Crikey



The world is cooling, Abbott’s biz adviser insists. Bunkum

The release of the voluminous, three-part update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change appears to have had no impact on Tony Abbott’s conservative government, nor its advisers. Rather than accepting the conclusions of the IPCC’s 1250 international experts — approved by every major government in the world (including, apparently, Australia’s) — that the world is warming and there is little time to act, Abbott’s chief business adviser is still insisting that the world is, in fact, cooling.

Maurice Newman — who heads a triumvirate of climate change sceptics heading key Abbott advisory bodies (Dick Warburton on the renewable energy review and David Murray on banking) — was interviewed on ABC TV’s Lateline program on Tuesday night. He said, in part:

We’ve had, since 1996, 17.5 years where the temperature has shown no measurable increase. In fact, it can be argued since 2003, it has cooled off somewhat.”

Newman was recently challenged by Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt to agree to a $10,000 bet on Newman’s prediction that the world would be much cooler in 20-40 years’ time. Apparently he has not taken up the offer.

Newman’s reference to the peak temperature year in the late 1990s — 1998, at the height of an El Nino was for a time the hottest year on record, but those records are now taken up by 2005 and 2010 — are a typical crutch of the climate denialists. The fact that 13 of the 14 hottest years have occurred since the late 1990s, and that this decadal growth chart shows a continuing rise, does not seem to faze the likes of Newman …

Newman insists — despite the IPCC report and the conclusions of numerous other bodies such as the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, NASA, the American Academy of Sciences, and other equivalent bodies around the world — that the evidence is not there to accept that rising CO2 levels has any impact on global temperatures. He told Lateline:

I just look at the evidence.There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that’s something which we would pay attention to.”

(Even Andrew Bolt acknowledges that sceptics believe CO2 plays some role in warming, although he had another rave at the “bias” of the ABC questioning.)

Newman’s comments come nearly a week after Attorney-General George Brandis accused “true believers in climate change” of being “ignorant”, “mediaeval” and trying to shut down debate.

Given that Abbott, who once dismissed climate science as “crap”, is now PM and has surrounded himself with the likes of Murray, Warburton and Newman, and dismantled or sought to dismantle the institutions that could provide advice on the science, mitigation and financing (the Climate Commission, the Climate Change Authority, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation), it’s hard to imagine how Brandis believes that climate sceptics are being sidelined. The popular press in Australia, and much of the popular radio and TV news programs, completely ignored the IPCC reports.

The indifference of the Abbott government and its advisers to the science probably explains why it has sought to dismantle all climate change-related policies and institutions and insists on its “Direct Action” policy, which is designed to reduce emissions by a maximum 5% by 2020 — well below, possibly by a factor of three, what the science requires.

But it may not even have to bother with this. Clive Palmer, whose Palmer United Party controls at least three seats in the Senate, has promised to vote against the Direct Action legislation, and even against the repeal of the carbon price and the mining tax if the Abbott government tries to sneak the measures through the budget appropriations bill.

It’s hard to know whether Palmer will keep his word, or what the price of changing his mind might be, but as Lenore Taylor points out in The Guardian, this will probably mean that Direct Action can continue with its handouts to polluters, without the bothersome scrutiny of baselines and other measurements that would provide some mechanism to control the overall level of emissions.

*This article was originally published at RenewEconomy

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Categories: Australia, ENVIRONMENT

20 Responses

Comments page: 1 |
  1. Brad Schmidt” should be “Brian Schmidt”, I think?

    by Michael Cahill on Apr 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm

  2. The correlation between temperature and CO2 over the last 300,000 years or so is emphatically evident in the Antarctic cores. See graph.

    The imminent temp increase due to the current CO2 surge can be inferred from the graph. As of April, global CO2 is 396.7 ppm - way off the scale.

    by Roger Clifton on Apr 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm

  3. Thanks for Giles Parkinson’s careful rebuttal of Maurice Newman’s claim that increasing CO2 is not causing global warming.

    But more graphs and analysing the data will not change his or other so-called sceptics views. Better to learn from Socrates and ask some questions which reveal the so-called sceptic to be a gullibilist – someone whose dogged rejection of the well established science forces them to accept absurdities.

