Doomed Planet

Climate Justice? Yes, That Would Be Nice

At first glance the High Court’s unanimous decision early this year freeing Cardinal George Pell from Victoria’s Barwon Prison has nothing to do with climate change, or with a celestial tea-pot orbiting the sun somewhere between Earth and Mars. Yet they do have something in common: the burden of proof.

Preamble: If there was a chill in the almost empty Brisbane courtroom on the morning of April 7, 2020, when Chief Justice Susan Kiefel delivered the Court’s 43-page decision on case number M112/2019 – Pell v The Queen [2020]- just after 10am, it probably had more to do with a contagious corona virus, faulty air conditioning or the wailing of Cardinal Pell’s persecutors than anything atmospheric. The decision’s catchwords provide a summary of the legal matters considered and jargon used in the proceedings.

At 12.38pm on the same day, Michael Pelly, The Australian Financial Review’s legal affairs editor, posted an article on the case: High Court gives a lesson on reasonable doubt. “The High Court’s decision on George Pell has not only overturned a jury verdict”, wrote Mr Pelly, “it has also upended the criminal justice system.”

The High Court’s message was clear: “you can’t hang on to the credibility of a witness when the improbabilities are piling up. In doing so, a court can end up reversing the onus of proof, effectively making the accused prove he or she is not guilty. And that’s what happened to George Pell.” There was, the Court concluded, “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.

The burden, or onus, of proof is the obligation to present evidence on the subject of a lawsuit or criminal charge. That is, to prove or disprove a disputed fact or claim. The more serious the consequences, the higher the burden – or standard – of proof. Visualise it as a pyramid: with reasonable suspicion – “reasonable basis to believe” – at the base and beyond reasonable doubt– “eliminating all reasonable doubt” – at the apex, with three “layers” between them, in descending order: clear and convincing evidence – high probability; preponderance of evidence – more likely than not (greater than 50 per cent); and probable cause – “facts and circumstances that lead an ordinary person to believe.”

Reversing the burden of proof is a big deal because of the presumption of innocence. A defendant is innocent of a crime unless the State can prove otherwise beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption relieves a defendant of the burden of proving her or his innocence.

The Case: Consider a situation, Your Honour, where a learned profession becomes so concerned by persistent public scepticism – or indifference – about its work that, in an attempt to validate it by other means, it appropriates legal jargon and shifts the burden of proof.

This is not a hypothetical matter. It has been tactic used by climate change activists for more than a decade, including environmental attorney Barbara Freese. Her recent post: The Hubris of Denial: Risk, Doubt and the Burden of Proof. What we have here is a case with argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad ignorantiam, and petitio principii on steroids: “this product is the best because it has the highest price”, “this climate is the most dangerous because it has the highest CO2”, and so on and so forth. Various fallacies were tossed into the maelstrom too: bandwagon, hasty generalisation, slothful induction, correlation-causation confusion, goal-post shifting and appeals to authority, such as the much trumpeted “consensus”.

Procedural history: Big Climate made its first complaint against the defendant at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The complaint wholly depended upon an unquestioning acceptance of the truthfulness and reliability of certain claims, which remain controversial to this day. In subsequent trials of the charges, juries have been unable to agree on a verdict. As for Paris 2015, it was a Folies Bergère for bureaucrats, not a court.

Frustrated by a lack of progress, Big Climate tried a new tactic in Trenberth v CO2 [2011]. Dr Kevin Trenberth, originally a New Zealand meteorologist, was – and still is today – with the Climate Analysis Section at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. The defendant was again the molecule, carbon dioxide aka CO2, comprising a mere 416 parts per million of the atmosphere, or 0.041 per cent. Its alleged offences are many: from upsetting climate “stability” in various ways, to threatening the very existence of life on Earth.

Your Honour, I ask the Court to reflect for a moment on how such an invisible trace gas, one so vital to life, could be accused so unjustly? Are the villains in this pantomime anthropogenic carbon dioxide and its partner-in-crime, “climate change”? Or are they the folk who have spent their professional lives developing the tricks of the climate trade, gaming uncertainty by weighting the climate dice, confident that our survival depends on controlling the uncontrollable, the planet’s climate?

Yet we are unable to control population growth or a pandemic.  Such chutzpah. As Hamlet lamented: “what a piece of work is man, yet Mann delights not me!”

Your Honour, those who appropriate legal concepts to try and persuade the public that their so-called predictions are – or resemble – genuine laws of Nature must expect further scrutiny. After all, are they not in the same category as other high priests, including the haruspices of Ancient Rome? They seem too eager to underwrite Big Climate’s obsession with climate reparations, too afflicted by confirmation bias to be beyond suspicion. Have darker Machiavellian impulses, perhaps even a yearning for celebrity, affected their judgment. That their claims rely more on computer modelling – akain silico experimentation” – and less on traditional methodologies, such as observation, empirical testing and falsification, surely must temper our eagerness to accept them.

We know the climate has been in a state of change ever since the Earth acquired an atmosphere. One cannot simply assert certain causal links exist without evidence, however high the stakes.

