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Category Archives: Climate

Andrew Blot just called.

The winning distance in Olympic Men’s Long Jump has been in decline since 1968. The cooling trend proves that money spent on Long Jump for half a century is a complete waste, not to mention a self-loathing anti-human Green-Left conspiracy which is destroying the minds of our children.

The data is incontestible

BARNABY JOYCE MP, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE: He comes across as sort of the effervescent, sometimes bumbling character and that is a ploy. You do not get to where you are by being a fool. You’re a fool if you think he’s a fool.

Can we please dispense with the nonsense that somehow Clive Palmer and PUP will be a hindrance to Tony Abbott and the LNP?

They both want the same things: destruction of The Greens and repeal of the Carbon and Mining Taxes. Palmer is a Coal Miner. From this all else follows. The Great Barrier Reef, the Tasmanian Wilderness and everything else is valueless to Palmer except insofar as they may sit on gigantic seams of coal. And Abbott’s organisation is funded by coal maniacs.

As we get closer to the new Senate taking their seats from 1 July 2014, Palmer has become explicit on his utter disdain for the (non-coal) natural environment, AGW Climate Change and the IPCC. Here are some Palmerisms on these subjects:

On PUP’s Intention To Repeal The Carbon Tax :-

As a matter of principle, we favour the repeal of the carbon tax, as does the Government,” Palmer said.

“And our party has the balance of power in the Senate right now, even if we’re unsuccessful in the election in WA, which we won’t be. So the carbon tax is definitely going. It’s a fait accompli.”

On Climate Change :-

There’s been global warming for a long time. I mean, all of Ireland was covered by ice at one time. There were no human inhabitants in Ireland.

On How AGW Is A Conspiracy :-

I can get a group of scientists together and pay them whatever I want to and come up with any solution. That’s what’s been happening all over the world on a whole range of things

On How The IPCC Is Completely Useless :-

TONY JONES: [The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report is] based on 309 scientists from 70 countries and the summary for the policymakers has to be agreed line-by-line by 115 countries. I mean, that’s the sort of consensus that you’re rejecting here.

CLIVE PALMER: Well I think it’s a – camels were designed by a committee. With so many people, you’re really not going to get anything worthwhile. You need to have a proper report with people that can do something. But, look, I’m just talking about …

It has been fashionable for the media to treat Palmer as a buffoon and somehow as a hindrance to Abbott’s anti-Carbon agenda. It is the media who are buffoons for entertaining these propositions. Even the estimable Lenore Taylor imagined PUP intransigence on Carbon Tax repeal. While it it entertaining to see Abbott squirm a bit while Palmer teases him about the possibility of non-cooperation, it should have been obvious that the interests of Palmer and Abbott are aligned, not in conflict.

Palmer will make Abbott pay a premium for the passage of the Carbon Tax repeal. This premium will be composed of a small populist gesture, most likely the restoration of increased benefit payments to orphans of deceased servicemen, removed by Abbott in his typically heartless manner, and a very large personal premium to Palmer personally, which will be favourable conditions for the opening and servicing of Palmer’s huge coal tenements, currently closed. Abbott will pay these premiums and the Carbon Tax repealed.

The genesis of Palmer’s fall-out with Abbott is built around Liberal/National power dynamics within Queensland State politics. In brief, Abbott is a supporter of Liberal Party federal vice-president, Queenslander Santo Santoro. Santoro is an opponent of Palmer. The Australian Financial Review covered the issue in The Clive Problem: Why Palmer is Abbott’s Nightmare Best Friend.

Santoro’s modus operandum as a political fundraiser had so shocked the Queensland LNP that in 2008 it sent a dossier on his activities to the police. The police exonerated Santoro and the subsequent LNP internal feud left the Liberal arm in control and the National arm sacked from prominent positions and disenfranchised. The Liberal state arm was supported by John Howard, who championed Santoro’s career in Queensland politics, Abbott and Premier Campbell Newman.

Palmer’s opposition to Santoro is principled. Palmer feels Santoro’s methods are unhealthy and could divide or even corrupt the the Queensland LNP.

“Santo’s a very divisive fellow,” Palmer told the Financial Review. “He gets his power by raising funds for individual ­politicians. “My donations have always been to the party, that way you can’t affect the internal politics.”

Palmer’s opposition to Santoro has been costly for him. Palmer wants to develop his China First coal project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin but his plans have been blocked by the Newman government in apparent retribution for Palmer’s stand against Santoro. Santoro, for his part, has held a grudge against Palmer for the way in which Palmer engineered the merger of the Queensland Libs and Nationals in 2008 and probably for Palmer’s role in forwarding Santoro’s dossier to the police. Santoro resigned from John Howard’s ministry and from the Senate in the wake of a number of breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and of the Register of Senators’ Interests. He is still a Federal Liberal vice-president and important fundraiser. This last would explain his support from Abbott.

Newman and Santoro are very tightly linked. The AFR story implies that Newman stalled Palmer’s China First mine in the Galilee Basin and other ventures because of Palmer’s opposition to Santoro. Palmer criticised the Queensland LNP government for stalling his mining operations and was promptly dismissed from the LNP. Shortly afterwards PUP was born.

So, PUP exists as a vehicle for Palmer’s personal enrichment. Palmer himself only teases and taunts Abbott as a means of payback for Abbott not supporting Palmer in the power struggle with Santoro. The criticism of Abbott is also intended to strip some votes from Abbott and the LNP and draw them to Palmer and PUP. Hence Palmer’s criticisms of Abbott over orphans’ benefits.

And as for buffoon – Barnaby Joyce was spot on. Anyone who thinks Palmer is a buffoon is themselves one. Since the moment Abbott supported Newman and Santoro over Palmer, Palmer has been assiduously working for balance of power in the Australian Senate and he has achieved it. Clive wins. Tony must now deliver.

But all the talk and teasing from Palmer masks the basic confluence of interests between the two men. Palmer will get his China First mine approval and Abbott will get his Carbon Tax repeal. Quid Pro Quo.

Pell On Climate (Part 2, Part 1)

A little while ago I came across the talk given by Cardinal George Pell for the 2011 Global Warming Policy Foundation Annual Lecture. That talk is entitled One Christian Perspective on Climate Change.

Reading the talk I was shocked at how completely Pell is centred within the AGW denialist camp. His talk encompasses all the major memes of AGW denialism: Climategate, research funding gravy train, central government conspiracy with scientific community knowingly complicit, modern temperature increases are being driven by natural processes (not AGW), CO2 is plant food, climate change community is totalitarian and bullying, only computer models, cannot predict climate with certainty, alarmist school cherry-picks time periods, climate models are deficient, medieval warm period was warmer, CO2 precedes temperature increase and does not lag it, percentage of CO2 miniscule, its El Nino stupid, planet is not warming uniformly and AGW an irrational false religion.

