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Time to stop waffling about degrees of climate danger

“Erratic”, “inconsistent”, “highly political” and “lacking in direction”. That’s the unvarnished verdict on Australia’s climate policy, according to experts within our own Parliament House. It wasn’t a…

We’ve known for some time where our emissions behaviour is leading us. Guilherme Jófili

“Erratic”, “inconsistent”, “highly political” and “lacking in direction”. That’s the unvarnished verdict on Australia’s climate policy, according to experts within our own Parliament House.

It wasn’t a statement from the government or even the opposition. Instead, it came from the well-respected Parliamentary Library, which this week quietly released a helpful timeline of Australian climate change policy since the 1970s.

By chance, that timeline came out just ahead of an important new paper by a team of global experts, and a new book here in Australia.

Both highlight how little the world has done to tackle climate change in all that time. But they also point to some clear solutions that could help us avoid a dangerously hot future, including: tougher emissions targets, putting a price on carbon emissions, rapidly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and - in Australia’s case - ending its insupportable boom in coal and gas exports.

Two degrees is one too many

It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here. - NASA scientist Dr James Hansen, June 1988.

Twenty-five years ago James Hansen warned a US Congress hearing that global warming was a problem they could no longer afford to ignore.

His latest research, published yesterday, warns that the widely-supported international target of stopping the average global temperature from rising to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above the pre-industrial level would have “disastrous consequences”.

Co-written with a high-profile global team including US economist Jeffrey Sachs and Australian coral expert Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, their Assessing Dangerous Climate Change paper finds:

some climate extremes are already increasing in response to warming of several tenths of a degree in recent decades. These extremes would likely be much enhanced with warming of 2°C or more.

Critically, the authors argue that it would be “exceedingly difficult… yet still conceivable” to limit human-induced warming to about 1°C (1.8°F) with strong action.

They support a carbon tax, which they say is simpler and easier than an international emissions trading scheme; greater investment in technology development; and cutting energy subsidies, including “large direct and indirect subsidies” for fossil fuels.

World energy consumption by fuel type, which excludes wood. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081648.g014

But to achieve their aim of about 1°C of warming, current global emissions would need to be cut by 6% per year starting from this year - when in fact, emissions are continuing to rise.

Extreme risks for Australia

Based on existing emissions trends and insufficient national mitigation pledges, we’re actually on track to see average global warming of around 4°C by the end of this century, if not earlier.

Released last night, the book Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World - of which I am the editor - reports the latest research on what 4°C of warming would do to Australia’s environment, society and economy.

Given current trends, by the end of this century Australia will be a continent under assault: hotter, subject to greater extremes of weather such as bushfires, floods, storms, droughts, possibly hungrier, poorer and more insecure.

hellsgeriatric/flickr

For instance, increasing temperature and declining rainfall could undermine agricultural production. By the end of the century, Australia could go from exporting its surplus food to struggling to feed its larger domestic population.

Other significant contributors to Australia’s economy - tourism, fisheries and mining - would be substantially transformed and severely affected.

A 4°C world would batter Australia’s environment. Extreme events and rising temperatures would force more Australian species to extinction. The Great Barrier Reef would be devastated by gradual warming, high-heat bleaching events, and ocean acidification. The A$6.4 billion tourism industry it supports would likely collapse.

Pressures on the national economy would be compounded as governments and communities struggle to deal with the rising costs of adaptation and remediation in the face of extreme events. Basic services like public transport and housing, water, sewerage, health and communications would be under increasing stress.

By the end of the century living in Melbourne could become climatically like living in southern NSW, Sydney like Rockhampton, and Alice Springs like the Sudan. In Darwin, the number of days over 35°C is projected to rise from an average of 10 a year now to more than 300 - which would be like nowhere on Earth today.

What we can do

Assessed against these threats and their costs to Australian communities and ecosystems, the weakness of current policies and targets becomes starkly evident.

To avoid this scenario, Australia - as well as other countries, particularly those that contributed the most cumulative emissions over the years (see charts below) - must dramatically step up its efforts in this critical decade.

Fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Pie chart (A) shows 2012 emissions by source region, while (B) shows the cumulative emissions from 1751 to 2012. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081648.g011

We have to change our emissions reduction target, from aiming to cut emissions 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 to, at minimum, aiming for a 38% reduction by 2020.

That target is appropriate given what climate science is telling us: it’s the necessary contribution Australia has to make to bridging the emissions gap between a 4°C world and a path to warming closer to 1.5°C.

Leading economists such as Nicholas Stern and Ross Garnaut agree that early and effective action will be less expensive and more effective than delay. If countries like Australia stopped being so erratic on climate policy, and finally committed to long-term, serious emissions reductions, we would be providing the international leadership needed to start making the “exceedingly difficult… yet still conceivable” changes proposed by Hansen and his co-authors.

No regrets

But the grounds for hope in Australia are presently thin; the political climate is, euphemistically, challenging.

As the Parliamentary Library’s timeline reminds us, back in the 1980s Australia adopted a national target of cutting emissions 20% on 1988 levels by 2005 - but only as a “no regrets” strategy. The loophole was that any reduction would not be “at the expense of the economy”.

Similar short-termism has largely won out in decades that followed - and it looks like it could prevail again with the Coalition government’s push to repeal Australia’s carbon price.

Australian efforts and international negotiations are increasingly at odds with the scientific evidence on the need for urgent, substantial emissions cuts.

Unless we can break from this pattern of political and policy neglect, Australia will reap a 4°C future. In what way is that a “no regrets” strategy?

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  1. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Quote:"But this is scientific nonsense. "Two degrees is not a magical limit -- it's clearly a political goal," says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Schellnhuber ought to know. He is the father of the two-degree target." http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/climate-catastrophe-a-superstorm-for-global-warming-research-a-686697-8.html
    Quote:"One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy."
    -Co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group III . http://www.thegwpf.org/ipcc-official-climate-policy-is-redistributing-the-worlds-wealth/

    I am aware this will be deleted, but, the truth is out there. Just not @theCon.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      "Two degrees is not a magical limit -- it's clearly a political goal,"

      Good that you're aware that two degrees is too much. We all need to know the truth.

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    2. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      The rest of the quote:" "The world will not come to an end right away in the event of stronger warming, nor are we definitely saved if warming is not as significant."

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      "The world will not come to an end right away"

      How reassuring.

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    4. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      "Things will not be pretty in the coming decades..."

      Sounds a bit Ehrlichian to me.

      When the IPCC is obviously so uncertain [in spite of them getting so much wrong yet still claiming 95% certainty]it's pretty hard to convince sensible people that anyone else is any more certain.

      And when short, medium and long term data of CO2 and temperature don't correlate, it makes the GHG theory even more doubtful.

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    5. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Christopher Wright

      Chris - this last decade could be very well characterised as a lost decade, akin to the 1930s when clear and present dangers emerged, and yet the global community retreated into isolationism.

      Climate change was always going to be challenging, but the collapse of international liberalism in the late 1990s and the advent of an aggressive unilateralist Bush presidency doomed our last true chance slip for collective action from humanities grasp. You could see the trends emerging in the late 1990s…

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    6. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      MM, "this last decade could be very well characterised as a lost decade, akin to the 1930s " I absolutely agree with you here. Good pick up. It's a pity so many are unaware of such lessons from history that are clearly analogous to right here and right now.

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    7. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "When the IPCC is obviously so uncertain [in spite of them getting so much wrong yet still claiming 95% certainty]it's pretty hard to convince sensible people that anyone else is any more certain."

