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CLIMATE COOKS, OPPOSITION MELTS, POLLUTERS PROFIT November 25, 2009

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Natural Environment.
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Fun and games all round it seems.

The contention is now held that climate scientists have cooked the books, even as the climate heats over the long term. It turns out the stolen emails have fingered the scientists as dishonest fiddlers of the figures even as the substantive case remains – so a big political win here for the delusionists and their amoral, corporatist public relations marinated special interest manipulators. Still, if one accepts how the Australian Labor Government is prepared to go to support strategically incompetent coal shovellers exporting carbon emissions for off shore destinations, I imagine principally, but not exclusively China, I wonder why they bother. There is an argument for not pulling the plug on any industry, especially because employees are especially vulnerable, but at the same time the coal industry should have pulled its head out of the sand at least twenty years ago, and with any kind of business competence, other than short term greed should have behaved better.

Who knows what is happening with the Opposition, other than they having some form of cage fight over Emissions Trading Scheme. All that can be said with confidence is that Malcolm Turnbull emerged confident, assertive and remains the Leader for the night. It seems to have been a long day of brawling, scheduled to resume tomorrow. I can’t wait. There is a rumour, apparently promoted by the man himself, that Kevin Andrews in a fit of public service decided to nominate himself as the putative leader. What happened to Joe Hockey, and to Wilson Tuckey?

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the Rudd Labor Government, and must have been one of immense satisfaction. Who knows whether the delusionists in the Opposition, who opposed the Government climate legislation were principled or crazy, but for the moment, and for how long no one knows, the option of the double dissolution (possibly in this case triple dissolution) can be held back in reserve for another day.

Sinclair Davidson, stood his ground at the crease, refusing a drinks break, declared Turnbull clean bowled and suggested:

I would have thought that any cap and trade system would need to await the outcome of the various enquiries into the ClimateGate scandal. We now know the science isn’t settled, we now know the scientists can’t explain the difference between their computer models and reality (from the Tim Flannery interview) and so the argument for immediate action is undermined. This imposing a burden on future generations is simply oppourtunistic – that’s not what they said when the government blew the budget and went into debt.

Notwithstanding, Ben Eltham in Crikey delivered some reverse swing:

One of the biggest problems for contrarian commentators on climate change is getting to grips with the complexity of the subject, buttressed as it is by a vast weight of scientific evidence. Davidson, who trained in economics, appears to have only the sketchiest understanding of climate science, which is perhaps why he was prepared to write in Crikey yesterday that “it is clear, however, that statements suggesting ‘the science is settled’ can no longer be sustained” — a statement nearly identical to recent comments by arch-denialists Nick Minchin and Barnaby Joyce.

Sorry, but the science is settled, and Professor Davidson should know that. Any way you parse it, the existing scientific record overwhelmingly supports a consensus about human-caused global warming.

SJ makes the point at John Quiggin’s Monday Message Board that “the science is never settled” thus cutting through a gordian knot that needed slicing – think the revolution in physics taking place from the middle of the nineteenth century with the contributions of Einstein, Rutherford, Bohr and Feynmann to take an unrepresentative sample.

*****Meantime, whatever they say in baseball, Gavin Schmidt continues to hit them out the ground at Real Climate.
In The Guardian, via Cataillaxy, George Monbiot delivers an mea culpa of sorts. He writes:

It’s no use pretending this isn’t a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them.

Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.

Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.

Those climate scientists are so inept not being public relations hacks.

Still the reaction in the United States is truly revealing, as it always is these days. Caroline Davies and Suzanne Goldenberg report in The Guardian:

Among the last citadels of climate change deniers – the radio host Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Senator James Inhofe – the emails were touted as evidence of a worldwide scientific conspiracy. Inhoffe said. “They cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not.”

Limbaugh said: “I’ve instinctively known this from the get-go, from 20 years ago! The whole thing is made up, and the reason I know it is because liberals are behind it! When they’re pushing something, folks, it’s always bogus. “

Just weird.

