Nothing new under the sun?

Around seven years ago, I read a history of the planet in the 20th century, entitled ‘Something New Under The Sun‘, by Georgetown University professor, JR McNeill. The book examined the biosphere, slice by slice, and concluded that, whatever else, the 20th century should be seen as a historical once-off.

The 21st century, he noted, would have to be profoundly different – either humanity learns to live within limits (of resources and carbon emissions), or the entire system would crash, with the profoundest of consequences for life on Earth. This book had a major influence on my decision to get involved in writing and campaigning on climate and environmental topics.

What was telling about McNeill’s award-winning scholarly analysis is that climate change/global warming were  peripheral to his work, which was first published in 2000. His focus was on the cumulative impacts of resource depletion and pollution.

Fast forward to last Monday on RTE radio. Pat Kenny ran a 20-minute segment on climate change, about which, says Kenny, a debate is raging. This debate, I would suggest, is in Kenny’s head. The rest of the world, having understood the issue and accepted the need for urgent action has moved on, but Ireland’s veteran broadcaster is caught in a time warp of his own construction. You can make your own mind up by playing the piece at the link below:

Click to listen to Pat Kenny Show Climate Change Segment 16-11-09

On Tuesday night, I emailed Kenny a series of questions in an effort to nail down his own personal beliefs in this area:


Dear Mr Kenny

I’m researching an article on climate change and climate sceptics in particular. Following your piece on Monday’s program on climate change, could I ask your opinion on the following short questions:

a) Do you believe global warming is occurring and is likely, as projected by the IPCC and others, to get far more serious in the decades ahead?

b) Assuming you agreed with (a) above, do you believe this warming is primarily occurring as a result of anthropogenic forcings?

c) Do you accept that the principal moderator of the Earth’s surface temperature is atmospheric CO2?

d) Assuming yes to (c) above, are you concerned that at 387ppm CO2 (or 440ppm CO2e), these levels are now far beyond the range of 180-280ppm that has pertained on the Earth for at least 650,000 years (based on direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores) and probably several million years (based on more indirect observations)?

e) Are you familiar with Svante Arrhenius’ work on atmospheric CO2, specifically his conclusions, that have stood unchallenged for a century, that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels would lead to global surface temperature increases in the range of 5-6 degrees C?

f) Are you familiar with the near-certain mass extermination of all life forms that such temperature rises would render inevitable?

g) Do you believe such a scenario could conceivably play out this century, or indeed, this side of 2050?

Rather than respond in writing, Kenny phoned me at around 9.20 on Wednesday morning. What ensued was a 33-minute conversation, frequently animated, but, at Kenny’s absolute insistence, off the record. Quite what the point of having such an in-depth discussion without attribution was unclear to me. For a man who has spent his life in the media gaze, Kenny is extraordinarily sensitive to criticism, real or imaginary – as I was to discover first hand on Wednesday morning.

While I am going to honour the off-the-record injunction, I have no trouble describing the gist of the discussion. It was part lecture on journalism (specifically his expertise and fearless even-handedness in presenting all sides of the argument, compared with my shabby bias and evangelising). Further, he confirmed to my satisfaction that while graciously accepting that global warming is occurring, he’s unconvinced that humanity has anything to do with it.

Rather than troubling himself to read the conclusions of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007), Kenny instead likes to curl up with a good conspiracy book, like The Chilling Stars. It’s all about cosmic rays, clouds, etc. etc. Bottom line: climate change has got nothing to do with us, so no need therefore for any of us to in any way consider reining in our lifestyles. This is especially good news for the wealthy, whose lifestyles contribute disproportionately to carbon emissions.

Luckily for me, I’m not a young reporter/researcher who’s that easily intimidated. If I were, I might well have considered pulling the article that appeared in today’s Irish Times which dares to suggest that there’s something seriously awry with Kenny’s consistent championing of climate scepticism after the “chat” from Pat setting me straight on who’s who in this town. The subject of my article was based around a segment from his program on Monday which was simply a platform that the experienced broadcaster constructed to ventilate his own bias, with his “guests” mere props in the charade.

Kenny’s wilful stupidity in suggesting that since you wouldn’t really notice an extra 30-50% of CO2 in the air that you breathe, yerra, what’s all the fuss about left his expert guest practically gasping for breath at so bone-headed an observation. Kenny may or may not be as clever as he himself thinks, but he’s hardly stupid – unless it’s deliberate.

I asked Oisín Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth and a nationally recognised bona fide expert in climate change to listen back to Kenny’s segment and to comment on Kenny’s general coverage of this area. Here’s Coghlan’s observations:

“There is an clear pattern in Pat Kenny’s coverage of the issue. In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence he is a climate change sceptic. It is reflected in who he has on his shows and in the questions he asks.  Given his hugely influential position in Irish life that is not without consequence. It is a drag on public and political action. Can you imagine the uproar there’d be if he was consistently looking to sow doubt about the link between smoking and cancer?”

