The following was recently posted by shock jock Andrew Bolt who has just been given his own TV program by Australia’s richest person, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart. For those overseas – Greg Combet is our Federal Minister for Climate Change. For those wondering why the reference to “Redneck Wonderland” go here and here.
Note that the ‘experts’ that he refers to are unqualified and unpublished in the peer-reviewed literature associated with the majority of expert areas behind their claims. Good choice Andrew – I guess they match your expertise on climate change and its impacts. Wouldn’t want to have a real expert disagree with you!
Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth identify 10 errors in Climate Change Greg Combet’s big speech last week on his carbon dioxide tax.
Go here for their explanations, but these are the 10 falsehoods Combet uttered:
1. The evidence of atmospheric warming is very strong, and the potential for dangerous climate impacts is high. The scientific advice is that carbon (sic) pollution (sic) is the cause.
2. Globally, 2010 was the warmest year on record, with 2001 to 2010 the warmest decade. 2010 is the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th-century average.
3. In Australia, each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the preceding decade. With rising temperatures we can expect to see more extreme weather events, including more frequent and intense droughts, floods and bushfires.
4. The environmental consequences translate readily into economic costs – as well as potential negative impacts on water security, coastal development, infrastructure, agriculture, and health.
5. Professor Will Steffen, a leading expert in the climate science, has advised the Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change that there is 100% certainty that the earth is warming, and that there is a very high level of certainty it will continue to warm unless efforts are made to reduce the levels of carbon (sic) pollution (sic) being sent into the atmosphere.
6. It is in our national interest to take action on climate change. The national interest case is clear.
7. Climate change is an environmental problem with an economic solution.
8. Just as the 1980s reforms laid down the bedrock of our current prosperity, pricing carbon (sic) will ensure that the Australian economy of the 21st century remains globally competitive.
9. Intergenerational equity is a key determinant of long-term economic policy making. Our obligation is to leave the world a better place, not to pass on the problems we found too difficult to deal with to our grandchildren and to their grandchildren.
10. Australia is one of the world’s top 20 polluters and we release more pollution per person than any other country in the developed world – more than the US. Not only is it in our national interest to act, we have a responsibility to do so.
Someone has claimed that Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth have published in the peer-reviewed literature and that I should therefore apologise or issue a correction.
I will do neither. But here is a clarification and some evidence.
Bob Carter, Dave Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth have not published their scientific propositions (that underpin the 10 putative ‘errors’ Bolt has pointed to) in the peer-reviewed literature. This is crucial if we are to separate fact from opinion.
Let’s take the first allegation. According to these individuals, they say that Minister Combet was wrong to have said the following:
The evidence of atmospheric warming is very strong, and the potential for dangerous climate impacts is high. The scientific advice is that carbon (sic) pollution (sic) is the cause.
According to Carter et al., however:
Atmospheric warming and cooling happen the whole time naturally, and global temperature has been level or cooling gently for the last ten years; and that despite the fact that a quarter of all human emissions of carbon dioxide, over all of history, have occurred since 1998.
And so on … anthropogenic climate change is not happening … read the rest here.
Given such strong opinions, you would expect that the 4 experts would have published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature extensively on subjects like climate change, presenting data from their own expertise that support arguments that climate change is or is not happening.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Let us go and explore the Gold standard for collecting and collating peer-reviewed scientific information, Thomson Reuters Institute for Scientific Information, and see how many times that these four ‘experts’ have published in the expert literature since 1999. If they were bone fide experts then they would be listed in the ISI Web of Knowledge many times under papers in which they have tested their ideas with the expert scientific community.
This is what you find when you explore the data for real experts. For example, Prof David Karoly of the University of Melbourne (lead author within the IPCC) has had over 10 publications since 1999 that directly address his conclusions regarding climate change and atmospheric physics. Prof Lesley Hughes, who is an expert on the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems in Australia, has 32 peer-reviewed publications since 1999. And these individuals have gone through the very stringent reviewing process of the IPCC several times over. This process helps ensure scientific rigour within the evidence collected and the conclusions drawn. It also ensures that the general conclusions drawn reflect the scientific community and not a gut feeling or unsubstantiated opinion.
Here it is what happens when you search for peer-reviewed papers by the ‘experts’ listed by Bolt on climate change in the ISI Web of knowledge database.
- 1. Searching for articles by ‘R M Carter’ since 1999: One publication on climate variability which later found to be seriously flawed and misleading. Full details, go here and here. So – the number of peer-reviewed articles that have passed scientific muster in the relevant field of climate change since 1999 is 0.
- Searching for articles by Evans, D (apparently a past consultant to the Greenhouse Office). Searching was complicated by his name being rather universal, so I restricted the field to in peer-reviewed paper by Evans that mentioned the word ‘climate’. Number of articles since 1999 in the peer-reviewed literature on climate change is 0.
- I had to also restrict the field for Franks S (a hydrological engineer at the University of Newcastle). Searching for articles by Franks with the word ‘climate’ yielded one article “Regional hydrological impacts of climate change – hydroclimatic variability” which doesn’t present or test the idea that climate change is or is not happening or any of the other of the notions from the list of 10 errors. So, the number of articles by Assoc Prof Franks since 1999 that involve peer review of his claims that climate change is not happening is 0.
- Searching for articles by Kininmonth W was a lot easier given the more unique nature of his name and yielded no peer-reviewed research literature. Again, however, the number of peer-reviewed papers generated by Kininmonth since 1999 that test his claims that climate change is not happening is 0.
That makes 0, 0, 0 and 0.
So, on issues like atmospheric physics or impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems, Minister Combet is correct in listening closely to David Karoly and not Bob Carter, and listening closely to Lesley Hughes and not Stewart Franks.