I refer the Court to a recent book: Climate Change: 40 Ways to Win a Pro Global Warming Argument. The reviewer, I suggest, hits a big nail on the head.

Mischa Wu’s all-encompassing error can be put down to the lack of proof of causality. To spew out a lot of factoids suggesting the climate is changing does not prove anything. Everybody knows that. The issue of climate change is who or what is causing it. This book, and the entire climate fear industry, does not make a competent scientific case that it is humankind. It only makes the case that a group of ill-informed tribalist ninnies are fearful.  — reviewer T Hedgewick

So to the business.

Exhibit A: Russell’s tea-pot

Lord Bertrand Russell, could you explain to the Court the precise meaning of your cosmic tea-pot analogy and its relevance to this case?

Russell: Certainly. It seemed – and still seems – to me an excellent way to enlighten people as to why the philosophic burden of proof should be on the person making unfalsifiable claims, rather than shifting the burden of disproof to others.

If I told you that a celestial teapot was orbiting the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars but that you could not see it, nobody would be able to disprove me; but if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

Thank you. So, if a climate scientist were to assert, without offering proof, that there is a “discernible human influence” on climate change because – for example – without it climate models, singularly or collectively, do not work “properly” (or at all), presumably he or she could not expect anyone to believe him or her solely because his or her assertion could not be proven wrong.

Your Honour, we are dealing with post-normal science, with pseudoscience.  How can Big Climate reverse the burden of proof when it is full of unfalsifiable claims?

Yet this is what happened in Trenberth v CO2 [2011]. An argument by default surely has no place in a court of law. Dare I ask: what if the models are wrong? As we shall see in a moment, at least one high-profile modeller maintains they are “not fit for purpose”.

Exhibit B: Trenberth v CO2 [2011]

Trenberth v CO2 began in late January 2011, at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Seattle, Washington. In a Joint Presidential Session on Communicating Climate Change, Dr Trenberth gave a paper, Communicating climate change and thoughts on Climategate, published here on November 3, 2011. In it he shifted the burden of proof onto the defendant:

Prior to the 2007 IPCC report, it was appropriate for the null hypothesis to be that ‘there is no human influence on climate’ and the task was to prove that there was… Given that global warming is ‘unequivocal’, and is ‘very likely’ due to human activities to quote the 2007 IPCC report, the null hypothesis should now be reversed, thereby placing the burden of proof on showing that there is no human influence… As a whole the community is making too many type II errors (erroneously accept the null hypothesis when it is in fact false).

Yet the “discernible human influence” claim had a long and dodgy history. When John L Daly examined the evidence in June 1997, he found instead there were “mounting external pressures [presumably from the IPCC] for some unambiguous sign of human climatic impact”. For him the claim indicated “only that there is today a discernible human influence on global climate change science”.

I also remind the Court of the testimony from our expert witness, climate scientist Dr Judith Curry, author of Nullifying the climate null hypothesis.

Our reaction to Dr Trenberth’s essay is that the statement appears less about scientific analysis than about policy and winning a battle against the ‘deniers’ and reluctant politicians. In this sense, his essay comes across as a polemic. Trenberth is using the idea of reversing the null hypothesis as a metaphor for changing the political balance in the climate change debate….His proposal has little to do with scientific hypothesis testing, but is based on an opinion concerning the appropriate actions for responding to [the alleged] dangers of anthropogenic climate change.

It removes the need for scientists to continually make an argument that anthropogenic activities are influencing extreme weather events. Trenberth’s attempt to seize the climate battlefield terrain under the metaphor of [reversing] the null hypothesis [and burden of proof] has elements of an effective polemic.

The net result of such a strategy may be to further inflame the ‘climate wars’ and place climate scientists in a position where they are perceived as moving away from a real discussion and debate on the scientific issues. Reference

Polemic, Your Honour, is not science, nor is politics.

Dr Trenberth concluded with this statement:

Moving towards a form of operational real time attribution of climate and weather events is essential, but needs to recognize the shortcomings of models and understanding – or the uncertainties, as my late friend, Stephen Schnieder would say. Given that global warming is unequivocal, the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming rather than the inane statements along the lines of “of course we cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming”. That kind of comment is answering the wrong question. Reference

Dr Trenberth performed one of this century’s great conjuring tricks that day in Seattle. He gave his profession job security. He also gave it if not a license to print money, then one to ask for it in perpetuity. For despite decades of research, the climate cabal still wants more, and of course bigger computers too.

As for “operational real-time attribution of climate and weather events”, it remains a pipe-dream. Indeed, according to physicist Tim Palmer and Bjorn Stevens, “many key applications that require regional climate model output or for assessing large-scale changes from small-scale processes, we believe that the current generation of models is not fit for purpose.” (October, 2019)

Reversing the burden of proof, Your Honour, and asserting all weather events are affected by global warming, makes it much easier for Big Climate to publish nonsense claims and get away with it. The defendant, CO2, suddenly becomes its default explanation for everything otherwise inexplicable.

Exhibit C: Climate Change on Trial

Big Climate’s ambition to “tease out the influence of human-caused climate change from other factors”, and the entire alarmist movement, depend on delivering a legal argument that will underwrite all the “loss and damages” claims made by alleged victims of “carbon pollution”, most of them apparently unaware of Plimer’s Law: carbon is a girl’s best friend.

