Category Archives: Climate Unfrocked

Bullsh-t Detector at Work

Amazing! A Solid Journalism Academic

TONY THOMAS

The adage that ‘those who can’t do teach’ might have been uttered with our universities’ media faculties in mind. There is at least one exception, however, a Wollongong lecturer who gets students to check facts, especially about climate-change claims. Sadly, he is retiring

blackall smallCan you even imagine it! A  journalism lecturer  shows students how to fact-check the climate alarmists’ wild claims and doom-laden forecasts. And he publishes a peer-reviewed commentary, Environmental  Reporting in a Post Truth World,analysing how the media ignores research that runs contrary to the alarmist narrative.

Lordy! How can this fellow get away with it in our all-pervading Left-alarmist academic establishment?

Meet Dr David Blackall (above), senior lecturer in journalism at Wollongong University. His paper is in the journal Asia Pacific  Media Educator. But since he’s in the process of retiring after 25 years with the university, he can rock the boat without fearing for his career prospects.[1]

“I’m packing up my office right now,” he tells Quadrant Online. “I haven’t had any backlash, even though the climate debate seems to be getting increasingly toxic and nasty. Younger academics can’t call out the fake news on climate like I can, because they’d risk their jobs and mortgages.”

The Wollongong Bachelor of Journalism course takes in about 80 entrants a year, plus others from an allied course, Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies. Blackall’s first degree is a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture), and he taught senior HSC agriculture, biology, physics and chemistry for ten years into the 1980s. This broad science background advantages him over non-science journalism academics, and over scientists so over-specialised that they miss the big picture.

Blackall is an ardent conservationist of biodiversity. He has his own 16ha wildlife  refuge reserve ‘Nadjunuga’ at Cambewarra  Mountain, previously a university field station, which he has managed for nearly 40 years. He has also taught and practiced investigative journalism, and last year co-authored an FOI-based study in the Lawyers Alliance journal Precedent on the Ponzi-style fraud and collapse of the Trio Capital Group during 2003-10.

The Blackall Post Truth paper has been re-blogged by leading European sceptic Pierre Gosselin, who asks, “Would it be so difficult for journalists to actually seek scientific verification of their claims before publishing? Or is the pursuit of real-world scientific confirmation too much to expect from journalists and media sources bent on advancing an agenda in this ‘Post Truth World’?”

Blackall writes that journalism students can be defensive about climate because they want careers in corporate media where the “greenhouse warming” narrative holds sway. “Contrary but accurate science journalism  must be generated for balancing societal discourse and demonstrating the Earth’s natural variability,” he writes. Journalists fail to verify facts, including that polar bear populations are increasing, contrary to what he calls the ‘emotional propaganda’ and ‘fake news’ of alarmists.

To deflect being labelled a ‘climate denier’, he gives students assignments on hypotheticals such as the impact of deforestation on clouds and climate. “In previous epochs, CO2 levels were around 400ppm, as they are now, but never in human history has the Earth’s surface been as denuded,” he writes. He cites a study this year that CO2 emissions from land-use changes –  such as tree harvesting and clearing for shifting  agriculture – have been substantially under-estimated.

“However, as a journalism educator, I also recognise that my view, along with others, must be open to challenge both within the scientific community and in the court of public opinion,” he continues.

“It is my responsibility to provide my students with the research skills they need to question – and test – the arguments put forward by key players in any debate.  Given the complexity of the climate warming debate, and the contested nature of the science that underpins both sides, this will provide challenges well into the future.  It is a challenge our students should relish, particularly in an era when they are constantly being bombarded with ‘fake news’ and so-called ‘alternative facts’.

“To do so, they need to understand the science. If they don’t, they need to at least understand  the key players in the debate and what is motivating them. They need to be prepared to question these people and to look beyond their arguments to the agendas that may be driving them. If they don’t, we must be reconciled to a future in which ‘fake news’ becomes the norm.”

He alerts his students to fake climate pictures, such as the use by Reuters of a 2010 photo-shopped image of two Adelie penguins on a block of melting Antarctic ice. The same faked picture (below) had also been used in 2013 to illustrate arctic warming (notwithstanding that penguins aren’t found in the Arctic). He also directs students to look into the  dubious ‘pause-busting” paper by Tom Karl of NOAA, timed to influence the 2015 Paris climate summit. “There are many agendas at play, with careers at stake,” he says.

penguins on ice

Blackall’s paper queries why journalists fail to report the widening gap between climate models’ temperature forecasts and actual temperatures. Similarly, they don’t report the non-acceleration of sea-level rise, a big problem for the alarmist narrative.

His main argument is that human-caused greenhouse gases are not the main source of climate change, as claimed by the climate establishment.  The flat-lining of global temperatures in the past two decades despite massive CO2 increases is an obvious problem for the orthodox narrative, he says. There are multiple interacting and little-understood natural causes, but computer modelling is privileged over other relevant disciplines, such as geology. Alarmists play down the major uncertainties and use ‘consensus’ as a culture of gatekeeping  against contrary views. “Then, and dangerously, dissenters are silenced so that chosen and ‘necessary’ discourses arrive in journals, conferences and boardrooms,” he writes.

Blackall outed himself as a climate sceptic nearly a decade ago. In a 2010 paper also published in Asia Pacific Media Educator   (“Anti-terrorism, climate change and ‘dog whistle’ journalism”) he wrote of the compliant mainstream news media fanning fears on behalf of governments about imaginary climate catastrophes.[2]

Educators of journalists need to give students double skills – of integrity and fearlessness, plus the ability to maintain employability in the mainstream media, he wrote. The students need to become ‘highly adept chameleons’ to further their careers. They are given ‘hypotheticals’ requiring checking narratives against science literature. But the drafts must also be written conservatively. “No newspaper would run anything too removed from the dominant view on climate variability,” Blackall continued.

The media seemed unable to do routine internet searching to act as a ‘watchdog’ on government. This was reflected in its ‘advocacy journalism’ about the 2009 Copenhagen summit and downplaying of the Climategate email leaks, he wrote. [3]

In this paper he was prescient in highlighting the corrupted temperature  data relied on for the alarmist narrative and modelling –  including data from non-existent weather stations and stations affected by the non-CO2 urban heat island effects. In contrast, rural stations typically showed decades of consistent temperatures, he said. “News media have failed to explain or examine  these simple anomalies,” he complained. He also instanced floods being blamed by media on climate change when  the immediate cause was irresponsible local activities upstream, including tree-felling and mismanagement of dams.

He argued that without acutely educated scepticism, journalism graduates fall prey to the seductive and political tune of the dog whistle, such as believing the myth of a ‘climate consensus’.

Blackall’s arguments can be verified by  journalists’ climate ignorance in their use of the nonsense propaganda phrase “carbon pollution” when they actually mean “CO2 emissions”. Not one in a hundred journalists who quote the so-called “97% consensus” on climate alarm would be aware that the John Cook (UQ) study actually found that only 0.3% of 12,000 studies supported the IPCC line that more than half the past 60 years’ warming is human-caused.

Blackall’s critique of journalists can be tested against The Age (Garry Maddox) and The Australian(Rosemary Neill) stories last weekend about Al Gore marketing his climate-alarm film An Inconvenient Sequel in Melbourne.  Neither thought it worth mentioning that anti-emissions campaigner Gore inhabits a 20-room house (one of his three homes) whose pool heating alone uses as much electricity as six average US homes, and whose total electricity consumption is that of 21 normal residences.[4] The Age’s Maddox did not mention that Gore and his business partner from Goldman Sachs, according to Forbes, made nearly $US220m in carbon trading profits from 2008-2011.

The Australian’s Neill commendably reported the accusations of Gore’s enrichment via green schemes, and unlike Maddox, she drew attention to the UK High Court’s 2007 finding of nine scientific and other errors in Gore’s first film. The court also ruled that the film’s partisan stance made it inappropriate for UK school children unless accompanied by balancing  material. Neill should have queried why Gore had not corrected the nine errors or issued an errata, instead permitting the flawed film to mislead further millions of students. The film even asserts in its ignorance that some Pacific nations “have all had to evacuate to New Zealand.”

The Australian, via ex-ABC chair Maurice Newman, reported that Gore’s opposite number, top US sceptic blogger Marc Morano, was in Melbourne concurrently with Gore and promoting his own filmClimate Hustle. The Age and the ABC ignored Morano (while the ABC gave Gore blanket coverage) but Andrew Bolt (Herald Sun) gave Morano a prominent interview.

Dr Blackall’s retirement is a loss to journalist education. Let’s hope there are others like him out there, with the guts, smarts and integrity to take on the “kindergarten science” of climate alarm.

Tony Thomas’ book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


[1] He was previously an investigative documentary filmmaker with SBS, and an independent filmmaker, to which he is returning in retirement.

[2] Co-authored with Seth Tenkate, formerly of the NSW Transport Workers’ Union.

[3] This paper includes citing a 2009 ABC blog post by ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann – soon deleted – as follows:

“Climate science we are endless told is ‘settled’ … but to make the perfectly reasonable  point that science is never settled risks being branded a ‘sceptic’ or worse a ‘denier’…one of those words like ‘racist’ which is deliberately designed to gag debate…You can be branded a denier if you accept the problem and question the solutions.”

[4] Only 6% of Gore’s home’s electricity is from solar power.

COMMENTS [9]

  1. Bill Martin

    And in spite of all that, so many otherwise seemingly intelligent, rational people – including at least one QOL reader – continue to be obsessed with the false narrative. It boggles the mind!

  2. Ian MacDougall


    Blackall’s paper queries why journalists fail to report the widening gap between climate models’ temperature forecasts and actual temperatures. Similarly, they don’t report the non-acceleration of sea-level rise, a big problem for the alarmist narrative.

    Why should that be a ‘problem?’ Sea level has been trending upwards in a sawtooth pattern since 1993. Some years it rises sharply; some years not so sharply. But the overall trend is ever upward, indicating continuing ice and snow melt, and a global warming bad for coal and other established business.
    Journalists’ failure to report this or that is a problem for journalism; not for science.
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    • en passant

      MacBot,
      Still quoting the same tired mantra you always Omm! Omm!, but never answering the questions concerning the destination you seek?

