No Pause in Warmist Pseudo-Science

Hear about the scholarly paper allegedly debunking the fact that there has been no pause in rising temperatures? Well it’s rubbish — and that verdict doesn’t come from climate sceptics but statisticians who really do believe the planet is overheating

chart topsied IIIIt’s always undignified to get hit by ‘friendly fire’. That’s what’s happened to a group of Stanford University statistical experts and their late-2015 peer-reviewed paper  “Debunking the climate hiatus” in the prestigious journal Climatic Change.

Two statistician bloggers, Radford Neal and Grant Foster, have torn the paper apart, even though both agree – for other reasons – that the 15+ years pause or hiatus in warming is a statistical illusion. So, warmists, it’s no use making ad-hominem attacks on these bloggers because they’re on your side.

statisticianI am unqualified to comment on the statistical arguments, having barely passed Stats 101 at ANU in 1972, the era of the slide rule. So my point is about prima facie and uncorrected crud making its way into a prestigious peer-reviewed climate journal, which may now have to publish some soul-destroying corrections. And if that essay made it into “the science”, what other junk has also been elevated to scientific holy writ?

Critic Radford Neal (right) is  Professor, Dept. of Statistics and Dept. of Computer Science, University of Toronto. He not only looks to me like a good statistician, but his papers have earned 22,600 citations, including 8,600 in the past half-decade. He sets out the status of the “Debunk” authors:

(Bala) Rajaratnam is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and of Environmental Earth System Science. (Joseph) Romano is a Professor of Statistics and of Economics. (Noah) Diffenbaugh is an Associate Professor of Earth System Science. (Michael) Tsiang is a PhD student. Climatic Change appears to be a reputable refereed journal, which is published by Springer, and which is cited in the latest IPCC report. The paper was touted in popular accounts as showing that the whole hiatus thing was mistaken — for instance, by Stanford University itself.

The university had crowed:

A new study reveals that the evidence for a recent pause in the rate of global warming lacks a sound statistical basis. The finding highlights the importance of using appropriate statistical techniques and should improve confidence in climate model projections…The Stanford scientists say their findings should go a long way toward restoring confidence in the basic science and climate computer models that form the foundation for climate change predictions.

Neal, however, throws his bucket of cold water over all concerned:

You might therefore be surprised that, as I will discuss below, this paper is completely wrong. Nothing in it is correct. It fails in every imaginable respect.

He concludes,

Those familiar with the scientific literature will realize that completely wrong papers are published regularly, even in peer-reviewed journals, and even when (as for this paper) many of the flaws ought to have been obvious to the reviewers.  So perhaps there’s nothing too notable about the publication of this paper.  On the other hand, one may wonder whether the stringency of the review process was affected by how congenial the paper’s conclusions were to the editor and reviewers.  One may also wonder whether a paper reaching the opposite conclusion would have been touted as a great achievement by Stanford University. Certainly this paper should be seen as a reminder that the reverence for “peer-reviewed scientific studies” sometimes seen in popular expositions is unfounded.

The other critical blogger is “Tamino” aka Grant Foster, much reviled by the sceptic crowd. He writes:

There’s yet another paper debunking the so-called “hiatus” in global temperature, making five so far (of which I’m aware), including one of my own. But this one, in my opinion, isn’t helping. In fact I believe it has some very serious problems, some of which make the idea of “hiatus” too easy to reject, while others make it too hard to reject. Although I agree with their overall conclusion — and published that conclusion before they did — I find their evidence completely unconvincing.

So what’s going on?

Just for starters, all four authors and the peer reviewers overlooked that the temperature data series from 1880 to 2013 they were examining was not the one they said it was. Radford Neal:

Rajaratnam, et al. describe this data as ‘the NASA-GISS global mean land-ocean temperature index’, which is a commonly used data set … However, the data plotted above, and which they use, is not actually the GISS land-ocean temperature data set. It is the GISS land-only data set, which is less widely used, since as GISS says, it ‘overestimates trends, since it disregards most of the dampening effects of the oceans’.  They appear to have mistakenly downloaded the wrong data set, and not noticed that the vertical scale on their plot doesn’t match plots in other papers showing the GISS land-ocean temperature anomalies. They also apply their methods to various other data sets, claiming similar results, but only results from this data are shown in the paper.

Heavens to Betsy! But as Barack Obama and our Environment Minister Greg Hunt say, we must trust “The Science”.

Radford Neal continues that the authors had also got the bull by the tail in that they were “asking the wrong questions, and trying to answer them using the wrong data.”

The authors’ summarise their results in this way:

Our rigorous statistical framework yields strong evidence against the presence of a global warming hiatus. Accounting for temporal dependence and selection effects rejects — with overwhelming evidence — the hypothesis that there has been no trend in global surface temperature over the past ≈15 years. This analysis also highlights the potential for improper statistical assumptions to yield improper scientific conclusions. Our statistical framework also clearly rejects the hypothesis that the trend in global surface temperature has been smaller over the recent ≈ 15 year period than over the prior period. Further, our framework also rejects the hypothesis that there has been no change in global mean surface temperature over the recent ≈15 years, and the hypothesis that the distribution of annual changes in global surface temperature has been different in the past ≈15 years than earlier in the record.

Radford Neal, not mincing words, comments:

This is all wrong. There is not ‘overwhelming evidence’ of a positive trend in the last 15 years of the data — they conclude that only because they used a flawed method. They do not actually reject ‘the hypothesis that the trend in global surface temperature has been smaller over the recent ≈ 15 year period than over the prior period’.  Rather, after an incorrect choice of start year, they fail to reject the hypothesis that the trend in the recent period has been equal to or greater than the trend in the prior period.

Failure to reject a null hypothesis is not the same as rejecting the alternative hypothesis, as we try to teach students in introductory statistics courses, sometimes unsuccessfully.

Similarly, they do not actually reject ‘the hypothesis that the distribution of annual changes in global surface temperature has been different in the past ≈15 years than earlier in the record’. To anyone who understands the null hypothesis testing framework, it is obvious that one could not possibly reject such a hypothesis using any finite amount of data.

Grant “Tamino” Foster, to his credit, independently spotted that the authors had used dud data and wrong start dates:

We’ll start with the confusion about what data they’re using. They focus on global temperature data from NASA GISS, and repeatedly refer to it as ‘land-ocean temperature index’ (LOTI)…They repeatedly say they’re using LOTI — but they’re not.

Foster also agrees with Radford Neal that the authors seriously erred in using 1950 as a start data for their 21st Century “pause” analysis, instead of 1970. Foster: “The choice to start at 1950 also makes their estimate of the ‘trend leading up to 1998’ wrong.”   (There was already a “pause” in temperatures from 1950-70 and that earlier pause muddied the waters).

Foster – an ardent warmist, remember – rebukes the authors for comparing pre 1998 and post 1998 trends:

Don’t pick a starting time because of the result it gives if you want to claim to be the utmost in statistical rigor. It’s the essence of cherry-picking.

He goes on:

There are other technical problems, which I won’t go into. Suffice it to say that this paper doesn’t impress me, and although I agree that its conclusion is correct, I don’t agree that their analysis is correct.

And he concludes, just to make his warmist credentials very clear,

It’s now dawning on the scientific community in general: all that ‘hiatus’ talk from global warming deniers was bloviating by blowhards.

I’ve often read that in terms of statistical skill, orthodox climate scientists are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Phil Jones of East Anglia University Climatic Research Unit and Climategate fame[i]confessed that he has lot of trouble  (as I do) doing trends on Excel spreadsheets: “I’m not adept enough (totally inept) with Excel to do this now as no-one who knows how to is here.”

In 2010, as Steve McIntyre quipped at Climate Audit,  Phil was ranked one of England’s top 100 scientists. “Just imagine the ranking that he could have achieved if he knew how to calculate a trend by himself.”

Perhaps it’s best to avert our eyes from Stanford University’s statistical wizards and their PR flaks in action. It’s like gawking at a traffic accident.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S here, I hope

[i] The most quoted Climategate email is from Phil Jones discussing paleo-data used to reconstruct past temperatures

“I’ve just completed Mike [Mann]‘s Nature [Journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith [Briffa’s] to hide the decline.”

The point was to hide data that otherwise would have destroyed the credibility of Mann’s “Hockey Stick” temperature history that dismissed the Medieval Warming Period and the subsequent Little Ice Age.



  1. Lawrie Ayres

    They are enthralled by a infinitesimal increase in temperature yet they have no idea if it is caused by humans or nature or a combination of the two. Having clapped themselves on the back about the rise they studious avoid mentioning the other disasters, shrinking polar ice for example, that have gone the wrong way. They also ignore the benefits such as slightly longer growing seasons, increases in crop yields and greening deserts. And they call themselves scientists and they advise dumber politicians leaving the great unwashed to pick up the tab. Mongrels.

    • Tony Thomas

      An addition:
      Climatic Change journal’s editorial board is a who’s who of IPCC stalwarts, including Lisa Alexander (UNSW), Phil Jones, Peter H. Gleick, Ben Santer, and Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber. The mega-conspiracist Naomi Oreskes (sceptics=tobacco lobbyists) was a deputy co-editor until late last year.

      • Davidovich

        You write “… in the prestigious journal Climatic Change.” Who could possibly claim it is prestigious when such people are on its editorial board, other than themselves?

  2. Bill Martin

    We are just as likely to read, at any time now, that this or that peer reviewed paper is completely inaccurate but its conclusion is nevertheless correct because we believe it to be so. What more convincing proof could anyone need?

    • acarroll

      I must say I was stunned reading that conclusion (presented as it is in this context) as well.

      Unfortunately, any science based on statistical methods succumbs to the fragility of using starting assumptions. As the author indicates, most people use statistics as a tool box and recipes for using the tools. Sometimes the data has a nature all its own but you’re left with, by analogy, a Phillips head when you need a protruding-pin star-head driver.

  3. Rob Brighton

    Isn’t the disassembly of the paper in question by people who think AGW is real evidence of the scientific method at work?

    • Lawrie Ayres

      The problem Rob is that the initial flawed paper gets the headlines but the subsequent rebuttal doesn’t so people are left with the idea that the hiatus isn’t. A bit like the oft quoted 97% consensus figure that has been proved over and over to be totally flawed. The US President still spouts that rubbish because he only reads that which supports his last grasp at a legacy of sorts. The peer review should have canned this paper before publication not relied on later dissection. It shows that peer review is more aptly named as pal review. In other words hopelessly inadequate and quite useless for determining the worth of the so called research.

      • Rob Brighton

        I must misunderstand the peer review process then, from my understanding the first step of review is with the journal that prints it, that is not designed to look deeply at the data but rather to ensure the paper fits with the journal’s area of interest and that broadly the paper has sufficient gravitas (correct references and basic science) to move to print and subsequent review by the broader scientific community.

        I understood the initial review (prior to publication) was done as either a single or double blind.

        The subsequent gutting of the paper is then done by those that find fault in it. Publicly and with a high degree of embarrassment for the author and the publishing journal I would expect.

        Cannot agree more with your view on the value of commentary from those who pedal AGW on the basis of faith, political expediency or personal gain.

        • Rob Brighton

          Yep I did misunderstand. <= decent podcast that touches on the house of commons report on the peer review process.

          In short, the house of commons investigation was ran because of the shenanigans the climategate people got up to, they surmised that the peer review process was not perfect but it was the best that we have.

          Its a good question raised in the article wouldn’t it be nice if an answer was provided other than an argument from authority.

Trigger Warning: A Story Not Quite True

Trigger Warning: A Story Not Quite True

You might have seen reports that Sweden is instructing Muslim refugees in the fine art of sniping, and you might further have wondered what officials could be thinking. Well, rest easy. Marksmanship is being taught, but the designated targets are bullseyes, not infidels

swede burka smallSo the Swedish government is arranging courses on sniping for its young Islamic  arrivals, to help them mingle on the range with locals and boost their Swedish language skills. This is the story doing the rounds on the blogophere. True? False? Crazy nonsense? You be the judge. Please remember Quadrant Online always provides nuanced coverage and does not regurgitate internet hoaxes.

The original story about the sniper-training is a nicely-illustrated spread in the Swedish newspaper  Allehanda. This is a real newspaper, circulation around 70,000. It previously gained some éclat in the West for publishing a cartoon of  Mohammad as a “roundabout dog”, a form of public art which Swedes seem to enjoy. This caused much Islamic offence and the standard reaction of Religion of Peace adherents: protests, threats, bombings, attempted assassination of the artist etc.

sniper storyThe Allehanda story (right) about the “sniper training” for happy-go-lucky Islamic teens is dated June 2, 2013. It’s  an oddity that it laid doggo (no pun) all this time. The headline is “Laddade för prickskytte”, the first word google-translating as “charged (up)” and the third word, “sniping”. It is more precise than the word for “shooting”  (skytte) or “target practice” (tävlingsskytt).

But because of the recent fuss, the Allehanda news editor has now issued this clarification:

“Because of the recent international citations of the 2013 Allehanda article ‘Laddad för prickskytte’, I as News Editor feel that a few clarifications are in order. Several websites refers to the immigration project in Sollefteå as ‘sniper training’. This is not a correct description. The word sniper training implies military combat education which is something completely different from this.

Although the refugees in the pictures can be seen holding what looks like sniper rifles, it is in fact biathlon sports equipment. Biathlon is since the 1960s recognised as an Olympic discipline, and the Sollefteå Ski High School runs an international upper secondary school programme for elite competitors. This is where the refugees were invited to try rifle shooting, the only element of biathlon possible in the summer. It was done by the authorities as part of their work with local immigration. I hope this clarifies the circumstances surrounding this article.”

So really, the Swedish government has only been training young Muslims to aim well at inanimate targets and miss as few times as possible. This is not the same as actually training them to be military-grade snipers a la Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame.

By now you’re wanting to know how the newspaper’s body (no pun) text runs. Here goes, via google translate:

 “It began on a small scale in the fall. But in the spring, interest exploded. Now more than 50 immigrant youths shoot dot [target] on the biathlon course in Sollefteå. [Central Sweden]

Maria Ibrahim loading rifle and lies down on the green rubber mat. She is aiming carefully and long before she pushes against the classical target of five black dots.

The white caps fall into place one by one. Five hits out of five possible.

– ‘I think this is a good activity,’ she says.

– ‘It’s fun to learn how to shoot, and we have fun together. We laugh a lot. If this continues into the fall, I will certainly be with [it]!’

Over 50 young immigrants have found the biathlon track at Hallstaberget. His Nauclér, which holds the course together with Björn Lindblom and Birgit Höglin, is very satisfied.

– Already at the sample meeting in March, more than 50 young people from all over the world – Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, South America. And it has persisted. They are interested and very talented, and some come from war-torn areas [but have?] never been a problem.

All the young people go to the individual program in upper secondary school, focusing on languages. Teacher Birgit Höglin points out several advantages.

– ‘It’s much more than the sport itself,’ she says.

– ‘Here they talk Swedish in other social contexts, meet new people and hang out in other forms. It is good especially for the vocabulary. Moreover, it is sure discipline and security, and is also a useful experience.’

His Nauclér agrees.

–   ‘Safety is very important. We take that very seriously, he says.”

It is heart-warming to think of how interested and talented these teens are in putting bullets into targets as a purely sporting recreation, learning Swedish phrases like, “Bang on, good show!”

The course – which may or may not be   on-going – is/was funded by Sweden’s Migration Agency. There are no details of subsequent careers of the shooting-course graduates. Leftist bloggers pooh-pooh the implications of the story.  As one Lev Raphael put it on HuffPost,

It does not mean learning to be assassins, snipers or terrorists. I’ve taken target practice and that’s hugely different from training to be a sniper, which is immensely more complicated and involves a lot more than aiming at a paper target.

Would a story like this be kept quiet by the major European media? Not one European news site like Der Spiegel, Le Monde, or The Guardian has reported it.

Because it’s bogus… that, of course, isn’t dramatic or scary at all.”

Given that the German press, for example, could avert its eyes from 500 sexual and other assaults on Cologne’s New Year’s Eve, I don’t think the mainstream media’s avoidance of the sharp-shooting training story is all that remarkable.

The internet is riddled with illogical, crazy material that sane person would believe for one instant. However, sometimes this stuff is true.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope

[i] Roundabout dogs, involving some sort of Swedish pun, are improvised and vaguely ironic  dog sculptures that Swedes like to decorate roundabouts with.



  1. Rob Brighton

    Just read Steyn’s book America alone apparently written in 2006 it looks like he has Nostradamus covered, pity those from the regressive left don’t seem to see it.

  2. Ken

    Mr Raphael is correct, of course. Just because someone can hit a square of paper 500 metres away doesn’t mean they have the ability to walk up to people strolling through that nice little rosenbadsparken in central Stockholm and gun them down. As he says, the training requirements are different. That’s just common sense.

    The reason that Australian soldiers have such high levels of marksmanship in battle is that they train on live targets. How else can they learn?

  3. Ian MacDougall

    Bomb making and remote detonation would be a useful follow-on activity. Lev Raphael might shortly say:

    It does not mean learning to be jihadists, IED planters or terrorists. I’ve taken bomb making and that’s hugely different from training to be a jihadist, which is immensely more complicated and involves a lot more than just letting off an experimental blast.

    Yeah, right.

  4. gardner.peter.d

    ‘Moreover, it is sure discipline and security, and is also a useful experience.’’

    Very useful, as the terrorists who trained as pilots in the USA and were subsequently responsible for 9/11, would no doubt attest.

    I was, once upon a time, a marksman with a variety of weapons. It doesn’t matter much with which one you start. An air rifle or compressed gas rifle is as good as anything to learn the basics. If you have the basic skills right you can then go on to more specialist areas and greater capabilities.

  5. en passant

    Sometimes I wonder at the mindset of my fellow commenters. Let’s say 100 of these nice people learn to shoot a paper target, but only x% go on to use that skill in killing strangers. Well, the commentariat cry, it just goes to show that 100-x% did not murder us therefore the programme was a success and it just goes to show that we can expect no more than (pick a number) of us to be randomly killed by a stranger calling out that their sociopathic god is the greatest. How good can the news get?
    My question is: of all the activities available, why is it necessary, advisable or even a good thing to teach these people to shoot at all? Would they not be better learning how to compute, work with wood, read, play football, cook, speak the language of their country, behead sheep or other fun activity.
    Just think how much better the Parramatta scumbag could have performed if he had just had a few lessons on pistol-shooting accuracy? He would not have had to approach so closely for a shot in the back of an innocent stranger’s head. Instead, it was the policeman who had just requalified on the range who achieved the better outcome and sent him to his grave.
    Encouraging a potentially dangerous element of society shooting skills is simply madness. If not, why have we not made such training available to criminal prisoners, bikies, migrants and asylum inmates? Shotgun modification and conversion courses would be very popular, especially if subsidized by the taxpayer. Mugging for Beginners & the Etiquette King-hitting would round off the degree of criminals before release and greatly improve their inclusion in society.
    Ken’s comment I accept was just a complete joke as he could not possibly mean what he said.

    • Ken

      Oh, but I did mean it, en passant. irony should give the reader a choice of meanings. My attempt has failed. Mea culpa.

The Fishy ‘Science’ of Ocean Acidification

With an obstinate atmosphere failing to warm as predicted, another peril was needed to sustain the junk-science industry and keep lazy reporters supplied with bogus scoops. No problem! Conscript a Disney character, garnish with misrepresentations and there you have it: ocean acidification

nemoHow scary is “ocean acidification”?  Very scary. The previously scary “global warming” stopped 19 years ago, but do stay scared because all that CO2 since 1997 has instead been “acidifying” the oceans. Please imagine baby oysters dissolving in the equivalent of battery acid, and hermit crabs raising a nervous feeler to discover that their protective shells have disappeared. Curse you, horrible human-caused CO2 emissions!

In one celebrated episode involving Climate Science™,  a lone oyster farmer in Maine put his oysters into  a bucket and then found that the bivalves at the bottom were crunched because their shells were weakened.[1] Can any reasonable person ask for better  scientific proof of ocean “acidification”?

“Ocean Acidification”, the evil twin of global warming, is  scary because the chemistry is so simple. For example, the Australian Academy of Science in its curriculum for secondary schools, organizes an experiment for 16-year-olds where crushed ocean shells go into a test tube of sea water. You add acid or vinegar or something, and then watch the shells fizz and dissolve!

Two years ago, I noticed in Melbourne’s Fed Square a $50,000 competition for schoolkids for the best drawing about ocean “acidification”, sponsored by the green Ocean Ark Group. The theme was “Imagine losing all this color and life”. Guidance text included,

There are approximately 10,000 Coral Reefs and we are destroying one every other day…Left unchecked Ocean Acidification could trigger a Great Mass Extinction Event…

Now that union corruption has been exposed, maybe our next Royal Commission should be into Abuse of Children’s Intelligence, and the Academy and Ocean Ark could justify their teachings under cross-examination.[2]

Meanwhile, a trans-Atlantic team of top “ocean acidification scientists” has published a scary op-edin the New York Times. Congrats to skeptic blogger Steve Milloy at for successfully obtaining under FOI the emails among them collaborating over the op-ed draft. This material runs to 440 admittedly repetitious pages.[3] The named authors were Richard W. Spinrad, chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser to UK’s Department of Environment.

The trove of FOI emails include some beauties. Here’s what  NOAA’s Dr Shallin Busch  had to say, privately, to her NOAA colleague Madelyn Applebaum on September 30 about the  draft.  They had been asked by the New York Times to sex it up with some specific hurts allegedly being caused by all this acidification. The editor asked,

It’s very interesting, but in order to work for us it needs to be geared more toward the general reader. Can the authors give us more specific, descriptive images about how acidification has already affected the oceans? Is the situation akin to the acid rain phenomenon that hit North America? What can be done to counteract the problem?

Dr Busch, who works for NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program and Northwest Fisheries Science Center at Seattle, responded to Ms Applebaum:

Unfortunately, I can’t provide this information to you because it doesn’t exist. As I said in my last email, currently there are NO areas of the world that are severely degraded because of OA or even areas that we know are definitely affected by OA right now. If you want to use this type of language, you could write about the CO2 vent sites in Italy or Polynesia as examples of things to come. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful on this!

Dr Busch had the integrity to admit that science can cite “NO” significant ocean “acidification” impacts. But she was nonetheless happy for the article to include, as agitprop, the effects of natural CO2 venting through the ocean floor, as though this somehow corroborated the “acidification”  story.

Dr Busch, in the course of vetting many drafts, also wrote to Applebaum:

Thanks for letting me chime in on this piece.   My two general impressions are the following: 

1) This article is mostly gloom and doom, which research has shown that people don’t respond to well. In fact, people just stop reading gloom and doom environmental stories. It could be good to highlight ways we can and are dealing with OA [Ocean Acidification] now and that we have an opportunity to prevent the major predicted impacts of OA by stopping carbon emissions before larger chemistry changes happen…

2) I think it is really important to resist the NYT editor’s impulse to say that OA is wreaking all sorts of havoc RIGHT NOW, because for ecological systems, we don’t yet have the evidence to say that. OA is a problem today because it is changing ocean chemistry so quickly. The vast majority of the biological impacts of OA will only occur under projected future chemistry conditions. Also, the study of the biological impacts of OA is so young that we don’t have any data sets that show a direct effect of OA on population health or trajectory. Best, Shallin. [My bolding].[4]

And here’s Dr Busch on the Great Barrier Reef. The “Chris” she refers to is Chris Sabine, director of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

I’m not sure that I agree with Chris’s statement about the impact of OA on the Great Barrier Reef, [namely] ‘but underlying all of those factors is the fact that the corals are so stressed from ocean acidification that they can’t recover from those other impacts the way they used to be able to recover.’ Given my knowledge of the literature, OA is more of a future problem than a problem right now for the Great Barrier Reef. I think it is important to resist the NYT editor’s impulse to say that OA is wreaking all sorts of havoc RIGHT NOW, because for ecological systems, we don’t yet have the evidence to say that. 

If you’ll permit a digression, Dr Sabine’s CV notes that not only was he a NOAA Employee of the Month in 2007 but his awards include:

Nobel Peace Prize (co-shared with Al Gore and other members of IPCC) – 2007

As an aside, I keep reminding these people of an IPCC ruling banning them from claiming Nobel Peace Prize status. Sometimes people like Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor Jane den Hollander even referred to the (subsequently) abruptly-resigned ex-IPCC head, accused sex criminal and all-around dirty old man Rajendra Pachauri as a “Nobel Prize” winner.[5] Our own CSIRO is full of   bogus Nobel Peace Prize winners. You can follow the preenings here, here and here, just for starters. The best solution would be for the IPCC to issue them all with lab coats recognizing their special status, e.g. with a purple satin sash, gold buckles and ostrich plumes.

Digression over, in the NYT’s other wordage and pics, we learn from the top scientists that sea butterflies, a food for salmon and herring, undergo shell weaknesses, showing why ocean acidification is often called [by whom?] ‘osteoporosis of the sea’”. The NYT editor had been badgering the authors for pics to go with the article in order to spruik all this damage from “acidification”. The authors, via the indefatigable Madelyn Applebaum, were desperate to find such before-and-afters — a dauntingly hard quest,  given there isn’t any damage and maybe never.

So what did Applebaum come up with to make the NYT happy? Why, twin pics from NOAA of sea butterflies (Pteropods) — the first had lived in a laboratory tub with “normal waters” (whatever “normal” means) for six days, and was in the pink of health. The other specimen inhabited a tub with “acidified water” for the six days. (Did the animal anti-cruelty people  sign off on sea-butterfly torture?) Would you believe, the poor little acid-dunked Pteropod showed a tracery of white lines where the acid had etched its shell surface. What more pictorial proof of the harm of ocean “acidification” could a NYT editor (or climate scientist, or Academician) possibly require?[6]

All such articles have to point to harm to people too. We read emails  that “Human health, too, is a major concern.” This is because the NOAA labs   show toxic growths when water in the tubs is artificially acidified. So assuming (heroically) the same thing happens in the wild, the authors warn that people could get sick from eating acidy shellfish. Eating this nasty sea-stuff could “sicken, even kill, fish and marine mammals such as sea lions.” I imagine that right now, hundreds of NOAA IT people are modeling ocean-life die-offs based on that algae in a NOAA lab tub.

To climate scientists, the most important sea creatures in the entire planetary eco-system are not whales[7] or other coelecanths but Walt Disney’s celebrated clownfish. That’s because little Nemo is a sure-fire tear-jerker in any climate-catastrophe scenario.

In the  long piece about the global oceans by the top dogs of US/UK climate science, we learn:

We cannot yet predict exactly how ocean acidification will affect connections among the world’s many different marine organisms, but we do know the consequences will be profound. [i.e. we don’t know but we do know. Send more grant funding immediately.] Research already points to the unnatural behavior of coral clownfish in an acidified environment. These fish wander farther from their natural protection, making them more vulnerable to predators.

This published reference to clownfish was the fruit of  much angst involving the UK department’s determination to shoe-horn Nemo into the PR exercise.

