EDITORIAL: Climate change: don't spoil a good story with facts
by Peter Westmore
News Weekly, June 9, 2007
How well founded are the alarmist global-warming scenarios put forward by former US Vice-President Al Gore?
At a time when the media is awash with dire predictions about global warming and the necessity to adopt emission targets put forward in the Kyoto Protocol and carbon-trading, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has bravely decided to screen The Great Global Warming Swindle. This British film rejects climate hysteria, and argues that climate change is a naturally-occurring event, probably linked with increasing solar radiation, not with greenhouse gases, particularly CO2.
Predictably, much of the media rounded on the ABC.
For example, the Sydney Morning Herald thundered that "the ABC board has been accused of pressuring ABC TV to broadcast a discredited British documentary questioning the science behind climate change".
ABC science journalist, Robyn Williams, publicly denounced the ABC's decision, describing it as "verging on the irresponsible" to show a film that was "demonstrably wrong". Curiously, Mr Williams also stated, "We're not into censorship."
The new program contradicts the alarmist theories put forward by former US Vice-President Al Gore, whose film, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Oscar and an Academy Award for best documentary.
Gore's film, telecast last year, declared that it is now certain that increased greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2, would lead to melting ice-caps, more hurricanes, more droughts and deserts, rising sea-levels which would make some countries uninhabitable, disastrous food shortages, increasing numbers of heat-related deaths, widespread species extinction, and other calamities.
But is it true? Many highly respected meteorologists and climate scientists do not agree.
In a recent address, Professor Bob Carter, from the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University of North Queensland, highlighted the reality as opposed to the propaganda of climate change.
He said that much of the public discussion on global warming was underpinned by two partly self-contradictory assumptions. The first is that there is a "consensus" of qualified scientists that dangerous human-induced global warming is upon us; and the second is that although there are "two sides to the debate", the dangerous-warming side is overwhelmingly the stronger.
He said, "Both assertions are unsustainable. The first because science is not, nor ever has been, about consensus, but about experimental and observational data and testable hypotheses.
"Second, regarding the number of sides to the debate, the reality is that small parts of the immensely complex climate system are better or less understood - depending upon the subject - by many different groups of experts."
He added, "Some key questions and answers that are relevant to the climate-change debate include the following. Is there an established Theory of Climate? Answer: no.
"Do we understand fully how climate works? No. Is carbon dioxide demonstrated to be a dangerous atmospheric pollutant? No. Can deterministic computer models predict future climate? Another no.
"Is there a consensus amongst qualified scientists that dangerous, human-caused climate change is upon us? Absolutely not. Did late 20th-century temperature rise at a dangerous rate, or to a dangerous level? No, in either case.
"Is global temperature currently rising? Surprisingly, no. And finally, is the IPCC [the International Panel on Climate Change] a scientific or a political advisory body? Answer: it is both."
Despite this, much of the media, together with outgoing UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Al Gore, British economist Nicholas Stern and others without scientific credentials, have attempted to close off discussion by asserting that the debate is over.
Professor Carter said, "Human-caused global warming has become the environmental cause célèbre of the early 21st century. The strong-warming alarmist camp currently includes the United Nations, most Western governments, most of the free press, many large corporations (including Enron, before it failed), the major churches, most scientific organisations and a large portion of general public opinion.
"This phalanx of support notwithstanding, there is no scientific consensus as to the danger of human-induced climate change. There is, therefore, a strong conflict between the level of public alarm and its scientific justification. How can this be?"
He added, "In a democracy, the media serve to convey to the public the facts and hypotheses of climate change as provided by individual scientists, governmental and international research agencies, and NGO and other lobby groups.
"In general, the media have promulgated an alarmist cause for climate change; they have certainly failed to convey the degree of uncertainty that is characteristic of climate science, or a balanced summary of the many essential facts that are relevant to human causation."
- Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.