Monthly Archives: October 2009

Let’s look at the data


This is a very fine sum­ma­ry of the case that noth­ing very unusu­al is hap­pen­ing to the glob­al cli­mate and of the evidence—direct data, not proxies—that the IPCC pro­jec­tions are sim­ply wrong about the key fac­tor they say will result in alarm­ing cli­mate change (by the way that’s not CO2)

Lindzen has a record that calls for atten­tion. He has researched and taught atmos­pher­ic and cli­mate sci­ence for more than 30 years, most recent­ly as Alfred P. Sloan Pro­fes­sor of Mete­o­rol­o­gy and chair of the Depart­ment of Earth, Atmos­pher­ic and Plan­e­tary Sci­ence at the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy. He was lead author of a chap­ter in the 2001 Third Assess­ment Report of the Unit­ed Nations’ Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Pan­el on Cli­mate Change (IPCC).

Why Australia should not adopt an ETS

The main­stream media offer us noth­ing but pol­i­tics on the ques­tion of whether the pro­posed Emis­sion Trad­ing Scheme (ETS) leg­is­la­tion should be adopt­ed. Polit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion is less demand­ing for the jour­nal­ists and offers read­ers an engag­ing melo­dra­ma. But the pol­i­tics are no guide to a respon­si­ble deci­sion on the ETS. In this post I review both the gov­ern­ments’ stat­ed rea­sons for the ETS and my own assess­ment; that the ETS should be aban­doned, because the bal­ance of evi­dence is against it.

The car­bon con­trols, even if ful­ly only part­ly imple­ment­ed (10% cut in 2000 emis­sions by 2020), imply a “sub­stan­tial sac­ri­fice” (Ross Garnaut’s words) of our nation­al wel­fare because Aus­tralia is one of the biggest users (on a per capi­ta basis) and exporters of car­bon (in the form of coal and LNG).

But the phys­i­cal evi­dence strong­ly sug­gests that any pro­gram designed to affect glob­al tem­per­a­tures by cut­ting human-emit­ted CO2 will be both futile and unnec­es­sary. The IPCC’s 1992–2004 case has fall­en apart: a key test of its the­o­ry fails to val­i­date and its pre­dic­tions for warm­ing of land and ocean in this cen­tu­ry have turned out to be use­less (the mod­els both under-pre­dict­ed and over-pre­dict­ed tem­per­a­tures). The mod­est size and uneven pro­gres­sion of tem­per­a­ture change over the past century—including a decline over the past decade—shows the increas­ing­ly shrill alarm about warm­ing to be a moral pan­ic akin to the ‘pop­u­la­tion bomb’ pan­ic that gripped Pres­i­dent Obama’s sci­ence advi­sor in the 1970s.

The ETS tax, dis­guised as a trad­able prop­er­ty, is unrea­son­able (because not need­ed), regres­sive (because pow­er-com­pa­nies will be com­pen­sat­ed ahead of con­sumers), and an invi­ta­tion to rent-seek­ers who are scram­bling for spe­cial treat­ment under the pro­posed dis­tri­b­u­tion of emis­sion per­mits.

In view of our 1% share of the glob­al econ­o­my and car­bon depen­dences it seems like van­i­ty for the Prime Min­is­ter to take up the role of cheer-leader for glob­al car­bon restric­tions, but it is insan­i­ty to impose these restric­tions on our­selves before it is clear that the oth­er 99% of the world is equal­ly deter­mined to do so.