Jane Phenton, Senior Flack for UK Environment Dept, 30/9/15:

The [UK]  team have added some examples (Nemo the clown fish a particularly good one I think!) and a few thoughts. 

Comments on a draft:

Hearing loss/impairment in Nemo, the coral clownfish, is just one of many potential impacts that have been identified in laboratory studies…

Oh no! Nemo, too, has been subjected to laboratory acid torture, but in a good cause. The boffins found “he” began wandering further from his protective home, inviting danger. But couldn’t Nemo, if still right side up in the tub, now be fitted with a sea-going Cochlear implant? (editor: shouldn’t that be a conchlear implant?)

However, things got more complex, because, says a NOAA scientist,

Apparently one study called Nemo ‘deaf’ – problem was attributed to brain damage that affected capability to hear. I’ll word carefully.

Someone else chips in,

He [Nemo] can’t smell his predators when they are near, and engages in risky behavior, making him more vulnerable to predators.

Someone else bells the cat, or fish, by pointing out that Nemo’s lab tub isn’t literally acidic, just less alkaline. And, anyway, Nemo might work out how to adapt  [assuming Nemo’s brain damage isn’t terminal].

Then on September 30 a NOAA heavy Dr Chris Sabine, Director, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, weighs in to Madelyn:

have asked everyone can reach and nobody iaware of a study that suggests that Nemo’s hearing would be impaired by ocean acidificationdid find one article on the web that suggested the oppositeI am aware of studies indicating that Nemo would lose sense of smell or ability to detect predators and therefore would be more likely to be eaten. Perhaps you can ask the UK people to check on that sentenceChris  [my emphasis]

Be aware that these collaborators obsessing about Nemo are taxpayer-funded scientists and PR flacks, all hard at work on a journalism piece to puff their organisations.The article continues,

In the past three decades, the number of living corals covering the Great Barrier Reef has been cut in half, reducing critical habitat for fish and the resilience of the entire reef system.

I looked up the 2014 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Outlook Report which re-quoted a 2009 study, (p31),

There is little detailed information about the status and trends of many habitat types within the Great Barrier Reef … However, there is some evidence of a small decline in coral reef habitat over recent decades.

A “small decline”? So what’s this halving that NOAA is talking about? It seems to come from a 2012 paper  by De-ath et al from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

By analyzing 27 years of data, the authors found that the Barrier Reef’s coral cover was down from 28% to 13.8% by area, in other words, half the initial coral cover had been lost.  But why? The losses were due to cyclones (48%),  crown-of-thorns starfish (42%) and coral bleaching (10%) – none of this involves the “acidification” peril.  And the pristine northern Reef area showed no decline. If it wasn’t for the cyclones, starfish and bleaching, the coral overall would have grown by nearly 3% a year. Even with cyclones and bleaching, the coral would grow by nearly 1% a year if the starfish were neutralized. To stay politically correct, the authors added that climate change had to be (somehow) stabilized, otherwise there would’s be more bleaching and cyclones, they think.

The NYT International piece was published under the ludicrous headline: Our Deadened, Carbon-Soaked Seas. A graphic (below) showed a big fish whose head above water was intact but whose body underwater was reduced to an acid-etched skeleton.


times on acid

The scientists’ preferred headline had merely been “In a high CO2 world, dangerous waters ahead” and the authors had nothing to do with the lurid graphic. But the NYT likes to greenwash its readers with terrifying climate capers. The broadsheet gives several pages of boilerplate specs for contributors on fact-checking, and has an army of its own fact-checkers to ensure against embarrassing corrections. But this “professionalism” is trumped by a headline-writer’s whim and an artist’s ignorant sensationalism. As with our own demented and dying Fairfax papers, sensationalism is given the tick of shock-horror approval all the way up the editorial chain.

The top-tier science authors commiserated among themselves about the “quite inflammatory” re-write of their headline, but made not one word of complaint to the NYT. After all, the luridness was in the right direction – mega-scariness –  and the authors were keen to get more NYT coverage in future. Principles be damned.

The NYT article made a lot of mileage out of US west-coast  oyster industry problems ostensibly caused by ocean currents pushing “acidified” water towards the oyster beds, causing “baby oysters” to expire.  The infant oysters had in fact been killed by a faecal organism Vibrio tubiashii from sewage.) And in any event, that pesky Dr Busch throws in an email saying

In fact, production in the Washington oyster industry is higher now than at the start of the [supposed acidification] crisis…Just as an FYI, we can’t yet attribute any large patterns in shellfish yield to OA [ocean acidification].

Dr Busch also wrote, re specific fish communities, “It might be good to mention that some species will be harmed by OA, some will benefit, and some won’t respond at all!” This is complete heresy, as global warming must always be presented as a bad thing. But Dr Busch knew what the NOAA playbook demanded and constructed a new draft paragraph dotted with the conditional — words like “may affect some fish populations” and “may” reorder ecosystems.  In this way any references to positive impacts on marine life are made to disappear.

The Australian Academy of Science in its educational materials is likewise unable to actually admit that  lower pH can have positive impacts on sea life. Instead, it glooms,

 not all calcifying animals react in the same way to lower pH conditions. But although some animals and plants may not fare so badly as others, the impacts upon marine biodiversity have the potential to be severe.

The NYT piece revels in ridiculous analogies and apparently-massive numbers isolated from any planetary context, eg:

Over the past 200 years, the world’s seas have absorbed more than 150 billion metric tons of carbon from human activities. Currently, that’s a worldwide average of 15 pounds per person a week, enough to fill a coal train long enough to encircle the equator 13 times every year.


ocean and coastal waters around the world are beginning to tell a disturbing story”. (My emphasis. Note how the bolded words fudge that there is actually  no story  so far).

Innocent readers might imagine NOAA embarked on this new op-ed project to educate the public about a serious scientific matter. No, the project’s prime and explicit function was to puff NOAA as a funding-worthy institution, and to add ammunition to the COP21 climate talks in Paris in December, 2015. As Dr Libby Jewett, director of NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, briefed:

The article would fit well with NOAA’s resilience and observational priorities and could go an important distance  in recognizing NOAA’s leadership in growing an international ocean observing system…We want visibility for NOAA’s pioneering global leadership to be prominent, too!

The final 250 words — 20% of the 1250-word NYT piece — are all about the need to send money to the scientists for their planet-saving endeavours,

Smart investments in monitoring and observing are critical to building resilience and hedging risks that can directly affect economies at all levels. There is urgency to such investments. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts round-the-clock monitoring of global CO2. The rate of increase has never been higher than during the past three years, accelerating the ocean acidification process… We ignore the risks of ocean acidification at our own peril, and that of future generations.

Tim Flannery, head of Australia’s Climate Council, is of the view that CO2 falling into the ocean produces “carbolic acid” or phenol,  that useful disinfectant which can still be bought on eBay in the form of soap bars. Flannery is, as always, correct in terms of the prevailing hysteria, if not real-world facts. His prophecy is affirmed by Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OAICA) and the International Atomic  Energy Agency (IAEA), which agree that

Too much carbon is flooding the ocean with carbolic acid, with devestating (sic) effects on life in the sea.

This is devestating (sic) news for chemistry textbooks.[8]

Here’s a contrary view to all that. The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, run by sceptic scientists, agrees with the orthodox group that, since pre-industrial times, the oceans have become less alkaline by about 0.1 pH unit. But it  considers results from modeling that posits a further pH reduction of between 0.3 units to 0.7 units by 2300 to be far-fetched. It marshaled about 1100 peer-reviewed studies on impacts of lower pH on ocean life and, after excluding those with wildly unrealistic assumptions, checked the rest in terms of five factors: calcification, metabolism, growth, fertility and survival. It plotted the experimental results involving pH falls from 0.0 to 0.3, the latter number being what the IPCC predicts for 2100, and found that the fall in pH led to

an overall beneficial response of the totality of the five major life characteristics of marine sea life to ocean acidification, which result is vastly different from the negative results routinely predicted by the world’s climate alarmists.

It said the results would be even more positive if studies had also allowed for the ability of generations of sea life to adapt to changed conditions. The studies testing lower pH on life forms typically involved a mere four days duration and some trials lasted a mere few hours, preventing any favorable evolutions, it said.

Footnote: My studies in high-school chemistry ceased at age 16, but here’s my take on ocean acidification technicalities.

The oceans’ alkalinity (pH) varies from place to place, in a range 7.9 to 8.3 on a logarithmic scale where 14 is most alkaline (or basic), 7.0 is neutral and below 7 to zero is acidic.   The log scale means each change of one unit is ten times the value of the adjacent unit.[9]

The scare term “ocean acidification”[10]  first popped up in Nature in 2003, followed by the Royal Society in 2005[11],  and has since been seized on as a substitute frightener, given that global warming has stalled. Climate scientists now “calculate” that the average ocean alkalinity has declined from 8.2 to 8.1 on the scale since pre-industrial times, except that the measurement error margin is several times the alleged reduction (and each of the five oceans has its own pH characteristics). pH levels at given points can also swing markedly even within the 24-hour cycle.

In past geological ages C02 levels in the atmosphere were ten or more times what they are now (400ppm) and ocean life thrived. Indeed our current fossil fuels are the residue of vast oceanic life that thrived and died in such super-high CO2 environments.

In the parts of the oceans where alkalinity is low (i.e. tending towards neutral), fish, corals, and sea flora have managed and adapted  perfectly well. Freshwater lakes and rivers are slightly acidic (pH of 6 to 8),  as is rainwater, pH 5.6, and drinking water, 6.5 to 7.5. Life has adapted and thrives in fresh water notwithstanding the, ahem, “acidification”.

Hat-tips to Dennis Ambler and John McLean for some assistance.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope






[1] An earlier draft: In Maine, clam farmers can no longer fill their buckets to the top because shells on the bottom will shatter from the weight. The lone clam farmer later bred into multiple clam farmers all ostenisibly reporting the same bucket problem.


[2] “…Some of the octopuses in the ocean can’t breathe from gas pollution … I started off my poster design of drawing the octopus first and wanted to make it look as if he was dying. Then I drew dead coral coming and surrounding him like there’s no escape from the acid ocean…” – one child’s  entry in the Victorian schools contest for “ocean acidification” art

[3] Strangely, NOAA has been fighting tooth and nail to thwart Republican congressmen’s requests for its emails about a NOAA study by Karl et al purporting to show there has been no 15-year pause in warming . It is now conceding defeat and starting to hand over documents.

[4] The 2014 5th IPCC report Summary for Policymakers, written by politico-bureaucrats, waxes fearful about ocean acidification. But the scientists themselves in their non-sexed-up findings in body text, WG11 Chapter 6, say, for example,

# “Few field observations conducted in the last decade demonstrate biotic responses attributable to anthropogenic ocean acidification” pg 4


# “Both acclimatization and adaptation will shift sensitivity thresholds but the capacity and limits of species to acclimatize or adapt remain largely unknown” Pg 23

# “To date, very few ecosystem-level changes in the field have been attributed to anthropogenic or local ocean acidification.” Pg 39


[5] “As well as helping fulfil Deakin’s prophecy, teaming up with TERI is a major coup for Deakin University. The organisation’s Director-General is Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, the Nobel Prize winner”.

[6] Or the Australian Academy of Science, which has recycled the Pteropod before-and-after pics for schoolkids.

[7] Some say whales aren’t fish, but I say they look more like fish than coelecanths.

[8]  The OAICC and IAEA warn that climate is putting  the world  “in a dangerous position, just as the US was when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor… This segment reports on “global warming’s evil twin”, ocean acifidication, which results from too much carbon in the water.” The audio segments begin with air-raid sirens and crashing bombs.

[9] Vinegar, for example, at 2.5, is almost a million times more acidic than seawater.

[10] Compare it with its twin verbal Orwellism, “carbon pollution”

[11] With authors in common. By linearly extrapolating   18 years data from a single Pacific Ocean Station Aloha, both parties forecast perilous ocean acidity by 2100 – and even took the perils out further to 2300. This became ‘settled science’.



    The term ‘acidification’ only has legitimate meaning when describing a drop of pH to below pH 7.0, which is neutral, and the point where the term ‘acidification’ has meaning in the real world. The ‘average’ pH of the world’s oceans and seas is probably around 8.0 or 8.1 or thereabouts (alkaline) and can show appreciable variation (remember that pH is measured on a logarithmic scale) depending on latitude, time of year, or even time of day (in shallow pools). The pH of the world’s seas and oceans have never been lower than 7.0 in the entire history of the planet, since oceans were first formed. A drop of pH from say, 8.0 to 7.9 should be described as a drop in alkalinity, not an increase in ‘acidity’. This sort of basic science and bogus language should be exposed by our Chief Scientist and the Australian Academy of Science but alas, both are missing in action. It is impossible for me to make a contribution to debates like this when I refuse to succumb to corruption of the language. Keep up the good work Tony.

  2. Jody

    I’m still reeling from Ross Garnaut’s comments, post Paris, that “if you’ve invested in traditional energy companies you’ve done your money”. I’m sure the ACCC should have something to say about somebody who can spook the market, cause shares to drop, buy up then sell later after they recover.

  3. en passant

    When will we ever learn? When will weeeee evaaa learn? Climate ‘science’ ain’t science.
    However, we need these pseudo-scientists to ignore you, the facts, history, chemistry, mathematics, physics, data, etc, etc, and keep on going otherwise we will have a huge recession with thousands of unemployable unemployed activists and academics causing chaos on the streets. Models have shown conclusively that the ‘Climate Con Crash of 2016′ would be even worse than the disaster known as the ‘Alchemists Abattoir’ when dozens of prominent alchemists cashed in their chips rather than find real jobs or something useful to do with their lives. Once you are locked into the ‘Climate Monkey Magic’ business (and have status and the admiration of fellow fools, politicians and psychophants you simply cannot evaaaa give up as that would mean reducing your life’s work as a Lysenkoist to ashes.

