Some Scientific Sense on Climate Change
Normally it is hard to get a word in edgewise on the climate change debate. The mainstream media mostly features true believers, and seldom gives the doubters a run. But miracles do happen on occasion. On Sunday night 60 Minutes actually allowed a dissenting scientist to speak on the issue. He was interviewed by various questioners, and allowed a pretty good run to give the sceptics’ case.
Dr David Evans began by noting the media bias on this issue: “The sceptical case has been ignored by the press till now, and I think you’ll find it very strong. People are finally coming to terms with it now.” He said he felt compelled to speak out because “it seemed the situation got beyond stupid and our decision makers need to be reminded that the science has changed since the last 10 years”.
He mentions how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is made up of as many bureaucrats as scientists: “The IPCC is a UN bureaucracy. Less than half of the 2500 involved are scientists, most are bureaucrats. The IPCC is reluctant to consider causes of global warming other than human ones. The fact that temperatures haven’t risen since 2001 means that their politics are becoming untenable.”
He goes on to help us to get some basic scientific truths in order: “CO2 is not pollution. CO2 is beneficial to plants and doesn’t seem to have a significant effect on the earth’s temperature. I agree that the government should be regulating the earth’s pollution but it’s a different question than global warming.”
He reminds us that CO2 is beneficial, and should not be seen as a pollutant: “CO2 is good for plants. We humans have been digging CO2 out from under the desert in Saudi Arabia and efficiently distributing it across the planet. Plants need carbon to grow, in fact they need it more than water. Satellite data shows that over the last 2 decades the amount of plant biomass on the planet has increased by 6 percent. So increasing the CO2 levels is helping feed the planet. Not only is CO2 not pollution, but it is beneficial to all plants and most animals on the planet.”
The actual cooling of the planet in the past decade also needs to be borne in mind: “The last 7 years has seen a period of flat temperatures with a small downward bias. It’s too early to say temperatures are dropping even in the last year they have dropped a little. We’re looking here for temperature trends which typically exhibit themselves over 5 years or so, so I think it’s safer to say that temperatures have levelled out since 2001. The correlation with solar activities are very interesting, bear in mind that they are only correlation and nothing has been proven. However the late appearance solar cycle 24, suggest the next 24 years or so might be a little cooler.”
Indeed, the sun may play a major role in climate change: “The sun affects the earth’s temperature in two ways. Firstly, there can be changes in solar eradiation, meaning the amount of heat pumped out by the sun. People have observed slight variation over the decades. Secondly and probably more significantly, the sun affects cloud formation on earth through solar magnetic effects. High energy cosmic rays strike the earth and help create clouds. And those clouds have a cooling effect on the earth. But the sun’s magnetic effects shield us from some of those high energy cosmic rays. So when the sun is active, the earth gets less high energy cosmic rays so there are fewer clouds and it gets warmer. The sun has been pretty active in the last few decades. This theory still hasn’t been proven and is just at the stage of correlations. There are probably half a dozen likely influences on the global temperature and at this stage I don’t know of any good evidence to know, which are the important ones except to say that because the signature is missing, we can pretty much rule out carbon emissions.”
He continues, “It’s important to see that solar activity does not correlate with NASA GISS temperatures, because they come from land based thermometers and are corrupted by the urban land heat effects. However solar activities correlate very well with satellite temperatures right up to 2008.”
And human activities may have very little to do with such climatic changes: “It’s quite possible that we humans have no effect on temperature. And all we’re seeing is natural variation. Bear in mind that it was warmer in the medieval times 800 years ago and it was a couple of degrees cooler in the 1700s when they had a mini ice age. Humanity generally flourish when it is hotter, so personally I regard a little bit of heating as a good thing.”
While we do not fully know all the reasons for climate change, anthropogenic input seems not to be a major factor, if at all: “We don’t know what causes global warming, except that we now are pretty sure that carbon emissions do not cause it. Therefore taking measures to decrease our carbon emissions won’t have any significant effect.”
“Many of the crucial issues in global warming are pretty simple. Well within the grasp of any educated citizen such as the Prime Minister. You only need a high school education to be able to read a temperature graph, and to see that the temperatures have been flat since 2001. You only have to be vaguely aware of the debate to notice that the alarmist are offering no actual evidence, only results from computer models. These are things that any politician or journalist should feel confident in doing. I urge our Prime Minister to spend a little more time investigating the issue himself instead of just relying on the advice of people’s whose jobs depend on the belief that carbon emission cause global warming.”
