Change in the climate debate? Climate models start converging towards reality
And a Lindzen hypothesis is vindicated. Paragraphed copy of the journal abstract appended. It's not hard to follow
On many occasions we have brought up the discrepancies between observed global data and the values of the latest IPCC climate models (CMIP5)
Recently Thomas Mauritsen and Björn Stevens, a clouds and aerosols modeling expert of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, examined the matter. In a very recent paper appearing in Nature Geoscience (hereinafter MS15) titled “Missing iris effect as a possible cause of muted hydrological change and high climate sensitivity in models“, they took up the actual situation (a somewhat difficult to understand press release on this can be read here).
1) Apparently the models overreact to the greenhouse gas effect. Recent papers also have found from the observations a significantly lower value for forcing. The climate sensitivity (ECS) for a very long-term period after an increase in greenhouse gas is determined to be on average 3.3°C of warming while the observations indicate a value of about 2°C.
2) The global hydrological cycle is not taken correctly into account in the models (too small).
There’s also another phenomenon: According to the models, the troposphere in the tropics was supposed to warm up much more than at ground level. But this is not being observed, and we’ve written about this in an earlier post “Houston, we have a problem: We can’t find the hot spot“.
Here the authors searched for an explanation for the discrepancies. Perhaps a cooling effect was missing in the models. They found an explanation: an old hypothesis from Richard Lindzen and his colleagues from 2001: The earth has an “iris”, a negative feedback where more heat is released when there is more warming than when the temperature is cool. This mechanism, according to Lindzen, acts in the tropics and in the subtropics.
This “self-regulation” of the earth’s temperatures proposed by Lindzen of course was rejected by “mainstream” climate science. Chambers et al. wrote in the Journal of Climate 2002:
"As a result, the strength of the feedback effect is reduced by a factor of 10 or more. Contrary to the initial Iris hypothesis, most of the definitions tested in this paper result in a small positive feedback.”
Kevin Trenberth and colleagues rejected the iris-theory in the Geophysical Research Letters in 2010:
"…and their [Lindzen et al.] use of a limited tropical domain is especially problematic. Moreover their results do not stand up to independent testing.”
The authors of the latest Nature article obviously had not been impressed by Trenberth’s claim, and made the effort of integrating Lindzen’s iris effect into an advanced model. The result is somewhat surprising.
The increase in the tropical temperature trends between 7 and 14 km elevation in the model without the iris (Figure 3 left) and with the iris (right). The modeled hot spot with profound effect at about 10 km and above has disappeared…which is very much like what the observations have been telling us:
The iris shifts the ECS of the used models from 2.81 to 2.21. That’s 22% less sensitivity with respect to the warming effect by greenhouse gases. Also the discrepancy in the hydrological cycle (basically the increase in precipitation due to warming) could be resolved by taking the iris into account.
Even when the impression has been given here from time to time that we distrust models, we point out that precisely in climatology models can be very useful when they are fed with all the right information. We are not able to experiment with the atmosphere and so we have to rely on computers. It is essential that the models accurately reflect reality and do not produce a fictitious world that supplies catastrophe scenarios.
Climate models are extremely complex, and thus it is all the more critical that their programming be clean and that all the possible physical factors be correctly taken into account. The latest paper shows that modeling has taken a step in the right direction. It shows 22% less climate sensitivity due to the iris component.
Not everyone was happy to hear this news. Kevin Trenberth was quoted saying the following words (translated from the German):
"The paper is poorly written and misleading. It wasn’t necessary to blow the iris horn.”
Trenberth seemed almost infuriated: The authors even wrote it in the damn title.”
What fear has suddenly gripped the “climate establishment”? Could it be that among policymakers the word is out that the climate catastrophe has been called off?
Björn Stevens’ research results may go down as being the turning point in the history of climate science debate.
Missing iris effect as a possible cause of muted hydrological change and high climate sensitivity in models
Thorsten Mauritsen & Bjorn Stevens
Equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 falls between 2.0 and 4.6 K in current climate models, and they suggest a weak increase in global mean precipitation. Inferences from the observational record, however, place climate sensitivity near the lower end of this range and indicate that models underestimate some of the changes in the hydrological cycle.
These discrepancies raise the possibility that important feedbacks are missing from the models. A controversial hypothesis suggests that the dry and clear regions of the tropical atmosphere expand in a warming climate and thereby allow more infrared radiation to escape to space. This so-called iris effect could constitute a negative feedback that is not included in climate models.