    Counter intuitively, although oil spills make the seas around them quite acidic, as oil is made up of complex Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen molecules, they actually benefit the environment in the long run. After the largest manmade oil spill in history in Kuwait in 1991 when 866M gallons of oil were spilled the following happened:

    “A combination of ultraviolet rays, warm sea water (which is saltier in the Persian Gulf, and therefore contains more chemicals than the open sea) and 1st year school chemistry turned these balls of oil and tar into nuts of coke. Eventually the coke rocks became saturated and sank, carpeting the seafloor. Carbon being the stuff of life, and a basis for fertiliser nutrients, caused the seagrasses to explode in a huge bloom. Seagrass is the food of fish and within 5-years the ‘greatest man-made ecological disaster of all time’ had the Gulf teeming with more fish than had ever existed there before. By the end of those initial 5-years the beaches were again pristine and the fish and sea creatures were more abundant than ever.”

    The prediction had been that the corals in the Persian Gulf would not survive, but the pesky little suckers ignored the ‘acidity’ and bloomed as there was more food than ever before. The obvious conclusions are that more oil spills and less salt would be a good thing for the sea.

  4. Ian MacDougall

    How scary is “ocean acidification”? Very scary. The previously scary “global warming” stopped 19 years ago, [wrong!-IM] but do stay scared because all that CO2 since 1997 has instead been “acidifying” the oceans. Please imagine baby oysters dissolving in the equivalent of battery acid, and hermit crabs raising a nervous feeler to discover that their protective shells have disappeared. Curse you, horrible human-caused CO2 emissions!

    Thus Tony Thomas begins by erecting a straw man, which he then proceeds with laboured and cynical humour to knock down.
    Very droll.

    • Davidovich

      Obviously, not all Quadrant readers are perceptive enough to comprehend the clear demolition of the “ocean acidification” mantra which is well set out by Tony Thomas. Instead, typical of the alarmist breed, they simply state “wrong!” when they don’t agree but fail to engage in useful debate.

      • Ian MacDougall

        I presume you are referring to slack-on-perception me. I can only say in my own defence that I was away from school the day we had perception. ;-)
        What I objected to amongst Tony Thomas’ barrage of attempted humour at mainstream science’s expense was:

        The previously scary “global warming” stopped 19 years ago…

        Climate ‘sceptics’ like Thomas usually make their ‘no warming’ assertions on the basis of thermometry records. I make my ‘warming’ ones on the basis of sea-level trends: and the world’s ocean is rising. Check it out at
        A rising ocean can only be due to melting glaciers, thermal expansion of ocean water, or both. Whichever way, and for good or ill, the planet is warming.
        Thomas is wrong on that.
        As for ocean acidification: since around 1750 AD we have been burning all the fossil carbon geologically sequestered over hundreds of millions of years, and in the twinkling of an eye on the scale of geological time. It is going into the air as CO2 gas and into the oceans as dissolved CO2, with God knows what long-term consequences for the biosphere. We humans have been unintentionally performing an uncontrolled experiment on the planet, and ‘sceptics’ like Thomas attempt to justify this after the fact by coming up with rationalisations as to why it can have no possible adverse consequences for the biosphere as a whole.
        Well I sincerely hope they are right. But the planetary fossil-carbon experiment was always all about steel-making, cement-making, power generation and other industrial processes, and never about finding the effects of massive release of CO2 upon the Earth’s biosphere.
        PS: ‘Sceptics’ range from asserting (1) there is no planetary warming; (2) if there is, humans cannot be responsible for it; (3) if there is and humans are responsible, it can only be a Good Thing anyway. They spread or progress from (1) through to (3).
        Thomas seems to be stuck at (1).

        • en passant

          You really are a very droll troll, but you never answered the points raised in our exchange in another Quadrant article “Mining Sun Sets in the West”, so you have recycled your comments here. After all recycling is a good thing.
          So, let me repeat the questions and points you did not answer.
          You need help.
          “I have blasphemed your Business As Usual religion” – Wrong! We need more CO2 as 400ppm is far too low. Also as the Earth is cooling again we need all the greenhouse gas help we can get. I did a detailed study in 2010-2012 and:
          ‘The conclusion I reached is that 2,000ppm – 4,000ppm is the optimum level of CO2 for the majority of life on the planet, with a probable/maybe rise of 2° – 3° centigrade increase in temperature, mainly in the temperate regions. Note that US nuclear armed submarines operate with a CO2 level up to 8,000ppm for extended periods without harm to the sailors breathing it. The USN has set a maximum limit of 12,000ppm before they become concerned, so no doubt that still contains a safety margin.
          So, to seriously answer the question I think we need MORE CO2 – and soon – as the quiet Sun is going to cause havoc in the coming decades with serious cooling the result. Ah, skiing in Melbourne.”
          Now you have some real facts.
          “SHOUTING YOUR HEAD OFF in block caps” – Umm, No. When I read through my inserted comments I realised that it was hard to separate them from your original text, so I PUT THEM IN CAPS SO SIMPLE FOLK COULD SEE WHAT WAS MINE AND what was yours. Even that was not enough for you
          “As for thermometers, tide guages (try gauges) and the like, they all had holes blown in them by none other than Ian Plimer in his ‘Heaven + Earth’, which as you probably know is a total dump on climatology; AGW; the IPCC; the works.” – I have asked Professor Plimer to comment. Perhaps you (Ian) could explain what the thermometer error bars are. If the recorders (all honest people) make a mistake of 0.5F then the 1828 temperature in Sydney drops to 53.2F, the highest ever recorded. I do not remember anywhere in H&E saying that – and I have read the book. [NEW SHOUTING COMMENT: I HAVE JUST REREAD H&E Pages 298-317 [TOPEX is on P.309] ON SEA LEVEL RISE AND IT SAYS NOTHING REMOTELY AS YOU ALLEGE. PLEASE PROVIDE THE REFERENCE WHERE IAN ‘BLOWS HOLES IN THE RECORDS OF TIDE GAUGES’!!!] As you are wrong, will you apologise?
          “… the world’s ocean rising by (from memory) 3.6 mm/yr +/- 0.4 mm/yr. [TOPEX says 2.4mm] So until I see evidence to the contrary, I accept that the ocean is rising.” I referred you to the contrary evidence in Hobart and Sydney … Anyway, thank you for your reference as I looked it up. Let me quote:
          “Since the Topex/Poseidon-Jason missions began in 1992, global sea-level rise has occurred at about 3 mm a year, resulting in a total change of 70 mm (2.8 inches) in 23 years, according to researchers.” & “The series has observed about 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) of global sea level rise in 23 years” No error bars are given. As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?
          Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?”
          So please stop making things up to suit your views unless you first alert readers by beginning “Once upon a time …” Note that your TOPEX reference is a bust as far as fear-mongering is concerned.”

  5. Ian MacDougall

    en passant:

    As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?

    Tsunamis are caused by crustal motion in the sea floor, and are not triggered as far as anyone seems to be able to determine, by global sea level changes. For refreshment:
    GMSL Rates
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)
    I take these as a given, remembering Julia Gillard’s memorable slam-dunk of Tony Abbott : “I get my advice on climatology from the CSIRO. Mr Abbott gets his from Alan Jones.”
    The above little data set is not graphed, but you find your error bars in the commonest stated accuracy of ’± 0.4 mm/yr’.

    Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?” 

    The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the global human economy are each incredibly complex systems, and I would be the last to succumb to the simplistic temptation to see a +4C change in global average temperature as one to turn the whole globe into a tropical south sea island paradise, or ten such for that matter. I cannot of course, speak for your worthy ‘sceptical’ self.
    The aforementioned Mark Lynas does cover it. See
    Never mind six degrees. Four degrees: I don’t think you would want to go there.

  6. Ian MacDougall

    As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly? 

    Tsunamis are caused by crustal motion in the sea floor, and are not triggered as far as anyone seems to be able to determine, by global sea level changes. For refreshment:
    GMSL Rates
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)

    I take these as a given, remembering Julia Gillard’s memorable slam-dunk of Tony Abbott : “I get my advice on climatology from the CSIRO. Mr Abbott gets his from Alan Jones.”
    The above little data set is not graphed, but you find your error bars in the commonest stated accuracy of ’± 0.4 mm/yr’.

    Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?” 

    The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the global human economy are each incredibly complex systems, and I would be the last to succumb to the simplistic temptation to see a +4C change in global average temperature as one to turn the whole globe into a tropical south sea island paradise, or ten such for that matter. I cannot of course, speak for your worthy self.
    The aforementioned Mark Lynas does cover it at
    Never mind six degrees. Four degrees: I don’t think you would want to go there.

  7. Ian MacDougall

    As a precaution should we all head for the hills before this 6cm Tsunami washes over our toes? Did you note that if this was globally true then both Hobart and Denison tide high water marks would be under water twice a day. They are not and are still recording the same levels 150 years after they were etched into stone Just a curious anomaly?

    Tsunamis are caused by crustal motion in the sea floor, and are not triggered as far as anyone seems to be able to determine, by global sea level changes. For refreshment:
    GMSL Rates
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)

    I take these as a given, remembering Julia Gillard’s memorable slam-dunk of Tony Abbott : “I get my advice on climatology from the CSIRO. Mr Abbott gets his from Alan Jones.”
    The above little data set is not graphed, but you find your error bars in the commonest stated accuracy of ’± 0.4 mm/yr’.

    Finally, will you list ten benefits of +4C in temperature globally?”

    The atmosphere, oceans, biosphere and the global human economy are each incredibly complex systems, and I would be the last to succumb to the simplistic temptation to see a +4C change in global average temperature as one to turn the whole globe into a tropical south sea island paradise, or ten such for that matter. I cannot of course, speak for your worthy self.
    The aforementioned Mark Lynas does cover it at
    Never mind six degrees. Four degrees: I don’t think you would want to go there.

    • Lawrie Ayres

      It appears sea rise varies around the world and can be due to wind and currents too. The main point is whether CO2 is causing the rise and if warming is natural, anthropogenic, a combination and what are the attributions to either. So far there is no science but much speculation that the .16% contribution of CO2 by humans is causing the climate to run amok. Has the 99.84% attributed to nature no effect? Listening to Tim Flannery, the IPCC and Obama one would think not. That is patently nonsense as is the belief that the UN can control the weather if only we give them more money. My disappointment is with the politicians who allowed this scam to progress so far. As Forest Gump would say “Stupid is as stupid does”.

  8. Tony Thomas

    The Australian Academy of Science’s Q&A on Climate Change 2010 makes two bald references to CO2 making the oceans more ‘acidic’ (p10 and 14).
    The AAS updated version (2015) repeats one of the assertions and ramps the scare up further:
    “Absorption of CO2 into the oceans causes “ocean acidification” impeding the shell formation of organisms such as corals and causing coral deterioration or death.”p25. This statement is referenced to a 2007 paper by Hoegh-Guldberg.
    “Acidification” gets a further scare mention on p31:
    “The other possible intervention would be to reduce Earth’s net absorption of sunlight, for example by generating a stratospheric aerosol layer or placing shields in space. While this could offset the surface warming caused by increasing greenhouse gases, it would do nothing to stop ocean acidification, would need to be maintained in perpetuity, and would carry multiple risks…”
    This material is tailored for school students. The 2010 version, as I recall, got to approx 1m students. As the last quote above suggests, the AAS is almost doing self-parody.

Kerry O’Brien Keeps Himself Busy

When not singing the praises of Paul Keating, the ex-ABCer is deriding John Howard and, of course, Tony Abbott. As to Australia’s future, the richly remunerated ABC veteran goes weak at the knees at the thought of the wondrous Malcolm Turnbull

kerry o'brienPoor Kerry O’Brien, lately, and doubtless in future, an ABC employee. He appears happy as he gets about promoting his Keating book, but he’s writhing and crying on the inside.

Why so? Not because he’s finally quit of the not-quite-arduous role of Four Corners “host”, which according to the Sydney Tele’s Tim Blair, involved him in less than four hours of TV face-time in five years. And he’s not agonizing because he was too hard-up at the national broadcaster to save for groceries in his retirement. Who knows what we taxpayers paid to watch him for those four hours? In his previous role as 7.30Report editor and host, he was paid $365,000 in 2009-10. I wonder if his total pay for the Four Corners stint added up to the high six-figures, or might it even have broken the seven-figure barrier? There is no way to know because the ABC, citing “commerce in confidence” won’t say how much it pays its favourite sons.

Not that anyone should begrudge Kerry’s a fair return for his exacting role. I mean, here’s what his job entailed on the November 16 production of Four Corners: two minutes’ work reading 225 words off the AutoCue:

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Tonight on Four Corners, we take you into the lives of Australia’s kids and their journey through adolescence and ask: why are they feeling so stressed?

You might think Australian kids have never had it so good. On average, they’re probably healthier, wealthier and better educated than better before.

They’re also more exposed to the world. In this global village there are very few secrets; very few filters. How, for instance, are children supposed to process an event like the weekend’s Paris attacks?

That’s just one factor contributing to the anxiety and depression now at very high levels amongst our kids. One in four say they worry about the future all the time.

In this quite special Four Corners program we ask a wide range of young Australians from 12 to 19 why they feel so much pressure. Their responses are frank, sometimes funny, often heartbreaking, always illuminating.

The reporter is Quentin McDermott.

[Program follows, with no further reference to Kerry]

[Program ends, Kerry returns to the screen]

KERRY O’BRIEN: There’s another message in this for all those kids caught in the intensity and loneliness of a problem they feel they can’t share: you’re not alone. And these issues can be managed.

