tip off

A tough sell: can these spinners change your mind on climate change?

Australians just aren’t convinced on climate change. So we commissioned some spinners — who are not necessarily greenies themselves — to sell the message on global warming.

The United Nations’ science body released a major report on climate change this week. But do you think it changed one single Australian’s mind?

You know the kind of report it is and what’s in it without reading it. Climate change is real and largely caused by people, it’s more serious than we thought, cue melting ice caps/rising sea levels/droughts/etc. Predictably, in Australia, Fairfax and the ABC gave the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report extensive coverage while it was largely ignored by News Corporation papers. So people who already think climate change is real had their views reinforced, and people who don’t didn’t hear about it.

There have been many such reports this century — from the IPCC (in 2001, 2007, 20014), universities, economists, NGOs, governments (green papers, white papers). Perhaps too many; Australians don’t seem to be listening.

Less than 50% of Australians think human-induced climate change is happening, according to extensive survey work by CSIRO. That number has dropped slightly in the last four years despite mounting scientific evidence to the contrary. This was the result when the CSIRO interviewed 5200 people last year:

The CSIRO found Australians were more concerned about household rubbish than climate change. And to every activist or expert who talks about “climate mitigation,” here’s a news flash: 81% of Australians have no idea what that means.

So there’s a disconnect between the experts and the public. People are not listening. We decided to try an experiment: ask professional communicators who are not necessarily environmentally minded how they would sell climate change to a sceptical public …

Tom Russell, senior copywriter with Clemenger BBDO who has worked on campaigns for Fox Sports:

Russell, who doesn’t think climate change is harming the planet to the extent people claim, says the IPPCC report is unlikely to make a difference. ”I think people look at the paper and they’re not reading the climate change story because they feel like they’ve heard it before … you’ve either picked your side or you’re not interested any more.”

Climate change is over-exposed, and that’s part of the reason people are tuning out, Russell says. He cautions against getting bogged down in a “fact for fact” debate because it bores people. And he cautions against apocalyptic rhetoric; “shock tactic after shock tactic after shock tactic doesn’t work”. Russell doesn’t think this kind of message helps (it’s from the ABC on the IPCC report):

Rather, Russell would run climate campaigns that think outside the square and are less earnest, like this well-known campaign against speeding:

How else would this ad man sell climate change? First, reframe the debate. “You need to hit reset.” Find a poster person for the issue, a “middle man”, someone the public can trust, not necessarily left-leaning. Labor has not been consistent, and Russell doesn’t think Tim Flannery is quite right.

Stop running campaigns that tell sceptics “you are wrong or an idiot” because that makes people defensive. Stop lambasting deniers and treating global warming like a religion. Start making the case in plain English and in a more measured way. “You’ve get to get more local, more personal, more targeted and get people talking about it again,” Russell said. Focus on how climate change affects “me and my children”.

Surveys show men and older people are less likely to think climate change is real. Russell says it’s difficult to directly change their minds, so advocates should arm younger people with the tools to convince their families, friends and colleagues, a tactic he describes as “softly softly”. Similarly, advocates on climate should cut their own emissions, as this lends credibility. When people rail against climate sceptics then fly to New York for a week’s holiday or drive to work every day, they may fail to convince others.

Russell is somewhat sceptical on climate change but says he has no problem with a government cutting CO2 emissions because that won’t hurt anyone. But he says go about it in a sensible way that doesn’t demonise those with doubts.

Tony O’Leary, former communications adviser to John Howard and Tony Abbott:

O’Leary says climate change became caught up in paying higher taxes, via Labor’s carbon price, and that turned people off the whole issue. “I think that people find it hard to make the connection between tackling the issue and paying higher taxes,” he told Crikey. ”There’s a disconnect … nobody likes paying higher tax.”

The veteran Liberal press officer, now retired, says those trying to communicate on climate change had been “a bit unclear” in the past but are improving. “They have got to deliver the message in a balanced way, to convince people. I think they’re on that path now. But they haven’t always been on that path.”

O’Leary says Labor has conflated concern about climate change with support for its carbon tax, alienating people who wanted to tackle the issue but were not convinced on the tax. He points out that Adelaide had at least 12 days over 40 degrees this summer, “but you go and convince them that the carbon tax is the solution”.

