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Climate scientists slam George Pell’s ‘utter rubbish’ claims

Leading climate change researchers have launched a scathing attack on a speech delivered this week by Cardinal George Pell, describing it as “dreadful”, “utter rubbish” and “flawed”.

The Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, is a long-time denier of the risks posed by human-caused climate change.

But he has taken his climate confusion right to the heart of England’s Catholic church, with a speech (you can read the whole thing here) delivered at Westminster’s Cathedral Hall.

During the speech, Pell claimed that global warming has “stopped”, that CO2 was “not a pollutant, but part of the stuff of life” and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was doubled, then “plants would love it”.

The speech was given at the invitation of the Global Warming Policy Foundation — a think-tank founded in November 2009 by former UK chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson. An edited version of the speech was reproduced in The Australian yesterday.

Crikey asked several climate change researchers, including senior figures at the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and leading research groups, to review the statements in Pell’s speech.

Professor Chris Turney, ARC Laureate Fellow in Climate Change at the University of New South Wales, told Crikey: “It’s all dreadful stuff, cherry picking statements to suit a belief which just doesn’t stack up against the weight of scientific evidence.”

In one section of the speech, Pell cites several climate change sceptics as proof that the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, which provides guidance on the science to the UN, was “essentially reliant on computer modelling and lack empirical support”.

But Dr Karl Braganza, Manager of Climate Monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, said: “The notion that climate science lacks empirical evidence is specious. There is lots of observational evidence for the greenhouse effect, and the enhanced greenhouse effect.

More generally, the idea that climate models are somehow outside the realms of normal science is flawed.  Complex system modeling using extremely well established physics and chemistry is the basis of modern day science. We use technology on a daily basis that is the result of insights from such modelling.”

Professor Steven Sherwood, of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, also said the claim the IPCC lacked empirical support was “false”.

He added: “IPCC estimates of past and future global warming are based mainly on analyses of past climate variations published in the peer-reviewed literature.  Computer models are used mainly to test that we understand what the past data are telling, us, and to predict regional details of future climates.”

Dr James Risbey, a senior climatologist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said: “Pell’s point that the IPCC’s conclusions are essentially dependent on the models is wrong.  Most of what is known about climate change and summarized in the IPCC is grounded on solid radiative physics and thermodynamic principles, and is well verified in the observational and paleoclimate record.”

Citing University of Adelaide geologist and mining company director Professor Ian Plimer, Pell said in the speech major volcanic eruptions were not being considered by climate models.

But Mike Sandiford, professor of geology at the University of Melbourne, said: “Pell refers to geologist Ian Plimer’s estimate of volcanic contributions to CO2 emissions, but volcanologists have demonstrated that Plimer’s estimate of volcanogenic CO2 emissions is too high by a factor of about 100. Plimer is just plain wrong on the volcanogenic CO2 emissions, and should be ignored.”

Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of News South Wales, described the speech as “a combination of irrelevant statements with statements that are utter rubbish”.

At one point, Pell claims that “since 2001 carbon dioxide has increased by five per cent, but the atmosphere has failed to warm”.

Professor Pitman said: “This is a red-herring. CO2 acts on long time scales and there is literature — peer reviewed literature — that explains this in terms of masking of the warming by aerosols and La Nina.”

On a claim that the world had “cooled slightly” since 1998, Pitman added: “Whether it did or did not warm in a 10-year period is utterly irrelevant to global warming which is a multi-decadal phenomenon described by climatological timescales. Pell has presumably been told this but his statements continue to confuse climate CHANGE with climate VARIABILITY.”

Professor Roger Jones, of Victoria University, was a lead IPCC author for a 2007 report on “New Methods and Characterisations of the Future.”

Jones reviewed a section of the speech where Pell said climate change variants including “water vapour multipliers, sunspot activities and cloud formation, as well as deforestation, soil carbon and aerosols” were not well understood, as were “asteroid and comet impacts, and variations in cosmic rays.”

