Are you negligent, incompetent or complicit?

A guest post from Martin Lack points to the crux of the issue of denying man-caused climate change.


I saw this post on Martin’s Blog Lack of Environment the day after I wrote a piece called In praise of fairness.  In my piece I mentioned the sad case of Mr. Bob Diamond and Martin continued with the theme in such a manner that I wanted to republish his article in full.  Here it is.


Are you negligent, incompetent or complicit?

This was a question posed to former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond this week, when he appeared before a Parliamentary Select Committee of MPs on Wednesday. It is a question that I would like to ask Dr Richard Lindzen… In fact, I have asked the question and – just as Bob Diamond did – he has refused to answer it… Here is the evidence on which you should decide for yourself:

Many readers will recall that, following my visit to London to hear Lindzen speak to a room full of fake sceptics in the Palace of Westminster on 22 February this year, I attempted to get some answers to questions. Unfortunately, I failed. I have been particularly frustrated by one thing; possibly the most misleading aspect of Lindzen’s entire presentation – a combination of graphs of recent atmospheric CO2 and temperature data that was mysteriously omitted from the PDF of the presentation that was initially posted on the Internet.  Although Lindzen never answered any of my questions, he did insert this slide into the PDF of his presentation despite my pointing out to him – MIT and the AGU – that it was essentially meaningless (as the y-axes could be stretched to show either correlation or no correlation as preferred by the speaker).

Here is a screenshot of the misleading graph from the video of the presentation:

Misrepresentation of data?
Steeply inclined Keeling curve versus apparently non-correlating temperature – if you stretched the temperature axis enough it would appear to correlate quite well. Therefore slide neither proves not disproves anything.

This bears more than a passing resemblance to the World Climate Widget – a very similar-looking combination of graphs (i.e. manipulated to suggest that there is no correlation between recent atmospheric CO2 and temperature data) – that can be downloaded as a widget from Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That? (WUWT) misinformation blog.

If you go to the WUWT widget page, you will find the two graphs in both of these images (above and right) are there presented separately. However, to prove my point – that anyone using these graphs to try and prove there is no correlation between long-term CO2 and temperature changes – just look at what happens when you take the graph of University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) global lower atmosphere data as used by WUWT (i.e. cooler than surface temperature data) and stretch it:

Clearing the fog of data misrepresentation created by Lindzen et al. - Note the clear upward trend in the temperature graph on the left (it was there all the time).
Clearing the fog of data misrepresentation created by Lindzen et al. – Note the clear upward trend in the temperature graph on the left (it was there all the time).

Therefore, for anyone – including Lindzen – to try and use the original combination of graphs to suggest there is no correlation between CO2 and temperature, this suggests that they are either negligent, incompetent, or deliberately trying to mislead people. For many people who are not scientists to be fooled by this is understandable but, for a prominent scientist like Lindzen to make this mistake – and not apologise for doing so – is unforgivable. Furthermore, it would seem that, no matter how many times he is criticised, he just keeps repeating the same old mistakes: Skeptical Science: Lindzen and Choi 2011 – Party Like It’s 2009

It would appear that, despite the best efforts of the majority of prominent climate scientists, Lindzen’s London Illusions are still fooling a lot of people. If you follow that last link, it will take you to the website of what I prefer to call The Global Wonky Policy Foundation, where it is reported that only 43% of the British adult population felt able to agree with the following statement: “Global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities”.

It has been suggested to me that this question is carefully phrased to deter people from saying “yes” (i.e. they might agree that warming is occurring and/or that humans are the primary cause; but they might not agree that vehicles and factories are the primary source of emissions). However, this is ‘clutching at straws’ in my opinion; and leaves me wondering what percentage of the population would feel able to agree with this statement:

“The sunrise is a fact and is mostly caused by the Earth not being flat and spinning once a day whilst orbiting the Sun”…?


I’m very grateful to Martin for allowing me to republish this.

6 thoughts on “Are you negligent, incompetent or complicit?

  1. Thanks Paul. I thought you meant a week today! You may wish to edit the html I sent you and put the final question mark outside the quotation mark and italics, so that the statement does not appear to be a question?!?!?!?!?!? 😉


  2. How could one argue intelligently and politely with Nazis? This is the question exquisitely civilized people had in 1930s. They thought they would solve it by being ever more refined. Hence the strategy of “appeasement”.

    But one may as well go to a swamp and read Homer to hungry crocodiles. Ultimately, the only civilized way to handle crooks basking in physical violence is with what they are the most competent at: brute force. It is actually immoral for moral people to expect angry crocodiles to behave. Being moral does not mean to just turn the other cheek, but to know how to draw a line.

    Those who deny the immorality of the steep CO2 curve, and that of associated, even worse, man-made gases are denying the steep raising of poisons. They are having martinis, and the good life (because they get paid for their absurdities) while the biosphere tumbles towards catastrophe.

    The phenomenon is exactly the same as with the bad financiers. They get paid for their absurdities, and the more absurd, the more money they get. Only brute force, jailing them, will solve the problem.


    1. Hi Patrice. You talk of the “immorality of the steep CO2 curve”, which reminds me of a point I failed to make in my original piece: If people look at the graph of atmospheric CO2 (with its annual peaks and troughs reflecting variations in photosynthesis by plants) they may notice that the long term-trend is not linear – it is accelerating slowly. However, what many fail to appreciate is that, if you look at the data in the context of CO2 levels over the last few hundred years, we are now in the near vertical part of a J-curve. As someone once said, the main reason Hockey Stick graphs seem to appear whenever you look at climate-related data is because they are there; and we are causing them:
      See page 6 of the Introduction to David Mackay’s book Sustainable Energy – Without Hot Air


  3. Two things:
    1) one would expect the curve to be non linear, because heating the planet is non linear. when there is such a thing as no more snow in august, the ground starts to warm up, and there is no going back, the methane bubbles up, etc.

    2) I used the adjective “immoral” deliberately, knowing full well that it was provocative. But it’s even more than that; it is correct. Morally correct. It goes at the heart of my theory of morality.
    It’s very simple: morality comes from “mores” the long term , thus sustainable, habits a civilization has.

    That exponentiating CO2 curve is obviously not sustainable, thus it is immoral. And it is lethally immoral: CO2 is not just innocuous, life sustaining, growing big trees. It’s also lethal at very low concentrations: it became the major problem for the survival of the crew of Apollo XIII, after their fuel cell exploded.


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