Santer and the "Power of Poop"

Rather than spending time archiving information from his various publications, Santer has placed his scientific priorities on introducing a remarkable cartoon (Youtube here), which ends (see 7 minutes on) with a ditty urging its audience to “do something about the power of poop”. The video ends with a close-up of a large odiferous dropping, with the narrator singing in one of the most annoying falsettos that you will ever hear:

we must do something about the power of poop,
the power of poop,
the power of poop,
the power of poop, poop, poop…

Who would have guessed that Santer’s interests were quite so scatological? And who says that the age of lyric poetry is over?

The closing remarks also provide a seamless segue to anticipated reviewer comments.

We learn at the opening of the cartoon that:

The snows of Kilimanjaro are over 10,000 years old.

Lonnie Thompson makes this claim in Thompson et al 2000, but the actual evidence is very slight and it’s not hard to contemplate circumstances in which the Kilimanjaro glacier is less than 10,000 years old, perhaps much less. We’ve discussed this point on a number of occasions in previous CA posts.

I’ve also observed that IPCC made this claim in the First Draft of AR4, but withdrew the claim in later drafts. I;ve discussed this before, but it’s useful to review in the light of Santer’s venture in amateur cartoons.

The IPCC AR4 First Draft (ch 6) stated:

There is only scarce information on the African glacier history, but ice cores retrieved from the Kilimanjaro ice cap reveal that the current retreat is unprecedented in the Holocene (Thompson et al., 2002)


One (and only one) IPCC reviewer questioned this claim in comment 6-1076:

Thompson’s dating of Kilimanjaro is very precarious. The assumed accumulation is implausibly low – it’s only 50 m thick (as compared to 160 m at Quelccaya), but is dated to 11700 BP versus start of AD440 at Quelccaya.

The IPCC Author Response apparently conceded the point and the claim was not made in the Second Draft and Final Report. The Author Response:

Noted, I know this point concerning the dating of Kili – we have to decide together shall we keep this reference or not – we cannot discuss the dating problem within the Holocene glacier box.

I guess that the IPCC reviewers did not fully anticipate the “power of poop”.


  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    On another thread, a reader complained:

    lately I have the same impression as you: the writing is more arcane, more abstruse, more dense.

    I usually try to make the contents understandable to the general public, but sometimes the underlying issues are pretty technical and hard to simplify until afterwards. I’m afraid that this is one of those cases. The issues in this thread are very technical and I saw no way of being able to simplify them for general readers.

  2. Stuart H
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 1:57 PM | Permalink | Reply


    I should sue you for directing me to this video.
    The song could win the Eurovision Song contest it’s so bad.

    Anyway a true story.

    Little old me was walking down the street the other day when I met the worlds greatest environmentalist Professor H. I proferred some views on global warming and it went like this:-

    Professor H: The trouble with you people you are so stupid your probably couldn’t spell Global Warming?

    Lo me: I’ll try Professor— G L O F

    Professor H: No No you got it wrong you Idiot?

    Lo me: G L O B A F

    Professor H: No No you got it wrong again you fool

    Lo me: G L O B A L W A R F

    Professor H: You Clown Don’t you realise there’s no effing global warming.

  3. Andrew
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    His claims regarding Kilimanjaro are wrong whether it is 10,000 years old or not. The retreat has nothing to do with air temperature.

    Steve: I’m not interested in that particular argument. It seems quite reasonable to me that warmer temperatures cause glacier recession. Yeah, yeah, precipitation matters and some people think that it matters more than temperature. The points been discussed in many places and I’m not interested in doing it one more time.

  4. Glacierman
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That was priceless. But I am confused. Is it more helpfull to the environment to go vegen, or keep eating meet as long as we burn the methane to make electricity?

    Also, what do you get when you burn methane (ret.), just asking?

  5. jeez
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Adding comments has been disabled for this video.