      If CO2 is such a problem, what is the ideal concentration you would like? I know you cannot, will not, answer as that would provide the climate realists with an objective target to investigate and demolish – and that would NEVAAA do, would it? The answer is that it is easy to prove that we NEED at least 2,000 – 4,000ppm of CO2 to help the planet, plant-life and species generation.

      If increasing temperatures (by a horrendous tipping point of 2 degrees Kelvin {0.63%}) are is such a problem, what is the ideal global average temperature you would like? I know you cannot, will not answer as that would provide the climate realists with an objective target to investigate and demolish – and that would NEVAAA do, would it?
      The answer is that it is easy to prove that we NEED an increased temperature of at least 2 degrees Kelvin for life to flourish and for people to love more comfortably. This increase would help the planet, plant-life and species generation.

      We had a 3-day storm that required me to turn on the coal-fired electric air conditioners for the whole period and observe it through the panoramic plate glass window just metres. I have no idea how much wonderful life-giving CO2 we pumped out, but I hope it was a lot. Curiously, the sea was still where it was before the storm, and just where it was 47 years ago when I took a photo on the same spot. If there has been a rise at all, it is unnoticeable, which YOU, unfortunately, are not.

      Finally, I note in another pseudo-science alarm that we are in the middle of the 7th mass species extinction with 1 million species becoming extinct each year. Complete rubbish, naturally, but you can no doubt name five of them? No, I thought not. I wonder how many NEW species came into being last year?
      You really are an annoying racist troll, but if you did not exist, we (the only friends you have, except the Archangel Gabriel and some cattle you talk to) would have to invent you.

      As it is 300 degrees Kelvin today (plus or minus – 0.5K) the air conditioners are off.

  3. ianl

    Since 1807:

    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/tide-gauge-sea-level

    Hard geological evidence dates trivial sea level rise from at least 12,000 years BP

    Tide gauges have had GPS chips attached for 20 years now to help account for isostasy.

    Next !! …

    • Ian MacDougall

      “Tide gauges may also move vertically with the region as a result of post-glacial rebound, tectonic uplift or crustal subsidence. This greatly complicates the problem of determining global sea level change from tide gauge data. Differences in global sea level estimates from tide gauge data usually reflect the investigator’s approach in considering these vertical crustal movements. Tide gauges also monitor meteorological factors that affect sea levels, such as barometric pressure and wind speed, so that these variable factors can be eliminated from long-term assessments of sea level change. Although the global network of tide gauges comprises of a poorly distributed sea level measurement system, it offers the only source of historical, precise, long-term sea level data.”

      http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/tide-gauge-sea-level

      This tide gauge stuff gives historical data on sea level where none better is available: ie from before satellite altimetry, the latter being far and away the most accurate: to +/-0.4 mm/yr (CSIRO)

      • en passant

        MacBot,
        “Accurate to +/-0.4mm/year”. OK, I will go with the -0.4.mm.

        Do you realise how stupid this level of supposed accuracy sounds given tectonic shifts, the fact that Earth is a misshapen block of cheese and the gravitational anomolies due to various orbits? You seriously think we should be Chicken Littling because of 4mm sea rise per year? Better send another few $Bn to the kleptocrats and kill every farting cow.

  4. Ian MacDougall

    Readers,
    I post the link below in the faint hope that it might enlighten Eyn Pyssant, trapped as he is in his mental dungeon of compulsive denialism.

    Remember, I did say hope. No guarantees.

    And faint. Please do not forget faint.

    http://www.snopes.com/nasa-data-global-warming/

    • en passant

      Clearly you have not been following the saga that is Snopes (being revealed through a nasty divorce case)?

      Now are you going to tell the world the ideal concentration of CO2 and the ideal average global temperature?

      Just joking as I know you cannot and therefore have no idea of the destination you seek for all of us.

      How about a challenge for you?
      You name seven benefits of +3 degrees and a doubling of CO2 and I (as I have an open, sceptical mind and no mantra) will list seven detrimental effects.

      I predict you cannot accept.

  5. Ian MacDougall

    The Mikkelson’s marriage problems prove something to what passes for the mind of Eyn Pyssant: probably including that the world is flat. Certainly that anything published on Snopes cannot possibly be taken seriously.
    That it appears to be how what passes for the Eyn mynd works.

Climate Science Comes Up Short

July 28th 2017 print

TONY THOMAS

Temperatures refuse to rise, exterminate polar bears, melt the icecaps, engulf coastal cities or make Tim Flannery seem rational. Not that there isn’t company in the upper ranks of ratbaggery. Meet Professor Matthew Liao, who yearns to bio-engineer smaller, drug-ready humans

shrinking manPeople unwilling to act on the climate-crisis narrative should be assisted with drugs that improve and promote conformity, according to eminent bio-ethicist Professor Matthew Liao, of New York University, who also wants to see parents dosing their children with hormones and diets to keep them shorter and less of a burden on the planet.

He wants such people to be given  the ‘love drug/cuddle chemical’ oxytocin. This would increase their trust and empathy and make them more ready to change to emission-saving lifestyles.

As his peer-reviewed study puts it, “Pharmacologically induced altruism and empathy could increase the likelihood that we adopt the necessary behavioral and market solutions for curbing climate change.” He emphasises there would be no coercion. The drugs would merely help those who want to be climate-friendly behaviour but lack the willpower

Once sufficiently drugged, parents would be less likely to reject notions of “human engineering” techniques that will be needed to create Humans 2.0. These amended species will be 15cm shorter than now, hence more energy efficient and less resource-demanding. His study,  Human Engineering and Climate Change, is in  Ethics, Policy and the Environment.[1]

Some US reaction to Liao has been adverse. Investor’s  Business Daily used the headline, “Global Warming Fever Drove This Professor Completely Mad”.[2] It said that warmists are “bummed they can’t find enough naive people to buy into their story”. The looniest tune yet played is Liao’s, it said.

Liao’s study theorises that shorter humans could be achieved through embryo selection during IVF, plus drug and nutrient treatments to reduce birth weights. (High birth weight correlates with future height; low weights obviously correlate with risk to the baby).[3]  Anti-growth hormones could be fed to toddlers by climate-caring parents to create earlier closing of their bubs’ epiphyseal (growth) plates. Oh, and he also wants ecocidal meat eaters bio-altered to induce unpleasant reactions if they put pleasure ahead of planet and tuck into a T-bone.[4]

His paper, although now five years old and sometimes mistaken for a sceptic hoax, features today on his personal website. It merited him a gig at a recent Leftist-stacked Festival of Dangerous Ideas at Sydney Opera House, where he spoke  in front of  a banner, “Engineering humans to stop climate change”. His compere was the respectful Simon Longstaff, boss of Sydney’s  Ethics Centre, who introduced his guest as a “really great speaker…He is on the up, this guy. He is on the up!”

Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Moral Philosophy, Liao is chair of bioethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at New York University’s philosophy department — ranked world No 1 for philosophy, Longstaff said. Liao was earlier deputy director in the Program on the Ethics of the New Biosciences in the philosophy faculty at Oxford University. Longstaff said it was ranked world No 2. The mind boggles at what must go on those university philosophy/bioethics units ranked from third to 100?

Liao began his Opera House talk with a visiting speaker’s typical home-town warm-up, in this instance about Sydney being such a beautiful city. After that, warming to his topic, he fretted that the city “might go underwater” because of rising seas.

Many environmental problems, such as climate change, need collective action, he continued, but humans remain stubbornly individualistic, which why drugs that increase empathy and altruism might bestow the benefits of societal cooperation and engagement. Test subjects given oxytocin hormones were more willing to share money with strangers, behave in more trustworthy ways, and better read other people’s emotions, he said.

He continued,  “Making children smaller may be unappealing, but so is the prospect of having our children grow up in a world blighted by the environmental consequences of our choices and lifestyles…

“To combat climate change we can either change the environment or change ourselves.  Given the enormous risks associated  with changing the environment, we should take  seriously that we need to change ourselves.”

Liao insists his human engineering  is all voluntary, but should be incentivised by tax breaks and health-cost discounts. What he failed to explain is how toddlers could volunteer to restrict their adult height to say, 5ft (152cm).

Liao asked, “Is it ethical for parents to make choices that would have  irreversible effects on their children’s lives? Not all human engineering involving children is necessarily controversial. For example, many parents are happy to give their children [anti attention-deficit disorder] drugs, such as Ritalin, to concentrate better in school.

“Making children small is more controversial so proceed with care. But parents  are permitted to give hormones so a daughter likely to be 6ft 6in (198cm) could instead be 6ft (183cm). On what ground should we forbid parents who want to give hormone treatments so that children become 5ft tall rather than 5ft 5in tall? If climate change would  effect millions of children including one’s own children,  then these children may also later appreciate and consent to the parents decisions.”

Liao’s paper says tall people create energy waste by their food intake, extra fuel for their cars, more fabric for clothes, and more wear and tear on shoes, carpets and furniture.[5] “Think of their lifetime carbon footprint, it is quite a lot,” he told interviewers during his Australian sojourn (he must have arrived by row-boat).

To curb planet-hurting population growth, a  UK doctors’ group had recommended that Britons confine themselves to two children. Liao instead suggested each British family be given emissions targets and within that, be incentivised to have either two normal-height children or multiple smaller ones.[6]

“We think we now have optimal height, and that  we should not do anything to mess with our height, but the reality (can be) much more fluid,” he said, noting that everyone was much shorter in the 19th century with no harm done. He said height is seen by many as a social advantage but that was not a reason to scratch the shortness-creating idea.  As his paper says, bungee jumping, tattoos and running marathons are also minority tastes but legitimate activities.

Ever-hopeful, Liao believes that once a few people started shortening their children, others might be similarly inspired, especially if given tax breaks. He conceded that poorer people are already shorter on average, and should not be encouraged to further shrink their offspring.

He told his audience that many people wanted to give up eating meat but enjoyed the taste too much.  To assist, their immune systems could be  primed to react to meat “and induce some sort of unpleasant experience, very mild. (Laughter). Even if the effect was not for a lifetime, the learning effect could persist a long  time.”

