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The following exchange of letters in today’s Australian illustrates that continued attempts to claim a scientific consensus by some scientists (in this case, as might be expected, at the ANU) fly in the face of the acceptance by other scientists that no such consensus exists. Our ANU friends, who include advisers to the present government, have their own “rules of science”. Nothing could better illustrate the need for an independent inquiry into the science.

Des Moore

What consensus?
letters published in The Australian, 8 December 2010

Graham Lloyd’s survey of The Australian’s treatment of climate change has produced responses suggesting undue attention is given to those with a sceptical view of the dangerous warming thesis. But, in reality, the believers in this thesis receive much greater attention than the sceptics in other sections of the media.

Some respondents also appear to claim there is a scientific consensus. But the recent Royal Society report acknowledges "it's not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future" and that, since 1910, temperature increases have occurred in only two periods -- from 1910 to 1940 and from 1975 to around 2000 -- covering only half the century. Indeed, since 1950 there have been two periods when little or no increase in temperatures occurred, which is contrary to the supposed scientific basis of the warming thesis.

Michael Moore, Albert Park, Vic

GRAHAM Lloyd's article misses the point in defending the coverage given by The Australian to climate sceptics, often to counter large bodies of scientists who provide a consensus scientific view on climate change and its impacts. Lloyd states that "some people hold the view that on issues of such gravity as climate change the usual media rules of alternative opinions should not apply". However, it's the rules of science that apply here, not the "usual media rules".

Science does not operate by adversarial reporting. It works by building a consensus view -- based on peer-reviewed evidence -- of how the world works, a view that is validated when it can be used to predict how things happen.

Media debate between two scientists does little to contribute to the testing of scientific ideas. First, because it is often impossible to provide the full scrutiny required of evidence-based expert examination, and, second, because it can't convey that the full weight of scientific consensus may be sitting on one side.

Professor Ken Baldwin, Deputy Director, ANU Climate Change Institute, Canberra, ACT

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