KEVIN Rudd once insisted that climate scientists scrutinise and evaluate climate papers purely on the studies’ scientific merit and, therefore, must be considered impartial and above reproach. That’s only half-true at best, considering the IPCC was established to investigate “the risk of human-induced climate change”, pre-judging the case at the outset.
The International Panel (sic) of climate change scientists is made up of four thousand scientists around the world, humourless guys and girls in white coats, okay. These are not politicians. These are scientists. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd , January 29, 2010
To repeat Rudd, IPCC authors are to behave like objective scientists. I paid $15 to hear Melbourne University climate scientist Dr Joelle Gergis at Writers’ Week at the WA University last month, where I learnt she had been appointed one of the 17 IPCC ‘lead authors” on the water cycle chapter for the IPCC’s 2021 report on the Physical Science. She’s also a new councillor in Tim Flannery’s catastrophist Climate Council.
Fresh from an IPCC confab in Vancouver and not long into her talk, Gergis announced, “Climate change is with us right now. Climate change is not a scientific issue, it is a moral and ethical challenge.” And when wrapping up, she repeated, “It’s important to understand that this is an ethical and moral issue, no longer a scientific issue.”
Fancy that! To be charitable, she’s surely not thrown science out the window, but she does seem to mean that her moral and ethical concerns are pervasive. If she’s required to assess the merit of a peer reviewed paper that rejects CO2-based climate alarmism (and there were more than 500 such papers published last year), I hope she would readily jettison those “morals and ethics” and give that paper a fair input into her report to the IPCC.
Gergis’s activism dates back to at least 2007, when she was running a blog brimming with hostility to PM John Howard – “This is a beauty!” she lauded a cartoon of Howard as a stegosaur. On a Wentworth science leaders’ grant and mentored by Tim Flannery, she blogged, “Saturday 24 November 2007 marked the dawn of a new era in Australian politics. Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labor Party, was elected as Prime Minister of Australia. The sigh of relief was audible across the country.”
Her UWA talk was of the revivalist’s hellfire kind. Global climate models predict a roasty fate for Australia as temperatures soar by 4degC (or 7degC in capitals) by 2100. The horrors are starting to happen right now. All too soon our big cities will be enduring 50degC days. Alice Springs will be uninhabitable, along with much of the outback – as vouched for by her CSIRO pals, she said. “I can assure you it will not be pretty.”
She praised the schoolkids for their climate strikes (next up: March 15): “I am pleased to see the groundswell coming through here in the younger generation. The older generation understand to a degree but young people will be living through it.” She said, “This is a federal election year. One of the most purposeful things you can do is vote and get out and back the people who ‘get’ this.” We didn’t feel she was urging a vote for conservatives.
IPCC people seem to love sympathy. As one fan-piece in the Sydney Morning Herald put it last December, IPCC authors like Gergis “will write thousands of words in careful reports, despite the fact that many of them realise they are working in politically hostile environments.” Well, try being apolitical.
At question time I asked Gergis about the IPCC 2014 report’s finding that 111 of 114 climate-model runs had exaggerated the warming from 1998-2012. I intended to also ask about Dr John Christy’s UAH satellite-based global temperature series showing that the model forecasts have exaggerated actual warming since 1979 by a factor of two.
She immediately disputed my premise from the IPCC about the 111 out of 114 too-hot model results, as though the IPCC had never said so or if it had, the text didn’t mean what I’d claimed.
The audience was 99% with Gergis in IPCC-denial and when I asked if I could continue my question, they roared “No!” The other 1% comprised a perplexed grape farmer who sought me out later to ask, “Why were those people so hostile?”
Gergis in her speech explained that the conviction that CO2 is driving global warming arises from running climate models with and without greenhouse gas inputs. Only models with the gases match the temperature record. [The IPCC itself in its third report said: “In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” (Chapter 14, Section 22.214.171.124. My emphasis)]
Gergis’s claim matches the Academy of Science’s 2015 unscientific claim that output from models is “compelling evidence” for CO2 causation. Among the models’ countless fudges about unknowns like cloudiness, they assume a high sensitivity of temperature to CO2 doubling (1.5-4.5degC, average about 3), whereas empirical studies have continuously lowered the range. The latest by Lewis and Curry in Journal of Climate (2018) found sensitivity to be only 1.66degC, about half of what is assumed in the average of IPCC models.
Other Gergis riffs:
# Tackling global warming is like having a loved one with pre-cancer or cancer. Without early medical diagnosis and preventive measures, your loved one will remain in a dire situation.
# “We are witnessing large-scale system change on our watch that wasn’t expected until mid-21st century.” She had witnessed Cyclone Debbie in SE Queensland in 2017, with catastrophic flooding and people having to empty out their mud and silt-covered possessions on the sidewalk to be thrown away. “Seeing families going through that, climate change is with us right now.”