Next week on Four Corners: our final program for the year. We look at the making of Australia’s youngest ever terrorist and the men who are influencing the next generation of home-grown jihadists.

Until then, good night.

And Kerry’s not traumatised by retirement doldrums. As he told ABC colleagues, “I also have other ideas, which may offer the opportunity to work again with the ABC …”

It’s a plot-spoiler, but I know why Kerry’s so sad, so internally gut-wrenched. I was at his Melbourne Press Club book launch on November 27, when he delivered a polished and enjoyable spiel about Paul Keating’s triumphs and peccadillos. I failed to take proper notes but the video is now up at the Melbourne Press Club site.

In concluding, he veered off at a tangent (38 minutes in). He gave several examples of Keating’s “good and effective leadership” and then contrasted those with the alleged “great failure of modern leadership” in regard to boat people flowing south through Indonesia. Actually, after 50,000 chaotic arrivals and detentions, and some 1200 drownings, ex-PM Tony Abbott stopped the boats. But O’Brien views that as a “great failure”. Not just that but also

  • “deeply troubling, and already has been burnt into this nation’s history and tarnished its spirit”
  • “excruciating and shameful”
  •  repugnant to “any ethical or moral conscience at all”
  •  a poor example of what Australia and Australians stands for
  •  antipathetic to “fundamental decency”
  • “…bogged down in emotive and at times despicable politics”
  • retrograde to our “self respect”
  • cheap exploitation of fear and emotion
  • involving “inflammatory and now discredited claims of the so-called ‘kids overboard affair’”
  • not “morally and ethically acceptable”
  • causing us “to look in the mirror and (to be) ashamed of what we see”
  • the image we are putting out to the world and living with ourselves “is an appalling one and there has got to be a better way.”

O’Brien’s virtue-signalling and personal angst drew sympathetic applause from the Press Club audience. His main hope, he told them, rested with Abbott’s nemesis, Malcolm Turnbull, who has been “working his way through some very interesting decisions, displaying a standard of calm, considered leadership we all probably feel we have been starved of for a long time.” O’Brien’s use of the royal “We all” suggests he needs to get out more, although he was pretty safe in the Press Club context. O’Brien has also failed to understand that the “children overboard” issue involved real cases.[i]

O’Brien seemed to be channeling Human Rights stalwart Gillian Triggs (salary $408,000), who waxed indignant about kids in detention, but only after Abbott solved the problem. Triggs deferred her indignation during the Labor era when scores of kids went into detention.

Indeed, O’Brien’s Keating book, which he researched partly during the Rudd/Gillard years, mentions the boat people only as an afterthought — something “not discussed but  would be remiss to leave out”, as he wrote. It turns out that Keating’s immigration minister, Gerry Hand, in 1992 proposed “mandatory detention in remote Australia” to keep better track of arrivals, and Keating and his cabinet waved it through undiscussed. Why? Because Hand was the leader of the Victorian Left faction, as Keating explains,

And the Left had the most libertarian views in the party about immigration and settlement… If Hand was advising the cabinet to set up detention centres for the orderly processing of asylum seekers, always within the framework of the philosophical Left, then he would have the human rights issues covered.   The remedy coming from the leader of the Left, we accepted it.

Keating said Labor’s detention centres were fine, but the evil John Howard turned them into “quasi penal settlements”. With the benefit of  hindsight and his assertion unquestioned by O’Brien, Keating would have solved the Rudd-era boat-people flood by letting in (via the cooperative Indonesia and Malaysia) only “genuine” refugees. As for the fake asylum-shoppers, “that was a different question”, he said, without any attempt to provide an answer, except to say that he would have solved the crisis diplomatically. Instead, bad Howard “set off a virus in the bloodstream of the Australian polity that has never abated.”

To paraphrase these few paras in a book of 450 pages, about an issue of supreme importance to the ABC’s ex-presenter, if Hand and his Victoria’s Socialist Left team wanted something, cabinet said yes. If Hand had additionally requested that detention guards be fitted out with jackboots and truncheons, he’d probably have got that an OK for that too. While Rudd/Gillard/Rudd created the 50,000 boat people invasion by putting the sugar on the table, Keating would have generated a compassionate, effective solution by…well  O’Brien didn’t ask for  the   details.

I decided O’Brien was having too much of an easy ride at the press club, and   I finally got the microphone   (at 55.45 on the video). I asked O’Brien, in my 30-year, ex-Fairfax-reporter capacity, “How many unauthorized asylum seekers would you like Australia to take per annum. Could you please put a number on it?”

I expected him to say 5000, or 50,000, or 500,000 or 5 million, since he had “thought a lot about it”. But O’Brien suddenly swung from asylum-seeker moral crusader to impartial (ex)ABC presenter mode.

“No!” he said emphatically. “I am not a policy maker! I am not a policy maker and I have thought about this a lot and I think the solution has to be one that involves Indonesia and Malaysia but in a genuine tripartite effort . The reason I have looked at the way Keating dealt with his Asian neighbours as effectively as he did and saw the outcomes he achieved. I wondered, ‘Iif you had a Keating with the brain and resolve and the touch and the  determination to get an outcome that is both humane and at the same time also effective in maintaining  some kind of control…”

He canvassed the issues, saying how tough they were, and concluded,

My job as a journalist is primarily  putting light on the problems and looking at the  people who are charged with the responsibility of coming up with answers. If a brilliant answer occurred to me I would tell you, but what I am interested in is the fact that I think the image we are putting out to the world on this issue and the image we are being asked to live with ourselves, is an appalling one and there has got to be a better way.

More applause from the audience, who had been warmed up anyway by O’Brien’s dissing of the Howard government and the star guest’s gushing and fawning over Malcolm Turnbull.

O’Brien’s performance could be summed up as

  • Moral frothing about a now-non-existent boat-people problem created by Labor which the conservatives have fixed
  • Genuflection to the great one-term statesman (1991-96) Paul Keating as a hypothetical solver of the non-existent problem, and
  • Total unwillingness/inability to posit any alternative policy course to the Coalition’s policy which he excoriates.

Apart from that, O’Brien told some good stories. And if/when he reverts to a six-figure taxpayer-funded job at the ABC, we can rest assured that he will be every bit as politically impartial as the ABC Charter demands.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope


[i] The facts, however inconvenient, are that one child was thrown overboard (Vessel Siev 7, 24 October, 2001), and another asylum-seeker made such determined efforts to throw a child overboard that he had to be handcuffed (Siev 9, 31 October, 2001).
In the case of the notorious Siev 4, asylum-seekers wrecked the steering and engine on 7 October, 2001 and next day, unsurprisingly, the ship sank.
Navy people rescued 76 children from the sea. If the ship had sunk during darkness, children may well have drowned.
Distinctions between thrown overboard and dumped in the water are hardly material.



  1. Jody

    I’m guilty as charged on all counts for not supporting “boat people” coming unchecked into this country. Why, then, do I feel so good about it??!! I guess that’s part of being bad!!

    And O’Brien has to keep looking beyond “retirement” as he was a ‘geri-dad’ and still has (at least one) school age children to educate. Sad to say.

  2. en passant

    Thanks for the brief. It now means that there is no chance I will buy the book …
    I thought you would have recognised O’B-1′s job application when you saw it ..

  3. PT

    I keep thinking of the fatuous claim that “Australians have an inbuilt BS detector”. There are a number of “leaders” who produced little else:


    There are a number of others who were incredibly arrogant:


    Although they at least had something to be arrogant about (unlike the above) and Menzies could run an efficient Government and didn’t try to profit from it.

    Hawke was essentially good natured, but was really Australia’s answer to Toad of Toad Hall.

    Fraser was both inept and arrogant in the extreme.

    So much for the BS Detector rubbish, and the claim we hate arrogance etc. Menzies apart, none of the above would have got a Guernsey if that were true.

  4. Simon

    Am I allowed to burn the book in the public if I get it?

  5. Geoff Sherrington

    Time passes. Some people age better than others in body and mind. KO’B is ageing well in body, keeping his features recognisable.
    He looks similar to his mid-80 time when he came to our mining leases at Jabiru, NT. To be fair, his mind has not changed much either as he helps to make episode after episode of Four Corners.
    I asked him, in the bush near Jabiru, if he liked this particular project. His immediate answer was ” Not very much.” I developed this a little and concluded that his problem was preparing to say nasty things about people who were being gracious to him, but liked the uranium that he did not.
    So his methodology evolved. We began filming an area near where there had been new uranium discovered in drill holes. He did not want another mine. We did. Repeatedly I asked him not to use footage of a better looking spot nearby that was outside mining plans and over barren geology. Sure enough, this place featured in the broadcast version. It was plainly knowingly deceptive.
    If I had wanted to express an opinion on uranium mining for Four Corners, I would have to compose it with others, like my board, the boards of our joint venturers etc. Kerry did not have this procedure. He could, he felt, compose his journalistic monologue as if this should set uranium policy for all Australians, as if he and ABC were managers of national affairs.
    That contemptuous arrogance now permeates the ABC. Propaganda, even with known errors, is now a dominant ABC mode.
    I do not need an ABC that operates dishonestly as I have shown with a small, old example. Nor, I suspect, do most Australians.

Peter Ryan, Crimebuster

Quadrant readers know the author and man of letters, who died last week at 92, for his columns, mellifluous prose and erudite wit. Many light-fingered former Melbourne University students and staff harbour less cheerful memories

book thiefPeter Ryan,  a hero of  WW11, of publishing and of authorship, ran Melbourne University Press (MUP)  from 1962 until 1988. He died at 92 on December 13, having delighted Quadrant readers for years with his back-page essay and sterling sentiments. always in the prose of a master story-teller. I met him only a couple of times, and on both occasions was amused by how often this frail old gent’s stories involved desires or threats to punch hypocrites and equivocators on the nose.

He was not just physically fearless. He also delivered powerfully written punches. Best known is his demolition of the MUP’s own pet author, historian Manning Clark. Less known is his exposure of the culture of thieving by students (and occasional academics) at Melbourne University during his MUP days.  This involved the virtual tolerance of larceny by the university’s Grand Pooh-Bahs and student union.

When he arrived at MUP as Director, book thieving from the MUP’s on-campus bookstore was out of control. His fight against the thieves was thwarted at every turn by his soft-spined overlords. Between the thieving and the university’s bureaucratic incompetence, he estimated that the financial performance of MUP during his tenure was degraded by some $20 million. In the Sixties, when dollars were worth something, Ryan estimated his bookshop was losing $250,000 a year to thieves.

Moreover, the thieves’ victims  were not the university per se but the honest students who had to pay book prices inflated to cover “shrinkage”.

Here I’ll confess to some thieving of my own: I’m drawing all my material from his book Final Proof: Memoirs of a Publisher (Quadrant Books, 2010).[i] So sue me, Keith Windschuttle!

The index to Final Proof has only names, so the accounts of the thievery are to be found scattered among the 200 pages. Apart from campus thieves, Ryan also had to deal with authorized and forcible extraction of the public’s money via papermakers’ cartels and monopolies. Those cartels were rife through every section of Australian business until the Lionel Murphy anti-cartel legislation of 1974, striking down literally thousands of trade-association’s price-fixing agreements.[ii]

ryan coverYet another legal variety of enforced money-extraction was the frequent refusal of the big publishers and book retailers to pay their MUP bills, not merely when due but sometimes only at the point of a summons. After one successful court action, Ryan had to visit the offending publisher/customer and wait outside the CEO’s door until the cheque was grudgingly produced. He then hurried to the bank with it in order to ensure its validity.

So let’s begin. On first arriving at MUP, Ryan learnt of the uncontrolled shoplifting at MUP’s Bookroom. This was no small bookshop. It had 25 staff and, at one stage, ranked as the biggest single-store retail book outlet in Australia. Ryan at once persuaded the MUP board – despite some timidity there – to hire  private detective Ernie to assess the situation.

A good operator, Ernie turned up in a tweed sports jacket with authentic leather elbow patches, puffing a pipe and browsing the shelves with a learned tome tucked under an arm. On other days he wore or carried a white lab coat. No customer paid him any mind. Ernie also loitered in the student union café, overhearing details and names. He was able in short order to provide Ryan with a report on how MUP was being robbed blind.

The two-dozen staff were unfazed by thievery. The Bookroom was so badly designed and operated that customers were almost invited to by-pass the till. Customers were even allowed to carry in their bags and attaché cases, the better to carry away plunder en masse. Many of the staff took the view that they were “professional book people, not policemen”. Ryan read them the riot Act, and half-a-dozen departed with severance pay the same afternoon.

To purchase your copy of Peter Ryan’s Final Proof, click here

The thieves were largely male, enrolled students, but students imbued with ill intent from other establishments of higher learning also were frequent visitors. “Several members of Melbourne’s [University] teaching staff were also apprehended, and some later convicted in the Carlton Magistrate’s Court”, Ryan writes. (p112).

Student thieves included casuals, but the real damage was inflicted by students stealing textbooks to order for other students and commercial customers, usually at 50% of list price. The student union’s “book exchange” facility became at times little better than a whitewashed fencing operation. “There was a regular and substantial trade in stolen books which went into second-hand bookshops off campus,” he says. Students even staged two night-time break-and-enters, carting away multiple copies of valuable textbooks by truck, “later to appear as stock on the shelves of commercial bookshops,” Ryan wrote with some bitterness.

Ryan knew MUP could even be bankrupted by the thieving and sought exemplary punishments for those caught. In that pre-scanning era, he  tightened supervision   and put up notices saying thieves would be referred to the police.

