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‘I can change your mind’: if it’s experts you’re after, look elsewhere

Last night the ABC premiered the fascinating documentary “I can change your mind about climate”, in which Nick Minchin, the recently retired Liberal senator, and Anna Rose, the co-founder of the Australian…

Choose your experts carefully, lest they make you look foolish. Pete Prodoehl

Last night the ABC premiered the fascinating documentary “I can change your mind about climate”, in which Nick Minchin, the recently retired Liberal senator, and Anna Rose, the co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, attempted to change each other’s minds about the reality of human-induced climate change.

As you might imagine, Minchin is sceptical of any human impact on the climate. He demands a high standard of proof before embarking on any radical changes that might require government intervention. Rose, while acknowledging some uncertainties, is convinced that we have enough information to act, and we must do so urgently to avoid a global catastrophe.

Climate scientists - I’m talking about the 97% or so that agree that humans have a considerable influence on the climate - are very uneasy with the false balance that a program such as this engenders. From the moment a climate scientist steps onto the stage with a climate denier, the audience’s default assumption will be that there is a 50:50 contest going on. It is going to be difficult or impossible for the scientist to win the argument at the 97:3 level that characterises the debate amongst experts, let alone the greater-than 99.9:0.1 level as it exists, roughly, in the scientific literature.

Anna Rose was very aware of this issue and, as she writes in her book Madlands, thought long and hard before agreeing to participate in the documentary. But with the producers going to proceed with Rose or with someone else, she bravely stepped up to the plate.

The documentary performed an intriguing experiment by plucking Minchin and Rose out of their comfort zones and thrusting them together for a month of filming on the road. Each was able to choose seven experts, from anywhere in the world, to help argue their cases. Will Nick convince Anna? will Anna convince Nick? And how will the viewers react?

For me, the most surprising part of the documentary was Minchin’s choice of experts: they were all duds who would only influence the gullible or those blinded by ideology. Although, to be fair to Minchin, there aren’t any non-dud experts on his side to choose from.

For example, blogger David Evans from Perth showed Rose an aerial photo of a meteorological station near an airport, declaring that half of the world’s “official” thermometers were like this and that they were measuring warming from jet aircraft engines more than anything else.

Rose’s response was “surely you don’t think climate scientists are that stupid?”

And of course Rose is right. Climate scientists aren’t stupid - global warming is clearly measured when only the highest quality rural meteorological stations are used.

Minchin’s other “experts” included blogger Joanne Codling (aka Jo Nova), who blew all credibility when she stated that CO₂ has an immeasurably small impact on temperature, and contrarian Professor Richard Lindzen who has spent over 20 years trying, and repeatedly failing, to find any errors in the theory of human-induced climate change.

Lindzen only appears briefly in the documentary, and you will have to read Rose’s book for the full story of their encounter.

A more interesting choice from Minchin was Danish author Bjorn Lomborg. Over the years he has gone from denying that global warming exists, to saying it exists but it is much better to spend money on combating malaria, to saying that it exists and it is a critical problem. His solution now is to spend $100 billion a year in research and development for a magic technological fix, while keeping on burning fossil fuels.

This is like saying “let’s jump out of this airplane without a parachute, and we will research and develop ways of landing safely on the way down”.

The problem with Lomborg’s solution is that with climate we are up against very fundamental issues of physics that can’t be magicked away. Once a CO₂ molecule has been put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, it is not easy to get it back out again. And once the Arctic is ice-free in summer, $100 billion or even $100 trillion isn’t going to turn the sea water back into ice.

It is interesting that the one constant in Lomborg’s changing position over the years has been “let’s keep burning fossil fuels”.

By far the worst of Minchin’s champions was Marc Morano, who runs the notorious cess-pit of climate denial climatedepot.com. Morano is a master of the Gish Gallop, spewing out a rapid-fire string of arguments - sea level is dropping, polar bear populations are increasing, temperatures are going down - which are impossible to refute on the spot in a television debate. Morano’s arguments were all wrong of course, as has been nicely explained by Graham Readfearn, but by the time you have researched this and are ready to respond, the camera has moved on.

Rose simply refused to engage with Morano, which is the only appropriate course of action.

In all, five of Minchin’s seven experts appeared in the documentary, but only three of Rose’s. While this might sound unfair to Rose, I think that Minchin’s experts did more harm to his cause than good.

That said, I was concerned to read Minchin being quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday as saying that the documentary was a “terrific opportunity to convey to an ABC audience that there remains a significant debate”. If Minchin had any insight he would realise that the documentary simply exposes his gullibility.

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  1. Shauna Murray

    Research Fellow at University of New South Wales

    Interesting article.

    I do think its concerning that the abc is doing this kind of program at all in 2012, with the amount of evidence we now have. Perhaps in 1982 it might have been relevant.

    Simply by framing the issue as a 'debate" , the climate denialist agenda has already succeeded, as can be seen by Nick Minchin's final comment.

    As you so rightly point out, the abc or any other news organisation has never interviewed 97 climate experts vs 3 who disagree. Its always unbalanced.

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    1. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Shauna Murray

      You are right, unbalanced media reporting, that holds up vexatious inanities on a par with scientific consensus, has allowed interests for pollution and emissions without accountability to have huge wins. This has halted effective response and committed the world to a much greater climate change impact at probably massively greater ultimate cost.

      The liberal party for instance had a policy stament proffered in 1990 to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by the year 2000. They haven't had to worry about…

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  2. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    How grossly irresponsible of these people who would like us to live on wishful thinking.

    Great Article, thank you for posting

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  3. Leslie Shaw

    Retired

    The problem is that although 97.3% of climate scientists are in agreement, about 99% of Big Oil and Big Coal are against, and they have the ear and part ownership of the mainstream media. Look at the puerile efforts of Clive Palmer and see how much of a media darling he is at the moment. It is amazing that almost half the population still agree with man induced climate change.

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    1. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Leslie Shaw

      The 97% of all climate scientists claim is just not true. Not only is the "survey" on which it is based out of date, it was flawed (check the questions asked) and has a very small number of respondents. If writers are going to keep dragging this old discredited metric out without explaining on what evidence the claim is based, the editors should reject their paper.

      The claim of 97% is the last refuge of the climate warming alarmist. Whenever a contrary study is aired or whenever a skeptical scientist…

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    2. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Phillip, the 97% of climate scientists supporting the notion of man-made climate change or thereabouts has been shown in several surveys. All major Academies of Science accept man-made climate change as a fact.

      Wikipedia has an informative page on the scientific opinion on climate change: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change.

      Just to give a recent example that was published in a high-ranking journal: "A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

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    3. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      "A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) reviewed publication and citation data for 1,372 climate researchers and drew the following two conclusions: (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC…

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    4. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Hi Philip, you can find the link via the Wikipedia I referenced, but here it is: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.full.pdf+html. Open access, fortunately.

      I'd like to add the for me, the exact 97% is not all that important. It's the overwhelming majority, that much is clear. It also counts that all major Academies of Science agree that man-made global warming is real.

      The scientific debate has moved on to estimating the exact consequences and the speed of the changes. The public debate should move on to what we can do, and on that ground the 'skeptics' have more valid points to make. Mitigating climate change will require investments, and it will produce winners and losers. Discussion how we're going to deal with those issues is what we need. Not this silly yes-no 'debate' you and I are having now.

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    5. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Sorry, I see that I didn't answer your direct question. Since it's not my field of expertise, I can only go by what wikipedia and other such sources report. From what I gather, the perfect survey does not exist but several surveys report broadly the same findings: that most climate scientists believe man-made global warming exists and explains most of the currently observed warming, and that the higher their level of expertise, measured by number or citations of peer-reviewed articles, the more convinced…

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    6. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      Lennert

      Thanks I found it and read it. It is not a survey of all climate scientists, 97% of whom answered a specific question put to them as I suggested. At the Wikipedia address I also found the criticism levelled at the methodology of the study by Judith Curry an eminent climate scientist in the USA by any measure.

      With respect I do not agree with you that the debate has moved on from the silly "yes/no" debate we are having. This is the problem skeptics and now the public have with this whole…

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    7. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      Lennert

      Many thanks for your interest in providing me the links.

      I will concede that the majority of scientists (climate or otherwise) probably agree that man is the cause of AGW. Maybe it is 60%. My concern is that claims like 97% distort the true balance in the debate. Without a balanced debate academic and scientific research grants reflect the 97% notion and so the only research done is by scientists who are the "informed" ones in the club, not the kooky ones outside the club who are only…

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    8. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Lets "assume", for the sake of argument, that the consensus amongst government sanctioned experts and authorities isn't at 97% but a mere 80% - the message and onus are still very clear.

      We have a problem - let's find the best response! Anything else is shuffling deck chairs!

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    9. Matthew Albrecht

      Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      "whether a survey exists to which scientists in all associated climate related fields (not just those who "actively publish in the field of climate science")"

      This baffles me. Why would you get an expert opinion from people who aren't experts? If they're not publishing in a field of climate science then it's highly likely that they can't have the necessary expertise to comment appropriately.
      Who are the expert climate scienctists that aren't publishing in climate science?
      This is like saying to me that there are the expert neuropharmacologists that aren't publishing in the field of neuropharmacology??? How likely is that?

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    10. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      So you think that, because the perfect survey does not exist (but you can't be bothered to look for it yourself even when presented with a link that gives an overview), this means we can be confident man-made global warming does not exist?

      And that, because you do not except all the existing surveys that show that the vast majority of climate scientists believe man-made climate change is real, "they" are probably lying to us about the whole thing? Despite all publications in peer-reviewed journals, etc. etc.?

      I think that's a remarkable line of reasoning, Phillip, and a terrible gamble. I'd be inclined to try and avoid potential major adverse events rather than wait for 100% certain proof and be unable to avoid any calamities should they eventualise. But we each have to make our judgements, I guess, and I wish you all the best with yours.

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    11. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Then we should be accurate about saying 80%. Not mislead by saying 97%.
      Spin is spin and undermines credibility.
      You would be equally critical when it suited you.

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    12. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      I appreciate you are cautious, but I think you are cautious in a one-sided manner, only looking at the adverse consequences of taking action, not at the benefits, or at the likely consequences of inaction.

      Economic aspects of this transition are of legitimate concern, but I hardly think the ETS is going to ruin our economy and the economic future of this country. Minerals are going to run out at some point, and we risk getting stuck with antiquated fossil fuel technology rather than at the forefront of technological innovation if we don't switch to renewable energy sources.

      The Stern report concluded that for the world as a whole (and the UK) taking early action is better than delaying action. The ZeroEmissions project shows that we can transit to renewables, and that this is affordable. I like that discussion point, though, and would like to see some more independent (academic) economic analyses of the consequences of different options for Australia.

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    13. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      "Maybe it is 60%"

      You are asking us to accept a complete guess in place of a body of work which, however flawed, at least followed an objectively repeatable protocol.

      "The great concern for people like me is that we have put all our eggs in the Carbon Tax/ ETS basket without any real understanding of the whole picture in the first place and that because of maniacal green advocacy, we could get it badly wrong and ruin our economy and the economic future of this country."

      The great concern for people like me, on the other hand, is that there seems very clear evidence that humans, because of "maniacal intransigence" refuse to moderate the opportunistic degradation of their environment in irreversible ways and that the legacy to our kids will be one of shameful loss and misery.

      Can we get back to an evaluation of the evidence now?

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    14. Matthew Thredgold

      Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      "maniacal green advocacy" is such a BS term. It's the old Green bogeyman, put forward by those commenters who run around screaming "socialist", "communist" or whatever at the slightest provocation. I don't equate its use with any cleverness, nous or social grace.

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    15. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      I accept the 97% figure as a current objective estimate.

      The 80% figure was meant to demonstrate that even if the 97% figure were "markedly" wrong the weight of the consensus is still sufficient to suggest a need for strong adapatation and mitigation actions.

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    16. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      I found the article referred by Ian Smith. Doran (2009).

      Thanks Ian.

      The study was an Internet survey sent to 10,257 Earth Scientists. There were 3,146 responses. Of these 157 (5%) were climate scientists and of those 79 (2.5%) were climate scientists who claimed that 50% of their research in the past 5 years was on the subject of climate change.

      Of the 2,989 (95%) Earth Scientists surveyed 77% said they believed that "human activity was a significant contributing factor in changing global…

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    17. Ian Smith

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      "3 years of record cold weather"

      I think you are referring to local weather not global average, regardless local weather and season has been found to influence public perception of CC/AGW.

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    18. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Philip, I'm curious as to why you split hairs about the actual percentage of scientists who have concerns about AGW? It's clearly well above 50% and may have the added benefit of verifiable data to support their case. Unlike denialists who only have cherry picking, obfuscation, misrepresentation and straight out fraud to support their crumbling position.

      Can you name any field of science where there is 100% support for a particular position?

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    19. Metta Bhavana

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      The cultural fiasco over climate variation - it is not a debate - has its terms askew. The so-called "sceptics" are the believers. The climate change "believers "are the sceptics.How? Question the Minchins and the Monktons et al, and what you will find is belief: in God's benevolence, in the hegemony of the positivist progressivism of Anglo-American social, economic and legal forms of domination and exploitation of resources - human and material - for profit and pleasure. That is, they begin the…

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    20. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      Lennert, I know that CO2 is a GHG and man emits CO2 therefore man has a role in warming but I am skeptical about the MAGNITUDE of the CO2 role in the observed changes in climate records. Climate sensitivity questions are still subject to much research and debate.

      If you asked me if I believed in man made climate change then yes i do so I am in the 97%. But If you asked me if I believed that man is primarily responsible for all observed climate change since 1850 then I am very skeptical. Observations…

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    21. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair

      The concern is that this 97% metric has been used continually by alarmists to create the impression that the whole scientific community (and therefore anyone who should know) is in agreement with the proposition that man made CO2 causes all the significant changes in climate and so underpinning a message that "the science is settled". Their claims were never qualified in any way to say that this figure related to 79 climate scientists who claimed to have conducted over half their research…

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    22. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      The science I find most analogous with climate science is economics. Lots of computer models and assumptions. Many variables and almost endless theories and opinions about what will happen. In reality an economist is always partially right and yet we as managers of our own money have to deal with the reality of the economy when it affects us. We all have a healthy skepticism of economists based on our own experience.

      We look at how often they are right and wrong and filter their predictions accordingly and in the end come to our own view. The public is treating climate science the same.

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    23. Matthew Thredgold

      Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Blair, Why would you think them analogous?

      That's like saying an airplane model and a supermodel are the same.

      Do you know anything about either economic modelling, or the modelling of physical systems?

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    24. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to James Szabadics

      James

      I agree with you that the doco and ABC panel show were not very informative. And from your comments, a lot more information is obviously needed. I don't mean that comment disrespectfully but your comment reflects a very widely held misperception about climate change; the its hasn't warmed much recently.

      To clarify, AGW says that GH gas rises should cause heat to accumulate in the Earth's climate systems. And this extra heat should then cause componennts of the system to increase in temperature…

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    25. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Very disingenuous Philip. I challenge you to present any peer-reviewed article that makes the specific claim that man made CO2 causes “all” the significant changes in climate.

      You're guilty of the very thing you accuse others of doing, namely misrepresenting the facts.

      You're sounding awfully like the ID/creationists who try to convey the sentiment that evolution isn't a fact and there is much scientific disagreement about it. The science on climate change is settled, the only discussion now is the degree to which that change will affect the planet generally and regions specifically. I'm sure you can dredge up a very few climate scientists who will agree with you but it doesn't change the available evidence that AWG is real and the vast majority of scientists studying climate change have reached that conclusion.

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    26. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Phillip

      I disagree with your basic premise, and this might go to the heart of peoples misunderstanding of AGW. Climate Modelling in the broad sense isn't that complex. The very earliest simplest models from the 70's gave similar results to the current ones. Yes there are multiple variables, but they are not all of equal importance. A basic climate model doesn't need much complexity because it is basic thermodynamics. The more complex models are trying to include more complex systems and chemistry…

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    27. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to James Szabadics

      James, the best answer has already been given by Glenn: just looking at air temperatures is looking at only a small part of the system.

      Another way of looking at it is by taking into account other known influences on surface air temperatures, notably solar activity, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and volcanic activity. If you statistically remove those effects, you get a much more regular pace of global warming. A recent peer-reviewed paper shows this; see http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?n=1172.

      This continued warming you're left with after removing ENSO, sun and volcanos is likely to be due to human influence. Not only has no alternative explanation been found, but there are also a lot of positive signs it's mostly due to to greenhouse gases - see http://www.skepticalscience.com/its-not-us.htm.

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    28. Rob Crowther

      Architectural Draftsman

      In reply to Metta Bhavana

      Mate...

      it would be much better if you took the time to paragraph your input. It is well worth the read and would be easier for people like me to absorb if you broke it up into its logical compartments which pargraphs tend to do.

      Thanks.

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    29. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Then why are they so unreliable?
      Why can't they tell me the temperature next week or the rainfall I should expect in 3 months time in Australia?
      Why were the floods in the past 3 years not foreseen?
      Why does the BOM issue such qualified predictions if these things are so simple?
      Why was the prolonged drought so misread?
      These are long terms issues in the main

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    30. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      “Why would the floods in the past 3 years not foreseen?"

      Where have you been Philip? Anybody with an interest in the SOI knew before the floods that we were in for a wetter than average period which would likely include heavy flooding. It was on the BOM website at the time if you cared to look.

      I have to wonder if your questions are sincere or just mischiefmaking. Maybe if you spent a little time reading up about climate and the science helping us understand it, you would realise how out of date you are.

      In any case, you seem to be forgetting that our understanding of weather and climate is only as accurate as the instruments recording data at any particular time. Those are improving all the time as is the volume of data. The more we are finding out, the more certain researchers are becoming about AGW. As for its effects, that's really another issue altogether because different places will be affected in different ways.

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    31. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, he is just wasting your time - same old denier arguments that were demolished ages ago. Next he'll be on about the MWP...

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    32. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      "Maybe it is 60%."

      It was actually 76% of non-publishing/non-climatologist earth scientists. The results are presented here: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/97_of_active_climatologists_ag.php

      "My concern is that claims like 97% distort the true balance in the debate."

      So you think a survey of Joe Blow's would give a more balanced result?

      The thing that stands out in the graph at the link above is that the more people know and understand climate science, the more likely they are to agree that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures. What do you conclude from that trend?

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    33. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      "Why was the prolonged drought so misread?"

      Phillip Hyde has clearly never heard of La Nina or El Nino - or even Dorothea McKellar.

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    34. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris
      You mean the more a scientist is reliant upon his grant money from a funding source wedded to the orthodoxy, the more likely he is to believe in AGW.
      Gee that's a revelation!

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    35. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Philip, that's not what Chris inferred. The question was pretty straightforward but as usual, you twisted it to promote another cherished lie of the denialists. Show us some evidence that funding is directly related to pro AGW orthodoxy? There is certainly plenty of evidence that funding props up the denialists. Start with the Australians funded by the Heartland Institute.

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    36. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Yep ... we've been caught out ... you're too clever by half Phil...

      It's all a fabrication - a vast global conspiracy of leftists and climatologists - dedicated to bringing our great western civilisation to its knees. Spreading lies and panic hand in glove with the mass media and the world government United Nations, the IPCC, and just about anything with an acronym. We are undone. Exposed.

      But of course the real conspiracy - deep at the core - crouched like a spider in the web of lies…

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    37. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Phillip Hyde: "the more a scientist is reliant upon his grant money from a funding source wedded to the orthodoxy"

      So what's your explanation for the earth scientists who don't get grant money for publications but who agree that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? Perhaps they're all friends of the ones that do and are just in on the greatest conspiracy of all time.

      A conspiracy, I should add, that implies that 97% of humans are psychopaths who don't care about how they mislead other people in their quest for money.

      No doubt Phillip is aware that 97% of doctors, dentists and all other professionals are also psychopaths whose interest in getting his money outweighs any other concern. Being aware of this Phillip will never take professional advice especially in such obvious cases of self-interest as cancer diagnosis, cardiac disease, joint replacement, dental reconstruction etc.

      Phillip knows the game is up.

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    38. Metta Bhavana

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Very amusing Peter. And a strangely accurate analysis of the cause of all the reactionary alarm. The climate fiasco is not about objective statistics, which my academic friends want to continually argue, it is about fear of rapid change and moral panic over subjective statistics.

      In other words, measurement X time = detrimental effect on moral health and social norms. Some historical examples: the length of women's skirts and bathing suits, how many migrants, closing times of pubs, tax rates, petrol prices, plus all the examples you wittily mentioned. Each of these have been and are seen as the end of the world as we know it!

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    39. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Metta Bhavana

      Are you telling me that global warming and the length of skirts are one and the same? Ahh, you found a correlation :)

      Anyway, if you're suggesting global warming is non existent you're way wrong.

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    40. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      Lennert, you say that just looking at air temperatures is only a small part of the system but it is the part where man emits GHG and the part where warming initially happens. To trivialise the importance of CO2 in the atmosphere is to deny the fundamental basis of anthropogenic warming itself. After all the whole basis of AGW is that additional CO2 will trap heat in the atmosphere which obviously is measured by air temp.

      If the Rhamsdorf paper is accurate then I expect they will be able to…

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    41. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Lennert Veerman

      Lennert, I have been having a better read of the Foster and Rahmstorf link and paper and it would appear the graphs have some serious flaws and the paper has ignored some important exogenous factors.

      Compare figure 2 and figure 3 in the link you sent and for example have a look at say 2010. It is characterised by some interesting exogenous factors - MEI is positive (0.2), AOD is close to zero and TSI is slightly negative (0.025). So the net exogenous influence for 2010 would be positive…

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    42. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to James Szabadics

      Hi James,

      As to the cloud cover and earth albedo: these can only be secondary to the other factors. Cloud cover does not change all by itself, it is not a driver of the system like CO2 concentration or insolation. It must be some function of air temperature and other factors.

      I am afraid I cannot quite follow your reasoning regarding the validity of the adjustments made. Just figures 2 and 3 don't contain enough information, and then the're the lags in table 1 to factor in. Too complex to do at a glance. So for now I'll assume the peer review process would have picked up any obvious mistakes. But if you really feel you're onto something, you can always write a letter to the authors, or to the editor of the journal. (As a trained sceptic that's what I do in such cases - but only in my field and when I'm quite certain of my case.)

