Ray Evans writes a review below of Robert Manne’s essay in The Monthly entitled A Dark Victory: How vested interests defeated climate science. (Forgive me Ray for slipping in one or two thoughts of my own below). Ray Evans is the secretary of The Lavoisier Group one of the first original skeptical groups in Australia (I’ve put a few notes on that at the base of the article). It was Graham Readfearns review (ABC Drum) that apparently brought the Manne article to Ray’s attention.
Readfearn’s review was a lamentation of defeat and disappointment. So I immediately bought a copy of The Monthly and with eager anticipation began to read Robert Manne’s account of the tragedy which he claims has befallen him and his fellow warmists. It was a disappointing read.
There was nothing new in Manne’s arguments seeking to legitimize his passionate belief in imminent climate catastrophe. His palpable anger, bordering on hatred, of the global warming sceptics, or to use his loaded term, denialists, all of whom were Americans, was unsettling.
“While climate change denial . . . exists almost exclusively in the English speaking democracies . . and although it has spread to Canada, Australia and the UK, within the Anglosphere its place of origin and heartland is the US.”
Robert Manne places the sceptical scientists from the US in a political context. He names Frederick Seitz, Fred Singer, William Neirenberg and Robert Jastrow as attached to the Marshall Institute and as “Cold Warriors who had once supported the Vietnam War and the neo-conservative hawkish policies of the early Reagan administration”. As far as I am aware, neither Neirenberg nor Jastrow have played any part in the global warming debate* (See update below).
Richard S Lindzen is undoubtedly the most distinguished scientist within the ranks of the scientifically qualified global warming sceptics. He is Professor of Meteorology at MIT, his publication record is awesome, and his leadership role in sustaining what was originally a small band of scientific brothers (but now much larger) was critical. Robert Manne, although admitting Lindzen’s scientific eminence, then dismissed him as “the fanatically anti-communist Lindzen.”
An important weapon in the warmist armory is the accusation that global warming sceptics are in the pay of the fossil fuel industries; Big Oil is usually cited as the primary villain. The Lavoisier Group whose annual income rarely exceeded $20,000, was routinely dismissed by every Green organisation in Australia as in the pay of the fossil fuel industries. The ratio between the financial resources enjoyed by the warmists (most of their money – including Robert Manne’s salary – comes from the taxpayer) and the sceptics, is at least 100 to 1 [JoNova thinks it's closer to 5,000 to 1]. And yet, despite this huge advantage, despite the enthusiastic support of the chattering class elites who control the ABC, the Fairfax media, the universities, and what is left of the protestant churches, Manne concludes his lamentation with these two sentences :
The long war the denialist movement had fought against science and against reason, in the US and throughout the English-speaking world, has indeed achieved a famous victory. This is a victory that subsequent generations cursing ours may look upon as perhaps the darkest in the history of humankind”
[Darkest in the history of humankind? Deniers are worse than Pol Pot and The Black Plague? -- Jo]
How was this victory possible? There are, in my view, two reasons. The first is mentioned by Manne.
“More importantly, it was becoming clear that the most important effective denialist media weapon was not the newspapers or television but the internet”.
Manne is right here. Just as Gutenberg destroyed the monopoly which the Church had enjoyed for many centuries on publishing the Bible, the writings of the church fathers, and other religious documents, so the internet has destroyed the power which was described in the Climategate emails. This is the power which a small group of people in key institutions such as the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the Hadley Centre at the UK Met Office, and which, across the Atlantic, included James Hansen at NASA, and Michael Mann, now of Penn State University, (but in 2000 at the University of Virginia), were able to wield by excommunicating (to use religious terminology) any scientist who did not subscribe to the warmist doctrines they were promoting throughout the Anglosphere.
They controlled the learned journals which published papers on climate science; they maintained close links with journalists and columnists on key newspapers such as the New York Times and influenced what they wrote; and they were very effective in creating and sustaining myths such as “98 per cent of scientists support the position that anthropogenic carbon dioxide has caused global warming.”
It was through the internet that this monopoly of revealed doctrine was broken. The key event was Michael Mann’s attempt to remove the Mediaeval Warm Period from the global temperature record with his notorious hockey stick. The hockey stick was used as a reredos at the launch of the 2001 IPCC’s third assessment report in Shanghai, and Canadian mining analyst Steve McIntyre, with a long experience of chasing down dodgy exploration reports, was able within a short time to expose the hockey stick as a fraud.
