I did not watch the celebrated Q&A program in which Brian Cox, an astrophysicist and science communicator, had an argument with Malcom Roberts, the recently elected Senator who is apparently responsible for the ‘climate change’ policies of One Nation. I’ve watched a couple of these Q&A programs in the past, but felt that they were so manipulated and stacked that one would rarely get any value from them (apparently, however, there was a good one on Shakespeare last week). I did see extracts from the Cox/Roberts program, but that is all. I think Q&A is a good example of the peculiar ideology of the ABC, the assumption that all reasonable, right-thinking people would share the position of the presenter, and that of the ABC itself.

The program so irritated one viewer, a PhD called Graham Woods, that he wrote a long piece for Quadrant Online, which you can read here. It is literate and reasonable. He raises a number of interesting issues. Cox is not a climate scientist, but apparently spoke in assured tones of the absolute consensus about things climatic. He apparently also brought with him some graphs, which suggested that he had been given some riding instructions (that may not have been the case); no one else had any graphs. Woods felt that since Cox was not a climate scientist he should have made that clear, and that he had an obligation to confine those dimensions to those about which there can be very little doubt whatever: dimensions or facts that any intelligent non-specialist could, in principle, discover for herself. Here are some of them, the first and second groups surely safe from dispute by any climate scientist:

  • Planet Earth is a dynamic planet in a dynamic solar system: thus climate change is, now and for millions of years to come, inevitable and unstoppable. In the absence of climate change, life as it exists on our planet simply wouldn’t.
  • Our global climate system is almost incomprehensibly complex: across geological time and into the present affected interactively by the sun; the moon; possibly by some of the larger planets; by tectonic plate movement; volcanic activity; cyclical changes in the earth’s oceans; changes in the quantum and distribution of the earth’s biomass; changes in greenhouse gases that themselves are the result of changes in more underlying factors; by changes in the earth’s tilt and solar orbit; probably by changes in the earth’s magnetic field; and possibly by some other non-anthropogenic factors that at present scientists either don’t know about or whose impact they haven’t yet fully appreciated.
  • ‘Consensus’ means ‘majority view’; majority views can be egregiously wrong (witness the work of apostates Marshall and Warren in the case of Helicobacter pylori and stomach ulcers).
  • There is no published estimate of the degree of consensus on any aspect of climate or climate change that is so statistically robust that it can’t be contested; in any case, the size of the majority in favour of a scientific conclusion is logically disconnected from its validity: scientific hypotheses and conclusions are refined and proven by empirical data, not crowd appeal.
  • There are now countless thousands of studies drawn from at least twenty scientific disciplines that aim to – or purport to – shed light on how the earth’s climate ‘works’. Many of their results and conclusions are, by their authors’ own reckoning, tentative; the results and conclusions of some studies contest the results and conclusions of others. There would be few, if any, aspects of climate that could claim 100% agreement among the relevant researchers except some of the raw data – and even many of these are contested, because different (though prima facie equally defensible) methods have been adopted to collect them.
  • In 2016, the feedback loops and tipping points that are assumed to affect global climate systems are, in actual real-world settings, imperfectly understood, and tipping points in particular are largely speculative. This is true regardless of the possibility (even the likelihood) that the current ‘very rapid pulse increase’ in CO2 is geologically unprecedented or the possibility that it will have irreversible climatic consequences.
  • There is demonstrable scientific debate about the presumptive roles (yes, roles) of CO2 in medium- and long-term climate change in the real world – and there is no conclusion about how CO2 is related to these dimensions that is supported by incontestable empirical evidence.
  • The impact of anthropogenic CO2 is therefore a scientific question, not a matter on which ‘the science is settled’ or ‘the debate is over’.

I’ve extracted that set of statements not only because I agree with each of them, but because I have said all of them at one time or another, especially the notion that any intelligent non-specialist could in time, discover all this for himself or herself. I think some other remarks by Woods are worth repeating, like this one.

The fact that the mean global temperature has risen during the last 100 years says nothing about what it was doing before then, and says nothing at all about its causes. Even if the 100-year correlation with rising levels of atmospheric CO2 were perfect (and there isn’t 100% agreement even on the purely statistical question of how good the correlation is), that proves nothing whatever about causation. The fact that correlation says nothing about causation (a fact that guides all empirical inquiry, including science) was drawn to your attention by Malcolm Roberts, your sceptical fellow panel member, the fellow who, according to subsequent media assessments, you ‘schooled in the science of climate change’ and ‘exposed and destroyed’, and who is a ‘climate change denier’ (he isn’t) whose claims you refuted (you didn’t: you disputed them).

And this one, which gets to the nub of what has so irritated me about the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming push over the past decade.

Let us, for one phantasmagorical moment, pretend that all the data are in (this would be a first for any science ever, and would transform it from science to dogma), that ‘the (scientific) debate is over’, that CO2 has been shown unequivocally to be the main driver of global warming during the past 40 years, and that the existence of countervailing global mechanisms is vanishingly unlikely: given the world-wide concern about ‘climate change’, and given your high profile as a scientist, you have further duties of care I believe. Chief among them is to help people understand what sort of world they’ll inhabit if fossil-sourced substances are taken off the menu.

Nuclear-powered electricity generation could, theoretically, substitute for a very significant proportion of current fossil-fuel-powered generation. Assuming uniformly supportive governments and negligible public opposition (an unlikely scenario), nuclear power could be up and running across the world in 5-10 years. It follows that fossil-fuel-powered generation will be required for at least that long: in reality it’s likely to be much longer.

Assuming anything less than a massive increase in nuclear electricity generation, in the absence of fossil-sourced energy and fossil-sourced raw materials (for many of which there are currently no realistic alternatives) at least the next twenty years would be years with minimal heating and cooling; with compromised urban street lighting; with compromised sewerage and other waste disposal systems; without motorised transport, functional agricultural, mining and industrial machinery, newly manufactured computers and tablets, mobile phones, television sets, refrigerators, bicycles or any other conventional consumer goods, including clothes and shoes; and with inadequate food and/or water for most of the world’s people and their pets and livestock. Modern medicine would collapse; so would most school systems; so, probably, would our financial systems – and possibly even our political systems. In such a world, people like Brian Cox won’t be able to jet to Australia – and will struggle to conduct their professional lives even via video-conferencing – and Al Gore will have to significantly reduce the scale of his energy-dense lifestyle. The world as we’ve come to expect it during the past century simply won’t exist, and many of its human inhabitants will perish: in particular the already impoverished, the very young, the otherwise frail, and the physically handicapped. In a world so beleaguered civil unrest is certain, and food-looting, widespread violence and murder are virtually guaranteed. This is the larger context in which the ‘climate change debate’ (now over … ) should be conducted. It’s a context that implies balancing risks against benefits, and that balance will have to be struck even if the worst of the climate-change scenarios is realised.

All this was in my head ten years ago when I started to think what would happen if we gave up fossil fuels and went to alternative sources of energy. Why is that people don’t think hard about such things? Some readers object if I describe ‘climate change’ as a religion, yet they say they ‘believe’ what the (= some) scientists say. None of this is a matter for belief. It is for cool, rational calculation of costs and benefits. I don’t know Graham Woods, but I think his open letter to Brian Cox (there has been no reply) is a fine statement of the sceptical case.

Endnote: While I am glad that there is at least one parliamentarian who is sceptical about it all, I do not agree with all of the One Nation statements about ‘climate change’. But I’ll leave that for another essay.

Second Endnote: The current printed Quadrant has a long piece that I wrote about my own ideological journey, an essay I wrote when two academics I admired, the late John Hirst, a historian, and John Carroll, a sociologist, suggested I do so (Quadrant, Vol LX No.9, September 2016, pp. 86-93, ‘A Lifetime of Beginning with the Facts’). My own title for the essay, which I rather prefer, was ‘Liberal and Conservative’.

Join the discussion 154 Comments

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    The political bias of the ABC is now becoming blatant, with about half of its ‘opinion’ pieces lifted from The Conversation. One wonders what all those expensive journalists actually do.

  • JimboR says:

    “(apparently, however, there was a good one on Shakespeare last week)”

    Still available in transcript form, for download, or streaming if you want to decide for yourself:

    “I’ve extracted that set of statements not only because I agree with each of them, but because I have said all of them at one time or another”

    Indeed, there’s nothing new or original there (or here). It’s the same old talking points that have been doing the rounds of the blogosphere for years.

    • Larrikin says:

      Yes, those same old talking points are still around because they have never been satisfactorily answered.
      (PS. To be able to link to a Q&A piece suggests a mispent adulthood. Just sayin’.)

