Tonights airing of The Great Global Warming Swindle and the associated discussion on ABC TV should be a hoot. The ABC has structured the panel to try to get their preferred political position aired. The panel composition will minimise scientific discussion. It contains journalists, political pressure groups and those who will make a quid out of frightening us witless.
Three scientists with a more rational view to the doomsday hype were invited to appear on the panel and have now been uninvited as they do not dance to the drumbeat of disaster. There is a VIP section of the audience with loopy-left greens and social commentators. We have the Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (BAMOS), which was in such a hurry to publish a critique of The Great Global Warming Swindle that it contains schoolboy howlers and a lack of logic intertwined with politics.
What makes it even more amusing is that BAMOS did not criticise Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. If this Hollywood fiction film claims to be supported by science, then why did it perpetuate a well-documented scientific fraud?
There is no panel discussion when the ABC TV religiously promotes the popular political view on global warming. Why is there a panel for an alternative view?
Science is married to evidence, scepticism and dissent. This evidence is from experiment, measurement, observation and calculation. Scientists hotly debate the methods of acquisition of evidence. Once the evidence is validated, a scientific theory is offered as an explanation. This theory must be in accord with all previous validated data and can be changed with new data. Science has no consensus, science is anarchistic as it submits to no authority, and the latest scientific view is only transitory. Science is apolitical, and when it has submitted to political pressure in the past, it has been at great human cost. Noise, political pressure or numbers of converts does not validate a scientific concept. When the president of the Royal Society says the science on human-induced global warming is settled, one is reminded of a previous president who said it was impossible for heavier-than-air machines to fly!
Since the beginning of time, climate has always changed. It has warmed and cooled faster than any contemporary change. Nothing happening at present is unusual. The atmospheric carbon dioxide content in the past has been hundreds to thousands of times the current figure and the world did not end. Quite the contrary — life thrived.
Computer models are models, albeit primitive. They are not predictions, they are not scenarios. They don’t do clouds. They don’t do turbulence. They don’t do unseen submarine emissions of greenhouse gases. They deal only with greenhouse gas emissions from volcanos in times of little volcanic activity. They don’t do starbursts, which have probably given us the greatest climate changes on Earth. They don’t do variations in cosmic ray fluxes, which produce clouds in the lower atmosphere. They don’t do mountain building, plate tectonics and closing or opening of seaways, which have profound effects on climate.
If the conclusion that humans are changing climate by carbon dioxide emissions requires the omission of validated astronomical, palaeontologic and geological evidence, then the popular view of humans causing climate change is not science. We are seeing a revival of a form of zealous Western politics intertwined with poor theology, poor economics and poor logic.
If humans have contributed to the slight warming in the 20th century, then all theories of past climate changes need to be evaluated and discarded. This has not happened. Why is it that previous global warmings have been faster and greater than the warming that started after the Little Ice Age? Is it no surprise that the planet has become warmer after the Little Ice Age? Is it no surprise that the driver of climate has been, is and will be that great ball of heat in the centre of our solar system? If evidence from the past is used, then one can only conclude that the slight warmings and cooling in the 20th century cannot be due to carbon dioxide.
Groups like BAMOS and the IPCC deny, minimise or ignore significant recent climate changes that gave us the Roman Warming, the Dark Ages, the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age. Both history and archaeology show that in previous warmings, temperatures were far higher than at present. Populations and the economy thrived. Previous coolings led to famine, depopulation and social disruption. History shows that it is dangerous to ignore history.
The Renaissance gave us a system where criticism, logic, scepticism and an alternative view based on evidence were valued.
It was in this environment that democracy thrived. We are now reaping the rewards of dumbing down the education system and live at a time when it is a politically correct duty to suppress alternative views. The best way to understand climate is to critically and sceptically evaluate the evidence presented to us over a very long period of time by the heavens and the Earth beneath our feet.
Ian Plimer is emeritus professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne and professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide.
First published in The Age at http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/global-warming-zealots-stifling-scientific-debate/2007/07/11/1183833595634.html
Republished with permission from the author.