When Andrew Denton on Enough Rope asked Tim Flannery about a petition signed by 31,000 people critical of the Kyoto Protocol, not everyone appreciated which end the noose was on.

The petition, titled Science Has Spoken: Global Warming Is a myth by Arthur B. Robinson and Zachary W. Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, claims: “there is not a shred of persuasive evidence that humans have been responsible for increasing global temperatures. What’s more, carbon dioxide emissions have actually been a boon for the environment.”

It is not clear whether any of the professionals and scientists who signed the petition is active in climate research and has published related papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

When a plane is in trouble in the skies, do people trust the pilots or, alternatively, seek a consensus among the passengers? When someone suffers from lung cancer, would they seek the advice of medical specialists or, alternatively, distribute a petition among 31,000 people?

Having accused the IPCC and major climate research institutions of “science by consensus”, climate sceptics appear to have reached their own pinnacle in this regard.

The petition includes graphs suggestive of a mean decline of temperatures from 1979-1996 by almost -0.1C and correlation between temperature rise by +0.3C and solar magnetic cycle length during 1750-1980.

None of these plots negate anthropogenic climate change. According to NASA data, between 1880 and 2008 mean global temperature rose by about +0.8C. Prior to the mid-1970s, temperature rises were related to combined effects of solar activity, greenhouse gas, the El-Nino and aerosol effects, whereas from the mid-1970s the rise in greenhouse gas resulted in about +0.6C temperature rise.

The nature of the petition has been exposed by Desmogblog.com.

PR Watch reports that the article, titled “Environmental Effects of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”, “was printed in the same typeface and format as the official Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” creating “the impression that Robinson’s paper was an official publication of the academy’s peer-reviewed journal.”

But in an April 20, 1998, statement NAS clarified that “this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal.” The statement added that “[t]he petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy.”

The petition includes a letter by Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences. Desmogblog.com refers to Frederick Seitz as a “former tobacco company scientist”.

Peter Fray

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