Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks, eat your heart out

I may soon have in my hands hot evidence that suggests The Climate Sceptic (TCS) party is not a political party, but a covert black-pr operation designed to influence the public into thinking there is more support for the denial of the science of climate change than there really is.

In the meantime, this morning I have been sent the following mass-broadcast email from my tame and obedient TCS leaker; it's self-explanatory, really:
Will the real TROLL stand up?

G'day all

There is a traitor in our midst.

Do you know that the people calling us deniers are to be despised. They are using a term to hint at Holocaust deniers. In fact, they are the deniers.
The AGW hypothesis has been falsified, but they deny it. They tried to eliminate the MWP and the LIA in a denial effort with their flawed hockeystick.

What cretins! And the idiot posting cannot even spell.

Now, one among their number is among this contact list. He is handing my emails on to the REAL DENIERS, the promoters of the flawed AGW hypothesis.

Not Happy.....

I notice that Geoff seems not to be happy, but this is his own fault, and I hear that some people are just like that. If he wants to roll about in the stench of 'Holocaust denial' and complain that he is being linked to this disgusting phenomena when I call him and his ilk "AGW deniers", or "science-deniers", then that is his own victimisation at play here and I take no back-step.

I am only interested in the accuracy of my language, not the histrionics of the AGW denial movement and their shame at their own reason-adverse tactics. The Shoah stands in its own category and shouldn't be used as a gambit by AGW deniers.

Mr Brown and his winged monkeys, and his 'party' are AGW deniers, not sceptics, because a sceptic is one who comes to their conclusion after full consideration of all the facts. In this case the facts are found in the body of peer-reviewed, climate science journals. And we know that deniers go there like vampires go to church.


Geoff Brown replies on behalf of TCS, in comments. He's in a topsy-turvey upside-down space, where the cart pulls the horse when the sun rises in the west, at the moment:
Geoff Brown said...

Hey Ted, (or is it ShyTed?)

What makes you think I am not happy? If you want to illegally post my correspondence, go ahead.

All I opst is the TRUTH.

So, by posting my emails, you are spreading the TRUTH amongst your denialists. Is that not great, or what?

Spread ing the truth to your deniers makes me very happy.

Yhanks ShyTed~!

Ted, huh? How did you know, Geoff? I realise you are lining-up for the standard ad hominem tactic favoured by professional AGW deniers and, pop - "ShyTed".

But you are in upside-down land at the moment so really it's "Bold". That is, "BoldTed"where the first 'd' is silent. You know... as in, "It's no use giving me your permission to publish your mass-broadcast emails, because that horse has BoldTed!"

As for why I think you are "not happy", why you say so yourself at the bottom of your 'traitor' email I posted above. I know you are not into evidence-based reasoning, but having said so, then reinforced it with the name-calling, "Troll", "cretin", "despised", "idiot", "ShyTed", etc., makes me think you are unhappy.

Either way, you are still RudeTed. With the first 'd' being silent of course.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A professional climate denier replies

I have received a nice comment from Geoff Brown of the Climate Skeptic Party (TCS) astroturfing outfit in my comments section of my piece about their covert astroturfing campaign:
Blogger Geoff Brown said...

To the misguided individual who unfortunately does not seem to feel a need to put her/his name to this blog.

I invoke the time-honoured WWW (Woof Woof Woof) defence: On the Internet, know one knows you are a dog. It seems you are not up with the protocol, Geoff. What cave have you been living in?

So, what is your defence for siccing your winged monkeys onto websites and newspaper letters pages, and radio shows and telling them what to say? Do you think it's ethical?

Are you aware that to post some-one's private e-mail without permission of the author is an offence.

So, rather than name you as a criminal for this offence, I belatedly give you permission to reproduce the private e-mail that you have already published.

In future, if you receive and want to publish one of my private e-mails, please ask permission first.

1:36 PM EST
Pffft. Soft. So soft you would think it's double-ply.

I'm not sure that a broadcast email to your network of agitating winged monkeys, on behalf of the "political party", TCS, can be considered private, Geoff, when the intent is that the winged monkeys get your emails published multiple times.

Even if so, I am not worried about my legal position here.

