Margaret Throsby in three interviews

For those who don’t know, Margaret Throsby is an ABC presenter, and has been one for a long time. She presents an interview weekdays at midday on ABC Classic FM, in which the interviewee, having nominated three or four pieces of music, is quizzed about his or her life and work. The music breaks up the hour into segments. Margaret is very good at this, and has been doing it for twenty years. Since Classic FM is the aural wallpaper of my life, much of which is now spent at home, I’ve heard a lot of these interviews over the years, and am impressed with her skill, her capacity for hard work, and her style. I’ve met her once only, and briefly.

You learn a lot from these interviews, if you are regular listener. As a result of her work, she must be one of the best-informed people in Australia, across an extraordinary range of material. If a new and important book is out, she will read it. If a visiting celebrity is to be interviewed she will prepare well. She asks good questions, is polite, and gives her subjects an opportunity to say what they want to say. But …

I am writing this essay after listening to three such interviews in the last week or so. The subject for one was John Howard (a repeat), another was David Suzuki (another repeat), and the third was Dr Naomi Oreskes, historian of science best known for her book Merchants of Doubt. I didn’t hear every minute of the interviews, so I went back to the Classic FM website and listened to all of them again.

I’ll start with John Howard, who was interviewed in 2010 after his own memoir, Lazarus Rising, came out. She chose to repeat it at the time of the 20th anniversary of his accession to power in 1996. John Howard is best when he is being interviewed, or speaking without notes, and he was in good form in this interview. For her part, Margaret was unfailingly polite but searching as well. The questions were good ones, and Howard responded well, without dodging or weaving. Was he particularly sad about losing his seat as well as government? Not really, he said. There was a big swing and he had a marginal seat. You had to accept such an outcome. Margaret expressed surprise. But the seat of Bennelong had become increasingly marginal (and Maxine McKew, who defeated him, held it for only one term). Redistributions and demographic change can do funny things to electorates. Anyway, as an interview it was well worth listening to, and honours were even, which is what you would hope for.

Now to the interview with Naomi Oreskes. Her Merchants of Doubt came out in 2010 also. Its message is that a small group of phycisists who had worked on the atomic bomb and rocketry, committed as they were to anti-communism, saw in the campaigns against tobacco, CFCs and later global warming the insidious signs of ‘socialism by the back door’ (Oreskes in the interview). They created doubt about what in science was already settled agreement — a ‘consensus’. There was no doubt among scientists that smoking caused cancer, that CFCs caused a hole in the ozone layer, and that humans were responsible for global warming. That was settled science. Three of the four scientists that Dr Oreskes mentioned are dead, the other is very old. I’ve never met or heard any of them, and they are not at all central in the modern debate about ‘climate change’. The author was here to talk to an audience in Sydney and then appear at a writers’ festival.

At the beginning of the interview Margaret described Merchants of Doubt as ‘compulsive reading’, and maybe it is (I haven’t read it), but that seemed a bit fulsome to me, given that all these issues are highly political. She maintained her distance with John Howard, but with Naomi Oreskes she seemed on side very quickly. Dr Oreskes then said that the science is real; there was ‘no debate in science about the basic reality of man-made climate change’ (the inverted commas come from my notes, and their placement may be slightly in error); ‘almost no one’ in science disagreed about this basic reality. Well, Margaret could have asked her about the scientists who actually do disagree. There are several prominent ones in Australia (Plimer, Paltridge, Kininmonth, Franks, Jo Nova, Jennifer Marohasy and the late Bob Carter), plus Lindzen, Curry, Christy, Happer, Spencer, Pielkes Sr and Jr in the USA, Evans in the UK — all of them peer-reviewed and senior. Not only that, almost all sceptics agree that humans can have an effect on global temperature. They simply disagree about how much, and about whether or not warming is bad.

Margaret put to her that ‘good science is based on uncertainty — isn’t it?’ Dr Oreskes agreed, but slid away from the possibility that climate science could be in error. There was a possibility that something might have been asked about over-confidence in all this. Dr Oreskes said that because of the ban on CFCs the ‘ozone hole is recovering’ then, more strongly, ‘repaired’. But of course it isn’t. We have no real idea about the size of the hole (‘thinning of the layer’ is probably a better way of putting it) prior to its ‘discovery’ in the 1980s. And however long it’s been there, it’s not getting obviously smaller. Some say the thinning is due to natural causes. The truth is, that no one knows; it’s not at all settled science. In the interview, that possibility went through to the keeper.

Dr Oreskes referred several times to ‘climate deniers’ (a ludicrous short form), and regrettably Margaret chimed in with the same usage, which is not good form for an interviewer. If there was one thing that governments could do, asked Margaret, what would it be? ‘Put a price on carbon’, said the sage from the USA. Oh dear. All climate-change-denial arguments have been disproved, said Dr Oreskes towards the end. Oh dear. This is just ludicrous stuff. If you’re going to ask someone like her to your program, you need at least to cross swords with her somewhere. She was untouched from beginning to end.

The ‘ever popular’ Dr Suzuki (Margaret’s term)  is no stranger to the program, having been interviewed in 1996, 2000 and 2010. The one I heard was a repeat of the 2010 interview. Dr Suzuki has a surprisingly young voice for someone who is a year older than me, and he is also here for the writer’s festival that attracted Dr Oreskes, whose work he referred to approvingly. Thirty months ago he was on Q&A here, and gave a truly appalling performance from which he emerged as a loud-voiced know-nothing.  ‘I’m not a climate scientist’ he said more than once.

But here he is again telling us his message, no less loudly and, no less confidently and no more knowledgeably. Margaret emerged from this interview as the president of his local fan-club. She loves his writing; she loves what he has said about human population (there are too many of us, and we’ll be wiped out before long by a new super virus). He wants a restructured society and economy. She seemed to agree. Tim Flannery told him that the whole of Australia could be converted to alternative energy for $37 billion. There were so many easy questions that could have been asked at that point. None came forward. There are now more extreme weather events, he told her. Anyone who had done any reading could have asked him: what about Pielke Jr’s detailed demonstration that it just ain’t so. There are plenty of other examples. Like Oreskes, he says that human-induced climate change is real. No questioning. Politicians who don’t listen to the scientific community (= him) should be jailed for criminal negligence. No questioning. And so on. I think Suzuki is arguably the supreme ratbag in science today. Paul Ehrlich runs him close.

What a friendly interview it was. I’ve heard many other interviews where global warming was mentioned. I can’t recall a single example where Margaret Throsby took anything like a critical stance, and the two I heard last week, in the context of the professional interview of John Howard, pushed me into writing this essay. Margaret’s excellence doesn’t seem to include the capacity to stand back when her own preferences and standpoints are involved — at least, not in the domain of ‘climate change’. And because her standpoint is similar to so many other presenters in the ABC, it is that widespread lack of impartiality which upsets so many viewers and listeners — a lack of impartiality to which the Board and senior management seem oblivious.

The last Q&A simply emphasised the point with strong assertions about ‘climate change’ (one by the new Chief Scientist, who doesn’t seem to know that the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature is logarithmic) allowed to stand without anything like a searching question. Most assertions were given applause by the resident cheer squad. And the next morning’s ABC news allowed listeners to infer that the hot February was caused by a sudden leap in CO2 parts per million as measured at Mauna Loa.  About the ABC, you just give up.

No one should be surprised that the more annoyed listeners want it sold.

Join the discussion 176 Comments

  • Neville says:

    Their ABC is a left wing national broadcaster and is a disgrace. Most of my friends hate q&a and fully understand that their ABC is there to support Labor and the Greens. And all this funded by the poor taxpayer who regularly return Coalition govts to power. Why isn’t there a 50/50 split between Labor / Greens and Conservative/Libertarian points of view? Better still split it into two broadcasters, one for Lab/G and another for Coal/Libert points of view? And we haven’t even talked about the other left wing bias of SBS. What a farce.

    • David says:

      Neville, I love my “8 cents per day”

      • Doug Hurst says:

        Sorry David, I’m in Neville’s camp. The ABC is not always biased – radio national usually just presents the news – but when it is it supports the Green/Left and people like Suzuki who should have been discredited in environmental circles after 20 years of ignorance and wild predictions. Indeed, he is even worse then Tim Flannery in climate matters.

        I can’t recall ever hearing a news item or interview that could legitimately draw criticism as Right Wing.

        I too often listen to Margaret Throsby, who is often very good. But occasionally the selection of guest and questioning show serious bias, always one way.

        The ABC has the resources to properly investigate the ‘climate change’ issue and the related renewables business with its wild claims and heavy subsidies, but have done nothing. Given the massive government expenditure wrt renewables, this is unforgivable.

        8 cents a day doesn’t sound like much, but it’s almost $30 pa for every man woman and child and more than a billion a year. To my friends who have given up on the ABC, it’s all wasted. I don’t go that far, but I do feel it could be much better spent to represent all Australians, not just the ridiculously mis-named ‘progressives’.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        But David, you enjoying it because of Neville’s 8 cents a day and all the 8 cents from those of us who think that your ABC needs real reform. On the whole the critics object to having to pay for something they see as ably in error and biassed.

        • John Bromhead says:

          ABC Budget allocation 2015: $1063 million
          Population of Australia: 24 million
          Amount / person / year: $44.29
          Amount / person/ day: 12 cents.

