We have a Climate Commission

Greg Combet has announced the establishment of a Climate Commission to be headed by Tim Flannery.

Mr Combet said the Climate Commission would provide expert advice and information on climate change to the Australian community.

“The Climate Commission has been established by the Gillard Government to provide an authoritative, independent source of information for all Australians,” he said. “It will provide expert advice on climate change science and impacts, and international action. It will help build the consensus required to move to a clean energy future.”

The Climate Commission would have a public outreach role, he said, to help build greater understanding and consensus about reducing Australia’s carbon pollution.

“The Commissioners are eminent Australians who are leaders in their fields and I’m pleased one of Australia’s leading science communicators, Professor Tim Flannery, a former Australian of the Year, has accepted the role of Chief Commissioner,” Mr Combet said.

“The Climate Commission will fulfil a key information and education role, enabling the Australian community to have a more informed conversation about climate change. I am delighted to lead this new Commission,” said Professor Tim Flannery.

Overall the Commission will:

* Explain the science of climate change and the impacts on Australia.
* Report on the progress of international action dealing with climate change.
* Explain the purpose and operation of a carbon price and how it may interact with the Australian economy and communities.

The membership is impressive and includes Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University. Also Dr Susannah Eliott as a science communication expert.

The Commission has an equally impressive Science Advisory Panel, including Professors Matt England, David Karoly, Andy Pitman and others covering a wide range of expertise.

Her Majesty’s Opposition has an entirely predictable response. Greg Hunt:

“The Climate Commission is just another piece in Labor’s jigsaw puzzle to try to justify their plan for an electricity tax,” he said in a statement.

“Australians should get used to this Government trotting out a steady stream of reports and committees dedicated to their plan for higher power prices.”

A bunch of narks, basically.

There’s more at the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Opposition Organ is running a poll on whether Flannery is the right person for the job. When I voted 84% said “no”.

65 thoughts on “We have a Climate Commission”

  1. I’m not sure Tim Flannery was a good choice as chair. And I think that David Karoly is probably not a great choice either. IMO, both have spent too much time in the media, and are seen as torchbearers, with a subsequent erosion of their image as impartial scientists. I think doing that study on drought under the auspices of the WWF was one of the less well thought out things that Karoly ever did in his capacity as an authoritative climate scientist. I think Tim Flannery’s image as a “good communicator” about climate science was tarnished a little by the negative remarks made about “The Weather Makers”, e.g. at Real Climate: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/my-review-of-books/

  2. Well this is the best Australian Government Global Warming action news that I have heard in quite a while. A good first step.

    The most important second step, just as Right follows Left, is to pass the Global Warming Abatement action management reponsibility on to the Commission. When that happens we will be able to say that we are on the way to fulfilling our global responsibility, and the politicians will be able to rest more easily. To concentrate thereafter on mopping up the ever increasing damage caused by the current atmospheric CO2 concentration along with its companion increasing atmospheric H2O levels.

    Sometime later there will need to be a Global “Global Warming Abatement” overseeing body.

    Little steps. But then I have to wonder if our politicians would be tiptoeing this way in the streets of Pamplona once the bulls were released?

  3. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what this will achieve. How many more authoritative, credible sources of information on climate change do we need?

    It’s not going to force the idiots at News Limited to listen.

  4. The Realclimate criticism of Flannery’s “The Weathermakers” is pretty damning:

    Finally, Tim Flannery. His book appears to have made the most noise and Flannery himself has generated a lot of media attention (and controversy) on his book tours. As befitting a book by a scientist, this one has by far the most ‘content’ of the three, and unsurprisingly, is a tougher (though still accessible) read. The sheer speed at which different studies and subjects are covered make it difficult to get into anything in depth. In itself, that isn’t bad – there is a lot of ground to cover – but it does mean that subtleties and caveats get lost.

    As a scientist, one of the things I look for in popular science accounts is an appropriate recognition of the difference between a suggestion made in a single paper and the description of any ‘consensus’ on the issues (such as described in the IPCC reports for instance). We have made the point repeatedly here that single papers need to be placed in context and don’t necessarily overturn previous work. In the three books discussed here, I have the impression that Kolbert most recognises this, but unfortunately that recognition is not at all obvious in Flannery’s text.