“I’d lay down this challenge to him. Go and spend a week with climate scientists in the Arctic, or better still with the farmers in Tanzania whose lives and livelihoods are under threat from climate change right now. And then let’s have a proper discussion on Frontline with scientists and policy-makers, not strawmen and snake-oil salesmen.”

Some could attribute sinister motives when a senior broadcaster is so deliberately, consistently, constantly and wilfully wrong on such a crunch issue. Personally, I don’t. I reckon Kenny has become so jaded from decades of Punch-and-Judy journalism that he genuinely, honestly, truly is incapable of grasping the profound new reality that we now live in the Age of Consequences. The world has changed. Kenny hasn’t.

Climate change and wider ecological collapse are the issues we must contend with as the price for constructing an intensive consumption-fuelled civilisation without pausing to consider the consequences, and even when warned, being too much in love with our consumer lifestyle to pull away from a profoundly risky “growth” trajectory that is taking us towards system collapse, precisely as outlined in 2000 by JR McNeill.

When Waterford farmer, John O’Mahony listed out some interesting (but completely irrelevant in terms of extrapolating towards any meaningful climate observation) data on local rainfall levels in Tallow over the last 30 years, Kenny pounced to observe: “In a sense, there’s nothing new under the sun”. He couldn’t have summed it up better. If you are bloody-minded enough to take a certain line on an issue, irrespective of the facts, there is no difficulty (especially with Google close to hand) to find plenty of loose cannons out there to agree with you.

Kenny clearly believes that courageous scientists who have the hard data disproving anthropogenic climate change are being blocked from having their research published, and said as much on the radio on Monday. Proof, Pat? One example, perhaps? Didn’t think so. Surely we can expect slightly better from Ireland’s most senior broadcaster than reheating fairy tales and serving them up as fact?

If Kenny is prepared to have an honest, adult debate about climate change, focusing on the science and leaving the non peer-reviewed pet theories and colourful self-publicists out, fair enough, I for one would be happy to get involved. One thing I do know since yesterday: Pat has my number.

ThinkOrSwim is a blog by journalist John Gibbons focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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36 Responses to Nothing new under the sun?

  1. Hi John, enjoyed your article today, well done.
    Re Pat Kenny show, I too was taken aback by the poor standard of the discussion. (I was on the show myself the week before, and was listening in out of nostalgia). What struck me was the difference in tone – respect for cosmology vs climate skepticism. To be fair to Pat, I lay most of the blame on the token scientist – I thought he did a very poor job of explaining the evidence, and how that evidence is acquired. I sent in a complaint to this effect, will send you a copy if you’re interested.

    By the way, I’m afraid today’s column is somewhat marred by an article on the same page – a book on climate change written by a Sunday Telegraph journalist who knows nothing about science, never mind the science of climate change, reviewed by an Irish Times journalist who knows even less. Why can’t they leave these discussions to scientists and science journalists?

  2. Lenny says:

    Great stuff John, someone needed to take out a saw and cut Pat the Plank down to size. How he gets away with foisting his own grudges onto the national airwaves is anyone’s guess. Still, at least his morning radio show is pretty irrelevant, since most people are out at work as he babbles on and are spared having to listen to him.

    Still, with Christmas fast approaching, I will truly miss the toe-curling awfulness of the Late Late Toy Show presented by The Plank, with several guaranteed YouTube moments every year.

    p.s. I don’t know Pat, so I don’t dislike him personally. It’s just that he’s rubbish, that’s all. Lenny B.

  3. John Gibbons says:

    @ Cormac

    Agree entirely about that pile of crap by Cristopher Booker, the Sunday Telegraph’s Lunatic-In-Residence and a guy who makes a living out of science mockery. I was pretty horrified to see it appear on a page alongside 2 articles that, in very different ways, were attempting to take a serious look at deadly serious issues.

    The Guardian’s George Monbiot nailed Booker’s lies repeatedly, calling him the award winner of the “Booker Prize for Climate Bullshit”. Booker is a liar, and Henry Kelly (who I don’t know personally) is either a knave or a fool to be talking up such total crap.

    Nobody asks me to review Wagner, (even though I quite like the music) because I know precious little about it. Nor do I get asked to offer my (uninformed) commentary on Irish soccer, open heart surgery, genomics, motoring, paragliding, ballroom dancing and a whole host of other topics I know little or nothing about.

    Henry Kelly really, really needs to stick at whatever field he has competence in. It certainly isn’t climate science.

  4. Richard says:

    I saw your article in the Irish Times. For this reason, I thought you´d be interested to hear that to placate the supporting Danish Folk Party, the government has allocated 18 million kroner (about 2 million euros) to Bjorn Lomborgs Copenhagen Consensus Institute. This was reported on Nov 13th. I tried informing the Irish Times of this but so far they haven´t responded. So, on the one side, the Danish government is hosting the Copenhagen summit but on the other, they are supporting Lomborg´s views financially. Even the governing party´s spokesman on the environment said it was a waste of money. I have can provide additional information on this if you wish.

    Vis a vis Pat Kenny. I clutch my head with both my hands in despair.

