So much for the consensus. In 2012 The Geological Society of Australia (GSA) was one of the few associations to make a slightly skeptical position on climate. For poking their heads above the parapet they’ve had years of headache and debate, and finally have issued a statement saying they have given up entirely on putting out any statement. The debate is so furious and divisive that no position could be agreed on. (I wonder exactly how many of their members are fans of climate models? Was this the work of just a few zealous believers?) I think I’ve hardly ever met a geologist who wasn’t somewhat skeptical.
The back story is that, like most science associations, in 2009 the GSA chanted the litany. (Their 2009 statement is here). They wrote that governments should take strong action to reduce CO2 and that meant paying geologists more to do research and sit on plum advisory committees. How predictable…
1. That strong action be taken at all levels, including government, industry, and
individuals to substantially reduce the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions and to
mitigate the likely social and environmental effects of increasing atmospheric CO2.
2. That Earth Scientists with appropriate expertise be included in Australian advisory
4. That sufficient targeted funding and resources be allocated by Australian
That’s when they discovered that their members were furious and did not agree. It caused an uproar. So they surveyed their members (if only all associations would do that) and reissued a statement in 2012 which was more skeptical. Now, after being badgered for another two years they have backed away from the whole debate. It is too divisive to even put forward a statement that does not pander entirely and 100% to the so-called consensus. Read below how tame and banal their 2012 statement was. They merely pointed out some feedbacks were not well understood. But no cracks in the faith are allowed!
This story shows firstly how meaningless statements from most science associations are. Argument from Authority always was, and still is, a fallacy of reasoning. A small committee of six can easily spout a position that many of their own members disagree with. Almost no associations go to the trouble of surveying their members. It also shows how aggressively faithful the believers are. Even a statement with mild truisms that does not profess complete obedience to the approved chant is not allowed.
A comment from Chris on the ABC site in June 2011 reveals the depth of feeling:
The reason you cannot find the link on the Geological Society of Australia web site to their  “policy statement” supporting AGW is that it was withdrawn about 12 months ago after a howling, screaming objection from the majority of GSA members who objected to a “policy statement” that we did not agree with being put forward by 6 members of the management committee (all, I am told, employed by government) without reference to, or approval from, the wider membership. The majority wider GSA membership (some 4,000 members) does not support AGW.
Earth scientists split on climate change statement
Graham Lloyd, The Australian
AUSTRALIA’S peak body of earth scientists has declared itself unable to publish a position statement on climate change due to the deep divisions within its membership on the issue.
After more than five years of debate and two false starts, Geological Society of Australia president Laurie Hutton said a statement on climate change was too difficult to achieve.
Mr Hutton said the issue “had the potential to be too divisive and would not serve the best interests of the society as a whole.”
The backdown, published in the GSA quarterly newsletter, is the culmination of two rejected position statements and years of furious correspondence among members. Some members believe the failure to make a strong statement on climate change is an embarrassment that puts Australian earth scientists at odds with their international peers.
It undermines the often cited stance that there is near unanimity among climate scientists on the issue.
GSA represents more than 2000 Australian earth scientists from academe, industry, government and research organisations.
A position statement published in 2009 said the society was concerned about the potentially harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions and favoured “strong action to substantially reduce current levels’’.
Their 2012 statement was pretty tame and utterly reasonable:
“Human activities may impact on these Earth-specific factors to cause anthropogenic climate changes, both locally and globally.”
A detailed, scientific understanding of the climate history of the Earth, based on the geological record, is essential to appreciate and quantitatively unravel the various sensitivities contributing to climate variations both short term and long-term. The term ‘climate sensitivity’ is used to describe the change in globally averaged temperature that is caused by a given amount of climate forcing. For example, the sensitivity of global climate to variations in Earth’s orbital parameters (axial tilt, orbital eccentricity and precession) is known to be around 5 to 6°C during glacial/interglacial cycles of the past 2–3 million years. However, orbital forcing alone cannot account for this magnitude of sensitivity — there are complex feedback mechanisms that amplify the orbital forcing, some of which are reasonably well understood and some of which require
further research and testing to be well understood.
How dare they suggest that the direction, rate and scale of the change was not etched in the IPCC tabernacle and needed more study!
The geological record clearly shows that the Earth’s climate will change from what it is today. The critical question, however, is the direction, rate and scale of change and consequent environmental effects on essential human activities such as agriculture and settlement patterns. Geological archives of past climate changes merit careful study to better understand Earth’s complex climate system, including the primary controls and feedback mechanisms that cause these changes.
But even so, in 2012 they still polluted their “scientific” methodology with the profoundly unscientific pandering to bureaucracy and authority:
Science seeks to explain natural phenomena using natural laws, verifiable and reproducible observations and logical analysis; it reaches explanations that are always subject to amendment with new evidence. Our understanding of the geological record of past climate change should be based on the best available peer-reviewed science. The GSA encourages those interested in following the debate on climate science to attach greatest credence to the communications of those scientists commenting within their fields of expertise, as defined by their peer-reviewed publication record.
But even the pandering wasn’t good enough for some members who were angry that the GSA would allow any skeptical position at all.
I would like to know the results of the GSA members survey. Can anyone find a copy? Were these results published? GSA members, please speak up!