To the police? This caused outrage, even with his own MUP board. Un-spined professors lamented that it would be a sad day whenever police came on campus to monster students and blight their careers with convictions for theft. Fortunately, the MUP chair William Macmahon Ball told them politely to shut it. Staff were  directed to refer all cases to Carlton police. A few students were convicted. Ryan: “The news spread like a bushfire; shoplifting sharply diminished.”

Problem solved? No way! Melbourne University’s governing council stepped in and forbade MUP to refer any more enrolled students to the police. Instead, these wayward lambs in the university’s flock would be handled by the university’s own Disciplinary Committee (non-students could still face court).

A stream of alleged malefactors was subjected to the internal processes. All were either acquitted or fined a paltry $5. In 20 years, the largest fines were a $50 penalty and $25. Again, word spread. Tough and realistic student thieves swung back into action, confident that the worst case would involve a small-change “licence fee” while their cash upside was unlimited. Morale of the bookshop staff plummeted.

In vain the MUP board argued its case for severity to the university council, the argument being that students were a sacred species. “Over the two decades a limp-wristed university allowed millions of dollars of public money to filter through its feeble fingers to thieves. If Council had made ‘sending down’ [expulsion] from the University the standard penalty for stealing, shoplifting would at once have become a rarity.” P114.

Next, Ryan was asked from on high to “discuss” the problem with the Student Representative Council. The SRC President was a “slim and gingery young man” who argued against any blighting of thieves’ future career prospects. Moreover,  said the student president, in the cause of student autonomy prosecutions should not even go to the University committee but to the SRC’s own disciplinary committee. That aggrieved young man was Gareth Evans, currently ANU Chancellor. His plea to Ryan was that, “Students would appreciate being judged by their peers” (P114-15). Ryan asked what sort of conviction rate the student committee might exact, but the young Gareth, now AC and QC,   hadn’t thought that far ahead. T the two men left with a polite  agreement to differ.

So for 20 more years the theft industry boomed. Each student caught involved MUP in preparing a legal case for University Council, involving a typical cost of  $100 (in what was then real money).

  • One non-student was caught and a police car drove on campus to take him away. Students rioted to free the oppressed prisoner, who was too traumatised to actually make his escape from the car.
  • One Arts student was caught stealing exactly 90 minutes after he enrolled for studies. An overseas law student racked up 35 book-theft charges in his first term of study.
  • Twenty irate students invaded the Bookroom, occupied the manager’s office and stole some of his own books.
  • A Monash student visitor was convicted by the Carlton court and given a 12 months bond. One day after the good-behaviour bond expired, he was arrested again for book theft – but from Monash University’s bookroom.
  • A showcase of MUP’s latest books was displayed in Wilson Hall for the public’s benefit. Within months the glass was smashed and the specimen books were stolen, presumably by students, Ryan says, though no-one was caught.

Ryan happily conceded that most students were honest and hardworking, but chided them for supine attitude towards dishonest peers and  ineffective representatives.

“I feel sad that 26 years service in the University of Melbourne inspired me with no very exalted view of undergraduate idealism or aspiration,” he wrote. “This judgment may be unfair, and perhaps unduly influenced by daily exposure to costly and degrading student dishonesty in the Bookroom.”

Ryan waxed at length at the University’s money-wasting through absurd bureaucratic processes, but that’s another story I won’t steal today.

Tony Thomas blogs at



[i]   Peter in his facing-page inscription  to me wrote, “Peter Ryan, 3/12/2101”. Would that he had written essays for so long.

[ii] When Ryan wrote a Financial Review piece accusing paper-maker APPM among others of  holding the entire printing and publishing industry to ransom, APPM issued a libel writ but did not follow up on it.

Under the hood on Science Academy’s climate schooling

By Tony Thomas

Jemima, aged 16, trudges home from high school.

Mum: “Have some Milo, darling. How’d that Australian Academy of Science   assignment go?” Jemima: “Terrible! I flunked Advocacy and Campaigning in Searching for the Truth.

“What? I thought you were doing monotremes!”

“Nah, I had to do a poster supporting action on climate change to share with the school, but my science teacher Mr Smith said it wasn’t emotive awareness-raising enough. Then he asked me, if I have ever taken action or advocated for a cause? I  said no.  And then he asked me if I know anyone who has? I said, yes, my Climate Champion is Bjorn Lomborg.”

“Jemima! You wicked creature!  Want to get yourself suspended?    What we pay for fees!   Wait till your father   blah blah…”

Links  to the Academy’s school material need registration, so I’m using bold type for important quotes from the material.

The Reach of the Academy Courses

The Academy operates in schools alongside activist groups Greenpeace, Cool AustraliaOxfam Australia  WWF, GetUp, Lock the Gate, you name it. But unlike those, the Academy’s  on–line course Science by Doing (SBD), including the exhortations to activism, has been directly taxpayer-funded with about $9m from Labor and conservative federal governments[1]. SBD is a total secondary science course for Years 7-10, delivering the required curriculum, whereas the other external purveyors offer only supplementary material.

Since the SBD site went live in mid-2013, about 9300 secondary science teachers, or 37% of Australia’s 25,000  science teachers, have signed on for the free course, along with 50,000 students. Total registrations at last week were 62,300, despite little marketing – word of mouth among delighted science teachers is doing the job. Hits on the website were running at 2.7m in August. Growth of penetration into school is so high that the courses’ executive director Professor Denis Goodrum expects “market saturation during 2017”.

AAS, science education, graph, uptake, propaganda

Source: Academy of Science

The Academy’s  SBD and primary courses have flown under the public radar,   because registration forms required school affiliation. Last month President Holmes[2] at a green conference in Hobart, invited the public to register and inspect[3]. Which I’ve done.

SBD was officially launched in October 2013 by Nobel Laureate  Brian Schmidt.  The bulk of the  primary and secondary science modules is not just good but excellent. Lord knows,  science help is needed in Australia, where 40% of adults don’t know how long it takes the earth to orbit the sun, 30% think humans  lived with dinosaurs, and science/maths students are tumbling behind their OECD peers.

Academy ex-president Sue Cory was 90% correct when she said SBD   reaches into science classrooms around the nation to inspire students with the wonder of curiosity and discovery.

The Bad Apple in the Barrel

But the climate   alarm-and-activism material (about 10% of the total) is    a soggy Jonathan added to the Academy’s  barrel of crisp Pink Ladies – see for example the absurd cover page for 16 year olds below.

Climate Change Graphic

The material’s not just crude, it’s also stale, with most climate material from the 2007-09 era of ‘settled science’. [4]

SBD   director Professor Goodrum has explained the courses’ rationale like  this“Science influences, or should influence, the decisions we make…all those types of decisions should be based on evidence, not on superstition, not on irrational thinking, but on facts, and this is important in every student’s life.” But the climate material features propaganda songs, cartoons of “CO2 elephants” dropping from the sky, conspiracists like Naomi Oreskes and video rants by alarmists competing with Al Gore to depict the coming apocalypse.

As of now, SBD  climate-change agitprop is confined to the Year 9 (15 year olds) unit  “Big Systems” and Year 10 (16 year olds) “Systems on the Big Scale”. The Year 10 unit will mercifully be replaced shortly by “Science Futures”, which according to Goodrum, “will not have an earth science focus”.    He further explained that the Year 10 unit “Big Scale” was too unwieldy for Term 4 in Year 10 (although some teachers are still using it) and the Year 9 and 10 units are being rationalised.

In the current  Year 10 “Big Scale” module, the modestly-named In search of the truth   section   suggests work on  advocacy and campaigning (e.g., produce a blog)”. 

The material adds, I hope not threateningly, This activity could be used for an assessment task – see assessment overview.”

  • Teachers are advised, in all seriousness, to “Ask [15-16 years old] students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause.   Do they know of anyone who has?”…  Key vocabulary: advocacy, campaign, champion, environmentalist. 

Teens are grilled in Activity 6.4 Climate change champions: 

“Which is more effective, science awareness or advocacy, when it comes to generating 
community action? What cause would you sign up for?”


“Students analyse the media’s role in public education, delivering scientific truths and swaying opinion. They make a short film or poster supporting action on climate change to share with the school. Do we always tell the truth?”

The Academy provides a cartoon-video  sample for kids.

We see a city with everything belching mysteriously-black CO2. Voiceover (note the stale data): “In 2006 , the US pumped 5,877,000 tonnes   of carbon dioxide into the sky.” [They mean 5.8 billion tonnes, but whatever].  Banner: “That’s equal to 1,194,600 elephants!” Elephants then fall from the sky, crushing everyone.

One  man is unconcerned, but then an elephant falls on him too (Geddit?). Video:

“It’s time to stop ignoring the 1,194,600 elephants in the room.”


How to Network, Lobby and  Vote

There’s a special Activity 6.6 Climate change and Politics. “Lesson outcomes: At the end of this activity students will …  appreciate the need to lobby at all levels of government to ignite and lead change – even if it is unpopular with the voters.

The young climate zealots are  to pester politicians: “Encourage students to engage with a local MP or councillor about science policy, environmental concerns and action. Do they have a voice? How would they vote in light of current policy and action?”

And yet more. Teens are to invite local community environmental campaigners and champions into the class, “with your teacher’s permission”, to “discuss their cause and the science behind their campaign.” 

The   Climate Change Champions guide for teachers explains,

“Step 1: Start with a broad discussion on local champions and heroes – who are they?” 

And   “Students learn more about climate change action by studying environmental champions and campaigns in their local areas. What cause would you stand up for?”  

Occupy Highpoint Shopping Centre, perhaps?


climate activities, school, education



The guide continues, “Students research the political debate on climate change, analyzing scientific credibility and political agendas. Who will you vote for when it comes to science policy?” (Academy’s emphasis).


Teh Australian Biodiversity Knowledge Tree, Bob Brown

Sixteen year olds are exhorted: “In pairs, write a short speech, advocating for a change in policy or practice at a national level, to address global warming. The best four speeches will be put to the class vote.”

The course concludes by asking,  “If you were concerned about Earth’s sustainability, who would you vote for?”[Conservative? As if!]

The Academy happens to feature Greens icon Bob Brown to both age groups, literally at the top of the tree among its group of 27 esteemed scientists and communicators. They  are named in “The Australian Biodiversity Knowledge Tree: 20thand 21st century contributors”. We learn that St Bob “was the leader of
 the campaign against 
the Franklin Dam, director 
of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, member of the Tasmanian parliament and the founder of Bush Heritage Australia. He was an Australian senator and leader of the Australian Greens Party. While in the Tasmanian parliament he successfully campaigned for a large increase in protected wilderness areas. He has published several books
 on the Tasmanian environment.” I couldn’t discover any other politician accorded an Academy encomium, other than Al Gore.

The Warming Debate (Minus Any Opponent)

The Teacher Guide lays out “A structured class debate on climate science. In one lesson, teams prepare and, in the following lesson, every student takes part in the live debate. Pink bat or sun hat?” A dull debate, given that students have been ruthlessly quarantined from discovering any sceptic argument.  Indeed in the Academy’s anti-sceptic fatwa, students are warned to browse “only reputable science websites” (UQ’s John “97%” Cook’s site  perhaps?) . World top-rated blogs like Anthony Watts (, with 250m views) and Joanne Nova ( with 600,000 visitors a year) are obviously beyond the pale. The course does concede there’s a “debate”, viz “Over time, the debate has gathered momentum and national leaders are taking action …but is it enough?”

At several points in the course, presenters such as ABC “comedians” and Al Gore fabricate sceptic arguments and then ridicule their own fabrications. Real sceptic arguments such as peer-reviewed downgrading   of the IPCC’s CO2 sensitivity estimates, are unmentioned. The Academy thus presents to kids  a poor example of professional courtesy in scientific discussion.

One surprise is a little Year 10 accolade to Dr Garth Partridge (sic) who “has conducted research into Earth’s atmosphere, often from aircraft during thunderstorms. He is famous for his research on clouds and their effect on climate change.” 
The Academy does not mention that Academician  Garth Paltridge is   Australia’s most-honored climate sceptic.

Nor could I find one reference to the (now 18 years and 9 months) halt to atmospheric warming this century, as shown by RSS satellite-based  measurement . In other words, not one of the 16 year old students the Academy is preaching to about  horrific global warming, has experienced any global warming in their lifetimes. The warming stopped three years before they were born.

Academy’s Self-Interested Appeals

Most remarkable of all, the Academy instructs  students on the need for scientists’ salaries and gear to get a bigger share of the grant-funding cake, even relative to medical research.

Australian, Academy of Science, Activities, climate change

The Year 10 Teacher Guide includes 4.5 Big funding for big science:  Students debate the merits of government spending on science. They research six big-systems experiments and justify their funding proposals. Which big experiment will you fund?”[5]

We see an inspirational  picture of youthful demonstrators holding high  their protest placards.

AAS, Australian Academy of Science, Climate Change, Activities, Education, Schools

One sign:  “Climate science and research cents is all common sense”;    another   “Fund education in science”.

Students are shown pictures of the local synchrotron, the  Square Kilometre Array, the Parkes radio telescope etc and asked, “For each, what percentage of the total Australian Government funding would you recommend be allocated? Share your findings with the class. Maybe the Academy needs to footnote a “Declaration of Interest”?[6]

 A Unique  ”Sciencey”  Perspective

To really catch the teenagers’ interest, the Academy transposes climate instruction into song by melodysheep,   “A musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it. Featuring Bill Nye, David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov.”

The song’s lyrics go:

Climates all start in the sky/

When the C02 is high/ 

the temperature is high/

Moving together in lock step/

When the C02 is low/ 

the temperature is low/

Moving together/

We can change the world.

