Climate change debate.
Debates. In my view there are two kinds of debate, scientific and public. The aim of the first is to find or ascertain scientific truth, the aim of the latter is to win a debate and in doing so to gain political advantage or even win an election. The scientific debate is less adversarial, both sides have, at least theoretically a common goal, in a public debate winner takes all. To lie in a scientific debate is unacceptable, to lie or misinterpret your adversary’s statement in a public debate should be too but is unfortunately a common practice. A topic of a scientific debate can be: Are there blackholes in our universe? An example of a public debate was the debate, after WWII, on nationalization of heavy industries in Britain. The British Labour Party won this debate handsomely with grave consequences, the heavy industries were nationalized. Yet, ultimately this was not a good decision. The climate change could have been a scientific debate but it is ugly, I am most disappointed that some scientific participants behaved less than ethically.
We are at the threshold of a situation with all media, big business and other powerful vested interests pushing for a carbon tax, Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) or similar schemes, on which they are posed to gain billions of dollars. It is quite probable that the political outcome will saddle us, say with ETS. It is even more probable, in such an event, that ETS will not save the planet, it will just disastrously damage the economy. I find it strange that nobody asks the prime minister what will be the consequences, if she is wrong.
Expertise. I spent my life in science but I strongly disagree with scientists speaking with authority on public matters which are outside their area of expertise. Unfortunately the public life is overcrowded with them. I therefore state unequivocally that I enter the climate change debate as a concerned citizen.
Beginnings. The United Nations established Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, IPCC for short. The work of this panel, right from the beginning, was not marked by transparency and/or integrity. The first deception here was that it was a body of scientists, it was not, it mainly consisted of government (according to its title) bureaucrats. IPCC produced a report and not all scientists working on the panel agreed with it. nevertheless, the names of the dissenting scientists were included as if they were supporters of the report. With the first report a propaganda campaign started asserting that there was a scientific consensus, the world was catastrophically warming. The fact that not all scientists on the panel agreed with the panel’s conclusions seems to be in an obvious contradiction. The trouble with scientific consensus is that it has no place in science, scientist are not politicians, they are interested in scientific truth not in agreement with other scientists. The advice of IPCC was supposed to be a guide for national governments in forming
policies dealing with climate change, however as time went by it became apparent that the advice was not impartial, and most importantly, the advice was not accepted by important states. Recently, US and India stated that they will not be guided by the advice of IPCC. In my view this spells the end of IPCC influence on the international scene. Unfortunately, our Government is still guided by the IPCC advice.
Alarmism. History knows many examples of doomsday predictions. The first one had often religious or semireligious origins, the day of judgement was, so to speak, coming tomorrow. The modern ones have or rather pretend to have rational and/or scientific basis. In the 19th century Malthus predicted that in 150 years there will be a catastrophic famine, Paul Ehrlich predicted that population explosion will cause a catastrophe. These predictions, and many others, mentioned below, were spectacularly false. The reason is simple, they presume that some condition which exists now, will last for a long time in future, for instance, in Malthus case, that the agriculture production would lack behind population grows. It is like saying after three days of rain that it will rain for the next week. An amusing example comes from New York. In the 19th century somebody was seriously worried by the fact that the number of horse drawn carriages was growing uncontrollably, in no time the streets of New York will be knee deep covered by horse-shit. Surprise, surprise, it did not happen. This example is not only amusing but shows clearly another
reason for the failure of doomsday scenarios, they ignore technological progress. The alarmist predictions concerning climate change have another, rather unpleasant feature. Many, but not all, of the alarmists know that they are exaggerating, they even make a dubious claim, that this is necessary in order to obtain public support for the ‘noble’ cause. Al Gore made predictions of unprecedented rise of sea levels. Then he bought a luxurious, expensive real estate, which would be worthless, if his predictions were right. Pachauri, the chairman of IPCC stated that in 35 years the Himalaya’s glaciers would melt, just a small error, not 35 but 350. Our Tim Flannery was even able to predict the dates at which each and every capital city will be without water. Years have passed and now all the capital cities have enough water in storage for years to come. The problem with predictions of catastrophes is that politicians believe them and follow wrong and expensive policies. In Flannery case it can be argued that politicians took his predictions seriously when they
decided to build a desalination plant and not to build any new dam in Queensland. Panic does not come cheap!
Mantra. The prime minister repeats it like a buddhist mantra: ‘The climate change is real.’ Nobody claims it is not. Primary school pupils know that vine was grown in Greenland thousand years ago and that 500 years later people skated in Netherlands on rivers which do not freeze now. These changes were certainly more dramatic, than anything we experience now. Why the mantra? Most likely, she wants to create an impression that those, who oppose her deny that the climate change exists. This is not a serious debate, it is just political trickery. In fairness to her, she always adds a qualification like, it is due to human activity or we are responsible for it. My objection to it is that this is misleading in its generality, not all climate change can be caused by human activity. So, assuming that human activity causes some climate change, the real questions are. How big is it? Is it
dangerous? If it is, can we do something meaningful to stop it?
Climategate. Private emails of the leading members of the centre for climate change research of the University of East Anglia were leaked. They were shocking, they revealed that the members of the centre were manipulating the peer review process, tried to hide discrepancies between observations and their predictions. They also refused to reveal the data on which their predictions were made effectively blocking verification of their conclusions. They were examples of scientists behaving unethically before (there are rotten apples in almost every group of human beings) but nothing on this scale. Moreover the transgressors in the past paid heavy price for their mistakes. The University was forced to make an inquiry but it was a whitewash. Money corrupts. There is too
much money going into climate change research. With the limited resources available for science, some of this money should be diverted into a more useful research.