We find that inclusion of such an effect in a climate model moves the simulated responses of both temperature and the hydrological cycle to rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations closer to observations.
Alternative suggestions for shortcomings of models — such as aerosol cooling, volcanic eruptions or insufficient ocean heat uptake — may explain a slow observed transient warming relative to models, but not the observed enhancement of the hydrological cycle.
We propose that, if precipitating convective clouds are more likely to cluster into larger clouds as temperatures rise, this process could constitute a plausible physical mechanism for an iris effect.
Debate on the Merits, Anyone?
Marching under the banner of “transparency,” there is a growing movement in the U.S. to limit truly free speech. The movement claims to be attacking “dark money,” but the reality is that its adherents want to shut up its ideological opponents. Independent expressions of support or opposition for candidates or political issues are marginalized by irrelevant questions about funding sources. Honest research and well-formulated arguments are denounced as “biased” or “untrustworthy” because of who the donors are rather than based on the merits of the arguments presented.
One doesn’t need to look further than the tragic case of Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon to see how calls for transparency can unjustly harm others and deter future quality research. Soon was recently smeared by the New York Times and organizations like Greenpeace for his allegedly biased scientific research into the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change.
The Times and others attacked Soon because he did not openly and immediately disclose that he received funding for his research from organizations that have a financial interest in the energy sector. It didn’t matter that Soon’s research was of the highest quality, that Smithsonian received much of the funding itself, or that numerous organizations and individuals who support the theory of manmade climate change also receive funding from parties who have financial interests in the climate debate.
Another attack last week on the Smithsonian was launched last week by MoveOn.org, the activist group founded in the wake of the Clinton impeachment scandals. Activists want to see David Koch – the philanthropist – removed from the boards of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History for being a “denier” of climate change. Koch has donated tens of millions of dollars to these museums for research and exhibits.
Regardless of what you may believe about global warming, it’s undeniable that these attacks and related calls for “transparency” are simply tools used by one side of the debate in an attempt to silence the other.
Rather than debate those who disagree with them, these progressive activists have learned it is far easier to bully, to retaliate, and to destroy. But to blackball people effectively, they need to know donor names so they can isolate and disrupt funding networks. You can only get so far with smears of the messenger and innuendo about disclosed funders. That’s why this transparently intolerant movement has transitioned from ad hominem attacks and boycotts to enlisting the coercive power of the state.
For a while, the campaign operated below the radar, using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to conduct inquisitions against Tea Party and conservative groups about their funding sources and affiliations in the course of applying for tax exempt status. Around the same time, Wisconsin prosecutors quietly launched secret “John Doe” investigations exclusively targeting subpoenas and surveillance to legions of center-right political groups and interests who were aligned with the policies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
But then, far from being shamed by public revelations about Lois Lerner’s coordination of the IRS campaign against conservative nonprofits, the aggressive transparency movement targeting the center-right upped the ante.
Like the opening shot of a starter pistol, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) deployed his official letterhead during the summer of 2013 to demand that dozens of conservative think tanks confess that they had supported the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Stand Your Ground” laws.
In late 2013, the Center for Media & Democracy and ProgressNow repackaged public form 990 information into lazily crafted so-called exposés to launch ad hominem assaults on private donors and successful advocates of conservative causes, labeling center-right public interest groups “stink tanks.”
By the summer of 2014, Arshad Hasan, executive director of ProgressNow, was openly declaring, “The next step for us is to take down this network of [conservative non-profit] institutions that are state-based in each and every one of our states.”
Supporters of this manifestly totalitarian transparency movement insist the public has the right to know who is financially responsible for various social, cultural, and political movements, because if they don’t know, greedy corporations, manipulative religious zealots, or some other allegedly biased group of people will use their deep pockets and political connections to push oppressive policies regular working Janes and Joes don’t actually want. Transparency, they say, is the only way to hold people accountable.
In reality, as the escalation of ad hominem into coercive state action demonstrates, this campaign is really nothing more than an attempt to silence political opponents. Fear of political or social retribution is used to prevent particular causes from being funded. That’s why legal protections for private civic engagement are necessary to ensure that individuals feel safe donating and advocating for causes they believe in without worrying about being personally attacked as a result. Towards that end, the Heartland Institute recently published a Policy Study, titled “In Defense of Private Civic Engagement: Why the Assault on ‘Dark Money’ Threatens Free Speech–and How to Stop the Assault.”
