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.
Prof Bob Carter, one of the most active contrarians in the Australian and New Zealand media scene, has a new Op-Ed published in The Courier Mail. Bob also regularly writes letters to the editor of The Age, The Australian, saying much the same thing as in this Op-Ed – over and over again. He is certainly persistent. Bob is also a member of the Australian Climate Science Coalition, so now we are up to four from that group in the ‘Spot the recycled denial’ series, as he joins Prof Ian Plimer, Dr David Evans and Mr John McLean.
Here are the first few paragraphs:
NATURAL climate changes include warmings, coolings and more abrupt steps represented by the Great Pacific Climate Shift in 1977. Meanwhile, lurking in the background lies the threat of visitation of another Little Ice Age.
The Rudd Government’s emissions trading policy deals only with the threat of presumed human-caused warming, and ignores the other all-too-real climate threats. The Government’s intended emissions trading scheme, therefore, does not represent proper climate policy but rather constitutes a human global warming policy – which is an entirely different, and speculative, matter.
For the hypothesis that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming has failed the tests to which it has been subjected. One important test is that global temperature has failed to increase since 1998 despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of almost 5 per cent since then.
So to say that human-caused global warming is proven to be a dangerous problem is untrue, and to introduce policies aimed at stopping presumed warming when cooling is actually under way is vainglorious. An emissions trading scheme also will represent an expensive act of futility, because its introduction will have no measurable effect on future climate. Even worse, the costs of emissions trading will be levied disproportionately against the members of our society least able to afford them.
The full article can be read here…
As per the revised format of this series, rather than reproducing the article in full and hyperlinking the refuted claims, I’ll simply list them below with some links to the relevant scientific information or debunking. It will be up to you to look at the original and pinpoint these recycled arguments:
1. A new little ice age is on the way.
[Short response: Presumably he means if the sun gets stuck in its current sunspot low. Yet a simple calculation will show that less than 10 years of greenhouse gas forcing offset the difference between the peak and trough of the solar cycle, so this is not possible without widespread and sustained vulcanism - is he predicting this? A bold prognosticator indeed.]
2. Current warming caused by a shift in 1977 in the Pacific ocean.
[Short response: The Pacific Decadal Oscillation has not trended with temperature, and in addition, may simply be an artifact of past El Ninos.]
3. CO2 does not cause significant warming (or climate sensitivity is low).
[Short response: Mainstream view is that climate sensitivity (equilibrium warming for a doubling of CO2) is 1.5 to 4.5C, though higher estimates cannot be discounted. Estimates of low (<1C) sensitivity are not supported by observational, palaeoclimate or modelling studies.]
4. Global warming stopped in 1998.
[Short response: A recycled argument based on cherry picking a strong El Nino year. Not based on any statistical analysis of the temperature time series, which shows ongoing warming, especially when the ENSO signal is removed. Ignores ocean heat content accumulation, which is the key measure of global warming.]
5. Costs of emissions trading levied against poor.
[Short response: I guess Bob didn't read the Green Paper. The proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme emissions trading model commits to compensate low income earners in various ways. Or perhaps Bob would prefer Jim Hansen's 100% dividend proposal, which is surely 100% equitable?]
6. Cooling is more dangerous than warming.
[Short response: See point #1 for whether we are cooling. But say we are - is Bob right that warmer temperatures are better for biodiversity and agriculture than cool? No, at least not in relation to extinctions during the 540 million years of the Phanerozoic, nor according to agricultural scientists.]
7. Abrupt climate changes have occurred in the past.
[Short response: Yes, so? Is that supposed to give us security? It instead suggests that the feedbacks can act to amplify climate shifts and cause non-linear change - 'surprises' - for which there is little time for adaptation. Palaeoclimate studies are therefore critical for anticipating future system shocks. As oceanographer Wally Broecker said: The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.]
http://www.climate.org/PDF/clim_change_scenario.pdf (Pentagon report on abrupt climate change)
8. Adaptation is better than mitigation.
[Short response: This would only be valid if all of #1-#7 were also correct, which they are patently not. Can we, or other species, adapt our way out of the problem? Unlikely, even at committed levels of warming, and certainly not possible with >2C of warming - many aspects of the geophysical and biological world will be lost as a result of this global temperature rise. See #6 for agriculture.]
Filed under: Sceptics