    So Mr Newman: you say there is no correlation between an increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and increasing temperature; do you also say there no correlation between decreasing CO2 concentration and decreasing temperature?

    If you say yes, there is a correlation between decreasing CO2 and temperature but not increasing CO2 and temperature, doesn’t that mean that Earth would have a different temperature for a given concentration of CO2, depending on whether that concentration of CO2 was arrived at following a decrease (which does cool) or an increase (which does not heat)?

    If you say no, that decreasing the CO2 in the atmosphere would not cool the earth, wouldn’t it follow that the climate of the earth would be the same as now even if we had an atmosphere like the moon?

    by Michael Rowan on Apr 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm

  4. Indeed, Michael. Fixed now. Thanks heaps,

    by Jason Whittaker on Apr 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

  5. I think Labor (and maybe the Greens) will end up voting for direct action. They will have to.

    If the Government is smart, when July comes around, they will get the Carbon Tax and Mining taxes removed quickly, and then put up the Direct Action Bill.

    Then Labor and Greens will have to make a call as to whether they vote for it (in which case the PUP vote is not required) or vote against it, meaning there will be absolutely no Carbon emmission reduction policy running in Australia for the period of the Abbott government(with the exception of the RET). Greens might stay true, but Labor should cave if they are smart.

    Labor will vote to implement (complaining all the time of course, but saying that something is better than nothing) and then hope it is ineffective, so they can go to the next election with an ETS.

    by Scott on Apr 24, 2014 at 2:51 pm

  6. Newman is trying do do a combover on the environment.
    Roy Spencer his preferred scientist is a paid spruiker for coal and petro industries. How can any objective cost analysis be done on a modern economy when it excludes the effect of emissions going forward..?

    by Jaybuoy on Apr 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm

  7. The IPA had 75 radical ideas to transform Australia, of them nos 1-3, 6, 10, 21, 44 & 72 all more or less emphasised that the new way forward for Australia was to get rid of any input from science and technology and certainly to eliminate any government instrument to mitigate against climate change. Newman is merely following the IPA’s wishes. Why would you listen to respected scientists anyway - they aren’t in cahoots with the rich and powerful!

    by Anne M F on Apr 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

  8. If Abbott is wrong on this, he has all these people he can blame.

    by klewso on Apr 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm

  9. I dream of Double Dissolution - which TT threatened on Tuesday talking to Rat Hately on the government broacaster, 2GB. At least I think that that is what he thought that he said, though Rat’s infamous mouth turned it into “Disullusion” … which may ion fact have been what TT was answering..? Nah, he ain’t that subtle. And certainly not quick on his feet, intellectually or physciallly else he wouldn’t have 27sec mute-outs nor have been hit so often around (what passes for) his head.

    by AR on Apr 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm

  10. Someone please tell Maurice Newman & Abbott it’s not the world that’s cooling - it’s the electorate.

    by zut alors on Apr 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

  11. but Labor should cave if they are smart.”

    nah, everyone knows policy failures fall squarely to the government. look at all the obstruction the coalition performed in labor’s time, labor got blamed fairly and squarely for that. labor should vote against it, citing it’s complete inadequacy to address the problem and waste of money “corporate welfare” etc., so the coalition goes down as being the government which dismantled a perfectly working emissions abatement scheme and didn’t replace it with anything. that will stain them for years to come.

    by tim readfern on Apr 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm

  12. It is depressing that such barking idiots are in a position to do such damage.
    The deliberate destruction of scientific departments and institutions, under the guise of a bogus budget emergency (cf FDOTM) should be denounced by any thinking citizen.

    There in lies the problem. This is what happens when loonies are allowed to interfere with the education of children. They undermine the basic principles of critical thought and turn out people utterly blinded to their own scientific ignorance. Let us hope enough people are awake to make this a one term government.

    by Reechard on Apr 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

  13. Newman is a bank$ter, a business man and therefore not an instinctive friend of the planet..

    Why do we allow such people to have a voice?
    Should they not at least have some true, basic understanding of science? And a conscience?

    by Reechard on Apr 24, 2014 at 9:35 pm

  14. tim - I think it could wreck their reputation with current younger voters the way Vietnam did in the ’60s.

    by Malcolm Street on Apr 25, 2014 at 8:34 am

  15. Newman was recently challenged by Nobel laureate Brad Schmidt to agree to a $10,000 bet on Newman’s prediction that the world would be much cooler in 20-40 years’ time. Apparently he has not taken up the offer.”

