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Global meteorology report puts yet more heat on climate politics

The new World Meteorological Organization statement on the status of the global climate of 2013 highlights a fact that some still wilfully prefer to ignore – climate change is already making many extreme…

Fiery future: evidence is growing of a link between climate change and extreme events. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

The new World Meteorological Organization statement on the status of the global climate of 2013 highlights a fact that some still wilfully prefer to ignore – climate change is already making many extreme heat events worse.

The report by this international authority on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere brought together scientific papers and reports from around the world, giving a single, consistent picture of 2013.

The statistics rolling out of the WMO report make sobering reading:

  • Globally, 2013 was the joint sixth-hottest year since records began in 1850.

  • The top 15 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998.

  • Australia had its hottest year since records began.

  • Persistent heat characterised the year, with long periods of above average temperatures and a lack of cold weather. In this one year, Australia also experienced its hottest day, week, month and season on record.

These extreme conditions are what we would expect in a warming world. But according to those who choose to sow doubt, these events are nothing more than natural climate variations.

Recent extreme-event attribution studies from credible, scientific sources are combating this doubt.

Greenhouse gases driving the changes

Scientific attribution studies typically use climate models to determine the probability of extreme events occurring under different conditions. One way they do this is by modelling the atmosphere with and without greenhouse gas emissions.

By running these models many thousands of times, scientists can calculate how much the risk of extreme events has changed due to increased greenhouse gases generated by humans.

Using this kind of attribution approach, the record 2013 Australian temperatures were examined using a suite of climate model simulations, and the factors contributing to these extreme temperatures were identified. They were consistent with the influence of global warming.

We can even put a number on the increased likelihood. The WM0 report states that the probability of record hot summers like 2013 occurring across Australia increased by at least five times due to the effect of human greenhouse gas emissions.

Heatwaves are no exception

This study into extreme events in Australia doesn’t just tell us these events are already more likely because of climate change, but also that these warm years are expected to become even more frequent and severe.

And the scientific evidence keeps on coming.

Preliminary results of another study into Australian heatwaves show that the number of events we get every season is increasing and humans have contributed to this. During 2012-2013, Australia had its highest number of heatwaves since 1950, encompassing events during summer and autumn.

Research shows that human activity doubled the chance of this record number of heatwaves occurring in a single summer.

Under hypothetical conditions, in which humans have not added greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, the number of heatwaves we currently experience once every 60 years would only occur once every 120 years. In other words, humans have loaded the dice towards twice as many sixes being rolled.

Dangerous policy dismissal

It is dangerous that influential Australian politicians dismiss the role of climate change in recent extreme events.

In the aftermath of the unusually early New South Wales bushfires in October 2013, Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed the link between extreme fire conditions and climate change as “hogwash”. He then categorically rejected the idea that the fires were a function of climate change.

More remarkably, environment minister Greg Hunt agreed, citing evidence from Wikipedia in support.

Pitiless blue sky

Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, My Country, published in 1908, talks of “droughts and flooding rains” and the “pitiless blue sky”, and is often used as the spurious basis for claiming that Australian extremes are just part of natural variation.

Those opposed to global warming science argue that we have always had fires, droughts and floods. Thus, the logic goes, all weather records will eventually be broken, so don’t worry.

It is absurd reasoning.

It suggests that if you can find a single similar event in our observed climate record, regardless of its timing, severity or frequency, then it must be nothing more than natural climate variation. Using this faulty reasoning, an out-of-season bushfire cannot be considered significant, and nor can the cascading temperature records of 2013 – despite the fact that they occurred during neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation conditions that normally produce milder conditions in Australia.

Not just guesswork

It is very unlikely that climate change will produce wholly new and wildly unexpected or exaggerated events, such as a 40°C day recorded on top of Mount Everest. That is not the way climate change works.

Rather, climate change will manifest itself in incremental shifts: changes in the timing of bushfire seasons; more severe, frequent or longer heatwaves; or temperature records that fall more often or by larger margins.

