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.