To achieve that goal and maintain public anxiety, it created an Attribution of Climate-related Events (ACE) initiative. The first workshop was held on January 26, 2009, in Boulder, Colorado, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab. The aforementioned Dr Trenberth (NCAR) was one of the attendees.

Surprisingly, the group has yet to agree on a definition for “cause”, at least according to this paper:

Among other lacking items [in the event attribution framework], perhaps the most important one regards the absence of definition for the word cause. Several recurrent controversial arguments in the realm of event attribution may possibly be related to this lacking definition of causality: for instance, an argument often made (Trenberth, 2012) is that any single event has multiple causes, so one can never assert that CO2 emissions, nor any other factors, have actually caused the event. (A. Hannart et al, Causal counterfactual theory for the attribution of weather and climate-related events, American Meteorological Society, January 2016, p. 100)

Big Climate also has had to simulate a hypothetical or “counterfactual world”.

Most unfortunately, in the climate sciences, no such sample of Earth-like climate systems is accessible to natural observation and even less so to experimental testing … With such strong limitations on the natural observation side and with in situ experimentation inaccessible, we are left with the only remaining alternative: so-called in silico experimentation. (Hannart et al, p. 105)

Yet as the Court just heard, current climate models are not fit for purpose:

Another serious difficulty is that climate models, including the most detailed GCMs, are simplified representations of reality that are affected by both numerical and physical modeling errors. Thus, the real causal effects may differ from the model causal effects. (Hannart et al, p. 106)

Such admissions rarely appear in Big Climate’s media releases or public statements. They remain the dark secrets in the alarmist attic.

Closing statement: Your Honour, Big Climate has dismissed all attempts to challenge its scenarios for decades (here and here).

Fortunately, we have the concept of tendency evidence. We use it to establish if a person has or had a tendency to (i) act in a particular way; or (ii) has or had a particular state of mind: in this case alarmist, hysterical or deranged by climate grief.

What we have heard in this case leads to only one conclusion: he (she, they, and it) did it before; he (she, they, and it) have a propensity to do it; so the likelihood is high that he (she, they, and it) did – or would do – it again: namely dupe the gullible and corrupt public policy by reversing the burden of proof.

Big Climate’s reversal of the null hypothesis – that there is no discernible human influence on the climate – is a polemic. It is not based on science. It is merely a strategy for persuading the political class to dismiss the insights of sceptics and so-called “deniers”.

So Big Climate must bear the burden of proof.

I rest my case, Your Honour.

Conclusion: The compounding improbabilities caused by the unchallenged evidence summarised above required the Court, acting rationally, to have entertained doubts as to the applicant’s guilt.

In the Court’s judgment, there is a significant possibility that an innocent molecule, CO2, has been convicted and that Big Climate’s so-called evidence has not established its guilt to the requisite standard of proof.

Orders: For the above reasons, the Court makes the following orders, that: (a) all Big Climate’s claims against CO2 be dismissed; (b) CO2’s appeal be allowed; and (c) the appellant’s convictions be quashed and judgments of acquittal be entered in their place. The case is closed.

Earl Grey or Russian Caravan, anyone?

32 thoughts on “Climate Justice? Yes, That Would Be Nice

  • rod.stuart says:

    In Eric Blair’s (George Orwell) classic “1984”, the language of Newspeak changes the meaning of words to obfuscate their meaning.
    I am frequently frustrated by the tendency to conflate “climate” with temperature.
    Cliamte by definition is “the typical temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, air pressure, precipitation, sunshine, and cloudiness, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years. (generally more than thirty).
    “Climate” has no metric, other than a classification system. There are two; Koppen-Geiger adn Trewartha.
    In order to determine whether or not a parameter has changed, a metric of some sort is necessary.
    This illicits several questions:
    a) To what region does the term “climate change” refer?
    b) Climate being what it is, what is the cliamte classification for the “planet”?
    c) What regions have experienced a significant change in classification in the past 150 years? (ignoring changes due to land use)
    d) When people discuss “climate change” are they aware that the term is meaningless nonsense?

  • DG says:

