Leading article Australia

A changing climate

28 September 2013

9:00 AM

28 September 2013

9:00 AM

When we say the climate is changing, we do not mean that man-made global warming is destroying planet Earth. We mean that the climate of intellectual opinion is changing rapidly. Take Professor Judith Curry of the school of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Writing in the Australian, she maintains that: ‘The scientific consensus-seeking process [should] be abandoned in favour of a more traditional review that presents arguments for and against, discusses the uncertainties, and speculates on the known and unknown unknowns.’

On the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) into climate change, Professor Curry says ‘it is seen that climate models have significantly over-predicted the warming effect of CO2 since 1990’ and that these ‘models do not generally reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10-15 years.’ Calling for a fresh approach, Curry adds that ‘the role of scientists should not be to develop political will to act by hiding or simplifying the uncertainties… behind a negotiated consensus.’

Take that, David Suzuki.

Speaking of which, the hourlong love-in with the Canadian climate change guru on the ABC’s Q&A — where else? — showed how the alarmists hitherto reliant on such a cosy consensus are  being shown up for the dissemblers many always suspected they were. Far from shedding light on the debate, the 23 September episode descended into farce. During question after question, as Andrew Bolt detailed on his blog, Mr Suzuki was caught out exaggerating, misleading or being completely ill-informed on key issues to do with climate change as it affects Australia.

This is in stark contrast to previous Q&A episodes on global warming. When the editor of this magazine once appeared on a typically fair-and-balanced panel (featuring then-Labor climate minister Penny Wong, then-Greens climate spokeswoman Christine Milne, former Labor environment minister Graham Richardson, carbon pricing former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull and, of course, host Tony Jones), he was denounced as stark raving mad for saying that alarmist predictions were a bit like the Da Vinci Code: ‘A grain of truth and a mountain of nonsense.’ At last, the days when one could not even joke about the environment are over.

But back to David Suzuki. His hypocrisy would be funny if it weren’t so frightening. After all, this is the same bloke who only two days earlier had accused Tony Abbott of ‘criminal negligence’ and an ‘intergenerational crime’ for abandoning the carbon tax. This is a tax, remember, that even the OECD recognises is ineffectual and damaging to our economy unless developing nations follow suit — which is about as likely as the Essendon Bombers winning next year’s AFL Grand Final.

Meanwhile, Professor Tim Flannery and his mates from the overhyped and underperforming Climate Commission have headed out into the real world to see if they can make it on their own unassisted by tax dollars. As firm believers in small business entrepreneurialism, we wish their new Climate Council well. For their sake, we hope their woeful track record of relentless hyperbole and consistently misleading forecasts is overlooked by potential investors in their new start-up.

The upshot here is that there’s every reason to believe that climate realism will prevail in the Abbott era. If so, climate science can be debated openly while our government focuses on practical measures to improve Australia’s environment without being beholden to a punitive tax based on ‘consensual’ fear-mongering. Bring on the climate change.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments