Tag Archives: sydney morning herald

Denying, not waving: image of the day and the fate of island nations

A wonderful cartoon from yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Source: Fairfax Media

Source: Fairfax Media

Even more important, an article highlighting the plight of small island nations:

The delegation of parliamentarians from four tropical Pacific Islands nations braved the Canberra cold last week, and that wasn’t the only climate shock they suffered. 

They watched the impressive intellectual exchange of question time in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and then moved on. But almost as soon as they left, Parliament started to debate a motion on whether the science of man-made climate change was real. This came as a bit of a jolt to the legislator visiting from Kiribati, a country of about 100,000 people on 33 small, low-lying islands strung along 5000 kilometres of the equator. 

“Climate change is real in our places,” Rimeta Beniamina, a government MP and vice-chairman of his parliament’s climate change committee, told me, expressing surprise at what was going on in the chamber a few metres away. 

“A few years ago it was not taken very seriously. But now quite a few villages are experiencing hardship. Beaches are eroding, houses are falling down, crops are damaged and livelihoods are destroyed. 

“The intrusion of salt water is very evident. The sea level may be rising millimetres a year, but it is still rising. The strong winds and rising tides are the worst part. Once the salt water enters the land, that’s it. Trees are falling along the coast, crops dying, pigs and chickens are affected.” 

A US study published at the weekend in the journal Nature Geoscience found the global sea level had risen by 16.8 millimetres between 2005 and 2011. 

Clark Wilson, a co-author of the study and geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, says: “There was an increase in the melting rate in Greenland starting in 2005 and that is probably the underlying story why,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The academic study was funded by NASA and the US National Science Foundation. 

The rising seas are whipped up by increasingly severe El Nino weather cycles, damaging the coastlines of countries including Kiribati, pronounced kee-ree-bas. 

“Some communities have been forced to move backward from the coast,” Beniamina says. “The problem is, there is not much land to move back to.” 

People are jamming into the overcrowded main island, Tarawa. Its centre has a population density estimated at three times that of Tokyo, says an April report by Australian journalist Bernard Lagan in the Global Mail. Fresh water supplies are at risk and there is not enough land to bury the dead. 

Kiribati President Anote Tong has declared a policy of orderly evacuation that he calls “migration with dignity”. The nation is a proverbial canary in the carbon emission coal mine, and the prognosis is unhappy.  

 

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At war with reality: key figures in Liberal Party remain unswayed by evidence

An interesting article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald today examining the views of prominent Liberal National Party politicians on climate change.  Despite the evidence many have held onto their sceptical views:

THE most prominent political climate sceptics see no reason to change their minds, despite the welter of studies over the past fortnight showing forecasts of global warming were correct or underestimates.  

Many of the climate sceptics, influential in elevating Tony Abbott to Coalition leader, say they see nothing to convince them that human activity is causing the climate to change.  

The Global Carbon Project has released forecasts that the planet could warm by between 4 degrees and 6 degrees by the end of the century and Nature Climate Change on Monday published a study finding that warming is consistent with 1990 scientific forecasts.

As I (and many others) have stated this has nothing to do with evidence. The denial of climate change is driven by the ideology, world views and values:

South Australian senator Cory Bernardi, formerly Mr Abbott’s parliamentary secretary, said: ”I do not think human activity causes climate change and I haven’t seen anything that changes my view. I remain very sceptical about the alarmists’ claims.” 

Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce said the whole debate about whether humans were causing the climate to change was ”indulgent and irrelevant”. 

”It is an indulgent and irrelevant debate because, even if climate change turns out to exist one day, we will have absolutely no impact on it whatsoever … we really should have bigger fish to fry than this one,” Senator Joyce said.

Individuals can be very good at maintaining cognitive dissonance, filtering out information they don’t agree with and latching onto “facts’ that support their world view.

West Australian Dennis Jensen back bencher provides a textbook example of this:

West Australian back bencher Dennis Jensen, who had read the recent scientific literature, said he interpreted the findings in different ways and believed climate scepticism within the Coalition was increasing. 

”The scientific papers saying it is as bad as we thought, or worse, are talking about concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere – and concentrations are indeed increasing – but global temperatures have not gone up in a decade,” he said. 

”It’s the impact of the increased concentrations of CO2 that is in dispute and I agree with [US professor] Richard Lindzen that it is more likely to be 0.4 degrees than 4 to 6 degrees … the doomsday prophesies do not stand up to reason.”

