Climate scepticism is good

Richard Mulgan is a former professor in the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University. Thanks to the Canberra Times for giving space for this, concise, timely and very readable article.

Climate scepticism is good
RICHARD MULGAN
15/12/2008
“I am not a climate sceptic,” said Senator Nick Xenophon in a recent ABC interview, and went on to explain why. He said he found the case for human-induced global warming generally convincing, though far from certain, and believed governments should take action to reduce greenhouse emissions because of the greater risk of doing nothing.

On most everyday understandings of the term ”scepticism”, the senator was in fact displaying a sceptical attitude towards the issue: he denied that the evidence about global warming was certain and was prepared to entertain doubts about the degree of probability for global warming. His refusal to be labelled a ”climate sceptic”, however, shows how the term has become hijacked in public debate.

”Climate scepticism” now stands for a policy stance, opposition to the case for emission reduction. It has become detached from its normal sense of reasonable doubt about the science. The confusion is important and reflects a dangerous misunderstanding of how far policy can be based on robust evidence.

In principle, all scientific theories are open to falsification by new evidence and therefore no science can ever be entirely certain. In practice, however, many areas of science are sufficiently well grounded in reliable evidence to be accepted beyond reasonable doubt. But climate science is not among them.

Everyone knows the limitations of short-term weather forecasting. Climate scientists confirm that the large number of independent factors influencing climatic events rules out precise explanation or prediction. With climate change, uncertainty is compounded by the lack of reliable historical data from before the modern period. This does not mean that nothing can be known about climate change or that no predictions are worth making. But it does mean nothing can be known for certain or even with the degree of certainty that can apply in aspects of other sciences, such as physics or chemistry.

Uncertainty pervades the entire field of climate change. Scepticism should therefore be the natural attitude of any intelligent student of the topic.

Full article

231-Page Report Now Available: More Than 650 Scientists Dissent Over Warming Claims

More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

Over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe challenged man-made global
warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. This new 231-page U.S. Senate Minority
Report report — updated from 2007’s groundbreaking report of over 400 scientists who
voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming “consensus” — features the
skeptical voices of over 650 prominent international scientists, including many current
and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. This
updated report includes an additional 250 (and growing) scientists and climate
researchers since the initial release in December 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists
are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped
IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

The chorus of skeptical scientific voices grow louder in 2008 as a steady stream of peerreviewed
studies, analyses, real world data and inconvenient developments challenged
the UN and former Vice President Al Gore’s claims that the “science is settled” and there
is a “consensus.” On a range of issues, 2008 proved to be challenging for the promoters
of man-made climate fears. Promoters of anthropogenic warming fears endured the
following: Global temperatures failing to warm; Peer-reviwed studies predicting a
continued lack of warming; a failed attempt to revive the discredited “Hockey Stick”;
inconvenient developments and studies regarding CO2; the Sun; Clouds; Antarctica; the
Arctic; Greenland; Mount Kilimanjaro; Hurricanes; Extreme Storms; Floods; Ocean
Acidification; Polar Bears; lack of atmosphieric dust; the failure of oceans to warm and
rise as predicted.

In addition, the following developments further secured 2008 as the year the “consensus”
collapsed. Russian scientists “rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be
responsible for global warming”. An American Physical Society editor conceded that a
“considerable presence” of scientific skeptics exist. An International team of scientists
countered the UN IPCC, declaring: “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate”.
India Issued a report challenging global warming fears. International Scientists
demanded the UN IPCC “be called to account and cease its deceptive practices,” and a
canvass of more than 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global
warming science is “settled.”

This new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s office
of the GOP Ranking Member is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of
scientific opposition challenging significant aspects of the claims of the UN IPCC and Al
Gore. Many scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of
skeptical scientists. The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the
geologists’ equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and
prominently featured the voices of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming
fears. [See Full report Here: & see: Skeptical scientists overwhelm conference: ‘2/3 of
presenters and question-askers were hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC’ ]

Direct Link to printable pdf version of report

“Poster child for climate change” – you be the judge

The Canberra Times (plus many other media too) reports on 4th December 2008 that this Lemuroid possum from the north Queensland wet tropic ranges near Daintree, has declined in numbers and quotes Professor Williams from James Cook University (JCU) who says,

“We cannot say they are extinct, but all the signs point to the species being in very serious trouble.”