Denialist Insider

In fact, reading through the footnotes to Pell’s talk I think there is evidence that Pell is not merely a fan of the denialist movement but an active principal within it along with other Australian and international notaries such as Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, Christopher Monckton and Bill Kininmouth.

A number of footnotes to Pell’s talk contain the notation ‘(typescript)’. ‘Typescript’ is the academically correct way to cite unpublished manuscripts such as typewritten or word processor documents such as might be presented to an academic journal when submitting for consideration for publication.

Here are the typescript citations from Pell’s talk:

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, “Is CO2 mitigation cost effective?” Lecture to the Prague School of Economics (typescript), May 2011, 17.

Timothy Curtin, “The Garnaut Review’s Omission of Material Facts” (typescript) 2011, 11.

Carter, Climate: The Counter Consensus, 245-46; & Robert M. Carter, “Climate Change in Natural Context” (typescript, n.d.),4-5.

Pell and Monckton BFFles ?

Pell’s citation of drafts and journal manuscripts from the presses of Monckton, Carter et.al. indicates he is privy to denialist literature before publication or that he receives original typescripts post-publication. This is a clear indication that Pell occupies a privileged position within the denialist community.

I speculate that Pell operates in the role of influencer and mouthpiece for the denialist community receiving insider access to denialist articles for the purposes of disseminating such within his Church, political contacts (e.g Tony Abbott) and the general community under cloak of Pell’s ecclesiastical position, which position is assumed by the general community to operate under and provide impartial moral leadership.

Not Impartial

Pell holds himself out to be impartial and unbiased on the issue of AGW but he is not. In fact, as his talk to the Global Warming Policy Foundation makes clear, Pell’s attitude toward AGW is based on his abhorrence of the ‘Deep Greens’ which he considers command the ecological and environmental movements. Pell states plainly that an important part of his motivation in stating his skeptic position on AGW is to counter the influence of Deep Green ideology which Pell sees as anti-human and a false religion, a modern manifestation of Paganism.

As Pell stated in his talk:

Why might a Catholic Bishop Comment ? I first became interested in the question in the 1990s when studying the anti-human claims of the “deep Greens”, so I had long suspected that those predicting dangerous and increasing anthropogenic global warming were overstating their case.

As to Neo-Pagan, in this article in The Catholic World Report, January 2008, Pell ‘indicated his disappointment’ with the way Australians ‘have embraced even the wilder claims about man-made climate change as if they constituted a new religion.’

some of the more hysterical and extreme claims about global warming appear symptomatic of a pagan emptiness, of a Western fear when confronted with the immense and uncontrollable forces of nature … In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions!’

and from his GWPF talk:

A final point to be noted in this struggle to convince public opinion is that the language used by AGW proponents veers towards that of primitive religious controversy. Some of those campaigning to save the planet are not merely zealous but zealots. To the religionless and spiritually rootless, mythology – whether comforting or discomforting – can be magnetically, even pathologically, attractive.

More on Pell and AGW Paganism here

Pell also worries that AGW Paganism is infecting the Catholic priesthood which is the substance behind his comment that ‘I was speaking out [...] to provide some balance to ecclesiastical offerings’,
and that the issue of AGW distracts clergy from their proper duty to attend to Christ’s commission to evangelise the world in His name.

In short, Pell’s denialist attitude to AGW science is based on his pre-existing bias to reject Green propositions because of his fear of the ‘Deep Greens’, in particular their position on population control which is in conflict with Catholic teachings on human fertility. He has second-order fears that the Green movement is distracting Catholic clergy from specifically Catholic pastoral care priorities and that the clergy will neglect Christ’s Gospel as a result of over-weighted concern for environmental issues.

The very title of Pell’s talk ‘One Christian Perspective…’ offers a significant clue that Pell’s rejection of AGW follows from his belief that AGW is rooted in a non-Christian or anti-Christian ideology. That’s why Pell adorns his response with the signifier ‘Christian’.

Holy Green Unholy Insanity

Pell’s specific concerns about anti-human deep greens, climate-driven pagan syncretism in Catholicism and distraction from priestly mission are shared by certain other conservative Catholics and are exemplified in this article ‘Holy Green, Unholy Insanity: Religious Leaders Hoodwinked Into Global Warming Hysteria’ linked on the web site of Catholic Apologetics Information n.b. not an official web site of the Catholic Church.

The Crux

Pell does not oppose AGW because of the science. He opposes it because he fears Climate Change policies will includes limits on human fertility and authenticate abortion, such positions undermining the authority of the Catholic Church. On this one must say that some statements from Green organisations and personages are downright frightening. Pell is justified to be concerned about these remarks:

For example, from David Browser, founder of the Sierra Club:

“Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”

Pell has been absolutely explicit about his fears concerning the rise of the anti-human Deep Greens.

He strongly criticized the Medical Journal Of Australia for publishing a letter from Obstetrician Dr. Barry Walters, who proposed an annual Carbon tax on families with more than two children.

As the blog Cafe Theology reported, Pell, speaking in Seoul, where he was awarded the Mysterium Vitae Grand Prix award for his outstanding efforts for the pro-life movement, said

this is a striking illustration of where a minority neo-pagan, anti-human mentality, wants to take us.

But no matter crazy some Green person’s ideas might be, or how different they may be to one’s own ideals, this does not justify denying factual science. I will address Pell’s disconnection with AGW science as demonstrated in his GWPF talk in a subsequent post.

Watching a fishing program called ‘Big Fish Small Boats’ featuring three blokey blokes trolling for Mako Sharks, I was amazed to hear the presenter suddenly eyeball the camera and issue a climate change dogwhistle. The presenter, Al McGlashan, said (to paraphrase):

‘The Labor Government recently tried to ban fishing for Mako Sharks based on false science, but the results of the tag and release program showed the Mako are still in plentiful numbers. Now we can continue to enjoy wonderful fishing expeditions such as these.’

What the..? False science ? That sounds just like the denialist phrase ‘Junk Science’ and coupled with the reference to the ALP and tied in with activities directly based on interaction with the natural environment…He’s not dogwhistling is he ?

He is.

Al McGlashan was No.2 on the NSW Senate ticket for the Shooters and Fishers Party in the 2010 Federal Election. Here’s how he went, with S&F gaining the highest primary vote of the minor parties, finally excluded on count 32 of 35 and pushing the Liberal Party candidate into a quota.

The Shooters and Fishers are AGW denialists. Their pamphlets and platform papers are full of references to deep-green climate alarmist extermists. In fact, their election materials mention the Greens as much as they do the S&F itself. The S&F could just as well be named “The Anti-Green Party” as that is largely how they present and publicize themselves and their objectives.

McGlashan described his decision to stand for the Senate in the Sydney Angler forum:

Basically guys I am running as a fishing rep for the Shooters and Fishers becuase I am sick having my rights to fish being eroded away by radical greenies who sit eating canned tuna talking about how bad fishing is!

The Proposed Mako Ban And Reprieve

As Fishing World reported in November 2009, the Mako Shark was added to the species listed in Appendix II of the international Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). Under laws introduced by the LNP Howard Government any species listed in either Appendix of the CMS was automatically banned from catch in Australia.

RecFish, the national organisation representing recreational fishermen, along with commercial operators, then lobbied the ALP government to rescind the ban which was duly done by Environment Minister Peter Garrett in January 2010.

The rationale for overturning the decision was that the listing in the CMS was on the basis of severely reduced Mako numbers in the Mediterranean Sea but that Mako in Australian waters do not migrate to the Mediterranean and therefore the reason for the listing was irrelevant to Australian Mako.

As a spokesman for Garrett put it:

“Noting the lack of evidence suggesting that Australian populations of these shark species face the same threats as other parts of the world, the government will be moving to make legislative changes to address the ongoing uncertainty for recreational fishers”

No False Science

Which leaves me wondering what McGlashan was on about. The CMS ban on Mako was not based on false science and was not based on ALP legislation. Mediterranean numbers were indeed down so the scientific basis was sound. Garrett listened to RecFish, took into account the Australia scientific data and lifted the ban based on that data.

McGlashan’s claim that the Mako ban was based on Labor shenanigans enabled by false science was itself false in both of its premises. Garrett’s department simply enacted the laws on the books, laws created by the Liberals uner John Howard. Garrett then modified those laws in the face of popular representation and scientific data. Isn’t that really a textbook example of the ALP behaving in responsible democratic fashion ?

McGlashan is close enough to the issue to understand the reality of what transpired and why but chose to be fast and loose with his telling of the story: anything the better castigate the deep-green extremist alarmists, even to injecting some anti-AGW, anti-Green dogwhistles into his otherwise highly entertaining television program.

Tim Flannery is regularly held up for ridicule amongst the Climate Change denialist community with the most common accusation made against him being that he is an alarmist.

Frequently this crticism is extended to state that Flannery is an unhinged doomsday prophet: a religious nutcase devoted to the Gaia hypothesis who thinks that the world is a gigantic human being.

When either of those accusations are made, references to Flannery’s supposed failed predictions of doom in relation to major Australian capitals are wheeled out and the continued survival of those capitals with reference to the abundance of drinking water available to them is juxatposed in order to show that Flannery is detached from reality and that therefore Anthopogenic Climate Change is not occurring.

I have rebutted the arguments against Flannery here and here.

In relation to Perth, the accusation against Flannery is that in 2004 he supposedly predicted the immediate collapse and abandonment of that city in the face of reduced rainfall bought about by AGW. Here’s the party line bought by James Patterson of the Institute For Public Affairs in an undated article which appears to have been written in about 2011:

In 2004 [Flannery] predicted that ‘Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.’ The following year, he said that Sydney could run out of water in as little as two years.

Undaunted by that botched prediction, he tried again in 2007, saying Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane would ‘need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.’

Undeterred by their failure to dry-out, Flannery was at it again in 2008, arguing that ‘the water problem for Adelaide is so severe that it may run out of water by early 2009.’ Of course, even amid a severe drought, none of these cities have met Flannery’s doomsday scenarios.

Patterson, writing in 2010/2011, excoriates Flannery because Perth is not yet abandoned, following Flannery’s 2004 statements, but ignores or does not realise that Flannery’s remarks about Perth were made in relation to likely events over a 50 year time period, not a six or seven year time period.

Step Trend

In particular Flannery noted that the deterioration in rainfall catchment in Perth is occurring as a step trend with approximately 20 years between each step (not as immediate cessation as block-headedly insinuated by Bolt

[Flannery] said climate change tended to move in steps. In 1976, when the first step occurred, the south-western corner of Western Australia lost 20 per cent of its rainfall, and its catchment fell from 340 gigalitres to 111 gigalitres. The average is now 160 gigalitres. In 1998, when the second step occurred, the world experienced the worst El Nino effect and the death of 17 per cent of its coral reefs. South-eastern Australia was hit by drought.

Noting declining rainfall catchment across Australia’s capitals, Flannery became an advocate for desalination plants.

Given the intensity of contempt poured out at Flannery from the denialiatariat, it was interesting to see that The Australian, the most important organ for dissemination of denialist viewpoints in this country, published on October 3rd this year an article confirming Flannery’s statements on the situation with Perth’s water catchment and showing the strong contribution now made to Perth’s water supply by desalination. The article is called ‘Dam Buster Water Works’ by Nicolas Perpitch.

The article contains a chart showing Perth’s rainfall catchment from 1911 to 2012 and clearly highlights the step-trend described by Flannery, showing steps commencing at 1975 and 1998 with a mini-step at 2004 and 2012 on track for the lowest catchment since 1914. This backs up Flannery’s statements.

A further graphic shows that desalination contributes one-third of Perth’s water, expected to increase to 50% by December 2012. This contribution is essential in conserving Perth’s water supply as dam levels are at about 33% and the major aquifer system, the Gnangara Mound has been raided beyond sustainable levels in the face of a very dry year this year.

The subtitle to the article is ‘Long-term declining rainfall has pushed Perth to the brink of a crisis’, which words echo Flannery and notes a long-term trend of declining rainfall and increasing population which is completely unsustainable without major desalination works, again echoing Flannery.

Science Supports Flannery Again

Perpitch’s article makes plain that far from Flannery being a religious fruitcake, his comments on rainfall catchment in Australia’s capitals are supported by science and responsible planning by city administrations.

Why else would Colin Barnett, Liberal Party Premier of Western Australia and hardly a deep-green afficionado of One World Government, support the proposal to pump water to Perth from the Kimberley region ?

It is inevitable that water in West Australia’s far north will eventually be channelled to the south, Premier Colin Barnett says. Mr Barnett said that while the Kimberley continues to become wetter and the south becomes drier, it is certain that water will be pumped from the north some time in the future.

Barnett is obviously reading the reports of his engineers and scientists and acting in accordance with them and Flannery’s recommendations as Campbell Newman did in Brisbane. One can only hope the denialatariat catches on.

Just read an excellent article by Bill McKibben via The Monthly’s Shortlist which came from Rolling Stone’s July issue, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.

Plainly, transitioning away from fossil fuels affects the future profitability of Oil companies. But there is an immediate threat to big oil which dwarfs that, and that threat comes about due to loss of value in oil inventory.