          • David says:

            That add, and hence that expression, was first aired in the 1980’s. Just goes to show what excellent value for money the ABC continues to provide to the Australian taxpayer. How many other institutions do you know that have an effective cost inflation rate of 1.6%?

          • Todd Myers says:

            David: The inflation rate is around double that because you are looking at per capita costs and haven’t allowed for population growth.

          • RUBY says:

            John, you should try for a job with ABC Fact Check, they get so many things wrong!

          • Craig says:

            John’s quick calcs are unfortunately slightly flawed. Not all of Australian’s pay taxes for various reasons, the most common probably being that they are too young. So if we quickly re-crunch the numbers bases on the number of voters (approx 15 million from memory) we come up with about 19 cents a day or something like $70 a year from each voter.
            Problem is that not all tax is taken evenly. I think the suggestion is that 50% of taxpayers pay about 90% of the tax. I am not going to crunch the numbers or do a proper study but very loosely let’s say that the average Australian is paying about $100 a year.
            Sure we can then break that down to a per day figure, but let us put it another way. Say I was to provide a service that was filled with passive aggression, spoke of things you have no interest in, openly mocked many things you were interested in and also regularly insulted people you either respected or called friends. Then I was to hit you up for $100.
            Just how many of you would be willing to pay me for that service?
            Sorry David by 8cents, even it is was still an accurate metric, is a complete deflection.

        • juggernaut says:

          “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
          — Thomas Jefferson

      • Kathleen says:

        Pay peanuts. Get monkeys.

  • Alan Gould says:

    Thanks Don,
    In the ‘post-Climate-Alarm’ epoch, that may be as close as 2017, my hope is for one or two adjustments to the penal code that restore the borough pillory, stocks and ducking stool to the penalties available to a judge for cases of the defamation of opinion and the suppression of fair evidence in broadcasting. These changes can be compassionate. For instance, one might set the stocks up adjacently so that Throsby and Suzuki, Flannery and Garnaut, or pairs of ‘Chief Scientists’ can hold hands as they receive their pelting of vegetable matter. And this vegetable matter must, of course, have been allowed to suppurate for a period so as to squelch and besmear rather than bruise. I imagine that for the first few weeks of the new law the borough officials will have queues of these hubristic destroyers of fair discourse and honest science to deal with, but suspect the penalty might serve to restore authentic open mind quite quickly.
    As usual, your post needs to be read in a National Newspaper, and in its clarity, good nerve and incisiveness, would be eminently eligible for that in a society that actually knew how to value its freedom.

  • Neville says:

    Gee David loves HIS ABC, what a surprise. I want my 8 cents back or transfer my 4 cents to a new rational broadcaster and you can still listen to all the delusional left wing junk you like for your 4 cents worth.

    • David says:

      Neville, the ABC broadcast Landline for all the Pitt Street farmers. And you can follow your super on The Business, with Ticky Fullerton, plus the occasional guest appearance from Gerard Henderson on the Insiders for all the cranky white men. What more do you want?

      • Neville says:

        David asks what more do I want?
        1. At least half of ABC presenters should have a mix of conservative and libertarian views.
        2. It should be broken up into two halves so we can choose who to watch or listen to without having to put up with left leaning junk.
        3. Failing that it should be wound up ASAP.

      • Whalehunt Fun says:

        What more do I want? I want the ABC defunded without warning, leaving it unable to pay any monies of any kind to the instantly unemployed ABC Staff. No redundancies, no accrued leave, nothing. Seeing the ABC staffers sitting homeless, hungry and filthy in the gutter with their children would not compensate for their years of biased broadcasting, but it would bring a small smile to my lips as I passed by ignoring their pleas for scraps for the little ones.

  • David says:

    Peer Review? About 80% of Jennifer Morassay’s “peer-review”publications are with Institute of Public Affairs Review. As far as I am concerned, a point should be subtracted from her h-index for each one. 🙂

    • JohnB says:

      By that logic, can we presume that you think the IPCC reports are only fit for toilet paper? Since they rely on a preponderance of grey material and non peer reviewed science.

      BTW, in the current climate “Peer review” doesn’t mean a paper is right or even sensible, it just means the reviewers thought it should be published. Examples would be any paper claiming a 97% Consensus or pretty much anything by Lewandowski. 😉

      • David says:

        What are you smoking?

        1. IPCC report was the largest review of an academic literature ever conducted. Some 500 academics reviewed 9,200 peer-reviewed studies.

        2. “…it just means the reviewers thought it should be published” True, but still a couple more that have ever signed off on Jo Nova’s “insights”

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Margaret Throsby is good on society and the arts, but I doubt that she understands science…and sometimes she’s overfond of the sound of her own voice.

  • bobo says:

    The problem with the “scientists” you mention is that they have not come up with any compelling counterexamples to AGW. Why should anyone take them seriously? They are on the fringes and some of them explicitly engage in motivated reasoning (e.g. railing against the possible effects of climate mitigation on the economy) so their credibility is in tatters as scientists. Frustrated politicians is a better descriptor for some of them.

    By the way, that’s the first time I have heard someone accuse Jo Nova of being a scientist, it says a lot about you Don that you read her blog and come away thinking that what you read was scientific.

    • David says:

      Don, Bobo raises a good point. If Jo Nova qualifies as a scientist you might as well include the posts to this blog.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      It’s rather similar to accusing Tony Jones of being intelligent.

    • JimboR says:

      You can imagine the response had Throsby done what Don suggests and asked Oreskes what she thinks of Jo Nova’s views. I’m predicting it would have been a very awkward but genuine “Joe who?”.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      This is the last time I’ll say this: you do not have to be a scientist or publish in peer-reveiwed journals to point out errors in published science.

      • David says:

        True, but to call yourself a “scientist” you should be communicating new scientific thought. Otherwise every person who has ever commented on this blog (even Mike) could call themselves a scientist.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Oh dear, why does a scientist have to ‘be communicating new scientific thought’? Who says so? You make these grand assertions without thinking about them.

          You are talking only about scientists who are actively working on a particular project. Many other scientists are teaching, many are doing other things, running departments and so on. They may have an idea at the back of their heads, but are not working on that idea now. Does that stop them from being ‘scientists’? Of course not. They are still capable of commenting on what has been published.

          • David says:

            We are all capable of commenting on what has been published. So is everyone a scientist? Can everyone call them selves a writer a musician or an artist? We all have these skills to some degree. Obviously, for these terms to have any meaning, we must discriminate. This is Nova’s publication list from her wiki

            “Nova has published a book called Serious Science Party Tricks, which is aimed at children.
            She is the author of a sixteen-page illustrated text called The Skeptics Handbook, which was widely distributed in the USA by the Heartland Institute.[14][15] In 2009, Nova issued a sequel, Global Bullies Want Your Money, and in the same year she wrote a paper for the SPPI entitled Climate Money.[16]
            Nova has also written for The Spectator, and has had columns published on the Op-Ed pages of The Australian on journalism, public spending, free markets, and politics.”

            I appreciate a good children’s book as much as the next middle aged man, but this does not cut it as a “scientist”.

      • bobo says:

        I’m not sure Jo has found any errors in the published science, Don.

        • Bobby Laing says:

          David and Bobo
          Just for interest Ms Nova is a fully qualified biologist.
          if you do not rate Biology then I conclude that Evolutionary theory is to also be dismissed…Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms, and molecules…
          If you wish to sledge Ms Nova that too is your bad mannered lookout but given the sledge then back it up.
          Go to The Jo Nova website and challenge her to a debate on evolutionary theory, biology or ‘we can control the weather’ or, even better, the Sceptic Handbook she has produced.
          Take it as fact that professors in the field have tried to fault that work without finding a T uncrossed.
          Andrew Glickson tried to debate a few years back and got a good whack and was sent home to Mummy in tears.
          Gutlessly, Klymit Scientists rarely debate Sceptics (Gavin Schmidt of NASA/NOAA and Roy Spencer TV interview in which The Chicken Heart refused to appear side by side)
          Back up your childish, immature.sexist and misogynistic sledging with a real debate and should either of you have a science qualification could you inform of which class that you were taught to address Science with abuse, insult and sledging.
          Next time concern yourself with a real lack of Science such as a Chief Scientist confused as to the Logarithmic relationship of Temp and CO2. If that has you also confused then Mr Aitkin is the go to person. Jo Nova too.

          The odds of these ChickenHearted taking up the challenge? Same as Prince of Penzance and Michelle Payne at the last Melbourne Cup.

          • Ted O'Brien. says:

            Don’t fail to know that JoNova is teamed with leading climate scientist/mathematician Dr David Evans. She also specialises in science education.

          • bobo says:

            “Gutlessly, Klymit Scientists rarely debate Sceptics”

            What would a TV debate of a climate scientist with a climate sceptic achieve? What would be the point?

            I have much better idea. How about some climate sceptic, somewhere, produce a falsification of climate science? Put their money where their mouth is, so to speak?

          • JohnB says:

            Except Bobo, the climate science doesn’t make any falsifiable predictions. “It will get warmer in some places and cooler in others” is not a falsifiable prediction, it’s not “science”.

