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Apr 24, 2014

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

Despite all evidence to the contrary, Tony Abbott's business guru Maurice Newman is still convinced the world is cooling. Here's some facts to add to his case.

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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

CORRECTION: An original version of this article stated Nobel laureate Brad Schmidt — it should have said Brian Schmidt.

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20 thoughts on “The world is cooling, Abbott’s biz adviser insists. Bunkum

  1. Philip Heywood

    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.

  2. Roger Clifton

    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.

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