Unlike some policymakers, attribution studies don’t just guess whether global warming has influenced an observed extreme. Instead, the scientific approach requires a rigorous investigation of the factors that contribute to each event.

Attribution studies of recent extreme Australian fire weather are being conducted right now. However, the number of climate model experiments required to produce robust, scientifically valid results are many, so this will take time.

A recent preliminary analysis of the extreme Spring 2013 temperatures in New South Wales suggests these temperatures were made 15 times more likely because of the additional greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere.

Let’s be clear here. Climate scientists also understand that high temperatures are only one factor that influences bushfires. However, the increase in hot temperatures already occurring in Australia throughout the year suggests, at the very least, that we should prepare ourselves for longer and more intense fire seasons.

Science shows extreme heat events are changing. It also shows a clear link between these extremes and climate change. If policymakers continue to ignore the science and deny these changes, we will be vastly unprepared for our future.

The WMO understands and values the science of event attribution and the insights it provides about our future. It is time our policymakers did the same.

Join the conversation

103 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      The comet analogy is an interesting one, Paul.

      Scientists could warn us of a comet approaching, and predict the outcomes of different responses: what is likely to happen if we try to change the comet's path, move people, build a defence, do nothing.

      But they're not the ones to decide which response to take. That's up to us and our elected representatives, balancing lots of different interests not related to science.

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    2. Jay Wulf

      Digerati at nomeonastiq.com

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      I am having difficulty in following your incomprehensible argument. It probably makes sense on planet Merrifield but the way you present it one has to struggle to elicit the thrust of it.

      I had a quick look at your comment history to try to give some background depth to it and the second comment I found was you dumping on Al Gore, as this is the favourite past time of the anti-scientist carbon polluter sock puppets, I take great comfort from the fact that your brain vomit will be just another black mark on this sorry sage. One of many we can point the future generations to and comment 'Yes Suzy, there really were people like that. I too agree, they were poopyheads'.

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Well put Victor. Merrifield's confused rant indicates a fundamental misconception of the scientific method.

      Here is another short essay which covers it.
      "Proofs exist only in mathematics and logic, not in science. Mathematics and logic are both closed, self-contained systems of propositions, whereas science is empirical and deals with nature as it exists. The primary criterion and standard of evaluation of scientific theory is evidence, not proof. All else equal (such as internal logical consistency and parsimony), scientists prefer theories for which there is more and better evidence to theories for which there is less and worse evidence."
      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200811/common-misconceptions-about-science-i-scientific-proof

      The 95% indicates the strength of the evidence. We take out insurance against all manner of potential disasters in our own lives with far less certainty.

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    4. john tons

      retired redundant

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      So by that logic if you were told that there was a 95% chance that by driving your car with faulty brakes you would be involved in a serious accident you would not bother to fix your brakes for there was a 5% chance that you could get home safely.

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    5. Patrick Maher

      Retired Doctor of Psychology and Academic

      In reply to Victor Jones

      In this vexed climate case, Victor, the Science probabilities are founded on many mathematical derivations and mathematical observations over many many years. The trajectory indicated by earlier probabilities has been pretty much vindicated by further observations which themselves have been mathematically fed into further calibration of more advanced probabilities. Virtually none of that process is seen in the simple Dorling Kindersley and other simple tomes on Science or Maths including the kindergarten level 'What Is This Thing Called Science'.

      I am sure that many observers would be perplexed by your rant about 'wishful' thinking - better known as 'magical' thinking - pretty much the stuff of all religious teachings - including Abbott's. Where is the Mathematical evidence for God? More to the point where is your Mathematical evidence for your refutation of the information in this article?

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    6. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Patrick Maher

      "...simple tomes on Science or Maths including the kindergarten level 'What Is This Thing Called Science'."

      Well, I was referencing kindergarten level literature for kindergarten level reasoning.....