            OTOH, “The Tropical Troposphere will warm faster than the surface” is a falsifiable prediction. If the Tropical Troposphere doesn’t warm faster than the surface, then the theory is wrong or flawed. Is there accelerated warming in the TT Bobo? Oh dear…… 😉

          • David says:

            Bobby, who can jump up and down all you want. But someone with an undergraduate degree in science who’s only involvement in the profession is to publish a blog and has a publication history of exactly zero peer reviewed articles in climate science does not meet minimum standard of a scientist.

          • Ross says:

            She is not a scientist Bob. If she was, she would have it on her bio. It’s that simple. You do carry on.

        • Baa Humbug says:

          Obviously you haven’t read any of her work on her blog.

          • bobo says:

            Trust me I have.

            Perhaps you can point me to a single error she has spotted in the published literature? I’m talking non-trivial errors, not typos.

          • David says:

            I don’t go there often. But I just had another look. Superficial as ever. Is there anything you can recommend?

      • Ross says:

        No, but you do have to be a scientist if you want other people to call you a scientist, Don.

  • michael mills says:

    Te way forward is to split the ABC into “entertainment” and news and current affairs. The entertainment can be sold as it is very poor value or give it all to SBS which is far better value for dollar. The news can then be folded into a new ABC with a board of editorial experts with a clear and concise constitution that “legally” requires balanced views be expressed and all allegiances are made prior to the programme starting.

  • chrisl says:

    Nova received a Bachelor of Science first class and won the FH Faulding and the Swan Brewery prizes at the University of Western Australia. Her major was microbiology, molecular biology. Nova received a Graduate Certificate in Scientific Communication from the Australian National University in 1989,[4] and she did honours research in 1990,[5] investigating DNA markers for use in muscular dystrophy trials.[1]
    Et Tu Bobo?
    Et Tu David?

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Can we have a CV for Tony Jones?

      • David says:

        I do not have his CV, but Bettina Arndt has said Tony Jones is the thinking woman’s crumpet. Is that right Margaret?

        • margaret says:

          I prefer his wife : ) – and Bettina Arndt is awful.

          • JimboR says:

            Tony Abbott is a big fan too. She won the AACTA’s Best Documentary Series for The Killing Season (Sarah not Bettina).

          • David says:

            lol. Sarah Ferguson. Agree. She made for compelling viewing on the 7.30 report. I have often thought a box set the “Best of Sarah on the 7.30 Report” would sell like hot cakes at the ABC shop.

        • chrisl says:

          VDon, Bobo raises a good point. If Jo Nova qualifies as a scientist you might as well include the posts to this blog.

          David Do you agree she is a scientist?

          • David says:

            No, do you? For me to hang your single out as a “scientist” you should be developing and publishing some of your own ideas. For example, if you get law degree and then go off and work in PR you are not a lawyer.

          • Ted O'Brien. says:

            JoNova is indeed a scientist, as indicated by comments here. So is her husband Dr David Evans.

    • David says:

      Chrisl, Nova maybe smart. But there is a world of difference between someone who is proficient at synthesizing other’s ideas and someone who can develop their own. Nova has zero publications.

    • bobo says:

      Climate science is a physical science. There is an enormous gap between biology and a physical science. Despite all her years blogging on this matter, she still has fundamental misunderstandings. How can someone make valuable criticisms if they don’t have a clear understanding of what it is that they are criticising?

      Just popping over to her page she has written an extremely emotive diatribe about the February record temperature:

      On display are the usual wrong claims and the shooting of strawmen. There is the characteristic lack of curiosity that climate sceptics display, and an inability to make make a connection between her two key assertions:

      1. “Nothing that happens after 2015 can change the amount of energy that went missing during the Pause that no mainstream modeler predicted”

      2. “The heat [in the troposphere in Feb] wasn’t “global” but was an Arctic, Russian, Alaskan thing… It’s likely the heat has come out of the ocean.”

      The first claim is wrong because the supposed hiatus occurred in the some versions of a lower troposphere temperature satellite record, not in the total energy record in the climate system, which has climbed monotonically since 1998, as the top figure in the following link indicates:

      The second point is partly correct but not in the way she intends. There was no sudden jump in global warming, just a shift in heat from the oceans to the troposphere, the oceans being location of that “missing heat” that she drones on about. There is a huge amount of accumulated energy in the oceans as a result of the net radiative flow into the climate system, and the disgorging of some of that heat into the troposphere – this heat flow was made possible by El Nino – is what was observed in February.

      She probably means in her second point that there was no net increase in thermal energy in the troposphere in February, but that would be wrong; there would be no satellite TLT record for February if her claim was true.

      Apart from veneer there is little that is scientific or even interesting about her blog post; for such a short blog post she still manages to make some simple minded errors that would normally be somewhat surprising for someone who has written so much about climate science.

      • chrisl says:

        Go over and tell her bobo . She likes to be well informed. Don’t snipe from the sidelines.

      • ianl8888 says:

        > There is a huge amount of accumulated energy in the oceans as a result of the net radiative flow into the climate system,

        The Argo buoys (deployed precisely to attempt to measure this) disagree.

        But lack of empirical fact wouldn’t bother you, would it ?

        • bobo says:

          “The Argo buoys (deployed precisely to attempt to measure this) disagree.”

          It’s all well and good have that opinion, but if you want someone to take that a bit more seriously, what you need to do is provide a link to the evidence that supports your claim.

      • Graeme says:

        And Flannery is a climate scientist? Pfft.

  • PeterE says:

    I’ve listened to Margaret Throsby in the past and heard some interesting, well-organized pieces but I no longer listen. I no longer listen to Insiders or Q&A, both irredeemably biased. I turned to the politically-incorrect 2GB (2CC) and find there much accurate reporting and often very good interviews. The tax-payer funded ABC is under tight Leftist control and that has proved impossible to change. I favor selling it or damaging it because it is causing much harm. To judge by the ABC, Australia would seem to be a country in search of its Ceausescu.

    • dlb says:

      You make it sound like the ABC is the mouthpiece of some communist country. I disagree, they are just a group of university trained like minded individuals with a world view which they believe is now fairly mainstream. Progressivism is the Clayton’s religion for the thinking man or woman. Don’t you know the new establishment is running the joint?

  • margaret says:

    Since many of you despise the ABC I wonder what your current affairs choice is now that The Bolt Report is no longer with us.

    • dlb says:

      Hopefully something more in the middle. I have recently come across “Between the Lines” on Radio National, this programme seems to be quite different to the normal ABC offerings.

    • bobo says:

      On the money Margaret, I’m yet to encounter a climate sceptic who is more interested in science than politics

    • JimboR says:

      That should free up a bit of bandwidth on MediaWatch.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      I have no problem with ABC news – I listen to it all the time, and it is of a high standard. The ABC culture, as exemplified by the on-line blogs (The Drum etc) is clearly, and unequivocally, left wing.

    • dasher says:

      Margaret as someone who listens to the ABC every day including Fran kelly Phillip Adams, Green etc etc, I also watch Leigh sales and the ABC news and the insiders. It is not all bad for sure, but as someone who also listened to the first part of Jones and Hadley ..they often lead on issues. I also watch, Sky for Sunday agenda, Chris Kenny’s viewpoint and Rich and Jones plus a few more. I read every day the Australian, Canberra Times and the Telegraph. I also have a number of favourite blogs with included Bolt, Aitken, Curry, De Smog Steyn etc. I have a very sound view of whats on and who is who. There is absolutely no doubt that the ABC is left leaning on politics and social issues…markedly so. This would not bother me if it was not a tax payer funded organisation which does not comply with its own charter and governments seems incapable (gutless?) of correcting this billion dollar echo chamber. If the tables were turned the left in this country would be marching in the streets. The sad thing about all this is that when the ABC gets truly canvasses different opinions the quality of the debar is so mu ch better. Foe example the Insiders were better when Bolt was on. When A agrees with B who agrees with C who agrees with the host I turn off.

  • bobo says:

    “(Plimer, Paltridge, Kininmonth, Franks, Jo Nova, Jennifer Marohasy and the late Bob Carter), plus Lindzen, Curry, Christy, Happer, Spencer, Pielkes Sr and Jr in the USA, Evans in the UK”

    Given that these characters all disagree on some fairly fundamental points, who is correct Don?

    • Old Woman of the North says:

      That is the point – they disagree using facts. If a fact disproves a theory then you start again, not scream at the person who raises a fact.

      The AGW crowd use emotion, ‘the cautionary principle’, scare campaigns, a lot of ‘might, could, maybe’

      and ‘worst case scenarios’. None really have a clue because they choose to ignore a fact if it causes them cognitive dissonance rather than look at the fact and its context to see if there is a truth there.

      • bobo says:

        “If a fact disproves a theory then you start again”

        Which fact disproves what theory? If you have a fact that disproves the climate science, I’m very interested to know what that fact is.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Well, for starters, the models all predicted much greater warming than observations show, and for year after year. The only model that gets close is a Russian one, which does not assume that CO2 causes warming and that climate sensitivity multiplies its effect several times.

          Something is wrong with the climate science. Will that do?

