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‘It’s been hot before’: faulty logic skews the climate debate

Global warming is increasing the risk of heatwaves. This isn’t a hypothetical abstraction that our grandchildren may experience in the distant future. Heatwaves are currently getting hotter, they’re lasting…

Tony Abbott has pledged to help drought-stricken farmers while dismissing the link to climate change. AAP

Global warming is increasing the risk of heatwaves. This isn’t a hypothetical abstraction that our grandchildren may experience in the distant future. Heatwaves are currently getting hotter, they’re lasting longer and they’re happening more often. This is happening right now.

Of course, heatwaves have happened in the past, including before humans started altering the climate. But it’s faulty logic to suggest that this means they’re not increasing now, or that it’s not our fault.

Sadly, this logical fallacy pervades the debate over heatwaves, not to mention other extreme events such as droughts, bushfires, floods and storms and even climate change itself. What’s more, we’re hearing it with worrying regularity from our political leaders.

Heatwaves on the rise

First, the science. As the Climate Council has reported, hot days have doubled in Australia over the past half-century. During the decade from 2000 to 2009, heatwaves reached levels not expected until the 2030s. The anticipated impacts from climate change are arriving more than two decades ahead of schedule.

The increase in heatwaves in Australia is part of a larger global trend. Globally, heatwaves are happening five times more often than in the absence of human-caused global warming. This means that there is an 80% chance that any monthly heat record is due to global warming.

As the figure below indicates, the risk from heatwaves is expected to increase in the near future. Assuming our greenhouse gas emissions peak around 2040, heat records will be about 12 times more likely to occur three decades from now.

Increase in the number of heat records compared to those expected in a world without global warming. Coumou, Robinson, and Rahmstorf (2013)

The impacts of heatwaves go a lot further than tennis players’ burnt bottoms. As we are now coming to realise, heatwaves kill more Australians than any other type of extreme weather. Floods, cyclones, bushfires and lightning strikes may capture more media coverage, but heatwaves are deadlier. On top of this comes new research linking heatwaves to increased rates of suicide.

Why are heatwaves increasing? Put simply, our planet is building up heat. Over the past few decades, our climate system has been building up heat at a rate of four Hiroshima bombs every second. As we continue to emit more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the warming continues unabated.

“But it’s happened before!”

This is the point at which some people’s logic tends to go off the rails, distorting the science and insidiously distracting us from the risks. The reasoning is that as heatwaves have happened throughout Australia’s history, it follows that current heatwaves must also be entirely natural. This is a myth.

This is the classic logical fallacy of non sequitur – Latin for “it does not follow”. It’s equivalent to arguing that as humans died of cancer long before cigarettes were invented, it therefore follows that smoking does not cause cancer.

The non sequitur logical fallacy

This non sequitur is routinely used by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He invoked it to deny that human-caused global warming was influencing bushfires (a phenomenon strongly influenced by heatwaves) and floods:

"Australia has had fires and floods since the beginning of time. We’ve had much bigger floods and fires than the ones we’ve recently experienced. You can hardly say they were the result of anthropic global warming."

Like a magician’s misdirection, this false argument distracts from the fact that the risk is increasing. Fire danger has been rising across many Australian locations since the 1970s. Fire danger days are happening not just in summer but also in spring and autumn.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has followed the Prime Minister’s lead. The fact that Hunt used Wikipedia rather than scientific experts to inform his views caused many to overlook his logically flawed argument in downplaying the increasing risk from bushfires:

“I looked up what Wikipedia says for example, just to see what the rest of the world thought, and it opens up with the fact that bushfires in Australia are frequently occurring events during the hotter months of the year. Large areas of land are ravaged every year by bushfires. That’s the Australian experience.”

This week, Abbott reportedly denied the link between climate change and drought using the same fallacy:

“If you look at the records of Australian agriculture going back 150 years, there have always been good times and bad times. There have always been tough times and lush times and farmers ought to be able to deal with the sorts of things that are expected every few years.”

This argument overlooks the relationship between climate change and drought. Global warming intensifies the water cycle, making wet areas get wetter while drying other regions such as Australia’s south and east. Drier conditions, along with increased heatwaves, also drive the increase in bushfire danger.

Abbott doesn’t restrict his fallacies to extreme weather. Several years ago, he also presented the non sequitur to a classroom of schoolchildren, arguing that past climate change casts doubt on whether humans are now causing global warming:

“OK, so the climate has changed over the eons and we know from history, at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now. And then during what they called the Dark Ages it was colder. Then there was the medieval warm period. Climate change happens all the time and it is not man that drives those climate changes back in history. It is an open question how much the climate changes today and what role man plays.”

This flies in the face of decades of peer-reviewed research. My colleagues and I have found that among climate research stating a position on the causes of global warming, more than 97% endorse the consensus that humans are responsible.

It is greatly concerning that Australian policy is being dictated by science-distorting false logic. The science is sending us a clear message: human-caused global warming is increasing the risk of heatwaves as well as other extreme weather events such as floods, drought and bushfires. We need to look this problem square in the face, rather than have our attention misdirected.

Join the conversation

326 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

    1. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to John Cook

      Thanks for the article but as long as we are kept on the roundabout of deception I fear we are following the Dodo.

      I personally attempt to help those amongst us in denial via posting reference to an easy to read albeit older website.

      climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus

      How do you think we can end this mass deception faster than it took for the tobacco message to sink in?

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    2. Chris Reynolds

      Education Consultant

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      The answer to your last question is simple. Stop buying Rupert's newspapers. He already runs them at a loss. Let's see how deep his pockets really are.

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    3. Jon Sumby

      Research Associate

      In reply to John Cook

      Could you please correct or enhance the caption to the graph.
      It reads:

      'Increase in the number of heat records compared to
      those expected in a world without global warming.'

      Is the red line what is expected in a 'world without global warming'?

      Or is it implied that the blue line is a 'world without global warming'? The blue line is actually a simple model of heat record increase under global warming.

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    4. Michael Hopkin

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Jon Sumby

      Hi Jon, if you look at the vertical axis of the graph, it's plotted as "Ratio of heat records" rather than temperature. So both the red (observed) and blue (model) lines represent comparisons with what would have been expected in a non-warming world.

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    5. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to Jon Sumby

      Thanks for the comment, Jon. A more comprehensive description of that graph and the associated research is available at:
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/heatwaves-past-global-warming-climate-change-intermediate.htm

      A more comprehensive caption characterizing the graph would be:

      Observed record ratio (the increase in the number of heat records compared to those expected in a world without global warming) for monthly heat records as it changes over time (thin red line is annual data, thick red line smoothed with half-width 5 years). This is compared with predictions from a simple stochastic model based only on the global mean temperature evolution (blue line with uncertainty band directly comparable to the smoothed red curve).

      I tried to do my best in simplifying the caption to something concise and readable but it's a hell of a concept to explain without getting bogged down in technobabble.

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    6. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Chris Reynolds

      Personally, I cannot help myself from wondering about other people when I see them in the street clutching a News LTD rag.

      I suppose to some "ignorance is bliss".

      PS: Rupert's pockets just got bigger thanks to Joe and Co.

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    7. In reply to John Cook

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Chris, so you're saying 59% of newspaper buyers are ignorant? That's a lot of people you'd need to scoff at.

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    9. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      I'd explain it as a very small sample, possibly cherry-picked, shown on two possibly incompatible charts without any cited provenance.

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    10. Matthew T Davis

      Instructor

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      Insufficient data.

      John,
      Great to read an article on this topic that talks in absolutes. Yes, we have the science on our side and the observed data backs our theory.
      More scientists in your field should be so forthcoming. Back your science, be assured in your knowledge. Then the public will follow you - rather than being misled by the drama queen campaign from the vested interests. The political "leaders" will, eventually of course, follow the public.
      Too many articles on the changing climate focus on the arguement over causation, rather than presenting the - often quite frightening - evidence as fact.

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    11. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      "....John,...How do you explain this?..."

      I can explain it very easily Geoffrey. You put some dots on a graph and published it on your own website.

      Next?

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    12. In reply to John Cook

      Comment removed by moderator.

    13. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Surely it's higher than that ? Some 80%+ of Australians voted either ALP or LNP at the last Federal election, knowing full well no effective action would be taken to address ACC.

      Similarly here, with many saying they accecpt the stark reality of the consequences of not reducing emissions, while their actions belie their rhetoric.

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    14. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    15. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    16. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James please forgive me for making such a broad generalisation but my own observations lead me to the conclusion that when it comes to printed media there is a correlation between socio demographics and the source of the information.

      I could be naive in this thinking but I see far more people reading the Daily Telegraph than I do reading for instance Scientific American.

      This may be a simplistic argument but when the majority of the population formulate opinion on Climate Change from MSM or who they hear on the radio then the issue will always be skewed.

      Despite the ignorance comment I do not "scoff" at those I observe but I do ponder what there views may be were they to have access to reliable sources.

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    17. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Lots of things we could do but even the "expert" alarmists say it won't change the "warming" for at least 1000 years.

      So there is no need to rush in and bankrupt ourselves in panic.

      Like the old bull and the young bull.

      Take it easy and do it properly.

      As opposed to rushing and rooting.

      And the evidence is on the old bull's side:

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997/normalise:0.5/scale:0.5/offset:0.34

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1998/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997/normalise:0.5/scale:0.5/offset:0.34

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    18. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim. do you have any evidence to support your ideological worldview, or just those links to a garbage website?

      You know - real science written by real scientists in a real journal?

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    19. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      "....when it comes to printed media there is a correlation between socio demographics and the source of the information..."

      Too true Bruce. Idiots read the Telegraph or the Herald Sun.

      ".... but I do ponder what there views may be were they to have access to reliable sources..."

      Everyone has access to reliable sources, but they choose not to read them because they don't like their ideological worldview challenged. They would much rather have their opinions confirmed by others with like opinions - it's called the 'echo-chamber'. That's why people like Jim Inglis link to denier websites, rather than read properly constituted scientific studies. He has access to them - everyone does. It's just that they challenge what he believes.

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    20. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Bill Clinton put the REAL problem in a nutshell;
      " It's the economy, stupid"

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    21. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      When you refer to WFT as a garbage website then we all know you are suffering from serious denial or serious ignorance.

      Or both.

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    22. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "....When you refer to WFT as a garbage website then we all know you are suffering from serious denial or serious ignorance...."

      So that would be a 'no' on my request for real evidence then?

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    23. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      If OTOH, you are referring to the data tampering I linked to above, please see my reply to Ian A.

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    24. Brian Westlake

      Common Sage

      In reply to John Cook

      According to the AIHW, more Australian's die during winter than in Summer.

      https://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442453159

      Furthermore, it is well established that Cold Snaps (another kind of extreme weather event not even mentioned in the Coates paper that you referenced) kill more people that Heat Waves. Less people will die in a warming world as long as the vulnerable have access to affordable energy.

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    25. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    26. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Seconded Mike.

      Surely it is not the role of TC to allow itself to be used to launch slanderous allegations and insane conspiracy crackpottery against working scientists.

      Might be different if this Inglis bloke had some evidence beyond fifth hand blog smears to chip in ... but it appears he doesn't.

      This drags TC down to the level of an Andy Blot blog ... where it belongs.

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    27. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Ouch Mike

      I was trying to be nice to those without the advantage of higher education but you have pretty much summed it up.

      As to access I agree somewhat but you don't see science journals bandied about like the daily pravda at a certain chain of fast food outlets.

