflections
(included in letter to Greenpeace. Kirsty worked on climate education issues for a decade in Greenpeace)

PS below is a snippet from my reflections to Nights on National Radio on Bryan Crump’s interview with Kirsty Hamilton, a representative of a climate and business consultancy in the UK and speaker at the CC&G conference.As you can see I explore the carbon use issue from a wide range of points in a range of forums and I am not picking on Greenpeace with the above letter. All reflections help me refine my thoughts. 

The reference to Plato was prompted by Bryan’s interview with a philosopher who described how Plato sensed a greater order in which the universe resonated with music of beauty.  Bryan wondered if Mozart may have expressed that beauty. That is the energy I know and it is infinitely more beautiful that the energy that merchants speak of i.e. the sounds of cash registers and bombs going off.

>>>>>>>>>start snip >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

…..When you introduced Kirsty with the phrase“ the globe is warming up” I was startled how beautiful I found this. It proved to me that there can be far greater science in the communication of the issue and I enjoyed a sense of ease, clarity and elegance. It was near Mozart to my ears ala Plato.

It was particularly refreshing to experience this as I had upset someone quite deeply yesterday (Monday). I sent a copy of my appeal for a science in the communication of climate issues to one of our foremost Environmental Education gurus, as I did not catch him when I leafleted delegates arriving at the recent Climate Change and Governance Conference. I also commented to him how exclusive the conference was of low paid and working people. I predicted that the net impact of the conference would be negative.

My prediction was based on the structure of the conference, analysis of the 5 National Radio interviews I heard and the part of the film evening for the public that I managed to attend. I look for a range of things in the climatologists: their relative use and evocation of Trace symbols v Greenhouse symbols; their clarity and consistency with energy states; and their promotion of simple positive mitigating strategies and hope. I detected no change from past unsuccessful strategies for communication of the issues.

Unbeknown to me this person "was involved in organising the whole thing from start to finish" and took great personal umbrage at my comments. I don’t enjoy upsetting people. Also yesterday I had also witnessed very young children making models of large-scale wind turbines with the names of a Bulk-electricity company plastered all over them. Then we wonder why we maintain legislation that prevents communities developing small-scale co-generation of electricity and intelligent grids!!

At times like that I do wonder if I should bother carrying on with this work. Hearing your introduction reaffirmed the value of it for me. Thank you.

I cannot resist commenting on the interview with Kirsty Hamilton and compliment you on somehow minimising the minefield of flawed symbol uses this subject can generate.Kirsty, by her own account has been immersed in it for 16 years and so is very vulnerable to talking the industry’s nonsense. 

I was very glad to hear her talk of “utilities” and not “energy companies” though this wisdom was destroyed in the next sentence when she called Bulk-electricity generation plant“power stations”. That formed a lovely bit of advertising for that sector. 

Kirsty often created a level of confusion with her use of the climate change symbol. Sometimes I think she was really meaning Human-induced Climate Imbalance and other times the topics seemed to be weather events or long term unsustaining changes in weather patterns. 

It leaves me with the question: If we are to use the climate change symbol for these conditions what symbol are we going to use to describe the welcome and vital changes in climate that give us our days and nights and seasons and our rain-sun cycles? Very different responses need be evoked in us for these two groups of climate activities – positive feelings in the latter case if we are to enjoy life at all.

I note Kirsty still evokes greenhouse images of atmosphere processes on Earth. I have asked Greenpeace to show me their scientific evidence that this use of the greenhouse symbol achieves their objectives. They were kind enough to send me their research. Even I, a layperson, could see that the research failed to explore important potential impacts and is effectively worthless. 

As an aside, I predicted to Greenpeace that if they attempted to capitalize on the movie The Day After Tomorrow it would be counterproductive for them.I outlined reasons why. Greenpeace dismissed my predictions as “one person’s view…”and ran a nationwide campaign based on it. Subsequent research by the Potsdam Institute supported my hypotheses/predictions. Emission figures and the carbon tax and trading fiascos tell the story. 

There were a few examples of what I call Energy Gobbledygook e.g. “renewable energy”“major energy needs”“delivering energy security” and Kirsty rang quite a few bells for the bankers of the so-called energy sector. (Basically the bankers of the fossil fuel/Bulk-electricity sector).