    Richard in Denmark

  5. John: I sent in an email of complaint on booker review to GK, she responded positively (by passing my name on as a future reviewer!). I’ve also sent in a letter for the letters page, should appear Mon or Tues.

    Richard: Lomborg’s book amazes me. So many basic mistakes, yet it made his reputation. I’m seriously thinking of publishing a book of cod cosmology..

  6. Coilin MacLochlainn says:

    Well done, John, on a terrific column in today’s Irish Times and also today’s blog.

    I did not hear the Pat Kenny radio programme last Monday (but have now listened to the clip) but I did watch Frontline last Monday night when Kenny did a segment on the merits or otherwise of a car scrappage scheme.

    I was astounded, from these, to learn that Pat Kenny is indeed a climate sceptic. His previous soft interview with David Bellamy on the Late Late I felt was just an aberration, that he simply let him get away with it, but now it seems he may have planned it.

    Both of the items broadcast on Monday were heavily slanted towards trying to discredit climate science. To take one example, the Waterford farmer with his rainfall measurements going back to the Ark; Pat Kenny obviously knows that it makes no sense to look at data from one place and extrapolate to the rest of the planet. But what was left unsaid was that the sunny southeast is predicted to become drier anyway, so you would not expect precipitation to be on the increase there. Therefore, for Pat to crow, “No change in rainfall in Waterford then?!” (or words to that effect) was nothing more than a ploy to support his own position, and something he would expect the majority of listeners to swallow.

    I could go on, but the question that puzzles me most is why Pat Kenny has decided to be a sceptic. He believes the globe is warming, he says, but he doesn’t believe it’s anthropogenically forced. Why not? It’s clear that you cannot increase the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere by one-third, as we have done, and not expect major repercussions, given how powerful the greenhouse effect of this gas is. Just look at what tiny amounts of CFCs did to the ozone layer.

    Pat Kenny is far from stupid, and he could hardly not believe the thousands of climate scientists who have been warning the world, for decades now, of a very serious man-made problem. So, why would he try to discredit them?

    My first thought, which was quite petty, is that he simply does not want to believe it because he would, in conscience, have to give up flying abroad as often, or at all, and get a green car to replace whatever guzzler he’s got, and so on. It’s amazing how people rationalise things to justify their actions. David McWilliams, in making his recent programme ‘Addicted to Money,’ flew to all points of the globe, and probably would have gone to the moon if he could, to make the point that we had to stop flying and consuming like mad.

    I’m not convinced that it’s to protect his own lifestyle that Kenny is in denial. But it would obviously help him keep his enormous salary if Ireland were to get back into more unsustainable economic growth, if only for a few more years. Which might help explain why he likes the idea of a car scrappage scheme. That would generate a bit of tax and give the government some leg-up at a crucial time, but at great cost to the environment, given the carbon costs of manufacturing new cars.

    These are very trivial reasons for anyone to base their position on, even secretly, so there may be something else driving Pat Kenny’s flawed reasoning. He is very intelligent and a brilliant interviewer on current affairs, the best I’ve ever heard, so I don’t believe he is “incapable of grasping the profound reality (etc)”, as you put it. No, that couldn’t be it. Certainly, he is “deliberately, consistently, constantly and wilfully wrong” on this crunch issue, as you say, so there must be another reason besides pure selfishness, greed or ignorance.

    Could it be that he is protecting his status in society, his connections with those who hold power and wealth? And is he afraid that by getting real on this issue he would alienate a large proportion of his fan-base? After all, as you wrote in your column, half of all Americans are refusing to believe the climate scientists, and it’s probably the same here, and Pat Kenny is a confirmed populist, always looking to please. Perhaps he is simply not prepared to make the quantum leap into reality as he would be “branded” (as he might see it) an environmentalist. Oh, no, how awful! An environmentalist! No, no! Pat will stay inside the tent, thank you, and to hell with the planet.

    It was disconcerting to watch and hear him deliberately steer the studio debates towards his own point of view, skilfully interrupting panellists when they were making cogent points that would undermine his position. That’s pretty dodgy, in my book. At this stage, the debates should be steered the other way, like they are on the BBC, because the world cannot afford further prevarication. We have to remove the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, even if it means building machines to suck it from the air, which we might need at this stage.

    The problem with all this is that Pat Kenny is such a huge influence on the national mindset, commanding two high-profile broadcasting slots, and can drag the process backwards when he should be helping to move it forward. How will he be reformed? Congratulations, JG, for putting the question out there. It’s astonishing that he would phone you up to sort you out, if that’s what he was doing. As if his reputation and standing were more important than the fate of the planet.

    Perhaps if he asked himself why the world’s leaders now see fit to meet in Copenhagen, after decades of dragging their feet and suppressing the climate scientists, when it was clear for 25 years that action was necessary, 25 goddam years, he would realise they’re only there because we have reached the last chance saloon.