    In case after case, Flannery quotes a single paper as an absolute proof of the particular contention. One example taken at random, is in relation to the MSU satellite record (which we’ve discussed here before, so skip this next section if you’ve heard it all already). Flannery raises the issue of the at-one-time apparent contradiction between the satellite records (usually taken to be MSU 2LT from the UAH group) and the surface temperature records. He quotes the Fu et al paper (which discussed the stratospheric contribution to MSU 2) as providing the final word on the subject. Now while this contribution was useful (and fitted nicely with previous work), it did not reconcile the different records. That had to wait until August last year when errors in the UAH algorithm were brought to light, and for a re-analysis by RSS demonstrating the sensitivity of the results to methodological issues in the treatment of the raw data. Obviously, one cannot fault Flannery for not knowing ahead of time what would be discovered, but he can be faulted for assuming that the one paper he quotes ‘solved’ the problem. Flannery is quite critical of the IPCC process, describing it as ‘lowest common denominator science’ and claiming that it must be assumed that things are likely to be worse than are described in those reports. I think he is fundamentally mistaken on this point and his too-frequent absolutist statements based on preliminary science are a classic example of why ‘consensus’ reports are both more careful and more correct than an individual opinion. For instance, there is no way that a ‘consensus’ statement that climate sensitivity is probably around 3ºC (plus or minus a degree) should be interpreted as implying that climate sensitivity is more like 6ºC. In science, ‘conservatism’ implies proper acknowledgment of the uncertainties, it does not imply that systematic underestimation of effects.

    There are also a number of careless errors in Flannery’s book that frequently deduct from his main points. How many interglacials before our own was the one 430,000 years ago? Five according to the Flannery (p68), four according to everyone else. How much flow in the Amazon? 1 Sv (106 m3/s) in the book (p192), a fifth of that in the real world. Has the Gulf Stream ‘stopped’ three times in the Holocene? No. Does global dimming indicate that we will be required to take CO2 out of the atmosphere in order to stabilize Earth’s climate? (p302). No. And there are more…

    I guess it is hard to think of any Australian who is a logical choice to lead this commission. Part of the problem is that a non-partisan role on a topic as serious as this is a bit hard to imagine.

  5. Robert @4,

    I’m not clear what it is intended to achieve. Is it just a glorified PR agency or will it actually inform government policy?

  6. @4.
    After seeing Ross Garnaut in Melbourne last week, I strongly believe that (whatever the merits of this Commission and Tim Flannery as its head) communication remains the key to replacing obfuscation with information. The single anti-AGW ‘question’ from the audience was based upon complete ignorance of the issue (something about renewables and the flood in Queensland). If it is possible to succinctly explain the premise of climate change to as many people as possible then surely there will be less political downside for a government? Sure, political partisans will rubbish see the Commission as propaganda, but right wing ideologists will never be convinced of the need for action.

  7. @ 2:

    So is this the replacement for the Citizens’ Assembly?

    I could be wrong, but I think it was actually an election commitment and was meant to stand beside the Citizen’s Assembly.

    I think on the whole it should do good.

    As to Flannery, Weather Makers was written while he had a full time job running the SA Museum. So in a sense he leapt from the top of one academic pile to the top of another.

    My recall is that Flannery went back to an area in the PNG highlands 15 years after he had been there before and was shocked by what he saw. An unseasonal frost on top of a drought had stripped much of the vegetation. The locals had greater access to the forest and with guns at their disposal the natural and human effect on the wildlife was devastating.

    I think he’s bound to get better at the science as he goes, but he has a stack of creativity and I think his mind is set off in new directions without due care as to whether the scientific basis is as solid as it should be.

    The team he’s got is pretty impressive, I think.

    I believe I recall Roger Jones saying recently that Al Gore’s science is better than Flannery’s, but Gore’s is pretty good, so that’s not a heavy criticism.

  8. John D, I didn’t find that critique terribly damning at all. Pretty nitpicky rally. But I agree that Tim Flannery may be tarnished goods in the bigger debate. no idea who’d be a better choice however.

  9. This Commission needs some people they can call “Ambassadors” or “Patrons”, or something to get out in front and sell the story. These people need to widely respected and held in affection by a lot of people; sports stars, tv stars, rock ‘n’ roll stars etc. Broadcasters know this sort of stuff really well. They know that people adore Rebecca Gibney etc. In Melbourne, Jim Stynes is like a God. The hard science needs to be backed by a soft sell.

