Bob Carter

It is sad to tell you that Professor Bob Carter has  died after a heart attack. His CD in Wikepedia is provided here but it does not do justice to the contribution Bob made to the questioning of the thesis that human activity is causing dangerous global warming. One of his achievements was the leading role he played, amongst a group of distinguished scientists, in the production of the four volumes of a report by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change setting out the reasons why the human activity thesis does not stand up to close examination. That report was started in 2007 by the Science and Environmental Policy Project which is based in Virginia in the US. SEPP was founded in 1990 by atmospheric physicist Fred Singer and its former Chairman was  Frederick Seitz, a former president of the US National Academy of Sciences, now deceased. So Bob was working with the tops in his profession.

I had the good fortune to partner Bob in a debate at the Forum on Climate Change at Noosa in July last year. There he showed how ridiculous it was for the newly appointed President of the Australian Conservation Foundation to claim there is 97% agreement amongst scientists that human activities are causing temperatures to increase. When President Geoffrey Cousins persisted the audience booed him down.

Bob was able to do this because of his knowledge of the geological developments in the earth and the oceans over time. This reveals that temperatures have been higher than now and have fluctuated widely when there was little or no human use of fossil fuels.

Like some other “dissidents”, Bob’s academic position suffered.  After he retired from James Cook University in 2002, he maintained the status of “adjunct professor” until January 2013, when his position was not renewed even though he was then a young 70s. It is said that this reflected his dissension from the main stream of academics.

Above all, Bob was a thoroughly decent fellow who you knew could be trusted. He will be sadly missed.

BOM Temperature Measurements

Readers of my Commentaries are aware that climate expert Jennifer Marohassy is one of a number of analysts who have questioned the accuracy of temperatures published by the Bureau of Meteorology. Jennifer has focussed particularly on Rutherglen and, having failed to attract a substantive response from either BOM or Minister Hunt, she arranged a meeting at my place with Hugh Morgan, Tom Quirk, and self  submission I have already made showed that the homegenization of the temperature of Rutherglen by the BOM had the effect of changing a slight cooling trend of 0.35 degrees Celsius per century in the raw data into a dramatic warming of 1.73 degree Celsius per century.  This was done even though all temperatures for Rutherglen were recorded in an accepted standard (the Stevenson screen), there are no documented site moves and no discontinuities.

Questions also arise in regard to temperature adjustments by BOM at 10 other locations. These adjustments range from increases of 0.94-2.79 degree Celsius and involved from 2 to 11 adjustments which lack convincing justification. These adjustments are considered in more detail here. To the extent that they overstate the increases in temperatures in the 11 locations, there would also be an overstatement in the average temperature increase for Australia.

It is pertinent in this context to recognise that there is widespread uncertainty about the extent to which the global average temperature is influenced by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which remain concentrated in the atmosphere and which, as such, are thought by some experts to lead to increases in temperatures.  Almost all governments in developed countries have accepted this thesis and are currently using their budgets and agencies to outlay large amounts of spending on sources of energy which do not use fossil fuels and which accordingly do not add to concentrations.  They are doing this despite the fact that, even though carbon dioxide concentrations increased in the atmosphere, there was actually a cooling of climate for 37 years from 1940 and no increase in temperatures as measured by satellites over the past 17 years.

This uncertainty has meant that, as illustrated by the Paris meeting of the IPCC last November/December, there is no binding agreement amongst countries as to either the measures which should be taken to restrict the use of fossil fuels or the proportion of national expenditure which should be allocated to developing energy from sources other than fossil fuels. Some countries, particularly developing countries, have refused to take action to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide because they see that as likely to reduce economic growth.

Against this background, it is relevant to consider whether the expenditure by the Federal government is justified. The Commonwealth Budget  is providing around a billion per annum to the Direct Action plan, is subsidising loans made by its Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and is funding the CSIRO which in turn funds research directed at reducing global warming. Considerable outlays are also made on subsidies for both large and small scale renewable sources of energy such as wind and rooftop solar.  And, most important in the present context, the Commonwealth funds the Bureau of Meteorology.

Your annual report for 2014-15 indicates that there are “areas of public administration that need some improvement”. You summarise these as being the following:

  • underdeveloped performance measures in a number of programs, which constrained the ability to measure and report on program effectiveness and provide informed policy advice to government
  • lack of consistency with important aspects of the grants and procurements policy frameworks requirements, and scope to improve the advice provided to government on the design of grant programs and to decision-makers on the approval of individual grants
  • variation in the extent to which risk-based approaches for managing compliance activities have been adopted, and the maturity of the approaches adopted
  • shortfalls in commonly accepted administrative practices, such as quality assurance, record keeping, and internal guidance materials.

I submit that the BOM’s performance is underdeveloped and does not provide quality assurance. It requires a major investigation and reform to disclose the details and justification of the adjustments made to temperatures. There are also underdeveloped performance measures in regard to other expenditures by the Commonwealth related to reducing the usage of fossil fuels.

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