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On 1 February a group of climate scientists published an article in The Australian (it had already been published in the Wall St Journal) explaining why they believe there is no compelling argument for drastic action to reduce emissions. This produced a response by a group of climate scientists (under the name of one, Kevin Trenberth) who believe there is a need for such action and a claim that the first group does not have the required expertise. A copy of the latter article is set out below.

The fact that the self-appointed experts have felt the need to respond is a further indication of concern by the experts that their analyses are increasingly being exposed as (to say the least) highly questionable. The response, however, is largely devoid of substance and is based on the pathetic claim of superior expertise.

This has produced several letters challenging the respondents, the most important of which is the one below by Bill Kininmonth who is of course one of our expert climate scientists but whose views have to date been ignored by the government.

Des Moore

Climategate email reveals doubts on data
letter published in The Australian, 4-5 February 2012

Kevin Trenberth, responding to an Opinion (to which I was a co-signatory) published in the Wall Street Journal (27/1/12) and The Australian (“Climate change ‘heretics’ refute carbondangers”,1/2), claims to have been quoted out of context and misrepresented (“Expertise a prerequisite to comment on climate”, 3/2).

The quote in our Opinion is from an email sent by Trenberth to a group of colleagues that became public with the release of emails from the UK University of East Anglia (or climategate). Trenberth wrote: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t...... there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observation system is inadequate.”

The context is an exchange of emails initiated on 11 October 2009 in response to a BBC item that there has been no warming since 1998 and that Pacific oscillations will force cooling for the next 20-30 years.

Trenberth was certainly lamenting the inadequacy of the observing systems (with which I agree) but at face value he is also acknowledging that the available data do not support warming since 1998. The latter is an inconvenience to the human-caused global warming hypothesis that he and his colleagues are wedded to.

William Kininmonth, Kew, Vic

Expertise A Prerequisite To Comment?
letter published in The Australian, 4-5 February 2012
[square bracketed section deleted by Editor]

[Kevin Trenberth writes with other climate scientists in defence of their view that the world faces dangerous warming (Commentary, 3/2). But he fails to explain why some qualified scientists present a vastly different perspective.

Take just one example from the attitude of Climate Research Unit head at East Anglia University, a principal source of advice to the IPCC. He told the BBC in 2010 that surface temperature data cannot be verified or replicated, that the mediaeval warming period may have been as warm as today, that no statistically measured global warming has occurred for the previous 15 years and that the science is not settled. There are many other examples of expert climate scientists with different views.]

Although not an economist, Trenberth claims a low-carbon economy will “drive decades of economic growth”. But analysis by Australia’s expert economist, Ross Garnaut, says action to mitigate the effect of emissions would lift growth by 2100 to only a minor extent, and then after cutting it initially.

There are experts and experts. Some are right and some are wrong. The uncertainties of climate science, acknowledged in the IPCC’s 2007 report, suggest emission reducing action by governments is not justified.

Des Moore, South Yarra Vic

Expertise a prerequisite to comment on climate
letter by Kevin Trenberth published in The Australian, 3 February 2012

DO you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.

The opinion piece "Climate change 'heretics' refute carbon dangers" (Wednesday) was the climate-science equivalent of dentists practising cardiology. While accomplished, most of its authors have no expertise in climate science. The few who have are known to hold extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert.

This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after it was settled science.

Climate experts know the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally our planet is getting hotter. And computer models show that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are relatively common climate phenomena, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.

Thus, climate experts also know what one of us, Kevin Trenberth, meant by the out-of-context, misrepresented quote used in the opinion piece.

Mr Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend.

The National Academy of Sciences of the US (set up by Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues) and major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research state the science is clear: the world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase. Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions.

Research shows more than 97 per cent of scientists actively publishing in the field agree climate change is real and caused by humans. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks climate change clearly poses.

There is also clear evidence the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.

Kevin Trenberth is a distinguished senior scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, La Jolla, California. This piece is supported by 38 other US, European and Australian climate scientists, named below, and originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal:

(Richard Somerville, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University; Rasmus Benestad, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, The Norwegian Meteorological Institute; Gerald Meehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences; Director, Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, Princeton University; Peter Gleick, Ph.D., co-founder and president, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security; Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Climate Institute, Washington; Michael Mann, Ph.D., Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University; Steven Running, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, University of Montana; Robert Corell, Ph.D., Chair, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment; Principal, Global Environment Technology Foundation; Dennis Ojima, Ph.D., Professor, Senior Research Scientist, and Head of the Dept. of Interior's Climate Science Center at Colorado State University; Josh Willis, Ph.D., Climate Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Matthew England, Ph.D., Professor, Joint Director of the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia; Ken Caldeira, Ph.D., Atmospheric Scientist, Dept. of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution; Warren Washington, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Terry L. Root, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; David Karoly, Ph.D., ARC Federation Fellow and Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia; Jeffrey Kiehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Donald Wuebbles, Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois; Camille Parmesan, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of Texas; Professor of Global Change Biology, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth, UK; Simon Donner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada; Barrett N. Rock, Ph.D., Professor, Complex Systems Research Center and Department of Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire; David Griggs, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Australia; Roger N. Jones, Ph.D., Professor, Professorial Research Fellow, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia; William L. Chameides, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, School of the Environment, Duke University; Gary Yohe, Ph.D., Professor, Economics and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University, CT; Robert Watson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Chair of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia; Steven Sherwood, Ph.D., Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Chris Rapley, Ph.D., Professor of Climate Science, University College London, UK; Joan Kleypas, Ph.D., Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research; James J. McCarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University; Stefan Rahmstorf, Ph.D., Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam University, Germany; Julia Cole, Ph.D., Professor, Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona; William H. Schlesinger, Ph.D., President, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona ; Eric Rignot, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine; Wolfgang Cramer, Professor of Global Ecology, Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France.

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