      So... they're not "uncertain", after all, 95% is "pretty certain" in laymans terms ? I would suggest only the willfully ignorant, or the those with vested interests would think 95% was not certain enough to act. It's the willful part I take issue with.

      "And when short, medium and long term data…

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    8. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Trevor S

      "Do you have any scientific basis for this claim"

      To keep it simple try this:

      Short term: last 17 years 10% increase in CO2 = no warming in GAT.

      Medium term, Holocene, this GISP2 temp graph with ~ constant 280 ppm until 20th c :

      http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/gisp220temperaturesince1070020bp20with20co220from20epica20domec1.gif

      Long term, 600 million years:

      http://www.paulmacrae.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/co2-levels-over-time1.jpg

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    9. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, you may not have noticed the term "earths energy budget" What you are saying is completely ignoring the fact that most of the worlds surface is in fact ocean. The fact that the ocean is heating, and it plays no part in anything, and has no bearing in the question about how much the world has heated, is a massive error on your part.
      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/
      In considering how much the earth has heated in the last 20 years. You can't just measure atmosphere. You combine the two, to be truthful.

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    11. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      It is a fundamental, cold hard peer reviewed scientific fact that Co2 is 62% better as a thermal insulator than air is. Therefore 390 parts per million +62% =631ppm effective =2.25 times greater than 280ppm.
      As Dr Bindschadler (NASA) pointed out we know how many million tons of coal, oil and gas are burnt each year. We know fairly accurately how much additional Co2 is released into the atmosphere each year on top of the Co2 emissions from nature. Dr Bindschadler states 1 Gton (1000 million tons…

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, surely you can do better than link to the Daily Mail, which - last time I looked - was not a respected scientific journal. Is that your best shot? Geez!

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    13. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      So Chris, you are conned by the warming in the immeasurable depths too, eh

      4 Hiroshimas every second.

      You don't HAVE to be crazy, but it helps.

      It also helps if you are inclined towards religion and hysteria.

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    14. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, it's the message you're supposed to attack, not the messenger.

      Geddit?

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    15. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "warming in the immeasurable depths"

      You have totally and utterly missed the point.

      What I pointed out has absolutely nothing directly to do with deep ocean warming.

      I am simply pointing out the fact that there most probably IS warming in the past 17 years, as the positive trend in global temperature proves: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1996.7/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1996.7

      You simply cannot say from the data that "there is NO warming".

      "It also helps if you are inclined towards religion and hysteria."

      I have provided data.

      You haven't.

      That means you're the one providing religion and hysteria.

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    16. David Menere

      part-time contractor

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, you'll need to find more reputable sources than those. Wattsupwiththat is renowned for its cherry-picking of data, and as for quoting the Daily Mail, well, do you trust Rupert Murdoch to always tell you the truth?

      Perhaps you could spend a bit of your retirement learning some climate physics. Then you might understand that climate change is about heat flows, and that temperatures may not always be an exact proxy for heat flows. Denialists are well aware of this, which is why they often cherry-pick…

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    17. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, where have I attacked you, rather than the questionable message you are wont to bring here?

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    18. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "not the messenger."

      Where I come from, messengers don't write the message, they just deliver it.

      This was the correction published a few days later by The Australian that had re-published the Daily Fail's claims: https://twitter.com/MeddlesomPriest/status/381258223413510145/photo/1/large

      "A Report in The Australian on Monday ("We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC") said the IPCC had dramatically revised down the rate of global warming over the past 60 years. In fact, the new rate of 0.12C every decade is almost the same as the IPCC's 2007 figure of 0.13C every decade over the 50 years to 2005. The report was based on a British media article that has since been corrected. The earlier version also said incorrectly that the IPCC conducted its own computer modelling. That error was made in the production process."

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    19. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, you REALLY DON'T geddit.

      No wonder the world has so much trouble with warmists.

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    20. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "statistically no warming"

      Oh so NOW you wheel out "statistically".

      There is a world of difference between NO warming and no "statistically significant" warming.

      No "statistically significant" warming does not mean there is no warming. It just means not enough data has been used to be 95% certain that there is warming.

      It has always taken AT LEAST 14 years of data to be 95% certain that warming is occurring. It has on at least one previous occasion taken 19 years of data. So if it happens to need 17 years of data then that is neither here nor there.

      Bottom line: X years of data without "statistically significant" warming does not mean no warming.

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    21. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      The Daily Mail ... you actually put up a Daily Mail article as some kind of proof about something. Unbelievable. You probably even honestly and genuinely believe this is sign of wisdom and deep thought on the issues of climate science too. Well Jim if this makes you feel good about yourself, who is anyone to criticise that. Not me. Meanwhile I will simply state that I deny that I am in denial. I don't know who the famous scientist was who said whatever. I honestly don't actually care Jim. Sorry.

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    22. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris, you clown, if your mate Jonesey actually admitted even that much, things must be in a dreadful way for you warming faithful.

      But it's a relief to see you are not claiming a hot bottom [to our oceans that is]. There's hope for you yet.

      My graph is flatter than your graph. Har Har Har

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    23. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      So you don't know, don't care, shoot the messenger before you even read the message.....

      If that ain't mindless religion I dunno what is.

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    24. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "Jonesey"

      Are you dumb?

      I already pointed out that Jones did not say there is NO warming.

      Since you're blind or something, I'll write it again.

      And this time read it for heavens sake:

      "statistically no warming"

      Oh so NOW you wheel out "statistically".

      There is a world of difference between NO warming and no "statistically significant" warming.

      No "statistically significant" warming does not mean there is no warming. It just means not enough data has been used to be 95% certain that there is warming.

      It has always taken AT LEAST 14 years of data to be 95% certain that warming is occurring. It has on at least one previous occasion taken 19 years of data. So if it happens to need 17 years of data then that is neither here nor there.

      Bottom line: X years of data without "statistically significant" warming does not mean NO warming.

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    25. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Ummmm, I call it intelligent reason based on good evidence.

      The Daily Mail is a piece of ****. David Rose is worse.

      If you want to believe them well, that's your choice in a democracy. I don't have to read it. That's my freedom of choice in a democracy. Religion has nothing to do with it.

      Mindlessness may be something you may like to look into further for your own benefit. I'm doing fine thanks. :)

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    26. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      By the way, there is most likely global warming of 0.1 deg C/decade from data since 1996, and Jonesey would agree with me.

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    27. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Temperature does not equate directly to Warming anyway.

      Evidence of warming presents in many ways besides avg surface temp records. They are computer models based on temps with huge gaps in measurement s that are estimated, so they are not entirely accurate on the small increments each year.

      Meanwhile the last 17 years figures may in fact be WRONG anyway

      Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated by Half - Nov 13th A new study by British and Canadian researchers shows that the global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/11/global-warming-since-1997-underestimated-by-half/
      <smiling>

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    28. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I'm sure if you even told him 1.0c he wouldn't press you for peer review [or at least he'd organise it for you].

      Why do I get the feeling that you and Jonesey would get along like a house on fire?

      Here, hot of the press for you Chris:

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

      It's actually 0.1c cooler than it was when your mate Jimmy turned off the air con. in 1988.

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    29. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "I'm sure if you even told him 1.0c"

      And if you told him 0.0c then he would tell you you were lying.

      "0.1c cooler"

      Mindless cherry-pick.

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    30. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "And if you told him 0.0c then he would tell you you were lying."

      You quite sure about that?

      Do you know what he and his mate Briffa et al found in Greenland?

      No warming since ~ 1850:

      http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/greenland/vintheretal2006.pdf

      Mind you, they don't talk about it much.