The study advocates several methods for protecting the right to private civic engagement, but the passage of two pieces of model legislation are particularly important to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans on all sides of the political spectrum.
The first proposed law is called the “Free Speech Privacy Act,” and it would act as a “federalism shield” for free speech, “prohibiting the enforcement [by the states] of any law directly or indirectly conditioning the exercise of the rights of free speech and association on the disclosure of the identity of a person or entity who fears a reasonable probability of social, political, or economic retaliation from such disclosure.”
The second important reform proposal is the “Publius Confidentiality Act.” Publius would empower individuals by allowing them to register for an official pseudonym that could be used in political and cultural debates of all sorts, thereby forcing opponents to focus attacks on ideas rather than on individuals, their families, or their businesses.
Increasing privacy protections for individuals is an essential part of ensuring the marketplace of ideas is free from coercive fear tactics designed to silence honest debate. Without these protections, politics will continue to devolve into a political war of all against all, rather than focusing on whose ideas are more likely to improve the nation and promote liberty.
A message for Pope Francis: Energy restrictions based on climate fears threaten the poor
Pope Francis plans to deliver an encyclical on climate change this summer. To pave the way and outline the Pope’s positions, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a workshop on the topic, April 28 in Rome. The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Heartland Institute will be there.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, director of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and an author of the draft encyclical, says the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that “our planet is getting warmer.” Christians have a duty to help the poor, “irrespective of the causes of climate change,” and address what Pope Francis apparently believes is an imminent climate crisis. The encyclical will likely present global warming as “a critical moral issue” and increase pressure for a new climate treaty.
That raises serious questions, which I have addressed in many articles – and which prompted Dr. E. Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation to write an open letter to Pope Francis. The articles and letter reflect our years of studying climate change assertions and realities, and the ways climate-related restrictions on energy harm poor families far more than climate change will.
At the most fundamental level, too many IPCC reports and the apparent new papal position represent the rejection of Judeo-Christianity’s illustrious tradition of scientific inquiry, which has brought monumental improvements to our understanding of nature and creation – and to humanity’s once “nasty, brutish and short” lives on this planet. As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman explained, we begin with a guess about a law of nature. Then we compute the consequences that would result if our hypothesis is correct – and compare actual observations, evidence and experimental data to the predicted consequences.
If the hypothesis and predictions are borne out by the observations, we have a new rule. But if the hypothesis “disagrees with the experiment, it is wrong,” Feynman says. That is honest, genuine science.
Alarmist climate science is precisely the opposite. That distorted version of science began with the hypothesis that carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels cause global warming. It served as the basis for computer models that assume rising CO2 and GHG levels will cause planetary temperatures and sea levels to soar, and hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts to increase in number and intensity. The models predicted many such “scenarios” over the coming decades.
But Earth stopped warming 18 years ago; no major hurricane hit the USA for a record 9-1/2 years; seas are rising at barely seven inches per century; and even IPCC experts agree that long-term trends in weather disasters are not out of historic norms and are not attributable to human causes. The CO2-driven global warming disaster hypothesis and models do not reflect reality and are obviously wrong.
So alarmists began talking about “climate change,” blaming extreme weather events on human emissions and manipulating temperature data. They say terrible things are happening at unprecedented levels, when they are not. Worst, they say we must slash hydrocarbon energy use that has brought once unimaginable health, prosperity, living standards and life spans to billions of people, after countless millennia of crushing poverty, malnutrition, disease, and death before age 40. Fossil fuels still represent 85 per cent of the world’s energy – and they are essential if the rest of humanity is to catch up and improve their lives.
Denying humanity the use of still bountiful hydrocarbon energy is thus not simply wrong. It is immoral – and lethal. This is the real reason that climate change is a critical moral issue. No one has a right to tell the world’s poor they cannot use fossil fuels to improve their lives, or to tell others they must reduce their living standards, based on speculation and unfounded fears about a manmade climate crisis.
As Dr. Beisner notes, “Alongside good science in our approach to climate policy must be two preferential options: for humanity and, among humanity, for the poor.” This does not mean pitting humanity against nature, any more than to pit the poor against the rich. It means any effort to protect the environment must be centered on scientific truth and human well-being, and in particular the well-being of the poor, because they are more vulnerable, and less able to protect themselves. Climate alarmism does not do that.