Lemuroid possum
Picture from Canberra Times
Climate change is mentioned as a root cause for the species decline.

The Canberra Times ran another more detailed story on the 6th and Professor Williams is quoted saying,

“…climate data shows the disappearance of the lemuroids coincides with record summer temperatures in 2005..”

Read the account of how this story was spread worldwide.

In his online 2006 paper, “Vertebrates of the Wet Tropics Rainforests of Australia Species Distributions and Biodiversity” I looked for the scientific basis for attributing climate change as the cause of the possum problems.
This is all I could find.

1.1 GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE WET TROPICS
There is no doubt that the global climate is changing due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Average temperatures have already risen approximately 0.6°C and are continuing to increase (Houghton et al. 2001). The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has announced that 2005 was the hottest year on record. Regional climate modeling in Australia suggests that during the remainder of this century we will experience an increase in average temperatures of 1.4 to 5.8°C, combined with increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

In 2006 I criticised the BoM (Bureau of Meteorology, Australian) statements that 2005 was our hottest year ever.

This BoM map of mean temperature anomaly, 1 Jan 05 to 31 Dec 05 shows with crystal clarity that the Cape York region is only a whisker above the average, with an anomaly of only zero to 0.5. If anybody has equivalent maps for max and min temperatures, please pass them on, it is daytime (maximum) temperatures which are the issue. For larger copy with coastal towns marked.

2005 BoM mean temperature anomalies

Both the Climate Research Centre, University of Norwich and the NASA satellite lower troposphere trends from the University of Alabama at Huntsville find that 1998 was hotter than 2005 over Australia and it is highly likely the RSS satellite data would find the same.

I have checked BoM station data and there is none from the range-top possum habitat but 31034 Kairi Research Station just east of Atherton, Jan 1965 to current looks the best sited with possum habitat to both east and west. Kairi is marked K on map below and Atherton marked A. From this map in Professor Williams online paper above, the range of the lemuroids extends both north and south of Atherton so Kairi is central to their range but for sure is a lower altitude than their habitat. Kairi data shows that December 2005 was only the 12th warmest month, see list below. This goes against the thrust of what the JCU Professor is claiming which is that he noticed the lemuroids almost absent after the “hottest year” of 2005.
See chart of Kairi mean monthly maximum temperature.
List of 12 warmest Kairi months.

Year

Month

KairiMax

1994

1

31.69

2001

12

31.4

1992

11

31.04

1990

2

30.99

1985

12

30.95

1979

12

30.79

1987

1

30.48

1969

11

30.48

1995

12

30.34

1973

1

30.34

1986

12

30.33

2005

12

30.3

Searching further afield for relevant temperature trends, in 2006 I looked at the nearby fairly long-term coastal station Cooktown AMO and graphed it with Willis Island,

Clearly Cooktown had warm periods in the early 20th Century. Much of the rainy weather for the Daintree ranges blows in from the Coral Sea and note the Willis Island trend shows no warming.

In a nutshell, the lemuroid possums have evolved and survived for many millions of years and I can not see anything in a century of climate trends that should harm them.

In due course I am hoping to see details of temperature data from the possum habitat.

2008 update-Perth dam catchments rainfall still OK, Govt will build +$Billion seawater desal plant.

As this graphic shows, Perth dam catchments rainfall has proved remarkably reliable over 34 years in the face of recent WA Govt propaganda spruiking, “our drying climate”, etc etc. See my late 2007 article, “There never was a rain shortage to justify seawater desalination for Perth’s water supply”
and downloadable word doc with several rational proposals vastly cheaper and better than seawater desalination to augment Perth water supply.
Perth dam catchments rain 1975-2008
But the new WA Govt are on the edge of going ahead with the plus $Billion new desal plant at Binningup just north of Bunbury.
Disgraceful waste of taxpayer monies, exactly at a time we are entering economic rough times. Crazy.