  • Neville says:

    Prof Phil Jones is the head scientist generating the HAD crut data-set and even he ( in 2010) could not dispute the fact that the 3 warming periods since 1850 had identical trends. Within 0.01 c.
    But there has since been the Karl manipulation over the last 6 years and nearly all the surface data-sets have chosen to include some of these dubious changes.
    Meanwhile the UAH V6 data-set has found a trend of a little over 1 c per century since DEC 1978.
    The trend since June 1998 is about 0.18 c per century and that is just under half the data-set. Even the longer, higher trend is at the low end of ECS modelling. It’s also important to note that there has been no stat sig trend for 23 years in this sat data-set.
    We should also remember that this modern warming comes at the end of the LIA , a very cold period when compared to the rest of the Holocene interglacial. And the previous Eemian IG was much warmer ( 8 c higher on Greenland) and SLs were at least 6 metres higher than today. Holocene optimum SLs were about 1.5 metres higher than today. I’ve linked to PR studies that highlight these trends.
    There is nothing unusual or unprecedented about the slight warming since the end of the LIA. HAD 4 and GISS show just 0.5 c and 0.6 c per century since the 1800s. This is well below the Lloyd study showing an average of 1 c variation per hundred years. And if the LIA ended in 1850 the variation had to be towards higher temps over the next 166 years.
    But the greatest fra-d is the mitigation of their so called CAGW. The sums are so easily understood that there is no excuse for anyone pleading ignorance about this part of the con.

    • Chris Warren says:


      You have just rehashed the usual stuff without indicating, or dealing with, the sinusoidal element to the various trends.

      A series of declines or hiatus, or levelling-off etc still represents warming due to trapped heat working its way into the climate system.

      • Lenny says:

        By your own reference a sinusoidal element has half of its cycle above the reference and half below the reference, As long as the area under the curve above = below there is no long term heat added to the system.

        The GHE effective traps heat and should really only be noticeable at night time and it slows the heat being released from the system. No one I know disputes this.

        Its been warming since the end of the LIA, the current trends it not significantly different to the long terms trends since the end of the LIA.

        The current observed hiatus for some 20 years is an major issue because it is not what the IPCC models show. They are divergent by at least 1.5 degrees and growing. If there was an accumulation of heat as per the models we should be tracking upwards not leveling off. 20 years is a long time for no real change.

  • Alan Gould says:

    Yes, the Graham Woods was splendid. Jimbo, the virtue of the piece, I reckon, lies not in its freshness and originality, but in the cogency with which it marshals the inexorable considerations to the new emergency, namely Cox’s ‘stoolie’ role on that Q&A panel to discredit Malcolm Roberts, and the connivance of our public broadcaster to ensure Cox would ‘win’. Woods’ piece highlights the intellectual disgrace of the ABC and pop-Science, it illumines no fresh information on Climate facts, nor aims to.

  • margaret says:

    Gosh that Shakespeare Q&A was great though!

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks, Don, for bringing Graham Woods’ open letter to our attention.

    Apart from reflecting so poorly on “our” ABC, it shows the true lack of reason in not just the CAGWist’s ideology but even those mildly sympathetic to this POV.

    As people like Jimbo confirm when they show how they just don’t get it by supporting this false, impossible dream of “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could go back to that old , simple lifestyle of the past when we had no footprint on this earth that was then so sustainable”:

    “Indeed, there’s nothing new or original there (or here). It’s the same old talking points that have been doing the rounds of the blogosphere for years.”

    These warmists of all levels need to at least accept one of their own solutions quoted by one of their favourite mouthpieces:


  • margaret says:

    “I did not watch the celebrated Q&A program in which Brian Cox, an astrophysicist and science communicator, had an argument with Malcom Roberts, the recently elected Senator who is apparently responsible for the ‘climate change’ policies of One Nation. ”

    I wasn’t aware that it was a ‘celebrated’ Q&A.
    I wasn’t celebrating at the silly point scoring and the way people talk over each other is awful, reminding me of an excitable family gathering. Q&A often gets me to the point where I turn it off. I find Brian Cox a bit annoying, however Forces of Nature was beautiful. But Malcolm Roberts doesn’t engage the public and we the audience needed at least two of his ilk (perhaps you Don), to give a bit more balance to the debate.
    … but you really should have watched the Shakespeare one, if only to see living proof that Germaine Greer is a woman of substance.

    • JimboR says:

      “Q&A often gets me to the point where I turn it off. ”

      If you have a PVR, my tip is to start viewing about 30 mins after the broadcast starts, then you have 30 minutes worth of buffer you can yellow-button right past. My yellow button instantly skips forwards 30 seconds…. great for skipping ads, and pollies of all flavours on Q&A. They invariably turn up and flog their party-line to death, and it’s rare any of them reveal anything new. For my 8c, the rare pollie-free episodes are by far the best ones, for all the rest there’s the yellow button.

      • margaret says:

        Great tip – especially if Kelly O’Dwyer starts her irrelevant spin.

      • gnome says:

        The pollies are OK- that’s their role, it’s the comedians, artists, activists and straight-out buffoons that had me turning off Q&A some years ago.
        I just can’t bring myself to care what some US songwriter pretends to think about Australian social issues. In fact, no-one cares except for the usual ABC crowd. I’m sure it gets a good audience by ABC standards, but in this, as in all else, ABC standards are very low.

  • Nga says:

    I think Q&A is a good example of the peculiar ideology of the ABC, the assumption that all reasonable, right-thinking people would share the position of the presenter, and that of the ABC itself.

    This is nonsense, Don. Every media institution has an ideology (a word with multiple definitions that usually approximate “world view”) and it is an inherent feature of ideology that its proponents think of it as the natural home of “reasonable and right thinking” folk. The very same narrative plays out on this very blog, in News Corp and in The Guardian. I imagine it will not take long before your servile house trolls turn up and unwittingly illustrate my point 😉

  • Chris Warren says:

    I do not watch Q&A as it is full of populist platitudes and pandys to political-correctness thst shifts with the wind.

    How ever I did read the Woods letter and it was also full of platitudes that anyone could agree with – to no real purpose.

    However there was one claim that should be rejected:

    “and there is no conclusion about how CO2 is related to these dimensions that is supported by incontestable empirical evidence. ”

    Of course there is no incontestable empirical evidence that relates CO2 to climate change in the real world.

    Climate change is being brought about by extra heat being introduced into the troposphere and here there is exactly the incontestable empirical evidence of change in the real world.

    The temperature in the middle stratosphere is falling by over 4C per century and at the outer stratosphere is falling by over 7C per century as measured by satellites.

    This is incontestable, empirical, reproducible, cross-examinable, consistent evidence of change in the real world.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Climate change is being brought about by extra heat being introduced into the troposphere and here there is exactly the incontestable empirical evidence of change in the real world.”

      No need to state the bleedin’ obvious, Chris. Nobody is denying that.

      Climate changes. Always has. Always will.

      But the statement that is factual is the one you foolishly reject:

      “and there is no conclusion about how CO2 is related to these dimensions that is supported by incontestable empirical evidence. ”

      That’s the evidence you must provide to make your case.

      So please stop blithering until you do.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Please read my comments before replying.

        • spangled drongo says:

          OK, Chris, we’ll use this one instead:

          “This is incontestable, empirical, reproducible, cross-examinable, consistent evidence of change in the real world.”

          So the climate’s changing?

          Who knew?

          When you can prove how “CO2 is related to these dimensions that is supported by incontestable empirical evidence” get back to me.

    • dlb says:

      Where did you get the data that the stratosphere is cooling at 4C a century?
      I looked at the UAH data and the global stratosphere has flat lined the last 22 years after the Pinatubo sulphur dioxide cloud dropped out.

  • Colin Davidson says:

    The gold standard against which the public broadcaster should measure itself is epitomised by the excellent PBS Newshour, shown daily on SBS. In this show the moderator remains neutral, ensures that both sides (usually equal numbers of republicans and democrats) have an equal say, and that interruptions are minimised.
    The ABC is a parody of excellence. It is a low quality broadcaster which pushes an unashamedly political barrow.
    The danger in a politicised government funded broadcaster is when the government is the same political colour as the broadcaster. When that occurs the broadcaster actively seeks to minimise any media hurt to that government, and actively promotes the policies of the government, and campaigns for it in elections. If it does well it can then count on massively increased budgets and support in any efforts to destroy/weaken other media organisations.
    I think the case can be made that this is the modus operandi of the ABC.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      I agree. If people want to see the world through the lens of left-wing academics, they are free to subscribe to left-wing opinion sites; they do not have to have them forced down their throats by the ABC. It is worthy of note that The Conversation is almost fully supported by the ordinary taxpayer, via a misdirection of funds intended for higher education, although few realise this.

      I wonder whether it’s actually legal for universities and other publically-funded institutions to disburse funds for purposes that are basically political, and have no relevance to higher education.

