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March 28th 2013 print

Tony Thomas

Comedy’s hot new duo: Manne and Karoly

What happens when two seasoned and much-rewarded performers are dragged back to reality by an impudently fact-based question from the audience? Why, climate pros that they are, they stick to the script!

Bundoora, March 27: Latrobe University politics professor Robert Manne has called on students and uncommitted adults to join the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and/or Greenpeace.

He was addressing an audience of about 300 in a presentation at the university with Dr David Karoly, a denier that global warming has halted for the past 17 years.[i]

Why is Manne seeking to swell the membership of the AYCC and Greenpeace? Because, he said, those groups are leading the struggle against coal mining in Australia, and crusading against the “grotesque coal mining expansion” presently taking place.

It may have escaped Manne’s attention that our coal exports are worth  $45b a year and maybe another $10b in home consumption.

“A decision to prevent further expansion of the coal industry and to wind back present coal mines would have enormous global significance, practically and symbolically,” he told his audience.

“Many of you understand the nature of the (warming) crisis facing humankind. I urge you to give support to these two organisations leading the fight for what can be described without hyperbole as the future of human civilization.”

Manne, twice voted Australia’s leading public intellectual, said that if human beings don’t leave most of the world’s coal in the ground, civilization will be destroyed. Australia’s struggle to overcome dangerous climate change is diminished by our support of coal,  which supplies 30% of Australian energy needs, he added.

He is perplexed by Australian governments’ apathy about warming, compared to its vigorous response to the global financial crisis, but he did hve an explanation. “This reflects the temporary weakness of the revolutionary anti-capitalist Left, which has been greatly wounded by the mistake it made associating the Soviet Union and communism with human liberation – a mistake from which it hasn’t yet emerged, as the Murdoch newspapers remind us every other day,” he said.

Today, according to Manne, the Left has a new challenge, which is the need to struggle against the injustice of one generation – ours – being perpetrated on generations of humans and other species not yet born.

“This is the most important struggle human beings have ever faced. What is now at stake is the future of human beings and all life forms, the future of civilization,” Manne said, not being a man for understatement.

He compares the anti-warming struggle to that of the struggle against slavery, racism and sexual oppression, which all seemed hopeless at times but won through.

Conceding that climate summits of late have been unproductive, Manne said he is pinning his hopes on dramatic, unanticipated and altruistic action being taken by an individual nation. This would be noticed by other nations and thus create what he called a "benign domino effect" on climate. “The situation of particular nations would determine in each case  what the most pressing and symbolically significant action ought to be — let’s think about Australia’s potential role,” he said.

Professor Karoly was billed as presenting the science, while Manne presented the politics. Karoly did not grasp any such distinction, however, hammering away for his favored political solutions to his perceived climate problems, which include toasty temperature rises of up to 7C by 2100.

“No party, except perhaps the Greens, has emission targets that go anywhere near addressing the severity of anthropogenic climate change,” he said.

He scoffed at the “ageing English Viscount” Christopher Monckton, who spoke to an audience of Melbourne sceptics the previous night, and Karoly sneered at columnist Andrew Bolt at least six – possibly ten – times.  While sarcastically calling Bolt a “well known climate expert” he forgot that his co-authority, Manne, similarly lacks climate qualifications. Karoly also quoted approvingly such climate experts as Barack Obama, Ban Ki-Moon and Kevin Rudd.

Karoly made many references to Australia’s hotness and wetness as somehow confirming global warming. He did not mention satellite readings showing that Australia’s current summer is perfectly normal, nor that Europe is in a gruesomely chilled state, which is presumably confirmation of global cooling. [ii] [iii]

He was awestruck by the loss of ice in the Arctic, but appeared unaware that a large continent below Tasmania, which people call the Antarctic, is gaining ice.[iv]

He ridiculed theories that solar changes could be partly driving earth’s climate, and was content to ignore concerns with in the IPCC itself that the sun’s role may be larger than originally believed.[v]

He warned that rising sea levels would swamp both Brisbane and Sydney airports by 2100, along with 10% of the world’s population, which well they may be if IPCC modeling is trustworthy.

Medieval warming?  Current temperatures are more than 1C higher, Karoly declared, disregarding peer-reviewed studies from 700+ scientists at 400+ research institutions collectively asserting that medieval warming was both global and equal to, or greater than, today’s warming.[vi]

Karoly relied on the Climate Commission’s lacklustre authority on various scientific points, which is understandable since Karoly himself is a science adviser to that same Commission.

I managed to get the call at question time and asked Karoly:

“I would like to draw your attention to three facts, two of which are not in dispute at all.

“The first is that the CO2 levels are galloping faster than the most pessimistic predictions. The second is that there has been a 17 year pause in global warming, as acknowledged by Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC, and that the British Bureau of Meteorolgy models are predicting  that this pause will continue until the year 2017 — that’s a 20 year pause.  And thirdly there is a leaked graph from the Fifth IPCC report due out in September showing actual temperatures tracking below  the lowest predictions of the previous IPCC reports.

“If we put those three facts together, don’t they blow this idiotic global warming scare right out of the water?”

Karoly responded:

“Thank you for your opinion. The things you quoted are not facts but are in fact misrepresentations. Go to the UK Met Office website, they first of all show data sets for which there has been no pause in global warming. Temperatures continue to rise. The trends in global temperatures  over the past 17 years are positive, they are not zero.

“The Met Office forecast is for average temperatures not for individual years. Newspaper reports and blogsite reports are inappropriately comparing  one-year temperatures to forecasts of an average temperature.

“You look at the extremes, they show a 3/10 degree warming over that 20 year period, which the Met Office forecast, and is entirely consistent  with the typical rate of warming  over the 20 years of about 0.15deg per decade. So that forecast shows warming continuing unabated.

“The AR5  graph you are talking about is exactly consistent with the graph I showed where (IPCC forecast) warming is entirely consistent with the observed temperatures and not outside them as you suggest.  I suggest you look at the actual  data not websites…”

Me: “I have the actual graph here, would you like to consult it?”

Karoly: “I have seen that graph and it is  a misrepresentation of the observed temperatures. You did not produce that graph, you pulled it off a website.”

Well, Karoly is dead right on that point, I got it from blogger Watts Up With That, and Anthony Watts got it from a thumb drive of draft Fifth Report material that some naughty person leaked.[vii]


Tony Thomas got lost in the dark on the way home from Latrobe, possibly because that place is in a parallel universe


[i] The Australian, February 22, quoted IPCC chair Dr Pachauri confirming a 17 year pause in global temperatures.

[ii] http://joannenova.com.au/2013/03/hottest-summer-record-in-australia-not-even-close-said-uah-satellite-data/

[iii] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/9085412/Europe-cold-snap-death-toll-tops-650-as-100-car-pile-up-is-blamed-on-snow.html

[iv] http://joannenova.com.au/2012/09/antarctic-sea-ice-trends-at-record-highs-fears-for-shrinking-southern-ocean-right/

[v] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/13/ipcc-ar5-draft-leaked-contains-game-changing-admission-of-enhanced-solar-forcing/


[vi] www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php 

[vii] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/08/josh-on-the-ipcc-ar5-leak-2/