In its publication, “The Angry Summer” the Australian Climate Commission (ACC) provides the dramatic headline:
“Earth continues to warm strongly despite sceptics claims.” (1)
In a forlorn attempt to assure the public that the information it provides can be trusted, the government-appointed ACC states on its website:
“The Climate Commission was established to provide all Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change…” (2)
Independent and reliable? Then why the following disclaimer:
“This website is not a substitute for independent professional advice and users should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.” (3)
There are those who dismiss the ACC as little more than a mouthpiece for government propaganda to justify its carbon (dioxide) tax, but its website does provide one excellent piece of advice:
“The Commission recommends that users ….. carefully evaluate the accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance of the material on the website for their purposes.”
So let’s do just that.
The ACC has trumpeted its message about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW):
“The Earth continues to warm strongly despite sceptics claims.”
It appears that Chief Climate Commissioner and paleontologist Professor Tim Flannery doesn’t seem to know if he should support the ACC’s strong warming message or actually heed real-world evidence. In 2009 he said:
“We’re dealing with an incomplete understanding of the way the earth system works… When we come to the last few years when we haven’t seen a continuation of that (warming) trend we don’t understand all of the factors that create earth’s climate…We just don’t understand the way the whole system works… See, these people work with models, computer modelling. So when the computer modelling and the real world data disagree you’ve got a very interesting problem… Sure for the last 10 years we’ve gone through a slight cooling trend.” (4) (author’s emphasis)
Cooling over the last 10 years? Following that public admission, someone at the ACC must have had a quiet word with Flannery since he later did a U-turn, telling Leigh Sales (March 4, 2013):
“If you look at the temperature of the Earth, we have to measure the oceans, the air and the land. And there, we see a continually strong rise in temperature.” (5)
A strong rise in temperature? I’m sure the scientific community would certainly like to learn more from the ACC about this strong global temperature rise that few seem to be aware of.
It appears that Flannery is no stranger to contradictions. He has even contradicted the ACC about the reliability of findings from the now discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). On the one hand, the ACC declares that the IPCC is an authority on climate science:
“The IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change and is acknowledged by governments around the world, including the Australian Government, as the authoritative source of advice on climate change.” (6)
Yet, in Flannery’s 2005 book, The Weather Makers, he emphatically disagreed:
“The pronouncements of the IPCC do not represent mainstream science, nor even good science, but lowest-common-denominator-science – and of course even that is delivered at glacial speed.” (7)
What is it about the ACC and contradictions? Flannery’s fellow climate commissioner, chemical engineer Professor Will Steffen, is also no stranger to contradictions. In 2011 he told Andrew Bolt:
“We’ve had very severe droughts before so again we cannot attribute this drought statistically to climate change….”
Someone at the ACC must have also had a quiet word with Steffen. In 2013 we saw another U-turn:
“Australia has long had a highly variable climate of droughts and heavy rains, and this pattern is likely to continue into the future. However, climate change is likely to increase the severity of these extreme weather events…”
Such contradictions tend to generate doubt about the reliability of ACC pronouncements on climate. Let’s return to Flannery’s statement about global temperature:
“If you look at the temperature of the Earth, we have to measure the oceans, the air and the land. And there, we see a continually strong rise in temperature.”
Not only has there been no recent warming of the atmosphere but the oceans, which store most of the heat within the climate system, also show a lack of warming. More than 3,000 Argo buoys (8) descend to depths of 2,000 metres, continually recording ocean temperatures. Contrary to IPCC climate model predictions and Flannery’s statement, Argo data have shown no overall ocean temperature rise since deployment in 2003 (9)
Kuhnert and Mulitza (2011) reported cooling of the Atlantic Ocean surface temperature over the past millennium (10) and passive microwave data from the Windsat, TMI and AMSR-E satellites have shown no warming of sea surface temperatures (SST) since 2003. Dr Roy Spencer comments:
“I consider this dataset to be the most accurate depiction of SST variability over the last 10+ years due to these instruments’ relative insensitivity to contamination by clouds and aerosols..” (11)
What about continental temperatures? When the ACC tells us that 2012–13 was the hottest summer on record, we are referred to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABOM) as its source of authority. (12)
The ABOM says:
“Of the 112 locations used in long-term climate monitoring, 14 had their hottest day on record during the summer of 2012/13 – the largest number in any single summer. Record temperatures were also set in two capital cities; Sydney with 45.8°C and Hobart with 41.8°C.”