      • RobbertBobbertGDQ says:

        It is a constant source of annoyed amusement that the Conversation flaunts its University and other taxpayer funded partnerships but it is a little less noisy about some other initial funds.
        In 2011 The Gillard Mob coughed up 1.5 million as a start up grant and then 2 more million in the 2013 budget. When The LNP did not continue the slush fund in 2015 Dan Andrews down here in Victoria came up with 3 million thru to 2017.
        So in 6 years The Conversation has garnered 6.5mill or close to 20,500 a week for 312 weeks.
        As Arthur Daley would say…A Nice Little Earner …

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          A breakdown of its finances would be very informative. The Editor’s response to PeterD was very coy. The contributors are paid nothing (we assume), but the costs for the acknowledged staff must run into the hundreds of thousands per annum, and there are (obviously) receptionists, tea ladies, cleaners, and so forth. This is a big-time operation, and as it is almost certainly completely taxpayer-funded, a significant drain on the public purse.

    • David says:


      Colin here is a link to what the Gold Standard has reported on AGW.

    • David says:

      I can’t recall PBS ever allowing a nutter like Roberts on. The ABC actually gives the delcons far more coverage than they deserve.

    • JimboR says:

      I particularly liked their item on “Fact checking the presidential candidates on climate science”:


      Poor ol’ Ted Cruz….

      “This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner,” Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, wrote of Cruz’s statements. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”

      • spangled drongo says:

        Poor ol’ Jimbo thinks that using a useful idiot like MM to criticise Cruz carries cred. Oh, dear!

        MM can’t even muster the courage to front Mark Steyn in court to defend his Hokey Schick.

        But then he probably thinks that Tony Jones, Brian Cox and our ABC criticising Malcolm Roberts cuts it, too.

    • margaret says:

      I agree about the PBS NewsHour. I have watched it since Jim Lehrer was the host and I much preferred its 4.30 time slot. Shields and Brooks did good analysis. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are excellent but the 1 pm time slot isn’t. I know, record it or watch SBS on demand – unfortunately I’m in the middle of a – ‘renovation project’. No, nothing like The Block – this is an attempt to create a small well-equipped home from what were previously cedar accommodation cabins – yes, I’m an ‘old hippie’ – but rather a straight one – and a nice garden is not the least of the attraction after living in a city apartment.
      Sunday afternoon has put me into sharing and caring mode – haha ha.

      • JimboR says:

        I can out-do you there Margaret. I’ve watched it since it was co-hosted by Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, shown on my local PBS station (KQED Channel 9) every evening.

  • PeterD says:

    Hullo Don

    I’m commenting on your observation about the ABC’s Q&A, especially the sentence: “I’ve watched a couple of these Q&A programs in the past, but felt that they were so manipulated and stacked that one would rarely get any value from them (apparently, however, there was a good one on Shakespeare last week)”.

    I have ambivalent views about Q&A but if one is not a regular viewer, one can always take the risk on iView: the Shakespearian panel/audience discussion was well worth watching, for instance.

    I was also struck by a comment in the ‘Quadrant’ article that you linked to: “The attack was carried out most enthusiastically by Jones himself.” There is no doubt that Tony Jones can at times be grossly offensive, hectoring, overbearing, bullying, even thuggish in the way he interviews or chairs a discussion.

    I made the following posting [slightly edited] to another forum after watching Q&A on Monday of this week:

    “Last night’s Q&A program[12Sep] was engaging viewing because it represents multiple voices and perspectives in Australian politics.

    I disagree with Bridget McKenzie’s position on guns and same sex marriage but I would like to specifically comment on how Q&A used two videos in last night’s program to confront the senator’s views.

    Basically, the video clips were intended as ‘got ya’ moments and show a standard of journalistic ethics that is cheap and nasty, as well as displaying the ABC thinking around guns and gay marriage. The public broadcaster has an obligation to be fair-minded, balanced and objective in its journalism.

    Bridget hadn’t seen the first video on guns and she did in fact denounce its ugly style of violence to her credit. Introducing the second video Tony Jones said: “I suppose your brother has talked to you about this….”. In many families, as Tony Abbott well understands, there may be different views and sexual orientations amongst siblings and they’re not familiar topics for discussion, once views have hardened or are well formed.

    The key point I am making is that Bridget should have been extended the courtesy of seeing this video clip beforehand as well: it’s highly personal, it’s often very divisive in families, it’s hurtful etc. Cheap journalistic tactics around the use of these videos are objectionable.

    Another point that will do Bridget no harm is the way she stood her ground against Tony’s heavy-handed, ‘I’m-so-right’ hectoring style of chairing a session.”

    After the posting appeared, another reader responded to my posting: “Q&A panels invariably have a majority right wing panel. My perception is that the ABC has a right wing, conservative bias on all of their news and current affairs programs.”

    I was surprised by this reply because I had always thought the ABC and its audience are strongly to the left but the realities are that the ABC is presently responding to agendas such as: “The ABC’s new managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has conceded the national broadcaster “can do better” at presenting a wider range of political views – while hitting back at critics who believe its journalists have a left-wing bias”.

    So in terms of your view of Q&A, Don, it is certainly the case that on many occasions it is ‘manipulated and stacked’ but that does not mean that it should be avoided altogether. You can always watch it later on iView; I personally make strong use of the mute button for speakers who are aggressive, grating or offensive. It’s particularly interesting that ‘The Australian’ and ‘The Guardian’ – sometime SMH – regularly review the program the following day; the twitter stream – although I rarely look at it – has many contributors.

    You could argue that it’s a left/right wing sand pit of little worth but it does present a diversity of different views on many topics. It is a ‘chronicle of our times’ , painful at times to watch, but representative of the diversity of Australian contemporary voices.

    I will watch Parliamentary Question Time from time to time and if one has the stomach for that, Q&A is almost bearable and on rare occasions quite engaging. The basics in Australian media and commentary are its silo structures: Bolt, Divine, Jones, Hadlee; then SMH/Fairfax; ‘Quadrant’, ‘The Australian’; academic silos such as ‘The Conversation’ etc The key point is so many Australians live and breathe in the silos that are attuned to their values, beliefs etc. The same with political parties if you think of the Greens, ALP, Nats, Hansonites, Liberals etc: they are all tribal and with varying levels of factionalism.

    There is value and fireworks when they all come together, as they do in Parliament; but this also occurs on Q&A and for that reason, all of us can well learn to tolerate and listen to contrary viewpoints, even be enriched by them, unless they are so grating that you need to use the mute button, as I do. Theoretically, though, we need more cross-party discussion, more diverse forums and dare I say it, some inter-blog discussions where the fireworks around climate change, for instance, can make Q&A look so docile.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      The last time I looked, the ABC web site had, out of 20 articles listed under their ‘Analysis and Opinion’. about 10 originally published on The Conversation. There were none referencing any other sources, only their own journalists. May I suggest that that reflects a certain degree of bias?

      We are not talking about the independent media, we are talking about the National Broadcaster.

      • spangled drongo says:

        In these days of free online private enterprise media who struggle to survive there is no reason why the taxpayer should be funding The Conversation and the ABC [except for remote areas].

        We are supplied with left wing opinion far in excess of their true representation.

        The dubious Brian Coxes of this world are oversupplied with worshipful, unaccountable fora.

        • PeterD says:

          Hullo spangled drongo,

          I’m not sure the taxpayer pays for ‘The Conversation’. Here is a clip from its website. It’s probably true to say that its political orientation is like the ABC and its discussion forums like ‘The Drum’ . But note that one of the early initiatives of Michelle Guthrie was to discontinue the discussion forums.

          Here’s how its described:

          “The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

          Our team of professional editors work with university, CSIRO and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.

          Access to independent, high-quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to allow for better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversations.

          We have introduced new protocols and controls to help rebuild trust in journalism. All authors and editors sign up to our Editorial Charter. And all contributors must abide by our Community Standards policy. We only allow authors to write on a subject on which they have proven expertise, which they must disclose alongside their article. Authors’ funding and potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed.”

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            “I’m not sure the taxpayer pays for ‘The Conversation’”

            I am sure. It is supported by a consortium of universities and the CSIRO. This is stated on the website. Who supports the universities and the CSIRO? The taxpayer, who should not be supporting The Conversation, which is the equivalent of a left-wing think-tank.

          • David says:

            As I understand it “The Conversation” was first developed in Australia and since been adopted in Europe and US. It is helpful to academics to have an opportunity to develop public exposure for their research.

        • PeterD says:

          Hullo spangled drongo and Bryan,

          I was originally making a posting about the ABC’s Q&A but an incidental issue has arisen about ‘The Conversation’, whether it is taxpayer-funded and to what extent it is independent. I wrote to the Managing Editor, Misha Ketchell, about this and received the following reply:

          “Thanks for getting in touch. It’s true to say that The Conversation is partly funded by Australian universities and CSIRO, and it also receives some government funding from the Victorian Government. It’s also true to say that universities are partly funded by Government, but they also have many other sources of revenue. Whether it’s fair to then describe The Conversation as “taxpayer funded” I’ll leave for others to decide.