      And to call a very relevant measurement of today's GAT showing it 0.1c cooler than it was when James Hansen started your mindless religion in 1988 a "cherry pick" when it is vital, up to the minute data, shows the state of your absolute hysteria and denial.

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    31. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "You quite sure about that?"

      Absolutely. 0.0c has no uncertainty range. That's one of the signs of denial: mindless certainty.

      Picking a date in 1998 is a mindless cherry-pick BTW.

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    32. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      The evidence has been clear for some time now. Analysis of the Greenland Ice Cores show, in fact a negative correlation between CO2 ;levels and Greenland temperatures. This is to a certain extent counter intuitive, but iot does demonstrate very clearly that so-called climate scintists aka physical geographers don't have a clue about the characteristics of absorption and emission of radiation by carbon dioxide, a point made very clearly by Chemistry Professor, Jack Barrett in 1985 and in publications since, which are confirmed by others.

      I am now just waiting for the usual slandering of the rich science of CO2 by the people who so avidly champion the AGW theory, including Ove Goldeburg, a Marine biologist, various professors of economics and commerce - not as chemist or physicist in sight, yet the global warming hypothesis is based on some ideas which are totally, and only, explained by physics and chemistry.
      John Nicol

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    33. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Picking a date in 1998 is a mindless cherry-pick BTW."

      You catastros can't have it both ways.

      When whinnying Jimmy screamed that the world was over heating in 1988 and predicted disaster, using every trick in the book to do so, and now, 25 years later, it is actually cooler, is a very pertinent point to make and kicks the legs out from under his and your hysteria.

      It's also called; the facts coming back to bite you on the bum.

      And intelligent people remember how foolish this makes you look.

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    34. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to John Nicol

      Thanks for that John.

      Good to see a few analytical minds looking at the science as opposed to the religious placating Gaia.

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    35. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      I'm glad you don't deny that you are mindlessly cherry-picking.

      However, your wrong and one purported wrong don't make a right.

      Also, I'm glad you've given up defending your mindless certainty about 0.0c of warming.

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    36. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "I'm glad you don't deny that you are mindlessly cherry-picking."

      "Also, I'm glad you've given up defending your mindless certainty about 0.0c of warming."

      Those are precisely the sort of 180 degree wrong assumptions you catastros specialise in.

      When you can't win an argument by logic, facts and science you just feed your incorrect assumptions into the system.

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    37. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Go ahead, make your defences.

      Until then, I will work on the assumption that you have none, there being zero evidence to the contrary.

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    38. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, "a very relevant measurement of today's GAT showing it 0.1c cooler than it was ... in 1988". Did that measurement include land, atmosphere, oceans and cryosphere? Has it been published and peer reviewed in a reputable, relevant scientific journal?

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    39. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "I'm glad you don't deny that you are mindlessly cherry-picking."

      By the way, this statement was correct at time of writing (and still is at time of this writing).

      No assumption made.

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  2. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    100 days in and it is clear that Abbott is governing for the Miners and Deniers (MAD) lobby.

    The plan to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which is profitable and attracting private capital highlights that this government is driven by climate science denier ideology and not good policy.

    It should not be a surprise that Tony "climate change is crap" Abbott is trying to destroy Australia's carbon mitigation policy. But Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull who claim to agree with the science and the need for mitigation need to be held to account for their role in providing cover for this government of climate science denial.

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    1. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      In some respects Turnbull and Hunt are even more morally culpable than Abbott.

      In the interests of serving their own ambitions and getting plum ministerial roles they've helped destroy Australia's the nascent beginnings of Australia's policy response to climate change and damned future generations.

      They are the Chamberlain's and appeasers of the 21st century.

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      I agree, Michael M.

      Abbott knows not what he says.

      Turnbull & Hunt (great name for a detective agency or dodgy accountants) do know better, they are able to understand much of the complexities of climate science (at least enough to know if we want to continue living as usual we need to act last year).

      Humans are very adaptable - a rise of 4 degrees does not mean all humans will be wiped off the face of the earth - just enough (the majority) to ensure our current way of life will be a distant memory.

      Welcome to a new world.

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    3. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      So what do you think Turnbull should do, resign?
      What would that achieve apart from leaving the Liberal party with one less environmentally aware voice. Turnbull's attempt at a bipartisan agreement with Labor to introduce an ETS cost him his job as leader. Sadly Kevin Rudd decided to use the rift in the Liberal party over an ETS to attack and weaken Turnbull. It worked so well that now we have Abbott, no ETS and a carbon tax that looks likely to be repealed.
      Your judgement on who is "morally culpable" is all round the wrong way.

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    4. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Good to see you agree with Abbott's action as he should remove taxpayer's money from these investments you say are profitable and attracting private investment.Many more uses for those funds.

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  3. Mike Pope

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Holding average global temperature to a maximum of 2°C above preindustrial is a political compromise emerging out of Copenhagen 2009.

    Dr Hansen has long warned that assuming 2°C is a “safe” upper limit is delusional and, from a scientific perspective, its effects on climate and the environment are downright dangerous. He points to the state of global climate after warming of 0.8°C and warns that more than doubling this would be anything but “safe”.

    He points to likely effects on amplifying…

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  4. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    This entire article is nothing more than speculation based on dubious climate models which remain unvalidated. These models, almost without exception, have significantly overestimated the observed degree of warming. Clearly these models rely on certain assumptions which appear to be faulty. There is evidence that many of the models overestimate the sensitivity of the global climate to changes in atmospheric CO2.

    Anyone can paint a future picture of gloom and doom and speculate about what might happen in the future. However, much of the scaremongering proffered up by the prophets of doom are simply not supported by empirical data.

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    1. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "There is evidence that many of the models"... to which you give no examples.

      Assertions are not facts, and merely recycle tired old sceptic memes.

      The "It is not happening" debate is stale and unbecoming of our society. Time to acknowledge the climate sceptics belong to the same cluster of creationists, anti-vaccination activists and the like. We give no credence to the those fringe believes, nor should we the deniers.

      After all, when they claim the science is a "con" or a "conspiracy" it is not a debate - merely an assertion of their world view.

      Time to stop waffling indeed.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "However, much of the scaremongering proffered up by the prophets of doom are simply not supported by empirical data."
      Are supported by empirical data, is a completely factual way to write this sentence.
      I'm beginning to think the florid language so favoured by climate change deniers, (intended to discredit the science and those who support it), suggests a secret wish to write pot-boilers.

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    3. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff,
      the climate models use a Monte Carlo simulation strategy to make hundreds of assessments of future climatic conditions. The do not make a single prediction, however they do present the median prediction. The fact that real temperatures do not follow the median prediction is a consequence of the climate variables that have actually occurred.
      Current temperatures are well within the range of these simulations and consistent with the climate variations we have seen over the last decade.

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    4. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, that paper is simply agreeing that with 0.8c warming since the end of the LIA, we are returning to equilibrium.

      About where we were a millennia ago.

      Full circle on climate change which no one denies.

      It is hard to believe that mankind is not warming the planet with all he has done to it but when you add all the other known warming agents for this small increase, what CO2 is doing could well be temp negative.

      But with added drought-proofing and fertilising to carry our huge population.

      One thing I have learnt in life is that when so many are so convinced of a potential disaster they cannot prove but love to predict, they are always wrong.

      But being a sceptic, maybe this time it will be different?

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    5. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, "with 0.8c warming since the end of the LIA, we are returning to equilibrium". The Little Ice Age was not a global phenomenon, AGW is. Localised warming since the LIA (even if true - do you have links to the science for that?) does not affect the very real effect of CO₂ on our atmosphere. Time for you to stop spreading misinformation.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis
    7. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to account deleted

      "apparently 95% of scientists on the planet are in agreement that the melting polar ice caps are directly related to the man made increases in carbon emissions"

      Where is the evidence to support this incredulous statement? I dare say there is none.