Toby Ralph, former PR agent for the Liberals, tobacco companies and the nuclear waste industry:

Did someone outsource climate change PR to the press team at Malaysian Airways? It’s been chronically mismanaged,” Ralph told Crikey. “It’s become a ridiculous argument that you believe or reject like religion, with gleeful fear-mongering and panic on one side and exasperated eye-rolling on the other.”

Ralph criticises climate advocates for dire warnings about extinction, bushfires and rainstorms. “But psychology 101 should make it obvious that cognitive dissonance will kick in, so alarmists effectively talk stridently to themselves and fail to persuade others. Persuasion isn’t about facts, scare campaigns and hectoring, it’s about conversations and carrying people with you.”

So what should advocates do? They should seek out the middle ground, Ralph says. “They need to look through the eyes of the unpersuaded, get humble, get moderate and get relevant if they want to get results. They need to open, genuine conversation and debate rather than argument. They need to appear slightly uncertain rather than saying the science is settled.” Ralph says Rupert Murdoch captured this when he said he didn’t know what the truth was but was inclined to give the planet the benefit of the doubt.

*Next week: experts who are more environmentally minded. If you’re a master in communications or political strategy with a view on how to sell climate change, get in touch.

  • 1
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    There have been many such reports this century — from the IPCC (in 2001, 2007, 20014), universities, economists, NGOs, governments (green papers, white papers).”

    All very true. It’s just that there hasn’t been any actual global warming this century.

  • 2
    Brian Williams
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely the best article on this subject that I have read to date.

    The instant Gillard muttered the phrase ‘the science is settled’, I groaned because I knew the task of selling climate change would be a lost cause. Even worse when you had Tim Flannery making his apocalyptic forecasts in the years prior to that, and then almost the opposite of what he predicted came to fruition.

    Unless people can realistically envisage how a potential problem will directly impact them, and can actually see signs of the cause and effect, they’re not going to embrace what you have to say, particularly if it involves another tax on them.

  • 3
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    They need to appear slightly uncertain rather than saying the science is settled.”

    Whaaaa? Even though the science IS settled?! Despite what you choose to “believe”. What’s lacking is the selling of the science.

    Where are the charismatic, articulate and measured climate scientists (there must be one or two out there!) willing to give up a few years of research time to get out in the community and explain the facts in a way that can be understood and digested by lay people? Who among them is even challenging the ludicrous notion that “belief” has anything to do with science? EXPLAIN!

    Where’s the leadership, co-ordination and funding from concerned, well-resourced organisations and individuals needed to mount a sustained education and publicity campaign? Why are there so few climate scientists writing to newspapers and participating in online discussions (with us plebs; not just between themselves) and taking on the deniers? Every denialist letter published in the papers should be met with a deluge of responses from those in the know. If they don’t get published, the scientists should band together and buy full page ads refuting the endless stream of hogwash we’re served up and protesting against the bias of the media. If the papers won’t run them that will almost certainly be an even bigger story. Want some funding to get that started? Try crowd funding. I’ve got $250 right here in my hand you can have right now; all you need to do is ask. ENGAGE!

    Why do scientists have this holier-than-thou attitude that won’t allow them to debate prominent deniers because it gives the latter credibility they don’t deserve? (Heads up, guys, these people already have great dollops of largely unchallenged credibility with significant sections of the community; your silence won’t change that.) Play them at their own game, because right now, it’s the winning game. TAKE ‘EM ON FFS!


    (And Rupert Murdoch captured the “uncertainty” about the science?! And doesn’t know what the truth is despite all the resources he has to hand? Yea, right. That would have to be Rupert Murdoch the avuncular, bit-dippy tweetaholic, not Rupert Murdoch the savvy, calculating media mogul, whose position as evidenced in his papers and on Fox News is crystal clear: deny, deny, deny. Rupert Murdoch has done more than any other individual on the planet to entrench this chimera of “uncertainty”.)

  • 4
    Bart Tony
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    In reply to Calderwood. Rubbish! NASA,NOAA, CSIRO, NIWA and every major national scientific body confirm that 10 of the warmest years have been this century with 2005 and 2010 being the warmest.

  • 5
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Tamas, nine of the ten hottest years on record have occured this century, the other just prior, in 1998, while January 2014 marked the 347th consecutive month in which global average temperatures exceeded the 20th century average. Those are the facts. Your source?