          The important point to make is that The Conversation has no ideological viewpoint: we publish articles from academics on a wide range of topics, most of which are not inherently political. We exist to help academics share their ideas.

          Please feel free to quote me.
          Misha Ketchell

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Peter, TC is obviously going to defend its funding mechanisms. However, universities and the CSIRO are unarguably funded by the taxpayer, and I rather doubt that donors to universities expect their funds to be expended supporting ‘academic’ opinion. Whether or not TC has “no ideological viewpoint” is irrelevant, the articles they publish establish such a viewpoint, and if their manuscript submission base is predominantly left-wing, TC will be perceived as left-wing, whether the editor agrees or not.

          • PeterD says:

            Hullo Bryan,

            It’s true that the ABC, CSIRO and universities are funded/partially funded by taxpayers and there is enormous resentment about this in some circles.

            A significant driver for many staff within universities and in the CSIRO is ‘publish or perish’ so it is not unreasonable, in my view, for the TC to provide a forum for publication. You equate this with ‘academic opinion’ but most of the publications published in TC do not fall into this category. I presume you value the roles of academics, researchers and good sources of quality publications.

            Interestingly, the TC has a Donate button on its website and I always like the old statement that ‘wouldn’t it be a great day if our educational institutions received all the funding they need and every time the navy wants to build a battleship, they have to hold a raffle’.

            Australian universities contributed $140 billion to Australia’s economic growth in 2014 but there is a strong agenda to deregulate fees and have $100,000 degrees. There’s almost an obsessive preoccupation with money and status in contemporary society, coupled with a devaluing of communal life along the fault lines of, dare I say it, Eva Cox.

            I understand that there are many who resent the ABC and would like to see it privatised, for instance; indeed I have made more than 40 postings in different fora – critiquing its presenters, bias etc. But not for one minute do I want to see it disappear. Our public institutions, especially the NLA , NAG, Portrait Gallery – etc face funding erosion and the corporate sector, with its bizarre remuneration for CEOs and executives, grows disproportionally. We are enormously enriched in our community/cultural life by the ABC, CSIRO, universities and TC which is a different fragment in the media landscape adds to diversity and provides value, even though I am not a frequent user or visitor to the site.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Peter, I would not employ any academic who in included in a CV an article on The Conversation. That’s like citing an article in the Courier Mail.

          • PeterD says:

            Hullo Bryan,

            Following your logic, then, you would not employ the following academics – all of whom are professors and widely published in their disciplinary journals [names that took me a quick five minute search].

            Jen Webb
            Steve Peers
            Michael Spitzer
            Judith Stark
            James Arvanitakis
            Tim Lang

            I know there are lots of comments about flaws in the peer review process and the old joke about the small numbers who read the articles – the peer reviewers and the author(s)!

            Most academics who become professors generally have an impressive publication/research profile but in the criteria for academic promotion are teaching and community dimensions. Those academics who take their effort to step out of the ivory tower and communicate their expertise to others who may be interested do a wonderful service – even if it means The Daily Telegraph or The Courier Mail etc. I mean it’s not something you’d do every day as an academic and it does mean getting your hands dirty and interacting with lowly commoners.

            I first used to read Don Aitken’s clips in the National Times(??) in the seventies and then again occasionally in the Australian Financial Review and sometimes I pop into this blog site. I admire academics who contribute to communal thinking and share their scholarship and research; unlike you, I would keep them on the pay roll.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Peter, you have put up a courageous defence, but: articles on TC fall into three categories.
            1. Lightweight explanations and opinions. Universities spend millions advertising themselves and their achievements. Then there is Wikipedia, which in matters of fact, generally does a pretty good job (way better than TC, IMO). Opinion, even expert opinion, can be found anywhere.
            2. Advertisment (We have recently published…)
            3. Advocacy (let’s whip another storm about asylum seekers, climate change, juvenile detention, cause of the week…)

            None of these warrant taxpayer support, at any level.

          • PeterD says:

            Hi Bryan

            We have given TC good coverage. I agree with your three categories and even if an academic was preparing a CV I would put any contributions to TC in Community service rather than under publications. When I look at the National Gallery losing 20 jobs yesterday, however, and see the likelihood of the NLA, the Archives, Sound & Film etc, losing equivalent amounts in this efficiency dividend round, there is still a case for generous public funding. I agree that the ABC and TC contain left-wing mutations and the concept of quality, balance and innovation is always worth pursuing.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Peter D, thanks for a thoughtful and extended comment. I should make clear that I hardly watch any TV — the news and cricket are about it. I’m much more into reading and writing. That said, I think you make some excellent points. Yes, I can go back to see and hear things with the technology now available, and sometimes I do.

      I guess that after nearly sixty years of interest in politics and society, I seem to have heard most arguments many times. I tend to shrug.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Then don’t comment. Why bother with a contemptuous shrug if you’re going to dismiss everyone’s opinions?

        • David says:

          FYI. An academic CV will typically be separated into peer reviewed and other publications. A publication in The Conversation is not peer reviewed. But publications in TC are seen as evidence of community engagement.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            “publications in TC are seen as evidence of community engagement”

            Rot. The average person has never heard of TC. Community engagement is when you give lectures (in person) to the average interested person. That may draw in other interested individuals – a much better outcome than some disinterested article on a poncy quasi-academic website that will hound you off if you dare to make a non-PC comment.

            I’ve done both, and don’t need your ignorant input. Having real people thank you is actually quite special.

      • margaret says:

        You need to get out and smell the roses too Don and Bryan.

      • PeterD says:

        Interesting about television, Don, and to what extent we draw from it. You can’t beat Francis Bacon: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

        Margaret Simon recently wrote an article about the new CEO at the ABC, including the clips below. Contributors to your site have different views about the ABC – as indeed I do – but it is in a change process:

        “Quality content is just so expensive to commission. One insider jokes that you have to be a comedian to get a new show up on the ABC these days. There is a handful of flagship dramas, and a lot of buy-ins from overseas, but gone is the sustained, internally generated documentary examination of Australian life and society that was once possible on ABC TV.

        Online is growing, and digital media is the future. ABC iview is the most successful catch-up television service in the country. Radio National’s podcasts have passionate followings. Yet amid all this change, it is still the case that the vast majority of the audience are watching their televisions and listening to their radios in the old-fashioned way.

        The ABC is now the biggest single employer of journalists in the country – not because it has grown, but because the other big newsrooms have shrunk.

        • margaret says:

          I know you know this but television didn’t exist in Francis Bacon’s time, PeterD. Unless you mean Francis Bacon painter.
          I do think that if you want to stay in touch with every(wo)man reading and writing is not enough to understand modern society.

          • JimboR says:

            There was an interesting episode of the The Drum tonight on teaching that I think you’d enjoy Margaret. If you missed it you may want to iView it.

          • margaret says:

            Yes I did see it Jimbo. It made me anxious for our kids and teachers. I have a son who is an English teacher. He was an honours English graduate and has a masters in education. He is always up to his neck in marking and is (I would imagine) an excellent teacher who doesn’t stint on helping his students to achieve the best tertiary entrance score they can. He’s also a father of a toddler and his partner has recently returned to work. This is modern life.

          • PeterdD says:

            Hi Margaret

            Yes, I agree with your comments and the best of the best on the ABC are wonderful. I love to hear Geraldine Dooge’s program on ABC RN on Saturday mornings, I love Jane Hutchen’s interviewing style, I am a sucker for shows like ‘Vera’, ‘Wallander’, ‘The Code’, ‘Janet King’ and I do use Twitter under an alias and very occasionally Facebook to make postings about media matters but I have this absurd comment on my page which says: “I don’t have any friends on Facebook and don’t want any. Email me if you want to contact me.” Aggressive, bullying, hectoring interviewing styles I find very distasteful and all too common; I have formely written to ‘The Drum’ on many occasions.

            I still believe Bacon’s comment underpins a rich approach to thinking about language but I accept your proposition that in this contemporary era we can communicate through new as well as established media.

            While making this posting, it does seem to me that on Twitter, Facebook and social media generally, there is not a strong depth of intellectual tradition; in fact, pejorative language, personal abuse etc so quickly creep into issues when there is ‘discussion’ around contrasting views.

            I think it is central to Don’s thinking that all issues can be discussed, and many alternatives, conflicting views traversed, if there is an atmosphere of courtesy, respect and a willingness to consider contrary thinking. In the past I have recalled a posting on this site that shows a range of strategies to attack invalid arguments, erroneous thinking etc

            I don’t want to pretend that I am as pure as the driven snow because when some of our cherished beliefs are assailed, many of us may lapse into abuse, innuendo or digressions. I believe in an Australian Republic , for instance, and when queried on this site about those presently in line for the English monarchy, mentioned that Kate and William are well regarded; I also conceded that Harry is very popular with many young people but used an innuendo about his red hair, and his parentage; perhaps a cheap point because I do not have any evidence so it was a very doubtful hit.