  6. Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Wow I read the title and wondered what was going on. You weren’t kidding! :D

    Beyond the Kilimanjaro lie they use it to push biofuel which is as messed up as the M08 hockey stick. I wonder if Santer has ever spent a couple hours running the math on biofuel. Either way, I’m going to have a steak tonight to help out. If there are too many cows, we need to eat ‘em quick!

  7. Tom C
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    How depressing that these people are actually winning the PR battle.

    • Scott Brim
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Tom C (#7)

      How depressing that these people are actually winning the PR battle.

      …. by appealing to the lowest common denominator.

  8. Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ah the power of a pile of poop on the pliable palate of a plebian philosophy.

    Credibility is fragile but the smell of poop stays around for a long time.

  9. RomanM
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist:

    What a pile of BS!

  10. TonyS
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The video you linked to is pure Nightmare Fuel…

  11. Shallow Climate
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    S. McIntyre (#1):
    Thanks for the heads-up! Yes, the level of abstruseness definitely hits a peak with this posting: WAY too technical for me! I’d better go back, for relief, to reading Wittgenstein.

  12. AnonyMoose
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Has anyone figured out what the glacier cover on that mountain was during ice ages? Could have been more, could have been less.

    • Andrew
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: AnonyMoose (#13), If it’s less than 10,000 years old, then zero, becomes it didn’t exist during the last glaciation.

      Steve: That’s not true either. It could have existed in the LGM and re-formed in the Neo-Atlantic. There’s evidence elsewhere of certain alpine glaciers re-forming about 4300 years ago.

      • Andrew
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Andrew (#14), Wow, you think you know what you are talking about, and someone smarter one ups you. Good catch Steve.

  13. doug
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The snow may been there for 10,000 years, but for actual ice to be that old it would have to maintain the delicate balance between not growing so large that has glacial flow, and not getting so small that it melts. Highly unlikely any 10,000 year old ice exists.

  14. Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ho-lee crap!

  15. Greg F
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The late John Daly’s website has 3 pictures of Kilimanjaro 21 years apart (1976, 1983, 1997).

    Can you guess which one goes with what year? For the answer go here

    • JohnM
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 1:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Greg F (#17), “The late John Daly’s website has 3 pictures of Kilimanjaro 21 years apart (1976, 1983, 1997).”

      The photos are a bit misleading–the 1997 picture was taken immediately after an unusual (and unusually heavy) snowfall event, IIRC (it wasn’t growth of the Kilimanjaro glacier itself). Likewise, if I remember correctly, the 1997 picture wasn’t a summer minimum as the other two were. Used to follow John Daly closely–his untimely death was a real loss to the AGW debate.

  16. Greg F
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I learned one thing from the “Power of Poop”. The most powerful poop comes from a bull.

  17. Ryan O
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Snip if needed – because this is slightly political – but does anyone see something slightly disturbing about this kind of propaganda that is clearly formatted for children to understand?

    • Raven
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Ryan O (#20)Did you catch the comment when the bird tells the cat that he has been ‘a victim of marketing’ because he likes cars?

    • Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Ryan O (#20),

      Nope, nothing wrong with a good edification (education). Santer ‘clause’ is the one pushing stinky policy.

      I guess the more recent thermometer data is the inconvenient truth. If the instruments won’t warm, chop the evil uncooperative data. Steve made a small comment when he started on the Santer posts about cutting the sat data short, I could have vented for an entire post. Think about it, the full dataset invalidates the math, the full dataset is available all together in a form where if you download it, you have to chop it yourself. If you don’t chop it, the paper’s math concludes models aren’t working if you do they are. SteveM attempts to publish the fact using the same math and the reviewers come back saying he doesn’t understand the data, like that has anything to do with the math.

      Now Santer is into policy for brainwashing the childrens.

      I’m saying it… Shenanigans. Chop at will, sorry for the vent but Sheeeeeesh.

