In a few years' time you and the Royal NZ Herald will be reminded of your lack of sincerity and honesty, as the planet continues to cool, as it has since 1998, you will regret your stupiduty (sic)." My thanks to Kevin Campbell for such a brilliant new word to perfectly encapsulate the madness of the climate change debate.

There is a lot of it about. Only this week Breakfast TV host Paul Henry flirted with stupi-duty by lending support to Ian Wishart's AirCon, a book that the excellent Hot Topic ( noted "appears to come from another planet".

I've long been amazed at how the internet has made stupi-duty an epidemic - and bothered as hell by what to call the people infected. Naysayers, contrarians or deniers?

It's easy to become dazed and confused by this burgeoning industry. Take economist and iconoclast Gareth Morgan, who decided it was his civic duty - stupid or otherwise - to spend $500,000 commissioning parties on both sides of the debate to get an answer once and for all.

The result was Poles Apart: Beyond the shouting, who's right about climate change? His conclusion: "The Alarmists were right, and we shouldn't call them alarmists any more - or at least not all of them! And further, it has to be said that only a few of the Sceptics are actually sceptics. Too many are gadflies and deniers."

He didn't need to spend $500,000 to figure that out - a bit of intelligent reading online would get the same conclusion. But tellingly, before his epiphany, Gareth saw the scientists as "Alarmists" and the other side as "Sceptics". Completely back to front. Science is inherently a sceptical process and all good scientists are sceptics. But when the web crawls with misinformation on this subject, it's an easy mistake to make. As Kevin Campbell put it in his email. "Never have so few with vested interests been so wrong and attempted to swindle so many." He was referring to the scientists.

Pause and ask what motive the scientific community has to gang up and invent a phoney climate crisis. Then compare the motives ExxonMobil, or coal companies, or companies extracting oil from tar sands, might have to deny that burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow could forever change our existence on the planet. Kevin may have motives too - he runs a recruitment company specialising in automotive, heavy diesel and marine industries.

Like the rest of the world we have a small but very vocal group spreading their stupi-duty. Most gather at the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition ( website - Terry Dunleavy, Vincent Gray, Owen McShane, Chris de Freitas, Brian Leyland - to name a few. It should be pointed out the Royal NZ Herald has given all of them vast amounts of space to expound their views. In a democracy, debate, no matter how barking, is allowed.

But sifting the internet for sense in this field is an increasingly Herculean task. Of the denialist campaign Desmog blog ( says: "It has been a triumph of disinformation - one of the boldest and most extensive PR campaigns in history, primarily financed by the energy industry and executed by some of the best PR talent in the world." scrutinises organisations that "propagate climate science disinformation" and follows the money. It recently took the scalp of our own Chris de Freitas, one of the authors of a recent paper in the peer-reviewed periodical Journal of Geophysical Research.

The paper, which tries to claim a 1976 "shift" in the El Nino Southern Oscillation is the reason for the upward trend in temperatures, doesn't stand up. It's been widely slammed by scientists - including Niwa's James Renwick.

Following the money, Deep Climate has rounded up a cabal of contrarians - linking the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and its Canadian parent with none other than millionaire businessman Alan Gibbs - which in turn provides a path to Act and its denialist leader Rodney Hide.

On the flipside is run by Denis Dutton, professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, who runs a course on the distinction between science and pseudoscience. The site shows the climate debate in two columns - "Calls to Action" and "Dissenting Voices" - erroneously presenting the debate as though it was a 50/50 yet-to-be decided contest.

Dutton purports to be assessing the science - pro and con - for anthropogenic global warming. What he's really doing is disguising misinformation masquerading as science. Dutton says he's a sceptic and the idea of the site is to "let the best argument win".

By now Denis, with our National Government setting emission reduction targets, we all know which argument has won.

There is still plenty of stuff to argue about - like what is the best way forward, how to cut emissions and by how much. But to deny that climate change is happening really is stupi-duty.