Climate Change Policy

Yesterday the AFR published my letter (see below) pointing out that, of the many scientists who do not accept the dangerous warming thesis, over 30,000 in the US have signed a petition specifically rejecting it. That petition, and much other published work consistent with it, have existed for some time but so far to little avail in changing government policies designed to reduce usage of fossil fuels. Media coverage of  sceptical analysts has also been limited, although the visits to Australia by Christopher Monckton and former leader of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, have particularly attracted media attention (Case Smit was a major sponsor of both visits and there was no help from governments). As Moore now rejects Greenpeace’s acceptance of the dangerous warming thesis, and has clearly developed convincing answers to scientific assertions, it is surprising that he has not received more attention, including from Federal and State ministers and party officials. One senior Victorian Liberal party official who attended the lunch which Moore addressed at The Australian Club (and which I chaired) late last year did say he would try to arrange for him to get more attention but nothing seems to have come of this.

Moore’s analyses are even more relevant now that the Abbott government is reported to have started wasting revenue by purchasing greenhouse gas emissions from the business sector under its Direct Action program. Fancy paying for gases which are effectively harmless and which in the case of CO2 actually improve human life! Also stupid is the involvement by Environment Minister Hunt in policies which add to investment costs in Queensland in order to convince the World Heritage Committee that the Great Barrier Reef is not endangered environmentally.

An article by Moore, published in yesterday’s Australian,  points out that there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the thesis that the Great Barrier Reef is being damaged by ocean acidification (see attached). Why hasn’t Hunt drawn attention to this publicly? As Bill Kininmonth pointed out to me, “the buffering of the CO2 by calcium and magnesium ensures that the ocean will remain alkaline” and the fact that crustaceans survive in relatively acidic river and lake waters confirms that ocean acidification is not a threat. Bill also mentioned that the Australian Academy of Science’s recent update booklet on climate change omitted the reference to ocean acidification threats in the draft. Bill’s own paper had argued that there is no such threat.

As previously mentioned, analyses by the likes of Moore and Kininmonth are relevant to determining the attitude Australia should take to the post-2020 emission reduction targets to be discussed at the UN’s IPCC conference in Paris in December and the supposed objective of keeping the global temperature increase to less than 2C. Under Obama the US has apparently told the UN that its target will be to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2025 (as compared with 2005). As a major exporter of coal and LNG Australia should indicate that it will not accept any further targeted reduction (now 5% by 2020) until the serious uncertainties about the dangerous warming thesis are clearly removed.

A casting-of-doubts approach may be helped by the absurdities being currently promulgated in the US. Reports from there (not yet reported here) indicate that the Administration (involving the Surgeon General of the US and other agencies) has announced  a major marketing campaign claiming that climate change is a threat to public health. The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has been given a budget of about $2.5 bn to run the campaign and public comments are requested by 8 June. Obama’s support of this claim includes an assertion that his 4 year old daughter’s asthma is caused by climate change! Prominent US think-tank Cato, where Patrick Michaels is a leading sceptic, has previously published  a major analysis denying any substantive link between climate change and public health, pointing out (inter alia) that deaths from extreme weather events have declined, are higher in the colder months and that diseases transmitted by food, water, and insects have fallen over the past century.

It is important that the foreshadowed paper on Australia’s approach to the Paris conference outline the many uncertainties about the dangerous warming thesis. Given the failure of the present Environment Minister to recognise these, and given that Abbott is likely to attend the December conference, he must involve himself closely in the preparation of this paper.

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