            In the past I have written many times to ‘The Australian’ and also to Yahoo forums and one can be on the end of huge salvos if you post messages that dissent from the mainstream view incipient on many sites – in the Yahoo site I wrote in favour of gun control and provocatively quoted an Australian who said fights are best resolved with fists rather than taking the more deadly but cheap American way out with guns.

            Thinking around climate change raises such a depth of ideas and emotions that it is difficult to discern where one stops and the other begins. You can see blurry lines even in this particular discussion; it was also very evident when there were some inter-blog exchanges in the last month. Given phenomena like Trump, Clinton, Hanson, our Senate as a whole, we live in an age when depth and precision of thinking, as well as the ability to critique ideas objectively, are very elusive.

          • margaret says:

            PeterD I’ve just seen your reply. Replies can get lost so easily as new posts happen – I’m reading on my phone so will read it on a larger screen later.

          • margaret says:

            I certainly agree about Vera – she is my new favourite discovery as I haven’t seen previous series. Brenda Blethyn is a wonderful actor. Also several of the other ABC programs you mentioned I enjoy.
            I don’t use Twitter, I do use Facebook – apart from the keeping in touch with people I know I find my FB newsfeed gives me a view of diverse events and articles.
            Let’s face it you would not be the first person to have noticed that HRH Harry bears a striking resemblance to Diana’s ‘fling’.
            Yes, one thing I’m learning from participating in the ‘cut and thrust’ of commenting on DA’s essays is the necessity to grow several more layers of epidermis. Following from your quote of Bacon, I find that writing helps clarify what one thinks, in my case even more than talking, especially if one has to talk to very opinionated people with minds like steel traps – (like Bolt) – as Linda Burney did this evening.

      • David says:


        Cricket is all well and good. But you should get on to the Viking clap. I like my politics and my League, Green. Huge game tomorrow. Hope the Raiders live to fight another day.

  • Chris Warren says:

    “…that CO2 has been shown unequivocally to be the main driver of global warming during the past 40 years, and that the existence of countervailing global mechanisms is vanishingly unlikely: ”

    So what else could produce stratospheric cooling at over 7C per century?

    What could be a countervailing mechanism?

    Otherwise “unequivocally” seems appropriate unless other satellites (Russian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese?) produce conflicting data. .

    If there are no countervailing mechanisms then their existence is “vanishing unlikely”.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Chris luv, stop blithering.

    • Ross Handsaker says:


      The following is a quote from NOAA Climate.gov dated July 12, 2014 article regarding satellite and radiosonde measurements in lower stratospheric temperatures. “For most of the last two decades there has been a near-neutral or very slight warming trend”. Perhaps the previous cooling trend of earlier decades has changed. It is also interesting that over the past decade there has been an increase in outward long-wave radiation leaving the top of the atmosphere, which may suggest the additional CO2 during this period has not trapped much heat in the troposphere.
      Do you think it plausible that gases, which are less than 1% of the atmosphere can absorb sufficient energy, mainly from the surface, to firstly warm the atmosphere and then heat the surface of the Earth by an additional 33C?

      • Chris Warren says:


        This looks interesting and relevant. What is the source?

        I do not have enough knowledge to judge whether 1% of the atmosphere can absorb sufficient energy as I understand the impact is logarithmic (ie a % trend). 400 ppm is already an extremely small % so 1% would represent 0.04% so 1% represents over 4 doublings.

        If you look at the satellite data for 40 km – there is a relatively recent change in the trend. However this is not replicated at lower levels and this top level is probably most affected by any change in solar output to possibly reintroduce a period of ‘edge-of-atmosphere’ warming.

      • David says:

        Easily. Look at the Moon. It is same distance from sun as Earth but has no atmosphere. Average temp on moon is about 30 degree C less than Earth.

        Atmosphere obviously responsible for retaining this heat difference. Change composition of atmosphere and temperature retained will change.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Bit of a mangled sentance above. It should read:

    … 1% would represent over 4 doublings.

  • Art Raiche says:

    The Q&A sessions from writers festivals are usually quite good and the Shakespeare one was an excellent example of one. Tony Jones is a real pro and it is instructive to see his expert use of tactics. My favourite one is the use of sincere teenagers or disadvantaged people asking questions similar to the “how often do you beat your wife” type.

    For those of us who have worked on ways to influence the non-committed or the soft warmists, the wide-ranging, ranting, hubristic style of Malcolm Roberts represents a backward step. He does serve the purpose of making Pauline seem rational. Perhaps that was why she chose him.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Art, why won’t you admit a little truth insofar as Malcolm Roberts is pointing out to the perpetually panicked, end-of-the-worlders, that there is no evidence that those chimney stacks that emit mostly steam are going to kill us now anymore than the really bad ones did back in Dickens’ day.

      And that bankrupting ourselves over it when we need that tiny nest egg more than ever is plain lunacy. Even France’s ex-pres has woken up and will give Hollande a run for it.

      The world is wising up:

      “Presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy reckons that climate change is not caused by man and that the world has far bigger problems on its hands than global warming.”

    • David says:

      I agree. Roberts is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

      I think his claim that NASA was involved in a conspiracy to fabricate the climate data caught Cox off guard. Cox laughed the comment off, as you would.

      It’s hard to see how that line of argument is going to resonate with anyone, except Nev and a few other commentators on this site perhaps. From memory it was Linda Burney who cut him down with her “oh just shut up” comment as he kept returning to his only talking point.

  • Neville says:

    Thanks for that Sarkozy statement Spangled . Here is Jo Nova’s link on the story.
    I’m a little bit sceptical about his change of mind, perhaps he just sees more votes in this move? But I wish the true believers could show us how their CAGW is changing the world to our detriment? Pick some of Gore’s most famous icons and tell us why the planet is worse off. Here’s a few of the most popular icons that the media has dined out on for the past few decades.
    Dangerous SLR,, Polar bears are in danger, Extreme events are increasing , Temps are more extreme, Droughts are more extreme today, Antarctica is warming , The Antarctic peninsula is warming much faster because of CAGW etc, etc/

  • Chris Warren says:


    Just check the satellite data, spot the 1.3C century trend and compare to AR5 WG1 chart at TS.14.

    You will see it matches the 5-95% range because in 50 years the rise is around 0.65C.

    So it seems that in the near future, generations will have to deal with conditions similar to previous warming periods including the Holocene Climatic Optimum.

  • Neville says:

    Well Chris that’s just more ifs, buts and maybes for the future. But we’ve seen higher temps in the earlier Holocene when co2 was all over the place and certainly didn’t show any accurate correlation. And we’ve seen a pause in higher co2 levels for thousands of years after the temp rapidly dropped at the end of the Eemian IG. The end result is that you’ve proved nothing about Co2 and temp correlation at all.
    And the RS/ NAS report tells us to expect little change in future Co2 levels for thousands of years again. Even if we stop all future human co2 emissions today. Of course the reality is that China , India and developing countries emissions will continue to soar for decades to come.

  • Neville says:

    It seems like the people have more brains than the donkeys who govern them. Climate change is supposed to be the greatest moral problem facing our generation. But when people are polled by the UN and other big polling companies, the people appear to be unmoved.
    Lomborg found this out years ago and the polling today still puts concern about CC way down the bottom of the list. Thank heavens for the common sense and clear thinking of Mrs and Mr average on planet earth.


  • Chris Warren says:


    You consistently make statements without relevant sources. This makes it hard to understand what you are saying as when your points are investigated they are always wrong or irrelevant.

    For example you say:

    “But we’ve seen higher temps in the earlier Holocene when co2 was all over the place and certainly didn’t show any accurate correlation”

    However everyone knows that CO2 was not all over the place – it was never at 300ppm and never at 350ppm and never at 400pp,

    You can see the data at: ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/vostok/co2nat.txt

    But, as far as we know, the CO2 level during the Holocene did not cause the warmer temperatures as according to a denial website the Holocene Climatic Optimum was caused by a Milankovitch variation.

    See: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/12/21/the-holocene-thermal-optimum/

    In fact no natural period of warming in the past was caused by extra CO2.

    So our period, if it continues, is obviously unnatural.

    • Neville says:

      Gosh Chris you’ve just concluded/ admitted that NATURAL variation can change the climate over thousands of years, indeed millions of years. And I’ve shown in other links that co2 can drop over 13 million years from 3,600 ppm to 500 ppm and yet the temp actually increased.
      I can post more links that shows this very long lack of correlation. In fact I can go back further in time if you like? So if you believe that ” no natural period of warming in the past was caused by extra co2″, I can’t understand why you’re here? Yet you also believe that an increase of just 120 ppm will cause all sorts of problems for the planet’s future.
      So we have incredible drops and increases in co2 over millions of years and there is little correlation with temp, yet you still believe only our recent slight warming is actually caused by our increase in co2. How does that work? You do understand that we are emerging from the LIA I presume? So our slight warming is less than the average per century change for the last 8,000 years and yet you still believe?
      And there are PR studies that show temps in the Holocene don’t always correlate with co2 levels. This lack of correlation sometimes lasts for thousands of years. Also the scientists who compiled the RS/ NAS report really believe that there will be little change in temp or co2 levels for thousands of years. So what do you really believe?

