Saturday 28 December 2019

Are people like Prof.James Renwick paid to mislead people?

Hot blob: vast patch of warm 

water 6C warmer than 

average, off New Zealand 

coast “puzzles scientists”

Hot blob: vast patch of warm water off New Zealand coast puzzles scientists

Marine heatwave pushes temperatures 5C above normal

From February, 2019

Unprecedented rise in South Island ocean temperatures

This is not the first time I have talked about Prof. James Renwick of Victoria University.  This goes back to the 2016 visit of Guy McPherson to New Zealand when he was attacked by Renwick.

Whatever differences I have with Guy these pale into insignificance with Renwick who uses his authority as academic to downplay the significance of climate change whenever he can.

The man is a liar

Image result for james renwick nz


"Human activity is what's changing the climate so human activity can definitely stop the climate from changing - we've got all the power."
---Prof James Renwick, Victoria University of Wellington

Just a few days ago I got to respond to an interview with Prof. James Renwick on Guy McPherson’s visit, Denial from climate scientists.

It turns out that Guy and Prof Renwick met at the last presentation in Paraparaumu yesterday

Guy McPherson I met him at today's presentation

Guy McPherson No fireworks. He admitted his ignorance about climate change. But only one-on-one, not publicly.

It is quite something to admit the limits of one's knowledge in private and then, the next day to write an attack the next day.

Prof. Renwick may have been involved in writing the latest IPCC reports but nothing he has said has forced me to alter my impression (confirmed above) that his knowledge is somewhat sketchy outside of his area of expertise, which is atmospherics although he seems to have got some aspects of that wrong.

Unfortumately for many just having this "expert'" preaching steady-as-you-go will be enought persuade some people. 

The following is a brief discussion I had with Guy on Prof. Renwick's piece (below).

I apologise for the quality of the recording


Here is Dr. Renwick's piece on Guy

Guy McPherson and the end of humanity (not)
Is climate change going to wipe out humanity over the next 10 years? Prof Jim Renwick doesn’t think so…

Hot Topic

11 December, 2016

Ecologist Guy McPherson has been touring New Zealand for the past couple of weeks, explaining why humanity has only 10 years to live (a kind-of Ziggy message that has immediate appeal to me). After hisappearance on the Paul Henry breakfast show, I was called by TV3/Newshub for comment. Based on my understanding of climate change science I said that though the situation is very serious — dire even — extinction in 10 years is not going to happen. When I gave my remarks to Newshub, I knew little about McPherson but I understood that he is a very knowledgeable biologist who should not be dismissed lightly.

So, what’s the story? Is McPherson right? Is the IPCC woefully conservative and keeping the truth from us all? I had the opportunity to hear Prof McPherson speak in Paraparaumu on Saturday (Dec 10th) to get more insight into what his views really are. It was a very interesting presentation, and a very interesting discussion with the audience of 50-odd Kāpiti coasters who showed up to hear him. As the old saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What we heard was extraordinary for sure, but was not too convincing in terms of evidence.
McPherson’s presentation was as much philosophy as science. Much of his message is built around the undeniable truth that we are all, one day, going to die. 

Hence, we would do well to live in and for the present, express our love to those close to us, and act rightly according to our own beliefs and principles. Excellent advice, and a great philosophy for living well, what you would be told in any number of “life-coaching” books. Where he differs from most is in saying that all of us, i.e. all of humanity, and most other species, will be extinct in 10 years or so. Why is that, you might ask?

The detail on his view of the climate system can be gained by reading his “monster climate change essay”. A briefer overview, and what he bases much of the scientific side of his presentation on, comes from a blog post at the Arctic-News blogspot site,  written by “Sam Carana” (not his or her real name – you know why). This piece suggests that the globe will warm around 10°C in the next decade, and since such warming was associated with mass extinctions in past epochs, humanity and most vertebrates etc will be toast very soon.

The blog post starts by assuming the February 2016 global mean temperature represents the current average temperature of the earth, then throws in another 0.8°C for pre-1900 (0.3°C) and unavoidable future (0.5°C) warming. This is pushing it, as February was the warmest single month on record (in difference from normal terms), several tenths of a degree above the annual mean for 2016, and the amount of unavoidable future warming is small (maybe 0.1°C?), should greenhouse gas emissions stop now.

