Patrick Moore Goes to War

The co-founder of Greenpeace left his Melbourne audience in no doubt that the so-called ‘environmental organisation’ is a not only an enemy of progress, it regards the waste of human life as collateral damage in its crusade to hector, harass and hobble all who oppose its ambitions

It was 1978. Young Greenpeace leader Patrick Moore, hair Afro-style, was interfering with the annual baby fur-seal hunt off Newfoundland. He jumped on a baby seal to shield it with his body but found it was, as he put it, ‘a tough little bugger’ who didn’t want to be jumped on. He hung on to it for dear life, his film crews’ cameras whirring, but was arrested and dragged off. Two sealers bashed the pup’s head in and skinned their little victim.

At least Greenpeace had its ‘mind bomb’ – the term Greenpeace used for irresistible media airplay. But when the film got to CBC studios in Montreal, it was exposed and useless, either by carelessness or sabotage. But the still photos made it into 3000 newspapers.

It was a bit hard to reconcile that Greenpeace warrior with the balding, conservative 67-year-old at a Melbourne podium last Friday. He quit Greenpeace in 1986 after 15 years as a co-founder, saying the organisation had become anti-science and anti-human. He now runs consultancy Ecosense Environmental as “The Sensible Environmentalist”, combating what he calls green sensationalism, misinformation, and pop-environmentalism. His Melbourne talk was sponsored by the Galileo Movement, and based on his book Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout (Beatty Street, 2013).

Moore is not exactly being rushed by ABC interviewers, unlike, say, Green catastrophist Naomi Oreskes. He suspects his one scheduled interview appointment will involve a hostile host wanting to know about his Big Oil funding. (editor’s note: Moore was set to be interviewed by Jon Faine, of the ABC’s radio 774, but the host called in sick that day.)

In Melbourne, Moore began by narrating his small group’s original campaigns against nuclear testing on remote islands, with success at least against Richard Nixon, who cancelled the H-bomb test series in the Aleutians in 1972. The French were more aggressive, beating up a Greenpeace activist at Mururoa in 1973 and sinking the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland in 1985. Moore was on the wharf and dealt with the aftermath of the death of the Greenpeace photographer, who after the first blast ducked down to his cabin to get his expensive gear and was killed by the second blast.

Moore also helped organise various successful Zodiac-boat campaigns against whaling by Western countries, including Greenpeace’s sally down to Albany and Cheynes Beach whaling station in 1977.

His fellow directors were unqualified in science, whereas he has a PhD in ecology and environmental science. When they decided, against his advice, to campaign to ban chlorine, he split. “I told them, ‘Adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health. Most synthetic pharmaceuticals and medicines are made with chlorine.’ But Greenpeace had drifted away from science and logic, and its tools now were misinformation, sensationalism and fear, all designed to get public donations.”

Moore’s main campaign today is the promotion of genetically modified rice, called “Golden Rice” which involves added Vitamin A through beta-carotine from corn. Beta-carotine is a natural element of green plants and is even in wild rice’s inedible leaves, as distinct from the seeds.

He says Greenpeace is fighting against introduction of Golden Rice, which could save the lives of up to two million children dying each year from vitamin A deficiency. This toll is as bad as malaria and AIDS. “Greenpeace advertises with skull and crossbones as though Golden Rice is going to kill the kids, not cure them,” he says. “The reality is that 250,000 to 500,000 kids go irreversibly blind from the deficiency each year and half die within a year . These kids are in the poorest families who can’t supplement their ordinary rice with other vitamin-rich foods.”

A co-inventor of the Golden Rice, Dr Ingo Potrykus, has described the Greenpeace campaign as a crime against humanity that should be dealt with by an international court.

Greenpeace’s campaign is largely based on a supposition that Golden Rice is both part of an alleged Monsanto conspiracy and could somehow out-breed into other species and ‘contaminate’ them with the corn gene, Moore says. Even if that were true, would it be worse than 500,000 blinded and dying children? Moreover, there is no issue of price-gouging of the poor, because subsistence farmers would get Golden Rice seed free.

I checked the Greenpeace official pamphlet “Golden Illusion” and found it unconvincing. It claimed that the world’s poorest farmers should seek out a more diverse diet, but unassisted by any donations from Greenpeace’s bulging $400 million-a-year budget:

“The tens of millions of dollars spent on this project [Golden Rice] would have been better spent on VAD (Vitamin A Deficiency) solutions that work. Golden rice is simply the wrong approach and a waste of money. Golden rice diverts significant resources away from dealing with the real underlying causes of VAD and malnutrition, which are mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet. Indeed, it is a risky distraction from solutions that are already helping to tackle VAD and malnutrition more effectively without subjecting the population to unknown health risks.”

Cosmos magazine this year began a story:

The sickly toddler is about two years old. Holding the hand of her thin, ragged mother, her eyes are horrible to behold, just a bluish membrane where eyes should be. She is, of course, blind and will probably not live beyond her third year. Like 500,000 other children born in poor countries, her blindness is a result of vitamin A deficiency, a problem that could have been fixed by a diet adequate in vegetables such as carrots or tomatoes… But in the rural east of India, while rice is affordable, year-round vegetables are not… [After 22 years research effort] Golden Rice was trialled in the Philippines last August. You might think the trial would have been met with celebration. Instead a mob of anti-GMO activists, bussed in from the city but claiming to represent farmers, tore into the crop. Globally their actions were championed by Greenpeace and plenty of others.

Moore believes Greenpeace’s real motive is that success for Golden Rice would undermine its absolute position that all genetically modified food is harmful. Every major Academy of Science supports genetically modified foods to combat malnutrition, he says.

As a test, I checked with the Australian Academy of Science, and found that it had recommended on December 6, 2007:

Gene technology can play a role in the alleviation of malnutrition, enhancing sustainability and securing yields worldwide. Its potential must be harnessed. Sometimes, the lack of full certainty, in an environment of manageable risk, should not be used as the reason to postpone measures where genetic modification can legitimately be used to address environmental or public health issues.

Moore grew up in a community of foresters. He is adamant that the forestry industry is a force for sustainability because it depends on replantings, whereas crop farming permanently removes trees. In Australia, farmers are often afraid to plant native trees because Greens will find ways to prevent the trees ever being cut. Hence farmers plant pine monocultures instead of native trees that could support a whole renewable ecosystem.