Jones said: “It’s hard to tell whether this is Gish’s Gallop, Pell’s Polka or Plimer’s Passe Doble. It’s a variant of yeti spotting when you’re completely lost and trying to convince your followers you know what you’re doing.”

He said water vapours were part of climate models, but there was still uncertainty about their distribution in atmosphere.

Jones added: “Clouds are pretty well agreed to be a positive feedback — this is not accepted by the denial industry. The background incidence of asteroids and comets is somewhat infrequent and a red herring. The other stuff is just not evident in past climates. The orbital characteristics are known but not big drivers on current timescales.”

As well as being at odds with the scientific evidence, Pell’s statement is also at odds with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which in April said: “We call on all people and nations to recognise the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses.”

Professor Turney added: “The simple fact is greenhouse gases keep the planet warm. Indeed, if they were to disappear from the atmosphere overnight, the temperature would plummet from a balmy average of around 14C to some -21C.

If we flood the atmosphere with carbon, putting more greenhouse gases into the air, you would therefore expect the planet to warm further.

As the famous quote goes, ‘Every scientific truth goes through three states: first, people say it conflicts with the Bible; next, they say it has been discovered before; lastly they say they always believed it.’ Looks like some are still in the first state.”

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  • 1
    Bohemian
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Science is definitely compromised, academia is most definitely compromised, politics is completely compromised, medicine is compromised, corporations are compromised. I dont believe anyone anymore. I wonder if God is comnpromised?
    Climate change..isn’t that dead yet? Will be soon when the aliens arrive!!!!

  • 2
    TormentedbytheDs
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I read Cardinal Pell’s speech in the OZ (Some pay wall that). Can I be the first humble code cutter to tell His Eminence, that while overblown, the y2k bug was also real.

  • 3
    Justin
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Irrelevance, he has it.

    Makes me glad he didn’t become the next pope

  • 4
    Jim Reiher
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    What a tragic and foolish speech! Mr Pell is spurting out the material of Bolt, Plimer and Mokton…. my goodness - he is even at odds with the official stand of the Catholic Church! Dont listen to the experts, rather the journalists, the geologists who sit on mining board companies, and the nutters from the UK!

  • 5
    stephen martin
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    @ Graham Readfearn - I am waiting for Tamas Calderwood’s reply to this; seriously though not all Climate Scientists agree on the degree to which mankind has caused the majority of global warming. eg;

    Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-natural-or-manmade/

  • 6
    Janette T
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I trust this rebuttal will make the front page of The Australian today, as Pells did yesty?

  • 7
    david
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Is it any wonder Abbott spurts out non stop rubbish on this and many other topics, when his mentor and adviser is the same ignorant Pell. Abbot is the lap dog for the Catholic Church and 2GB’s Jones, he dare not utter an opinion without the say so and blessings from on high. It is time Pell was taken to task by his master the German in Rome, but of course pigs will indeed fly.

  • 8
    Microseris
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Pell may be an authority on catholic dogma and religious superstition, but what exactly are his credentials on the subject of climate science?

    Doesn’t accept the overwhelming data based evidence, but wants us to accept as fact his imaginary friend for whom no evidence exists whatsoever.

    Hypocrisy, he is an authority on that as well.

  • 9
    Meski
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    @Tormented: Seconded code cutter! (but not really humble)
    (EDS is tormenting you?)

    @Cardinal Pell: Not to be trusted on child abuse || climate change.

  • 10
    Glen Scott
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if he would have backed Copernicus or sided with Rome against him?

  • 11
    TormentedbytheDs
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks MESKI. It is usually DEES. The Melbourne Football Club.

  • 12
    Mike M
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Just another example of the Catholic Church denying science.

    Ever since this misogynistic fool became head of the catholic church in Australia I stopped going to their churches.

    Just how the ultra right wing became such deniers of science is hard to comprehend, other than for little more than political cynicism of the worst kind.