          • bobo says:

            Some problems and unanswered questions with the graph in your link are that:
            – there is no uncertainty displayed for either data set
            – the ensemble of projections is not a probability distribution function. Is the model median the best projection?
            – the data sets are for measurements of different things: surface temperature and satellite TLT aren’t the same. What are the assumptions used in each projection?
            – climate projections give basic information about long term trends (typically 30 years), they don’t pick up much climate variability (aside from volcanoes), and a lot of the disquiet is due to models not matching data temperatures over time periods of about 10 years.
            – Why are 5 year rolling averages used? Why isn’t annual temperature shown as well? How do departures from the ensemble median appear if annual average or 10 year averages are used?
            – why is there such good agreement between data and models in 1983? All sets are identical at this point.
            – An interesting observation is that there is no post-1998 hiatus in the UAH dataset, do the climate sceptics agree with that dataset?

            Some implications from the modelling:
            – the key observation is that projected warming is robust – a warming trend is apparent in all the models, which are to some degree independent
            – the warming trend of the median is pretty close to the observed multidecadal warming trend (~0.15C per decade)

          • bobo says:

            To clarify my point about rolling averages, a 5 year rolling average that takes an average of the five previous years introduces a time delay, so there is a translational bias when comparing the averaged temp data with real time model data.

    • Ross says:

      Checkout Jennifer Marohasy’s new website on her teams brave new world of long term rain forecasting. Beautiful looking website, but utterly surreal to navigate through.
      Like walking through a beautiful apartment building before any one has moved in. Totally empty, other than the bios of her team and how they’re gonna turn the whole world upside down, so amazing will their forecasting be. Like walking through a series of large empty white rooms. Really strange. But I assume that may change when she actually achieves something/anything. August, she says..”hopefully”, she adds. Can’t wait.

  • Neville says:

    The ABC also harms other privately funded left wing media. Just look at how Fairfax has been gutted to try and survive. Why pay for your delusional left wing junk when their taxpayer supported ABC supplies it for free? Still many more journos and ed staff to go. But I will not be crying any hippo croc tears.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s how some of the barking mad fools at the Age respond to logic and reason.

  • David says:

    David: The inflation rate is around double that because you are looking at per capita costs and haven’t allowed for population growth.

    True, so lets round it up to say 3%. Still good value for money.

  • David says:

    Public acceptance that #climate change is human-caused at highest point in 7yrs of polling, says @EssentialVision

    • bobo says:

      Interesting polling, the public is pretty fickle when it comes to opinion on climate change. Generally more people accept that AGW is occurring during an El Nino phase. It was pretty obvious more than a year ago that if Tony Abbott was still PM now he’d come under sustained heavy fire for his anti-science stance on AGW because of the inconvenient fact of an El Nino forecasted during his term. It is still likely that the Libs will be attacked on this during the 2016 election campaign, particularly given that there was another March 2016 Essential poll that shows that 57% of Australians (and 38% of coalition voters) don’t believe that Australia is doing enough to address climate change. Climate research funding cuts to CSIRO, ineffectiveness of Direct Action, the discouragement of the renewable energy sector should all receive air-time from the opposition.

      I had a look at the Nov 2015 polling for the same question. What is interesting to note is that
      – the percentage of the public who believe ACC is occurring has jumped from 56% to 63% in the space of four months; I’m guessing that this is possibly attributable to the surface temp record being broken in 2015, but possibly also due to the unusual late summer/ early autumn warmth.
      – from December 2014 to November 2015, the percentage of public accepting ACC is occurring was fairly stable, fluctuating between 54 and 57%. This indicates that Malcolm Turnbull’s slight defusing of the political partisanship around the science probably didn’t have much of an effect.
      – the percentage of the public who believed that natural fluctuations were being witnessed in the climate dropped from 32% to 27% since November 2015; coalition supporters changed their view from 48% to 42%.
      – the breaking of the global surface temperature record in 2014 didn’t seem to budge public acceptance (in fact it declined) despite there being some extremely hot temperatures in Australia too; perhaps the huge PR/opinion management campaign by climate sceptics in the media to downplay the significance of yet another record being broken in quick succession was successful. However the climate sceptic PR campaigns to downplay the record breaking 2015 global temps have fallen flat: is the public starting to ignore the climate sceptics?

      That said, as soon as La Nina arrives, it’s a virtual certainty that the percentage of the public accepting that ACC is occurring will drop.

      • dlb says:

        Re “the huge PR/opinion management campaign by climate sceptics in the media”
        Where is this Bobo? certainly not at the ABC, Fairfax or the Guardian where the opposite is true.
        “The Australian” is more balanced on the climate debate, but not too many of the public read it.
        Do the Murdoch rags actively promote climate scepticism? As far as I can see commercial television just ignores the issue.

        I’ll agree with one thing though, the public is fickle and bends wherever the wind blows.

        • bobo says:

          In 2013 Wendy Bacon at UTS coordinated a study of AGW acceptance and climate scepticism in Australia’s newspapers. Some of her key findings were:
          – Nearly all of the scepticism is produced by News Corp, which owns 70% of Australia’s print media.
          – The most sceptical publications were The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, and The Australian.
          – 31% of articles were commentary about climate science, most of which did not accept the consensus position.
          – The Herald Sun had the highest proportion of commentary (65% of articles and 81% of word count) and the lowest levels of news (27% of articles and 11% of words).
          – 97% of comment pieces in the Herald Sun either questioned or rejected the consensus position about anthropogenic climate change.
          – Findings highlight the significant role assigned by editors to opinion writers.
          – along with previous research the findings of this study suggest that Australia may have the highest concentration of scepticism in its media in the world.
          For more see

          Tim Lambert ran a series (until Jan 2013) at his website Deltoid devoted to what he called “the Australian’s war on science” where he diligently refuted some of the false claims being made by the Australian:

          Despite its low circulation figures, the Australian has a great deal of importance in the media landscape because it is so well resourced hence other media outlets – which almost invariably are resource poor – follow the Australian’s cues regarding news and public discussion agenda. The Australian never returns a profit, but is seemingly published to further the business interests of News Corp (e.g. regarding NBN, digital free to air TV, media deregulation, the ABC, Google, tax loopholes, content streaming particularly with regards to geo-blocking, illegal downloading of series, Netflix tax etc etc etc) and the political agenda of Rupert Murdoch, which often seems intertwined with the interests of his business. Climate scepticism is a political hobbyhorse of Murdoch as he makes clear on Twitter, and as expected, he has very little understanding of what climate science actually asserts yet has very big opinions on the matter.

  • Neville says:

    Probably the most extreme exaggeration ever tried by an ABC science expert??? is Robyn William’s claim that 100 metres SLR was possible over the next century. This donkey has been the ABC’s Science show presenter for decades and ( unbelievably) still is. Here’s his exchange with Andrew Bolt in 2007.

    But four years later in 2011 he was already 4 metres in error. Remember his claim is a possible 1,000 mm a year or about 40 inches. At the moment that is about 500 times higher PER YEAR than the SLR shown by tide gauges ( max) for the globe and about 316 times PER YEAR for adjusted SAT data. This fool should’ve been laughed out of his job, but left wing loonies care nothing for proper science and integrity . Unbelievable that the taxpayer foots the bill for these stupid fools year after year.

    • bobo says:

      The IPCC AR5-published estimates for sea level rise by 2100 are between 27 and 97 cm compared to the average in 2000.

      Robin Williams may have been confused with equilibrium sea level rise (over thousands of years) if extremely high emissions scenarios eventuate.

  • Neville says:

    More moderation hold ups.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      I’m away from base, and needed a computer to free you from the embrace of moderation. I don’t know why you get held up there, since you not a new visitor. But your comment is up.

  • Neville says:

    Thanks for that Don.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      It may be a WordPress rule that if you give more than a certain number of links your post goes into moderation. I note that you had one with two. Maybe one link is supposed to be enough. I don’t know.

  • Don Amoore says:

    After listening to Throsby’s interview with David Suziki I tried to send this to her but could not get it accepted. – Moderation???

    Dear Margaret, I listened to your interview with David Suziki and see that you are soon interviewing Dr Oreskes. You seem to be becoming rather one sided, and your questions just lead in’s for them. Please read as an example, and perhaps raise this with Oreskes, as you should have with Suziki
    You are in danger of becoming just another purveyor of doom if you do not provide balance.
    There are many eminent scientists who would love to be interviewed by you.
    I could make some suggestions if you asked me to.
    Cheers, Don
    – PS Just love your music

    • bobo says:

      The petition project has no credibility. How much combined climate science expertise do the signatories have? Virtually none.

      Science is not undertaken by signing petitions, what these signatories need to do is to produce a compelling counterexample to the climate science. As yet that has not been done.

      Disliking or being unconvinced by climate science is all well and good, but that’s not the same as falsification of the science. Value judgement-based (normative) reasoning is completely worthless from a scientific perspective, yet it is the basis for climate scepticism (which is of course, distinct from scientific skepticism even though it attempts to masquerade as such).

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        “Science is not undertaken by signing petitions”
        As silly as accepting it is undertaken by consensus.

        • bobo says:

          Actually there is a difference. Literally anyone can sign the Oregon petition, but in a study like Anderegg et al (2010)

          the level of climate expertise of a researcher is assessed along with their stance on AGW by referring to the publication record of that researcher.

          To say the petition project has the same amount of credibility as the Anderegg et al study is delusional nonsense.

          • bryan roberts says:

            The argument is not about the petition. The argument is about your argument.

          • bobo says:

            “The argument is about your argument.”

            So what about my argument is wrong? You “just don’t like it”?