      Perhaps Rosemary could confirm the socio - food relationships and I think you would see the pattern that one could reasonably predict.

      I believe that those with higher order cognitive function most certainly fit your premise of the echo chamber and they should be given special treatment once the dam of public opinion bursts.

      Perhaps we could let them all live on Kiribati and they could fix the budget emergency together without prejudice or favor.

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    1. In reply to Jack Arnold

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Suzy Gneist
      Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      And i am guessing that the LNP may get a change of leader to MT or similar once TA has disgraced himself enough - probably not long before the next election with enough rhetoric of 'we will change' so some voters may just think it possible that leopards change their spots and deserve a second chance...

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    3. Chris Reynolds

      Education Consultant

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Suzy, sadly it takes longer to build up a change policy (viz Gillard's struggle to implement aspects of green policy) and a very short time to tear it down. The Noalition as Abbott's shambolic government is best known are relentless and determined and will hype this economy up on steroids to get its circulation pumping. We might all have jobs (although we seem currently to be on the reverse trajectory) but we will be cooking ourselves and our planet to a nice crisp as well.

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    4. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      I once had similar thoughts about MT but given his performance (or lack thereof) since September, I see nothing but a man willing to sell his soul for political survival.

      The NBN aside there was one issue that MT had but has since lost credibility on and that is Climate Change.

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    1. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Dana Nuccitelli

      I've had cysts in the past and they were always harmless, so just because three oncologists have diagnosed THIS lump as not a benign cyst but a malignant tumor that needs immediate attention, I've decided to simply ignore their advice and go about my life as usual.

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Dana Nuccitelli

      I am puzzled about how the ''climate change'' discourse has replaced what we used to call ''pollution''.

      It used to be accepted that pumping out leaded-petrol emissions, letting factories discharge waste into waterways and smoke into the atmosphere was a bad thing, and our society and industry has adjusted to unleaded petrol, emission controls and tighter industrial processes.

      Now we are arguing about whether climate change is influenced by human activity or not. The intuitive response would…

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    3. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      'What is undeniable, however, is that the world's human population is growing...'

      Sue, now you're cooking with gas! Population explosion we ACC sceptics can understand!
      So, how are we going to control that?
      That is achievable but the logistics are really too insurmountable.
      Far easier to prognosticate the death of humanity and destruction of earth thousands of years hence, blaming our comfortable environment for settled communities to ever expand.

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    4. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Dana Nuccitelli

      Agreed. But it is interesting that the evidence for climate change, which is strongly supported by statistically sound records, is disregarded or dismissed by politicians, whilst they, at least here in WA, support a shark cull programme which is based on effectively no statistical or any other evidence of an increase in deaths by shark per shark, per swimmer or per anything relevant.

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    5. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      ''Population explosion we ACC sceptics can understand! ''

      Great - so if you can accept that a growing population (using more and more technology and resources) is real, what impact do you think this is having on the physical world?

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    6. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      We know what the impacts are, going back over 200 years and more.

      What is needed urgently right now is not more of the same, and worse more "news" when none of it is in any way new, but discussion finally on how to go about rectifying the matter.

      If nobody knows how to do anything about it, or wants to acquire the knowledge and skills that might be effective in doing something about it, all this argie-bargie is nothing more than hot air.

      We're tired of listening to it. The bigger problem right now is people suffering from crisis weariness, not from people not knowing but people not caring.

      For some, life's a bitch then you die, for others life's a beach then you die.

      About the long and the short of the whole thing, no matter what the statistics say.

      I wager that 99% of the population don't even understand statistics.

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    1. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Bart Brighenti

      Bart you make a valid point, as I have been also, that the price signals to people on the Land don't leave any room for other than welfare consideration.

      When academics recently shocked me during interviews as they discussed the "level of poverty experienced by Farmers'" as a reality.

      Scenario: Select your 1994 salary with 2014 costs --> Discuss !

      That is where most farm gate prices are today - 1994.

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Bart Brighenti

      The cash drought has only just begun........ the debt based capitalist system is as good as finished. Fortunately, one of the unintended consequences of this is........ an end to Carbon emissions!

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    3. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Stephen Morey

      Because the government cares more about pleasing the fossi fuel companies than it does about you and your interests.

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  1. Jon Cassar

    ex-teacher

    I'm no scientist, just one of the growing number of sceptics where anthropogenic climate change is concerned. I'm using 'sceptic' in its correct dictionary sense, btw, someone who just doesn't know, a bit like the word 'agnostic' denotes someone who doesn't know where Gods and spiritual paradise are concerned. There's a tendency amongst the evangelical climate changers to call us all 'deniers' which is incorrect. We don't deny that which cannot be proven, and which is only ever a bunch of speculative…

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    1. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Keep on...it's precisely that kind of sarcasm that is never going to convince us of your own scientific pre-eminence where the topic is concerned.

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    2. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Taking this at face value and assuming Jon Cassar is not a disingenuous denier: The reason for the increasing stridency is increasing frustration that those who would rather ignore and deny the science are succeeding in presenting this is a 'debate' that is still debatable. I think it is analogous to the religious creationists who try to make their position respectable by suggesting there is a 'debate' about evolution in which one could reasonably take either side as if the facts of evolution are…

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      Nice rhetoric but how is it relevant to the problematic and irrational thinking that goes on among climate change deniers and those who are deniers but want to clothe their irrational beliefs in their ability to be more objective that the people they/you don't like.

      I did note that the article you linked to that purports to be an argument in favour of thinking clearly, quotes Aristotle. I think that this quote from Spinoza is far more useful as a way that you could improve your ability to think.

      "To see the truth one needs to hold no opinions at all, neither for nor against. To set up what you like against what you don't like is a disease of the mind."

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    4. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon I believe you're serious. but I don't believe you read the article above or clicked through to the supporting statistics.

      If you, you could not possibly,as a reasonable human being with a sound and analytical mind continue your 'sceptical' stance.

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    5. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      "Your arguments are not those of a sceptic, rather an activist denier."

      How could I tell that would be the last shot?

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    6. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      Right On! Stephen.
      I like this message from Bertrand Russell;
      "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts"

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    7. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to John Newton

      About those supporting stats/data: the BEST study contains 1.6 *billion* bits of them, and it arrived at the same 'vehement' conclusion the 97+% of climate scientists had asserted: it's real, it's us, and it's now WAY beyond debate.

      Dismissives--I prefer that term--are only interested in waving their hands, feigning outrage at being called on their *dismissiveness,* and derail what the conversation should be, that being acceptance and moving onto solutions.

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    8. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      'It is that positive, meaningful conversation on these topics descends all too quickly from a meaningful dialogue to dogmatism, from disagreement to disagreeableness'

      Good article, Stephen, and sums up precisely my own position.
      It's a bit like being a judge in a case involving unfamiliar evidence. One tends to veer towards assessing proponents on the quality of their zeal, emotions and tendency towards ad hominem abuse.

      When these people see threats to their steady flow of funding they…

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    9. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      This a satire I presume? if not is frankly just full of unsupported allegations. No more to be said, let's debate matters of substance.

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    10. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I didn't express any 'ideology' Mike. Some of us are just sceptics!

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    11. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon

      A fair dollop of emotional language but not one skerrick of why you are sceptical. What is deficient in the evidence that leads you to be sceptical?

      And your comment "They deliver their arguments with such vehemence..."

      Yes Jon. Do you understand why? This isn't a game! This is a discussion about a literally life and death subject. So my measure by which I judge the honesty with which a sceptic holds their views is the presence or otherwise of a sense of urgency on their part. Along the lines of:

      "I'm sceptical but I can see the subject is extremely serious. So how can my scepticism be RESOLVED either way as rapidly as possible?"

      Has the sceptic absorbed all the evidence? If not, why not, where is their sense of urgency.

      When so called scepticism becomes an excuse for just endlessly talking and avoiding seeking a resolution then one suspects other motivations are at play.

      Where do you sit in this Jon?

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    12. Stephen S Holden

      Associate Professor, Marketing at Bond University

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      It is relevant because without reason, we cannot advance. The "rhetoric" of those for and against is not moving us anywhere. Commitment has a place - it is in action, not in argument. Commitment to a position is not justified, commitment to an action is useful. That is, let us agree to uncertainty, and then act - while holding options open because we remain uncertain.

      Love the quote from Spinoza, here's another of similar ilk: "If you want the truth to be clear before you, / never be for or against. / The struggle between for and against / is the mind’s worst disease" Sen-ts’an

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    13. In reply to Jon Cassar

      Comment removed by moderator.

    14. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      Skepticism is healthy and I for one remain open to the possibility but not the probability that the science is flawed. Frankly there is so much data to support the science that there is no grounds for significant doubt.

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    15. Stephen S Holden

      Associate Professor, Marketing at Bond University

      In reply to John Doyle

      Thanks John. Bertrand Russell's point is precisely the one made by Socrates in The Apology as cited in the article I linked - just a deal more colourful, so thanks for that!

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    16. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to John Doyle

      Perhaps it would be helpful for your views if you were to expand your argument a bit beyond a quote from a respected philosopher.

      Why do you doubt? What sources or evidence did you consider to reach your doubt? Perhaps some links to peer-reviewed science would help to clarify.

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    17. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I don't have any arguments, Alice, I'm a sceptic, remember?

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    18. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Ipso facto, that makes you NOT a skeptic: Skeptics, true ones, argue the facts and counter with other facts., you have yet to do that. We'll wait....

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    19. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      I think your accusations of threats to funding or revenue for climate scientists are more credibly applied to the fossil fuel industry in its campaigns to cast doubt on the science.

      Follow the money and see the threats to the FF business model and it all becomes clear!

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    20. Craig Miller

      Environmental Consultant

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      I proffer an alternative based on your argument to date - you are a cynic rather than a skeptic.

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    21. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to John Doyle

      I think I may have mis-interpreted what you were getting at John.

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    22. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Ray Hughes

      Well-said, because us who deal in reality and data--data don't lie--have been trying to get peoples' attention for 25+ years. Yea, we're vehement because time is running out.

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    23. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      Yes commitment to a position is not always justified but if the evidence and a rational argument supports a 'position' then it is justified to support that position until a better or more rational one comes along? Just a thumbnail description so don't go picking on me. :)

      The thing I think would be useful for our need to do some fixing of the society that underpins the economy is to try and understand the latest social science research in the context of the 'wisdom of the ancients' - wisdom from…

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    24. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Yeah, it's been years since we've seen a decent Dada stand-up artist. Jon Cassar is a gem and deserves an Arts Council grant fo rhis work.

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    25. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon

      Don't you care about your children and grandchildren and then their children?

      If we don't act now, future generations will ask why we did nothing to help stop the destruction.

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    26. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon, nothing is ever going to convince you anyway, so all we are doing is trying to dissipate our deep disgust by laughing.

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    27. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      OK observers... what's missing from this discussion?

      Answer - the usual suspects.

      Three weeks ago this commentary would have been awash with the chanting of denial from the usual crew ... but no more. They have gone to ground... the "science is truly settled" thanks to the election of Abbott and his blitzkrieg on science and climate change in particular.

      Always political rather than scientific in nature, the word has gone out to "sceptic" astroturfers that further discussion is unnecessary and only keeps the debate alive...they should leave the issue alone. And they are.

