August 19, 2009
'A Tax on Thin Air'
By Robert Tracinski and Tom Minchin
In a potential preview for America, the Australian Senate has just defeated that country's version of cap-and-trade by a vote of 42-30. Most of the overseas coverage of this event, however, has missed the most interesting feature of the defeat. The BBC report, for example, claims that the bill was blocked because "opposition senators...feared the legislation would harm the country's mining sector."
In fact, the bill was defeated because there is now serious disagreement in Australia on the very existence of human-caused global warming. That's the backbone behind the collapse of what was supposed to be bipartisan agreement. As Senator Nick Minchin put it in a blistering speech opposing the bill, "this whole extraordinary scheme, which would do so much damage to Australia, is based on the as yet unproven assertion that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are the main driver of global warming.... The Rudd government arrogantly refuses to acknowledge that there remains a very lively scientific debate about the extent of and the main causes of climate change, with thousands of highly reputable scientists around the world of the view that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are not and cannot be the main driver of the small degree of global warming that occurred in the last 30 years of the 20th century."
In a previous article, we have already described this "intellectual climate change" in Australia's global warming debate, and arguably no one is more responsible for the shift in opinion than University of Adelaide geologist Ian Plimer, whose new book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science is an authoritative scientific refutation of the claims of human-caused global warming.
The influence of Plimer's book is particularly interesting because it is not a light introduction to the topic. It is a thick book, chock full of science. Plimer's prose is spirited, but there's so much detail it can be a lot take in. Yet that is part of the point of the book. If the book is comprehensive in its scope, that is because everything science has discovered about "history, archaeology, geology, astronomy, ocean sciences, atmospheric sciences, and the life sciences"-Plimer's list-refutes the global warming dogma.
What has Plimer been telling his Australian readers-including Australia's top journalists and politicians? Below are excerpts from Professor Plimer's responses in our interview with him, published last week in TIA Daily.
"The past is the key to the present. Previous rapid and large climate changes were not related to carbon dioxide.
"This has occurred on all scales of time. This century temperature has been decreasing, yet CO2 has been increasing. Over the last 150 years, temperature has increased (1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1976-1998) and decreased (1880-1910, 1940-1976, and 2002 to the present), yet CO2 has been increasing. If CO2 has been increasing, how can CO2-driven warming have driven cooling? Over historical times, there were the Minoan, Roman, and Medieval warmings, when temperature was a few degrees higher than at present. Sea level did not change. Over archaeological time, ice cores show that temperature peaks some 800 years before CO2 peaks, hence CO2 could not have driven temperature rise.
"In geological time, there have been six major ice ages. During five of these six, the CO2 content [of the atmosphere] was higher than now, and for two of these six, the CO2 content has been up to 1,000 times higher than now. If high atmospheric CO2 drives warming, then how could there be an ice age during times of high CO2? Furthermore, two of these six ice ages were at sea level at the equator.
"Over the history of time, climate changes have been driven by galactic, solar, orbital, tidal, and tectonic processes, and there has been no climate change in the past driven by CO2. The [current] rate of sea level change, CO2 release, and temperature rise and fall are well within variability, hence modern times are little different from past times....
"Geologists use integrated interdisciplinary science and look at planetary cycles over the history of time. Anything catastrophic that can happen has happened over the last 4,567 million years, and such events are preserved in the geological record. It is only if time is ignored that we can conclude that humans change climate by CO2 emissions...
"Climatology suffers from the same fads, fashions, dictators, and fraud that other fields of endeavor enjoy. In order to be funded well, climatology needs to be fashionable, and it is. The fundamental causes have been known for a long time, but predictions are only based on computer models that have very incomplete input. The IPCC models of 1990 and 1995 did not predict the 1998 El Nino nor the 21st-century cooling. So how can we use these to predict climate a century in advance?... The models have been spectacularly wrong, yet they are still used with no humility....
"The difficulty for politicians is that science is now politicized in the bureaucracy, universities, and research institutes and in many ways is forced to arrive at a predestined conclusion.... Most scientists are dependent upon governments for research funding, most universities have a large proportion of funding for climate research, and to challenge the popular paradigm is to guarantee [career] suicide. It is really only retired scientists or those few like me who are fearlessly independent who dare to question the popular paradigm [and] put up with the incessant ad hominem attacks....
"Environmentalism has many of the hallmarks of failed European socialism and Western (failed) Christianity. It has a holy book which few have read (IPCC reports), has prophets (Gore) who cannot be challenged, relies on dogma, ignores contrary evidence, has armies of wide-eyed missionaries...; imposes guilt, has a catastrophist view of the planet, and seeks indulgences."
When asked for his advice to politicians who are asked to make judgments on the science of global warming, he urges them "to understand that all science is contentious, where there is one theory there is a competing theory, and that as a legislator one must look to keeping maximum gainful employment of the electorate."
As for his advice to those who don't buy the global warming hysteria, he urges them to "Continually pester your politicians...write letters to the editor and start a groundswell of opinion. This needs to start like a guerilla war in rural, smokestack, and mining areas and to be brought into the cities, where there are queues lining up to make a fortune on cap-and-trade activities."
He concludes: "A tax on thin air is what we are being asked to approve."
Today, thanks in part to Professor Plimer, the people of Australia did not approve it.