He concludes: “This issue will get sorted out because it’s an issue of science. No amount of human arguing can affect the actual effects of global warming and it will be another 2-3 decades of research before we will probably have a definitive answer as to what causes global warming. Stay Tuned”
The whole interview is well worth reading. Finally some fresh air – no pun intended – in a debate where zealotry and shoddy science have been allowed too much airplay. We need more level headed thinking on this issue, and less emotional fear-mongering. The bravery of Dr Evans in speaking out will hopefully encourage other doubters to also go public with their concerns. And maybe more of the mainstream media will get into the act as well.
The interview: http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=616122#
Dr Evan’s website: www.sciencespeak.com
23 Replies to “Some Scientific Sense on Climate Change”
The newsletter Crikey had a characteristic environmentalist response to this program. The thrust: shoot the messenger (Evans) and wave your hands saying all this has been refuted:
“In Sunday night’s program, Tara Brown based her assertion that there is still substantial doubt about the science of global warming on one interviewee, whom she used extensively: David Evans. She introduced him by implication as an ’eminent scientist’.
“A quick Google search would have shown that David Evans is not a scientist, let alone an eminent one. He is a software engineer … He is not a climatologist and has published nothing in climate science literature. His role at the Australian Greenhouse Office was writing computer software.
“Everything David Evans said on the program has been resoundingly refuted, and this is also easily found online. Tara Brown could have interviewed any one of a number of real Australian climate scientists for the counter-arguments. And more fundamentally, if David Evans had a scientific case, he should publish it, not on 60 Minutes, but in a reputable scientific journal. He hasn’t, and he couldn’t, because his argument is full of holes and wouldn’t make it past peer review.
“Ordinarily, this kind of sloppy journalism would be par for the course for 60 Minutes. But when the world is facing a genuine climate emergency (see climatecodered.net), this is unforgivably irresponsible.”
Dr Evans certainly knows something about modelling, which is the basis for the climate scaremongering.
“Peer review” is just another excuse to avoid dealing with the actual arguments. A number of journals (e.g. Nature and Science) have an editorial policy to support warm-mongering and other leftist causes, so they refused skeptical papers (without review) as being without interest. MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen notes:
Robert Higgs pointed out:
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
Prof. Ian Plimer, geologist, humanist and creation-hater talks good sense this time:
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
There are MANY tough decisions ahead relating to climate changes to come… denialist are simply wasting out time — this guy among them. Maybe we should all try thinking in triage terms- save, leave to manage or allow to die.
A few centuries ago, in the debate over geocentrism, many would have undoubtedly said the same thing you said: “denialist [sic] are simply wasting out [sic] time”. A few decades ago when the global cooling panic was upon us, your words were again shouted by many: “denialists are simply wasting our time”.
It seems in your view that the science is now closed on this issue, and no contrary views will be allowed to be heard. Great to see such an open mind.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
John’s rant is the last refuge of those who can’t win by persuasion by the evidence!
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
In many ways the carbon tax idea has merit. The concept of making pollution cost the polluter is something that should have been introduced long ago. The problem is that carbon is not a pollutant!
Although the carbon tax is a tax on the wrong substance, I am hopeful that it may have the side effect of reducing true pollutants, however the ability to ‘pay to pollute’ – ie you can continue to pollute as much as you like, provided you can pay for it – may negate this effect.
Tim Pearce, WA
The Chilling Costs of Climate Catastrophism
Quadrant LII(6), June 2008:
His [Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic and Ph.D. in economics] constant theme is the threat which the “warmists”, as he describes them, pose to freedom. Here is a characteristic Klausian description of this threat:
In the paper President Klaus gave at the Heartland Institute conference held in New York in March, attended by more than 500 highly qualified people in climate science, economics and public policy, he concluded with these comments:
VACLAV KLAUS has given us a salutary reminder of the seriousness of the danger Australia is now facing from the “warmists”. Both the Rudd government and the federal Opposition, currently led by Brendan Nelson, have promised us an emissions trading scheme; in the case of Prime Minister Rudd, by 2010. The responsibility of advising the federal and state governments on how such a decarbonisation regime should be established lies with Professor Ross Garnaut, a noted economist and diplomat, and a passionate advocate on the benefits of free trade and of the advantages of an ever-closer relationship between Australia and China.
The first is the childlike, unquestioning belief which Garnaut has in the IPCC story of global warming caused by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, which, if not curtailed, will result in climatic and economic disaster for the whole world. Many people have noted the religious-like quality of faith in this story of human sin (particularly of Western mankind); the calamitous consequences following failure to repent; and the possibility of redemption through repentance and sacrifice under the wise guidance of green prophets such as Al Gore, James Hansen, Bob Brown, Peter Garrett, and now Ross Garnaut.