However, the next steps are where McPherson’s grasp of the science seems shakiest. Cutting aerosol pollution to zero (as would happen when and if industrial society falls over) will unmask another 2.5°C of warming. This is a factor of ten too large, as the actual amount would be around 0.25°C by current best estimates (see figure 10.5). Reduced planetary reflectivity (albedo) from loss of Arctic ice will add another 1.6°C (perhaps in the Arctic, but not in the global mean), plus the water vapour feedback, seafloor methane release etc will add an extra 3.5°C. So that’s another 7.5°C on top of essentially where we are at now, giving a total of about 10°C warming compared to pre-industrial, assumed to happen in the next 10 years. Then, all the world’s nuclear reactors melt down, and we are all extinct.

The way Guy McPherson talks about water vapour shows his sketchy grasp of atmospheric physics. He states that most of the water vapour in the atmosphere is above 6km altitude, where it “acts like a lens” to heat the earth. Most of the water vapour is actually in the lowest few kilometres of the atmosphere, as the upper troposphere is too cold to support much water vapour. Perhaps he’s thinking of the release of latent heat in the tropics, which does occur mostly in the upper troposphere, leading to a warming “hot spot” in the tropical upper troposphere as greenhouse gas concentrations rise (See AR5 WG1, figure 12.12).

Water vapour is of course a critically important part of the climate change story and is the main amplifying feedback of greenhouse gas increase. McPherson is trained as an ecologist, so it’s no surprise that he isn’t totally on top of the vertical profile of water vapour in the atmosphere. But, if your public profile depends on your image as an authority on “global warming”, you would do well to be clear on the science.

Now, the potential consequences of climate change, and the lurking feedbacks such as Arctic methane release and other carbon cycle changes, are an extremely serious concern, one that I think the governments of the world have yet to really take on board. The risks of severe food and water shortages, population displacements and conflict over resources, already has the potential to endanger hundreds of millions of lives – even with another degree or two of warming (as outlined in the last IPCC report). But truly catastrophic and extremely rapid climate changes do not look to be on the cards, at all. Earth’s climate is not poised for “runaway” change (as per Venus), nor is there any clear indication from the geological record that the climate system is so sensitive to greenhouse gas increase that 10°C of warming in 10 years is imminent, or even possible. The climate community of course does not know everything about past climate change nor about what the climate system is capable of if pushed hard. But, the extinction in 10 years scenario is really at the outer edge of speculation about the future.

Even without imminent extinction, the consequences of climate change are more than dire enough to galvanise us into action. My perception is that concerted global action within the next decade can avoid the worst consequences. The flip side is that business as usual, even for another ten years, could lock in changes that do indeed put global society at risk and threaten possibly hundreds of millions to billions of lives. Not instant death but a very unpleasant future for a very long time. I find that prospect plenty scary enough, and it leaves room for us to take action. Let’s take it.

Gareth adds: McPherson’s views are a good example of real climate “alarmism”. Deniers love to paint the IPCC or consensus position on climate change as alarmist, thereby implying that their rejection of that consensus is somehow sensible or moderate. McPherson’s stance shows that to be a mere debating trick. The truth, of course, is that by rejecting the consensus view on what we can expect, deniers are as extreme as McPherson — polar opposites, but just as guilty of exaggeration

Author: James Renwick
I am a climate researcher with a background in atmospheric dynamics and statistics. I was involved in writing the 4th and 5th Assessment Reports for the IPCC and am also on the joint scientific committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)

I am not personally in a position to debate with the esteemed professor but after reading  his comments about water vapor in the upper troposphere I suspect he might find himself in conflict with the following.

New study confirms water vapor as global warming amplifier

A new study from scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and colleagues confirms rising levels of water vapor in the upper troposphere – a key amplifier of global warming – will intensify climate change impacts over the next decades. The new study is the first to show that increased water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere are a direct result of human activities.

"The study is the first to confirm that human activities have increased water vapor in the upper troposphere," said Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School and co-author of the study.

He will also find himself in conflict with his colleague, emeritus professor Peter Barrett who, back in 2004, was forced to recant his contention that global warming will result in extinction because of the objections of people like Renwick.

