History replete with gloomy predictions



Australian Financial Review

13th February 2007


Tracy Sutherland’s report (“Industry Baffled by Climate Policy: Rudd”, February 3) includes a comment by Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett that business is concerned because it does not know where the government is going on climate change. Correct.


But now we have two major reports, one apparently endorsed by many scientists, the government has an opportunity to point out that, historically, it is unscientific to assert that the small average temperature increase since the mid 1960s is 90 percent certainly caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions from increased human activity.


If that were the case why did temperatures fall in the previous twenty five year when such emissions also increased strongly?


The reality is that history is replete with doom and gloom analyses and predictions by scientists.


The 1972 “Blueprint for Survival”, for example, in effect endorsed the Club of Rome prediction that the world would run out of resources without stabilizing population and reducing living standards. That Blueprint was supported by 14 Fellows of the Royal Society and 36 holders of science chairs in British universities. As with other gloomy predictions, the opposite has occurred.


Other similar examples of scientific certainty (sic) exist.


My long experience as Treasury deputy secretary with supposed scientific modeling and analysis is that economists are no better than scientists at predictions, let alone causes of events.


Moreover, the recent extensive published analysis by distinguished scientists and economists rejects the underlying analysis in both the Stern Review and the IPCC report. The fact is that there is no scientific or other consensus on this issue and the Australian government should make that clear.