Simply put, to keep the planet from warming more than the 2 degrees celsius ‘safety bar’, we must not burn more than 20% of the proven reserves of carbon-based fuels. A committment to do that means 80% of the assets of the world’s oil companies become essentially woorthless.

As McKibben describes, the proven reserves of the world’s biggest energy companies, still in the ground has a current market value of $27 Trillion. Now, while all that oil and gas is still in the ground, from a financial perspective it is an asset and therefore in certain important respects is treated as tradeable. To quote McKibben:

it’s already economically aboveground it’s figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value.

To avoid an AGW carbon fuel-driven temperature increase of 2 degrees celsius, optimistically regarded as a liveable, non-catastrophic medium-term average global warming outcome, only 20% of those reserves can be burnt. Which means that 80% or $20 Trillion worth of oil and gas would become valueless as an energy source…

you’d be writing off $20 trillion in assets.

… which would obviously cripple the great energy corporations of the planet and the wallets and personal stock portfolios of their CEOs and major shareholders…which creates a great reason to engage in AGW denial.

So the threat to the wealthy and the companies they controlarising from meaningful transitions to renewable energy is immediate. They have outstanding loans, salaries and stock portfolios based on under-the-ground inventory.

No wonder they’re fighting like cornered wolves.

Serengeti Strategy (Part 2) (Part 1)

A favoured tactic of the Climate Chanage Denialatariat is to attempt to pick off and destroy influential supporters of the scientific consensus on AGW whom they consider vulnerable to smear or distortion. By discrediting influential consensus voices they attempt to discredit AGW itself. In Australia, denialists concentrate their Serengeti Strategy on Climate Change Commissioner Tim Flannery. Here is Andrew Bolt enjoying a superlative free lunch with Mark Latham while doing that very thing:

“How does Flannery hold the position of chief climate commissioner and, in making these predictions, why is he backed by the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO? He is highly influential, he’s Mr Global Warming. If you say he’s a weak link, what does that tell you?”

Latham, for his part, is quite aware of Bolt’s true objective

Unable to make a factual case against global warming, the spoiler-sceptics have homed in on Flannery.

Flannery The Fundamentalist

A favoured and oft-repeated smear against Flannery is that he is untrustworthy, indeed irrational religious kook, because he believes that the Planet Earth is a living God or self-aware entity named Gaia. The right-wing Australian smear think tank ‘Institute For Public Affairs’ published an article concentrating on this smear some time ago. The undated article written by James Paterson, their Director of Communications, is entitled Tim Flannery, Climate Prophet. Paterson wrote:

When appearing on the ABC’s Science Show in January this year, Flannery said: ‘This planet, this Gaia, will have acquired a brain and a nervous system. That will make it act as a living animal, as a living organism, at some sort of level.’

To be fair, Flannery is not the only scientist to embrace the kooky theory that Gaia has human properties.

Paterson thus states that Flannery believes the planet Earth has a brain and nervous system. Flannery does not believe this. Paterson is guilty of lazy research here, but his overall objective is to paint Flannery as a crackpot so I doubt he was trying very hard to genuinely understand Flannery’s conception of the Gaia hypothesis.

In fact, Flannery does not think that the Earth has a brain or nervous system. What Flannery says is that human beings, really scientists, constitute the Earth’s metaphorical or virtual brain and that the Internet has the capacity to constitute the Earth’s metaphorical or virtual nervous system and that therefore humans may potentially be able regulate the Earth’s eco-systems via planet-wide computer networks and other technologies. In other words Flannery’s view of the ‘strong Gaia’ is technocratic and scientific, not religious.

Really James Paterson should be ashamed of smearing Flannery in such a way. It reflects badly on both himself and the IPA and lessens its credibility as a serious researching entity.

Here is Flannery explaining his Gaia hypothesis to Robert Manne at Latrobe University 4th June 2009

Robert Manne:
I wondered first for the audience if you could give a reasonable succinct view of what [James Lovelock's] conception of Gaia is and then I want to talk about your book a bit in regard to that.

Tim Flannery:
[...] Just over the last decade Gaia is on the threshold of acquiring a brain and that’s happened because the internet and changes in human society have for the first time ever, allowed us theoretically to deliver a single, strong message to Gaia, what we want from Gaia. And also, after four billion years, we have got now the intelligence to see Gaia from space and to actually enhance its working parts…

Robert Manne:
Is what you’re saying then, that human beings have to somehow become the regulator? Of processes that once we were not able to control or didn’t feel the need to control or whatever?

Tim Flannery:
By virtue of the process of evolution humans are destined to become the regulator.

Robert Manne:
And it connects, doesn’t it, to this idea of yours which is the capacity of human beings now to see what has to be done and to do it. Is that it?

Tim Flannery:
That’s right and it’s already happening. It’s not like this is theoretic. We actually have built a system now that allows us to send a single strong message to the part of the carbon cycle we want to deal with.

To Quickly Summarize then, Flannery is not a Gaia worshipper. He does not think that the Earth is a gigantic person or a living god or a self-aware entity. He does not think the Earth has a brain or nervous system. Flannery’s view of the ‘strong Gaia’ is technocratic and scientific, not religious.

Footnote

This post is a disaggregation of another one I did defending Flannery in which I also show how Flannery’s predictions on water supply, routinely ridiculed by denialists, have actually been correct and justified in every respect.

You’ll find that here.

Just before we get started:

Tim Flannery’s comments on water shortages in Perth have been supported in The Australian and by Colin Barnett, Liberal Party Premier Of Western Australia, here. And TF does not believe that the planet Earth is a living God or self-aware entity named Gaia.

Due to his high profile, Climate Change Commissioner Tim Flannery is a favoured target of Climate Denialists. In this post I will compare comments made by Flannery against the intentionally distorted versions of his comments put forward by the denialist commentariat.

First, Flannery did not say that Australian dams will never fill again. Andrew Bolt, misrepresenting Flannery, draws attention to a Feb 2007 Landline interview with Flannery in which Flannery said:

even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems

Denialists like Bolt claim that Flannery meant by this that our dams would never fill again at any time for any reason from the date Flannery was speaking. However, what Flannery was actually saying that climate trends at the time indicated a long-term outcome of normalized water shortage consistent with IPCC projections

Flannery’s comments were to the effect that Australia was at the time currently experiencing a 60% fall in run-off going into dams due to hotter soils and greater rainfall take-up by drought-stressed vegetation and that this would be indicative of what we could eventually expect as a consistent and normal outcome in the future.

He did not say that the dams would never fill again at any time from the date he was speaking, which is the thick-as-a-brick intentionally distorted view presented by Bolt and fellow travellers. Flannery was pointing to a long-term outcome of normalized water shortage based on current data and climate trends.