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    7. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Also, I'm an atheist, so you might want to direct your point about god evidence to someone else...*idea*

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    1. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Kym Afford

      Kym: re your comment: "…..Hunt actually was right up with the science, only to turn his back on it for a plum job "
      Absolutely disgraceful. Mind boggling, the lack of principle. The lack of care for future generations. Lack of responsibility in a senior Minister. I did not vote for this government but they are so incredibly much worse than I feared they would be. Heaven help Australia.

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    2. Jack Bloomfield

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Kym Afford

      Our 'Claytons' environment minister - "No care, no responsibility Hunt":

      "Environment minister Greg Hunt is set to grant himself retrospective legal immunity against potential claims that he failed to consider environmental advice before approving key mining projects."
      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/13/mining-greg-hunt-retrospective-legal-immunity?CMP=ema_632

      Our "adult" government demonstrating their juvenile approach to responsibility.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Ms Middlemist, it occurs to me that Mr Hunt's proposal for biodiversity protection being written into the Constitution might be his way of establishing some sort of primacy for environmental protection over the political process - particularly as Australian democracy has been made subordinate to corporate interests?

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    4. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to David Arthur

      Well David, your thoughts have often turned out to be wiser than mine so I hope sincerely that this will be one of those times :)

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    5. Michael Hopkin

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to David Arthur

      Hi David, if you're referring to this, https://theconversation.com/should-australias-biodiversity-be-written-into-the-constitution-23986, it wasn't Greg Hunt's proposal that biodiversity should be written into the Constitution - it was Peter Fisher, one of our authors, who was giving the government some friendly advice!

      In fairness to Greg Hunt, he has pledged to appoint a "threatened species commissioner", although he hasn't yet given us any details of when, who, or what powers they might be given.

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    6. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Michael Hopkin

      Thanks for that correction, Michael, I'd misunderstood Peter Fisher's advice for Mr Hunt and colleagues.

      One might hope that Australians would support such Constitutional change - perhaps even Mr Hunt himself?

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    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      In this case, Ms Middlemist, I was mistaken; the Constitutional amendment is proposed by 'The Conversation' author Peter Fisher, as explained by Michael Hopkin in this thread.

      In that case, one might hope that Mr Hunt would appreciate being a member of a Constitutionallly-restrained Cabinet?

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  2. Ian Fraser

    Independent researcher

    Arguments denying anthropogenic climate change and predictions of devastation of the earth caused by that climate change distract most people from the search for a negotiated middle way forward.

    Municipalities will have to stop permitting construction along the coast; the boundaries of agricultural and grazing districts will move further away from the equator; land for environmental refugees from the Pacific & Indian Oceans will be required in continental countries including Australia; some natural…

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    1. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Ian Fraser

      Sad that we have to find middle ground between reason and stupidity.

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    2. Jay Wulf

      Digerati at nomeonastiq.com

      In reply to Victor Jones

      I use the analogy of a debate about proper nutrition. One one hand you have a nutritionist, and on the other you get a cannibal. You know, for balance.

      Compromise is important, but only to a point.

      Reminds me of an anecdote: "My wife wanted a dog, I did not. So we compromised and we got a dog."

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    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Yes Victor, if current policy makers were sensibly putting in place policies based on rational assessment and fact, and leading the conversation in such a way, there would be no need to be reminded of worst case scenario outcomes.
      But they are not. So it's a bit rich to ask for the conversation to be toned down.

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ian Fraser

      I agree Ian, not that I would share too much enthusiasm for municipality authorities doing too much other than wanting to still collect likely increasing rates even if we have many households living with limited power and using pedal power for quicker transport than walking.
      It could truly become the survival of the fittest and walking and pedalling will help that, as will more and more people being involved in their own gardens to grow food.
      We could see this expedited for no doubt there will still be much use of coal for power generation for years to come, not to mention burning of oil as well for power and heating.
      While it might get hotter in the SH, we can hardly expect many in the NH to willingly submit to freezing conditions and not do anything about heating to keep warm.