Australia has the world’s most variegated and beautiful native wood but is a timber importer because of Green opposition to the forestry industry. Australia ought to be a world powerhouse for sustainable native timber exporting, he says. Greenpeace successfully blackmailed the 2000 Sydney Olympics into banning native timbers in Olympics infrastructure, enabling Sydney to use the slogan “Green Olympics”. The result was use instead of steel, concrete and imported timber.

Building on its Sydney success, Greenpeace in 2002 managed to control the Sustainability Committee for Toronto’s 2008 Olympics bid. The committee specified that infrastructure should shun wood, PVC and even cadmium and tin. Greenpeace seemed unaware that cadmium was essential to laptop and smart-phone batteries, and that tin was needed to make the Bronze Medals. (Beijing won the Games). By contrast, the entire interior roof of the Vancouver Winter Olympics speed skating rink in 2010 was made of native timber.

Greenpeace campaigns against native timber in buildings, even though timber would lock up CO2 emissions for years to come and encourage timber plantings. Instead, architects specify energy-intensive steel and concrete, he says.

He quotes the 2007 IPCC report,

“In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber… will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

Moore says, “It’s a sad state of affairs in Australia, it’s not as bad in other parts of the world. Put 20% of native forests in national parks and encourage sustainable forestry in the rest. Do this for emissions reasons, even disregarding the employment and trade benefits.”

Moore makes fun of Greenpeace hypocrisy, instancing Greenpeace’s campaigning ship, Rainbow Warrior 111, which was built in 2011 for $US32 million and supposedly powered by electrics and wind in the sails. Its first mission was to protest at Holland building a coal-fired power plant to back up wind power. Not in video view was the Rainbow Warrior’s 1850HP Volvo diesel “back-up” engine, nor the main diesel engine.

He also expresses amazement that Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo had the brass to announce this month that there was nothing wrong with using celebrities “to move the agenda forward” for Greenpeace — even if the celebrities like Leonardo diCaprio happen to own lavish houses and private jets. Moore says such sentiments would normally be confined to closed-door internal strategy sessions, being so unethical and immoral.

He finished with a useful point: the only religion practicing good science is Roman Catholicism, while Anglicans are aboard the Greens’ bandwagon. Pope Francis gave his personal blessing to Golden Rice last November, while in 2010 leading members of the Pontifical Academy of Science reported:

“There is a moral imperative to make the benefits of GE (genetic engineering) technology available on a larger scale to poor and vulnerable populations who want them and on terms that will enable them to raise their standards of living, improve their health and protect their environments.”

“They are pretty smart guys, they’ve had some Nobel Prize involvement,” Moore says of the Vatican’s boffins. “The Anglican Church doesn’t have an academy of science; as far as I know the Muslims don’t either.”

The Australian Broadcasting Commission’s stacked audit deck

TONY THOMAS

The ABC’s Stacked Audit Deck

To allay criticism of its science coverage in general and climate change in particular, the national broadcaster convened a panel to take the measure of its efforts. Well, guess who will be doing the appraising? Alarmists Jonathan Holmes and Fiona Stanley, and that’s just for starters

scaleUnkind people say that science coverage on the ABC is not up to scratch. For example, in October, 2013, Catalyst ran a two-part “investigation” called “The Heart of the Matter”. It promoted the notion that taking cholesterol-reducing statins doesn’t help heart disease. Watched by an estimated 1.5 million, the series may well have helped claim the lives of viewers who trustingly abandoned their medications.

The show and resulting outcry were too much, even for the ABC, which decided Catalyst had not been impartial, removed the program from its website and tried to set the record straight.

On the biggest scientific issue of all, the trillion-dollar catastrophic global warming conjecture, the ABC’s top science staffer Robyn Williams in 2007 suggested we are in for 100m sea level rises this century. Last August, the Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science thought it an excellent idea to give catastropharian fabulist Naomi Oreskes the run of his microphone. A fearmonger almost without equal, she seized the taxpayer-funded moment to warn that our puppies and kittens would be killed by global warming by 2023.

Well, all this ABC science tosh is going to be a thing of the past, at least according to the ABC. To that end it has set up a slightly independent “ABC Science Reference Panel”, which has been meeting this year in fulfilment of a promise made by ABC Chair Jim Spigelman back in mid-2013.

Just as the SMH and Age like to bang on about Fairfax Media scoops, my researches can be categorised as a scoop for “Quadrant Media”, as I have winkled the names of the ABC science auditors out of the national broadcaster:

Chair:  The ABC’s Board Member, No 1 ABC fan and bumbling climate-change eco-warrior Professor Fiona Stanley AC. For more about Stanley, see below.

… and the members  (drum-roll, please!):

Jonathan Holmes, the former Czar of Smug on ABC’s Media Watch (2008-13), who wrote in The Age last July that it was nonsense for former ABC Chair Maurice Newman to insist there has been no global warming since the mid-Nineties. That halt, the one Holmes declines to acknowledge, has now extended to 18 years, but charts and graphs and satellite readings, not to mention the IPCC’s po-faced admission that warming hasn’t lived up to its dire expectations, cuts no mustard with Holmes. No, as he wrote, “the climate scientists I know tell me it is drivel”, and for Holmes no more evidence is needed.

Adam Spencer, maths geek, ex-ABC Triple J comedian, ex-host ABC QuantumFAQSleek Geeks, and Breakfast on ABC Sydney Radio 702 (until last December). Affronted by climate sceptic Lord Monckton’s views during a July, 2011, interview, Spencer hung up on him.

Dr Jim Peacock AC,  Federal Government Chief Scientist 2006-2008, and ex-chair of the Academy of Science. His appointment must be some sort of ABC mistake, as Peacock has been favours nuclear power and genetically modified foods.

Julie WeberScience Teacher of the Year 2013, Australian Science Teachers Association. She looks OK.

Linden Ashcroft, program manager at Earthwatch Australia. She believes in the IPCC climate models, 111 out of 114 of which run too hot.

Matthew Bird, PhD candidate, paediatrics, University of Melbourne. Seems OK.

Professor Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor University of Queensland and CSIRO boardmember with a background in biochemistry/genetics.  Høj this month heaped lavish praise of UQ colleague and much-quoted catastropharian Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg for defending the Great Barrier Reef against climate change. On the plus side, Høj was awarded a medal for services to the wine industry, so can’t be all bad.

