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Head of Australian Science Academy issues decree from Pagan Chieftans of Science

An interesting story quietly slipped into the news last week during the election campaign. It crosses several new lines, none of which it acknowledges.

Not only are the Western Climate Establishment sitting up and paying attention to skeptics, they’re slowly getting the hang of having the climate debate, and they have finally realized they can’t pretend the “science is settled” on climate feedbacks.

Australian Academy of Science

Australian Academy of non-Science

Humans affect climate change

* From: The Australian (my emphasis added)
* August 18, 2010

THE Australian Academy of Science has pitted its expertise against the greenhouse sceptics in a report stating that humans are changing our climate.

Good news. They finally admit (by inference) that there is a debate. Since we amateurs are beating them in the debates and asking questions they can’t answer, they have finally acknowledged that they need to try to answer the questions, and they need to call us skeptics. (They can hardly pit expertise against “deniers” eh?)

The statement expresses for the first time the consensus among Australia’s top climate scientists on the evidence for human-caused global warming.

Oh ha-de-ha… after all the other versions of the anti-science fake consensus didn’t win the crowd, do they really think that a petty Australian rendition looks any more convincing?

In it, nine eminent climate scientists declare that global average temperatures has risen during the past century, and that increased greenhouse gas levels due to human activity are mostly to blame. The academy issued the statement, The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers, in Canberra on Monday as part of National Science Week.

The document sets out the evidence for human impact on climate and outlines the possible consequences of failure to make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

It synthesises the latest peer-reviewed research and identifies areas of scientific uncertainty, such as regional impacts and tipping points: thresholds that, if crossed, could send the climate system awry.

Kurt Lambeck, immediate past president of the academy and a professor at the Australian National University’s research school of earth sciences, initiated work on the document to clear up common misconceptions.

“Clear up common misconceptions”… they make it sound so easy, as if people at bus stops are asking for empirical evidence about upper tropospheric water vapor and discussing Paltridge et al 2009.

“I was getting frustrated with the level of the debate on climate change, and the general confusion it was creating in the broader community,” he said. “One of the reasons that was occurring was that the science was getting so complex.

Ah yes. The science is too complex for the dumb masses of PhD’s, engineers, doctors, and lawyers who are skeptics. “Complexity” is the classic witchdoctor fall-back. “Trust me!”

Lambeck, don’t treat us like we are stupid, just explain why you are right. Present any evidence. Convince us.

“A lot of the genuine scientific debate is about issues that are largely second order things, and they do not impinge on our principal understanding of climate change.”

This is his coded way of saying CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and we understand the basic spectroscopy, but since most skeptics don’t disagree, this is a whatever-whatever point acknowledging a non-issue. Too¬† bad he doesn’t have the honesty to also say that this basic understanding only suggests the direct effect from carbon in the event of CO2 levels doubling is 1.2 degrees or less.

He admits there is a debate:

He said the fundamental principles of climatology, such as the role of carbon dioxide in global warming, were beyond dispute. But scientists were still arguing about the complex Earth systems feedback mechanisms, such as the possible cooling effect of clouds.

He admits there could be a negative feedback, and they don’t know how much it is:

“If temperatures go up, there is going to be more evaporation, and that will produce more clouds,” Professor Lambeck said. “That could produce a negative feedback, but to quantify that is a very difficult thing.

Then he either doesn’t understand climate science in a numerical way, or he is being deceptive:

“How do we put that cloud cover into the models? That’s where uncertainty comes in, but that’s not going to change the basic outcomes.”

Not going to change the basic outcomes? Clouds chuck about a quarter of all the light that hits the planet back out to space. They transform our climate and weather. If they provide negative feedback then instead of amplifying the direct effect of carbon, they dampen it. Instead of pushing us towards 3 or 4 degrees, they hold us back below one degree.

But if he thinks half a degree of warming is not a different outcome from three and a half degrees, we have to wonder what having a PhD means these days. If we cut his public funding by a factor of 7 instead, would he still say “that’s not going to change the basic outcome”.

Among the authors of the academy’s report are David Karoly, of the University of Melbourne; Matthew England, of the University of NSW; Michael Bird, of James Cook University; and the CSIRO’s Mike Raupach.

“They have identified the questions,” Professor Lambeck said. “They’ve debated the answers. Here is the best advice you can get from the scientific community by real experts in their fields in climate science.”

A seven-member committee of experts reviewed the document, which concluded: “Decisions will need to be made before we have absolute certainty about the future.”

Right, so that document is the best that money can buy? I will be discussing it in more detail as soon as I get the chance, but suffice it to say, they still haven’t answered the question about the evidence that I asked in The Skeptics Handbook two years ago and with more detail on Jan 1st 2010.

Thanks to Joe for the point about 1.7th funding…

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