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Apr 27, 2012

'I'd rather slam my cock in a door than debate climate change'

The sum total of useful commentary on ABC’s stultifying I Can Change Your Mind About Climate was five minutes of British scientist and author Ben Goldacre saying he'd rather slam his c-ck in the door then debate climate change, writes climate researcher Ian McHugh.

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The sum total of useful commentary on ABC’s stultifying I Can Change Your Mind About Climate, (herein ICCYMAC) was five minutes of British scientist and author Ben Goldacre. That the most edifying moments in the program included his admission that he’d rather slam his cock in a door than “debate” climate change probably tells those of you who missed it most of what you need to know. While apparently managing to restrain himself from threatened acts of penile self-mutilation, he made an obvious point.

Which was that climate change is not scientifically controversial.

John Tyndall first measured the radiative properties of CO2 in the 1860s (using this cool thing, the modern equivalent of which fits in a shoe box), and 150 science-filled years later, here’s that cauldron of leftist ferment, the US National Academy of Sciences:

“Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”

Almost every national science academy and professional scientific association on the planet support similar conclusions. Surveys of either the scientific literature or professional opinion lead to the same conclusion: there is near-unanimity on the broad nature and causes of climate change in the scientific community.

So by any fair measure, there is a scientific consensus on climate change. And consensus matters. The views of the self-styled climate “sceptics” lie nowhere within the window of plausible scientific contestability, and nowhere near it. This presents a credibility problem for contrarians, because when we’re not equipped to critically scrutinise complex issues ourselves, we take consensus among experts as a useful guide. This is not just eminently reasonable — it is indispensable. It underpins the basic division of labour by which society operates.

The payoff is that society as a whole carries far more knowledge than any one person could ever hope to, but the price of entry is a basic level of trust, not in individuals so much as in the institutions that keep them honest. The point is almost so obvious that attempting to articulate it unnecessarily complicates it — we almost all implicitly understand this. And in other disciplines — medicine, say — we apply it without controversy (as Paul Nurse memorably put to the UK Telegraph’s James Delingpole).

The response of those who deny the reality of climate change is the strawman rejoinder (exemplified by Delingpole), “Science doesn’t operate by consensus”. This little piece of misdirection is true, but irrelevant. It is precisely because science doesn’t “operate by consensus” — because it is undemocratic, regularly acrimonious and pitilessly Darwinian — that consensus, once gained, is so powerful.

So what was the point of ICCYMAC? To get to the bottom of why climate change is publicly controversial? In that case the documentary filmmakers ought to have taken their turn in front of the cameras, because the media has been central — sometimes as vehicle, sometimes as driver — to the spectacular distortion of public perception on this issue in the past two decades.

Daringly, the program’s voice-over commentary invites the audience to wonder: “Are programs such as this part of the problem?” Yes. Yes, you bunch of freaking NINNIES, freaking OMG YES! Yes, your program is assuredly part of the problem. A bit of non-committal introspection doesn’t get you off the hook, by the way. It just confirms that you half-assed knew what you were doing, but did it anyway.

The media can and should take a position on climate change — it should be a “truth vigilante”, because we are dealing with a question of fact, with the ultimate impartial arbiter: nature. That the topic is publicly controversial is no escape clause for the media, because as the intermediary between science and the public, it is one of the primary bearers of responsibility for that controversy. Of course a great deal of pressure has been brought to bear on the media by those with an interest in fostering public confusion, and to say, “Yes we bend like saplings in the wind, but there is enormous pressure,” may be an important reason. But it’s barely an excuse.

And ICCYMAC bent sideways, actually reading its format directly from the denialist strategic playbook. As Frank Luntz in the infamous Republican memo of 2003: “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

Of course there is a lack of scientific certainty — this is science. The denialist strategy has been to utterly misrepresent that window of scientific contestability, to yank it across the spectrum from, “It’s happening, it’s us, it’s a problem,” to “Who really knows?” They don’t need to win. They just need to wrestle the issue to a standstill by promoting the illusion of controversy.

Regardless, this discussion is probably pointless. You knew what you thought before you began reading. I can’t change your mind about climate change. That’s OK, I don’t want to. I’m past that. I’d rather slam my cock in a door.

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160 thoughts on “‘I’d rather slam my cock in a door than debate climate change’

  1. DB57

    It seems that there are multiple questions we need to answer in this debate. Is climate change happening? The answer to that seems a pretty resounding yes. Are we going to try to prevent it from happening, or adapt to it? We seem to be focusing on the former. Whether in fact it is anthropogenic or not may well be irrelevant.

  2. Jean

    I know what I thought about science when I started reading this sanctimonious article, and that was, as Karl Popper proposed, that a hypothesis only stands while it can be tested, and while it withstands testing.

    Your “settled science” , beloved of the philosopher of choice of the military-industrial complex, Thomas Kuhn, sounds too much like the “religious truth is settled” proposal.

    Disclaimer: I have a vested interest in climate change, a couple of metres sea level rise in Sydney and I’m on a waterfrontage. Pass me that yachting magazine!

  3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Both programs last night fell into the trap of calling one side the “skeptics” and the other “believers”.

    I call most who post against climate change “deniers” because it is clear that no amount of evidence will convince them to change their minds. They are not skeptical about climate change, they are grasping every straw that they can to support their denial.

    Another reason it is wrong to call them “skeptics” is that the deniers are never skeptical about the information they hear than then pass on. A classic example last night was Michen’s talk of the warming figures being wrong because they were measured in cities and at airports. If Minchen had been open minded or skeptical, it would have taken him only a few minutes on the internet to find that this had been full looked into and taken into account.

    It science that is always skeptical – each bit of new evidence is scrutinised, not only on its own, but in how it fits into the bigger picture. Science has a proven track record of discovering new evidence and making major advances.

    You don’t “believe” in climate change, you ACCEPT the evidence.

    But, as Ian says, as most of us are not experts, our accepting the evidence is based on having FAITH in the overall scientific process and its institutions.

    This is not mindless faith because when we want to ask why the scientists think something we are able to check things out for ourselves – firstly with good overview information aimed at the general public, going all the way down to the the key published papers.

    Perhaps the key lesson from last night’s programs is that we can no longer assume that people are rational. While the dominance of spin and irrationality will have long term consequences to our climate, I’m sure that we will get many more situations where major public policy decisions will be made based on spin and lies.

  4. klewso

    Of course the media could take a position on climate change – if they wanted – look at all the other matters they’re not backward in coming forward on. But on this most are more interested in reporting on the combatants – and circulating misinformation to keep the fire going.

  5. Williams David

    Jean, you may have known what you thought about science when you started reading the article, but what you thought was wrong. Popper proposed that a hypothesis can be considered scientific if it is, in principle, able to be refuted by experiment. If it is not refuted after ‘sufficient’ efforts to do so, it achieves the status of a theory. A theory is a body of experimental evidence, which, while accumulated in the effort to refute the original hypothesis, has failed to do so. (Think ‘atomic theory’ or ‘Darwinian theory’ as examples.)

    The experimental evidence supporting anthropogenic global warming is now sufficiently large to be regarded as theory. This doesn’t mean that every prediction of the theory is true to three decimal places, but it does mean we have good reason to rely on the theory to a much greater extent than any ‘religious truth’ you care to mention.

    I think it’s unreasonable to describe Ian McHugh’s article as sanctimonious, in that he is stating only what people with a reasonable knowledge of science experience when they hear apparently intelligent people such as Nick Minchin espousing arguments that are illogical, irrelevant, or based on ignorance of the facts.

  6. Steve777

    We do not need further debate on whether or not global warming is happening unless additional credible scientific evidence emerges. Geologists no longer debate the truth of Continental Drift. Physicists no longer debate the validity of Relativity, Hubble expansion of the universe or Quantum Theory. Protestant fundamentalists in the Anglosphere debate the validity of Evolution; biologists don’t.

    There is still a fair bit of uncertainty among climate scientists about the detailed impacts of climate changes, including the geographical distribution of impacts and the timelines over which impacts will emerge. These will become clearer over the coming years and decades, but it is very likely that these impacts will be highly detrimental to most of humanity. What we should be debating in relation to climate change is what, if anything, we should be doing about it. There are many possibilities, e.g: do nothing and adapt, carbon tax / etc. But any further debate should be based upon theon science, not on the agenda of vested interests.

  7. Dithehammer

    Hear! Hear! Steve777

  8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    And it is very annoying to see that on Crikey writing the word d e n i e r seems to get the comment held for moderation.

    My first post at 1:58 pm (being held for moderation) justified my use of this term, and said why I think it is misleading to call those who oppose skeptics and those who support the science believers.

  9. Mort

    The fossil fuel political lackeys have manage to delay renewable technologies and maximize profits from fossil fuel long enough that we are past the point of stopping widespread environmental disruption to societies.

    All we can do now is make plans to survive.
    How do we deal with mass migration from places like Bangladesh?
    How do we increase security in farming? What alternative fuel for tractors/truck transport/public transport?
    Do we bother trying to captive breed critically endangered animals & plants or do we just let them die out.
    What strategies are there for future super bush fires and super droughts?
    We are past the tipping point.

    Arguing with ostriches is a waste of valuable time and resources.

  10. Omar Khayyam

    Great article! exactly to the point. Perhaps a d*ck slammers club will start up?

  11. Frank Campbell

    As always, the same sleight of mind from climate millenarians: McHugh conflates the certainty of greenhouse gas basic physics with the intractable complexity of future projections.

    That’s the travesty of science they’ve foisted upon the world. The Royal Society (and many others) have cautioned that the interaction of chaotic climate systems- inlcuding many unknowns and Rumsfeldian unknowns) -cannot possibly be known with certainty. Therefore policy based on such projections is fraught with uncertainty.

    The arrogance of Goldacre, McHugh and Hamilton is of course self-defeating. They’re the best friends denialism could have…

  12. Frank Campbell

    A question for McHugh:

    Assume you have a Lovelock conversion and become a sceptic (not a denier). How long would you survive in your job? Describe the likely reactions of your colleagues. What would your career prospects be as a “climate researcher”?

  13. Robert Barwick

    McHugh’s got it all wrong. ICCYMAC wasn’t about figuring out why climate change is controversial. It was about breathing life into a dead debate. The debate isn’t “over”, it is dead, because people don’t care. They care about real problems, like keeping their jobs and homes.

  14. David Allen

    Ah, Frank, you’ll have to pen another eight posts for the comments to acheive ‘balance’. Perhaps Tamas could help?

  15. Ootz

    A question for Frank. I happily change my mind in the climate debate, very shortly after all the academy of sciences reverse their opinion. How about you?

    A question to Robert re “They (people)care about real problems, like keeping their jobs and homes.” You mean in the short term or in the long run?

  16. roger

    Ian you’re kinda missing the point. The program last night wasn’t principally about the science, even if it showed how amateur bloggers like Jo Nova had been so convincingly destroyed by real scientific work by the likes of Muller’s Berkley group confirming the accuracy of the temperature record. What it was really about was attitudes, and why people hold them. What was clear was that rationality and logic have little to with it. And once we accept that as a reality, (and the failure of scientists to convince half the population ), then we can reframe the discussion and make it more productive.

    You offer only a failed strategy, repeating the mistakes of the past and hoping the outcome to be different. Didn’t Einstein call that the definition of insanity? Stick to this close-minded position, and you become part of the problem, not the solution. i’m sorry, those are harsh words and difficult to accept, I’m sure. But we have to do things differently if we are going to come close to making progress

  17. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Frank – If a scientist discovers something brand new to science which shows that climate change is wrong they will probably get the cover of Nature followed by the Nobel prize a year or two later.

    But to do so they need to come up with a theory which is supported by the evidence and explains the current measurements at least as well as all our current theories. This is so unlikely that the big picture of climate change is as good as settled.