  • 13
    Sancho
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Shame that the Catholic church has no history of consistently conceding scientific facts that it formerly denied.

  • 14
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    What is most staggering about Pell is the sheer arrogance of the man. What possesses these people (read climate change deniers in general, Pell in particular) to think that they know better than qualified experts.

    It is as though thousands of scientists, both currently and throughout the century, have overlooked some piece of the science which Pell (et al) have discovered with google. And stripped of context and relevance this google discovery casts doubt, not only on the laws of physics and chemistry, but on the whole canon of climate science.

    What a nincompoop.

  • 15
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Apart from anything else, terrible timing by Pell, his speech almost coinciding with the release by hitherto-skeptic Berkeley Professor Richard Muller of his group’s study showing conclusively, and yet again, that Earth is warming (berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Summary_20_Oct). With this, the issue has well and truly moved on to the ‘they always believed it’ stage.

  • 16
    Jim Reiher
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Mike M - I have a theory about fundamentalists who reject climate science. I have asked some: where is the chapter and verse that tells me to deny climate change? Why hitch your wagon to that side of the debate. No one can answer me. But I think I have figured it out:

    The same religious people who reject climate science have already demonstrated a great distrust of “the concensus of scientific option” on another topic: evolution. Because they are creationists (against 99% of all experts in the science), they sub-consciously feel a need to reject the concensus of scientific opinion on this topic too. Otherwise, someone could say: “Hey! You accept what scientists say about climate change - why dont you accept what other scientists say about evolution?”

    maybe…

    or maybe they are just simple minded and easily manipulated.

    If my theory is true, then ironically the same people use the concensus of scientific opinion every time they go to a doctor and take their advice.

    Here is a question I like to ask the deniers and sceptics: If you went to 100 expert doctors in cancer, and 99 said you had cancer and needed treatment, and 1 said you didnot… what would you do?

  • 17
    sparky
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    And we should be surprised that the Brown Cardinal thinks this ? Maybe he is spruiking for the Firms investments.

  • 18
    Stephen
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Locally, nationally, globally, Pell is simply a force for evil. Compare with his destructive opposition to any reasonable consideration of the population question.

  • 19
    Gratton Wilson
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Is Abbott feeding these myths to Pell or is it Pell feeding these climate myths, and others, to Abbott. Either way I wish they would both go far far away.

  • 20
    Margaret Kerr
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    To date, he has yet to convince me that he has any Christian qualities and he seems so politically extreme. Doesn’t he think God wants us to treat this planet and each other and our fellow creatures a little better? Actually, a lot better? I wonder how many Australian Catholics take him seriously?

  • 21
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting that almost all of my friends who are Catholic think that Pell is an abomination. Or maybe that’s why they’re my friends. Or vice versa. Or something else.

  • 22
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    There has been a fairly vigorous debate about this on a Pure Poison thread over a couple of day now, and I will cross post my last blog entry from there to here as it is relevant.

    Someone sent me a link to an article on the Independent Catholic News website. Independent Catholic News is based in the UK and “Our aim is to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community.”

    http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=19177

    The article pwns Pell and his views. It includes such gems as:

    Members of the Columban Missionary Society and Fr Joe Ryan of Westminster Justice and Peace, challenged the Cardinal for accusing those calling for climate action as being scaremongers. Fr Ryan pointed out that the May 2011 report of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on ‘Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene’ did not deliberately set out to scaremonger when it listed numerous examples of glacial decline around the world, and the evidence linking that decline to human-caused changes in climate and air pollution…The document is available on the Vatican website.

    and

    Tim Aldred of Progressio said: “it is strange that the Cardinal calls for action only on the basis of evidence, whilst apparently dismissing the evidence-based conclusions of (amongst others) the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and NASA”

    and

    Columban Father Sean McDonagh, who has written a book about Climate Change, said he feels Cardinal Pell is out of step with Vatican policy. He points out that a joint communiqué issued by the Holy See and the British Government last September, during the papal visit, clearly indicates the Vatican’s position.

    and

    Father McDonagh said he feels it is “very regrettable” that Cardinal Pell is “planting seeds of doubt” about Climate Change just one month before the next round of UN climate negotiations in South Africa. Just last week, in his message for World Food Day, Pope Benedict said that “availability of foods is increasingly conditioned by volatility of prices and sudden climatic changes”.