  • 6
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Bart, Tyger - you are mistaking the rate of change of the temperature (warming) with the temperature itself.

    yes, the world is warmer (temperatures have risen by just 0.8C in the past 150 years). But the world is not WARMING. The rate of change is basically zero. It stopped warming in 1998.

    It’s like mixing up speed and acceleration.

    You have heard about the temperature “pause”, right? It’s pretty commonly accepted now.

  • 7
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely the best article on this subject that I have read to date.”

    Really, Brian? Perhaps you need to read more. You could start with this defence of what Tim Flannery actually said, rather than parroting Andrew Bolt’s distortions:


  • 8
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    More idiots with zero self-awareness or sense of irony transmogrifying science and shit their feeble minds can’t handle into “religion” and “fearmongering”.


  • 9
    Bart Tony
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Tamas it is only accepted by global warming deniers like yourself. Again NASA, CSIRO, NIWA and every major national and international scientific organizations disagree with you.

  • 10
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    where do your facts come from calder?
    you’ve made this claim twice in a very short discussion.
    How about some proof?
    You get paid for these posts after all.

  • 11
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    You have heard about the temperature “pause”, right? It’s pretty commonly accepted now.”

    I have, Tamas. I’ve heard all the denialist garbage in all its increasingly sophisticated, well-resourced forms. Pity for you it’s not as commonly accepted as you pretend.
    Leaving aside the risibility of suggesting the hottest 10 years on record occurring in the last 16 tallies with your claim there has been no warming in that period, there is no pause. The rate of atmospheric warming has SLOWED, NOT PAUSED, in the last decade and a half, but it’s nothing to be smug about.
    Firstly, it’s not statistically significant. Climate scientists require a minimum 30 years to establish trends. Secondly, much of the extra heat that has been trapped in recent years has gone to warming the oceans, in particular significant warming at far greater depths than previously detected. The impacts of this and whether it will continue thus, aren’t fully understood, although it’s known that warmer waters are less able to absorb CO2, so long term it can hardly be good news. Thirdly, if you ever bothered to look at a graph of global average temperatures over the last 150-odd years (the extent of reliable records) you’d see it’s not a straight line, thus warming could be said to have “paused” on a dozen previous occasions in that time. Again, none of these “pauses” was statistically significant.
    If you want to reduce “noise” in stastical analysis, extend the data sample. Do so with temperature data and the trend is apparent. On the other hand, if you want to misinform, obfuscate and deny, cherry pick.

  • 12
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I have done a linear regression on the uah satellite temperature data. It shows warming stopped in 1998.

    NASA and many others have discussed the temperature ‘pause’ I am Amazed you guys haven’t heard about it.

    Google: global warming temperature pause, then take a look at the links. There are plenty of articles on it.

  • 13
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Where’s the moderator? The conversation is stalling here.

  • 14
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.
    With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record have all occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.”

    NASA Website, 21/1/14.

    Over to you, Tamas.

  • 15
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Tyger - did you google the warming pause? Try that out.

    And again, you are mistaking a level with a rate of change, which is pretty basic mathematics. I’m surprised you can’t understand the difference.

  • 16
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Last night Tony Jones asked Palmer his response to the latest IPCC report produced by 309 scientists from 70 countries. It reads like a reply scripted by Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

    Palmer: Well I think it’s a - camels were designed by a committee. With so many people, you’re really not going to get anything worthwhile. You need to have a proper report with people that can do something.

  • 17
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Don’t have to, Tamas. I’m up with the topic and know who’s propagating the pause nonsense, who isn’t and where they’re coming from. You cited NASA, who, as I’ve just demonstrated, say “… a long-term trend of rising global temperatures” is continuing. I’ve also answered your arguments more fully but we await the moderator. I’ll just repeat one thing I’ve already posted that hasn’t yet been published: if you want to reduce “noise” in statistical analysis, extend the data sample. On the other hand, if you want to misinform, obfuscate and deny, cherry pick.

  • 18
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Tamas, I keep responding and keep being stymied by, “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. You’ll just have to wait too.

  • 19
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    PS, Tamas: While we wait, why don’t you try Googling “global warming pause myth”, or is that one word too many?