    Andrew Bolt … quick mate, here’s another way to make a buck. Will you take up the offer.

    by dazza on Apr 25, 2014 at 2:40 pm

  16. Thanks Giles for a good article. I live in Cairns and there is only one newspaper - a farcical production called “The Cairns Post” which relays Andrew Bolt’s unjustified, unsubstantiated, and unanswered, inflammatory raves. This articles was a breath of fresh air up here.

    It is interesting to take the sceptic’s views and realize what they must therefore believe. They must surely beleve that it is possible to pump millions of tons of CO2 and methane into the earth’s atmosphere, to clear most of the world’s forests (forests which are proven to have a large influence on rainfall, and to pump millions of litres of water into the atmosphere), to create vast cities and huge networks of roads (all of which have their own heat retentive characteristics), and NOT have any effect on the earth’s climate. Surely you could only believe such a fanciful and absurd notion if you believed that the earth was perhaps only several thousand years old, and that some omnipotent being was looking after mankind’s destiny (something there is absolutely no evidence for), to the detriment of every other species on this planet. Such notions are the refuges of intellectual punyweights and big business, it seems. Another example of people believing what they want to believe, and what is convenient for them to believe, not the unsavoury truths of our existence or our times…

    by witness67 on Apr 27, 2014 at 7:51 am

  17. Would just like to add one more thing I’m not sure most people are aware of…

    Many ‘sceptics’ (or should we say ‘gullibilists’) are on record as stating that the earth’s climate changes are related to solar cycles rather than the ‘greenhouse effect’. They seem to have gone quiet on this one for some time curiously enough, but it stayed in the back of my mind.

    I saw a documentary on scientists studying this a few months ago. (They were not climate scientists and no comment was made regarding this in relation to the climate.) It seems sunspot activity is thought to be directly related to the sun’s intensity. That is, more sunspots means a more intense sun, fewer sunspots means a less intense sun. I think sunspots have been tracked and measured since the 1960’s, and there has been a very significant and progressive reduction in sunspot activity in that period.

    That is, the sun is significantly less intense than it was when the sunspots were first measured.

    So, DESPITE the sun being significantly and progressively less intense over the past few decades, the earth is warming up! Why would that be, Mr Newman, Mr Warburton, Mr Murray, Mr Abbott, and Mr Bolt?

    Imagine the pickle we would be in if the sun’s activity had been stable, or increasing!

    by witness67 on Apr 27, 2014 at 8:32 am

  18. Maybe the Mayans were right with their “sun-god”! We’d better do something to appease the sun! Who’ll be our first sacrifice? I can think of several worthy candidates…maybe more…

    by witness67 on Apr 27, 2014 at 8:50 am

  19. Someone at CRIKEY made an intelligent comment!?? Keep it up. “So, DESPITE the sun being significantly and progressively less intense over the past few decades, the earth is warming up! Why would that be, Mr Newman, Mr Warburton, Mr Murray, Mr Abbott, and Mr Bolt?

    Imagine the pickle we would be in if the sun’s activity had been stable, or increasing!”

