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Hamilton at Copenhagen: Climate change science? Just google it.

Climate change seems like an abstraction when it’s snowing outside, an imagined future rather than the kind of immediate danger we have evolved to react to.

As a test of our capacity for reason, the climate-change conundrum proves just how conceited it is to describe ourselves as homo sapiens. Perhaps COP15 should have been held in Cancun or Nairobi or Cairns, where the weather is more likely to help us be reasonable.

While they pride themselves on their superior rational capacity, in truth the climate deniers are the least wise of the homo sapiens who’ve gathered in Copenhagen. The crackpots, fringe-dwellers and engineers make up one side of the debate, speaking with a voice that has reached hysterical pitch after the theft of emails from the University of East Anglia.

UN officials have been stampeded into responding to “climategate”, although the stolen emails have political meaning only in the Republic Party in the United States and the right wing of the Liberal Party in Australia, in charge until the next election.

Climate denialism would barely register if not for the internet, the modern curse of communication that provides ready confirmation for every whacky theory or paranoid delusion.

The other day a study found that one in four Australians uses the internet to diagnose and treat their illnesses without the need to consult a medical expert. “It’s hard sometimes on the net to work out whether opinion is being portrayed as fact,” said the AMA president. Amen to that.

If a climate denier ignores expert opinion and uses the internet to diagnose and treat his cancer and dies as a result, it is regrettable. If he does the same for his daughter and she dies it is irresponsible. If he ignores the experts and uses the net to conclude the Earth is not sickening and other people’s children die then he is guilty of a crime.

Yesterday we learnt what we already knew — that the hackers were professionals. What we don’t yet know is who organised and paid for the hack. No doubt the money trail is well-hidden, so we must ask who benefits most. Cui bono? The finger points unwaveringly in one direction, the fossil fuel industry’s think tanks in Washington.

But it’s not only the sceptics who are repudiating the science in Copenhagen; most of the nations gathered here are doing the same, including the major emitters who cling to the fantasy that warming can be limited to 2°C above the pre-industrial average.

To have a good chance of that outcome, developed countries would need to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and developing countries as a group would need to cut theirs by 15-30% below the “business-as-usual” levels expected by 2020. Only the European Union comes close to an adequate response.

Even if Copenhagen were to reach a binding agreement, current commitments would fall well short of these targets. Climate Analytics estimates that existing pledges would see global emissions continue to grow through to 2040, and warming would reach 3-4°C by before the end of the century.

A four-degree world is almost too intimidating to contemplate, yet that’s where we are headed.

26
  • 1
    Graeme Lewis
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Why do we have to absorb this stuff from Professor Hamilton every day? No substance - just emotive platitudes day after day.

  • 2
    Robert Barwick
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Clive should go door-knocking in Copenhagen while he’s there. See if he does any better than in Higgins.

  • 3
    David Coady
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Blaming the internet for climate change scepticism or people refusing to see their doctor is ridiculous. You might as well blame printing technology for all the false things people have come to believe as a result of reading books, since the 15th century. Of course new ways to disseminate information lead to some people believing some false things that they otherwise wouldn’t believe. But that’s the price we pay for free speech. It’s not as if restrictions on speech tend to promote the truth. On the contrary. It’s a pity Clive Hamilton can’t see that.

  • 4
    stephen
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry Graeme what do you mean?, are you saying that at the current targets the world is not likely to warm by 3-4 dgree by the turn of the century. I’m thinking must we day after day have to endure the likes of your ill-informed opinion, but we do.

  • 5
    Graeme Lewis
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I am not saying any such thing, but neither Hamilton nor his “climate analytics” go anywhere near putting a convincing case. Just let’s blame the internet!!!!

    Maybe my opinion is ill-informed - that’s why I try to access stuff that has substance. Crikey does do well for me - but not contributor Hamilton.

  • 6
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Graham Lewis: Exactly. I’m tired of saying that Clive Calvin just emits the same paragraphs in random order. And editors pay for this cutting and pasting?

    Crikey editors should be looking for substance and balance.

    Don’t you love this bit? “Climate denialism would barely register if not for the internet, the modern curse of communication that provides ready confirmation for every whacky theory or paranoid delusion.” Hey Clive, we’re on the net right now- this para must be from the newspaper version of your generic article…

    The net is just the medium, Clive, and you can’t control it. Hence the rage.

    This is what Hamilton thinks of the opposition: “The crackpots, fringe-dwellers and engineers who make up one side of the debate.”