Peter Yates AM, Chair RiAus (Royal Institution of Australia, a science promotion not-for-profit) and Australian Science Media Centre. A corporate heavyweight (PBL, Macquarie, Morgan Stanley, Crown, Foxtel, Nine, you-name-it).   Fireworks possible if Stanley, Spencer and Holmes try to patronise him, although an intimate familiarity with Robyn Williams may have inured him to supercilious smirking. Williams serves as Yates’ deputy chair at RiAus.

Getting back to Fiona Stanley, she’s been distinguished in epidemiology, paediatrics and public and Aboriginal health. But she earned deserved  ridicule for her ventures into ABC sucking-up and climate catastrophism. As the ABC’s chief scientific auditor put it last month, wearing her ABC Board hat,

“From the age of five when I was an Argonaut, the ABC has been a force for good in my life and work.  It has educated, informed, entertained and excited me for over 60 years.  It is a fantastic resource for this nation.

“Unfortunately,  many of us have taken the ABC for granted. My hope is that readers will realise how valuable our public broadcaster is and fight to save it from further cuts and harassment. 

“If you only read The Australian, or listen to the views of some politicians, you would think that the ABC is struggling to provide fair coverage of events, is biased in its politics and its science, and that it is wasting tax-payers’ dollars. Have you noticed that journalists critical of the ABC have started to call it ‘the taxpayer-funded ABC’?”

Heavens! Why would ABC critics note that the broadcaster is funded by the taxes of all Australians, yet has not a single conservative host or compere (with the possible exception a breakfast radio host in Perth, Eoin Cameron, who is a former Liberal MHR but anything but partisan in his presentations)?

Stanley went on to claim, wrongly, that the ABC was making do in 2012-13 on $825m when the fact is that it was allocated $1.22 billion. In the interests of fact-averse consistency, she also claimed that The Australian had demanded the ABC be privatised. Good thing that she’s not an engineer designing bridges.

“As a scientist”, as Stanley described herself, she believes the ABC is doing a great job, insisting it is “crucial because  we are poorly served by other parts of the media.”  The ABC’s new auditor continued,  “We are now in a situation where a major commercial news organisation [i.e. News Corp] is denigrating the ABC with a vicious, sustained campaign which is extremely damaging to our public broadcaster and to the nation.”

In April, she told Radio National that if we didn’t reduce global warming – time was running out –  then kiddies (as distinct from Robyn Williams’ kittens) would starve and sicken. “I’m not a climate change expert,” she gushed, “but I do trust the incredible scientific evidence … We don’t actually know if it is on the rise [warming, she means] but all the risk factors for it are on the rise.” Perhaps, in addition to rejoicing that Stanley did not make a career building bridges, we should also be glad she does not teach English and clear thinking.

The Abbott government was bad for sacking the Climate Change Department. Climate sceptics made her “anxious and angry” because they were dissing scientists and hurting generations as yet unborn. Such injustice makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, as the greenies’ Monster Climate Petition explains in its preamble:

“My great great grandchildren ask me in dreams, what did you do while the planet was plundered? What did you do when the earth was unravelling?”

Stanley was rested enough, however, to sign on as ‘lead petitioner’.

Spigelman, as author of the audit idea, is no slouch on law (ex-chief justice, NSW) and science history (co-author of tome on nuclear energy). He announced in mid-2013 that it was time to put ABC science coverage to the test, as per the ABC Charter for accurate and impartial journalistic presentation.

Spigelman said he’s not a climate sceptic. But he said ABC journalists needed “to hold scientists and technologists to account for their claims and conduct”.

“What I believe needs most work, is to develop our capacity to appropriately challenge scientists, not least those whose work is distributed by press release from organizations with a vested interest in favourable publicity. That includes, these days, universities [and Tim Flannery’s Climate Council – TT].

“I would hope we can further develop the scientific literacy of our news and current affairs staff. In this…  we must go beyond PR handouts, or what has been called ‘churnalism’.”

The panel, he said, would be set up to

  • Develop benchmarks against which to judge ABC science coverage
  • Take as a litmus test 10 major ABC science stories in the past year and judge their breadth and depth (I hope the statins scare and the kittens-and-puppies stories got up).

After the panel reports, it will then run a private symposium with ABC staff on science coverage. The ABC will then issue a public report on the whole exercise. Later, other non-science ABC subject areas will get similar scrutiny, using the ‘quality reference panel’ idea. (Might I suggest the ABC’s political coverage is a topic brimming with potential?).

Spigelman told the Academy, loftily, that science reporters were a dying breed outside the ABC, whose Robyn Williams and Karl Kruszelnicki were paragons. ABC science coverage stands “head, shoulders, thorax and abdomen”  above other broadcasters, he boasted. Kruszelnicki, by the way, claimed last year that global warming since 1997 was six times more than the British Met Office had calculated, then compounded that monumental falsehood by abusing Andrew Bolt for getting the figure correct.

Spigelman said “impartiality” included  giving opportunities over time for key points of contentious issues to be covered, but ‘balance’ involved following the weight of evidence on topics such as climate change.  He finished with a tongue-in-cheek tribute to our local News Corp headline writers: “Primarily because of the expansion of the News Corporation internationally, Australian sub-editors have made a disproportionate contribution to the punch of tabloid newspapers, particularly in London and New York.”

Meanwhile, I can hardly wait to read Professor Stanley’s criticisms of the ABC. Fiona, don’t hold back! (Hire her as your  next conference speaker, $15,000 minimum)

Shooting Santa to Save the World

TONY THOMAS

Shooting Santa to Save the World

If you ever doubted that warmism endorses a preening, totalitarian disdain for the lives and rights of others, take up a copy of “Climate Change” by graphic novelist Philippe Squarzoni, who imagines how virtuous it would be to go berserk with an assault rifle in a shopping mall. And yes, he’s not joking

smoking gunA top scientist of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Jean Jouzel, is lauding a comic publication which has the heroine gunning down three Santa Clauses in a supermarket with a military assault rifle. The realistically-drawn massacre in Climate Changed by Philippe Squarzoni (Abrams, New York 2014) is meant to symbolise the need to reduce consumerism and CO2 emissions.

The book was written a year before the Nairobi Westgate shopping mall massacre in September, 2013, in which gunmen killed or wounded 240 people in the name of Islam. But the fictional massacre in the cause of reducing CO2 emissions is retained in this year’s English translation.

The book, 480 pages and 1.2kg, is in the ‘graphic novel’ genre, now a serious literary form. The book won the Jury Prize at the Lyon Graphic Novel Festival in 2012. (A graphic novel, Maus, by New Yorker cartoonist Art Spigelman,  won a Pulitzer in 1992).

