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May 1, 2009

Scientists speak out: coal-fired power stations are responsible for global warming

Professor David Karoly and six other leading climate scientists have written a letter to the owners of every coal-fired power station in Australia.

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Today, the owners of every coal-fired power station in Australia will receive a letter from myself and six other leading climate scientists. We have made it clear that their emissions are directly responsible, in part, for the impacts of climate change being felt in Australia and abroad. (click on the letter to read in full).

Our intention is to ensure the coal industry is fully accountable for their pollution and the damage it causes.

Debate will continue on the fringes but, within the scientific community, there is wide and deep consensus that climate change is an unprecedented and urgent threat to the planet as we know it. We are at a key point in history and failure to act decisively now will have severe ramifications for generations to come.

Coal-fired power stations are incompatible with action that reflects the urgency of climate change. As such, we have asked the recipients of the letters to have the far-sighted courage to work with our government and us to urgently replace coal-fired power plants with zero-carbon energy sources and energy efficiency programmes.

As scientists, we have refrained in general from proposing policy, but when the direction we continue to take in this country is so clearly at odds with the scientific evidence, we have no choice but to speak out.

The consequences are too severe to do otherwise.

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6 comments

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6 thoughts on “Scientists speak out: coal-fired power stations are responsible for global warming

  1. James Guest

    It is remarkable how much lay people are willing to take on trust from scientists. The claim that “I am a peer reviewed climate science so I must be taken as having good and sensible intentions when I make what I claim to be good and sensible suggestions” must be gravely undermined by that letter. Wheter judged against facts or the implied and actual claims in the letter there is not the slightest positive and desirable connection between the the taking of any action advocated in the letter and the future state of the world’s climate, with the policies other countries will pursue, or on the outcome for Australia’s climate and economy.

    Given that amazing lack of nous in putting a case to ordinarily intelligent sceptical people why should they be given any more credit than one lot of religious fanatics were given by another lot of believers in their being one true word of God 600 years ago?

    If you think that you, as scientists should have more attention paid to your policy prescriptions try giving reasoned answers to the case Lord Lawson makes in his book “An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming” which, as a quick inspection shows, only has about 20 per cent occupied by discussion of the science and requires intelligent argument on the other 80 per cent to deal with his cool scepticism. Try also, to give an explanation of the droughts which destroyed the oldest Indus civilisation and the Egyptian Old Kingdom, as well as drying up the Great Lakes, so as to show that the models you rely on are adequate because they would have predicted those disasters. If the models, and thus the basic elements of your case, are not up to that explanation then concede that you don’t have any basis for concern about imminent tipping points when the warmings that occurred at the time of those events didn’t set off runaway catastrophic changes. Or did they? And how then did that happen without industrial age CO2 emissions? And what was it about the Medieval Warm Period (or the Roman one before that) which allowed warming to occur to the point where Greenland, now covered in ice, was able to support grazing of cattle but still allow it to be followed by a very cold period without intervening catastrophic tipping points? Could it be that, as William Kininmonth insists, your models are missing or miscalculating so much of the important causal chains, especailly those associated with cloud, rain and evaporation?

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