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg.

      You do not appear to be aware that in the NH, winter is followed spring, summer and autumn just like the SH.

      And the NH land masses are warming faster than the SH in part because of the larger heat capacity of the oceans which dominate the south.
      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A3.gif

      Did the prebunking of the "Dorothea McKellar's poem" myth confuse you?

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    6. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Ian Fraser

      Ian, "the earth will not be devastated by a 2, 3 or 4 degree rise in average temperature". Correct: the planet will continue orbiting the Sun, until the Sun goes nova in about 5 billion years. Of course, whether there are any life-forms orbiting on the planet is another matter.

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    1. Jack Bloomfield

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Campbell

      To my mind, the crux of AGW inaction worldwide is the massive commercially funded propaganda assault on electors by avaricious corporate owned/controlled media.
      It is imperative for unhampered 'business as usual' operation of powerful industries that there is no legally enforceable admission of liability for AGW.

      Once such a connection is legally 'proved' or conceded, litigation and regulation to limit continued operation is sure to follow.
      Politicisation of AGW is consequential of transnationals…

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    1. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Howard Patrick

      I'm sure part of the reason Abbott disagrees with doing anything meaningful to tackle climate change is because he thinks his particular god would not organised a world where mere mortals can destroy it. In any case, the mindset of many believers is that life now is just a transitionary period until they get to live forever in heaven. Presumably playing the harp but not working in a greenhouse.

      They have no place for science because it is an affront to their beliefs and ideology. I think that's why climate research is under attack from the NLP here in Australia.

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, I think climate science is under attack because it gives signals which oppose the Great God, Profit. It is merely convenient to business to co-opt the Abrahamic god as well. The more 'believers' of any stripe Big Business can acquire, the better.

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  3. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    Why is it that the merchants of doom fixate over a time period for which records have been kept? Cycles of warming and cooling need to be assessed over periods of centuries or even longer periods. The fact that temperatures are warmer today than a century or so ago needs to be placed in the context of historic levels. Facts such as ‘hottest year on record’ or ‘hottest decade on record’ need to be placed in some sort of context. These facts can be explained to some degree by the Earth recovering from the little ice age. There is plenty of peer-reviewed research suggesting that global temperatures were as warm or warmer than today during the medieval warm period.

    The article concentrates on Australian temperature records, but makes no mention of unusually cold temperatures recorded recently in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Just cherry-picking facts to suit a particular agenda isn’t particularly meaningful. Context is everything.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "....There is plenty of peer-reviewed research suggesting that global temperatures were as warm or warmer than today during the medieval warm period...."

      No there isn't. Not a single one. Geoffrey, you really need to learn the difference between 'global' and 'a small area of the northern hemisphere'.

      "...., but makes no mention of unusually cold temperatures recorded recently in many parts of the northern hemisphere. ..."

      Nor does it make an mention of the unusually hot temperatures recorded recently in many parts of the northern hemisphere.

      ".....Just cherry-picking facts to suit a particular agenda isn’t particularly meaningful...."

      And BOOM! My irony meter just exploded. You really should take your own advice Geoff.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "The oceans are absorbing much of the CO2 that smokestacks and tailpipes emit into the atmosphere. As a result, the oceans are rapidly acidifying, with early impacts on shelled organisms such as oysters already documented. The current acidification rate is likely the fastest in 300 million years."
      Whichever way you want to look at it Geoff you are wrong. Are you saying CO2 is not having an impact on the biosphere?
      Do you have at hand an explanation for CO2 levels rising dramatically?
      And can…

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "These facts can be explained to some degree by the Earth recovering from the little ice age." As usual your explanation is essentially a suggestion that it all happens by magic. The climate changes because of "forcings", (eg changes in solar output, aerosols, GHG ...) not by magic. Learn some fundamental science. Start with the Law of Conservation of Energy.

