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July 06th 2011 print

John McLean

“Wait and see”

On Sunday the Prime Minister is making a statement about carbon pricing that will forever mark her place in our history. John McLean suggests the sensible alternative statement she should, but won’t be, making to the Australian people.


What the Prime Minister should be telling us


Perhaps you have very publicly expressed your belief in dangerous man-made warming, just as many media organisations and politicians have done? 

Who could blame you, for the United Nations, through its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) is adamant that manmade emissions of CO2 are to blame for higher temperatures during the late 20th century. The media duly reports this to the world, assuming that surely the IPCC knows what it is talking about. On it goes, with a new prediction of disaster every week and hardly a word to be seen or heard from anyone who disagrees with the burgeoning environmental alarms. 

Four successive IPCC assessment reports have ramped up the alarmism and claimed greater certainty that humans are to blame for global warming. In every report we learn of new predictions from climate models, those complex pieces of software that supposedly translate the climate system into mathematics. And we are told that unless emissions of man-made carbon dioxide are included, those models can’t match the historical temperature record. 

If you were a politician, the pressure to believe is even greater. Not only do you have to agree with public opinion to maybe win an election, but the media are waiting to feast on your slightest hint of disbelief. 

Now, however, it’s finally dawned on you. Temperatures haven’t risen for 12 years despite the rising carbon dioxide levels, and the predicted hotter, drier future has failed to materialise. Corals aren’t dying, and the islands that we’ve been told for over 15 years are going to disappear are still here. 

News has slowly leaked out about the IPCC. It’s not concerned about climate at all, only the possibility that human greenhouse gases have a big influence on global temperature. The IPCC’s continued existence relies on it upping the ante in every report. After 4 reports over 17 years, the IPCC simply hasn’t the option of saying its conclusion is uncertain. 

What are you to do now? You’ve painted yourself into a corner because your previous statements are on record and will be remembered. How can you back away from your earlier position and retain your dignity and credibility? 

The solution might be easier than you think, and might even gain you a reputation for clear thinking. Just say that you want to "wait and see" for a few years. 

Start by pointing out that despite the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the last 12 years, temperatures rose far less than in any previous 12 year period between 1977 and 1998. More carbon dioxide but less warming, can someone explain that to you?  Surely, either carbon dioxide causes less warming than we’ve been told, or other climate forces must have much more influence – neither of which builds confidence in the climate models that predicted warming. 

"Wait and see" makes perfect sense. See what happens in the real world rather than the fantasy world of flawed climate models. 

Your second argument might be that temperatures have fallen sharply this year. Sure, a brief fall doesn’t mean a lot in climate terms, but why was there a drop in temperatures at all? 

Most scientists will tell you that this cooling was due to a strong La Nina. 

Two years ago a peer reviewed paper showed that the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which brings us La Nina at one extreme and El Nino at the other, has for 60 years been a good indicator of average global atmospheric temperatures about seven months ahead. The ENSO accounts for temperature so well that there’s little left to be explained by any other forces. 

The paper also quoted the IPCC’s 2007 report as saying that the ENSO is poorly modelled, which, again, doesn’t say much for the models or the conclusions and predictions drawn from them.

Projecting the ENSO-temperature link forward seven months suggests that cooler conditions, not warming, will continue this year until about December. With this in mind and the observational data suggesting the IPCC’s claim is wrong, wouldn’t it be wise to "wait and see"? 

Lately, solar scientists have told us that the sun is entering a quiet period with few sunspots. From 1645 to 1715, when this previously occurred, the world, and in particular Europe, suffered an extended cold spell. With this precedent in mind maybe it will happen again, so "wait and see" is the prudent action. 

With no credible evidence for dangerous man-made warming, predictions failing to materialise, plausible alternative drivers of temperature identified, many scientific uncertainties and no credible reason for urgent action, surely any thinking person would opt to "wait and see". 

Who knows? Maybe in a few years the notion of significant man-made warming will be completely rejected and you’ll be praised for your foresight.


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