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    43. Michael Mortimore

      Climate Scientist

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Totally agree with you there Phillip. Here are a few reasoned points I would like to add.

      WHO DO THESE PHONIES THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO FOOL!!!!

      These East Anglian commie spin-doctors try to deceive us through their web of "SCIENCE" and "FACTS". People need to wake up and discover the truth.

      This 97/88/60/who cares% of "CLIMATE COMMISSARS" wish to spin their web of climate warming conspiracy in the hope to establish a NEW WORLD ORDER based on conservatism and renewable every! ARGHHHHHHH…

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    44. Michael Mortimore

      Climate Scientist

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      How many climate skeptics does it take to change a light bulb?
      First off, the light bulb is not burned out, and even if it was,
      it is not MY fault so why should I change it?
      Besides, it is far too expensive for me to change a light blub.
      Why are light Nazis always trying to get me to change my bulb?
      Also, we are not taking into account all of the wonderful benefits of living in the dark!
      Oh, and you don't see the Chinese changing THEIR light bulbs do you? Well do you?

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    45. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Michael Mortimore

      What a breathtaking analysis!

      You must have too much time on your hands down at the lab Michael

      I have learned something though, I did not realize that the University of East Anglia climate scientists were commies.

      It certainly would explain a few things!

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    46. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris
      There is a major difference with these healthcare practitioners and climate scientists.
      The healthcare guys are all subject to external scrutiny as to their professional performance. Professional negligence in respect to billing is overseen by Medicare and the private health funds. If fraud happens they pay a real price.
      With patient care if they damage a patient they have to not only have to face a panel of their peers but a raft of lawyers seeking damages on behalf of the patient.
      As a result they all carry professional indemnity insurance.
      Climate scientists only feel they need to answer to other climate scientists. Hell will freeze over before a climate scientist has to get such insurance for being wrong and costing the community

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    47. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      No Phil,

      We're just scraping at the tip of the iceberg ... the climate commies of East Anglia couldn't do it on their own.... It's the UN pulling the strings. It's the greedy governments of all those third world countries demanding our good solid dollars, forcing us to crush our very own Way of Life. But underneath it all ... including Global World Communism - is the Bureau International des Poids et Measures.

      Think about for a minute Phil - none of this climate stuff mattered at all when…

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    48. Matthew Thredgold

      Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      What absolute codswallop!!! Are you going out of your way to be annoying? Is it some kind of obtuse drinking game?

      1. Peer review before publication. 2. The serious consequences for scientific fraud. 3. Journals will print retractions. 4. The scrutiny of many eyes.

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    49. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Matthew Thredgold

      Mathew
      All the oversight is by other climate scientists because they are supposedly the only ones who understand
      If Phil Jones, Michael Mann and Keith Briffa had been put under oath in a court like our healthcare guys have to do, it would have been interesting

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    50. Matthew Thredgold

      Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      I call BS on you Philip.

      If you can point out where they were wrong on anything (like for reals, not just your usual BS) then you are welcome to publish.

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    51. Paul Wilson

      Academic

      In reply to Matthew Thredgold

      Matthew you are right
      It is all BS
      The Climategate emails and all subsequent investigations did not find that Phil Jones and his mates at UEA had done anything unethical or morally questionable with respect to any of their conduct. And Michael Mann was done over by that nasty skeptic Stephen McIntyre' None of it was true.
      Yep it was all BS!
      They were probably set up by a grand conspiracy of Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Dick Cheney and Haliburton, Big Rupert Murdoch, the Republication Party, the Liberal Party, the Bush family, the Tea Party, John Howard, Martin Ferguson and Andrew Bolt.
      No you are right
      Nothing to see here!
      Move on quickly children!

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    52. Matthew Thredgold

      Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      You're flogging a dead horse Phillip. Every one of the multiple inquiries exonerated all participants. Read the original emails too. Climategate is and was a non-issue. But that's the thing with evidence, you have preconceived ideas, and nothing anyone says is going to shift you. Yet still it goes round and round the dopey blogs like it was actually something to write home about.

      I don't think there is any conspiracy beyond corporate donations to one side of politics, and a complicit (and largely…

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    53. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Philip, no, no, no, no. It's the bloody illuminati. Try and keep up lad, I'm sure you're not quite as dull as you're making out.

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    54. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Listen up Blair, those Illuminati are just mindless tools in the hands of the French Decimalists ... my conspiracy is the biggest hugest most really enormousest plot ever uncovered so there.

      Only the willfully blind try and throw blame on the discredited Illuminati. How much are they paying you Blair to keep the likes of Phil confused and enslaved to their Da Vinci coded mythologising? All talk and hype those Illuminates ... robes and spin mate and it's in latin! A piddling pod of plotters.

      Phil as a seeker of truth has penetrated into the dark forces that were behind the East Anglia blow-up ... the comrades from the East Anglia cell overplayed their hands and are now cooling their heels in some gulag somewhere. But they are just pawns in the game Blair - as are we all.

      Phil can sense this. The truth is out there Phil ... a long long way out there.

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    55. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      "With patient care if they damage a patient"

      You're completely missing the point Phillip. A Doctor doesn't have to damage a patient to cause that patient to pay for more medical treatment than necessary. You don't seem to realize that Medicare does not oversee the scientific journals on which medical treatment is based, yet people like you complain that scientific journals are biassed by self-interest. You also seem to not realize that Medicare only deals with a very small fraction of dental…

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    56. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Paul Wilson says "The science I find most analogous with climate science is economics. Lots of computer models and assumptions."

      Clearly then, he has absolutely NO idea what climate science is.
      Climate Science is based on EVIDENCE and a thorough understanding of physical processes (unlike economics). It's true there are models used (like in almost every science I know) - and, despite the misrepresentations of the pseudo-skeptic deniers - they are surprisingly good.

      Phillip also also apparently…

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    57. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Is Phil Hyde now pretending to be Paul Wilson? I thought people had to use their real names to post here...

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    58. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The illuminati have vapourised Phillip and turned him into Paul Wilson!

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    59. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      Ooops ...

      Looks like Phillip Hyde has changed his on-line identity and become an academic named Paul Wilson ... superhero style.... except unfortunately this Conversation site changes all your previous posts to reflect your new identity Philip/Paul. Bit like changing into Clarke Kent but leaving a bit of cape hanging out.

      Welcome to the wonderfully truthful world of climate denial folks....

      Knock this fraudster off eds!

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    60. Bob Armstrong

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leslie Shaw

      97.3% eh ? Three digit accuracy even in the face of the massive blogsphere presence of highly quantitatively educated posters ? That alone shows the innumerate willful stupidity or just plain lousy education of those suck in by thie fraud against the molecule out of which we are all constructed .

      At this point , to still believe this fraud one's got to be deaf and dumb .

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    61. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Bob Armstrong

      Carbon is not a molecule - and we are NOt construtec out of Carbon Dioxide.

      But heh - don;t let your abysmal ignorance stop you from having a loud mouthed and ill informed opinion in denial of the science.

      Most in the Liberal Party ranks don;t - why should you?

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    62. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Yes Blair ... when you do the serious research you'll find deep at the heart of any and every conspiracy since the Jacobins and their tame cat scientists - from Lenin to Al Gore - it's the accursed ten fingers of the decimalists weaving away, making our waistlines appear huge in their filthy centimeters, making the shops further away in their senseless kilometers and forcing us to buy our petrol in piddling little litres with shriveled scrawny dollars.

      Enough we say - restore those wonderful true units of Empire - the god given measures of our ancestors... the ones that made sense.

      Give us back those lovely words and notions like ounces, pounds, pennies, ha'pennies, zacs and quids... back to the days when buying a quarter pound of gumballs at threepence ha'penny a pound taxed the mind and our stubby fingers were useless.

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    63. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Peter, for shame, you forgot the “fluid scruple", the “rood" and “perch". Imagine waltzing into the bar and asking for a cold fluid scruple on a hot day? - Especially if the girl behind the bar had lovely eyes…

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    64. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Paul Wilson

      Why is Phillip Hyde pretending to be Paul Wilson?

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  4. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Michael,
    Yet to hear your solution to the problem? Does it involve mung beans and wearing sack cloth? Your energy intensive lifestyle surely marks you as a bit of a hypocrite on this. Or am I being unfair? Do tell.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Solution to the problem?

      1. Start cutting taxes.
      2. Make up the revenue shortfall with a consumption tax on fossil fuel.

      Smart people and well-run businesses start use their tax cuts to buy solar panels and hybrid/electric vehicles, locking in their tax cuts in future years.

      3. Cut more taxes, and continue making up the revenue shortfall by increasing the rate of the fossil fuel consumption tax.

      More people catch on to what the smart people have already done. The aforementioned well-run businesses are already able to outcompete their competitors, so other companies either start catching up or lose business.

      4. Continue with step 3 until fossil fuel use is decreased to the extent required.

      5. Continue with step 3 a bit more, as the need to cut fossil fuel use even more is confirmed by scientific observation.

      By now, market-driven technological progress will have made more low/zero emission technology and equipment available.

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    2. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Isn't that a little hard on us all Marc?

      We can assume several things when it comes to global warming, from it being a total scam, to it being a reality of utmost importance.

      Then we can tell each other that it is the little things that matter and start to throw the right things into the right bin, recycle, etc. Then we can see what the impact of that was on a global scale when it comes to CO2. I would presume it to be pretty small, that is, if we don't all start to bicycle.

      Doesn't excuse resource waste and lazy habits of course, but it's the cars, the industries, the type of energy use we (coal, oil etc) generate that is the main 'man made' and new portion of CO2. Cows farting or our breathing is a part of the biological cycle that always have been on Earth, since it got 'populated' and is not really included, although who knows?

      Maybe cows farts more those days :)

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    3. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to David Arthur

      Thanks David, but I was really interested in Michael's view. Seems he's all mouth on the views of others but when it comes to laying cards on the table he's not prepared to wear similar treatment.

      Solar panels great for day use but where's the back up power? There are inherent efficiecies to centralized power generation. By the way we run a 24 hour economy these days.

      I much prefer going to next gen nuclear power as the next logical step in our energy sourcing. Continued research on alternatives may also pay off but not quite there yet IMHO.

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    4. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      My question directed at the author of this piece. Seems he's gone quiet.

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    5. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Why is it that so many in the geology profession are climate sceptics? Just curious.

      The article was about the problem, there are numerous other articles on the web, and on this site, about the multifarious pathways to try to resolve it.

      In any case, one of the main blocks to resolving the problem is the sceptics brigade. It's all very well attempting to educate the Australian community and business about what to do when there are others out there doing their darndest to say 'don't do anything…

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Pretty certain that there isn't An Answer Marc. Not for us lazy fat white bastards anyway.

      We have become so used to having something from our geological past doing all the work that the idea of actually working up a sweat (other than jogging or working out at the gym) is anathema. Producing something is also a bit difficult. We just consume stuff.

      My hunch is that One Answer will happen by default - that there will be so much misery and hunger in parts of the world that large numbers of…

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    7. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc writes: "Yet to hear your solution to the problem? Does it involve mung beans and wearing sack cloth? Your energy intensive lifestyle surely marks you as a bit of a hypocrite on this. Or am I being unfair?"

      Does this mean you finally admit there is a problem?