The truth is every act involves the use of energy in some form or another. We all need to be able to use certain resources. And someone should ask these people what universe” renewable energy” is found in?It must be a very different one to ours. The energy of our universe is by its very nature constant and it is beyond the power of its occupants to renew it, if it did need renewing. (The Conservation Principle).

I think research would show that a primal level most people know you cannot get anything for nothing – they are gut suspicious of people who go around talking about perpetual motion machines, eternal health elixirs and stuff called “renewable energy”. 

Such symbol use also confuses our children and makes it more difficult for them to understand that energy is subject to constant transformations. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed nor renewed. What can be renewed are the forms it takes. 

Kirsty did not make it clear that there is a difference in the responses to awareness of unsustainable changes to weather patterns and to awareness of carbon trading potential. The first tends to be driven by long-term considerations and the latter by short-term considerations. An example of the latter is the way carbon trading strategies are shrinking our carbon sinks as NZ forests dwindle. Money-driven interests have stopped planting as they attempt to negotiate a better deal out of carbon trading mechanisms. The impact on our remaining soils and carbon balances does not feature in their thinking. 

Carbon trading is fundamentally flawed as it appeals to our worst sides and it tends to work as a mechanism for large carbon emitters (the rich) to rationalise their activities and continue them regardless of the impact on the climate.

Finally I will attempt to clear one further issue up. You mentioned the strategy of maximising the flexibility of our economies as a means of reducing risk from a whole range of events. When talking of Kyoto is helpful to separate the spirit of Kyoto from the carbon trading structure forced on it by NZ (very pivotal at Kyoto 95) the USA, Australia et al. 

Also the reality is that what is promoted as laisez faire often has no relationship with flexible economies. Indeed internationally the laisez faire concept is used to create regimes that restrict most of the options available to individuals and communities. The concept in practice transfers control of resources and narrows investment/ profits flows to a few individuals. 

The NZ Electricity Reforms is an example of the falsities of laisez faire parlance. The result has been the transfer of the freehold assets of communities worth scores of billions of dollars to (overseas) bankers, leaving us deep in debt to Cayman Island operators etc. 

This legislation is described as deregulating the Bulk-electricity market. In practice it is a deeply repressive regulation that prevents communities having intelligent access to the Electricity Market. It was designed to destroy the coherence and efficiency of the system and in this it has been very successful.Before the legislation was enacted in 1993 there were 60 communities and a few private corporations involved in the Electricity Market. Now every community is locked out of the Market and it is the reserve of about a dozen large companies. The SOEs are not community-based structures. They can only operate within the severely prescribed parameters that Contact Energy, PowerCo, Comalco, CHH etc operate in.

As a result our economy is now far less flexible. Communities cannot develop small-scale co-generation, energy efficiency strategies, “smart” response systems and the broadband potential of the utility networks. If any company or community seriously attempts to invest long term in these activities the other companies, the Government through its agencies like the Commerce Commission, the Consumers’ Institute, the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, Parliament etc and the media all come down on them like a huge meteor.

An example is the squashing this week of Eastland Network’s attempt to build wind turbines, albeit large scale Bulk-electricity models.This proposal directly threatens the short-term interests of the bankers of the Bulk-electricity companies and the politically convenient cash flow into Government coffers. 

I think you will agree that this would have been an example of a flexible economy with a more resilient grid in an isolated community. It would have been even more flexible if the investment had been in domestic scale wind-turbines and solar panels. Then households could contribute to the grid, reduce peak load and be self sufficient in times of civil emergency. 

I define a flexible economy as one in which communities are able to maximise the use and conservation of local resources and can minimise the risk from a wide range of events. Flexible economies also tend to be based on democratic and mutual cooperation principles. They are the best place to be when disasters strike.