      So I think that's decent circumstantial evidence that Jon Cassar is in fact what he says - a freelance sceptic inclined to paddle his own canoe... he's the only one here.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      I'm sorry Stephen, I can't accept your argument or Spinoza's, how can we act, when those who are opposed to the science are stripping apart every climate policy which has put in place. Government policy relies on a commitment to a position so that we can start to act. We are told that we have to start limiting our emissions (collectively as a planet), now, and within the next ten (now 7-8 years). And yes the argument is agree to act but disagree as to why, but this becomes a bit ridiculous when those like Dick Warburton (don't believe in AGW) is hand-picked to oversee a review into the RET and renewable energy projects worth billions.
      I prefer Christine Lagarde who states unequivocally that the world should act and doesn't have a 'choice', which is what is happening here. They are stalling our ability to 'act'. We don't need more word games.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Not strictly true. Could you please show me an article (and date of submission) which has been submitted for review, and printed by a credible scientific publisher which proves that climate change as seen in the latter part of the 20th and early 21st. century is similar to naturally occurring previous climate change? You have twice made these statements in this discussion.

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    30. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      That's your fear, Rosemary, not mine. Tell me how it all works out for you.

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    31. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      A genius position Jon, plenty of words and little sense coming out from them. A glistening example of verbal pedantry that we used to get from social 'science' undergraduates in my university days.

      The evidence is simple; increase the production of petroleum fuels, burn more petroleum fuels, produce more CO2, cause more extreme weather events. QED

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    32. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Thanks Ben - I agree with Paul in regard to your comment.

      I would like to add the response of both Bill Nye and Ken Ham during their recent - for want a better word - debate when asked what would convince them to change their minds.

      Ken Ham - Nothing
      Bill Nye - Evidence

      That pretty much sums up the debate on climate change as well.

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    33. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      For the time being.......... WTSHTF, we'll ALL lose. And what for? Money.......... just so we can keep greed alive for another few years.

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    34. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      You try to convince that you are not a denialist but a true "sceptic," just another Seeker After Truth, ready to be enlightened, yet you give yourself away when you characterize those who have accepted the reality of anthropogenic global warming as "evangelical." Your representation of yourself as an impartial investigator is nothing more than a stalking horse, allowing you to proceed to spew discredited denalist talking points. Give it a rest, please.

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    35. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glen - you asked where Jon sits - he says he is sitting on the fence. I've found people who sit on the fence when action (one way or the other) is requested, usually have palings up their @rse.
      Stephen - you provided a link to an article you wrote demanding a critical approach. This is good when there is so much doubt and little information, great when there is conflicting information. In the case of AGW you can easily find the source science, check out the questions and data in response to the tests and look at levels of uncertainty, then compare that to the other arguments where (as mentioned over and over again) there is wrong data, disproved data, cherry-picked data, etc.
      Ben - what a great piece of writing. I'm on a search now to find other examples of your prose.

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    36. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The sad part is that it is precisely this sort of nonsensical dribble that snares many into the trap of even bothering to engage with the denier. Hence my original comment.

      This is where the battle is being lost and until we stop pandering to the nonsense the message will never get through.

      Media outlets supposedly want balance however I am yet to see a debate with a ratio of 97:3 (and I am being generous). Similarly the rate of for and against in print does not represent the facts.

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    37. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      ''but we just don't have the science to prove it's anything to do with CO2 let alone human activity' ''

      Insightful comments, Ben Marshall. Just like the ''alt med'' discussions on TC, those who tend to argue ''science just doesn't have the answers yet'' commonly don't know what answers science DOES have.

      Not all scientific findings are speculative. With the use of technology, many things that used to be up for debate have not been directly visualised and imaged. Evidence gained by direct measurement is different to speculation.

      Sure, ''science doesn't know everything'' (given that ''everything'' is essentially infinite'', but many more things are well defined and documented than people outside that area sometimes understand.

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    38. Geoff Lamb

      -

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      John, Can I ask a question?

      Why have you 'chosen' to be sceptical about Climate Science?

      Why are you not sceptical about other branches of science and scientific theories? The scientific method is the same. Are you sceptical about an airplane flying? Are you sceptical on String Theory? Are you sceptical about computers and the Internet working? Do you believe tobacco smoking is bad for you?

      My point is that the Scientific Method works - planes fly, computers work, The Internet works, live…

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    39. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Some of the usual suspects have arrived in the last hour or so Peter.

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    40. Peter Campbell

      Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Ben Marshall's long reply above could make an excellent stand-alone article for The Conversation with only a little editing at the start to give the context.

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    41. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Thanks for the article John Cook, and also thanks for engaging further in the discussion.

      For Jon Cassar, I reckon its reasonable to be sceptical and good scepticism is the basis of all good thinking and all good science. Further its important to mention that some (much) of the communication in support of acting on Climate change is unsubtle, alarmist and annoying. Much of what is said annoys me as well.

      That said however it is not intellectually sound to expect that someone needs , or is able…

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    42. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      So nothing to contribute in other words. Why are you speaking then?

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    43. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      [There's a tendency amongst the evangelical climate changers to call us all 'deniers' which is incorrect....Frankly it's those tactics of the proponents that puts us off.]

      Translation: If you green evangelical warmist alarmist climate catastrophist scaremongers don't show me some respect and stop calling me a denialist I'm going to take my bat and ball and go home.

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    44. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hi Peter

      Way back at the top I saw Geoff Sherrington's usual fare and there was also a Jim Ingliss input as well. But they stopped pretty quickly. But Jon Cassar has quite successfully hijacked the conversation. I'm almost certain (I am. after all something of a sceptic) he is a denier troll hairsplitter and should be ignored.

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    45. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Scientifically, yes, the human population reached 1 billion back in 1804. When I was a boy there were still less than 3 billion people. Now we are over 7 billion.

      These climate hysterics (and pointing that out does not make me a climate change denier merely ridiculing ideology and incompetence) for their part, and this has been going on for generations now, persist in their refusal to allow anything to be done in practical about the issues they themselves raise, but spend all their time politicising…

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    46. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      The fire and brimstone preaching is not in the journal articles, Alice, but in the hysterics who persist in citing them as if the mere reading of a scientific paper somehow magically changes the world.

      No, sorry, but at some point scientific knowledge has to be applied, not to employing more and more bureaucrats which I strongly suspect that's what this is all about, but in getting remedial and rehabilitative work done out here on the ground.

      Else we might as well use the paper to wipe our arse.

      Good thing most of it is digitised, available in PDF, else we'd have an even worse crisis on our hands.

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    47. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Tom why do you concern yourself with the hysterics? Surely these sort of people are not worthy of your time and scepticism?

      I think I see the problem, you believe that smart repartee is a demonstration of your ability to see the truth more objectively than others and this demonstration of your ability substitutes for a need to learn anything that wasn't known when your brain was functioning at its peak. What do you think of that explanation?

      We all would like to understand the belief system that explains your behaviour so don't be coy. Spell it out. I know you do have a narrative that explains this apparently irrationality rationally because you are rational.

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    48. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      BIG problem with your argument here, Ben, is that as you proclaim yourself you see the issue as one of taking sides, and as I have pointed out all these years refusing to collaborate.

      The big mistake being made in contemporary politics, originating especially among the Americans whose entire country today, because over the years they all gravitated to living among people "like them", is divided state by state among Republicans and Democrats. Because they refuse to have anything to do with people…

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    49. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Credible science publishers are not in government.

      That's a fact.

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    50. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Well, no problem Jack.

      To save words why don't we just write, "DON'T CARE!"

      I mean, talk to the hand.

      THAT is what you need to overcome before this matter can proceed.

      I don't see it happening, no matter what get's written.

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    51. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon, "some scientists" - seriously? When 'some' = 97%, it is usually referred to as 'most', if not 'nearly all'. If almost all practising climate scientists, doing new research and publishing in reputable, peer-reviewed journals, agree that the globe is warming due to human emissions from burning fossil fuels, I tend to listen. It is not logical to do anything else, unless one is determined to deny the evidence (which would be an illogical stance).

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    52. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      Yeah - I copied and pasted it into a Word document for future reference.

      I don't think there's really much more for any of us to say that isn't in there...

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    53. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Everyone who read the literature on psychopathic personality traits understands that there will be a certain percentage of people who don't care about their fellow humans and simply do not have the brain connections or the chemistry to be able to care. These people can be raised to be quite functional and valuable members of society.

      But we don't need everyone to be cooperative Tom. People like you will create what is called the free-rider problem in that you will want to take more than your share and try to avoid cooperating when the stuff gets scarce and others are sharing and surviving. That has always been the problem for cooperators.

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    54. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Geoff Lamb

      The thing about Scientific Method, Geoff, is not whether it works only that it proposes doubt as the foundation of enquiry.

      Being sceptical about a plane flying leads to research and improvement in aircraft design.

      Being sceptical about climate change only leads to research and improvement in rehabilitative project design and implementation, improved investment strategies and greater effectiveness in ameliorating the problem.

      Sitting there reading scientific papers, and worse battering others…

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    55. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon, " In reply to Alice Kelly - "Your arguments are not those of a sceptic, rather an activist denier." How could I tell that would be the last shot?"
      You may be misreading what Alice said. Her statement was that your *arguments* are those of a denier, not that you are a denier. If you cannot see the concordance of your arguments with those of well-know AGW deniers, I suggest you do some research.

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    56. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      "Being sceptical about climate change only leads to research and improvement in rehabilitative project design and implementation, improved investment strategies and greater effectiveness in ameliorating the problem."

      Here we must note the difference btw being truly sceptical and being a denialist. Pray tell, did Big Tobacco's decades-long disinformation campaign, which represented itself as "scepticism," lead "to research and improvement in rehabilitative project design and implementation . . . and greater effectiveness in ameliorating the problem," or did it lead to more sick and dead people in exchange for higher profits for that industry? Denialism is a pernicious thing that needs to be exposed and destroyed.

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    57. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Sorry, Henry, I missed your query to my posts. For me it is as plain as the nose on my face that emitting CO2 will alter the atmosphere. It is also evident that a linear economy depending always on fresh materials and soils will eventually bankrupt itself. It's not a philosophy. it's simple maths. You know, Euclid's geometry is today as valid as it was 2500 years ago. We have moved on but it doesn't alter his work.
      Maths is like that. I have posted a heap of articles to back up this position, even here there is one. However understanding seems to be difficult for some, or many - in the case of the exponential equation.
      We can't fight the maths so let's get busy convincing the powers that be to start planning to reverse growth. If we don't then we just let nature do it for us. If all the peak Hubbert curves in materials water and soils and food and energy combine with climate change it's going to be a wild precipitous ride to the bottom!

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    58. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      There are also those outside your "teams of people who do have the technical competency to assess and reach conclusions", Mitchell, and who agree and disagree with them probably even less than those within their own teams, but who point nonetheless to different aspects of the matter still needing attention.

      It is neither rational nor reasonable to infer the existence of those who know better as distinct from those who don't, the 'us and them' mentality which is quite as bad as the politics, and…

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    59. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      Yes JC must be a troll. Notice how he provokes but NEVER provides any evidence for his views. We must either not respond, ie refuse to engage, or forcefully respond with reasoned arguments. Won't sway him but we must not let him get away with spouting mis information.

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    60. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to John Doyle

      Thanks John. I totally agree that it is ultimately about sustainability and climate change is a sub set of the sustainability problem that is looming.

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  2. John Sayers

    Designer

    As this is an academic website perhaps John Cook should list his scientific credentials, i.e degrees.