Global warming won't cause extinction, just civilisation's end

18 November 2004

The winner of one of New Zealand's top science medals, Professor Peter Barrett, has backed off a controversial claim that humanity faces extinction within 100 years because of global warming.

Dr Barrett, who was presented with the Royal Society's Marsden Medal in Christchurch last night, gave the Christchurch Press notes for his acceptance speech in which he planned to say: "If we continue our present growth path we are facing extinction - not in millions of years, or even millennia, but by the end of this century."

After a storm of criticism, he changed the word "extinction" in his speech last night to "the end of civilisation as we know it".

Here is an earlier piece about James Renwick with a video which illustrates his views.

Perfect timing. Here is a video that came out today on global dimming, nuclear power stations, methane etc.

The steady-as-you go approach of Prof Renwick is nonsensical and the IPCC computer modelling he is evidently wedded to has been shown to be completely inaccurate by actual observations.

Are people like Prof. James Renwick genuinely stupid or are they paid to mislead people?

Another recent example 

No connection between Japan and Kaikoura earthquake - scientist

Denial from climate scientists

"Human activity is what's changing the climate so human activity can definitely stop the climate from changing - we've got all the power."

One way to put someone down is to te something they never said and criticise that - I believe it is called a straw man argument

"I even saw one comment where he said, up to the second to the last day of the 10th year everything that will be fine, and then bang, on that last day, catastrophe"

Capture this guy's disconnect here from an interview a few months ago: 

And this was his response to Guy. Quite clearly he didn't listen to the presentation or purposefully misrepresented the content

Q&A: No, climate change won't kill us this decade

Victoria University climate scientist Dr James Renwick. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Guy McPherson, retired professor of conservation biology from the University of Arizona, has been on a speaking tour of New Zealand this month peddling a bleak message: we're going to push the planet's climate system over the edge and we've only got a decade to live.

A prominent New Zealand climate scientist sees no basis for that claim and says such alarmism, which has already generated a slew of scary headlines, is counter-productive to the crucial effort of combating the worst potential effects of climate change while we still can.

Science reporter Jamie Morton talked to James Renwick, a professor of physical geography at Victoria University of Wellington who served as a lead author on the last two IPCC reports and recently co-hosted a Royal Society of New Zealand-sponsored series of public talks on climate change.

What do you make of his claims? Is he misrepresenting climate science?

Misrepresenting - I'm not sure if that's quite the right word.

I've read stuff on his website and I've had a look at some of the papers that he's written and a lot of what he says is quite right and mainstream.

Where we seem to part company is this idea that [humans will be wiped out] in the next 10 years.