Over the past three decades, fossil fuels helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating energy poverty – over 830 million because of coal. China connected 99 per cent of its population to the grid and increased its steel production eight times over, mostly with coal, energy analyst Roger Bezdek points out.
Abundant, reliable, affordable motor fuels and electricity empower people and support mobility, modern agriculture, homes and hospitals, computers and communications, lights and refrigerators, job creation, life and study after sundown, indoor plumbing, safe drinking water, less disease and longer lives. In conjunction with property rights and entrepreneurship, protected by laws enforced by limited, responsive, responsible governments, fossil fuels will continue transforming lives and nations the world over.
They will also enable people to respond and adapt to future climate changes and extreme weather events, floods and droughts, heat waves, new “little ice ages” and other disasters, natural or manmade. More plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would enhance wildlife habitats and food production.
However, 1.3 billion people (the population of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe combined) still do not have electricity. In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million (equal to Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and four million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having clean water, refrigeration and safe food.
Imposing fossil fuel restrictions and renewable energy mandates – in the name of stabilizing planetary climate that has never been stable – would perpetuate Third World poverty, disease and death. In developed nations, it would reduce living standards, affect everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do – and cause thousands to die during cold winters, because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.
It would be a needless tragedy – an unconscionable crime against humanity – if the world implemented policies to protect the world’s still impoverished and energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate dangers decades from now, by perpetuating poverty and disease, and killing millions tomorrow.
Just eight years ago, Pope Benedict XVI warned that any proposed “solutions” to global warming and climate change must be based on solid evidence, and not on computer models, unsupported assertions and dubious ideology. He suggested that concerns about man-made emissions melting ice caps and causing waves of unprecedented disasters were little more than fear-mongering. He argued that ecological concerns must be balanced against the needs of current and future generations of people.
Pope Francis apparently does not share his predecessor’s view about climate change fears. However, if he is truly committed to advancing science, the poor and creation, he should reject climate chaos claims unless and until alarmists can provide solid evidence to back up their assertions and models.
He should recognize that the issue is not global warming or climate change. It is whether human actions now dominate climate and weather fluctuations that have been common throughout Earth and human history – and whether those actions will cause dangerous or catastrophic changes in the future. Science-based answers to these questions are essential if we are to forecast future climate and weather accurately – and safeguard poor families, modern living standards and environmental quality.
Dr. Beisner has posted his letter to Pope Francis for others to endorse this commonsense approach. It is unwise and unjust to adopt policies requiring reduced use of fossil fuels, unless it can be conclusively shown that doing so will stabilize Earth’ fickle climate and prevent future climate disasters, Dr. Beisner concludes. “Such policies would condemn hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings to ongoing poverty.” We therefore respectfully ask Pope Francis to advise the world’s leaders to reject those policies.
Reporters Explain Why Balance Isn’t Needed On Global Warming
Elite journalists explain why they have no need for ‘balance’ on the global warming issue. So much for scientific and reportorial inquiry
Is it morally permissible to allow “climate deniers” to appear in print and televised media?
Columbia University journalism students wrestled with this question recently at a screening of the new documentary, “Merchants of Doubt.” “Merchants,” based on the 2010 book by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, endeavors to smear skeptics of anthropogenic global warming as the henchmen of the fossil-fuel industry. The film is light on evidence, as I show here, but heavy on verve. Director Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”) traces the stories of sly 1950s tobacco reps who hired scientists to cast doubt on a growing consensus that smoking was unhealthy. The film’s implication, insinuated rather than demonstrated, is that global warming doubters are likewise mercenary.
If you buy that argument, then it makes some sense to keep “deniers” from deluding the public. In a room full of journalism students in training to ask tough questions and root out the truth, everyone bought it.
Global Warming Opposition Equals Propaganda
“It is a lie to say that global warming poses no danger,” New York Times reporter Justin Gillis told the crowd as part of a panel after the screening. He was responding to a question from the editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, who had asked him whether news outlets present a “false balance” when they cite both proponents and skeptics of anthropogenic global warming. Since the science is “settled,” and “consensus” has been achieved, why not quote only the proponents? “Journalists care about the truth—that’s my only care in life, to find the truth,” Gillis added. “To act as if the evidence is half and half is to tell a lie. I refuse to perpetuate that lie.”