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    1. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to John Sayers

      Is that important? Relying on "Authority"is a bad sign. Having "degrees" is no endorsement. But actually researching for data yourself does matter and I see no reason to doubt John has done research and is well informed.
      I suggest you try it too.

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  3. Mike Jubow

    Forestry nurseryman at Nunyara Wholesale , Forestry consultants, seedling suppliers.

    One would have thought that a prime minister would have the best brains around him for the best advice so that the office of PM has the best standard of practice. It seems to me that TA has surrounded himself with the scientific illiterates which then raises the question, If he doesn't have enough smarts to ensure he gets the best advice, is he truly fit for office? Or is that a non sequitur too?

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    1. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      I cannot accept than Abbott is unable to function at an intellectual level required of a PM.

      I can only conclude that he must be motivated by something unrelated to facts.

      By surrounding himself by those less qualified to give advice he is distancing himself from making any real decisions.

      One does not require advice when strings and earpieces are attached. I think I know who powers up the earpiece.

      The real question is who controls the string?

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      C'mon Mike, didn't Australia elect a Coalition government in 2013? Then it naturally follows that vested interests will rule whatever the logical facts.

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    3. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      G'day Alice

      I got this info here:

      http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/

      where it says, Professor Ian Chubb AC commenced his role as Australia's Chief Scientist on Monday 23 May 2011.

      So Oz has a chief scientist. He is clearly not in agreement with TA about human induced climate change, and Greg Hunt should have probably asked Professor Chubb his questions rather than refer to the (occasionally dubious) wikipedia.

      My thought was that this sort of thing is the kind of behaviour of a government that surrounds itself with people who all agree with each other.

      I used to think the Howard government was awful, but this one is, quite honestly, beyond belief.

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    4. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      I think this indicates that he has got his retirement plans finalised: "Who can rid me of this troublesome Chief Scientist"

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    5. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      I was first awakened to how we're all being led like lemmings to the cliff top when I started reading about the anthropogenic climate changers and their backgrounds a few years ago.
      Prof.Chubb is a neuro-scientist; Ross Garnaut is an economist; the head of the IPCC, Rakendra Pachauri is a railway engineer; and Lord Stern - one of Britain's major doomsayers - is also an economist.
      Of course, let's not forget the head guru, Al Gore, who began the whole climate of fear, he was a canny media communicator, but has no scientific training either.
      I'd rather listen to Lord Monckton who no scientific training either, but makes more sense to an ignoramus like me.
      The entire IPCC is an organisation driven by politics and riven with scandals. Even Antonio Zichichi, the President of the World Federation of Scientists said: "Models used by the IPCC are incoherent and invalid from a scientific point of view".

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    6. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      You've got to be kidding? You really want to go there, start comparing the scientific credentials of those who accept the reality of anthropogenic global warming with those who reject it? Really? I'll pit the credentials of James Hansen, of Lonnie Thompson, of Michael Mann, against those of any three you've got. And your preference for listening to Christopher "Lawd" Monckton is a real giveaway.

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  4. John Doyle

    architect

    This political attitude to climate change is not going to change any time soon.
    While denialists and vested interests influence the debate the government can carry on with the status quo. It's just both lazy and awkward, because they really don't know what to do, so let's do naught, let's deny!
    There is now a debate starting whereby climate change might come too late for us to change direction from the inevitable decline of our civilization. We are just seeing now what the future will be like. Although it's hard to forecast an in-your-face date the various Hubbert peaks are passing or soon due to pass, from oil to phosphorus. The consequences of linear consumption and rapidly diminishing EROEI in the face of rising population and consumption forecast inevitable decline.
    Will we wait until catastrophe stares us in the face or will we start planning for a circular economy now and maybe save a lot of future strife?
    Climate change will make adjustment all the more difficult.

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  5. Gary Luke
    Gary Luke is a Friend of The Conversation.

    thoroughly disgusted

    Is it a perfect day for a picnic, not too hot and not too cold, no rain, and just a slight breeze? That's also due to climate change. If worldwide climate has changed then every moment in every place in the world is constantly being subjected to an altered climate. Is today the same as the average for the last century? If so then that proves that it shouldn't be, that it should have been hotter or colder and it's been shifted to the average by the altered climate. The altered climate doesn't cherry pick; it doesn't only select particular dates and determine only certain types of weather extremes.

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    1. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Gary Luke

      I think you're confusing climate and weather Gary.

      Using the weather of any particular day as a basis for an argument on climate change is very fine grained cherry picking, regardless of your point of view on the matter.

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    2. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Gary Luke

      'A natural result of climate change is that the weather at any moment is not what it would otherwise have been'

      Is that a trick one, Gary?

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    3. Gary Luke
      Gary Luke is a Friend of The Conversation.

      thoroughly disgusted

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      It's not a trick question. It should be obvious. If the whole carpet has been shifted then all the furniture subtended by it gets moved with it. "Normal" days are just as subject to the changed climate as so-called extreme weather days. If the world's climate has been altered then it's global in location and doesn't demonstrate itself only on particular days. Fine weather when it wouldn't have been fine are just as much a product of climate change as unexpected extreme weather that's detrimental to whatever we care about. That should be the null hypothesis.

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  6. Stephen Latham

    logged in via Twitter

    More commonly Climate Denier's misuse the 'it's happened before' meme by comparing today's climate directly with some event in the remote geological past, when Astronomical factors and geological features were so fundamentally altered that the earths climate must have been different then. The irony is that they happily accept the temperature and GHG proxy estimates from millions of years ago but not direct measurements from a few hundred years ago!

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  7. JB Rawson

    Writer

    John, obviously the 'it's happened before, so don't worry' argument is bollocks. But what do you think of the other contention that projections suggest more drought in the south west and south east, but more rain in the north, and that as this drought is in the north it's probably not reasonable to attribute it specifically to climate change. I'm in no way sceptical of the influence of humans on the climate, and convinced it's going to get hotter and rougher and that droughts will worsen particularly down south unless we take serious action right now. But I am curious about this aspect.

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    1. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to JB Rawson

      This is a more complicated question. We know that the risk of extreme weather is increasing and research has shown that overall, it's due to climate change (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-012-0668-1). But the attribution of a single extreme weather occurrence is a lot more difficult to pin down.

      This is why it's important to distinguish between the two questions: "is climate change increasing the risk of extreme weather?" and "is climate change responsible for a specific extreme weather event?" The answer to the former is yes, the answer to the latter is usually 'difficult to say'. The latter question is asked more often while the more pertinent question from a policy and risk management point of view is the former.

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    2. JB Rawson

      Writer

      In reply to John Cook

      > the more pertinent question from a policy and risk management point of view is the former.
      Yeah, you're right: it really doesn't matter if this drought is climate change, there are going to be more droughts, and more floods, and more fires, and what on earth are we doing about it? Pretty much bugger all.
      Cheers, and thanks for the article.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to JB Rawson

      There's an interesting short sentence under "E. A shift in the state of the atmosphere", after the first 11 points, there are another 5, number 2 reads, "Increased frequency of the El-Nino events of the ENSO cycle, resulting in increased droughts in north eastern Australia, India and parts of east Africa." Andrew Glikson.
      My reading of this in not strictly the coast, rather, what we see now. Something to do with the Indian Ocean?, someone else will know more.
      This article was submitted to parliament in 2009, the science is being teased out as we speak, but this is a really good scientific submission, crammed with concise information and helped me with other questions I had.
      http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/372266/09_Glikson.pdf

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    4. JB Rawson

      Writer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Good old Andrew Glikson: when will someone start listening to him? Thanks for that Alice.

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    5. Craig Miller

      Environmental Consultant

      In reply to John Cook

      We need better metaphors to communicate the reality and complexity of systems, i.e. our climatic systems, that drive weather events, otherwise we will continue to talk past people who quite naturally and rationally view the world as linear series of immediate causal events.

      Single weather events occur as a consequence of interactions between a whole lot of factors in these systems. Change the quantity of any stock or the rate of any process in the system and you change the dynamics and behaviour of the system. Unfortunately this will usually fail to compete against a simple answer or slogan, or incredulous rhetoric.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to JB Rawson

      JB, I resented the fact that parliament got fabulously detailed ( I was looking for quantifiable amounts) information, about unreleased methane etc, truly scary science as we warm the arctic, and there are those there, who still believe it's a game of dice.

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    7. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to John Cook

      "distinguish between the two questions: "is climate change increasing the risk of extreme weather?" and "is climate change responsible for a specific extreme weather event?""

      Each "climate" is a distribution of weather events. So even if the possible weather events are the same, the distributions can be different.

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    8. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to John Cook

      John, the big issue here is insistence on answering all the questions first.

      Greens policy of applying the uncertainty principle to every project lest it have some climatic or environmental impact has quite the same application to their own policy of insisting that we get all the science right too.

      Why does everything have to be so reliably pinned down?

      What is most interesting to me here is the generational shift away from rehabilitation and restoration, without which over the past 30 years…

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  8. Phil Dolan

    Viticulturist

    Are most deniers religious?

    If climate change is not man made, then it must be God doing it.

    OK church goers. Go on strike. No more church until the temp' is brought down to pre industrial levels.

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  9. Andy George

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    News headline: a website called "The Conversation" only really shows one side.
    So, to sum up, anyone who doesn't agree with the religion either has a vested interest in it or hasn't studied the information well enough.
    If they don't have a vested interest and don't agree with Climate Change, then they clearly haven't read enough about it.
    Standard MO for holier than thou groups.

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    1. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Andy George

      "If they don't have a vested interest and don't agree with Climate Change, then they clearly haven't read enough about it."

      Pretty much.

      Climate change threatens humanities continued existence. This makes it a vested interest for everyone.

      If you don't "agree" with climate change, then you must not have read enough about it, because the evidence is overwhelming, and despite the best attempts of a legion of shills and stooges, largely irrefutable.

      "Standard MO for holier than thou groups."

      Interesting choice of terms given the faith over science ideology driven by the current government.

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    2. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Andy George

      Andy, could you tell us what you have read on climate change and what you find in your reading that you disagree with. You may win some believers over.

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy George

      The Conversation only shows the side that has some evidence and an argument that they can present coherently and in a way that is standard for the presentation of knowledge. The 'other' side or any side can publish their views here, only need some university affiliation so they choose not to, apparently.

      I'm waiting expectantly for Jennifer Marohesy to come here so I can ask her some questions.

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    4. In reply to Andy George

      Comment removed by moderator.

    5. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      DING! DING! DING! You win the first-salvo-of-a-dismissive-flinging-the-leftist shot! and in the first hour....you should be proud...to have shown your true motivations so early!

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    6. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Andy George

      Andy, as far as I know there is only one side. Perhaps you can enlighten us as to what is the other side and we're not interested in some phony debate that states it is all a matter of opinion or rehashed and discredited spin.

      To reiterate some well known and obvious facts that show unequivocally that Global warming is happening...

      Firstly it is trivial to show that CO2 and other asymmetric molecules are greenhouse gases. I'm happy to tell you why if you want to know.

      Secondly the NASA heat audit program shows again unequivocally that the earth is heating up. That is where the 4 Hiroshima bombs per second bit comes from.

      Thirdly it is not like turning around the Titanic, it will take decades and decades to even start to address the damage done by global warming assuming that humans will be around to do so.

      Any further explanation of these points I'm happy to provide.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andy George

      Andy, there's this funny little thing called evidence. Grown-ups use it to distinguish between reality and delusion. It turns out that they are not the same thing and you can distinguish beteen them quite reliably.