In the massacre sequence, Camille, the  beautiful partner of the comic’s hero, Squarzoni himself, arrives at the “Nuclear Power Christmas Market” with what looks like a Belgian FN assault rifle slung over her shoulder.

The next frame (below) shows her in the supermarket aisle amid shopping trolleys, lifting the sights to her face.

santa must die1

The caption reads: “Today, choice about energy issues has been stolen from the people. The decisions are all in the hands of politicians or big multinationals. Economic motivations prevail over environmental needs.”

Frame three (below) shows she is sighting on three men in Santa costumes, one holding bottles of Coca-Cola, and another taking a gift-wrapped parcel from a shelf. The caption: “We produce more so we can consume more.”

santamustdie2

Next frames,  she opens fire and the Santas scream in death agonies as bullets rip into their bodies, with blood spattering. She continues firing as they start collapsing to the ground, while a stream of  ejected shellcases tumble in the foreground and Cokes and Christmas parcels fly  in the air. One Santa lifts his right hand as if to shield himself.

Their suits are riddled with bullets and gore continues to spout. The bland caption for this bloody mayhem reads: “On the demand side, it’s up to individuals, households, and local communities to evaluate their own needs themselves, with an eye to conservation.”

The final frame shows shows Camille and author Squarzoni standing over the corpse of one Santa, Camille still training her rifle on him. The caption reads: “Making conservation a positive factor in the future would require a huge change in political direction.”

Their couple’s massacre is not followed by any repercussions as the book goes on to lament the Copenhagen summit failure and excoriate “climate deniers”, who are drawn as dung beetles pushing a ball of excreta with their hind legs.

The IPCC’s Jouzel has been

  • A vice-chair of the IPCC’s prestigious Working Group 1 (“The Physical Science Basis”) since 2008.
  • A drafting author, WG1 Summary for Policy-Makers of the 5th IPCC report
  • Review editor, sea level chapter, 5th report.
  • Bureau member, WG1, 4th report, 2007.
  • A drafting author, Summary for Policy-Makers, WG1 4th report.
  • Lead author, WG1, 4th report
  • Review editor, Paleoclimate chapter, 4th report.
  • French expert delegate to the IPCC 2nd and 3rd reports.

On the book’s back cover,   Jouzel writes,

“What a marvellous way to convey the knowledge accumulated by our scientific community … I am truly admiring of Philippe Squarzoni’s great scholarship on all facets of the climate problem…An extremely well-documented work – which is, of course, essential for the perception of the message that it delivers. But its principal merit is, in fact, in the quality of the narrative and the art.”

Earlier, the book’s Santa figures personify fossil-fuel use and smoke British American Tobacco cigarettes.

Author  Squarzoni damns sceptics as “relying on scientists who worked for the tobacco industry in the 1980s to put the science in doubt.” This theme is similarly promoted by Naomi Oreskes in her 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, now being made into a Hollywood film by Sony as something of a sequel to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.

I googled for IPCC climate scientists who have taken  benefits from Big Tobacco. Who should  turn up after five minutes but Squarzoni’s guru, Jean Jouzel himself,  a recipient of a 1992 climatology prize from  the Philip Morris tobacco corporation.

It gets better, or worse. Squarzoni’s second-ranked advisory source is Herve Le Treut, a coordinating lead author in the 5th IPCC report. It’s taxing my schoolboy French, but under his “Prix et distinctions”, one notices, “Prix Philip Morris (1992)”.  Merde, alors!

Nature complained in April, 2001, that the German arm of Philip Morris had been awarding annual research prizes since 1983 without controversy: Around 100 researchers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have received the Philip Morris prize…,” it noted. “This year’s winners, announced last week, each take home around US$100,000.”

Even if not identical, the Philip Morris Prizes that went to Jouzel and Le Treut clearly had a family connection to the US$100,000 Philip Morris Prizes offered in the German context.

Jouzel blurbs about the comic book, “Great scholarship on all facets of the climate problem…a true feast”. The book  extensively features Jouzel as a talking head and wise dispenser of IPCC scientific platitudes. He is described on the front and back covers and in the source-list as sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize — which is flat-out wrong as the IPCC itself in late 2012 banned members from making such claims:

“The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with the IPCC. Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner.” Pulp the book, publisher.

The book’s narrative is how Squarzoni educates himself about climate by interviewing nine experts, who broadly compete to push catastrophism. Three are IPCC sorts. Another three, for some reason, are all eco-economists associated at a high level with a French group called ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens).   To only select three economists of that ilk is bizarre. Another of the artist’s talking heads is an eco-journalist with Le Monde, the author of European best-seller  How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth.  The eighth source is a French nuclear industry scientist (France gets three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear). The ninth source is a corker, Helene Gassin, who ran Greenpeace Energy campaigns in France for eight years. In 2001 her activists scaled the Exxon Mobil building in Paris during rush hour, and Gassin announced, “Greenpeace is going to give warnings in the entire world to companies who support this [anti-Kyoto] decision.”

The book contains almost 100 pages of talking-head advice from these impartial sources. Unusually for a comic, the book has a comprehensive index so that its, ahem, “science” can be easily looked up, e.g. “ice melting, acceleration of, 113, 200-203”.

Under “climate change, denial of, 414-19” we discover that the Melting-Himalaya-Glaciers howler in IPCC 2007 was “the only [error] in the 3000 page report” (the truth: nine errors on that single page alone!) and that it came from a mere typo,  the year “2035” for the glaciers all to melt, instead of “2350”.

IPCC chief Pachauri and UN boss Ban Ki-Moon hardly called in the auditors (the InterAcademy Council) on the basis of one typo in its 3000-page report.

This reality was this: The IPCC took the year 2035 correctly, but unwisely, from a popular Indian science magazine which had done the inverting of 2350 to 2035, and invented and garbled its own material. The IPCC also pretended its source was a WWF report (also garbled) and not the magazine. The IPPC page and its genesis were a mockery of science and scientific rigor.

The porkies in Climate Changed follow thick and fast. The IAC, the author claims, “concluded that the work methods were solid and the conclusions of the IPCC were correct.” In fact the IAC concluded there were significant shortcomings in every major step of the IPCC process. (p13). It also said at the outset that the report “does not examine climate change science or the validity of its representation in the assessment reports.”