    And Calvin is always condescending: “Perhaps COP15 should have been held in Cancun or Nairobi or Cairns, where the weather is more likely to help us be reasonable.” Oridinary people are slow-witted and easily led, are they Clive? More sloths than home sapiens…

    This is Calvin’s world-view: torpid masses tempted by crackpots. Stunning arrogance.

    Pride comes before a fall in the polls, Clive.

  • 7
    Johnfromplanetearth
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    And if you take cranberries and stew them in applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does” Groucho Marx
    “The Climate- change conundrum proves just how conceited we are to describe ourselves as homosapiens” “whacky theory” paranoid delusion” “climate denialism wouldn’t register if it wasn’t for the internet” What planet is Hamilton from? I just look out the bloody window at that huge big yellow ball up in the sky and i don’t need the internet to tell me it’s there and it has one huge effect on our lives.
    Conceit? Hamilton talks of conceit? The planet has been here 4 billion years or do some of you still believe Adam pinched the apple 6000 years ago? We have engaged in heavy industry 200 years. 4 billion v 200 years…mmm let me see now? Does Hamilton really have the conceit to believe that somehow we’re threatening nature? (Has anyone noticed how nobody ever uses the term Mother Nature anymore?) Whatever happened to her? Does he think that somehow we are going to place in jeopardy everything that has evolved for billions of years on this beautiful blue planet that’s just floating around the sun minding it’s own business?
    Nature will take care of everything in the future because that’s what nature does, it will take care of us some day too, we aren’t here forever folks. We are only here for a little while. I don’t need some madman to tell me we’re all going to fry by next Tuesday!!

  • 8
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    And we’ll remember Clive who woke the Slimy Monster from the Deep. We thought we were shot of Abbott and the lying rodent…

  • 9
    Evan Beaver
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Are you blaming Clive for a change of Liberal leader Frank? No doubt Clive is flattered by the overestimation of his powers, but through what mechanism is this occurring?

  • 10
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    You’re SO literal Evan. Hop off yer bike and put down those twitcher binoculars while I tell you a story….

    I refer of course to The AGW Cult as a whole, of which Clive Knox is a kind of wind-up Savonarola, with 50 phrases. The Cult gave birth to a fanged succubus known as the ETS. The screams of this creature woke the Illiberal Dead (see the great illustration on the Crikey home page today) who consumed the flexible, networked and global Guy de Turnbull at a single sitting.

    It’s quite a simple mechanism, really.

  • 11
    Robert Barwick
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    The fascist face of the “green” movement was displayed yesterday, when U.S. President Barack Obama sidestepped the democratic checks and balances of the U.S. Congress, to have his Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson declare carbon dioxide a threat to “the public health and welfare of current and future generations”.

    The EPA declaration empowers Obama to mandate CO2 cuts in the economy, without a law from Congress; otherwise, like Kevin Rudd, Obama was going to Hans Christian Andersen’s hometown of Copenhagen as the emperor with no clothes.

    To appreciate the ridiculous insanity of the EPA’s declaration, consider the history of CO2:

    CO2 levels were up to 7,000 parts per million (ppm) during the Cambrian Period some 530 million ago. Known as the “Cambrian explosion” this was the period when most major groups of complex life evolved.
    A great Ice Age gripped the Earth some 450 million years ago, late in the Ordovician Period, causing mass extinction. At this time CO2 concentrations were 4,400 ppm—nearly twelve times higher than the current average concentration of 387 ppm. According to the global warming theory, the Earth should have been exceedingly hot.
    During the Carboniferous Period, some 300 million years ago, CO2 concentration declined to about 350 ppm—similar to current concentrations.
    During the Jurassic Period, some 170 million years ago, CO2 concentration rose to 2,400 ppm and the dinosaurs survived just fine.
    The atmosphere is now CO2 impoverished as it was during the Carboniferous Period. Higher concentrations will only help life flourish.

  • 12
    meski
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    @Clive

    When did thought-crime become a real crime, Clive? Because an individual concluding this is just expressing an opinion. And blaming those who hacked the email system (which was a crime) for the content of those emails is desperate spin, to use a clichĂ©, “shooting the messenger”.

  • 13
    meski
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    block-quote didn’t work. - Assume the following between @Clive and “When”

    If a climate denier ignores expert opinion and uses the internet to diagnose and treat his cancer and dies as a result, it is regrettable. If he does the same for his daughter and she dies it is irresponsible. If he ignores the experts and uses the net to conclude the Earth is not sickening and other people’s children die then he is guilty of a crime.”

  • 14
    Rohan
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    There’s something highly suspect about the frothing desperation of the Hamilton lynch mob. How about naming a single person in Australia with more experience in researching and writing about climate change policy?