      So, yes, we do have a vested intersest in reality. we all have to live there.

      'Holier than thou' might be relevant to religion, but with science it's acase of 'better evidence than yours'. Would you care to advance your evidence?

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    8. In reply to Jon Cassar

      Comment removed by moderator.

    9. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Andy George

      [News headline: a website called "The Conversation" only really shows one side.]

      Totally! Every time we see an article on vaccination here we never see a follow up claiming that vaccinations are full of toxins and kill more people than they save. Every article just takes it as a given that the earth revolves around the sun - when will the geocentrist perspective get a hearing? Why is the evolutionary model of biology never contrasted with the 'God zapped humans into existence in their current form 6000 years ago' alternative? Why always articles slamming homeopathy for it's lack of efficacy and none pointing out that their is a special magical kind of evidence that is being overlooked? Bias -- That's why.

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    10. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Stephen S Holden

      I think this bit sums up the climate alrmist movement to a tee

      "However, forecasts of global climate change years and decades into the future are often presented and defended by an unreasonably strong level of confidence with little allowance for uncertainty.

      Anyone offering data or interpretations that challenge the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming are met with righteous indignation and are speedily dismissed as climate-change deniers.

      Doubt does not equal denial."

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    11. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Thanks for that, Geoff, I was beginning to feel isolated here, a bit like the last Christian warrior at the gates of Vienna....LOL.

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    12. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Andy George

      "the religion"

      Projection. All Andy has is religious belief in his own position.

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    13. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, doubt is good: wilful ignorance is illogical. If a study of all the evidence results in lingering doubts, that is good, because we don't - cannot - know everything yet. Doubt that scientists are acting ethically, doubt that data are being collected and analysed correctly, doubt that results are as presented: that is the scientific method. The kicker is, at the end of the day, once all the evidence has been proved and assessed, it only remains to logically accept the results, or logically reject them. Rejecting results for illogical reasons is what makes a denier, in my view.

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  10. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    A look at the top photo shows the landscape has been severely degraded from clear-felling and over-stocking.

    That is why there is no vegetation.

    It is faulty logic to think it has occured because of drought.

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Dale it is faulty logic to look at the photo and then pretend that the author is saying that this occurred because of drought. The author, as far as I understand it does not choose the illustration or the title of their article.

      You are just making it up so you have something to complain about.

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      In the distance are remnants of the native vegetation that hasn’t been clear-felled.

      Go west young man, and you will see thousands of acres of clear-felled land with small pockets of trees left (often on ridges or rocky ground), and attempts made to grow exotic grass on the land for pasture.

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  11. Chris Booker

    Research scientist

    This really is a great advertisement for why we need people with education in the halls of power.

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    1. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Booker

      Chris

      They are educated. just in the wrong subjects - economics, accountancy, law, politics etc. Fundamentally the transaction professions. If you need a transaction done you go to a solicitor. But the solicitor can't contribute much to the question of why you need the transaction done.

      What the halls of power need to be filled with are scientists, engineers, doctors, mathematicians, psychologists. And then some business people and farmers - but not too many. Professions that deal with the…

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    2. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Booker

      True, but sometimes people having a lesser education have proven to be great representatives. How can anyone possibly assess a person's education with respect to their eligibility to be a good parliamentary representative?

      If Tony Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar than he obviously passes the formal education test, yet he knows absolutely to the real climate situation. His education lies well below the free-market ideology that he leads.

      An education threshold in the election process would indeed be discriminatory. We do need a vastly more sophisticate and comprehensive parliamentary committee system. One that pulls in people who are experienced in the respective fields rather than leave that process to a panel of ideological MPs.

      Raw commercial power, not logic, is what prevents action on climate change

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Quite agree Chris, motivated curiosity and self education are a powerful antidote to stagnated reasoning, which resides in all classes of people. Many politicians seem to believe in the art of politics, or relying on being in a 'tribe', rather than much else. But there are those who do sit outside this camp, and they are always refreshing to listen to. I usually (but not always) enjoyed listening to Rob Oakshot and Tony Windsor. Nick Xenaphon is another. They all seem to believe in working hard, listening, informing themselves etc which is what politicians should do.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Glenn, add in one or two train drivers - if there are still any left standing - and I'd definitely agree with you!

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix and Glen, remember Barry Jones, science minister in the Hawke government? I still remember him winning that intelligence competition on the telly AND correcting one of the questions to do so. We've come a long way. We could be given a choice to just sack Greg Hunt, and install Barry. Don't know what that means for democracy?

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Chris Booker

      "we need people with education in the halls of power"

      Trouble is, unless most of them are climate scientists (which is exceedingly unlikely), they will still have to accept what climate scientists tell them.

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  12. Karen Downes

    Manager, Superannuation

    What I find infinitely frustrating is the ease with which people in "authority" (ie: the Government) get away with refuting expert advice and opinion on climate change.
    What we don't hear is Tony Abbott refuting scientific claims about the latest cancer treatments, or inability to cure HIV.
    When we have Government Ministers referring to Wikipedia to refute certified experts on a subject, we should all be very worried.

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Karen Downes

      I share your frustration Karen.

      The only conclusion I can come to (other than lack of intellect) is that he and his government have decided to support the fossil fuel vested interests whose business model is threatened by the science that says unequivocally that the world must wean itself off fossil fuels.

      The science also threatens the ideology of unfettered economic growth (or consumptive growth at any rate) and that conflicts with their ideology that growth is all-important.

      But I may be off the mark and I am happy to be corrected.

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      There's only one reason growth "is all-important"..... and that is because debt plus interest cannot be repaid without it. And guess who is owed all that monopoly money they printed out of thin air.....?

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    3. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      This, Mike is where our civilization becomes unstuck. Maybe at the present time we can afford the interest payments, but soon enough we won't be able even to do that.
      Let me relist this video here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2OzyNpPe5s
      I think all the issues mentioned in it are going to swamp climate change as our main issue and not too many years off.
      Climate change will just exacerbate the difficulties.

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    4. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to John Doyle

      I found that Swedish guy wasn't a great communicator. Had I not been already very familiar with what he was saying, I would have found it hard to follow him....

      Here's a better TED talk, by an Australian at that...
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mETK87bjs0A

      The future is not rosy. Whether you believe in man made climate change or not.

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    5. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Ding Ding Ding Ding we have a winner. Give that man a prize.

      You get an array of cupie dolls and we have Little Gina, Smiling Rupert, Twiggy Desert, Unenlightened Bolt, Easyontheeye Clive.

      Try again and you can win yourself a free trip to Mount Realisation where you can watch the cloaking device in action.

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    6. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Thanks for the link. Reason maybe it's harder to understand is that Sverdrup's talk is more about the science etc and less about the reactions we need to have. Paul is an optimist, or promotes optimism, which is just a variation on the optimism about endless growth, which we know now is mathematically impossible. There is no certainty we can do the transformation we need because we may easily not have enough time for it to avoid a solid catastrophe. The WW2 situation was not on the scale of this because we will have our personal lives turned upside down and the freedom to spend time on solutions may not eventuate. There was no mention in Gilding's talk about the debt trap,
      but Sverdrup did illustrate an example with gold trading on "reserves" that don't exist. That one would require gold to trade at $10,000 an ounce in order to square the account.

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  13. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Victor Jones

      In the USA it's been calculated that if all atheists left the country, the prison population would decline by 1 % but by 93% for members of the National Academy of Sciences.
      Jack Nicholson said "Atheist, because 'we can handle the truth'.
      Mark Twain,"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool".
      In reality, the USA was not founded on religion. Said the founders;
      In the Treaty of Tripoli, article 2, signed by John Adams in July 1797 "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion...."
      James Madison "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise"
      That was the USA we could admire!
      It hasn't stopped the religious though, has it?
      Unfortunately it reveals now that the country is in decline, past it's peak.
      Bit like the Roman Empire's fall.

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    2. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Victor Jones

      A survey from last year, cited in Harpers magazine, showed that among those Americans who self-identify as Republican, less than half accepted the reality of anthropogenic global warming, whereas over sixty percent believed in demonic possession. That Hell exists, that Satan lives there, that He periodically sends demons to earth to displace our souls from our bodies to do naughty things -- that's credible. But the idea that by dumping billions of tons of heat-retaining gas into our paper-thin atmosphere, we may be warming the earth? Now that's kinda far-fetched, doncha think?

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  14. Joe Gartner

    Eating Cake

    Heatwaves have occurred before and it is entirely possible that the heatwave this summer is anothrr naturally occurring spell independent of global warming. It doesn't take away from the fact that on average temperatures have risen over the last century.
    Global warming commentators have consistently failed to be able to deliver this message which seems a juxtaposition to the general public; a position that the 'sceptics' exploit.

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    1. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Nobody denies 'climate change' Joe. Only an idiot would ignore history. But what we do question is the 'anthropogenic' bit. Climates have been changing for millions of years, long before the Industrial Revolution.

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    2. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      The above, being one of the favorite hand-waving red herrings of dismissives. We understand, to a great degree, why change happened THEN: Not sure about you, but I live in the NOW, and the reasons for the unprecedented rate of change NOW is...*us.*

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Evidence=credibility. No evidence= no credibility.

      You challenge this article but now you need to back up your claims.

      Others have already asked you so if you do not I suggest we ignore you as you have nothing substantive to offer.

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    4. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Jon - did you read the article? Did you wonder if perhaps you should look at some of the arguments or doubts you purport to have based on some of the arguments presented in the article? Did you challenge your beliefs or thinking systems. What did you actually see in the words above? Could you summarise the article so we can check your reading comprehension? Perhaps by using a checklist you could see how often you use a saying, then actively critique it using evidence you have obtained from your research elsewhere.

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    5. Jon Cassar

      ex-teacher

      In reply to Edwina Laginestra

      Edwina, you don't expect me to read all this stuff pouring into my inbox at the rate of 10 a minute. Anyway, you're all talking amongst yourselves which is always a good thing.

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Good in the sense that we may be talking to people who listen and just might, if presented with solid evidence, be willing to change their minds...

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    7. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      You have just confirmed that you ACCEPT climate change.

      Even if man has not caused any effect thus far how can pumping more CO2 into a closed system from this moment in time be anything but reckless?

      Check out this simple graph climate.nasa.gov/evidence

      You are aware of the phrase "if anyone has any ...........forever hold your peace" is my request to you Jon

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    8. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Kelly Anspaugh

      Cassar probably get his jollies from provoking a response and derailing reasoned discussion.

      Notice no answer to requests to supply evidence for his views.

      Still waiting Jon-zero credibility if you fail to supply any evidence.

      Your mission, Jon, if you choose to accept it, is to respond with evidence.

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    9. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      Suggest we all ignore Jon. Nothing of substance to say. Still waiting for any evidence to support his views. Come on Jon. show us what you have!

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    10. Rina Cohen

      retired

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      So John, you're arguing with stuff you haven't read. Quelle surprise.

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    11. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jon Cassar

      BREAKING: Article explains problem of 'climate has always changed' fallacy. Denier in comments says 'But the climate has always changed'. Film at 11.

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  15. Chris Harries

    logged in via Facebook

    This article is like ramming a boot into an ants' nest. Bound to get a reaction. But that negative reaction is also a phase we have no choice but to live through.

