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Ideology adds heat to the debate on climate change — Jennifer Marohasy

The national conversation is all about “seeming” and “confidence”. Greg Hunt (Environment Minister) boasted that he stopped an investigation into the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and prevented “due diligence” being a part of a one-day wonder “forum”.

His justification:

“In doing this, it is important to note that public trust in the Bureau’s data and forecasts, particularly as they relate to bushfires and cyclones, is paramount,” [Greg Hunt] said.

It used to be that public trust occurred when organizations were fully investigated, accountable, and found clean. Now “Public Trust” is apparently increased when there are no investigations, or only weak whitewashes. Either the public has got a lot stupider, or the media and ministers have.

Plenty of the self anointed (those who know more than the dumb punters) thought Hunt’s boast was a big achievement. Anthony Sharwood, News Corp journalist (oh for a “reporter”!), wondered if the government was paranoid for wanting to check the BOM. Perhaps next he’ll be calling for global corporates to figure out their own tax bill; who needs professional auditing, right — it’s just “paranoid”?

But the bad news for Hunt and the Bureau (and Sharwood) is that the Truth will out, the genie can’t be put back in the bottle, and word is spreading. Who wants to be caught covering up the gross errorsinexplicable adjustments, major changes, and bizarre hot-records in cold-places, all done with mystery methods? You don’t need a PhD to know that maximum temperatures are meant to be higher than minimums. Nor does it take many brains to recognize that there are strange repetitive patterns  and errors in the oldest “quality” data that obviously didn’t come from any thermometer and are not real. Are those who cover it up gullible fools, or deceptive cheats?

Jennifer Marohasy has a great response, at On Line Opinion and in a shorter version in The Australian:

You Don’t Know the Half of It: Temperature Adjustments and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology

By jennifer on September 28, 2015 in Information

 According to media reports last week, a thorough investigation of the Bureau’s methodology was prevented because of intervention by Environment Minister Greg Hunt. He apparently argued in Cabinet that the credibility of the institution was paramount. That it is important the public have trust in the Bureau’s data and forecasts, so the public know to heed warning of bushfires and cyclones.

This is the type of plea repeatedly made by the Catholic Church hierarchy to prevent the truth about paedophilia, lest the congregation lose faith in the church.

Sometimes the minority are right:

Contrast this approach with that by poet and playwright Henrik Ibsen who went so far as to suggest ‘the minority is always right’ in an attempt to have his audience examine the realities of 18th Century morality. Specifically, Ibsen wanted us to consider that sometimes the individual who stands alone is making a valid point which is difficult to accept because every culture has its received wisdoms: those beliefs that cannot be questioned, until they are proven in time to have been wrong. British biologist, and contemporary of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley was trying to make a similar point when he wrote, “I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything.”

At one time, Charles Darwin was in a bit of a minority.

Sharwood the journalist wants to understand temperature sets by studying “motivations”:

News Corp Australia journalist Anthony Sharwood got it completely wrong in his weekend article (“Does the weather Bureau Tweak Data”)  defending the bureau’s homogenisation of the temperature record. I tried to explain to him on the phone last Thursday how the bureau didn’t actually do what it said when it homogenised temperature time series for places such as Rutherglen.

Sharwood kept coming back to the issue of “motivations”. He kept asking me why on earth the bureau would want to mislead the Australian public.

Jennifer M quotes ClimateGate emails, which is very apt, but let’s turn his question back on Sharwood: ask him which university or public institution in Australia would offer a job to a skeptical meteorologist? Any BOM staff who reported that Australia was always hot and dry, and climate change was natural, would be unemployable. (Lomborg accepted the science, just doubts the economics, and he’s treated like a leper.) Perhaps Sharwood can explain how more funding or status would arrive at the Bureau of Meteorology if it turned out that the climate was controlled by the Sun, that most long term climate modelling was useless, and that the BOM had been wrong for years?  Rephrasing Sharwood: Why on Earth would the BOM want to show that its past predictions were wrong, and that it had mislead the public?

The BOM spoke too soon and unscientifically pegged their colors to the mast of climate change panic. What incentive is there for them to expose that?

This issue is only going to get worse until there is a real review, done by skeptical scientists (because there is no other kind of scientist):

It is so obvious that there is an urgent need for a proper, thorough and independent review of operations at the Bureau. But it would appear our politicians and many mainstream media are set against the idea. Evidently they are too conventional in their thinking to consider that such an important Australian institution could now be ruled by ideology.

This article was first published at   A shorter versions was subsequently published at The Australian, with the wonderful cartoon of Greg Hunt by Eric Lobbecke.

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