    I’ll take my glass of schadenfreude with a wafer, to go thanks Cardinal Pell.

  • 23
    Kevin Herbert
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    It’s cultural atavism front & centre from most of the pro-global warming troops…no data, full of bile….and no credibility.

    Taxi !!!!!!!!

  • 24
    Andybob
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    My problems with Cardinal Pell and verification start well before we get to climate science. Listening to people who believe in invisible friends is a job for well paid psychiatrists.

  • 25
    wothers
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I would have thought George had more urgent matters to attend to than preaching claptrap to a roomfull of Climate Science deniers - like handing over all the priests guilty of sex abuse crimes still hiding in the Church.

    Has George issued instructions to priests to start spouting this nonsense from Catholic pulpits on Sundays yet?

  • 26
    Diogenes
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Just add George Pell to the list of those intelligent educated people - Barry Jones, Phillip Adams, even Gus Nossal come to mind - who say more than they are qualified by expertise or personal research on climate change for non-rational reasons. But now let’s move on to something much more interesting…..

    No it is not the Richard Muller news which, so far as appears from The Age’s secondhand opinion piece this morning, only says that the earth has been warming for about a century which is no news at all (except that it has been going on for at least 250 years).

    It is the absolutely devastating (until rebutted which seems unlikely) book by Donna Laframboise “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”.

    I haven’t finished reading my $4.99 Kindle edition of it so haven’t done what passes for due diligence these days and seached the WWW for commentary or - as I emphasise most unlikely - effective refutation (though expect plenty of attempts to divert the attention of those who will only read secondhand reports about the book).

    Read it. It reads as a great thriller, beautifully or at least logically, literately and lucidly written.

    It so undermines the credit we tend to give to the IPCC, especially its summaries for policy makers and its supposed expertise and honesty, to the journalists who appear to report on clmate issues (but miss many big stories which don’t fit the preconceived story) and even natonal science bodies that we should probably all start again and ask why we are wasting so much money (a question that applies a fortiori in Australia where nothing we do can affect the outcome except being rich enough to adapt to whatever happens).

  • 27
    Johnfromplanetearth
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Now these scientists wouldn’t be at all worried that there are approximately 5.1 million Catholics living in Australia and that Cardinal Pell has a lot of clout with these people. Couldn’t help noticing that one crack pot doesn’t wish us to confuse climate change with climate variability, kinda reminds me of Gillard speak “clean energy future”. I suspect that scientists are more than worried about the influence Pell has on 5.1 million people.

    think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another” ~Napoleon Hill

    Cardinal Pell has the ears of millions willing to listen.

    Oh, i’m not a catholic by the way.

  • 28
    kakadu
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    You would have thought that the church learned the hard way not to meddle in science when they excommunicated Galileo. It’s happening

    Leave Science to the scientists. The arrogance of the man is breathtaking.

    Yes, Mark, I agree with your Catholic friends. I’m Catholic and I think Pell is a misogynistic dinosaur artifact left over from the last pope.

  • 29
    Peter Bayley
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s the word “Change” that gets them going. Pell and his ilk have benefitted from the way things were - so any change is a threat to their position. This is the true, fearful “Conservative” at work.

  • 30
    puddleduck
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t you heard? The world is flat! FLAT, I tell you!!!

