Recyclists cover up emissions figures (only they don't)

Not normally noted for caring about the environment The Adam Smith Institute weighs in that recycling has a higher carbon footprint than landfill.

In an article strangely titled "Good sense on recycling at last"  libertarian blogger Tim Worstall predicts that a Scottish Government initiative looking at the emissions cost of recycling will be suppressed.  "Indeed, I have a very strong feeling that this will be quietly dropped and not spoken of again" confides Tim. So can we hope for the stripey shirted blogger to return to the topic when the matter is 'quietly dropped'?

Perhaps not, because Tim's ingeniously found a way to make the suggestion of a cover-up without any actual evidence whatsoever.

Tim's erudite analysis doesnt quite add up either . "[W]hat they're going to find is that ...we already recycle too much. For example, we crush up green glass to be used as underlay for roads" says Tim as if the Scottish Government didn't know that already .  But paragraph 5 of Zero Waste Scotland's press release talks of "giving higher weighting to glass which is recycled back into glass rather than that which is used for aggregates or insulation materials." So clearly the Scottish Governemnt did know that already.

When I pointed out that his is not an evidentiary viewpoint and is purely suggestive Tim answered "Yes because I think that the results will be so embarrassing that they will be suppressed. I'll be pleasantly surprised if they're not, of course."

Of course. But on closer inspection we find that the initiative by Zero Waste Scotland is merely a way of measuring and setting carbon emissions targets . The suggestion that results are to be published (and hence covered up) is purely the work of Tim Worstall.

So not only is it more opinion dressed up as fact. It's also a prediction that is not falsifiable.  Tim, you haven't got the hang of the clairvoyant gig have you ?

Hat tip to Bishop Hill for this one.

Duck a la framboise

Now I have to confess I haven't really been keeping up with advancements in the cut throat world of environmental epidemiology . So I'm not going to impeach Donna's Super Six . Sure I accept that Drs. Reiter Hay Snow Shanks Spielman and Gabler are eminent enough. But her case is still a clutch of canards.

Canard number one: "The onus is on the IPCC to demonstrate that it has, indeed, recruited the best experts. It is not up to the rest of us to do the tremendous legwork of demonstrating, in each chapter ... that others are more qualified." Donna's kibitzing here relies on the IPCC being in the business of bestowing the crown of undisputed-heavyweight-environmental-epidemiologist-champion-of-the-world. But that's not it's function so Donna doesn't have a point .

Canard number two:  Donna's story suggests throughout that Kovats didnt make the grade. That a minimum standard was not reached. Donna presents no evidence whatsoever that this view is based on any science, it can only be based on academic metrics.  That would be a point easily nailed by showing us the IPCC rule on recruitment, which Donna doesn't do .

Canard number three: I've asked for Donna to point to superior scientists who were overlooked . And Donna has given me the names of the Super Six. Now correct me if I'm wrong but Reiter Hay Snow Shanks Spielman and Gabler are not beefing about not getting a seat on the IPCC . So The Super Six are just Donna's list of her favourite malaria experts who do not support her claim that Kovats is 'far from being a world-class scientific expert' and should resign. And very fine malaria experts they are too, but how would they react if they knew their eminent names were being used in this way? 

Canard number 4: All of the above shows that Donna's argument is opinion and not fact. Of course Donna is entitled to her opinion . Donna is a responsible and entirely impartial judge of who should and who should not be serving on this scientific panel , and Donna's not going to let her 'skeptic' views on anthropogenic global warming get in the way of a rational decision. Oh  puh-leeeeeese . Donna has form on this, witness her acidic introduction to another lead author.

Donna's super six

Donna Laframboise replies:

Dear Mr. McStone,

Thank you so much for your note. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. Please forgive me if I dispute your logic.