Flannery’s quote in context is:

We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems

Bolt knows, but pretends not to know, that Flannery was applying IPCC modelling and projections to (then) present circumstances in relation to reduced rainfall and that Flannery’s statement are in accordance with those. Bolt also knows that IPCC projections include intensified (i.e. more severe) but rarer flooding events, which of course would fill the dams.

Minister For Climate Change, Penny Wong, stated in a Lateline interview 2nd September 2008:

by 2050 that Australia should expect around about a 25 per cent reduction in rainfall in the southern part of Australia.

Flannery, by starting his Landline comments with ‘We’re already seeing the initial impacts’ places Australia’s (then) current 20% decline in rainfall in relation to the IPCC projections, exactly as Senator Wong did.

In fact it is Flannery’s usual practice to speak of climate and rainfall trends in the context of a 50 year projection. His Landline comments of 2008 perfectly mirror remarks he made to the Sydney Futures forum in 2004 in which he extrapolated Sydney rainfall data into the next half-century to warn of highly adverse outcomes if currently observed climate effects were to be continued to be ignored. More on that statement below.

Climate Change Entails Heavier Flooding

As Climate Change Commissioner, Flannery is perfectly aware that intensified but rarer flooding constitues part of IPCC modelling. As such it is patently absurd to state that Flannery believes Australia will never again experience floods or that dams will never fill again.

In asserting that Flannery believes Australia’s dams will never fill again, Bolt would have us believe that Flannery is aware of only the ‘drying’ aspects of Climate Change and is unaware of the ‘wetting’ aspects. This shows how dishonestly Bolt handles the Climate Change topic.

For the benefit of denialists like Bolt I produce here an extract, via Deltoid, from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) 12.1.5.1

To summarize the rainfall results, drier conditions are anticipated for most of Australia over the 21st century. However, consistent with conclusions in WGI, an increase in heavy rainfall also is projected, even in regions with small decreases in mean rainfall. This is a result of a shift in the frequency distribution of daily rainfall toward fewer light and moderate events and more heavy events. This could lead to more droughts and more floods.

To pretend, as Bolt does, that Flannery is unaware of this is shamefaced dishonesty and deliberate misrepresentation of Flannery.

In fact, in 1997 the IPCC Special Report on Regional Impacts of Climate Change noted specifically that Enhanced groundwater recharge and dam-filling events were expected from more frequent high-rainfall events.

Water Supply and Hydrology: Possible overall reduction in runoff, with changes in soil moisture and runoff varying considerably from place to place but reaching as much as ±20%, was suggested for parts of Australia by 2030. Sharpened competition was expected among water users, with the large Murray-Darling Basin river system facing strong constraints. Enhanced groundwater recharge and dam-filling events were expected from more frequent high-rainfall events, which also were expected to increase flooding, landslides, and erosion.

Of course, Bolt’s purpose is not to discredit Flannery, per se. It’s to discredit Climate Science and the IPCC. That Bolt can only attempt to do so through dishonesty shows that both Flannery and the IPCC inhabit a more secure intellectual and moral position than Bolt.

Flannery The Fundamentalist

A second smear against Flannery is that he is untrustworthy, indeed irrational religious kook, because he believes that the Planet Earth is a living God or self-aware entity named Gaia. The right-wing Australian smear think tank ‘Institute For Public Affairs’ published an article concentrating on this smear some time ago. The undated article written by James Paterson, their Director of Communications, is entitled Tim Flannery, Climate Prophet. Paterson wrote:

When appearing on the ABC’s Science Show in January this year, Flannery said: ‘This planet, this Gaia, will have acquired a brain and a nervous system. That will make it act as a living animal, as a living organism, at some sort of level.’

To be fair, Flannery is not the only scientist to embrace the kooky theory that Gaia has human properties.

Paterson thus states that Flannery believes the planet Earth has a brain and nervous system. Flannery does not believe this. Paterson is guilty of lazy research here, but his overall objective is to paint Flannery as a crackpot so I doubt he was trying very hard to genuinely understand Flannery’s conception of the Gaia hypothesis.

In fact, Flannery does not think that the Earth has a brain or nervous system. What Flannery says is that human beings, really scientists, constitute the Earth’s metaphorical or virtual brain and that the Internet has the capacity to constitute the Earth’s metaphorical or virtual nervous system and that therefore humans may potentially be able regulate the Earth’s eco-systems via planet-wide computer networks and other technologies. In other words Flannery’s view of the ‘strong Gaia’ is technocratic and scientific, not religious.

Really James Paterson should be ashamed of smearing Flannery in such a way. It reflects badly on both himself and the IPA and lessens its credibility as a serious researching entity.

Here is Flannery explaining his Gaia hypothesis to Robert Manne at Latrobe University 4th June 2009

Robert Manne:
I wondered first for the audience if you could give a reasonable succinct view of what [James Lovelock's] conception of Gaia is and then I want to talk about your book a bit in regard to that.

Tim Flannery:
[...] Just over the last decade Gaia is on the threshold of acquiring a brain and that’s happened because the internet and changes in human society have for the first time ever, allowed us theoretically to deliver a single, strong message to Gaia, what we want from Gaia. And also, after four billion years, we have got now the intelligence to see Gaia from space and to actually enhance its working parts…

Robert Manne:
Is what you’re saying then, that human beings have to somehow become the regulator? Of processes that once we were not able to control or didn’t feel the need to control or whatever?

Tim Flannery:
By virtue of the process of evolution humans are destined to become the regulator.

Robert Manne:
And it connects, doesn’t it, to this idea of yours which is the capacity of human beings now to see what has to be done and to do it. Is that it?

Tim Flannery:
That’s right and it’s already happening. It’s not like this is theoretic. We actually have built a system now that allows us to send a single strong message to the part of the carbon cycle we want to deal with.

Flannery The Alarmist

The same IPA article decries Flannery as an alarmist by stating that his predictions on climate events have been wildy astray. This ‘alarmist’ meme is dominant in the denialist commentariat in regards to Flannery so I will use Paterson’s article as representative of the willing distortions directed at Flannery.

25 Metre Sea Level Rise

Paterson ridicules Flannery for approvingly quoting NASA’s James Hanson on the possibility of a 25 metre sea-level rise due to catastrophic ice melt and notes that such an eventuality would take thousands of years to materialise given current melt rates.

Unfortunately Paterson does not realise that Flannery agrees that such a change could take hundreds or thousands of years to eventuate and so has misrepresented Flannery as stating 25 metre sea level rise is imminent.

Of course Hanson’s actual prediction is based on Earth’s millenia-long climate history and anticipates that timeframe for its realisation, but Paterson ignores that to pretend Hanson and Flannery is warning of an imminent, practically immediate, 25 metre rise in sea levels.