Wendell Potter from the Huffington Post recommended that newspapers create a new “propaganda beat” with reporters devoted solely to unmasking the “deniers” as frauds.
“Accurate information about climate change is a human right,” insisted Emily Southerd, campaign manager for the advocacy group Forecast the Facts. “Accurate information” in this case apparently means “consensus” information. Southerd shared that her organization is petitioning news stations to quit booking “deniers” like Marc Morano of ClimateDepot.com, one of the “merchants” shown in the film. Wendell Potter from the Huffington Post recommended that newspapers create a new “propaganda beat” with reporters devoted solely to unmasking the “deniers” as frauds.
It’s hard to take such caviling seriously when the New York Times is running beguiling hit pieces on respected (but climate-skeptic) astrophysicist Willie Soon and cheering a McCarthyite investigation into seven other professors who expressed skepticism towards the idea that global warming is dangerous and man-made. In the United Kingdom last summer, after global warming-skeptic Lord Nigel Lawson appeared on the BBC, the head of the BBC Complaints Unit announced that “minority opinions and sceptical views should not be treated on an equal footing with the scientific consensus.” Lawson has not been on the BBC since.
Skeptics are not exactly popular in the media. Gillis acknowledged a tacit pact among print journalists to stop giving credence to climate skeptics. He called this an “enlightenment” that began ten or 15 years ago. American television, he noted, still lets a few skeptics onto the air; broadcasters have yet to come out of the Dark Ages.
Denying the Deniers
The merits of the term “denier” also got some play among the panelists. Southerd cast a strong vote in favor of the term: “these people need to be labeled what they are: climate change deniers.” Gillis explained the need to maintain the appearance of impartiality. “This is much like the abortion wars: what term you use signals what side you are on.” His own preference was to describe the “deniers” as “people who oppose climate science.” He was adamant, though, that these opponents-of-climate-science should never be called “skeptics”; all scientists are professional skeptics, and it would be inappropriate to honor the climate-doubters with such a term.
Paper trails indicate that federal agencies solicited climate science research that supported their conclusions, cherry-picked peer reviewers known to be sympathetic to the pro-global warming cause, and overlooked conflicts of interest.
One member of the audience thought to ask about the funding for pro-anthropogenic global warming scientists. What if someone investigated the money that supports global warming research, and made a “Merchants of Doubt” sequel about the consensus scientists? An excellent question, especially since in the last 15 years pro-sustainability and global warming research has enjoyed nearly $400 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); $3 billion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $600 million from the National Institutes of Health; $1.7 billion from National Science Foundation; and even $2 million from the National Endowment for the Arts.
No worries about that, Gillis responded: “99.9 percent of climate science is funded by the government.” That means, he explained, that each grant is disclosed by number to the public, making every transaction transparent and trustworthy.
But Gillis neglected to explain that studies from two different organizations have uncovered in this federally-funded research cozenage and artifice of exactly the sort “Merchants” espies in climate change doubters. Paper trails indicate that the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other federal agencies solicited climate science research that supported their conclusions, cherry-picked peer reviewers known to be sympathetic to the pro-global warming cause, and overlooked conflicts of interest by assigning research papers to be reviewed by members of the same organizations that produced the research in the first place. In response to concerns such as these, the House of Representatives is considering the Secret Science Reform Act and the Science Advisory Board Reform Act to try to bring transparency to the research these federal agencies use as the basis for their environmental regulations.
But none of this was relevant, apparently, in an evening’s conversation about threats to the integrity of climate science. Perhaps such obstinate belief in the credibility of global warming research should itself be labeled a kind of doubt-denialism.
EPA does something useful
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $5 million in grant funding for clean diesel projects at U.S. ports.
The selected projects in California, Oregon, New Jersey and Texas will improve the air quality for people who live and work near the ports, and reduce emissions of the greenhouse gasses that lead to climate change, EPA said.
“EPA and ports have a shared interest in working together to find practical solutions to reduce pollution for the benefit of workers and communities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said at a conference hosted by American Association of Ports Authorities, where she announced the grant recipients. “The key to our success, the key to healthier families and strong economic growth, is all of us working together.”