Luckily in that country of the mind they have other things to think about, such as the state of the health care and the war in Afghanistan which as in Iraq they are aiming to buy a civil war so that the Afghans can kill each other rather than the invaders.

In some of these issues their consequences might be considered, and the actors might assume an actions informed by a sense of responsibility for those consequences, but that would be too much to expect.

Tomorrow morning is another day:

I expect that Larvatus Prodeo will be following developments as they emerge from the halls of Federal Parliament.

UPDATE:
Ho-hum. Big surprise, via Larvatus Prodeo. Malcolm survives 48-35. Let the comments flood on disunity and stalking horses. One year out from the next Federal Election the Liberals are not looking in good shape.

Questions: Why are not the “conservatives” the conservationists? So what frames the conservative mind?

John Quiggin comments on the manipulation of public opinion:

The leading delusionists are former tobacco lobbyists who have combined the FUD techniques of the tobacco wars with techniques picked up from the creationists. The idea of these criminals giving anybody lectures on ethics is ludicrous.

UPDATE: 26 November 2009

In a day of historical importance in the history of Australian Party political history, prominent members of the Federal Opposition have resigned their frontbench positions over the issue of the Emissions Trading Policy. The leading figures here are Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott. Malcolm Turnbull has stood his ground insisting that a contemporary political party must have a policy consistent with the findings of climate science. “Saying we are not going to do anything about climate change is irresponsible.” The expectation now that there will be another vote for the leadership of the Party.

Comments»

1. Sinclair Davidson - November 25, 2009

I think there is some confusion over the phrase ‘the science is settled’. As a scientific statement I agree with the comment at Quiggin’s. The science is never settled as new understanding and data become available. If it was settled, the professional journals would close down and academics would all teach history of ideas, rather than expand the frontier of our knowledge. The phrase ‘the science has been settled’ has become a political slogan – this usage of the phrase is now revealed to be empty. I found Ben’s Crikey piece to be somewhat astonishing. He overlooks my view that the emails, from what I have seen, do not undermine the science itself to accuse me of undermining the science. To be described as ‘uneducated’ by a PhD student in cultural studies takes a lot of chudspar – good on him for that. :)

wmmbb - November 25, 2009

There is no shortage of chudspar going around. I take exception to the attack on climate scientists in general which seems to me to be baseless, as for example in the tendentious rhetoric that Andrew Bolt deploys.

As a member of the general public, we depend on the peer review process along with all the other due diligence processes of science to work. So it is worth examining the process, and our elected representatives should be putting any questions raised in the research to the scientific advisors. ABC News is reporting that:

“. . . 26 international scientists have collated the most recent data and observations, and they have found that climate change is accelerating beyond
expectations.”

2. Tim Lambert - November 25, 2009

If you Google “the science is settled” you’ll find that the only people who use it are denialists like Sinclair using it as a strawman to attack. The IPCC says that warming is unequivocal and that there is more than 90% probability that recent warming is mostly human-caused. But Sicnlair doesn’t understand this.

wmmbb - November 25, 2009

The people denying the reality of AGW could at least be given one study that supports their case, which would be disturbing because then they would have respect the evidence. I wonder whether the problem has been left too long.

I suppose it does not matter whether it is 26 or one scientist as in the ABC. It is not a numbers game in that sense. I am channeling Jacob Bronowski on this. I suspect that Sincalir and others see themselves as critics of the peer review process that emphasizes, as they see it, conformity rather than truth. On the other hand, it seems to me, the PR Opinion Shapers who apparently stop at nothing, while doing what they can, without any regard to consequences, to interfere with the robust discussion that science requires. For the PROS the whole exercise is a game, and “trick” is part of their language and thinking too. However, I do notice that Sinclair and others are not taking up what the stolen emails illustrate about the methods of the “denialist/delusionist” lobby.


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