  • 20
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink


  • 21
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink


  • 22
    Geoff Russell
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Imagine if we had a scientifically literate media and Parliament. Then the situation would be rather like influenza or polio. The problem is outlined scientists are chosen (one way or another) to prepare vaccines and other treatments. A PR company does one or more media campaigns. The treatment is rolled out and the problem is tackled as well as it can be. It isn’t discussed ad-nauseum in Parliament and never becomes a political football. There may be disagreements of all kinds about vaccine types, effectiveness, rollout regimes, and so on … this stuff is really complex … but they are mainly confined to journals and there are no “sides in a debate”.

    But that isn’t happening. Instead, all manner of people who wouldn’t know CH4 from CO2 or one end of a probability density functional convolution from the other have an uninformed opinion that they reckon should be taken seriously.

  • 23
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink


  • 24
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Agreed Geoff Russell, so what do we do about it? It’s pretty obvious from my post @3 I’m pretty frustrated by just what you’re talking about. How do we get this debate on a scientific footing and where are the scientists who, to my mind, should at least be attempting to make this happen?

  • 25
    Cathy Alexander
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Goeff Russell, this is an excellent point. There are almost no scientists in Parliament (and almost no parliamentary staffers, of which there are several hundred, have a science background). They are all lawyers with a firm eye on their own career prospects, the opinion polls, and the margin in their seat.

    Tyger Tyger I read your posts with interest too. I have had this discussion with scientists. They - understandably - say things like ‘I’m a scientist and I’m busy on research / teaching, I’m not a PR professional and I don’t have the time to spend communicating extensively with the public on this issue, and if I try, I get pilloried by climate sceptics.” I wonder if the points raised by the comms professionals interviewed for this story are more apt for conservationists and advocates of reducing greenhouse gases, rather than the scientists?

  • 26
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


  • 27
    Cathy Alexander
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Also Tyger, the Climate Council (Flannery’s mob, now independent of govt) would see itself as doing this function of translating science into plain English for the public. Are they doing a good job? Is the job too hard?


  • 28
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Now Tyger, in calling for the moderator, you’re not trying to shut Tamas up, are you? You’re not suggesting that the only views allowed here are those of the green/left?

  • 29
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Cathy Alexander, I hear you.I understand where the scientists are coming from and what they’d expose themselves to if they stuck their necks out. On the other hand, it’s just too easy for denialists to rubbish “conservationists and advocates of reducing greenhouse gases” as hysterical tree-huggers and the like. I’m inclined to think it would be more helpful if an articulate spokesperson with impeccable climate science credentials could be found to front a sustained education campaign.

  • 30
    Michael Cowling
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    As a man in the older demographic, I am NOT less likely to think that climate change is real. Instead, I think it makes sense to act on the advice of the experts I.e., scientists which partly explains why we’ve got solar panels on our roof. Why would I take on board the opinions of the commentariat, especially the people in this article?

  • 31
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    No, David Hand, I’m not and never would. Had you read my post @18, which wasn’t held back for moderation, you’d know that.

  • 32
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice to hear from scientists. The problem is that the scientists do not have the firm absolutist views the climate PR machine spruiks. So when Flannery goes on ABC and says, “Drought is our new climate, blah blah scientific stuff, the dams will never fill again, blah blah, scientifically proven, blah blah, build desalinisation plants immediately, blah blah because the proven science says so”, people like you believe the science is settled.

    He said all that in 2007 and then the dang awkward La Nina arrived so all the dams filled, Brisbane flooded because the climate activists got the Wivenhoe dam operating protocols changed and all the desalinisation plants on the east coast were mothballed.

    So what science is settled? I guess we all agree the earth is warmer. Hey even Tamas agrees with that. Will it rain? Well I watched the drought reports on the ABC with distressed farmers experiencing drought and the climate cult once again banging on about settled science. They are quiet for now. I wonder why?

    The IPCC has a lot to answer for. Just the bastardisation of the phrase “peer reviewed” is a great example. It gives the report an aura of scientific certainty.

    While you are looking for a climate scientist, you should note that the chairman of the IPCC is a mechanical engineer and probably has as much expertise on the matter as you or me.

  • 33
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Apologies Tyger.
    My comment is also in moderation.