  • 31
    Scott
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    While I believe that climate change is occuring, I think it is important to listen to people like Pell as he does have something to say. He isn’t an idiot (he has a Phd from Oxford in Church History and a Masters in Education from Monash) and he is an influential man and a extremely good communicator. Don’t be blinded by his position in the catholic church (as most of the atheists do)

    A couple of interesting points he makes.

    1. At the end of the day, there are flaws in the computer models. There are around 20 Global circulation models out there which give you 20 different forecasts for climate in the future. The models are sure to suffer some sort of bias depending on the unique assumptions used and the fact that every determinant of climate has yet to be determined (thus there would be OVB in the models used). Most well funded research uses an average of all 20 computer models when forecasting to get the most accurate prediction, but statistically, you need around 120 models to get an estimate based on a normal distribution (which is the gold standard)

    2. A lot of what he says regarding Lorenz is true; to accurately predict the future climate, you need to know the current state of the climate and the forcing effects at a particular point, which is said to be extremely difficult with non-linear systems like atmosphere and the Ocean. Indeed, some peer reviewed papers seems to think that because of the non-linear nature of these determinants, it is impossible to predict climate with any degree of accuracy beyond a few decades, yet to read some of the papers, that is exactly what some of them do.

    3. The question of prevention vs adaption is an argument that needs to be addressed (I like the ark reference), if only as a fall back plan if we cant reverse the effects of climate change using current methods.

    The way I read the Pell article, he is expressing some doubt over the science (maybe a little too much but there are some issues there), but also asking us to question whether there are some things (like climate) that are outside man’s ability to control (hence the Canute reference). As a church leader, it’s not an unusual question to ask.

  • 32
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Diogenes,

    The problem with Donna Laframboise is that she has no credibility, even as a denialist blogger. If this book is about Richard Tol (which I suspect it might be as he has been a favourite topic for her), did she remember to say this time that he is an economist who takes a contrarian view helpful to the fossil fuel lobby? Or did she omit that little “gem” from her research again?

    The other real problem for Laframboise is not who is rebutting her (after all, given the amount of time the IPCC had to spend rebutting and then investigating the bullshit spread from the stolen emails why bother with the nonsense of a second rate hack?), rather it is who is endorsing her. So far she has received the unconditional endorsement of the (vocal) blogging denialista : Anthony Watts, Australianclimatemadness, truthiscontagious, Judith Curry, Andrew Bolt, nocarbontax, climatescienceinternational & australianclimatesciencecoalition just to name a few. Many of these websites are astroturf machines and in fact 1 has direct links on its site to the Lavoisier group.

  • 33
    Jolyon Wagg
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Diogenes,

    Wow!! I read a novel too!!! It was about zombies…I think we should all start boarding up our windows.

    BTW, are you serious, or are you parodying Cardinal Pell and his reliance on a rather longer work of fiction.

  • 34
    GocomSys
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    JOHNFROMPLANETMARS posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Are you still here? Isn’t it time you went home? Please take Pell, Abbott and their ilk with you. That’ll be great. Do it now. Thanks.

  • 35
    Diogenes
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Liz A and Jolyon Wagg

    You are at one with the disgraceful Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute caught out propagandising without even having read the subject of your comment. Please spare me from dishonest pseudo scientific supporters like Gleick. You will find him as lead reviewer of Laframboise’s book on Amazon. It is a truly disgraceful lying performance as other reviewers demonstrate and based on simply not reading the book - or even skimming it apparently. You are no better if you wish to be responsible and take serious issues seriously. Just read the book for the price, on Kindle, if you don’t read the free cloud version, of three copies of The Age.

    And be ashamed of yourself whoever your really are Jolyon Wagg. Why fill blog spaces with cheap silly jibes which inspection of what I wrote gives no justification for, except to indicate that the book is a well-paced page turner. And anyway, what’s wrong with “thriller” which would describe many true crime or or POW escape stories for example. Nothing to do, per se, with novels. So stop wasting people’s time with confirmation of the low average standard of Crikey bloggers, switch on such brain as you have and do your homework.