# Australia must decarbonise rapidly. It makes no sense to be generating only 3% of electricity from solar when we are the sunniest place on the planet. [The International Energy Agency’s study last month comparing full costs of solar vs coal-fired electricity in India showed coal becomes relatively cheaper as the solar share grows beyond 10% – resulting in $US65 per MWh in 2040 for solar vs $US49 for coal].
# Renewables employ double the numbers in the Australian coal industry. [That doesn’t say much for renewable workers’ productivity].
Gergis was at Writers’ Week because she published a book Sunburnt Country last year. To my ear, there was a defensive tone to her talk because she and her team came a gutser in 2012 when their $340,000-funded and peer-reviewed study of Australasia’s 1000-year past climate turned out to have an error that forced her to retract the paper. Amazingly, she won a further $352,000 from the Australian Research Council to do further work on the project in 2013-16. Typically only 15-20% of such grant applications succeed. Did the ARC assessors know the paper was retracted and awarded the extra $350,000 anyway, or did they not know and Gergis got a lucky break? How would either outcome look to unsuccessful grant applicants whose papers didn’t need retracting?
The paper’s claim that the latest thirty-year period was the warmest for 1000 years was mocked by sceptics. The paper was meant to show unprecedented warming from CO2 in the Southern Hemisphere, matching the notoriously-suspect ‘hockey stick’ reconstruction for the northern hemisphere by a team led by Michael Mann. As with Mann’s work, Gergis’ Southern Hemisphere reconstruction also claimed to find no significant Medieval Warming Period. Gergis and her boss David Karoly saw that as demonstrating present climate is outside the range of natural variability. Well OK, the study found Australasia is supposedly warmer now by 0.09degC compared with 1238-1267, but with a massive margin of error of 0.19degC. A tenth of a degree isn’t much for warmists to hang their hats on.
Incidentally, the temperature record for 1000 years ago for Australasia and surrounding oceans was based on growth rings from a tree in NZ and another in Tasmania. One of Australia’s top-ranked researchers, plant photosynthesis specialist Graham Farquhar, said at the time that the Gergis team’s tree-ring temperature reconstructions were “problematic” and not definitive. He’s a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science 2015, a leading Australian Citation Laureate (300-plus papers), winner of the Nobel-equivalent Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences (Biology) in 2017, and Macfarlane Burnett Medal winner (2016).
The coding flaw in Gergis’ 2012 study was first spotted by a blogger “Jean S” on May 31, 2012 at the sceptic website Climate Audit, run by Canadian statistician Stephen McIntyre. When McIntyre asked Gergis for her study’s archived data for further scrutiny, Gergis told him to go get the data from the data’s original authors. She ended sarcastically, “This is commonly referred to as ‘research’. We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.” (It was a bit rich for her to complain later in The Conversation about “deniers” being “people who do not display the basic principles of common courtesy”).
Karoly, however, replied politely to McIntyre: “We would like to thank you and the participants at the ClimateAudit blog for your scrutiny of our study, which also identified this data processing issue.”
This left as somewhat ambiguous whether McIntyre’s team or Karoly’s found the error first. The priority issue is important in terms of scientific credits and protocols. From the Gergis team’s, emails obtained via FOI, McIntyre claims to have proven his priority. Curiously, Gergis’ paper was not the only controversial one. Karoly’s review of a Michael Mann book was published on-line in Australian Book Review in early July 2012. In it Karoly described McIntyre as a commentator on Mann’s work with “no scientific expertise” who had “repeatedly promulgated misinformation”. McIntyre complained to Karoly that the words were untrue and defamatory, and said that his critique of Mann’s work had been published in the same peer reviewed journal that hosted Mann’s study. McIntyre asked for an apology plus proper acknowledgement of Climate Audit’s role in discovering the Gergis error. Karoly didn’t apologise or acknowledge, and later wrongly claimed that McIntyre had threated legal action.
Gergis, to knock her paper back into shape, had to put it through nine rounds of revision, 21 individual reviews, and two editors. As McIntyre wrote, the exercise took longer than the American involvement in World War II. According to McIntyre, the 2016 revision involved little that is new plus some statistical approaches he considers highly objectionable.
Gergis in last month’s UWA talk bemoaned her victimhood, including having to deal with FOI requests: “I have had hostility and abuse and death threats and rest of it which is not nice. [Murmur of sympathy and indignation from audience]. There are very strong [hostile] voices out there. As scientists we are just collating and analyzing data, and putting it out there before we say anything. Our work has been through so many sets of eyes. It is easy to blog online, but for us it takes years of work.”
