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Australian Defence Dept. says, “climate change science is too doubtful”.

This news should get the left wing chatterers enraged – who are currently pushing with great vigour for the Labor Govts ETS (Emission Trading Scheme) to be passed by the Senate. This news will be heartening to those opposition senators wary of signing Australia on to the wrist slashing expense of the Wong/Rudd ETS when the science is so shonky.
For the full article.

Defence unmoved by climate change data
By Margot O’Neill for Lateline 9 Oct 09 – thats the Australian Broadcasting Corp, publically funded usually left wing in outlook.
The science of climate change is too doubtful to dramatically change Australia’s national defence plans, according to a key adviser on the Australian Defence Force’s recent White Paper.

While the white paper acknowledges for the first time climate change is a potential security risk, it says large-scale strategic consequences of climate change are not likely to be felt before 2030.

A key adviser on the white paper, Professor Ross Babbage, says he is not convinced that climate change exists at all.

“The data on what’s really happening in climate change was looked at pretty closely and the main judgment reached was that it was pretty uncertain – it wasn’t clear exactly what was going on,” he said.

“When you look at that data, it really does suggest that there hasn’t been a major change in the last decade or so and certainly no major increase.

“So the sort of judgments that were required have to be fairly open at this stage.”

However Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has frequently put forward the opposite view, and other security analysts believe Defence should not be debating the basic science of global warming.

Anthony Bergin, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says the ADF’s judgement goes against most scientific conclusions.

“There was no supporting evidence presented in the Defence White Paper for the judgement that there would be no strategic impacts of climate change for 30 years,” he said.

“It seems to run counter to most of the scientific judgements that are now concluding that impact of climate change is indeed faster and more severe than previous estimates.”

Overseas preparations

In the US and the UK, security agencies and the military are providing resources to prepare for potential new climate conflicts over water, food and refugees as well as increasingly frequent natural disasters.

They are also moving to ensure defence equipment will function in more extreme weather conditions.

Sydney University’s Professor Alan Dupont says the CIA in the US had the right approach.

“They accepted the scientific forecasts of the IPCC as their starting point because they thought they were not qualified to contest the scientific issues. And I would have thought the same applied to our own defence department.”

At the internationally respected Royal United Services Institute in London, Dr Tobias Feakin, the director of national security says the Australian white paper is out of step.

“Climate change is already happening, so to press pause on considering it as a strategic issue, I think, could be a mistake,” he said.

“The time cycles for buying equipment rotate in about 20-year cycles so you need to begin to make the decisions now to purchase the kinds of equipment that you’ll need for climate change world.

“So to not actually acknowledge the kind of changes that we will be seeing then, I think will be quite short-sighted.”

‘Cautious approach’

Because of long lead times and high expense, Professor Babbage says Defence moves cautiously when it comes to adopting new planning scenarios.

“At this stage there isn’t really the case to fundamentally change the direction of the Defence Force as a consequence of what we are so far seeing in terms of climate change, given the uncertainties that we still see in the data sets.

Professor Babbage says Defence considered a variety of climate scenarios and judged Australia’s current defence capabilities and force structure would cope.

He points out that Prime Minister Rudd, as chairman of the National Security Council, signed off on the white paper’s conclusions.

3 comments to Australian Defence Dept. says, “climate change science is too doubtful”.

  • David Brewer

    It has got them chattering all right.

    But it’s only common sense. Even if you “believe in” climate change, just consider the length of the chain of reasoning necessary to change decisions on defence procurement and tactics.

    First, the IPCC says it doesn’t know the temperature sensitivity of climate – could be anywhere between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees C for a doubling of carbon dioxide.

    Second, the IPCC doesn’t know how fast carbon dioxide will increase. They have six scenarios (the famous SRES scenarios finalized in 2000 and still used everywhere without updating) which by late this century vary by a factor of 2 or more. And all six scenarios are already overshooting actual greenhouse gas increases – by a mile in the case of methane.

    Then, OK, maybe you take the average IPCC guess from all this of 1 degree warming by about 2050. Then, every model is different about what this means in terms of actual climate at any one point. Some models say it will be drier here and wetter there; others say drier there and wetter here. There are only two relevant things the IPCC models agree on. First, climate will change much less at the equator (where our defence threats come from) than the poles (only the US Navy has Seals). Second, sea level rise will be extremely slow – less than half a meter a century.

    So what is the Defence Dept. supposed to do? Start planning for millions of climate refugees who’ll turn up because sea level rises a couple of centimeters a decade? Defend us against 210 million sweltering Indonesians trying to seize our air conditioners? Redesign weapons and equipment in case it turns out to be 5% drier or 5% wetter or half a degree warmer than it is now? Doesn’t make sense.

    The demands for “action” on this are just a load of PC bumpf. We are supposed to “actually acknowledge the kind of changes that we will be seeing then” – even if we have no idea what they are. Or follow the CIA and “accept IPCC forecasts” – even if the range of IPCC projections is so wide as to be totally useless for planning purposes.

    Defense planning is hard enough as it is. Our Defense Department now has to plan not only for how to defend Australia but for how to keep an array of highly dysfunctional states in the Pacific from blowing up into riots and civil war. It may have been legitimate for them to look into whether climate changes could be factored into planning, but Professor Babbage has come to the right conclusion. Both the data and the projections suggest climate changes that are far too small and uncertain to serve as the basis for any serious change in our defence planning.

  • bill-tb

    I guess they felt we needed more data than that provided by one tree. The Brifa Tree will go down in history for it’s deceit.

    Ground based temperature makes a good case for urban heat island effects.

    But nothing seems to be able to make the case that CO2 does anything but grow plants.

  • Romanoz

    I am surprised at the spin being put on just a couple sentences in the Defence White Paper. The heading the quote comes from is “New Security Concerns: Climate Change and Resource Security”
    It then goes on to repeat much of the scaremongering from the Warmenistas
    “The greater frequency of such events, together with the systemic impacts of sea-level rise, changed rainfall patterns and drought, will place greater pressure on water and food security, including on local fisheries.
    Countries in the Pacific may find themselves threatened by severe climatic events such as more intense cyclonic and extreme weather events. Some South Pacific nations will be placed under significant stress as a consequence of the impacts of climate change.
    The main effort against such developments will of course need to be undertaken through coordinated international climate change mitigation
    It may be that the new potential sources of conflict related to our planet’s changing climate, or resource scarcity, give rise to very old forms of confrontation …
    More frequent and severe natural disasters and extreme weather events will also increase demands on the ADF..”
    I dont think there is any doubt that Defence is concerned about Climate Change and its consequences. The saving grace is that they believe in “climate change mitigation”, not climate change prevention by attempting to control carbon emissions. Maybe this was too controversial because it would involve the ADF becoming involved in enforcement of International Protocols on CO2 emissions!

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