    Ever so slowly the denialist brigade is being worn down, their numbers are dropping. When facts are shown to be irrefutable and bleeding obvious, the initial knee jerk reaction of disbelief dissolves over time.

    The goal posts then shift to acceptance of the raw facts, but denial that we should do anything about the problem. And that's the phase we are in right now. We've still got a way to go.

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    1. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Chris Harries

      "Every so slowly the denialist brigade is being worn down, their numbers are dropping'? Really? All too often of late I have seen comments sections swarmed by the minions of the Goddess Fossil Fuel. Calls up to me Canto III of Dante's "Inferno," the Vestibule of Hell, where the poets encounter the damned souls of the opportunists: "A whirling banner sped at such a rate / It seemed it might never stop; behind it a train / Of souls, so long that I would not have thought / Death had undone so many." In this context, replace "Death" with "Stupidity." But perhaps you are right. Perhaps most I see are sock puppets -- different online persona of the same damned soul, sitting behind a computer in the bowels of the Heartland Institute.

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  16. Comment removed by moderator.

  17. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner at Location

    Us engineers are often ridiculed for our lack of communication skills, but it seems to me that the pure scientists are worse. Blaming the audience is almost as bad a sin as shooting the messenger.
    Some of the reasons the audience is not reacting the way the author wants are:
    - doomsday scenario fatigue - in my lifetime we have had the bomb testing scenario, the nuclear war scenario, the Rachel Carlson pesticide forecast, the Club of Rome no resources scenario, the Ozone layer scenario, the Peak…

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    1. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      "Bjorn Lomberg doesn't deny the science,..."

      Haven't read "The Lomborg Deception," have you? He denies it, and in very slippery ways. He's, at BEST, a lukewarmer.

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    2. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner at Location

      In reply to Paul Wigton

      Page 113 of Lomborg's book Cool It says:
      "Global warming is happening; the consequences are important and mostly negative. It will cause more heat deaths, an increase in sea level, possibly more intense hurricanes, and more flooding. It will give rise to more malaria, starvation, and poverty."
      On page 8 of the same book he says,
      "Global warming is real and man-made. It will have a serious impact on humans and the environment toward the end of this century."
      Name calling is not very productive and is certainly unprofessional, but of the two authors I think Howard Friel's work is more problematic.

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    3. Paul Wigton

      Geologist

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Thanks: he is a self-described lukewarmer, so it's hardly name-calling (faux outrage, Dismissive Nu. 1,203). You also make my point admirably...he doesn't deny the existence, when it suits his purposes. Friel's work uncovered numerous other references to when Lomborg does indeed deny that AGW is a viable, robust theory.

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    4. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Lonberg is a subtle denier because her basically advocates "more research" amounting to a "do nothing" approach. I have recently expound this view in this country, at a Press Club address.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, perhaps if you'd actually examined any of your claimed 'doomsday scenarios' rather than just putting your hands over your ears and screaming that you don't want to hear, you would stop mischaracterising them. None - except perhaps the threat of nuclear war which, probably more by luck than inevitability, has blessedly not yet happened - were 'doomsday scenarios' and all have been shown to be substantially correct. Please take the time and trouble to do a little actual research on Carson…

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    6. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      You say that shooting the messenger is bad, then proceed to shoot the messenger. The most repulsive part of your post, however, is your mouthing the same old argument of "Why should we tax carbon if India and China won't?" Morally equivalent to saying "Why should we cease to engage in gang rape if others won't?" Why? Because it's the right thing to do.

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  18. Kathryn Cole

    Humanager

    I always find it amusing that we use the lung cancer example in this way. My dad, a climate denier, also refuses to believe that smoking causes lung cancer. But he still stopped smoking, apparently because of the cost.

    We need to get a lot better at understanding the psychology of denial, and, for that matter, apathy, to improve the general public's engagement with issues like climate change.

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  19. john tons

    retired redundant

    The Quotations provided in this piece move to invoke the spirit of the late and unlamented Judge Jefferies who rejected the defence that there was no such thing as witches on the grounds that: There must be witches for there are laws against witches and it is inconceivable that there would be a law against something that doesnt exist" This could be paraphrased to read Anthropogenic climate change is false for no measures have been taken to combat climate change and it is inconceivable that we would not combat climate change were there any likelihood that it is true."

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  20. john miller

    taxpayer

    John many accept that the earth is warming, but not all are convinced by the projections of scientists. In my case I understand the projections and then new science comes Along to enhance them in ways that seem to contradict the earlier projection. Possibly there is too much broadcasting by doubters and I'm prepared to admit the possibility of being misled. Can you help me with this recent case of doubt raising. There has been an hiatus in average warming, not predicted by climate models. New research points to a strengthening of trade winds as a possible cause. This raises doubts about all the projections because if the old model didn't include the possibility of increased trade winds causing a pause in observed warming then what else have the models left out.

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    1. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to john miller

      John the only hiatus in global warming is due to a very quiescent sun. The sun's output varies in cycles and is also dependent on the number of sun spots.
      It is thought that the sun's output currently is similar to what in the past caused the little ice age, but you certainly wont see any ice age this time.

      I suspect you may be getting confused between heat and temperature, only a very small part of the extra heat absorbed because of Global warming goes into the atmosphere, the great majority…

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    2. Craig Miller

      Environmental Consultant

      In reply to john miller

      Hi John - a fair and reasonable question.

      The first aspect to understand is that scientists conduct research to understand the mechanisms that drive the patterns that we observe. These patterns include the fact that apples always fall down and that the earth is currently accumulating heat energy. Scientists test their understanding of the explanatory mechanisms by building models - the success of these models in backcasting or forecasting events gives an indication of how well they have understood…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to john miller

      john, I think it's not so much about models but about the way data get presented - things like the ability to detect a trendline in a graph that has many highs and lows, as annual surface temperature records do. The apparent 'hiatus' in temperature rises is largely an artefact of drawing a (flattoish) line from the exceptionally hot 1998 - this is just bad reading of charts as outliers should not be used as key data points.

      This is one reason why experts like the World Meteorological Organisation prefer yo show decadal averages - when you do this it is completely clear that surface temperature rises have not really gone flat at all.

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  21. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    What an utterly iconic photograph ... welcome to the future folks.

    What on earth are those graziers doing with cattle on that dirt ... standing in a bone yard ... pretending it's not happening? that rain will come and there'll be an overnight recovery of pasture? Standing in their wasteland whingeing and looking for clouds.

    There is absolutely no reason to provide any assistance whatsoever to bail out such arrogant bad management... and thousands of reasons not to. These are the folks who end up shooting their animals when their gambling on the weather turns bad ... really not worth feeding them folks.

    PS a tip of the lid to the Conversational munchkins responsible for illustrating these stories every day ... a difficult task done invariably well. I particularly enjoy the Morrison pics ... handsome brute.

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    1. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hi peter, with all due respect, "cattle on dirt.... standing in a bone yard etc" . The normal practice, for a good grazier, is to move all the stock to one paddock once one starts feeding entirely to prevent the entire property from being degraded, by complete grazing out and animal traffic. This means that when useful rain comes the property recovers much quicker and one paddock can be quickly remediated/ sown.

      I have seen sheep litterally eat the grass seeds out of the dirt. When it rained stuff all could grow.

      I hate photographs like the one above, it's sensationalist journalism that doesn't help at all.

      For further info on land management/ drought paddock etc the nsw dpi has a best practice recommendation.

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Indeed Peter..... it is high time we change the way we do EVERYTHING before we send ourselves to the bone yard......

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I have noticed some very insightful photographs and appreciated the aptness of them as a subtle and often symbolic statement on the issue. The camera people and editors on Jenny Brockie's SBS show - which is coming back soon - are very good at finding visuals - expressions on faces - that convey so much about the issue that isn't easy to express in words.

      I met a right wing grazier at uni. He was there doing a degree in his 60's to show how psych was all left wing feminist nonsense. He failed at that of course although he got through the course, sort of like Tony Abbott must have got though his assignments. Anyway he told me that they didn't even waste a bullet on dying stock. That's how evolution and survival of the fittest occurs he thought.

      And these people who claim to love the land will sell that land so easily if they can make a profit.

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    4. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      PS Peter, I have 3 horses in forty acres. Over the weekend I got 65 mils of rain, which knocked down the standing straw, and now the entire paddock is dirt.

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    5. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Yes Julie, you will meet people such as your right wing grazier, who get the rest of us a bad name.

      As to wasting bullets, during the big dry in the early nineties, I stood at the top of a race above a pit and killed 3500 sheep with an ax. We had started with a twenty two rifle, and shot the barrel out.

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    6. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      I did not think he was typical of country people Les. Seemed to me that at one stage he might have been a decent old conservative but the lure of the glibertarian selfishness is irresistible for some of us human beings and he worked hard on integrating those 'rational' -not - arguments into his worldview so that it was for sure the best thing for everyone if people like him looked after themselves first rather than taking responsibility for their community and country as 'proper' conservatives are…

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    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      We don't do that around here Les ... we sell the lot ... six months into a drought and you're hard pressed to find a beast anywhere for miles.

      Now in part this has to do with the size of the operations around here ... smaller - relatively capital intensive operations with fenced paddocks, improved pastures and a manageable sized herd. The locals are also long time graziers and know better than to go betting against the long range weather forecasters using their animals as chips and basing it…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      And all that topsoil unprotected by any bone-dry thatch dirties my washing as it all blows away Les. In the country you mention some sold most of their stock early, to protect their soils, and pasture. There are others who can graze their paddocks for an average of 8 days a year, and move them every day or two which also protects covering vegetation, soil, and soil moisture. And don't think I don't know what I'm talking about. Normal practice can be quantifiably assessed as viable long term. The one you speak of has a long history of ultimate failure.

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    9. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Where I am Peter, the dse is around 1.5. Finishing operations are usually in an area with high rain fall and a high DSE.

      I don't have any stock in the house paddock, ever at all, and it is basically dirt. Last week cattle fetched one hundred dollars a head at the braidwood sale. Good cattle. but light as.That is a relatively safe area and only about a hundred klms from the coast.

      it is an interesting conundrum, if you sell all your stock cheap, then when it comes back, you can only buy part…

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    10. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      More intense and more frequent Les.

      The graziers around here were all once dairy farmers - and they like to keep their herds intact for obvious reasons. There are still a few dairy operations running but they absolutely rely on irrigated pastures and obscene quantities of super et al to get through the increasingly frequent dry spells... more frequent dries and hotter.

      The locals are all obsessive record keepers - every property has a set of exercise books going back to the 1850s or so…

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    11. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, in this latest little hot dry patch, I have no stock, and the land is dirt under the standing straw. The same thing happened between october 2012 and march '13. And when i say standing straw, that is the straw of the native grass, not crop.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      Fair enough Les, I was talking to a couple from north eastern NSW, and they were adamant that this latest little warm patch in their region was unprecedented according to every older farmer in their area. They have always got through, till this one. They'll be out of feed now. What worries me is if we move into an actual El Nino which is traditionally where drought becomes devastating, rather than a neutral year which is what we've been in in the last two. Their children don't have any intention of farming and live on the coast. They'll probably sell. They've had 16" in two years, and we've just been through the hottest year in Australian history. I don't imagine when the next El Nino hits it'll be any cooler. And we should be considering the reality of climate change combined with natural variation so that we are not in the position, of naively trying to throw money at the mess in the middle of a crisis.