  10. All this won’t matter. When the going gets tough, Flannery will forced into a position where he resigns, just as Mike Taylor from the MDBC did. He will then he replaced by an ex-NSW minister, Joe Tripodi perhaps, who will then move to sideline the other members of the Commission. By the the time that this needs to be done, Craig Knowles will have worked out the “road map” on how to do this.

  11. John D – “I guess it is hard to think of any Australian who is a logical choice to lead this commission. Part of the problem is that a non-partisan role on a topic as serious as this is a bit hard to imagine.”

    I’d have put a vote in for Prof Kurt Lambeck, from RSES, at ANU. How about Greg Ayers, current head of the BOM.

    I Know Prof Lambeck can be abrasive, and yes the obv pun is appropriate, but death stares and dismissive language seem to be back in fashion and he is good at stuff like that. He is also a member of both the Brit and Dutch Royal Societies so his credentials are impeccable.

    As for Dr Ayers the BOM has been a stellar performer in the last few months, he needs his beard back tho.

  12. Robert @4 “To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what this will achieve. How many more authoritative, credible sources of information on climate change do we need?”

    From the ToR:

    The Commission will be required to:
    Hold a series of public outreach events to explain:
    the science of climate change and issues raised by climate scientists;
    the magnitude of the challenge to address climate change;
    the role of a carbon price in effectively tackling climate change;
    what contribution other policy mechanisms are making;
    how a carbon price works and its interaction with the economy and the community; and
    the opportunities for Australian firms and communities in moving to a low carbon future
    Draw on their expertise and that of the other relevant experts and organisations to prepare targeted information products to help inform the public and build community support for climate change efforts.
    Engage in other community forums and public debate as required.

    In addition, the Commission will, as required, provide updated assessments to the Government and the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee on the science of climate change.

    That seems useful though I hope they don;t spend much time on the first point. The time for that is well past. The other five points are not well-understood by most AGW accepters.

    and

    The Commission will not comment on policy matters nor provide policy advice or recommendations. In undertaking its functions it may commission expert advice and publish reports. The Commission will be supported by a secretariat maintained by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

    That’s not surprising, but it will be interesting to see how close to the wind will they sail when they are ‘not providing advice or recommendations’.

    d

  13. Robert Merkel@ 4: “It’s not going to force the idiots at News Limited to listen.”

    No, indeed. It probably won’t do much to change the views of the idiots on LP either.

    I certainly would not defend all of News Ltd’s coverage of climate change (or indeed condemn much of it on LP) but there are delusional things said on all sides of the issue (and Flannery is the author of not a few of them). My point is only that one of the reasons for the polarisation of views is that discussion descends to namecalling of this sort far too early and far too often.

  14. Wilful asked:

    John D, I didn’t find that critique terribly damning at all. Pretty nitpicky rally. But I agree that Tim Flannery may be tarnished goods in the bigger debate. no idea who’d be a better choice however.

    I’d have no problem with David Karoly — he’s very good. Another possibility would be Barry Brook — but wouldn’t that set the cat amongst the pigeons?

  15. “there are delusional things said on all sides of the issue(and Flannery is the author of not a few of them)”

    And you’d have some idea, how, Wozza?

    Jesus wept. I really must remember to ask some totally uninformed, unqualified non-specialist “skeptics” for a second opinion next time I see a highly trained engineer, architect or doctor.

  16. Craigy, Weather Makers has references to 243 books and articles. The man has done some work and knows a bit.

  17. Brian@19

    Very true, he Is an very intelligent man, Far more intelligent than I.
    My criticism wasn’t of him, but of Lefty’s sarcastic analogy .

    I think Flannery will do a wonderful job.
    But he won’t be doing that job for free, i’ll bet my lefty on that.

    He has financial interest and a well documented position.
    If evidence comes across his desk, contrary to his position, what then?

    ( The Gaia thing is a worry )

  18. But Brian that isn’t the point, and I suspect you know it. Lefty E whinged about “unqualified, non-specialists” having the temerity to voice a view on climate change. It was pointed out that “unqualified, non-specialist” applies perfectly to Flannery, and you change the subject to what he’s apparently read. A lot of people are literate and have read things, you and I amongst them. I agree that that is important. But it isn’t what Lefty said.