      • Ryan O
        Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Jeff Id (#28), I decided that it’s okay. I showed it to my 5-year old daughter. Her first question was, “Papa, what are veggie burgers?”
        I explained the veggie burgers. She made a face and said, “Why did those kids get them?”
        I explained how cows make methane, so if people ate less meat, then there wouldn’t be as many cows, which means there wouldn’t be as much methane.
        She said, “Why don’t they just make the cows into burgers before they poop so much?”
        Kid: 1
        Santer: 0

  18. jeez
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well I did learn that sunbeams are particularly gullible.

    • Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: jeez (#21),

      What they didn’t show was the evil emperor Water Vader egging on the CO2 Storm Troopers to trap the gullible Ewok sunrays with shiny objects.

  19. Gary
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There’s been a real gap in our lives since we lost Fred Rogers a few years ago.

    Would you be mine?
    Could you be mine?
    Won’t you be my Climatologist?

  20. Terry
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Let me get this straight – first we got fish parables from RC, and now Santer Songs? About poop? My guess is that: If this keeps up Christopher Guest will be doing a mocumentary pretty quick.

  21. Paul Penrose
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah, that’s a much better use of Santer’s time than archiving his data. I showed it to a 6 year old. He just rolled his eyes and said it was lame.

  22. David Ermer
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Anybody who managed to watch that video all the way through has more tolerance than I do.

  23. Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It’s part I. I wonder when part II will be available? I’m looking forward to more power of poop. Can anyone who lives near me play the guitar? Piano? Anyone have any puppets? I’m sure we can come up with even poopier songs.

  24. Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yecchh! Certainly “The power of poop” refers to the fact that this cartoonist has found an audience for the most incredibly stupid piece of brainwashing doo-doo right here on the Internet. I can’t believe I watched the whole thing.

  25. kuhnkat
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 12:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Mt. Kilimanjaro?? You mean here:,36.02417&sspn=0.806744,0.940704&ie=UTF8&ll=-3.065274,37.359076&spn=0.050396,0.058794&t=h&z=14

    Of course, some people think that the satellites haven’t measured any warming for Kili since 1979:

    And over here:

    they talk a lot about missing rain.

    But, everyone has a right to their own opinion!!

  26. Phillip Bratby
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 12:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    How embarassing for Santer. How could anyone be so stupid as to get involved in something so embarassingly crap (no pun intended)?

  27. Jim G
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 12:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Target audience:

    Toddlers or Freshmen?

  28. crosspatch
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 12:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, considering that temperatures were higher than now in the mid-Holocene (Gagen et al., 1998; Yu et al., 2005) and at the same time sea levels were about 2 meters higher (219 cm higher at around 6750 ya. Yu et al., 2009 “Microatoll record for large century-scale sea-level fluctuations in the mid-Holocene), I wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn that the ice on Kilimanjaro was either gone at that time or there wasn’t much left of it. Why would ice start to form at the end of the ice age, survive the warmest part of the Holocene, and just now be in “danger” of disappearing when the temperatures of today are well below those of the mid-Holocene? The higher sea levels would also indicate that there was less ice on the planet in general. If today’s temperatures present the possibility that the ice may disappear, it seems to me that it must have disappeared in the time from 7000 ya to 6600 ya when temperatures and sea levels were at their peak.

  29. Richard deSousa
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 12:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

    LOL… the video is sophomoric. Santer is supposed to be working for LLL??? Were the people at the human resources department which hired him asleep?

  30. dg
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 2:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dr Santer might like to brush up his knowledge of bovine digestion. Most of the methane produced by cattle is burped out the front end. Very little exits to the rear. This reference gives a figure of 96-97% for front-end liberation of methane:
    Lets not give poop a bad name.

