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The believers in dangerous global warming might have expected that President Obama would offer some new evidence in his State of the Union message on the threat of dangerous warming to justify government action to reduce emissions. But, as many were with other parts of the message, they must have been disappointed. The extract below shows that Obama said nothing new about the “threat” and proposes changes limited to the US itself. Drawing on comments by Marc Morano (prominent US analyst of climate science) I have included a few reactions to Obama’s statement.

Also included below is an edited version of Bill Kininmonth’s response in today’s Australian to the assertion in an article published by The Australian by former Labor minister, Graham Richardson, and claiming that “the science is irrefutable”. (Needless to say, Richardson is not a scientist). Bill’s letter is accompanied by a letter by Professor Michael Asten of the Faculty of Science at Monash University, who argues that the CSIRO should evaluate the science behind recent developments that suggest they repeat much of what happened in the past.

Des Moore

Extract from State of Union Address, Feb 2013

After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone's energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it's true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it's too late.

The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We've begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let's generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let's drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That's why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.

Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let's take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we've put up with for far too long. I'm also issuing a new goal for America: let's cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

Comments on Selected Items

Belief is no substitute for science on climate change

Letter by William Kininmonth published in The Australian, 16-17 Feb 2013

Graham Richardson’s solution to apathy about climate change is to add more spin and stir (“Ministers need to put the climate-change case, and often”, 15/2).

An honest response to the question of whether the respondent has an understanding of climate science should return a no from most. So it’s no surprise that a majority go with the conventional wisdom promulgated in the media and agree that climate change is happening, quite possibly due to human activity.

But when asked to part with money to tackle something they do not understand and for which they see no evidence, the majority baulk.

After all, even the leading climate institutes agree that there has been no discernible global warming for more than a decade.

Richardson cites his belief in climate change, held for more than two decades. Only politicians invoke major policy initiatives based on belief. I would prefer to see more public debate on the underpinning science.

This would show that the radiation of water vapour and carbon dioxide is to cool the atmosphere; the greenhouse effect and its enhancement are more complex than presented; runaway global warming is a myth; and that computer models are still in a rudimentary state of evolution, not capable of giving reliable predictions.

William Kininmonth, Kew, Vic

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