February 13th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Democratic Progressive Party ousts Kuomintang

CANBERRA OBSERVED Barnaby Joyce: enigma, loose cannon, deputy PM?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Temporary protection visa holders left exposed

ENVIRONMENT Bob Carter, RIP: mythbuster and fact finder extraordinaire

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Farewell, religious liberty, farewell, conscience

EDITORIAL Syria: U.S. backdown opens door to peace talks

ECONOMICS Bubble has burst on globalisation project

EUTHANASIA Media drives sales in the death market

CULTURE What does a good music review sound like?

CULTURE Can we put a rocket under religious Sci-fi?

CINEMA A melancholy heroism: Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

BOOK REVIEW Partial but thorough

BOOK REVIEW Brutality of battle


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Bob Carter, RIP: mythbuster and fact finder extraordinaire

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, February 13, 2016

Professor Bob Carter, one of the most outspoken critics of global warming in the Western world, died in Townsville last month, after suffering a heart attack. He was aged 74.

A brilliant speaker, Professor Carter was ever ready to participate in the public debate, and published several books and many articles on environmental issues, courageously taking issue with leading climate alarmists such as Al Gore, Professor Tim Flannery and Professor Will Steffen of the ANU.

His clearly articulated arguments were consistently misrepresented by his opponents, and James Cook University, where he was an adjunct professor of geology, withdrew his office and his email account after staff of the School of Earth and Environmental Studies, where he had previously been head, decided that his views on climate change did not conform to their own. May he rest in peace.

A recent contribution to the debate was his response to the Climate Council’s Five Common Myths. Professor Carter responded with his own 10 facts and 10 myths about climate change.

Peter Westmore

Ten facts about climate change

Professor Bob Carter.

Fact 1. Climate has always changed, and it always will. The assumption that until the industrial revolution the Earth had a “stable” climate is simply wrong. The only sensible thing to do about climate change is to prepare for it.

Fact 2. Accurate temperature measurements made from weather balloons and satellites since the late 1950s show no atmospheric warming since 1958. In contrast, averaged ground-based thermometers record a warming of about 0.40º Celsius over the same period. Many scientists believe that the thermometer record is biased by the urban heat-island effect and other artefacts.

Fact 3. Despite the expenditure of more than $US50 billion looking for it since 1990, no unambiguous anthropogenic (human) signal has been identified in the global temperature pattern.

Fact 4. Without the greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would be —18º Celsius rather than the equable +15º Celsius that has nurtured the development of life.

Carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas, responsible for ~26 per cent (8º Celsius) of the total greenhouse effect (33º Celsius), of which in turn at most 25 per cent (~2º Celsius) can be attributed to CO2 contributed by human activity. Water vapour, contributing at least 70 per cent of the effect, is by far the most important atmospheric greenhouse gas.

Fact 5. On both annual (one year) and geological (up to 100,000 year) time scales, changes in atmospheric temperature precede changes in CO2. CO2 therefore cannot be the primary forcing agent for temperature increase (though increasing CO2 does cause a diminishingly mild positive-temperature feedback).

Fact 6. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has acted as the main scaremonger for the global warming lobby that led to the Kyoto Protocol. Fatally, the IPCC is a political, not a scientific, body.

Hendrik Tennekes, a retired director of research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, says that “the IPCC review process is fatally flawed” and that “the IPCC wilfully ignores the paradigm shift created by the foremost meteorologist of the 20th century, Edward Lorenz”. [Lorenz described the “butterfly effect”, which refers to the fact that a tiny unobserved difference in two otherwise identical initial states can lead to vastly different effects in each instance.]

Fact 7. The Kyoto Protocol will cost many trillions of dollars but will deliver no significant cooling (less than 0.02º Celsius by 2050, assuming that all commitments are met).

The Russian Academy of Sciences says that Kyoto has no scientific basis; Andre Illarianov, senior adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, calls Kyoto-ism “one of the most aggressive, intrusive, destructive ideologies since the collapse of communism and fascism”. If Kyoto was a “first step” then it was in the same wrong direction as the later “Bali roadmap”.