(The song  is wrong. Even the orthodox climate crowd  accepts ice core evidence that CO2 has lagged  temperature by 800 years or so.).

“Hottest summer EVER” shouts a sign about Australia’s 2012-13 summer, a big fib to children doing the “Big Scale” module as the Academy has no idea what temperatures got to in the pre-1900 millenia. Indeed the 1890s peak could well have been hotter than any in the 2000s – the Met Bureau  trashed all of its temperature data  pre-1910. Also odd is the Academy claim here that “climate” involves a 20 year span of weather[7]; the convention is 30 years. That’s an own-goal: the warming halt is now nearly 20 years and hence significant on the Academy’s definition of climate.


Australian Academy of Science, Climate Schools, Education, Record Summer Heat, Graphic.

The diagram here is headed “Our Record Melting Summer” with all sorts of heat and rain records shown as broken , without mention of data reliability at, say, “Lenora” WA [sic]. For some reason there is no equivalent diagram for breaking of cold-temperature records, which also happens often. To really labor the point, the map shows Australia heat-melting southwards to about 500km below   Hobart.  Southwards apparently equals down-hill. [Jo adds that there are alternate maps of record heat across Australia in the 1800s which were hotter].


Misleading Experiments and Experts

Thoroughly bad science work is promoted to bolster the warmist narrative – students put thermometers inside closed ‘greenhouse’ jars and tip acid into test-tubes of seawater contained crushed shells.

Students  are  invited to “research how computer modelling has improved knowledge and predictability of phenomena,  atmospheric pollution, ocean salinity and climate change.” Drawing attention to the models seems risky, as students may stumble across the IPCC’s 5AR admission (Box 9.2) that 111 of 114 of climate models wax  too hot. Warming predictions and actual temperatures have been widening progressively for the past decade.

The Academy also displays a carbon credits propaganda video for Year 10  created (ostensibly) by a colorful  UK broker. The video shows wind-tower blades transformed to beautiful green leaves. Alas, the broker was attacked by the  Daily Mail  for dubious hard-sell  and other malpractices — including misappropriating other parties’ videos.

In “The Experts Speak”, 16 year old students are advised to “Click here to hear some scientific points of view.” What they get is videos of conspiracist Naomi Oreskes  (warming sceptics = tobacco lobbyists); Greenpeace Australia/Pacific ex-CEO and Gore-worshipper Linda Selvey; US alarmist teacher Greg Craven (caution: not our ACU vice-chancellor Greg Craven); and a producer of alarmist videos James Balog. Alongside them is a suffering earth-globe holding a sign, “Act Now”.

Oreskes should be the  front-running joke with her fiction about a mass climate extinction of kittens and puppies in 2023 (not cited in any Academy material). But Craven takes the cake:

“The worst case – this is sea level rising 10-20ft, entire countries disappearing, hundreds of millions of people displaced, crowding in their neighbours causing widespread warfare over scarce resources and longstanding hatreds. Entire forests dying … a world that makes Al Gore look like a sissy Pollyanna with no guts, sugar coating the bad news.”

The Teachers’ Guide says:   “As a class watch the video by Greg Craven and have a class vote on whether action is warranted.“

Other videos feature  Gore himself in another of his error-riddled rants. This time (2009), he  claims that worrying climate trends are even worse than scientists predicted,  and agonises about polar ice shrinkage –the Academy does not alert kids that Arctic sea ice has recovered strongly and global sea ice trends show nothing abnormal.  ( Arctic sea ice extent is now at its highest level for November since at least 2005). The Antarctic, Gore says, “is now in negative ice balance” –   it’s actually positive,  says NASA .

In yet more  inaccuracy, Gore claims weather disasters “have been increasing at an absolutely extraordinary and unprecedented rate.”

  • Gore even adverts respectfully to the IPCC’s 2007 melting Himalayan glaciers  howler. Are the science teachers slamming or reinforcing Gore’s errors? I suspect the latter: Gore’s video is labeled “Al Gore campaigns on the need for action”. The Year 10 Teacher Guide also says, “You may stimulate discussion with local media articles or by showing the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth.”

Typically loaded questions include

                                         # Will mining scar the Tarkine forest?

#  Is the Murray-Darling on the brink?

#  Big waves and high tides: do we need to re-think coastal living? 
[The NSW government this month threw the IPCC sea-rise scenarios  under the bus] and

#   Is eco-tourism a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Even now, teenagers are still being poked with  the notorious Hockey Stick of Michael Mann: “While Earth’s average temperature has risen over time, the increases now observed are unprecedented and thought to be largely due to population and human activity.” The “unprecedented” bit surely deserves an errata.

At the end of term, students are invited to select a (green) world conference  to hypothetically attend, including (by backward time travel) the June 2012 Rio+20 Agenda-21-touting jamboree. Links lead them to the preliminary conference on “Degrowth in the Americas” in May 2012 in Montreal, run by and for  certifiable  eco-lunatics. Aiming for a  “post growth healing earth” they want to send Western economies backwards to “avert ecological collapse while enhancing social justice and improving life’s prospects… and build towards a truly prosperous world.” A click away, kids can browse  a paper on eco-friendly and humane policies of the Cuban government.

Another suggested world conference is a student one  at Perth’s Murdoch University, with urgings for a   world free of ‘scary plastics’ (a new industrial revolution?) and tips for students on “where to buy bulk bicarb, and how to  make your own deodorant .

The Academy’s Distaste for Mining & Business

Miners aren’t the heroes of the Academy course.  The Year 10 Teacher Guide asks: “Mining is used to illustrate conflicting factors in scientific and technological progress… Is mining a scientific or environmental quandary?” Huh? Mining’s a “quandary”? Try doing without it.

At one section there is a reasonable treatment of mining, albeit on a pro and con basis. But then it segues to “Searching for the Truth” and  “THINGS TO CONSIDER AND HINTS FOR SUCCESS”

 This activity is not just about mining. Encourage students to reflect on the bigger issues – are there links between the impact of mining, human activity and climate change?   What is mining doing to the lithosphere? Are the changes manageable? Irreversible?”

Another video shows the ABC’s Emma Alberici  claiming coal is “the number one climate killer”.

Students are told, “Mining attracts its fair share of controversy. It is not a pretty site! [Cue picture of open cut stretching to the horizon]. Could we do without it?… Would you work for a mining company? In what capacity? [An example given is ‘an environmental geoscientist’].

“Explore two different sources of media and business websites on mining. What do you notice? Is mining portrayed as an asset or adverse experience for Australia? Are they telling the truth? [Cue picture of youthful protestors with a placard, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our CHILDREN”]

At Year 9 (age 15) level, kids are shown an ABC video about Arctic sea ice disappearing, with plenty of spooky music and shots of melting ice. An unnamed scientist intones, “There is a group that makes a very strong case that in 2012 or 2013 we will have an ice-free Arctic – as soon as that!” Reality: the 2013 minimum  figure was about  5.1 million square km of ice. Have science teachers been pointing that out – or might such objectivity hurt their careers?

At Year 7’s Circle of Life module,  13 year olds get a  picture of a horrid grey open cut mine with a poisonous looking pond at the bottom. A couple of stunted trees are at the top, not long for this world. What’s to like?

Photo of Mining, AAS, Education, Schools, Climate.


The 13 year olds  course Part 6. Can you defend your position about ecosystem management?”   has this picture:


Science Education Materials, climate change, AAS. National Park Cartoon.


Could one imagine the material’s loaded? Kids are directed to the scientific analyses of recreational hunting by rag-trader Prue Acton, super-model Tara Moss, show-offy Germaine Greer and  ABC  comedian Wendy Harmer.  Egad, they are all against recreational hunting!

To further make the case, illustrations show a small wallaby, a brolga, a climbing lizard and a cassowary, all with bull’s-eye targets on their chests. According to the Academy’s teacher notes, this sort of thing is how  students “create a well constructed scientific argument to support their view.”

A 13 year old would presumably be flunked for wanting judicious development in national parks to help  taxpayers afford the  employment of   Academy  Fellows.[8]

It may seem  a  wonder that none of 9000 high school science teachers (let alone Academicians of integrity) has had the wit or integrity to complain to the Academy about force-feeding climate-activism to students. Those with qualms may be relying on the Nuremberg defence – “I was following union orders”. The all-powerful teachers’ unions have not only endorsed  “action on climate change” and “lobbying in support of a sustainable low carbon economy” but proffered to teachers their own “Environment Resources and Action kit” and backed a Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) climate campaign based on “a union perspective”.

Academy at Primary Schools: Some Praise

At primary-school levels, the Academy’s separate Primary Connections includes   loaded material for 12 year olds   about   [intermittent, expensive] wind and solar power vs [cheap reliable]   coal-fired electricity “that can damage the environment”.[9]

The  Essential Energy text makes good points about careful use of the scientific method (without mentioning the  Feynman honesty test of   doing your utmost to refute your own findings pre-publication). However, the text harps on the “pollution” from fossil-fuel-powered electricity, ecological footprints (“choosing to purchase locally grown produce”), “clean energy” and exhaustion of fossil fuel reserves – however remotely into the future.

Energy issues for 12 year olds are seen through the  prism of the  warming catastrophe hypothesis. The primary course has nothing to say about   how fossil-fuel powered electricity has rescued billions from poverty  and early graves, and how its increased take-up is essential to lift the world’s   remaining billions from squalor.

The teachers also  teach 12 year olds that fossil fuels produce CO2 which raises the air temperature [how much?] or acidifies the ocean [how much?]. “The pollution released can cause ‘acid rain’ if its concentration is very high.” [The “acid rain” scare was  scare de jour a decade ago and has petered out].

“All of this is based on the best available science, and is reviewed by Academy Fellows,” President Holmes sums up the primary course reassuringly.

That material is certainly more sober   than the Academy’s secondary-school activism. For example, it  alerts kids that supposed black clouds in pictures of power stations are merely steam, not CO2,[10]  and that renewables’ ecological impact calculations must also include energy used for their manufacture and   disposal.

Kids are also asked to critique  propaganda by super-heroes Professor Pitch-black and Short Circuit (comic book figures) who claim to save the planet by totally shutting off electricity. This exercise could be viewed by greenie parents and maybe the secondary-course writers as sacrilege.

Summing up: the school lessons explored in this article are, sadly, normal in schools these days. But who’d have imagined the author is the Australian Academy of Science?

#   Tony Thomas blogs at No B/S Here I Hope 

His previous pieces on the Australian Academy of Science include  here,  here,  and here


[1] AAS annual reports

[2] A Melbourne University chemist, Professor Holmes “has been recognised for his groundbreaking work on light-emitting polymers”.

[3] The same speech in which Holmes painted climate scientists as victims of abuse and harassment

[4] The courses were at “concept plan” in 2006 and Stage One was worked on in 2009-11.  The Academy’s relatively sober climate booklet “Questions and Answers” of mid-2010 gets only   passing mentions in the course. Goodrum says, “The Q&A material is available world wide, while Science by Doing is restricted for copyright reasons to only Australia.”

[5] “Students are probably unaware of the huge costs and budgetary restraints on scientific research. They may be aware there tends to be support for areas which give immediate benefits to the public e.g., medical advances, and not realise the general impacts of more academic research projects e.g., nuclear physics and astronomy.”

[6] Should History and Phys Ed associations (and medical research associations) also rev up school students to lobby for grants for History and Phys Ed professionals?

[7] The course consistently transfers to students its own muddles about  climate and weather

[8] 20 out of 20 Academy Fellows I sampled (using successive alphabet letters) were working or retired academics.

[9] President Holmes says of the 12 year olds “Essential Energy” unit that it  “gives students the opportunity to explore different energy sources—both non-renewable and renewable—and to begin to understand the environmental impact of using each one to generate electricity…  Students also read and discuss information about how most power stations in Australia burn fossil fuels to generate electrical energy and how burning these fossil fuels produces waste products that can damage the environment.”

[10] Science By Doing  routinely mis-uses the black-smoke image

When Scientists Still Did Science

Gough Whitlam was PM when the notion of climate change began bubbling — not warming in those days but cooling. The report he commissioned makes sad reading today, not for its conclusions but as a marker of how far and deep the rot has spread

big noseA great embarrassment to the warming-catastrophic community is that 40 years ago the climatology scare was about cooling and onset of an ice age. Warmists today go, “Pooh! That cooling stuff  then was just a few hyped-up articles in magazines. Cooling never got any traction in the realscience community!”

Really? Then explain this away…

Letter from the Australian Federal Minister for Science, W.L. (Bill) Morrison, to the President of the Academy of Science,  Professor Badger,  January 9, 1975:

Dear Professor Badger,
I am writing on this occasion to enquire if the Academy could assist the Government by examining, and reporting on, claims recently made in the media, and apparently also by competent scientists that the earth’s climate is changing and that a new ice-age could be on the way.

The Prime Minister [Gough Whitlam] is very interested in this subject and is anxious to obtain the best possible advice about it. As an interim measure towards that end, I sought, and obtained, a short report from Dr Gibbs, Director of Meteorology, and Dr Priestley, Chairman of the CSIRO Environmental Physics Research Laboratories…I am now anxious to have the subject examined in more detail and at greater length…Since the enquiry stems primarily from concern about man and the possible effects of climatic changes on him [I think Bill means ‘him or her’] , it seems to me that it should reflect not only the input of those expert in the physical sciences but also that of those expert in the biological sciences…I would be most grateful to have your views at your earliest convenience.

Hard to get more top-level concern about the possible ‘ice age cometh’ than this letter… Prime Minister Whitlam badgering the Academy President Badger for an answer. Cyclone Tracy had devastated Darwin three weeks earlier; Rex Connor was telexing a Pakistani con man who lived on peanuts and potato crisps, asking him to raise $US4 billion; Jim Cairns was nipping at Gough’s heels as PM-in-waiting. But Gough wanted to know about the global cooling scare.