  7. G Murray says:

    John , your article today is typical of what I have come to expect form the climate alarmism camp ( as are the ad hominem posts above). We are consistently told that the debate is over, the science is settled, the facts are in. It is ironic that these pronouncements are typically accompanied by no facts at all. Your article does not fail in that regard. You states that the evidence is stacking up but then go on to provide no evidence whatsoever.
    A basic propaganda tactic is to continue to repeat the lie. A common refrain of those who regard debate as an inconvenience is to refer to the lack of peer reviewed evidence from those who believe that a relevant scientific debate still needs to exist. Once again you are not found wanting. You state “there has not in the intervening three years been a scintilla of new peer-reviewed evidence presented to challenge the central tenet that climate change is real, urgent and principally driven by human impacts”. Not a scintilla. Nada. Debate over.

    Well John, you must not be looking too hard. A peer reviewed article was published in Energy & Environment in 2008 by K,M Schulte titled “Scientific Consensus on Climate Change”. It reviewed 539 papers on “global climate change” published between Jan 2004 and Feb 2007. It reported that 7% of the papers explicitly endorsed the consensus that humans are the main cause of global warming. In total 45% of papers either explicitly or implicitly endorse the consensus. This is down from 75% from a similar study by Oreskes in 2004. If anything this suggests that the consensus is weakening. On the other side of the argument 6% directly or implicitly rejected the consensus.This increased from 0% in the Oreskes study. Of all the papers only 1 paper cited catastrophic climate change of the type we continually warned of. However, it was found that this paper provided no evidence to justify its claims. The conclusion of the paper is that “ there appears to be little basis in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for the degree of alarm on the issue of man-made climate change which is being expressed in the media and by politicians”.

    Below is a link to 450 peer-reviewed articles that do not support the so called consensus. Slightly more than a scintilla… enjoy

  8. Michelle says:

    G Murray, this is a joke, isn’t it???!!! As soon as I looked at this list and saw the name Fred Singer, my suspicions were confirmed. It seems that many ‘sceptical’ arguments against anthropogenic climate change can be traced back to energy industry funding – see these links:
    and this is also interesting:
    There is no doubt about the overwhelming scientific consensus and it is really irresponsible to be peddling this kind of stuff when our children’s future is at stake.

  9. G Murray says:

    Michelle – the point is that there is not supposed to be any peer reviewed papers available that disagree with the AGW consensus. This is obviously not the case. People are entitled and should be encouraged to discuss and question the science contained within those papers. You seem to be going a step further and suggesting that peer reviewed science should be ignored or supressed if it does not agree with your beliefs. To say that the science is settled and that we do not need to consider any more information is an ideological and political position not a scientific one. But thanks anyway for proving my comment regarding ad hominem posting.

  10. denis says:

    Does anybody really believe, that man made laws,carbon taxes, or any fossil fuel based machine such as wind turbines, solar water heaters, solar voltaics cells, electric cars etc can prevent us from using fossil fuel to such an extent, that it would make any difference to global warming ?
    The only thing that will make us stop using it, is when it runs out, plain and simple.
    It is just not credible, that we could turn our backs on this incredible source of energy, and feedstock for all our complex endeavours, and live an alternative, and uncomfortable lifestyle, whilst any fossil fuel still exists, even knowing that we are condemning ourselves to extinction.
    The proof of this is that very very few people have turned to a different way of life voluntarily, even when confronted with a loss of income.
    They are hoping for a magic fix, a way to get back to the recent status quo, their fossil fuel lifestyle, replete with cars, holidays, big houses, big TV`s, and they look towards our so called leaders to give it to them.
    They don`t believe the scientists, they don`t want to— they want to believe the charlatans who are telling them that everything will be OK. Witness the upcoming strike— they are willingly flying in the face of commonsense—- even the intellectuals of our society, the teachers are going along with it.
    Democracy, will not allow us to aspire to a reduction in our standard of living.
    The purveyors of bad news will be voted out—–the snake oil salesmen will be voted in.
    The fossil fuel will all be used up —–be sure to get your share whilst you can.

  11. Ian says:

    John truly you are becoming our Monbiot. Well done!

  12. Shay says:

    G Murray, when you state there is no concensus you are right:

    “A 2008 poll of 3,146 Earth scientists showed (only!) 96.2% of climatologists who are active in climate research believe in modern global warming, and 97.4% believe that human activity is a significant factor in this warming.”

    In fact many would also not agree with the IPCC reports as they were political reports which understated what many climatologists believed. As for your list a little research will show you the nonsence that is contained in many of these articles. (one interesting scientifically rigourous site is

  13. In 1904, Arrhenius was concerned with rapid increases in anthropogenic carbon emissions and recognized that:
    “the slight percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere may, by the advances of industry, be changed to a noticeable degree in the course of a few centuries.” He eventually made the suggestion that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide due to the burning of fossil fuels could be beneficial, making the Earth’s climates “more equable,” stimulating plant growth, and providing more food for a larger population.

    John Gibbons never mentions any of this does he? Or that in 1906 Arrhenius corrected his work of 1896 saying a doubling of CO2 would heat the atmosphere by 1.5 -1.6 C.