Richard Lindzen is one of the few genuinely qualified sceptics. At best he is a marginal figure in science. His entire claim to fame rests upon his status as one of the token sceptics within the community of atmospheric scientists.

Outside of his notoriety he has produced little research of value – and what research he has produced has been flawed and ignored by the rest of scientific community.

Despite the fact 97% of climate scientists accept climate change is real, Jensen clings to the marginal views of outliers such as Lindzen because they buttress is own world view.

In this regard the Liberals resemble the Republicans in the United States and the Tea Party movement who’ve decided to go to war with reality.

Don’t like the facts? Then reject them and dismiss the experts.

Supporting there fantasy world views are the think tanks and conservative media who help create a parallel reality in which the climate isn’t changing  and Obama was born in Kenya.

When facts and evidence contravene ideology figures such as Bernardi, Joyce and Jensen remain steadfastly attached to fantasy.

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The coming assault on AR5: get ready for the next war on the IPCC in 2013

Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Australian government has begun its review of the latest draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, pledging ‘‘an open and comprehensive approach’’ as it taps selected input.

The review will draw on comments from experts, state and territory governments, industry groups and research organisation, the government said in a statement. “IPCC Assessment Reports are a vital reference and evidence base for policy considerations on climate change by governments around the world,” Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said.

The review will run to the end of November and involves a ‘‘second-order draft’’ of one of the three working group reports, examining the physical aspects of the climate system and the changes under way.

These include observations of changes in air, land and ocean temperatures, rainfall, glaciers and ice sheets, and sea level, as well as evaluations of climate models and projections of future conditions.

The first working group’s report is due for public release in September 2013. Draft IPCC reports are typically not made public, with the review process intended to test the data and analysis, and identify any errors.

So what can we expect from the sceptic movement?

Time for some predictions!

Coming soon to a climate sceptic blog: conspiracy theories and cherry picked facts*

As we get closer to the release of the next Assessment Report (AR5) we can look forward to renewed attacks on:

  • the integrity of the IPCC
  • those associated with the IPCC
  • the integrity of individual scientists and scientific institutions
  • the idea of a scientific consensus on climate change.

We will no doubt see the deployment of the following tactics:

  • dragging out all the old complaints about AR4
  • sceptics hunting for anomalies and small errors in the report
  • mutterings about global conspiracies and scientists fabricating data
  • counter-conferences and publications that present a “counter-consensus”
  • climate sceptic bloggers working themselves up into frequent episodes of rage.

Since the publication of the last IPCC synthesis report  (AR4) the science has become even more settled. Thus in that context it will be interesting to see how the sceptic movement responds to both the report and media coverage.

Will the media allow the sceptics to frame the debate again?

How much the mainstream media will pander to the sceptics and repeat their accusations remains to be seen.

Increasingly we are seeing their views getting less and less airtime in the mainstream press. 

It now seems parts of the maintream media are a) bored with the messages of the sceptic movement and b) has twigged to the fact the sceptics are in the business of manufacturing faux scandals and outrage.

“Another typo in the IPCC report? Gosh, how clever of you Mr Climate Sceptic (yawn).”

2013 sceptic response: expect the spectrum of outright denial to luke-warmism

So what to expect? 

Parts of the News Corporation will pick up sceptic talking points and quote all the usual climate sceptic suspects on Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other parts of Murdoch’s empire.   

More respectable outlets such as the WSJ may change their tone from outright denial to a form of luke-warmism: “Sure the climate is changing, but it will be fine – or we will adapt – so no need to change!”

The Australian will strive for its usual balanced approach (i.e. war on science) of trotting out professors that have gone emeritus and surrender occasional column space to cranks like David Evans and Joanne Nova.

Lets hope those two start talking about the Rothschild’s and the climate scam on the pages of The Oz.

Andrew Bolt will speak approvingly of cranks on both his show The Bolt Report and on his blog.

Fox News will continue to offer fair and balanced commentary by getting the science wrong and promoting outright falsehoods.

Climate sceptic blogs will run amok with the usual dross – getting especially shrill both prior to and after the release of AR5.

I anticipate Anthony Watts will release another special pre-peer reviewed analysis of temperature data in the later half of 2013 to counter the work of the IPCC (lulz).

Reader predictions welcome

So readers, what are your predictions for the sceptic response?

As we get closer to the release of the first draft I’ll start pointing tactics and sceptic responses.

But to be frank, I think we can condidently predict the sceptic response.

 

* In other words, nothing will change.

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