Welcome to Quadrant Online | Login/ Register Cart (0) $0 View Cart
Menu
August 24th 2009 print

Hugh Morgan

Accomplices in deceit

In my view what is important about The Climate Caper is that it is an insider’s account of how Australia’s scientific institutions were suborned into being accomplices to a religious crusade and, how, in accepting the bribes that were offered, they have seriously compromised their integrity.

Launching The Climate Caper

It’s a privilege to be asked to launch this important book.

My mind goes back to the launching of Bill Kininmonth’s book Climate Change: A Natural Hazard here at 401 Collins Street, in 2004, by John Zillman. That launch was written up in The Age by Melissa Fyfe, then The Age’s environmental reporter. Although she was actually in attendance, her report suggested otherwise.

More recently we had Ian Plimer’s launch at the Windsor, with more than 300 people in attendance. The Age did not report on that event.

In Perth, Dennis Jensen launched David Archibald’s Solar Cycle 24. That well-attended event did get a brief run in the Perth media.

Now we have The Climate Caper and I’ll lay odds on that The Age will not report on this event. [Ed: They didn't.]

I mention those books because they have been written by four Australian scientists who have been, or still are, at the top of their professions. All four are global warming sceptics, in the sense that they see anthropogenic emissions of CO2 as having very little, if any, impact on the world’s climate.

It is interesting for the layman like me to note that each one of these authors has a different perspective on the global warming issue. Bill Kininmonth and Garth Paltridge are atmospheric scientists. Ian Plimer is a geologist, one could call him a passionate geologist. David Archibald is an exploration geologist who has done very well in finding oil deposits. But the careful reader will find very different arguments, and some disagreements, from these authors, albeit with a common conclusion – namely that the belief that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases such as methane are responsible for the measurable global temperature rise of 0.8 deg C since 1850, is without foundation.

Since this belief is the doctrinal foundation of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill which is to be presented to the Senate on Thursday, their common conclusion on this matter is very important.

As well as these authors we have the redoubtable Bob Carter, David Evans, and Stewart Frank, who with Bill Kininmonth made up the team which assisted Senator Steve Fielding in his encounter with Minister Penny Wong and her advisers, Will Steffens and Penny Sackett, the Chief Scientist. I’ll return to that memorable encounter in due course.

What does Garth Paltridge bring to this historic debate which is both new and important. In my view what is important about the book is that it is an insider’s account of how Australia’s scientific institutions were suborned into being accomplices to a religious crusade and, how, in accepting the bribes that were offered, they have seriously compromised their integrity.

The title The Climate Caper is an interesting one. I consulted my dictionary on the word “caper”. It has a very 19th century ring about it. In the Concise Oxford Dictionary I read that a caper is a frisky movement; leap, or fantastic proceeding. So the word is very apt in that all of those meanings are descriptive of the activities of the global warming enthusiasts who are discussed in the book.

At the conclusion of his Introduction, Garth writes the following:

The whole business has hardened over the last decade or so into a semi-religious crusade in which climate scientists have developed an arrogance about their aims and activities which brooks no argument either with the interpretation of the science, or with the way in which the science is used. To achieve their ends, they are drawing heavily on the capital of scientific reputation that has been so painfully assembled over hundreds of years. And it is they, not the politicians or the press, who have set up the various international mechanisms such as the IPCC that are designed to keep the whole issue at the forefront of public attention. It is they who are publicly scornful of sceptical scientists from outside their field. It is they who privately ostracize any sceptical colleagues from within their own ranks.

Two examples which Garth describes of the way in which the scientific “consensus” on global warming is maintained by the leaders of the herd are noteworthy. The first comes from the early nineties, soon after Garth had been appointed Director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, based in Hobart. I quote:

I made the error at the time of mentioning in a media interview – reported extensively in The Australian on a slow Easter Saturday – that there were still lots of doubts about the disaster potential of global warming.     

As soon as Garth got back to his office on Easter Tuesday:

It was made very clear to me from the highest levels of the CSIRO that, if I made such public comments again, then it would pull out of the process of forming the new Centre.

Since CSIRO was a major partner in the venture and its withdrawal would have killed the whole thing dead, it is not surprising that I found the message to be both cogent and effective. It turned out that this response was related by efforts by the CSIRO at the time to abstract many millions of new climate research money from the federal government.

Garth has another story of a similar kind, where at a small conference which took place in Adelaide after the federal election of 2007, and after Ross Garnaut had been appointed to conduct his inquiry and report to the federal government:

A senior scientist of my acquaintance spent most of his time at the conference huddled over his computer emailing back and forth and correcting versions of a document that was to be the climate agency’s input to the Garnaut Inquiry. He was obviously furiously busy. When I asked what it was all about, he maintained during his explanation that the greatest problem was to ensure that whatever was said in the document gave no comfort at all to ‘the vast army of sceptics out there’ who could not be made to believe in the seriousness of the global warming story.     

His comment is an indication of a couple of basic truths behind the climate-change debate. The first is that the scientists pushing the seriousness of global warming are perfectly well aware of the great uncertainty attached to their cause. . .