      The rest of your comment is very poor, does not contribute to a meaningful debate and simply takes up bandwidth. Play the ball not the man.

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    8. Ian Smith

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Chris Harries

      I imagine many geologists get most their funding/employment from oil and coal industries...

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    9. Philip Gillibrand

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Geologists are always slow to adapt to new ideas. They did reject continental drift theory for 50 years, after all. I think their minds work at the same pace as the processes they study :-)

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    10. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Philip Gillibrand

      Actually - it was an atronomer, Alfred Wegner, who is generally credited with the idea of continental drift (although the correspondance between the shapes of the continents had been noted even earlier) and most other physicists and geologists pooh poohed it. It wasn't until physicists worked out a mechanism and found independent confirming observations that the consensus accepted the notion. However, I personally knew one fellow, Professor Ollier, who was espousing the alternative expanding earth hypothesis until well into the 1990's.

      Just goes to show - evidence based thinking eventually overcomes core value based predjudice. There's hope for the world yet!

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    11. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Hope perhaps. Time unlikely Fred.

      This is one of the big problems with science I reckon.

      We like to wait till the data is incontrovertible, till the evidence is overwhelming ... till there is 97% agreement. We wait till the crisis is imminent... be it the mass extinction of a fishery or the collapse of an ecosystem.

      But there won't be a consensus on this issue. Not on this. Industrialisation - shorthand for burning stuff - is so deeply buried in our economy, our lifestyles our notion…

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    12. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes, in time nearly everyone will come around. Denial is a natural human reaction and in time it dissipates.

      Scientific certainty over climate change is about the same as that of evolution. There are still a few hangers on who refuse to accept that we stemmed from the primate family of mammals, but there's no longer a real argument.

      When feminist theory was introduced in the 1970s and 1980s there was so much consternation against changes to our languages, laws and cultural norms. But now we've gotten used to a changed paradigm and barely anybody gives it a second thought.

      We should be patient with those who find climate change science too confronting or scary to immediately accept, and help them to come around. I don't say that of those who are convenient sceptics, like Nick Minchin, because their scepticism is political and opportunistic. There are sceptics and there are sceptics.

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    13. James Szabadics

      BSc

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Chris, I don't think you should focus on personalities in the debate - better to focus on the actual science. We know CO2 is a GHG but as to what that means in the real world atmospheric temperature change there is still a lot of work to do. If we fully understood the feedback question we would not have a range of 1.8 to 5 degrees C in the IPCC scenario model projections (which all assume positive feedback by the way which is also subject to further research). I think that rather than focus on people and their politics and psychology we would all be better off looking at the data and actually making some progress to develop the science and understanding.

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    14. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Szabadics

      James, as much as I would like to agree with you the main problem that climate scientists have isn't firming up the science to very higher levels of detail. That will be done anyway, but their main problem It is persuading the public and decision makers that the science is real and serious.

      Psychology is a very relevant academic discipline. What social scientists have to contribute is every bit as important as what resource scientists have to contribute to the debate about climate change. I would even go further, at this nexus in history their contributions are absolutely crucial to how we see this through in the next ten years.

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    15. Paul McCarthy

      lawyer

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Your comment about solar is a little odd since one of the advantages that solar has over most other forms of power is that it doesn't have to be centralized. Peak power use is in the daytime, and if solar was fully used for daytime production it would be a huge improvement even with backup fossil fuel power plants.

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    16. Marc Hendrickx

      Geologist: The Con is a bad Monty Python sketch, for climate sense see: http://www.thegwpf.org/

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Never have said there was not an issue, Fred.

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    17. In reply to Ian Ashman

      Comment removed by moderator.

    18. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      Whenever I hear 'start cutting taxes' I automatically switch off. Sorry, but it's been a conservative rallying cry for so long. There is a limit to how much taxes you can cut.

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  5. Matthew Thredgold

    Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

    The Liberal Party should publicly distance itself from Nick Minchin's views. He has been shown in this documentary to be incredfibly foolish, and unable to discern fiction from reality and if he's indicative of the Liberal party as a whole then they are not ready to be in any position to be in government, nor should they even be in any Senate committee now. i.e. keep the idiocy far from policy.

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Matthew Thredgold

      Sadly Matt the Liberal Party and their National underlings will not - cannot - distance themselves from Minchin's wishful thinking. Wishful thinking - coupled with blind panic - are the order of the day with a few notable (and totally isolated) exceptions like Turnbull.

      Abbott's entire raison detre - his promise to the party room - was that he could force the government out of office, force a rerun of the 2010 election (that he really thinks should have been his) and that by ceaseless attack…

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  6. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    "....let alone the 99.99:0.01 level as it exists, roughly, in the scientific literature".
    You clearly weren't listening when the psychologist explained that exaggeration by CO2 activists is a big reason why people are becoming more sceptical that anything unusual is going on.

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    1. Matthew Thredgold

      Software Engineer/Secondary Teacher

      In reply to Michael Brown

      except that 99.99:0.01 figure isn't hyperbole.

      Who gives a damn what a psychologist thinks when it doesn't change the underlying physics? We don't get to vote on reality.

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    2. Michael Ashley

      Professor of Astrophysics at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Michael, thanks for pointing that out. the 99.99:0.01 was an error, I meant 99.9:0.1, which is based on the survey by Naomi Oreskes of 928 papers over a 10 year period. I will ask the editors to change the text which originally read "the 99.99:0.01 level" to "greater than the 99.9:0.1 level". It may be as high as 99.99:0.01, but I don't have the evidence for that.

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    3. Ian Smith

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Matthew Thredgold

      I disagree, lets hold a referendum to abolish the laws of thermodynamics and end the energy crisis by way of perpetual motion generators.

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    4. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Ian Smith

      Not exactly a perpetual generator but geothermal generation comes pretty darn close... perpetual enough to see us out I'd reckon. And the osmotic stuff the Norwegians are tinkering with looks good if a bit tiny yet. And the vertical axis magnetic levitation wind turbines the Chinese and yanks are developing look interesting too - if a bit big.

      Be kinda nice if we got to vote on gravity and time's relentless arrow wouldn't it? Looks like the mag-lev stuff has repealed friction which is a start.

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    5. Rob Crowther

      Architectural Draftsman

      In reply to Ian Smith

      I think a more suitable response would be to put a high taxation rate on all books that explain calculus so the populous is rewarded for being innumerate in which case we won’t have to worry about thermodynamics because no-one will understand it.

      It will also clear the path for blissful ignorance so perpetual motion generators can be thought of as a useful way ahead.

      Hang on a minute – has that already started to happen?

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    6. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Rob Crowther

      Ouch, that was sort of mean..

      People ain't stupid, but we all have beliefs, if it is in science or only in ones local preacher or politician. That's what makes us human, we listen to the guy that makes us feel 'connected', but if he is boring, or just push the wrong button it really won't matter what he says, will it? :)

      And that can become a reactionary force when something new and strange happens. Mostly it is a benevolent one as it gives us time to come around and think it through. The problems…

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    7. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      All the stuff that I've read on geothermal generation points to major logistical problems. As the hot rocks lose their heat there's a need to rest that site and move on for a period. A matrix of sites across a few square kilometres would probably work, but adding all that extra transmission infrastructure is a major expense problem.

      I'm not being a wet blanket, and would like to be more impressed. But I do believe the limits on geothermal generation at present are probably not too dissimilar in scale to the limits on solar and wind power, but of a different kind.

      There's no free lunch. No perfect solution, lots of ways forward. And in any event, electricity generation is arguably the easiest bit. Replacement of depleting oil, our economy's life blood, is the biggest challenge of all.

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  7. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    Thank you Michael - I thought this a very timely contribution. You will be able to judge the impact of your comments by the vehemence of the response from the climate denialist bloggers.

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  8. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    This is yet another example of what misleadingly goes for "balance" in modern discourse. A balanced argument occurs when there is real disagreement amongst people who are experts in the field, and one side debates the other. A debate between a scientist in the relevant field and an amateur zealot does not constitute "balance".

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  9. John Collee

    Writer

    Totally agree with this article. The docco was a travesty - climate change reduced to an episode of the Great Race with various loopy deniers allowed to repeat their worn-out lies unchallenged. Ann Rose's book of her journey is excellent but clearly almost all the hard science was ditched for the TV show. Why would the producers do this? Equally incomprehensible to me that Q&A would give Clive Palmer a platform to comment while relegating the only qualified climate scientist - Matt England - to the sidelines. Nick MInchin, grinning like a Cheshire cat is allowed to repeat three or four outright lies in The Sydney Morning Herald's Op Ed today - claiming there has been no warming since 1998, that sea ice is not melting, and that those people alarmed by recent climate data are alarmists. Either he wasn't listening to the scientists he spoke to or he just doesn't want to face reality . That's his choice, but preventing the public from knowing what is real is a different matter.

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    1. Colin MacGillivray

      Architect, retired, Sarawak

      In reply to John Collee

      "all the hard science was ditched for the TV show. Why would the producers do this?" Because half of all people are of below average intelligence and probably more than half of TV viewers are.

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  10. trevor prowse

    retired farmer

    I think there is a reason for doubt about the extent of the effect of co2 on the changes to our climate above the long term trends and the natural changes that have historically occured . I would like Matthew England to look at the air temperatures recorded for 20 years at the 12 tidal stations . My research has found no upward temperature trend in 8 out of the 12 operating stations in Australia. What makes me concerned is the BOM would not work out the trends of their own data for me. One of the changes to how the CSIRO work now is much of their research is tied to funding from outside sources and that is a concern for their scientific integrity. Nick Minchin was really saying is --are we sure that restricting Australian economy going to be scientifically effective?

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    1. Stephen Prowse

      Research Advisor at Wound CRC

      In reply to trevor prowse

      Trevor, I must reply to my namesake. An area where Nick and his colleagues ended up looking quite confused was that at one moment they would agree that the world is warming and a few moments later in the program deny that warming is happening at all. There are now multiple data sets from many recording stations in many parts of the world showing warming over the last100 years. It is quite legitimate to argue why that is and what we could and should do about it but people who argue that there is no warming really have no credibility and most likely have ulterior motives. So we can do nothing and run the risk of handing a vastly different planet to our grandchildren or try to do something about it. My preference is better manage risk by trying to develop a more sustainable lifestyle, taking a broader perspective that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and address some of the other complex social and environmental issues we face.

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    2. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to trevor prowse

      A few comments Trevor.

      What is the particular interest in Australian temperatures - it is the global averages that matter? And then if we want to know whether the world is warming, just looking at air temperatures is small beer. The major form of warming is warming of the oceans - this is where 90% of the extra heat has gone, compared to 3% into warming the air. And warming of nthe air is very strongly influenced by surface ocesan temperatures.These have also palteaued somewhat.

      The doco was…

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    3. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to Stephen Prowse

      I was really commenting on Matthew Englands comment that he disputed the temperature statement by Nick Minchin. What is not clear in this debate is the multiple causes of an increase in temperatures. What is interesting in the air temperatures recorded over the last 20 years is that these sites contain less outside influences which could affect the data. For example Willis island air temperatures show a similar trend to the tidal station results and the island is way out in the pacific ocean. Sea temperatures on a global scale are inherently difficult to plot , but after more than 30 years we should be able to get a better picture from the Argo data.