    John, CO2 is not a pollutant. You and your fan club have jumped on a bandwagon not knowing the true reality of what your saying. None of the IPCC’s theories stand up to scrutiny. The “Hotspot” in the troposphere is not there, Satellite Data shows that the temps are not rising and neither is sea level. Also the Arctic is gaining in size in recent years and over the past 20 years, polar ice between Arctic and Antarctic had a net gain.

    Steve McIntyre has shown the “Hockey Stick” graph to be a fraud. Henrick Svensmark of the Danish Space Centre has produced a lot of data to show the link between cosmic rays and cloud formation. But I can imagine you think that’s tin foil had stuff.

    Pretty soon John, you’ll be shown to have been wrong. But I don’t think anyone in political circles is going to deviate from the Church of Climatology’s teaching. For to do so you would face the wrath of the “Government” being formed in the Copenhagen Treaty.

    Any chance you’ll do an article on the CRU’s manipulation of data and the fact they don’t have the raw data for the surface temperatures of the globe. The dog ate it as they say.

    No raw data means they can do an Anglo Irish on it.

  14. Mark says:

    ClimateGate, CRU Emails – someone has to mention it!

  15. Perhaps the greatest display of ignorance comes from John Gibbons.

    “Do you accept that the principal moderator of the Earth’s surface temperature is atmospheric CO2?”

    I don’t know what you’re reading but the principal moderator of the Earths temperature comes from Conduction and Convection of Nitrogen and Oxygen Gas heated principally from the sun.

    NASA’s atmospheric energy model attributes 41% of the earths temperature to the Infra Red Energy reflected from the surface of the earth. This 41% is too high in my opinion, but lets go with that figure.
    95% of that 41% is caused by Water Vapour.

    John what’s the word for someone who continues to spout untruths?

  16. John Gibbons says:


    I see you’ve moved from slagging me off on the IT web pages to visiting me here in my lair – welcome (and greetings to all in Fianna Fail, if this is the same Ultan? BTW you guys have done a great job running the country this last decade. Really great. You must be proud).

    Is this the same Ultan who’s been pedalling 9/11 conspiracy theories as well? Thanks for the lecture on Arrhenius. I note your omission of the slightly pertinent fact that Arrhenius reckoned it would take 3,000 years for CO2 levels on Earth to double. Whoops, he’s out by around 2,900 years there. Imagine that.

    The point about Arrhenius, for all but the wilfully ignorant is that, even though he did what amounts to pen-and-paper calculations well over 100 years ago, he has been basically proved correct, over and over and over again. The IPCC’s extremely conservative 4th Assessment Report in 2007, with the advantage of infinitely more complex modelling, backs the conclusion of a catastrophic global average temperature increase far beyond the 2C tipping point with a doubling of atmospheric CO2.

    Spin that one any way you wish, or lock your eyes and say it isn’t so. The facts remain the facts, independent of your opinion.

    Your statement about CO2 not being a pollutant cuts to your ideological chase. Mann’s hockey stick data has been closely reproduced by dozens of independent peer-reviewed studies. Your claims that it’s a fraud are themselves grossly fraudulent.

    And ooooh, there’s a big spooky World Government being cooked up in Copenhagen (maybe it’s going to borrow some alien craft from the hangar in Roswell and crash them mysteriously into some tall buildings? When the conspiracy theorists are on the loose, hang onto your facts, folks!)

    To address the “CRU Conspiracy”, George Monbiot has it well covered here:

    In summary: this lot “disproves” five decades of multidisciplinary climate science the same way Piltdown Man disproves the theory of Evolution. (that of course assumes you ACCEPT the theory of evolution, or maybe the CIA, Al Gore, Carla Bruni or Jedward are behind that scam too?).

    Ultan, me auld chum, life is too short to play Idiot Ping Pong with you, so if you keep posting, I may reluctantly have to whip out the editorial Taser. This blog is aimed at people who want a serious discussion on these critical issues and I’m not going to have it hijacked by boo-boys (there must be plenty of Elvis-spotting websites who would truly value your sciency insights, these talents are wasted here).

    In short, if you actually believe the guff you come out with, well good luck, and say hello to all in Narnia.

    I for one hope you’re right; nothing, absolutely nothing, would give me more pleasure than being dead wrong on climate change/species extinction/system collapse, not to mention peak oil/water/food, etc.

    But I’m not prepared to live in a fool’s paradise of conspiracy theories while the evidence of systemic failure accumulates all around. And yes, I know you don’t accept any of that, as far as you’re concerned the physical science that tells us the Arctic sea ice is disappearing is just a conspiracy too. So, in fact, is every inconvenient fact that demurs from your blinkered viewpoint.

    To answer the question in your second posting: “What’s the word for someone who continues to spout untruths”? I think, in a more honest moment, you do know the answer to that question.

    p.s. best of luck with your hunt for Shergar and Lord Lucan!

