More on the IPCC and the younger dryas event

Dennis Jensen replied to OveHG
Sun 31 Jan 10 (12:50pm)
Ove, your comparison with flight is particularly apropo. Around the turn of the 20th century Samuel Langley, a scientist supported by the Smithsonian was seen to be the most likely to fly first. Unfortunately, the scientist did not apply scientific method and his “aerodrome” crashed unceremoniously into the Potomac. Then you had the Wright Brothers, non-scientists who you IPCC lot would say “not qualified” and attack for lack of credentials, who actually used scientific method, developed the wind tunnel, and actually took measurements and accepted the data, and did not reject data that was not convenient. Sounds awfully like the AGW argument today.

I remember your briefing to our environment committee where you went on about the Barrier Reef being in danger due to high CO2 levels. When I pointed out that corals lived in periods where the CO2 concentration was more than 10 times current levels, you then said the rate of temperature change was the issue of major concern. I recall stating that the rate was over 20 times more at the end of the Younger Dryas only 12 000 years ago, and that you had no answer for it. I was struck with both you and Will Steffen appearing to “situate the appreciation, rather than appreciate the situation”.

Doesn’t the avalanche of bad research referenced by the IPCC, lack of peer review and clear collusion and corruption in the process not concern you at all?

My reply:

Dennis Jensen – you have a selective a curious recollection of the briefing.  When you asked about corals living at CO2 concentration was more than 10 times current levels – we said two things.  The first is that calcified reefs disappear from the fossil record when CO2 is high (See Veron 2008 and references therein – Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas. Coral Reefs 27:459-472.  J E N Veron was the chief scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences).  The second is that I indicated that the rate of change was a major issue – with CO2 as well as temperature.  Current rates of change are 100 to 1,000 times higher than the average rate of the last 720,000 years.  This leaves biology in the dust (ie evolution takes time and we are exceeding it).

My comments on the Younger Dryas Event were as follows:  (1) the Paleoclimate people tell us that there was a sudden change in temperature of about 5°C (2) based on the evidence from today, it was properly a catastrophic yet short lived event from which ecosystems and early human societies probably bounced back from (after 100 years or so), and (3) the precision of the paleoecology record is too blunt to see any impact.  That is, any ecological event (mass mortality etc) that lasts for a period shorter than 500 years generally cannot be seen within the fossil record.  So we will never know what happened etc.

In response to your comment about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  You have to ask yourself as a politician, do I trust the Australian scientific community or not.  There is no alternative. If you take Ian Plimer’s unreviewed book, you will find huge errors … and Monckton, Carter, and Lehr are largely unpublished and have long track records of misinformation and deceit.  Clearly, not sources of information that I would use to base policy on.  On the other side, you have hundreds of Australian scientists with the best qualifications lined up along with our most prestigious scientific institution, the Australian Academy of Sciences.  And thousands upon thousands of peer review papers in reputable Australian and international journals.  The question I had to ask you as a budding politician is as follows.  If you are not planning to take the advice of the hundreds of Australia’s scientists (and our Academy of Sciences and CSIRO), who will you be taking your advice from on matters of agriculture, health and engineering sciences?  And how would you handle the universities, given you have implied that most of the people employed by them are corrupt and dishonest?
A government that rejects its entire scientific community (99%) would be a very poor government indeed!

4 thoughts on “More on the IPCC and the younger dryas event

  1. Ove,

    Well said and I agree with your response entirely. The problem is that, in the main, yourself excepted of course, scientists are not very good communicators. The likes of Monckton et al are and, even though their spruikings are rubbish and easily refuted, they are not interested in the science. It’s the perception of the science and they know that mud sticks. Sling enough and you create sufficient doubt and therefore inhibit the public and political will for change. Add in the vested interests and the skewed media coverage (probably a combination of the perceived need for balanced reporting and the world view of the owners) and it is an exceedingly tough sell.

    I wrote to Nick Minchin prior to the last vote on the CPRS legislation after he had made some ridiculous comments in the media, which seemed to be lifted verbatim from Plimer’s book. Tried to argue that if he was going to oppose the CPRS, do so on the basis of it being bad policy, not the science on which it is based, because this near unanimous endorsement by scientists is about as strong as it is possible to get. Even if the science wasn’t as strong, basic risk management is sufficient justification to act. It doesn’t require belief or acceptance, just an objective view of the perceived risks and the costs involved with the various forms of action (or inaction). To date, I haven’t received a reply.

    Sadly, I don’t think you’ll have much better luck with Dr Jensen. Despite having a PhD, he is I think a member of the Lavoisier Group and the barriers to understanding there are more of the ideological variety.

  2. I think this is becoming a recurrent theme. This is that scientists are too honest and too inexperienced at communicating charismatically to tackle the likes of pompous scallywags like Monckton. Perhaps we need to find the 1 or 2 scientists that are effective communicators, and put then on the payroll to travel the country high and low to get this important message out.

  3. Dr Dennis Jensen is a member of the Lavoisier Group which makes a lot of sense given his absolute ignorance of facts and his denialist rhetoric. Such are the ethics and heart of this man that he boycotted Parliament on the day that the formal apology to the Stolen Generations was made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Lovely fellow!

  4. [Scientists] are too honest and too inexperienced at communicating charismatically to tackle the likes of pompous scallywags like Monckton.

    Ove, I’m afraid you’re probably right about this. Problem is it’s a win-win situation for the deniers; even sharing the stage with a real scientist gives them an air of legitimacy they don’t deserve. And then the debate itself becomes a performance, a battle of personalities not ideas. It’s a waste of time, the signal to noise ratio is just too low to get the message out. (Besides, you don’t need a scientist to trip these guys up on their ‘science’, a good journalist will do rather nicely – just take another look at George Monbiot’s evisceration of Ian Plimer on Lateline).

    Perhaps we need to find the 1 or 2 scientists that are effective communicators, and put then on the payroll to travel the country high and low to get this important message out.

    Yes, bring it on! You’ll always struggle get the science out there via the 24-hour TV news cycle, and most certainly won’t through our esteemed national broadsheet. People trust scientists, which explains the ferocity of the recent attacks on CRU and IPCC. As Naomi Oreskes has shown (and you are doubtless well aware) this is part of a deliberate strategy to cast doubt on the science by attacking the motives of the scientists. Perhaps public ‘town hall’ style meetings might be one of the better ways for scientists to push back and finally get the message through. Wishful thinking, maybe?

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