  31. LionelB
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 6:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It’s not so much the meateaters who increase methane in atmosphere as the milkdrinkers.
    Beef is only a byproduct of milk. Just as long as you’ll produce milk you’ll have to dispose of large numbers of “corpses”. Wether you eat them, bury or burn them is irrelevant.
    I don’t know the numbers in Angus Hereford countries, but here in France more than ninety percent of cattle is “race laitière” (breeds selected for large milk production : the tall skinny ones with huge boobs) and less than ten percent “race à viande” (breeds selected for their large proportion of tender savoury muscles over total weight : the huge stocky ones with small tits).
    If you lessen biodiversity by annihilating “races à viande”, you settle only a small part of the problem.
    The real and only solution is to deprive children (and adults) of milk, icecream, yoghourt, cottage cheese, candy bars, whipped cream, milkfudge, French cheeses and all other milkproducts. You really want your kids hate you ? ;-)
    (would this humble contribution be enough to make a climate specialist of me ?)

  32. Stuart H
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 8:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think you guys should check out this video on Acidification of the seas. The litmus test is that in old blighty anything you can do we can do better?

    “The seas are becoming acidic”


  33. Ignatz
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 9:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    This whole line of argument has seemed a little odd to me.

    Cows graze grasslands. Grasslands have certain carrying capacities.
    It seems reasonable that were all domestic cows removed from the grasslands that carrying capacity would eventually be filled by wild ungulates happily chewing the cud and burping methane.
    Or is the brilliant green plan to turn every acre of wild and semi wild grassland into a biodiesel sump?

  34. Patrick M.
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 9:39 AM | Permalink | Reply



  35. Phillip Bratby
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 9:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Where I live, in the mild and wet south-west of England, only two things grow well: grass and trees. Now last time I looked, most people couldn’t eat grass or trees, so the grass is graised by cattle (dairy and beef) and sheep. So what are we supposed to do? Move out, starve and let nature take over; or carry on with traditional farming practices and producing high (and I mean very high) quality dairy products (such as clotted ctream), beef and lamb. The farming methods have been going on successfully here for hundreds of years and are highly sustainable.

  36. Posted May 19, 2009 at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Glad you flagged this one Steve. It makes me feel pretty sick, grabbing the kids like this when you know Santer’s history of quiet alterations to the IPCC Policymakers Guide, changing key words and all that. Funny thing is, the U-tube was open to comments at first.

    I documented what I could of the alterations story here.

    And I’ve hit back with fun and good science. I’ve designed a page of bumper stickers that you can copy and upload to a D-I-Y website (link found at ICECAP) to get your own stickers. I’ve tried to keep to the science and the real truth, with reasonable courtesy – as well as make them look nice. I’m open to corrections, improvements, and new ideas. I hope I’m not too far wrong. Any way to encourage people to ask questions about evidence.

  37. Geoff
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 11:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am honestly surprised that Dr. Santer would let himself be associated with propagandists who claim glacier reduction on Kilimanjaro is due to warming caused by CO2. Are there any scientists who have looked at the matter who believe that today?

    I think the well established science is that the glaciers have been shrinking since the 19th century (i.e., before significant CO2 contributions from fossil fuels), and that temperatures at the crest never rise above freezing. Below is the abstract of a new article “in press” from the Journal of Climate (abstract here )

    Slope glaciers on Kilimanjaro (ca. 5000–6000 m a.s.l.) reached their most recent maximum extent in the late 19th century (L19), and have receded since then. This study quantifies the climate signal behind the recession of Kersten Glacier, which generates information on climate change in the tropical mid-troposphere between L19 and present. Multi-year meteorological measurements at 5873 m a.s.l. serve to force and verify a spatially distributed model of the glacier s mass balance (the most direct link between glacier behavior and atmospheric forcing). At present the glacier is losing mass (522 ± 105 kg m−2 year−1), terminates at 5100 m, and the interannual variability of mass and energy budgets largely reflects variability in atmospheric moisture. Backward modeling of the L19 steady-state glacier extent (down to 4500 m) reveals higher precipitation (+160 to +240 mm year−1), higher air humidity and increased fractional cloud cover in L19, but no significant changes in local air temperature, air pressure and wind speed. The atmosphere in the simulated L19 climate transfers more energy to the glacier surface through atmospheric longwave radiation and turbulent heat – but this is almost entirely balanced by the decrease in absorbed solar radiation (due to both increased cloudiness and higher surface albedo). Thus, the energy-driven mass loss per unit area (sublimation plus meltwater runoff) was not appreciably different from today. Higher L19 precipitation rates therefore dominated the mass budget, and produced a larger glacier extent in the past.