The second basic truth is that there is a belief among scientific ‘global warmers’ that they are an underfunded minority among a sea of wicked sceptics who are extensively funded by industry and are closely related to Satan.

What Garth is raising here is an issue of the utmost seriousness for Australia. These scientists have become willing accomplices in deceit, and the organisations that have employed them and encouraged this conduct should be brought to account. In the private sector what they are doing would be described as fraud. Our economic, political and national life depend upon the integrity of key institutions and the traditions which they entrusted to preserve and to uphold. The rule of law and the judiciary is one such institution. The universities are another, and as they have become infected with the disease of post-modernism, described by Ernest Gellner as a living and contemporary specimen of relativism, the capacity of law faculties, for example, to teach and uphold the rule of law as the foundation stone of our society is greatly diminished.

But the discussion tonight is about the integrity of our scientific traditions and the institutions which ought to be upholding and maintaining those traditions. Garth Paltridge has, from a position of real authority and long experience, described in this book the corruption that has taken place in these institutions. What we are to do about it is another matter, but the first task is that of exposure and diagnosis, and The Climate Caper has begun that process.

Garth’s observation about global warming sceptics and their consanguinity to Satan, impacts on the Lavoisier Group. The Greens maintain ad nauseam, ad infinitum, that Lavoisier is the tool of big coal and big oil. With one or two honourable exceptions, the behaviour of the coal industry and the oil and gas industry in recent years brings to mind Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s famous dictum. "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." The coal industry’s embrace of the complete no-brainer “carbon capture and storage” or CCS, is an obvious example.

I referred earlier to the exchange between Senator Frank Fielding and Minister Penny Wong and their advisers. Senator Fielding went to Washington DC and met some of the leading American global warming sceptics, and some of the congressional leaders who have been at the forefront of the battle over there.

On his return he wrote to Minster Wong and posed three question which we can summarise thus.

First, he asked why had global temperatures cooled since 1998, whilst at the same time CO2 levels had increased.

Second, he asked if it was true that the warming that had taken place between 1979 and 1998 was not unusual compared with warmings in the past, and if so, why was this recent warming attributed to anthropogenic CO2, and;

Third, he asked since all the GCM climate models had predicted a steady increase in temperature for the period 1990-2008, something they had all got wrong, why should we pass legislation based on their predictions today?

The Minister and her advisers provided written responses to these question. Their importance is that they show that the Minister’s advisers are either ignorant, evasive, or as in the argument put forward by Will Steffens concerning the alleged increase in the temperature of the oceans, simply not telling the truth. The documents are now on the public record. Joanne Nova’s website is currently the best place to find them and to read the analysis of them by Carter, Evans, Kininmonth and Frank. I presume they will soon be on the Lavoisier Group’s website.

Garth’s book is important in the context of that exchange between the official scientists (on whose advice the Minister and her assistant Greg Combet still rely), and their sceptical protagonists, in that Garth describes some of the techniques which were used to construct the Potemkin Village of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming.

He discusses the serious overproduction of PhDs; the demands on young scientists to publish or perish; the difficulties which young scientists face in challenging the reigning doctrines of the establishment, no matter how absurd they may be; but he has no solution to the dilemma we face: the loss of trust which will follow from the collapse of the global warming doctrines of the CSIRO and the universities.

I think he also underestimates the speed with which that collapse can take place. Back in the early 1990s, the new Clinton Administration lost no time in putting forward a scheme for a BTU tax. BTU as in British Thermal Unit, the measurement of heat energy once widely used in the English speaking world but now confined to the USA. The proposal for Australia to follow suit soon gained traction. It was a forerunner to the carbon tax now on the political agenda, and as soon as this BTU tax came onto the agenda all the local political analysts were predicting an Australian equivalent, and discussions were taking place around town as to how to react to the proposal.

At one of these meetings a colleague of mine suggested that it was most unlikely that the US Congress would ever pass a BTU tax. He was looked at as if he was an idiot, but of course, the BTU tax didn’t get to first base, and the Clinton Administration soon had other problems to occupy its mind.

It seems to me that we in Australia will probably draw back from the brink of economic self-mutilation. There are some anxious days ahead of us, and we must all do everything we can to influence the minds of the senators who will decide this thing, but opinion is clearly moving in our direction. Once it becomes clear that Parliament will not pass this Bill the rent-seekers will have to decide whether to throw good money after bad, and keep on spending the huge sums that have been spent in seeking to establish the new rent-seekers paradise established in the CPRS Bill. There will be great reluctance to make a decision to write off that expenditure which is now in the many billions of dollars. But there is a tide in political life which ebbs and flows, and as soon as the tide turns, the name of the game is making sure you don’t get swept out to sea.       

Garth’s book will be a very important contribution in turning the tide.

I congratulate the publisher Anthony Cappello of ConnorCourt Press and I hope this book becomes another best-seller. It is with very great pleasure I launch the book The Climate Caper by Garth Paltridge.

The book launch of The Climate Caper took place at 401 Collins Street, Melbourne, on 11 August 2009.