The second is the refusal to face the political reality posed by Chinese and Indian “intransigence” in the face of demands from the West, the EU in particular, to decarbonise their economies. India and China are embarked on trajectories of extraordinary and historically unprecedented economic growth. China is commissioning two new coal-fired power stations every week. Both countries are also operating and building nuclear power stations. China has ten operating nuclear power plants, one under construction, and six planned; India has fifteen operating nuclear power stations, eight under construction, and four planned. These are not countries devoid of technological and scientific expertise. The idea that they should give up their dash to modernity has been repeatedly and emphatically rejected by their most senior political leaders.
The third is the Orwellian use of the words market and price to persuade people to accept a degree of control over their lives which is unprecedented in the Anglosphere, except in time of war. This control is the necessary consequence of permanent decarbonisation regimes which will dramatically lower living standards.
The foundation on which the Garnaut (and Stern) prescriptions for global decarbonisation are based has to be repeated. It is taken as given that global temperatures have increased, are increasing, and will continue to increase to catastrophic levels because, and only because, mankind is emitting greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide in particular, and that these emissions have caused atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to rise, and global temperatures to increase as a consequence.
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
Anyone who wants to hear from scientists qualified to talk about this debate should read Prof Bob Carter’s website. Carter is a research professor at James Cook University, Australia and former chair of the Earth Sciences Panel of the Australian Research Council and former Director of the Australian Office of the Ocean Drilling Programme. His webpage is http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/new_page_1.htm
Thanks for posting the link. It was very interesting in what Bob Carter had to say. It was also interesting when he spoke of the data gathered from the US weather station and how the famous “hockey stick” was based on corrupt data. It is sad that his views and opinions are not more widely known. I would hope that students like Shelley spend some time and listen to the opposite view about “Human induced global warming”.
In the original climate change thread where I asked for scientific references that were sceptical about AGW, I actually referred to the single scientific paper that Bob Carter has published. His views are in fact widely known by the mainstream media and he is one of the main scientists quoted when the Australian media want a contrary opinion.
The problem is that most of the sceptical opinion is published in websites and newspaper articles, which might sway the general public but isn’t taken seriously by the science community. The climate sceptics need to publish quality professional papers in the scientific literature if their opinions are to get any traction. So far that isn’t happening.
Shelley Atherton, Brisbane
Thursday, July 31, 2008: http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/piersakerman/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/icy_reality_cools_the_climate_cultists/
“DAILY, new evidence emerges to demonstrate that Climate Minister Penny Wong is wrong. Wong and Rudd’s end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it predictions are bunkum, thousands of top scientists agree. Among them is Dr S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, who established and served as the first director of the US Weather Satellite Service, now part of the global National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (the universally respected NOAA), and is a former chief scientist of the US Department of Transportation. He is founder and director of the non-profit Science and Environmental Policy Project, a body which deals with sound science, not the highly theoretical and politicised junk science favoured by the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which the Australian Government uses as its reference point for its heavy-handed tax and wealth redistribution plans.”
“Singer and a team of renowned international scientists earlier this year published a report titled ‘Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate’, under the banner of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (N). It should be mandatory reading for all who wish to participate in the climate debate – be they policymakers, private individuals or representatives of business organisations. After rigorously examining the same data as the IPCC, particularly the claim that ‘most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (defined by the IPCC as between 90 to 99 per cent certain) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations,’ (emphasis in the original), and reached the opposite conclusion – namely, that natural causes are very likely to be the dominant cause. Unlike the hysterical IPCC report, which was riddled with errors and mis-statements, ignored available scientific data, and has already been contradicted in several major areas by more recent research, the N authors don’t say that anthropogenic greenhouse gases cannot produce some warming, but they do say that the evidence shows that they are not playing a major role. This report – so far unchallenged – undermines the exaggerated claims Wong and Rudd have been peddling.”
We have already discussed why it is often difficult to get contrarian pieces into the scientific literature.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Andrew Bolt points out that more people die of cold weather than hot, so global warming might actually save lives:
Here, for instance, is a recent Adelaide University study—Temperature and direct effects on population health in Brisbane, 1986-1995 — published in the Journal of Environmental Health:
It’s the same story over in New Zealand, a University of Otago study confirmed last year: “From 1980-2000, around 1600 excess winter deaths occurred each year with winter mortality rates 18 per cent higher than expected from non-winter rates.”
So winters kill and, yes, your growing suspicions are indeed correct: global warming could cause fewer people to die from the temperature.
Of the many studies I could quote, here is one from the British Medical Journal in 2000, by scientists from Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Finland, that also explains why a cold snap is deadlier than a heat wave:
Heat carries off those already dying, but cold kills the healthy, too.
Concludes that study:
Got that? Rising temperatures will actually be healthier.
