David Suzuki’s performance on Q&A last night was extraordinary. I was knock-me-over amazed that he has not heard of UAH, GISS, HADcrut and RSS, and knew nothing of the pause in global surface temperatures that even the UK Met Office and IPCC lead author climate scientists like Hans von Storch are discussing.
How afraid is Suzuki about man-made global warming? So afraid, it doesn’t occur to him to check the data, incredibly he doesn’t even know what the data is. Tony Jones had to rephrase the questions to explain them to Suzuki, who doesn’t even understand them.
How much is his reputation as a scientist worth when he doesn’t even bother to check the evidence for a cause he stakes his reputation on?
Three times in Q&A he admitted he didn’t know — he didn’t know there was a pause in warming for the last 15 years, he didn’t know how global temperatures are measured, and he didn’t know that cyclones were not increasing over the Great Barrier Reef. He wants politicians jailed for “denying the science”. “You bet!” he exclaims, but then admits he hasn’t thought that through either.
The cartoon-like responses were incongruous. Should we go nuclear to reduce emissions? Suzuki tosses numbers, evidence, and cost-benefits down a deep well of ignorance: “It’s just crazy”. “What the hell is going on”. “You’ve got sunlight!” “Solar farms could be spread everywhere”. “There is plenty of sunlight beyond anything humanity needs”. The audience member who asked then pointed out we don’t have the batteries to cope with sunless cloudy days. Even Tony Jones asks how realistic solar is. At this first prod, Suzuki throws his hands up in the air, “I don’t know”.
The man is emphatically an activist who might as well be innumerate. He is unburdened by data, evidence or logic. Why is the ABC giving him such a hallowed space, which is usually only given to PM’s?
Watch David Suzuki here.
Credit to the ABC for allowing Bill Koutalianos and Professor Stewart Franks to ask the first two questions and to respond. The event quickly became the “Professor Stewart Franks versus Professor Steve Sherwood Show”, because it was obvious it was a waste of time asking Suzuki a scientific question. The two of them, for a short while, were debating by proxy, and Suzuki was sidelined. He simply didn’t know enough to keep up. Even Tony Jones knew more about climate science than Suzuki did.
With typical bias, Stewart Franks was introduced as simply a professor of Environmental Engineering while Steve Sherwood was introduced as a “professor” and a “lead author of the IPCC” and a “Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW” (8:50). Stewart Franks had to point out that he is an expert reviewer of the IPCC report as well.
Suzuki’s research on our atmosphere amounted to reading Naomi Oreskes, Jim Hoggan and DeSmog. He promotes the smear campaign against senior scientists but apparently has never read anything those senior scientists have written. This is living in a fishbowl, where Suzuki made a religious decision years ago to believe in the evil of corporate polluters and only ever reads people who agree with him. It leaves him completely naked in any science debate, knocked over by the average reader of any skeptical blog.
Credit to Tony Thomas for asking if Suzuki still thought politicians should be jailed for denying the scientific consensus, thus exposing the inner-totalitarian. For a man who argues that consensus is a reason to be alarmed about the climate, it’s a tad hypocritical that Suzuki later discussed GM, where he disagrees with the consensus. He later talks about how the Canadian government is building new jails and seems to be afraid of being jailed himself: “I’m wondering whether our Prime Minister thinks he is going to be creating new categories of crime, like eco terrorism or, as he calls us, environmental radicals, radical extremists.” Righto. Talking power to truth again David. He hasn’t noticed that all the power and money is on the climate consensus side. His principle seems to be “jail them if they disagree with me”.
Suzuki’s world view is simplistic: “Government good, corporations bad”. He says ” …big corporations are bigger than most governments on the planet, they have the ability to fund political campaigns…” . There go the numbers again. The US Government has a $4 trillion annual budget, while the largest corporations in the world have less than $500bn annual revenue each. The US Government also has that slight military advantage over those scary corporations, who may wield malevolent cheques, but not so many missiles.
When I was a student of science communication we were wheeled out to see David Suzuki speak as a hero of the field. That says it all really.
Simon Turnill at Australian Climate Madness has a short edit video.