A safe way to induce such intolerance could involve a “meat patch”, akin to a  nicotine patch, that people could wear before going out to eat, he said. Liao concedes that the present “tackling” of climate change by changing behaviour (less travel, LED bulbs etc) and by top-down emissions schemes are inadequate. This has led to drastic and risky geoengineering proposals like   mirrors in space and seeding oceans with iron filings. Better and safer to use existing bio-medical techniques to alter humans instead, he says.

Liao dropped political correctness to remark that US women “of lower cognitive ability” bred faster under 18 years. If they could be cognitively enhanced with Ritalin or Modafinil, which some parents already give their children to improve concentration at school, these women might have lower birth rates. He also pre-empted Pauline Hanson by saying various public health measures are similarly taken, despite risks. He said, “People routinely vaccinate  to prevent acquiring diseases even though vaccinations have sometimes side effects and can even lead to deaths.”[7]

He agreed that bio-engineering against obesity would be climate-effective, “but  I focus on height because the issue of obesity is very politically sensitive,  raising a lot of issues and, on top, some discriminatory aspects –  talk about obesity, you know…a tricky situation.”  So Liao put this planet-saving measure aside because of potential backlash from “obesity identity” activists. Anti-height measures, however, are politically safe because tall people are already advantaged.

Liao wants each person to become carbon neutral, otherwise we should spend more money on space exploration – presumably so mankind find a new home on some other planet. “Scientists tell us we are close to the point of no return,” he said, apparently unaware of the hundreds of failed tipping point predictions.

Question time produced one ripper from an elderly lady, Margaret, who seemed a warmist sympathiser: “What percent of the  population would need to adopt any of these measures before they became effective  in altering the rate at which we are going through climate change?”

Liao, hitherto a picture of confidence, fumbled and stalled, saying it was empirical and had no idea in lieu of further and needed research: “So right now I am just sorting out ideas … we would need to figure out these further questions.”

I can tell him now: if the 7.5 billion people on the planet all shrank by 15cm, it wouldn’t lower global temperatures one jot.

The   climate-catastrophe evidence Liao cites for his Humans 2.0 makeover is the notoriously-flawed UK Stern Report (Stern is now calling for US$90 trillion funding for climate change) and the melting-Himalayan-glacier 2007  IPCC report run by then-IPCC chair and Rajendra Pachauri. [8] This report was so howler-laced that the InterAcademy Council ordered a forensic audit. The report found “significant shortcomings in each major step of IPCC’s assessment process”.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


[1] Two co-authors are from  Oxford, where Liao did his Ph.D.

[2] September 30, 2015. Broken link but text cited.

[3] The paper says, “Birth weight at the lower edge of the normal distribution tends to result in the adult’s being ≈5 cm shorter. Birth height has an even stronger effect for adult height. If one is born at the lower edge of the normal distribution of height, this tends to produce ≈15 cm shorter adult height.” It continues that certain drugs could potentially regulate birth size and weight.

[4] The paper says “While eating red meat with added emetic (a substance that induces vomiting) could be used as an aversion conditioning, anyone not strongly committed to giving up red meat is unlikely to be attracted to this option. A more realistic option might be to induce mild intolerance (akin, e.g., to milk intolerance) to these kinds of meat.”

[5] The paper says, “Reducing the average US height by 15 cm would mean a mass reduction of 23% for men and 25% for women, with a corresponding reduction of metabolic rate (15%/18%), since less tissue means lower nutrients and energy needs.”

[6] British children were singled out because they each put 160 times more demand on the planet than an Ethiopian child, his paper says.

[7] No Leftist outrage ensued

[8] Pachauri, then 74, in 2015 was charged in New Delhi with sexual harassment and stalking involving a woman staffer less than half his age.  He resigned abruptly from the IPCC, was fired from his own think-tank and   the trial has been delayed via   costly procedural stages.  Strongly asserting his innocence, he is also suing the staffer for defamation.

Surely Your’re Crying, Mr Feynman

June 28th 2017 print

Back in 1974, the US physicist and polymath warned graduating students of ‘cargo cult science’ and the careerist urge to confirm the flawed orthodoxy of earlier and inaccurate results. Climate “science” was then in its infancy but the trajectory of its corruption has confirmed all his worst fears

feynmanThe trouble with mainstream climate scientists is that they’re third-rate scientists, and the reason they’re third-rate is that they’re dishonest. My authority for this statement is physicist Richard Feynman (picturd), who has been dead for 29 years but was ranked by  his peers as one of the ten greatest  physicists of all time. Feynman set out the parameters for honest science in general, and I’ve never yet seen a mainstream climate scientist live up to Feynman’s honesty test.

In 2015 I was transiting through Los Angeles airport and killing time in a bookshop.  I bought Feynman’s paperback   Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! because it seemed unusual for physicists to take pride in being funny.

In the book’s first essay he tells how, as a small kid, he earned pocket-money repairing people’s radios. A customer would tell him about a fault, and that would be enough to diagnose the problem without even turning on the set.

The book’s final essay – in between there’s wonderful entertainment – is called “Cargo Cult Science”. It’s  the commencement address he gave to freshers at Caltech in 1974. The original cargo cults, as you probably know, involved post-war tribesmen in PNG building mock airstrips and control towers in the hope that this would attract US cargo planes to again deliver their cargoes of desirable goods. “They follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land,” Feynman told the students. He went on to talk about what is missing in bad science – honesty.

 

It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards.  For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked—to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

“Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them.  You must do the best you can—if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong—to explain it.  If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.  There is also a more subtle problem.  When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

“In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

“We’ve learned from experience that the truth will out.  Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. [Climate science is intrinsically not experimental but its modelling can now be checked against reality].  Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory.  And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work.  And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in Cargo Cult Science.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.  So you have to be very careful about that.  After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.  You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

“I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist…I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist.  And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.

“For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a friend who was going to go on the radio.  He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of this work were.  ‘Well,’ I said, ‘there aren’t any.’  He said, ‘Yes, but then we won’t get support for more research of this kind.’  I think that’s kind of dishonest.  If you’re representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to the layman what you’re doing—and if they don’t want to support you under those circumstances, then that’s their decision.

“One example of the principle is this: If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out.  If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good.  We must publish both kinds of result.

“I say that’s also important in giving certain types of government advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it would be better in some other state.  If you don’t publish such a result, it seems to me you’re not giving scientific advice.  You’re being used.  If your answer happens to come out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don’t publish it at all.  That’s not giving scientific advice.

“So I wish to you the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity.  May you have that freedom. [The following para is in the original but not in the book] May I also give you one last bit of advice: Never say that you’ll give a talk unless you know clearly what you’re going to talk about and more or less what you’re going to say.”

What is fascinating about his common-sense tenets of scientific honesty is that today they are forgotten, ignored, corrupted and trampled upon by supposed scientists  in all fields playing ‘publish or perish’ and ‘get that grant’.  The climate scientists are particularly bad because the stakes in grants, influence and reputation are now so high. When the Climate Council’s CEO Amanda McKenzie talks about “carbon pollution”, why don’t the scientists on her board (Flannery, Hughes, Steffen, Bambrick) correct her and say carbon dioxide (not “carbon”) is  a plant food essential to life on earth, not “pollution”?  That’s what Feynman surely would want.

There must now be tens of thousands of peer reviewed mainstream studies relying on the output of temperature computer-modelling for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since the 5th IPCC report of 2013, each such study, on Feynman’s honesty test, should include in the preamble that the   5th report noted [1] that 111 of 114 such model runs over-estimated actual temperatures from 1998-2012  — and they’re still over-estimating for 2012-2016, as demonstrated by John Christy’s satellite graphs provide in Congressional testimony last March.

A minor negative example: a month ago ABC radio, print and TV was running hot with “coastal koala extinction” stories. Koalas are good talent and we all love these cute little beasties. We learn that, according to the most conservative climate modelling, seas will rise lots and lots between now and 2067 and 2117,  and this will kill the gum trees that many koala populations  feed on – putting them on  “a steady downward run to extinction”.

The tale emanates from research done at the Port Macquarie City Council. It doesn’t seem to have made the published science literature but there is an account of it at a national koala conference at Port Macquarie last month. This account makes no mention of the damning 111/114 fail rate of the main IPCC climate models, and thus it violates Feynman’s integrity test.[2]

Another great Feynman-test fail   is all this science-y stuff about hottest year ever. Surface based records (that have been ruthlessly adjusted by lowering the early-year temperature data) may show recent hottest years, but the 38-year satellite records don’t – at best the 2016 peak was within the margin of error relative to 2015. How can any honest scientist (on Feynman’s definition) fail to mention the awkward satellite data when assessing hottest years? There was even the case in 2015 where NASA put out a press release saying that 2014 was the hottest year since 1880. But within days it had to own up that because of data margins of error, there was only a 38% chance that its ‘hottest year’ tale was valid. Would Feynman say that NASA has scientific integrity? No, I don’t think so.[3]

In my reading on climate over the past decade,  I’ve never seen Feynman’s prescription about honest science referred to in mainstream climate literature. It’s easy to imagine why.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable  – 60 years in print is available here


[1] Chapter 9, text box 9.2, page 769. And why was this crucial information not included in the all-important Summary for Policy-Makers?

[2] Another Feynman-style koala check not mentioned would be the nearest tide gauges, to see how much these seas have risen to date. Port Macquarie gauges only go back 30 years and show a 7.8cm rise, i.e. if extrapolated, about one foot per century. Fort Denison in Sydney Harbor shows a mere 6.5cm per century rise based on 128 years of data.