      And as the article above explains, your "absurd" reasoning "suggests that if you can find a single similar event in our observed climate…

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    4. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff,

      As a research associate I would assume you had a chance to research the answer the some of those questions yourself.

      The "science" is not merely concerned with temperature recordings. There is far more to climate science than sticking a few temperature recorders about the place. Sicentists understand that planetary temperatures and climates have changed throughout history. The climate science now concerns itselft with the association of CO2 (and other) pollution levels in the atmosphere…

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    5. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      I'm going to trust the reports of the WMO etc. and the thousdands of scientists who the additional GHGs we've put into the atmosphere are driving changes.

      I'll take facts over semantics.Unless you have published in the area such opinions are merely that: opinions.

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    6. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Typo corrected sorry:

      "I'm going to trust the reports of the WMO etc. and the thousands of scientists who agree the additional GHGs we've put into the atmosphere are driving changes to the climate over time.

      I'll take facts over semantics.Unless you have published in the area, your opinions are merely that: opinions.

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    7. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Predictably, the usual brouhaha from the usual suspects to one of my posts. It appears that to respectfully disagree with someone’s point of view here is a rare event.

      Regarding the MWP, evidence of a prominent and global MWP based on hundreds of studies can be found here:

      http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php

      Still, if you find a relatively small number of studies using unreliable proxies and where instrumental records are tacked onto proxy records to ‘hide the decline’ more compelling, that is your prerogative.

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    8. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Is it respectful to refer to the multitudes of people that accept reasoned science over personal opinions as "merchants of doom"?
      Pot. Kettle. Black.

      "Small number of studies using unreliable proxies"? I would not refer to the IPCC among other notable and overwhelmingly supported bodies as such. That term is reserved for the evidence AGAINST global warming. Particularly when you can only manage a right wing "blog" as a reference. Peer reviewed science is mostly absent from the denail argument because it barely exists.

      Regardless, the value of your post can be surmised from the claim that is was particularly cold somewhere recently, therefore global warming is a fallacy. You can forgive some for being a little less than cordial when constantly inundated with such trite claims that have been successfully refuted over and over. They do nothing but damage the efforts to work towards a solution. But then, that is the point, is it not?

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "....Regarding the MWP, evidence of a prominent and global MWP based on hundreds of studies can be found here..."

      Yes Geoff, guess what? I have had that same link shown to me time and time by deniers like you, and I sat down one day and analysed the spatial and temporal extent of the data. And they show conclusively that the so-called MWP was not globally synchronous.

      Now how about you go and take a very long hard look at the studies there. You will note that there is not a single one that looks at global temperatures. Not one. Every single one of them is a regional study. You have managed to shoot yourself in the foot with your own link.

      And really? 'Hide the decline'? Is that the sort of thing that you come up with to prove your case? Quote mined conspiracy theories? And fancy those scientists using real instrumental records when they are available instead of proxy data. How dare they!

      You have no idea about science do you?

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    10. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Henley's claims are a joke.

      He claims to have "hundreds" of "peer reviewed" studies but when challenged points to the blog of the Idsos, a family of climate science deniers.

      "The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, also known as CO2Science is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Arizona run by a family of climate change skeptics including Craig D. Idso (Chairman and former President), his father Sherwood B. Idso (President), and his brother Keith E. Idso (Vice…

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    11. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, don't try the hurt little cry-baby routine when you open with intentionally provocative lines like 'merchants of doom' and then simply repeat a series of PRATTS that have, many times on these pages and in other places, been politely an dpatiently refuted with actual evidence.

      Of course, repeating the unbelievably-totally-refuted furphy about 'hide the decline' is simply another example of refusing to look at evidence (how many impartial, professional reviews do you need to see vindicating the scientists involved and explaining that phrase before you'l stop thinking repeating it is anything other than sad and self-discrediting?).

      You see, if you were debating from evidence and people were simply dismissing you, you would have a case. But you're not, so all you actually have is a whinge.

