FUNDAMENTAL to the scientific method is the assumption that reality exists independently of our belief systems; that there is such a thing as evidence, and that it matters.
There seems to be general agreement on this point from both the left and right sides of Australian politics.
Indeed, in an article in The Weekend Australian newspaper (page 18) written by Graham Lloyd entitled ‘No place in debate for contrarian hijackers’, Misha Ketchell who is the editor of the influential academic publication The Conversation is quoted claiming to care so much about the evidence that the opinions of ‘sceptics’ must be excluded.
But this begs the question: how do we define scepticism, and on what basis do we discount the opinion of a so-called sceptic?
If their opinions are at complete odds with the evidence: then wouldn’t it be more useful to show this? To use them, and their wrong claims, to explain the truth within the theory of human-caused global warming?
It is claimed that sceptics like myself have an undue and powerful political influence, repeatedly successfully thwarting attempts to implement necessary public policy change.
Indeed, if my arguments are so devoid of evidence, this should be easily proven. Except that the skills scores from my rainfall forecasts, when compared with reality, are far superior to anything forecast by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
There has always been a role in science for models and predictions — that can be objectively tested against reality/the evidence —- so the predictions of sceptics could be juxtaposed against predictions from the consensus.
Another way of finding universal truths is through simple observation. If we have catastrophic sea level rise, for example, then this should be evident when we visit the beach, or somewhere like Sydney Harbour. It should be evident in our coastal landscapes. I explained some of this in a recent talk I gave at the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club that the Institute of Public Affairs had filmed and that is now available on YouTube.
Given science is about real world phenomena, it should not be that difficult for Misha Ketchell to test the evidence repeatedly being put forward by particular individuals, like myself, against what comes to pass in the real world — what is observed.
But instead of relying on such simple tests of the truth — in my rainfall forecasts or in a coastal landscape or at a coral reef — those in authority, and who edit important journals and websites, have decided that I should be banned.
As Graham Lloyd explains on page 18 of today’s Weekend Australian, I’m listed, in, of all places, the journal Nature as a dangerous dissident who must be shunned, and denied, because, it is claimed, that I misrepresent the evidence. That so many of us are actively de-platformed is only just now being acknowledged, and I am grateful that it has today been explained in The Weekend Australian.
The conspiracy against me dates to at least 2008 when Bryant MacFie gifted $350,000 to the University of Queensland (UQ) in a donation facilitated by the Institute of Public Affairs to pay for environmental research scholarships. After I set all of this up, the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) intervened and told the Law and Agricultural facilities that if the program was to go ahead it must be without me … because as someone sceptical of global warming I lacked integrity.
I was replaced by Richard Burns, as the team leader. And more recently, in January just this year, after another strategic intervention perhaps involving the Bureau this time, I was removed as team leader from a project with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The University of Queensland program did go ahead without me back in 2008.
I moved to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. The Blue Mountains is, of course, a great place for bush walking, which is a great way to reconnect with the natural world. It is in nature that we find evidence for the universal truths that exist independently of any and everything Misha Ketchell, and other such Australian opinion leaders, choose to publish — or not.
So, while I have repeatedly tried to escape to nature, it draws me back to science … as a method for transcending the chatter now everywhere in our scientific institutions and their publications.
I have kept showing that David Jones and Blair Trewin at the Bureau of Meteorology keep changing the temperature record, and more recently that the journal Nature publishes incorrect information from David Wachenfeld, the chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, as detailed in the article that follows.
Science is a method, science is never settled. We must therefore always be open-minded, tolerant and ready to be proven wrong. But history will eventually show that it is Misha Ketchell who is wrong and that this editor is not using a reasonable, or in any way evidence-based, criteria for deciding what should be published. This is so very wrong and so very harmful to science, democracy and the capacity of other opinion leaders and academics to evaluate the evidence which is so necessary if they are to get to the truth in such matters as climate change.
The following article was published in The Weekend Australian on 7th September 2019.
