Climate Change

Introduction

Until recently, the NZ Skeptics steered clear of participation as an organisation in the climate change debate. This was partly because there have been varying opinions within the membership. Also, the issue was seen as a science versus science debate, rather than science versus pseudoscience. Nevertheless , over a number of years there has been vigorous debate among members as individuals.

By 2014 the science had become increasingly settled, and there is now an overwhelming consensus among appropriately qualified scientists that human-induced climate change is real and is a serious problem that demands urgent and concerted action. Also, there was increasing concern among the NZ Skeptics membership that we were being confused in the public mind with the community of climate change doubters and deniers who dub themselves as sceptics. Accordingly, in 2014 the NZ Skeptics committee agreed to issue a position statement to clarify the society’s views. It was:

The New Zealand Skeptics Society supports the scientific consensus on Climate Change. There is an abundance of evidence demonstrating global mean temperatures are rising, and that humans have had a considerable impact on the natural rate of change. The Society will adjust its position with the scientific consensus.

Inevitably, there were some within the organisation that felt that the statement was too weak while others questioned the right of the committee to take such action on behalf of the membership as a whole.

The Science

In this short article, it is not possible to traverse all the scientific arguments supporting the reality of human-induced climate change. Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97% of peer-reviewed scientific literature agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. Most of the leading scientific organisations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Moreover, this consensus among climate scientists is reinforced by findings in various other scientific disciplines.

The hypothesis that greenhouse gases could cause global warming was first mooted in the 19th Century, and it has been several decades since scientists first issued warnings that warming was occurring and could cause widespread climate change and trigger severe weather events.

Usually, when scientists develop a hypothesis, the scientific method demands that they run experiments to test it. In this case, that was obviously impossible, and the world had to wait to see whether the climate change hypothesis was correct. With the passage of time, the remarkable foresight of those early scientists has become apparent, as people in various parts of the globe become affected by the growing frequency and severity of extreme weather events. The validity of the scientific method and the scientific consensus is increasingly being demonstrated in ways that non-scientists can appreciate.

This raises the question of whether extreme weather events are caused by climate change or whether they would have occurred regardless. The most rational answer is that the changes to the global atmospheric and ocean environments in which weather occurs mean that all extreme weather events are different to what they would have been without climate change.

The Counter-Arguments

Over the last decade or so, the arguments put forward by the climate change doubters and deniers have changed. At first, many completely denied that warming existed at all, and in fact there are still some extreme deniers, particularly among talkback hosts and right-wing politicians, who maintain that climate change is some sort of huge global conspiracy or hoax. However, most of the doubter community has moved to a position of accepting that warming exists and that it is at least partly caused by human actions.

The arguments now put forward by the more rational end of the doubter community tend to revolve around doubts that the impacts of climate change will be as serious as is predicted and doubts that the potentially disastrous feedback loops forecast by some scientists will actually occur. This is often accompanied by an optimistic view that mankind has the technological ability to adapt to the changes that will come. On this last point of the ability to adapt, it is perhaps important to note that climate change is forecast to cause global and fundamental changes to global weather and sea levels. While mankind has shown the ability to adapt to many circumstances, the fact remains that we have never been able to truly cope with the more extreme events that nature throws at us, such as earthquakes, eruptions, tsunami, floods and tornadoes. There must be real doubt that we can cope with the sort of global consequences that climate change will bring.

Climate Change and Evolution

In many ways, the debate about climate change has parallels with the debate about evolution. When Charles Darwin put forward his hypothesis about evolution by natural selection in the mid-19th Century, it met a storm of protest from vested interests, as has occurred 100 years later with the climate change debate. In the case of evolution, the protest was led by the churches, whereas for climate change, the charge has been led by big business. However, it is interesting to note that, in the USA at least, the main political opposition in both cases has come from the fundamentalist right.

In both cases, the tactics have been somewhat similar, including cherry-picking of the science and radical claims about world takeovers and conspiracies.

Summary

Following the decades of debate, the NZ Skeptics now feel confident in agreeing with the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real, with human activity being a major contributing factor. We are satisfied that the problem is already sufficiently real and serious that urgent worldwide action is required. Nevertheless, we accept that precise predictions about the future course of events and the future ability of mankind to adapt might be subject to change as the evidence accumulates. That is the nature of the scientific method.

NZ Skeptics on The Skeptic Zone

Skeptic ZoneLast week our chair, Mark Honeychurch, chatted with Richard Saunders on episode 334 of the Australian Skeptics’ “Skeptic Zone” podcast (Aired March 15). Richard pre-emptively introduced Mark with statements like “yes those New Zealanders are just as skeptical as…anybody else”. Richard asked Mark about the history of the movement in New Zealand and “what’s going on in the land of the long white cloud in skepticism”, and of course there was an obligatory comparison of our countries’ skeptical histories and successes.

Mark talked about our new look logo, journal and website, and also about debunking Uncensored magazine’s U.F.O. conspiracy theories, Shuzi bands and what New Zealand has to offer in the way of cryptozoological creatures (during which it was decided that there are worse ways to spend a weekend than searching for moa!). All round it was a great flying of our skeptical flag by Mark, ending in Richard expressing positive enthusiasm for a Skeptics in the Pub crawl and moa hunt combined. The Skeptic Zone is a podcast that is well worth a listen, being Australasian we share a lot of the issues they discuss and we have cultural similarities as well.

New Journal, Membership, Aliens

Hello there,

The latest issue of the NZ Skeptic is heading to the letterboxes of financial members, packed full of the intriguing, the informative and the infuriating. It’s a whole new look for the journal, along with our new website and brand-new logo.

