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Time for some real skepticism about climate change
In his latest piece, Webdiarist and contributing author Malcolm B Duncan presents his critical analysis of Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policy Makers released by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, and Webdiary demonstrates that it is a broad church. Now, where have I heard that expression before?
Both scientific method and the law teach one to be skeptical and base one’s conclusions on evidence. Steeped in both, I remain a climate change skeptic in the sense that, save for the effect of CFCs on the ozone layer, I can see no convincing evidence for human induced effects on the climate. By the same token, I remain agnostic on the issue: if there is evidence, I should like to see it. I have asked for it but not seen it. There are quite sensible things we should be doing like promoting our best renewable energy source, the sun. There are good reasons for conserving oil – we’re going to need it for plastics not fuel. We can probably solve our water problems by putting some serious money into generating hydrogen from water using solar power and pumping it to where we need water. Then we burn it. Hey presto – water – as much as you want. Obviously research needs to be done into the effects of the energy use but that’s what science is for. Using less coal would probably be a good idea but in order to do that we have to work out a way of replacing the revenue. We’ll come to that – it’s called policy. Pity none of the political parties has it.
Climate changes all the time and the planet is a dynamic system. One significant eruption would change the face of the planet entirely and there is constant production of greenhouse gas through tectonic plate movement particularly in the Pacific rift. Tim Flannery, who I find incredibly unconvincing, lets the cat out of the bag with a diagramme on p 60 of The Weather Makers. He uses ice core samples to determine greenhouse levels over time but, of course, that is only a measure of what is happening at the surface. There has simply not been a sufficient period of time for atmospheric research to show what has been happening in the upper atmosphere over centuries – we simply did not have the capacity until recently to take measurements. That means that the arguments being propounded surrounding “Climate Change” are relatively short-term.
That brings me to the Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policy Makers released by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change. Now, I have little or no time for the UN. It strikes me that it is a convenient way for a lot of parasites to make a much better quid than they could at home. It certainly has not brought peace to the world or an end to poverty or suffering. Sometimes, however, it does reasonable science.
Let’s look at how reasonable this science is. Despite all the rhetoric, as all good science does, this document is hedged with qualifications.
First there is the assertion (p 2):
Yet the explanation given includes this:
That’s right: they’ve only been doing serious continuous measurements since 1960.
A footnote says:
Hmmm, so we’re not necessarily talking about human activity as a factor. In the rest of the report, that just gets glossed over and of course it is ignored by every Climate Change nutter activist and journalist who says anything about the issue.
In discussing sea levels, the report notes (p 5):
We know, of course, sea levels change radically over time: East of Eden. The limestone in the Atherton tablelands used to be the Great Barrier Reef etc.
Then there’s sea ice (p 6):
You don’t read that in the newspapers.
On p 8 we get this statement which I find interesting:
I can’t help wondering exactly how much coal humans were burning 125,000 years ago. Oh, and its happened before has it? Happens cyclically all the time over long periods. There is no discussion of the effect the deforestation of either the Australian continent or Europe had on the planet although I should have thought, according to the current popular orthodoxy, there would have to be a significant effect from both which would show up in ice core samples if that were a valid methodology. Its one of the reasons I don’t think it is.
Now, here’s the likely bit (p 9):
Conveniently, there is no attempt to attribute any percentage to either. Perhaps that’s because it’s not possible.
Then there’s the gloom and doom (p 12):
It strikes me that there are two points here. First, the idea that the dynamic system adjusts itself over centuries does not fit with a lot of the short-term measurement in the study itself and, secondly, if they’re right, we’re probably stuffed anyway.
In the notes to the diagramme on p 16, there is this gem:
Don’t you love scientific rigour? We’ll just leave out a major contributing factor that happens to be natural. Ripper.
For all those reasons, I remain unconvinced but it is a Summary for Policymakers so let’s propose some policy given that there’s a Federal Election on.
The reality is that Australia can do very little but even a little might help. Were we to end coal exports tomorrow, it would not stop China and India sourcing their coal from elsewhere but it would have a significant effect on our overall emissions. If we did it though we would be altering the economy significantly, changing the balance of payments and putting a hell of a lot of people out of work. What to do? Well, here’s an idea: the Commonwealth has constitutional power to resume the railways. Let’s do it. Then, let’s use every kilometer of railtrack and cover all of it with solar panels owned by the Commonwealth. Fund it by using infrastructure bonds. Legislate so that super funds cannot invest more than 50% of their holdings (so that there is still sufficient liquidity to keep the stock market going). Pay 7% on the bonds. Spend all of the money on construction (not bureaucrats). 10% of that goes in GST straight away. In the first year, you make a net gain of 3%. Fast track so that the first power is available by the end of the first year. Sell the power into the grid. By the time the whole project is complete, you have a massive surplus of power. Microwave it by satellite to the Chinese and the Indians – they become less dependent on coal. Invest money in research to improve solar technology and particularly the research for disassociating seawater. Build Hydrogen pipelines. In the course of this, you have created massive numbers of jobs out in the bush where they are needed, you have revitalized country towns and you have placed the country in a position to electrify the rail freight network removing massive numbers of trucks from the roads and allowing money to be spent on improving them (and other infrastructure like schools and hospitals) rather than constantly repairing potholes. It all works kiddies we just have to assess the extent of the energy loss during transmission.
Just because I’m a skeptic doesn’t mean I believe in doing nothing. What we need to do is be bold and brave and, if we are stuffed already, at least we can go down fighting.