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    4. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to trevor prowse

      Trevor, where did you publish your work? Was it peer reviewed?

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    5. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      I am really trying to find out why air temperature data from the 12 operational tidal stations are not able to be included in a debate about climate change. I asked the BOM to draw a trend for the 20 years that the stations have been operating and they refused. The reason I believe these results are significant is they are on sea level and are not influenced from non co2 causes .If 8 out 12 have not had a rising trend , you then must question if the co2 has only a very small influence on temperatures…

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to trevor prowse

      G'day Trevor, from one farmer to another....

      You wouldn't be the same Trevor Prowse that runs the Just Grounds website would you?

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    7. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to trevor prowse

      trevor prowse: "The reason I believe these results are significant is they are on sea level and are not influenced from non co2 causes"

      I expect data from such stations would be included in calculations of australian and global warming where appropriate but using just those few stations over just 20 years would have a very low signal-to-noise ratio. Also, there is nothing special about being at sea level for the purpose of determining temperature trend so there is nothing particularly significant…

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris .... he gets it here, from the Just Grounds website which he operates:

      http://justgroundsonline.com/ Well worth a look - give you an insight into the deep end of the looney right.

      Just Grounds is "discussion group" that I first came across when having a look at the "Convoy of No Confidence" mob and the "grass-roots" Axe the Tax lot that were nestled under the skirts of Jo Nova. Key sources of inspiration: Alan Jones and Barnaby Joyce.

      Not just intellectual honesty is at question when one starts treating these characters seriously Chris.

      I've been at this a long time, mate. Maybe too long.

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  11. Drew Raff

    logged in via Facebook

    Totally understandable for the Liberal train of thought, although a very vacuous uneducated thought. Many, like Nick Minchen are simply - idiots. I presume Mr Minchen would visit his local auto mechanic to have a heart operation (although, in his case a Brain operation would be applicable).
    Again, unfortunately, the media I hold accountable for much of this anti climate change propaganda.
    Love to see a television station do an article on Global Warming with bona-fide scientists who have had peer reviews done on their research.

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    1. Stephen Prowse

      Research Advisor at Wound CRC

      In reply to Drew Raff

      One of the reasons this debate is so polarised is that people call each other idiots which is quite unhelpful. One might strongly disagree with Nick but he is clearly not an idiot, out of his depth maybe. One thing this Program did show is that it is possible even for people with vastly different views such as Nick and Anna to identify common ground, that is identifying and developing alternative fuel sources, albeit for different reasons. Building on this common ground rather than abusing each other will go a long way towards addressing this matter.

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    2. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Drew Raff

      He's not an idiot. He just hasn't got the open mindedness, or discipline to arrest cognitive dissonance. That doesn't mean he can't comprehend complex matter which doesn't happen to offend his deep rooted beliefs and ideologies

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  12. William Grey

    Philosopher

    Thanks Michael for a judicious assessment of the program. The discussion that followed was exasperating. CSIRO CEO Megan Clark gave dismal -- almost impenetrable -- defence of climate science. Anna Rose was patient and did well. A friend commented "now I'm hoping the ABC will re-visit so-called 'evolution'. It would, after all, be another 'terrific opportunity to convey to an ABC audience that there remains a significant debate'."

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    1. Michael Ashley

      Professor of Astrophysics at UNSW Australia

      In reply to William Grey

      William, thanks for your comment. i too was disappointed in Megan Clark's contributions. She was the only scientist on the panel, and I was hoping that she would be able to robustly defend the science. Of course, as CSIRO CEO she has to be rather circumspect in what she says. However, if she knew that she wasn't able to freely address the science, she probably should have declined the invitation to be on the panel.

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    2. Ryan Farquharson

      Research officer

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      I was also disappointed at Q&A. Minchin contradicted himself several times, Palmer misconstrues anthropogenic vs natural emissions (despite it being explained in the doco at a level a primary school student could understand) and our CEO sat there impotently. She misunderstood a question, failed to explain the scientific process, did not ram home the urgency of acting and seemed overeager to point out Australia's meagre contribution to global emissions without emphasing how on a per capita basis we are right near the top of the leaderboard.
      I would have loved to have seen a real climate scientist on the panel, an insurance industry representative and an ethicist instead of the abovementioned trio.
      But if there's to be a silver lining, Minchin and Palmer showed their true colours which could only damage their cause.

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    3. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Ryan Farquharson

      Minchin is smart but he is also driven by traditional right-wing group-think. Just imagine if he did say "yep, you've change my mind. We need to do something about man-made climate change". He'd be disowned by his party, his business mates, the HR Nicholls Society. Too much to lose so late in his life.

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    4. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Michael Ashley

      CSIRO CEO's are chosen for their political acumen, not their willingness to advocate for science.

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    5. Metta Bhavana

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Grey

      Exasperating. Exactly. This "debate" is no place for scientists. Philosophers and Social Theorists, yes. Psychologists definitely. Perhaps Historians? Certainly there is a need for methodological analysis, not of the "facts" of climate variation, but an analysis of the nature and motivation of the doubters.

      They are the old enemy. Galileo, Newton, Freud, Darwin all encountered them. They are an invariant force. They can't burn anyone at the stake any more, but the flattened access media allows them imparts perhaps greater power.

      Elsewhere in comments above (Ctrl+F to find my name) I suggested a questionnaire of beliefs to be applied to them before engaging in any discussion. Like contributors to The Conversation they should have to pre-declare bias on a range of issues, not just their view on the weather.

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  13. Michael Rynn

    logged in via Facebook

    i wonder about the distribution of mental states and abilities amongst the politically involved. So many of us are at several degrees removed from the direct interactions with the scientific data and literature. Only the scientists are directly engaged in sophisticated and deep interactions with measuring nature and analysing meaning in their own minds and communicating it in a professional peer reviewed community. Getting to that level of mental involvement is only possible for some. Brains have…

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    1. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Michael Rynn

      Michael Rynn concludes: "I only hope "The Conversation" can improve on this low common state of the meeting of minds."

      This forum is important because it allows people to test the mettle of their beliefs and ideas across disciplines.

      Many of the arguments engaged in here are unwinable in that there is little hope of changing an intransigent core belief through this media.

      However, what is possible, is to learn new things, test ideas that are not set in concrete and also to educate observers who come here with a genuine interest and curiosity, through reasoned evidence-based argument.

      That is why I believe it behooves folks with some expertise in discussed topics to donate a little of their time to responding in measured, respectful ways to crackpot opinion (however painful).

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  14. Chris Harries

    logged in via Facebook

    Though this debate is superficially about climate science, our core problem is that people mostly don't care what the science says. If the science says, even with absolute certainty, that human induced catastrophic climate change is happening and a person finds that news too confronting then that person will more than likely choose to disbelieve the news. Our problem is mainly human psychology.

    The second part of that psychology is that people generally don't wish to think negatively about themselves, so if they decline to change their lifestyles and so forth then the only way to still feel good about themselves is to say to themselves that the problem doesn't exists. Presto, problem solved. I believe that is why public acceptance of climate change science has statistically slipped backwards more recently.

    Good article on this in the Guardian recently: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/30/belief-climate-change-scepticism

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    1. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Harries

      I believe it's a classic case of cognitive dissonance. The mind follows the path of least resistance. Truthfulness doesn't factor into it. I believe it's a matter of cognitive discipline. Knowing when something is hard to accept, having the discipline to arrest yourself from straying from truth

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    2. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Spot on Chris, we don't generally like to admit our activities can harm ourselves, others and the environment. It's much easier to blame somebody else or pretend the information is wrong. As an ex smoker, I know (with hindsight) just how silly our self justifications can be for doing stupid things.

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    3. Lennert Veerman
      Lennert Veerman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health at University of Queensland

      In reply to Chris Harries

      I agree, Chris. Yet at the same time I do not find it all that helpful when engaging with deniers.

      The Guardian article says: "t follows that the answer to overcoming climate change scepticism is to stop reiterating the science, and start engaging with what climate change scepticism is really about - competing visions of how people see the world, and what they want the future to be like."

      That does bring the discussion to a deeper level, but now we are faced with the problem of not just correcting…

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  15. john mills
    john mills is a Friend of The Conversation.

    artist

    One way or another burning all this fuel/coal and putting it into the atmosphere is not only dirtying our atmosphere its hurting peoples lungs and giving cancers to people, and the very thing that cleans our atmosphere, the trees are being chopped down, always about the dollar.

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  16. Patricia J Kun

    retired nurse

    As a 75 year old, I feel the climate change debate is now roughly where the tobaco debate was 20-30 years ago. Then you meet many people who knew someone who had smoked for 60 years and was still healthy. what turned that argument around was identifying the conections of the deniers and governments waking up to the fact that smoking caused disease was costing more than the taxes raised.

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    1. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Patricia J Kun

      What is happening is exactly like Tobacco, in that the deniers are employing the exact same tactic. In any opposition, where you are clearly in the wrong and have no backing of evidence, the best solution (as evidenced throughout history) is to employ FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt). Just confuse the hell out of people, scare people with how everyone will lose their jobs, say scientists hasn't been decided yet. It's as ludicrous as the chewbacca defense
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Xywqv1cDH8

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  17. Drew Raff

    logged in via Facebook

    Its very interesting reading all the comments. We, in western societies must ask ourselves "are we, or,can we, change our ways in such a direction that "WILL" reduce our polluting and consuming of this planets ecosystem and resources ?. All politicians and most businesses/companyies have, as their No one priority - the almighty dollar - profits - more is better. What I am saying is this is the way we have been led. We have dug a huge hole, which is getting ever deeper and is now developing holes…

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  18. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    The trouble with these "experts" is they are very good at saying climate change is problem and those who disagree are idiots or whatever, what they are very bad at is proposing realistic plans to deal with it. By realistic I mean a comprehensive scenario to generate base-load power and a strategy to provide portable energy (ie replace the petrol combustion engine). People think if we reduce greenhouse gas output by 5% we will be achieving something positive - if we reduce greenhouse gas output…

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    1. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      One small problem, Sean: 36 billion pent on solar would solve just a part of the problem. Electricity doesn't = energy. We could put solar panels of every roof and give everybody an electric car and if we still demanded never ending economic growth and business-as-usual we would still be in a fix. Our rampant consumer culture is a major part of the problem. So is runaway population growth. So is exponential growth in air traffic.

      It's a mistake to be obsessed by technology, but thank you anyway because you are pointing to the fact that we don't only need success in solar and wind power and such (and thousands of folk are working on those solutions) we also need strategies to deal with relocalisation of food production and restructuring of our cities to reduce their resource inputs.

      Though all this may seem overwhelming, plenty of people are working on a multitude of solutions. We are just embarking upon possible the greatest adventure humanity has ever undertaken.

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    2. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Chris Harries

      No, it doesn't seem overwhelming, it just seems delusional. When plenty of people have worked out one or a multiple of solutions for this great adventure do let us know. Hopefully it won't look to similar to Pol Pot's Cambodia (but relocalisation of food production does have an eerily familiar ring to it).

      Meanwhile the rest of us common plods wil just have to endure the raging narcissism of the climate change alarmists stoically.

      Well, every generation has its cross to bear

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    3. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean, you get points for creativity - a new twist on Godwin's Law. I've heard climate change deniers use Stalin but never Pol Pot.