    • David says:


      I think your email requesting that ABC broadcast a program on the musical preferences of denialists, might have gone straight to Spam.

    • Bobby Laing says:

      Don, No need to cite Petition Project regarding Mr Suzuki.

      As outlined in the main body the performance by Mr Suzuki on Q & A is sufficient to discredit the Show Pony and leave him over qualified for the Village Idiot role.
      …David Suzuki’s performance on Q&A last night was extraordinary. I was knock-me-over amazed that he has not heard of UAH, GISS, HADcrut and RSS, and knew nothing of the pause in global surface temperatures that even the UK Met Office and IPCC lead author climate scientists like Hans von Storch are discussing…
      ‘..The cartoon-like responses were incongruous. Should we go nuclear to reduce emissions? Suzuki tosses numbers, evidence, and cost-benefits down a deep well of ignorance: “It’s just crazy”. “What the hell is going on”. “You’ve got sunlight!” “Solar farms could be spread everywhere”. “There is plenty of sunlight beyond anything humanity needs”. The audience member who asked then pointed out we don’t have the batteries to cope with sunless cloudy days. Even Tony Jones asks how realistic solar is. At this first prod, Suzuki throws his hands up in the air, “I don’t know”… Even Tony Jones knew more about climate science than Suzuki did…’

      It went even further downhill from there. No idea that GM is a Scientifically verified issue and that the person he spoke to on the matter was Prof. Stewart Franks, an experienced academic in the field.

      If you wish to critique Mr Suzuki just follow the stupidity coming out of his mouth.
      Thanks to Jo Nova website. A video of the Suzuki Shocker is available from YouTube or Q &A and JoNova.

      • David says:

        “…and knew nothing of the pause in global surface temperatures” What pause is that ?

        • Bobby Laing says:

          … What pause is that ? …
          No need to debate me on this issue. Try The British MET.

          July 2013 – Global mean surface temperatures rose rapidly from the 1970s, but have been relatively flat over the most recent 15 years to 2013. This has prompted speculation that human induced global warming is no longer happening, or at least will be much smaller than predicted. Others maintain that this is a temporary pause and that temperatures will again rise at rates seen previously.

          The Met Office Hadley Centre has written three reports that address the recent pause in global warming and seek to answer the following questions:

          1.What have been the recent trends in other indicators of climate over this period?
          2.What are the potential drivers of the current pause?
          3.How does the recent pause affect our projections of future climate. (Met Office. July 2013)

          I could add The IPCC but how about UNSW and Professor Matthew England and…Heat stored in the western Pacific Ocean, due to an unprecedented strengthening of the equatorial trade winds, appears to be largely responsible for the hiatus in surface warming over the past 13 years… UNSW 10 FEB 2014.

          If you want to deny the consensus science then argue with The Met, IPCC and numerous climate advocate professors and the swathe of Universities which reluctantly but clearly recognised the pause or hiatus.

  • chrisl says:

    “Purveyor of doom ” sums it up rather well
    Repent ye sinners. The end is nigh
    To borrow a phrase.

  • JimboR says:

    Are you guys sure you’re picking on the right program? This entire topic feels a bit like a Caspar Jonquil sketch.

  • Andrew says:

    If by “Evans in the UK” you mean David Evans, I can verify first hand that he’s not in the UK. He’s in the northern suburbs of Perth. In the same house as JoNova. And their 3 kids. Apologies if you have a different prominent sceptic in mind.

  • Maggie says:

    The ABC is incapable of looking at anything important and of being taken seriously.

    It is a propaganda machine for the Left paid for by every one of all political persuasions.

    It is time to sell it or at the very least make it stand on its own two Left feet. Advertising would have it run up the surrender flag I am sure and our budget bottom line screams for sanity and savings so lets begin with your ABC.

  • RSEddie says:

    I have been telling my friends that the only good their ABC does is the “Young Performer of the Year” and sending Fairfax broke. Well, they unforgivably abandoned the Young Performer Awards, but they continue to make good progress on the send ABC broke front.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Spot on, Don!

    As a person with long-time bush commitments I have made it a habit, all my life, of listening to and watching ABC but these days they only make me cringe.

    They should be at least 50% defunded and restricted to rural, preferably non-political, matters.

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Thanks Don

    Agree with your critique. Heard both Naomi Oreskes and Suzuki interviews and had a similar reaction.

    NO has had a good run with her ‘merchants of doubt’ – given doubt is such an important aspect of scientific method.

    Life is full of surprises. How does a person who is “not a climate scientist” – once worked as an exploration geologist for WMC at Olympic Dam in South Australia – end up at the Melbourne Town Hall presenting such an absurd thesis?

    Found myself waking the dog by saying aloud on more than one occasion: “But Naomi, today’s debate has absolutely nothing to do with Big Tobacco or Big Oil. That’s a Big Fib. Margaret, please ask about the REAL issues of controversy here.

    Did, however, learn these interesting FACTS:

    NO’s new book is 2093: a fictional fright-a-page thriller as a narrator-historian [NO] in year 2393 unravels Big Reason behind collapse of western civilisation in 2093. One guess only. Inspired by late Roger Revelle Scripps IO.

    NO’s older brother, Michael, now head of US National Public Radio:

    “Climate change—a topic I hear about from many listeners—is high on the list too, he said, although “it’s a harder story to cover.” On the continuum of stories about “things that blow up” and “stories that ooze,” he said, journalism is better suited to deal with the former “and not as well constructed to deal with things that occur over periods of time,” such as climate change. NPR, he said, will look continue to look for ways to cover the topic “that don’t revolve around events,” including the discussion that will inevitably take place in the presidential race.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    Your ABC certainly thinks so.

    • David says:

      Yes, exactly Spangled Drongo. From the programs like the ABC’s Landline and “Australian Story” we get a long list of politically biased sob stories as to why the Australian tax payer should be forking out for one rural basket case after the next. Tax payer dollars wasted on specialized weather reports and the reporting stock and produce prices.

      I for one and sick of the ABC’s rural bias.

      • David says:

        and Classic FM, don’t start me. The sooner they sell that off and replaces it with another MKR, the better.

  • David says:

    Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie says Australia is now experiencing the consequences of climate change, moving past the time for mere concern. Average global temperatures could be four to six degrees warmer by the end of the century if nothing is done, Ms McKenzie said.

    • bobo says:

      Hopefully things don’t come to this:

      “A study led by Sergei Petrovskii, Professor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Leicester’s Department of Mathematics, has shown that an increase in the water temperature of the world’s oceans of around six degrees Celsius — which some scientists predict could occur as soon as 2100 — could stop oxygen production by phytoplankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.

      About two-thirds of the planet’s total atmospheric oxygen is produced by ocean phytoplankton — and therefore cessation would result in the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale. This would likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”

      I have a feeling climate geoengineering (e.g. large-scale pumping of sulfate aerosols into stratosphere) will be taken much more seriously as a GW-mitigation option in the next few decades. Why? Serious GHG mitigation is opposed by a sufficiently large number of influential decision makers and stakeholders. Additionally, the worse the problem gets, the more the climate sceptics will dig their heels in.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Heaven help us! Did you read the title of the story? ‘Failing phytoplankton, failing oxygen: Global warming disaster could suffocate life on planet Earth’. That’s a classic scary AGW story — and you fell for it.
        Petrovskii didn’t ‘show’ anything. He developed a model that produced a scary result if water temperature increased by 6 degrees C. Which scientists suggest that could happen by 2100? Oh, you don’t know. Nor do I. It seems in the land of fantasy to me.

        • bobo says:

          Nice bite Don. In your eagerness to get in there and weave in a bit of your narrative, you have forgotten to rebut the details/findings of the model; you’ve also assumed that I’m claiming that 6C of warming will occur by 2100.

          I’m not sure if or when sea temps will increase by 6C, I think it’s highly unlikely occur by 2100. We’re probably on track for around 1.3C of global average temps by 2100 by extrapolating the current trends.

          My geoengineering comment is not directly related to a 6C claim, but it is related to ecosystem services becoming more inefficient, particularly if warming really starts to bite in the next few decades. A rise in 1C in average global temps results in a significantly higher rise in land surface temps (factor of 2 or 3? I can’t remember the figure).

      • David says:

        Bobo, I think you are right about the need for geoengineering to rectify the CO2 imbalance down the track. My guess for future energy production is solar plus nuclear fusion. Who knows it might be possible to mine the CO2 from the atmosphere for some useful purpose.

    • Bobby Laing says:

      Ms McKenzie. BA, Politics, History 2001 – 2004.

      2004-2007. LLB(Hons), Emissions trading. Activities and Societies: Law Students Society.

      So Gun Qualified Biologist and Science Communicator is beyond the pale in Climate discussion.

      However, Student in Politics, History and Hack Activist, with a great big dog in the fight, is worth citing. Shame that ’emission trading’ Qualification was taken at Monash as I have heard that The Arthur Daley Centre of Climate Finance Excellence and Wonderfulness runs a well and highly regarded Course in this vital subject.

  • David says:

    Maximum temperature at least 4C above average, from March 1 to 4

    Temps 8 to 12C above average for most of southeast Australia

    Record 39 straight days over 26C in Sydney

    Perth had more 40C days this summer than ever before

    Melbourne had hottest March night on record, at peak of 38.6C

    Canberra had 10 straight days of 30C or more

    Echuca, VIC, and Tocumwal, NSW, sweltered through eight straight days of 38C or more in March, breaking records for any month of the year
    Temperature records shattered around the world, with this January and February hotter than any other.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      David, you parrot this stuff as though it means something. You don’t explain what it means, or why it means anything.

