I have offered to provide some alternate advice to the Minister, with respect to the ACT Climate Change Council, but so far my offer has not been taken up. Still, I have learned to wait more or less patiently in such affairs, and in the meantime I am boning up on the questions that I might ask the Council, or indeed any body that thinks it has all the answers in the domain of ‘climate change’. They are the sort of questions that anyone can put to a self-proclaimed expert in this area.

I set them down some years ago, when I was especially irritated by one of the ‘experts’, and the grand way in which those of us who had questions to ask were simply dismissed, and our questions waved away. They are still relevant, and I suggest some explanations, as well.

1. If the science is so settled, and the evidence is so powerful, why can’t we just be shown it? (One reason is that the evidence is not strong, and the link to human activity is no stronger. The basis for the scares rests on the scenarios of future climate done for the IPCC. These scenarios do not work at a local scale, despite many efforts to suggest they do. Whether they work at a global scale is also doubtful. They have been quite inaccurate in predicting the continuing stasis in warming.)

2. Why has there been such denial of provision of the supposedly supporting data? (The data allegedly behind many of the central articles in this field, and much of the raw data showing temperature anomalies, are not available for replication, or have been ‘lost’. When attempts to gain the data through FOI have been made, the hosts, universities for the most part, have refused to accept their legal responsibilities.)

3. Why do the major journals in ‘climate science’ not insist that data and procedures be made available for replication by other, as a condition of publication? (This is standard practice in most experimental fields.)

4. Why have all the ‘adjusted’ data that we have been able to see show a stronger warming trend than given by the raw data themselves? (Those for Australia can be very odd in this respect. You would expect, over the long haul, that there would be about even numbers of cooling and warming consequences from what are said to be technical adjustments of one kind or another. I’ve never heard of any that show a cooling trend.)

5. Why did those at CRU in the UK, and their allies in the USA, work to prevent papers that disagreed with their own position from being published, and to get rid of editors who stuck to their guns? (All that is there for all to see in the so-called Climategate emails.)

6. Why won’t anyone in the warming camp argue, in a public forum, against those more sceptical? (Manning Clark House, with which I am connected, once put on a ‘climate change’ seminar in which all three speakers were from the warming camp. When I asked why that was so, it was explained to me that the speakers, all scientists from the ANU,  didn’t want to have any critics there, because they would only get in the way of the message!)

7. Why won’t governments shift from the almost inane attack on ‘carbon’ into a serious look at adaptation to climate change, however it is caused? Australia has experienced systematic and large-scale droughts and fires over the last 150 years, and periods of deluges and flooding as well, but we don’t do very much to prepare for the next ones. (I think that the shift towards adaptations is beginning, at least rhetorically.)

8. Why don’t we spend much more money than we do on measuring the basic data more thoroughly — about which Ian Castles, a former Australian Statistician, was insistent. The data points for Australia are very spotty, and those for the southern hemisphere are laughable (it’s mostly water), but we treat the numbers as holy writ. We shouldn’t.

9. Why has there been such denunciation of those who ask these inconvenient questions? (A book can be written in response, and indeed many books have been written.)

The core of the problem is that governments can’t admit to having been wrong, which is why it is so useful for governments to be replaced from time to time. In opposition, political parties can think again. Government have to keep on doing what they were doing, and saying what they were saying, because so much depends on their decisions. Back-tracking is expensive financially and in terms of reputation.

I wrote a couple of rather gloomy pieces about Australian democracy recently, but one of its great virtues is that it is possible for Australians to turf out a government when enough of them have decided that they want something else. They don’t even have to be right; they simply have the power, and it is that power, I think, that safeguards us from tyranny.

Meanwhile, I am sympathetic to the ACT Government in its dilemma. It has a body with a name that seemed right a few years ago, but is likely to be a bit of a dead weight now and in the future. There are still people out there who think  ‘climate change’ is the most important issue facing everyone, but their numbers are declining, if opinion polls are any guide.

The Government won’t abolish the body, because that would make it sound like the Abbott Government (hiss). But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Council did in time undergo a name change…

  • DaveW

    Whenever I think of the ACT, I remember the Sky Whale and its rationalizations. Good luck getting a minister to pay any attention to your entirely reasonable list of questions.

    I think your points 7 and 8 are your strongest and 4 is worth fighting for, but I’d combine the others into something concise but general about the failure of climate science to follow traditional scientific practices, especially the unwillingness to vigorously test their predictions/forecasts against real world data, abstain from ad hoc adjustments, consider alternative hypotheses, or be transparent with data and code. These are all part and parcel of the same problem – advocacy science. Climate ‘scientists’ already know the answer, are impervious to falsification and cannot be expected to advance the understanding of the climate. All we have gotten for our research funding is an unending variation on ‘it’s worse than we thought.’ Listing failed predictions may be a good way to get this point across.

