By Owen Jennings

Someone called James Renwick (described as a “climate scientist”), managed to get himself on the front page of Granny Herald recently. I’m not sure what a “climate scientist” is. We never used to have such a term – we had geologists, physicists, biologists, chemists, etc.

I think we had a “climate scientist” down the West Coast when I was a kid. Old Harry Watson was the local guru on all things “climate”.  He knew if it was going to be a wet summer or a cold winter. He could tell you which week to cut the hay or castrate the lambs.  He was always crystal clear, very definite and stuck to his guns. Mind you, predicting a wet summer on the Coast was a pretty sure bet.

But this guy Renwick doesn’t know his job. He is all “coulds”.

It “could get hotter”. “It could get wetter”. The sea level could rise”. The “Pacific Islands could become uninhabitable”. “New Zealand could become a haven for refugees”.

What wimpish stuff!  The Herald called him a Professor. Old Harry leaves Renwick for dead on climate predictions and Harry isn’t a “professor” of anything much, although he does know when the whitebait are running.

What’s the use of “could” happen?

All things “could” happen and all things “could” not happen. It’s about as useless as it gets. If he is a Professor he should have a list of references to back up his “coulds”. That’s what real scientists do.

Come to think of it maybe he got warned off by that guy Hansen, another James – he is one of these  professors of climate predictions and he said back in 1998 that New York would be half under water by the year 2000.  He should have said “could be under water”.  Kinda safer.

Or maybe it was a warning from that other great Professor – Albert Gore. He even made a movie about all nasty things that were going to happen – no arctic, no polar bears, no snow on Kilimanjaro, no food, no future. Professor James should have told him about “could”. But come to think of it, James will probably not ever get a Nobel Prize and a $300 million bank account.

Time Magazine January 31, 1977 “The Big Freeze”

He “could” get a job advising TIME magazine though. TIME magazine’s January 31, 1977 cover featured a story: “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age.” It included “facts” such as scientists predicting that Earth’s so-called average temperature could drop by 20 degrees Fahrenheit due to man made global cooling. Dr Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned readers that “the drop in temperature between 1945 and 1968 had taken us one sixth of the way to the next Ice Age temperature.”

Now TIME have come out with a totally opposite edition – we are all going to a hot hell in a hand basket. They have dropped the “could”. They must be right this time for sure. They would have been better to follow James’s lead and add a “could” or two again.

Mind you, it could be that Professor James is onto something with his “could be hotter, could be wetter” meme. The IPCC, a group set up by the UN to inflict global warming on us, gets all antsy about predictions. They are a bit more sophisticated than Kiwi James.  They use lofty terms like “low confidence” or “high confidence”. In other words, they haven’t got a clue and their pride won’t let them be nice and clear cut like my old mate from down the Coast.

One thing for sure old Harry doesn’t have any “models” to go by although he did have a Model T years ago. It was a darn side more reliable than the models Professor James reveres. Even Harry could have told James to “get real” had he seen the models James is relying on.  He would have pointed out that when you are already a degree or more out with your predictions (as the models are), it’s time to give up. “You’d be better off coming down the Coast and catching a few eels while I teach you a few facts about what the climate does” Harry would claim.

I guess they forgot about the “coulds” when they called it ‘settled science’.  If it’s so settled why not say “will”?

As for “catastrophes” – the only real catastrophe we have is something called a Zero Carbon Bill.  It’s all about closing down agriculture and planting New Zealand in trees. It’s a catastrophe for rural New Zealand, for rural businesses and for exports. But when you do not know what GDP is why would you worry about exports and productivity? 

And “emergencies”? Yep, we’ve got a bunch of them. Like: China is building 300 coal fired power stations while we grandstand about reducing our 0.17% of world emissions.  Chuck a few cockies and rural businesses under the bus so you can crow at the next IPCC meeting.

What about when the ‘local’ closes and I can’t get beer anymore? That’s a real “emergency”.