      BTW the Antartica ice extent is almost at record high levels and the Arctic ice extent is back to what it was 10 years ago.

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    8. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to David Rennie

      "Current temperatures are well within the range of these simulations and consistent with the climate variations we have seen over the last decade."

      False. The models are failing.

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/still-epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-measurements-running-5-year-means/

      http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/models-fail-land-versus-sea-surface-warming-rates/

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Did that paper say we are returning to equilibrium Jim? Could you point this statement out?
      How do you drought proof against on-going 45 C heat-waves? Throwing fertiliser at the soil doesn't help.

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    10. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, there is endless evidence that the LIA occurred in both hemispheres. It's up to you to provide evidence to the contrary if you don't agree.

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    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "... with 0.8c warming since the end of the LIA, we are returning to equilibrium." Err, no.

      Longer term (ie Holocene Epoch to date) temperature trajectory (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene) clearly shows long-term cooling from so-called "Climatic Optimum" continuing until sudden 20th century divergence.

      To put it in layman's terms, Jim, the world was slowly cooling back to the next full "Ice Age" - the 'Little…

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    12. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, try dealing with the message in your own words and not employing assassins.

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    13. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Great. Links, of which one doesn't work, to sites run by an ecologist, an IT manager and a freelance consultant. Tamino (aka Grant Foster) has been found out on several occassions by those with superior expertise.

      Should I be impressed. I don't think so.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "David that paper is simply agreeing that with 0.8 C warming since the end of the L.I.A., we are returning to equilibrium."
      Jim, I have read that paper, at no point in it do I find it "simple"
      Where does it state that we are returning to equilibrium, it talks about climate extremes, climate impacts, shifting climate zones, earths energy imbalance, temperature forcing, the carbon cycle and Atmospheric CO2 etc, but nowhere that we are simply returning to an equilibrium. Are you confusing this article with something you've read on wattsupwiththat or jonova?
      In your words Jim, where?

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    15. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "with 0.8c warming since the end of the LIA, we are returning to equilibrium."

      Why are we not still in the LIA? The Sun didn't cause it. What did?

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    16. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "... think yours was developed from the hockey stick David:" Err, no. Mann's temperature reconstruction looks at only the last 2 millennia, this Holocene record draws on much more data eg ice-cores.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core has sufficient initial citations for you to be going back and forth to wattsupwiththat for quite a while.

      Or, you could try doing your own thinking ... but that might result in realising that you should be apologising to your grandchildren.

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    17. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "in your own words"

      Do you always ask people to re-invent the wheel?

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    18. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      A sixty-something woman with a degree in agricultural science who thinks misogyny and rejection of climate science go hand-in-hand.

      You can't be serious!

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    19. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, "there is endless evidence that the LIA occurred in both hemispheres" - then you should have no trouble showing me the error of my ways, by linking to the "endless" scientific evidence. BTW, "endless" does not just mean "having no end", but also, by definition, "having no beginning". Is it fair to say your understanding of climate science is endless, too?

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    20. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, Bob Tisdale? Roy Spencer? For a wild moment there, I thought you were being serious. It gets so hard to recognise a Poe, it is easy to be misled ...

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    21. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, neither of these references address the question. The spencer reference only relates to the tropics not the globe. It looks at many models rather than the ranges within the models. The second reference does not even address the question of the range of predictions within individual models.
      I assume you understand the concept of a confidence range. The current temperatures are within the confidence range of the models indicating that the models have predicted the possibility of the current temperatures. THe fact that natural variation has restrained temperature increases has been well documented here and elsewhere. When natural variation contributes to warming we will see temperatures back towards the uppeqr predicted range.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      That's appalling Geoffrey, gosh I hadn't noticed what (she) was. I was too busy enjoying (her) critical analysis of goode ole Bob. And she's 60 you say, and has a degree in Agricultural science, horrible. Do you think she knows what evaporation is?

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    23. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      You can make that claim Geoffrey but unless you back it up with references its just a claim- that by itself does not add up to a very convincing case.

      How about supplying something to back up your unsubstantiated claims.

      But if you link to anything except evidence-based peer-reviewed science I for one will treat it with disdain.

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    24. John Doyle
      John Doyle is a Friend of The Conversation.

      architect

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      There might be empirical data that awaits consideration.
      How about this one; Current low sunspot activity has scientists wondering if we are in for another MaunderMinimum. The last one coincided with the middle of the Little Ice Age, when the Thames froze over.
      By adding to the atmosphere's CO2 load we might be contributing to countering the possible colder conditions.
      In any event the changes in climate are being revealed in wilder weather oscillation patterns, not just warming.

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    25. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Roy Spencer is a bonafide and highly qualified atmospheric physicist - more qualified to speak on these matters than at least 99% of the alarmist zealots you warmies like to quote.

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    26. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to account deleted

      If you rely on Q & A as your "source of all my wisdom on climate change" then you have a serious problem. Just about everything emanating from the ABC is nothing more than alarmist propaganda.

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    27. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, "A sixty-something woman with a degree in agricultural science who thinks misogyny and rejection of climate science go hand-in-hand." So, you make what appear to be snide remarks about a person's age, qualifications and female gender, while you are a male climate science denier. Pretty neatly proves her point, doesn't it?

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    28. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to John Doyle

      John, "Current low sunspot activity has scientists wondering if we are in for another MaunderMinimum. The last one coincided with the middle of the Little Ice Age, when the Thames froze over." Coincidence is not proof of causality. Are you stating as fact the sun's warming influence was so drastically reduced during the Maunder Minimum that it caused the Thames to freeze over? I have not seen any science to back up such a claim: can you provide any links?

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    29. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Why are we not still in the LIA?"

      It's called natural variation Chris.

      Check the paleo data. It's been happening forever. Why is that so hard to see?

      In what part of history did climate NOT change?

      You warmers are the real deniers.

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    30. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, "Roy Spencer is a bonafide and highly qualified atmospheric physicist" - true, although few of his rank have been so comprehesively debunked in the literature.

      " .. - more qualified to speak on these matters than at least 99% of the alarmist zealots you warmies like to quote" - really? What makes him "more qualified"? What makes me "an alarmist zealot warmie"? Could it be that dreaded scourge of the denialist: an unqualified opinion? Gosh, I hope you are not resorting to ad homs - attacking the person instead of the science - now, Geoff.

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    31. John Doyle
      John Doyle is a Friend of The Conversation.

      architect

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      No, and I'm not saying there was a causal link. As you suggest It might just be a co-incidence.
      Unfortunately a lot of this information is just recall from reading about it. So I'm connecting the dots. I mean there was a genuine article about a sun spot minimum which reminded the writer of the Maunder minimum and the LIA.And I have seen speculation the modern warming has stopped us entering another cold period. If it were a truth then this modern period just might link it. Maybe out there someone has done the science?

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    32. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim

      "In what part of history did climate NOT change?

      You warmers are the real deniers."

      No. In fact checking previous climatological data from previous eras was among the first of many things checked by climate scientists.

      "..."We can now have confidence in making statements about how carbon dioxide has varied throughout history," Tripati said.