    Also, what has the ACT and the rest of Australia gotten out of the money already spent on climate change research? Were are the benefits? What are the technological innovations that have come out of this research? How much better can we predict the next flood, fire or drought? Do we need the desalination plants we’ve built? Has there been any cost/benefit analysis?

    I think that it is also worth asking why (in reference to your Q7), if the science is settled, do we need to go on funding climate change research? If CO2 is the climate control knob, then we know all we need to know and should be directing our energies toward mitigating future extremes in the weather.

    Anyway, good luck.

  • DaveW

    Addendum:

    Here’s an interesting cost/benefit area to explore from Jo Nova:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2014/07/97-percent-of-australian-renewables-i nvestment-dries-up-without-subsidies-so-the-abc-gives-free-adverts-to- the-industry/

    The renewable energy sector in Australia employs 24,000 people, almost as many as the oil and gas industry, but produces only 6% of Australia’s energy compared to 60% for oil and gas. How much is renewables costing the tax payer per unit energy compared to oil and gas?

    Is the 1% wind and solar (fully costed) a fair return on a tax dollar compared to the relatively clean burning natural gas or very low carbon hydroelectricity?

    If we need to reduce our burning of coal, would increased use of natural gas be more cost efficient than wind/solar? Is it even reasonable to think that we can afford to build enough wind and solar to ever produce a significant drop in the burning of coal?

    There seem to be a lot of basic questions in this area that aren’t being asked or the results not being discussed. For example, what is the relative impact of increased wind vs increased natural gas on flora and fauna? It seems that only two studies are available for wind farms and fauna, one for bats and one for birds, and only for Tasmania (and for some reason the papers were published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology). The ABC has an Occam’s Razor from the lead author, Dr Cindy Hull of Hydro Tasmania called “Wind farm researcher debunks bird ‘myths’”. Yes she does, she debunks the myth that only raptors are killed by wind farm rotors – 20% of the species in her study were killed by rotors and these tended to be the ones that flew in the area swept by the rotors. Good news is that wedgies can learn to avoid the rotors (but a lot don’t get the chance: about 2 eagle carcasses were recovered per year at the 2 farms surveyed over a 10 year period, 21 dead eagles, mostly wedgies: an unknown number was not recovered).
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/5046460

    Here’s an area of research critical for understanding the effects of wind farms on Australian habitats that is essentially being ignored in Australia in favour of “it’s worse than we thought” handwaving about how horrible it may be for some species some time in the future.

  • Dasher

    Good questions…to be pedantic some could be merged …no big deal. For my ten cents I have always marvelled at the way tipping points (I understand the point at which no amount of remedial action will prevent the world climate spirally out of control) come and go with no challenge or comment to the person(s) who announced the TP. A bit like the guy with the sandwich board proclaiming “the end is nigh 1 July 2014″, when this fails to materialise the sandwich board is revised to read “the end is nigh 1 July 2015″

  • Lysander

    Even the most ardent Global Warmist (GW) who says May and June this year were hottest on record ever and last year was hottest since 2002 (as news reported recently) should admit that therein lay a problem: Cooling.

  • David

    Question1: You have been.

    Question 2: There is not.

    Question 3: They do

    Question 4: They do not.

    Question 5: No comment

    Question 6: They do.

    Question 7: Adaptation will be
    more costly.

    Question 8: Coalition government
    does not believe in AGW and currently in a cost-cutting phase.

    Question 9: There has been no denunciation
    of skeptical questions but disagreement with the analysis of many skeptics. .

    I hope you find this helpful.

    • Don Aitkin

      David,

      Your response is not helpful, but helpless. You simply assert without any evidence whatever, and the last question you failed to read properly: why is there such denunciation of the questioners, not the questions?

      So, give me any example, other than my own forays in Canberra and Melbourne, of any public debate in Australia between the orthodox and sceptics. Give me one example of what you think is strong evidence for the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, and over a proposed period of time. Please provide me with three examples of journals that publish ‘climate science’ and insist on the provision of data, code and procedures to allow replication. And so on.

      If it’s so easy to simply deny what I have written you must be able to provide powerful support at once.

      • David
        • Don Aitkin

          There is nothing in the link you provided that shows the IJC’s insisting that authors provide data, code and procedures. It is silent on all that. The RMS does.

          I responded to your comment about Judith Curry two days ago, at the place where you made it.