[3] On checking, I find he’d already written off NASA management as scientific frauds.  “NASA managers claimed that there was a 1 in 100,000 chance of a catastrophic failure aboard the [Challenger] shuttle, but Feynman discovered that NASA’s own engineers estimated the chance of a catastrophe at closer to 1 in 200. He concluded that NASA management’s estimate of the reliability of the space shuttle was unrealistic, and he was particularly angered that NASA used it to recruit Christa McAuliffe [lost in the explosion] into the Teacher-in-Space program. He warned in his appendix to the commission’s report (which was included only after he threatened not to sign the report), “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

The Serpent’s Egg

… a serpent’s egg,
Which, hatch’d, would as his kind grow mischievous.
Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I

May Issue, Quadrant 2012

In June 1988, US Senators Tim Wirth and Al Gore invited a noted climate scientist to brief their committee on global warming. Dr James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the senators: “The earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements … The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”[1]

It was a day of fierce summer heat in Washington. The USA in 1988 was in the grip of heat, drought and potential crop failure comparable to the 1930s “dust bowls”. Hansen gave the media a new angle on the heatwave, and they ran with it. Thus the warmist show for the masses got on the road. “The show” is correct because the hearing itself was a piece of stagecraft. Senator Wirth, with pride, told all to the PBS Frontline special in April 2007:

Timothy Wirth: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was [actually, June 23]. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.

Deborah Amos: Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day? 

Timothy Wirth: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot … The wonderful Jim Hansen was wiping his brow at the table at the hearing, at the witness table, and giving this remarkable testimony.[2]

Hansen’s one-time NASA supervisor, the atmospheric scientist John S. Theon, wrote in 2009 that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarmism: NASA in 1988 knew little about any human-caused warming. Theon himself was responsible for all NASA weather and climate research, including Hansen’s.[3]

Hansen’s later activism included being arrested in 2009, 2010 and 2011 during his anti-coal-mining demonstrations. In 2007, in testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board, he likened coal trains to “death trains”, saying they would be “no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species”.[4] Hansen has also called for chief executives of big fossil fuel companies to be tried for “high crimes against humanity and nature”.[5]

Enough of Hansen, typically described as “one of the world’s leading climate scientists”. This article will go back further to see how the warming crisis originated, and where the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has taken this issue by 2012.

The theory that human-caused carbon dioxide warms the planet goes back to the Swedish scholar Svante Arrhenius in 1896. He thought this would be wonderful:

By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind.[6]  

However, he hugely underestimated how long the doubling from pre-industrial levels would take: he thought 3000 years; we now think it is likely to happen between 2050 and 2100.

The next big Swede was Bert Bolin. He should be (but isn’t) a household name as the man who galvanised the modern world about carbon dioxide. Bolin pioneered computerised weather forecasting (using the original ENIAC electronic computer) and was quick to endorse the then-sketchy hypothesis that carbon dioxide “pollution” from fossil fuels was a threat to civilisation.

The computerised climate models of those days were ineffably crude—even today, after billions in research funding, climate models are still conceded by the IPCC to have serious flaws and limitations. However, the time was ripe for this new environmental cause. The scare de jour was the Club of Rome’s “limits to growth”; but catastrophic global warming went one better on the angst scale.

Bolin led the science effort, through his chairing from 1964 of the International Council of Scientific Union’s (ICSU’s) key committee on the atmosphere. This high profile led him to chair conferences, become lead editor for reports, and chair successor bodies run jointly with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) from 1967. From there he vaulted to the inaugural IPCC chair (1988–97).

He propagated modelling results predicting that doubling carbon dioxide would boost warming not by the accepted 1 degree Celsius but by as much as 5.5 degrees through hypothesised “feedbacks”. The attention-getter was that this would occur within the time of one’s grandchildren—from around 2030.[7]

Bolin’s able supporter was Mostafa Tolba, Egypt’s head of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) from 1975 to 1992. Tolba’s landmark success was the Montreal Protocol on CFC chemicals and the ozone hole in 1987. He also took up the cudgels against acid rain, which turned out to be localised glitches.

The carbon dioxide politicisation got under way at a key conference at Villach, Austria, in 1985, run by the ICSU, the UNEP and the WMO. Even the conference’s title specified that carbon dioxide was the villain in warming, although this had yet to be demonstrated. One hundred scientists and bureaucrats attended the conference by personal invitation and in their personal capacity. They were encouraged to make their resolutions without accountability to parent bodies.[8] The ICSU had prepared a dire, model-based climate report. After a single day’s discussion, the report was officially adopted, although attendees agreed to tone down the top warming estimate from 5.5 degrees to 4.5 degrees to make it more politically saleable. They also cut the upper limit of the forecast sea-level rise from 165 centimetres to 140 centimetres, for the same reason (hence science by consensus). A fly in the ointment was that the WMO declined to affirm that carbon dioxide was causing global warming, so the report had to be equivocal on that.[9] This Villach science report became the received text for similar environmental conferences and reports that followed, such as the 1987 Brundtland Report (Our Common Future), assembled under the guidance of Bert Bolin.

The UNEP’s style under Tolba was to go over the heads of national politicians direct to green lobbies and the media. This forced the politicians into action. Momentum came to a head at the June 1988 “Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere”, which brought together the governmental, scientific and activist communities. Incidentally, three months prior to this conference Bolin was already calling for a carbon emissions tax.[10]

Of the conference’s 341 delegates (mainly bureaucrats), fifty were green groupers from forty-six countries, and only seventy-six were physical scientists.[11] As for the media, “extra press rooms had to be added to handle the hordes of descending journalists”, according to the late Dr Stephen Schneider, the same media-savvy scientist who told Discover magazine in 1989: “To capture the public’s imagination … we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”[12]

The thirty governments formally represented at Toronto pledged to cut their carbon dioxide emissions voluntarily by 20 per cent (from 1988 levels) by 2005, to head off warming and sea-level rises. They also set their seal on the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with Bolin as first head. The IPCC’s pre-foundation brief was to encourage and sum up the science as guidance for governmental policy decisions—no mention there of “human-caused” climate change. Technically, this was a neutral agenda.[13] In practice, as Tolba put it to the first IPCC session, the IPCC should “bravely inform the world what ought to be done”.[14] In the event, the IPCC charter in 1988 hardened up. It said the goal was to assess “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change”.[15]

Among the embryo IPCC’s keenest backers was the think-tank TERI in New Delhi, run by the IPCC’s future chair, Dr Rajendra Pachauri. TERI ran a manifesto in 1989 which for its tone shocked even IPCC chair Bert Bolin:

Global warming is the greatest crisis ever faced collectively by humankind. Unlike other earlier crises, it is global in nature, threatens the very survival of civilisation, and promises to throw up only losers over the entire international socio-economic fabric. The reason for such a potential apocalyptic scenario is simple: climate changes of geological proportions are occurring over time-spans as short as a single human lifetime.[16]

The newly formed IPCC rushed out its first report by 1990—in two years instead of the later reports’ five or six years—with the intention of making it a key document for the 1992 conference in Rio de Janeiro. This first report was based heavily on the findings of the 1985 Villach conference and on the Brundtland report. To its credit, the 1990 report was moderate in tone. Its key tract was in the Executive Summary of the human-attribution chapter: “The fact that we are unable to reliably detect the predictive [carbon dioxide] signals today does not mean that the greenhouse theory is wrong, or that it will not be a severe problem in the decades ahead.” In Bolin’s memoir he pointed out that “The IPCC conclusions were carefully worded and did not say that a human-induced climate change was under way.”[17] He complained: “It was non-government groups of environmentalists, supported by the mass media, who were the ones exaggerating the conclusions that had been carefully formulated by the IPCC.”[18]

The IPCC’s 1990 report was of course unsatisfactory to the green movement, from top level (UNEP) down. Putting the political cart before the science horse, the UN drew up its “Framework Convention on Climate Change” (UNFCCC) treaty, which asserted human causation in no uncertain terms, and foreshadowed a regime of emission controls. At the famed “Earth Summit” in Rio in 1992, 154 states signed on. In somewhat Orwellian fashion, the “Earth Summit” redefined the term “climate change” to literally mean “human-caused climate change”. Natural climate change was then re-defined as “climate variability”.[19] Additionally, according to Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC charter was modified to explicitly state that it was to support the UNFCCC.[20]

What is missing from my dry tale is the emotional punch generated during that Earth Summit. The pre-summit ceremonies included the “Declaration of the Sacred Earth Gathering”:

The responsibility of each human being today is to choose between the force of darkness and the force of light. We must therefore transform our attitudes and values, and adopt a renewed respect for the superior law of Divine Nature.

The sacred earth drummers maintained a continuous heartbeat near the conference centre, “as part of a ritual for the healing of our Earth to be felt by those who are deciding Earth’s fate”.[21]

The next IPCC report, scheduled for 1995, could hardly maintain the 1990 report’s “neutral” stance, given the Rio and UNFCCC anti-carbon-dioxide politics. In the event, the 1995 all-important summary for policy makers said: “The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” This itself was a compromise, watering down the draft’s wording of “appreciable” human influence. Bolin says he also ensured that the conclusion was qualified with a phrase, “fully recognising the uncertainty”, but media, lobbies and governments subsequently ignored it. He also complained that many other points in the summary should have been qualified for uncertainties, but were not.[22]

Given that the 1995 summary gave an elephant stamp to the carbon dioxide pollution story, what (if anything) underpinned that summary? Frederick Seitz, president emeritus of Rockefeller University and chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, Washington, claimed critical caveats in the 1995 body text were deleted to permit the activist summary. Bolin denied this and said there were merely normal reviews of drafts. The deleted passages cited by Seitz included:

No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic causes …

None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases …

Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced …  

Seitz, a former president of the US National Academy of Sciences and of the American Physical Society, said he had never witnessed “a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events which led to this IPCC report”.[23]

Bolin himself let a cat out of the bag. He revealed that the chapter heads Ben Santer and Tom Wigley had claimed, after inspecting the reviewed draft, that new evidence had arrived in the literature justifying a stronger conclusion on human causation.[24] The chair of the science group, Sir John Houghton, thought this summary-strengthening was warranted and the bulk report was retrospectively amended. Human causation thus became scientific orthodoxy. But tangling the web that way offended some delegates, “who emphasised more the need to safeguard the credibility of the assessment process”, as Bolin put it.[25]

Houghton was highly influential in the IPCC’s first decade. He had been Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Oxford and chief executive of the UK Met Office before leading the IPCC’s hard-science Group 1 team for the 1990, 1995 and 2001 reports. A devout church-goer, he told the London Sunday Telegraph in 1995:

If we want good environmental policy in future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident … God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved; the effect will be the same. [26]

He also quoted approvingly in 2002 a study estimating there would be 150 million “environmental refugees” by 2050. This was even scarier than UN’s original “climate refugees” scare of 2005, predicting 50 million by 2010.[27] (When the 50 million failed to show up by 2010, the UN discreetly substituted “2020” for the originally forecast “2010”.)[28]

Melbourne IT expert John McLean, who has studied Houghton’s role in this souping-up of the conclusions of the 1995 report, says that the “new evidence” involved was a five-page draft paper submitted to Nature but not yet reviewed, let alone published. And who co-wrote this draft article? The chapter heads Ben Santer and Tom Wigley, along with about seven authors of the IPCC chapter and five other names.