      In the last 20 million years, key features of the climate record include the sudden appearance of ice on Antarctica about 14 million years…

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    33. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, "http://www.skepticalscience.com/ ... That bunch of amateurs who twist and distort real science and their ridiculous 'consensus project' and their silly 'atom bomb' analogy".
      Please explain what field of endeavour the contributors to http://www.skepticalscience.com/ are amateur in. (You will need to quote your own qualifications, to show how you are in a position to judge.)
      Can you please provide links to their twists and distortions, so the rest of us can understand? You need to provide…

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    34. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to John Doyle

      John, fair enough: you were relying on anecdote, which explains why I have not seen it in the science. I would be very interested to read the science linking sunspots to global temperature, if anyone has any.

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    35. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      "true, although few of his rank have been so comprehesively debunked in the literature."

      Being criticised by someone who has a different point of view is not the same as debunking. This statement is merely an unqualified opinion.

      'What makes me "an alarmist zealot warmie"?

      An alarmist zealot is anyone who forecasts impending doom based primarily on unvalidated models, who has an irrational hatred of cheap and reliable fossil fuel-based energy despite the inumerable benefits these cheap fuels have provided to mankind for well over a century, who demonises those who ask legitimate questions regarding the 'theory' of CAGW.

      "Gosh, I hope you are not resorting to ad homs - attacking the person instead of the science"

      Just like referring to anyone who disagrees with you as a "climate change denialist" despite the fact that I have never denied the climate changes.

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    36. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      "So, you make what appear to be snide remarks about a person's age, qualifications and female gender, while you are a male climate science denier"

      I was not intending to make snide remarks about this person's age or gender. My reference to the qualification was merely to point out that this person has no expertise in the field of climate science and hence her site doesn't have much credibility in this regard.

      However, I find the link between misgony and scepticism quite bizarre.

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    37. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      I was merely pointing out that none of the 'team' as SkS appear to have any expertise in the area relating to the causes of climate change. Some work in allied fields and most work in totally unrelated fields. In this respect, most of them are amateurs regarding the science of climate change.

      An clear example of distorted science is the so-called consensus paper referring to the contrived 97% figure. Cook continually uses conflicting definitions of the so-called consensus most of which include a high proportion of sceptics. What Cook covers up is that only 0.5% of the papers in his study actually explicitly support the IPCC definition of the consensus which is that humans are responsible for most of the recent warming.

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    38. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Yep, all that CC Dianna and not a SUV in sight.

      But as I showed upthread, it had no correlation with CO2 so bang goes a beautiful GHG theory.

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    39. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "not a SUV in sight"

      Yet another mindless logical fallacy, viz nature has started bushfires, therefore humans do not start bushfires.

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    40. David Menere

      part-time contractor

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Ok Geoff, so you can please explain to the people here what's quantitatively wrong with the 'atom bomb' analogy. Please include calculations with your answer.

      And by my reading of it, the 'consensus project' (97% of climate scientists agree etc ) is a whole lot more rigorous than the US Petition Project and its 32,000-odd signatories- of which less than 500 were climate scientists. Also, why was it sneak-published in the Journal of Physicians and Surgeons, and not a reputable science journal?

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    41. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to David Menere

      "can please explain to the people here what's quantitatively wrong with the 'atom bomb' analogy."

      Firstly, simply just stating a figure without any context is quite meaningless. When placed in context, the 4 atom bombs per second turns out to be negligible.

      Secondly, using the term "Hiroshima atom bombs" is potentially quite offensive to Japanese people and particularly offensive to the people of Hiroshima.

      A more detailed analysis is here:

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/25/the-4hiroshimas-app-propaganda-of-the-worst-kind

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    42. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoffrey, Spencer is on record as saying "While any single month’s drop in global temperatures cannot be blamed on climate change, it is still the kind of behavior we expect to see more often in a cooling world". In fact, the last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record. This is not a point of view, it is fact.
      "An alarmist zealot is anyone who forecasts impending doom based primarily on unvalidated models". So, because I rely on a large number of converging lines of evidence, I cannot be an…

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    43. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, "I was not intending to make snide remarks about this person's age or gender" - then why mention either?

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    44. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, the 'team' at http://www.skepticalscience.com consists of numerous contributors. Can you point to an example where a person not qualified in the field has written an article published there? Te "contrived 97%" figure is actually based on in-depth research and, as you know, the data underlying this conclusion (from several different investigations) are easily accessed. Because the data are available for review, why do you claim that some figures have been covered up? Have you repeated the research and come to a different conclusion? Where are your data?

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    45. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, "ask questions which are clear and ambiguous". Yes, I can see how ambiguous questions would suit your purpose. Cook et al tried very hard to be unambiguous in their research. Have you repeated the analysis and come to a different conclusion?

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  5. Craig Read

    logged in via Twitter

    The problem with any average temperature increase is what happens at the upper end of the scale.

    The devastating bush fires in Melbourne clearly showed what happens when the temperature goes above 48 degrees. What will be the upper limit when the average temperature goes up by 2 degrees (let alone 4 degrees)? How easily will our forests burn with days in a row hotter than 45 degrees followed by days of 52 degrees (and more)?

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Craig Read

      Yes, you can easily imagine the collapse of farming and biodiversity for much of inland Australia. Soil moisture, water, and soils will become very stressed.

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  6. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to account deleted

      None of that "de-carbonises the economy". It removes CO2 from power generation, some 20% of Worlds CO2 emissions are from electricity generation.

      http://pdf.wri.org/navigating_numbers.pdf Page 6 or so has electricity and heat combined at some 24%, pp 4 & 5 a break down.

      So we engage in decades of industry, all emitting vast quantities of CO2e to mitigate that portion ? A sound goal but I suggest by the times that's accomplished, it would be too late for anything but at least a 4 degree…

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    2. In reply to Trevor S

      Comment removed by moderator.

  7. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    The year was 1956 - Carbon Dioxide and Climate (a classic LP recording from the distant past) - 9:40 mins video presentation from Climate State - http://climatestate.com/2013/06/17/carbon-dioxide-and-climate-a-scientific-assessment/

    http://climatestate.com/2013/11/28/climate-change-2013-working-group-i-the-physical-science-basis/

    Genuine Science or A Fiction?

    IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis - AR5 WGI Key Findings of Fact, Scientific Consensus and Agreement includes:
    "Global warming - Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. It is now considered even more certain (over 95% certainty) that human influence has been the *dominant cause of the observed warming* since the mid-20th century. Natural internal variability and natural external forcings (eg the sun) have contributed virtually nothing to the warming since 1950 – the share of these factors was narrowed down by IPCC to ± 0.1 degrees."
    See: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/#.Un7pYPlmh8F

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  8. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    Dear Peter Christoff, thanks for an excellent summary of the state of play. Well done.

    I have recently included Jeffery Sachs' recommendations recently. I agree. So long as a Carbon tax is not used as a simplistic across the board blunt instrument but intelligently targeted. Is backed up by stepped Emissions Regulations designed to meet long term goals from power stations to vehicles. And powerful incentives to build behavior change and expansion of new tech and inefficiencies across all aspects…

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      "So long as a Carbon tax is not used as a simplistic across the board blunt instrument but intelligently targeted"

      Perhaps this remark is (intelligently? ;-)) targetted at me, since I've been advocating just such a carbon tax in these pages for some time.

      The simplicity of a consumption tax on fossil fuels (FFCT) is among its greatest strengths - it can't be 'gamed' by the Wide Boys down there on the trading floor.

      For me, the intelligent targetting is found in what's done with the revenue from the FFCT, ie should be applied to any and all of
      Company Tax rate deduction
      Income Tax threshold lifting
      Centrelink benefit adjustment
      Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding.

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    2. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Arthur

      re: "Perhaps this remark is (intelligently? ;-)) targetted at me, since I've been advocating just such a carbon tax in these pages for some time."