  17. Tony Ryan says:

    Look who is talking about being blinkered! Your the one pedalling the conspiracy theory of man made global warming. The hockey stick has shown to be a fraud. Al Gore is proven liar. The IPCC has falsified data and now we have the e-mails from the liars at CRU. So before you disbarr me because you disageee with me I would just love to hear your take on how carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

  18. John,

    You described Prof Henrick Svensmark’s book Chilling Stars as a conspiracy. That should be a yardstick to anyone who dares challenge the John Gibbons school of thinking.

    Then you bring in me pedalling 9/11 conspiracy theories? If I did, I’d love to know where. Although I would agree, most of the 9/11-inside-job commentators such as Jim Corr think CO2 driving the temp of the planet is a fraud too. I guess I’m guilty by association.

    Yes too, I’ve been in FF becuase I am interested in the political process and like where FF sat in the political spectrum. I’m not hiding behind a Pseudonym here as one can see, but I would like to see approx half the FF party lose their seats. I would be a fan of the Greens and probably yourself John, if you stopped this AGW rubbish. I like intelligent articulate people and people who have something positive to being to society. Most of the politicans I like apart from Brian Lenihan, are in the opposition or outside of FF for example Pat Rabbitt and John Gormley.

    It’s who’s going to replace FF when they go into opposition would be the worry. I don’t support abortion and don’t subscribe to the view there is too many of us on the planet. Humans are not a disease.

    Now, regarding Copenhagen: the Treaty explicity states that it is the set up of a “Government” where countries such as Ireland will pay 0.7% of our GDP for a fake crisis. Also to mention EU President Von Rompuy’s, Global Governance speech …. at a Bilderberg meeting…(reported in Sunday Independent 22nd Nov pg 2), Ban Ki Moon in a NY Times editorial “We can do it” ..metions setting up global governance funded by Carbon Taxes, Al Gore’s Global Governance speech etc etc.

    I suppose all those guys talking about Global Governance is a conspiracy theory. Governance means Government. The Sindo even mentions the Bilderberg group. The Sindo must have lost it.

    It is a rather sick society we are living in though where CO2 is declared a pollutant and 50,000ppb of Mercury is deemed safe in the vaccination programme for swine flu.

    John I respect your dedication and recognise you are an articulate intelligent person. However, many intelligent people get it wrong from time to time. After all PWC audit of Anglo Irish states Anglo made a profit of 786 million year end Sept 2008.

    PS It is a fact that there was a net increase in ice at the poles between 1986 -2006. Don’t believe me, see the graphs for Sea Ice Extent and Sea Ice Concentration at

  19. John Gibbons says:

    @ Tony

    No, I’m not going to disbar you just yet. Your comments speak for themselves. If you enjoyed the foolish three or four liars at the CRU, you must absolutely love the scores of career creeps and liars, from Ian Pilmer to the Exxon-funded Global Climate Coalition, Fred Singer, The George Marshall Institute, Patrick Michaels, part of a contemptible decades-long conspiracy to cover up the climate-altering effects of massive fossil fuel emissions (many of these very same folk were the PR fig leaf for Big Tobacco for decades as well, using the same handbook full of the dirtiest smear-n-fear tricks on that one too). But you know it all Tony, so best of luck in la la land.

    @ Ultan

    I was full sure you’d respond with such vitriol that binning you would be simple, then you go and ruin it with a nuanced, interesting and far less rude response than my previous posting merited!

    Seriously guys, I’m not going to joust back and forth with straw men for the fun of it. If these opinions are sincerely held and not amendable to non-compliant facts, then only a fool would continue the argument with you. I learned way back in school the folly of arguing with someone who’s not for budging, no matter what.

    You may disagree with them, but I arrived at my opinions the hard way, by reading all I could lay my hands on (except cock-and-bull theories), attending lectures and conferences, interviewing many senior scientists and attempting as best I could to reach an informed understanding that I could then convey to a ‘lay’ audience and debate with other interested parties.

    I’m not a mad-eyed eco-evangelist (despite what poor Pat Kenny seems to think) and am always up for a good debate. But I don’t debate with Scientologists, vitamin salesmen, Creationists, homeopathy quacks and dyed-in-the-wool climate change deniers. And all for the same reason: it’s pointless.

  20. Shay says:

    Ultan, Tony,

    Can you look at the facts from the credible scientific institutions instead of the fringe conservative hacks. While all your fellow deniars have picked and plucked at the facts (unsuccessfully from scientific perspectives but probably sucessfully from a media perspective) there is not one consistent thread there, the world is warming naturally, it is the sun (solar minimum now), it is cooling, it is water vapour (without a proper explanation why) etc.

    I realise it is quite fashionable to be a denier and much easier to criticise rather than issue dour pronouncements, however I do implore you to look at the facts rather than dubious right wing organisations.

    If you also are trying to extoll the virtues of CO2, of course it is necessary for plant lift but only to a limit as sunlight and nutirients and it is certainly not going to restore the biodiversity lost by the changing climate.