In contrast, “uncontaminated” satellite records show that the 2012-13 summer was little more than ordinary, ranking 14th warmest out of the last 35. (13). Professor Murray Salby agrees, pointing out that the 2012-13 summer was not exceptional by any means. (14)
The ACC tells us that:
“Hotter temperatures were also recorded in large parts of Argentina, Chile and Brazil, while temperatures in parts of Patagonia were more than 4°C above normal in January.”
Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Patagonia?
No mention of course that the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing unusually cold weather with the UK having had its coldest December in 120 years in 2011 and the coldest March in 50 years; recent snowfall in the Isle of Man has been the heaviest recorded since 1963; Belfast had its coldest March since 1962 with the Irish Met. Office reporting that temperatures throughout March were the lowest on record nearly everywhere; sheep that were lambing, were buried by deep snow drifts in Wales, the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. (15)
In 2011, Moscow had its coldest winter in 100 years and the heaviest snowfall in a century in 2013 as did the Ukraine; Belaruse had its worst winter in 150 years; in 2013, Germany experienced its coldest spring since 1963; in 2013, China recorded its lowest temperatures in almost 3 decades; the USA wasn’t spared from a severe winter in 2013 with record snowfalls in Illinois and Missouri; temperatures in Colorado, Kansas and Ohio were 10-30 degrees colder than average throughout March 2013 and the USA overall recorded many record low temperatures.
No doubt ACC alarmists are likely to say that the above examples of record, unseasonal low temperatures result from “normal fluctuations in the weather” whilst elevated summer temperatures in Australia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Patagonia clearly point to CAGW.
Interestingly, there is no mention from the ACC about evidence of global temperature stasis from various sources (16) such as:
(a) UAH temperature data show stasis since 2008;
(b) GISS temperature data show stasis since 2001;
(c) Hadcrut4 temperature data show stasis since 2000;
(d) Hadcrut3 temperature data show stasis since 1997;
(e) Hadsst2 temperature data show stasis since 1997;
(f) RSS temperature data show stasis since 1997.
Temperature stasis has occurred whilst atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to increase yet the ACC wants us to believe, without any supportive empirical evidence, that carbon dioxide drives global temperature.
Not surprisingly the ACC ignores acceptance of temperature stasis from the following:
(a) The Chairman of the IPCC, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, has now conceded there has been no global warming for the past 17 years (17);
(b) Professor Phil Jones from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, where global temperature data are collated, admitted that from 1995 to 2009 there was no statistically significant global warming (18);
(c) Dr Mojab Latif, climate modeller and IPCC author told more than 1,500 climate scientists at the UN’s World Climate Conference in Geneva we could be entering one or even two decades of cooler temperatures (19);
(d) Dr David Gee, chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress, asks the question: “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" (20)
(e) Climate scientist Professor Richard Lindzen says: “There has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.” (21)
(f) Climate scientist Professor Judith Curry said it is clear that the IPCC’s unvalidated computer modeling, which predicted continual warming, is deeply flawed and suggested that all climate scientists should: “Use this as an opportunity to communicate honestly with the public about what we know and what we don’t know about climate change. Take a lesson from other scientists who acknowledge the “pause”. (22)
(g) Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, says: “The Earth as a planet will henceforward have negative balance in the energy budget which will result in the temperature drop in approximately 2014.” (23)
(h) The UK Met. Office has released data from 3,000 stations from 1997 through 2012 showing no overall warming during this time. (24)
(i) The Central England Temperature record (CET), maintained since the middle of the 17th Century, shows a temperature rise of around +0.45oC per century since 1850, marking the end of the Little Ice Age. CET records from 2000 onwards reveal that recent cooling has already negated about 80% of the temperature rise since 1850. (25)
(j) Activist climate scientist Dr James Hansen in a recent paper concedes: “The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.” (26)
In a leaked email (#1939) from Dr Peter Thorne of the UK Met. Office to Professor Phil Jones at the CRU we see a frank admission (and warning) about global temperature stasis:
“Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary.”
Thorne added a further warning:
“I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.” (27)
Political spin? Surely not!
The ACC appears reluctant to communicate any uncertainty about its dire warming predictions and it certainly knows all about “political spin” as it unconvincingly keeps promoting the myth that the “Earth continues to warm strongly despite sceptics’ claims.”