Coral death knell exaggerated, says rebel quality assurance survey
The death of inshore corals near Bowen had been greatly exaggerated, according to the findings of a rebel quality assurance survey by reef-science outsiders Peter Ridd and Jennifer Marohasy.
The shallow reef flats of Stone Island have played a key role in divisions over the health of the – inshore Great Barrier Reef and the impact of run-off from agriculture.
Dr Ridd was disciplined for attempting to blow the whistle on the widespread use of before and after pictures taken a century apart near Stone Island that suggested coral cover had disappeared.
A follow-up paper by Queensland University reef scientist Tara Clark, co-authored by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chief scientist David Wachenfeld, confirmed the coral loss.
Despite winning his unfair dismissal case against JCU and being yesterday awarded more than $1.2m by the Federal Court, Dr Ridd effectively has been dismissed as a crank by other scientists.
An expert scientific panel last month accused him of spreading scientific misinformation like pro- tobacco lobbyists and anti-vaccination campaigners.
But Dr Ridd and Dr Marohasy have spent the past two weeks documenting the corals around Stone Island, which they found were still very much alive.
The in-the-water quality assurance snapshot of onshore corals near Bowen and the Whitsundays has been partly funded by the Institute of Public Affairs.
The hundreds of hours of aerial and aquatic footage will be archived and some of this made into a documentary.
Dr Marohasy and Dr Ridd repeated the transects used in the Clark research which found there had been a serious decline in reef health from historical photographs in the late 19th century to the present.
Dr Marohasy said if the transects used in the Clark analysis had been extended by 30m to the south of Stone Island they would have found a different story.
“I saw and photographed large pink plate coral on August 25 — some more than 1m in diameter — at the reef edge just 30m from where Tara Clark and colleagues ended their transect as published in Nature,” Dr Marohasy said.
Several hundred metres away, across the headland, in the northern-facing bay, was an area of 100 per cent coral cover stretching over 25ha.
Dr Ridd said the finding of the survey was that there was “good coral all over the place” around Stone Island.
“What we saw was not consistent with the proposition that the inshore reefs have been destroyed by farm run-off,” Dr Ridd said.
He said the findings were at odds to those of Dr Clark and her team.
The survey results follow a report by GBRMPA last week that downgraded the long-term outlook for the reef from poor to very poor with particular concern about run-off in onshore reef areas.
Dr Ridd said there were “lots of people around Bowen who get very angry when people say all their coral is wiped out”.
“How would people in Sydney feel if everybody was saying that the water in Sydney Harbour has turned brown from pollution, the bridge was rusting scrap and the Opera House was crumbling ruin,” he said.
Dr Wachenfeld said it was always great to see evidence of healthy coral in inshore areas.
“The body of published science tells us most of our inshore reefs are extensively degraded,” he said. “When we find healthy patches that’s good news.”
Dr Wachenfeld said a paper published in 2016 contained information about coral around Stone Island and nearby Middle Reef.
This article was first published in The Weekend Australian, and can be viewed online here.
The feature image, at the top of this blog post, is of me flying Skido, just south of Bowen over mudflat to the west of Bramston Reef. This drone aerial cinematography may be included in an upcoming documentary (yet to be scripted), that could be made following a short film called ‘Most Corals are Beige’ (directed by Clint Hempsall, written by Jennifer Marohasy) that is planned for release mid-October in Melbourne.
To be sure to know more about the short film and possible documentary consider subscribing for my irregular e-news.
Bill in Oz says
I hope you are keeping pace with Ken’s work over at Ken’s Kingdom. For the past week or so he’s been checking out the BOM’s weather stations in Qld. Today it was Rockhampton. Yesterday it was Gladstone. before that it was Tewantin BOM weather station – in other words Noosa, your home town.
I read with real sadness how the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) intervened to prevent you being employed as part of the new research scholarship program at UQ.
Now that is is utter bloody B/S.
And that shows how deep blind ideology has penetrated our scientific institutions.
