Monday, March 22, 2010

Global Wilting: Send Me Dead Flowers by the Mail

You’ve no doubt seen the link; it’s been on Drudge all day: “Flowers ‘losing scent’ due to global warming . . .” I’ve been skeptical about similar headlines, so I looked to see what’s behind this story.

The answer is nothing.

Not one freakin’ fact. No study. No data. No evidence at all.

The story, published without a by-line in the New Straits Times of Malaysia, quotes four people.

One is the mayor of Kuala Lumpur, who delivers a shaggy dog story about the city’s decorative flower beds and why he had to fire the landscape contractor last year. Global warming as CYA memo.

Next up is Professor Abdul Latif Mohamad, an emeritus professor of science and technology at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. (Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of UKM either.) 
Latif said UKM might have offered plausible reasons as to why some pollinators were not spreading flower seeds, a pattern caused by the missing “scent trail” with scent tissues burning easily due to global warming.
Hooh boy! Where to begin? First off, pollinators don’t spread seeds—they spread pollen. (This guy’s a professor?) Next, did UKM offer plausible reasons or didn’t it? And forget plausible, how about proof? Evidence for missing scent trails? None. The earth warms—allegedly a couple of degrees on average—and scent tissues are burning

Who is this clown?
The aroma producing chemical compounds in flowers dry up faster now compared with before.
Before? Before when? Faster? How fast? No evidence, pure assertion.

But don’t let a lack of evidence get in the way of promoting a major policy recommendation:
The only way out, he said, was to genetically modify the flowers so that the effects would not be permanent and the future generation would not be robbed of nature’s beauty.
Prof. Mohamad then tells his own shaggy dog story about local farmers whose orchards weren’t bearing fruit. His research team looked into the matter and found it was because “dust from a hill blast” had covered the stigmas and prevented pollination.

And how exactly does that implicate global warming?

Batting third is the director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Dr. Abdul Latif Mahmod. (I know, this gets confusing. Dr Abdul Latif “The Flowers are Burning” Mohamad is this guy. The FRIM’s Dr. Abdul Latif Mahmod is this guy.)

Dr. Mahmod “said recently the extreme weather change might affect the life span of trees as a result of lighter or heavier rain.”

If trees are dying because of too little rain it’s due to global warming. But if they’re dying because of too much rain, then that’s also due to global warming.

Global warming: the all-purpose, non-falsifiable hypothesis.

The story’s final source is Malaysia’s Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment. He says that “given the extreme climate changes, every country should work together and not in isolation.”

Translation: All your grant money are belong to us.

One would have thought a little humility was in order among the warmists; that they might be more, uh, temperate in their claims in view of the unfolding scandal of missing and massaged data that threatens their entire policy edifice. Instead, they’ve apparently decided to turn up the volume.

They will say anything to keep the stampede going.

They have no shame.

Exit question: How long before the enviros and legacy media include "loss of flower scent" in their litany of the impending eco-apocalypse?


EdC said...

Let's not judge all scientists studying global warming by the most clownish statements of the least competent at the most marginal locations. That would be like judging all psychology by the least competent psychologist who's ever been quoted in the NYT.

Anonymous said...

Dr Abdul Latif Mahmod is apparently in need of funding, and what better place to go than a city that willingly paid $635,000 per month to maintain flower beds. Kuala Lumpur must not have gotten news yet about Climategate...

~x~ said...

face it, there's only one way out people.

Nathan Branch said...

"Translation: All your grant money are belong to us."

Hey, that's MY motto!

Avery Gilbert said...


For what it’s worth, I think the asinine statements of Drs. Mahmod and Mohamad are exactly equivalent to the utterances of highly credentialed climate scientists at well-recognized institutions that are reverentially reported by the NYT.

M&M have dropped the pretense of scientific objectivity and become public policy zealots. Their clownishness is in the same league as Dr. Michael Mann’s “hockey stick model,” Dr. Phil Jones’s deceptive data handling, Dr. James Hansen’s ludicrous and vicious rhetoric, and Dr. Rajendra Pachauri’s error-riddled UN report.

“Butterflies can’t smell the flowers” is on a par with “The Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035.” The difference is I’m willing to call shenanigans on Mahmod and Mohamad, while the NYT quietly averts its gaze from the unfolding scandal of ClimateGate.

Avery Gilbert said...


Lucky thing the East Anglia emails became public before the Copenhagen climate meeting.

Had the meeting gone as planned, enormous amounts of Western money would be flowing to lesser developed nations in the name of climate research, green economics, etc. Dr. Mahmod would be rolling in dough and the municipal flower beds of Kuala Lumpur would now be a lavishly funded U.N. Climate Change Remediation Demonstration Project.

Avery Gilbert said...


In the time it took you to post that you exhaled more carbon dioxide than a dozen hummingbirds.

Don't you care about the planet?

Avery Gilbert said...

Nathan Branch:

Grant money's for chumps. You need to establish a Sustainable Fashion Research Center, accuse Gucci of being insufficiently green, then let them do penance by funding your center. Afterwards you give them the prestigious SFRC award and everybody's happy. Repeat as necessary with other fashion houses.

BitterGrace said...

FWIW, I am a climate change agnostic, sliding toward believer, but that quote about GMO flowers sets my greedy capitalist detector pinging. Faux green is the color of money.

It's worth remembering, too, that the real problem here is lousy journalism. People can spew out all the BS ideas they like, but it takes a news outlet to give them wide currency.

~x~ said...

i forgot to check the thing where it tells me when someone posts after me.
i'm wasting precious carbon as i type and headbob to electronica!

...there is no way out.

Avery Gilbert said...


Rajendra Pachauri (head of the UN's climate change panel) is up to his eyeballs in conflict of interest. Nobel Laureate & Academy Award Winner Al Gore's many green investments will profit handsomely from government control of the carbon economy; at least he's putting his money where his mouth is.

Apparently personal financial interests disqualify one from the debate only when one defends nuclear energy or clean coal, at least in the media's eyes.

Skepticism is a valuable trait in a good scientist. It's something we expect from journalists too. If they aren't going to ask the hardnosed questions and follow the money, then why should we buy their newspapers?

Avery Gilbert said...


I wonder if circular breathing (a la Rahsaan Roland Kirk) could lower your personal CO2 emissions?

~x~ said...

i can't even split my voice anymore, avery.

GD it all to H!

EdC said...

The Economist, March 20, 2010, pp 83-86 has what appears to me to be a balanced discussion of what is and is not known about climate scinece. It's not so entertaining, but I don't believe entertainment is the job of science.