      Is it weather? There are lots of records in the past that haven’t yet been broken, and that suggests that it’s weather. Is it climate, and not weather? If you think so, on what do you base your view? Is Australia the world? If it’s not, why are we fussing about Australian weather, just because we’ve had a hot summer? Shouldn’t we be looking at the world? Oh, the hot stuff was mostly northern hemisphere…

      And to repeat something that has been said again on this website, as far as the records indicate, there has been a gentle rise in temperature since 1850. If that is the case, then records will be broken sooner or later. And even the IPCC is only prepared to argue that the CO2 episode started in 1950 (which is a guess, or if you like, an estimate). What caused the other century of warming?

      • David says:

        “The January 2016 globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 1.04°C (1.87°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F), the highest for January in the 137-year period of record, breaking the previous record of 2007 by 0.16°C (0.29°F). This departure from average is the second highest among all months in the historical record, second only to December 2015, which was 1.11°C (2.00°F) above average.”

        Against this background temperature records of one sort or another are being established almost daily. What evidence do you need Don, to be able to fry an egg on a rock?

      • bobo says:

        There are lots of high temp records being broken with time, the probability is much higher than would be expected if no warming was occurring. It’s consistent with a warming trend underlying the natural variability; it’s inconsistent with the claim “no warming is occurring”.

        “And even the IPCC is only prepared to argue that the CO2 episode started in 1950 (which is a guess, or if you like, an estimate). What caused the other century of warming?”
        What the IPCC is asserting is that long term warming post-1950 can’t be explained by natural causes; for example post-1950 warming can’t be explained by “we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age”.

        Without knowing much about it, the warming from 1850-1950 is likely to have a natural component as well as a GHG component. Referring to figure 1 in
        you can see that sea level rise post-1850 is unprecedented in rate in the last 2500 years; this is suggestive of a unusually fast warming/large forcing; in addition the sea level in 1850 was at a local minimum, so without this “unusually fast warming” the sea level would have risen anyway, but not by anywhere near as much as has occurred.

        • bobo says:

          the probability is much higher than would be expected if no warming was occurring.

          oops, should read:

          the record temperatures are occurring far more frequently than the probability of such a run of records would be if no warming was occurring

    • spangled drongo says:

      Yes but those heat waves of the 1790s and 1890s have been conveniently ignored. And do you think el Ninos are caused by ACO2?

      And what would you suggest would be the average climate natural variability allowable after the longest, coldest period of civilisation?

      • David says:

        Yes, I do think el Ninos are exacerbated by CO2. The current el Nino is the hottest el Nino on record.

        “…average climate natural variability allowable?” Nil.

        I am simply pointing out some “all-time” maximum temperatures. All you need to be able to do is count.

        • spangled drongo says:

          “Yes, I do think el Ninos are exacerbated by CO2.”

          Any evidence for that?

          ‘“…average climate natural variability allowable?” Nil.

          I am simply pointing out some “all-time” maximum temperatures. All you need to be able to do is count.”

          Counting back a few millennia climate changed naturally by 10c in a couple of decades and more recently it changed at the rate of ~ 1c per century.

          Currently we are not warming at half that so ACO2 may not be part of the picture at all.

          But if it is, it’s only minor and possibly a non-problem.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Exactly what is a record? If a previous temperature is exceeded by 0.1 of a degree, the press scream ‘new record’.

  • Anika says:

    Margaret Throsby’s interviews are generally with Left Leaning types. I remember listening to an interview she conducted with Malcolm Fraser who, during the interview, said that he had no ear for music and does not know any. Margaret had to play pieces of music that she thought would be appropriate for Mal. One of them was “Waltzing Matilda”.

    On another occasion, I remember listening to her interview with Bob Hawke. Margaret asked Bob if there was currently any world leader worthy of mention. Bob said no, he did not think so. Margaret still persisted and tried to put words in Bob’s mouth. She asked something like (to the best of my recollections), “Not even Obama?” To his credit, Bob said something to the effect: “Obama has his heart in the right place but he is no world leader.” So we can understand Margaret’s political leanings. Even the the ABC’s FM classical network is politicised. Sell the ABC I say.

  • margaret says:

    Comments seem all askew. Of course AGW is real. The Fox glacier didn’t look like that when I was there in 1998. CAGW is an expression of anxiety in response to scare tactics by purveyors with vested interests but AGW is accelerating the process of climate change and sceptics aren’t doing a service by stonewalling.

  • Ted O'Brien. says:

    Well now, there is genuine climate science, which seeks a better understanding of the climate, and there is the political, “settled climate science” of the AGW alarmism scam. The AGW alarmism scam is indeed the political Trojan Horse that you refer to.

    • bobo says:

      “there is genuine climate science, which seeks a better understanding of the climate”

      Where can I find this genuine climate science? Are you claiming that climate scepticism is a genuine science?

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    With all the warming chatter, some folk seem to have forgotten that in 2015 there was more snow in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, since measurements began 35 years ago; that Southern Australia also had its coldest winter in over quarter of century, with snow in Hobart for first time since 1986, and Antarctic sea-ice at record levels, 8+% above LT average.

    Whatever is happening below 45-50 south latitude, hard to see any anthropogenic global warming finger/footprint here.
    Winter 2015 – “For some it was on the cool side. Victorians shivered through a mean temperature (the average of the maximum and minimum) of just 8.3 °C; the coldest since the last big El Niño year of 1997. Melbournians had the coldest winter in nearly 30 years (1989) and the coldest night in nearly 20 years. Tasmania had its coldest winter in nearly 50 years with a State mean temperature of just 5.8 °C (Table 1).”

    BOM, bless it, put a ‘warming spin’ on the facts, by averaging/homogenising them across the entire country. Good try, guys, but still snow down to sea-level at Clifton Beach near Hobart.. As they say, there are lies, damned lies and weather/climate statistics.

    Southern hemisphere winter this year will be interesting. Watch this space.

  • bobo says:

    JohnB says:
    March 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

    “Except Bobo, the climate science doesn’t make any falsifiable predictions.”
    Here are some examples of falsifiable statements:
    -global warming is occurring
    -the GW occurring is being caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions
    Do you bother to think before you type?

    ” “It will get warmer in some places and cooler in others” is not a falsifiable prediction, it’s not “science”.”
    Please provide a link to that claim in the literature. You’re obviously making it up as you go.

    OTOH, “The Tropical Troposphere will warm faster than the surface” is a falsifiable prediction. If the Tropical Troposphere doesn’t warm faster than the surface, then the theory is wrong or flawed. Is there accelerated warming in the TT Bobo? Oh dear…… ?”

    There’s a bit of chatter about that in comments of Don’s perspective #5 article. There is a paper which claims to have evidence for the “troposphere hotspot”
    The rate of warming of the hotspot is in agreement with what is expected given considerations of the moist adiabatic lapse rate.

  • Don Aitkin says:


    This is really for John B, but I wondered at your first two examples.

    ”global warming is occurring’ Unless you put some time bounds around that statement it is clearly wrong whenever the temperature is less than that of the previous year, and is therefore not only falsifiable but false.

    ‘the GW occurring is being caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions’ Much the same with that one. It needs some time bounds, and even then if there is warming without GHG emissions the statement is at least most dubious ‚ isn’t it? And if there are GHG emissions and no discernible warming, what then?

    • bobo says:

      Regarding the first point (global warming is occurring), you are absolutely correct that it is a falsifiable statement. One just needs to look at data. I do however disagree with the metric that you use for evaluating whether global warming is occurring – you presumably refer to satellite lower troposphere temps. Here’s a long explanation to explain a more correct point of view:

      The key idea is this: an isolated object in a vacuum (think earth in solar system) can only warm or cool by absorbing and emitting/reflecting radiation (assuming no energy production or storage is taking place within the object). It’s important to note that our object always emits radiation because it has a temperature above absolute zero. In the case of the earth, the radiation that is absorbed or reflected almost all comes from the sun.

      There is a result in physics that says that the amount of energy per unit time passing through an imaginary spherical boundary that is outside the object is always the same, regardless of the radius of our imaginary boundary (certain caveats and generalisations apply of course, but are irrelevant for our discussion). Let’s choose such a boundary around the object (say just outside the atmosphere), and suppose that I have a way of determining the rate that radiative energy crosses this boundary, i.e I know how much energy per unit time is entering, and I know how much energy per unit time is leaving. Now we are able to define the most important concept of this whole discipline, what global warming is:

      DEFINITION (!!extremely important!!): Global warming is occurring if there is more radiative energy per unit time entering the imaginary boundary than is leaving. Global cooling is occurring if is there more radiative energy per unit time leaving the imaginary boundary than is entering. If the amount of radiative energy per unit time entering the boundary is the same as that exiting, our object is in thermal equilibrium.

      Indeed satellite measurements show that global warming, defined in this way, is currently occurring. Net flow of radiative energy into the climate system is the most natural metric for determining if, and how much, global warming is occurring.