    Dr. Mölg and colleagues are probably the best authorities on Kilimanjaro today. This study involves modeling, but they have spent a lot of time on the ice of Kili.

    Perhaps Dr. Santer is too busy with these cartoons to keep up with the science. (Or perhaps busy trying to figure out a reply to Steve on models and observations).

  38. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 20, 2009 at 6:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    As the grandchildren noted:

    At 1.11 The “chicken feet” of the protest movement appear
    At 1.15 The Devil’s number 888 appears on factory wall
    At 4.07 “Calender” has the wrong spelling
    At 4.07 The “calendar” has 20-day months
    At 4.11 The solar panels are on the shade side of the roof.

    That’s without listening to the words.

    It’s a subliminally nasty piece of work.

  39. Thore
    Posted May 20, 2009 at 1:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Kudos to you Steve, for fighting poop in whatever form it might take.

  40. steven mosher
    Posted May 20, 2009 at 9:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 30.

    Yes, the unintended consequences would be an increase in the consumption of veal. now pita will be pissed.

    Eat Veal, reduce methane, save the planet.

    what did you do to save the planet from global warming daddy?
    I ate veal.

  41. steven mosher
    Posted May 20, 2009 at 10:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    eat a calves brain, get carbon credits

    • Andrew
      Posted May 20, 2009 at 10:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: steven mosher (#53), Especially if you get Mad Cow disease and die.

      BTW, good to see the mosh is back.

  42. crosspatch
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 2:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I can’t help but wonder what the methane output of aurochs, from which all modern cattle are descended, was. And if one wants a healthy grassland, grazing animals are required as grass is adapted to being grazed and is healthier if grazed to a moderate extent.

    If one were to desire a healthy plot of prairie grass, one would need to put some kind of grazing animal in there along with it. The notion that cattle are in some way harmful is pretty much nuts. If they were harmful, nature would have selected out the aurochs for that reason rather than for being tasty to humans.

  43. steven mosher
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 9:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 54. It’s good to be back. i haven’t been gone, just biting my tongue. hmm, now I’m craving a cow tongue sandwich.

  44. OldUnixHead
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 2:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I suspect he meant P.E.T.A. !!

  45. John M
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 2:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Pita/P.E.T.A. Whatever.

    Let’s consider this a naan-event.

  46. steven mosher
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 5:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 57 & 58

    Nobody gets my jokes.

  47. WilliMc
    Posted Jul 11, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Your deduction regarding grass/grazing is interesting. Lands containing a large amount of sand may have a large variety of grasses. I recall a USDA specialist stating he had identified some, if memory serves, forty-six different species on the Oasis Ranch in Hemphill County, Texas. Prior to intensive grazing, the taller, and best species for cattle, were predominate. Seventy-five cows to the section was one limit on a lease. After the thirties hot dry years, twenty-six cattle was the norm. The good grasses were favored by the cattle, who would walk past less favored grass to find a special patch of tall grass—sandhill bluestem. The answer to the problem was to keep the cattle away from the grass during the growing season. So a rotcation of pastures let permitted two pastures to lie fallow during the summer, thus increasing the good grasses.

    Prior to the intensive cattle grazing, only buffalo herds would pass through. I suspect this would emulate the rotation program.

    That country is worthless for farming, as it would blow away.


2 Trackbacks

  1. By The power of poop-poop-poop | The Climate Scam on May 19, 2009 at 12:42 AM

    [...] Läs för övrigt hela SteveMcIntyres inlägg på hans blogg Climate Audit. [...]

  2. By Why Replicate « the Air Vent on May 19, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    [...] there motive involved.  Santer is promoting some highly political ideals in the video linked at CA HERE.  In the consensus of the government funded environment, this is not openly questioned. Schön [...]

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