      Would you actually be interested in hearing about alternative energy solutions or would anything I say be considered 'delusional'?

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    4. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean, we have to do something. But it is a hellish problem as so many Countries use oil and coal. SouthAfrica was a 95% coal driven economy just for a few years ago, I haven't checked any recent figures for them but I suspect it is the same today.

      And then you have greed. Big industries, and energy won't want to lose money, not if they can't make up for it from you. So either they want the taxpayers to pay a reconstruction or they wait until forced.It's not only a problem with not knowing what…

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    5. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      The argument that we have to do something seems to lead onto the conclusion by some that anything is better than nothing.
      When one finds oneself in a rip being swept out to sea, or one finds oneself swept off rocks by waves the natural desire to do something - to swim back to the shore - is the one most likely to lead to death.
      The lateral solution is the best.

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  19. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    As far as the Australian Youth Climate Coalition is concerned, is there really anything which distinguishes them from every other "environmentalist" activist organisation in the world?

    Do they do anything anything novel, anything better, to distinguish themselves from your Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and all the rest?

    As far as I can tell based on what I've seen up to the present time, no. (But I am of course willing to change my mind as new evidence comes along.)

    It's easy to talk…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Luke Weston

      The 'scientific evidence' around nuclear energy is far from clear and there are plenty of well- and relevantly-qualified scientists expressing grave concerns and reservations about nuclear power - there is nothing even approaching the virtual unanimity around climate science, so there is nothing hypocritical or unreasonable about questioning nuclear energy.

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    2. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Let's survey nuclear engineers and physicists who actively publish in nuclear engineering and physics journals. And nobody else, of course, since just as with the climatology issue we're only considering the views of that expert portion of the community. Let's apply the same, consistent standards here - not double standards.

      And then we'll see what percentage of actual experts express any kind of "grave concerns and reservations about nuclear power".

      Yes, there is virtual unanimity just like with climatology.

      Of course, I would expect to hear a response from some people to the effect of "but all those scientists / nuclear engineers are all just part of the big conspiracy!!!" - exactly the same thing that we get from the climatology conspiracy theorists.

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    3. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Some have irreverently referred to AYCC as GetUp for Kids.
      There is more than an element of truth in that statement.
      The methodology of the AYCC is to try to "mobilize" schoolchildren and university students, so that there appears to be a mass movement coming from school children and university students themselves.
      When one starts digging you find that the amount of cross promotion that goes on between these groups would make TV channels attempts amateurish.
      A hard core group of six to twelve can claim to speak for hundreds or thousands.
      I have yet to find anybody associated with AYCC who has any scientific studies to their name. Some have "graduated" from vegetarianism or cat rescue groups.

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    4. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Philip, “A hard core group of six to twelve can claim to speak for hundreds or thousands."

      That's exactly the MO of the Heartland Institute, the IPA and their fellow travellers. Sad to think you have swallowed their propaganda hook, line and sinker with nary a question as to its authenticity. Show us any of the original science they have produced versus their cherry picked criticisms of genuine research?

      For all its faults, GetUp and others at least have members who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is and don't rely on rich corporate buddies with vested interests to provide their funding.

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    5. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Yes, please do that, and report your findings. You'll find most of us are open to being persuaded.

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  20. Roxane Paczensky

    Registered Nurse

    I'm beginning to wonder about our ABC. This show on TV and at ABC online a religious philosopher peddling creationism dressed up a "scientific" Intelligent Design. I think we're slowly being converted to a corporatocracy and the corporations have done a deal with the dominionists.

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    1. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Roxane Paczensky

      Roxanne, if it wasn't for Catalyst and Landline I'd give up on the ABC. There should be something in the ABC Charter that stops a publicly funded corporation from giving free time to cranks and religious fanatics peddling their particular brand of woo. Taken to its logical conclusion, the ABC should also have a segment for astrologers, alchemists and spivs for the fossil fuel industry… oh wait. The astrologers and alchemists must be slow off the mark.

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  21. Daryl Deal

    retired

    An interesting mocumentary, on one side we have the "Global Warming Denialati", with zero science to support their gish gallop myths of fear and doubt.

    It is a shame, they failed to include the Anna Rose/Nick Minchin interview with Naomi Oreskes. : http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/04/26/3489290.htm

    On a side note, on Anthony Watts, Heartland's well paid global warming denialati anti science web site, he personally claims twice, that his HBGary sole spambot, was destroying or…

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    1. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Frank Cates

      Frank you do realise that the report you cite is neither scientific nor peer reviewed? It is funded by the Heartland Institute - a far right wing think tank, funded by tobacco and fossil fuel interests and its job is to muddy the water on climate science.

      The point you raise has been examined by real climate scientists - many times - and the accuracy of the stations is not an issue. If you would like to read some real science, let me know.

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    2. Philip Gillibrand

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Frank Cates

      Frank,

      The issue of accuracy of temperature data was dealt with in the documentary. Richard Muller, a professor at Berkeley and a one-time well-known sceptic, set up a project to re-analyse all the surface temperature data, and to check for the effects of the supposed flaws in the data. His results, shown at http://berkeleyearth.org/, basically reproduced the warming calculated by GISS, CRU etc. So this red herring has been well and truly laid to bed.

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    3. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Gillibrand

      Phillip, good point and something denialists are either unaware of or choose to ignore. Given the mindset of many of them, I suspect the latter. As for red herrings being laid to bed, might that not be a mixed metaphor? I think gutted and filleted might be more appropriate :-)

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  22. John Nicol

    logged in via Facebook

    Dear Michael,
    While it is obviously true of any field, that the number of scientists who subscribe to a particular belief in a physical theory is irrelevant, you have made some substantial claims here regarding the numbers of scientists who are convinced that carbon dioxide is responsible for the general global warming trend which has been observed from 1850 to 1998, compared with those who feel that the claims of anthropogenic global warming have been exaggerated.

    I am wondering if you could…

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    1. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to John Nicol

      Hello John

      As you well know, scientific papers refer back to previous papers relevent to the subject matter of the paper. Similarly those papers refer back to previous papers. And back through this citations trail are the earlier sources. So you wouldn't expect recent citations to directly cite things well established decades earlier.

      If you feel that the citations trail doesn't adequately back-up the claim, feel free to demonstrate where this is defective. But do not insinuate a failing in the citations trail without being able to demonstrate this. If something was soundly investigated decades earlier, such that it is accepted as reasonable past findings, any questions you might raise as to the validity of old research needs to be backed by arguments, data and references.

      If you wish to cast doubt on old science, feel free John. But back it up with references, arguments, data etc.

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    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn, as you probably know from reading many of his posts John Nicol is a serial pseudo-skeptic climate science denier more interested in spreading misinformation and doubt in support of his denial of AGW than he is in advancing any discussion.

      He also has no idea what he is talking about. He is on record here on the TC (here for example https://theconversation.edu.au/state-of-the-climate-2012-5831)

      1) as in effect denying that CO2 has any impact above conerntrations of around 20ppm

      2…

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    3. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Dear Mark and Glenn,

      Thank you Mark for once again promoting the idea that I have had something to say which actually puts some numbers and details into a discussion on global warming.

      I do try to avoid any attacks on people with whom I am arguing detailed scientific facts and engaging with those whose basic attempts at discussion simply either quote others in support without engaging in the science, and blame their discussion partner for being wrong without providing evidence.

      Since…

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Nicol

      More waffle from John Nicol to try and avoid admitting he made a blatant false statement in relation to climate and how he is fudging because he dare not admit his incompetence and his errors

      he stated "where the surface of the earth were at a constant temperature because the air itself cannot radiate, this would be require a radiated flux of 1368/4 Watts/square metre since the total area of the earth is four times the area of the disc which receives the solar flux, or 342 Watts/square metre…

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    5. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Dear Mark,

      Thank you for your very quick response to my little comment.

      I should point out that the "effective" equilibrium temperature, Teff, of -18 C or or 255 K would pertain only in the absence of any blanketing effect, whatsoever, by air, NOT only because of the absence of green house gases. Since the temperature of the earth's surface in the tropics is much higher at midday than in the higher latitudes, any fluid over the earth, water or gas, will help to redistribute this energy and…

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      To assess John Nicol's intellectual honesty, one could delve into considerable technical detail as Mark and Glenn are doing here and I have done in the past or simply observe that John supports the notion that the increase in atmospheric CO2 since 1800 is mainly due to undersea volcanoes. The man (John Nicol) has no intellectual honesty.

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Can't agree Chris.

      This is what it's about:

      "Thank you Mark for once again promoting the idea that I have had something to say which actually puts some numbers and details into a discussion on global warming."

      It's about ego - about knowing better than all these airy fairy clever climate scientists - about being able to second guess the world .... and be taken seriously. They love it. It makes them feel clever and important. It wastes our time.

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    8. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to John Nicol

      John

      Can you give me the title of Barrett's paper I'd like to read it. Your description of the situation sounds like you are referring to what is known as the Saturation argument but I would like to read Barett's paper before commenting further.

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "It's about ego"

      Yes, and that's the motivation for intellectual dishonesty.

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    10. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn,
      You didn't ask for as much as I have written below, but just stop reading when you have had enough)
      Barrett’s earliest paper was given in 1985 to an environmental conference in Europe (Paris, I think) and was subsequently published in the literature. I was not at the conference and am unable, right at this moment, to quote the publication, but will get it for you as soon as possible.

      There are two more recent papers which cover much the same type of material and there is also some work…

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    11. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris,

      I challenge you to show mwe where I have EVER made reference to the significance of undersea or any other volcanic emissions of CO2 and absolutely not referring to the increase in atmosphereic CO2.

      First, I have always been at pains to emphasize that I accept fully that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric CO2 in fact we put out more CO2 than shows up in the measuurements.
      \
      Secondly, I have always acknowledged that we musyt assume the correctness of the measurements of global…

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    12. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to John Nicol

      John Nicol: "I have always been at pains to emphasize that I accept fully that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric CO2"

      In that case you need to either:

      1. Expel Plimer from the organzation you lead or

      2. Get Plimer to renounce his view that undersea volcanoes are the major source of increased atmospheric CO2 in the past 200 years.

      Which will it be John? You integrity is under review here, not mine.

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    13. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Nicol

      There is no "blanketing effect" due to the air.

      There is only ONE way the planet can maintain a constant surface temperature - and that is by radiating away the energy it absorbs from the sun. GHG's trap some of that radiation and keep the planet warmer than it otherwise would be. More GHG's - warmer still. Simple

      Again John Nicol misrepresents the science.

      He is a serial pseudo-skeptic climate science denier and mis-representer of the evidence.

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    14. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Nicol

      Mr Nicol can 'calculate" what he likes.

      Given that he has attempted to show "calculations" before that showed (falsely) the surface temperature would be 5 degrees without GHGs (the correct answer is -17 degrees) and tried to build an argument based on no reflection of incoming solar radiation (about 30% is reflected - a fact he belatedly acknoweldged when the his misrepresntation was called out) - I suggest his "calcuations" are not worth the proverbial piece of human bodily generated waste products…

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  23. Richard Dobson

    logged in via Facebook

    This is not a compelling case the author is advancing, because, to be honest, it doesn't matter how many Climate Scientists believe what. 100% of them could believe something, hell, 101% of them could all be in furious agreement about something, and that still doesn't preclude the possibility of that something being objectively WRONG.