What is curious about Robert Manne’s bitter polemic is the absence of any criticism of the Australians who have made important contributions to the global warming sceptic’s case. Bill Kininmonth, for example, was head of the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre from 1986 to 1998. He represented Australia at the World Meteorological Organisation for twenty years. His 2004 book Climate Change: a Natural Hazard is an authoritative rebuttal of the warmists’ claims of mankind’s responsibility for global warming. But Kininmonth does not rate a mention in Robert Manne’s list of guilty scientists. Another important omission is Garth Paltridge, who was head of the CSIRO’s Antarctic Research Division, and whose book Climate Caper, based not only on his scientific knowledge but also on his experiences as a CSIRO senior officer, opens a window onto the way the CSIRO became enmeshed in the global warming scam.
An Australian astronomer, Ian Wilson, unknown even to many Australian sceptics, but whose contribution to our understanding of the interplay between the mechanics of the solar system (particularly the influence of the Jovian planets on the position of the Sun) and our climate, is of international significance. He is, not surprisingly, absent from Robert Manne’s list of scientific villains, but he is undoubtedly an Australian scientist of very great importance in this debate.
“…our Australian luminaries are well known to many of their compatriots and attempts to blacken their reputations would backfire seriously on the author. “
There is a reason for Manne’s focus on the US. The American scientists he names and denigrates are names that can be found in most of the warmist tracts that he relies on for his arguments, and are known personally to few Australians. But even more significant is that our Australian luminaries are well known to many of their compatriots and attempts to blacken their reputations would backfire seriously on the author.
Australia’s scientific contribution to the debate over the global warming swindle has been significant. But our political contribution has also been important. The defeat of Malcolm Turnbull as Leader of the Federal Liberal Party by Tony Abbott on 1 December 2009, was an important event in the Anglospherian struggle between the warmists and the sceptics, and in the long term, it means that any attempt to decarbonize Australia on the grounds that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, is bound to fail.
Robert Manne’s other extraordinary mistake is his failure to appreciate that under no circumstances were the developing countries going to accept a global regime of decarbonisation. Both India and China are undergoing programmes of modernization without historical precedent. Many hundreds of millions of people in both countries are still without access to electricity. Without electricity there is no domestic refrigeration. A population which can enjoy domestic refrigeration at affordable prices means that their food production is effectively increased threefold. So India and China, often at war with each other in recent times, came together at Copenhagen to ensure that there was no global agreement on decarbonization, but more importantly to make sure that trade barriers could not be used as instruments of extraterritorial control over emissions of carbon dioxide.
This was an outcome which was already clear from the preparatory work on which the two nations had been engaged. There was a half-hearted attempt by the US to drive a wedge between the two nations. It was counterproductive. Australia’s prime minister at the time, Kevin Rudd, was convinced that China was bluffing on this issue, and when he discovered at Copenhagen that he had been living in a fantasy world, he vented his spleen by calling the Chinese rat-f**kers.
But the Chinese and Indian race to modernity is a geo-political fact which is beyond argument and which is of huge economic and political importance to the world. And Robert Manne, Professor of Politics at Latrobe University, is blissfully unaware of it.
The European attempts to establish a global regime of decarbonization, in which they would be the dominant players, were doomed from the beginning. And just as the euro is soon destined to fail as a European currency, so the dreams of a Europe free from fossil fuel based electricity are likewise empty fantasies.
In Australia, the Coalition, soon to win government with a huge majority, is committed to decarbonization through command and control machinery. Until we have a government which accepts that anthropogenic carbon dioxide has no impact whatsoever on our climate, and behaves accordingly, we have a problem.
Ray Evans is the secretary of The Lavoisier Group.
The group was alert to the exaggerated nature of the enhanced greenhouse effect way back in 2000, and was one of the first Australian groups to promote vigorous debate and discussion of the Kyoto Protocol. Even as recently as 2007, there was little other organized opposition in Australia. The Lavoisier group deserve our thanks for being so far ahead of the game and leading the way. Thanks to Ray, one David Evans was invited to go to Bali for the UNFCCC, …and David’s wife invited herself to join them. Thus Jo Nova, unknown nobody in the skeptic world, met Marc Morano, Christopher Monckton, Craig Rucker, David Archibald, Vincent Gray (85 then and still going strong now), Will Alexander and the team from NZ: Bryan Leyland, Owen McShane, Greg Balle and generally had a riot of a time being one of 12 skeptics among 12,000 believers. From this melting pot, the Skeptics Handbook was born. Thanks Ray!
UPDATE: Richard Lindzen writes to say that “for the record, both Bill Nierenberg and Bob Jastrow were early opponents of global warming hysteria. See my discussion in Climate Science – Is it designed to answer questions. Bill was the long time director of Scripps Oceanographic and prepared the NRC 1983 Carbon Dioxide report of the NAS. This was a major predecessor of the IPCC reports. Bob was the founding director of GISS which Hansen currently directs. Both Bob and Bill are now dead. A number of senior officials who were instrumental in starting CO2 programs became early skeptics. This included James Schlesinger who was our Secretary of Energy (and Secretary of Defense).”