    Ultan, I had a look at nsidc website and to be honest (while we are all aware of the increased preciptation in the east antartic due to the changing climate) it was fairly damning about the condition of the artic ice, maybe you mis-spelt the website name

  21. Shay.

    I think I’m fairly qualified to decipher the scientific literature for myself. I spent 4 years in college and 17 or so years in the scientific field to figure out for myself. When politicians like Gordon Brown mention climate change in the same sentence as reforming the banking system, not only do I smell a rat, I see the rat appearing on the TV screen. If any agency of Government comes out and says the globe is warming becuase of CO2, I would automatically assume the opposite. If any agency of government comes out with any study on any topic, I presume the opposite until I dig out the information for myself to confirm.

    For example:

    “The science is settled”
    “The Banks are Capitalised”
    “The fundamentals are sound”
    “The Bishops would never protect child abusers”
    “Weapons of Mass Distruction”
    “Russia attacked Georgia first”
    “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East”
    “I won the money on a horse”
    .. you catch my drift.

    Name one politician from any country who did what the said they were going to do or who doesn’t lie to the cameras on a daily basis? From seeing politicians up close for myself, I wouldn’t believe a word any of them said. Unfortunately, Global Warming science has been taken over by politicians not scientists. Al Gore is just a professional l*ar like Bill Clinton, Barack H. Obama and every President of the United States back to JFK.
    See the link to track the size of the icecaps.

    The Arctic has been ice free in the 50’s dig it out for yourself. There is near 1 million sq km of ice by month from August 2009 – Oct 2009, compared to August 2007 – Oct 2007. Where’s the warming?

    If people read Chilling Stars they might understand for themselves how Cloud Formation is seeded. When the Sun switched off around Jan 2008, the world has seen sudden temperature drops. When the Sun is quiet, there is more cloud. The Sun is in it’s lowest activity in 100 years. Guess what, the country has seen the worst floods in living memory.

  22. Richard Tol says:

    Oisín Coghlan works for Friends of the Earth. The success of his organisation, his career, and his salary depend on people being concerned about the environment.

  23. Shay says:


    Methinks you are cherrypicking the data here, first of all you picked December rather than September, secondly such graphs make no reference to ice thickness. Also I find it remarkable the world missed the ice free arctic circle in the 50’s.

    As for your last comment re the recent heavy rain, was that not what was predicted by the climate scientists! As for 07-09 it is not just warming, it is climate change and to confuse the issue for us lay persons we have the la nina/ el nino oscillations. (Which by the way are rebounding in the other direction so perhaps it is better we see world temperatures for ’10 and ’11, this year is only looking like the 5th hottest on record with your sun and all)

    As for your opinions on politicians, well you have me on that point at least.

    I am trying to keep an open mind, and I have waded through a lot of books both for and against. We are quite simply pulling hundreds of millions of years worth of buried carbon out of the ground at an enormous rate, adding it to the carbon cycle, and you are implying this has no impact. We know CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas, we know it has increased by at least a third not to mind the other greenhouse gases. Also a minimal sun should in theory reduce cloud cover not increase it, Am I wrong?

  24. Just for the record – the book ‘The Chilling Stars’ has been comprehensively debunked in evry single review I have seen by experienced scientists and science journalists, from NS to Physics World. Somehow, this has made the book more famous, not less. Remind to write a book that is rubbished by my colleagues…

  25. denis says:

    @ Richard Tol
    Your posting infers, that concern about the environment is not very important, and that Friends of the Earth may have a hidden agenda—-is this correct, and if so would you care to comment further ?

  26. Richard Tol says:

    Friends of the Earth does not have a hidden agenda. Their agenda is open and clear for all to see. They are a lobby group. Lobby groups put a spin on the evidence to support their cause. That is their job and their right.

    John, however, is wrong to write that Oisín Coghlan is a “bona fide expert”. Coghlan is a lobbyist, and thus not “bona fide” as an expert. Coghlan’s expertise is in political science, and it extends no further than a master’s degree from DCU.

  27. Oisin Coghlan says:

    @ Richard Tol

    The challenge that the climate science presents to humanity is unprecedented. It will take all our ingenuity and energy to overcome it. All of us: business leaders, citizens, politicians – yes, even economists and political scientists – will have to put our shoulder to the wheel. I will continue to deploy my modest talents on the side of those who believe we can rise to the challenge. I look forward to you deciding to do the same.

  28. Tony Ryan says:

    I’m not in disaggrement with you or John simply because it is fashionable to do so. I have looked at both sides. I disagree with the notion that man is responsible for climate change. If that makes me a denier in your book then so be it. I have no idea what dubious right wing organisations you are referring too unless the Club of ROme is one of these. Thwy are certainly dubious. It was this secretive think tank group The Club of Rome who came up with the idea of man made global warming. quote:
    “We need to get some broad based support,
    to capture the public’s imagination…
    So we have to offer up scary scenarios,
    make simplified, dramatic statements
    and make little mention of any doubts…
    Each of us has to decide what the right balance
    is between being effective and being honest.”
    – Stephen Schneider,
    Stanford Professor of Climatology,
    lead author of many IPCC reports and Club of Rome member

    “The data doesn’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations
    on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.”
    – Prof. Chris Folland,
    Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research

    “The models are convenient fictions
    that provide something very useful.”
    – Dr David Frame,
    climate modeler, Oxford University

    “I believe it is appropriate to have an ‘over-representation’ of the facts
    on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience.”
    – Al Gore, Club of ROme
    “It doesn’t matter what is true,
    it only matters what people believe is true.”
    – Paul Watson,
    co-founder of Greenpeace

    “Science will never get in the way of public policy” Al Gore.
    They came up with the idea and then produced the science to fit their agenda rather like Bush and Blair fit the facts around the weapons of mass destruction issue prior to the Iraqi invasion.

