Monday, May 02, 2005


Science that censors debate and criticism is not science

Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming. A British authority on natural catastrophes who disputed whether climatologists really agree that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, says his work was rejected by the American publication, Science, on the flimsiest of grounds.

A separate team of climate scientists, which was regularly used by Science and the journal Nature to review papers on the progress of global warming, said it was dropped after attempting to publish its own research which raised doubts over the issue.

The controversy follows the publication by Science in December of a paper which claimed to have demonstrated complete agreement among climate experts, not only that global warming is a genuine phenomenon, but also that mankind is to blame. The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it. Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser. However, her unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the pro-global warming line. They included Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University, who decided to conduct his own analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents - and concluded that only one third backed the consensus view, while only one per cent did so explicitly. Dr Peiser submitted his findings to Science in January, and was asked to edit his paper for publication - but has now been told that his results have been rejected on the grounds that the points he make had been "widely dispersed on the internet".

Dr Peiser insists that he has kept his findings strictly confidential. "It is simply not true that they have appeared elsewhere already," he said. A spokesman for Science said Dr Peiser's research had been rejected "for a variety of reasons", adding: "The information in the letter was not perceived to be novel." Dr Peiser rejected this: "As the results from my analysis refuted the original claims, I believe Science has a duty to publish them."

Dr Peiser is not the only academic to have had work turned down which criticises the findings of Dr Oreskes's study. Prof Dennis Bray, of the GKSS National Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, submitted results from an international study showing that fewer than one in 10 climate scientists believed that climate change is principally caused by human activity. As with Dr Peiser's study, Science refused to publish his rebuttal. Prof Bray told The Telegraph: "They said it didn't fit with what they were intending to publish."

Prof Roy Spencer, at the University of Alabama, a leading authority on satellite measurements of global temperatures, told The Telegraph: "It's pretty clear that the editorial board of Science is more interested in promoting papers that are pro-global warming. It's the news value that is most important." He said that after his own team produced research casting doubt on man-made global warming, they were no longer sent papers by Nature and Science for review - despite being acknowledged as world leaders in the field. As a result, says Prof Spencer, flawed research is finding its way into the leading journals, while attempts to get rebuttals published fail. "Other scientists have had the same experience", he said. "The journals have a small set of reviewers who are pro-global warming."

Concern about bias within climate research has spread to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose findings are widely cited by those calling for drastic action on global warming. In January, Dr Chris Landsea, an expert on hurricanes with the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, resigned from the IPCC, claiming that it was "motivated by pre-conceived agendas" and was "scientifically unsound".

A spokesman for Science denied any bias against sceptics of man-made global warming. "You will find in our letters that there is a wide range of opinion," she said. "We certainly seek to cover dissenting views." Dr Philip Campbell, the editor-in-chief of Nature, said that the journal was always happy to publish papers that go against perceived wisdom, as long as they are of acceptable scientific quality. "The idea that we would conspire to suppress science that undermines the idea of anthropogenic climate change is both false and utterly naive about what makes journals thrive," he said.

Dr Peiser said the stifling of dissent and preoccupation with doomsday scenarios is bringing climate research into disrepute. "There is a fear that any doubt will be used by politicians to avoid action," he said. "But if political considerations dictate what gets published, it's all over for science."

(From the London Telegraph. Winds of Change has also picked up on the seriousness of this affair. The climate fanatics are threatening the credibility of science as a whole. Once the discrediting of global warming theory is complete, people are going to see ALL future scientific pronouncements as suspect)


In Australia they have become rather like the sacred cows in India

The way we define a problem will have a powerful effect on the way we think about solutions to that problem.

The Productivity Commission recently released its Draft Report on the Impacts of Native Vegetation and Biodiversity Regulations. The report defined the policy problem thus: 'The problem that prompted this inquiry is that private landholders are perceived as providing too little native vegetation and biodiversity conservation on their land.'

If this were the case, the native vegetation regulators across Australia would target those who have no trees on their properties and, for example, suggest that they replant. The Productivity Commission's definition of the problem side-steps the real issue: across Australia, landholders with heavily timbered properties are the ones most affected by the regulations because it is the act of clearing that is the real issue.

The bottom line is that trees have become sacred in Australia, like cows in India. It is the act of cutting down trees that most offends environmental fundamentalists---it is the ultimate sin.

