Al Gore stepped off his jet and straight into a torrent of abuse from our nation’s leading global warming sceptics this week.

But the majority of scientists in Australia believe that reasonable debate about the substance of global warming ended some time ago. What remains at issue is potential rates of change and the scale of destruction, a problem many have moved onto addressing. But even in the most optimistic scenarios, the news is not good.

Which means the doubters are starting to reduce to a small, exclusive clique. Crikey has compiled an unofficial membership list of the Global Warming Sceptics Club — meet the commentators who don’t see what all the fuss is about:

William Kininmonth – Recently wrote an op-ed for The Australian entitled “Don’t be Gored into going along.” Former head of the National Climate Centre and a consultant to the World Meteorological Organisation. Author of Climate Change: A Natural Hazard (Multi-Science Publishing Co, 2004), which was launched by the Lavoisier Group (see below), a group closely associated to the mining industry.

The Lavoisier Group – Founded in 2000 by Ray Evans, then an executive at Western Mining Corporation (WMC), who was also involved in founding the HR Nicholls Society and the Bennelong Society. Their website states: “We are of the view that the science behind global warming policy is far less certain than its protagonists claim…”

Chris Mitchell, editor-in-chief of The Australian: Some recent editorials on global warming include “It’s not the end of the world” and “An inconvenient cost“, which did concede that “Gore successfully challenges the thesis that global warming is a part of a cyclical weather pattern rather than a man-made phenomenon” but said “the frustration of Mr Gore’s film is that he fails to grapple with the real cost of tackling climate change…” The paper recently earned the ire of one of the world’s leading science magazines, Scientific American, which accused The Oz of misrepresentation and “topspin” for its report “Science Tempers Fears on Climate Change.

Terry McCrann – News Ltd business writer, his latest column on global warming entitled “Al Gore’s Day After Tomorrow sequel” jokingly suggested a tax on flatulence.

Andrew Bolt – In “Bulled by a Gore.” the Herald Sun columnist labels Gore “one of the worst fact-fiddling Green evangelicals…” Made an impression on the recent News Ltd Pebble Beach conference by heckling Gore about his doco. Crikey understands that Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden rejected an offer of an interview with Gore after the Gore camp refused to be interviewed by Bolt.

Hugh Morgan – Former Western Mining Corporation boss and head of the Business Council of Australia until 2005, delivered the Lavoisier Group’s inaugural speech in which he stated, “Industry faces significant costs to meet our proposed greenhouse gas emission reductions—$100 million for WMC and over $1 billion for BHP. On this basis alone, we have a self-interest and, indeed, a moral imperative to be involved in the greenhouse debate arguing for sound science and for the facts to drive the debate.”

Alan Wood The Oz finance writer’s latest column on global warming, “Debate on Climate Change Far from Over” reads: “ … it has become quite fashionable of late to assert the global warming debate is over and an overwhelming scientific consensus prevails. This is simply untrue.”

The Institute of Public Affairs – A corporate funded think tank, headed by John Roskam. Their website states: “As a consequence of the burning of fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are currently increasing. There is no evidence, however, to suggest this will bring doom or that, by signing the Kyoto Protocol, Australia would make a significant difference to global carbon dioxide levels or to the rate of climate change.” Jennifer Marohasy heads the IPA’s Environment Unit. Funders disclosed by the IPA include BHP Billiton, Western Mining Corporation, News Limited, Shell, Caltex, Esso Australia and Woodside Petroleum.

Ian Castles – Former head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and former head of the Federal Finance Department, Castles has challenged the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, claiming major errors in their statistical analysis. Has said the IPCC’s projections of emissions, and therefore of temperatures, are based on fantastic assumptions, and his aim is to “replace that fantasy with some solid reality.”

Ian Plimer – Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide, says climate change is “a dogma, not a debate”. Has written several opinion articles for The Australian, including “Global warming – a damp squib.” Member of the Institute for Public Affairs.

Bob Carter: A former director of the Australian Ocean Drilling Office, professor of paleoclimatology at James Cook University in Townsville. In an October 2005 article in The Oz, “No Planet Too Hot to Handle” Carter wrote: “All the evidence is that atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial to the ecology of the planet.” A member of the Institute for Public Affairs.

Have we missed someone? Send suggestions to [email protected].

Peter Fray

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