We have been told repeatedly by government officials from around the world, and by the most senior IPCC officials, that the IPCC is a body of the world's top experts and best scientists. When that body first gathered together 21 people from the entire world to examine the incredibly important topic of how climate change might affect human health it beggars belief to imagine that there was no one better equipped for this task than a 25-year-old who had yet to publish a single scholarly paper. I think one has to have a very poor opinion of the medical profession to imagine that a more suitable person could not have been found.

The onus is on the IPCC to demonstrate that it has, indeed, recruited the best experts. It is not up to the rest of us to do the tremendous legwork of demonstrating, in each chapter (there were 44 in the 2007 IPCC report), that others are more qualified. However, since you've posed the question and I happen to have a ready answer, I can advise you that while a significant chunk of that first IPCC health chapter dealt with malaria, not one person among those 21 authors appears to have published a bona fide research (as opposed to review) paper on malaria prior to their involvement in writing that chapter. This is more than odd.

Numerous scholars have devoted decades of their lives to the study of malaria. Among the far more suitable candidates for that IPCC chapter are malaria specialists such as Paul Reiter (who spent 21 years with the CDC in Atlanta before joining the Pasteur Institute in Paris), Simon Hay, Bob Snow, Dennis Shanks, Andrew Spielman, and Duane Gabler.(sic)*

Once again, thanks for taking the time to write. All the best to you,


* I think Donna means Duane Gubler

So there we have it. Must add to the list of Donna's many skills "authoritative evaluator of malarial expertise and relevance in the field of environmental epidemiology".

That suggests I might be a little out of my depth here, but I'll venture Donna isn't able to support the inference that a single one of these eminent individuals has been overlooked in favour of Dr Kovats. Stay tuned.

Move along , nothing to see here.

This is an email I've sent to a blogger in Canada who is critical of many aspects of mankind's understanding of the climate, the backstory can be gleaned by clicking the hyperlinks.

Dear Ms Laframboise,
Ive been reading your piece about Dr Kovats, and I think there is something missing. Who has been passed over in favour of Dr Kovats ?
It's especially relevant because you say on Bishop Hill "If we had not been advised for those same 16 years that the IPCC is comprised of the world's top scientists and best experts, there'd be no story here."
Since you conclude that Kovats, the IPCC, and the British government all know she is 'far from being a world-class scientific expert' and should resign you must be able to point to superior scientists passed over in favour of Dr Kovats . Ive read your piece several times but there is no indication nor mention of who the world class scientific experts who were better suited to inform the IPCC might be.
Either Dr Kovats has somehow displaced a superior scientist or Dr Kovats is a world class scientific expert (to whom it would seem you owe an apology) and there is no story here.
I very much look forward to your reply.
Have a good weekend
Hengist McStone

Don't let this put you off your Weetabix

Never one to let facts get in the way of a good story Andrew Montford morphs a BBC article entitled  "Food sold in recycled cardboard packaging 'poses risk' " into the absurd (and unsupported) suggestion of environmentalists trashing the environment . The BBC article he relies on contains no mention of environmentalists.  Nor does it mention environmental damage . But, never mind. It is about a questionable industrial process in the packaging of breakfast cereals. Apparently there are toxins in printers inks. The industrial process involves recycling, and recycling is favoured by environmentalists. And that's good enough for Montford . File under 'tenuous calumny' and  'assertions neither supported nor withdrawn'.

Montford misrepresents ...

Just a quick note to record Andrew "Bishop Hill" Montford's latest straw man. He seems to have it in for Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute , so he posts a thread for his devotee's to attack Bob's latest article in the Grauniad .  But I am puzzled by this bit from montford " it's hard to take the article seriously when Ward and his ilk consistently refuse to engage in debate with sceptics because the science is settled." So I've asked "The Bishop" for an explanation , answer comes there none.

Hang on a minute though, isnt this the same Bob Ward who debated with Bjorn 'skeptical environmentalist' Lomborg on Panorama only last summer? There's Bob in the middle, debating, with a skeptic, case closed.

It's hard to take the deny-o-sphere seriously when Montford and his ilk consistently misrepresent their opponents.