    You have failed to provide any reason why anyone should not accept the science. In fact I’ve yet to see anyone post something on Crikey which casts any sensible doubt.

  18. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @ROGER,

    If Nature or Science were to publish something that proved climate change was no threat, then I would not see anything wrong with Victoria continuing to burn its huge coal deposits.

    Accepting the science on climate change means that we need to make major changes and do so quickly. If climate change was no threat then there would be no reason for the changes to be big or to happen quickly.

    The scientists have done a good job in convincing people in most countries. It is only in places like the USA and Australia that it has become political and the MSM has become more lobbyists than reporters.

    I place a lot of the blame on Labor, as I think the evidence shows that they never believed in taking real action on climate change. When both major parties don’t want real action it is not surprising that many Australians no longer think that action is needed.

  19. Patrick Brosnan

    ” What was clear was that rationality and logic have little to with it. And once we accept that as a reality” … we’ve pretty much lost. You can’t have an answer to a problem like AGW with using rationality and logic. This has been the wonder of modernity, that we have been able to describe our environment in such detail that we are no longer afraid of it. pre-moderns suffered under a pall of ignorance. Is this where we want to go?

  20. shepherdmarilyn

    Scientists brought us DDT, it was the saviour of the world until it was discovered to be a carcinogen. It was withdrawn from use everywhere but here.

    Organophosphates were then the new saviour of the world, we dropped millions of gallons of the stuff on Vietnam, people are still dying but it is still being made in
    WA.

    All sorts of things brought to us by scientists have proved in the long term to be deadly and they are withdrawn.

    All start with an idea and tests on lab rats.

    How about we put those who think that too much CO2 is a good thing in a closed tank like lab rats and they can tell us all about the lovely effects of suffocation when and if they survive.

    What I hate though is the use of the word “denier”. “There is no reason ever to force people to agree with anything, they have to learn from experience.

  21. Patrick Brosnan

    sorry “without”

  22. Frank Campbell

    See what I mean by paranoia?:

    “Author: Barbara Boyle
    Comment:
    Has the ABC ever claimed to seek the truth? Rather it appears to act as a sounding board or echo chamber for the more powerful interests.”

  23. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @PATRICK BROSNAN,

    I strongly agree that without rationality and logic we are lost.

    Not only is rationality and logic key to accepting the science, but we need it to effectively respond.

    Unfortunately most of what Australia has done so far has been more greenwashing than effective response.

    A great example of this was when the Rudd government found that the Howard scheme for solar cells was costing too much, so they changed the way the scheme was funded so that, at that time, installing solar would result in MORE greenhouse gases being emitted. Fortunately this has been fixed since.

  24. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @FRANK,

    How about using some rationality and logic to evaluate what people say?

    I think it is very easy to make the case that the ABC now gives much more voice to extreme conservative views, and gives much less voice to views to the progressive side of Labor. For example, it is now usual on ABC radio to hear from the IPA, yet rare to hear any voice saying that Labor should be more progressive.

    It seems to me that Barbara Boyle’s view is a statement of fact, which can easily be confirmed by looking at who gets a say on the ABC and who does not, as well as who gets to say something that is clearly wrong which remains unchallenged.

    Whether you think that this is a good thing or a bad thing comes down to your values. But Barbara’s claim is not paranoid because what she says is true.

  25. Frank Campbell

    MWHam: “If a scientist discovers something brand new to science which shows that climate change is wrong they will probably get the cover of Nature followed by the Nobel prize a year or two later.”

    Again the familiar naivete about the history and sociology of science- not to mention climate science itself: overturning such a ferociously defended hypothesis will not be easy. Scientists and many others have been cowed into submission, first by the messianic zeal of the proponents- and then by the power of the counter-cult. Denialism (not scepticism or doubt) has evolved into a cult exactly where you’d expect: the USA. Denialism has sucked nutrition from the partisan divide everywhere, but in the US it’s truly pernicious. Try being a modestly Warmist Republican…The US is an exceptionally brutal, essentially insane society. The feral Creationist, gun-stuffed, racist, war-mongering, segregated, class-ridden, god-soaked 18th century primitives who make up a large minority of the population have seized on global warming belief as a Sign of the Devil, a cloak for commos etc etc. Corporate America is well pleased, as they can sit back and ker-ching their members…

    The local variants of the anti-cult are also where you’d expect them. Rejoyce! You’ve nothing to lose but your Labour Member…

    Expect many more Labour members to be slammed in the door…

    But the real obtuseness of MWH et al is that they don’t realise that the complexity of climate and the long lead times mean that either confirming or rejecting AGW is bound to be incremental. Observational science will decide the issue, not computer models or Savonarola Hamiltons. Two recent studies for example: one showing the resilience of corals to warmer water, the other to the lowering of cloud levels (and hence temps). This will go on for decades. Nobels will go to both sides, and the “answer” will probably be “none of the above”.

    But the cult will not survive. It is already in its death throes. It’s own extremism cost it scientific credibility- and “climate” policy fiascos have killed it politically.

    The next step is to detach AGW from Left / Right partisanship. No easy task, given that for several years the climate cult intimidated all progressive opinion, casting the Right as anti-Christ. Now Bob Brown is in the wilderness, while naked, grinning Satan approaches…

  26. Patrick Brosnan

    @MICHAEL WILBUR-HAM (MWH)
    Indeed. Yet despite the incredible advances in technology, largely driven by basic scientific research, that we’ve seen in the last 30 odd years, I believe there is an observable increase in the irrational and illogical. Perhaps the inherent complexity of these technologies causes this reaction. As Clarke said:
    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

  27. DMX PRIME

    Here here!

    When one looks at the various PR organizations who started this whole “controversy” and the tactics used, we see the same familiar faces and tactics behind the whole “Teach the controversy” thing with creationism and anti-tobacco-legislation people.

    The idea is simple, if people think theres a controversy they’ll tend to side with whatever side is most comfortable to them. So if you say “Hey this isn’t happening, heres a public-relati….errrr…scientist who says so!” people will side with that because it seems less worrying than “We have to change some of the way we live or we’re in trouble”.

    The reality is the debate was over 130+ years ago when Fourier demonstrated the greenhouse effect in the laboratory. He pumped CO2 into a room and shone light in, and the place heated up, proving the contention that CO2 traps heat from the infra-red spectrum. At the time scientists started worrying that CO2 from the coal powered industrial revolution would cause climate changes, although their modelling capacity pre-computer was obviously much more limited. As time went on we where able to add a bunch of new pieces to the puzzle from satelite data collection, new science on how CO2 interacts with oceans, and so on, to the point we are now where we can fairly accurately predict broad trends. There are *tens of thousands* of separate studies that all agree on the same point;- We’re in trouble.

    We need thus to take a cue from the biologists in the US who concluded that arguing with creationists simply promotes the idea that theres something to debate about climate changes reality. Its not. We know its not.

    The thing is , there IS stuff we need to debate. Like how do we go about fixing it. How much discomfort , both from climate change and from measures to try and stop it, are we comfortable with? If things go too far, can we cope with macro-engineering projects to try and reverse it? And so on……

    But whilst we sit around arguing with public relations hacks and clueless conservatives who have been led by the nose to the stupid-stall of the farm , the more the clock ticks past 11 and on to midnight.

    We need to stop debating fools and start mocking them. Seriously. This nonsense has gone on far too long.

  28. DMX PRIME

    Addendum to my previous comment: My memorys a bit sifty. Joseph Fourier proposed the greenhouse effect in 1824, not the 1870s, and it was somewhat confirmed in experiments in 1859 and 1896 respectively by John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius respectively. Sorry about that. I’m a bit crap at history!

  29. DMX PRIME

    Ok, apologies for my multiple replies!

    What I hate though is the use of the word “denier”. “There is no reason ever to force people to agree with anything, they have to learn from experience.

    No I think its appropriate. Skeptics are people that apply the scientific method to guard against humbug and pseudoscience. This is not what the denialists are doing! As a Skeptic and science dude, it offends me to be lumped in with this.

    Heres what a skeptic does when confronted with some science he thinks might be wrong. He designs an experiment, or an investigation of data that can in a *falsifiable* manner show than an earlier assumption was premature , mistaken or unwarranted. He then publishes them in the mainstream scientific literature where it will be reviewed by experts in the field, and if his research is any good, its published and all the boffins then read it and either go “Woooo!” or they try and refute it by the same process. Thats skeptical science in action.

    A scientific “skeptic” does not buddy up to an oil funded public relations firm for money to fly around the world doing talks aimed to cast fear, doubt and uncertainty against hard working scientists whilst promoting a belief system that requires *fundamental laws of physics* to be wrong for the belief system to be right.

    So I *refuse* to call these people skeptics. They are pseudoscientific charlatains and snake oil sales men, and they are wasting precious time where we could be spending trying to fix this damned problem.

  30. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I think that there has been a move towards irrationality over the last 20 years, and this has been worst in countries where politics has encouraged spin over substance – Australia and the USA.

    I worked for Telstra for 25 years, and it was very apparent that the Australian business view was that technical expertise was not highly valued. Working at the Telstra Research Labs for most of my career covered the rise in the internet. How did Telstra respond? From a position where they had a relationship with every business in Australia and a huge consumer base, and technical expertise of world class status, they are now a provided of internet services of about the same calibre of any other provider in Australia. I’ve not used a Telstra service on the internet for ages. Even looking up a business I’ve found quicker and easier on google than using Telstra on-line.

    This lack of understanding of the power of science and technology was made very apparent when Rudd got the first Garnaut report and said something like “this was just one input”.

    I’ve yet to find one Labor supporter on Crikey who admits that the Rudd/Wong CPRS would have locked in failure, and thus The Greens were right to oppose it. Not one of them has looked into the facts – they just blindly support their political team.

  31. Tamas Calderwood

    How interesting that a “climate researcher” would rather mutilate his ***k than discuss and argue for his specific area of research. Surely you would take very opportunity to explain to the “deniers” why they are wrong.

    Perhaps Ian should give it a try.

    Perhaps he could tell us why it hasn’t warmed since 1998?
    Perhaps he could explain why the warming spurts from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were all of the same magnitude despite higher human CO2 emissions in the latter periods?
    And why has the world only warmed by 0.7C since 1850? Don’t the models suggest it should have been much more?

    Come on Ian – responding to a few simple questions has got to be better than slamming your ***k in a door, right?

  32. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @Tamas,

    The reason I call people like you d….. and not skeptics is that if you were to do a quick internet search on all of the questions you asked you will probably be able to find how a mainstream climate change scientist would respond.

    Usually those who oppose climate change just repeat things that have already been debunked (Minchen choosing a person who claimed that warming was due to the temperatures being measured at airports, etc, is a classic example of repeating a claim that had long since been debunked).

    And Tamas, would you like to give us all a reference that justifies your claim that the world hasn’t warmed since 1998?

    The interesting question for Tamas is why she has chosen to believe the claims she has written without doing any research into the truth? Why does she believe these claims and yet ignore the publicly available evidence that she is wrong? And what, if anything, might convince Tamas that climate change is a real threat?

  33. Tamas Calderwood

    MWH –

    1) I’m a bloke.
    2) The ‘no warming since ’98” claim is based on a linear regression on the UAH satellite data that I did myself.
    3) If it’s so easy to answer these questions with a bit of googling, then go ahead! When those questions were asked in Crikey’s “Ask a climate scientist” series the scientists could not answer the questions. So please, tell me how I’m wrong.

    How is 0.7C warming in 150 years (and none since 1998) a crisis?

  34. David Hand

    I say this as someone who is convinced that AGW is real and poses a significant threat to our future.

    I laughed out loud when I read this, “much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”

    Very likely. I’ll say it again in case all you cock door slammers missed it “VERY LIKELY”.

    How about that, some uncertainty slips through the shoulder to shoulder solidarity to people considering mutilation of their penises.