The ACC not only promotes alarmism about strong global warming but adds dire predictions about flooding, drought and bushfires, all increasing due to CAGW. Tim Flannery told Leigh Sales (4th March 2013):
“Sure. Look, the studies suggest it’s a 1/500 chance that this sorta stuff is just normal.” (28)
It’s a pity that Sales didn’t ask Flannery to cite the studies which suggest a 1 in 500 chance and to actually point us to the calculations which substantiate such an outrageous claim.
The ACC’s Angry Summer report tells us:
“Over the last few years the east coast of Australia has experienced a number of intense rainfall events, triggering large floods that have cost lives, damaged property, inundated ecosystems and caused significant dislocation to local and regional communities.”
If the ACC has evidence about imaginary global warming and links to increased flooding, the IPCC doesn’t appear to know about it:
“There is limited to medium evidence available to assess climate-driven observed changes in the magnitude and frequency of floods at regional scales because the available instrumental records of floods at gauge stations are limited in space and time, and because of confounding effects of changes in land use and engineering. Furthermore, there is low agreement in this evidence, and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of these changes.” (29)
The ACC’s recent comments about more intense rainfall and flooding contradict previous alarmist predictions from the Chief Climate Commissioner. In 2004 Flannery predicted that:
“Perth would be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.” (30)
Western Australia spent $300 million on a desalination plant.
In 2005, he predicted Sydney’s dams could be dry by 2007, because global warming was drying up the rains, leaving the city “facing extreme difficulties with water.”
A $2 billion desalination plant was built in Sydney. Following a two-year proving period it was shut down in 2012.
In 2007, Flannery predicted that global warming would so dry our continent that desalination plants would be needed to save three of our biggest cities from disaster.
“Brisbane’s water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.”
Queensland spent more than $1 billion on a desalination plant.
In 2008 Flannery said:
“The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009.”
South Australia spent almost 2 billion dollars on a desalination plant which was completed in 2011.
Victoria also built a $5.7 billion desalination plant.
Chief Commissioner Flannery told Sally Sara in 2007:
“Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.” (my emphasis) (31)
In 2007 Flannery reported in New Scientist that:
“Australia’s Coal fired power stations…… emit much of the CO2 that is the ultimate cause of the drying.”
“Australia is likely to lose its northern rainfall.”
He continued, allowing advocacy to replace objective science:
“Australia must ratify the Kyoto protocol and agitate globally for a swift and decisive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our best theories show that Australia is suffering early and disproportionately from climate change. As one of the two renegade developed nations not to have ratified the treaty (the other is the US), and as the world’s worst per capita emitter of CO2, some may say that Australia deserves its fate. If it is to save itself from even more severe climate impacts the country needs to change its ways, and fast.” (32)
In contrast to Flannery’s dire predictions, Sheffield et al. (2012) reported in Nature that the world has not seen a general increase in drought over the past 60 years. (33)
It appears that our climate commissioners are trying to outdo the warming hyperbole of other climate “experts” such as Dr David Viner from the CRU, who confidently told British readers in 2000:
"Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.”
"Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” (34)
Vinerism appears to be contageous. Dr Stefan Rahmstorf assured German readers in 2006:
“Due to global warming, the coming winters in the local regions will become milder.” (35)
In 2007 the UK’s Met Office meteorologist Wayne Elliott told the BBC:
"It is consistent with the climate change message … It is exactly what we expect winters to be like – warmer and wetter.” (36)
Some crusading celebrities appear to have caught “vinerism” and have promoted this snow-free message. Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
“Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled.” (37)
In his 2005 book The Weather Makers our Chief Climate Commissioner said that global warming would bring worse or more tornadoes to America. This is contradicted by data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which shows a decline in the number of strong to violent tornadoes since the 1950’s (38)
Dr Roy Spencer is emphatic:“Anyone who claims more tornadoes are caused by global warming is either misinformed, pandering, or delusional.” (39)
Dr Roger Pielke Jr. Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado studies climate change and disasters. He concludes:
“Over the past six decades, tornado damage has declined after accounting for development that has put more property into harm’s way.” (40)
In 2008, Flannery relayed his alarmism about Arctic ice melt to The Guardian, saying:“We can only project that if this summer’s melt trajectory follows recent decades, by September this year the Arctic ice cap will have lost around half of its remaining ice, and be just 2.2m square kilometres.” (41)
