Doomed Planet

Wrong advice, wrong policy

Government misadvised on global warming 

On November 10 last year, the government’s Multi-party Climate Change Committee (MCCC) received a summary of the state of global warming science from its sole scientist member, ANU’s Professor Will Steffen. (see Powerpoint presentation here…).

All policy discussion conducted within the committee since has been predicated upon the accuracy of Professor Steffen’s advice, which was that a high risk of human-related dangerous warming exists and that urgent steps need to be taken to curtail carbon dioxide emissions.

In a more recent speech last week, Climate Minister Combet indicated his continuing reliance upon the views of Professor Steffen, who had advised him that:

there is 100% certainty that the earth is warming, and that there is a very high level of certainty it will continue to warm unless efforts are made to reduce the levels of carbon pollution being sent into the atmosphere.

By quoting just this one statement acceptingly, the Minister encapsulates the ignorance of the government to the underlying science of climate change, which has long since moved on from the alarmist global warming simplicities of the IPCC and its Australian cheer leaders.

Politically committed to introducing a new carbon dioxide tax, the government campaign to condition public acceptance of it has moved into overdrive over the last few months. Steps taken since the election include the establishment of a parliamentary Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, a Climate Commission chaired by Professor Tim Flannery and an address at the National Press Club by Climate Minister Combet.

These and other conduits of government influence are transmitting messages based on the same unaudited, partial IPCC advice that has dominated global warming politics worldwide for the last 10 years.

Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an unelected, unaccountable (to Australian citizens) United Nations body made up of government officials, and its reports on climate change are authored by persons selected by the IPCC and supported by their respective governments.

There has never been a comprehensive independent scientific review of any IPCC report by a member government or by an official audit body. Nonetheless, the following five events, drawn from a much larger group of happenings, have demonstrated to all the political nature of the IPCC and its scientific advisers, and greatly damaged the credibility of the organisation as a source of accurate policy advice on climate change:

  • In December, 2008, 103 scientists, including 24 Emeritus Professors, wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations about what they saw as the unsubstantiated, alarmist projections of warming by the IPCC, concluding that the “approach of curbing CO2 emissions is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it – because attempts to drastically cut CO2 emissions will seriously slow development”. 
  • In November, 2009, the leaking of the “Climategate” papers drew public attention to the malfeasant way in which scientists at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, undertook their research on the IPCC’s global temperature record;
  • During 2010, a group of more than 40 Fellows of the Royal Society of London insisted on a revision of the Society’s (formerly alarmist) statement on global warming; the revised document acknowledged, inter alia, that ”It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future …”.
  • In February this year, 36 leading US scientists wrote an open-letter to Congress in which they disagreed with the IPCC’s conclusions, citing 678 peer-reviewed references in support; and
  • Under similar pressure from a group of members as the Royal Society, The American Physical Society also revised its public policy statement on climate change in 2010; in a subsequent letter of resignation, senior member and Emeritus Professor Hal Lewis from the University of California (Santa Barbara) commented of the global warming issue that It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist”.

It is clear, therefore, that large groups of highly qualified, professional persons exist who reject both the IPCC’s dangerous global warming paradigm, and also the need for government action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

In the absence of an official audit of IPCC science, in 2009 the four scientists among us were asked by Senator Steve Fielding to help him in his discussions with then Climate Minister Penny Wong over emissions trading legislation. Like her successor, Minister Wong turned to Professor Steffen for advice, which written advice we then audited for Senator Fielding (see pdf here…).

Over the last few weeks, we have produced similar due diligence reports on the Geelong meeting of the Climate Commission, the Labor Party’s internal strategy document on climate change, a letter written by Minister Combet in response to a request for information as to the cost of AGW policy, Mr Combet’s policy address at the Press Club, and Professor Steffen’s November, 2010, advice to the MCCC (see powerpoint here or pdf here…).

An accrued listing of these reports, with web links, is available here…

Having considered carefully all the arguments put forward by the government and its scientific advisors, we conclude:

(i) that there is no proven threat of dangerous warming of human origin,

(ii) that costly attempts to cut Australian carbon dioxide emissions will cause no change in future climate, and

(iii) that to the considerable degree that the science of climate change remains uncertain, the appropriate policy setting should be  one of preparation for and adaptation to all climate events and hazards as they occur.

Despite the ready public availability of our reports, and of similar analyses by other independent scientists that also demonstrate there is no justification for continued alarm about global warming, neither the government nor its scientific advisors have offered answers to the criticisms presented. Meanwhile, the MCCC continues on its stately way, its members making major public policy decisions awhile that are based upon patently flawed and inadequate scientific advice.

Good public policy is seldom formulated on the back of determined ignorance, accompanied by an ostrich-like refusal to participate in rational public discussion.


Bob Carter is a geologist, David Evans a mathematician and computer modeller, Stewart Franks a hydrologist and engineer, Bill Kininmonth a meteorologist and former Director of the National Climate Centre, and Des Moore a former Deputy Secretary of Treasury. 

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