    Fran it is interesting that you bring up Brook. I would have thought that, considering what his academic qualifications are, “unqualified, non-specialist” would pretty well be a perfect fit for him too, wouldn’t you?

    I have some respect for Brook actually. I am merely suggesting that there is a certain inconsistency in applying standards around here, correlating pretty well, oddly enough, with degree of support the critisee expresses for the Team.

    And to come back to the subject, this is in large part while the Commissars (thank you Razor) will fail to change public opinion. The proletariat have a far better understanding of double standards and bullshit than most on LP give them credit for. It is just ludicrous to think, given the run climate change has had in the media for decade or more, that the reason the masses don’t swarm to support slashing GDP to combat it is simply that the poor dears don’t understand, and the light will dawn if we just get some more important – and clearly completely objective – persons who are obviously absolutely in touch with the common man, sorry person, as Flannery and Karoly, to lecture them for the umpteenth time.

  19. Since climate science wasn’t a specialty until recently, Ill accept someone with science qualifications. Especially one who’s then gone on a researched the field at length.

    I wont be interested in someone who ‘reckons x’ cos they read about in the oz and saw Lord Bugeyes speak once.

    I regard my position as entirely reasonable, and consistent with other practices. For example, when my drain is blocked I call a plumber, rather than a right-wing think tank.

  20. Oh and I might add add, none of that prevents anyone having their rightful say in the politics and policy of how we address climate change. Thats everyone’s right as a citizen.

    But when you want to dispute the science behind it, against people who CLEARLY know infinitely more about than you – then you risk just being an ass.

  21. * irresistible image of think tank using its only known method of clearing drain by flushing its contents into said drain very swiftly*

    never world’s best practice

  22. Lefty@22

    Both Plimer and Flannery have equal experence in this area,IMO.
    But i doubt you would ask his advice, and nor would gillard.
    They both profited from this debate.
    And therein lies the problem , bias. $$$

    Oh, if my drain gets blocked, I unblock it myself.

  23. Is there anything you would call a right wing think tank in for, Lefty E? If not, the fact that you won’t on climate change says absolutely nothing about climate change, and only things about you, wouldn’t you agree?

    I have as I have said before a PhD in physical chemistry. This is a fairly relevant field, given that if climate science is based in anything – though one may currently legitimately doubt this – it is in the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. I don’t normally claim that it gives me special insights though because it doesn’t necessarily – I have certainly never applied it on anything to do with climate or atmosphere. I do however assert the right to drag it out whenever dickheads with no science background whatsoever pull the I-know-better-than-you-about-the-science-because-er-not-sure-why-really-but-realclimate-are-wonderful crap.

    One thing that a hard science background does give you is a knowledge of the difference between empirical observation and computer modelling, which seems widely misunderstood around here. Explain your understanding of that to me will you Lefty?

  24. I have as I have said before a PhD in physical chemistry. This is a fairly relevant field, given that if climate science is based in anything – though one may currently legitimately doubt this – it is in the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. I don’t normally claim that it gives me special insights though because it doesn’t necessarily – I have certainly never applied it on anything to do with climate or atmosphere. I do however assert the right to drag it out whenever dickheads with no science background whatsoever pull the I-know-better-than-you-about-the-science-because-er-not-sure-why-really-but-realclimate-are-wonderful crap.

    A PhD in biochemistry might be of more use in evaluating what effect climate change will have on the agriculture humans depend upon. (My own science training is a mere B. App. Sc (Physio) , so I claim no specially relevant academic expertise, but I submit that many folks with at-the-coalface qualifications in the Applied Sciences get a severe case of eyeroll when confronted with the posturing of Piled Higher and Deepers in fields outside their specialty.)

    Why so down on the folks at realclimate.org? They are actually experts in the field – climate scientists every one.

  25. tigtog, I sort of agree with you. I didn’t start the dumb stuff about who is qualified to weigh in on climate change issues and who isn’t; I merely took it to the next level and no doubt shouldn’t have. I did say explicitly that I don’t claim special insights merely by virtue of study some considerable time in the past.

    As for down on realclimate, where do I start? Most recently the appalling dishonesty of Eric Stieg in regard to perversion of the peer review process, and the circling of the wagons by the rest of the team. Read all about it practically anywhere – Bishop Hill, or Lucia at the Blackboard who is usually the model of moderation but really got up in arms and for good reason, perhaps.