  • 36
    Liz45
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    When one does some reading about the role Pell played re some pretty awful cases of child sexual assault, is it any wonder he’s still exercising pig ignorance on this issue too?

    Pell makes my flesh creep every time I see him. I’m not surprised that he and Abbott sing from the same song sheet - two of a kind! Both gross and ignorant!

  • 37
    TormentedbytheDs
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Diogenes, Scott, etc. Carp on about IPCC here and computer model there but that is not the point.
    It’s up to Pell and Plimer or whoever to offer up the proof that changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere will be benign. You are the one’s advocating change, we are the conservatives. Just point us to all the peer reviewed stuff that says doubling, tripling or more the CO2 in the atmosphere will have no major effect. So far the advocates of change have published sweet FA.

  • 38
    Jolyon Wagg
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Diogenes,

    you were serious!?!?!

    And be ashamed of yourself whoever your really are Jolyon Wagg

    And I suppose you really are Diogenes :D Diogenes would be spinning in his barrel at the thought of someone taking his name and putting forth such tosh.

    Why fill blog spaces with cheap silly jibes which inspection of what I wrote gives no justification for, except to indicate that the book is a well-paced page turner.

    I am delighted that you get so much enjoyment from reading novels. So do I. The (cheap silly) point I was making is that novels do not provide a sound basis for responding to an issues like climate change.

  • 39
    michael r james
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    @JIM REIHER at 4:00 pm

    Yes, Pell is the (Bishop) Samuel Wilberforce of our day. Though he certainly has not got the oratory skills of old Soapy Sam but does have the other attributes. (from Wiki: The nickname derives from a comment by Benjamin Disraeli that the Bishop’s manner was “unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous”; slippery, evasive and soapy).

    You would kind of think that these guys might learn from history. Pell even has a PhD from Oxford no less, in history of the church! They eventually lost all the big battles against paradigm-shifting science, from Copernicus, Gallileo, to Darwin. Of course it does take a century or two, and thus it is never the contemporaneous church office holders who finally make the leap to truth. Thus it continues today. Prevention of AIDs by condoms is another — this has already spanned two popes, just how much longer, and how many more millions of people will suffer, until they change official policy?

  • 40
    Rodger
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    So a man who can choose what he wants to believe to be the truth from a 1500 year old book also chooses to ignore modern science. No surprises there.

  • 41
    Diogenes
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Jolyon Wagg, the is he a knave or a fool question is often a puzzle and it is in your case unless you are just showing what overindulgence in Happy Hour can produce in the way of verbal folly’.

    I did not once mention a novel or novels. It is entirelyof your manufacture and, in fact, I read about one novel a year. Laframboise’s book is deadly serious and deserves the time you might spend on three days of Crikey.

    As for TORMENTEDBYTHEDS
    What you say about the burden of proof sounds sensible - for a nanosecond. The application of the principle you espouse would have halted the use of just about everything needed for the successive technological and economic revolutions, not least the Industrial Revolution, which have given us a life expectancy of 80 instead of 30 and the means to enjoy it all while other non-ruling class people also do. Consider the consequences of taking too seriously the fear voiced by the great Lord Kelvin when President of the Royal Society that coal burning might use up all the oxygen in the atmosphere.
    Not only would it have been possible to raise fears about the dire effect on the environment of most of the great developments of the last 250 years but it would also be true that there was an element of truth, even much truth, in many of the apprehensions as well as totally unforeseen bad consequences. (One might even include the provision of modern medicine to societies still in a Malthusian condition of reproduction).

    The point is that no broad brush rules of thumb suffice. Close attention to detail is essential. And, unfortunately, the detail is being provided mostly, because that is where the big government money is, by a body which, on the evidence in Laframboise’s book, is not run by scientists (though there are some, and Laframboise has described their behavour in ways which suggests they are not behaving as scientists) but by politically appointed bureaucrats with preconceived political or philosophical agenda, sometimes personal such as Pachauri’s.