    I am with Frank. There is significant uncertainty about the future extrapolation of agreed, scientifically reviewed observations and indisputable measurements about what has occurred in our recent atmospheric past.

    When people like Flannery warn of the likelyhood of the Brisbane water supply running out, to the extent that the Queensland government changes the operating peocedures for the flood protecting Wivenhoe dam, and look what happened then, it is reasonable for people to ask again if such draconian changes demanded of climate activists are truly needed.

    Most of the predictions are from people who are making it up as they go along.

  35. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Sorry for getting your sex wrong.

    Where did you publish your analysis? If you didn’t publish this in a peer reviewed journal, why should anyone take your claim seriously?

    And how do you explain that your views differ from that of every university in every country and every scientific academy in every country? Are all these scientists incompetent? Or is this some world-wide conspiracy?

  36. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @David Hand,

    I’m not from Brisbane, so I’ve not followed their dam issue closely. So could you please provide the full quote where Flannery warned of the likelihood of the Brisbane water supply running out, and provide some evidence that his comments resulted in changes to the operating procedures to the dams.

    If you look at the major reports which report on what might happen (IPCC, Garnaut, etd) you will find that they all include probabilities. You will also find that there is some pretty good research underlying these probabilities.

    A rational examination of the best evidence to hand says that it is sensible to act (Stern, Garnaut). This is not based on certainty, but on risk and the cost of reducing that risk.

    One of the reasons that those who oppose action on climate change are easily dismissed is that they attack every step of the process. So when someone says they are convinced that AGW is real but then dismisses all that logical follows, I suspect that it is much more likely that this is just part of the campaign against action rather than a well thought out view.

  37. John Newton

    Goodonyer sport.

  38. Jim McDonald

    The moment the media breathlessly publishes the FACTS of climate change – that global warming is about increasing temperature TRENDS and the effect does NOT mean that everywhere on earth swelters at the same rate at the same time, that extremes of weather accompany global climate warming and that extremes of cold are part of the global system; and the moment they take up the cudgel for ensuring a national food security policy is an absolute imperative instead of allowing good farming soil to be dug up by foreign mining interests with front men like Clive Palmer and to be degraded along with the aquifers by CSG interests – we will know that the media has gone back to its core business: that is, publishing what is instead of baseless and compromised opinion.

  39. Ootz

    Tamas you deserve a Nobel for single handedly saving civilisation from itself, magnificent work.

    Verily a champion of humanity and a boon to abused genitals!

  40. drsmithy

    I am with Frank. There is significant uncertainty about the future extrapolation of agreed, scientifically reviewed observations and indisputable measurements about what has occurred in our recent atmospheric past.

    Thus raising the question: what evidence is going to convince you to change your mind from “do nothing” to “do something” ?

  41. johnson

    The media love a good culture war, it sells.

  42. David Allen

    MWH

    “I’ve yet to find one Labor supporter on Crikey who admits that the Rudd/Wong CPRS would have locked in failure”

    Well, here’s an ex Labor supporter, if that counts.

  43. Steve777

    Frank Campbell and others – the uncertainty of the science is part of the problem. The earth is about 30-33 deg warmer than it otherwise would be because of the natural concentration of greenhouse gases. Humanity has increased the concentration of a major greenhouse gas, CO2, by about 28% since the Industrial Revolution, and this increase continues. By measuring the distribution of isotopes we know that is extra CO2 came from fossil fuels rather than volcanoes or the oceans. There is strong evidence (in retreating glaciers and polar ice for example) that warming has occurred and is occurring.

    Science is not able to determine in detail what effect this will have, but there is certainly enough evidence to be strongly concerned that humanity will be seriously impacted. The climate system is extremely complex, with positive and negative feedback loops, vicious and virtuous circles. It is possible that it may all work out OK but this seems to be a heroic assumption upon which to base our response. On the other hand the effects could turn out to be a lot worse than anyone is expecting. We don’t know. As to alternatives explanations of climate change over the centuries, e.g. solar activity cycles, the effect on the Earth’s climate is far from understood and those pushing these explanations seem to be assuming that additional CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere has no effect.

    Much of the debate has been clouded by people on both sides of the issue claiming dramatic weather events – floods, droughts, heatwaves, a cool wet summer – as support for their side. Of course you can never prove this, any more than you can prove that a particular case of lung cancer was caused by smoking. But I believe that science has given us their best assessment of the big picture, and it doesn’t look good.

  44. James Hastings

    @Steve777

    A common argument used by AGW proponents is that we must take action to avert AGW because the risk of doing nothing is too great. I find this argument weak on many fronts. Here’s why.

    1. Its seems weird to trumpet the overwhelming evidence in support of AGW and then fall back to saying that its “too dangerous not to act”. Either the evidence for catastrophic AGW is overwhelming or it isn’t. Saying that its too dangerous not to act is a tacit acknowledgement that there is a reasonable probability that the predictions of catastrophic AGW are wrong.

    2. Whatever the probabilities of various AGW predictions coming right are, there is a guaranteed outcome if we undergo the drastic action necessary to stop all fossil fuel production in the world. That is economic destruction.
    Think about it like this… if the worst AGW predictions come true then it will be like the worst bits of the bible. To stop that from happening we must stop using all fossil fuels right now. Not everyone installs solar panels and drives hybrids, but we stop using electricity pretty much at all. That sounds just as bad if not worse than rising sea levels and melting polar icecaps. I’d rather be in a world that’s too hot with aircon, refrigeration, functioning hospitals, internet, cheap clothes and food, and cars, than a world without all those things.

    So you’d have us swap a small probability of world destruction for a guaranteed one? Doesn’t seem sensible to me.

  45. David Hand

    Doctor,
    What was there about my post that led you to believe I think we should do nothing? Yours is a classic faith based response. I am saying the green left lobby is as in the dark about global warming as the rest of us and you call me an unbeliever.

    I accept the science that says AGW is real and humans are contributing to it. My favoured policy response is an emissions trading scheme.

    I just don’t believe in Flannery’s / McHugh’s / Rose’s religeon. And the Brisbane floods are a great example of what happens when society follows the utterings of prophets. Give me a sober, science based risk assessment any day.

    Let there be plenty of debate about the correct policy response to climate change and if a few fools mutilate their penises along the way, that’s their choice in a free country.

  46. Steve777

    @James Hastings – you put a good summary of a position opposing action on climate change – basically that the cure is worse than the disease. Fair enough, this is what we should be debating, not whether or not there is a disease.

    Still, you are mis-stating the position of those who argue for action. No one except fringe elements of the environmental movement are saying that we should stop using electricity, but rather that we should be moving to reduce our dependence on fuels that emit greenhouse gases. Personally, I believe that nuclear energy, for all of its risks, needs to be part of the mix, at least for the next half century or so.

    And we rarely have full information, let alone certainty, when we have to make a crucial decision, whether as individuals or as a community. I always thought smoking was a good analogy. For an individual, smoking does not guarantee lung cancer and early death, but it greatly increases their probability. Giving up smoking guarantees the loss of the pleasures of smoking but makes it much more likely that the individual will enjoy better health and longer life.

    Is the cure worse than the disease? If it just means we need more air conditioning, maybe not. But the effects are far more subtle. Likely effects include widespread changes to the distribution of rainfall, both geographically and seasonally. That would severely disrupt the economy of a wealthy country like Australia and bring famine to many less fortunate countries. And the downside of taking action? We end up switching to renewable sources of energy a few decades (oil) or centuries (coal) earlier than we had to, with what turned out to be some unnecessary taxes and bureaucracy. On the balance of risks, I support action.

  47. Tamas Calderwood

    Very interesting responses James Hastings and David Hand.

    I agree that the economic impacts of the proposed ‘solutions’ will be catastrophic. And I agree that the alarmists have weakened their case by trying to be prophets despite the great uncertainties.

  48. kd

    The alarmists with their facile argument (we musn’t do anything, it’ll be economic ruin!) are laughable. Minchin, Calterwood etc are the real alarmists – their argument goes something like: Hey ignore the scientific evidence, think of the political economy, that’s far more important. Failure to treat changes to the political economy as of primary importance, and failure to be super conservative about changes to the PE will create DISASTER, OMG WE’LL ALL BE RUINED THINK OF THE POOR PEOPLE.

    Laughable 🙂 Happy alarmism delusion boy!

  49. kd

    The alarmists with their facile argument (we musn’t do anything, it’ll be economic ruin!) are laughable. Minchin, Calterwood etc are the real alarmists – their argument goes something like: Hey ignore the scientific evidence, think of the political economy, that’s far more important. Failure to treat changes to the political economy as of primary importance, and failure to be super conservative about changes to the PE will create disaster, omg, we’ll all be ruined, think of all the poor people.

    Alarmists indeed.

  50. James Hastings

    @ KD

    What scientific evidence?

  51. Tamas Calderwood

    Doesn’t change the fact that the world hasn’t warmed since 1998 KD. Care to explain why?

  52. kd

    Oh look, a detailed rebuttal to Tamas claim: http:// http://www.skepticalscience.com/ global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm (remove spaces) again. Broken record. Yawn. Not that evidence means anything at all to Tamas.

  53. kd

    Oh look, a detailed rebuttal to Tamas claim: http : / / www . skepticalscience . com / global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm (remove spaces) again. Broken record. Yawn. Not that evidence means anything at all to Tamas.

  54. kd

    And for good measure, here’s Tamas’ mainstay about 1998 debunked way back in 2007 http: // web . archive . org /web/20080607061138/ tamino . wordpress . com/2007/08/31/garbage-is-forever/ (again remove spaces)

  55. Damotron

    First we had a government but the government needed watching so the media took on the role of keeping the government honest. Then the media, which was watching the government, started behaving like a government and needed watching but there was nobody there to watch it, so the government decided the media needed watching and set up a watchdog to watch the media. Then the watchdog got too close to government so the watchdog needed watching. The media decided it needed to watch the watchdog as well as the government and so on. Guess all of this is better than fighting wars.

  56. James Hastings

    @KD (and all other catastrophic AGW proponents for that matter)

    Most of us who are global warming “deniers” don’t actually deny that there is no global warming going on. What we dispute is the primary cause of global warming (man-made or natural), the severity of global warming that is going to occur, and the impact that global warming is going to have on the Earth

    Lets say Tamas is wrong and your right – the world has been warming since 1998. So what? We know that historically climate changes all the time. The most recent change was the Medieval Warm period. The world’s climate changed very quickly from being so warm that agriculture was possible in Greenland to not being possible at all. This was just the last in numerous climate shifts that have occurred long before people had evolved as people let alone started using fossil fuels. No one disputes this. So we can draw two facts out of this – there is a natural mechanism that causes the climate to change all the time. And it has nothing to do with human activity.

    Given that there is this natural climate changing mechanism, my question to you is why is the global warming we’ve been experiencing not just due to that natural mechanism?

  57. kd

    James: The deiner argument is done to death and not well supported in the peer reviewed literature, or anywhere else for that matter. I recommend this resource: http: // www . skepticalscience . com/argument.php (remove spaces) for detail on your arguments above.

    Short answer: the science of climate change is complicated but sound, and is based on the same science that enables the infrastructure of civilisation. Deny one and you deny the other. For a more detailed exposition of this idea see Dikran’s exposition here: http: // www . skepticalscience . com /why-are-we-sure-were-right-1.html (remove spaces)

    You are entitled to your opinion, but be assured that it’s not supported by empirical or theoretical evidence.

  58. kd

    Oh sorry not Dikran’s response, Glenn Tamblyn’s response just below.

  59. Tamas Calderwood

    Exactly James.

    And I repeat; the net 0.7C rise came in three equal spurts from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998, despite the latter periods having much higher CO2 emissions.

    That looks awfully natural to me.

  60. Tamas Calderwood

    KD – you never answer the points we make. You just point to a bunch of “science” and say all the answers are in there. But you can’t articulate the answers.

    Please tell us why the 0.7C rise since 1850 can NOT have been natural.

