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Posted by wmmbb in carbon emissions, Democracy, Natural Environment.

Three days after the program was aired on ABC television I caught up with the program featuring Nick Minchin and Anna Rose.

Watching the program, the two protagonists seemed to reach a consensus, suggested by Nick Minchin, that the public policy issue  was moved from the climate science to energy policy. In other words you can believe what you want about climate change. Of course, however feelgood such a conclusion might be, and however balanced, such a conclusion is preposterous. The critical questions include:  How serious is the problem? What is the time frame for effective at reasonable cost? Is the implied change in sourcing energy, an economic paradigm change, and if so might this be a good thing?

Opinions differ about the value of the program. The review by The Age was on balance complementary. Nick Minchin feigns anger when people bring up passive smoking, without acknowledging that the connection between cancer and smoking which was observed before the statistics were developed, and then denied by the Heartland Institute among others. Gemma Jones in The Daily Telegraph, in the tradition of the free press in a democracy, brings to our attention the fact that James Lovelock, has changed his mind, without making clear that he accepts global warming. Michael Ashley, in The Conversation, is not charitable to the former Federal Minister for Science:

In all, five of Minchin’s seven experts appeared in the documentary, but only three of Rose’s. While this might sound unfair to Rose, I think that Minchin’s experts did more harm to his cause than good.

That said, I was concerned to read Minchin being quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday as saying that the documentary was a “terrific opportunity to convey to an ABC audience that there remains a significant debate”. If Minchin had any insight he would realise that the documentary simply exposes his gullibility.

I got the sense it was not much of a program from reading Nick Minchin’s opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, They tried to change my mind, but I’m still a climate sceptic. The sub heading is more revelatory of the mind set: “Scaremongering about global warming is backfiring on warmists”. Emotional terminology and dispassionate analysis are not consistent. He wrote:

I think the most useful appointment I arranged was with Bjorn Lomborg, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre. Lomborg, unlike me, thinks human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing global warming, but, like me, he thinks carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes are a stupid, costly and ineffective way of dealing with the issue.

Lomborg instead advocates significant global investment in green energy research and development in order to make green energy so cheap that everyone will want it.

Now, that I can support. If there is to be any common ground between sceptics and warmists, this surely must be it. Let’s work to make green energy a realistic, affordable alternative, instead of stupidly trying to make conventional energy so incredibly expensive that we will stop using it.

One other significant appointment I sought – the footage of which lies on the cutting room floor – was with Professor Jasper Kirkby in Geneva.

Kirkby is leading a team at the famous CERN research facility investigating the relationship between solar activity, cosmic rays and cloud formation, and the consequence for our climate. This is fascinating work that amply shows how much we don’t know about what drives our climate, and that to claim ”the science is settled” is simply a lie. If any of the visits I proposed had an impact on Rose and her convictions, this was it.

Conversely, neither Rose nor those whom she took me to meet could convince me that human emissions of carbon dioxide are driving dangerous global warming. Indeed, the absence of warming since 1998 despite rising carbon dioxide levels shakes the foundations of the alarmists’ cause, as green icon James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, recognised this week when he backtracked from his alarmism. He now says: “The great climate centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is.”

What I do know about science is that it is dynamic, that there are always unknowns and that there is much we don’t know about Earth’s climate. May the debate continue.

Nick Minchin seems to have learnt nothing nor is he convincing by making repeated statements that can be demonstrated as incorrect. Andrew Glikson takes James Lovelock to task for his statements, arguing that it is the active climate scientists who are the true sceptics. The rest of of Nick Minchin’s statements I have quoted are too boring to bother with.

We did not get to see the interview with Jasper Kirby at CERN. Skeptical Science and Real Climate not draw the same conclusions as Nick Minchin. Similarly, the view of Naomi Oreskes was ignored:

In terms of changing minds the program appears to have been pointless, and perhaps was always going to be. Nick Minchin remains a climate change denier warrior. However he correctly identified the marked change in public opinion since 2007. Ben Cubby notes in The Sydney Morning Herald, “Nation now ‘indifferent’ to environment“. He writes:

”Australians are effectively indifferent to global and societal issues, rating these significantly lower,” said the report What Matters to Australians, produced by the University of Technology, Sydney and the Melbourne Business School, with the support of the Australian Research Council.

”What we see in these results is a picture of a relatively conservative society concerned with local issues that influence its members’ daily lives.”

People’s concerns about industrial pollution, climate change, renewable energy and depletion of energy resources plummeted when compared with an identical study in 2007, with only logging and habitat destruction remaining among the top 25 issues of concern to Australians.

In 2007, environmental sustainability was the only set of global issues that was ranked as highly important. When the same questions were repeated last year, no global issues appeared among the nation’s top concerns.

”Overall, this reveals a startling decline in the Australian population’s concerns about environmental sustainability,” the researchers wrote.

”It is possible that 2007 was nothing more than an aberration when the debate about environmental sustainability became a matter of ordinary, everyday concern. What we now see in Australia and across Western countries is likely closer to a long-term trend in the value of environmental matters to the general population.”

The study showed that Australian were “relatively” disengaged from party politics. A connection between the two issues and the role of the media, including the changed management policy focus of the ABC, were not considered.

Why don’t people accept scientific findings on this issue? Thom Hartmann interviews Chris Mooney:

Part One:

Part Two:

Naomi Oreskes expresses her view of the denial phenomenon – Neoliberalism and the Denial of  Global Warming.




1. klem - May 1, 2012

“Why don’t people accept scientific findings on this issue?”

Its all because of middle aged white males, yea that’s it. It has nothing to do with the weak science coupled with conclusions of future climate catastrophe. Nope its those middle aged white males getting in the way all of the time. Lol!

wmmbb - May 1, 2012

klem, you might mean weak evidence, rather than weak science, but there a lot of evidence and it appears consistent. The use of this dichotomy between strong and weak is in itself telling.

Nick Minchin’s political views and positions as outlined at Wikileaks, his neoliberalism, and how consistent that was with what Naomi Oreskes was indicating was typical of climate change deniers was striking.

There might be something in those psychological studies of personality characteristics. That could be more weak science. We might expect that there the odd one or two older and educated males with small “l” liberal dispositions

Don’t you agree it is an interesting to identify a demographic (including education, income and similar variables that might be used to distinguish groups within a population) that consistently differentiate response to information on the basis of personality orientations?

Peace be with you.

(My tone is more abrasive than I normally adopt. My approach is to trust the scientists to get it right within the limits of known error, and I would not condemn them if they changed their minds. NOAA, for example, identified 36 or more observed variables that pointed in the same direction. I rely on the scientists to explain the technical issues. I would be interested to know what experiments and sets of observations that are now actively undertaken. My knowledge and understanding is very limited, but I have no reason, or psychological disposition to distrust the science.)

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