We also discover that Climategate’s famous ‘trick’ email of Phil Jones was just a method of splicing proxy and real temperature data “to make the results more accurate”.  In fact, the infampous ‘trick’s’ purpose was to conceal that the proxy series was worthless.

Climategate, Squarzoni concludes, was a smear campaign, “just a series of trumped-up scandals, slander and false accusations.”  He scoffs at a supposed internet myth that global warming stopped in 1998, and says it arose by comparing a hot year 1998 with a cool one in 2008. (The IPCC people now acknowledge the 15-18 year halt and are arguing about what’s caused it).

Among these 480 pages one finds every example of green zealot mythology. I’ll cite just one: the magical ‘climate refugees’. The index helpfully takes one to page 239, where it is stated that 250 million people could be victims of coastal flooding and 60 million could migrate from arid zones by 2020 (hey, we’re nearly there!). The cartoon frame shows a line of climate refugees trudging forward with bundles on their backs.

A boatload of people departs from a tropical island: “From the Maldives to Kiribati to the Carteret Islands, people are already fleeing the rising sea level” [no they’re not, Maldives is building long-term tourist infrastructure]. “It is estimated that there are already 25 to 50 million eco-refugees fleeing from drought, hurricanes [huh?], floods…and their migration is accelerating,” the comic insists. The frame shows an Arab-looking climate refugee sheltering under an umbrella from global warming.

What seems like 150 pages of frames are authorial self-indulgence, showing Squarzoni himself agonizing over his personal task to save the planet. He gets offered a trip to Laos for an artist’s residency, but this will add to jet-trail pollution. After soul-tearing deliberation across many pages, he rejects the trip. The epiphany of Saint Squarzoni is marred by his incidental jet-setting here and there, including sight-seeing to New York.

Being the product of French intellectuals, perhaps the book’s conclusion  — that Western democracies must be  transformed into a Greens’ playground — is no surprise. The French, it must be remembered, also regard Jerry Lewis as a comedic genius..

The author’s cited sources think  Al Gore’s  emission-cutting prescriptions don’t go far enough. One of Squarzoni’s quoted sages, journalist Herve Kempf, chin resting on right fist, intones, “People like Al Gore are very sincere. Their knowledge and concern are real. But all they promise as a solution is “green recovery”; new technology, hybrid cars and so on…” Even Obama is a green wimp: he “stays within the ideology of economic growth, and that will not resolve the problem.”

Squarzoni concludes lugubriously, “At the end of the day, climate skeptics were able to undermine the [Copenhagen] consensus on global warming.”

In technical skill, Squarzoni’s illustrations are first-rate, drawing on cinematic and advertising styles while avoiding formulaic Manga-style visual cliches.  Publisher  Abrams — “The art of books since 1949” –  meant well. Its blurb says of the book: “This groundbreaking work provides a realistic, balanced view of the magnitude of the crisis that An Inconvenient Truth only touched on.” It adds, “Climate Changed is printed on FSC-certified paper from responsibly-managed, environmentally-sound sources.” But Abrams could hardly say no Santas were hurt in production of the book.

UPDATE (it gets worse): Climate Changed New York publisher Abrams has issued a “Teacher’s Guide to Climate Changed for 15-18 year olds. It was written in June, 2014, by  Peter Gutierrez, curriculum developer and graphic novels expert for the US National Council of Teachers of English.

The guide does not discuss whether the supermarket Santa slaughter offers a role model for armed American teenagers. The guide begins:

“Philippe Squarzoni’s  rigorous presentation of the relevant science and thoughtful reflection on the implications for policy, both public and personal, allow teachers to integrate economic, political, and individual responses to the realities of climate change that students will experience in their lifetime. 

“The fact that Climate Changed is also a highly expressive work of graphic nonfiction rich in text features, and thoroughly capable of functioning as a primary and secondary source, make it an optimal text for students at various levels …

“For your convenience, this guide is aligned with the Common Core  [US] State Standards (CCSS), specifically the ‘Literacy in Science & Technical Subjects’ strand, and the framework of thematic standards of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).”

In the questions for students, the first is,  “What convincing evidence exists for anthropogenic climate change?”

Students are asked to evaluate “which evidence is most compelling, and why?” On p429, the comic’s captions say:

“Over the last two decades, the world has experienced the hottest years since 1880. The summer melting of the Arctic ice packs happened 40% faster than predicted. Greenland’s glaciers and the Antarctic are also melting so fast that even specialists in these regions are surprised…

“2008: Hottest October Ever Recorded. We’re probably approaching that level of warming, the 3.6 to 5.4 Degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 3 Degrees Centigrade), where the tipping points are. Climate High Alert…that we’re better off not approaching.” 

The final frame shows a cauldron boiling under a fire.

Next question – somewhat loaded:

“How do the experts represented in the book consider, and refute, evidence for counterarguments?”

Another question:

“How might the lack of scientific understanding among the general public contribute to unfounded optimism (e.g., climate change will be far in the future—there will be tech solutions by then), often through the manipulation of data (p. 416)?”

That page refers to ‘trumped-up’ Climategate scandals, the skeptics’ ‘smear campaign’ creating public doubt, and skeptics deceiving the public about temperatures halting in 1998. The guide finishes with an essay question:

“ According to the author, how does media coverage of climate change, including its current consequences,hamper the ability of societies to take necessary steps?”

Teachers are then told:

“Answers will vary. Examples include the gradualness/ distribution of climate-related deaths (pp. 250–51) as well as the “shoddy journalism” shown during the so-called “climategate” incident (pp. 418–19)”

The comic’s says on page 250:

“Global warming causing 300,000 deaths per year” including, curiously, in Vietnam. The captions say, with intended irony, “The victims of climate change die slowly, one after another – no drama, no media coverage – scattered over the whole year over the whole planet. If only they had the good sense all to die on the same day, like the victims of the 2004 tsunami, that would catch our attention.”

A few of the questions in the teacher’s guide are reasonable, e.g.

  • “Consider this statement: “The beginning of the end of the world is beginning” (p. 304). Does it belong in a book about science? Does it make the discussion more authentic and/or state clearly what’s at stake in terms of climate change? Does Squarzoni sufficiently prove this point? Why or why not?”

and

  • “Does writing from the perspective of a French citizen enhance or undermine the author’s critique of the ‘American way of life’? Do you detect any cultural or political biases in the book? Support your opinion with relevant text evidence.”