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  22. Andrew Wakeling

    Actuary

    You are probably right on your data and maybe also on your conclusions. But please be honest. You are presenting data (eg 'hot days') to support your opinion. Of course, you are not alone in doing this. We can all select data to support arguments that we are 'warming' or 'cooling' or not doing anything much at all. You are being an advocate of a point of view. Any honest analyst has to point out conflicting data and the range of credible conclusions.

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    1. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to Andrew Wakeling

      I respectfully disagree. There is no "their data" versus "our data". There is only the full body of evidence. Genuine scientific sceptics consider all the evidence, and then come to a conclusion.

      The conclusion that the risk of heatwaves is increasing can be arrived at in a number of ways. One way is by comparing the ratio of hot days to cold days. That ratio is on the increase - we are seeing more heat records compared to the number of cold records.

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    2. Andrew Wakeling

      Actuary

      In reply to John Cook

      I respectfully suggest that as a good advocate you have scanned the data with an eye to picking up evidence of warming, or failing that of an increase in extremes. Instead as an analyst you would identify your proposition, eg. that the planet is warming; then think through how how this might be evidenced; and then collect and analyse the evidence. An increase in 'hot days' may well be supportive; an analysis of average air temperatures may not be. You would report both. You would not for instance ( not that you have) scan all ocean temperatures before triumphantly emerging with a convenient time series for ocean depth x at location y between times t1 and t2 and declare the proposition proven.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Andrew Wakeling

      Fine Andrew, except that there is no body of evidence which relies on credible data, and can explain climate change due to natural variation. A body of evidence would include atmospheric science, meteorology, changes to the cryosphere, ocean acidification, and the list of inter-related sciences which comes to the same conclusion is very long. The only thing 'the other side' can point to are obscure debatable points. I would welcome an informed body of evidence to be provided by scientists who doubt…

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    4. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Andrew Wakeling

      How about YOU present some evidence for your views? Should be easy for an actuary.

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    5. Andrew Wakeling

      Actuary

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Sorry Henry. I'm a 'don't know' but I do care. This stuff is seriously tricky. Of course we (our species) has had a major effect on the environment particularly since the industrial revolution and it isn't hard to accept that we've affected the climate: in some ways positively and others negatively but it depends on your perspective. My overriding concern is that we should avoid 'tipping points' as best we can - scenarios where we overwhelm the system's ability to restore liveable conditions…

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    6. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Andrew Wakeling

      Andrew, "The planet has operated at higher CO2 concentrations in the past" - yes, but eons before humans evolved. You are aware of the temperature then and the sea level? The planet will happily adapt to whatever climate forcings exist at the time, but that does not mean the new conditions will be conducive to our survival. I would call that a 'good business case' for taking action before it is too late, based on the available evidence, but your view of the evidence may differ.

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    7. Andrew Wakeling

      Actuary

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Yes Doug, maybe a 'good business case'. We'll need to flesh it out with some costs and benefits, inevitably with some treatment of the uncertainties. What do we propose to do? What will it cost us? What chance of others acting similarly and how does that matter? What difference will our actions make? What are the associated downsides: for instance in having some global authority using or abusing power? How will the costs and benefits be spread and should some subsidise others? Just agitating for action that 'feels good' shouldn't be good enough. Sometimes inaction is better than frenzied response. And how do the costs of attempted amelioration compare with the costs of adaptation? My guess is that the Sydney desalination plant was a 'good idea', as clearly was the Thames Barrier. What else should we be doing? If increased heat stress on our Sydney population is a problem (it surely can't be) then how do they cope in Singapore?

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  23. Robert Molyneux

    Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

    It is time that Australia revisited the Goyder Line concept.
    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goyder's_Line
    If farmers cannot make a reliable living and (via their commercial banks following normal banking practices) smooth out the good times and bad times, without relying on the gummint to bail them out, then something is fundamentally wrong.
    If droughts start to occur too frequently, then the affected parts are not suitable for agriculture, and should be abandoned. The Goyder Line in South…

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      I actually did a thumbnail sketch of such a line for NSW a few years back when I did this sort of thing for a quid Citizen Molyneux.

      Taking into account tax records, assistance packages and the like, and averaged over a decade, the line ran SSW from about 100kms west of Tamworth. Everything west of that was pretty much financially marginal to unviable six years out of ten.

      The only trouble is that when things are good they are very very good indeed. We could use new car ownership as a sort of tree ring arrangement to plot the good years.

      A boom and bust cycle - as it always has been - the native vegetation and wildlife reflects exactly this pattern - but the balance between booms and busts is shifting ... and quickly.

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    2. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hi Peter, I assume you factored in the good years and bad years - say 4 to 6. As it changes from say, 3 to 7, the extra year of drought and the extra year of lost income will make a very significant difference. Time for the banks to revisit their spreadsheets, eh?

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  24. Liz Minchin

    Queensland Editor at The Conversation

    A reminder: https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards

    "We want The Conversation to be a place for intelligent discussion. By posting, you'll be contributing to independent, fact-based debate. We want the discussion of an article to be, if anything, more illuminating than the original article and we need your help to do that. Follow these guidelines to help keep things on track.

    In brief
    * Don't attack people and don't respond to attacks – report them and move on
    * Keep your posts…

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  25. Kelly Anspaugh

    Teacher

    Re: The cartoon with the smoker denying that cigarettes can cause cancer. Do my eyes deceive me, or is that MIT professor emeritus and global warming denialist champion Richard Lindzen?

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    1. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to John Cook

      The late novelist Michael Crichton, perhaps? He who, like Lindzen, also testified on behalf of both Big Oil and Big Tobacco, and, a heavy smoker, ended up dying of lung cancer?

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    2. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Kelly Anspaugh

      Lindzen categorically denies testifying on behalf of any tobacco companies. There exists no credible evidence to support this claim.

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    3. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      See pages 15-16 of James Hansen's "Storms of My Grandchildren," where Hansen recalls sharing a cab with Lindzen, asking him about his views on smoking, and being surprised as L began "rattling off all the problems with the data relating smoking to health problems." But I suppose you'll call Hansen a liar.

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    4. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Kelly Anspaugh

      In what way does this story relate to Lindzen testifying on behalf of tobacco companies? It is totally irrelevant.

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    5. Kelly Anspaugh

      Teacher

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Lindzen is a type of the global warming denier. Just as he spewed bs (that is, anti-science) about tobacco, so he spews bs about climate. And of course Oreskes and Conway in "Merchants of Doubt" have shown that not only is the fossil fuel industry's disinformation campaign modelled on Big Tobacco's earlier like campaign, the former actually hired some of the same people who led that earlier campaign to lead their -- this in a supreme act of cyncism. But of course you know the relevance, are just pretending not to. It's too embarrassing.

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  26. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    Could someone tell me two things? What is the definition of this thing we are talking up, a heatwave? What parameters are being used to measure it.

    If this thing, the heatwave is increasing as is stated then we must be sure that we are measuring like events before comparison can be made. If we don't then politicians will be mislead into actions our children wil have to pay for.

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  27. Michael Kirk

    Software Engineer

    Well exactly, "it's been hot before" clearly does not imply that the current bushfires, floods, or even record hottest year (in which case maybe it actually hasn't been THIS hot before) is not a consequence of the our use of fossil fuels. It's quite clearly a non-sequitor, but the question for me is: Where the hell are the journalists? Whenever Tony Abbott is queried about the connection between climate change and the heatwave/drought/floods/bushfires, he responds (quite calculatedly you have to…

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  28. Sarah Perkins

    Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

    thanks for a brilliant article John. I so often try to use the analogy of smoking and cancer, sometimes it works, sometimes not - some people just simply will not shift their view, and I wonder what it will take for that to happen. Perhaps they were also the same people who thought for ages that smoking doesn't kill. Anyway, I'll keep fighting the battle as long as I have to!

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  29. Daniel Boon

    logged in via LinkedIn

    how do you get through to a bloke that is as recalcitrant as Tony Abbott; a person whose genetic disposition seems to be to take a contrary position to pretty much everything ... even his religious bent (a latent Jesuit?)

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  30. Comment removed by moderator.

  31. Edwina Laginestra
    Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Jack of all trades

    John - I like reading about your work but as you point out you can have all the data, point out fallacies of logic but you can't change "belief" - it is how those empowerment gurus do so well. What is your group doing about addressing political naysaying? Do you have regular talks to someone who might take evidence on board? Who in media is reporting for you? Do you have regular public sessions? I see your work on sceptical scientist but do you know how well it is reaching out?

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    1. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to Edwina Laginestra

      It's important to recognise that debunking myths and exposing fallacies isn't about changing the minds of those who disseminate the fallacies. It's about inoculating everyone else so they're less vulnerable to the fallacies and the misinformation.

      As for how effectively these messages are getting out there, well, that's another matter entirely but there are only so many hours in the day.

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    2. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Edwina Laginestra

      Hi Edwina, there is a group who are looking at the issue; The Cultural Cognition Group at Yale University. This project is aimed at understanding and explicating the factors that may explain the difference in the way people respond to scientific communications. This group publish on their blog a huge amount of information, discussion and speculation that is all about why people think the way they do and how to ensure that science is communicated so that people do not form irrational unsupported opinions.

      I've linked to just one blog that you might find relevant to your question but there are many other articles and also there are some useful comments that provide insights into the way this quest to understand each other is going.

      http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/12/2/why-cultural-predispositions-matter-how-to-measure-them-a-fr.html

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    3. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Thanks Julie - what a great site. I will have to put aside a lot of time to go through this and their links!
      And thanks John I know that you are putting info out there but at the moment I just feel that Rupert is inoculating way faster (broader reach, louder shouting). I hope "truth" wins out in the end but that is usually after a disaster - Peter and the wolf of course springs to mind.

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  32. Philip Shaw

    logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

    Interesting graph. Nice big vertical interval to dramatize the message. Pity it is only on data over decades and a century, rather than thousands of years.

    If, however, one were to graph temperature increases and rises in sea level over the last 20,000 years since the end of the last ice age, one would see that temperatures have risen at least 14C to present day, and furthermore there have been at least 10 spikes over the last 10-11,000 years where temperatures were as much as 3C higher than they…

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    1. Philip Shaw

      logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      BTW I'd post a graph to show the research underlying my points, but it is in a .gif format and I don't know how to post it here.

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      So you'll be fine with sea levels rising then ... just like they did before - but in the absence of a decent slice of the human population living and indeed earning a living in low lying deltas and coastal regions?

      Odds are that even with a sudden attack of sense we will still be seeing sea level rises sufficient to inundate megapolises like Cairo, New York, London, and losing a few places like Bangladesh and the Netherlands ... gee isn't that going to put some pressure on our sovereign borders then? Not to mention the impact on world food and industrial production ...

      Not much of a future we're leaving is it?

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    3. Philip Shaw

      logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, it is not a question of 'being fine' with sea levels rising. The point is they have in the past, long before the industrial revolution, and they probably will again. Life on earth adapts or perishes. Earth abides.

      There have been HUGE rises in sea levels over the last 20,000 years, nearly all of which cannot be attributed to human induced clmate change. Whatever we do now to change the way we generate electricity etc is going to be fiddling at the margins, at best.

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      I guess one's approach might be influenced by one's height above sea level Mr Shaw ... or one's options for moving to higher drier ground.

      I hope you - or your descendants - remain so sanguine when we have a few hundred million folks clambering for somewhere to live and something to eat turning up in little boats.

      People talk about adapting to changed climate - but adaptation to something approaching armageddon economically is far too daunting a task for my limited mind.