          • David

            Yes there is

            Paragraph 2.2:

            Therefore, a condition of publication in a Royal Meteorological Society journal is that authors are REQUIRED, if requested, to make materials and data promptly available to readers where it is possible to do so under the restrictions of institutional or third party licensing
            agreements. Any restrictions on the availability of materials or information must be disclosed to the Editor at the time of submission.

            Now compare with Nature

            “An inherent principle of publication is that others should be able to replicate and build upon the authors’ published claims. Therefore, a condition of publication in a Nature journal is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers
            without undue qualifications. Any restrictions on the vailability of materials or information must be disclosed to the editors at the time of submission. Any restrictions must also be disclosed in the submitted manuscript, including details of how readers can obtain materials and information. If materials are to be distributed by a for-profit company, this must be stated in the paper. “

            http://www.nature.com/authors/policies/availability.html
            So both Journals have a general expectation that data will be available, but with some scope for the Editor to show latitude.
            In my view your argument is weak.

          • Don Aitkin

            I give up. The link you provide me with for the ICJ contains no numbered paragraph 2.2. I agreed that the RMS contains such a statement.

      • David

        Don
        You love to bandy around the word catastrophic. The criteria for public intervention is not whether there a looming “catastrophe”. If we waited for that level of evidence we would never do anything. For example do we need evidence of a catastrophe to provide a garbage service or public education? No.
        Intervention is warranted when the marginal benefit out ways the marginal cost.
        Where is your evidence that an ETS has been catastrophic?. Has the carbon tax been catastrophic? Has a the RET been catastrophic? Has solar hot water been catastrophic? Obviously not.

        • Don Aitkin

          You need to read about the history of global warming as a scare. Go to Darwall’s book. Remember the 1992 Rio conference. We were indeed told that catastrophe awaited humanity if we didn’t curb the use of fossil fuels — in fact, get rid of them altogether. I don’t bandy the word around — it’s everywhere in the scary world of AGW. In fact, I don’t use it much at all, because I think that it is without scientific substance.

          Your questions are red herrings, because no Australian government, or any other government, has agreed that catastrophe awaits us, whatever the UN and the IPCC say. What governments do, as I have written several times, is to respond to what they see as an electoral wish that they do something. The carbon tax would not have made any discernible difference to global temperature, even if it had been set at $100 a tonne.

          • David

            Don

            You wrote

            “…no Australian government, or any other government, has agreed that catastrophe awaits us”

            Exactly! So don’t try and attribute this to me either, with a statement like .

            “Give me one example of what you think is strong evidence for the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, and over a proposed period of time.”

            It is quite possible to accept AGW and believe intervention is warranted without necessarily believing AGW will result in a “catastrophe”.
            As you well know “catastrophe” is a very subjective term that can mean a lot of different things to different people. So I avoid it.

          • Don Aitkin

            I was wrong anyway. Rudd said that ‘climate change’ was the most important social, economic and something else challenge that humanity faced (which at least implies something really serious) and Brown and Blair said equivalent things in the UK, while Obama goes on saying how important it is, without quite saying that catastrophe will overtake the US unless everyone agrees with him.

            But do read Darwall’s book, and summon up the hysteria of Rio.

      • David

        Don

        “why is there such denunciation of the questioners, not the questions?”

        Re read what I wrote.

        “There has been NO denunciation of skeptical questions but DISAGREEMENT with the analysis of many sceptics.”

        • Don Aitkin

          Again you seem to miss the point. I asked ‘Why has there been such denunciation of those who ask these inconvenient questions?’

          You say ‘There has been no denunciation of skeptical questions but disagreement with the analysis of many skeptics.’

          This is neither an answer nor a counter to what I asked. There has indeed been abundant denunciation of people who ask inconvenient questions, who are called ‘deniers’ or told that they ‘know nothing of science’, or that they are ‘shills in the pay of Big Oil or Coal’.

          And the questions themselves are sometimes described as ‘irrelevant’, or that they have already been dealt with at Skeptical Science or some other temple of Enlightenment. I have been told more than once that it is not my place to ask such questions, because I am not a climate scientist, and couldn’t therefore understand the answer.

          • David

            Sorry Don,

            Yes I misunderstood. When you wrote

            “You simply assert without any evidence whatever, and the last question you failed to read properly: why is there such denunciation of the questioners, not the questions?”

            I thought you were saying that I said there was

            “denunciation of the questioners, not the questions?”

            So this is in fact a Question 10.

            Yes the debate is intense at time. You are hardly in the position to start complaining. You have made some pretty intemperate statements yourself from time to time. You have described AGW research as “ludicrous” and make sweeping statements about the abilities of researchers who support AGW hypothesis to use and interpret statistics.

            As they say “Pot” and “Kettle”