But environmentalists confuse us, they give the impression that they are all about science and they appeal to the authority of science. They claim that trees need to be protected to prevent land degradation, protect biodiversity and prevent global warming.

The Productivity Commission's report, reflecting this popular but na‹ve assessment of the problem, states: 'the reasons for increasing conservation on private land, and the benefits of doing so, will vary by region depending on issues such as how much native vegetation exists, what habitat it provides, and what key objectives the government wants to pursue (for example, salinity, climate change or biodiversity)'. Yet the reality is that for any one region the objectives (salinity, greenhouse, runoff, biodiversity) have been promoted at different times depending on what the conservation movement believes will give it most political leverage at that point in time. For example, in South West Queensland, restrictions were introduced with the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999 on the basis that there was a need to conserve biodiversity. It soon became evident, however, that there was still potential for clearing, so the need to stop clearing to prevent salinization of the landscape was promoted, culminating in additional restrictions based on flawed salinity hazard maps in July 2002. When it was evident that even with the biodiversity and salinity restrictions there would still be potential for some clearing, there was a push for controls for greenhouse reasons, culminating in the moratorium on new permits introduced in April 2003.

The latest campaign, launched by the Wilderness Society in December 2003, is focused on a series of television advertisements shown, 'on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast over the busy summer holiday period to bring the problem of land clearing into people's lounge rooms'. It ran with the slogan, 'Land Clearing---Turning Queensland into Wasteland'.

The Queensland Herbarium recently completed analysis of data from 2001 which showed that 81.3 per cent of Queensland remains covered in what is classified as remnant vegetation. The figure for 1997 was 82.3 per cent and for 1999 is 81.8 per cent. So while it may seem hard to believe, the reality is that most of Queensland is covered in remnant vegetation---Queensland is not being turned into a wasteland!

Yet the clear impression from the campaigners, via the media, is that landholders are irresponsibly clearing large areas of native vegetation---resulting in irreparable damage to the environment. Even during the height of clearing in 1999-2001, however, the annual clearing rate was only 0.7 per cent of the 81 million hectares of woodland and forest ecosystem in Queensland. Furthermore, the 2001 estimate that forests covered 81 million hectares of Queensland is an increase of 5 million hectares over a 1992 estimate that put forest cover in Queensland at 76 million hectares. The Australia's State of the Forests Report 2003 also suggests an increase, rather than a reduction, in the area of Australia covered in forest. No-one, however, is reporting the net increase. The media and even the Australian Bureau of Statistics are only interested in reporting the clearing.

The general impression, reinforced by the jargon used in the Queensland Vegetation Management Act (VMA), is that trees don't re-grow. There is constant reference to the protection of remnant vegetation. Yet the detail of the legislation accommodates and includes 're-growth' in the definition of 'remnant' where re-growth is at least 50 per cent of cover and 70 per cent of the height of what would have been its undisturbed state. As a consequence, 'remnant' can include vegetation less than a decade old.

The general impression, supported by the legislation, is that remnant ecosystems are fixed in time and place and steadily disappearing. It is assumed that the maintenance of these remnant ecosystems simply involves the exclusion of human activity. Yet the reality is that the Australian landscape is constantly evolving and changing and has been actively managed for thousands of years---predating European settlement. Along the coast, the fire regimes of the Aborigines created open eucalypt woodland where rainforests would have otherwise developed. In the semi-arid rangelands, remove fire and introduce cattle and the tendency in Australia (and other parts of the world) is for woodlands to thicken and acacia thickets to replace once open grasslands. Despite the phenomenon of vegetation thickening being well documented in the scientific literature, its existence as a phenomenon and its potential impacts on farm viability continue to be ignored.

The phenomenon is ignored because the concept of an 'Eden' is so important to environmentalism as a religion, along with the idea that because broad-scale tree clearing occurs, Queensland must be turning into a wasteland. We have cut down trees, therefore we have sinned and therefore everything must be going to hell. Never mind that trees grow back and never mind the statistics which, on scrutiny, might indicate our grasslands are more at risk than our forests. Interestingly, Queensland satellite data show that 26 per cent of all clearing in 2000--2001 was of land that had no trees in 1991.

The above is an excerpt from an address by Jennifer Marohasy under the title "Fighting Ignorance with Evidence" delivered to the combined Annual General Meeting and Conference of "Property Rights Australia", in Roma, Queensland, Australia, on Saturday 14th February 2004


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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