    Ah models! Do they work properly, if at all?
    Most people misunderstand models and their place in science.
    Let’s start with a simple observation: all models are wrong, but some are useful.
    They are useful for exploring hypotheses. That’s it.
    Then, if you get a model without error bands, probability distributions and confidence intervals, you’ve got propaganda, not science.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    There was reasonable doubt, and the right decision was made in the case of Pell. Moral: choirboys and others should never get themselves into situations in which they can be abused by clerics: especially in Ballarat, where clerical abuse and imprisonment of clerical abusers has been rife.
    “The Case: Consider a situation, Your Honour, where a learned profession becomes so concerned by persistent public scepticism – or indifference – about its work that, in an attempt to validate it by other means, it appropriates legal jargon and shifts the burden of proof.
    “This is not a hypothetical matter. It has been tactic used by climate change activists for more than a decade…. “
    Before a new drug can be marketed, it has to be rigorously tested in order to head off possible future problems. It has to be shown to be safe, with no room for reasonable doubt.
    With CO2 and other industrial waste gases being dumped into the atmosphere, there was never such a requirement. After all, it all began when the first of our ancestors discovered how to kindle fire. The regenerative capacities of the biosphere kept pace with it, and photosynthesis recycled the CO2 as fast as it was being produced by the decomposition of the products of photosynthesis: that is, until the Industrial Revolution began around the year 1750. As fossil carbon was burnt, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 began an inexorable rise.
    Based on air bubbles trapped in mile-thick ice cores (and other paleoclimate evidence), we know that during the ice age cycles of the past million years or so, carbon dioxide never exceeded 300 ppm. Before the Industrial Revolution started in the mid-1700s, the global average amount of carbon dioxide was about 280 ppm….
    By the time continuous observations began at Mauna Loa Volcanic Observatory in 1958, global atmospheric carbon dioxide was already 315 ppm. On May 9, 2013, the daily average carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa surpassed 400 ppm for the first time on record. Less than two years later, in 2015, the global amount went over 400 ppm for the first time. If global energy demand continues to grow and to be met mostly with fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide is projected to exceed 900 ppm by the end of this century.

    The heat-trapping properties of CO2 were established by the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius at the close of the 19th C, and have since been endorsed by 198 scientific organisations world-wide, including the Royal Society, the AAAS and Australia’s own CSIRO. This trapped heat is the cause of both the rise of the Industrial Age level of the Earth’s one ocean, and the rise of a vigorous denialist movement based on and funded by the coal industry, whose goal is the generation of public doubt. It is strongly supported by this journal, not just through AGW denialism, but by persistent attacks on the ever-growing and ever-threatening renewables industries, particularly wind and solar. (Think: coalar, not solar. Take up the cry! )
    As merchants of doubt, coalarphiles are continuing the tradition across the history of science in which vested interests oppose scientific developments that they perceive as threatening them. The Christian Church has played something of a leading role in this process, as it has always had an uneasy relationship with philosophy; which field includes all of science. Thus its attacks on Alexandrian science and on Copernicus, Galileo, and on Darwinian biology, and its historical defence of Mediaevalism right into the present century.
    Matthew 16: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. “
    Thus the Biblical open cheque given to the Church (read popes) by Christ himself. It amounts to the right to give orders to God: pretty empowering stuff. Pope Francis could tell God to look smart and change the laws of physics and chemistry to suit relentless economic expansion, and particularly of the fossil carbon industries. But he has not.
    Instead, he has delivered a warning on anthropogenic global warming. (See )
    Ah well. Nobody can expect to win every game in the great casino of life.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    “This trapped heat is the cause of both the rise of the Industrial Age level of the Earth’s one ocean, and the rise of a vigorous denialist movement based on and funded by the coal industry, whose goal is the generation of public doubt.”

    Here we go again. Non sequitur, post hoc ergo propter hoc, argumentum ad whatever, ad nauseam.

  • en passant says:

    By the end of this thread Ian McBile, the Blind Savant will have written more words than the original article – and all of no value or sense.
    Did I read correctly that McBile hangs on to the belief that Pell was perhaps guilty?
    The comment that the right decision of Pell’s guilt was made is ambiguous. Was that the original conviction on zero substantiated evidence or the High Court’s devastation of the prosecution case, the police witch hunt, the flawed first Appeal’s decision or the hatred of the ABC for Pell?

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    As Hamlet lamented: “what a piece of work is man, yet [Michael] Mann delights not me!”

    In the same play, Marcellus to Horatio: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” Hamlet (1.4, and in the state of “climate change” waffle too.

    Well said, rod.stuart. According to the Devil’s Dictionary of Climate Change (Lexicon, Athena, 2018), it’s also a bay mare sired by Clap Trap out of the dam, Monsoon Mischief. She won the 2015 Paris Summit by a nose from Miss Model, Hot Stuff and Fickle Folly. Also ” a deliberately vague expression that can mean whatever you want it to mean, if anything’.

    As for “climate change syndrome: “a condition in which otherwise sane people think, do, feel or say silly things about the weather and climate. Characterised by saving-the-planet hysteria and related histrionic behaviours.”

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Ah, I note that eyn pyssant is back, in full abusive flight, and with a question.
    I can only say in response that the High Court decision appears to my legally untrained mind to be correct: Pell can be judged guilty, as the Victorian Supreme court did judge him, but cannot be judged guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
    The High Court judgement still leaves room for him to fail the pub test, and to be guilty in the sight of Him Upstairs, and does not mean that he is necessarily or actually innocent.
    The law does not work that way. ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’ means just that.
    Hope that helps.

  • ianl says:

    The trollster is returned, unmitigated.

