Category

My Perspective

#16 A Summary

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 65 Comments

Introduction: This is the last essay in this series, an attempt on my part to set out what I think about the ‘climate change’ issue. It is based on the fifteen previous essays in the series, each linked in the text with (#x), which are in turn based on ten years of reading and thinking about the matter, plus half a working lifetime in the research policy and funding domain. I do not claim to be right about all of this, or indeed of any of it. ‘Climate change’ is an incredibly complicated business, involving the areas of study of the…

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My perspective on Climate change #15 ‘But what about the precautionary principle?’

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 48 Comments

I was at a dinner once where one of the guests gave vent to his objections to genetically modified foods, on the grounds that he didn’t want to eat chemicals. I’ve forgotten what we were eating, and our hostess pointed out quickly that her bill of fare contained no synthetic or other ‘tampered with’ food. I stayed out of that one, but I did wonder what the complainer knew of chemistry. Everything we eat, and indeed everything that we are, is a complex of chemicals. Human beings have  become quite skilful at determining the nature of some chemicals, and creating…

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The battlelines #14 My perspective on Climate Change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, My Perspective | 62 Comments

The ‘climate change’ issue is the most interesting encounter between politics and science that I think has ever occurred, and it is still occurring, after nearly thirty years. I’ve little doubt it will be with us for quite a while. Only a prolonged period of lower temperatures will erase the global warming scare, and if that occurs we are likely to have another scare, this time about a return to the Ice Age. Human societies respond to scares, even when their members are well educated. The environmental movement will continue for a long time because one can always point to…

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How not to argue #13 My perspective on climate change

By | ABC, Books, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 68 Comments

There is a continuing debate about global warming and about climate change, despite the cries that ‘the science is settled’. It is, in my view, a most sloppy debate, mostly because of the argumentative style of many of those who involve themselves in it. My own rule is to look at the arguments and see if they are backed up by good evidence. I was taught so as an undergraduate, and it has been the basis of my scholarly work. But there are other styles, most of them fallacious in whole or in part. Indeed, there are scores of them (you can see…

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‘When is it ‘weather’ and when is it ‘climate’?’ #12 My perspective on climate change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 43 Comments

One of the frustrating aspects of the ‘climate change’ debate is the confusion between two frequently used terms — ‘weather’ and ‘climate’. NASA distinguishes them this way: Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time. Some wag said that climate is what you expect, weather is what you get. You won’t find much more helpful definitions than these. Conventionally, ‘climate’ is the average over thirty years. ‘Climate change’ is therefore conventionally defined as what we learn by comparing thirty-year periods. Unfortunately, we don’t have…

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‘Well, why do all the scientific academies support the AGW issue as something that governments and the world must deal with?’ #11 My perspective on ‘climate change’

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 191 Comments

Sooner or later someone on the orthodox side will call out that ‘all the world’s scientific academies agree that the warming is real, due to humans and a threat’. That is supposed to be a discussion-stopper. There is plenty of support for the cry if you go to the web. Here is the beginning of a very recent NASA statement on ‘climate change’: Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 per cent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the…

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‘But aren’t 97 per cent of climate scientists sure that humans are causing global warming?’ #10 My perspective on Climate Change

By | Climate Change, Environment, History, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research, Society | 265 Comments

One of the most frequently used rhetorical devices to avoid answering the questions of the critics of the AGC scare is the proposition that there is a astonishing scientific ‘consensus’ on the point: some 97 per cent of climate scientists are said to agree. By implication, the other 3 per cent are simply ignorant, mavericks or troublemakers, to be lumped in with other people who fall into the category ‘climate deniers’. We are thus asked to accept the authority of the consensus, and to cease and desist from questioning anything about global warming or ‘climate change’. To deal with this part of the debate…

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‘But wouldn’t it be useful to move to alternative energy anyway?’ #9 My perspective on climate change

By | ABC, Climate Change, Economy, Environment, History, Media, My Perspective, Religion, Research, Road Safety | 136 Comments

The quotation in the title of this essay comes from something I noted down in 2010. It was part of a comment somewhere, and it carried the implication that even if you didn’t think AGW was a real problem there were good reasons to go down the alternative energy path. Why was alternative energy a good thing? Well, it was said to be ‘free’, would continue forever, and didn’t require the use of fossil fuels, which were not sustainable even if they weren’t bad for the planet. I had a particular interest in solar energy, because the Australian Research Grants…

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Why do so many people believe in all this? My perspective on ‘climate change’ #8

By | ABC, Climate Change, Education, Environment, History, Media, My Perspective, Religion, Research, Road Safety | 125 Comments

Five years ago I wrote a piece for Judith Curry’s Climate etc website called ‘How did we all get into this?’, which was my attempt at an analysis of the dynamics underlying what seemed then the general public acceptance of AGW and the need for governments to do something about it. The essay was quite long, and received more than 700 comments. Some were supportive and others were critical (and others still galloped off in different directions). But I learned a lot from the discussion, and would have written a much better essay had I had the opportunity to do a second…

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How useful are climate models? My perspective on climate change #7

By | ABC, Climate Change, Environment, History, Language, Media, My Perspective, Politics, Religion, Research | 85 Comments

If the alarm about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) originated in the 1980s when Dr Hansen saw a powerful correlation between the rise in temperature and the rise in carbon dioxide accumulations in the atmosphere, and projected the rises forward almost indefinitely, then the later proliferation of fearful climate scenarios for the future have obtained their rationale through what are called Global Circulation Models, or Global Climate Models — GCMs. A ‘model’ is a small version of something much larger, and a GCM is mathematical  model of the planet’s atmospheric system. Here is an example. The square diagram shows you what is going…

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