Computer models. They are used to make predictions of the climate in future. To a layman it sounds impressive. However let’s be clear, because something comes from the computer it is not necessarily right. A glaring example is the payroll fiasco of the Queensland Health. The computer models are suspect, there is anecdotal evidence which contradicts the predictions, there are examples from other sciences where computer models failed. So, how reliable are the predictions? It seems there is an easy way to check, feed the computer with the data from say, 20 years ago and use the computer for a 10 years prediction and compare it with observed data. I was wondering why this was not done, but it was, only typically for the sorry state of the debate, it was not reported in the mainstream media. Here is damning testimony (before US Congress) of John R. Christy,
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama’s State Climatologist, Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and former Lead Author of IPCC assessments. I have repeated that study for this testimony with data which now cover 32 years as shown above (1979-2010.) In an interesting result, the new underlying trend remains a modest +0.09 C/decade for the global tropospheric temperature, which is still only one third of the average rate the climate models project for the current era (+0.26˚C/decade). There is no evidence of acceleration in this trend. This evidence strongly suggests that climate model simulations on average are simply too sensitive to increasing greenhouse gases and thus overstate the warming of the climate system …
Let me translate the polite and diplomatic language of Professor Christy into plain English. The models exaggerate the increase of temperature three fold. In other words the error in predictions of increases is about 200%. Let me ask the reader, would 2˚ C or 6˚C worry you? Is dealing with 1˚C increase in hundred years the greatest moral challenge of our time? And this statement is worth repeating and it is in plain English: ….overstate the warming of the climate system… Professor Christy’s testimony, in my view, should be the mortal blow to the warmist alarmists. My fear is that it will be ignored, at least in Australia, by the mainstream media.
CO2. By the warmists this colourless, tasteless gas is pollution, despite the fact, that we breathe it out, all green plants need it for their existence and it is occurring naturally in the atmosphere. They also call it, misleadingly carbon. The misnaming CO2 as carbon is just a propaganda trick design to confuse a tasteless, colourless gas with the image of dirty carbon (coal) in the minds of the public. The Greens and the Government wants to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by carbon tax and/or by Emissions Trading Scheme. They say it is a market mechanism and best way to achieve it. Market mechanism? Perhaps. However, in reality it is an attempt to impose (soviet style) command economy in Australia. Some examples will illustrate this point. Some time between the communist takeover and the Prague spring, Czechoslovakia imported tomatoes from Cuba.
They were of very good quality and extremely high price. Nobody could or wanted to buy them. They were slowly rotting in the shops. When the price was reduced they were spoiled and again nobody wanted them. Complete fiasco. A second example is the generous subsidy for bread. When it happened, I was surprised that the communists can do something so good. It was seemingly good from every aspect, genuinely according to the slogan: To everybody according to his needs….However, it had unintended consequences, the socialist cooperatives fed bread to cows and pigs, this was cheaper then feeding them with their own produce. Complete fiasco again, it was not sustainable! These two examples illustrate the difference between the free market and corrupted market in a command economy. The price in the free market is determined by the market itself, by the law of supply and demand. In a command economy the price is set by the commissars or at best
by the technocrats. However, there is no scientific or rational way to do it, and the price, even in the Government controlled (or rather corrupted) market fails. Importing tomatoes and having cheap bread was not motivated by the opportunity for a profit but by ideology. So it is with ETS, it is ideologically driven and has nothing to do with a free market. The Greens and the Government say this will be good for everybody, they have the best intentions. No matter how much I dislike the communists, I have to admit they had good intentions too, with both tomatoes and bread. Hence good intentions with carbon tax and ETS cannot justify their introduction. The crucial questions are: How much it will cost? How much reduction of CO2 it will achieve? The first question is almost impossible to answer, the government makes it very difficult by not revealing the details of the
schemes before introducing them. Does not seem fair and transparent. The answer to the second question is not absolutely certain but it is very likely to be: Negligible. It is astonishing that Professor Garnaut, an economist, publicly and unashamedly discusses what the price of CO2 should be. Implicitly admitting the Government (or his) desire is not for a free market with CO2, the other interesting fact is that he says $20 or $30 per ton. Amazing 50% variation, admitting that the government top adviser does not know what the price should be. Exactly like the tomatoes and the bread. Senator Brown stated on TV that ETS was a success in Europe. I was surprised, I saw on the Internet reports that ETS was rorted right and left there. Here is an example with canny resemblance to subsidized bread. The price of wind produced electricity is heavily subsidized. However, the wind does not blow all the time but you can still make a handsome profit by buying a diesel generator and selling the electricity for the subsidized price if you own a wind turbine. Moreover contrary to Senator’s Brown statement there are reports that ETS collapsed in Europe and
had to be restarted. There is one more similarity between the green and soviet economy, the Government decides which industries should flourish, in the Soviet Union it was heavy industry, Julia Gillard wants green industries. In both cases, it is claimed that it is on scientific grounds, but in reality, it is ideologically driven. The soviet economy was marked by inefficiency, there is little hope that carbon reduction schemes here will be any better. The independent Melbourne think tank the Grattan Institute, ..analysed the more than $12bn of state and federal funding for more than 300 carbon reduction schemes and renewable energy programs over the past 15 years and found the result was mostly negligible.
Freedom. The similarities with the soviet economy helped me understand Vaclav Klaus’ (President of the Czech Republic) warning. What is in danger, the Environment or our democratic freedom? I fear, by not having experience with the socialist paradise, my fellow Australians have difficulties in seeing the danger. Moreover very little attention is devoted to this danger, so I wrote this article.