    1. CO2 is now an “industrial gas”, except when it’s not. Photosynthesis is now a part of the patter but only when it’s balanced (whatever). 300ppm of atmospheric CO2 concentration is “normal” but 10,000ppm (the Cretaceous) isn’t, not even then. Marine deposition of limestone is not a consideration in this patter.
    2. 1750 is now the year of the commencement of sin – this is chosen to avoid the embarrassment of a temperature rise of only 0.8C in the last 150 years. Just keep moving the goalposts.
    3. Rationing of power, as in California now, is an attainable dream for the zealots.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    4. The “hysteria” about so-called anthropogenic global warming (SCAGW) that has taken over the 198 major scientific organisations of the world is a hoax and a total beat-up, the like of which the world has never seen. But don’t worry, Trump is onto it, as was Tony Abbott until conspirators inside the Liberal Party rolled him, and the gullible fools in his electorate swallowed the hoax of SCAGW and voted him out of Federal Parliament, and voted a fellow gullible fool of a hoax-swallower in.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    The SURFACE TEMPERATURE of a PLANET is set by [1] its black body altitude [where infrared radiation is finally free to escape to space] and [2] adiabatic heating below this altitude. The black body altitude of Earth is 15,000 feet and temperature -15C [where Earths greenhouse gas = supercooled water vapour, has finally frozen out] and 2C of heating per 1,000 feet below this altitude -> +15C at the surface. [Student pilots learn 2C/1000 feet in their first lessons at flight school, along with a surface temperature of 15C. Professional pilots no longer worry about icing below -15C, which occurs at the standard altitude of 15,000 feet].
    The surface temperature of Venus is set the same way. Here the greenhouse gas is volcanic carbon dioxide – 200,000 times as much as on Earth. The black body altitude on Venus is 150,000 feet and the dry adiabatic lapse rate is 3C/1000 feet -> +450C on the surface. [The black body altitude of the Sun is 440,000 statute miles and the black body temperature is 6000C].
    LIFE is the difference between Earth and the rest of the known Universe. 3 billion years ago, [1] Archaea figured out that life depended on electricity, and made a living deriving 1/10 volt from inorganic molecules like nitrogen, hydrogen etc in the hydrothermal vents. One day, [2] an Entrepreneurial daughter invented an antenna [an antenna not just chlorophyl] to harvest 2 volts from light, escaped to the ocean surface and multiplied enormously. On another special day a [3[ Experimenter granddaughter invented RUBISCO to store the electricity as sugar [coal oil etc] and oxygen. This had the truly VITAL side effect of depleting the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and saving Earth from the hellhouse fate of Venus. [Oxygen allowed multicellular life to evolve].
    RUBISCO was designed for 300 pascals of carbon dioxide – eight times the present level on Earth of 40 pascals [0.04% or 400 parts/million]. That is its Michaelis constant, where it runs @ half maximum speed = 15 molecules/second. Any intelligent biologist can assure you that all enzymes in nature operate at their Michaelis constant; that is where they are most flexible and able to rapidly handle any divergences.
    In 1966, Dr Hatch, a distinguished Australian sugar chemist, working at Colonial Sugar Refineries, discovered C4 plants. C4 plants realized that their RUBISCO was being starved of carbon dioxide and really struggling to make sugar. So C4 plants fix carbon dioxide in one cell, pump the carrier molecule into an adjacent insulated rubber coated cell, and here generate carbon dioxide gas at a pressure of 300 pascals, allowing RUBISCO to run at 15 molecules/second. Meanwhile, old fashioned C3 plants like wheat and rice struggle on at 40 pascals processing 3 molecules/second and burdening themselves with having to manufacture five times as much RUBISCO, just to stay alive. [RUBISCO is therefore the commonest protein in the Universe].
    Accordingly 300 pascals is the biologically correct level of carbon dioxide for a living planet [even frozen Mars has 600 pascals]. Remember it took 13,000 pascals of unopposed volcanic carbon dioxide to only just manage to melt Snowball Earth. [Enzymes don’t work in a deep freeze]. It is time for biologists to reveal the truth. Worry that carbon dioxide is TOO LOW.
    I write as a biologist who made the Scientific Breakthrough of the Year for 1996, by discovering the molecules which render 1% of Europeans immune to HIV, and are the basis of the only cure to date – Timothy Brown in Berlin a decade ago, by a bone marrow transplant from an immune donor.
    Dr T B Lynch.

  • Peter Sandery says:

    Ian MacDougall, I am afraid that I cannot follow your logic when you say you agree with the Vic Supreme’s “guilty” decision but also agree with The High Courts’ “that he was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt”. Are you implying that the level of guilt changes from the Vic Supreme Court and the Australian High Court on the same issue? I think that’s the first time I have come across that dictum.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    re Peter Sandery: There is a class of problems which are impossible to solve by mathematics/logic. Normal humans don’t worry about this, just guess the answer, and have to live with the results. Judges, who are really just government lawyers, rationalize their answers and make up reasons, which, in reality, cannot possibly exist. Government doctors likewise guess answers, and call it science, when the best it can be is art.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Peter Sandery: The Victorian Supreme Court found Pell guilty as charged. Guilty beyond reasonable doubt at that time and place, and to the majority of those judges. This verdict was overturned on appeal to the High Court, which found reasonable doubt. The Victorian verdict of guilty beyond reasonable doubt they found untenable, and so over-ruled it.
    Let me repeat: there was reasonable doubt, and the right decision was made in the case of Pell IN THE HIGH COURT. It is still possible for Pell to have abused the chiorboy/s, but not beyond reasonable doubt. There is some uncertainty, and enough to overturn the Victorian verdict in the eyes of the High Court judges, though the Victorian Supreme Court majority came to the opposite conclusion.
    So I suggest that the moral of this story is that choirboys and others should assume any given cleric to be a paedophile, guilty until proven otherwise, and never get themselves into private situations with clerics, in which they can be abused by the said clerics; especially in Ballarat, where clerical abuse and imprisonment of clerical abusers has been rife.
    I hope that answers your question.
    (PS: Our Lord and Saviour said plenty about the future, but from His point in time had nothing to say about the Renaissance popes nor re the clerics of Ballarat.)