When it comes to swaying the masses,
propaganda is more powerful than evidence,
defamation more effective than debate.
If human comprehension of reality did rely on the “opinion” of the masses,
we would still be chasing down our food with sticks.
300 years ago we were told, you as an individual have the ability to reason and with honesty and integrity can peal back the accumulated layers of ignorance and bias, hence exposing the light on the truth of reality.
Today the establishment of truth of reality is by consensus, a “Democratic Reality!”
Science does not have the tools to fight on an ideological battle field.
That job is up to its parent; Philosophy.
Your detailed work and mapping, including that done with Peter Ridd and Walter Starck, is very greatly appreciated by all of us who know and value scientific integrity above cynical grant chasing/posturing. We admire your courage, although why you’d leave Katoomba for the sub-tropics is moot. [I love the raw geology of the Devonian/Carboniferous/ Permo-Triassic strata exposed in every majestic cliff-face to basement].
Walter S has an article on your work here:
Deplatforming has become the favoured method of removing informed dissent from the public domain. It’s now extremely widespread and increasingly malicious – and a logical extension of the po-faced, cowardly “We do not debate in public”. Well, Peter Ridd’s Federal Court outcome, and Tim Ball’s Canadian win over the odious Mann, are examples of what happens when that cowardice is finally forced to meet the light of day. Steyn’s battle with Mann is stuck in limbo (many years now, thanks to leftie judges) over exactly the same issue.
There is currently some hard amusement at the reaction of the oh-so-entitled, politically correct Remainers in the UK to themselves being deplatformed by the proroguing of Parliament. Shreiking to the heavens now about freedom of speech, democracy undone, trying every law court that may entertain their hurty feelings and … blah, blah.
And I still gratefully wish to you to share your drone mapping when and where you can. The details that reveals has really driven the stake into grant funds vampirism, which is a big additional plus to the true value of your exploratory mapping.
The West is apparently giving itself first hand experience in what science was like during Lysenkoism.
R S BENNETT says
Take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s handling of fake news or in this case your argument against the purveyors of fake science. When these fake scientists are asked “why does it get colder at night and get warmer in the morning when the sun comes up?”, the fake scientists struggle explain why the sun does not have an influence on weather and climate but only anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Try this approach especially when there is an audience of non scientists. Always refer to these warmists as fake science fanatics or as fake scientists.
Ian George says
‘I have kept showing that David Jones and Blair Trewin at the Bureau of Meteorology keep changing the temperature record, …’
Just been comparing annual mean temperatures for Australia from 2002-2018 using the official BoM annual summaries and BoM timeseries.
Every annual mean except 2018 has been adjusted by up to 0.14C. For instance, 2011’s annual mean was reported as -0.14C (below the 1961-1980 base line) but has been adjusted up to 0.00. 2007 has been adjusted from +0.67 to +0.75.
This would reflect the ACORN2 temp homogenisation adjustments.
It appears that annual means prior to 1960 have been reduced down but these are more difficult to compare.
It appears that the 1914 AM has been adjusted down from +0.5C to 0.12C, almost half a degree.
If this is the pattern, then the rise in temps have been adjusted up by nearly 0.5C since 1910.
Man-made GW indeed.
There was a news story this evening on NBC in the US about dying corals. Climate change came up of coarse but they found that “climate change is causing increased reactive nitrogen in the ocean and that’s more strongly correlated to coral die off than temperature.” Somehow, it never occurred to the producers that increased corn cultivation to produce ethanol biofuels to fight climate change might run down the Mississippi which lead to dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico.
The tactics of the alarmists are becoming more strident and vicious. What Jennifer has been subject to is disgusting. But it has happened to many others: Peter Ridd, Bob Carter etc. This is the point, it is not about science, it is about ideology with money thrown in and the ultimate prize being power.
The media is the main problem; I am convinced if the abc did not exist then alarmism would have been far less of a problem, at least here in Australia.
spangled drongo says
Thank you Jen for your hard work providing all this essential evidence.