She said her retracted paper led to years of harassment and FOI filings to see if her team was colluding to bias the results. “It [FOI requests] was quite disgraceful really, disgraceful. Being a climate scientist at that time was very difficult, but now people are more respectful and seeking us out … We need rational and respectful engagement and not just start shooting people down for bearing bad news. You [sceptics] are arguing with scientists who have been working a long time on this, since the 19th century. People with no qualifications can take a scientific idea and misconstrue it, and try to tell us how to do our job which I found quite arrogant.”
For some background, ‘Death threats’ were a mantra of Australian warmist celebrities around 2011 and got a more recent run from then-President Andrew Holmes of the Academy of Science in 2015. The reality is farcical. Climate catastrophe guru Will Steffen at the ANU mistook an overheard conversation by shooter John Coochey about culling Canberra’s pestiferous kangaroos as a warning of a sniper attack on Steffen’s people. The Canberra Privacy Commissioner checked claims of multiple death threats to six ANU climate people, and finally published 11 emails in question, 10 of which involved no physical threat and one described “perhaps” a possible threat made verbally at an off-campus event (this seems to be the “kangaroo cull” farce).
Anna-Maria Arabia, now chief executive of the Academy of Science, reported a death threat to herself in June 2012,  which was nothing more than a serial pest in Seattle spraying templated threats and abuse world-wide. The real death threats are those from Islamists, forcing author Salman Rushdie, Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the late cartoonist for The Australian, Bill Leak, to seek protection and take their families into hiding. I didn’t notice any bodyguards trailling Joelle Gergis.
In Gergis’s Sunburnt Country book, there seems no upper limit to her advocacy. For a female vegan cyclist and one-time girl-band drummer, she seems quite a WW11 buff. She suggests we move to a WW11-style footing to decarbonise:
In reality, moving towards a low carbon economy represents the greatest business opportunity we have ever seen. The economic and social transformation urgently needed over the coming years is possible if the world goes into an emergency response, as it did during World War 11. During that conflict, countries dedicated more than a third of their economies to the war effort and innovation flourished…Perhaps the historic Paris Agreement is the sign that humanity is now witnessing the dawn of this global fight for an environmentally sustainable future on earth.
She also describes Churchill’s warnings about Hitler in 1939 as a “chillingly accurate description of the climate change crisis we face today.” (By coincidence, in January 2019, the Democrats’ fresh face, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was also invoking the WW11 precedent as a way to pay for her multi-trillion “Green New Deal”).
Gergis likes the World Bank-recommended carbon price of $US40-80 by 2020, rising to $US50-100 by 2030, consistent with the Paris Agreement. I hope couples in Sydney’s Blacktown or Melbourne’s Tarneit don ‘t mind such a hit to their family budgets. She shows only a faint recognition that if Australian capitals are to get 50degC summers as forecast by the models, there will be a desperate need for air conditioning. How would that demand be met with expensive unreliable renewables?
Running the tired and never-fulfilled meme about climate refugees, Gergis writes,“Our region’s vulnerability to humanitarian crises resulting from climate change is so high that Asia-Pacific, which includes Australia, has recently been dubbed ‘Disaster Alley’ by experts in the field.” I was intrigued by anyone comparing the Asia-Pacific region to an alley, and discovered these experts were Ian Dunlop (company director and ex-emissions trading adviser) and David Spratt, a lay blogger and author much like myself but less astute. I last tangled with him in 2014 at a Moonee Valley Council evening session on energy savings. He was advising his audience on tactics for getting rid of Victoria’s Liberal government in the impending election.
Her book mentions, “Some of the brightest climate scientists of our time began contemplating suicide and developed a need for medication to cope with the anxiety of the vicious scrutiny.” She’s obviously referring to Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, who disgraced himself as author of numerous Climategate emails. Those lapses involved not just destruction of emails subject to FOI but contempt for scientific mores. For example, when Australian scientist Warwick Hughes sought important temperature data from Jones’ publicly-funded research, Jones replied, “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”
She paints a picture of what she calls our “apocalyptic future” (based on those models) resembling depictions of Hell by medieval painters. “Maybe future Australians will look back at our government’s inadequate action on climate change as an intergenerational crime against humanity,” she writes.
# “If the high-emissions trajectory continues, we are headed for a mass extinction event equivalent to that which wiped out the dinosaurs, along with 80 per cent of all other life on Earth, around 66 million years ago.”
# The West Antarctic ice sheet could collapse and pump up sea levels by 2.7m by 2100, putting bits of our cities, suburbs and infrastructure under water.
# Tropical diseases like dengue could menace 5-8m Australians by 2100, including Sydney-siders
# Countless Australians, battered by weather extremes, will suffer mental health issues, chronic anxiety and hyper-vigilantism “undermining the social fabric of our society.”
# Darwin gets too hot to live in, “unleashing a wave of climate refugees”. (Maybe we could park those fleeing Darwineans in Tasmania somewhere, though there could be culture clashes with the local greenies).