  26. Wozza’s Ghost said:

    It is just ludicrous to think, given the run climate change has had in the media for decade or more, that the reason the masses don’t swarm to support slashing GDP to combat it is simply that the poor dears don’t understand, and the light will dawn if we just get some more important – and clearly completely objective – persons who are obviously absolutely in touch with the common man, sorry person, as Flannery and Karoly, to lecture them for the umpteenth time.

    The key lie here is

    the masses don’t swarm to support slashing GDP to combat it

    . What we really need is someone who can convince people that we could halve our emissions without having to “slash the GDP”.
    It would help of course if that someone could convince the government that the carbon price is the gift that keeps on giving to the Barnaby Joyces of the world. Not only does the carbon price push prices up further than necessary but it is going to make it harder than necessary for people to understand how it will effect them.

  27. CRAIGY @ 25

    Both Plimer and Flannery have equal experence in this area,IMO.

    It depends on what you make of the experiences you have. Flannery erring on the science is a rare event. Plimer OTOH has a veritable phalanx of super well-qualified climate scientists saying that he is completely wrong-headed or worse.

    BTW, Tim Lambert is not a climate scientist, but his blogging is respected by climate scientists.

  28. One thing that a hard science background does give you is a knowledge of the difference between empirical observation and computer modelling, which seems widely misunderstood around here. Explain your understanding of that to me will you Lefty?

    Bla bla bla I couldnt be arsed Wozza! the worlds going down the toilet, and wot bloody use are you in the end?

    Get with the program and stop wasting everybody’s time.

  29. @Wozza’s ghost, having now acquainted myself with the Steig-O’Donnell peer review stoush, I note that the most recent posts about it have O’Donnell climbing down over the alleged “appalling dishonesty” and acknowledging that he made some unjustified assumptions about what Steig had and had not seen regarding the final versions of his paper. It’s not climbing down far on anything else regarding their conflict over technical aspects, but it makes it hard for me to see where any claims of actual dishonesty can now be supported.

    O’Donnell’s breaching the anonymity of the peer review process appears a, shall we say, unwise step to take for anybody who wants to be a published scientist in future.

  30. Tigtog there were faults on both sides, I agree. But Steig’s tactic as principal reviewer of O’Donnell’s paper – and his refusasl until forced to acknowledge his actions, even claiming at one stage not to have seen the paper before publication – in suggesting a change, and then coming down heavily on that change when it was made, were hardly other than underhand.

    The fact is that he had a conflict of interest as reviewer, given that O’Donnell was criticising his results, and should never have been in the position. The perversion of the peer review process is systemic in some areas of climate sceince.

    Anyway, it was the circling of the wagons at RealClimate that was the real issue for me when you brought RealClimate up. While the debate raged everywhere else, they simply deleted all comments in the least bit critical of Steig. Deletion of comments they find difficult to answer is commonplace at RealClimate of course, but they really made a meal of it this time.

    LP is a model of moderation, in both senses of the word, when it comes to argy-bargy, in comparison with some of its comrades, I grant you.

  31. I sympathise Lefty E. It must be difficult being sick of yourself. You should see someone about, soon.

  32. Emphasis added:

    …that the reason the masses don’t swarm to support slashing GDP to combat [climate change] is simply that the poor dears don’t understand…

    Wozza, being the arch-empiricist you are, and since you would never stoop to relying on anything as suspect and imprecise as a computer model, I just know that your statement is based upon the real experience of a real country, somewhere, that found its GDP slashed as a result of adopting carbon-mitigation policies.

    Please tell us which country it was.

    Unless of course, your objection to the use of computer models extends only into climate science, but computer models are A-OK in the reliable, solid, predictable and dependable realm of economics…

  33. @Wozza’s ghost, your argument relies on Steig indeed being Reviewer A rather than B, C, or D. Steig has only admitted to being one of the reviewers, he has not said that he is Reviewer A. I know that there are many who feel that they have strong support for their belief that Steig is A, but it has not yet been absolutely established. If Steig is A, then I agree that the conflict of interest is problematic.

    Anyway, it was the circling of the wagons at RealClimate that was the real issue for me when you brought RealClimate up.

    I only asked you to offer some specifics re your previous mocking reference to them, actually. Which you have now done.