      As to the tinkering with the margins suggestion, if we keep doing what we're doing it will be a pretty substantial margin we're talking about Mr Shaw ... runaway warming ... the place will look like Mars.

      Still it won't be us being crisped so why bother worrying.

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    5. Philip Shaw

      logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, the point is that our descendants will probably be scrambling for higher ground whether or not we collectively stop the anthropogenic contribution to overall warming of the planet.

      I doubt you have any evidence to back your assertion that it will be runaway warming that scorches us and makes our planet like Mars. Oh, BTW Mars is bloody cold, not hot. if anything, if we did have runaway warming we'd be more likely to end up like Venus, which is bloody hot!

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    6. John Cook

      Climate Communication Research Fellow at University of Queensland

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      So now we're arguing that sea levels have changed in the past before human activity, so we can't be causing sea level rise now? The non sequitur fallacy sure is persistent!

      I find that quite frustrating. However, as a social scientist observing the fallacy being used in response to an article exposing the fallacy, it's also fascinating and illuminating.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      Yeah, and CO2 levels haven't been this high since 800,000 years ago, and we'll shortly see what happens when unreleased CO2 in the form of methane starts oozing into the atmosphere from the arctic circle and related territory, to join our own (by comparison) puny rampant emissions. Let's see what happens?? Its happened before, extinctions were the result, and I don't mean a few, near total in the ocean, but hey, I'm an unashamed alarmist.

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    8. Philip Shaw

      logged in via email @tekvision.com.au

      In reply to John Cook

      No John, I did not say that. I'd suggest that the non sequitur lies more in the proposition that WITHOUT the proportion of anthropogenic contribution, sea levels would NOT rise, and that catastrophe could be avoided.

      Can you point to research which predicts the ratio of anthropogenic contribution to background contribution? I'd be interested to read it.

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    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Philip Shaw

      No it's all inevitable ... some sort of divine punishment I guess ... not us, god did it ... I've never trusted the bastard myself...

      So let me get this straight ... it's not humans and fossil fuels doing this it's something else ... solar activity or proximity to the sun (?) ... we can't do anything about it because as Keynes said in the long-run we're all dead ... our CO2 emissions are too small to be significant either in causing or retarding the rate of warming (which you seem to accept is occurring). How hot you reckon it's going to get?

      That about right? Any evidence at all for any of that?

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    10. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I actually find it an insult to my intelligence these people who say that spewing all this smoke and garbage into the atmosphere does little or no harm.

      If one stands on the hill, in Cringila, above the BHP Poet Kembla steel works, for just a few minutes, one starts to think; "this cannot be good".

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    11. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      Yes it takes a degree of willful blindness to be so obtuse Les.

      I grew up in the shadow of a steel mill with a gas flame bright enough to let me read a newspaper in the yard at 2am. A dickensian place - one of Blake's satanic mills it was - all built on the idea that there was an endless supply of everything - not the least breathable air but also cheap fossil fuel.

      And I suspect that's what we are really confronting with this religious refusal to accept the science on CO2 and climate…

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    12. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      This article discusses the communication and the use of the non sequitur etc. Here is an interesting use of communication, slightly off center, but ut demonstrates the point, I think.

      The we are good guys propaganda of heavy industry, the steel mill, is "we use a BOS ( basic oxygen steel making furnace) the cleanest steel making process there is. This is true......it makes the cleanest steel, it's shit house for the environment.

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    13. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to John Cook

      As a Post Grad Scientist myself John I can assure that once you step out of the cocoon of academia logic becomes just like "the invisible gas."

      The problem is access to information for those who need it and the desire to be curious and informed rather than apathetic and ignorant.

      This is also why I believe those who deliberately mislead should be held to account.

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    14. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      There is something to be said for common sense Les and perhaps you have pointed out the strategy that needs to be employed.

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    15. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Les Wilesmith

      Just for my curiosity, why do you say that the BOS in dirty. Blast furnaces, perhaps, but BOS?

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    16. Les Wilesmith

      horseman

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      The process is as follows, firstly the furnace is cooled with scrap, the scrap has coatings etc 2ndly the molten steel is taken from the furnace across the caster aisle to the vacuum de-gasser where a large pipe is lowered into the molten metal and inert gas is pumped thru the moltem material, causing a reaction and the impurities are boiled off , mostly as gas with some light solids.. Most of this goes to atmosphere.

      I have worked in the plant and my brother in law still does. the actual furnace…

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  33. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    There are several questions that need to be answered:

    How long has Australian been able to accurately record surface temperatures?
    How do we know there were not longer and hotter heatwaves sometime prior to records being kept?
    Have temperature records been adjusted to magnify the warming?

    Evidence of warming is not necessarily evidence of human induced warming. Globally, there has been a pause in surface temperatures for around 18 years. There is also plenty of evidence that surface temperatures…

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    1. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to John Cook

      So let’s have a look at the ratings from your study

      (1) Explicit endorsement with quantification: Explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming

      (2) Explicit endorsement WITHOUT quantification: Explicitly states humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact

      (3) Implicit endorsement: Implies humans are causing global warming. E.g., research assumes greenhouse gas emissions cause warming WITHOUT explicitly…

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    2. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Luke Menzies

      So Luke,
      Explain to me in detail where my analysis is wrong rather than giving a vague meaningless reply.

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  34. Phil Gorman

    Mendicant - retired teacher and mariner at - quite good company

    Thank you John Cook.

    It's becoming a waste of precious time and energy trying to convince the “denialists”, "sceptics" and “dismissives” of their folly. Just give 'em the facts and walk on.

    Not all those in denial are wilfully ignorant politicians, bankers, miners, industrialists, nutters, evil doers or stooges. There are people who just cannot incorporate the notion of anthropogenicly forced climate change into their world view. Cognitive dissonance presents terrifying challenges and…

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    1. Chris Harries

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Phil Gorman

      Excellent, Phillip.

      Anger and irritability directed at the denialist folk stems from the fact that these people will probably ensure that catastrophic climate change is unpreventable, and the consequences of that = mass carnage.

      But most of the deniers are not being wilfully ignorant, they are just people who can't cope with the challenge of climate change. It's too big for them to deal with. These innocent people are then used as convenient pawns by those who are not so innocent.

      On the plus side, denial whittles away in the face of strong evidence. It always does, though that process typically takes two decades. As a society we now take it as fact that smoking is linked to serious health problems, there's almost no argument on that front any more.

      On the climate front, by 2030 we'll be in a different space socially, but probably also physically!

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    2. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Chris Harries

      Chris I agree with this " they are just people who can't cope with the challenge of climate change. It's too big for them to deal with."

      We expect far too much of people who have to spend so much of their time working out how to take responsibility for themselves economically. So time consuming to choose which financial advisor is the least likely to be a self-interested glibertarian.

      So how can they think about something so enormous, so complex when there are self-interested people who are…

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Phil Gorman

      I agree that the current debate is largely a waste of energy. Most of the so-called sceptics do not really want to engage. They are intent on spreading mis information to the end of delaying any meaningful action.

      But there is cause for some optimism. There are now some 1.2 million solar installations and a growing number of commercial. There is a brewery ear me which has installed a 100kw system. I have made our home more energy effficient by adding to roof installation and the retrofit of double glazed windows in our house's living areas. A few weeks ago I had a 3kw solar system installed. I am one of many.

      In SA the recent contribution of wind and solar was about 30% of demand. The growth of solar is flattening the demand peaks that the FF generators used to love as the price they were paid for their output shot up and they made a cool few million dollars on some hot days.

      That is one of the major reason they are trying to scuttle the renewable energy target.

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    4. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Julie thanks for those interesting references, and to you, Chris and Philip for your comments.
      Cognitive dissonance; disconnection (my definition is not joing the "dots" -either internally or of the evidence out in front of you what's out in front of you); fear; fundamental beliefs; inability to accept error; and various other factors all get in the way of understanding and acceptance of numerous fact, issues and problems.Then of course, as Chris notes, there are the liars, falsifiers and manipulators pulling the strings because of vested interests.

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  35. Robert Balic

    Farmer

    What is extreme weather is subjective. Taking the number of days above 40°C is not a good measure as 39.9 is as hot as 40.1°C. Records are not a good measure either because of reporting. There are many unofficial temperatures recorded by post masters with accurate thermometers in Stevenson Screens that are much greater than official records that start in 1950 for country towns.

    Here is plot of data from BOM for Adelaide using the maximum temperatures. Its a subjective weighting but using the difference between the maximum and a comfortable temperature (for Adelaide) of 32°C and squaring this (positive values) you get this plot of the values added up for the summer months. It weights 22 35°C day the same as two at 42 and one at 46°C.

    http://postimg.org/image/vvng67r37/

    The value F has no physical meaning but is subjective, like heatwave.

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  36. Tom Fisher

    Editor and Proofreader

    Your argument perhaps inadvertently, John, points to the very real problem with communication in these debates.

    Why persist in politicising such an important topic?

    Why point the finger at some passing comment of Abbott's as so problematic when you are trying to get the climate change message across?

    That's not the problem. It is still not enough to persuade me to vote Labor, or Green.

    After most of my life in project recovery right across the continent, and in the latter part of it nearly…

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    1. Michael Coleman
      Michael Coleman is a Friend of The Conversation.

      IT Manager at SME Manufacturing

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      As private citizens, we can base our opinions on any crackpot theories of our choosing. We can choose to ignore any inconvenient truths if we want to. It's your right.

      As a Prime Minister promising to govern for all of us, it is incumbent on Mr Abbott to use the best information at his disposal to formulate policy.

      From whom would you expect the Prime Minister to seek scientific advice on climate matters, if not CSIRO, BoM and Academies of Science? Whose interests does it serve to ignore the best available climate science advice?

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  37. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    John, thanks for this timely article. You say "It is greatly concerning that Australian policy is being dictated by science-distorting false logic." That appeal to false logic is insidious and wide spread, as a quick glance at the comments here will prove. A rising tide lifts all boats and a rising global temperature lifts all extremes, but tends to make the heat records more frequent than the cold records. The fact we are seeing exactly this phenomenon should cause open-minded people to use their own logic. Regrettably, there will continue to be recalcitrants and vested interests whose aim is to derail logic in the main-stream media. Your article deserves a wider audience than the MSM will likely give it, unfortunately.

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  38. John Doyle

    architect

    How about we just cease this endless rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic that is our economy?
    It's on its way down. We need to do more. Launch the lifeboats. Maybe after the ride we can land on a liveable shore? Many of us will go down with the ship.
    Let's start remedial action a s a p.

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  39. Jason Walters

    Researcher & perennial student

    I would just like to add a little comment, in part in defence of Wikipedia and its editors and to point out that the quotation by Minister Hunt was from the article on "Australian Bushfires" and was clearly selectively quoted. Had he (or his researcher) included the line following that paragraph this would have been included: "Global warming is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires[1] and will lead to increased days of extreme fire danger.[2]". I have left the reference markers here…

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  40. Askgerbil Now

    logged in via Twitter

    The climate change debate has a bigger problem than the use of logic fallacies to waste time.
    The entire debate is a time-wasting distraction to delay innovations that cuts demand for coal.
    While Tony Abbott's contribution to the climate debate is promote fallacies, his motives are more clear in addresses such as one to the National Press Club on 23 September 2013:
    "The Australian coal industry will only survive because the Chinese, without a carbon tax, will do what we are no longer supposed…

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