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What you don’t know about the climate (Half page advert in The Australian)

Here’s the full copy of a half page advert in The Australian. In a normal world, this would be discussed at conferences, and reported by science reporters in magazines like New Scientist or Scientific American, or on shows like Catalyst. Instead, private citizens have to fork out thousands to pay for an advert. — Jo


The climate cooled for 37 years during the period 1940 to 1976. Books were written expressing alarm. Lowell Ponte’s 1975 book warns: “Global cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for 110,000 years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance: the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.”

We now have a new climate alarm and similar statements are being made. Climate models used by authorities forecast that CO2 emissions will cause dangerous global warming, now referred to as Climate Change.


Sources: Various, as described in the “State of the Climate in 2012” in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society1, August 2013.


Recent findings in the area of psychology, “Psychology and Economics” by the eminent behavioural economist Prof. Matthew Rabin, University of California, show the prevalence of a number of bias errors when people make decisions. Such errors are relevant for climate scientists in examining the evidence claimed to support the threat of dangerous global warming with rising CO2 levels. The following reviews the importance of two key bias errors referred to by Prof. Rabin in his paper.

The bias error of “there is a misinterpretation that purely random events are too long to be purely random and represent a long term trend”.

The bias error of “once forming a view people are often inattentive to information contradicting their view. There is the problem of selective scrutiny of evidence”.

A bias problem of “selective scrutiny of evidence” that carbon dioxide emissions drive Climate Change is illustrated by the following:

More recently, despite rising CO2, there was a cooling of climate for 37 years from 1940 and measurements show no increase in temperature over the past 17 years.

Global warming, with interruptions, has therefore continued since the end of the last Ice Age unrelated to CO2 levels. The 600 million year geological record shows levels of CO2 varied from 200 ppm (0.02%) to 7,000 ppm (0.7%). The significant fall from 7,000 ppm was mainly due to removal of CO2 in marine skeletal material to form vast limestone deposits. At that time the ocean could not have been acid otherwise the limestone would have dissolved.

The present level is near 400 ppm (0.04%) and this could double only if all the known fossil fuel reserves were used but would still be well below past high levels of CO2 which did not cause dangerous warming. Plants evolved in the Cambrian Period when CO2 levels were typically near 5,000 ppm (0.5%) which provides further evidence that past higher levels of CO2 did not cause dangerous global warming.

Another bias error is evident with estimates of future atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas methane (see Graph 2).

The rise in methane levels was associated with leakage from poorly maintained natural gas facilities. This has now been corrected and methane levels are shown in CSIRO published data to fluctuate with the various effects caused by El Ninos. Methane levels based on projections of earlier increases are incorrect and wrongly associated with grazing animals and rice fields.

Methane, Law Dome, 2015

Other research by behavioural economists shows how the employment of the findings from psychology can be used to “nudge” people to do what “choice architects” think would be in people’s best interests. The book “Nudge” by the authors, Thaler & Sunstein, reviews this research.
Referring to CO2, an invisible gas, as carbon, which as soot is a black dirty solid, is a good example of a “nudge” to sway public opinion in favour of reducing CO2 emissions. This is a deception which stands in the way of reason.

There is the “nudge” food quality will fall with increasing atmospheric CO2. This is misleading. A rise in CO2, a plant nutrient, provides for a useful increase in food production. Food quality can decline if there is not a corresponding increase in other essential plant nutrients.
Another “nudge” is the claim that CO2 emissions will cause ocean acidity.

There is no evidence that levels as high as 7,000 ppm of CO2 did or could cause ocean acidity. The ocean is alkaline and contains minerals in solution which constrain lowering of alkalinity with rising CO2.


For greenhouse gases there has been a “selective scrutiny of evidence” to support Climate Change alarm. There is no evidence CO2 has determined climate in the past or that it could do so in the future. Just as there was needless alarm over the 37 year cooling from 1940 when CO2 was rising there is now unwarranted public alarm over a threat of dangerous global warming.

Australia should save the $3 billion plus spent annually supporting renewable energy programs. The heavy burden of these costs falls on taxpayers, business and households.

No Australian post-2020 emissions reduction target could be justified unless emission-free energy can be produced at a cost competitive with traditional energy suppliers.


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