<<<<<<<< Finish snip <<<<<<<

Vincent Gray The Greenhouse Delusion 



APRIL 24th  2006

The Greenhouse Delusion

The attached article appeared in the Wellington "Dominion Post" today


 BY Vincent Gray

Recently  New Zealand has been treated to a flurry of one-sided propaganda to sell te idea that increasing greenhouse gases are harming the climate 

The Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) which  New Zealand , amongst many nations, signed in 1992. defined, “Climate Change”, legally, as “Change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed under comparable conditions” “Natural” changes can only be “variable”, and changes due to human influences which do not involve greenhouse gases like building cities or planting forests have been eliminated.. The object is to persuade the world that the ONLY influence on the climate is the increase in greenhouse gases. Once they have done that they can use the computer models which rely on this absurd assumption.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was set up in 1988 to study the subject, seems to be confined to the study of “Climate Change” as defined by the FCCC, but the scientists didn’t like the idea as they need to study all the other changes in the climate, otherwise how could you sort out which might be influenced by greenhouse gas increases?.   Nevertheless, they are under political pressure to give priority to the “Climate Change” title 

.I have been an “expert reviewer” for IPCC Reports from the very beginning. I soon found that in these Reports evidence was selected, distorted, and even fabricated in order to support the  belief that greenhouse gas increases are .warming the earth. Yet the IPCC have never supported this notion in so many words.  They always use deliberately ambiguous language like “there is a discernible human influence on the climate”

The most important greenhouse gas is water vapour,  60 to 90% of the total, uncertain because its infra red spectrum overlaps with carbon dioxide. Since we have hardly any information on how it has changed over the years, the model makers call it  a “feedback” and assume, without evidence, that it is related  mathematically to the much less important carbon dioxide, a case of the tail wagging the dog. Ordinary clouds are also important, also little known in their effects, and also treated as a “feedback” to divert attention from ignorance

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is undoubtedly increasing. According to the United States NOAA it has been going up at a linear rate of 0.4% a year since 1980. Most computer models assume 1% a year, so they can get exaggerated results and scare us. Carbon dioxide measurements are made almost entirely over the sea.  An initial site in Makara near  Wellington was abandoned in favour of Baring Head because the measurements were “too noisy’. We have hardly any measurements over land, where the supposed dangerous effects are supposed to happen. 

Methane has reached a constant value in the atmosphere since 1999. All the models assume it is going up. The absence of readings over land was recently emphasised by the discovery that trees emit methane So much for the New Zealand Government claim to reduce greenhouse gases by planting trees.

The real deception lies with the “surface temperature record” This is obtained by dividing the world on a Mercator map into boxes of latitude and longitude, and comparing the average monthly or annual temperature at  stations in each area with an average over a fixed number of years. The record shows the annual “temperature anomaly” for each year. It currently goes back to 1858. This record has incorporated a similar record obtained from ship and buoy measurements on the ocean. Many scientists regard the ship measurements as unreliable so this amalgamation is controversial.

Weather stations and ship measurements are not randomly placed over the earth’s surface, so the “anomalies” are biased. Most weather stations are near cities, where there have been increases in pollution, building, and energy use over the years. Ships have got bigger and warmer.. Although it has been claimed that “corrections” have been made, a recent statistical study showed that socioeconomic factors such as growth in pollution, coal usage, and prosperity had significant effects on the land measurements. Little “global warming was left when the figures were corrected. Ship measurements were biased when they changed thermometers to engine intakes. 

A detailed correction procedure called “homogeneity adjustment”, which needs many weather stations, and is thus only applicable to a few countries, also gives little or no “global warming” since 1900 when applied to the surface record of the continental  USA and to  China

Other methods of measuring global temperature confirm that there is little or no “global warming”. NASA satellites found that in the lower troposphere there was no increase from 1979 to 1999, but a warming spell after that was started by the 1998 ocean event (El Niño). Weather balloons found no warming between 1958 and 2002. The lower troposphere is the place where the greenhouse effect is supposed to happen

Claims that current temperatures are “unprecedented” for 1000 years are made by comparing the upwardly biased surface record with reconstructed past temperatures based on inadequately distribute  “proxies” such as thicknesses of tree rings,. It was recently shown that the best known of these reconstructions had been calculated wrongly and the corrected record confirmed the widely supported belief that the “medieval warn period” around the year 1400.  was warmer than it is today. 