  61. kd

    Actually I refuse to engage you in the detail of the science, as you don’t actually pay attention. You just stick your fingers in your ears and yell ‘no warming since 1998 I can’t hear you lalalalala” repeatedly. The science is complicated as is the natural system which it is built to understand. Your charade of over-simplified ideological posturing is just idiotic and I don’t know why I waste my energy on you. Just to point out that you’re totally resistant to the evidence, and that your position is all about an alarmist approach to the topic not supported by evidence I guess.

  62. David McRae

    Best summation of the Doco to demonstrate balance fallacy I’ve seen.

    Actually, any deniers here willing to put their finger in front of a CO2 laser. I’d love to see if made up believe will alter physics.

  63. David Allen

    Tamas

    “Please tell us why the 0.7C rise since 1850 can NOT have been natural.”

    So you hypothesise that the 0.7°C IS caused by nature. It then becomes incumbent on you to test this hypothesis and demonstrate its validity.

    KD – valiant effort but you’re wasting your time as evidenced by “You just point to a bunch of “science” and say all the answers are in there.”

  64. kd

    David: Totally agree, Tamas is a complete waste of time on this topic. I like the case study in delusion, but he really is a poor lost alarmist babe in the woods.

  65. David Hand

    This question about whether or not humans have caused to 0.7°C can’t be known and is pointless. The most expert of us can only have an opinion. There is no control to test the hypothesis against. So much for the scientific method in this matter. Tamas may be right or KD may be right but it doesn’t matter anyway. The question is about what we do in response to the change and that’s not a question of science but of risk assessment and policy.

    I’m off to find a door to slam my cock in.

  66. kd

    David, don’t slam your cock in a door for reasons of false balance. Mr Goldacre (a medical doctor with an interest in writing about scientific malefecance of various kinds, not as Tamas claimed a climate expert) was encouraging people to do that as an experssion of the poor quality but endlessly repeated denier arguments compared to the rather decent scientific consensus.

  67. James Hastings

    @KD

    I’ve read through the link that you provided and considered the points made on that site. The article addressing the point I made mentions that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would increase the temperature by about 1c and adding in positive feedbacks from things like water vapour the net increase would be about 3c. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and increasing CO2 will affect the climate. Humans are increasing CO2 and that’s going to have an impact. Not in dispute. Question is the level of the affect.

    I was going to argue the finer points of the evidence used to determine just exactly what the feedback is of things like Water Vapour and how those figures are derived. But I’m not going to. I’m taking a simpler route and agree with all that and pose my favourite question – so what?

    So we’re going increase global temperatures by 3c? Big deal. Mankind has dealt with Ice ages and global warming before and yet still survived and prospered. All those poor people in the world will be better off having cheap energy and growing economies. And with economic growth comes lower bithrates. Eventually the world’s population will settle at a reasonable level. and renewable energies will replace fossil fuels… not because they emit no greenhouse gases, but because they are cheaper.

  68. David Hand

    Hey MWH,
    Rather than quote from an extensive article, let me publish in full the words of a prophet, who shifted public policy to the real pain of a lot of Brisbane residents, for your reading pleasure.

    It’s amazing how this piece, so thoroughly debunked in less than 5 years, hasn’t stopped Flannery remaining the darling of his acolytes who regale us ad nauseum, every time they do a post, about their scientific authodoxy and commitment to observable facts.

    Read it and weep.

    Editorial: Australia – not such a lucky country
    16 June 2007
    From New Scientist Print Edition.
    Tim Flannery

    Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too. But by far the most dangerous trend is the decline in the flow of Australian rivers: it has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent decades, so dams no longer fill even when it does rain. Growing evidence suggests that hotter soils, caused directly by global warming, have increased evaporation and transpiration and that the change is permanent. I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.

    While the populated east and south of Australia have parched, rainfall has increased in the north-west. This has prompted some politicians to call for development of the north, including massive schemes for dams and pipelines. Some have even called for a large-scale shift of population to follow the rain. Yet computer models indicate that the increased rainfall is most likely caused by the Asian haze, which has pushed the monsoon south. This means that as Asia cleans up its air, Australia is likely to lose its northern rainfall. Australians need to leave behind their dreams of opening a new frontier and focus on making the best of the water remaining to them where they live today.

    To achieve this, much has to be done. Industry, power plants, farmers and households pay too little for their water, so they waste it. Water thrift is an absolute prerequisite for life in the new climate. The country also needs to shift to a new energy economy. Australia’s coal-fired power plants consume around 2 tonnes of water – for cooling and steam generation – for every megawatt-hour they produce. They also emit much of the CO2 that is the ultimate cause of the drying. Dwindling water supplies are raising the price of electricity, and to avoid an economic and environmental disaster the old coal clunkers need to be closed as quickly as possible and replaced with cleaner, less thirsty means of power generation. These could include geothermal, solar thermal, solar, wind or wave energy, and possibly clean coal.

    Australia needs to design and build an irrigation system fit for the 21st century. It is tempting is to try to fix the existing system, but that is hopeless. The country needs to move to highly efficient irrigation and to think laterally about water use. As the climate becomes more variable it may make sense, for example, to plant rice and cotton during the odd wet year, rather than persist with permanent plantings of grape, citrus and so on, which need water year-round.

    The cities need drought-proofing by, for example, installing water tanks in all dwellings that can accept them. Because in affected areas the decline in river flow is three times that in rainfall, water tanks that use roofs as catchments are now far more effective than dams for supplying drinking water in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. Recycling can help too. This needs new investment and in some instances will require state government water monopolies to be broken up. It will cost more, but the benefits in terms of water security and recapture of nutrients in solid wastes are immense.

    Desalination plants can provide insurance against drought. In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months. Of course, these plants should be supplied by zero-carbon power sources.

    Last, but by no means least, Australia must ratify the Kyoto protocol and agitate globally for a swift and decisive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our best theories show that Australia is suffering early and disproportionately from climate change. As one of the two renegade developed nations not to have ratified the treaty (the other is the US), and as the world’s worst per capita emitter of CO2, some may say that Australia deserves its fate. If it is to save itself from even more severe climate impacts the country needs to change its ways, and fast.

    Tim Flannery is professor of earth and life sciences at Macquarie University, chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, and the 2007 Australian of the Year

  69. David Hand

    Hey MWH,
    I tried to publish Flannery’s article but have run foul of the moderator so I will try the link.

    http://www.science.org.au/nova/newscientist/105ns_001.htm

    It contains the words of a prophet, who shifted public policy to the real pain of a lot of Brisbane residents, for your reading pleasure.

    It’s amazing how this piece, so thoroughly debunked in less than 5 years, hasn’t stopped Flannery remaining the darling of his acolytes who regale us ad nauseum, every time they do a post, about their scientific authodoxy and commitment to observable facts.

    Read it and weep.

  70. David Hand

    Hey MWH,
    I tried to publish Flannery’s article but have run foul of the moderator so I will try the link.

    “http://www.science.org.au/nova/newscientist/105ns_001.htm”

    It contains the words of a prophet, who shifted public policy to the real pain of a lot of Brisbane residents, for your reading pleasure.

    It’s amazing how this piece, so thoroughly debunked in less than 5 years, hasn’t stopped Flannery remaining the darling of his acolytes who regale us ad nauseum, every time they do a post, about their scientific authodoxy and commitment to observable facts.

    Read it and weep.

  71. floorer

    David Hand says ” It’s amazing how this piece, so thoroughly debunked in less than 5 years, hasn’t stopped Flannery remaining the darling of his acolytes who regale us ad nauseum”. + a zillion. As time goes by I hope there is more reflection on Flannery’s burblings.

  72. kd

    James: a 3ºC increase in global average temperature is huge. And it will almost certainly place great strains on the infrastructure of civilisation. Imagine if your average temperature increased by 3ºC. Consider that the earth is similarly a complex system such as yourself. These detailed scientific arguments are for the scientific literature, not for comment threads run by websites with a bit of a flalse balance agenda themselves.

  73. drsmithy

    Its seems weird to trumpet the overwhelming evidence in support of AGW and then fall back to saying that its “too dangerous not to act”. Either the evidence for catastrophic AGW is overwhelming or it isn’t. Saying that its too dangerous not to act is a tacit acknowledgement that there is a reasonable probability that the predictions of catastrophic AGW are wrong.

    I’ve read this four or five times now and I can’t follow your logic. Exactly how is being convinced there’s a major problem and, therefore, that we must do something “a tacit acknowledgement that there is a reasonable probability that the predictions of catastrophic AGW are wrong” ?

    Whatever the probabilities of various AGW predictions coming right are, there is a guaranteed outcome if we undergo the drastic action necessary to stop all fossil fuel production in the world.

    Stop lying. No-one is suggesting this (at least, not in the timeframe you are implying).

    Give me a sober, science based risk assessment any day.

    The sober, science-based risk assessement says we should dramatically reduce CO2 output as quickly as possible, primarily from improvements in the areas of power generation and personal transport.

    Let there be plenty of debate about the correct policy response to climate change and if a few fools mutilate their penises along the way, that’s their choice in a free country.

    The problem is that there isn’t a public debate about policy response, there’s a public debate about *whether or not there’s even something that needs responding to*.

    So we’re going increase global temperatures by 3c? Big deal. Mankind has dealt with Ice ages and global warming before and yet still survived and prospered.

    Some of us have set our goals a little higher than bare survival. I don’t know about you, but I like the lifestyle I live today and I’d prefer my children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy something similar.

    We’ve only got one chance at this industrialised society thing. If we screw it up, and lose our industrial base and technological knowledge, we (as a species) can’t go back around and have another go. If some natural disaster knocks society back to pre-industrial times, that’s where we’re going to stay.

  74. Mal White

    This piece makes no distinction between people who strongly believe in natural climate change, and those who think there is no climate change.
    It allows no room for people who accept the world has been through ice ages but question the amount of anthropic climate change. These are important distinctions and simply branding people who ask questions on the size of trends “denialist!” is counter productive.

    The worst thing that can happen to efforts to get consensus is to start treating people like idiots.

  75. AR

    It has been so good to have not seen Tamas for many weeks. Why did someone have to throw rocks under the bridge? Or was it money?

  76. Blaggers

    I loved the quote from the doco “I rather slam my c… In a door than debate climate change” for it’s plain truth. Reminded me of another quote “its likemasturbating with a cheese grater, slightly amusing but mostly painful”
    The doco showed convincingly where the debate truly lies. If This was the best of the best that Minchin could come up with, if it is extremists like this that he, the IPA and media are listening to, espousing and convincing others of their warped beliefs, instead of listening to the science and scientists, then we are in dire straits indeed.
    The de.nier camp keep splitting hairs or focus on one aspect of a rather to divert the argument and support their own claim. As shown with Tamas whose bone is 0.7 of a degree. For others it’s all about global warming, when in fact we are really talking about climate change and increased and increasing extremes of weather and weather patterns. Some think they gain a few IQ points when calling it a Carbon Dioxide Tax – a colourless, odour less plant food. God is colourless, odourless soul food but we believe in its effects and notice its contributions. inane arguments, that try to create the sense that there is in fact something to debate.
    The one positive was that at the end both agreed on the need to focus on energy production rather than this idiotic to-ing and fro-ing. Real debate should be about what our future energy production should look like. For me it should not only be CO2 free but pollution free.

    Why was this moderated??

  77. Blaggers

    Don’t get it. What have I posted that it goes straight to the keeper?

  78. David Allen

    James Hastings asked, “…so what?”

    Don’t forget the 3° is average temperature. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noted that the recent extremes of hot and cold weather in the northern hemisphere have been put down to weather systems moving more slowly. The cold bits are colder and the hot bits are hotter.