Now is the time to subscribe or renew your subscription to the Society. It’s quick and easy to do online (or use the handy form in the journal).

If you don’t see the Journal in the next week or so, it’s because your subscription hasn’t come through. Either join up now, or contact the secretary to check your current status.

Real Alien Footage Revealed? Not!

The NZ magazine Uncensored is standing by its claim to have released real footage of aliens at Roswell, despite clear evidence that the film was part of a B-grade movie released in 2006. See our side-by-side comparison.

What will Uncensored reveal next? This amazing story perhaps:

Footage Released of 1960s Secret JetPack Flight Over London

We’ll award a virtual chocolate fish to the best breathless headline and image pairing you can come up with, Send your ideas to the Chair.

More weird illusions

If the debate over the colour of that dress got you flummoxed, here are some more neat ways the brain can be fooled.

Skeptics in the Pub

Lee Traynor is doing the rounds at Skeptics in the Pub locations, and will be giving a talk titled “The skeptic’s dilemma – on changing your mind”. He’s in Wellington on Friday, March 6th (6pm, Kitty O’Shea’s), followed by Palmerston North on Saturday (7pm, venue TBC) and Hamilton on Sunday (The Bank, 7pm).

Felicity Goodyear-Smith is giving a talk at Auckland Skeptics in the Pub on Monday, 9th of March. Shared idée fixe – “The case of murder that wasn’t” starts at 7pm at the Juice Bar at Windsor Castle.

Future Alert emails will be coming from our new address of [email protected], so if you’re currently whitelisting our Skeptic Alert emails, please add this new address to your list to continue receiving our alerts.

Cheers,

Vicki Hyde

Media Spokesperson, NZ Skeptics

Uncensored “Roswell Video” compared to “Alien Autopsy” movie

NZ’s Uncensored Magazine has proclaimed “ROSWELL ORIGINAL FOOTAGE OF DEAD ALIEN REDISCOVERED BY UNCENSORED EDITOR”:

The NZ Skeptics heard that it was actually just footage from an Ant and Dec movie, so we decided to put together a side by side comparison.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/CGo4BZE4gsM]

You can check out the original footage from Uncensored Magazine, read more from the Editor of Uncensored or have a look at the IMDB page for the Ant and Dec movie.

Vicki Hyde on CTV’s Lynched

Is Homeopathy doing more harm than good? Chris Lynch speaks to Vicki Hyde, spokeswoman for the NZ Skeptics.

For the first time on local television, Hyde exposes the process of homeopathy.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxGLG0pehpQ]

Speakers from the other side?

Psychic at NZ Skeptics Conference “Sensing Murder” psychic Sue Nicholson will face a potentially more difficult audience than speaking to the dead when she appears at the New Zealand Skeptics annual conference being held 6-8 September in …

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Questioning the Universe: NZ Skeptics Conference

Learning more about the universe demonstrates just how much more we need to learn about life on planet Earth. That’s something noted US astronomer, writer and podcaster, Dr Pamela Gay, will be talking about at this year’s NZ Skeptics annual conference …

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Forum

‘Organic’ water?


Either this water is alive, or it contains carbon. Either way I’m not drinking it.
Hugh Young
Wellington

Clairvoyants agree on missing man

Clairvoyants agree on missing man

By CORINNE AMBLER Police Reporter

Police will join friends of missing Wellington man Michael Kelly today in a search of an area where clairvoyants think he might be found.

Three clairvoyants independently said Mr Kelly was in the same area of greater Wellington, and friends had been searching there, close friend George Allan said.

Ms Allan said she had been dealing with a Wellington clairvoyant, one from Tauranga, and two women from the Spiritualist Church. A clairvoyant from Christchurch had also come to Wellington of her own accord, saying she had strong feelings about where Mr Kelly, 23, could be found.

At a meeting last night suggestions from the clairvoyants were considered and it was decided to check the nominated area today.

Ms Allan said the clairvoyants thought Mr Kelly had been robbed somewhere near Ecstasy Plus nightclub by two men. He had been dumped in bushes near Oriental Parade, where he lay for a few days before the men panicked and took him away.

Ms Allan was told a third man was possibly involved and one clairvoyant could give detailed descriptions of the three, who were rough-looking Maoris, aged about 26. She could describe their tattoos and would recognise them if she saw them.

The clairvoyants thought Mr Kelly was near farmland and saw trees, buildings and cattle grates. Ms Allan said the women felt the third man had not wanted to hurt Mr Kelly, but one of the men wanted him dead.

All three clairvoyants had independently given the same description of the men’s car and police were following that up. …
From the Dominion, 12 November 1992.

Natural ebullience may have led to Kelly’s death

By MATTHEW GRAINGER

Michael Kelly, whose body was found at the bottom of a light shaft in a Wellington inner-city building yesterday, may have contributed to his death by his ebullient nature. His friends had told police that he had sometimes climbed buildings – and on one occasion a crane – after drinking.

Mr Kelly, 23, who started a police hunt when he went missing four weeks ago, was found at the foot of a three-storey shaft in the Moore Wilson building in Tory St by a worker who opened an internal window on to the shaft. He had last been seen on October 18 outside Ecstasy Plus nightclub on the corner of Tory St and Courtenay Place.

Detective Inspector Lloyd Jones said police were searching for clues to reconstruct the events that led to Mr Kelly’s fall. Mr Jones said Mr Kelly’s death was seeming “less like foul play, misadventure is more apparent.”…
From the Dominion, 17 November 1992.

Both articles reprinted in NZ Skeptic 26.