  • Nga says:

    An intelligent and insightful man might ask why the overwhelming majority of climate change denialists (or skeptics, as they prefer to call themselves) are kooks like Malcolm Roberts, elderly scientists who are way past their prime and elderly males who are manifesting the advanced features of Dunning-Kruger syndrome.

    An intelligent and insightful man might ask himself why we don’t have lots of young scientists making a name for themselves by taking on the dominant CAGW paradigm. An intelligent and insightful man might recognise that a dominate theme throughout the history of science has been young scientists smashing paradigms and old men refusing to let go of their outmoded beliefs.

    Max Planck famously wrote that science progresses one funeral at a time. I think history also largely progresses one funeral at a time. So what do I think of the sad old farts who linger well past their prime and attempt to hold back progress? In the words of Bob Dylan:

    And I hope that you die
    And your death’ll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand over your grave
    ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

    • JimboR says:

      There certainly does seem to be a pattern, doesn’t there? Thanks for the reference to Dunning-Kruger syndrome, I’d not come across it before. That in turn led me to:

      “incompetent people will… recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill”

      which I think sums it up nicely. And many seem to confuse googling and blogosphere reading with training in that skill.

      • margaret says:

        Clint Eastwood (in character) :
        “Get off my lawn!”

      • Nga says:

        It’s embarrassing isn’t it. Poor Donald Aitken and crew think they are world leading experts in climate science after perhaps a few hundred hours studying at Google U. Of course, if Don and crew were right, we should immediately close down all institutions of learning and instruction. Why waste money on medical schools when any old fart with a few spare hours can google his way to being a top brain surgeon?

        • Don Aitkin says:


          I don’t much care what you say substantively, but the rules here embody civility. Yes, it is an elastic term, but I think you are getting to the end of the stretch in your language.

          • Nga says:

            Don, your Autumn Years might pass less painfully if you sweetened them by taking yourself less seriously and nurturing a sense of humour. Your articles on climate issues are the most hilarious examples of performance art I have witnessed since I saw a bunch of dairy cows in party hats near Flinders Street Station in Melbourne 20 or so years ago, so I know humour is not beyond you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

      • margaret says:

        The Peter Principle and Dunning-Kruger have a lot in common.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      “An intelligent and insightful man might ask himself why we don’t have lots of young scientists making a name for themselves by taking on the dominant CAGW paradigm”

      And he would be answered by an equally intelligent and insightful man (or woman) pointing out that contrarian young scientists drive taxis or line up at Centrelink.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Sceptical conservatives would be perfectly happy to accept advice from young scientists [as we do from the likes of Bjorn Lomborg] as long as it is based on believable evidence.

      When the foolish believers are forced to play the ageist and sexist cards to try to make their erroneous points it sure indicates their lack of reason plus the degree of their desperation to support their religion.

      My advice to you [as to evidence-free Chris, above]:


      • Nga says:

        I’m sorry for rattling your dentures, grand pa.

      • Nga says:

        “Sceptical conservatives would be perfectly happy to accept advice from young scientists [as we do from the likes of Bjorn Lomborg] as long as it is based on believable evidence.”

        Spangled, Lomborg’s educational qualifications are in politics, not one of the hard sciences. Clearly the only thing smaller than your shrivelled weiner is your IQ. No wonder you never had any luck with the lady folk.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Nga, your reasoning processes are amazing.! What do Prof Lomborg’s specific qualifications have to do with anything I said?

          Your out-of-control DK syndrome sure takes over when anyone criticises your hallowed champions such as Auntie and her lefty ideology.

          And Gillian is probably one of your heroines, too. Oh, dear !!!

          BTW, I’m still happily married to my original girl and have been for over 55 years.

          How about you?

          I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours.

          I bet you chicken out.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Nga, for instance, doesn’t understand that the DK syndrome is about stupid people being too stupid to realise they are stupid.

      When stupid people like her and others here embrace an ideology [which she also doesn’t understand] that is not supported by evidence, that sure shows who has the DK problem.

    • dlb says:

      Oh come on Nga most of the warmist protagonists are over 50 if not over 60. Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Peter Gleich, David Karolly, John Church, Gavin Schmidt then the hangers on such as Al Gore, Naomi Orskes, David Suzuki, and Stephan Lewandowsky. John Cook may be a bit younger but certainly no bright twenty something.
      Then there is the revered David Attenborough in his 90s, shame the other David (Bellamy) wasn’t on message.

      Oh you may be right, some bright young antiestablishment type may prove AGW is cods wallop.

    • margaret says:

      That was brave Nga – Masters of War caused a few problems for his bobness back in the day.

    • margaret says:

      Top protest song of all time. That can be said because as spine tingling as this song is, no-one writes songs like this anymore.
      The ‘swinging sixties’ in olde London Town were one hell of a time in the U S of A.

  • Chris Warren says:


    Yet again, you have made a whole lot of irrelevant, diversionary comments without sources.

    There is no point going back millions of years into the past, as it is very easy to see that over this timeline the Earth’s atmosphere could have been very different to the present period covered by ice core data and to the period from the emergence of humanity from the Neanderthal period.

    It is very unlikely that there was any AGW before the spread of homo sapiens.

    It amazes me to see our denialists having to go back millions of years in their desperate search for any basis for their wild imaginations.

    Normal people use science and refer to the available data, here:


    As one source noted:

    “Where are we currently in the natural cycle (Milankovitch cycle)? The warmest point of the last cycle was around 10,000 years ago, at the peak of the Holocene. Since then, there has been an overall cooling trend, consistent with a continuation of the natural cycle, and this cooling would continue for thousands of years into the future if all else remained the same. But since 1750 however, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has deviated from the natural cycle. Instead of decreasing, it has increased because of the fossil-fuel burning. Methane and nitrous oxide have also increased unnaturally because of agricultural practices and other factors. The world has also warmed unnaturally. We are now deviating from the natural cycle.”

    See here: http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle

    In fact I doubt whether Neville really understands his own statements.

    Surely his statement that:

    “And there are PR studies that show temps in the Holocene don’t always correlate with co2 levels. ” confims my argument.

    Neville has said that previous warmings were not caused by CO2.

    Exactly right. They had other causes. And that’s the problem.

    Present trends in warming suggest we could end up in another warming period precisely when these “other causes”, ie natural causes, do not exist.

    Obviously, therefore, they are human induced.

    Neville has undermined his own position.

  • Neville says:

    Chris your confused statement that co2 in the past couldn’t cause any warming is ridiculous. You seem to completely deny that past co2 levels were much higher than the 400 ppm of today. You seem to be carrying on an argument with yourself. If you believe that an increase in co2 causes some small warming today you can’t say that many times that level in the past didn’t cause any warming. You’ve lost your grip on reality if you truly believe that.
    Increased levels of Co2 either causes some warming or it doesn’t. And it doesn’t matter whether it happened in the distant past or not. Of course the Lloyd study proves that the slight modern warming is below the average variation per century for the last 8,000 years.
    You only have to look at our previous Eemian IG to understand that natural variability can bring on much more warming than we experience today. And if that nat variability shows Greenland temps were 8 c higher and SLs at least 6 metres higher it must cause any thinking person to have doubts about the cause of our slight warming today.
    I happen to think that co2 is a GHG and there may be some small impact since 1950. But it isn’t easy to find that impact if you look at SLR studies or Glacier studies etc. So Chris is co2 a GHG or not?

  • spangled drongo says:

    Chris, what Neville is trying to tell you and you are determined not to acknowledge [even though I cannot believe you don’t know] is that in the past, increased CO2 in the atmosphere has been the result of warming or a combination of other possibilities but there is no evidence that warming has been a direct result of CO2.



    While this does not exclude CO2 as being responsible for the relatively tiny amount of recent warming that is currently only about half of natural climate variability, it does tell us that if we don’t know why the climate remained cool when atmo CO2 in the past was at least10 times our current level, then we can’t claim that we understand the reason for the small amount of recent warming.

    That’s what’s known as plain, simple, logic.

    And you certainly can’t give any “conclusion about how CO2 is related to these dimensions that is supported by incontestable empirical evidence.”

    So stop wasting everyone’s time pretending you can.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Neville, apologies for not realising that you had already responded to Chris.

  • Chris Warren says:

    spangled drongo

    Your links do not show what you think.

    The first relates to methane, and I notice it is a regular trick of denialists to switch like this.

