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The Climate Commission Report: promotional material that they don’t even believe themselves

The latest Climate Commission report has created a media frenzy all over Australia — though on the plus side, I know a few skeptics who have been interviewed on radio stations in the last 24 hours.

As usual, the well funded team produce a long 72 page effort that says very little that’s new. Curiously the graphic designers didn’t try as hard as they normally do. Where are the full color shots of  a fragile Planet Earth? Where are the mandatory fields of baked-dry-mud? Maybe clip art is trendy now? Or maybe, just possibly, this document was slapped together at the last minute by a desperate department on the run from the crashing polls?

Apart from the sea of logical errors and half-truths, what is a sad mark of the times, is that despite all the taxpayer money, they can’t even produce a statement they will stand by. This is NOT a document that underscores decisions with billions of dollars at stake. It’s just for general information, and if the weather gets cold instead of warm, if people drown in floods they didn’t predict or build desalination plants that won’t be needed, it’s not their fault. “Don’t sue me”.

This document is produced for general information only and does not represent a statement of the policy of the Commonwealth of Australia. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the material contained in this document, the  Commonwealth of Australia and all persons acting for the Commonwealth preparing this report accept no liability for the accuracy of or inferences from the material contained in this publication, or for any action as a result of any person’s or group’s interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in relying on this material.

I’m not one for suing in any case. If you invest in solar panels, or wind farm derivatives, and you lose money you have only yourself to blame for not reading the Internet eh? But the bottom line is that if we pay our public servants to give advice, shouldn’t we expect them to give advice that would stand up in court ten years down the track?

What will Steffen put his name to?

I will write to him to ask:

To Professor William Steffen,
Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute,
Panel of Experts, Multi-party Climate Change Committee,
Member, Climate Commission
Climate Commission Secretariat
GPO Box 854, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia
Phone: 02 6159 7624

Professor Steffen,

The Australian government is spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money following your advice. Since you are paid with Commonwealth funds, you are no doubt doing your best to make sure you describe the situation as accurately as possible, without over or understating the case, and without omitting any uncertainty.

I note that the latest report, The Critical Decade, which bears your name, is for “general information” (is that for entertainment only?) and you accept no liability for anyone who relies on it. Since we pay you, we’d like you to issue a more rigorous statement, one we can rely on. Investors, farmers, business people and voters all have decisions to make.

Please do advise, as soon as possible, what statements you are prepared to put your name on regarding the state of the Australian Climate and man-made emissions. I realize you can’t predict the future, but given the best information available to the world at this time, we could expect you to issue clear directives and factual information.

Would you say that there is irrefutable observational evidence that a doubling of CO2 emissions will cause at least 2.5 degrees of warming?

I am particularly interested in the reliability of forecasts, or “scenarios” given that large infrastructure projects, and in some cases, lives, depend on the information.

If you stood up under oath ten years from now, what 2011 declarations could you unequivocally defend?


Joanne Nova

Perth Australia

h/t Tom Danger, Mike W, Bulldust, and Michael R and many others for the links and thoughts on the report. Thanks to Tony Cox for advice.

PS: Any thoughts on extra questions or caveats I should add to the letter? Do suggest them in comments thanks.

PPS: Was this a coded message on the back cover?

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