Cities Running Out Of Water

Paterson spends some time running through a list of Australian cities Paterson claims that Flannery predicts were destined for imminent catastrophe, but which of course still survive. In this Paterson attempts to portray Flannery as a kooky, Gaia-fundamentalist doomsday prophet.

Paterson wrote:

In 2004 [Flannery] predicted that ‘Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.’ The following year, he said that Sydney could run out of water in as little as two years.

Undaunted by that botched prediction, he tried again in 2007, saying Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane would ‘need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.’

Undeterred by their failure to dry-out, Flannery was at it again in 2008, arguing that ‘the water problem for Adelaide is so severe that it may run out of water by early 2009.’ Of course, even amid a severe drought, none of these cities have met Flannery’s doomsday scenarios.

Perth

Paterson plainly states that since Perth had not become a ‘ghost metropolis’ (in Flannery’s words) at the time of his article, then Flannery’s statement about Perth was kooky doomsday alarmism.

Paterson knows, however, that Flannery was not expecting immediate or imminent abandonment of Perth, but rather that he was describing a long-term step-trend of declining rainfall and water catchment. Flannery was not predicting, contra Paterson, the destruction of Perth within 5 or 6 years. The actual time-frame of his comments was 50 years. From the article to which Paterson refers:

[Flannery] said climate change tended to move in steps. In 1976, when the first step occurred, the south-western corner of Western Australia lost 20 per cent of its rainfall, and its catchment fell from 340 gigalitres to 111 gigalitres…In 1998, when the second step occurred, the world experienced the worst El Nino effect

Notice that Flannery describes Perth experiencing step-wise increases in climate change induced phenonema with two step experiences so far and 22 years between each step. On that trend we might experience a third step in approx 2020 and a fourth in 2042 with perhaps a fifth to knock Perth out in 2064. That would indicate a timeline of about 50 years from Flannery’s comments.

Paterson flatly misrepresents Flannery, artificially imposing a 5 or 6 year time scale, merely to better paint Flannery as a crackpot.

Of course, Flannery’s statements about the step trend decline in Perth’s water catchment and the inevitability of its exhaustion are fully supported by rainfall and catchment data (i.e. the real world) and by Perth’s city planners including Liberal Premier Colin Barnett. See here.

Sydney

According to Paterson Flannery in 2005 said that Sydney could run out of water in as little as two years.. Flannery did not say this. What he said on ABC’s Lateline on 10th June 2005 was that if the prevailing drought conditions persisted then Sydney would have ‘extreme difficulties with water’

TIM FLANNERY: Well, the worst-case scenario for Sydney is that the climate that’s existed for the last seven years continues for another two years. In that case, Sydney will be facing extreme difficulties with water

This is in consonance with his 2004 statement, made at the same time as his comments on Perth, that by approx. 2050 Sydney would have 60% less water.

The next 50 years offer Sydney the last chance to avoid catastrophic climate change that would devastate south-eastern Australia, the scientist Tim Flannery has warned.

Speaking last night at the State Government’s Sydney Futures forum, Dr Flannery warned of a city grappling with up to 60 per cent less water.

Again, Paterson flatly misrepresents Flannery merely to better paint him as a crackpot.

Brisbane, Adelaide

John Dawson, writing in Quadrant in August 2011, drew heavily on Paterson’s article in framing up Flannery in exactly the same terms as Paterson. Dawson a quote from Flannery in May 2007 where Flannery remarked that Brisbane and Adelaide could run out of water by the end of 2007. Since those cities did not run out of water by the end of 2007, Dawson characterises Flannery as an idiot doomsday alarmist.

Unfortunately for the credibility of Dawson and Paterson, Flannery was correct in his statements. In April 2007 Adelaide had 40 days of normal unrestricted usage available in its dams, an amount which could be extended to 30 weeks with restrictions. Seven months of restricted usage from the end of April means water supplies would be exhausted by yesr end 2007, just as Flannery said.

The source of this data is Professor Cullen of the Wentworth Group Of Concerned Scientists, speaking on ABC’s AM program April 21, 2007 “Adelaiade’s Water Supply Drying Up”

From the AM transcript:

NANCE HAXTON (AM): Adelaide’s water supply has now reached an unprecedented tipping point.

PETER CULLEN: Historically we’ve never seen anything like this, and this is the second year that we’ve had it. I mean, last year was the lowest inflows to the Murray on record, and I don’t think any of us thought we’d have one as low as that again. This one could be as low as last year again.

So the system is virtually empty.

NANCE HAXTON: Traditionally, Adelaide has sourced its water in varying proportions from the River Murray and the Mt Lofty Ranges. If one of those areas was suffering drought, the other source would be relied on more.

[...]

PETER CULLEN: You only have 40 days’ storages, because you always have had a reliable supply from the Murray, and so all the time you’ve been pumping from the Murray you don’t have to store a huge amount, so you haven’t got a big dam that you can sort of fill up or whatever. Now, if the Murray goes off then you have about 40 days left.

The portrayal of denialists like Dawson, Paterson and Bolt is that Flannery was saying ‘by years end the water will definitely all be gone and never return’. Of course, Flannery never said this. He said, ‘the situation is dire’ and recommends the construction of desalination plants to secure water supply. Denialists like Dawson can only sustain their ridicule of Flannery by deliberately twisting his words. Regrettably for the denialists, Flannery’s statements are firmly based in fact.

Campbell Newman Agreed With Flannery

And so it is with Brisbane. Contrary to Dawson and Paterson’s childish caricatures of Flannery as a hair-shirted lunatic who think that the Planet Earth is a gigantic human being, Brisbane’s water issues in 2007 were, as Flannery said, dire.

In this he had the agreement of all those responsible for Queensland’s water supply naturally including the Queensland Water Commission. In March 2007 the QWC forecast dam holdings of 5% by year end. Said then Premier Anna Bligh,

“I am advised by the Commission that, with the assistance of level 5 restrictions, we will have five per cent dam levels in December 2008…”

Dawson, Bolt and Paterson choose to elide all of the above from the record, and what is elided is that all experts, all water consumption and dam inflow data, the actual real-life situation facing Brisbane was exactly what Flannery said it was.

In April 2007 South-East Queensland existed on Level 5 Water restrictions and dams were down to 20% capacity. This fell to 17% in August 2007. Level 6 water restrictions were enforced from 23 November 2007 with the Queensland Water Commissionobserving a significant threat to sustainable and secure water supply in the South Eastern Queensland region because of extended severe drought conditions.

According to a certain Lord Mayor Campbell Newman it was the worst water supply crisis in living memory. Said Mr Newman,

Cr Newman said the cost of the drought was outpacing the cost of the North-South Bypass Tunnel – part of the TransApex bridge and tunnel scheme – as Brisbane poured hundreds of millions of dollars into water infrastructure.

He said water infrastructure projects were costing over $700 million.