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    12. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "You will note that there is not a single one that looks at global temperatures. Not one. Every single one of them is a regional study"

      And if many different regional studies all point to a similar outcome, is that not evidence of a global phenomenon?

      You have no idea about science do you?

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "There is plenty of peer-reviewed research suggesting that global temperatures were as warm or warmer than today during the medieval warm period."

      That's a lie.

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    14. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Sourcewatch is a site with zero credibility. Down there with Desmogblog.

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    15. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "You have no idea about science do you?"

      How ironic coming from someone who cites blogs.

      You have no idea about science DO YOU?

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    16. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "if many different regional studies all point to a similar outcome"

      Where, pray tell, were all these regional results, with their individual and disparate time series, compiled into a global average time series?

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    17. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Even if you believe that, it is not so much as the Isdo's own run blog.

      Are you suggesting with that deversion that CO2Science (Isdo's) is credible? Or are you suggesting, "yes, but so is yours?"

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  4. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Bruce Harding

      Well calling people "hardcore warmists" will help things.

      Geoff Henley snidely insults those that accept the overwhelming sicence while he cherry picks data to present and unsupported opinion based on anecdote. This is done while accusing those with opposing views of cherry picking data.

      All of the retaliation posts highlight this and present supporting evidence, something not provided in the opening post.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Bruce Harding

      Bruce, I base my conversation today on scientific reports. The latest WMO report is the basis of that discussion today. The discussion is considering whether policymakers should take notice of these sort of reports, or whether they should ignore them.
      Hard core deniers prefer not to read reports like these as they probably have no intention of trying to read or understand current relevant science.
      This report, and these others, are what informs my opinion;
      http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators#seaLevel
      http://www.ipcc.ch
      http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes/climate-change-evidence-causes.pdf
      http://whatweknow.aaas.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/AAAS-What-We-Know.pdf
      What information informs your opinions.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bruce Harding

      "....If this is how hardcore warmists have a conversation with dissenters, I truly dread to think how they would govern us...."

      If this is how hardcore deniers have a conversation with scientists, I truly dread to think how they would govern us. Oh... wait.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Bruce Harding

      No, Bruce, this is how we react to vacuous, deceitful, enrelenting repetition of nonsense that has been patiently explained and refuted numerous times. It's called impatience. We use harsh words to express it.

      One of the triggers that does tend to annoy a few of us is when fools like Henley initiate the use of terms like 'merchants of doom'...or fools like you initiate the use of terms like 'hardcore warmists'.

      Of course, if you are as big a cry-baby as Andrew Bolt, you will undoubtedly feel oppressed by someone daring to tell you the truth in blunt terms or to object to your personal preference for opening a discussion with insulting terms.

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    5. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Bruce Harding

      If a few words whinging about peer reviewed science is the level of cogent argument of dissenters, well, LOL.
      Just LOL!

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    6. Ben Marshall
      Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer

      In reply to Bruce Harding

      We would not tolerate dissenters. We would send them to reeducation camps run by Bill Nye, the science guy, and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. You'd get to blow up stuff and make stuff and ask dumb questions then answer them with crazy experiments and It'd be huge fun basically.

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    7. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      lol Ben, The sort of personality disorder that Lewandsky talks about in the paper that has been censored is not helped by therapy, otherwise I would do that to 'them' in my re-education camp.

      But your solution is interesting and sort of like 'paradoxical therapy'.

      http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201001/cool-intervention-8-paradoxical-interventions

      The example of paradoxical therapy that I remember from first year psych was back when there were mental institutions and lots of people in those places - the '50's or '60's probably - though they were Jesus so the new therapist interviewing one of these people said to him; "So I hear you have experience as a carpenter?".