    Let’s imagine that the average 3° is arrived at by increased temperatures on only 1/3 of days. If that were the case for the annual average to increase by 3° the increase on those hot days would be 9°. Before you say,’impossible’ contemplate that day to day ranges far in excess of 9° are commonplace now. (You might also reflect on the fact that some regions are likely to warm more than others.)

    Now add the 9° to 40°+ temperatures already experienced in many centres in Australia in normal summers – Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth.

    Seems quite a bit to be concerned about to me. If it does happen there will be no quick fix and we can be sure it would get worse before it got better.

  79. David Allen

    David Hand

    Flannery explains quite lucidly why and how he came to the conclusions that he did. An entirely rational thought process which may or may not have convinced the decision makers.

    You said, “Give me a sober, science based risk assessment any day.”. Are you suggesting that Brisbane’s dam management was changed without such an assessment? Even if it was, and I don’t know, then it wasn’t Flannery’s fault. If the decision makers thought he was an infallible second-coming then the problem is their judgement.

    Prophecy, or more accurately prediction, is not an exact science – ask any economist or Andrew Bolt (who has been screaming ‘Gillard’s gone this time’ every week since he got his TV show). Campbell Newman built his tunnel only to find it severely underutilised and going broke, now he’s Premier.

    Why pick on Tim?

  80. David Allen

    AR

    Profuse apologies.

  81. nephron

    If we took all the cars in Australia off the roads and closed down all our power plants the effect on global temperature would be too small to measure.
    Over the past 15 years the temperature has been more or less static. We have come out of the little ice age and are sitting on a plateau; temperatures are similar to those of 1940.
    Over the next 30 years CO2 levels in the atmosphere will increase.
    The global temperature will either
    1 Get warmer
    2 Get cooler
    3 Stay much the same.
    No-one can predict with any certainty which!
    Co2 is a life-giving gas which promotes plant growth.
    Let’s have more of it , not less!
    Jim from Brisbane

  82. kd

    Aah the denier argument par excellence. It isn’t happening, it isn’t us and even if it is it wouldn’t make any difference if we did anything about it anyway. It’s called having your cake, eating it then parading around with a placard shouting “We’re proud the cake shop has closed down due to our failure of leadership”.

  83. Adam Rope

    Tamas @ 6:08 PM on the 27th:-

    “2) The ‘no warming since ‘98” claim is based on a linear regression on the UAH satellite data that I did myself.”

    In other words, Tamas has chosen some cherry-picked data himself, from only one of several sources of available data. Then he did his own small scale analysis on one part of that data, and – without checking his results with another party, who may have been bothersome enough to be on the look-out for any potential errors, inaccuracies or miscalculations in this whole process – found that he agreed with his own conclusions about the data. And that those conclusions were exactly the same as the assumptions with which he started out.

    I do wish all science was as easy as that.

  84. Blaggers

    The denlier camp keep splitting hairs or focus on one particular aspect to divert the argument and support their own claim, As shown with Tamas whose bone is 0.7 of a degree. For others it’s all about global warming, when in fact we are really talking about climate change and increased and increasing extremes of weather and weather patterns. Some think they gain a few IQ points when calling it a Carbon Dioxide Tax – a colourless, odour less plant food. Gods are colourless, odourless soul food but we believe in their effects and notice their contributions. CO2 is at least tangible. And Let’s not forget about the economy. Inane arguments, that try to create the sense that there is in fact something to debate.

  85. David Hand

    Well Blaggers,
    If you’re right and there’s nothing to debate, why are you debating?

  86. kd

    Indeed, there is no debate, there’s just endless tedious opportnities to point out the hollow empty pseudoscience promulugated by the denier alarmists.

  87. David Hand

    $23 a tonne? No debate?
    Wivenhoe dam operating procedures? No debate?
    What to do about Australia’s trade exposed aluminium industry? No debate?
    Supporting conversion of brown coal power stations to natural gas? No debate?
    The nuclear option as a transitional solution? No debate?
    Getting China, India and the USA to the table? No debate?
    Murray Darling water policy? No debate?

    Oh that’s right. We’re going to suspend democracy, aren’t we.

  88. kd

    Oh ok I should have said “no scientific debate”. Of course there’s a need for a political debate. But the deniers are ignoring and misrepresenting the science (making a fake scientific debate) to manipulate that political debate for their short term interests.

  89. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @David,

    It is only possible to have a debate with someone who is rational and does not lie.

    Debating with those on who post on Crikey against climate change is as productive as debating with your dog – no matter how many hours of reasoned argument you put forward you know that nothing will change.

    I will go further and say that the huge success of those who post against climate change is not that anyone’s mind has been changed, but that, as the above thread shows, instead of debating the real issues, those who want action just waste their time rebutting the opposers of climate change.

    This would all be very amusing if the topic was about something trivial.

  90. nephron

    Sorry KD. I don’t follow your reasoning at all. The science is NOT settled. We don’t know what is going to happen, so we don’t know what action we should take.
    Since CO2 is a beneficial, life giving gas there is no reason to restrict its production.
    I am a denier in I don’t believe that global warming is due to human action. I am not an alarmist because there is nothing to be alarmed about.
    You want to do something for the sake of doing something even when it is totally unclear what should be done?
    You want to save a planet that doesn’t need saving?
    What would you do to fix a situation that doesn’t need fixing?
    All the very best.

  91. drsmithy

    Since CO2 is a beneficial, life giving gas there is no reason to restrict its production.

    Since water is a beneficial, life giving liquid there is no reason not to weigh yourself down on the bottom of a pool.

  92. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @NEPHRON,

    Well done for first claiming that the science is not settled, then proving that you have no idea of even the basic science that has been settled for over a century – that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    As I think the Chaser used to say – And this person votes 🙁

  93. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @NEPHRON,

    Well done for first claiming that the science is not settled, then proving that you have no idea of even the basic science that has been settled for over a century – that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    As I think the Chaser used to say – And this person votes!

  94. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    PS Very strange that including a sad face smiley puts my comment into moderation. So I’ve reposted without the smiley and it has appeared.

  95. kd

    *sigh*. With a name like Nephron, I’m guessing that you’re taking the p*ss 😉

  96. kd

    *sigh*. With a name like Nephron, I’m guessing that you’re taking the p*ss

  97. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    NEPHRON’s post may have been a spoof.

    It is telling that the real posts by opposers of climate change are at time indistinguishable from spoofs.

  98. nephron

    To MWH.
    Of course CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Where do you get the idea that I deny this?
    The most important greenhouse gas is water vapour. Water vapour causes clouds which increase the aldebo and reflect heat back into space.
    Since the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is so small its effect on temperature is pretty trivial, but a greenhouse gas it undoubtedly is.
    Pretty careless of you to attack me for saying something I never actually said!
    Please read what is said before commenting on it.
    All the best.

  99. drsmithy

    The most important greenhouse gas is water vapour.

    Denialist bad argument #34: http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

  100. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @NEPRON,

    Either you are playing word games or you have no understanding of what you are talking about.

    Perhaps you will be the first to enlighten people like me by explaining how the majority of scientists expert in the field in EVERY country (and every university) have got it so wrong?

  101. nephron

    A substantial number of scientists believe that the IPCC is totally wrong. This includes many NASA scientists.
    As for the universities -If you say there isn’t a problem you don’t get a research grant.
    So the universities are in it for the grant money.
    It’s all about money.
    Consensus is crap. The science is NOT settled.
    Have a good day.

  102. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Your understanding of science is so poor that you don’t understand where the real scandal would lie if what you say is true.

    People ignorant of how science works think that research is funded in favour of something. But in fact every piece of research follows the evidence. If you view is correct, then it is not a funding scandal, the scandal is that all the papers have faked the data to provide false conclusions.

    In every country, including under Bush in the USA and Howard in Oz.

    It is more likely that Kennedy was killed by martians than the worldwide scientific establishment has lied.

  103. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    My last comment is yet again ‘awaiting moderation’, which earlier took over a day! So good night all.

  104. Ken Lambert

    Hello KD and Tamas
    MWH – you too.

    The ‘stasis’ in surface warming over the last 14 years or so is causing major problems for the AGW hypothesis. Hansen and Trenberth – two of the leading scientists in this debate disagree on the extent of the warming imbalance at top of atmosphere – Hansen says it has shrunk in the last 5-6 years and Trenberth is still looking for the missing heat in the deep oceans. Clouds and aerosols are major unknowns in the vital areas of cooling forcings and feed backs and there is still no accurate direct measurement of the imbalance – nor any way of accurately measuring the separate components of forcing due to CO2 GHG, solar, aerosol cooling and feedbacks.

    I have been banned from John Cook’s Skeptical Science because I ask too hard questions and actually know something about the numbers. Others who calmly point out flaws in the accepted AGW science are similarly banned.

    For example Hansen last year came out with a negative forcing which he claimed accounted for the reduction in warming imbalance and the ‘stasis’ in temperatures. He called it the ‘delayed Pinitubo rebound effect’. Every attempt by me to engage AGW proponents in a discussion of this preposterous new forcing has met with stony silence.

    Trenberth does not believe Hansen’s ‘stasis’ theory for a minute, but still clings to the story that the warming imbalance has not reduced – its just that we can’t find the missing heat in the oceans – yet. Ocean heat measurement has only been worth looking at since deployment of Argo in 2003 and even then is incomplete and still short term. But the mechanisms for getting heat fast into the deep oceans is still unknown and likely to be slow – not fast.

    This alone presents major questions as to how a 30 year wonder (it started in 1975) – official AGW can be reconciled with very slow processes of heat sequestration into the deep oceans. A likely answer is – it just ain’t there.

  105. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Ken. Does the issue you are raising cast doubt on the big picture of climate change?

    I have no doubt that there are may issues which the scientists are debating. If there were not then we would not need to fund further research!

    So where does this issue sit? What is the view of most scientists who have looked into this issue?

  106. icer

    MWH,
    The European Geoscience Union had a session about just this thing in Vienna last week:

    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2012/special_interests/CL2/9041

    Abstracts from both Hansen and Allan suggest that Ken Lambert is telling a few porkies.
    Surprising that Ken didn’t present anything, perhaps he got banned from this forum as well.

  107. kd

    It’s like an all you can eat denier bulls*hit banquet here. Or maybe a circus act. Gasp as nephron machine-guns a list of discredited “scientific facts” at an incredible speed. Be amazed as Tamas and Ken dangle from a single rickety argument 100 metres above the ground with no safety net … etc.

  108. Blaggers

    I loved the quote from the doco – I’d rather slam my c… In a door than debate climate change – for it’s plain truth. Reminded me of another quote – its like msturbating with a cheese grater, slightly amusing but mostly painful.

  109. Blaggers

    The doco showed convincingly where the debate truly lies. If This was the best of the best that Minchin could come up with, if it is ex trem ists like this that he, the IPA and media are listening to, espousing and convincing others of their warped beliefs, instead of listening to the science and scientists, then we are in dire straits indeed.

  110. Blaggers

    Moderator 5, Blaggers 0. No rhyme or reason, just like this ‘debate’

  111. David Hand

    David Allen,
    Why pick on Tim?
    Your question touches on an unfortunate aspect of the whole drama of action on climate change. Though I have never met Flannery, I have enormous respect for him and his commitment to making life better for everyone in Australia.

    I brought him into this discussion because he is a great example of the uncertainty of extrapolating observed climate measurements into the future. The 2007 piece I referred to was, in my view a reasonable way of looking at the climate at the time. Flannery was Australian of the year in 2007 and a person of great influence. I will also concede that had I been running the Queensland government at the time, changing the Wivenhoe dam operating procedures was eminently sensible.

    But the real point I am making that is relevant to this discussion thread is that the vast panoply of scientists wheeled out by the climate change devotees don’t actually know what the climate is going to do in the next 5 or 50 years: they are only guessing. Educated guesses maybe but they are still guesses. There is a great deal of consensus about what has happened to the Earth’s climate in the past 200 years but extrapolating it into the future lacks the same absolutism and certainty. Flannery’s dry climate paper is a classic example.

