ANU climate change expert Professor Will Steffen has responded to Senator Steve Fielding’s climate sceptic claims with an open letter slamming the position advanced by Fielding in June after returning from a greenhouse denialist conference in the United States.

Fielding sought and obtained a meeting between Climate Minister Penny Wong, Chief Scientist Penny Sackett and Steffen to argue that the evidence for climate change was in dispute. Fielding attended the meeting with prominent climate sceptics such as Bob Carter and Stewart Franks, and claimed that evidence showed there was no global warming and carbon was not responsible for climate change.

Fielding subsequently asked that Steffen attend a presentation to senators with Carter, which Steffen has declined.

In a savage assault on the credibility of Carter and his fellow sceptics, Steffen tells Fielding:

… you state in your letter that ‘it is important that all Senators are given the opportunity to hear both sides of the debate…’ In terms of the relationship between carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) and global warming, there is no debate in the climate change research community. That the Earth’s surface is warming is unequivocal, and there is also strong agreement amongst the vast majority of climate change scientists that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases… are the primary cause… The counter argument put forward by Professor Carter and his colleagues do not constitute the “other side of a scientific debate.” In fact, based on the written documentation that I have seen… these counter arguments do not constitute credible science. These documents demonstrate a serious misunderstanding of climate science and processes for assessing that science; they also contain violations of the fundamental principles of sound statistical analysis. In addition, there are numerous example of flawed logic, misleading and inaccurate statements, and confuse and inconsistent analyses. In my professional opinion and experience, science students at the ANU would be expected to much better than this.

Steffen points out that there is no peer-reviewed material that refutes the main findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and invites Fielding to visit ANU to discuss climate change.

Download the full letter here [pdf]

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey