Web_Debate-cherryIf one listens to the likes of DJ Auchterlonie on the subject of climate change, one gets the impression that there is a robust scientific debate going on about whether the global climate is warming and whether human beings are largely responsible for that. There is no such ‘debate’ going on in circles where you would expect one: inside the community of the intellectually brightest, most qualified, senior and peer reviewed, professional journal published academics, in the extremely arcane and highly specialized area of climatological research. The IPCC report is produced by hundreds of the world’s best climate scientists and reviewed by a cast of thousands; all highly qualified specialists in their many and varied fields of expertise.

What these scientists have produced is an extremely diverse and formidably substantial body of evidence and analysis, that demonstrates to a 95 per cent level of probability that climate warming is happening, that we are responsible and that the problem is getting worse, rapidly. Last week on the ABC, when David Suzuki was on Q&A, Professor Franks, an environmental engineer, led the charge of the sceptics. But while Prof Franks may be a great environmental engineer, he isn’t a climatologist’s bootlace, anymore than the geologist Prof Ian Plimer is, who wrote that scientifically incompetent howler, ‘Heaven and Earth’, back in 2009. To put it in another context, if one had a brain tumour, would it be rational to consult an ears, nose and throat specialist on this condition?  The latter certainly would have had undergraduate training in neurology, but that would hardly be a reason to put your life in their hands to work inside your head, an area in which they had limited specialist knowledge and negligible practice. Exactly the same applies to climate science. Climate scientists as a body have diagnosed a condition at least as serious for us all as if we had a brain tumour.

If geologists and environmental engineers disagreed, why would you listen to them, especially if they are not involved in any part of the current research and have no track record of relevant and current peer reviewed published work in the area? Our collective future rides on that diagnosis and prompt remedial action to save ourselves, so wouldn’t one take the engineers and geologists with a grain of salt, given what is at stake and the enormous risks involved in ignoring well qualified advice? And wouldn’t one take the sceptics with an even greater grain of salt if one knew that most of the impetus for the sceptic case is coming not from scientific institutions, but free marketeer public relations lobbies and their corporate backers, who have a lot to lose from the kind of industrial transformation we will have to make, to deal with our climate ‘condition’? Auchterlonie et al sound plausible, although they cherry pick data, misrepresent conclusions and make confident sounding, but bogus claims.

They will sound reasonable to people who have little understanding of the subject, other than what they read from that other great climate authority, Andrew Bolt, and the legions of his clones who work for Newscorp around the world, which controls 70 per cent of the public information media in this country. I find it distressing that it is proving so ridiculously easy to wilfully corrupt public discourse, by casting false doubts on scientifically authoritative research whose conclusions have such dire implications, not just for us, but our descendants, for an awfully long time. Denying a 97 per cent climate scientist consensus on this subject is statistically worse than playing Russian roulette with five out of the six chambers loaded with bullets. And the consequences of them being right are going to be just as disastrous if we ignore the risks that they are pointing out, and do nothing to confront them, and quickly.

Christopher Nagle, Grantville