A climate shift about ‘climate change’

I have been saying for a year or two that the longer the lack of significant warming, the more likely it is that there will be a shift in the way the media and the academic bodies talk about ‘climate change’. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it seemed to be the case that more dissenting papers were being published, and that said something about what was going on at the editorial level.

Well, there has been another kind of shift, this time in a professional body, the Geological Society of Australia. Apparently (I cannot verify this) when the AGW scare first got wings the learned academies, which were first to take up the cause, asked other professional bodies to join in too, and a lot of them did. The Royal Society’s first Q&A statement was quite over the top, in my opinion, and Fellows urged a rethink. When that occurred it seemed to me still far too confident on far too little evidence. Our own Academy of Science is to bring out its second statement this month, and I’ll devote a post to it when that occurs.

In the USA, the American Geophysical Union has a statement that has caused some of its more sceptical members to resign in protest, while the American Physical Society is in process of preparing a new statement and, to provide a sceptical contribution to assist the drafters, has enlisted the aid of three prominent sceptics, Professor Lindzen, Curry and Christy, all of whom who have been mentioned here from time to time,

Now to Australia. The GSA has been trying to prepare a ‘position statement’ on ‘climate change’ for a long time, and two previous candidate statements were rejected by the members as being too weak or too strong, according to taste. To give you an idea of what they contained, the first, in 2009, began by saying that the Society was concerned about increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and wanted strong action to ‘substantially reduce current levels. It went on:

Of particular concern are the well-documented loading of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which has been linked unequivocally to burning of fossil fuels, and the corresponding increase in average global temperature… Risks associated with these large-scale perturbations of the Earth’s fundamental life-support systems include rising sea level, harmful shifts in the acid balance of the oceans and long-term changes in local and regional climate and extreme weather events.

A lot of members didn’t like that orthodox statement at all, so the harassed executive  went into consultation mode, and came out in 2012 with this:

Regardless of whether climate change is from natural or anthropogenic causes, or a combination of both, human societies would benefit from knowing what to expect in the future and to plan how best to respond. The GSA makes no predictions or public policy recommendations for action on climate beyond the generally agreed need for prudent preparations in response to potential hazards, including climate change.

That seems pretty reasonable to me, but then I’m not on the side of the so-called  consensus here. The orthodox panned that statement as far too vague, so the executive gulped and went back into consultation and word-smithing. The result is that there is to be no GSA statement on ‘climate change’. The President has issued an explanation in the current issue of his Society’s quarterly journal, and it goes like this:

After a long and extensive and extended consultation with society members, the GSC executive committee has decided not to proceed with a climate change position statement. As evidenced by recent letters to the editor … society members have diverse opinions on the human impact on climate change. However, diversity of opinion can also be divisive, especially when such views are strongly held. The executive committee has therefore concluded that a climate change position statement has the potential to be far too divisive and would not serve the best interests of the society as a whole. 

So there you are. Geologists are probably the most unconvinced of the natural scientists, if only because they deal with the long history of the planet, and can regard the last fifty years or so as the tiniest blip in a long sequence of changed climates. And once we get out of the 20th century thermometer measurements of temperature we move at once into the palaeolithic world, which is territory for at least a decent swag of the geological fraternity. I probably ought to add that of all the natural scientists, geologists are less likely to be working for government (or, if you like, more are likely to working in private sector).

This was a story last week, but I had other fish to fry then. But if you want to read another version of it, plus some wonderfully wacky offerings in the Comments, go to Jo Nova here. Graham Lloyd did a neat piece on it, too, on 4 June in The Australian, but that is behind a paywall.

PS Another potential shift is a new paper published by the World Bank. I wrote an irritated piece about the Bank’s advice to us two years ago that we were on track for 4 degrees Celsius and doom. Now comes a Bank paper saying that the whole business of ‘climate change’ is shrouded in ‘deep uncertainty’. Judith Curry has written about it here. The Bank still thinks that ‘action’ is what is needed, but action in state of deep uncertainty is a troublesome concept, about which I may write later.

And, on the orthodox side, the World Confederation of Midwives has adopted a ‘ground-breaking’ statement on the need for urgent action against ‘climate change’…

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • PeterE says:

    Is the GSA’s non-statement ‘the canary in the coal mine,’ so to speak?

  • John <orland says:

    I commend the midwives for formalizing their climate concerns; they have every right to do so.

    But the thought came to me when the bellhops start recommending stocks, it’s time to get out of the stock market. Is there an analogy here?

    We are seeing the pennies continue to drop in many minds.

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