Tony Thomas blogs at tthomas061.wordpress.com

Fight begins for top IPCC job

 

 

 

By Tony Thomas

Belgium’s Jean-Pascal van Ypersele 57, has thrown his hat in the ring to succeed Rajendra Pachauri 74, as chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Given the trillion-dollar global commitments to CO2 emissions reduction, the IPCC chair position would rank as one of the world’s most powerful.

Dr Ypersele will be a strong candidate, having served as one of the IPCC’s three vice-chairs since 2008, and with almost 20 years in IPCC roles.

The election will be at the 42nd session of the IPCC, probably in September-October next year, location yet to be decided.

IPCC headquarters in Geneva confirmed Ypersele’s nomination by email to me last night. Under IPCC rules, rival nominations are required within six months of the 42nd session.

Ypersele is a physics PhD whose research was on the effect of global warming on Antarctic sea ice – an interesting topic as right now Antarctic sea ice is at a record extent for the satellite era. (Ypersele tweeted on October 7: Scientists explain why record-high Antarctic sea ice doesn’t mean global warming isn’t happening”). He later specialised in climate modelling. He was a lead author for the third IPCC report,   and for the fourth report chaired plenaries for the three Working Groups.

Ypersele’s fellow Vice-Chairs are Ismail Elgizouli (Sudan) and Hoesung Lee (Korea). They cannot stand again for Vice-Chairs but could stand against Ypersele for Chair.

Even for the IPCC, the prospect of being chaired by a Sudanese (with an M.Sc.) might be a bridge too far. But Hoesung Lee if he stands would be a   heavyweight. Elected vice-chair in 2008, he’s been a president of the International Association for Energy Economics, and a director of Hyundai and Korea Petroleum Development Corporation. It wouldn’t hurt his chances that his compatriot Ban Ki-Moon runs the UN.

 

 

Pachauri, an economics and industrial engineering PhD, was voted in as chair in 2002, after five years   as vice-chair of the IPCC’s Asian bloc. He won the Chair by 76-49 votes against the incumbent, Robert Watson, whose roles included work with NASA, the World Bank, the White House, and the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall climate centre. Watson was chasing a second term but was opposed by the George W Bush administration and, allegedly, ExxonMobil.

The IPCC’s shared Nobel Peace Prize of 2007 gave Pachauri such prestige that he was re-elected by acclamation in 2008. Current IPCC rules bar him from a third term.

The InterAcademy Council (IAC) audit of the IPCC in 2010 emphasised four times that the Chair should serve only a single term. But the IPCC Panel (i.e. general assembly) in 2012 declined to make the recommendation retrospective, allowing Pachauri’s second term to run to completion.

Other top IPCC slots are now also limited to one term in the same position, but the IPCC has retained the power to make individual exceptions.

Voting for the Chair is by secret ballot on a one-country/one-vote system for the 194 IPCC members. The US vote is worth no more than the vote of Vanuatu.

This could make for some vigorous factional manoevres. A win requires a simple majority. If no majority occurs on the first voting round, the top two candidates are put to a run-off vote.

The chair position is voluntary (as are all the elected and co-opted roles) but the job drips with prestige. Pachauri has picked up The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold & Silver Star (Japan); the Aztec Eagle (Mexico); La Legion D’Honneur (France); Commander of the White Rose of Finland; and India’s second-highest civilian honor the Padma Vibhushan.

Pachauri’s biggest moment was being handed the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Al Gore), as figurehead of the IPCC. To be fair, Pachauri asked the first IPCC chair (1988-97) Bert Bolin to do the Oslo acceptance, but Bolin was unavailable.

Voting for the rest of the Bureau positions involves quotas. IPCC members are arranged into blocs as follows: Africa, 54 countries with 5 guaranteed positions on the 31-member Bureau; Asia (32 countries, 5 positions); South America (12, 4); North/Central America (23, 4); SW Pacific (22, including Australia, 4); and Europe (52, 8). Note that USA and Canada have no more seats than the Australasia/SEA axis. All these arrangements are less about scientific clout than   ensuring third-world blocs are prominent, as they are in the UN itself. The Sudanese vice-chair of the IPCC Bureau has been on the Bureau for 12 years. #

Free Speech and the Fight to Save It

Philosopher and author Frank Furedi amused and appalled a Melbourne audience with his update on the ongoing war of attrition with the forces of political correctness — a conflict in danger of being lost for want of leaders prepared to tear off the gag

furedi2The other day, sociologist and philosopher Frank Furedi was woken by a call from a journalist seeking comment  on “unacceptable values” in the Tom & Jerry cartoon series. Hungarian-born Furedi told a gathering of 120 at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne on October 6 that he thought at firstthe call must be a practical joke.

But no, it was anything but. The reporter explained that Amazon.com has put a disclaimer on copies of the classic comedy videos it is selling — a warning that the cartoons exhibit “ethnic and racial prejudice” which was “wrong then and are wrong today”.

Furedi is the author of 17 books, including Wasted: Why Education Isn’t Educating, plus other titles  on free speech in the West. He spoke at the IPA with Nick Cater, executive director  of the Menzies Research Centre. When the time came for questions, Furedi was asked to compare current Western censorship with that of Communist-era Hungary, where he spent his childhood. Stalinist censorship was easier to deal with, he replied, because everyone knew the score and could see through the official lies.

furedi with klara“My dad just told me, when I was eight, ‘Whatever you hear, don’t believe it’,”  recalled Furedi, shown at left with mum Klara. “Most of us knew right from wrong. But today censorship is driven by powerful and insidious cultural forces for self-censorship, for self-denial. In the UK, the classic example is the Rotherham child-abuse scandal, where many knew but none had the courage to denounce ethnic men destroying a generation of children.”

Asked about his political journey away from the far Left, Furedi recalled being raised in a high Stalinist period, when his father was imprisoned. After his release, and before the family migrated to Canada, his dad committed himself to getting rid of the Stalinists and took part in the 1956 revolution.  The message instilled in the young Furedi was simple, ‘Never trust the State’.

Furedi’s memories of Canada in the 1960s are of having a nice time as a member of the Far Left — until he realized his red-raggin’ pals had no problem with state interventions in people’s lives. They couldn’t handle the notion that democracy and freedom are non-negotiable.

In his speech, Furedi  gave another instance of self-censorship: a London play was cancelled because, despite being a theatrical production inspired by anti-racism, it included a black person in a cage. This politically correct censorship made no headlines, he noted, being marked only by the silence of embarrassed leftists staring at their shoelaces.