    Now, I'm not saying Climate Change is wrong, I'm agnostic about it, although I believe it stands to reason that burning up millions of years worth of fossilised…

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    1. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Hi Richard: If the stakes were not so immense then we could afford a polite liberal debate, and keep on politely debating.

      But if the Climate Commission's worst prognoses are true, then those who (for political or commercial reasons) oppose action on climate change will be culpable of helping to bring about a truly catastrophic future for our grand children. I don't think we should be too polite about that.

      The inhabitants of Easter Island would have, no doubt, endlessly debated their coming demise -- I'm not sure how politely or impolitely -- but it did them no good. We at least have the benefit of science to guide us. And we understand the Precautionary Principle'. (It applies to agnostics more than anyone!)

      We do have to go beyond polite debating, though as I've remarked in other comments, we do need to offer compassionate understanding, rather than aggression, to those who are in a state of authentic denial.

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    2. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Fundamental fallacy in this view Richard, that somehow Debate (or evidence, or data or arguments) determine conclusions.

      In reality, individuals evaluate data, evidence, arguments; they debate. And each individual forms their own coclusion on the basis of all of this.

      Then we look at the proportion of these individuals that reach a similar conclusion. They reach a consensus.

      Not a consensus that 'I Think X'. Rather a concensus that the Evidence, Arguments and Analysis support the case.

      A consus about what the evidence is, rather than a consensus of mere opinions

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      "but I also believe in the Gaia principle, which posits that the Earth is a living organism itself, and thus has negative feedback loops in place like all other biological organisms to maintain homeostasis"

      Negative feedback loops in biological organisms come at the expense of active control systems that implement that negative feedback from a biologically programmed control point. The earth has no such programmed control point, even if you want to blythely ignore the laws of physics about water vapor.

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    4. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I make no pretense about having much knowledge about the laws of physics with regard to water vapor, although I would certainly be at loathe to "blithely ignore" them nevertheless. But I mean how do you know the Earth has no such programmed control point to maintain homeostasis? That sounds like a massive assumption to me, borne of philosophical and ideological grounds.

      I maintain my belief in the Gaia principle, and if I do so, I must logically follow the implications that the Earth behaves like all other living organisms and has processes in place to maintain homeostasis. Your assertion that there is no programmed control point sounds me like a philosophical objection to my belief in the Gaia principle rather than a scientific fact backed by rigorous and exhaustive experimental evidence.

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    5. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard - what do you mean by "homeostasis"? If you mean that the earth will magically always revert to a climate "norm" we have enjoyed for the last 12,000 odd years of civilisation then you are wrong.

      The Earth's climate will always respond to the forces that drive it. In the past this has mainly been the sun and the planets rotaional aspect toward (Milankovich cycles) it as well as levels of (naturaally occuring) GHGs. Look at the longe term hisrotical record of climate:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Milankovitch_Cycles_400000.gif

      It has been anytbing but constant. The trouble is right now we humans are releasing geo-sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere at unprecendented rates due to our use of fossil fuels - so we are the main driver producing change at a rate never before seen.

      The Gaia principle does NOT include a desire to ensure the planet is habitable for humans

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    6. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard, please correct me if I am mistaken but isn't the basic principle underlying the Gaia hypothesis that all life on Earth moderates the environment to maintain a climate that allows that life to continue existing?

      Assuming that is the case, and assuming we're talking about natural processes, does Gaia allow for very unnatural processes such as consistent large-scale forest clearing, monocultures, accelerated species loss, pollution and soil and sea degradation not generally replicated by…

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    7. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      By "homeostasis" I just mean that I believe the Earth, as a living organism, has negative feedback loops in place to maintain a broad equilibrium of temperature as much as possible. That doesn't mean it never changes, but it does mean that drastic changes are moderated.

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    8. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      That is perfectly true Richard. And one of the most important of them is the oceans that act as repositories of heat. The problem with that is that when there's a lot of heat accumulated, under as short time period as now, it changes a lot of things for those that live in it. From a higher acidity to changed habitats, killing of our food fish.

      And there is another problem with it. That has to do with that we live on a 'non-linear' planet. It's not the old way of Newtonian thinking, a force generating…

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    9. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Richard

      I partly agree with you. The Earth, looked at as a system, certainly has some feedback loops. But I think it is an overstatement to say that drastic changes are moderated. It all depends on what time scale you expect the moderation to occur over.

      Lets consider the history of the last 500 million years or so. For most of that period temperatures were significantly higher than now, 7 DegC or so but with fluctuations. Over the last 50 million years temperatures have been trending down…

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    10. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Heh :)

      Too true, the bacteria rules..
      I've even seen some serious contenders for an idea of them acting 'intelligently' as in some sort of hive mind. You may put it down to some sort of clever genetic preprogramming though, well hopefully so? :)

      Otherwise we're doomed :)

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    11. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      It's quite obvious from the Milankovitch cycles that the earth has no programmed control point to maintain "homeostasis" on the associated time scale. To any electronics engineer the oscillations of the ice ages are indicative of strong positive feedback, especially at the ends of the ice ages. The rapid warming that occurred at the ends of ice ages demonstrates not just positive feedback but runaway feedback over the time that it took the ice-sheets to melt, i.e. the positive feedback from ice albedo change combined with other positive feedbacks was enough to produce 100% positive feedback during ice age terminations. Fortunately there was a limit to the area of ice-sheet that could melt relatively easily and when they were melted, they no longer added as much positive feedback.

      The earth is not currently in the 100% positive feedback state that existed at the termination of ice ages, but there are still positive feedback processes.

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    12. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      We're not saying all life will be obliterated. That would be impossible. THe question is, woudl you rather a planet as we know it today, or a planet filled with cockroaches and rats. I'm exaggerating, but biodiversity will crash even faster with projected warming. Say good bye to the great barrier reef, for example.

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Chris Lee

      "Say good bye to the great barrier reef, for example."

      Of course, when this happens, and earlier events such as the September disappearance of Arctic sea ice, those in denial will simple say we're not causing it. It will be the greatest blame-shift of all time.

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  24. Sydney Rooster Smaling

    logged in via Facebook

    So, all someone has to do to make this fear mongering true is bad mouth anyone who disagrees with them. Lindzen is a man of science, who teaches at a university that produces more Nobel prize winners than any other in the world. Unlike most people on the climate fear bandwagon. I have read the works of scientists, not just worshipped Al Gore. I have read the works of the following peer reviewed scientists:

    Dr. Edward Wegman
    Dr. Richard Tol
    Dr. Christopher Landsea
    Dr. Duncan Wingham
    Dr. Robert…

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    1. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      David Bromwich is a professor of English and likely knows as much about climate science as you or I do.
      Dr. Michael Griffin, no qualifications in climate science.
      Dr. Cliff Ollier, geologist, soil scientist, has no qualifications in climate science.
      Roger Revelle, oceanographer who supports the concerns about AGW

      Just 4 of the names I picked at random from your list which seems to indicate you aren't too fussy about establishing the veracity of your claims before making them.

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    2. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      Your comments might carry more weight of you listed actual climate scientists. It is also appropriate to list their affiliations and funding sources. And really...Wegman? The plagiarist? C'mon, you can do better than that. Bob Carter - in the paid employ of a US right wing think tank funded by fossil fuel interests.Next...

      Indoctrination - you can see the irony of your comment cant you?

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    3. Sydney Rooster Smaling

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      So you pick 4 names, disagree with their qualifications and claim to debunk my beliefs.

      And you climate fear mongers claim that skeptics "cherry pick!?!?" Hypocrisy!

      You fear mongers worship Tim Flannery, who claimed Australia would be in drought until 2030. A pity all the flooding and full dams has put egg on his face.

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    4. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      It's always funny seeing denialists demonstrate their prejudices while calling anybody who doesn't agree with them lefties etc etc.

      I wonder how you dismiss the fact that every Academy of science around the world supports the science underlying concerns about AGW? Is that one inconvenient fact you'd prefer not to know about?

      Just as Nick Minchin started off his justifications for denying AGW by blaming the left rather than honestly and objectively assessing the science, Minchin had to invoke outdated Cold War rhetoric just as you rubbish anybody who disagrees with you.

      “I stopped believing in climate change and global warming over 3 years ago"

      Highlighting yet again another weakness in your reasoning. Climate change is a fact, AGW isn't a belief system it's a conclusion form by assessing data sets from many fields of study.

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    5. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      Mark, it's a silly game you are playing. I'm sure you know Blair could go thru the entire list of your 'experts' and show that they are not climate scientists or that they are in the paid employ of groups that have an interest in denying the science. I get it, you hate Tim Flannery, but that doesn't change the science.

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    6. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      I'm sorry Sydney, I hadn't realised your comprehension was so abysmal. I'll explain carefully, I simply picked 4 of the names on your list at random. I had no idea what any of them did for a crust but having dealt with fundie Christians and creationists over the years (for entertainment as much as anything else) I'm automatically on guard when someone makes unfounded claims and supports it with a list of names, presuming no doubt that nobody will think the check the details. I suspect you haven't bothered to carefully researched those names to ensure the people do what you claim, you've just cut and paste rubbish from some denialist website. You'd make a great creationist, like them you're into fiction.

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      See there's not much point bickering like this.

      Some folks believe a, some folks believe b ... beliefs are very difficult to shift. People choose them for a whole range of reasons. Believe what you like, I reckon.

      And even when the observed temperatures continue to rise, the ice continues to melt - the disbelievers will choose to not believe these reported facts. They will believe that jet engines are skewing the data taken from airports. And, in the final analysis they will choose to…

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    8. Sydney Rooster Smaling

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      Funding sources? That's rich! Many former believer scientists have come out stating they only propagated this scam because they were threatened with funding cuts, loss of tenure and employment and career ruination. You can make anyone lie, when you have leverage on them...

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    9. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Hang on Blair, I still want him to find a climate scientist that backs up his claims. And to find a peer reviewed paper supporting his position.

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    10. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Time to move ahead and do something... change how you live...don't preach at others... don't wait for governments to do something."

      That's OK but the vast majority of businesses (where most GHGs originate) and most individuals just won't bother changing anything. It has to be cheaper to produce goods and services without generating GHGs than with generating GHGs otherwise the vast majority of businesses just won't bother.

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    11. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Yep. You're probably right Chris... most individuals won't change their behaviour or their consumer "life" styles. Businesses will continue to take advantage of the great dump in the sky, spewing stuff out until it becomes too expensive or they can make a better or easier quid elsewhere. But by then it will be too late.

      For us. At least.

      I am more concerned for those who will lose everything rather than those who will face inconvenience and discomfort.

      One way or another our "life…

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    12. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      Sydney Rooster: "Unlike most people on the climate fear bandwagon. I have read the works of scientists, not just worshipped Al Gore."

      I guess I don't belong to that group then. There's almost no-one on your list that has published a scientific-peer well reviewed paper in the last 12 years attempting to explain most global warming by anything other than the commonly accepted explanation. (Very few on your list have anything to do with recent serious climate research at all.)

      The only exception is Lindzen who published his Iris hypothesis in 2001 that has been thoroughly debunked. Is that the best you can do?