      No no , not at all. I wasn't thinking of you at all. It's merely my opinion. And I emphasise not being used as a SOLE instrument across the board.... I truly believe that many changes in behaviour could simply be achieved through Regulation as done in the past repeatedly.

      It's a political blockage in thinking these days imho, because of the lack of courage by the political classes who have been worn down by economic ir-rationalism over the last 20 years. I am not dismissing your ideas here out of hand. cheers

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

      Software Tester

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      When we found out lead in our environment was an issue - we just banned it

      when we found out CFC's were an issue - we banned them

      Now we find out CO2 is an issue and for some reason everyone is confused about what to do?

      ban it, regulate it, just state outright that industry has say 10 years to decarbonise, no need to offer payouts or tariffs or anything complicated

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

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Arthur

      Well I think we would both disagree that alcohol and marijuana are problems and having long personal experience with it, I personally disagree that herion is a problem

      also these are not problems in the same manner

      we can prove scientifically that lead causes brain damage and all other sorts of cool stuff - not just for those that choose to use it but for those that don't.

      Stating CFC's are a problem is not equal to stating that homosexuality or marijuana are a problem and to equate the 2 is a dishonest argument.

      I would agree that Carbon requires more thought and that a market based mechanism is likely the best solution due to complexity

      My only point was, we have dealt with similar issues in the past and it wasn't that hard, atleast not as hard as people make it out to be

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Michael Shand

      These drugs may not be as problematic as has been portrayed in the past. They have, however, been PERCEIVED as problematic, and banning has been attempted as a solution.

      It is the failure of that attempt that is my point here, not whether the attempt should have been made.

      It was easy to ban lead in petrol and paint, it didn't require wholesale technological transformation. The same holds for CFC's - that HCFC's continue to be detectable greenhouse gases may be an issue for another page, albeit insignificant in the absence of CO2 emissions.

      If "market-based mechanism" equates to "cap-and-trade", then I have been setting out how and why they are woefully sub-optimal in these pages for two years now. Any and all carbon pricing needs to be via consumption taxation for a range of technical reasons - anything else is a politico-economic con.

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    6. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Thanks for the confirmation, I am not talking into an empty barrel Michael. :)

      Vehicle emissions standards? Do to Aus standards or you won't get your car imported to australia after X date ... and announced years in advance.

      Petroleum lead content phased out with NOTICE to oil companies and manufacturers.

      Seatbelts in cars? Fire-alarms in homes?

      All Coal Fired Power stations to reduce their individual Net CO2e emissions by 30% by 2025 or you'll be slugged a 25% Levy on your Sales…

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    7. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Arthur

      I do question the logic of "orderly" as still being appropriate now on this issue. Time is of the essence imho. I could well be wrong of course. I'd prefer being wrong in fact.

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

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Arthur

      Ohh I see the distinction you are making here, sorry I missed it early but you are talking specifically about a consumption tax.

      I see your point and raise you a...I don't raise anything, good point, thanks for the response

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    9. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      I'd rather the transition is orderly, that policy be considered and though-through. "Disorderly" is a term which brings to my mind the sub-optimal policy decisions implemented in KRudd's regime of Perpetual Crisis.

      "Orderly", on the other hand, allows time for at least one minion to monitor how the policy is "rolling out", to detect whether or not undue fortunes are being accumulated, in particular whether or not injustices are occurring - here, I'm thinking of those who accepted free/cheap ceiling insulation and had their homes burnt down as a result. It might have been netter to put the ceiling insulation money that couldn't be absorbed by the accreditable industry into PV panels and rainwater tanks for schools.

      Or even into riparian vegetation restoration? Or are the benefits of healthy waterways too obvious for the Policy Developers in the Bunker of Perpetual Crisis?

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

      Software Tester

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      "When all that is needed is some common bloody sense, some vision and guts to act and be counted as being sane and rational and ethical? :) "

      Couldn't agree more

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    11. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, I would certainly 'prefer' orderly and steady and careful and managing unexpected impacts over a long time frame too. That opportunity was there post Rio in 1992, and then post Kyoto in 1996.

      It's now 2013. I think that is relevant.

      It is precisely why I am saying "wild" things today.

      I didn't think this way in 2005.

      I have totally changed my personal views when the reality and the clarity of the evidence changed.

      I could be wrong, it's only my opinion.

      Please don't shoot me for it.

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    12. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean, this transition isn't going to be completed in under a couple of decades. I'm pretty sure that even just the experts commenting on this page could manage an orderly transition in that time, let alone the highly paid Brains Trusts available in Canberra and elsewhere.

      So we start with the superior carbon pricing mechanism on which you and I concur with Hansen et al, and everyone else numerous others (except for the Financial Institutions and their EU sock puppets, who fear that they won't get a Cut out of this), we use some of the revenue to fund the CEFC, and all the rest is determined by the usual argy-bargy.

      If it's all a bit late, well, our children will know who's to go up against the wall.

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    13. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Arthur

      But David, it;s not up to me or you. It just isn't going to happen mate. It's too late. Anything we do here now is a waste of time even in a perfect world we could set up everything perfectly with all Pollies and business etc on the same page, and it won't make any other nation play ball.

      But at this time, no one in Aus is going to agree anyway, not when the LNP is chock full of climate change deniers .... none of them will change their minds by magic in the next 3 or 10 years imho.

      The planet…

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    14. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      "Reductions of global emissions by 2020 of 25%, 2030 by 50%, 2040 by 70% and 2050 by 90% is what is needed imho." Nearly: what's needed is reduction of FOSSIL FUEL USE by 100% by 1988.

      Why 1988? Because that's when atmospheric CO2 first exceeded 350 ppm - climate has been in red (danger) zone ever since, we're just waiting for oceans to warm up (ref 1: Hansen et al, "Target CO2: where should Humanity Aim?", ref 2 Rockstrom et al, "Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for…

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    15. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Arthur

      A couple fo thigns quickly David.

      re " the climate problem is caused by anthropic extraction of geosequestered carbon " actually the Forcing of that is only ~50% of the total effect. iow HALF is from CO2e from fossil fuel burning. thus, any action in reducing that onyl has a 50% impact on drivers of AGW for a start.

      re "Why 1988?" well in a perfect world meaning the planet infested with intelligent humans, yes. Reality is not like that. Plus it is now 2013 and now is all we have to work with.

      I think your final comments kind of confirms my main point mate. :)

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    16. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Regards Mr Arundell.

      Re: "I think your final comments [DA's remark about the sub-optimality of the ALP response] kind of confirms my main point mate. :)"

      That's why those of us who argue for the optimal response need to stay engaged. It's why I made a submission to the Climate Change Authority's Targets and Progress Review Draft Report, and why this needs people like yourself to stay engaged.

      On the CCA's RECOMMENDED EMISSIONS REDUCTION GOALS
      (The Authority is canvassing two options…

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  9. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "We have to change our emissions reduction target, from aiming to cut emissions 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 to, at minimum, aiming for a 38% reduction by 2020." Sage advice, but Tony Abbott will only commit to the amount of reduction he can buy for his stated - capped - investment into his Direct Action policy. <sarc>Good luck will be needed for soil carbon sequestration to deal with 38% of our emissions.</sarc> It's a shame the enlightened members of the COALition remain silent in the face of Abbott's ideology.