I claim 'truth' and 'public interest' in my publishing the emails you sent on behalf of TCS, and all the ones from your organisation that I have been promised by my source. (Readers, please keep coming back).

Yep, all emails that you mass-broadcast in order to inspire (what I believe are activist winged monkeys) to republish in letters to the editors of newspapers.

I believe that all voting Australians should know that there is an organised, orchestrated attempt by AGW deniers to mislead the public into thinking there is a big support for anthropogenic climate denial. Particularly when the misleaders are entering state politics. That is, the beneficiaries of this campaign are not the grass-roots, but... well... you... and the other nine candidates of TSC. Tut, tut.

Talking about offence though, I do take offence at what I regard as cheap duplicity, hence my going public. Do you know that your behaviour is proscribed by every reputable public relations company and PR industry association? Do you realise the murky practice of Astroturfing has a been long-tarred with the pro-smoking brush, for example? You know, those proto-deniers whose actions you mimic.

So, thank you for your kind permission to publish your emails (and the long bow it came with) but I don't need it for the future.

Friday, October 29, 2010

AGW deniers' astroturfing campaign underway

First it was picked up in the MSM by Andrew Bolt, climate denial's Don Quixote.

Why are schools promoting this deceitful film?
Andrew Bolt
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 11:46am

The film is error-riddled and alarmist, and the work of a prize hypocrite and deceiver who dodges any attempt to hold him to account. Even an otherwise sympathetic British judge says the film contains so many errors that it should not be used in classrooms without a health warning.

But in Australia....
But in Australia, the Education Department is introducing 'An Inconvenient Truth' into the national curriculum to teach students about environmental sustainability across all subjects.

This is what has Andrew Bolt, and other activist AGW deniers, rather exercised.

Other activist AGW deniers include Geoffrey Brown of the Climate Skeptic Party. They are really an astroturf outfit. As I shall show.

I have in my hot little hands, a few emails, forwarded to me by someone on his mailing list.
Fw: Re Schools Curricula and Al Gore
From:Add to Contacts
To: <>
2 Files Download All
MPs.pdf (320KB); Senators.pdf (78KB)

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Geoffrey Brown
To: Geoff Brown
Sent: Wed, 27 October, 2010 10:04:04 AM
Subject: Re Schools Curricula and Al Gore

G'day All

I find it very disturbing to read today that AL Gore's Science Fiction Movie is to be included in Australian Schools Curricula. I sure that you will remember that the British High Court ruled that it was Alarmist and contained nine significant errors. Mr Justice Burton......said that some of the claims were wrong and had arisen in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration”. Quotes from The Times which goes on to detail errors.

Today we read in the MSM that it is going to be included in the curricula of schools around the country. The reports include:

Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth included in school curriculum
There is an on-line poll on that Herald-Sun Page.

Climate change film An Inconvenient Truth for Australian schools

I suggest that we all write to the newspapers, but I also suggest that we contact MPs (at least your own local MP) and Senators. Lists attached.

How dare they!

How dare they educate the future's biggest stakeholders? Fancy that? So I am going to get all members of my AGW denial activist group to write to all and sundry pollies and complain, lists attached.

Then, I am going to get my winged monkeys to reverse newpaper polls:
TCS Thinkers and Writers

Hey all,

As Bill tells me: Another day another poll.
Do you think that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth should be shown to Australian school children?

It's going the wrong way at the moment.


The wrong way for Geoff's "TCS Thinkers and Writers" is where it ended. But, he tried:

Poll: An Inconvenient Truth for schools

Do you think that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth should be shown to Australian school children?





Total votes: 5133.


These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

Related coverage

MPs divided on educational value of An Inconvenient Truth

The Climate Skeptics Party has just been caught out attempting to manipulate public opinion. Not by engaging in debate, but by trying to deceive the public about that debate.

And the account of their underhandedness has been preserved on the Intertubes Memory forever, particularly for interested students of the future to wonder at the motivations of such miserable people.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Emissions down, interest up: Banking on a carbon neutral future

It's highly unlikely that the thing to bring me back out of my grumpy hiatus from blogging about climate change (after ex-PM Rudd stalled on the ETS), would be a press release. Particular one from a bank. Like most of Australia, I suspect, the only reason why I am still with my current bank is that they are the best of a bad lot.

But, when one of the big four are telling me they are now carbon neutral, and it doesn't smell of green-wash at first sniff, I'm encouraged to notice the real-world progress being made while certain political parties bugger around spoiling. I am reminded that procurement departments in large companies in Australian and globally are sending out forms to all of their suppliers, getting them to record what systems they have implemented to record and reduce their carbon footprints. Tendering offices are responding to requests of the same. Marketing departments are framing the triple bottom line. Supply-chains are greening.

Beavering on in the background of the busy commercial world, the biggest survey since Domesday is going on. Facilities managers are recording the savings in energy and recyclables and environmental performance now makes the annual report. Top 200 CEOs are proudly talking up their companies' newly declared carbon neutral pledges, as if they were hippies at a Stonehenge Solstice moon festival. It's not all puffery, these companies are now subscribing to rigid environmental management standards like the ISO14000+ series. Tangible, verifiable stuff - ETS-proof.

HR departments are running behavioural change programs. Photocopiers are being changed to print double sided, and idle out. Screen savers drop into energy saving mode after 30 seconds, down from 5 minutes. Cardboard boxes for paper waste are replacing the all purpose desk bins at employees cubicles and now the poor darlings have to make the trip to the communal recycling bins for any other waste disposal matters. Early grumblings soon becomes office chatter as the food and organic waste bin becomes the new water-cooler in my office.

Everywhere there is cause for optimism: Energy is being saved, emissions cut, cars are being taken off the road as far as the atmosphere is concerned.

About about 13,500 cars annually by the NAB alone, in fact. The NAB has announced that they are now proudly carbon neutral, savings of around 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum since 2006 through efficiency and effectively taking 13,500 cars, annually.

I checked out their website to find out more, and liked the new design -- it's bold and clean. In the equally bold headline they announce they're "proudly carbon neutral". Good on them, they deserve to be proud - they are the first bank to go carbon neutral. Not a bank of the future, but a bank for the future. Anyway, NAB have now given me something more to consider in a new bank, next time I get pissed off at my current bank's more opportunistic fees regime.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Limber up for the pre-election backflip season

The Australian Labor Government may have abandoned the ETS field in the lead up the election. Ironically leaving Malcolm Turnbull as the only pro-CPRS player left, but on his way out.

Not content with his Pyrrhic victory, he uses this for his very own backflip back into politics. Welcome back on entertainment value alone, given this:
Kevin Rudd blames an opposition backflip and slow global progress on climate change action for the delay of the federal government's carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS).

But the prime minister says the government is still committed to meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Mr Rudd on Tuesday said the government would now wait until the end of 2012, when the current Kyoto commitment period ends, before implementing the CPRS.
Tim Dunlop is not impressed with the poor backbone action in Rudd's very own flip:
Kevin Rudd picks fights, but he doesn't want to take a punch. Maybe that's pragmatic and means he'll live to fight another day. But increasingly it looks like he has vacated the ring.
Can't say I am either. I can understand the reasons for vacating the ring for the election, but getting a bill through that is going to wrought massive changes on voters does need courage. might.

My problem with Rudd white-flagging the CPRS field is the signal it sends out to renewable energy investors and voters. And the potentially stalled progress on the issue.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our problem is climate change is not our problem

"... it is hard to make people value the long-term future as much as the immediate future."

and other pearls of wisdom from the mind of Lord Rees of Ludlow, astrophysicist and Astronomer Royal, can be found here.

"Global warming poses a unique political challenge for two reasons. First, the effect is non-localised: the CO2 emissions from Britain have no more effect here than they do in Australia, and vice versa. That means any credible regime whereby the polluter pays has to be broadly international.

"Secondly, in politics, the urgent always trumps the important, and one has to accept that the consequences of climate change will be predominantly felt more than 50 years from now. It is not going to produce disasters in the next 10 or 20 years, so it is an investment in the interest of the next generation.

So, what do we tell our kids? "Sorry, but it was always going to be your problem anyway."?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How climate denial really works #2: 50% of news is spin

We learned in the first post that by just turning up in a media report, skeptical views gain enough credibility to influence audiences' views. But, how do they turn up in the first place?
Crikey has published their six month long investigation into how much news is pr spin, like that of climate deniers and skeptics:
Hard questions, because this is what came out in the wash: after analysing a five-day working week in the media, across 10 hard-copy papers, ACIJ and Crikey found that nearly 55% of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations. The Daily Telegraph came out on top of the league ladder with 70% of stories analysed triggered by public relations. The Sydney Morning Herald gets the wooden spoon with (only) 42% PR-driven stories for that week.
So, the question is, do climate skeptical writers like Ackerman, Bolt, Devine, et al, do original research? Or do they get their stuff from PR outfits like WUWT, CEI Institute, The Heartland Institute, etc?

How climate denial really works

Desmogblog carries the results of Stanford study which shows how including a "skeptic" view to balance a climate science news report affects the audience.
Providing climate skeptics a voice in “balanced” mainstream media coverage skews public perception of the scientific consensus regarding climate change, leaving viewers less likely to understand the threat of climate disruption and less likely to support government actions to address global warming, according to the results of a Stanford University research effort.
That is, just by being in the same report, the fringe can be seen as more respectable.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

China pings climate denial as extreme, Aussies agree

ABC - The Drum:

Current Poll Results

Do you agree with China's view that man-made climate change denial is an extreme stance and out of touch with mainstream thought?

3000 votes counted

That's pretty clear.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Deconstructing climate denial — #1. De cudgel

Forearmed is forewarned.

Argumentum ad baculum (Latin for argument to the cudgel or appeal to the stick), also known as appeal to force, is an argument where force, coercion, or the threat of force, is given as a justification for a conclusion. It is a specific case of the negative form of an argument to the consequences.

Mix with some argumentum ad hominem, and you get this thick paste:

“Mr. xxx, this is John Q. Public out here. Perhaps you don’t understand there’s no such thing as man-made global warming. I don’t care if you call it f!@%$#%@ing climate change, I don’t f!@%$#%@ing care what you call it. The same thing you communists tried in the 1970s. I’ve got a f!@%$#%@ing 75 articles from Newsweek Magazine stating we were making the earth freeze to death and we would have to melt the f!@%$#%@ing ice caps to save the earth. You, sir, and your colleagues, are progressive communists attempting to destroy America…Your f!@%$#%@ing agenda-driven, money-f!@%$#%@ing grabbing paws and understand there’s no such thing as global warming, you f!@%$#%@ing idiot and your f!@%$#%@ing colleagues.”

That free character assessment emailed to a colleague of climate scientist, Dr. Peter Gleick, is indicative of a claimed rampant cyber-bullying campaign that these scientists are subject to during their working day. On top of these in-box intrusions, work includes dealing with bandwidth-consuming FOI data requests responses, clearing up misrepresentations, IPCC 5AR preparation - and when there is spare time - doing what they signed-up for: climate research.

I can only think of one other lifesaving profession that has to put up with all that incoming? You could forgive our scientists if they chose to develop similar coping mechanisms.

Argumentum ad baculum takes this form:
Person L says accept argument A or event x will happen.
Event x is bad, dangerous, or threatening.
Therefore, argument A is a good argument.

Until the climate scientist accepts "there’s no such thing as man-made global warming" as true, they will be cyber-bullied.

Cyber-bullying includes being spammed with:
  • the discrediting of their work — ("I don’t care if you call it f!@%$#%@ing climate change, I don’t f!@%$#%@ing care what you call it.")
  • an incoherent babble attack of fossil-fuel funded talking-points taken from climate denier echo-chamber web-sites — ("The same thing you communists tried in the 1970s. I’ve got a f!@%$#%@ing 75 articles from Newsweek Magazine stating we were making the earth freeze to death and we would have to melt the f!@%$#%@ing ice caps to save the earth."), and
  • common insults — ("You, sir, and your colleagues, are progressive communists attempting to destroy America…Your f!@%$#%@ing agenda-driven, money-f!@%$#%@ing grabbing paws..."), ( " f!@%$#%@ing idiot and your f!@%$#%@ing colleagues.”)

Therefore, "understand there’s no such thing as global warming"

Argumentum ad baculum is the second best argument against global warming . You can read Climate Progress give The best argument against global warming, here.

If you come across it in the wild: 1) identify it by name, and 2) dismiss it as a logical fallacy. Or, 1) identify it, and 2) take the threatening cudgel away (in this case, by hitting the talk to the firewall button).

Monday, March 08, 2010

Energy efficiency adds up to $700 million savings for Australian business

Far from being onerous on business, research by the Energy Efficiency Council demonstrates the potential for business to reap big savings by reducing emissions.

CLAIMS that even small greenhouse gas targets will hurt big industry have been undermined by a government report that found basic efficiency improvements could cut national emissions and save businesses more than $700 million.

An assessment of 199 large energy users found improving efficiency could stop at least 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted - a 1.1 per cent cut in the national carbon footprint each year.

The energy savings could run 1.4 million homes for a year and give the companies an extra $736 million.

An industry group, the Energy Efficiency Council, said if the biggest companies improved efficiency by 15 per cent, national emissions would fall by nearly 5 per cent, saving billions in energy costs.

Now imagine if they had a ETS to trade those savings as carbon credits? At $25 a tonne that would put $160 million into their coffers.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The 90% chance we cause observed global warming now sits at 95%

The 2007 IPCC Summary Report reported a 90% likelihood that mankind's signature was in the currently experienced global warming, leaving the chances that nature was causing the warming estimated at 10%.

Now a new study by scientists at Britain's Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of Edinburgh, Melbourne University and Victoria University in Canada estimates that there was a less than 5 per cent likelihood that natural variations in climate were responsible for the changes:

The study said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had understated mankind's overall contribution to climate change. The IPCC had said in 2007 that there was no evidence of warming in the Antarctic. However, the panel said the latest observations showed that man-made emissions were having an impact on even the remotest continent.

The panel assessed more than 100 recent peer-reviewed scientific papers and found that the overwhelming majority had detected clear evidence of human influence on the climate.

Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office, who led the study, said: "This wealth of evidence we have now shows there is an increasingly remote possibility of climate change being dominated by natural factors rather than human factors."

This has to send a message to those who would seek to delay action... doesn't it?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cycling to work, I emit hydrocarbons

Not me - my car that is sitting back at home. While I'm saving those co2 emissions, it is releasing hydrocarbons and contributing to smog:

Vehicles sitting in the sun for days at a time can spew out damaging hydrocarbons – one of the main ingredients in smog, a federal government study has found.

Hydrocarbons are in the vapour that escapes from petrol tanks on a warm day. Most newer cars have canisters that trap them before they are released but if cars are left sitting for longer than 24 hours the canisters can fill up and stop working until the vehicle is driven, the Second National In-Service Emissions Study found.

As many as 3 million Australian cars may not conform to Australian standards for evaporative emissions.

"The results indicate that when vehicles are parked in warm conditions for an extended period (more than a day), the evaporative emission control systems may not be able to effectively control the build-up of evaporative hydrocarbons, as even the latest systems are only designed to provide effective control for a continuous 24-hour period," the report said.

Ya know ya do ya best... At least this lets me off the cycling 5 days a week. Maybe I drive to the train station twice a week, and cycle the rest. And drive on rainy days.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Australia's carbon intensity begins to fall

While electricity use increased, emissions from electricity generation fell due to a shift to gas-fired and renewable generators from black coal plants, as Ben Cubby, environmental reporter for the SMH, writes:

AUSTRALIA'S greenhouse gas emissions may be reaching a plateau, even though demand for electricity is rising inexorably, new data suggests.

A slight trend towards burning gas instead of coal in power stations means that carbon emissions are beginning to be ''decoupled'' from power generation and economic growth, a report by energy consultants pitt&sherry found.

It is a crucial first step if national emissions are going to be reduced by between 5 and 25 per cent by the year 2020.

The news came as the federal government released its first report measuring the individual emissions of the nation's biggest companies.

While this would appear to be positive news, Hugh Saddler, the economics and sustainability adviser who helped prepare the report says it's too early to see whether this trend will take. The Department of Climate Change expects it to:

"From 2013 to 2020 emissions from the stationary energy sector are projected to grow at an average annual rate 0.5 per cent per annum, compared to the historical growth rate of 2.3 per cent per annum,'' a spokeswoman said. ''This is predominantly due to the projected slowdown in growth in electricity emissions mainly due to the increase in renewable generation associated with the expanded Renewable Energy Target."

Fine aspirations, yet the Government only narrowly avoided another climate scheme disaster that was on track to happen from their lumping solar water in with renewable energy generation for government incentives. Luckily, Penny Wong called in Mr Fix-it.

The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, asked Mr Combet to fix the problem a few weeks ago and after intensive talks with the industry he finalised the changes in the nick of time.

The energy provider AGL yesterday said more than $1 billion in investments was on hold because of problems with the renewable energy market. It then quickly issued a statement to say the government's changes meant the investment was likely to go ahead.

Steve Garner, the managing director of the wind turbine maker Keppel Prince Engineering, had been preparing to sack 150 workers within days. His factory had been idle for a month because energy companies had stopped ordering turbines. "Greg Combet called me this week," Mr Garner said yesterday. "He suggested I hang on, that he was working on something."

Roaring 40s this week said construction of its $400 million Musselroe Bay wind farm in Tasmania had stopped. But yesterday it said the changes meant the project might be viable again.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, promised he would help the project if he won the election.

And Pacific Hydro said it would restart $1 billion worth of investments.

Energy retailers will buy certificates from a large-scale market and a separate fixed-price market covering small-scale domestic technologies.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's the quick and the dead in the climate wars with this killer iPhone app

Ever reached an impasse in an argument about climate change, for want of accurate knowledge?

Science's answers to the common climate deniers' talking-points, painstakingly assembled by John Cook over many years, are now available at the tips of your fingers and right before your opponent's lying eyes, right when you need them next:

The app, published by Skeptical Science and Shine Technologies, has been praised and promoted around the climate change blogosphere.

Deltoid's readers are amused at the responses of the seemingly less tech-savvy deniers, and iTunes perceived 'lack of balance', that set off a round of complaints. Crikey's Pure Poison is the same.

Eli of Rabbett Run has promoted it above footage of rabbits. That's got to say something.

And the Guardiancovers the reportedly panicked responses from skeptics blogs.

If you come across a new deniers' talking-point, you can upload it to to keep feeding John Cook's labour of love, and help him continue to set the record straight.

"How cool would it be to track the spread of the memes in real-time? And what's the hint from Shine Technologies about 'heatmaps'?", are my only two questions.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Garnaut's post-Copenhagen waiting game - Plan B

Professor Ross Garnaut, Australia's answer to Sir Nicholas Stern, tells Tony Jones where the emerging global emissions trading market finds itself post-Copenhagen - we have entered the "waiting game":

And my proposal is a proposal that was in the original report. I call the situation we're in after Copenhagen, the waiting game.

We're waiting for international agreement to provide a basis for international trade in permits. I suggested then, and I think it's the right case now, in the waiting game, to legislate the ETS and to fix the price over a period.

Given the "Government has great difficulty in the legislation of the ETS", Garnaut has a Plan B. He laid it out in his 2008 report, The Garnaut Climate Change Review.

TONY JONES: Tony Abbott says the Government doesn't have a Plan B, if the Emissions Trading Scheme fails at every hurdle to be passed as legislation.

The Greens say that you actually have a Plan B and that Plan B is for a carbon tax - $20 a tonne - on the thousand top polluters in the country and that they, the Greens, are prepared to support it.

Is that in fact your Plan B?

PROF ROSS GARNAUT: That's the waiting game to which I referred. And which was...

TONY JONES: It wasn't- it wasn't quite clear because you referred to it as Emissions Trading Scheme legislation, but in fact, it seems to be that what the Greens are saying is this wouldn't be an Emissions Trading Scheme but a transition towards one. It would begin with two years of, effectively, a carbon tax.

PROF ROSS GARNAUT: I think they were referring to my waiting game proposal, which puts in place the ETS but has the regulator making permits available at a fixed price.

So you don't have trade in permits, you don't have fluctuations in price, until you've got an international agreement that allows us to set our targets with confidence and allows a confident basis for international trade in permits.

TONY JONES: Are you encouraged that the Greens appear to be prepared to vote in the Senate for that kind of Plan B approach and should the Government take that on board and start negotiating with the cross bench senators on that basis?

PROF ROSS GARNAUT: I'm not going to get in the middle of these complex Senate negotiations, Tony.

I think that the proposals I described as the waiting game are the best way forward in the circumstances after Copenhagen and anyone who supports them, I think, is on the right tram.

I'm glad Garnaut has a Plan B, one that sounds like the Australian economy can start now to absorb the cost, and begin seriously thinking of ways to turn it into profit when we reach the end of the waiting game. The two year deadline for the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation to become an Emissions Trading Scheme gives certainty to business to invest and encouragement to those people, families, and communities who have personally invested in minimising their footprint.

It's worth watching the interview. Is it just me or does Garnaut have a passing resemblance to Ian Plimer?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where do we go from here?

The last three months or so has been somewhat depressing for those hoping for concerted global action on climate change (which is on reason why my blogging has been light). Yet, they have been heady months for what is becoming a powerful climate-skeptic movement.

The relentless amplification of allegations from 'climategate', the damp-squib Copenhagen conference, and the constant attacks on the professionalism of the IPCC have taken a toll on the public support for global warming mitigation measures.

In Australia, Newspoll is documenting that decline:

Good luck if you can read the fine-print. Clicking on the image should give you a bigger one, but not much clearer than The Australian version, from whence it came. But, the point is, while the community is still mostly aware that climate change is happening, a whopping 84% believed so in July 2008 but this figure is down by 11% a little over eighteen months later. The change in the percentage of those ascribing climate change to human influences has not been as great, nevertheless it is moving in the same direction - down.

All while certainty in the scientific community has moved in the opposite direction.

But, the biggest erosion has been in support for the CPRS, and it has been in a greater proportion to the change in belief that climate change is real. Fifteen percent fewer are in favour of a CPRS/ETS than were sixteen months ago, and 13% more are against it. To my mind, that is a consequence of the Rudd government not bothering with selling it to the public, preferring to let the Coalition's previous internal woes dominate the discourse.

Now the Coalition opposition have coalesced under the plain speaking Tony Abbott, and convoluted Kevin has to actually start selling.

While all of this is interesting to watch, the idea that the planet's climate salvation is going to come from the political arena, one that I held for years, grows weaker by the month for me.

I am starting to think that our necessary salvation is going to come from people themselves - from individuals doing what they have to do to reduce their impact. If the 73% of Australians who are concerned each reduced their annual co2 footprint by 1 tonne, the saving would roughly be 16 millions tonnes. Not shabby, when you consider that a coal-fired power station emits roughly about 1.2 million tones of co2 per annum.

Monday, February 08, 2010

AGW debate: Lord Christopher Mockington vs Timothy Lambert

Have you heard the one about the amateur scientific genius who has been a member of the House of Lords? Apparently, it's not true:

For some time - Google “Monckton” and “Nobel Prize” and see for yourself - the great sceptic-in-chief has been passing himself off as a Nobel Laureate.

Cornered last month by the Sydney Morning Herald, he reportedly said it was “a joke, a joke.”

Anyhoo, said comedic Lord has had his invitation to debate accepted. He and his tribe have been banging the war drums like mad:

Good morning Mike,

I haven’t had a chance to read it but I understand that you had an article in today’s paper in which you claim to better informed on climate matters than Christopher Monckton.

Would you be prepared to exchange views on the matter face-to-face when Lord Moncton appears at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on February 12th. It would be educational for the audience to have an expert on hand to point out where Monckton is misleading the public.

If you do not have the courage to do so, can you nominate someone else who might stand in for you?


Case Smit

Joint organiser of Lord Monckton’s Tour of Australia

So, the nomination is made. The debate is so on at Tim Lambert's Deltoid. Let's hope he builds on George Monboit's win over Ian "Submarine Volcano" Plimer, last December.

The last time co2 levels were this high, we dragged our knuckles around

If you were to believe global warming deniers, climate change is all right because the climate changes all the time.