“We have no option but to fund these water initiatives due to the water crisis,” Cr Newman said.

Ivory Tower Denialism

Bolt, Dawson and Paterson isolated and insulated in their Ivory Towers, content and well-fed in their chosen occupations as disseminators of absurd propaganda are freed from the real-life concerns of actually supplying water to a major city.

Mr. Newman, unlike them had real responsibilities to attend to, and acting on the same reality as described by Tim Flannery, took concrete actions to secure Brisbane’s water supply, committing the gigantic sum of $700 million to address what all were plainly experiencing as a crisis.

In this Newman acted in consonance with others for whom planning and securing the well-being of real-life humans was part of their job, the like-minded being Flannery as Climate Change Commissioner, the numerous Shire Council Mayors and the scientists of the CSIRO.

Flannery and Campbell were working from the same set of facts: a crisis requiring response. Which is why Flannery said, so absurdly reviled by Bolt:

“In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.”

Please note the difference between that statement by Flannery and Bolt’s block-headed distortion of it which was:

In 2007, Flannery predicted cities such as Brisbane would never again have dam-filling rains

Wrapping Up

We could continue to debunk the denialists slurs directed at Flannery but, in short, here is the story:

Flannery describes long-term trends which denialists willingly distort as as immediate statements about the present then excoriate Flannery because the present does not correspond to their distortions.

Flannery never said dams would never fill again.

What Flannery said was that in the long-term, commencing in about 2040, the normal rainfall situation will be that of long-term water shortage. Naturally this excludes floods and occasional wet years.

The IPCC’s climate change modelling predicts an increase in heavy rainfall events along with normalised hotter temperatures i.e. its a more extreme climate with both more intense droughts and more intense rainfall.

Flannery’s remarks about the water situations in Australian cities were to the effect that the water situation of those cities was dire and would continue to be precarious in to the future. He did not say that Australian cities would run out of water and never have water again. He did recommend desalination plants as a means of securing water supply.

Those remarks were supported by all data, all experts and represent the truth about the the water situation in Australian cities at that time.

Flannery never said it would never flood again.

Flannery is not a religious devotee of Gaia.

In short Bolt, Dawson and Paterson enagage in systematic and deliberate untruths about Flannery and it is they who merit portrayal as hair-shirted religious lunatics, not him.

The denialists are attempting to defend their entrenched anti-Green and/or knee-jerk anti-regulatory ideologies by the basic strategy of character assassination of Flannery. To do so they distort Flannery’s statements, ridicule him without foundation and ignore sound science. Their campaign would be pitiable if it were not so destructive.

Postscript

I emailed James Paterson of the IPA and also Tim Flannery seeking comment on the above remarks. You’ll be the first to know if they respond and give permission for their remarks to be published.

James Paterson Responds (Almost)

James Paterson of the IPA gave me the courtesy of responding by email but refused to engage in discussion about his article. Paterson’s rationale was that since my blog said he was a denialist then there was no point discussing anything with me because my mind was already made up about him.

In my view Paterson is hiding from critique.

Yes, I think Paterson is a denialist but this does not prevent me from engaging in debate about Flannery’s statements or about how Paterson characterises Flannery.

In my view Paterson is merely closing the curtains inside his Ivory Tower, steadfastly determined to remain insulated from critique.

Conversations with Climate Change Denialists Pt.3. (Part 1, Part 2 )

A senior relative (SR) of mine, an unquestioning supporter of the Murdochcracy, recently told me that Governments across the world have influenced the CSIRO, and NASA (for example) to write pro-AGW papers in order to expand their control of the economy and society.

Any other climate deniers also believe this ?

I thought this was a novel extension of the CSIRO/NASA/Worldwide Climate Reserach Unit conspiracy theory as it expanded the scope of the conspiracy to include now not only all Climate Research Units and all Universities but also now all national governments.

An unintended corollary of this theory is that John Howard is the sinister architect of Climate Change Alarmism in Australia because it was under his governments that AGW came to the attention of the Australian general public. Can’t remember anything about AGW in mainstream reporting under Keating.

So SR challenged me to confront the statements of the noted diver and Reef personage, Ben Cropp, who dives on the Great Barrier Reef nearly every day, that the Reef was in magnificent condition….which contradicted Bob Brown’s deranged assertions that the reef was in danger of destruction through Climate Change. On researching I found that Ben Cropp had actually said he had seen no heat damage on the reef at all.

So, summarizing what I found out about the Great Barrier Reef:

Bob Brown is, as usual, correct. The Great Barrier Reef has recently suffered serious bleaching events due to Global Warming. Ben Cropp is kind of correct. The Reef is still currently in pretty good condition, though he may be interested in the photograph of reef bleaching taken at Great Keppel Island in 2006 contained in this document.

In short, Coral Reefs can recover from bleaching events. So far the Great Barrier Reef has largely been able to recover from bleaching events which it has experienced. It will not be able to do so indefinitely as sea temperatures continue to rise and ocean acidification destroys the ability of the reef to re-create itself.

According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, from whom I have plagiarized most of the text below, the Great Barrier Reef suffered significant bleaching events in various places in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 with 1998 and 2002 being the most serious.

In 1998 67% of the Great Barrier Reef inshore reefs suffered bleaching

Prior to 1980 no significant bleaching event had been observed on the Great Barrier Reef. Ever. In fact at no time in Human History has mass coral reef bleaching been observed until the early 1980’s. Fortunately, damage to the Great Barrier Reef corals has been relatively low because the conditions have not been as severe as in other parts of Australia and the world.

For example, in 1998 Scott Reef in the northwest waters of Australia, a very warm core of water persisted above Scott Reef for several months. It was almost wiped out.

But Coral Reefs can recover from bleaching events if temperatures drop back beyond extremes. This has been the case for the Great Barrier Reef up to this point.

At present sea temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef are 0.4 degrees warmer than they were in 1871.

Based on how corals respond to increased temperatures today, an increase of 2°C in the average sea temperature in tropical and subtropical Australia will lead to annual bleaching with up to 97 percent of the Great Barrier Reef affected. This will totally ruin it as Bob Brown has correctly stated.

I wish people would spend as much time reading my scientific papers as they do reading my e-mails. – Professor Phil Jones, CRU, University Of East Anglia, ‘BBC Q&A’, 13 Feb 2010

Over Christmas I had a frank discussion with two older relatives, both over 60, about Climate Change. They believe or pretend to believe that Climate Change is a crock for a number of spurious reasons typical of the anti-AGW denialist crowd. I see them as willing victims of popular media and popular political parties.