A review article by University of London researchers in the Southern Medical Journal three years ago makes the same point:
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
Bolt’s article was http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_sick_of_the_scare/
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
I would be interested in knowing why you think Bob Carter is wrong. He is only making conclusions based on observable data. He is not making predictions based on spurious modeling. He also does not deny GW is happening. He just does not agree with AGW and the hysteria that has been generated by it.
Do you think a Carbon trading scheme will change global weather patterns? I am more worried by the Economists, Politician’s and journalists pretending to understand the science and basing policy and opinion around it. The scheme that Krudds wants is putting our fate in the hands of futures traders and large financial institutions. Madness!
The science concerning GW it not done and dusted like many would have you think. The weather is very complicated. I am currently searching for an explanation as to why the last 10 years has not shown any statistical increase in global temp’s yet the North Pole is still shrinking and CO2 levels have also increased in the same period.
It seems to me that the human race generally goes about their day-to-day tasks with as much awareness of what is going on around them as the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. 30 years ago when flairs were in and bob brown was beginning to excite the australian parliment my old man was warning me and everyone who might listen to save every drop of water ‘cos “within 25 years it is going to be a scarce resource” and that automobiles would “take over the planet and cause seemingly unending pollution problems. it seems his long range forecasts had more than a little accuracy about them but one really begins to wonder about our political masters and their motives when a recent prime minister with all the benefits of that post is able to continually deny the effects of global warming and fly in the face of qualified scientific opinion until at the very last minute before a national poll he rolls over and begins mouthing platatudes as a last ditch attempt to cling onto office. we as members of the public regardless of where we stand on this issue deserve better and more informed choices than that as does the planet which is in our temporary care.
Nowhere did I suggest that Bob Carter is wrong, and I take no issue with your summary of his position. I’m quite interested in the opinions of scientists who actually work in the climate field, more particularly when they back up their opinions with professional papers. But there are many more papers that support the “consensus” view, and it is quite difficult for any lay person to have a truly informed opinion on the matter. I am still watching the debate unfold and I’m quite open to genuine published sceptical evidence. If only there were more of it. I lean towards acceptance of AGW at present because that’s where the weight of expert opinion lies. Economic solutions are another matter, and I am not yet informed enough on economic matters to make a comment about the likely success of carbon trading schemes.
And the answer to your question about temperature “anomalies” in recent years lies in short term cycles such as El Nino. Remove these cyclical effects and the trend remains firmly upward. Yet the contrarians persist in cherry-picking spot data.
Unlike others here, I take little notice of tabloid journalists like Andrew Bolt. I am quite baffled that Jonathan should quote Bolt’s simplistic rhetoric with apparent approval. He paints a picture of pleasant days basking in a warm sun in the future, with health benefits for all.
Yet scientists are predicting a very different future, e.g.
– melting of land ice producing rising sea levels.
– adverse impacts on biological diversity which will impact on food supplies.
– tropical diseases spreading to wider areas.
– an ice age in Europe if the thermohaline circulation of the Gulf Stream stops.
– more violent tropical cyclones (or hurricanes) which pick up energy from warmer waters.
Shelley Atherton, Brisbane
Does the alleged “Christian” school of “Shelley” teach reading comprehension? Mr Bolt was citing expert scientists who don’t swallow the doomsaying warm-mongering.
What, now an ice age is a danger again, just as the doom-mongers of the mid 1970s predicted? And does “Shelley” still believe the hugely exaggerated alGore scares about huge rises in sea level (6 m), that were too much even for the corrupt UN bureaucrats running the IPCC (more like 0.6 m). As a real scientist, Dr Jennifer Marohasy documents, some Pacific islands are rising not sinking.
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
Much of what Bob Carter talks about is not new so he really has no reason to produce papers on such matters. I am quite sure if had discovered something worthy of a paper he would produce one. Having said that, working out what the truth is is very hard for people like us but I know it is dangerous to accept science based on “consensus”. Science should always be about the evidence. It is true that we/us that are burning carbon based fuels are adding to the change in climate. The question is by how much? At this point in time I do not think this question has been answered to any degree of accuracy. The IPCC have just made assumptions to fill in what they cannot explain.
Even though I am no fan of Richard S. Lindzen, he has produced an interesting paper which explains the Maths of
earths warming by the sun in somewhat readable terms. If you are interested you can have a read here
In terms of scare mongering claims I feel they do not really add much to the debate. The debate should be about the science. If you cannot understand the science then we have no hope of doing anything, or worse, we do the wrong thing.
Here is an in depth coverage of the global warming issue from a Biblical creationist perspective.
Rudd’s own warm-mongering guru, Ross Garnaut, contradicts Layba, showing that doing nothing is cheaper than trying to stop warming:
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
There is a great video to watch here. Cheers!