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  10. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    Poster Boy for the Politically Dysfunctional, Cognitively Challenged, Liars and Manipulators
    John Howard Climate Change Speech: One Religion Is Enough
    http://australianpolitics.com/2013/11/05/howard-one-religion-is-enough.html
    Jeffrey D. Sachs - A Better Way to Fight Climate Change
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/lessons-of-europe-s-emissions-trading-system-by-jeffrey-d--sachs

    I have personally never agreed with an ETS, nor the approach by the Labor/Greens 2007-2013 regarding…

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      You're not alone in remaining sceptical of emission "cap-and-trading".

      Ref 1) http://e360.yale.edu/feature/forget_kyoto_putting_a_tax_on_carbon_consumption/2590/
      Ref 2) Dieter Helm, Economics, Oxford University "The Carbon Crunch: How We're Getting Climate Change Wrong--and How to Fix It"
      Ref 3) Thomas L Friedman NYT op-ed, 17 March 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opinion/sunday/friedman-its-lose-lose-vs-win-win-win-win-win.html
      Ref 4) http://www.ceda.com.au/media/121695/a%20taxing%20debate%20%20the%20forgotten%20issues%20of%20climate%20policy.pdf

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

      Software Tester

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      "They forget to get the best global common sense and holistic advice, to think long term vs their short sighted political gains (a myth as there was none). "

      This is completely untrue, I have no love for labour at all but to suggest that they or the greens didn't seek the best global common sense holistic approach is insane

      your either ignorant about the facts or don't really care about the facts

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    3. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Michael Shand

      WEll I am couching this in terms of the ETS ideals from 2007. By that time and especially in 2010 there was ample evidence that theory was in trouble.

      I am not criticising the people, I am criticising the policy response. It got them kicked out of office, so how helpful was it handing the treasury benches to the climate change deniers in the LNP?

      Does that make what i said more rational and balanced? Gosh I hope so. Given that I am not insane. Somewhat hazy sure. ala billy thorpe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2P72Wcoybs :)

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    4. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      "I have personally never agreed with an ETS, nor the approach by the Labor/Greens 2007-2013 regarding Climate Change action. Except on the margins. They forget to get the best global common sense and holistic advice, to think long term vs their short sighted political gains (a myth as there was none)."

      While I agree with much of what you are saying (eg ETS is anathema) and often read you posts, I take umbrage with this. You are effectively taking away responsibility for emissions from those that…

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    5. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Trevor S

      Um, boy am I being 'roasted' today. The sentence you quoted was a very poorly written one, as was a lot of the rest of it. I think TheCon should add a new option to the Report button labeled "Do Over Please" that one can use to delete their comment and try again. I'd use it regularly! :)

      re this "politicians didn't fall from the sky, they are representative of the Australian system, they won't change until we do." Um, I agree, and have always agreed to this. So something got really lost in translation…

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  11. robert roeder
    robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    The world reached peak oil in 2005. The cost of oil recovery between 2000 and 2012 has risen exponentially. It has risen nearly three fold in that time, in 2000 the cost of production was 250 billion US$ in 2012 nearly 700 billion. According to WEO in 2013 the total world oil supply in 2012 was 87.1 million barrels a day, this is an increase of 11.9 million barrels over the 75.2 million barrels in 2000. Only one third of that comes from conventional oil, two thirds comes from light oil, oil sand…

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    1. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to robert roeder

      Good post :)

      "The best solution would be for the people to rise up and go en masse to their parliaments put their politicians in straight jackets and ensconce them in insane asylums. Before it is too late."

      or they could take the easy solution and just vote them out. The later hasn't happened, so it's unlikely people will tear themselves away from Big Brother for long enough to engage in the former. Anyone who voted for the LNP or the ALP last election is to blame.

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    2. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Trevor S

      So true, the Whitehall system sets up a cock fight between two protagonists, the rest of the party members nearly always vote along party line and in effect are superfluous to need. Rather than relying on the advantage of the system independents need to be good and fullfil their electors desires. I am not to blame, I made a point of not directing my preference to either. It's cold on the outside but i've got cookies.

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  12. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Thanks for this article, A/Prof Christoff, and well done on the book; correspondence between your ~38% CO2 emissions decrease by 2020 and Hansen et al's ~6% pa decrease suggests that both estimates have validity.

    In the light of past support for emission cap-and-trading (ie the Kyoto Protocol approach), it's worth highlighting Hansen et al's view of the value of that approach.

    "A world summit on climate change will be held at United Nations Headquarters in September 2014 as a preliminary to…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to John Doyle

      John, that's a fantastic read, I love the titles; Reviving and Reinventing the Public Sphere, Remembering How to Plan, Reigning in Corporations, Relocalizing Production, Ending the Cult of Shopping, and Taxing the Rich and Filthy.

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  13. Peter Wilkin

    Australian Realist

    Rightio, it's way past time for ME to stop having excessively long hot showers as if that's an ok thing to do.

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

      Software Tester

      In reply to Peter Wilkin

      Unfortunately individual actions have little to no impact at this stage, we need a structual change in our economy

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  14. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner

    It is time to stop waffling on climate change - it won't be the end of the world - but a 4 degree warming will surely make a huge difference to humanity.
    Time for reality - Australia only contributed 1.25% of emissions in 2012. Average annual growth for the past five yearis in China and India has far exceeded Australia's entire contribution of annual emissions. Cutting Australian emissions will only succeed in reducing AGW if it encourages India to reverse its population growth and China to reverse its industrialisation.
    It is time to think out of the box. By doubling the productivity of plants in Australia vast and unused spaces, we could reverse the build up of greenhouse gasses. Of course it is a major task - but it would be an effective action, whereas cutting our emissions is totally futile.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, "By doubling the productivity of plants in Australia vast and unused spaces, we could reverse the build up of greenhouse gasses". Do you have any links to the science behind this claim?
      "cutting our emissions is totally futile", unless we can thereby apply pressure on others to do the same. It is only futile if nobody else, ever, follows our lead.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, the name of the underlying problem is, "evaporation", in Australia's vast and open spaces. You don't know much about what makes things grow do you. A "4 degree warming", would translate to 5-6 C in Australia's "vast and open spaces". There's also stuff called rain, and soil, which depend on not much evaporation for growth.

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    3. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Its basic numbers really. According to the met station at Mauna Loa (ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt) the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere increased from 394.32 ppm in October 2012 to 396.97 ppm by volume in October 2013. That equates to an extra 5.8 billion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere. To fix 5.8 billion tonnes of carbon, plants need to make 14.6 billion tonnes of carbohydrates. Australia's land area is about 770 million hectares. To fix all 14.6 billion tonnes…

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    4. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, "Australia's land area is about 770 million hectares." How much land is available for carbon sequestration, excluding non-productive land (deserts, snow fields etc) and land needed for food production? Does your math still say Australia has the potential to sequester all that carbon? I'm sceptical, but willing to be convinced.

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

    Software Tester

    Good article, the bottom line is that the major parties do not represent us and they have no interest in representing us both are aiming for 5% change

    As long as Australians keep voting in a tribal fashion and money is allowed to influence politics this will continue

    stop beating your head against the wall - they don't represent us, they have no interest in representing us

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  16. Marc Hendrickx

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

    Another unbalanced alarmist viewpoint that only considers the highly unlikely high sensitivity end of the warming spectrum.
    The predictions on which the book is based are increasingly laughable as real world trends continue to ignore the ignorant projections of climate models.
    That this story is reported here is a testament to The Con's preference for sensationalism.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      By balance do you refer to the 1-5% (to be generous) scientific view-point Mark? What would be sensationalist would be to publish dis-credited bad science.

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    2. In reply to Alice Kelly

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc, "real world trends continue to ignore the ... projections of climate models" - can you provide links to the science supporting your assertion? Which real world trends are ignoring which climate models? Which runs of the models are being ignored? Why haven't you published your findings in the scientific press?

