Nobody Lives in a World Climate: Professor Bob Carter 1942-2016

OUTSPOKEN critic of catastrophic global warming theory, Bob Carter, died in Townsville on Tuesday.

Professor Carter did not like the term sceptic, he considered himself a rationalist, and popular usage of the term ‘climate change’ a tautology. As he wrote frequently: the geological record tells us that climate always changes. In Professor Carter’s passing we have lost a person who believed in value-free science.

When he was still directing the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Professor Carter spent an evening with me at his home in Townsville poring over a single chart that was a proxy record of New Zealand’s climate over the last several thousand years. The time series data had been printed out on a long and continuous roll of paper: longer than the kitchen table so the end of the chart, that portion representing the present, was often dangling somewhere near the floor.

Professor Carter was always more interested in periods of dramatic climate change, particularly the Younger Dryas. The Younger Dryas occurred about 14,500 years ago, with an article in the Journal of Geophysical Research suggesting Greenland’s temperature rose 10° C (18° F) in a decade. Professor Carter was reluctant to endorse such a dramatic temperature increase, but always emphasized that relative to geological history, late 20th century rates of warming of less than 2° C per century, are not unusual.

Professor Carter was a real expert on climate change. He was director of the Australian Office of the Ocean Drilling Program which was an international cooperative effort to collect deep sea cores. From these cores past climates for specific regions have been reconstructed.

We both presented to the Coalition Environment Committee at Parliament House on 20th October last year. Professor Carter eloquently explained, with examples, how modern temperatures are not unusually warm; that current carbon dioxide levels are low relative to geological time; that as industrial emissions are added to the atmosphere, the less the “greenhouse” warming effect of each increment of carbon dioxide. Therefore, the professor concluded, “dangerous warming of this causation will not occur.”

Furthermore, Professor Carter added: the addition of 50 ppm of CO2 for 1981-2010 has fertilized an 11 percent increase in plant cover. Thus CO2 is both a strong environmental (greening the planet) and agrarian (crop yield increases) benefit.

In this presentation, the Professor also emphasized the importance of the scientific method.  “To the extent that it is possible for any human endeavor to be so, science is value-free. Science is a way of attempting to understand the world in which live from a rational point of view, based on observation, experiment and tested theory. Irritatingly, especially for governments, science does not operate by consensus and it is often best progressed by mavericks. The alternative to a scientific approach is one based on superstition, phobia, religion or politics.” So, wrote Bob Carter in an article entitled ‘Science is not Consensus’, published by the Institute of Public Affairs in December 2003.

In the preface to his first book ‘Climate: The Counter Consensus’ Bob encouraged us to all to “trust authority less and our own brains more” as we assess the likely dangers of both known natural and hypothetical human-caused global climate change. Chapter 11 of this book outlined the real and present dangers posed by natural climate change. We are reminded of 1816, known as ‘the year without a summer’ for its intense cold associated with both the Dalton solar minimum and a super-eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora.

Professor Carter understood that such events were often associated with extreme hardship and famine, and that, to the extent possible, nations should use their resources to mitigate against such catastrophe. In particular, Professor Carter advocated what he referred to as Plan B: that future climate hazards, both natural and possibly human-caused, be assessed in terms of risk that vary in type and intensity from geographic place to place.

“Nobody,” the Professor would joke, “lives in a world climate”. Putting in place policies and plans to mitigate the dangers and vagaries of natural climate change must occur on a regional basis. Putting in place policies and plan to prepare for natural climate change, would, Professor Carter argued, make us ready for human-caused climate change, should it ever become manifest. Even with generous funding for the implementation of national hazard warning and disaster relief schemes, Bob concluded his book with comment that this would cost orders of magnitude less than those associated with the introduction of unnecessary and ineffectual emissions trading schemes.

Pelicans Weyba Creek

14 Responses to Nobody Lives in a World Climate: Professor Bob Carter 1942-2016

  1. Michael Spencer January 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    A very touching tribute. Thanks Jennifer.

    And then on Andrew Bolt’s tribute today, we see the warming fanatics carrying on as usual, ignoring completely that it was a tribute.

    Unfortunately there are so many who are ideologues (as no doubt you know!) …..

    Anyway, “It’s the Sun, Stupid!” got stuck into one of the warming fanatics. (Now I wonder who was that critic?)

    Interestingly, Case Smit, (Dr) Colin Barton, John Spooner, and I had lunch a few days ago, and I was left with the job of contacting Bob – not realising, of course. We were discussing how we could all organise an over-arching organisation that could provide a united front to confront the assembled ranks of the ‘true believers. in the ‘politically correct’ brigade,

    And I assume you’ve heard the recent definition of PC: “Political Correctness is the fear that people have of what might happen when they stop telling lies!”

    Best wishes.

  2. spangled drongo January 21, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Thanks, Jen, for this well deserved tribute to Bob. He was a great man, a true scientist and a continual thorn in the side of the CAGWarmers.

    Their “Hottest Evah” announcement today would have been well and politely dealt with by Bob.

    I have his autographed book I got from him when John Sayers and I attended Anthony Watts visit, which he helped with, over 5 years ago.

    We shall miss him.

  3. Pathway January 22, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    As we slide into the new Dark Ages it is reassuring to no that great thinking individuals such as yourself and Bob Carter are and were stalwarts of truth. Dr. Carters legacy will live on for many generations.
    Thank you for your wonderful words, Jennifer.

  4. Glen Michel January 22, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    A great speaker and communicator.Top bloke.My thoughts are with his close ones.

  5. Debbie January 22, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    Sorry to hear about this.
    A good man who had the courage and the conviction.

  6. Don B January 23, 2016 at 1:25 am #

    Not exactly off topic….

    120th anniversary of the hottest day in Australia.

  7. Jennifer Marohasy January 23, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    Just filing this here.. Dear Colleagues

    As you may be aware our former colleague, Professor Bob Carter passed away recently in Townsville.

    Bob was a long serving member of staff and adjunct professor at JCU, who provided significant academic leadership throughout his career and was widely respected for his knowledge in the areas of palaeontology, stratigraphy, marine geology and environmental science.

    During his career at JCU, Bob made a major contribution to its development, particularly through his roles as Professor and Head of the Department of Geology and its successor, the School of Earth Sciences, between 1981 and 1997. The academic unit he led developed a national and international profile, and Earth Sciences became recognised as an area of research strength at JCU.

    Even though Bob retired from JCU in 2003 he remained an Adjunct Professor until recently and had many colleagues and friends at the University. He will be missed.


    Professor Chris Cocklin
    Acting Vice Chancellor and President
    James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4811 AUSTRALIA

    No mention that they eventually booted him out for telling the truth about AGW.

  8. Jennifer Marohasy January 23, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    A version of this piece has just been published on page 8 of The Weekend Australian, and also online…

    Thank you to The Australian.

  9. cohenite January 23, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    Bob was a brave, decent man. He achieved a lot including being the expert witness against Gore in the 2006 English High Court case.

  10. Firey January 24, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    A sad day for us all. RIP Prof. Carter.

  11. Neville January 24, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    That’s a wonderful tribute Jennifer. Bob helped me via email quite a few years ago to answer a rather silly letter to the editor in a local newspaper. I’ve since bought his books and followed him on youtube videos and newspaper articles. He will be sorely missed and his shoes will be very hard to fill. Bob Carter RIP.


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