  • 34
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Cathy Alexander @27, point taken, and I’m aware of the great work they’re doing along with many others, but then, having failed to get any sense of what was going on from the msm I began a study of the topic about six or seven years ago, was convinced by the science and make an effort to keep up with the latest findings. I’m just worried about the cut-through for people who, for whatever reason, haven’t dug beneath the confusion. Meantime, all of those great organisations and individuals are mostly preaching to the converted, as this article and evidence such as that showing the declining number of people who “believe” the science, make clear.
    I don’t profess to know the answer or whether I’m even on the right track, but I’d like to see climate scientists taking on denialists in these blogs, in the Letters pages of newspapers, in town hall meetings, on Q&A, etc. If they still can’t get a hearing I’d like to see them make a fuss about it. Again, I understand their professional objections to such things and their just wanting to get on with their jobs, but what’s all of that ultimately going to matter if the public understanding and backing of their conclusions continues not to eventuate?

  • 35
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    No dramas, David.

  • 36
    Scott Grant
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I just came across this piece today: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/277058739/1-in-4-americans-think-the-sun-goes-around-the-earth-survey-says

    Another in the continuing series of “Americans are stupid”, except you would probably find similar results in Australia.

    Yes, I agree with the thrust of this article. Facts and science are not going to cut it. It needs the professionals who know how to sell an idea in a way that connects with the gut.

    I find it difficult to avoid being “alarmist” because I find the truth truly alarming. But there is little I can do about it if the majority don’t want to listen.

  • 37
    Cathy Alexander
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Michael Cowling, allow me to express myself more clearly. A higher proportion of men, and a higher proportion of older people, think that human-induced climate change is not happening (when compared with other demographics). But of course there are definitely older men who think that yes, it is happening - look at Ross Garnaut, Tim Flannery, David Karoly, Nicholas Stern …

  • 38
    David Hand
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    From article 1 on the google search you have suggested, we get this. “The IPCC attributes the recent slowing of surface temperatures to a combination of external and internal climate factors. For example, solar activity has been relatively low and volcanic activity has been relatively high, causing less solar energy to reach the Earth’s surface.”

    Now I accept that the article is attempting to debunk the significance of surface temperatures as opposed to ocean etc, but you cannot escape the fact that the IPCC is attempting to explain an unpredicted pause in surface temperature rises.

    I want to emphasise that I accept the view that AGW is real. What I think has really done the damage regarding action on climate change is not the colourful characters on the sceptic side that the ABC and Crikey love mocking but the religious cult among climate activists to whom no new data, no examination of what is essentially uncertainty due to the failure of models relied on in the past, is acceptable.

    We are hectored into abandoning ocean front property, put wind turbines up everywhere, pay $23 a tonne in penalty charges for power, suffer public transport, be bullied into turning the lights off for an hour as a public statement of our belief in the cult, all by a bunch of people whose predictions are consistently wrong.

    Their language changes monthly. It used to be global warming. Then climate change. Suddenly is was extreme weather events. Pity about all those hurricanes Queensland endured this summer. Oh… dang.. Err maybe there’ll be one next week to save all our embarrassment and we can go on Lateline and tell Emma that the latest drop of rain in Queensland is yet more proof of the coming apocalypse.

  • 39
    Electric Lardyland
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    So, essentially the point of these three alleged experts, is that people who have spent around forty years of gathering, publishing and publicising evidence, that says climate change is real and a serious problem, should be nice to the people who are ignoring and/or contradicting that forty years worth of evidence. Pleaaase!

  • 40
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Next up: Col. Oliver North & GW Bush on how to create peace.

    Really i don’t mind if Crikey consults highly paid tory deceivers for free advice on how to achieve something they don’t want to happen, but don’t expect me to take it seriously.

    Anyone genuinely interested ought to read up on denial (it is basic to humans not a flaw, see ‘Denial’ by Varki & Brower), and recent essay My Environmentalism will be Intersectional or it will be bullshit by Adam Ramsey.

  • 41
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Can we please give up on the climate change is real no it’s not argument, it’s being going on for far too long is getting very boring.
    Anybody who pollutes the environment should pay to clean up that pollution or compensate the community so that the community can afford to clean up the pollution for them. Any unwanted output whether liquid, solid or gaseous from human industrial activity is pollution unless contained, including carbon. For far too long the cost of disposal of industrial waste has not been included in economic assessment of the wealth of nations. The carbon tax fulfils that requirement in regard to the production and output of unwanted carbon. There should be taxes on business for all sorts of other pollution created as a result of human activity. It’s about time we stopped hiding the real costs of pollution as a result of our activity across the board.