    It is also a trick of denialists to try and pretend that conditions over 400 million years ago are relevant to the atmosphere we have today. There were no land animals at this point. Any short cooling was probably a result of a meteor disturbance creating cooling through the well known ‘nuclear winter’ effect.

    You appear to not know what the word evidence means. The evidence that the climate is warming is in the satellite references you have been directed to several times.

    Please note that today’s atmosphere is not represented by the atmosphere 400 millions of years ago.

    Luckily we can conclude how CO2 (and other GHGs) are related to global warming in the present era and into the future;

    Climate change is being brought about by extra heat being introduced into the troposphere and here there is incontestable empirical evidence of change in the real world.

    The temperature in the middle stratosphere is falling by over 4C per century and at the outer stratosphere is falling by over 7C per century as measured by satellites.

    This is incontestable, empirical, reproducible, cross-examinable, consistent evidence of change in the real world.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “The first relates to methane, and I notice it is a regular trick of denialists to switch like this.”

      Mille pardons, Chris. What an infliction! Here is the correct one:


      You had more chance of proving me wrong with the first graph. But this is where Al Gore got it wrong and the CO2 in each interglacial was caused by the warming and lagged in each case by centuries.

      “This is incontestable, empirical, reproducible, cross-examinable, consistent evidence of change in the real world.”

      And when are you going to stop blithering about that and show us “incontestable, empirical, reproducible, cross-examinable, consistent evidence” that this change is due to ACO2?

      How long does it take you to understand the point of the debate?

  • Chris Warren says:


    Can you please indicate where I said;

    “… co2 in the past couldn’t cause any warming”

  • Chris Warren says:

    spangled drongo

    Of course increased CO2 causes increased temperature because it is scientifically verified that CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb long wave radiation.

    If you did not know this then no wonder you have been wandering all over the place.

    CO2, CH4, H2O are diatomic gases and therefore absorb longer wave radiation more than monatomic molecules – O2, etc.

    If you want more proof just Google:

    “absorption spectra of greenhouse gases”

    Or you could just refer to the Royal Society which advises:

    “Our understanding of the physics by which CO2 affects Earth’s energy balance is confirmed by laboratory measurements, as well as by detailed satellite and surface observations of the emission and absorption of infrared energy by the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases absorb some of the infrared energy that Earth emits in so-called bands of stronger absorption that occur at certain wavelengths. Different gases absorb energy at different wavelengths. CO2 has its strongest heat-trapping band centred at a wavelength of 15 micrometres (millionths of a metre), with wings that spread out a few micrometres on either side. There are also many weaker absorption bands. As CO2 concentrations increase, the absorption at the centre of the strong band is already so intense that it plays little role in causing additional warming. However, more energy is absorbed in the weaker bands and in the wings of the strong band, causing the surface and lower atmosphere to warm further.”

  • Chris Warren says:

    This may help people who are not aware of the incontestable, empirical, reproducible, cross-examinable, consistent evidence.

    Anyone with the right equipment can verify that 7–75% of solar radiation passes through the atmosphere while only 15-30% of infrared (a longer wavelength) is able to escape back out into the solar system.

    All demonstrated here:


    • JimboR says:

      All that spectral analysis of satellite radiation data is for nerds. The simpletons much prefer Malcolm Roberts’ common sense model:

      “It is basic. The sun warms the earth’s surface. The surface, by contact, warms the moving, circulating atmosphere. That means the atmosphere cools the surface. How then can the atmosphere warm it? It cannot. That is why their computer models are wrong.”

      • spangled drongo says:

        For incredibly obtuse Chris and Jimbo: how many times does it need to be pointed out that the theory of GHG is not at issue.

        Absolutely nobody is in any doubt about that fact, so please stop trying to teach your granny to suck eggs.

        Apart from being dumb, it’s boring as hell.

        What you both don’t get is that nobody has shown that the recent warming that is well below natural climate variability is definitely the result of ACO2e emissions.

        And while in principle it could be, it hasn’t been proved or quantified.

      • David says:

        …and combined with Robert’s claim that NASA has fudged the data it does not leave a lot of common ground to begin any sort of conversation. Roberts will be great for AGW. He will be the gift that keeps on giving.

        And then Don wants to quote, at length, a pompous diatribe from “a PhD called Graham Woods” who among other things wants to call into question Brian Cox’s, climate science bona fides.

        • Nga says:

          It is amusing isn’t it, David. Uncle Donald thinks education, formal training, work experience, research, peer review, publications and citation rankings mean nothing because any liver-spotted old fella can sit at his computer in fluffy bunny slippers and terry towelling bathrobe and become an expert at anything at Google U. But he nonetheless breathlessly tells us that “Graham Woods” has a PhD in goodness knows what, as if this really matters. He also looked down his nose at me when I dared to prick his pompous balloon and exclaimed “But I have advised politicians!!!”.

          Uncle Donald’s mind certainly works in mysterious ways … I’m reminded of Maggie Beare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTDeyVp8pp0

  • Neville says:

    A new study has found a hiatus of the Greenhouse effect since the end of the 20th century.

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep33315 Here is the abstract from the study.


    The rate at which the global average surface temperature is increasing has slowed down since the end of the last century. This study investigates whether this warming hiatus results from a change in the well-known greenhouse effect. Using long-term, reliable, and consistent observational data from the Earth’s surface and the top of the atmosphere (TOA), two monthly gridded atmospheric and surface greenhouse effect parameters (Ga and Gs) are estimated to represent the radiative warming effects of the atmosphere and the surface in the infrared range from 1979 to 2014. The atmospheric and surface greenhouse effect over the tropical monsoon-prone regions is found to contribute substantially to the global total. Furthermore, the downward tendency of cloud activity leads to a greenhouse effect hiatus after the early 1990?s, prior to the warming pause. Additionally, this pause in the greenhouse effect is mostly caused by the high number of La Niña events between 1991 and 2014. A strong La Niña indicates suppressed convection in the tropical central Pacific that reduces atmospheric water vapor content and cloud volume. This significantly weakened regional greenhouse effect offsets the enhanced warming influence in other places and decelerates the rising global greenhouse effect. This work suggests that the greenhouse effect hiatus can be served as an additional factor to cause the recent global warming slowdown.

    Also I suppose we should link to the BBC summary of the satellite study showing an increase in global coastal land over the last 30 years. Here is the relevant quote and link.


    “Coastal areas were also analysed, and to the scientists surprise, coastlines had gained more land – 33,700 sq km (13,000 sq miles) – than they had been lost to water (20,100 sq km or 7,800 sq miles).

    “We expected that the coast would start to retreat due to sea level rise, but the most surprising thing is that the coasts are growing all over the world,” said Dr Baart.

    “We’re were able to create more land than sea level rise was taking.”

  • Chris Warren says:


    You said:

    “Chris your confused statement that co2 in the past couldn’t cause any warming is ridiculous. You seem to completely deny that past co2 levels were much higher than the 400 ppm of today.”

    I have asked you:

    Can you please indicate where I said;

    “… co2 in the past couldn’t cause any warming”

    Have you found it?

    Where did I deny that CO2 levels were higher in the past?

  • Neville says:

    Chris this is what you said at 11.22pm on Sept 16.

    “In fact no natural period of warming in the past was caused by extra CO2.

    So our period, if it continues, is obviously unnatural.”

    So how do you know that this slight modern warming is unnatural? We’ve had higher temp changes per century over the last 8,000 years. The temp changes since 1850 and 1880 per century are lower than the 1 c NATURAL variation found by the Lloyd study. What about clouds or solar changes over this period? Also where is the correlation with co2 over this period?

    And UAH V 6 is showing a little over 1 c per century warming since DEC 1978 and about 0.18 c per century warming since June 1998. Why has the trend dropped since 1998? Therefore I think your recent so called unnatural warming period is fairly difficult to understand.

    • Chris Warren says:


      You had no right to change my correct statement. This sort of dirty trick only disrupts consideration of climate change.

      You are simply ill informed. The fact that it is unnatural CO2 has been scientifically proven by the lack of C14 isotope. All natural carbon has C14. Fossil fuel carbon does not. This is as clear as day.

      The correlation has also been proven and you can see this demonstrated here:


      I do not know how many times you have been told about sinusoidal tendencies, but you keep on repeating the same old cherry-picking tune, again and again to the [point of final, utter, boredom.

      “If you ain’t gunna listen – you ain’t gunna learn”

      • spangled drongo says:

        “If you ain’t gunna listen – you ain’t gunna learn”

        That’s what I keep telling you Chris.

        But you keep playing tiddlywinks.

        Did you notice the warming on your link? 1.4f or 0.77c.

        Did you notice they completely ignored natural climate variability which is twice that warming over that period [could it be because there are so many aspects to the climate they admit they don’t understand?]