Most of the country’s busiest ports are located near large metropolitan areas and, as a result, people in neighboring communities are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions, which contribute to smog and soot that can cause illness, hospitalization, or premature death. Since most ships and equipment at ports run on diesel engines, clean diesel projects at ports produce immediate emissions reductions and provide health benefits to those living and working in the area. Depending on the type of equipment, new diesel engines are 90% cleaner than the old engines they replace.
The grants are funded through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) and are located in areas where communities need the most help with local air quality. Since the start of the DERA program in 2008, EPA has awarded more than 700 grants in 600 communities across the country. And 150 DERA grants have been targeted to improving air quality at or near ports, with about $175M in funding. EPA estimates that every $1 in DERA funding generates up to $13 in health care savings. In addition, every dollar of DERA funding, leverages $2-3 from project partners.
The DERA grant recipients are:
California - The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department will replace a diesel-powered crane with an all-electric crane that produces zero emissions at the San Pedro Bay.
New Jersey - The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection will replace Tier 1 engines on marine vessels with Tier 4 certified engines significantly reducing particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (Nox) and other pollutants. These vessels operate between Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey and terminal locations in New York City.
Oregon - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will retrofit cargo handling equipment with diesel particulate filters and replace 23 drayage trucks with ones powered by certified engines that are model year 2011 or newer at the Port of Portland.
Texas - The Port of Houston Authority will replace 25 drayage trucks with drayage trucks powered by certified engines that are model year 2011 or newer. These drayage trucks operate in the Port of Houston and along the Houston Ship Channel.
University of Western Australia think tank is not a climate consensus centre: Lomborg
Climate action sceptic Bjorn Lomborg says he is surprised by the level of opposition towards a think tank at the University of Western Australia that he says is “not a climate consensus centre”.
Dr Lomborg, a Danish political scientist who has criticised the effectiveness of climate change reduction strategies, says global development issues will be at the heart of academic research at the proposed Australian Consensus Centre, which has received $4 million in federal funds and is due to open at UWA later this year.
Speaking from the US, Dr Lomborg declined to say who he had approached to propose the centre, which will be modelled on the US-based Copenhagen Consensus Centre, which he runs.
“I’m not going to say specifically. I can only do my job if the people that I approach know I’m not going to talk about everything that happens. Fundamentally I made a suggestion to make a project, and the final proposal that we sent from UWA was accepted by the commonwealth.”
Dr Lomborg, who has been invited by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to advise the government on development aid spending, said the centre would examine “where Australia’s $5 billion in aid, and the world’s $US140bn ($180.65bn), spent every year can be spent better. It’s about the 2.5 billion people who are desperately poor and need access to clean water and sanitation.”
Issues such as global warming “are a problem, but only one of many issues we need to fix”.
UWA’s vice-chancellor Paul Johnson told a closed audience of 150 university staff yesterday that Dr Lomborg was not a climate denialist. He said the university had a history of defending its climate change research staff against the most extreme views of climate change deniers.
Academic freedom was at stake, Professor Johnson said: “We should always avoid in universities being forced by pressure to resile from our commitment to academic freedom. “We must be prepared to engage in difficult discussions.”
He said he was not surprised by on-campus hostility. “Anything to do with climate always involves passionate interest,” he said.
The UWA Staff Association and several heads of school have expressed concern about Dr Lomborg’s appointment, saying he was censured by a Danish scientific committee in 2003 for misleading science in his book The Skeptical Environmentalist.
Professor Johnson said that censure motion “was then itself subject to censure by the Danish ministry”.
He said academic work should always be open to peer review to maintain academic standards, “and that will be applied to the Australian Consensus Centre.”
The director of UWA’s Centre for Social Impact, Paul Flatau, who negotiated the centre proposal with the federal government, told the staff meeting he felt there had not been sufficient discussion of the issue.
Professor Johnson told reporters it was not standard for such proposals to go out for broad discussion, or to be put to the university’s academic board.
He said the centre would go ahead with Dr Lomborg’s involvement. “The university has signed a contract with the government.”
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Dr Lomborg was “a deep believer in climate science and the fact of human impact on climate” but had divergent views about how to tackle it.
“The real point why he’s criticised is it doesn’t fit the narrative of those who want to punish people with higher electricity and gas prices,” Mr Hunt told ABC radio.
“He’s saying you can reduce emissions; you just don’t need a massive electricity and gas tax.”
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
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