Sherlock Holmes would conclude that the chapter team, lacking evidence to back up their desired post-review rewrite, had written a paper and sent it off to Nature specifically so they could cite it for the IPCC report. The paper itself was clubby, thirty-two of its fifty-nine references involving papers by the chapter members, according to McLean. Four of the fifty-nine references were not even published work, and eight referred to IPCC documents. Of those, three were circular, referring to the impending 1995 IPCC report itself![29] The Nature paper was not published till July 1996. It was of the “state-of-the-art models suggest” kind, and it concluded rather weakly, “It is likely that this [warming] trend is partially due to human activities, although many uncertainties remain, particularly relating to estimates of natural variability.”[30]

Somehow this conclusion had justified the 1995 IPCC summary: “The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.” The saga was prolonged when several of the paper’s authors were selected as authors of the 2001 report, which in turn cited the Nature paper approvingly.

With human causation now “consensus”, the 2001 and 2007 reports toughened the language, upping the causation from “likely” (2001) to “very likely” (2007), on the basis of further modelling. The 2001 report also splashed in seven places the now-discredited Michael Mann “hockey stick” graph showing current temperatures to be at their highest for a thousand years. It is not quite true that the hockey stick disappeared in the 2007 IPCC report but the one reproduction there is accompanied by discussion about its validity.[31]

Governments have various ways of pressuring IPCC authors about what they write. For example, the UK Department for Environment (DEFRA) briefed the first scoping meeting for the science section of the 2007 IPCC report:

There is general consensus, presented in the TAR [2001 IPCC report] and widely accepted, that climate change in the latter half of the twentieth century, is due to anthropogenic forcing, and the emphasis for WG1 [the science section] should be on anthropogenic change rather than shorter term variability.

This document went on to urge that the 2007 report writers play down paleoclimate information—how the earth’s climate has behaved over recent geological periods, which is something sceptics like to cite.[32]

The IPCC’s current role, apart from supporting the UNFCCC climate treaties, includes 

to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Note that human causation is a given, and that the charter does not encourage the IPCC to investigate potential natural causation. Such processes could be solar cosmic rays seeding clouds and influencing temperatures, and the mystery mechanism driving the Pacific Decadal Oscillation cycles (which correlate well with the temperature record).[33] [34]

The IPCC charter has instead generated a circular process. Research funds pour into the human-attribution issue. Non-human causation has become the Cinderella of science, starved of funds and likely to kill your promotion prospects. Such research could put the IPCC out of business, and evaporate a lot of the science and technology funding (of which something like $80 billion has been spent since 1989 by the USA alone).

The IPCC’s melting-glacier scandal of 2010 and the “Climategate” e-mail scandals (2009 and 2011) have arguably forced the IPCC into a more disciplined approach, with the determination not to be further caught out on scientific bias. The fruits of this new approach emerged in November 2011 with the IPCC’s special draft report on extreme weather events.[35] Thanks to anodyne IPCC press releases, the mass media (which avoids non-summarised material) failed to notice a bombshell finding. Translated from long-winded science-style language, it says:

  1. for the next twenty to thirty years, man-made warming effects on climate extremes will be swamped by natural climate variability;
  2. the man-made warming may even be beneficial by reducing the number of extreme events; and
  3. neither IPCC models nor emissions forecasting are good enough to forecast extreme weather events up to the end of the century.

These IPCC authors won’t be thanked for giving the IPCC modellers a hotfoot. But the 2001 IPCC report, in a bit of buried text, had said something similar: “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”[36]

Indeed, the IPCC report in 2007 pulled the rug from under its own models. It said that in terms of sixteen major climate forces, the “level of scientific understanding” was less than “medium” for thirteen of them, and for five, it’s “very low”.[37] It is remarkable that IPCC scientists can build climate models—and trumpet the outputs—when they don’t understand climate. But as things now stand, the modellers will nearly all be retired or dead by the time their new grace period of twenty to thirty years is up.

Doubts about modellers’ outputs wouldn’t matter if this was all just a morning tea debate among Kevin Rudd’s “humourless scientists in their white coats who go around measuring things”. One wishes it were only that.

Tony Thomas, a retired journalist, worked for thirty years with the Age and BRW. He contributed “The Fictive World of Rajendra Pachauri” in the March issue.


[6] Worlds in the making: the evolution of the universe, p63 Harper, 1908.

[9] Franz op cit p10

[10] “Introduce a tax on Carbon Dioxide”, Bert Bolin & Mans Lonnroth, in Dagens Nyheter newspaper, 24/3/1988

[11] Wendy Franz, op cit., p25

[13] Bolin, Bert: A history of the Science and Politics of Climate Change, Cambridge UP, 2007, p51

[14] McLean, John, Climate Science Corrupted. SPPI, Nov 20, 2009, p7.

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/climate_science_corrupted.pdf

[16] Bolin, A history op cit P55.

[17] ibid p63

[18] ibid p112.

[20] Laframboise, Donna, Delinquent Teenager, Avenue Press, Toronto, 2011, p41

[22] Bolin: A History op cit p112-113

[24] Bolin, A History, op cit p113

[25] Bolin, A History, op cit p114

[29] McLean, John, We have been Conned – an independent review of the IPCC, p30-32. http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/we_have_been_conned.html

[31] (Box 6.4, WG1).

[32] Op cit McLean, Climate Science Corrupted, p17. The quote is from p36 of the un-numbered pdf file cited

[36] P771, chapter 14, TAR.

[37] Table 2.11, p 201, Chapter 2, WG1, IPCC 4AR.

Warmists Fight Their Own Nuclear War

Forget North Korea’s  threat to make Australia a lake of irradiated glass because such an attack would be as nothing in comparison with the civil war amongst tax-supported catastropharians. What set them off? One side’s footnoted paper that renewables can’t hold an organic candle to atomic power

green men fightFights within the climate-alarm community are vibrant entertainment for sceptics. There’s  the fun factor as rival climate alarmists  kick shins and yank each others’ hair. And they deride each other’s extreme and foolish arguments, which saves sceptics some work. Moreover, the unedifying fights reduce the credibility of so-called climate “science” in the eyes of important onlookers like politicians.

A splendid fight-in-the-family broke out this month with the publication of a paper by four advocates of the nuclear-power route to emissions reduction. Their paper,Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems,” is published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews,  edited by Lawrence Kazmerski, who visited Australia in 2010 and played a small, proud part in forcing up electricity prices to their current obscene levels.)

The study mercilessly exposes the nonsense of the wind and solar advocates, who imagine a world of 100% electricity from renewables by 2050. These fantasists have induced Australian state and federal governments to set unrealistic renewable energy targets, much as mad dogs infect bystanders with rabies. (The Victorian government, for example, last February passed its Climate Change Act with a net zero emissions target by 2050).

There is the added piquancy that all four authors exposing the technical impossibility of wind/solar regimes established their academic profiles in South Australia, where blackouts have made the state a global cautionary tale against moving to 50% renewables (let alone any  higher percent).

The lead author is Ben Heard, PhD candidate at Adelaide University, the co-authors being Professors Barry Brook (U.Tas), Tom Wigley of National Center for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, Colorado, and Corey Bradshaw (Flinders U.) All are nuclear-power advocates, which enrages their wind/solar-loving peers.

Here’s the gist of the  Heard paper:

“Our sobering results show that  100% renewable electricity supply would, at the very least, demand a reinvention of the entire electricity supply-and-demand system to enable renewable supplies to approach the reliability of current systems.  This would move humanity away from known, understood and operationally successful systems into uncertain futures with many dependencies for success and unanswered challenges in basic feasibility.”

They reviewed 24 scenario studies supporting 100% renewables as the way ahead and found not one passed the technical-feasibility test – let alone any commercial tests. On the Heard scale for technical feasibility, with a top score of 7 , they found only one study that even achieved a score of 4.

Four studies scored zero – these included, of course, the propaganda screeds presented as practial plans by WWF and Greenpeace. Another seven studies scraped up scores of just 1. Among those scoring a mere one out of seven  was a scenario co-authored by the Climateworks (Monash University/Myer Foundation) crowd, headed by Labor’s  John Thwaites, who was once Victoria’s deputy-premier. The Australian Academy of Science relied on that half-baked Climateworks exercise in its 2015 submission to the federal government endorsing the magic zero emissions solution to global warming by 2050.

The Heard paper notes the folly of such targets, remarking that

  • The  100% renewables scenarios depend on vast consumptions of biomass.  “The British scenario is a typical example; even with the assumption of a 54% reduction in primary energy consumption, biomass requires 4.1 million [hectares] of land to be committed to the growing of grasses, short-rotation forestry and coppice crops (17% of UK land area).”  (My emphasis)
  • A WWF scenario demands up to 250 million ha for biomass production for energy, along with another 4.5 billion cubic metres of biomass from existing production forests to meet a scenario of an absolute reduction in primary energy from today.
  • “To meet a target of 80% renewables in Europe by 2050 would demand an additional 228,000 km of transmission grid extensions, a +76% addition compared to the base network.”
  • Long-distance interconnector capacities may need to be 5.7 times larger than current capacities. [i]

 The authors said,

The realization of 100% renewable electricity (and energy more broadly) appears diametrically opposed to other critical sustainability issues such as eradication of poverty, land conservation and reduced ecological footprints, reduction in air pollution, preservation of biodiversity, and social justice for indigenous people.”

