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Response to Dr Paul Fraser - Chief Research Scientist CSIRO
5 March 2010

Dear Paul

Thank you very much for sending me the Hansen essay entitled “If It’s That Warm, How Come It’s So Darned Cold”.

Although you did not express any view on the essay, I can only assume you sent it to me to illustrate what response might be made to the article I had published in Quadrant Online on 31 January. In that article I suggested, inter alia, that the IPCC’s way of presenting global temperature changes shows a warming trend that has not, in fact, occurred.  True, there has been some increase in temperatures over the past century but this does not appear to be related to increases in CO2 emissions.

I would have to say that there seems nothing in the essay to persuade me to change that view. Indeed, one would have to say that the Hansen analysis is so thin in terms of scientific analysis that I am a little surprised that you sent it to me.

In defending the warming thesis in his Overview, Hansen says that 2009 was “tied for the second warmest year in the 130 years of near-global instrumental measurement” and then refers to a cold year in 1911, presumably using the latter as  a base for illustrating warming since then. Leaving aside the fact that his Figure 5 omits the temperature for 2009, this analysis (if one can justifiably accord it that description) overlooks what happened between the two years and before the 130 years of recorded temperatures. I do not need to explain to you the non-CO2-emissions effects on temperatures of the Great Pacific Climate Shift in 1976-77 or on temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period.

However, Hansen also focuses on the last three decades as follows:

The bottom line is this: the Earth has been in a period of rapid global warming for the past three decades. The assertion that the planet has entered a period of cooling in the past

decade is without foundation. On the contrary, we find no significant deviation from the warming trend of the past three decades. Weather fluctuations exceed the magnitude of average global warming over the past

half century. However, the perceptive person should be able to notice that climate is warming on decadal time scales. The global temperature trend over the past few decades has been

strong enough that there is a noticeable “loading” of the climate dice that define the probability of unusually warm or cool seasons”.

The crucial diagram is his Figure 5. For two and a half decades from 1975 there was a distinct warming trend, although that reflected the effects of the Great Pacific Climate shift. If you take the period 1920 to the present there is also an increase in temperatures. If you take the last decade (or even the last 11 years if you wish to cover the solar cycle) there is no warming. This tells us nothing about the future, whether the longer term upward increase in temperatures  (arguably a continuation of the warming since the Little Ice Age) will resume soon or whether there might be a longer hiatus as in the period 1945-1975.

For Hansen to claim that there has been ‘no significant deviation from the warming trend of the past three decades’ is obfuscation, if not cant.(I see he is reported in today’s Age as telling a Melbourne audience last night “fossil-fuel pollution killed 1 million people a year”! Can he be serious?). The trend of the last decade was different from the 1975-2000 trend, and not significantly different from zero.

Global Land - Ocean Temparature Change (Base Period 1961 - 1990)

One could add here that there are increasing questions raised about the accuracy of the temperatures portrayed by Hansen (and others) – although he seems to suggest that any such questions are an unfounded attack on scientific integrity. From what I have seen that is not a satisfactory scientific response. To mention just one example, you may have noted from the paper on “Why No Dangerous Rise in Temperatures Threatens” I gave on 17 February to the Economics Society (Queensland) the apparent incorrect “adjustments” made to the Darwin temperature by our Bureau of Meteorology in concert, I understand, with an IPCC lead author. The correct adjustment suggests very little change in temperature in Darwin over the last 130 years.

Also relevant is the acknowledgement by Dr Jones of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, in his recent interview with the BBC, that there has been no global warming in the last 15 years. I understand that Dr Jones and the CRU have been major advisers to the IPCC. I assume Hansen would argue that Jones (and the IPCC?) are wrong.

But who are we to believe? Does the CSIRO, whose CEO has claimed has 40 scientists on the IPCC panels, have a view on who is right? Why doesn’t the CSIRO, as a professional body established and financed by the Australian government, have something to say about all this? I think you owe to the taxpayer to do so.


Des Moore
Director, Institute for Private Enterprise,
6/112 Millswyn St South Yarra Vic

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