  34. …that the reason the masses don’t swarm to support slashing GDP to combat [climate change] is simply that the poor dears don’t understand…

    I’d just like to point out that Ive never seen ANY evidence or study to suggest that CO2 cuts will limit economic growth.

    e.g. Apparently Australia’s CO2 emissions from electricity generation dropped 2% last year – and yet we had four quarters of growth.

    Now, Im not suggesting thats an adequate piece of evidence – but it does go to the issue of some necessary causal link between the two. It seems to be presumed constantly, but there’s never evidence offered to support it.

    And really, why should it be true? We’ll still need power, transport, etc. We just need different source s of energy and each will promote investment, jobs etc.

  35. Just think about what a metre or two of sea level rise will do to the river deltas and megacities of Asia, not to mention the island states.

    And just recall that BAU without mitigation lobs us in “the end of civilisation as we know it” territory as a midpoint outcome by 2100. That’s what the science says. It’s up to the Wozzas of the world to demonstrate that the science is wrong beyond reasonable doubt.

  36. Brian

    So what exactly does the science say sea levels will be in 2100 if CO2 emissions stopped immediately verses “business as usual ?

  37. Flannery has his work cut out for him, politically and personally.
    Here he is in ‘Here on Earth’ on rich country consumption trends

    If we decry excessive consumption wherever we see it, whether in
    four wheel drives on city roads or oversized and energy-hungry
    houses, we may succeed. But this takes courage and individual action.
    All too often, when I see such things and want to say something, I remain silent for fear of social embarrassment.

    I fear Gillard and, more particularly Abbott, will ridicule Flannery if he lets fly with a few home truths about vested interests which AGW threatens. But given the stature of the guy, Tim is going to have to get used to media heat.

  38. pablo @ 42, in the long run I suspect we (or subsequent generations) will live in a clean energy-rich world. It’s just the next 50 years or so that are more than a little tricky.

    I heard stats on aircon in SEQ homes the other day. The figures were completely mind-boggling. Something like 15% in 2000 to about 85% now with at least one room air-conditioned. Don’t quote me on that, but that was the rough order of magnitude, from memory.

  39. I think its the wrong angle: Green measures should be seen as preserving certain ways of life from dangerous climate change.

    Ultimately, what’s more threatening? More or less similar lifestyles, now powered renewably, or constantly rotating between destructive floods and bushfires?

  40. Brian

    So what exactly does the science say sea levels will be in 2100 if CO2 emissions stopped immediately verses “business as usual ?

    It’s the wrong question, CRAIGY. We need to do better than stop all emissions, because the paleoclimate evidence suggests that at current levels of CO2 the sea level will be 25 metres higher, plus or minus 5. That’s eventually, meaning perhaps millennia rather than centuries.

    Most scientists working in the area that I’ve seen are looking at about 1m to 1.2m by 2100. That’s midpoint with the upper bound near 2m.

    Hansen reckons most likely 2m and could be as high as 5. I’m never going to bet against him. It depends at what point the large ice sheets go critical and how fast things proceed from there.

    Some authorities looking at adaptation are thinking 1m by 2050 to cope with the high end risk.

    The implications of significant sea level rise are so dire that going hard on mitigation is the only sensible approach on a risk management basis.

  41. I think its the wrong angle: Green measures should be seen as preserving certain ways of life from dangerous climate change.

    Exactly so, LE.

    For example, I don’t think we need to radically restructure existing urban land use and all live in communes etc. We need to restructure and decarbonise our electricity grids and hang our transport system off them through electrification. Certainly public transport needs to be improved and the NBN should allow us to operate with less movement.

  42. Thats right Brian: in order for things to stay the same, a lot of things must now change.

    I cant think of a single necessary change that’s going to “radically alter” politics or society at all. we’re talking fundamentally about technological shifts, and state regulatory support to do that. Such things have been going on forever.

  43. Craigy – does the linked article deny that we have been pumping vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere over the last century and a bit?

    Because that can be proven by mere accounting – science is not required.

  44. FDB

    Not at all. But the concept that, CO2 raises temp is refuted.
    It seems , to them, temp raises CO2 + our emissions.
    It seems to be based on historical evidence .
    I’ve read CO2 was higher but temp lower.
    And CO2 lower but temp higher.
    Talk about muddy waters.