The Heard paper stuck it but good to the wind/solar mob, but it has its own foibles. It cites 151 footnotes, including, to my  utter surprise, Footnote 30 — a 2010 article from Green Left Weekly about then-garden variety MP Malcolm Turnbull and former NSW Premier Bob Carr  helping to launch a “Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan”. Green Left Weekly reported “the technology required to move Australia to a 100 per cent renewable energy future within ten years [i.e. by 2020] is already commercially available…and the cost is not prohibitive.”  That our current and for-the-moment Prime Minister should have associated himself with this Melbourne University-led insanity is a worry, quite apart from academics’ reliance on Green Left Weekly in their peer-reviewed publications.

That’s not the only oddity about the Heard paper. It opens with resounding claims, “The recent warming of the earth’s climate is unequivocal (1, 2)…with 2016 confirmed as the warmest year on record.” Heard certifies his “unequivocal” warming[ii]  (Footnote 1 of 151)  partially on the strength of  the notoriously-flawed John Cook “97% consensus” paper, comprehensively rebutted by a peer reviewed paper which found that, on the authors’ own analysis, the true consensus was well below 1%.

As for 2016 being a “record” warm year, sorry, Ben: the increase over 2015 was within the margin of error of the data.

Heard’s co-author Corey Bradshaw exemplifies academic life in the Green-Left cocoon. On his blog he refers to Tony Abbott “seizing power in the 2013 Australian election”, as if voters had wanted someone else. Bradshaw advises fellow-scientists to promote international diversity in their labs:

“Let the right-wing populist xenophobes2 vomit their racist bile all they want while you quietly get on with the job of making the world a smarter, more innovative, multicultural, understanding and collaborative place.”

frog with thing that grew on its bottomBradshaw’s potty-mouthed Footnote 2 here refers incoherently to “2Agent Orange, Marine le Pue, Pauline Han-cock, Nigel Fukstick, …” (I assume “Nigel Fukstick” refers to Brexit’s Nigel Farage). This is, perhaps, what can be expected of a senior academic who wears a frog for a hat.

Bradshaw’s screed on the Flinders University website says, “I joined Flinders University as the new Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology. I am also a Chief Investigator in the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.” Perhaps Flinders U could get him to run a new Centre of Excellence for Obscenity and Political Derangement.

Bradshaw’s latest book, with the catchy title Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie: Australia, America and the Environment is co-authored with none other than the world’s greatest living wrongologist Paul Ehrlich, the only environmentalist on the planet who has surpassed Tim Flannery in wildly wrong predictions. For example, Ehrlich in The Population Bomb (1968) said that the battle to feed humanity had been lost and 65 million Americans  would starve to death between 1980-89. By 1999, the US population would decline to 22.6 million, he predicted. He said in 1971, “If I were a gambler, I would take even-money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Fortunately for Ehrlich he is not a bookmaker.

Co-author of Heard and Bradshaw, Tom Wigley, was director of the  Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia until 1993. The Climategate emails reveal him adopting a novel approach to data analysis. He wrote to a later director Phil Jones (27/9/2009) about a problem with sea surface temperatures,

“So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 deg C, then this would be significant for the global mean – but we’d still have to explain the land blip.”

Another email (24/4/2003) also revealed him organising to stop sceptic scientists from having their work published.

“One approach is to go direct to the publishers and point out the fact that their journal is perceived as being a medium for disseminating misinformation under the guise of refereed work. I use the word ‘perceived’ here, since whether it is true or not is not what the publishers care about—it is how the journal is seen by the community that counts.”

However, a number of the Climategate emails show Wigley adopting a more ethical stance than the climate cabal led by Phil Jones. Mind you, Wigley remains an enthusiast for spending truly vast amounts of other people’s money on his obsessions.

“What we need is (sic) policies that put a large amount of money into developing appropriate, carbon-neutral technologies, be it renewable energy, methods for storing carbon dioxide in the ground and so on… We need to be putting, you know, ten to 100 times more money into developing appropriate technologies to reduce the magnitude of global warming.” (My emphasis).

These criticisms of mine about the paper’s authors seem rather mild compared to what Heard’s fellow-warmists dish  out.

Economist John Quiggin (Qld University ) was until last month a member of the federals’ Climate Change Authority. He ripped into the Heard paper on his blog, without even having read it – the   abstract alone enough to make his head explode. Heard wrote to him, sarcastically, “Given how easy it is to reach me, I am amazed that anyone would write a review of a paper without actually reading it.
John, would you like a copy?”

Warmist fans of Quiggin’s blog posted this sort of stuff about the Heard team:

  • They make the three stooges look like three highly skilled experts.
  • I  really wonder at the “green” credentials of the “greens” pushing this. Honestly, I reckon they have been infiltrated by an alt-right 5th column pushing their spurious nonsense.
  • Pro-nuclear advocacy is sliding into the territory of Velikovsky[iii] and the anti-vaxxers.
  • Your [Heard’s] paper is a poor quality opinion piece masquerading as science. I repeat that I am amazed it got through peer review.
  • I think it’s kind of sad. They really really really want a nuclear playset for xmas. Poor things.

The parties on both sides of the fracas give respectful mentions to dark-green spruiker Ted Trainer, 76, Honorary Adjunct Associate Professor in Social Work at UNSW.

Trainer gets three citations in the Heard paper and, indeed, it was Trainer who alerted Quiggin to Heard’s publication. Trainer is an advocate for 90% cuts in Western living standards to help save the planet:

“(P)resent rich world levels of consumption are grossly unsustainable and we will probably have to reduce them by something like 90% if we are to achieve a sustainable and just world. Most people concerned about the state of the planet don’t seem to realise how huge the changes would have to be.”

According to Wikipedia, Trainer lives in a makeshift house at a swampy Pigface Point settlement near Sydney, where he engages in barter and a subsistence lifestyle and his house uses 98% less than average electricity.

That’s great for Ted, who I’m sure won’t starve on his academic super, but he seems somewhat dubious company for anyone trying to solve our electricity problems.

Summing up, the Heard paper provides a searing critique of the wind/solar propaganda, notwithstanding its naivete on ancilliary issues. Sadly, Heard doesn’t  check what difference any reduction in Australian emissions  – even to zero – would make to planetary temperatures. The answer: effectively zero.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable, is available here.

 


[i] A similar leap – not mentioned in the Heard paper – would be required for wind turbine installations. To achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of under 2degC warming, Texas A&M researchers have calculated that, just for wind power, an annual global installation of 485,000 5MW wind turbines would be needed by 2028, compared with an equivalent of 13,000 in 2015.

[ii] Warming in fact started in the 19th century in a rebound from the Little Ice Age, long before any CO2 anomalies

[iii]Velikovsky wrote a best seller in arguing that Earth suffered catastrophic close contacts with other planets (principally Venus and Mars) in ancient times. He became a by-word for pseudoscience.

The Natives Are Getting RETless

The Natives Are Getting RETless

According to the Prime Minister, it will take but a few more billions to perfect carbon-capture technology, protect Gaia and win the approval of those who will never vote Coalition come hell or ‘extreme weather’ high water. Alan Moran’s new book delivers the good kicking such thinking deserves

gore with ill-gotten gainsAs you might expect at the launching by Andrew Bolt of a book detailing the asinine inspiration and disastrous consequences of “green” energy policies, all present kept their clothes on at yesterday’s gathering in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton. The surprise — although it isn’t really thatsurprising after all these years of the media’s dutifully parrotted warmist propaganda — is that so many of those who will scoff at Quadrant contributor Alan Moran’s Climate Change – Treaties and Policies in the Trump Era aren’t themselves laughingstocks for the stark-naked exposure of their lies and cause.

Bolt, of course, was citing Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the emperor’s new clothes, casting himself as but one among the legion of rational and observant little boys who have yelled long and loud that the shortcomings of warmism’s priests and pardoners are on full display for all to see. What he can’t figure, he told his lunchtime audience, is why the greater public remains unmoved by the costly peddling of alarmist fantasies, lies, deceits and evasions, not to mention the imposition of unworkable solutions on a non-problem.

However there is hope, he said, as even the warmists’ altar boys in the media must be getting “a little nervy” that none of the prophesied climate catastrophes their breathless reporting so confidently endorsed have yet come to pass, nor do they appear ever likely to do so.

Click here to purchase Alan Moran’s
Climate Change: Treaties and Policies in the Trump Era

“Authorities said things would happen, like the onset of dengue fever and Tim Flannery’s dried-up dams,” Bolt noted. “Well the dams haven’t dried, [Melbourne’s are] more than two-thirds full. On the strength of that expert advice – Flannery is actually a mammologist – most capitals have spent billions to create idled desal plants.

“This suits the Greens, who don’t want new dams either. The Mitchell River catchment was created for a new dam and then was deliberately converted into a national park to thwart any dam,” he continued, referencing as his source Victoria’s former deputy-premier John Thwaites, a Labor man, who also served at Gaia’s altar as the minister for weather, akaclimate change.

Bolt also instanced the IPCC/UN prediction of 50 million climate refugees by 2010. “We’re still waiting to see them. One bloke has claimed climate refugee status and the NZ courts threw him out.”

The tall tale that polar bears would soon be extinct was all the rage a decade ago, he noted, with Al Gore’s omnibus collection of lies and distortions, An Inconvenient Truth, using animations of drowning bears to make its spurious point (and the failed presidential candidate a pile of money). That myth, only this week put to rest once and for all by the news that ursus maritinus is doing just fine, thank you, was inspired by nothing more than the observation from a low-flying plane of four drowned and floating bears that perished after a storm. Naturally the ABC, keen as always to push climate shock and horror, went big on the story at the time. Coca-Cola was moved to “raise awareness”, as they say, by putting polar bear images on cans and bottles, the scare culminating in George W. Bush putting the creatures on the endangered species list. The reality is that polar bear populations overall are thriving, but the non-story remains largely impervious to fact and reason. Indeed, even in December, as researchers were finalising the latest and most comprehensive paper to date on the robust health of polar bear populations, the ABC continued to feature its fake news about polar bears’ looming extinction.

