I don’t refute this nonsense by constructing a new argument each time which, point-by-point, shows why their claims are not supported by the evidence. This is pointless, since the majority of non-greenhouse theorists (‘sceptics’) blithely ignore any such counterpoints and simply repeat the same arguments elsewhere. Instead I rebutt by hyperlinking to some of the wealth of explanatory material out there on the world wide web. For reasons of general accessibility, the articles l link to are predominantly pitched for a lay audience – but they are consistent in linking to the peer-reviewed primary scientific literature (sometimes I’ll link straight to the journal papers). I focus primarily on the science content of the piece, except where non-science arguments are clearly false and demand correction.
For this entry, I look at a television story ran by the Sixty Minutes current affairs programme, Channel 9, which was aired on Sunday 17 August 2008 in Australia. The reporter is Tara Brown. Her primary interviewee was none other than Dr David Evans, whose arguments I’ve considered in a previous posting. Now perhaps she was doing the standard journalistic thing and trying to provide ‘balanced’ statements, but Ms Brown also said a few rather strange and unsupported things, which I also look at.
Now I’ve only included the relevant parts of the programme’s transcript. You can watch it (brace yourself), or get the full transcript (including the smatterings of sensible stuff), by clicking here. So here goes:
TARA BROWN: So convinced is the Federal Government of the threat, it is about to introduce a controversial carbon tax [it is emissions trading, not a tax] that will not only change the way we live, but have a huge impact on our economy.
TARA BROWN: And what we should know, according to David Evans, is since 2001 temperatures around the world have stopped rising. And that’s despite increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air. So statistically, in the last seven years, the flattening and perhaps even slight cooling of temperatures – is that significant?
DAVID EVANS: Yes, yes it is significant. Once it gets up to five years or so it’s really quite significant. Whatever was driving the temperatures up has taken a break for a while and meanwhile carbon emissions have continued and the level of carbon in the atmosphere has gone up about 5% since 2001, yet we see no more warming.
PM KEVIN RUDD: Here’s a measurement which people should just sit back and pay a bit of attention to – the 12 hottest years in human history have occurred in the last 13 years. That’s a fact.
TARA BROWN: It’s not my position to correct you Prime Minister but Ive been told that in fact during the middle ages the global temperatures were two to three degrees warmer than now. Certainly we’ve had the hottest 12 years in recent history but the planet’s been a lot hotter.
PM KEVIN RUDD: Well, I stand by what the International Panel of Climate Change Scientists have had to say. There will always be argy-bargy about elements of the detail.
TARA BROWN: Global Warming certainly attracts lots of argy-bargy. But one thing climate scientists agree on – if global warming is caused by CO-2 emissions then the CO-2 will leave a distinct signature their computer models predict a big red hotspot above the equator. The problem is thousands of weather balloons equipped with some very sophisticated thermometers have measured the temperatures in the atmosphere to test the theory, and guess what, no hotspots.
DAVID EVANS: There’s no hotspot, there’s no hotspot at all. [He just doesn't give up on repeating this untruth, does he?] It’s not even a little hotspot and it’s missing. We couldn’t find it.
TARA BROWN: So, this is the crux for you, this is evidence?
DAVID EVANS: Yes. If this had come out the other way, if we’d measured it and we’d found a hotspot I’d be saying, “Cut back carbon emissions.”
TARA BROWN: A very simple question, is there any chance you’re looking in the wrong spot?
DAVID EVANS: No.
JEFF PRELL: The last 5.5 years of rainfall are 25% below the 100-year average, so this is not only a dry, it’s a big dry.
TARA BROWN: That was June 2005 and thankfully since then, much of Australia has received rain.
TARA BROWN: What to do is the megabillion-dollar question. There are alternatives to powering our world without the carbon fallout of coal and oil but all have their negatives. The great hope was to replace fossil fuels with biofuels like palm oil but the plantations are so vast in places like Indonesia entire jungles are being wiped out as are the precious orang-utans who live in them.
TARA BROWN: Then there’s wind power. It might make us feel good but there’s just not enough puff in it.
DR JAMES LOVELOCK: At the best, wind power cannot provide more than a tiny fraction of the energy needs of civilisation. I think it’s one of those things politicians like because it can be seen that they’re doing something.
TARA BROWN: And nuclear power may be embraced by France and Finland as a green and efficient energy source but who could ever forget Richard Carleton in the remnants of the Chernobyl reactor.
PM KEVIN RUDD: The key thing is, how do you bring carbon pollution down in an economically responsible fashion? And having looked at all the detail this is the best way forward.
DAVID EVANS: Isn’t it a bit dopey to wreck the economy for a purely theoretical reason when the alleged symptom, warming, stopped six years ago.
TARA BROWN: They perhaps would use the word prudent as opposed to dopey, that the risk of not doing something is too great?
DAVID EVANS: I urge them to look at the modern science, the evidence isn’t there. There is no evidence that carbon emissions cause a significant amount of global warming.
PM KEVIN RUDD: I am not, myself, a qualified scientist. I’m elected as Prime Minister of Australia to act on the basis of the considered scientific advice.
TARA BROWN: But it’s never too late to continue the debate is it?
PM KEVIN RUDD: Look at your kids in the eye tonight and ask yourself this question – “If we have this much evidence available to us now “on climate change and just refuse to act, “then what are the consequences for them?” The alternative, however, is to just stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away.
Deltoid has also worked this over. Newspapers, radio, TV – there is no doubt that this sort of smearing of the science isn’t going away any time soon, and it matters, because it’s the politicians – the ones who have to make the decisions to act – that are getting the blowtorch applied by this disinformation machine.
Filed under: Sceptics