The Academy swung into action, mustering eleven of its finest minds and a three-man secretariat for the job. The eventual report[i],  delivered a year later, ran to 80 pages.[ii]

Good Lord, the stuff you can find in the body text! For example:

In the 1960s some scientists extrapolated from the warming trend evident between 1895 and 1940 and predicted the melting of the ice caps and the consequent flooding of the world’s seaports. There was then thought to be some rational justification for their warnings, namely the warming effect associated with the global increase of CO2 caused by the burning of fossil fuels (Matthews et al, 1971). However, since 1940 the temperature curve has reversed its direction [despite significant increase in CO2 emissions – TT]. It is just as precipitate now for scientists to postulate that the present downturn presages an imminent glaciation as it was for their collegues (sic) to forecast the melting of the ice caps 20 years ago [1955]…Nevertheless the historical record…does not preclude a change lasting for some decades or even centuries to a regime colder than what is called by some northern hemisphere climatologists the ‘climatic optimum’ of the 1940s-50s. (page 14)

The terms of reference for the global freezing examination were:

To consider and report to Council on:

  1. reports from overseas to the effect that marked changes in global climate are currently occurring;
  2. the extent to which man’s activities may be causing or contributing to climatic changes;
  3. whether the climate of Australia is currently undergoing change, and the predictability of future changes;
  4. the consequences of postulated climatic changes for agricultural production and rangeland management in Australia
  5. …social and economic implications.

The Academy team consulted far and wide (including Norwich and Grenoble), grilling experts on everything from paleoclimate to “man made influences” and tree rings – this pre-dating the “tree-ring circus” of Michael Mann in the now-notorious 2001 IPCC report.

The Academy report began,

During the past few years, there have been reports of a persistent cooling trend in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere, crop failures in the USSR, severe droughts in the Sahel region of Africa, and failures in the Indian monsoon rains. Some scientists have interpreted these events as showing that the global climate is changing [i.e. cooling, TT] in such a way as to make conditions of man more difficult and these views have received widespread publicity through the mass media.

Following the concern expressed at the World Food Conference in November 1974 about the possible effects of this predicted climatic change on agricultural production and the world’s food supply, the Australian Government requested the Academy to report to it on these assertions. The Government was especially interested  in their possible significance for Australia…

The  report comes to a ringing conclusion:

We conclude that there is no evidence that the world is now on the brink of a major climatic change. There is ample evidence that the world’s climate has changed widely during the geological past, and while there is every expectation that it will continue to change in the future, the time scale of these changes is in the range of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years rather than decades or centuries.

It cannot be too strongly emphasised that year-to-year variability is an inherent feature of global and regional climates and that…large fluctuations leading to severe droughts and floods are bound to occur from time to time. (My emphasis; page 9)

The report’s summary affirmed that the cooling reports were coming from “some climatologists”[iii], as distinct from media beat-ups. It affirmed that cooling from 1940 to 1975 had dropped global temps by 0.3degdC, and together with various droughts, monsoons and other stuff, “has led some climatologists to suggest that the world’s climate is progressing rather rapidly towards another glacial phase, or at least another ‘Little Ice Age’.” Any such  global rapid-cooling threat to the planet could cause damaging shifts in rainfall patterns and “the spread of glaciers and ice sheets to the countries of Europe and North America.” P7

The report debunks the claims that various weather events, such as the Sahel drought and the 1972 Ukrainian wheat failure were evidence for global cooling: “Impartial examination has failed to support these hypotheses.” Today’s warmists who want to attribute Hurricane Katrina and increased shark attacks to global warming, please note.

Today’s finest climatologists like Will Steffen and David Karoly — the latter at it again in today’s Fairfax press — are all about doom and gloom. Yesterday’s equivalents in the Academy were not so down in the mouth.

The dire consequences predicted for the supposed cooling trend in the northern hemisphere would be unlikely to occur in Australia…a slight cooling might produce a climate more, rather than less, suitable for human activities.  (Page 9)

Among   prescient statements in the report:

  • The influence  on climate of the eleven-year sunspot cycle and the  22 year solar magnetic cycle “is indeed plausible, though the physical mechanisms  involved remain obscure” and their “utility is not yet established”.
    (These factors, largely dismissed by the IPCC, are now getting serious attention in lieu of problematic CO2 causation).
  • A “major difficulty” with  numerical climate models is “inadequate representation of the many feedback processes which occur in the atmosphere”.
    (In the past 25 years the IPCC has been unable to refine its  huge uncertainty range about climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling).
  • Models can simulate a 50% increase in CO2 but “a that a forecast must be made of the variation of ‘external’ factors, and this is not always possible.”
    (IPCC modellers still have no handle on cloud cover and feedbacks, nor long-cycle ocean temperature oscillations).
  • “We see no prospect of any quick break-through into reliable and accurate climate forecasting.”
    (97% of  IPCC models run too hot and none predicted the 19-year current halt to warming).

In a startling admission – though not seen as an ‘admission’ at the time – the report says:

Weather records have been maintained in Australia for over 100 years [i.e. back to 1875]. There does not appear to have been any general rise in temperature in this continent between 1890 and 1940…Temperatures in Australia, New Zealand and the Antarctic coast appear to have risen very slightly since 1940, in contrast to the downward trend in the northern hemisphere…

While there is some evidence for the occurrence of cycles in weather patterns over the years, their recurrence is unreliable. In the present state of knowledge, it is not possible to make useful forecasts of future climatic trends.”  (page 8)

Now, of course, climatologists prove stuff  by playing with models on their computers.

The Academy also saw the importance of “the bank of Australian meteorological data” and said it should be “maintained, improved by quality control, and subjected to more detailed systematic analysis…The maintenance and improvement of this data bank is of national importance.” Interesting that the Turnbull government last September killed an external audit of the Bureau of Meteorology’s highly contentious adjustments and “homogenisations” of the records, which have also been truncated at 1910. The Academy’s 1975 report includes graphs of temperature back to 1875.

The report says that despite uncertainties about the climate, judgements based on physical grounds must be relied on to steer the best course between complacency and alarm.

These grounds must be as objective as possible, and preferably quantified wherever the opportunity exists.

Unlike today, when science and activism have become indistinguishable.

The report said there was no evidence yet that man-made influences had changed the global climate, but if emissions and other human influences kept increasing, they were more likely to create warming than cooling. Fair enough.

The degradation of climate science in the 40 years since that common-sense Academy report is a wonder to behold.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here (I Hope)

[i] Report of a Committee on Climatic Change. No 21, AAS

[ii] There is a copy in the National Library and I found one in the Victorian State Library – in very poor condition with pages falling out.

[iii] The late Dr Stephen Schneider first ramped the “cooling scare” and then the “warming scare” – Rasool S., & Schneider S.”Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols – Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate”, Science, vol.173, 9 July 1971, p.138-141 – Excerpt: ‘The rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 deg. K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” Schneider was still promoting the coming “ice age” in 1978. (See: Unearthed 1970’s video: Global warming activist Stephen Schneider caught on 1978 TV show ‘In Search Of…The Coming Ice Age’ – September 20, 2009)




  1. Bill Martin

    And reasonable people advise us not to believe in miracles. What is, if not a bloomin miracle, the preponderance of climate alarmism in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Granted, it is a most regrettable miracle.


    A great piece of investigative work Tony, well done. Several thoughts come to mind. Are we again re-inventing the wheel? Have we learnt nothing? Why do politicians look to doom and gloom? I remember the cooling scare but it dissipated quite quickly as I recall. But the warming nonsense is actually being taught in school! Perhaps even as part of a science curriculum! That is what makes this stuff now so dangerous. It could take a cold-induced food shortage over a whole generation to sort this out. The saddest part of all is that once-respected institutions like CSIRO and the Academy of Science have signed off on this. Prof Kurt Lambeck must take much of the blame; he was president of the Academy 2006 to 2010. I heard him denigrate eminent scientists (like Ian Plimer for example) in public fora in language that should never be used to criticise the scientific work of other scientists. It was sickening. Lambeck wrote the Foreword to a glitsy piece of supposed science propaganda put out by the Academy in 2010. After relegating geology to a ‘sub discipline’ in climate studies he goes on to say ‘…. What makes climate change different is that the consequence …. occur over long time scales (decades to centuries)…. Decades to centuries?? This man understands nothing about geological history. The more insidious aspect of this is that Lambeck is trying to write evidence out of the equation and substitute computer modelling thus putting paid to the axiom that in Science evidence trumps everything! Keep up the good work!

  3. Richard H

    Science is one of the crowning achievements of human civilisation – or at least it was 40 years ago as the article suggests. The grand project is now tarnished by the actions of a small number of deeply corrupt individuals who put their political passion – or naked ambition, or simple greed – ahead of their duty to seek the truth.

    Sadly, the corruption spread much further through intimidation of the honest and bribery of the weak, and now the whole of science is deeply compromised.

    It was the responsibility of those at the head of the academies to show true leadership, resist the lies of the corrupt and denounce the debasement of science. Across the world, most failed that responsibility dismally, and history will show them no mercy.

    Thank you for the article, Tony

  4. Jack Richards

    When I started University in 1974 to study Chemistry, Geology and mathematics one of the first things I went to was a seminar on the coming ice age. Various experts had slides, over heads, movies and graphs of all sorts showing that by 2000 most of the arable land in the northern hemisphere would be covered in snow and the worlds population would be huddling along the equator. It was very convincing. That year we had a very cold winter and it snowed in late September all along the Great Dividing range. What more proof did we need?

  5. Ian MacDougall

    “The report [written 40 years ago] said there was no evidence yet that man-made influences had changed the global climate, but if emissions and other human influences kept increasing, they were more likely to create warming than cooling. Fair enough.

    “The degradation of climate science in the 40 years since that common-sense Academy report is a wonder to behold.”

    According to climate ‘sceptics’, the world’s climatology institutes have been infiltrated and taken over by a determined bunch of cynical conspirators, mostly motivated by lust for money and easy living in the shape of endless research grants, although some among them may hold sincerely to an innocent belief that greenhouse gases produced by industrial activity are causing the atmosphere to trap solar heat. (That possibility was first mooted by the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius at the turn of the 20th Century.)

    These ‘sceptics’ also betray a pitiful understanding of the way science actually proceeds. Thanks to the intense competition for academic jobs, and yes, research grants, it is a world of merciless and often cut-throat competition. Scientists take great, at times almost obscene, delight in attacking rivals’ work, and will generally not hesitate to destroy another’s career and reputation if doing so will advance their own. The mantra has always been ‘publish or perish’, and the way to advance is to make oneself stand out; in the manner of a brand new car parked outside a wrecking yard.

    According to the ‘sceptics’ there is a global scientific conspiracy to scare the bejesus out of taxpayers around the world with a view to persuading them to keep parting with increasing amounts of cash to keep the cynical scientific establishment in the manner to which they have become so cynically accustomed.

    On the face of it moreover, the conspirators have succeeded in the impossible: of holding the whole thing together and watertight WORLDWIDE in the face of the certain knowledge that any one of them could retire sumptuously and dine out on it for the rest of his or her days, with no end of honours and awards, by just blowing the whistle on the whole lying, deceitful, dishonest, conspiratorial global fraud; which threatens to destroy the reputations not only of institutions like Cumberland University (CU), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Australia’s CSIRO and the US NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre (NASA GSFC) and camp-followers like the recent succession of Australian chief scientists, but as the title of this piece suggests, is compromising the very integrity of science itself.

    Have these conspirators not earned for themselves the right to be hauled up before some court of inquisition, to be found guilty of fraud and deliberate deception; nay embezzlement no less, and given a stretch out at Long Bay, Pentridge, or some other appropriate institution; breaking rocks out in the boiling hot sun to the end of their fraudulent , lying, deceitful, dishonest and conspiratorial days?

    To the contrary: 1. I think that the whole conspiracy theory is miles wide of the mark, and that 2. this article by Tony Thomas is woefully short on understanding of the way science actually works in the real world.

    It needs urgent and drastic revision.

    • en passant

      Dear Denier,
      I am a sceptic and true believer in science. So your comment:
      “These ‘sceptics’ also betray a pitiful understanding of the way science actually proceeds. Thanks to the intense competition for academic jobs, and yes, research grants, it is a world of merciless and often cut-throat competition.”
      So what you are saying is that to win a grant in the ‘merciless’ and ‘intense competition’ grant-seekers need to use the correct PC wording, lie if necessary and do not stray from the politically righteous path that will turn on the gravy. In truth, lying for the cause’ has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with currying favours for money.
      Which of the following could have successfully applied for a grant if you can only fund three people?
      1. Einstein, 2. Galileo, 3. Copernicus(Sun-centric universe), 4. Karoly; 5. Hypatia (Sun-centric universe), 6. Harrison (Longitude); 7. Pachauri; 8. 9. Turing 10. Napier (Logarithms) 11. Steffen; 12. Flannery
      I look forward to seeing your selection – and why + why (in general terms) the others would be rejected. Look up Karl Popper before you answer

    • Tony Thomas

      Thanks Ian. On your argument, Michael Mann’s massively flawed “hockey stick” would have been promptly shot down by a myriad of mainstream climate scientists. Instead it was feted in the 2001 IPCC Report and was still lingering around in the Australian Academy of Science’s 2010 Questions & Answers on Climate Change. By now a huge number of honest climate scientists have debunked the hockey stick (see Mark Steyn’s compendium) but I have yet to see the mainstream climate community join in the debunking.