It’s a pity that Flannery hasn’t conceded that, on January 2013, Arctic sea ice extent reached 12,901,875 km2 (42)
On September 23rd, 2005 Flannery told Nance Haxton on ABC radio that tropical cyclones had increased in number and intensity around the world. This contradicted the IPCC which reported:
“Low confidence in any observed long-term (ie 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activities, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. Projected: Likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged.” (43)
Bjorn Lomborg points out:
“Hurricanes in recent years don’t indicate that storms are getting worse. Measured by total energy (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), hurricane activity is at a low not encountered since the 1970s. The U.S. is currently experiencing the longest absence of severe landfall hurricanes in over a century.” (44)
Pielke Jr. comments about disasters from various causes:
“Researchers have similar conclusions for other phenomena around the world, ranging from typhoons in China, bushfires in Australia, and windstorms in Europe. After adjusting for patterns of development, over the long-term there is no climate change signal — no "footprint" — of increasing damage from extreme events either globally or in particular regions.” (45)
Ryan Crompton and John McAneney from Macquarie University have investigated damage to property caused by extreme events. They have produced a data-base of normalized insured disaster losses for Australia and conclude that the long-term average annual normalised insured loss from weather-related disasters is around $1.1 billion. To date, insured losses during the 2012-13 financial year from bushfires in Tasmania and Coonabarabran and flooding in Queensland and New South Wales currently total almost $1 billion. (46)
Hardly evidence of increasing weather-related disasters. If more people choose to build on floodplains, eroding or subsiding coastlines or in the bush, inevitably there will be more disaster-related insurance claims.
Whether it’s global temperature, rainfall, drought, tornadoes, cyclones or even polar bear futures, our Climate Commissioners can’t help lapsing into amateur dramatics. Their best act of course has to be Flannery’s breathtaking announcement that the Earth is a living organism. Whereas we might expect to hear logical, scientific arguments from a Chief Climate Commissioner, Flannery told The Guardian newspaper in April, 2011:
“For the first time, this global super-organism, this global intelligence will be able to send a signal, a strong and clear signal to the earth. And what that means in a sense is that we can, we will be a regulating intelligence for the planet, I’m sure, in the future … And lead to a stronger Gaia, if you will, a stronger earth system.”
He had previously stated this belief on the ABC’s Science Show in January 2011:
“This planet, this Gaia, will have acquired a brain and a nervous system. That will make it act as a living animal, as a living organism, at some sort of level.” (47)
Most climate scientists would acknowledge that there are many known factors (some poorly-understood) which influence global and micro-climate, with the likelihood that additional contributing factors have yet to be identified. However, ecologist Professor Leslie Hughes from the ACC appears to know all about such contributing factors and how we can readily control our changing climate. She told Stephanie Smail (25th September, 2012):
“We know what needs to be done because we know what’s causing it. If the climate was changing and we didn’t know what was causing it, we’d be in a far worse position than we are now. Because it’s a human-caused problem, that means that humans can fix it.” (48)
And we are expected to take the Climate Commission seriously. Perhaps Professor Bob Carter best sums up the ACC:
“They do not give good advice on climate. They give incompetent advice on climate.”
And“They just accept the word of a political organisation, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and pretty it up a little for the Australian context, and then put it into reports that they issue in their own name. (49)
The IPCC and ACC bring to mind the words of Oliver Cromwell when he addressed the English Parliament:
“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
Dr John Happs has an academic background in the geosciences. He has been a science educator at several universities in Australia and overseas
7. Flannery, T. (2001). The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. Grove Press.
17. http://www.cfact.org/2013/02/23/pachauri-would-not-admit-over-a-decade-without-warming-when-cfact-asked-him-in-mexico-but-admits-it-now/http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327254.000-world-will-cool-for-the-next-decade.html 20. http://www.iceagenow.com/Another_Prominent_Scientist_Dissents_from_Warming_Fears.htm
33. Sheffield, J., Wood, E.F., Roderick, M.L. 2012. Little change in global drought over the past 60 years. Nature, Nov. 15: 435-8
39. MORE Tornadoes from Global Warming? That’s a Joke, Right? http://www.drroyspencer.com/
41. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/aug/09/scienceandnat ure.climatechange?oo=102541http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142412788732348 5704578258172660564886.html
46. http://cstpr.colorado.edu/sparc/research/projects/extreme_ev ents/munich_workshop/crompton.pdfhttp://resources.news.com.au/files/2013/04/07/1226614/311 106-mtp-ep07-carter.pdf