  • 42
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    David Hand @32, you’re nitpicking when you say the science isn’t settled. Science, unlike theology, ideology and the like, never speaks in absolute terms, rather probability, is open to new information and works on the basis of “thesis, antithesis, hypothesis”. Thus science will never claim with certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow, nevertheless the scientific probability of its not doing so is so minute as to be negligible. It is science and the scientific method’s greatest strength that it operates so.
    In the case of AGW, the accumulated evidence and the way predictions made by climate scientists for over 50 years have been borne out clearly confirm that, while it may not be as “certain” as the sun rising in the morning, the probability that the observed warming trend is anthropogenic is overwhelming.

    On Flannery, I suggest you take the time to read the linked article I posted @7, rather than repeating the slanders of Bolt, the IPA, et. al. as if they had even a shred of credibility. (And you sit in judgement on science and scientists! You might want to find some better allies.)
    Furthermore, adducing evidence of extreme weather events such as the 15 year “drought of the millennium” and its subsequent breaking by two and a half years of biblical rain as if this somehow excoriates Flannery and supports your nothing-to-see-here “argument” is probably not the best path to go down.

    Peer review? In what sense have the IPCC “bastardised” the term? Idiotic.

    Finally, what has the Chairman of the IPCC being a mechanical engineer have to do with anything? Libraries are run by “mere” librarians. Does it follow they contain nothing of value? I imagine the man’s an excellent administrator and need be nothing more. It’s hilarious how people who make that point, unless they are themselves climate scientists, which you clearly are not, don’t immediately exclude themselves from the debate. Hoist with your own petard.

  • 43
    Scott Grant
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    The moderators ARE a bit slow today. It must be the carbon tax. I originally thought it was because I commented too close to knock-off time. But I see others are getting through after me. Was it that “s-” word?

  • 44
    Michael Jones
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    This article is about obstructing action on climate change while pretending to do the opposite.

    It presents myths about selling the issue, that are actually designed to sabotage efforts to sell it.

    Idiotic fake advice like ‘appear uncertain’ and ‘don’t mention that it will destroy the world’ are actually intended to cripple efforts to alert the public to the threat of climate change.

    In addition, their attacks on the ‘strategy’ serve as cover for the vicious attacks that have been made by the other side of this conflict.

    The myth is that people aren’t supporting action because the people calling for action have not persuaded them. (There’s also a bunch of fake language about how climate action advocates have been too aggressive, too critical, and other bare faced lies to that effect).

    The reality is that people aren’t supporting action because
    a vicious campaign of misinformation, threats, censorship and exactly this kind of myth-making, has been waged against the public by not only the conservative Murdoch press, but others who should know better, such as the abc, and it seems, crikey, who buy into these self-sabotaging myths and allow conservatives and denialists to control the discussion.

    If you ask a bunch of conservatives, of course they will give you ‘good advice’ about how best to lose to them in this debate. If you ask a bunch of spin doctors, of course they will promote their deliberately dysfunctional approach to dealing with serious issues. The last thing spin doctors want is anyone talking about facts or evidence!

    I mean for crying out loud, one of them worked for the tobacco industry, which invented the denialist and ‘fake debate’ tactics that climate change deniers have used to such success.

    If you want good advice on how to sell climate change, do the OPPOSITE to what is advised here. The purpose of this propaganda is to pull people AWAY from effective strategies that have never actually been put into action (despite popular myths to the contrary).

  • 45
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Cathy - my point is a serious one. The warming pause is widely acknowledged. Surely it makes climate change a harder sell?

  • 46
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    So, Ms Alexander, you help with this by publishing “absolute crap” like that from Ken Lambert yesterday, then refuse to run rebuttals?

    (BTW, I can never quite tell where Tamas is coming from, but on a simple reading of the data warming has actually accelerated this century. Ask yourself why he’s so determined that you should think otherwise.)

  • 47
    Posted Friday, 4 April 2014 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Tamas - the warming pause is not widely acknowledged by climate scientists, nor indeed by scientists in general. This assertion belongs to denier trolls, and those whose ideology does not allow the acceptance of overwhelming evidence. To which class do you belong?

  • 48
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Hey Tyger,
    Thanks for agreeing with me that the science of global warming isn’t settled. I’m glad you understand the scientific method. Please cite one, merely one example of the scientific method being applied by anyone in the production of any part of any IPCC report. Just one will do mate.