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  5. Jack Ruffin
    Jack Ruffin is a Friend of The Conversation.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Climate change, created by the actions of people is something that we can turn around if we had the will. I'm interested in the reasons why we do not act.
    We use institutions in order to work together and our institutions are not up to it. They seem to be focused the wrong way, like being in an old fort with guns that face the sea to protect us from a fleet when the enemy army is behind us on land. Our politicians are no dumber than the rest of us but they look anywhere but at the problem. I think…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jack Ruffin

      Jack, I think it ultimately depends on whether you conclude that Garrett Harding was fundamentally correct in his famous and influential 1968 article in Science 'The Tragedy of the Commons' or, on the other hand, Elinor Ostrom was closer to the truth in her Nobel [Economics] Prize winning work, published in 1990 as 'the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action'.

      My personal opinion is that, while Harding better represents the current semi-psychopathic culture we live in (I think you allude to this) Ostrom more accurately describes our more 'innate' or 'natural' tendencies - as evidenced by many thousands of years of reasonably stable and sustainable life in many places. I suppose the fact is we have both aspects to our total beings, but I don't believe it is inevitable that the negative should dominate - more a matter of a great deal of propganda over the last few hundred years or more...

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    2. john tons

      retired redundant

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I tend to agree with Felix. We assume that change needs to be centrally driven, that we need to control our institutions in order to affect change. We have identified a global problem and assume that in order to solve that we must arrive at a global solution. What we fail to properly appreciate is that we can start at the local level. Here Ostrom's work is relevant - at the local level people can avoid tragedy of the commons scenarios, in fact her research demonstrates that tragedy of the commons…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to john tons

      Put super-crudely, I guess it suggests action will have to be more bottom-up than top-down - though, obviously, we will ultimately need the kind of action that only international agreements and institutions, and national governments, have the capacity or power to achieve.

      Brendan Glesson's 'Lifeboat Cities' is a worthwhile read in this regard, and the level of effective action being achieved by world mayors' groups is pretty impressive and heartening!

      As a Canberra resident, I find the determined actions of our local government to be a beacon of hope in dark times...

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    4. Jack Ruffin
      Jack Ruffin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Can a dog develop hands?
      Thanks Felix and John above, I can agree with what you say though the local - central debate is a tactical rather than strategic issue for me.
      Another related issue to help me describe what I mean is the time we have to change. Example: the "West" has benefited greatly in having an approach that uses rule of law rather than to put it very simply, rule by warlords. Imagine for a moment that people in one of the many countries we see in turmoil, partly because they are so…

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  6. Meeuwis Boelen

    Higher education

    The sad sad thing is that we in Australia have access to renewable energy and have the intellectual and technological potential to contribute to the solution that, inter alia, provides a new avenue for prosperity. When will we get the leadership that will lead us out of the vested interests of a few lobby-groups.

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  7. Jack McCadden

    Analyst

    Snore... the results were in a while ago. When is the global warming debate going to move on from trying to convince the unconvincable, to proposing economically viable solutions to the problem? I reckon half the resistance to climate change is based on concern around power bills, jobs, quality of life etc. rather than the science itself. Find solutions to pollution which don't hugely impact the things people hold dear and the masses will fall in line. Problem solved.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jack McCadden

      Jack, it would be simple...if it were that simple...

      I don't think we lack solutions or sound proposals to execute them. The costs would be significant, but not vast and certainly represent a sound long-term investment. That's for more obvious things like converting fully to renewable energy generation. a hard enough sell, but not impossible per se.

      But the one area where I think the reactionary view is arguably more correct is that, really long-term, we'll need to rejig our economies pretty…

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    2. Peter Horan

      Retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      As a first step to rejigging our economy, we should admit that each of us is a polluter. They are our demands that "business as usual" is meeting. Why should we not pay for our pollution through higher prices? If we do not pay that way, the environment will exact the price through more direct means.

      If we wait for political will, we will never save ourselves. If we wait for technological fixes, we will be climbing the slippery slope of too little, too late. We must change our own demands.

      So…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Horan

      Couldn't agree more, Peter.

      The only thing I'd want to add (and I'm not accusing you of this) is that it's mistaken to argue for EITHER higher-level political/legal action OR local/personal action ,when we need BOTH - and we need them both RIGHT NOW!