Bolt noted that Moran’s book covers al the other massive fictions and scares, including acid rain, the health of the Antarctic ecosystem and whale numbers. The explanation for those myths longevity is quite simple: absent the panic, those armies of second-rate “scientists” and crusading academics, the rent-seekers, podium hogs and publicity hounds might have to find real work and other sourcs of income. There would be no more turning left when entering jetliners bound for all-expenses-paid international conferences and gabfests where hollow pieties, rather than facts, are the currency of participants. An astonishing 40,000 devotees of room service and free travel tripped to the Paris climate  jamboree in 2015, which makes one think admiringly of the Medici popes, who had the good sense not to parade their mistresses while preaching chastity. But climate “experts”, such as the high-school dropout Leonardo DiCaprio, see no such need as they instruct the world to cut emissions, then climb aboard private jets propelled no less by fossil fuels than their galloping hypocrisy.

morans bookThe reality is that the expensive green energy touted by such people will cause the poor and pensioners to endure unaffordable heating and cooling bills, potentially a lethal issue. As if to confirm Bolt’s point, that very same day Fairfax Media was exploring on its Domain website another aspect of the damage green theology is wreaking. Residents of high-rise apartments, Fairfax informed visitors to the site, will be hardest hit in a future plagued by inevitable South Australia-style power shortages. As if to confirm Bolt’s point about self-evident truths ignored, that same report went on to quote yet another, er, expert, Matt Mushalik of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, to the effect that people would be climbing endless flights of stairs because “few of the existing towers ever invest in renewable energy to make up for shortfalls”. The naked emperor wiggles his craggy bottom and, once again, his green courtiers acclaim cellulite as the richest and most exquisite royal velvet.

Not that apartment dwellers will be alone in their inconvenience, as the burden and imposition go well beyond the exertion of mounting 30 flights of stairs. BHP-Billiton, for example, has said South Australia’s excess energy costs have amounted to $US105 million at Olympic Dam alone, prompting a freeze on plans to expand operations at the site and the jobs that would have gone with it.

“Real money! Real jobs! Incredible!” marvelled Bolt. “Anti-warming measures have cost Australia far more than warming has ever done. Not just lost jobs and lost investment but the huge distraction of the government and bureaucracy from real issues like Aboriginal disadvantage. It’s been a shocking corruption of the public process.”

Yet even as the Liberal Party finally recognises that policies have to shift, it continues to make power systems more expensive while driving businesses to the wall. As today’s Australian Financial Review reports (paywalled):

Hardware manufacturer Alchin Long Group in Sydney’s west has had to agree to a near-doubling of its electricity price and may rethink plans to shift work back to Australia from China as a result, said Graham Lee, national operations manager. The price of the new two-year contract from Origin Energy has surged from $55.30 per megawatt-hour to $109.70.(emphasis added)

The Liberals’ addled ‘solution’ is to spend yet more taxpayer funds on subsidies in a bid to alleviate the ills sown by previous subsidies to green rent-seekers, which have made the production of baseload, coal-fired electricity uneconomic and unsustainable. If Victoria’s Portland aluminium smelter goes under as a consequence of soaring electricity prices, with the loss of 700 direct jobs and many indirect ones as well, official policy will have turned the now prosperous and pleasant Western District community into a second Moe, the Victorian town infamous for welfare dependency and social malaise. Thousands will be trapped there because house devaluations will prevent them re-buying elsewhere. Government reaction? More subsidies.

In the case of the Hazelwood power station’s imminent shuttering, the official ‘solution’ is to subsidise a skyhook technology, carbon capture and storage (CCS), which has worked nowhere else in the world. Unless Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has endorsed the expenditure of yet more millions to develop CCS, and his ministers are entirely brain-dead, they will know in their private conversations that CCS is folly on gold-plated stilts. Yet none dare raise a public voice against such madness, for such is their fear of being branded abusers of Gaia. The supreme irony, the great testament to such cowardice and craven fecklessness, is that those inner-suburban green/left critics will never vote for the Coalition no matter what they do.

Mathias Cormann, for one, knows it is all rubbish and has argued against the renewable energy targets (RET), Bolt said. Yet people like the finance minister now argue that scrapping those mandated goals would raise the spectre of sovereign risk and, as a consequence, prompt a strike of overseas investment. The notion that a healthy, growing economy powered by cheap energy might more than compensate seems never to have occurred to them.

“The final insanity is that, even if CO2 warming were real and dangerous, all the vast spending on emission cuts, and plans to spend more, will achieve no detectable reduction of future warming,” Bolt said.

“If every emitting country adhered to its Paris non-binding commitments,[i] on the IPCC’s own formula, global temperature over the rest of the century would lower by a trivial 0.168degC. Is it worth it? If politicians think it is, I would like them to say so.

“They all know the emperor is naked,” Bolt concluded, “but not one of them has the guts to tell you so.”

Tony Thomas’s book of Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.

 


[i] The Paris agreement allows China to raise emissions by 50%, and India to double emissions. The fourth-biggest emitter, Russia, is also permitted large increases.

The Climate Cult’s Blackout Brigade

They perch and preen atop their grants, sinecures and self-regard, forever predicting planetary doom unless their addled sermons are heeded and the carbon-spewing sins of our modern world are expiated. When your lights next go out, blame them and the politicians on whose teats they suckle

co2 smokeAs Australia’s electricity systems slide towards unreliability and more blackouts – half a dozen so far, at last count –  let’s pin the responsibility on the true culprits: activist climate “scientists” peddling their dodgy CO2 alarm and insane zero-emission targets.

At their forefront is the climate cabal within the Australian Academy of Science, our peak science organisation.  In  2015, speaking for the Academy, they blithely recommended to the federal government that Australia embarks on “significant, urgent and sustained” emissions cuts. Their desired 2030 scenario — which remains the Academy’s policy — is for  CO2 emission cuts 30-40% below 2000 levels, en route to the Academy’s desired zero- emissions regime by 2050.

I emailed the Academy the following questions about its submission:

1. I don’t see any costing of the Academy’s 2030 and 2050 targets. Can you provide me with best estimates or something on costings anyway — I assume the report authors did some work on that.

2. I don’t see any breakdown of Academy targets into solar, wind, coal, nuclear, hydro, whatever. Can you assist me by detailing such breakdowns?

3. The report has little/nothing to say about how a reliable base load electricity system will operate on your 2030 and 2050 scenarios. In light of recent events, does the Academy have any suggestions on how blackouts will be avoided as Australia moves to the desired RE [renewable energy] targets?

Th reply:

“The Academy has a broad brief across the sciences. Its Fellows step up in a voluntary capacity to write documents such as this… We don’t have the in-house expertise or resources to answer your detailed questions.”

This reply went on to list the contributors to the Academy’s submission, namely Dr John A Church FAA FTSE FAMS;

Dr Ian Allison AO; Professor Michael Bird FRSE; Professor Matthew England FAA; Professor David Karoly FAMS FAMOS; Professor Jean PalutikofProfessor Peter Rayner; and Professor Steven Sherwood.

The Academy of Science itself admits that it lacks the “in-house expertise or resources” to explain why it wants to destroy the country’s electricity security and raise the price of power to all Australians. But wow, it’s great at puffing itself. The same cabal that is clueless about the real-world impacts of its emissions recommendations bragged in their 2015 submission:

“The Academy promotes scientific excellence, disseminates scientific knowledge, and provides independent scientific advice for the benefit of Australia and the world… The Academy would be pleased to provide further information or explanation on any of the points made in this submission.” (My emphasis. But the Academy wimped out when I actually asked for such information).

The Academy has form in pandering to green nostrums.

  • It sponsored and helped bankroll its Fenner Conference on the Environment at UNSW in 2014, themed as “Addicted to Growth? How to move to a Steady State Economy in Australia.” The flier compared the pursuit of economic growth to “the ideology of the cancer cell”.[1] Some speakers urged economic contraction and drops in living standards of up to 90%.[2]
  •  It trumpeted its divestment of shareholdings in supposedly-abhorrent fossil fuel companies in 2015, although the Academy  HQ in Canberra continues to enjoy unprincipled use of fossil-fuel-powered electricity. The Academy lumps in coal-related outfits like Rio Tinto with its other pariah companies in gambling, tobacco, the sex trade, and napalm production.
  • The Academy swept under the rug a damning 2010 audit of the IPCC by the 15-nation InterAcademy Council, although its then-president, Kurt Lambeck, played an important role in the audit process.[3] An Academy office-bearer justified its non-disclosure in an email:“Needless to say, any adverse findings do great damage to the credibility of climate scientists as a whole, especially in the current climate of almost religious opposition to the acceptance of climate change science.”
  • The Academy authored and promulgated climate lessons for high-schoolers, urging them to embrace green activism and political lobbying. Teachers were advised, in all seriousness, to “ask [15-16 year old] students if they have ever taken action or advocated for a cause. Do they know of anyone who has?” The teens were also asked,“Which is more effective, science awareness or advocacy, when it comes to generating 
community action? What cause would you sign up for?”
  • The Academy’s  latest chief executive is Anna-Maria Arabia, formerly Federal Labor Party adviser and climate activist, with a track record of seeking suppression of “denier” views.  She was director of policy/principal adviser to Bill Shorten for three years, earlier spending half a decade as adviser to Kim Beazley and Anthony Albanese.

The Academy  believes that global warming can be explained and predicted by using CO2 emissions as a control knob – turn up the knob (CO2 emissions) and warming occurs proportionately. This childishly-simple relationship enables the climate scientists to imagine CO2 “budgets” and use them to hypothetically keep global warming to some magic 2degC limit. Any other climate complexities, such as multiple superimposed ocean temperature cycles, cosmic rays, or 1000 other factors as yet only sketchily understood, are deemed irrelevant to global-warming forecasting.

This type of thinking fits what eminent Princeton atomic physicist Will Happer described last week as “cult” mentality. Happer said, “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”[4]

The Academy’s eight authors are also in love with the idea that because Australia is a rich country, it should be first to make sacrifices to its living standards, while so-called “developing” countries like (nuclear-armed) China, India and Pakistan enjoy a holiday to crank out emissions without restraint.[5] The submission cites approvingly “the common but differentiated responsibilities of nations” – this being code from  the UN’s Third World corruptocrats for handing them the developed world’s wealth. The Academy also imagines that “it is in our national interest” to show “international leadership” on emissions cuts. These  dubious and self-damaging propositions are political not science-related and the Academy squanders its intellectual/scientific capital by canvassing them.[6]

Another characteristic of the Academy’s climate scientists is to assume that more global warming will be a bad thing. It will bring, their submission says, more and worse extreme weather, degrade farm output, drown Asian megacities from sea-level rise (if so, when? In 2200?), drown low-lying tropical islands (Charles Darwin scotched that idea in 1837) and, of course, kill the Great Barrier Reef, which mysteriously survived several comparable warming episodes in the  past 10,000 years.