Fact 8. Climate change is a non-linear (chaotic) process, some parts of which are only dimly or not at all understood. No deterministic computer model will ever be able to make an accurate prediction of climate 100 years into the future.

Fact 9. No surprise, then, that experts in computer modelling agree also that no current (or likely near-future) climate model is able to make accurate predictions of regional climate change.

Fact 10. The biggest untruth about human global warming is the assertion that nearly all scientists agree that it is occurring, and at a dangerous rate.

The reality is that almost every aspect of climate science is the subject of vigorous debate. Further, thousands of qualified scientists worldwide have signed declarations that: (i) query the evidence for hypothetical human-caused warming; and (ii) support a rational scientific (not emotional) approach to its study within the context of known natural climate change.

Laying to rest 10 global-warming myths

Myth 1. Average global temperature (AGT) has increased over the last few years.

Fact: Within error bounds, AGT has not increased since 1995 and has declined since 2002, despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of 8 per cent since 1995.

Myth 2. During the late 20th century, AGT increased at a dangerously fast rate and reached an unprecedented magnitude.

Fact: The late 20th-century AGT rise was at a rate of 1–2º Celsius a century, which lies well within natural rates of climate change for the last 10,000 years. AGT has been several degrees warmer than today many times in the recent geological past.

Myth 3. AGT was relatively unchanging in pre-industrial times, has skyrocketed since 1900, and will increase by several degrees more over the next 100 years (the Mann, Bradley and Hughes “hockey stick” curve and its computer extrapolation).

Fact: The Mann et al. curve has been exposed as a statistical contrivance. There is no convincing evidence that past climate was unchanging, nor that 20th-century changes in AGT were unusual, nor that dangerous human warming is under way.

Myth 4. Computer models predict that AGT will increase by up to 6º Celsius over the next 100 years.

Fact: Deterministic computer models do. Other equally valid (empirical) computer models predict cooling.

Myth 5. Warming of more than 2º Celsius will have catastrophic effects on ecosystems and mankind alike.

Fact: A 2º-Celsius change would be well within previous natural bounds. Ecosystems have been adapting to such changes since time immemorial. The result is the process that we call evolution. Mankind can and does adapt to all climate extremes.

Myth 6. Further human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere will cause dangerous warming, and is generally harmful.

Fact: No human-caused warming can yet be detected that is distinct from natural system variation and noise. Any additional human-caused warming which occurs will probably amount to less than 1º Celsius. Atmospheric CO2 is a beneficial fertiliser for plants, including especially cereal crops, and also aids efficient evapotranspiration.

Myth 7. Changes in solar activity cannot explain recent changes in AGT.

Fact: The sun’s output varies in several ways on many time scales (including the 11, 22 and 80-year solar cycles), with concomitant effects on Earth’s climate. While changes in visible radiation are small, changes in particle flux and magnetic field are known to exercise a strong climatic effect. More than 50 per cent of the 0.8º Celsius rise in AGT observed during the 20th century can be attributed to solar change.

Myth 8. Unprecedented melting of ice is taking place in both the north and south polar regions.

Fact: Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are growing in thickness and cooling at their summits. Sea ice around Antarctica attained a record area in 2007. Temperatures in the Arctic region are just now achieving the levels of natural warmth experienced during the early 1940s, and the region was warmer still (sea-ice free) during earlier times.

Myth 9. Human-caused global warming is causing dangerous global sea-level rise.

Fact: Sea-level change differs from time to time and place to place; between 1955 and 1996, for example, the sea level at Tuvalu fell by 105 millimetres (2.5 mm per year). The global average sea level is a statistical measure of no value for environmental planning purposes. A global average sea-level rise of 1–2 mm per year occurred naturally over the last 150 years, and shows no sign of human-influenced increase.

Myth 10. The late 20th-century increase in AGT caused an increase in the number of severe storms (cyclones), or in storm intensity.

Fact: Meteorological experts are agreed that no increase in storms has occurred beyond that associated with natural variation of the climate system.

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