The quiet Australians who are [hopefully] still in the majority, get and appreciate this and in spite of the greater amount of media coverage the alarmists get, all the efforts from the consensual groupthinkers to shut down rational debate and all the orchestration of brain-washed kiddies, I do believe the observable evidence of the climate non-problem will eventually win the day.
Nevertheless it is hard to believe that modern world “climate science” can be so incredibly obtuse.
And the fact that this groupthink is being force fed at our learning institutions awa our taxpayer funded ABC is great cause for concern.
Steve Turner says
Thank you for another informative article. I had a chuckle on Friday when entering a road roundabout in Atherton – there was a small rag-tag group of climate alarmists chanting and waving signs at passing motorists. Hopefully we won’t see this nonsense take off in a bigger way in rural centres as it has in the coastal cities. In the eighties I was living next door to a grazing block on the Atherton Tablelands that had a measuring station set up by scientists to measure run -off from unfertilised pasture. There were other stations set up in rainforest, fertilised pasture and sugar cane on the coast. When the results were reported in a very small newspaper item it was clear that the rainforest run-off had the highest readings. I can’t site details and can not find the paper on the internet so this is just from my memory. I expect the report has been buried somewhere as it doesn’t support the current “concensus”
Dr Christine Finlay says
The new scientific method: cut off “contrarian’s” income; suppress large bodies of evidence to reach conclusions & team play with stakeholders to ensure they continue funding.
David Tanner says
Your research into the happenings on the Barrier Reef may well be scientifically accurate, but that does nothing to explain the dimunition of glaciers all around the world , the melting of the Greenland ice or the reduction of ice at the north pole. Indeed, the totality of all those factors probably makes very little difference to sea levels. Apparent rising sea levels on Pacific Islands could well be due to subsidence.
However, other manifestations of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere such as the lowering of pH in seawater can not so easily be written off and we need to do something about it. The significant rise in CO2 concentration since the advent of the Industrial Revolution can hardly be written off as being without the cause of mankind. As a scientist you scepticism does you no justice.
The symptoms you describe regarding norther hemisphere cryo-dynamics has been shown to not be unusual or troubling. It is the islands in the Pacific that are *growing* that should be of interest. Any island in a static sea level regime is always going to erode and subside.
Outside of laboratories, there is no evidence of significant changes in ocean pH. In fact pH is dynamic. And the wild anti-scientific claims of melting or damaged shells of crustaceans is beneath the dignity of any serious student of the issue.
The one well documented direct correlation to increased CO2 is that the Earth has noticeably greened up in recent years. That hardly seems to be a pending crisis.
The reduction in bad floods, forest fires, storm fatalities, famines, long lasting heatwaves, etc. may or may not be directly correlated to CO2 but the consensus effort to hide the data is notable.
The multiple requests for Jennifer to stop being a skeptic- by you and TH- hardly seems worthy of someone who considers themselves to be a student of science.
Humans very likely contributed to the increase of CO2 in the last century or so, but the question worth asking is “so what?”
Charlie Clelland says
True scientists like Jennifer Marohasy and Peter Ridd should remind us of what we’ve lost in the corporate, leftist mishmash which makes up much of the leadership and commentariat of science in this country. The idiocy of people who denigrate real science when real scientists dare to check and confirm observations and results leads to the obvious conclusion that we’re no longer dealing with scientific enterprise but some form of heretical religious sect using pseudo-scientific language. Fortunately extreme movements do burn out fairly quickly – just not fast enough for most of us.
It is in nature that we find universal truths….the great Lakeland poet William Wordsworth wrote similarly in a poem called The Tables Turned in 1798.
……..Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.
I often think that climate scientists, journalists, ‘green’ groups such as Extinction Rebellion, would do well to spend some time in the natural world.
Wordsworth also wrote ‘fair seed time had my soul and I grew up fostered alike by beauty and by fear’. There is still much beauty in this world and much to marvel, even though the aforementioned would like to rule us by fear!
Thank you for all your work.