Thursday, December 03, 2009


It has been a bad week for those who believe we are at a tipping point for the future of the planet and that urgent action is needed so that we can stop climate change.

The Australian Senate voted down a Bill which would have created a cap and trade system for Australia, based on tough emissions standards. Senators, both challenging the science of man-made global warming and rejecting cap and trade as a way of lowering CO2 emissions, voted the bill down for a second time. The Government of Australia may now force the issue through a snap climate change election or make changes to the Bill and try again. It needs to be careful – most Australians, despite droughts and severe water problems, are sceptical about the governments’ plans.

In Britain, the head of the Climate Change Research Unit at the University of East Anglia stepped aside as an independent inquiry began into the hacked emails and documents – the so-called Climategate scandal. Professor Phil Jones, who claims that there is nothing in the materials so far leaked that suggests a conspiracy or fraud, will continue his research until the inquiry is completed.

Scotland Yard announced a major police inquiry into the behaviour of the University of East Anglia team associated with Climategate. Concerned that the team may have breached the laws of Britain in their attempt to get around the freedom of information requests they received, the police are conducting a thorough inquiry independent of that begun by the University of East Anglia.

One of the frequent emailers in Climategate, Professor Michael Mann, is also under investigation. Penn State University, where Mann works, has decided that there is sufficient concern over scientific practices revealed in the emails and documents to require investigation. They too are especially concerned that there may have been an attempt to do an end run around the law with respect to freedom of information requests. Professor Mann was the author of the famous hockey stick graph which purported to show sudden and massive increases in global temperature directly linked to CO2 emissions – a graph which has subsequently been widely discredited.

Senator Inhofe, the leading sceptic in Congress, has demanded that there be a Senate review and questioning with respect to Climategate. Already, members of Obama’s science team have been questioned. His primary concern, in addition to a concern over freedom of information, is whether there is compelling evidence that a small clique of scientists have manipulated the process of peer review and acted as gatekeepers to keep other theories, models and data which challenge man-made global warming theory out of the public domain. He is also concerned about evidence of data “rigging”.

Rajendra K. Pachauri, the engineer chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a statement on the Climategate scandal which has made matters worse. At the heart of his statement is his assertion that “the I.P.C.C. as a body follows impartial, open and objective assessment of every aspect of climate change carried out with complete transparency” – a statement flatly contradicted by many accounts of the IPCC’s work and by the contents of the hacked emails themselves. Several IPCC scientists are now openly suggesting that the work of the IPCC is over and that it is time to move on.

Finally, and it is only Thursday, James Hanson of NASA, the world’s leading climate change scientist, has made clear in an interview with the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, that he hopes Copenhagen will fail. He sees the focus on targets and the trade off between the developed and developing nations over reparations (the $100 billion annual transfer of funds from the developed world to the developing world) as missing the point. He wants each country to commit to a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, end coal fired energy and use a variety of carbon tax mechanisms to halt the growth of CO2 emissions. He also wants to end oil sands production in Alberta and sees cap and trade as a way of creating a massive financial industry but one that has no real impact on emissions.

Not a good week for the “warmist” camp, who also managed to loose a debate held in Canada – Lord Lawson and Bjorn Lomberg easily defeated George Monbiot and Elizabeth May by using rational argument, scientific evidence and clear thinking – none of which appeared from the warmist side.

The Copenhagen Summit is just six days away. The warmists are now in full anxiety over the event and its possible outcome. It looks like sceptics are winning more than a debate in Canada or in the Senate house in Australia. We will see some interesting manoeuvring over the next fifteen days, not all of it civil. With fifteen thousand delegates and some twenty to thirty thousand activists assembling in Copenhagen, we can expect some drama and a lot of headaches.

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