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    From Michael Pelly’s AFR post::

    “Some criminal lawyers are concerned that over the past 20 years, the pendulum has swung too far in favour of victims. They say prevailing orthodoxy now is that they are to be believed in the absence of compelling evidence, and that the bar for reasonable doubt has got a little lower. This case may change that.
    It is not unusual for the High Court to order a new trial if it has concerns about the conduct of a trial. However to go the next step – and reject a jury verdict because it is unsafe – is a big deal. It also happens once in a blue moon.
    Unlike the trial and first appeal, there was no split decision this time; the 7-0 verdict was not only clear, it was also emphatic. There will be no retrial, because he has now been found not guilty. Case closed.” (AFR, April 7, 2020)

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    In our criminal justice system as I understand it, the only time the term “innocent” is relevant is when it is used in the common expression defining the standard of proof required in criminal cases, as opposed to civil cases. In criminal cases, a person is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty of an offence beyond reasonable doubt.
    Law students learn very early that a finding of not guilty is not a declaration of innocence, and should never be interpreted as such. That senior journalists like Barry Cassidy and others of the usual media suspects, who implied that there remains significant doubt about Pell’s innocence, could be so ignorant of our centuries old law simply defies belief.
    Ian’s insistence that the court’s decision does not mean that Pell did not commit the offences is not necessarily wrong. But it is an unreasonable conclusion to draw in the context of our legal system. Pell never had to prove his innocence , ie that he did not commit the offences. So, the fact that he did not do so cannot reasonably be interpreted as if he were not innocent, because the status quo ante was that he always was innocent in law. And that’s all the High Court decision did when it established unanimously that the State had not satisfied it’s burden of proof.
    Lawyers might correct my dim and distant memory of my law studies, but it infuriates me that the modern media is allowed to ride roughshod over a person’s right to a fair trial. It’s doubly infuriating when our taxpayer-funded ABC not only tolerates but facilitates is employees’ pursuit of their own personal vendettas.
    Shame on them.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    DT: “Ian’s insistence that the court’s decision does not mean that Pell did not commit the offences is not necessarily wrong. But it is an unreasonable conclusion to draw in the context of our legal system. Pell never had to prove his innocence , ie that he did not commit the offences. So, the fact that he did not do so cannot reasonably be interpreted as if he were not innocent, because the status quo ante was that he always was innocent in law. And that’s all the High Court decision did when it established unanimously that the State had not satisfied it’s burden of proof.”
    “Pell never had to prove his innocence , ie that he did not commit the offences.” [!] It is impossible to prove a negative. That is why the onus of proof is on the prosecution to prove one guilty, which is not in itself a logical impossibility. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is the principle we have, because from about Shakespeare’s time on, the penalties for guilt in a wide range of crimes were so increasingly onerous in Britain. They ranged from death by torture through hanging to transportation to public flogging and so on.
    “19 Crimes’ is a brand of wine, commemorating the fact that any one of the crimes they list could get you transported from The Old Dart to NSW. (I recommend it.)
    Grand Larceny, theft above the value of one shilling
    Petty Larceny, theft under one shilling.
    Buying or receiving stolen goods, jewels, and plate…
    Stealing lead, iron, or copper, or buying or receiving.
    Impersonating an Egyptian. [!]
    Stealing from furnished lodgings.
    Setting fire to underwood.
    Stealing letters, advancing the postage, and secreting the money.
    Assault with an intent to rob.
    Stealing fish from a pond or river.
    Stealing roots, trees, or plants, or destroying them.
    Assaulting, cutting, or burning clothes.
    Counterfeiting the copper coin…
    Clandestine marriage.
    Stealing a shroud out of a grave.
    Watermen carrying too many passengers on the Thames, if any drowned.
    Incorrigible rogues who broke out of Prison and persons reprieved from capital punishment.
    Embeuling Naval Stores, in certain cases.

