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A TIME OF CHANGE March 15, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Modern History.

Medieval Civilization it seems dissolved in large part when confronted with the methods of science aided by the social impact of the printing press.

In some circumstances institutional rigidity and ideology expressed in bureaucratic power, made manifest by forcing Galileo to recant, the torture of inquisition and punishing heretics by public burning could not reduce the forces of liberation. We are seeing something of the same confrontations in contemporary times. Things are never clear cut. In the Sixteenth Century, the humanists, including Thomas More, were proposing a different model of human nature while often seeking to preserve the status quo.

Climate science will change the global civilization in stating unequivocally that human activity is changing the atmosphere and therefore the climate. Therefore it is of passing interest and historical interest when a self described prince of the Church takes a position in opposition to the science. Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney posited the sound observation:

“There’s no substitute for knowing what you’re talking about.”

Leesha McKenny for The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL has rebuffed the head of the Bureau of Meteorology, who had said Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic was ”misled” in his views on global warming.

Dr Greg Ayers told a Senate estimates hearing last month that the Archbishop of Sydney’s argument against human-induced climate change was based heavily on a book by Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth – Global Warming: The Missing Science, which had been discredited by scientists.

”The contents of the book are simply not scientific. I am concerned that the cardinal has been misled [by its contents],” the director of the bureau said.

But Cardinal Pell told the Herald the statements by Dr Ayers, an atmospheric scientist, were themselves unscientific. ”Ayers, when he spoke to the House, was obviously a hot-air specialist. I’ve rarely heard such an unscientific contribution.”

The cleric, who has questioned global warming in his Sunday newspaper column, even likened himself to the federal government’s climate adviser Ross Garnaut when he expressed disappointment last week that the public debate on climate change was often divorced from scientific quality, rigour and authority.

”I regret when a discussion of these things is not based on scientific fact,” Cardinal Pell said. ”I spend a lot of time studying this stuff.”

But Professor Garnaut had also said he was more certain the mainstream science supporting global warming was sound, and there was no ”genuine” scientific dissent.

Cardinal Pell argued against human-induced global warming in a written submission to the hearing, claiming increases in carbon dioxide tended to follow rises in temperature, not cause them. He also stated, based on Professor Plimer’s book, that temperatures were higher in Roman times and the Middle Ages.

Ipso facto global warming is not caused by human activities. So perhaps it is just a question of facts but of understanding. Why does Cardinal Pell believe that increasing carbon dioxide levels result in higher temperature once the critical levels have been exceeded?

Communication technology has changed the communications environment. The Prime Minister was asked a question via video link from London on ABC TV’s Q&A. ABC News reports:

Ms Gillard also fronted a surprise question via video link from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is under house arrest in the UK.

Mr Assange asked Ms Gillard whether she had swapped information about Australian citizens, particularly those who work at WikiLeaks, with foreign powers.

He asked, if she had, whether the Australian people should consider charging her with treason.

But the Prime Minister rejected the claim.

“I honestly don’t know what he’s talking about,” she said, adding that no-one in the US had asked her about Mr Assange.

“So I’m afraid I can’t help him with a full and frank exchange about people who work with WikiLeaks.

“To my knowledge it hasn’t happened.”

She conceded that the exchange of information between countries happens often, in cases relating to drug or people trafficking.

During the program she questioned Mr Assange’s motivations, saying she respected whistleblowers but that she did not support his “anarchic” ways.

She said the Federal Government was supporting Mr Assange the same way it would support any Australian citizen.

“My view about his confict is neither here nor there because we do support him,” she said.

Ms Gillard was also quizzed on a carbon tax and forced to defend her emotional and “cringeworthy” speech to the US Congress last week.

If the Prime Minister had been asked a question about the treatment of Bradley Manning, which was recently described as “unconscionable and un-American and borderline criminal”, she could have been provided the opportunity to provide an equally unconvincing answer.

The story of the Japanese Earthquake and the potential meltdowns in the nuclear power reactors will pass from the domination of the headlines, and last weeks and last months focus on the political changes occurring in North Africa and the Middle East will again claim attention. The common thread is energy and natural environment. Why was having great resources of oil a source of ongoing tragedy in the Middle East?


Brian at Larvatus Prodeo goes to the question of perturbations, forcings combined with positive and negative feedbacks in the climate system. The graphs may be of interest to Cardinal Pell.

John Quiggin is content to observe “Cardinal Folly”.


The question I pose is how do cultures reinvent themselves? What happened to Medieval Civilization? The material and conceptual basis of life in the West changed.



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