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "The biggest error we commit when we argue with these "articulate" deniers - continue to take their religious zeal seriously - is that we think that they reflect public opinion"

      No, I think they reflect opinion of conservative political parties, and that is a very serious problem. Ignore it at our peril.

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    14. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      Oh fer crying out loud!

      My list is longer than your list! Does this mean I scored the winning goal?

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    15. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Yep ... they reflect the views ( I wouldn't call them opinions) of conservative parties but you will not change them. Only they can change their views ... transform them in to informed considered opinion... and they will not. Theirs is not a rational or reasonable position. It is immune to facts and argument.

      Opinions are based on information and are considered. The deniers do not hold rational opinions - they hold religious beliefs, wishful thinking and - at the core - a deep paranoiac conspiracy…

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    16. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, the hard part is that there are innocent Australians who deny the reality of climate change (millions of them) and then there are a few people who represent moneyed and political interests, and some even who are paid lobbyists for the coal and oil interests, who deliberately muddy the waters. You could call them 'agent provocateurs'.

      The first group of deniers are unwittingly being used as political pawns. Most would be mortified to realize the role they are playing in that regard. Others, who are acting to discredit climate science whilst knowing the full score, are much worse than being unreasonable, we should rate their activity as treasonable, or at least unconscionable.

      Our problem is that all these folk don't come with a stamp on their forehead, so it's not always easy to pick them apart. For the most part, denialists who I talk to don't act out of malice or greed, they are in the first category. They will come around in time.

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    17. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Actually I find that the overwhelming majority of the conservative people I talk to aren't denialists in any sense of the word - confused, ignorant, suspicious yes, but denialists - who come with a prepackaged set of "refutations" and quibbles about the science - not at all.

      This of course is precisely what the denialists try and do - to spread doubt and suspicion ... and by arguing with them - by treating their religious beliefs and calumnies with any sort of respect - we legitimise them in the…

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    18. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Once we ignore and ridicule"

      Been there, done that.

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    19. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I don't understand Chris ... how have you ignored and ridiculed them?

      I just make them go away. Clears the air for some serious discussion rather than this how many angels on the head of a pin circus.

      See you can argue, debate and demonstrate the science to these campaigning denialists all you like - but it changes nothing. And particularly not their minds.

      That's not to say one dumps a load of scorn on anyone and everyone who disagrees with you or who is seeking information in particular far from it. But these blokes who "know", who have already made their minds up and locked in their prophets of choice ... really there is far more fertile soil to sow mate.

      And we just make them feel important and relevant to the discussion. Even worse, we make them appear legitimate to innocent bystanders who we really should be talking to.

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    20. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "The way to change the policy positions of the conservative political parties is to change public opinion"

      But I thought you implied that public opinion does not follow the "articulate" deniers and so wasn't the problem. Now you're saying that public opinion needs to change. That is not being consistent.

      The problem is that when public opinion is a little wishy-washy, and we know opinion polls are not very strong on this issue and won't be anytime soon, the conservative politicians are very strongly influenced by denialist lobbyists.

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    21. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      No I'm saying that public opinion doesn't read the Conversation, doesn't watch ABC news, doesn't understand the fine detail of the denialists - but giving these religious deniers oxygen - treating them seriously gives the idea that the denialist viewpoint is a legitimate argument - that there is still a legitimate argument about AGW... that the "jury is still out".

      If you want to argue argue with Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt but really there's no point debating with these little fish ... you won't…

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    22. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Public opinion isn't "wishy washy" as you put it ... confused, ill-informed yes"

      What's the difference between "wishy washy" and "confused, ill-informed"? Public opinion on this issue is very unlikely to affect which party wins government in the near future, so influencing public opinion on this issue is very unlikely to make a difference to government action on this issue. But I agree that TV programs like "I can change your mind" are extremely unlikely to promote better public understanding.

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    23. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I'd go a bit farther Chris... I think any public argument that gives the impression these denialists are serious, that they have a contestable basis for their assertions and allegations is quite counterproductive - be it Q&A or here on the Conversation. It confuses people who don't understand science. It gives the impression that these characters know what they are talking about and that the science is divided or that the evidence is unclear.

      "Wishy washy" to me suggests that the public doesn't…

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    24. Daryl Deal

      retired

      In reply to Sydney Rooster Smaling

      Ah Sydney, a strange game you play, picking various names at random.

      A complete check of the entire thirty names, will reveal several are deceased. One or two have often been misquoted. Many, are in professional occupations totally unrelated to climate change and have barely enough knowledge on the subject, to be considered laypersons only.

      Say Sydney, you have served up a complete set of 30 duds! When 72 world science agencies and all governments concur with IPCC, global warming is very real.

      I would suggest, that you find a good basic primer on real climate science. Perhaps you may learn, that what you claim to know on the subject of global warming is complete fact free horse hockey.

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  25. Eclipse Now

    Manager of Graphic Design firm

    I loved this article. Thanks! I just wanted to comment on Bjorn's "$100 billion a year in research and development for a magic technological fix". We don't need to spend that much in R&D as we already have the magic! Let's just GIVE G.E. the money to build the prototype and have Australia build the world's first commercial IFR that has passive 'walk-away' safety features AND burns nuclear waste! (And could run the world for half a Millennia just on today's 'waste', which is now a resource worth $30 billion dollars!)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-PRISM

    The first nation to commercialise these 'new nukes' wins, as they'll get to sell them to other nations. My concern is that we are asleep at the nuclear wheel while India and China are making efforts to not only develop the IFR, but put it up on the production line!

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  26. Father Æthelwine

    Priest and researcher.

    This discussion seems to have moved a long way from the original topic. Here in the UK the only media set-up which has set its face against any argument opposed to man-made global warming seems to be the BBC. It does the same about the EU, incidentally. Over here if we want to know the real world news each day we watch Russia Today!

    I meet full-time scientists at the Society of Chemical Industry, and am pleased to note that real scientists are open-minded, yes, even about man-made global warming…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Father Æthelwine

      Not really a chicken and egg argument here father. Governments started tinkering with renewables and reducing emissions because of the science - not the other way around. The science did not and does not come from governments seeking to defend their policies. This turns history on its head.

      But actually I agree with you about windmills - at least here in Australia. Too intermittent and unproductive - necessitating too much gas-fired back-up (which no one seems willing to even talk about let…

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    2. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, you might be interested in the following which helps undermine the myth that wind energy is intermittent and unproductive:
      http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/south-australia-busts-wind-myths

      South Australia and supply and demand outlook, figure 4.1, page 44
      http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/SASDO2011/sasdo.html

      In any case, no one renewable source will provide all our needs just as coal currently does not either.

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Wouldn't argue with any of that Blair, but I would point out that buried in the AEMO report one finds this:

      "Wind contributed only 60 MW during the summer 2011 maximum demand, which occurred at 4:30 PM (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on 31 January 2011. However, at times during the week either side of the maximum demand, that output reached 873 MW.
      The methodology for calculating the expected wind farm contribution during peak demand has been revised, with the summer and winter peak contribution…

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    4. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Blair / Peter,

      New generation nuclear shouldn't be off the list. It just has to prove itself as both viable and safe -- which it hasn't quite yet.

      Meanwhile, agree with the principle that all supply-side energy solutions have their problems, and the intermitancy problem of solar and wind is often exaggerated by renewable detractors.

      Take this for example, showing how solar energy is having a significant impact in reducing daytime peaks in Europe: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/why-generators-are-terrified-of-solar-44279

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Ah but Chris we all know that nuclear power has been safe for decades. Engineers have been telling us - plant operators, governments ... safe as houses, the problems have been resolved, we have got the answer to storing waste ... But don't eat Japanese fish or drink their tea for a few years.

      Not worth the gamble I reckon - not just to prop up this wonderful consumer society of ours. Not just so I can watch re-runs of Mash and I love Lucy on my plasma TV.

      But I'm sure solar and wind have a part to play - although I reckon once you factor in the production costs of PV it looks pretty ordinary as an investment. Solar thermal seems to have a far superior potential.

      But longer term my money's on geothermal ... don't know where it's gone lately. Anyone know who's playing with geothermal projects?

      Geothermal, solar thermal and some offshore wind with smarter gear cranking it out and we might even be able to keep watching Lucy ad infinitum.

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    6. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, you cynic :-) Given that the installed capacity is piddling at the moment, more, larger and widely dispersed wind projects are currently being constructed or going through planning stages and the eastern and southern electricity grids are currently being upgraded - and finally that the wind always does blow somewhere, I think you'll find the installed capacity for one region will have less meaning as time goes on. That's what currently happens, electricity from assorted generators is shunted…

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Aw shucks Blair I'm not a cynic ... I'm a proper skeptic ... I'm very skeptical that there is anything that can be done in time to avert major climate change. We are addicted to this stuff and this comfy "life" style. And I'd reckon that going nuclear is probably the last try at a fix.

      But that's not to say we shouldn't try.

      Now Blair you can't have it both ways - either windfarms are providing 20% of SA's power or they are not. I reckon they are. And that's a sizable chunk of installed…

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    8. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "That's not to say windpower is useless - far from it but I think anything above 20% of the total mix becomes seriously problematic."

      Above 20% of total energy you reach the point where peak wind generation (related to nameplate capacity) becomes significantly more likely to exceed actual demand sometimes. At that point some wind energy has to be dumped and it's not as economic as when this rarely or never happens.

      Nevertheless, if we could generate 20% of all Australia's electrical energy from wind then it would make a big dent in GHG emissions.

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    9. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, as I recall, you've already stated windfarms are hugely expensive and unreliable (even though costs are coming down and reliability is better than currently believed by many) so how is putting them in the ocean going to improve the situation? Wind farms built offshore are about 40% more expensive than land-based projects of the same size, then you have additional distance for electricity transmission and the attendant loss that goes with that.

      It would be good if people applied the same degree of exorcism and nitpicking to other forms of energy that they do to wind farms - all in the name of balance of course. We have to keep the Minchin's of the world happy.

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Now Blair play nice....

      I didn't say windfarms are "hugely expensive" .... but they are expensive enough. We need them to be as efficient and productive as they can be. We will need a lot of them.

      It is simply not good enough to be employing an obsolete and relatively inefficient type of horizontal axis turbine (which loses a great deal of its efficiency to friction) in places where the wind is variable and tends to disappear when you need it the most.

      This is far from nitpicking Blair…

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    11. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I'd have responded earlier but I've been enjoying your responses in Crikey, particularly those pertaining to Clive Palmer. I reckon you have missed your calling.

      Just couple of points, the value of land is incidental to the positioning of wind farms. Also, all companies refer to a wind atlas, many contract Canberra-based WindLab - as well as studying data collected by wind monitoring towers for at least 12 months prior to initiating any project.

      I don't really understand how you can…

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    12. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair - by "on the cheap" I mean we aren't going where the wind is. If we were it would be offshore and on top of all those wonderful ridges around the Blue Mountains and the National Parks - perhaps overlooking Bondi, Mount Wellington in Hobart ... that sort of thing. Expensive dirt... our own sacred sites.

      The wind atlas is the CSIRO analysis of Australia's wind resources I referred to earlier. Not a mention of offshore anywhere in it - all land-based. Someone somewhere decided that the…

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  27. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    for me the worrying thought is did the ABC run the doco and the special Q&A as a bit of insurance against an anticipated Abbott electoral triumph next year?

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