Those who depend on silencing opponents have already lost the intellectual war. But they cling to the hope that they can keep the news of their loss from spreading.
“Should newspapers ban letters from climate science deniers?
The LA Times decides not to print letters from readers claiming there’s no evidence for human-caused climate change”
Note the example Readfearn chooses of a letter most dangerous and unworthy:
“Here’s an excerpt from a Letter to the Editor, printed earlier this week in The Australian newspaper.
“While [temperatures] have been higher than before the past 15 years, they have not increased in line with fossil fuel emissions, just as they failed to do over the 1948-77 period. This makes incorrect the theory that fossil fuel emissions cause temperature increases.” Des Moore, South Yarra, Victoria.
Wrongheaded and simplistic views like this …”
Except it’s not wrongheaded and Readfearn is the one who is simplistic, not Des Moore. (As it happens, the unworthy know-nothing denier was probably the same Des Moore who used to be the deputy secretary of the Australian Federal Treasury). Would Australia really be better off if we silenced people like Des Moore from public debate? If people as influential as he is are wrong, wouldn’t it be better if their views were printed, and then truth politely explained in replies? The truth is (and Readfearn must know this on some level) those who think Moore’s point is utterly, completely wrong know they can’t defeat it with rational polite debate, which is why they ache for censorship.
The world has been at a warm plateau for 15 years, but CO2 emissions were “worse than we thought”. According to 97% of models, the world should have warmed faster. It didn’t, and while that in itself doesn’t tell us much about how much effect CO2 has, it does tell us that the models don’t have a clue. Seems like a fair point for national discussion especially when it is already a national tax. Moore rather cuts to a key point (the correlation of CO2 and temperature is a weak one. If something else drove temperatures down lately, perhaps that same factor drove things up earlier.) If only we knew…?
In context, Moore was merely reiterating a point made by another unworthy denier, the former head of Australia‘s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology (that would be William Kininmonth). In Readfearn’s world, journalists with no science degree can write whole articles about the climate, but editors should be wary of letters from climate and economics experts. Readfearn, it seems, thinks we should all slavishly obey authority in climate science, except for when the authority doesn’t agree with Readfearn.
Readfearn’s simplistic views
After all these years, Graham Readfearn still apparently doesn’t realize what the climate change debate is about. In his view, if humans cause any climate change at all it is equivalent to humans causing a disaster. It’s a binary black-and-white world for simple minds, no numbers involved. Half-a-degree equals three, equals six. It’s all the same.
“Some letter writers have accepted that humans cause climate change, a conclusion backed by multiple lines of evidence from thousands of studies around the world going back a century or more.”
Some readers haven’t.
Sure the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is backed by multiple lines of evidence, but the feedbacks that might make this into a disaster are guesses backed by contradictory, weak, or indirect findings.
The grown-ups in the room are asking “how much”, and Readfearn’s answer is “yes!” (“You’re a denier”.)
We skeptics aren’t afraid of letters, so here’s the full exchange. Just look at the fuss that ensued over William Kininmonths innocuous statement:
[October 12] The IPCC was not able to give a confident explanation for the lack of global warming over the past 15 years, yet some climatologists claim an ability to predict the year when average temperatures will be outside their historical ranges (“Extremes to be the new norm as weather turns”, 10/10). Does hubris come naturally to climate scientists, or is it a required trait for those entering the profession?
William Kininmonth, Kew, Vic
The Australian was happy to publish this name-calling, confused reply. (And how many skeptics called for editors to ban confused irrelevant letters?) Kininmonth was probably using the same verifiable facts from NASA as Roylance, but Roylance wasn’t even discussing the trends, he was talking about something else entirely, records.
[Oct 14] WHAT’S the difference between a computer and a global warming denier? You only have to punch information into a computer once.
William Kininmonth’s repetition of the disproved myth about “the lack of global warming over the past 15 years” (Letters, 12-13/10) proves the joke’s punchline, as NASA’s empirical data shows that “2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years have all occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record”.
Unless Kininmonth can give a “confident explanation” as to why his easily disproved opinion should triumph over NASA’s verifiable facts, then it is crystal clear to whom “hubris comes naturally”.
Chris Roylance, Paddington, Qld
[October 15] IN asserting William Kininmonth incorrectly claimed a lack of warming over the past 15 years, Chris Roylance clearly fails to understand the debate about temperatures (Letters, 14/10).
While they have been higher than before the past 15 years, they have not increased in line with fossil fuel emissions, just as they failed to do over the 1948-77 period.
This makes incorrect the theory that fossil fuel emissions cause temperature increases. In fact, the temperature increase from 1977 to 1998 resulted from natural changes.
Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic
Right now we can’t be sure that the rise from ’77 – ’98 was natural rather than man-made, so I would’ve added the words “more likely” to the last sentence. But since dozens of commentators declare daily that it was man-made without being able to point at empirical evidence, if we start censoring opinions on this, the fans of man-made global warming will suffer more cuts than skeptics will.
[Oct 16] CHRIS Roylance takes a swipe at Bill Kininmonth for daring to speak of “the lack of global warming over the past 15 years” (Letters, 14/10).
Roylance gives a confused account of records of individual years and perhaps overlooks the fact that Kininmonth as a retired Bureau of Meteorology scientist is well-qualified to analyse trends. Roylance also overlooks the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth report acknowledges the lack of warming, calling it a hiatus, although not analysing causes.
Informed scientists will also pay attention to recent peer-reviewed publications from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Both papers recognise the temperature hiatus and analyse possible natural causes in terms of ocean dynamics.
They predict a further 10 or 20 years of hiatus respectively – sound science which is subject to scrutiny, and falsifiable or provable with another decade of observations.
Michael Asten, Monash University, Vic
[Oct 16] If global temperatures rise for 50 years, then plateau for 15, of course all the temperatures on the plateau will be higher than those on the rising part of the graph. So Chris Roylance (Letters, 14/10), it is no surprise that the nine warmest years occurred on the plateau.
It’s time we stopped all this hottest-year-on-record stuff, and addressed the crucial issue of why global temperatures have disconnected from CO2 levels.
Michael Guppy, Moruya, NSW
And it goes on… here Roylance is back in confusion — thinking that a steady flat trend (at a high point) can’t possibly produce more “hottest year” records, even though that is exactly what it implies. His “demonstrably false” declaration is obvious nonsense.
[October 17] THERE is no ambiguity in a statement purporting “the lack of global warming over the past 15 years”, so if the hottest years in recorded history have occurred within that timeframe, then the statement is demonstrably false, and no amount of obfuscation by Michael Asten or Michael Guppy (Letters, 16/10 ) can disprove that.
I am cognisant and respectful of Bill Kininmonth’s previous history, but presumably Asten is aware that NASA is also “well-qualified to analyse trends” , so if Kininmonth’s opinion is to triumph over NASA’s data, he should submit his facts through the established process to determine their veracity.
And rather than shooting the messenger, perhaps those who persist with the no-warming mantra could also provide facts that disprove what the British Met Office had to say when this myth first appeared: “Anybody who thinks global warming has stopped has their head in the sand.”
Ignoring every credible scientific organisation on Earth and the extreme weather events that they say are linked to anthropogenic global warming in favour of nit-picking pedantry over the minutiae of climate modelling that can never be 100 per cent correct is idiocy, especially when the only thing humanity has to lose from reducing emissions is money.
Chris Roylance, Paddington, Qld
PS: Dear Chris, since it’s “only money”, can you give me yours? – Jo