October 11th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Australia's debt party is well and truly over

EDITORIAL: US financial meltdown worsens ...

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Why Congress has been wary about Wall Street bailout

EDUCATION: Radical left-wing agenda in store for our schools

DEFENCE: ADF now stretched to the uttermost

ASIA-PACIFIC: China's power projection in Fiji

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Concerns over Chinese investment in WA mining

OPINION: Taiwan's olive-branch to Beijing

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: Small farms offer solution to world food shortages

BIOFUELS: Ethanol home-brew kit on sale

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: WA Nationals opt for partnership, not coalition

VICTORIA: Abortion bill cannot enforce gestational limits

ABORTION: Painfully taking the life of the most defenceless

OPINION: Scientism as the new fundamentalism

AS THE WORLD TURNS: British postage stamp honours Hitler admirer / Old and sick have a duty to die / Economics divorced from morality / The everyone-on-your-own society / Decline of male breadwinners

LETTERS: Evidence for global cooling disputed (letter)

BOOKS: ORIGINAL SIN: A Cultural History, by Alan Jacobs


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Evidence for global cooling disputed (letter)

by Tim Marsh

News Weekly, October 11, 2008

I disagree with your cover story, "It's official: the world is cooling, not warming", by Peter Westmore (News Weekly, August 30).

Regardless of the existence of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) or non-AGW, your front cover illustration, and the implied conclusion of cooling, is misleading and potentially intellectually dishonest.

Despite the fact that this year in fact now looks like presenting the lowest Arctic sea ice levels for many years (and worse than last year's record low), you simply cannot take a two-year sample and declare a trend, without considering previous years' data.

If I have a dataset of 20 (or 50, or whatever) years, showing a steady decline in a metric, year on year, but then have one year that increases, it is dishonest to now claim that the trend has finished, and even worse to claim that it has swung in the opposite direction, simply because of a non-trend datum point. This is analogous to claiming a reversal in a share-market trend from one data set - clearly erroneous statistically.

Further, I find your narrow concentration on sunspot activity - which many scientists agree has little effect on this global warming cycle (and some think does have an effect) - also misleading, as many other factors disprove your theory.

Although I concede your right to present quotes and facts that strengthen your desired position, it is also dishonest to not include dissenting opinion which would allow the reader to reach an opinion based on all the facts. For every climate-change sceptic you present, I could probably present 10 well credentialled CC supporters.

While I acknowledge your alignment in such issues as generally being to the right, surely such an important topic deserves balanced and considered discussion and scientific debate, without the use of such terms as "bandwagon" and so on. It is simply not right to focus solely on a narrow presentation of facts that agree with your desired outcome - that is poor science.

Moreover, I think you would do well to consider the cost of the Iraq conflict and the mooted cost of the Wall Street bailout (some US$700 billion and counting), and ask whether that money would be better spent in lifting many people out of entrenched poverty, rather than socialising the capital market's losses.

I think linking the world's poor to the costs associated with lowering CO2 emissions is a long bow to draw, and also intellectually base.

Emphasis on cheap fuel is also counter-productive to ensuring we have adequate oil for many years to come as well as reducing our use of fossil fuels to power today's society.

I think you also fail to consider the strong benefits in encouraging a low-CO2 economy. Innovation will blossom as companies find ways of meeting required standards, and a new industry (and thus jobs) will spring up overnight.

Your arguments are reminiscent of the US coal industry when forced to improve their emission standards - they cried foul, claiming this would lead to widespread job losses and business failure. Instead, as they were forced to innovate, their profitability increased and more jobs across the sector were created - surely a positive outcome.

Tim Marsh,
Melbourne, Vic.


Peter Westmore responds

While Mr Tim Marsh has criticised News Weekly's cover photos comparing the Arctic icecap in August 2008 with the same date in 2007, the point is that his side has consistently maintained that the Arctic is warming, when demonstrably it is not.

Further, my article did not rely on this at all, but rather on solar radiation data, quotes from the Space and Science Research Centre, two physicists from the Danish National Space Centre, and the 31,000 scientists who have rejected the theory of human-induced global-warming.

I concluded by saying, "In light of the urgent need to improve the standard of living of the poor, through provision of inexpensive fuel and power to millions of low-income families throughout the world, the current emphasis on cutting CO2 production will have the effect of keeping many of the world's poor in continuing poverty."

I stand by that remark.

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