Doomed Planet

Climate double talk

I am curious about climate alarmists like Malcolm Turnbull and climate scientists like Climate Commissioner Will Steffen and institutions like the CSIRO.

Do they stick strictly to the plain unadorned whole truth or do they think the cause is so important that truth, at times, has to take a back seat to pressing on with their agenda? I don’t know. But I suspect they do.

Recently Malcolm Turnbull on Q &A misused the views of climate scientist Professor Richard Lindzen for his own purposes. He left the impression that even the sceptic Lindzen believed in the science of man-made global warming. So he does, but he thinks it is marginal in the scheme of things. That is an important nuance which those wedded to the truth would not overlook.

This is Will Steffen writing in The Australian on Monday: “Temperatures over land and in the oceans continue to increase rapidly”. But do they? Would he have made this statement if he were not influenced by his agenda? Of course, you can argue that when comparing successive decades, temperatures continue to rise. But he didn’t make that clear. Someone reading what he said could be forgiven for thinking that temperatures in 2011 would be much higher than ten years before. In fact, they were a little lower, consistent with the overall flat trend over this period.

In its report, in collaboration with the Bureau of Meteorology, “State of the Climate – 2012”, the CSIRO stated, and as a key point, that the “global-average mean sea level rose faster between 1993 and 2011 than during the 20th century as a whole”. I had to look at this twice. It would have been much clearer if the report had read “at a faster rate” But that is not the main problem with the statement.

The year 1993 was chosen because satellite data of sea levels began then. A first thing to say is that earlier data is less accurate. Leaving this aside, the average yearly rise from 1993 to 2011 was estimated at 3.1mm/year compared with an estimated average of 1.7mm/year over the 20th century. An acceleration seems to have occurred. But, when you eyeball the graph, it is hard to detect; it looks fairly linear. I decided to investigate further.

From the graph, I looked at the number of years since 1880 that it took for sea levels to rise by 50mm. It was close enough to 36 years. It was then around another 35 years before the next 50mm; then 29 years and then the same number of years, 29 for the final 50mm, to take the time to 2009. There doesn’t seem to be very much acceleration going on.

The explanation, as clearly shown on the graph, is that sea levels didn’t rise by much at all between 1980 and 1993. If the trend had been recorded from 1980 to 2009 it would have been broadly consistent with the 20th century average annual rise. Now, sea levels bounce around. For example, the CU Sea Level Research Group at the University of Colorado, which publishes satellite data, reports that sea levels plummeted by 5mm in one year between 2010 and 2011. Clearly then, the start date of this kind of data matters when trend rates of growth, over relatively short periods, are being reported. The information (remember this key point) in the CSIRO report is misleading.

We are entitled to expect more from the CSIRO. It is duty bound to provide objective advice. If I can do this quick analysis of the data surely it can; unless its agenda overrides providing the Australian public with reliable information. We should expect more too from the Climate Commissioner. And the whole truth from politicians would be refreshing.

Peter Smith’s book, Bad Economics, will be published shortly by Connor Court. You can pre-order (post free) here…

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