She says she’s found her 18-20-year-old students at Melbourne University to be quite despondent about the future (I’m hardly surprised). Among other horrors she deals out to them are abrupt and irreversible tipping points. She told the UWA crowd that she and her co-authors at the IPCC will be focusing on these hypotheticals.
She singled out Guardian Australia to praise its climate coverage. The obverse is some Rupert Murdoch derangement syndrome: “[Carbon pricing in 2012] was met by a very negative media campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which called for a change of government. This eventually took place in September 2013…”
After her 2012 debacle, she had her draft book fact-checked by eight scrutineers, at least one using the legendary “fine-tooth comb”. Well, checked it may have been, but the published text still fearures a trillion-dollar understatement: parasitic Third World dictators are not demanding a mere $US100b in climate compensation for 2020, as Gergis claims. Rather, they want $US100b per annum through the 2020s.
Gergis book is remarkable for what it omits, namely everything casting doubt on her climate Armageddon. The book fails the test of famed physicist Richard Feynman that scientists when communicating their hypothesis should also put down all the facts that disagree with it. As he put it, “I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity … bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to do when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.”
To take a few examples, Gergis lauds protests against nuclear power, but doesn’t say what’s wrong with this greenest, safest power source. Her text makes no mention of that great emitter, modern China, a crucial part of the climate projection story. She doesn’t mention the landmark 2016 study by an international team including her CSIRO colleague at the IPCC, Pep Canadell, demonstrating that CO2 has greened the planet and rolled back deserts by an area equivalent to two and a half Australia’s. She doesn’t mention the huge agricultural benefits of global warming to the boreal forest zones of Canada and Siberia. And never mind the holes in her model-based CO2 causation story.
As in her UWA speech, Gergis’ book says Australia’s future “depends on every person in this country voting for governments … genuinely committed to implementing climate change policy that meaningfully addresses the largest intergenerational ethical challenge in human history…Can we live with ourselves knowing that we are passing on an unsafe and unstable future to our young ones? The good news is that Australia has a long history of communities taking a stand for environmental protection and social justice.”
The nadir of the IPCC was its 2007 Fourth Report, with its Himalayan glacier-melt howler and much other slipshod work. As a result of a swingeing audit by the InterAcademy Council, the 5th report of 2013-14 was reasonably balanced and mindful of the uncertainties. But last October the IPCC was back into politicised and hyped “science” with its 1.5deg warming report. (The plenary delegates left hugging each other and bawling about it). Let’s hope the 2021 Sixth Report doesn’t lose its credibility before we’ve even read it.
Tony Thomas’s new book, The West: An insider’s tale – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ‘60s is available from Boffins Books, Perth, the Royal WA Historical Society (Nedlands) and on-line here
 Her Sunburnt Country book lauds the 2017 March for Science rally, “calling on political leaders to restore respect for the critical role that science plays in forming decisions that protect the public good.”
 “… an analysis of the full suite of CMIP5 historical simulations [computer models] reveals that 111 out of 114 realisations show a [temperature] trend over 1998–2012 that is higher than the entire HadCRUT4 trend [actual temperatures] ensemble. This difference between simulated and observed trends could be caused by some combination of (a) internal climate variability, (b) missing or incorrect radiative forcing, and (c) model response error.” [chapter 9, text box 9.2, page 769]
 Spencer, Roy, Global Warming Scepticism for Busy People. 2018. Kindle 319/1855
 Canadian Mark Steyn, who is fighting a long-running defence against defamation claims by Mann, published a 320-page book “A Disgrace to the Profession” in 2015 comprising only critiques of Mann’s work by orthodox climate scientists, not by sceptics.
 “The average reconstructed temperature anomaly in Australasia during A.D. 1238–1267, the warmest 30-year pre-instrumental period, is 0.09°C (±0.19°C) below 1961–1990 levels.”
 One email read, rather harmlessly, “We have had enough! Sometime in the future your days of leeching off the taxpayers of Australia will end and you will be looking for work in the employment office where you might find a real job and contribute to society in a positive way.”
 She was then CEO of Science and Technology Australia
 They write for the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a Melbourne think tank promoting “actions to re-instate natural climate processes that generate global average temperatures and ocean acidity that are safe for all species and civilisation – i.e. preindustrial temperatures and acidity.”
 Mike [Mann], Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise… Can you also email Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise. – Cheers, Phil
 Her text: “The US was also expected to provide a considerable portion of the US$100 billion in aid to developing nations by 2020 to help them cut emissions…”
 Both Gergis and Canadell were delegates to the IPCC lead author meeting in Vancouver in January.
 “By 2099, roughly 76% of the boreal region might reach crop feasible GDD [growing degree days] conditions, compared to the current 32%. The leading edge of the feasible GDD will shift northwards up to 1200 km by 2099”
 The IAC report found “significant shortcomings in each [i.e. every] major step of IPCC’s assessment process”.