  45. CRAIGY, sorry, there aren’t two sides to the debate. You’ll just pollute your mind with Watts Up With That and waste your time. Read Morgan and McCrystal’s Poles Apart. They looked at the arguments of the Skeptics and the Alarmists and found that the Skeptics arguments lacked coherence and in the end fell in a heap.

    The book contains one of the best explanations for non-specialists I’ve seen about models, how they work, their limitations and what they are good for.

  46. CRAIGY the arguments you cite @ 50, have been dealt with a million times. Please come up with something new and substantial.

  47. Brian@52

    Just purchased “poles apart” on ebay.
    Will read on arrival.
    Thanks
    But there ARE two sides to this debate, More that two
    And if ya don’t mind ,i’ll look at em all.

  48. Just look critically Craigy.

    Someone who calls human emissions “anthropological CO2″ (from your link) has clearly not even got their head around the basic terminology, let alone the science.

  49. FDB

    Haaha. I look at every thing critically .I’m told it’s a flaw. It may be a defence mechanism.
    I think its natural.

  50. The argument taht Flannery and Plimer are essentially equivalent does have a certain truth to it. they’ve got roughly equivalent publishing records and are both speaking well outside their technical field of expertise. However, there are two importnt provisos. Firstly, the rate of errors and amount of criticism that Flannery gets from the actual experts is low. He’s mostly jsut over enthusiastic, or he over-simplifies things. Plimer on the other hand…. Secondly, Flannery make no claims to being an expert, plimer does. Flannery defers to the published experts, Plimer attacks them. Flannery’s approach is more scientific.

  51. Wilful

    My comparison of Flannery and Plimer was to do with the possibility of financial bias.
    It seems that scientists from every field, have entered the “environmental scientist” area.
    maybe , just maybe because that where the money is . lots of money.

    If Co2 has a price on it, it will be the biggest traded commodity on the stock market in time.
    More money for the parasites that profit from trading ,but don’t actually produce anything.
    Conflicts of interest make me a little suspicious .
    Can you blame me?

  52. It seems that scientists from every field, have entered the “environmental scientist” area.

    CRAIGY, that’s because environmental science is an applied science drawing from many foundational scientific disciplines. Ditto for climate science.

  53. Craigy said:

    If CO2 has a price on it, it will be the biggest traded commodity on the stock market in time. More money for the parasites that profit from trading, but don’t actually produce anything.

    There are very few commodities that don’t require people to trade in them so that producers at one end and end-users at the other can be reconciled. This is very much true of financial securities, which is what carbon permits would be under a cap and trade-style system. A quota for allowable emissions is set by a regulator and those seeking a share of those rights bid for them, acquire them and pass so much of them back to the market as suits them for others to use.

    If you accept that someone has to enable this trade to be orderly and secure, then you will want them to be rewarded according to the usual criteria bound up with prospective risk, uncertainty and reward. Subject to the usual rules on fiduciary integrity, conflicts of interests etc associated with trading in securities, these people should be rewarded because they supply a useful service. If the service is useful it is not accurate to claim that trading doesn’t “actually produce anything” and that accordingly, traders are “parasites”. This is just overblown populist rhetoric, and echo of which one can find in biblical lore.

    One might with equal force claim that retailers don’t produce anything because they don’t actually manufacture goods or that booking agencies add nothing to entertainment and so their commissions are parasitic.

    Unless a carbon trading system can operate optimally without traders in the security — and it is hard to see how they might — then one must accept their role. If your real objection is that you don’t think carbon trading is in itself a reasonable part of the business of mitigation, then appealing against the existence of carbon traders misses the point. You need to show why the system as a package is inferior to some other option for regulating emissions.

    Of course, if your real objection is that you don’t think emissions should be regulated at all, then appealing against carbon trading would be misleading. You would need to show that leaving emissions of CO2 unconstrained better serves utility than seeking to constrain them. That would be an attack on the science and we have had the argument here too often to mention. Raising a populist hue and cry against wealthy carbon traders in these circumstances would be an attempt to iterate that claim by proxy and appeal to those who see people involved in finance as ipso facto lacking in authenticity — to counter science-based policy with populist existential angst.

    You wouldn’t want to do that would you?