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    4. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Yeah, I was wondering what "... real world trends continue to ignore the ignorant projections of climate models..."

      What "real trends" exactly? Are they to be observed here on planet earth? Did you have another planet in mind where the atmosphere was stable and not polluted by previously sequestered carbon, methane and other gases since the industrial age, at least.

      Actually to get really picky, humans having been influencing climate since they worked out how to create a flame - but, Marc…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, A really great read is "The deep-time blueprints Of the Anthropocene" Andrew Glikson, but I can't find anything but shortened web versions. It's as much an anthropological paper about fire and humans, the shortened version misses much of this history. It's 20 pages long including references.

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    6. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Thanks Alice - will take a look.

      That our (humans') impact actually goes further back than just the industrial age is something beyond the ken of the average climate change denier - those who do understand and continue to impede action are another species entirely (appearing as corporate executives, politicians and other powerful and influential positions in our world), so much so, I hesitate even mentioning it - particularly as this influence only became large enough that it could be measured…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      "The daawn of the Neolithic owes it's origin to the cultivation of crops, pottery, smelting of metals-iron, copper, gold- possibly discovered accidentally around camp fires, leading to crafting of ploughs to till the land and of swords to kill enemies. Extensive burning and land clearing during the Holocene, from 10,000 years ago, further magnified entropy.During this period the level of biomass burning, as indicated by residual charcoal deposits, has reached levels as high as from the combustion…

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    8. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Thanks Alice - it is only long-winded for those who are not and never will be interested in Anthropology - so many times we humans have reinvented the wheel due to lost knowledge. Action on pollutants must not wind up as an oops moment as Mummy Ant teaches Baby Ant about massive extinctions of the past and why 6 legs are best.

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  17. Sarah Glass

    Retired scientist/technologist

    May I respectfully suggest that those of us who can understand the science and know what trouble we are in here, stop bothering to engage with those who don't or won't.

    Our energy is better served trying to solve the problem. Throughout history there have always been laggards, idiots and ideologists who can't or won't move with knowledge as it is gained by the rest of humanity.

    In the past they haven't had the internet to spread their misinformation, now they have, so the rest of us need to…

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Sarah Glass

      Sarah, ""May I respectfully suggest that those of us who can understand the science and know what trouble we are in here, stop bothering to engage with those who don't or won't." There is an important distinction: those who don't understand may be genuinely seeking information, so rebutting the lunatics has value. Those who wilfully won't understand, or, more precisely, understand perfectly well, but wilfully misinform anyway, are an annoyance only. We need to ensure the lunatics don't have unfettered control of the medium, if only for the sake of any lurkers reading this, who are genuinely seeking the truth.

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  18. Henry Verberne

    Former IT Professional

    I watched Bjorn Lomberg address the National Press Club the other day. He claims to accept that global warming is real and that we have a looming problem. He also asserted that concerted global action is a big ask and hedoes not believe it is likely

    But his prescription was to advocate massive R &D expenditure to research ways of making renewable energy cheaper. He did not seem to detail who would do the spending and it also assumes that there is little R & D occurring in renewables.

    It all seems to me that his prescription would result in very little happening and that maybe he is just a very clever and sophisticated denialist.

    Anyone have a view?

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry

      I'm guessing that Bjorn simply hasn't had the time to edify himself on the latest technology, that is known to work and is ready to go (along with further R&D of course, nothing wrong with improvements like we do with technology all the time - except for anything that might displace fossil fuel related energy - strange that).

      Views like the above mentioned?

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry, Lomberg is a darling of the denialists. His views are fringe dwellers, but in spite of this his pronouncements are treated like gold by the do-nothing camp. Just my view, of course. "8-)

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    3. David Menere

      part-time contractor

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      IIRC, Bjorn's Institute hit a funding crisis a couple of years ago when funding from some government sources finished. Who knows who he's turned to for funding these days?

      BL's work leans heavily on cost-benefit analysis. It can look very tight and professional, but as anyone who has done such analysis knows, you can get almost any answer you want by judicious choice of assumptions. Further, when you attempt to extend such analyses over long periods of time, small differences in initial values…

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  19. Andrew Gilmour

    logged in via Facebook

    Measures to implement in Australia
    1. Stop using vehicles with the engine more than 2 litres. Oh, it’s too hard because for all mums a SUV is a must…
    2. Implement mandatory double glazing for Victoria and stop heating an atmosphere. Oh, Aussies like big windows and therefore double glazing is too expensive…
    3. Stop using large Volvo buses when 90% of our public transport buses are either empty or have up to 5 passengers. Use smaller buses. Oh, it is too hard to establish new links with bus suppliers…

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  20. Michael Wahren

    Self employed

    Nothing will change as long as the corporate parties control the parliaments of the world. Climate change / global warming is just one of the tipping points sending humanity towards impending disaster. As was identified in a project led by Johan Rockström at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and included Nobel price winner Paul Crutzen and US climatologist James Hansen, 9 planetary boundaries that are crucial to the safe existence of humanity were analysed. They include ocean acidification, the nitrogen…

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  21. Warwick Rowell

    Permaculturist

    A good article, James's paper is scary, and there are some good comments.

    I have passed on the comment about appeasers to Malcolm Turnbull, as part of an ongoing letter campaign directed at him.

    In 2007, I wrote a paper summarising our experience in reducing our carbon footprint. The title emerged after the writing: "The first fifty percent is easy." In fact, then, it was also clearly better financially as well. Check out the resources/articles section of my web-site.

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  22. Toby James

    retired physicist

    It seems to me that unsubstantiated speculation about what 's going to happen to the climate next century, is nothing more than that.

    The IPCC says CO2 has nothing to do with destructive weather events - they've been declining, not increasing over the last 30 odd years.

    And global temperatures have not increased during the last 17 years - which is why the term "GLOBAL WARMING" has giver way to climate change.

    We are still coming out of the Little Ice Age, which has something to do with the 0.4 to 0.8 C temperature rise over the last 150 years, perhaps.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Toby James

      Toby:
      1. Munich Re may disagree with your assertion that destructive weather events have been declining over the past 30-odd years. They are keenly aware of the damage risks of global warming.
      2. Global temperature has been steadily increasing over the last (enter number here) years: 'global' includes the oceans, which have been warming as expected from the physics.
      3. 'Global warming' is the dangerous side of 'climate change'. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not really the same. Nothing sinister here.
      4. The LIA was not a global phenomenon; global warming is.

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      "Global temperature has been steadily increasing over the last (enter number here) years"

      Global surface temperature has not been increasing steadily. It has a lot of (autocorrelated) noise.

      Denialists take advantage of this fact to put up strawman arguments that there has been no statistically significant warming in the past X years, where X is the biggest number they can get away with at the time.

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Toby James

      "global temperatures have not increased during the last 17 years"

      You don't even have the competence to include the term "statistically significantly" in your claim, without which your claim is a lie.

      I guess there is physics that doesn't have much to do with statistics but your claim is not very impressive all the same.

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  23. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Professor, a library itself does not write up a report as you have authored a book and it'll be people within the Library who will be responsible for putting together what the records say and that's fair enough.
    Others have eaised the recent revelations about 2C and with
    " Based on existing emissions trends and insufficient national mitigation pledges, we’re actually on track to see average global warming of around 4°C by the end of this century, if not earlier. "
    Is the 4C claim based on the…

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  24. Trevor Ellice

    logged in via Facebook

    It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here. - NASA scientist Dr James Hansen, June 1988.

    but it didn't warm, didn't matter

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