I even saw one comment where he said, up to the second to the last day of the 10th year everything that will be fine, and then bang, on that last day, catastrophe.
What he's saying is there's going to be some kind of amazing rapid feedback that will suddenly kick the Earth into a totally different state and we will not be able to cope with it as a species and we'll all die.
And I just don't see where that comes from. There's no indication of that from the geological record.
I mean, sure, in the past at times, the Earth has been a lot warmer and a lot colder and with a very different climate state and all the rest of it but, as far as anybody knows, there's no mechanism to suddenly change the climate overnight.
Even in the space of 10 years, you'd be struggling to do much.
The dinosaurs were mostly wiped out by a big asteroid that hit the Earth, and yes, something like that would certainly change the climate overnight.
But just processes within the climate system itself would not lead to quick enough and catastrophic enough changes to destroy all human life on Earth.
As far as I'm aware that's just not possible.
Within 10 years, there's a very small chance we could see much more rapid loss of sea ice around the Arctic, for instance, and it's possible it could disappear in 10 years - it's pretty unlikely, but summer sea ice could be all gone in 10 years, let's say.
And let's imagine that temperatures could ramp up quite quickly. At worst, in 10 years, it might be another degree warmer, or something.
That would be a significant change in the climate - but it wouldn't destroy all life, by any means.
So we're not all going to die in 10 years?
As far as I know. [Laughs.]
Can we however clarify just what long-term effect climate change is going to have on the human race?
That's a hard question and it depends very much on how much more climate change we experience, and how different countries handle the effects.
The best-case scenario is that the Paris Agreement works and the countries of the world reduce emissions and we don't get more than another, say, half a degree of warming from where we're at today.
And therefore we don't get more than another metre of sea level rise from where we are today.
That would be nice but that would still mean displacement for probably millions of people and would mean large changes in the frequency of droughts, wildfires and all the rest of it.
So it would put more stress on global food supplies and water availability in a lot of places, which could possibly lead to famine in places or further regional conflict, like Syria.
Even that much could cause the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands to possibly a few million people.
The worst-case scenario is we don't do anything much at all and by the end of the century temperatures have gone up by another, say, four degrees, and we are on the way to 25m of sea level rise.
That is the sort of scenario - and even when you read IPCC reports it's discussed in muted terms - is usually associated with ideas around major failures in global food security and the break-down of the rule of law.
But even that wouldn't necessarily wipe out all human life on Earth.
Do you think McPherson has the qualification and expertise to be making such a claim?
Well, absolutely.
As a few people have pointed out, the University of Arizona is an excellent institution, he's an emeritus professor and he's no faker - he knows a lot about ecology, biology and how the climate system works to a certain extent.
But it's his interpretation of things, isn't it?
I honestly don't know what his basis is for having this idea about there being 10 years until we all die.
Saying there's going to be some very rapid change... I haven't seen anything written by him, at least, that explains what that is or where the idea comes from.
But you just look at people like Dick Lindzen, the famous atmospheric physicist at MIT who is probably the most well-known climate denier in the climate dynamics community.
He has published all sorts of key papers over the years - and yet he thinks climate sensitivity is almost zero and climate change is not a problem.
So just because [McPherson] has been a top scholar at a good university for decades, doesn't mean he can't have funny ideas.
But are you concerned that many people will still take his claims as a given because he's an academic?
Maybe - [because he's] got some genuine scientific qualification and has studied aspects of it at least.
I mean, he's very reputable in most climate fields.
And this kind of thing, what surprises might be in store in the climate system, I would say nobody really knows - even guys like [German oceanographer and climatologist Professor] Stefan Rahmstorf who's at the forefront of understanding ocean circulation and possible shut-down of the thermohaline conveyor belt and so on.
There are various scenarios out there for what could happen in terms of methane release and other things.
But we honestly don't know what the climate system is capable of, really - and to the best of everyone's knowledge, the chances of those big changes happening in the next century are pretty small.
And even if they did happen, it would change the climate and it may accelerate warming and so on, but again, none of those things would wipe out life on Earth.
It just wouldn't.
We are a bit more resilient than that.
As a climate scientist, what do you feel undermines the field and public advocacy efforts more: climate denial or climate alпrmism?

I'd say both play a role but climate apathy is probably the biggest issue.
If it's not your job, then why would you spend any time at all thinking about climate change?
You've got your family to feed and your life to live and the reality is that the climate on human time-scales is changing relatively slowly.
You get up in the morning, and the weather looks okay, and you think, so what?
Most people can go through their life like that - how do you motivate people in that situation?
That's why it's called a wicked problem and we've got this frog-in-the-pot scenario where we are all slowly cooking and we don't even notice.
This idea that giving people this kind of information - and especially trying to alarm people - is really counter-productive.
It just turns people off, and you've really got to hold their hands and persuade them that there are all these opportunities going and if we band together it can all be great stuff.
Despair, I suppose, is a really useless emotion and that's kind of what McPherson is getting at: he's saying, just love the one you're with right now, because we've only got 10 years to live, and there's nothing we can do, so give up.
He's basically telling people to give up and I really don't like that.
No matter how far the emissions go, there's always an opportunity to pull back and stop change, so we should never give up on what we can do.
Human activity is what's changing the climate so human activity can definitely stop the climate from changing - we've got all the power.
Prof. Renwick is nowhere as dangerous as this piece from Scientic American
Slower warming than predicted gives the world time to develop better energy technologies

The climate change debate has been polarized into a simple dichotomy. Either global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous,” as Pres. Barack Obama thinks, or it’s a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thinks. But there is a third possibility: that it is real, man-made and not dangerous, at least not for a long time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.