    You will find that the science backing climate change is statistics. High temperatures this century are statistically significant. They are not random and something is causing them. I, and probably you, believe that carbon put into the atmosphere by humans since the industrial revolution began has probably caused it. But that’s as far as you can go. Your contention that “the science is settled” exposes you and the climate cult to ridicule when predictions are proven wrong. Like Flannery’s sad piece in the New Scientist on 16 June 2007.

    So I don’t need News Ltd to tell me. I get it from the man himself. The link is “sciencearchive.org.au/nova/newscientist/105ns_001.htm” You can read the man himself. And weep. See how he deftly published it in the “new scientist”? Must be true then, eh?

    Peer review.
    If the IPCC adopts peer review in the way scientific journals do, how did the World Wildlife Fund report predicting the Himalayan glaciers melting in 30 years get published in the 2005 edition? It caused huge embarrassment. What I think the IPCC does is send drafts of its report to people who have registered for them to read it and comment. Then they call it “peer reviewed” This is not how scientific journals do it. Someone tell me I’m wrong.

    The chairman’s qualifications is just a smart-arsed poke at believers who suggest that scepticism is unscientific because this climate change stuff is published by scientists, when it’s not.

    In my view, the most effective way of the scientific community to get the story out about the risks humanity faces with global warming is to sack the activists and fundamentalists, do not be concerned about the uncertainty, trust the public with raw data, don’t be afraid to change position when new data emerges and stop treating us all like children.

  • 49
    Tyger Tyger
    Posted Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    David Hand@38, the article is not trying to “debunk” anything; it’s explaining the science. If you say you accept the view that AGW is real - and for argument’s sake I’ll take your word for that -you’ll hopefully know the fundamental reason why: the near-200 year old theory, long since confirmed, that certain atmospheric gases - CO2, CH4, N2O, water vapour, ozone, etc. - allow heat in the form of white light from the sun to pass through, yet absorb and re-emit lower energy infrared heat escaping from the Earth. It’s why the Earth, with its atmosphere rich in these gases, has a 30 deg. higher global average temperature than the atmosphere-free Moon, despite their being the same mean distance from the Sun. It’s why Venus, the apparent victim of a runaway greenhouse effect, with its 96.5% CO2 atmosphere, is by far the hottest planet in the solar system despite being much further from the Sun than Mercury, which again, has no atmosphere. In the words of the article you’ve just cited:

    … it all boils down to physics and conservation of energy. We continue to increase the greenhouse effect by burning more and more fossil fuels. The extra energy trapped in the Earth’s climate system by that increased greenhouse effect can’t just disappear, it has to go somewhere.”

    Your claim about no new data being acceptable is preposterous. The IPCC’s latest report emphasises that there has been a doubling of evidence since the 4th AR and that this has only served to reinforce their conclusions that AGW is real, happening now and that we must act to reduce GHG emissions immediately or face climate disaster. How on earth does that constitute a “religious cult”? And what evidence would you prefer climate activists consider “acceptable”, if not the overwhelming SCIENTIFIC evidence?

    You DON’T pay $23 a tonne in penalty charges for power. The big polluters do and you are compensated for the resultant increase in energy prices. The Abbott government want to remove the tax yet keep the compensation. So much for “budget responsibility”. (BTW, keep your ocean-front property by all means, though I’d recommend you look into what the insurance industry thinks of AGW or it might come back to bite you.)

    And you do yourself no favours uttering ill-informed inanities such as “Pity about all those hurricanes (sic) Queensland endured this summer. Oh… dang.. “, etc.
    Do some research. Then you might learn things like:

    Global warming may mean fewer cyclones in far north Queensland but they could get stronger, scientists say at a national climate change conference in Cairns.
    One study from the CSIRO predicts that rising temperatures could halve the frequency of tropical cyclones.”



  • 50
    Andrew Dolt
    Posted Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Two of the world’s most eminent scientific organisations, the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences, with 80 and 200 living Nobel laureates among their members respectively, have issued a joint plain language statement on climate change for laypersons. But of course Tamas Calderwood and his fellow deniers know all there is to know about climate change and don’t need to listen to a bunch of Nobel prize-winning scientists. Metaphorically speaking, they don’t need clothes either, and are perfectly happy to run around in the nude with their idiot bits flapping in the wind, under the impression they are very snappily dressed. http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes/climate-change-evidence-causes.pdf