      Yeah, my solar HWS has been working a treat for 10 years now - best investment I ever made.

      And one of the best direct/simpler things an individual can do is to reduce purchases and, wherever possible, buy better, more ethical, greener, etc. You can't save the world by buying stuff, but if you do ensure that the few[er] things you do buy (because you really do NEED them) are as low-impact as possible, that really helps. Apart fro manything else, it strengthen smarkets for better products.

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  8. Tom Fisher

    Editor and Proofreader

    This ongoing obsession with the "some" who "willfully ignore" climate change, with the "deniers" and The Lord only knows who else is being targeted through this device, is what spoils the entire program.

    Plainly, the focus throughout is not climate change and/or what we might do about it, or how we might adapt, but on political enemies. What might be common cause in working to turn things around is appropriated and mobilised against certain people in our society that somebody doesn't happen to…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      "We live in a parliamentary democracy. That means people are entitled to their opinions."

      Indeed. But that does not make those opinions correct.

      "the world can burn before I will vote Labor"

      Physics does not care what your political persuasion is. There is absolutely no reason why conservative political parties cannot also support action on climate change. In Germany you could happily support the CDU of Angela Merkel or in the UK the Conservative Party of David Cameron.

      We have a problem…

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    2. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Wow....just wow.

      The focus IS on climate change and what we can do about it. That is hard to do when there is a systematic agenda by conservative media, politicians and public to thwart that effort. Conservatism is the refuge of the old, unbendable guard that will do whatever they can to maintain the status quo.

      You put it down to a generational theme, "Back in our day, before "climate change" when we had to deal with widespread pollution and land degradation, we didn't give a toss who agreed…

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    3. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Come on The Conversation this is just crap!

      Anyone who plays the game that AGW is not scientific and just someone's political agenda does not deserve to comment here. Could you please remove this garbage.

      Incidentally what on earth has it got to do with Labor?

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Tom, as a 57 year-old Australian who has done his fair share of sleeve-rolling and sweating over the years, and the father of a thirty year old daughter who is also getting stuck in, along with many of her friends, all I can say is that it's been a while since I read such a paranoid, hysterical load of crap.

      Had there been any sober, rational content to your post, I would have responded in kind.

      While I've got you, have you sorted out the difference between 'Jacobin' and 'Jacobite' yet, or is all your political thought based on ignorance and confusion?

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  9. john tons

    retired redundant

    Yet an other article about climate change and yet another futile battle between those who are 'believers' and 'deniers'. The battle is futile because nature gets to bat last. The battle is futile because our economy is driven by our addiction to fossil fuels and so those who are looking for alternatives are drowned out by those who seduce us with the hope that it is possible to continue with business as usual. Ironically I suspect Voltaire may well have been right, forget the debate and just cultivate your gardens. But perhaps watch this first:http://youtu.be/B7xq62dB_Lw

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to john tons

      john, I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but I am able to both debate and cultivate my garden. Indeed, my tomatoes are splendid this year, though the bloody possums got the best of my apricots!

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  10. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "It is dangerous that influential Australian politicians dismiss the role of climate change in recent extreme events." Dangerous is one word to use. Others come to my mind, such as 'ludicrous', 'unbelievable', 'embarrassing', 'hilarious', to pick just a few. Mr. Abbott shows his true colours more clearly in this area than any other. Presumably, he relies on his Invisible Friend to fix any damage we do, because the Earth was created (in one day, of course) for humanity to do with as they wish and must always be in a fit state to support the existence of our species. Nutty! Wing nutty! Right-wing nutty! George Pell must be so proud of him.

    "More remarkably, environment minister Greg Hunt agreed, citing evidence from Wikipedia in support." Ah, yes! Wikipedia Hunt, the only politician who thinks 'Spin Dry' is a naturally occurring cycle.

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    1. In reply to Gerard Dean

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      Comment removed by moderator.