Since there is so much doubt about the temperature record, emphasis has switched to other climate events even less closely related to greenhouse gases. It does seem that glaciers are generally retreating, but how much is due to a delayed effect of the last ice age, a decrease in snow, or just a poor sample is unclear. Have you seen the Fox glacier recently? It is advancing.

The computer modellists bombard us with pessimistic forecasts. including “scenarios” for the future which are completely ridiculous. One scenario predicts that African countries will be more prosperous than the  USA in 2100. Others predict that world coal usage will increase 9 times. It is only the more extreme models that are quoted by the media. 

There is no evidence that increases in greenhouse gases are harming the climate. Until there is, the Kyoto Treaty and any “next steps” must be resisted 

* Vincent Gray was recently a visiting scholar at the  Beijing Climate Center

Greenpeace :Climate Change is Real

Climate change is real
Greenpeace New Zealand, Climate Change campaigner, Vanessa Atkinson
addresses the greenhouse delusion.

In his recent article ‘The Greenhouse delusion’ (Dom 24/4/06), Vincent Gray questioned the science of climate change. He declares that New Zealand has been treated to propaganda that increasing greenhouse gases
are harming the climate.

Gray sets out to systematically debunk the scientific theory and evidence that climate change is caused by human activities. He tries to argue that climate change is probably not happening, but if it is then it is probably caused by natural sources. He then lists a grab bag of climate inducing possibilities, including suggesting that trees produce
methane, or the delayed effect of ice age contributes to glacier retreat.

The problem with this argument is that it flies in the face of peer reviewed scientific evidence and goes against the growing tide of opinion.

Propaganda has no place in climate change. Hard scientific data proves that global warming is real, happening and is mainly caused by human activity. Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) produces carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide contributes to global warming.

11 national science academies issued a joint statement to the G8 Summit that acknowledged G8 nations have been responsible for much of the past greenhouse gas emissions and urged action. At the recent Climate Change and Governance Conference in Wellington in March 2006, leading authorities included Lord Ron Oxborough, (the former head of Shell), IAG (the biggest insurer in New Zealand), experts from the business and finance community in the UK as well as scientists from NIWA, and the British Antarctic Survey all joined voices to raise the alarm on the reality of climate change and the urgent need to do something about it. The International Climate Change Taskforce has said we have only ten years to act to avoid very dangerous levels of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consists of over 1000 scientists who prepare a comprehensive and exhaustive report on the science of climate change every five years. The role of the IPCC is ‘to assess in a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent manner the
scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to
understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change.’ To this end it has a long list of expert reviewers to ensure scientific credibility and political legitimacy of IPCC reports. Its strategy is to strive for a fair representation of the range of scientific opinion on climate change matters – including from climate change sceptics, such as Vincent Gray himself.

Gray opines that the IPCC always uses ‘deliberately ambiguous language.’ However, the IPCC has stated that the increase in temperature in the twentieth century was the largest of any 100 years in the last 1,000 years, and there is newer and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.  (IPCC 2001a, 2001d).

Here Gray reverts to type and looks to the trees to blame the cause of the greenhouse gas, methane. He simplistically states that ‘trees emit methane.’

The science is not so simple. The major source of methane is microorganisms living in a variety of anaerobic environments such as flooded wetlands and rice paddies, the guts of termites and ruminant animals, the ocean, landfill sites, and waste treatment plant. In pastoral countries such as Bolivia, Uruguay, and New Zealand, methane emissions by ruminant livestock are responsible for over 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions (when expressed as CO2 equivalents). (UNFCCC at

The science behind the retreating glaciers is also not so simple. Gray concedes that globally glaciers are retreating but is sceptical that it is due to global warming; as a contrast he refers to New Zealand’s growing glaciers. The National Institute of National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), attributes the gain in New Zealand’s glaciers to more snow in the Southern Alps, particularly from late winter to early summer 2004.

NIWA scientist Dr Jim Salinger cautions that “the recent gains do not compensate for the large overall losses seen over the past century. The iconic Franz Josef glacier is still much shorter now than in 1900, and the volume of ice in the Southern Alps dropped by about 25-30% last century. This is linked to an increase in regional mean temperatures of 0.7°C. Of the glaciers for which there are continuous data from the
World Glacier Monitoring Service, the mean annual loss in ice thickness since 1980 remains close to half a metre per year. The Service has said that the loss in ice mass leaves no doubt about the accelerating change in climatic conditions". (NIWA Media Release, 30/8/05).