    As to the “peer reviewed stuff” you might care to do some homework. The subject is dealt with in Laframboise’s book and, more generally, the value of peer review is reflected on by the major work of Ionnadis and his team on the publshed medical research which you might conveniently catch up with if you read David Freedman’s article in a recent Atlantic Monthly, and also in an ABC RN interview. More directly to the point, if you were taking a serious open minded interest in something which our politicians had better get right you would have come across the articles which note at least 5000 peer reviewed articles which cast doubt on the IPCC’s headline oversmplifications. (Despite the corruption of the whole IPCC process as described by Laframboise, the small print usually makes it clear that the IPCC has no firm predictions).

  • 42
    TormentedbytheDs
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Diogenes, if Lord Kelvin had been right and we had diminished the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere by a third, so far, may be we would not be burning coal? We have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by a third. The rate at which we are increasing the concentration is also increasing. What is your upper limit for CO2 before you start to get worried?

  • 43
    Mack the Knife
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    George Pell is only looking after the Catholic Churches investments in oil (Gulf Oil, Shell) over the welfare of ordinary people which seems to be his modus operandi for anything that threatens the church.

    Thank god ordinary Catholics are better people than him or Phoney.

  • 44
    michael r james
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    @DIOGENES Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I give a loud raspberry to you and your latest denialist guru, Laframboise!

  • 45
    davoid
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I’m a scientist. Tell you what. Why doesn’t the Catholic Church invite me to come and give a speech in which I tell them how interfering with kids isn’t so bad and better ways to hush it up when discovered?

    Gobshite.

  • 46
    Alexander Berkman
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    so let me get this right, Climate change is not real but things such as a virgin birth, necromancy and a big boat full of two of every kind of animal piloted by a 900yr old man is…… hmmmmmmmmmmm! it just so reinforces the denial-ism of any kind of reason associated with religion!

  • 47
    Peter Bartley
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    OMG this guy is in no way qualified to speak on real science. As the leader of a failing sect he should not be given any air time. His statements are full of strawman arguments andoutright lies. His statemented experts are compromised.

  • 48
    Jeremy Williams
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Yes, as has been mentioned arrogance was the first word that came to me. Why doesn’t he give a speech on brain surgery. Breathtakingly irresposible was another thought, and why does he keep pushing this barrow. And lastly, right on cue, the dishonest oz right there to advertise it on page 1.
    Pretty grim really.

  • 49
    Veronica Guy
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Why does anyone give any airtime anymore to any religite with a title? They are all up to their eyeballs in hogwash.

    Scott says “He isn’t an idiot (he has a Phd from Oxford in Church History and a Masters in Education from Monash) and he is an influential man and a extremely good communicator. Don’t be blinded by his position in the catholic church (as most of the atheists do)”.

    Excuse me, but why does having a degree in Church History(!!!) or a Masters in Education (??) guarantee Pell’s lack of idiocy? I should also add that I am not blinded by his position in the Catholic Church; I see the abuse of power that he wields oh so very clearly!

    He has no understanding of science (obviously) and if he is talking to the Mad Monk then both of them should be locked up in the asylum, not given a dais from which to spruik superstitious and dissembling rubbish.

    Climate Change science is a far more exacting intellectual exercise than either of these two have synapses available to appreciate. And they obviously are not interested in increasing their synaptic capacity by opening their wee brains to further understanding of the real, physical world about them. And some people here, on this forum, are prepared to give both of these twits credence?? Sheesh.

    The big problem is the number of ordinary decent people who happen to have been born into Roman Catholicism who rely on this ridiculous man to speak on their behalf. I have one such friend who thinks Pell knows of what he speaks. It is a worry.

  • 50
    Moira Smith
    Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Why would anyone be surprised that most of what George Pell spouts could credibly be described as ‘utter rubbish’.?

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