Heresy
What makes them willing victims is their lifelong antipathy to the Green movement which has become an inaliable part of their identity. It is virtually impossible for these particular over-60’s to admit the Green’s might be correct about anything because to do so would force them to admit that they (the said over-60’s) were incorrect – which would be a massive affront to their pride, let alone their semi-religious belief in the superlative brilliance of the Capitalist economic system – which defeated the heretical Communist movement in the heroic good vs. evil struggle of the Cold War.

Admitting the Greens might be right is tantamount to admitting that their over-60’s Capitalist religion might be wrong. Which is unthinkable and undoable.

Existential Death
As I brilliantly summarized in another post, AGW is a death threat to Capitalism as a doctrinal system.

For those who have fully invested themselves into the belief that Capitalism is the best of all political systems, the possibility that it might be invalidated by any consideration is deeply emotionally and psychologically unsettling. That a Green cause, Climate Change, might be the proximate cause of the invalidation of Capitalism is, for the true believers, literally unthinkable, because Green Parties have always been regarded by them as hypocritical, irrational and unrealistic.

The death of Capitalism for so many represents a death of self, because of the intensity of their belief in the Capitalist system.

No-one wants to die.

So AGW must be denied

Proof
Both of my rels bought up the so-called East Anglia ClimateGate emails as proof of the unreliability of Climate Science. I cobbled together a short email of my own to refute their prejudices about the CRU which I now reproduce here.

My rebuttal material is fundamentally an extended plagiarism from the brilliant pro-AGW hypothesis web site Skeptical Science.

The East Anglia ‘ClimateGate’ emails were a beat up, pure and simple.

Quite simply there was nothing in the emails that contradicted or undermined the AGW hypothesis.

The emails and associated hysterical commentary were released to the public a few weeks before Copenhagen with the intention of derailing those talks. The emails were released publicly in conjunction with a coordinated media strategy on approx 20 November 2009. The Copenhagen Climate Conference commenced 6 December 2009.

The strategy of the Climategate/Anti-AGW crowd was to throw mud at the reputations of the climatologists associated with University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and thus run an argument against AGW/IPCC based on guilt-by-association of the entire climatological community.

The specific accusations against the climatologists located the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) are confected from quotes in the emails which are divorced of their context and then loaded with meanings not intended by the email authors.

Where The Heck Is Global Warming?

The Blog “New American” is typical of the tone.

For example, ‘New American’ quotes climatoligist Kevin Trenberth as writing

“I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder… 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.” 


And goes on to claim that that Trenberth’s comments constitute an admission that Climatoligists know that AGW is not real.

In fact, Trenberth was commenting on the inability of the Climate Models to predict exactly how heat is transferred through the Earth’s major systems (Land, Sea and Atmosphere) i.e. the mechanism by which the Earth’s total heat energy is distributed.

Trenberth was NOT saying that AGW is not real, that the average global temperature of the Earth was declining, that the Climate Models don’t accurately predict global warming, that C02 does not produce long-term warming or anything else that would contradict the AGW hypothesis.

Hide The Decline

Another infamous assertion of the ClimateGate crew was that Climatologist Phillip Jones admitted to falsifying temperature trends.

In an email dated 16/11/1999, Jones wrote:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Jones was not hiding anything.

In this email Jones is referring to a temperature proxy record known as Maximum Latewood Density (MXD) in which Earth’s historic temperature is derived by examination of tree-rings. Up until 1961 MXD accurately trends to actual temperatures as measured by instrumental data (weather stations). After that it diverges (declines) from the instrumental record. This ‘decline’, known as ‘The Divergence Problem’ has been discussed openly in the Scientific Literature since at least 1998.

In 1999 Jones produced a graph for the World Meteorological Organisation in which he spliced post 1961 instrumental data onto the tree-ring proxy data up until 1961 to produce a composite graph which ‘hides the decline’. His audience of professional climatologists who read the graph knew exactly what he was doing, which Jones openly stated anyway.

‘New American’, Fox News, The Australian and others of their ilk did not even try to understand what Jones’s graph was for, who it was intended for or what it meant. Even though Jones 1999 graph was never used by the IPCC (it was for the WMO), they just reported ‘IPCC Scientist Hides Declining Temperature Data’ and that therefore IPCC findings are falsified and unreliable.

The blog ‘American Thinker’ offers a relatively sophisticated critique of ‘Hide The Decline’ from an anti-AGW perspective but uses the word ‘Gotcha’ over and over again, not realising the decline or divergence has been known all across the Climatology field for decades.

Noting the divergence post-1961 American Thinker says the MXD series should be completely abandoned as a proxy temperature series but may not realise that from 1980 Solar Output levels also decline or diverge from instrumental record data.

To be consistent American Thinker should also advocate that the IPCC abandon Solar Output as a predictor or proxy record of Earth temperature. Of course no-one in their right mind would do so. Plainly both series become bad predictors of temperature at different points for different reasons. For MXD it is probably air pollution, for Solar Output the most likely thing ( > 95% according to the IPCC) is that human-generated C02 is causing a greenhouse effect.

Perverting Peer Review.

A serious allegation of the anti=AGW crowd was that CRU and the IPCC generally pressure journals to drop anti-AGW articles so that only pro-AGW articles get printed in the scientific literature.

The oft-quoted example is the journal Climate Research which published a very weak paper in 2003 by Soon and Baliunas. Jones wrote:

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor, a well-known skeptic in NZ.”

So, say the anti-AGW crowd, this proves that anti-AGW views are silenced. What the anti-AGW crew do not say is that a number of Climate Research’s own editors resigned over the publication of the paper, that the journal’s publisher admitted that the journal should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication and that the Editor in Chief resigned on being refused permission by the publisher to write an editorial about what he regarded as a failure of the peer review system in place at the journal.

The anti-AGW paper by Soon and Baliunas was substandard. It should never have been published.

Destroying Data

A common charge against the IPCC and the CRU is that it destroyed or falsified temperature data. In fact this is impossible to do since the CRU does not own the temperature data. It collects its data from publicly available sources and anyone can get hold of it.

And as it turns out, the CRU temperature series, HadCRUT indicates one of the lowest global warming trends of any temperature series. Why falsify temperature data to make a lower than average assessment of climate change yet still argure Climate Change is a globally critical phenonemon demanding immediate action ?

We Could Continue

On a case-by-case basis every one of the attacks on the CRU can be shown to be absurd hyperbole. You can find a full rebuttal here

Unfortunately, the popular press is not very interested in Science, only controversy, and some papers such The Australian and some news outlets like Fox News are deliberately setting out to derail a sensible response to the problem of Climate Change. For ecample The Australian published no less than 85 stories about Climategate, but not one about the Muir Russell inquiry which cleared the CRU of any wrong doing.

So, Climategate is a beat up or, as Skeptical Science puts it, a ‘fake scandal’. Any reasonable consideration of the evidence shows that the CRU emails do not in any way undermine the AGW hypothesis.

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