Unleashed: New global warming science?

04 Aug

David Evans “worked for the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005, building the carbon accounting model that Australia uses to track carbon in its biosphere for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol. He is a mathematician and engineer, with six university degrees including a PhD from Stanford University.” In this recent contribution to ABC Unleashed, linked to his name there, he argues:

On global warming, public policy is where the science was in 1998. Due to new evidence, science has since moved off in a different direction.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN science body on this matter, is a political body composed mainly of bureaucrats. So far it has resisted acknowledging the new evidence. But as Lord Keynes famously asked, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Four things have changed since 1998…

This may seem to be one of the more credible interventions on the side of the sceptics on this issue, though the argument that there has been global cooling since 1998 was rather well refuted by Tim Flannery on Q&A last week. Dr Flannery pointed out that 1998 was a record high in global temperature, and that any downward shift since does not affect the overall trend. If you take 1998 as a starting point, in other words, you falsify the general trend. David Evans is revealed to be very much a Usual Suspect by Sourcewatch. For a detailed rebuttal of Evans see The Australian’s War on Science XV by Tim Lambert, a computer scientist at the University of New South Wales.

Tonight’s Four Corners, with supplementary material appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald, is a must see.


Note the box on climate change in the side bar on this blog for related links.


Unleashed now has an answer to Evans, perhaps, in another David — David Karoly, “an ARC Federation Fellow and Professor of Meteorology in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He was heavily involved in the preparation of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007. He is a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.” See Climate change science misinformation.

Global average temperatures have dropped from 2002 to 2008, while carbon dioxide has increased, so carbon dioxide can’t cause long-term warming. This is another false conclusion. There are large natural year-to-year variations in climate. The warming influence due to increasing greenhouse gases is at global scales and cumulative over many years.

At short time scales, natural variability can offset that warming influence and cause short-term cooling. Global average temperatures have fallen over the last six years, due to natural variations, with the warmth in 2002 and in 1998 due to El Niño events and the recent La Niña causing colder temperatures in 2007 and 2008. The long-term warming trend is unequivocal


Posted by on August 4, 2008 in climate change, environment, TV


7 responses to “Unleashed: New global warming science?

  1. hacaoideas

    August 4, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    uhm, that’s quite a ideas. I see nothing have changed much. The fight must be stronger.

  2. Jim Belshaw

    August 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Neil, I read the comments on the war on science post. Apart from noting that both sides have a fine line in invective and that it’s all rather eye glazing, I ended up neutral. I also found the usual suspect stuff a bit suss.

    I lack both the knowledge of stats and of the underlying data to comment in any meaningful fashion. I was left with the uncomortable feeling that I was witnessing a theological debate.

    Cutting to the chase, I suspect that the jury is still out. There appears to be enough evidence to suggest that there is a problem, hence a justification for considering action. Still keeping things very simple and looking just at the graph in the main article, if the relatively sharp downturn in warming reverses itself and returns to trend, then that will tend to support the GW argument. If it does not, then that will strengthen the other side. Neither would be conclusive.

  3. Neil

    August 4, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I think some of the things said on Four Corners were of interest in this. Did you see it?

    It seems from my reading that the weight is quite firmly on the side of those who see a significant human element in the current climate change picture, but it isn’t a simple matter at all dealing with it. The permafrost issue raised in Four Corners complicates matters considerably.

    Unfortunately, of course, climate change itself is totally blind to ideology or human interests or beliefs.

    Unlike theological debates, the phenomena involved are only too palpable, and the consequences somewhat more tangible.

    I am not sure there is a global warming argument any more. There is a big argument about the best way to deal with it.

    Journalistic whiplash on the Real Climate site is worth a look. A lot of what passes for discussion really reflects that rather than actual science, I suspect. Given that I too am not a scientist, etc…

  4. Jim Belshaw

    August 5, 2008 at 6:39 am

    I missed Four Corners. At this stage, Neil, I see little choice but to go along with majority scientific opinion. I would feel a lot more comfortable, though, if we were funding research whose core role was to test and potentially refute some of the climate change hypotheses.

  5. Jim Belshaw

    August 5, 2008 at 6:49 am

    I had a look at the whiplash article(s) Neil. They identify a real issue, the ping pong effect, but also capture one of my concerns – part of my underlying caution actually comes from the health sector experience over the last fifty years.

  6. Neil

    August 5, 2008 at 8:15 am

    The trouble is, unfortunately, that if the climate change hypothesis is even only partly right the luxury of taking possibly decades of cautious approaches is simply not an option. I agree that prudentially we have to go along with the majority scientific opinion — and I have little reason to distrust people with the stature of Lord May of Oxford, to name but one whose voice has firmly been on the side of the climate change hypothesis — as against the often dubious voices on the “denialist” side. I have canvassed this before, as you would know, and created that box in the side bar to save repeating myself.

  7. Neil

    August 5, 2008 at 10:42 am

    In fairness, one for the sceptics: geologist Ian Plimer, famous for his heroic efforts against the creationists a decade ago. Strikes me he is being more ideological than scientific in that article though. I highlight the symptomatic catch-phrases:

    …Groups like BAMOS and the IPCC deny, minimise or ignore significant recent climate changes that gave us the Roman Warming, the Dark Ages, the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age. Both history and archaeology show that in previous warmings, temperatures were far higher than at present. Populations and the economy thrived. Previous coolings led to famine, depopulation and social disruption. History shows that it is dangerous to ignore history.

    The Renaissance gave us a system where criticism, logic, scepticism and an alternative view based on evidence were valued.

    It was in this environment that democracy thrived. We are now reaping the rewards of dumbing down the education system and live at a time when it is a politically correct duty to suppress alternative views. The best way to understand climate is to critically and sceptically evaluate the evidence presented to us over a very long period of time by the heavens and the Earth beneath our feet.

    Tim Lambert responded back in 2006.

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