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article published in Quadrant Magazine April 27 2010

Warmist's desperate fightback

by Des Moore

April 27, 2010

The fightback by defenders of the dangerous (sic) warming science

The Rudd government has decided not to proceed with the legislation to establish an emissions trading scheme until after the next election. While this will be a disappointment for the believers in the dangerous global warming thesis promulgated by some scientists, it may encourage them to step-up the kind of fight-back exemplified by the Victorian Government’s sponsorship of a series of lectures in June on a Brave New World? The Climate Change Challenge. In what seems the normal exclusionist policy adopted by such groups, the lectures all appear to be by warmists and there are no sceptics.

This is but one of many fightbacks around the world. Here we have recently seen the obviously hurried production last month of a joint CSIRO-Bureau of Meteorology pamphlet that concludes that ‘Australia will be hotter in coming decades’; ‘Much of Australia will be drier in coming decades’; ‘Carbon dioxide generated by humans makes the ocean become more acidic’; ‘It is very likely that human activities have caused most of the global warming observed since 1950’; and ‘Climate change is real’. With the imprimatur of “experts”, the media has ignored the many analytical (and conclusive) defects in this pamphlet but they will be exposed soon in a response by the Fair Farming Group.

Those fightingback are trying desperately to dismiss the growing revelations that not only is the science used by the so-called consensus highly (and increasingly) uncertain but so too are the temperatures used as statistical backing for that science. The defenders have brushed aside as not affecting the “basic” science the much publicised error in the IPCC 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers are in danger of melting by 2035. But also brushed aside are the incorrect claims that 40% of the Amazon rain forest is at risk of destruction; that African agricultural production is likely to be cut in half; that coral reef degradation will be extensive; that glacier melt will occur in the Andes and Alps; that extreme weather related events are causing rising costs; and that the Netherlands is 55% below sea levels when in fact it is only 26% and has shown itself well able to handle relevant problems. And there has been no explanation of the cessation of the portrayal in IPCC reports of the no-temperature-increase-before-industrialisation “hockey-stick” thesis or of the graph of the medieval period showing higher-temperatures-than-now. Nor has there been any response to recent discoveries that about one-third of the peer-reviewed references in IPCC AR4 are not peer-reviewed.

While the use of obviously faulty evidence justifies serious doubts about the validity of the consensus, this is not the place to examine these and other errors in detail. However mention should be made of the very important article published in the Wall Street Journal on 22 April by Richard Lindzen, the highly respected Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (parts of the article were also published shortly after in The Australian). Lindzen notes that, while from climategate “one could see unambiguous evidence of unethical suppression of information and opposing viewpoints, and even data manipulation” ... the political momentum behind policy proposals and billions in research funding at stake, [means] the impact of the emails appears to have been small”. He also describes, however, the investigations to date into the activities of the initiators of the hockey stick and the research by the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University as “whitewashes that are quite incredible given the actual data”; and, most importantly of all, he quotes in amazement the defence of the basic (sic) science by the presidents of the US National Academy (Ralph Cicerone) and the Royal Society (Lord Martin Rees) in a letter published on April 9 in the Financial Times. Lindzen points out that such defence sits very oddly (to say the least) with the comment in the letter by these “experts” that “uncertainties in the future rate of this rise, stemming largely from the ‘feedback’ effects on water vapour and clouds, are topics of current research”. Yet without these feedbacks as used in IPCC (and other) computer modelling of temperatures there would, as Lindzen adds, “be no significant problem, and the various catastrophes that depend on numerous factors would no longer be related to anthropogenic global warming”. In other words, far from the science being “highly certain” we have two important experts acknowledging that it is not!

An earlier article by Lord Rees in the Daily Telegraph of 19 August 2009 adds to the hypocrisy involved in the dismissal by the scientific elite of scepticism about the dangerous warming thesis. In that article Rees discusses scientific disputes that have emerged about “dark energy” (“the mysterious force that makes up three quarters of the universe and is pushing galaxies further apart”) and about a Nasa probe that suggests “the evolution of life on Earth had only begun after a jump-start from space”. 

In the course of the article Rees rightly rejects any thought that, if confirmed, this means that work on other relevant theories was just a waste of time, noting that “science is an unending quest” and that “as its frontiers advance, new mysteries come into focus, and new ideas upset existing theories”. Elsewhere in the article Rees also says “ scientists know that they can never reach finality”; that “ultimately, the history of science is a history of best guesses”; that “scientists have a poor record as forecasters”; and that “our exploration of nature’s secrets is just beginning”. 

Are such remarks relevant to the alleged consensus on global warming – or should I say to the sceptics of that consensus? Obviously they should be. 

But judging by the responses given by Rees to questions at a recent function in Melbourne, it seems unlikely he would concede. At that function questioners asked whether sufficient account has been taken by expert scientists of the significant periods over the last century and a half when temperatures did not increase (or even fell) even though emissions of CO2 were increasing and that earlier periods involving insignificant emissions had higher temperatures than now. Rees’s answer? This time the global warming is different because it reflects the actions of human beings in their use of fossil fuels and that these can and should be controlled. This is the kind of response that is difficult to rebut because contra evidence will be explained away. But how long can the contradictions by experts be sustained? 

Fortunately, reality in the form of continuing additions to contra evidence is bearing down on those who envisage a brave new world of low emissions. Even the Royal Society is reported to have dissidents of some form. As a result, polling (particularly in the US) is increasingly showing that the general public is becoming more sceptical. It will take time to shift those who have locked the consensus in their minds, but events such as the postponement of the ETS all help.  

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