      So what happens to that radiative energy that is entering the climate system? Energy readily transforms to different forms. If a substance absorbs radiation, then that radiation is transformed to a more vigorous jostling of atoms; there is an increase in random kinetic energy (aka thermal energy) in the object. Positive change in temperature is just an index of thermal energy accumulation in the object. This is encapsulated as a result from physics:

      PROPOSITION: If there is a net flow of radiative energy per unit time into the boundary, then the object must be accumulating thermal energy. If there is a net flow of radiative energy per unit time exiting the boundary, then the object is losing thermal energy.

      How large the temperature increase of some matter is – given a fixed increase in thermal energy – is dependent on a property of the substance known as heat capacity:

      change in temp = change in thermal energy divided by heat capacity

      EXAMPLE: 1kg of air at say atmospheric pressure has a much lower heat capacity than 1kg water, so for a fixed change in thermal energy (say 1J), the air will increase in temperature much more than the water will.

      So what’s the point of this?
      This way of thinking is deceptively powerful, because if my object of interest is made up of lots of different components with different heat capacities (e.g. land, ocean, atmosphere etc), I can tell you the total amount of energy that the object has absorbed. How? By measuring the change in temperature of each component, I can determine how much thermal energy must have accumulated in that component – and here is the important point – then I just add together the thermal energies for all the components. In the sciences thermal energy is known as an extensive property because it has this additive property, while temperature is intensive: if I take away some part of an object at a certain temperature, the temperature of the object will remain the same.

      In reality, things are a bit more complicated: for example a parcel of air of fixed volume in the atmosphere has a heat capacity that depends on the pressure (hence altitude), but mathematically this is not a problem, we just use integration instead of discrete sums. Additionally, we need to use kriging to fill in all the gaps in our temperature field between measurement points.

      In the case of our object, instead of saying “earth”, let’s be more precise and say “climate system”. The climate system is composed of the following five components: atmosphere, water, ice, land, biosphere. Using the procedure above, temperature measurements of the climate system’s components can be converted to the total thermal energy content of the climate system. Total energy accumulation is another excellent metric for determining whether global warming is occurring, due to the following physical result:

      PROPOSITION: If the object of interest is accumulating thermal energy, then there must be more radiative energy per unit time entering the external boundary than is leaving. If thermal energy is declining, more radiative energy per unit time is leaving the external boundary than is entering.

      That is, if the total thermal energy content of the climate system is increasing, then by implication global warming is occurring: there must be a radiative imbalance, i.e. more radiative energy must be entering the climate system per unit time than is leaving.

      As we see in the top figure of

      the climate system is almost monotonically accumulating thermal energy. Hence we have another line of evidence that shows that global warming is occurring. Some results follow immediately from our last proposition:

      COROLLARY: The heat capacity of the oceans is much larger than the heat capacity of the rest of the climate system combined (heat capacity is an extensive property), so in general, to evaluate whether global warming is occurring, it suffices to only consider whether the oceans are accumulating thermal energy.

      COROLLARY: Because significant increases (decreases) in global sea level over non-geological time periods are essentially caused by thermal expansion (contraction) and ice melt (land ice formation negligible on these time scales), global sea level rise (decline) indicates that global warming (cooling) is occurring.

      The benefit of adding together all the energy is that we don’t get confused by subcomponents or localities within the climate system cooling down or with plateauing temperatures. We realise that thermal energy flows like a fluid (heat) within and between components and isn’t well-mixed; all that matters is the total amount and whether or not that is accumulating. You can have a lot of thermal energy accumulating in one component, like the ocean, for a while and another component, say lower troposphere temperatures may seemingly stagnate for a bit. If you think the lower troposphere temp is the measure of global warming, a spike like in Feb 2016 is very mysterious and it appears that “global warming was plateauing and then suddenly jumped”. This is not the case at all, all that has occurred is that some thermal energy has flowed from the oceans to the troposphere, while global warming has just kept occurring smoothly the whole time in the background. That said, if enough thermal energy flows into the atmosphere from the ocean, for a brief period of time (~ 1 year) more radiative energy per unit time will leave the climate system than will enter, i.e. global cooling will occur.

      How does this relate to other metrics such as global surface air temperature? If the climate system is accumulating thermal energy over long periods, then over time some mixing occurs so we would expect long term warming trends underlying the natural variability in many components. Therefore, if there is long term cooling (30 years) in a major component such as the global surface air layer, probability considerations and the properties of heat flow imply that global warming is unlikely to be occurring.

      • David says:

        Really nice post Bobo

      • Don Aitkin says:

        As David says, an interesting long summary. But you haven’t put a time bound around your statement. Has this arrangement that you propose (which looks sensible to me, given my understanding of the physics) been in place since a particular date? Or has it always been like this? After all, the world has been warming for 150 + years or so. Before that, what happened? So far as the evidence tells us, the world was much colder, especially in the 17th century.

        And I don’t have to rely on lower troposphere measurements. Any will do. They show periods when there seemed to be no warming. And you have no real evidence that all the heat has gone into the oceans. That’s a supposition. Yes, I do know that the oceans contain much more, very much more, heat than the atmosphere.

        What you have done is to shift from your bald statement to a theoretical account of the climate energy system which does not, as it happens, show that your bald statement is correct.

        • bobo says:

          “you haven’t put a time bound around your statement.”

          There is no time bound around this notion of global warming. You know instantly whether global warming or global cooling is occurring if you know the present amount of radiative energy per unit time entering the climate system and you know the amount of radiative energy per unit time exiting. You do a subtraction and that gives you the current figure – the sign tells you if global warming or cooling is occurring.

          With the total thermal energy content of the climate system, you take the derivative (slope). A positive slope means global warming is occurring. A negative slope means global cooling is occurring. If you have up to date information you can make an immediate assessment.

          “Has this arrangement that you propose (which looks sensible to me, given my understanding of the physics) been in place since a particular date? Or has it always been like this? After all, the world has been warming for 150 + years or so. Before that, what happened? ”
          This notion of global warming has always been thus. Going back in time, all we need to do, as one of the corollaries stated, is look at sea level rise (I should have mentioned that rate of sea level rise is directly dependent on rate of warming). Positive sea level rise => global warming is occurring. Negative sea level rise => global cooling is occurring. My new favourite figure shows sea level back to 2500 years, we can basically interpret this as a graph of radiative balance: positive slope => net radiant energy in. negative slope=> net radiative energy out. See figure 1 at

          From this we see that 1400, 1850 were cold, but 1600 was quite warm. We also see that the Medieval Warm Period was not global in extent: global cooling occurred occurred during this period.

          “And I don’t have to rely on lower troposphere measurements. Any will do. They show periods when there seemed to be no warming.”
          Sure, but you can have a period of no apparent warming in say the global surface temp record (or say Sydney) while the total thermal energy of the system is going up. The thermal energy is just accumulating in different places in an uneven way: the thermal energy is never well-mixed. These mixing issues disappear if the total thermal energy in the climate system is considered.

          “And you have no real evidence that all the heat has gone into the oceans. That’s a supposition.”
          There is evidence: check the graph of total thermal energy in the climate system that I posted in my long comment. The slope is the measure of how fast heat is absorbing into each component. The slopes need to be subtracted from one another because the graphs are stacked, but you can see the land, atmosphere, ice have pretty small slopes, while the upper and deep oceans have very steep slopes, i.e. most heat per unit time is going into the oceans.

          “What you have done is to shift from your bald statement to a theoretical account of the climate energy system which does not, as it happens, show that your bald statement is correct.”
          Presumably by bald statement you mean “GW is occurring”. For a long time I have thought of global warming in terms of the radiative budget of the climate system and total thermal energy content. That figure of total thermal energy content – I have pasted that on this blog since the first day I commented. No shifts have taken place at all, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.
          As for evidence, just look at the trend of the total energy plot and the error bars – there is no clearer evidence that global warming is occurring. I guess what is different is that I have more carefully elucidated the reasoning.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I’m not much taken with the RealClimate grape, and where did the 5-6mm from satellite observations come from? I don’t think you can use this as a proxy for the radiative balance of the system. It’s all inference from sea levels, and there are many other measurements there which don’t accord with your hypothesis.

          • Ross Handsaker says:

            Bobo, you say “We also see that the Medieval Warm Period was not global in extant. Global cooling occurred during this period.”
            Have you considered whether this is also occurring in the current warm period. For example, there have been reports from NASA and MIT that Antarctica has been cooling in recent years while there are places in USA which were warmer in the 1930’s than today.
            Also, around 5 years ago I searched our BOM web site for weather stations which had continuous records going back to 1910 and which had not changed their location. 68 such stations were found. The average minimum/maximum temperatures for the period 1911-1940 for each of the stations were compared with those for period 1981-2010. Of the 68 stations, 8 had a lower (cooler) average temperature for the 1981-2010 period. Incidentally, the average overall warming between the two periods was 0.45 deg.C, which is around half that claimed by the BOM.

      • JimboR says:

        Don, what are your views on the net energy balance into the bubble-in-space we call Earth? It seems a pretty fundamental part of the equation. Regardless of where that energy ends up, and whether or not it causes continuous temperature rises here or there, what do you think will be the long term impact of that imbalance, or do you not accept the imbalance exists?