Gray’s article demonstrates that propaganda against climate change is the climate sceptics’ last resort because the science tells a different story.

Exxon-Mobil, the biggest oil company on the planet has spent more than $12 million funding groups and climate sceptics to challenge the science of climate change. The company is becoming increasingly isolated - in its own industry - for its vociferous anti-climate stance. 

In 2003, Exxon-Mobil funded the Tech Central Science Foundation to the tune of US$95,000. (, and Gray has been a contributing writer to that foundation.

The cost of delaying action is too great for policy makers and the public to be distracted by a small minority of climate change naysayers.

Climate Science Coalition: Deconstruction of Greenpeace

NZ Climate Science Coalition Reply To Greenpeace

The Greenpeace Press Release on the NZ Climate Science Coalition - A Deconstruction

On May 1, Greenpeace released a press statement in which they discussed the formation of a new climate science organization in New Zealand, the New Zealand Climate Science Consortium.

As explained below, those looking for wise words of guidance from Greenpeace on a major environmental issue have been sadly let down – yet again.

We comment, in numbered order, on twelve selected statements from Greenpeace’s review (their statements in italics):.

1. “The newly formed group of 'climate scientists' is about politics and big business, not science.”

As explained on our website*, the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC) is committed to providing New Zealanders with balanced scientific opinions that reflect the truth about climate change and expose the exaggerated claims that have been made about human-caused global warming.

The Coalition is led by scientists, and makes its appraisals using evidence-based science.

From its published comments on many issues, not just climate change, it is clear that Greenpeace does not base its views on science, but rather strives to achieve its environmental agenda through political ends.

2. "It is a sad day for New Zealand when we are subjected to the type of tactics endorsed by a Republican memo on how to confuse the public on the science, to allow the burning of fossil fuels."

This statement is entirely one of politics and innuendo. The notions of tactics and Republican endorsement are figments of Greenpeace's imagination.

3. The Republican memo which Greenpeace alleges NZCSC is following states:

"Should the public come to believe the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate."

Members of the public, like scientific experts, hold a wide variety of views on global warming and the degree to which it might be caused by human influence. The lack of scientific certainty regarding the causes of climate change is an established condition, not a political contrivance.

For instance, in April this year there was an interchange of letters in the Canadian media by two different groups of expert scientists who expressed polar opposite views on human-caused global warming, in public advice to incoming Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Editorialising on these letters, on May 3 the National Post wrote:

"We have clear evidence of scientific disagreement, and that's just in Canada. Internationally, the debate over climate-change theory intensifies daily. Two major conferences, one in Europe and the other in New Mexico, will explore the growing scientific conflict over climate change as it moves to new levels of understanding."

The editorial went on to add:

"It may be news to many Canadians, but the possible causes of global warming -- to whatever degree it might be happening -- range far beyond human carbon emissions. Changes in the behaviour of the sun, the role of aerosols and other natural factors may be as important, if not more important, than human behaviour."

By all accounts, this will be news to Greenpeace NZ too.

4. "It is a well known strategy by vested interests to cast doubt on the climate science. But the debate is over. The scientific majority agrees - climate change is happening and it is caused by human activities. What we are seeing in the formation of the Climate Science Coalition is the death throes of the climate change sceptic."

The first sentence is irrelevant innuendo, and also contains a false assertion: unlike Greenpeace, the NZSCS always aims to highlight the scientific facts and their sensible interpretation.

The second sentence is manifestly false. Greenpeace illustrates Orwellian 'double think' when it makes this statement and then disparages 'skeptics'. It can't have it both ways.

The third sentence is vacuous in that the climate has always changed and always will; it is also false in that not even the IPCC claims that climate change is solely caused by human activity.
Finally, the fourth sentence is political rhetoric divorced from reality.

5. "Carbon dioxide is one of the major contributors to climate change."
This statement is not supported by the available scientific data. Rather, it has become an article of faith, as is evidenced by the impulse to list the believers.

If it were scientifically established that atmospheric carbon dioxide was the primary cause of climate change, then the issue of belief would be - as it should be anyway in a science discussion - irrelevant.