        And here’s something very obvious to anyone with a thermometer in their car that they conveniently forgot about too, that covers it by a factor of up to more than 15:


      • Bryan Roberts says:

        “All natural carbon has C14. Fossil fuel carbon does not. ”

        Can you please clarify this assertion? How is C14 segregated into ‘natural’ fuel versus ‘unnatural’ fuel (that burnt by humans as opposed to that burnt in bushfires, for example). It must be an exceedingly sophisticated process, as according to wikipedia “carbon-14 occurs in trace amounts, i.e., making up about 1 or 1.5 atoms per 10exp12 atoms of the carbon in the atmosphere”. I think we’re talking one in a thousand trillion atoms.

  • Chris Warren says:


    I have to defer to the Royal Society on the details. They say, in one of their FAQ’s

    “Measured decreases in the fraction of other forms of carbon (the isotopes 14C and 13C) and a small decrease in atmospheric oxygen concentration (observations of which have been available since 1990) show that the rise in CO2 is largely from combustion of fossil fuels (which have low 13C fractions and no 14C)”

    See: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/question-3/

    There is also further corroboration as the fall in oxygen (Cape Grim data) seems associated with the combustion of fossil fuels (hydrocarbons) where this is beyond any fall in oxygen associated with the natural combustion of hydrocarbons (eg glucose) in living creatures.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Since all fuel is fossilised carbon, I still ask why it has no C14. If you can’t answer this, your argument has no force.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        “Measured decreases in the fraction of other forms of carbon (the isotopes 14C and 13C) and a small decrease in atmospheric oxygen concentration (observations of which have been available since 1990) show that the rise in CO2 is largely from combustion of fossil fuels (which have low 13C fractions and no 14C). ”

        Please explain.

      • dlb says:

        The half life of C14 is approx. 8000 years, any coal laid down over 1 million years ago (most coal) would have almost no C14 present and no associated radioactivity to measure. Hence radiocarbon ageing is limited to 50,000 years.

      • Chris Warren says:


        You should send your query to the Royal Society or an alternative source of authority.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Chris, did you read that abstract?:

          “as volcanic CO2 contributions are effectively indistinguishable from industrial CO2 contributions, we cannot glibly assume that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is exclusively anthropogenic.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    One of the biggest absurdities around is warmists claiming that CO2e from volcanoes and all magmatic vents are a known quantity when they don’t even know how many there are.

    Even most of the ones on land have not been measured. Let alone all those along tectonic plate edges and other active areas undersea that they often don’t even know of.

    One of the great known unknowns even though our recent knowledge of them has increased six-fold. :



    A brief survey of the literature concerning volcanogenic carbon dioxide emission finds that estimates of subaerial emission totals fail to account for the diversity of volcanic emissions and are unprepared for individual outliers that dominate known volcanic emissions. Deepening the apparent mystery of total volcanogenic CO2 emission, there is no magic fingerprint with which to identify industrially produced CO2 as there is insufficient data to distinguish the effects of volcanic CO2 from fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere. Molar ratios of O2 consumed to CO2 produced are, moreover, of little use due to the abundance of processes (eg. weathering, corrosion, etc) other than volcanic CO2 emission and fossil fuel consumption that are, to date, unquantified. Furthermore, the discovery of a surprising number of submarine volcanoes highlights the underestimation of global volcanism and provides a loose basis for an estimate that may partly explain ocean acidification and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels observed last century, as well as shedding much needed light on intensified polar spring melts. Based on this brief literature survey, we may conclude that volcanic CO2 emissions are much higher than previously estimated, and as volcanic CO2 contributions are effectively indistinguishable from industrial CO2 contributions, we cannot glibly assume that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is exclusively anthropogenic.


  • Chris Warren says:

    Spangled drongo

    Volcanoes are irrelevant to the trends since the 1950’s. We don’t have to distinguish them, because we are focusing on changes in CO2 and there have always been volcanoes.

    There is no evidence that volcanic emissions have increased over this period of climate change and increasing CO2 accumulation. They probably amount for around 5% equivalent of human emissions.

    There may be a long-run trend based on changes in the amount of such venting over longer periods but this does not impact on the trends we have noted from the 1950’s.

  • spangled drongo says:

    “There is no evidence that volcanic emissions have increased over this period of climate change and increasing CO2 accumulation. They probably amount for around 5% equivalent of human emissions.”

    Chris, if the experts can’t tell the difference between human and volcanic emissions, have never measured 90% of these volcanoes and don’t even know where many of them are, how can they have any credible idea of these emissions?

    This is not a major part of the sceptics’ argument but it is another indication of the uncertainties [also ignored by GCMs] attached to this complex issue involving such a tiny amount of actual warming.

  • Chris Warren says:

    How C14 is formed naturally.


    Only the carbon 14 that has been kept underground for millions of years has run out of carbon 14, and so can be distiguished from all other carbon exposed to the recent environment..

  • Chris Warren says:

    How true skeptics deal with volcanoes and ENSO etc.


  • tripitaka says:

    I see that Malcolm Roberts will have his change to set the climate change phools on the right path to the real science that is only empiricism.


    It would be just terrific if this could be televised. I’d predict a big audience and we wouldn’t have Tony Jones there to help out the silly Brian Cox with his pathetic graph. I’d love to see the look on those scientist’s faces when they realise all their work has been for nothing and Mal the ex-sovereign citizen has had the truth all along – along with Don Aitkin of course but Don is a lover not a fighter and quite sensibly chooses to stay low key in his denialism.

    Or maybe those elite very rich and influential scientists and their incredibly stupid PhD ‘s, post-docs and researchers – they must have been chosen especially for their venality – continue to clutch the buckets of money that the ‘warmist’ industry is throwing around and refuse to see the problems and continue to deny Malcolm Roberts his due as the smartest man on the planet closely followed by the Spangled Drongo.

    Could we give them all an IQ test before the session begins?

  • Malcolm says:

    Brian Cox gave the usual condescending Oxbridge dogmatism. What he fails to understand is that in Europe all climate discussion is generated by people on the public payroll. They have a vested interest in keeping the public and politicians frightened, to ensure a continuing flow of taxpayers money for them to undertake their hobbies. Because of our resources industry, we have many thousands of highly qualified and experienced geologists, geophysicists, and petroleum engineers whose livelihood depends on their expertise in analysing huge datasets in complex systems. This means they have just as much if not more ability to analyse and interpret climate data than their academic brethren. We also have a large agricultural industry in an arid country so there are tens of thousands of people who have an intimate knowledge of climate since white settlement. With all this knowledge and expertise involving people who do not rely on the public purse, we have a much better level of debate, with plenty of people not only able to provide persuasive arguments against the carbon dioxide hypothesis, but several who have written books which completely demolish that hypothesis. Brian Cox needs to get out more.

    • Chris Warren says:


      Hopefully, with the data presentations now available for everyone to access, we can dispense with such vague innuendos.

      Maybe Malcolm Roberts will update his knowledge and skill base?

      • spangled drongo says:

        “Maybe Malcolm Roberts will update his knowledge and skill base?”

        He might even look at the big picture, hey, Chris.

  • Neville says:

    Another very recent study shows that SLs are rising at less than 7 inches per century. Here is the abstract of the Thompson et al study. That’s less than SLR over the previous 100 years . http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL070552/abstract;jsessionid=0F25D52804E2ADB7610266D336C73B8D.f04t03

    • spangled drongo says:

      This agrees with my own thoughts and obs. The GPS signal error is still too great to believe and satellite altimetry is statistical rubbish.

      “We also show as the additional information provided by GPS and satellite altimetry is of very little help. Computations of “absolute” sea levels suffer from inaccuracies with errors larger than the estimated trends. The GPS is more reliable than satellite altimetry, but the accuracy of the estimation of the vertical velocity at GPS domes is still well above ±1 mm/year and the relative motion of tide gauges vs. GPS domes is mostly unassessed. The satellite altimetry returns a noisy signal so that a +3.2 mm/year trend is only achieved by arbitrary “corrections”. We conclude that if the sea levels are only oscillating about constant trends everywhere as suggested by the tide gauges, then the effects of climate change are negligible, and the local patterns may be used for local coastal planning without any need of purely speculative global trends based on emission scenarios.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    Interesting paper, Neville.

    Here is also a recent paper showing less than an inch per century and no acceleration by using the oldest tide gauges with at least 80 years of continuous data:


    SD only gives you the facts.

  • Neville says:

    Thanks for that link Spangled. Certainly any CAGW is very hard to find in the real world since 1950.
    Here’s more silly BS from the Climate Institute.

  • Neville says:

    Their ABC are already lying and spinning BS to try and blame anything for SA ‘s blackout. But as usual the Bolter gives us the facts about storms that hit that state causing flooding etc many years ago.
    They all lied about our dams never filling again yet they prove again that they have no shame. Here’s just a few historical facts from Bolt.

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