March 6th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: US arms sales affirm Taiwan's strategic role


Climate-scare game is up (letter)

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Crisis of confidence in Rudd Government

Latest quarantine fiasco (letter)

CLIMATEGATE: No recent global warming, admits Professor Jones

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Federal, state governments veto northern development

FAMILY POLICY: Voters demand equality in childcare maternity payments

INSULATION SCAM: Wheel turns full circle for Peter Garrett

ENERGY: Nuclear energy ... next generation power source

SURROGACY: Next stolen generation - who needs a mother, anyway?

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Giant mosque to overlook UK Sandhurst military academy/Controversial images withdrawn by the Met/Beware of ice cream made in China/Plummeting birthrates threaten global prosperity/Al Gore lying low

Failing schools (letter)

BOOK REVIEW: EMPIRES OF THE SILK ROAD: A History of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Present, by Christopher I. Beckwith

News Weekly's prescience (letter)

SEX EDUCATION: Abstinence-only programs teach young to make wiser choices

FAMILY AND SOCIETY: What fatherlessness costs society

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Greek crisis tips Europe towards double-dip recession

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Australian manufacturing: does it have a future?

NATIONAL SECURITY: Terrorist trial a landmark in Australian justice

COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: Moment of truth for Bushfire Royal Commission

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No recent global warming, admits Professor Jones

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, March 6, 2010
Professor Phil Jones, who recently stood down as director of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia over leaked e-mails which appear to reveal attempts to manipulate the scientific debate on climate change, has admitted that there has been no atmospheric warming over the past 15 years.

He made the comment in the course of an interview with the BBC's environment analyst, Roger Harrabin, which was broadcast on February 13, 2010.

When asked, "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?", Professor Jones responded, "Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95 per cent significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods."

Professor Jones also admitted that there had been global cooling from 2002 to 2009 of -0.12C per decade, but said it was not statistically significant, as the period of observation was too short.

In another interesting insight, Professor Jones said that he was certain that human activity had caused climate change since 1950, but admitted that the debate was not over.

He said, "It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don't believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well."

Professor Jones also conceded that there had been periods in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century when temperature rises were comparable to those observed in the late 20th century.

When asked, "Do you agree that, according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1975-1998 were identical?", he responded, "Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods, 1910-40 and 1975-1998, the warming rates are not statistically significantly different.

"I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.

"So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all four periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other."

The importance of this response arises from the fact that there was no significant human contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere from 1860-1880, comparatively little from 1910 to 1940, more from 1975 to 1998, and still more from 1975 to 2009. And yet there was similar warming in each period.

Additionally, it should be said that there was significant cooling between these warmer periods, as has happened over the past eight years.

In relation to the leaking of the Climategate emails, Professor Jones said his life had been "awful" since November 2009, but indicated he did not want to speak about it.

When asked, "Why did you ask a colleague to delete all e-mails relating to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC?", Professor Jones said, "This was an e-mail sent out of frustration at one FOI [Freedom of Information] request that was asking for the e-mail correspondence between the lead authors on chapter six of the Working Group One Report of the IPCC. This is one of the issues which the Independent Review [into the Climategate leaks] will look at."

Roger Harrabin then said, "The e-mails suggest you were trying to subvert the process of peer review and to influence editors in their decisions about which papers to publish. Do you accept that?"

Professor Jones said, "I do not accept that I was trying to subvert the peer-review process and unfairly influence editors in their decisions. I undertook all the reviews I made in good faith and sent them back to the editors.

"In some e-mails I questioned the peer-review process with respect to what I believed were poor papers that had appeared. Isn't this called freedom of speech? On some occasions I joined with others to submit a response to some of these papers. Since the beginning of 2005, I have reviewed 43 papers. I take my reviewing seriously and in 2006 I was given an editor's award from Geophysical Research Letters for conscientious and constructive reviewing."

Whether Professor Jones acted properly in trying to suppress articles he disagreed with is a matter which will be examined by the Independent Review. It will also look at whether he acted properly in trying to pressure the editors of independent scientific journals to publish only papers which agreed with his position.

In the IPCC's Hockey Stick graph, an attempt was made to suggest that global temperatures had been relatively uniform for many hundreds of years before a sudden rise in the 20th century.

In fact, as many observers have pointed out, the temperature on earth had risen at various times over the past two millennia (e.g., the Roman Period and the Medieval Warm Period), and fallen into mini-Ice Ages between these periods, for example, in the Little Ice Age which extended from about 1400 to 1800 AD.

Roger Harrabin asked, "There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global or not. If it were to be conclusively shown that it was a global phenomenon, would you accept that this would undermine the premise that mean surface atmospheric temperatures during the latter part of the 20th century were unprecedented?"

Professor Jones said, "There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

"Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere) then obviously the late-20th-century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.

"We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere."

Dr Benny Peiser, a leading critic of anthropogenic global warming theory, said this was the first time a senior scientist working with the IPCC had admitted to the possibility that the Medieval Warming Period could have been global, and therefore the world could have been hotter then than now.

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