    If instead it’s easier to assert that everything he’s published on the subject is nonsense anyway, how about demonstrating your superior knowledge and the strength of your arguments by cataloguing all the factual inaccuracies and poorly established conclusions in “Running from the Storm”? Extra kudos for pointing out examples of bias, emotion and spin.

    Don’t let the fact that it was written in 2001 put you off.

  • 15
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    As I like to recall, Hamilton was head of research for the Resource Assessment Commission set up by the Hawke Government. The ABC described him in the election as an economist. I believe he has published academic papers that are peer reviewed.

    There is little doubt that he is a genuine public intellectual. Why so jealous and angry?

    Anyone who gets 33% primary vote with or without both parties contesting is no flake. Credit where it’s due I should think. I’d like to know how big a vote any of his critics have achieved ever?

    If you ask me Hamilton under promises and over delivers.

  • 16
    meski
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    @Rohan: Okay - http://tinyurl.com/ybra5dv

  • 17
    Johnfromplanetearth
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    How early the fruit is falling this season? Hamilton is a complete fruitloop!

  • 18
    David Coady
    Posted Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Clive Hamilton is not a flake, but he is an authoritarian. He’s only committed to free speech when he agrees with it. But this is not true of the green movement as a whole. If the greens had run a candidate in Higgins who was opposed to censorship and truly in favour of democracy (as almost all of them are) they would have won.
    Climate change scepticism isn’t widespread because of the internet, it’s widespread because of corporate media (especially the Murdoch media) which is being undermined by the internet.

  • 19
    Moira Smith
    Posted Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    There have been intelligent or supposedly intelligent people in all ages who have argued against new ideas and have ultimately been WRONG. Eg the opponents of Copernicus and Galileo. Just like the climate change deniers of today.

    But, even *I* have been WRONG sometimes. Who knows this time if I am wrong or right (not being a scientist or anything, just an ‘intelligent laywoman’ … but time will surely tell. (And I have to say, I’ve a feeling I’m right … but does this mean anything? Or do I have to wait to find out … I surely hope not … I’m glad I’m already 55 and have no direct descendants.)

  • 20
    Moira Smith
    Posted Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    PS Though if the teachings of my religion are correct, I will shortly re-emerge at some point in time and space to begin a new life … and if that’s my karma, it will be in a post-apocalyptic world.

    Though to be honest, many of the inhabitants living in the planet contemporaneously with me might consider themselves to be living in such a world.

  • 21
    Grzzz Grzzz
    Posted Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The squawkings of the growth, growth, growth, infinite growth at whatever cost brigade never cease to amaze me. Anthropomorphic climate change is not proven and it’s all a big anti-industrial, anti-capitalist conspiracy according to them! One just has to look around the world at the level of industrial deforestation, the toxicly polluted rivers and lakes , cities so smothered in the spewings of industry to put two and tow together and accept that we humans are responsible. we can’t blame other species or the ‘natural climate cycle’ for the incredible levels of destruction that we have wrought on the planet and increasingly continue to do so. This anthropomorphic destruction is showing up in the form of ever increasing temperatures, more intense weather events, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and ice caps and a general mix up of the seasons that is throwing the evolved cycles plants and animals into a spin. There is room for industry and a new and enlightened world but the ecological outcomes must precede economic ones and the ways of the past and of right now, must come to a grinding halt if we are to leave a decently habitable planet for the future generations. It really is time we took a leaf out of indigenous cultures many of who have the philosophy that any action today must be thought of in terms of what effect it will have 7 generations ahead. thus green jobs are out there, green industry is just waiting to be funded to the extent that the dinosaur industries are now. when a multinational talks about environmental laws or taxes will costs jobs, they only mean profits for they would replace all of their workers in an instance if they could! no jobs on a dead planet! over and out…..

  • 22
    Ian Cheong
    Posted Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    This is interesting:
    http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/

  • 23
    Ian Cheong
    Posted Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    This is fun:
    http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/

  • 24
    Johnfromplanetearth
    Posted Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    You see MOIRA i think that both Copernicus and Galileo would be a little more investigative and not associate themselves with such conjurers such as Phil Jones and his team of tricksters! Global Warming Alarmists should not include people who actually did their homework in their analogies.

  • 25
    Evan Beaver
    Posted Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Ian, I didn’t think that climatescienceinternational link was interesting, it was a total beat up. Anyone who demands ‘OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE’ hasn’t even had the courtesy to read the most recent IPCC report. There are 29,000 observations in the first chapter.

  • 26
    Evan Beaver
    Posted Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    And Joanna Nova’s book was pathetic. School kid mistakes all through it. That thermometre expose was particularly telling; most temperature data is obtained through remote sensing satellites.

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