    So when Anna Rose goes on TV with a prediction of apocalypse, or some scientist predicts a human population if 1 billion in 2050, or some german scientist gets a run in Crikey saying that the USA must hit zero emissions by 2020 or we’re all doomed, those of us who say “Hang on a minute, what is the basis for your dire prediction and call for drastic action?” deserve better than to be abused by the global warming cult as deniers of indisputable scientific truth.

    The scariest experience for me last week was Anna Rose’s wide eyed certainty that she knows the truth. She reminded me of that Moonie who stopped me on the street in 1973 telling me that Comet Kohoutek was a sign that I had 40 days to repent.

  112. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    David Hand – I think you don’t know the difference between climate and weather.

    Climate change predicts that Australia is likely to have more extremes of weather. This means droughts will be more server, lower rainfall overall, and when it does rain there will be much more of it.
    (Note that this is overall – some areas will differ.)

    Flannery never said that the last draught WILL continue. He suggests that it might (which it might have – long term weather is much harder to predict than climate). Flannery also talks about times heavy rainfall.

    You are also making another big mistake in logic. Why does climate change become wrong if one scientist says something wrong, yet those who oppose climate change are meant to be respect when, as shown above, they are all easily proven wrong again and again and again?

  113. kd

    David Hand,

    Which would all be fine if the denier argument wasn’t based on the same quality of science that undeping creationism and homeopathy. So for entertainment, we just point and laugh at them with derision as the better alternative to crippling depression and powerlessness.

  114. Steve777

    It’s hard to have a debate when the moderators hold back responses for 36+ hours.

    Anyway, neither I nor most posters here are experts in climate, the economy or foreign affairs but as citizens in a democracy we all have to make our best judgement on how best to deal with these and other crucial matters.

    In the case of climate, I believe what mainstream science is saying, and what it is predicting doesn’t look good. I find those who argue that the proven anthropogenic increase in CO2 in the atmosphere will not have serious effects unconvincing. The same goes for those arguing that natural causes (e.g. solar cycles) explain any observed warming. Geologists such as Bob Carter and Ian Plimer argue that the climate has changed far more over geological time and I’m sure they’re right. However, this does not seem to be a reason to ignore anthropogenic changes to the atmosphere. Humanity could probably muddle through the worst changes predicted by climate scientists but it wouldn’t be pretty.

    Some posters here argue that the cure is worse than the disease. Others argue that proposed cures (e.g. Carbon Tax / ETS) won’t work or that there are better approaches. That is what we should be debating now, not whether or not there is a disease.

  115. David Allen

    David Hand

    Ostensibly your comment is fair enough. However, you seem to demand a level of certainty that is impossible to acheive. One can never know what the future will bring. Any plan must be, perforce, based on a guess, an educated guess and/or an extrapolation of past experience.

    But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
    Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
    For promised joy.
    To A Mouse – R. Burns 1786

  116. Merve

    @nephron

    Posted Sunday, 29 April 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    “Sorry KD. I don’t follow your reasoning at all. The science is NOT settled. We don’t know what is going to happen, so we don’t know what action we should take.
    Since CO2 is a beneficial, life giving gas there is no reason to restrict its production.”

    CO2 is also a poisonous gas. We don’t last long if we are placed in a sealed room.

    What you should be doing is asking, what context are we placing CO2 in when we consider it. It has various physical properties, which cause various effects. These can be called ‘beneficial’ or ‘harmful’ depending on the context. You are over simplifying this argument, and keeping yourself ignorant by doing so.

  117. drsmithy

    But the real point I am making that is relevant to this discussion thread is that the vast panoply of scientists wheeled out by the climate change devotees don’t actually know what the climate is going to do in the next 5 or 50 years: they are only guessing. Educated guesses maybe but they are still guesses.

    There is not a single aspect of human endeavour where this is not true, from climate change to deciding whether or not to go to work in the morning. I note, however, that few deniers are keen that we ignore the “guesses” going on in other scientific fields like, say, oil & gas exploration or computing.

  118. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Those opposers are also creating a straw-man when they say that we don’t know.

    If they bothered to look at the real reports (IPCC, Garnaut, etc) they would see that for each scenario of future emissions there are probabilities given to the chance of different temperature rises.

    So whether what might happen in the future is bad, very bad, or extremely bad does not need to be know if the consequences of bad, and the risk trade-off’s for very bad and extremely bad, make it clear that something needs to be done.

  119. David Allen

    David H.

    I omitted to comment on your statement re exaggeration.

    These exaggerations are generally made by non-climate scientists. The claim made by James Lovelock that by the end of this century humanity would be represented by a few pairs living in the Arctic was absurd.

    Can you point to any claims made by genuine scientists working in the field that have been shown to be, how can I say, emotionally exaggerated?

    I don’t think you can count as exaggeration bona-fide analyses or extrapolations based on data where the methodology is clearly described.

    Such statements may, in fact, almost certainly will, prove incorrect to some degree but prediction is part of the scientific method.

  120. David Allen

    Back in moderation!

  121. Merve

    nephron,

    have you considered that oxygen is both beneficial, and harmful. No oxygen, we die, pure oxygen, we suffer from oxygen toxicity.

    Ozone is another example, up in the stratosphere, it is essential to protect us from harmful radiation, at ground level, it is harmful to life.

    CO2 is both beneficial and harmful, depending on the context. To just say it is just beneficial is hopelessly simplistic.

  122. David Hand

    MWH,
    I’m sure Flannery was talking about climate, not weather.
    Parsing his commentary around the language “might” and “will” seems logical after the event but guidance and opinion by Flannery et al shifted policy making to a dry climate mindset. Desalinisation plants were built and the operating procedures of the Wivenhoe dam were changed from flood protection to drinking water security. That change in policy is why the dam was 100% full when the flood event inundated thousands of homes last year.

    So whatever uncertainty you might read into it now, that uncertainty was not there in the debate in 2007. Instead we had the “science is settled, Australia is drying out” rhetoric and anyone who questioned it was labelled a denier. A bit like today, really.

    Your statement “Climate change predicts that Australia is likely to have more extremes of weather.” is simply the given truth of the climate cult circa 2012. Read Flannery’s piece and you will find no reference to “extreme weather events”. This only came into the climate cult’s language when, much to their surprise, it started raining. The other notable language in the piece is the climate cult still called it “global warming” in 2007 not the more recent safer language “climate change”.

    And I just want to make one thing crystal clear. I am persuaded by the science that AGW has been contributed to by human activity and we should take action to reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. I am in favour of a price on carbon.

  123. kd

    Well Ozone is oxygen. Dont’ give me that nonsense about oxygen being toxic. Phlogiston is clearly essential for life and without it we would all be dead. I mean for goodness sake, when will this modern pseudoscientific rubbish end. Let’s get back to the golden age of 19th century science please.

  124. Blaggers

    David Hand – “Read Flannery’s piece and you will find no reference to “extreme weather events”.”

    From Flannery’s piece that you posted – “If it is to save itself from even more severe climate impacts the country needs to change its ways, and fast. ”

    and

    “I believe the first thing Australians need to do is to stop worrying about “the drought” – which is transient – and start talking about the new climate.”

  125. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    David – read the scientific reports and you will find that the main message of the effects of climate change has NOT changed – it has always been about less rain overall, but more extreme weather including floods when it does get wet.

    The drought then flood in Brisbane was weather – not climate. No-one can predict what the weather will be in Brisbane in 20 years time. But if we don’t take action to reduce emissions the science has given us a pretty good idea of the climate for Brisbane in 20 years – and that is both drought and flooding are much more likely.

  126. Blaggers

    The one positive was that at the end both agreed on the need to focus on energy production rather than this idiotic to-ing and fro-ing. Real debate should be about what our future energy production should look like. For me it should not only be CO2 free but pollution free.

  127. drsmithy

    The other notable language in the piece is the climate cult still called it “global warming” in 2007 not the more recent safer language “climate change”.

    This is a lie. The term “climate change” has been around since the ’70s.

    Note that there’s nothing technically wrong with “global warming”, either, but it is a term too easily used for misdirection and deception by denialists.

  128. kd

    David Hand,

    And similarly we’ve been seeing a very warm arctic (with disruption to railway infrastructure built on permafrost for example), and a very cold northern europe in the last couple of years (where the warm is overall greater than the cold on average demonstrating an increase in temperature, and an increase in extreme weather events at the same time).

    And you’re right, in 2007 the impact of increases in extreme weather and how that pans out was not well appreciated. Right now at this part of the narrative in Australia it’s dominated by deniers saying “nyah nhah look it did rain, you’ze doom sayers are wrong [insert alarmist nonsense about decent climate change policy causing econmic ruin here]”. It’ll be interesting to see how the narrative pans out during the next hot dry bit (as well as how hot, dry and burning it is).

  129. Merve

    Kinda of like finding out how interesting your chest cancer x-rays look.

  130. drsmithy

    Your statement “Climate change predicts that Australia is likely to have more extremes of weather.” is simply the given truth of the climate cult circa 2012.

    This is also a lie. Extreme weather events have always been a predicted outcome of global warming. Recent evidence of increasing severity and frequency of such weather is merely providing more confirmation that the science is correct.

  131. Merve

    High temperature records outnumber Low temperature records by a significant amout. IIRC, at least two to one.

  132. David Allen

    Merve
    “High temperature records outnumber Low temperature records”

    And accelerating?

    The National Climatic Data Center temperature record reporting function has been down for maintenance for most of the past week, but it’s back today with a continuing surge of new heat records. For March 2012 to date, an incredible number of 5802 new daily high temperature records have been reported in the U.S., vs. a mere 170 low temperature records, a ratio of over 34 to 1. The monthly total of heat records for 26 days so far is now higher than the cold records for the entire year of 2010. For the year 2012 to date, the heat records outnumber cold records by a ratio of 21.4 to 1.

    US only data (March 27 2012)

  133. Frank Campbell

    David Allen: “These exaggerations are generally made by non-climate scientists. The claim made by James Lovelock that by the end of this century humanity would be represented by a few pairs living in the Arctic was absurd.
    Can you point to any claims made by genuine scientists working in the field that have been shown to be, how can I say, emotionally exaggerated?”

    Yes. Prof Kevin Anderson. In 2009 he predicted mass extinction of Sapiens starting around 2050: “But I think it’s extremely unlikely that we wouldn’t have mass death at 4C. If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4C, 5C or 6C, you might have half a billion people surviving’.”[11]

    Anderson is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre (set up and named after much agitation by the East Bumcrack University Climategate computer modellers), so he’s a key player in the alarmist clique.

  134. David Hand

    David Allen,
    From Crikey’s editorial, 15 October 2009.

    “…….a brief account of the recent work of German physicist and climate scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. According to Schellnhuber, the United States must cut emissions by 100% by 2020. Germany, Italy and other industrial nations must do the same by 2025 to 2030. China only has until 2035. The world as a whole must be carbon-free by 2050. Otherwise … a spiral of chaotic change.”

    From Crikey’s editorial 15 July 2011.

    “…….In opening the conference, keynote speaker Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute, and former climate adviser to the German Chancellor and the EU, asked rhetorically: “What is the difference between two degrees (of temperature increase) and four degrees ?” His answer was concise. “The difference,” he said, “is human civilisation”.

    and from the same editorial.

    So how hot will hot be? One answer comes from Andreas Sterl and 10 colleagues from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at Utrecht University. In “When can we expect extremely high surface temperatures?”, they ask how extreme would temperatures be at end of this century if the global average temperature were to increase by 3.5 degrees by 2100 compared to 2000.

    And 3.5 degrees warmer than 2000 is where we are presently heading. If all the commitments made by governments around the world to reduce greenhouse gas were honoured, and that is all, then temperatures by 2100 would likely be about four degrees warmer than 1900, or about 3.4 degrees warmer than at the start of the 21st century.