  • Occidental says:

    Ian MacDougall, I respect the role of devils advocate (atleast in this forum) that you have taken on. Who knows about climate change, I am sure when I fart I am contributing to the heat on this planet, so I am not surprised that the activity of 8 billion humans might also be having some effect. My problem is all about the result of the effect. I can smell sense in an argument, and there is more than a small amount in the climate warriors crusade. When I am asked to moderate my behaviour and or contribute taxes I become interested in the proof, and I am yet to be convinced, but I do not reject the possibility that anthropogenic activity may be a threat.
    Turning to Pell, really what you want to say and correct me if I am wrong, is that you think he did it, but the High Court, properly applying the law, acquitted him. Fair enough, there are many people who still believe Lindy Chamberlain murdered her daughter, and who knows, may be she did. I dont really care if Pell did what he was accused of or not, only that our system works as intended, and in the end, it did. That very same system may help you one day, or a loved one.
    Finnally, can I say CO2 is not an industrial gas, and mathematics (the so called Alexandrian science) is not “science”.

  • Occidental says:

    “I can smell sense”
    I actually meant to write “ I can sense hyperbole in an argument”

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “Turning to Pell, really what you want to say and correct me if I am wrong, is that you think he did it, but the High Court, properly applying the law, acquitted him.”
    No. I think it possible that he did it. His case would possibly not pass the pub test, but unfortunately I have not been through enough pubs to date to be sure of that either way. (Watch this space. It may take some time.)
    “When I am asked to moderate my behaviour and or contribute taxes I become interested in the proof….”
    What all the scientists are dealing with is inferences. We do have our sister planet Venus, with atmosphere ~100% CO2, and at it surface hot enough to melt lead. Venus has for years been part of the AGW ‘alarmism’ case. (Study the contributions of the coal shills who infest this site for the alleged uncertainties they find in it.)
    But the final proof will arrive when it is too late, and we are in a runaway greenhouse situation. My hunch is that Donald Trump and other wealthy AGW denialists are already buying up real estate in Patagonia: having been turned down by the Danes in his bid to get their mitts on Greenland.
    To them, it is probably an each-way bet in a two horse race. And the money they are playing with is likely not their own anyway.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Umm, Ian, I wrote several times that it’s impossible to prove a negative as the reason for our system, but I thought it would be overstating the obvious and that it would be an insult to your intelligence. So I deleted it.
    As for your list of crimes, do tell, as the old saying goes. Perhaps more consistent with our times “Who knew?”

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    And, Ian, please note that I take considerable offence at your use of the term “coal shills” when referring to those of us in here who disagree with the current AGW theories that are playing havoc with our economies.
    By my standards, that makes you unfit for polite company. That is precisely the sort of behaviour that I objected to before, and object to again. Please behave.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Then you must be aware that this site is not only pro-coal, but ant-renewables; that is anti the systems that are eating into the profits of the coal barons, and which will probably be our energy sources for the future.
    Incidentally, I am not against fossil carbon. I just think that it should be kept for uses for which there is no cheap substitute: like road tar, steel and tyre manufacture and recyclable plastics.
    Otherwise, our descendants will be driving steel-wheeled vehicles over cobbled roads. But those who presently have rights to the Fossil-C want to convert it into $$$$ in their (probably Swiss) bank accounts asap.
    So if the shill fits, wear it. No offence, mind.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    It’s news to me that “this site” is anything other than a forum for people to discuss ideas. I’m one of those who believe that QOL is neutral, allowing views from all sides of an argument, and that it is individuals who hold and express those views. From the outset, you chose to interpret opposition to your strongly held opinions as being based on our personally having vested financial interests in coal production, and spewed a non-stop stream of contumely at anyone who chose to disagree with you. It soon became a deadly boring barrage of tit-for-tat insults.
    And here we go again.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    Last year I showed that Ian MacDougall was a zombie incapable of reason, and he fortunately disappeared for six months. A bigger problem is someone like ANU vice chancellor Brian Schmidt, who made the Scientific Breakthrough of the Year for 1998, as leader of a team, which discovered that the Big Bang is still banging, and who appeared on the ABC with Turnbull singing the anthropogenic global warming song. So I searched Brian Schmidt on global warming. All I found was the same juvenile song regularly sung by Ian MacDougall…97% of scientists….I had expected that an astronomer would be an expert on planets and produce a logical argument, like mine above, which might have even changed my mind.
    I am used to being right when the whole world is wrong. A year before I discovered the cure for amoebic meningitis, the New England Journal of Medicine, did an expert review and described amoebic meningitis as “Uniformly fatal and without hope of therapy”. Even today [10 Sep 2020], the New England Journal of Medicine has yet another report of a case of amoebic meningitis killed by stupid doctors in San Jose, in the Green state of California, which is currently being destroyed by wildfires, riots and blackouts. The doctors took 48 hours to make a diagnosis, which I made in 10 minutes 49 years ago. [My teacher Dr E H Derrick discovered the disease, so I guess its normal for one of his students to cure it]. They started treatment way too late and the patient died 3 days later. It’s a small world.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    The voltage in the antenna driving a crystal set is 1/10,000 volt. I am amazed at the ingenuity of our ancestors of 3 billion years ago [who still make methane in our gut] who figured out how to make 1/10 volt from nitrogen, hydrogen etc and then designed and built an antenna to tune in 2 volts from light. Followed by the chemical savIour of Earth = RUBISCO.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “From the outset, you chose to interpret opposition to your strongly held opinions as being based on our. personally having vested financial interests in coal production…”
    Your use of the word ‘our’ there suggests to me that you are a staffer here at Quad Online. But be that as it may.
    Actually, DT, this curate’s egg of a site is more like a Calathumpian fundamentalist church, whose patron saint is Tony ‘the future is coal’ Abbott (elsewhere referred to as the ‘Mad Monk’). As long as everyone in the congregation is singing off the same hymn sheet and broadly agreeing with the content of every pro-coal, anti-mainstream-science and anti-renewables sermon, everything is fine as far as the management here is concerned.
    I only lobbed in here originally by accident, because I was interested in some of the poetry published here. (Back in my university days, I used to have long and interesting conversations over coffee and about life in general with the late Les Murray, for a long time poetry editor here; though his poetry never did much for me.) But some of the other poetry published here has inspired me to set a selection of it to music, and have given public performances of those pieces; with the poet’s full knowledge and consent, of course.
    However, if I were to post the links I have on file to the articles published here that praise coal, dump on renewables and fervently dispute anthropogenic global warming, then that post would be parked forever in the ‘awaiting moderation’ queue. And if QO is not a downright mouthpiece for the coal barons, then I am frankly surprised. That can only be an unfortunate oversight on someone’s part.
    If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… well you probably know the rest.
    As for the ‘contumely’ you mention, it has only ever been delivered by me in response to abuse from the odd denizen of this site who has taken umbrage at something I have said, and has developed a running dislike for me and for everything I stand for. I have never initiated it, and I invite you to prove otherwise.
    (And right on cue, Dr TB ( ‘RUBISCO is the greatest discovery ever in the history of science; no make that the Universe’) Lynch weighs in to support what I say: leaving me, just a humble cow-cocky, believing that RUBISCO is maybe something they mix into chook feed. 😉