  54. CRAIGY @48,

    I don’t look at wuwt as a rule. Wow. I thought this argument was going to run the old palaeo temperature curve from Vostok in Antarctica against the CO2 from ice curve. This argument has often been used to run the temp follows CO2 line. But here is an argument using instrumental data – and it’s even less believable.

    Firstly, Hocker looks at the curves between satellite temps and Mauna Loa CO2. The temp curve is much more complex (internal climate variability etc).

    1st strawman – he suggests that there should be a 1:1 correspondence on an annual basis between CO2 and temp. I.e., if radiative forcing changes, those changes are instantly transmitted through the atmosphere. Whose model is this? He just made it up to knock it down (and why invoke the ocean, if you’re going to run the instant warming argument?)

    He then looks at the residual of the temperature after detrending it against CO2. This totally removes any direct causal link between CO2 trends and temperature trends (that may exist). What he has discovered is a relationship between the seasonality of CO2 in the atmosphere and ENSO. This is well known.

    ATMOSPHERIC CO2 records for the South Pole and Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, show a seasonal variation, presumably arising from the uptake and release of CO2 by vegetation, and a long term increase, almost certainly caused by combustion of fossil fuel. The increase is much greater in some years than in others. Changes in the rate of fossil fuel combustion are not likely to be the cause of the variation in yearly increase, as combustion has increased very steadily. I present here evidence that the variation is connected to the Southern Oscillation, a large scale atmospheric and hydrospheric fluctuation with an irregular period of 1−5 yr. The connection, if present, indicates that a principal cause of the variation may be a change in the rate of removal of CO2 by the oceans. Bacastow RB (1976) Modulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the southern oscillation. Nature 261 (5556):116-118

    Bacastow’s work (above) has since been backed up by a host of studies.

    The rest of the analysis on your link is just as spurious. Hocker’s model will not explain past changes in climate either, and won’t operate when we know ENSO wasn’t operating but both CO2 and temp were changing. The isotopic signature also shows the CO2 must be coming from fossil fuels, not from the oceans (it is not of geologically recent biological origin). It is a variant of the ENSO is causing warming argument from John McLean and friends that has been roundly repudiated.

    So what did Hocker do? He removed a trend from data, then used the links between the residual values and another measure to run a counterfactual argument about causality of the original trend. This is an example of the bass ackwards school of Blog Science(TM).

    Interestingly, his residuals show a couple of steps in the change in global temperature in 1978 and 1996. I hope to be publishing something on this in the near future.

  55. Craigy @57: Market tragics will tell you we must put a price on carbon if serious emission reductions are to be achieved. However, this is a very clumsy approach that results in much higher price increases per tonne emission reduction than alternatives that do not depend on artificially increasing the price of dirty.
    For the details supporting the above statement see here

  56. Thank you John D,
    I have stated in the past that i am not a scientist nor an economist. I would consider myself a “regular Joe” and your link was helpful.
    It is the”regular Joe’s” that need to be informed, since we are the majority.

    Fran
    No-one i know, would understand your post.
    But continue trying to impress.

    My original grievance was with bias, $$$ and who to trust.
    And it still is.
    Eg.A stock-market trader ,specialising in Carbon and renewable energy, makes $50m p/a .makes all the right noises = Eco-champ. No, he’s a clever thief.

  57. Craigy: The UK was strongly supporting emission trading because they hoped to become a major carbon trading centre (and make lots and lots of money.)

  58. Ohhh deniers, and fence sitters 🙂

    Some will say CO2 is life, lovely and not involved with ifrared radiationa all – and their adamant – Bolt, WUWT etc etc

    I’ve seen a CO2 laser. A reasonable powered one will cut you finger off. It does this using a transition between two vibrational modes of the CO2 molecule. Don’t worry your pretty head over it – listen to WUWT. I’m sure we could find a uni or industrial laser near you and with videod personal injury waiver you could prove WUWT right and show those know-alls up.

    I wish the commission well. At some point we will have to leave the children who don’t want to know behind. (Although, what I’d like to see is media outlets being charged when publishing scientific lies be it climate change, anti-vaccination, moon-hoaxers whatever, made up crud being passed of as information. A lie being 1/2 way around the world before truth gets its boots on comes to mind – we would need a hundred of commissions just to counter the crap endlessly reserved already. The bullshitters have a lot of ordnance. Can we take them on? I fear they would be heard. And then their ABC will want to have balance whenever they interview the commission. I hope I’m wrong.

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