  29. Richard says:

    This is reported in the Guardian today, without noting the weasel words:
    “China announced that it would cut emissions of carbon relative to economic growth by 40% to 45% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.”
    The operative words here are “relative to economic growth.” The Chinese won´t reduce their absolute levels of CO2 emissions, just reduce the amount per dollar of GDP growth (or yuan). I recall Bertie Aherne noting that Ireland had produced GDP growth for its energy consumption, as if that somehow made up for the fact that Ireland´s energy use increased enormously from the 90s onwards. China is using a similar statistical ploy. Their absolute emissions will not go down.

  30. John Gibbons says:


    you say you’ve looked at both sides, Tony, yet here you are regurgitating bilge from right wing websites! That Steve Schneider ‘quote’ of yours, for example: had you chosen to finish the quote, rather than cut it in two, you’d know Schneider went on to say he believes you can be BOTH effective AND honest. Pretty slimy editing, Tony! But I guess you’re not to blame since I imagine you never actually read the article from which the above distortion emanated, happy instead to copy-n-paste? (I’ve met and interviewed Schneider, so I do know what I’m talking about here). Life is waaaay too short to spend debunking the other mish mash of half truths that the denier lobby keep posting here. Maybe all of us who worry about this issue are wrong, ok, so be it, life goes on. What if instead YOU are wrong? I hope you’ll take time to think about that Tony, a little longer than you spent trawling the web for dodgy ‘quotes’ would be good.

  31. Richard Tol says:

    Note that I doubt neither your intentions nor your competence at what you do.

    I simply protested at John confusing you for an expert while you are in fact a lobbyist.

    Lobbyists are an integral part of a democratic society, but they play a different role than experts. We should never confuse the two.

    You are no doubt aware that Danny McCoy has published more academic papers on climate change than you have, but we would not now refer to him as an expert.

  32. Ultan says:

    OK. For argument sake, let’s say CO2 is a pollutant similar to Sulphates or Phosphates.

    Do you think it appropriate for corporations to be trading in pollutant credits?

    When a Pharma company get’s an IPC Licence from the EPA, it gets an allocation from the EPA of Chemicals (Sulphates, Phosphates, Chlorides) it is allowed to emit to the air or nearby river. Can you imagine for example if Eli Lilly was able to sell its Phosphate or Mercury allowance to Pfizer becuase Pfizer had a lower allowance than Lilly? That is not allowed by the EPA, but it is under the CO2 trading scheme.

    There should be no trading in CO2 Credits full stop. Ryanair will ramp up its Aircraft by 200 for 2013 to become the biggest dealer in CO2 Credits in Europe. The Ryanair Yes to Lisbon has a new meaning. Then in Article 192 of Lisbon, it says reducing emissions will be by “provisions of a fiscal nature”. Again this is a scam. How about reducing CO2 in a physical nature?

    How about we reduce emissions period? How about new energy-efficient technology? Why should Mr. Gore profit out of this at all? He is in a massive conflict of interest. Al Gore can Proselytize and profit at the same time.

    We are going to get another fake bubble of “Carbon Derivatives” to eventually implode as Carbon Default Swaps, Collateralised Carbon Debt Swaps, Carbon backed securities. We need an end to Leech Financial Capitalism and a return to Industrial Capitalism. We don’t need another Goldman Sachs selling triple A Carbon Credits and betting against them simulateously to implode countries rather than mortgage holders.

  33. Tony Ryan says:

    I apologise if I got the Steve Schneider quote wrong as I didn’t know I only had half of it. I will look up the full quote.

  34. denis says:

    @ Lenny and Richard in Denmark
    Pat Kenny provides an excellent morning program on RTE, in which he has many interesting guests, and touches on many important and entertaining topics.
    He may not be up to speed on climate change, but being far from stupid, will learn I`m sure.
    To you Gentlemen, I would only say, that you are intellectual snobs.
    Regards Denis.

  35. John Gibbons says:

    appreciate your honesty re Schneider. Unfortunately there’s so much deliberate misinformation out there, it’s easy to grab this whole issue by the hind leg. Most ‘true’ sceptics have no interest whatever in trying to establish the true position, quite the opposite, unfortunately. I can see that’s not where you’re coming from. JG

  36. Ultan says:

    Hi John,

    Just wondering if you are going to post a link to your interview on Today with Pat kenny 2/12/09?

    The 98% of Scientists you mentioned in the interview, could you advise where that figure comes from?

    My understanding is that only 50 or so authored the IPCC’s report of 2007.

    Thanking you in advance.

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