6. "Those that stand to lose the most require a debate to encourage uncertainty to protect their interests."

Science progresses by scepticism, testing and debate. Science has no interests to protect other than reality and truth.

7. "Exxon-Mobil, the biggest oil company in the world, has spent more than NZD$18.8 million funding groups and climate sceptics to challenge the science of climate change."

Greenpeace seems here, and in other places, to be obsessed with big business. What Exxon-Mobil may or may not have spent encouraging scientific investigation is known only to Exxon-Mobil, and is anyway a matter of which they would rightly be proud, not ashamed.

NZCSC numbers amongst its members persons who are alleged (by Greenpeace members, amongst others) to have received funding from Exxon-Mobil. The allegations are utterly without foundation.

If Greenpeace wants to contribute sensibly to the public discussion on climate science, it needs to reorient itself away from politics and innuendo, and start acknowledging the primacy of the science of the issue.

8. "In 2003, Exxon-Mobil funded the Tech Central Science (sic) Foundation to the tune of NZ$151,430 and two of the members of the coalition - Vincent Gray and Bob Carter have been contributing writers to that foundation."

And so? Drs. Gray and Carter, as professional scientists, have also written invited articles on climate change for publications such as The Dominion Post and The Australian. Does this make them beholden to the Editors or owners of those newspapers?

The idea is simply absurd, and serves to reflect only that Greenpeace, without any substantive science to support its beliefs, is now reduced to throwing stones in the greenhouse.

9. "Why would anyone cast doubt on the largest body of scientific effort ever assembled on planet - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a collaboration of over 1,500 climate experts from around the world that 17 national academies of science have endorsed as the pre-emininent authority on climate science on the planet?"

Science is about observation, experiment and theory, not consensus. This statement is rhetoric, and weak rhetoric at that.
NZCSC stands for less rhetoric and more science.

10. "Why would anyone argue against 11 national science academies who issued a joint statement to the G8 Summit that acknowledged G8 nations have been responsible for much of the past greenhouse gas emissions? Or recent participants at Wellington's Climate Change and Governance conference who all agree climate change is real and happening."

No-one disputes that climate change is real and happening, that burning fossil fuels adds CO2 to the atmosphere, nor that G8 nations have contributed their share of emissions. In contrast, there is no agreement at all as to the portion of climate change that is human-caused, the likely magnitude of any temperature change that may follow from continuing human emissions, nor whether it is necessary to take remedial action.

Neither science academies, nor the IPCC, nor the recent Wellington conference has a monopoly on science wisdom about climate change. Indeed, some of the utterances of persons associated with these bodies conflict so dramatically with science reality, and with the views of independent expert scientists, that one is forced to conclude that these bodies are now operating to a significant degree in the political realm. Like Greenpeace.

11. "The International Climate Change Taskforce has said we have only ten years to act to avoid very dangerous levels of climate change."
This is a statement of opinion about unstated scientific propositions, and about the likely efficacy of human actions against hypothetical futures. The statement is inconsistent with the IPCC's support for the Kyoto Protocol, since Kyoto measures cannot conceivably avert such dangers.

When it suits its political agenda to do so, Greenpeace is clearly prepared to "cast doubt" on the IPCC. They’re in good company. So did the UK House of Lords in a recent authoritative report on climate change matters.

12. "The scientific community is united, the (climate) debate is over”.
United about what?

It is manifestly untrue that the scientific community is united about the causes of climate change, or that there are only 10 years left in which to act. On the contrary, there is vigorous ongoing debate about the science of climate change, and of the possible climatic effects of greenhouse gas emissions. To deny this is to deny reality.

Major uncertainties remain about the science of climate change and the likely levels of future greenhouse emissions. Greenpeace serves no useful purpose by seeking to hide these uncertainties from the public, and to suppress scientific debate.


Greenpeace’s entire statement is a strong reinforcement of the problem that NZSCS was set up to tackle, i.e. the emotional, illogical and political domination of the debate on climate change to the exclusion of the actual scientific evidence.

We reassert the NZSCS view that a much higher quality public debate is needed. We shall seek to continue to contribute to it.



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