Nick Cater added the observation that, just a generation ago, the Left campaigned for freedom of expression during the Oz trials in London, and closer to home for the freedom to take one’s clothes off in movies like Alvin Purple. Those campaigners had turned full circle to become replicants of the censorious and humourless elite they once excoriated.

Furedi asked, “How long before TV and books also go in for their own soft and quiet censorship? It assumes we are children to be protected. As with your Section 18c law, it assumes that if someone says something insulting to me, I will pee my pants. This idea of people being weak and vulnerable is an invitation to the State to come in and hold our hands, saying, ‘We, the State, are here to support you’.”

The West – especially academia – is now beset with speech codes, like the ever-expanding definitions of what constitutes  “workplace bullying”, and the Left has armed itself with the weapon of sanctions to be used against those judged to be inflicting “hate”, or merely “inappropriate” views and speech, on others. “An editor told me I couldn’t use the word ‘brainwashing’ because it could offend epileptics,” Furedi laughed, before urging resistance. “We need to gift ourselves some courage and, instead of looking the other way, ridicule these attempts to regulate our personal lives.”

Nick Cater lamented that even conservatives are becoming selective about how far freedom of speech should reach, thus ceding the moral high ground by diluting and compromising what should be an absolute and sacred principle. Section 18c, he noted, had been on the books for almost 16 years, during which time it was used against Holocaust deniers. There were few objections, however, until the statute was used against Andrew Bolt in  2011.

Furedi even defended the right of jihadists to preach their hate, since they were better dealt with by trenchant debate than by gagging their critics. There are laws, anyway, about threats to the person, so further refinements and additions to the law in regard to “hate speech” are superfluous.

Academics in particular were averse to engaging Muslim radicals in free, open and unfettered debate, he said, citing a woman who had argued that Dutch anti-Islamist Geert Wilders should be silenced because he was so eloquent and persuasive. He told the woman to learn the art of public speaking. Furedi also recalled a recent visit to Poland, where he argued against State restrictions on on free speech. Many in his audience were amazed, he said, to hear him say openly what they had been thinking but were afraid to utter.

Another question sought Furedi’s opinion of the female police superintendent who attended a recent Rotary breakfast in Melbourne in civilian dress after an official edict announced that being seen in uniform on the street might incite radical Muslims to opportunistic violence. There was nothing new or surprising about that attitude, he sighed, nor did it signify a particularly Australian species of cowardice. In the UK, soldiers have been similarly discouraged from wearing their uniforms after the murder of Guardsman Lee Rigby.

“Why should those soldiers go to Afghanistan or Iraq to fight for human rights when they come home to be treated like second-class citizens?” he asked. “Even wounded soldiers in Birmingham hospitals have been given a hard time by Muslim doctors and nurses saying ‘This is a bad thing you have done’. People are embarrassed to talk about these dark little secrets. If I were a soldier I wouldn’t shut up about it.”

Furedi said moral compasses were becoming blurred. He knew a priest who was more proud of a degree in welfare counseling than his theological studies. Moralising was replacing morality, with parliamentarians taking their cues from focus groups and polling data, rather than conviction. It was the green parties in the West that led the field in using a subverted morality to promote their causes, such as the campaigns against McDonalds and the dubious concept that recycling is virtuous in and of itself.

Family First Senator Bob Day, thanking Furedi and Cater, used the analogy of a stonemason striking repeatedly at a block of granite to describe the need for perseverance and endurance in the ongoing fight to defend free speech: after 100 fruitless blows, the 101st strike of the hammer split the block. In Parliament, he said, several senators, including Liberals Dean Smith  and Cory Bernardi, who had added their own blows to the granite by supporting the need to delete ‘offend and insult” from Section 18c.”

It will take many more blows than that, along with many more hammers, to dislodge politically thinking from public fora.

Tony Thomas blogs at tthomas061.wordpress.com

 

The ABC Rights a Wrong

TONY THOMAS

No need just yet to hug your kitties and pups one last time. Climate change is still a mortal peril, according to the national broadcaster, which has admitted in one of its rare posted corrections that soaring temperatures and rising seas will take longer to kill Fido and Fluffy than originally thought

abc errorHooray! I’ve forced the ABC to correct one of its  howlers in global warming reportage. On September 2,  I wrote in Quadrant Online about Harvard History of Science Professor Naomi Oreskes and her forecast that global warming would kill everyone’s puppies and kittens in 2023, followed by the entire population of Australia. Admittedly, her book was supposedly written looking back from 400 years into the future, but as she put it, it was all based on genuine Climate Change Science ™.

Science Show host and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science Robyn Williams loved the pet-holocaust idea, saying:

“Yes, not only because it’s an animal but it’s local. You see, one criticism of the scientists is they’re always talking about global things … And so if you are looking at your village, your animals, your fields, your park, your kids, and the scientists are talking about a small world that you know, than it makes a greater impact, doesn’t it?”

 Oreskes responded:

Well, exactly. It was about bringing it literally home, literally into your home, your family, your pet, the dog or cat that you love who is your faithful and trusted companion.”

If you go to the ABC Science Show site at you will now find this correction:

Editor’s note: The original introduction stated that “Earth’s climate is changing at the highest of predicted rates, scientists have given up on the much talked about two degree ceiling …”  In context these words telegraphed the premise on which Prof Oreskes’ work of fiction is based; however, it has been interpreted as a statement of incontrovertible fact and has therefore been removed to prevent any further misunderstanding.

This is an almost-OK response by the complaints department. Timing-wise, the show was aired on 16 August, my complaint was on September 1, and the correction posted on September 23 — expeditiously by ABC standards. My only quibble is that Williams and the ABC still cannot bring themselves to admit publicly that saying “earth’s climate is changing at the highest predicted rates” is flat-out wrong, the opposite of the truth, whether or not the assertion is real or made “fictively”.

My suggestion is that, now the ABC has begun behaving almost like an impartial taxpayer-funded news institution, we should use the complaints mechanism on every occasion the national broadcaster  falls into error on climate and/or politics.  No one can now say such complaints will be frivolously dismissed or ignored.

My complaint read:

The introduction [to the Science Show’s Oreskes interview] says, “The Earth’s climate is changing at the highest of predicted rates.”

The IPCC in its final draft for its 5th Report, showed actual temperatures running below the lowest bound of the IPCC forecasting.

