Doomed Planet

Minister, please reconsider

A letter from a constituent to Greg Combet

The Hon Greg Combet, MP MHR
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
Parliament House, Canberra 

Dear Minister, 

Thank you for the letter to Mr Darren Chester MP MHR dated 15th March 2011 which has been passed to me. Your letter was in response to my email to him on January 10th

You write that we have already observed rising air and ocean temperature and rising sea levels” 

All three of these statements are wrong in the context of human-caused climate change. In the real world, i.e., other than in a computer, over the last ten years and, despite a 5% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide:

  • Global temperature has declined slightly (Liljegren, 2011)
  • Ocean heat content has declined slightly (Knox & Douglass, 2011); and
  • Global sea-level rise has remained stable, with no net acceleration (Houston & Dean, 2011); of course, global sea-level continues to rise, but at the rate of ~1.7 mm/yr that has characterized the last 100 years and – is natural.


Houston, J.R. & Dean, R.G., 2011. Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gauges and Extensions of Previous Global-Gauge Analyses. Journal of Coastal Research, in press.

Knox, R.S. & Douglass, D.H., 2011. Recent energy balance of Earth. International Journal of Geosciences 1(3), in press.

Liljegren, Lucia, 2011 (Feb. 19). HadCrut January Anomaly: 0.194C. The Blackboard here…

You also write:

“climate change projections indicate that we will likely see further temperature increases, changing rainfall patterns and an increase in the frequency and/or intensity of some extreme events such as droughts, heatwaves, bushfires and floods”. 

The statement is technically true, but it appears that you fail to appreciate the difference between “projections” and “forecasts” or “predictions. The CSIRO computer models that provide these projections carry the following health warning:

This report relates to climate change scenarios based on computer modelling. Models involve simplifications of the real processes that are not fully understood. Accordingly, no responsibility will be accepted by CSIRO or the QLD government for the accuracy of forecasts or predictions inferred from this report or for any person’s interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in reliance on this report”.

Therefore, the eventualities that you discuss merely represent single possible outcomes from literally millions of other equally probable outcomes. For the purposes of setting public policy, it is completely unacceptable to treat such virtual reality “what if” experiments as if they were predictions.

The inadequacies of the GCM computer models used by the IPCC and its advisors (including CSIRO and BOM) are well summarised in a commentary by Dr Evans and Professor Carter, posted here…

You also write:

“The Government has a strong three-part strategy on climate change. Australia must reduce its carbon pollution (sic); we must prepare for the climate change we can no longer avoid; and we must play our full role in shaping a global solution to this global problem”.  

Australia has no significant carbon pollution (sic), for smoke-stack filtering for particulate carbon (and other aerosol pollutants such as SOX and NOX) has been in place for decades under clean air legislation. 

Finally, regarding your comment that “we must prepare for the climate change that we can no longer avoid”, there is no “no longer” about it. 

Australia should have always been preparing better for natural climate-related events and change such as bushfires, storms, floods and cyclones which, as you rightly point out, will inevitably continue to occur in the future. For example better management of dam building and dam control would have greatly reduced the damage inflicted in the recent Brisbane floods, and better integrated fire response strategies might well have avoided the 173 deaths that occurred in the 2009 Victorian bushfires. 

Thus you would be entirely right, and also following the advice of a very large majority of scientists, were you to develop a national policy of preparation for and adaptation to all such natural climate events and change, as they occur. The way in which to do this is clearly explained in Chapter 11 of Professor Bob Carter’s best-selling book, “Climate: the Counter Consensus”, and in the more technical book by Brunner & Lynch, “Adaptive Governance and Climate Change”. 

Please take especial note that if the government was to prepare to adapt to the very wide range of natural climate hazard that we KNOW occurs, then it has taken the necessary precaution to deal also with any human-caused change should it emerge in future. 

Regrettably, your current policy is aimed at preventing an entirely hypothetical dangerous global warming caused by human-related carbon dioxide emissions. This hypothesis, which was a reasonable one to erect in 1990, is now completely discredited because there is no empirical evidence that supports it. 

I urge, Minister, that you take independent advice from a range of scientific expertise that is wider than is represented by your present advisors in the IPCC, CSIRO and BOM, and that you reconsider the government’s presently unrealistic, and politically unwise, climate change policy. 

With respect,
yours faithfully. 

A constituent of the electorate of Gippsland, Victoria

Read Bob Carter’s commentary on this correspondence here…

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