    That’s right Dave, according to emminent climate scientists in Germany and the Netherlands, we are headed for 4deg hotter than 1900, a temperature that will destroy human civilisation and to avoid it, the USA must hit zero emissions within 8 years or we are all doomed.

  135. David Allen

    Thanks Frank, fair enough.

    However, IF the AVERAGE temp were to rise by 4°+ Anderson’s prediction MAY well be the case. Such a rise MAY add 10°+ at the top of a heatwave. Such a scenario in India or China, for example, would LIKELY have a devastating effect on crops, livestock and humanity.

    You have to be careful to watch the qualifiers; “might have”, for instance, in Anderson’s statement.

    I think including ‘Bumcrack University Climategate’ doesn’t do your credibility much good. ‘Climategate’ denialista claims have been quashed by several independant investigators. You just demonstrate that you put your fingers in your ears if you hear anything that clashes with your chosen view.

  136. David Hand

    You can’t have it both ways Dave.
    You can’t say that these sober scientists are qualifying their predictions and are explicitly saying they are not sure and then using an argument of fundamentalist absolutism to accuse Frank of being a denier.

  137. Frank Campbell

    David Allen: “I think including ‘Bumcrack University Climategate’ doesn’t do your credibility much good.”

    Unlike you and everyone else on Crikey, I read all the Climategate emails when they first appeared. I then edited them down to 100,000 words (much of the vast tranche was repetition). This was before any inquiries, reports etc.

    My conclusion was that the claims of fraud and faking results were false, apart from a couple of probable instances. What was abundantly clear (as I wrote often on Crikey at the time) was that the core group of computer modellers operated in a hothouse atmosphere, self-justifying and militantly defended against the slightest deviation. Just like any bunch of academics occupying a paradigm…They were ruthless and downright sleazy in wresting control of journals, conferences etc from their many perceived scientific enemies. Again, all perfectly normal academic behaviour. That’s why there’s an entire literature genre on academe: the campus novel.

    Also par for the course was their single-minded struggle to build a network of academic patronage. In the 90s remember, these people were nobodies. In a few short years (thanks to Gore and climate hysteria generally), they became (academically) awash with cash- i.e. grants. This enabled the rapid expansion of the patronage network. New career paths emerged for the many neophytes.

    This is why I always refer to the University of East Anglia as the University of East Bumcrack: the phrase is Annabel Crabb’s. Crabb is typical of current commentators in that she has virtually no knowledge of…anything really. And she’s too lazy to find out (no excuse these internet days. Shorten, Abbott and Gillard are likewise the new ignoramii: generalists with zero grounding/interest in the empirical world)

    Crabb is an uncritical ABC progressive, just as the Murdoch propagandariat express the half-baked ideology of their criminal master. Crabb “knows” what is right and what is beyond the pale. She knew in 2009 that no decent scientist would support climate scepticism. So it was natural for her to attack the status of dissenting scientists (she knows nothing about the science, the sociology, or the economics of climate policy). She used the “University of East Bumcrack” insult to denigrate scientists- unconsciously using the University of East Anglia (HQ of climate extremism) format. The intention was to ridicule dissenting scientists as provincial and thus inferior.

    Crabb ironically and inadvertently revealed what was quite obvious to any reader of the Climategate emails: that virtually all the inner circle (including Americans like Mann) were low-status, neglected, sometimes marginal academics- almost all affiliated with provincial universities.

    It just shows how the killing of sociology by corporate capitalism from the 1980s, not to mention the suffocation of history, philosophy, the history of science and pure science, has intellectually castrated the commentariat and made it vulnerable to manias such as climate extremism. Intellectual castration leads to gullibility.

    Reading the emails, increasing desperation is evident over time. Imagine it- on the basis of computer models you’ve called the end of the world- and you’re all too aware that you have the status of an East Bumcrack. You’re awash with grants, media and fawning dependents. But you’re also being heavily criticised. Panic sets in and some distasteful things are done by the beleagured group. But the real crisis is evidential. Trenberth expressed it perfectly in his lament- why isn’t it warming as it should? He referred of course to the post-1999 plateauing of global temps.

    No one has the faintest idea whether global temps will rise, fall or stay the same. Not a fracking clue. That’s why the Bumcracks are frantically chasing new, defensive hypotheses (such as areosols etc etc) to explain the absence of new warming.
    Let’s assume just for fun that AGW crumbles in the next five years, and the Bumcracks are in therapy, Paraguay or selling Turkish carpets in Hobart with Wilkie under assumed names…what will Crabb opine?

    Let’s hear it, Annabel. And same goes for Margaret Simons, Rundle and the rest of the vacuous commentariat which has delivered us unto Abbott…

  138. roger

    Calm down Frank, Your are in danger of overwhelming your own argument with all this hyperventalating. Your comment is so full of value judgements, invective and whacky opinion that your intrinsic, quite valuable idea: that those commenting on climate issues are largely ignorant, is being buried.

    By alluding to unspecified conspiracies amongst what you yourself describe as second-rate academics, you are being just as dismissive as Annabel Crabb, which is a pity, because you raise some quite valid points about the role of process and personalities within academia. But you have less to offer about the science itself

    As for the claim that no-one has the faintest idea whether of not temperatures will rise or fall, this is a dopey generalisation. We have a lot of knowledge about the physics and chemistry of atmosphere and oceans, and they provide us with a base line appreciation of what adding 40% more CO2 does. In fact running backwards on previous predictions has show the science to be pretty robust up to this point. Clearly however the complexity of feedbacks increases the more we look forward. Prediction will be difficult. Foretelling the future always is. But the natural laws play out regardless and we would be foolish to ignore the risks.

    Let’s assume that they play out pretty much as expected, and the Bumcracks got it right all along. Then what?

  139. kd

    [ No one has the faintest idea whether global temps will rise, fall or stay the same ]

    Aah, look a denier argument amist the hyperventilation. Conclusion: Frank is a denier with an extra overlay of “I’m a real green and you’re all hoodwinked fools” overlay.

    Acutally the physics of it is well understood, it’s just the application to a very complex very large scale system that’s hairy. To date, over the past 30-40 years, observations match prediction reasonably well, despite the denier-alarmists’ best efforts.

  140. Frank Campbell

    Roger: You miss the key point- Crabb’s clumsy use of status doesn’t mean we should ignore status. Beware of provincials proclaiming the end of the world.

    And I note also the gradual retreat/toning down of language even among trolls like KD” “its just the application to a very complex, verge large system” etc etc.

    It’s a lot worse than that- as the Royal Society warned, these systems (plural) are chaotic. There are also many unknowns, competing hypotheses re feedbacks, etc.

    All we know for sure is the basic mechanism- there is no certainty whatever about this single mechanism operating in empirical reality, and even less certainty about the impacts that may occur. In the short run (the last decade) that’s precisely why the Bumcracks are sweating…

  141. Blaggers

    …all this pointless to-ing and fro-ing.

    Can someone please answer what is so bad in transitioning over to renewables or non polluting energy sources?

    Even if the deniers are right, and there is nothing to worry about, isn’t it a boon for all to have endless, non polluting energy?

  142. drsmithy

    No one has the faintest idea whether global temps will rise, fall or stay the same.

    Climate science has been predicting higher temperatures for decades as a consequence of climate change.

    While denialists can and do cherry-pick particular timeframes to “demonstrate” either no, or a smaller than “predicted” increase, the *overall trend* is quite clear and consistent.

    In short, your claim is wrong. People do have a pretty good idea that, on average, over a non-trivial timeframe, and unless something significant changes, global temperatures are going to continue to rise.

    Like most deniers, you are focusing on the trees, and ignoring the forest. The trend is clear, predictable and predicted. The fundamental underlying mechanisms are known, and well supported by scientific theories dating back decades, if not centuries. The exact timelines and localised effects at any given moment may be somewhat variable, but focusing on them (as you constantly do) ignores the simple fact that they’re largely irrelevant – this is a problem that will ultimately manifest through 10+ generations and over the entire world.

    Incidentally, talk of Universities being “awash” with grant money is laughable in the face of the tidal waves of cash thrown around every aspect of society by vested interests to buy the opinions they want. The tobacco industry pioneered it, the have refined it, but the denialists have turned it into an art form.

  143. David Allen

    No Frank, they’re sweating ‘cos they’re hot. Sorry.

    Thanks for your extensive reply, and David’s too.

    The integrity and competence of the scientists is becoming less relevant as observations are increasingly confirming the predictions. It is not the scientists who are resiling from their positions but the other side who cherry pick and/or misrepresent the data.

    Frank, head over to Skeptical Science where ‘John Nielsen-Gammon Comments on Continued Global Warming’ has been put up today and attempts to address the ‘missing warming’ meme. Keep your eyes open too for Levitus et al (2012) dealing with continued ocean warming.

    The next El Nino may change some minds?

  144. Frank Campbell

    Blaggers: of course you’re right- “all this pointless to-ing and fro-ing”.

    But you’re only right about the “science” headbanging. The other components of the climate fiasco are (i) technology (ii) policy (iii) politics.

    The incompetence, hubris and latent fascism of the climate extremists is much clearer when it comes to their remedies for climate catastrophe.

    (i) Technology: the intellectual dishonesty of climate extremism is summed up neatly by the bogus verb “transitioning”. Whenever you hear that, beware.

    The assumption is a suite of technologies exist which can replace fossil fuels right now, at a reasonable price. As they now exist, this is false. Many billions have been wasted on wind and solar. Worldwide they produce minimal power at great cost, a cost which is shoved onto the working class while some of the urban middle-class become electric parasites (solar). Hundreds of billions have been squandered- while basic renewables research langushed. The rest of the contenders are either unproven, uneconomic or non-existent. A billion dollars of public and private capital has been wasted on geothermal in Australia- one of Flannery’s silliest fantasies (the desert city Geothermia). Wave and tidal remain comic asides, like the “Anaconda” (look it up).

    (ii) Policy: Yet massive spending on current renewables is the main thrust of policy, guaranteeing not only waste but rapid obsolescence: why throw money at wind turbines and solar panels when (alleged) rapid devt. of these technologies will quickly render them redundant? Or made redundant by a new killer app just around the corner.

    (iii) Politics: Far from killing off fossil fuels, the govt is sponsoring a fossil fuel bonanza. Gillard said while campaigning in Qld coal seats in 2010 “coal has a fantastic future”. She meant it. The gas boom, tar sands etc worldwide have boosted fossil fuels further. The rest of the world is doing little other than window-dressing- apart from Europe which in its present miserable state deeply regrets the waste on renewables…

    What does the “carbon tax” do? It adds to the cost of living, modestly perhaps, but requiring “compensation”. The rest of the money goes to “polluters” and to the aforementioned failed renewables. And the carbon tax will not inhibit the fossil fuel boom, not least because the tax is unilateral- surely the most idiotic aspect.

    Meanwhile, the climate mania has been fading since 2006. In 2009, 11% of Green voters thought it was “exaggerated”. Higher now for sure. Most people are not deniers, they are simply sceptical about imminent Armageddon. The aggression and absolutism of climate cult propagandists, along with govt incompetence, has crippled progressive politics in this country.

  145. Frank Campbell

    David Allen: “The integrity and competence of the scientists is becoming less relevant as observations are increasingly confirming the predictions.”

    I like that. Don’t worry about the sleazy chefs, the proof of the pudding…

    Of course empirical observation will determine the outcome- but it will be a long wait…I think we can be fairly sure the Armageddon extremists (Anderson et al) will be made fools of…

    everything else is up for grabs….

    What are y’all going to do in the coming decade of political wilderness? What about defending the real environment from daily rape? The Greens, Crikey and all the rest have ignored capitalist environmental barbarism for nearly a decade…

  146. David Hand

    Well if Joachim Schellnhuber for one is right then forget it. Let’s pump up the lights and have an end of civilisation party because it’s all over.