    • David says:

      Don. really. To try and argue, as you do, that because there is not a perfect concordance between time and temperature, or temperature and CO2 that this somehow undermines the AGW hypothesis comes across as someone who is clutching at straws to support a failing argument. Bobo has given you a really thoughtful and patient response. I hope you appreciate it.

      To which I would add, yes you need some time bounds, that is why they call it Time Series analysis.

    • JimboR says:

      Wow, science has come to town! Thank-you for taking the time and effort bobo. My only concern is that it will be forever lost deep in the comments section about an essay on a radio segment on Classic FM.

      Don, is this approaching the standard you requested for a guest essay? I think it would make an excellent counterpoint if you were to publish it right alongside your Perspective series as an alternate viewpoint. Then your intelligent readership could decide for themselves which is the more convincing.

      • bobo says:

        Thanks Jimbo, much appreciated.

        I’m happy for this comment to form the basis of a guest post if Don gives the big ok – I can see lots of ways of improving it though, making it more compact (e.g. net radiation in if and only if thermal energy is increasing) and sharper, adding more about satellite measurements (e.g. NASA’s CERES program), in particular I’m interested in finding out how much agreement there is between the radiative imbalance as measured by satellites and the total thermal energy in the climate system.

        Perhaps – at risk of bogging it down with too much tangential detail – it’s worth making mention of a bunch of issues I sidestepped – for instance some of the other energy transformations that can occur.

        I’d be very appreciative if you, David, Don and others can point out any faults or unclear reasoning or things that need to be elaborated if Don is happy for this to be posted in a more polished form.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          As below, I’m happy for you to work on it for publication here. It might be useful if you begin by pointing out how you came to write it — as a comment on something else. In this case it was a comment by JohnB (whose name doesn’t need to be mentioned). Try to keep it all below 1200 words, and don’t try and pack in too much other material — you’ll lose readers..

          • bobo says:

            Thanks Don, I will try to get a polished version to you next week after Easter. I’ll address any questions and concerns that seem significant or interesting. Slice and dice please people!

      • Don Aitkin says:

        I’ve suggested to bobo that he (she?) go right ahead. With all due respect, I think I should decide what happens to to it after it has been published.

  • bobo says:

    Regarding the second statement that anthropogenic GHGs are causing the observed global warming (I’ll keep this brief!) you say

    “if there is warming without GHG emissions the statement is at least most dubious ‚ isn’t it?”
    Sure, but again it is a falsifiable statement: the global warming mentioned in the first statement has a cause, the assertion that this warming is nearly all caused by AGHGs is either correct or incorrect.

    “And if there are GHG emissions and no discernible warming, what then?”
    If there are GHG emissions but no long term global warming is occurring, and if we know that there is no net cooling occurring due to other forcings, then we have evidence that GHG emissions do not cause global warming: that would be a clear falsification.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Your defence is the classic one described by Feyerabend. Build a wall of protective hypotheses around the central one. Now we have to deal with ‘no net cooling occurring due to other forcings’. If I go down that track, you’ll propose a third.

      • bobo says:

        You seem to misunderstand. The radiative forcing due to CO2 is about +2W/m^2. If, for example, there was a large eruption from a volcano with an ejection column that reached the stratosphere, there would be several years of global cooling due to sulfate aerosols, because the radiative forcing of the sulfate aerosols would be <<-2W/m^2. That global cooling would not imply that GHG global warming wasn't coming back.

        Did I falsify Feyerabend? Or is that not possible?

        • Don Aitkin says:

          It is hard to falsify Feyerabend! I’m interested in what you are saying, and am happy for you to prepare it for publication here. I think you are overanalysing my questions, or my comments. From what date are you confident that you can say that warming has occurred from this time, without any cooling period? And why that date?

          • bobo says:

            Don, looking at the total energy graph, you can see that in about 1998-99 global cooling occurred. A short period of global cooling is expected to accompany a large El Nino, for reasons I explained in the long comment. Monotonic warming has occurred since then (obviously there is some level of uncertainty associated with that, but just going by the plot).

            General warming has occurred throughout the whole period on the graph (1971 onwards).. There are short-term global cooling fluctuations, some like El Nino and volcanoes are natural fluctuations, others such as the ocean fluctuation pre-Argo are probably due to poorer sampling distribution. So you are correct, some time considerations still need to be made, but the fluctuations are small compared to the slope of the total energy plot (as opposed to surface T for example – large fluctuations compared to underlying slope). I’ll have a think about a statistical time constraint that is analogous to the 30 year period for surface temps for example, but already you can guesstimate that much less than 30 years is required to establish whether there is a natural warming trend underlying natural variability.

            Given rising sea levels are a rough proxy for global warming (ie net radiative energy into climate system), we know that long term global warming started in about 1850 and continues to today. Early on there were probably natural as well as GHG forcings, but natural contributions can’t explain any long term global warming that has happened after the mid-20th century.

  • margaret says:

    Wow now we’re really getting somewhere – yes we’re close and next week it’ll be all fixed – no more AGW it was all a silly imaginative fancy like science fiction. Don you can concentrate on important issues now.

  • bobo says:

    “I’m not much taken with the RealClimate grape, and where did the 5-6mm from satellite observations come from? I don’t think you can use this as a proxy for the radiative balance of the system. It’s all inference from sea levels, and there are many other measurements there which don’t accord with your hypothesis.”

    You’re correct that I should be more careful – I should explicitly state that IF WE ASSUME that significant sea level rise is caused by thermal expansion and ice melt, then sea level rise implies net radiative input into the climate system. In other words, with this assumption the only reason sea level would rise is because the climate system is accumulating energy, hence there must be net radiative input into the climate system. Given the assumptions this is a sensible claim because most of the energy accumulating in the climate system is doing so in the ocean, and some melting of cryosphere is expected as well.

    Of course there are scenarios where something different might be happening, for example:
    – slight global cooling or radiative equilibrium accompanied by a period of regional warming in say Antarctica: oceans may thermally contract slightly (or do nothing thermally) but receive a lot of ice melt, so sea level may rise.
    – a period of slight global warming or radiative equilibrium might be accompanied by sufficiently large snow falls (transferral of water from oceans to land masses) so that sea levels drop.

    To work out how probable scenarios like these are, and how reasonable sea level is as a proxy, I’ll poke around in the literature; hard numbers are needed.

    Re your comment about the 5-6mm, I’m not clear what you mean; that translates to less than 2 years of sea level rise at this point in time.

  • bobo says:

    Ross Handsaker
    “Bobo, you say “We also see that the Medieval Warm Period was not global in extant. Global cooling occurred during this period.”
    Have you considered whether this is also occurring in the current warm period. For example, there have been reports from NASA and MIT that Antarctica has been cooling in recent years while there are places in USA which were warmer in the 1930’s than today.”

    Ross, I’m just going by that graph of sea level rise that was posted on Real Climate – during most of the period of the Medieval Warm Period the sea level actually dropped. If we assume that the data is good, this is the opposite of what we should expect for a period of global warming: thermal expansion of the oceans and ice melt should have produced sea level rise. Re dipolar warming/cooling occurring currently, I think we can avoid these issues if we talk about total energy accumulation, because warming in one location is translated to an local change in energy; this is “cancelled out” by the energy decline in the other location. Also top of atmosphere measurements conducted by the CERES program show that there is a net flow of radiative energy into the climate system, so generalised warming is occurring; which matter and where is another question though.

    “Also, around 5 years ago I searched our BOM web site for weather stations which had continuous records going back to 1910 and which had not changed their location. 68 such stations were found. The average minimum/maximum temperatures for the period 1911-1940 for each of the stations were compared with those for period 1981-2010. Of the 68 stations, 8 had a lower (cooler) average temperature for the 1981-2010 period. Incidentally, the average overall warming between the two periods was 0.45 deg.C, which is around half that claimed by the BOM.”

    1) If there is a net radiative input into the climate system (ie global warming), then some stuff somewhere is warming up, but it’s not necessarily the case that this warming is occurring everywhere uniformly. If we look at large numbers of data sets of various sorts such as the BOM data you mention, but also glacier data, oceans, lower atmosphere, ice sheet extent etc etc etc we should see that in general (i.e. more often than not) there are warming trends in data sets, but a minority of data sets will show no trend or possibly even some cooling. By looking at large numbers of data sets we are catching warming/cooling behaviour in many localities and that gives us a reliable indication as to whether global warming or cooling is occurring. On the other hand, if global cooling was occurring, most data sets would show cooling trends, although a minority would show no trends or warming. The key principle here is that it pays to look at as much data as possible; total energy in climate system figures actually add together all the temperature data (converted to energy) for all the components so it presents a very direct metric as to whether or not warming is occurring.

    Specifically regarding the difference in warming trends between BOM and your measurements, I’m not sure I understand. Is the BOM average you mention a nationwide average or just for the stations you mention? Are you referring to the difference between say raw and homogenised data?

    • Ross Handsaker says:

      “Are you referring to the difference between say raw and homogenised data?” This seems the most likely explanation.

      I am intrigued by your statement that CERES data show there is a net flow of radiative energy into the climate system. NOAA data for total (not just the equatorial regions) OLR leaving the top of the atmosphere show an overall increase since 2002.

  • […] per cent’ figure is supported by three different published articles, with a forerunner by Naomi Oreskes, about whom I wrote a little while ago. In 2004 she looked at 928 abstracts of articles in the […]

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