    Imagine what sort of a pickle we would be in if the Creator set up a solar system to suit human beings and left the temperature control to CO2, which fluctuates! Cooked prawns? You don’t need science to figure it out because it’s common sense. The science is right there staring everyone in the face. Here is an introduction — I go into more depth in my on-line publications, (I am ex. Geol. Surv. Qld,)e.g. google ‘Climate Moderation Magnetic Field Interaction”. Oh, and congratulations to someone for mentioning ice cores. They have some meaning — but rely on assumptions. Please google “carbon dioxide preferential leaching ice cores professor Zbigniew Jaworowski”, for a glaciologist’s evaluation. To introduce Climate:
    1). No climate model as such exists, for the universally understandable reason that weather is a ‘chaos’ phenomenon. In fact, weather is the classic, widely quoted example of ‘chaos’ mathematics. Chaos mathematics, in some sense like pi, essentially solves at or near to infinity. I.e., only God can fully predict and ‘solve’ the weather. The Bible, of course, says the same.
    2). Global temperature being but one aspect of climate, it is not entirely unreasonable to attempt to predict temperature, or at least to investigate the control factors thereof. This implicates classical physics and ‘cutting edge’ quantum physics. We shall touch on the former with the note that the latter may throw a completely revolutionary light on the scene.
    3). According to classical physics, Earth vaguely approximates to a ‘blackbody’. In the case of theoretical ‘blackbody’, if we imagine it to be in isolation except for an external source of heat, and assume the body’s structure remains constant, then emission of heat from the body rises according to the 4th power in proportion to temperature. So, theoretically, the increase in heat given off in response to a tenfold temperature rise would be ten thousandfold. Earth of course having an atmosphere does not suffer such extreme effects. Living on the moon would be a different story!
    4). If we assume that relatively minor so-called greenhouse gases such as carbon gases, nitrous oxide, CFC’S etc., are a major greenhouse contributor – opinion remains divided here, although the satellite measurements of the wavelengths of re-radiated light and certain other ‘test tube’ measurements are suggestive – then we have the prospect that the recent increase in CO2 from 0.0003 atmospheres to 0.0004 atm., partly due to human activity, could trigger a bank run style flow-on effect which proves catastrophic. This despite the ‘blackbody’ proportionately greater increase in re-emission. So there are reasons to take global warming seriously – even if Scripture and common sense tell us that Man is foolish to worry over matters which are ultimately beyond him.
    5). In the 4 thou. mill. yrs during which life reliant upon atmospheric carbon existed, by estimation of carbon bearing geologic deposits, of the order of 12 atmospheres equivalent pure CO2 was processed through our atmosphere and buried. This contrasts with the pre-industrial revolution level of 0.0003 atm. – near the level which must have been maintained as the minimum for life, 4 thou. mill. yrs. In that incomprehensible time, the sun certainly fluctuated in output to boot. Atmospheric carbon and temperature fluctuated, although, contrary to claims, there is no known way of getting accurate palaeocarbon or palaeotemperature readings. The Earth nevertheless did not run to totally destructive heat or cold in all that time – although as far as geologic documentation goes (not far!) it went close once or twice!
    6). The two seemingly worst epochs of climate difficulty – (Late Carboniferous-Permian and Late Cretaceous) were associated at least circumstantially with carbon – the names bear this out; (creta is latin for chalk); with extinction/renewal events (the former saw the advent of the dinosaurs; the latter, their near-extinction) ; and …….. with the two best documented periods of magnetic field reversal ‘jamming’ in documented geologic history.
    7). As an everyday but largely ignored fact, circulating conductors such as ion streams and salt water, cutting a magnetic field, generate a magnetic field. Therefore in fact our (circulating) atmosphere and oceans generate part of our magnetic field. What proportion, is unknown, but the statistics show correlation between ocean current strength and secular or time variation of the field. Yet another hitherto mysterious yet startling modern correlation exists between atmospheric carbon rise – — and fall of magnetic field cohesion (Earth is not a bar magnet as such but a collection of magnets which, when cohesive, act as a bar). And – not surprisingly – magnetic field reversal behaviour/frequency is of the ‘stochastic’ statistical category. ‘Stochastic’ is in the same family as ‘chaos’ — the statistics of climate/weather. So climate is linked to our magnetic field and our magnetic field links to the sun’s field.
    …… Continued on-line via my publications. This is yr. 2014 stuff, being updated regularly by the latest findings.

    by Philip Heywood on May 2, 2014 at 9:23 am

  20. Earth’s atmosphere is perhaps better described as a radiation cavity. Radiation leaks in mainly through the visible spectrum and leaks out more in the infrared. As the widths of the transparent windows in the infrared spectrum decrease with rising CO2, an imbalance in the leakage causes the heat to bank up until it radiates out faster through the remaining transparency.

    Radiation intensity inside the cavity does vary with the fourth power of the temperature. So an increase of 4% in the radiation intensity implies a 1% rise in the temperature of the atmosphere.

    One percent of this absolute temperature is 3°. But the disasters of the future caused by this avoidable temperature rise will most certainly be acts of Man, not acts of God.

    by Roger Clifton on May 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm

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