  147. kd

    Frank:

    No It’s a bit of a nuance. I just moderate the language to make your hysterial alarmist posturing look even more ludicrous by way of contrast.

  148. Blaggers

    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 1 May 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
    Well if Joachim Schellnhuber for one is right then forget it. Let’s pump up the lights and have an end of civilisation party because it’s all over.

    That’s the Right atttitude, isn’t it?

    Reminds me of a film where every time the two loser, stoner skaters come to any challenge, however insignificant, their response or catchcry is – Aw, it’s too hard, Let’s give up. Eventually, they come through with the goods and a great time is had by all.

    Unfortunately, i do not think the denier camp is ever going to come up with the goods, which is to the detriment of all. Should we not have the technology to generate renewable power post civilisation? Is there not any benefit whatsoever to having pollution free industry?

  149. kd

    Frank,

    You’ve disqualified yourself about talking about technology before by going with the ‘wind-farms injurious to health’ (aka I’m not making any money out of this, and my neighbours are and I’m jealous) group [1].

    Solar and wind can be rather effective. My electricity bill attests to that (solar thermal installation replacing electric hot water). If its’ not cost effective that’s a regulatory/political problem, hardly due to the science.

    [1] Yes there is quality literature demonstrating this from disinterested third parties.

  150. Blaggers

    Frank,

    All this head-banging on the science is what is stagnating (dare I say it, keeping us from moving forward) on technology, policy and politics. The problem is that the head-banging on the science means we get stuck in the status quo which is exactly where the energy companies and various interests want to keep it for as long as possible.

    (i) Technology: Yes, I would love, and I’m sure many others would too, that we could flip the switch and move directly to renewable energy. But reality is that this cannot happen, and there has to be a “transition”. You are correct in that some would prefer this transition to happen way quicker than others.
    I need to ask how so many people are able to “go off the grid” if solar is as useless as you make out. As with everything, it is about moderation in the amount you consume. At the moment we are energy gluttons, and yes I include myself in this.

    You throw in the cost fear. I for one am happy to pay extra, as i currently do, for green, renewable technology and as i do for organic food.

    “Hundreds of billions have been squandered- while basic renewables research languished.” This is a bug bear for me which I lay blame squarely on the shoulders of the previous Liberal government led by Howard. So many years of R&D wasted. Instead of being a leader in the field, we yet again become a follower. Of course the succeeding government have done none better.

    (ii) Policy: what you are talking about is exactly what should happen with proper research and development. As new technologies and new ways of approaching problems become apparent, through research and development, the old technology and thinking becomes redundant. Rapid development is a good thing. The money “thrown” at this is hardly a waste. Again the head banging on the science is what renders this research and development to the doldrums, waiting for others to do what we should be doing, and perhaps focusing efforts in the wrong direction, and to the benefit of the energy companies and vested interests.

    (iii) Politics: Both Labour and Liberals currently as useless as T’s on a bull in this (and most) regard. Here is where the drive should be coming from, but both major parties are bought by mining and energy interests and the public can go F itself. Profit, profit, profit.

    “What does the “carbon tax” do? It adds to the cost of living” This is exactly what happened when the GST came in. Everybody added an extra 10% regardless. Same thing here. Everyone is adding extra cost with the “we need to pass this cost onto the consumers” BS line. These companies who are charged the carbon tax could quite easily bear the cost of the polluting without “passing on the costs”. But that’s just my view.

    I appreciate your response, but still leaves me questioning “Can someone please answer what is so bad in transitioning over to renewables or non polluting energy sources?” regardless of climate change.

  151. drsmithy

    the intellectual dishonesty of climate extremism is summed up neatly by the bogus verb “transitioning”.

    Right. Because it’s not like the world transitioned from one energy source to another before in the past. Nope, it was all “we’re burning sticks for warmth” one day and “megawatt scale coal power stations” the next.

    The assumption is a suite of technologies exist which can replace fossil fuels right now, at a reasonable price. As they now exist, this is false.

    Not true at all. Individual solar can provide nearly sufficient generation capacity for the average home at a cost of a few thousand dollars. Electric or hybrid cars are a drop-in substitute for the majority of people and do not command a huge premium over traditional vehicles.

    Remembering, of course, that many of the current “institutions” like coal power and petrol-driven vehicles are disproportionately cheap because their true costs are not captured.

    Many billions have been wasted on wind and solar. Worldwide they produce minimal power at great cost, a cost which is shoved onto the working class while some of the urban middle-class become electric parasites (solar).

    No wasted, invested. Making the technology cheaper and more accessible. Better to do this now, while we are a relatively rich society, rather than in a century when we would be relatively poor.

    Hundreds of billions have been squandered- while basic renewables research langushed.

    What is this “basic renewables research” you’re talking about ? It’s hard to get a much more basic renewable energy source than solar power.

    Yet massive spending on current renewables is the main thrust of policy, guaranteeing not only waste but rapid obsolescence: why throw money at wind turbines and solar panels when (alleged) rapid devt. of these technologies will quickly render them redundant?

    Because, Frank, the only reason they are being “rapidly obseleted” (in itself a highly questionable assertion) is *because* of the money being spent on them.

    Or made redundant by a new killer app just around the corner.

    What “killer app” ? What energy revolution are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny going to team up and deliver to us on the back of a unicorn ?

  152. Frank Campbell

    Blaggers et al:

    The “uselessness” of solar refers to scale. Solar is too intermittent and expensive to challenge conventional powergen. That’s all. Subsidising domestic solar is a waste- and a transfer of wealth from the poor to a section of the middle class.

    Solar thermal for domestic hot water has been economic for years- and there are other small-scale and remote applications for PV panels etc. This doesn’t affect the big picture. Germany squandered scores of billions on solar panels. Miniscule production, and emissions keep rising. Hence the fraught struggle between nuclear and FF in Germany, still unresolved…

    “What energy companies want”, i.e. blocking renewables…this is an argument about vested interests and occurs in most threads on this topic. Of course FF interests will fulminate and plot to preserve their trapped capital (brown coal in Vic for eg- should be converted to gas before they destroy the best agricultural land in the state by strip-mining). But most energy companies will exploit any source of profit. That’s why many of them are into everything- wind, solar, coal etc. The MRET enables them to profit from “renewables” by forcing retailers to buy the power whether they want it or not (they don’t- it’s not only very expensive, but a damned nuisance to manage the surges, intermittency etc).

    Capitalism is organised, legally protected greed. So they’ll grab any forced sale, subsidyor grant that’s going, while expanding FF at the same time. Morality or “the planet” are irrelevant.

    The bottom line of this argument is that “transitioning” to renewables is a cruel deception, given the state of that technology. Nothing is gained. Emissions keep rising. Political capital is lost.

    Consider these assertions from Smithy, which are still widely believed:

    “Individual solar can provide nearly sufficient generation capacity for the average home at a cost of a few thousand dollars. Electric or hybrid cars are a drop-in substitute for the majority of people and do not command a huge premium over traditional vehicles.”

    Who wouldn’t prefer an electric car? True, they have to be charged from a power point (FF power), but there are many advantages. Fact is they are still far too expensive. There IS still a “huge premium”. They’re a middle-class consumerist indulgence- at the moment. Read the reviews- range anxiety alone kills the current models. The promised range is usually far less in practice.

    As for domestic solar, sure it can reduce private grid consumption- but at what cost and to whom? And does it make a dent in emissions? I’ve been tempted to exploit the subsidies, but I’d be a right hypocrite if I did.

    “Not wasted, invested” (i.e. money spent on existing renewables)- it will get cheaper…

    This is without doubt the most insidious argument of all- but it’s false. Economic nonsense: installing uneconomic technology is bad enough, but if it becomes obsolete through rapid tech. devt., you’re stuck with it.

    The intellectual sleight of mind here is to represent more panels/turbines as creating the economies of scale. Lots more means production costs fall. Problem here is that the proportion of total cost (inc. long-term subsidies) represented by panels etc is small. Worse, by installing more turbines/panels the total cost escalates- and that cost is far more than FF.
    Ironically, the cheaper the hardware, the less economic the whole enterprise is over say 25 years.

    This is why research is the only answer. Without economic storage, none of the intermittent renewables have a future- and power storage is still primitive.

  153. kd

    [ The “uselessness” of solar refers to scale. Solar is too intermittent and expensive to challenge conventional powergen. That’s all. Subsidising domestic solar is a waste- and a transfer of wealth from the poor to a section of the middle class. ]

    Nice bit of empty rhetoric frank. Doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny though. Domestic PV (which is what you’re referring to, handily ignoring the ulra-efficient solar hot water to fit your alarmist ideological posturing) is good at matching peak daytime load. Increase in peak daytime load caused by excessive use of air con is what’s caused a lot of current infrastructure problems. In fact I’ve seen it argued that I as a non-AC owner am subsidising AC owners substantially due to their infrastructure costs being passed on to me.

    And the next (related) bit you’re ignoring is the enormous scope for efficiency gains. But it’s OK, everyone is ignoring that. My understainding with the problem with efficiency gains are 1. payback is typically in a 7 year period (would seem that government intervention to make payback sooner would be an ideal policy), and 2. Jevons’ paradox (which can be routed around with creative policy as well).

    But all this sensible policy discussion requires an alert not alarmed attitude, and the painting of the whole debate as a bunch of “environmental catastrophe alarmists” versus a bunch of “economic catastrophe alarmists” is incredibly stupid. And you Frank are part of that stupidity, although honestly speaking it is a bit of a unique brand of stupidity.

  154. Frank Campbell

    KD: ” handily ignoring the ulra-efficient solar hot water”

    Read more carefully KD. I said solar hot water has been efficient for decades.

  155. kd

    Frank: I think you are confused about the difference between small-scale and distributed. They are not the same thing. Honestly, saying that solar hot water is small scale is idiotic. Why don’t you ask the Israleis about that?

    Nice nit-picking. Try dealing with my argument as a whole.

  156. drsmithy

    Who wouldn’t prefer an electric car? True, they have to be charged from a power point (FF power), but there are many advantages. Fact is they are still far too expensive. There IS still a “huge premium”. They’re a middle-class consumerist indulgence- at the moment. Read the reviews- range anxiety alone kills the current models. The promised range is usually far less in practice.

    The real-life ranges of electric cars are more than adequate to service the vast majority of people’s *actual* usage (as opposed to their imagined usage). Hybrids, of course, don’t have a range problem at all.

    This is without doubt the most insidious argument of all- but it’s false. Economic nonsense: installing uneconomic technology is bad enough, but if it becomes obsolete through rapid tech. devt., you’re stuck with it.

    By your rationale no-one – past, present, or future – should ever buy (or have bought) a computer, since they have been in a state of “obselence through rapid tech. devt.” pretty much since day 1. Fortunately, people with more vision and sense have been involved in business and society, which is why we no longer sit around doing calculations with slide rules and correspond through written letters.

    This is why research is the only answer. Without economic storage, none of the intermittent renewables have a future- and power storage is still primitive.

    The need for better energy storage is well know and understood and massive amounts of research are being conducted into it (thermal solar . Don’t insult us by implying you’re voicing some sort of forbidden epiphany in mentioning it.

  157. Ken Lambert

    Dr Smithy – why don’t you quote some current cost/kWhr numbers for your alternative energy sources, and their projected reduction in costs over the next 10 years including storage at the same input point to the grid.

    That is what will determine the potential for baseload generation.

  158. kd

    Ken:

    Beyond Zero have already done that to death. Why don’t you drag your intellect out of the 1950s and modernise your substantial knowledge ;~)

  159. Gederts Skerstens

    “there is a scientific consensus on climate change.”

    Organised in reverse, as any fool knows.
    You start with the result you want and manufacture the conditions to get it.

    There was never a connection between Truth and Leftism.

    The only useful question now is how many of us still believe, and would vote for, the AGWBS.

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