True enough; but the last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were sustained at 387 parts per million (ppm) was 15 million years ago, during the Burdigalian stage of the Mioscene Epoc, according to XXXX of UCLA in his paper XXXX.

Unlike now, 15 million years ago CO2 levels were on their way down, allowing global temperatures to slowly cool and ice sheet to be formed on the poles. Grasslands underwent a major expansion; forests yielded to a generally cooler and drier climate overall.

There were evolutionary losers; the closest relatives to elephants and sea-cows, the Desmostylians, became extinct. But we early chimp-hominids did rather well out of having to stand on two feet at the edge of the forest to scan the savannah for the saber-toothed predators or the ruminant prey co-evolving with the greatly diversifying grasses. By the time our primate ancestors had evolved into early man, co2 levels were stabilising, the carbon cycle settled, the world’s temperate regions started to become established, and the climate started to follow the wobble in the axis of the earth as it travels around the sun.

Both human (Ardipithecus, Australopithecus and Homo) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes and Pan paniscus) lineages diverged from a common ancestor about 5 to 6 million years ago and the climate became more benign, steadying into a pattern of ice-ages of low atmospheric CO2 punctuated with long interglacial periods.

Greenland started becoming covered in ice three million years ago when high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels dropped to levels closer to that of the pre-industrial era, and methane became trapped in the permafrost in the tundra of the high latitudes.

This suited Australopithecus, who lived, and could now follow the seasons that were forming as Africa’s climate started getting drier, making hunting and gathering predictable enough to develop stone tools. Their brain was 35% of the size of the modern man, big enough to help them exploit the forest and grassland habitats that got them their varied and seasonal diet.

Peak CO2 levels over the last 2.1 million years averaged only 280 ppm; today, CO2 is 38% higher.

Then a between 2.5 million years ago and 1.5 million, after Australopithecus evolved into Homo erectus, our brain grew from 600ccm to what it is now, about 1350ccm. The drying climate forced us to develop language to learn to get food in more adverse circumstances. We became serious tool makers and started wearing clothes as we headed out of Africa to Europe. Handily, we had tamed fire, so we were in good shape to tackle the next series of ice-ages. Pleased with ourselves, we developed jewelry, and then social hierarchy. In short, our current interglacial periods, called the Holocene, has been stable climatically and this has witnessed Homo sapiens explode into the Bronze Age, into agriculture, into civilisation, and into history. It’s been one wild ride, one that’s included a trip or two to the moon.

Not bad for that early chimp-hominids standing on two feet at the edge of the forest peering over the savannah grasses those fifteen million years ago, wondering what its chances of a good meal were.

But we really do owe our success to a stable climate.

Over the last 20,000 years our population has boomed from 6,000 to 6,000,000,000, most of that during the last 8,000 years of the 12,000 year Holocene, during which the average pre-industrial CO2 levels are 280 ppm. Now, instead of throwing rocks we got the bomb. We’ve played with remote control buggies on Mars, and we get pics from our probes pressing ever on into the reaches of our galaxy.

However, not without a cost; having poured enough CO2 into the atmosphere to change the climate since 1850, long-term temperature trends have been going up at a rate unprecedented in all geologic time. Today, we find CO2 concentrations at 387ccm again, only this time the trend is on the way up, not down, and we don’t have the same benign prognosis as faced us last time, over that savannah clearing. Biodiversity, on which a healthy and bountiful environment depends, is predicted to fall, not grow like it did last time. Variety of food available to us will shrink as food chains fall apart and ecosystems fail, and economies falter. We know from past experience that the great carbon sinks of the planet, the oceans, will become more acidic eating away at the calcified micro biology of the bottom of the ocean, wiping it out. Already we can see that the permafrost is not so permanent, belching methane as it warms up. You might have seen the famous farting ice on You Tube.

This time, despite the prognosis we face under a business-as-usual scenario, we do have one major advantage: We don’t drag our knuckles on the ground any more, and as we survey our future for risk and reward, we have an understanding of the world we face, and how we impact it, and what we have to do to reduce that impact to a sustainable one.

The moral of the story of man is that we are happiest when living in the predictable climate of our pre-industrial years.