Reality checks

  • The Academy’s “extreme weather” meme is not, in broad terms, even endorsed by the IPCC’s 5th report. The most comprehensive study to date, published last week, “found that the frequency of hail storms, thunderstorms and high wind events has decreased by nearly 50 percent on average throughout China since 1960.”
  •  The less than 1degC of global warming in the past 150 years has been accompanied by record output of food crops, sufficient to feed a global population increased by 2.5 billion  in the past 30 years. With the global food import bill at a six-year low, the amazing rise in crop productivity shows no sign of stalling. Another 1degC of warming would seem, on past form, an excellent thing for food output for the world’s under-nourished.
  • The fertilizing effect of our emissions-caused CO2 increase has greened the planet, creating the vegetative equivalent of two continental United States. What’s the Academy got to say about that?

The Academy-eight’s submission cited only six external papers, one of them co-authored by a “R.K. Pachauri” (who happens to be devoid of science qualifications). Rajendra Pachauri resigned abruptly as IPCC chair in February 2015 (three months before the Academy submission citing him) after a 29-year-old female subordinate at his TERI think-tank  alleged the 75-year-old  had spent the previous 15 months pursuing and sexually harasing her.[7] Soon after, New Delhi police charged the Academy-cited author with molestation, stalking, sexual harassment and criminal intimidation. His initial and wildly improbable defence (later abandoned) was that some “climate enemy” had hacked his phone, computer and whatsapp account to send the woman all those dirty texts and lurid suggestions.[8]

For those in the Academy who would claim Pachauri’s sex obsessions are nothing to do with his IPCC work, please note that while chairing the 37th IPCC plenary in Batumi, Georgia, in 2013, attended by 229 politicians from 92 countries, Pachauri was surreptitiously firing off come-hither notes to his outraged and much put-upon staffer. Prosecutors are yet to have their charges against him tested in the notoriously slow and corruptible Indian courts.

Another of the meagre citations in the Academy’s submission is to a report on “Deep Decarbonisation in 2050” from the Monash/Myer ClimateWorks think-tank (2014) and authored by sundry Climateworks, CSIRO and ANU warmist fanatics.

This document posits a $60 per tonne carbon price by 2020 (current price on European markets, five Euros). The carbon price would rise thereafter by more than 4% a year to 2050, at which happy date Australians will supposedly  bask in unprecedented riches and affordable electricity per capita, along with  zero thermal coal usage.

Climateworks outlines a scenario in which, thanks to “very strong abatement incentives” i.e. subsidies,  cars by 2050 are running on electricity and hydrogen, while trucks, planes and mining machinery are powered largely by biofuels. (The authors also hope to see a return to wooden buildings, rather than old-fashioned brick, steel and concrete). The implications include that Australia would need to plant in the very broad vicinity of between 600,000 hectares and 1.7 million every year of forestry for carbon credits and biomass.[9] Needless to say, the  Science Academy’s climate team took the document seriously, although it more resembles a Greens senator’s wet dream.

A third citation in the Academy submission of  Professor Lesley Hughes, David Karoly et al is to an IPCC document on Australasian warming which, just coincidentally, happens to have been lead-authored by Professor Lesley Hughes and reviewed by David Karoly.

The main citation, however, is to the Academy’s own 2015 booklet, “The science of climate change: Questions and answers”. One of that document’s remarkable feature (citation 45) is the trust it places in Michael Mann’s notorious and discredited 2000-year ‘Hockey Stick’ temperature reconstruction.

The document’s main surprise is that the Academy imagines output of climate models constitutes “compelling evidence” that human-caused CO2 increases are warming the planet.[10]  In fact, the model outputs are “compelling evidence” of nothing other than the assumptions and tweaks chosen by the modellers, such as inordinately-high sensitivity of temperature to CO2 increases. This, and the satellite-measured 18 years of warming hiatus,  have led to models over-forecasting recent warming two- or threefold, and to the IPCC’s acknowledgement that 111 out of 114 model runs have exaggerated actual warming. Yet so-called predictions from these models out to 2100 are the basis for the Academy wanting trillion-dollar decarbonising of the world’s energy usage and prolonged energy poverty for the Third World.

Even more absurdly, the Academy booklet’s “proof” of man-made CO2 warming is that climate models are supposedly poor with 150-year hindcasts (recreation of past temperature trends) when only “natural” influences are included, but more accurate when human CO2 outputs are included.[11]

The reality is that modellers have no idea about the impact of a host of natural and crucial variables such as cloud feedback effects. The IPCC in its 2007 report listed more than a dozen climate forcing factors for which it rated scientific understanding as “Medium to Low”, “Low” or “Very Low”.  In several key passages, the IPCC acknowledged serious defects in the models.[12]Yet the Australian Academy, despite its normal fawning over IPCC findings, continues to assume the models are more or less perfect.

This misplaced trust allows the  Academy to claim that juxtaposing pairs of (flawed and unvalidated) models can   “prove” CO2 impacts. It’s a mystery how the so-called climate scientists have hoodwinked the world with such nonsense for decades.

A particularly lame and incestuous line in the Academy Q&A document reads, “Some models predict that, when the current slowdown [ie warming hiatus] ends, renewed warming will be rapid.” Flip to the citations (No. 87) and you discover that the document co-author Matthew England is citing is his own 2014 paper, which purports to explain away the hiatus with modelled stuff about Pacific trade wind changes pushing heat into the ocean – one of more than 60 different and often contradictory hypotheses to date on the “pause”.[13]

Instead of sledging each other over renewables target levels, the political parties would benefit from auditing the climate science behind the targets – and discovering that it’s tainted and threadbare. And in the case of the Academy of Science, it’s activism.

Tony Thomas’s book of Quadrant essays, “That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print” is available here.


[1] As 95% of Academy Fellows live off the taxpayer, the Academy presumably took the view that the vast unemployment  from a no-growth economy would be other people’s problem.

[2] “(P)resent rich world levels of consumption are grossly unsustainable and we will probably have to reduce them by something like 90% if we are to achieve a sustainable and just world. Most people concerned about the state of the planet don’t seem to realise how huge the changes would have to be.” Ted Trainer, quoted by speaker Haydn Washington.

[3] The InterAcademy Council, representing 15 national science academies, found “significant shortcomings in each major step [i.e. every major step] of IPCC’s assessment process”.

[4] A classic “cultist” example, also common in Australia, is claiming that any unusual weather event – such as the Californian drought – is linked to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The Californian drought has been overtaken in the past month or two by torrential rain. The more brazen climate “scientists” are now trying to link that rain to AGW as well.

[5] China plans for its emissions not even to peak until 2030. In the three years to 2020, it will add  coal-fired electricity generation equivalent to the entire electricity generation of Canada.

[6] The Academy submission is not 100% loopy as it acknowledges (twice) that “it is not possible to avoid all climate change”. Congrats, guys, on that profundity.

[7] “I feel broken and scarred in body and mind due to Dr. Pachauri’s behavior and actions. I get frequent panic attacks due to the constant harassment and being made to feel like an object of vulgar desire from this man, who is old enough to be my grandfather … I was very scared of losing my reputation and employment if I complained to anyone.” 

One of Pachauri’s messages reads: “I find it now very difficult to hug you. What haunts me are your words from the last time that I ‘grabbed’ your body. That would apply to someone who would want to molest you. I loved you in the soul, mind, heart…”

[8] The Academy-cited Pachauri previously published a sari-ripping novel, Return to Almora, featuring orgies, masturbation and unsettling descriptions of sex with reluctant women.

[9] Climateworks: “The analysis suggests that the total biofuel use would amount to about 15GL in 2050, which is equivalent to about 44 percent of today’s domestic petroleum refining capacity.”

[10] The Academy: “Together with physical principles and knowledge of past variations, models provide compelling evidence that recent changes are due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. They tell us that, unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced greatly and greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilised, greenhouse warming will continue to increase.”

[11]  The Academy: “Models can successfully reproduce the observed warming over the last 150 years when both natural and human influences are included, but not when natural influences act alone. This is both an important test of the climate models against observations and also a demonstration that recent observed global warming results largely from human rather than natural influences on climate.”

[12] (a)       ”There may also be a contribution from forcing inadequacies and, in some models, an overestimate of the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing (dominated by the effects of aerosols).” [WG I SPM, section D.1, page 15, bullet point 2, and full Synthesis Report on page SYR-8).

(b) “This difference between simulated [i.e. model output] and observed trends could be caused by some combination of (a) internal climate variability, (b) missing or incorrect radiative forcing and (c) model response error”. (WGI contribution, chapter 9, text box 9.2, page 769)

[13] Rather than vainly trying to account for the pause, “pause-buster” climate people at America’s NOAA now alter past data to remove the pause from the climate record.

COMMENTS [2]

  1. Peter OBrien

    Tony, your last paragraph is the clincher. It is beyond me why the sceptics in the Coalition, such as Craig Kelly, aren’t singing this from the rooftops everyday. What better way to bolster your case for coal fired power than to expose the dubious nature of the CAGW scam. There is more than enough evidence for, even, Turnbull to say there’s not enough evidence.

  2. Ian MacDougall

    Going by this Tony Thomas revelation, it would not surprise me to learn that (a) the Australian Academy of Science is a total cesspit of sexual predators, unfit even for the company of the present POTUS, and that (b) it has been moved in on by the Flat Earth Society and the Von Daniken League, and is flogging homeopathic remedies as a sideline.
    I honestly don’t know what this whole wide world is coming to.

    It’s a mystery how the so-called climate scientists have hoodwinked the world with such nonsense for decades.

    I would not stop there, and the scam won’t either. That strange gurgling sound coming from every point of the compass these days has to be not rising seas, but the whole world drowning in the snake oil it has been talked into buying.