February 14th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

QUEENSLAND STATE ELECTION Governments want belt-tightening, but voters want jobs

CANBERRA OBSERVED The Coalition government's self-inflicted troubles

SOCIETY Joblessness drives the retreat from marriage

EDITORIAL IPCC pushes for new binding climate treaty

NATIONAL AFFAIRS What's behind the Australian Liberty Alliance?

ISLAM Middle East's bishops urge Christians to work with Muslims

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Productivity Commission's IR inquiry doomed before it starts

POLITICAL PARTIES Why Victoria's Liberals are perennial losers

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Greece launches diplomatic offensive against EU austerity program

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS UK-US special relationship 'hanging by a thread'

CULTURE Further inquiries into the case of Sherlock Holmes


BOOK REVIEW Chronicle of a world we have lost

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IPCC pushes for new binding climate treaty

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, February 14, 2015

Despite mounting evidence that the world’s climate is driven mainly by natural rather than artificial man-made factors, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is gearing up for a major push to get politicians to commit to deep cuts to fossil fuels at the IPCC Paris Conference this December in a new enforceable treaty. 

The push is part of the anti-development agenda, which radical environmentalists have been pursuing for decades. 

Previous treaties have had no measurable impact on the environment, but have imposed massive costs on business and consumers and, in the case of some of the European economies, have forced energy prices up to the point where their industries have become uncompetitive, raising both consumer prices and unemployment.

Successive meetings of the IPCC’s member-states — including the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 and last year’s conference in Lima, Peru — have been long on rhetoric; but, since the Kyoto agreement in 1997, governments have not agreed to mandatory emissions limits, because of scepticism about climate alarmism, the refusal of the main emitting nations to participate, and the developing world’s refusal to commit.

Late last year, the IPCC delivered its 132-page Synthesis Report, which repeated the familiar claim that the use of fossil fuels and the accompanying rising CO2 levels are causing rising global temperatures, melting of the ice-caps, rising sea levels, more droughts and floods, and numerous other natural disasters.

Late in January, a meeting of the IPCC bureau was held in Switzerland, and this will shortly be followed by a full meeting of the IPCC in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Accompanying this flurry of meetings, some of the leading weather bureaus around the world have released alarming claims that 2014 was “the hottest year on record”, seemingly confirming the dire predictions of the IPCC.

On January 26, ABC Radio National’s PM program breathlessly reported: “A new CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report into climate change says increasing heat through the 21st century will bring more floods and droughts and a longer bushfire season. The two peak organisations have released the full report online with projections based on 40 different global climate models. 

“It’s been seven years since the last report, and this is the most comprehensive set of climate change predictions created for Australia.”

Other reports claimed that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting at an unprecedented rate. How much truth is behind these claims? 

The volume of weather information now being collected globally is far greater than at any time in history, and this data can be cherry-picked to support almost any proposition you like.

Because of the growth of towns and cities over recent decades, where most of this information has been collected, temperature records have been influenced by the heat-island effect. Attempts have been made to compensate for this, but the process of “homogenising” data is opaque.

In some parts of the world, particularly in the huge country of Russia, the number of recording sites diminished drastically after the fall of communism, particularly in rural areas. Additionally, recorded temperatures of the atmosphere over the oceans, which cover nearly 80 per cent of the earth’s surface, as well as seawater temperatures, have been fragmentary until a few years ago.

So claims that temperatures are the “highest on record”, or the “highest since 1880”, as some reports suggested, are propaganda.

To try to determine average global temperatures accurately, satellites have been collecting temperature data for the air, water and land for the past 25 years. But even these records have difficulties, as recent satellites have more accurate sensors. 

The satellite data, published in the United States by two scientists of impeccable integrity, Dr Roy Spencer and Dr John Christy, show that there have been temperature fluctuations, but no significant global temperature rise since 1998, despite a gradual rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Dr Spencer wrote recently: “In the three decades I’ve been in the climate research business, it’s been clear that politics have been driving the global warming movement.

“I knew this from the politically-savvy scientists who helped organise the UN’s process for determining what to do about human-caused climate change. (The IPCC wasn’t formed to determine whether it exists or whether is was even a threat — that was a given).”

As for the melting of the Antarctic ice-sheet, the satellite data showed that throughout 2014, the extent of sea-ice was well above the 30-year average for 1980-2010. 

Unfortunately, as Dr Spencer has observed, climate science has been so politicised that it has lost its credibility.

But the political battle must continue to protect Australians — and equally, the world’s poor — from costly, unnecessary and damaging policies being pushed by extreme environmentalists. 

Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

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