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    If you’re going to suggest that I’m a staffer at QOL, you really should seek help.
    I’m sick of repeating myself, so this is my last word to or about you. You are now going into my virtual “kill file” where other trolls lurk.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    I wasn’t going to comment here until Ian MacDougall appeared. You cant have lawyers or philosophers or theologians or even practical people like farmers, playing around as amateur scientists, who have the answer to everything.
    Aristarchus solved the solar system 250BC. He was over ruled by Aristotle and Moses. His calculations were too small because he lacked the technology to accurately measure angles like 89 degrees and 55 minutes.
    Eratosthenes proved that Earth is round and measured its size to an accuracy of 2% in 250BC. Yet Columbus crew was on the verge of mutiny after 30 days sailing to the New World [which appeared next day] scared that they were about to fall off the edge of a flat Earth.
    Even Einstein believed that the Universe was eternal and unchanging [contradicting the Bible] until Catholic Priest George Le Maitre, mathematician extraordinaire, discovered the Big Bang theory in 1927. Einstein admitted his false belief to Le Maitre in 1929, when Hubble, with the largest telescope in the world, made observational confirmation of Le Maitres theory.
    I am amazed how false beliefs, demonstrably wrong, can represent the common opinion for milennia. Of course a millennium is just a second measured against the age of the Universe. And humans arose when two chimpanzee chromosomes fused to constitute human chromosome #2. In a sense, we are just monkeys who can talk. But we were smartest of all when we were just a single cell: that was the time when we knew how to build a diploid human being, and we did it.
    Funny there are no demonstrations against the doctors who killed the patient in San Jose. Maybe people think it is normal for doctors to kill patients [seems to be so in Victoria – abortion and euthanasia]. Yet when a criminal dies of a drug overdose during a resisted arrest, the commies make sure all hell breaks loose.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    Incredibly, the New England Journal of Medicine has today [24 Sep 2020] yet again, printed another fatal case of Amoebic Meningitis, this time diagnosed at autopsy.
    I am still able to be correct when the whole world is wrong. Reality is the arbiter, Reality is always the clincher in real science.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    I thought I should add a little Michaelis-Menten theory to Dr Marshall Hatch’s remarkable discovery of C4 plants, outlined above. [Dr Hatch, like Dr Woese of Archaea fame, is yet another real scientist who was never/not yet admitted to the Nobel Club; this club is several grades above the totally erroneous Climate Club, but does include Obama, who won the War Prize, Fibiger for a germ which does not cause stomach cancer, and Moniz for lobotomy – chopping off the front part of the patients brain]. I learned enzyme kinetics from Burt Zerner, who discovered the first nickel enzyme = urease – yet another real non-Nobel scientist.
    Why do I think that Dr Hatch’s figures of 300 pascals of carbon dioxide, with RUBISCO running at 15 molecules/second is the Michaelis constant and 15/second is half maximum speed; which in turn gives a maximum speed of 30/second and a maximum pressure as high as Venus?
    Well I used the Lineweaver-Burk modification of the Michaelis-Menten equation.
    1/V = 1/SxKm/Vmax + 1/Vmax. This yields a straight line plot. The Y intercept is 1/Vmax. The X intercept is -1/Km. Experimental data:- Sc4 = 300 pascals. Sc3 = 40 pascals. Vc4 = 15/second. Vc3 = 3/second.
    I enclose this real scientific argument for posterity, who may come across this in 35 years – like what happened to Mendel.

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