This graphic (re-produced below) was omitted  in the published report,tisdale graphic

replaced by this account:

However, an analysis of the full suite of CMIP5 [modeling] historical simulations   reveals that 111 out of 114 realisations  [forecasts] show a GMST [global mean surface temperature]  trend over 1998-2012 that is higher than the entire HadCRUT4 [actual temperature] trend ensemble  ” Chapter 9, WG1, Box 9.2

In other words, actual temperatures are running lower than  97% of the forecast runs, not at “the highest of predicted rates” as claimed by   the Science Show.

I would like to see this false and misleading statement corrected on The Science Show.

Thanks

Tony Thomas

The ABC’s reply  reads,

Dear Mr Thomas,

Your complaint has been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of content making areas within the ABC. Our role is to review complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards. These standards are explained in our Editorial Policies which are available here –http://about.abc.net.au/how-the-abc-is-run/what-guides-us/our-editorial-policies/.

The intention had been to convey Naomi Oreskes’ view but having been alerted to your complaint, the program acknowledges that the sentence read on the website as an incontrovertible fact and have undertaken to remove it.  An Editor’s Note has been added to the page.

Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that these steps are adequate and appropriate to remedy the cause of your complaint and accordingly we consider it resolved.

Thank you for giving the ABC the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Kirstin McLiesh
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

I say modestly, no, don’t give me credit for this virtually unprecedented backdown by the ABC on global warming catastrophism. Credit belongs to level-headed sceptics everywhere  in what Shakespeare once described as “a naughty world.”

And, if I may say so, Long Live the ABC!

Tony Thomas blogs at tthomas061.wordpress.com

Obama’s Man Runs Cold on Warming

Steven E. Koonin (left), Undersecretary for Science during Obama’s first term, sees “climate science” as a tangle of arrogance, conjecture and dubious methods that cannot withstand the scrutiny of any reasonably sharp mind. His former boss remains an ardent believer

kooninPresident Obama is so convinced about dangerous human-caused global warming that he describes sceptics as ‘flat-earthers’ who think the moon is made of  cheese. Actually, sceptics include three astronauts who have walked on the moon — Buzz Aldrin, Charles Duke and Jack Schmidt — and four other Apollo astronauts. But let’s not quibble with the president, who claims to have the weight of the science community behind him.

Or does he? Dr Steven E. Koonin (inset) was Undersecretary for Science in the Energy Department during Obama’s first term. Koonin is sceptical about the alarmist case, so much so that he calls for serious independent reviews of the IPCC’s forecasts and methodology, along with a close look at other scientists’ prognostications.

He says, “A transparent rigor would  be a welcome development, especially given the momentous political and policy decisions at stake. That could be supported by regular, independent, ‘red team’ reviews to stress-test and challenge the projections by focusing on their deficiencies and uncertainties; that would certainly be the best practice of the scientific method.”

Koonin’s previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

Writing in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal on Saturday Koonin debunked warmism, saying it would be a long time before science could give validly  emphatic advice to the political community. The certitude of the orthodox climate scientist was not only misguided, he continued, but was distorting the debate on energy and CO2 emissions.

Koonin’s arguments are basically a primer of the sceptic position: Yes, climate is always changing. Yes, humans influence climate through CO2 emissions and other activities. Human activity may even have a climate impact comparable to natural climate variability. Koonin continues, “The crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, ‘How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?’

“Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%.

“Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.”

Koonin says that a second challenge to “knowing” future climate is today’s poor understanding of the oceans, which strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise and comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.

“A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate’s response to human and natural influences. One important feedback, which is thought to approximately double the direct heating effect of carbon dioxide, involves water vapor, clouds and temperature.

“But feedbacks are uncertain. They depend on the details of processes such as evaporation and the flow of radiation through clouds. They cannot be determined confidently from the basic laws of physics and chemistry, so they must be verified by precise, detailed observations that are, in many cases, not yet available,” Koonin says.

A further fundamental problem with climate science involves the complex computer models used to project future climate. “While some parts of the models rely on well-tested physical laws, other parts involve technically informed estimation. Computer modeling of complex systems is as much an art as a science,” he observed. The models require many assumptions to be inputted to ‘tune’ the models to reality, such as assumptions about cloud cover and past historical changes. “We often hear that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.”

The latest 2013 IPCC report uses an ensemble of 55 tuned models. Konin points out that “the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations”. For example,

“The models differ in their descriptions of the past century’s global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time. Such mismatches are also present in many other basic climate factors, including rainfall, which is fundamental to the atmosphere’s energy balance. As a result, the models give widely varying descriptions of the climate’s inner workings. Since they disagree so markedly, no more than one of them can be right.”

On the halt in warming this century, Koonin says that although the Earth’s average surface temperature rose sharply, by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit, during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. “This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.

“Yet the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise. Several dozen different explanations for this failure have been offered, with ocean variability most likely playing a major role. But the whole episode continues to highlight the limits of our modeling.

“The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high.

“The models predict that the lower atmosphere in the tropics will absorb much of the heat of the warming atmosphere. But that ‘hot spot’ has not been confidently observed, casting doubt on our understanding of the crucial feedback of water vapor on temperature.

“Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.

“A crucial measure of our knowledge of feedbacks is climate sensitivity—that is, the warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of carbon-dioxide concentration. Today’s best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.”

Koonin says that these and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not ‘minor’ issues to be ‘cleaned up’ by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections. Work to resolve these shortcomings in climate models should be among the top priorities for climate research.

“Yet a public official reading only the IPCC’s ‘Summary for Policy Makers’ would gain little sense of the extent or implications of these deficiencies. These are fundamental challenges to our understanding of human impacts on the climate, and they should not be dismissed with the mantra that ‘climate science is settled.”

While the past two decades have seen progress in climate science, the field is not yet mature enough to usefully answer the difficult and important questions being asked of it. This decidedly unsettled state highlights what should be obvious: Understanding climate, at the level of detail relevant to human influences, is a very, very difficult problem, he says.

Koonin says that we can and should take steps to make climate projections more useful over time. An international commitment to a sustained global climate observation system would generate an ever-lengthening record of more precise observations. The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.

Because the natural climate changes over decades, it will take many years to get the data needed to confidently isolate and quantify the effects of human influences.

“Rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is ‘settled’ (or is a ‘hoax’) demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.

“Society’s choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

“But climate strategies beyond such ‘no regrets’ efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.

“Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity’s deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.

“Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.”

Tony Thomas blogs at tthomas061.wordpress.com