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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


An Open Letter to the Honourable Tony Abbott, Leader of the Oppostion

Dear Mr. Abbott

I read the Australians' report of your address to primary school students in my home state. I read the brief report with significant and mounting disquiet. You, sir are in a position of considerable authority, and are the potential leader of this country. Thus, when you talk to primary school students it is very important that you get your statements and logic right.

You said:
"OK, so the climate has changed over the eons and we know from history, at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now,"
No, no it wasn't. All the reliable reconstructions show that the climate that far back was cooler than now (see the graph above, and here and here). All the evidence shows that the warming in the last 25-30 years is unprecedented in the past two millennia. You also said:
"And then during what they called the Dark Ages it was colder. "
No, no it wasn't (see above). You also said:

"Climate change happens all the time and it is not man that drives those climate changes back in history."
Which is irrelevant to the issue of whether humans are causing climate change now. Back in Medieval times humans weren't pumping vast quantities of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. As a simple matter of logic, the fact that humans have not produced global climate change in the past does not mean we cannot do it now. After all, humans didn't produce any changes in the ozone layer in the past, yet our activities created the Ozone Hole. You said:

"It is an open question how much the climate changes today and what role man plays."
Not true, in the sense you are implying. We are committed to a warming world, whether we get 2 degrees or 7 degrees warmer by 2100 depends on how much we mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, several of our warming indicators are tracking near the worst case scenario predictions, which is quite disturbing. It is also quite clear that human greenhouse gas emissions are the culprit behind most of this warming (see The Copenhagen Diagnosis for a simple and clear explanation). This is simple physics, you put in more greenhouse gasses, the world warms. The children you were speaking to could demonstrate this themselves with a simple experimental apparatus.

You may not be impressed by foreign academies, but surely, as a possible future Prime Minster, you should not ignore the advice of the CSIRO that the world is warming, with humans largely responsible. The CSIRO is after all Australia's most respected scientific institution, to which the government goes for scientific advice. If you cannot accept the advice of this institution, what does this bode for your acceptance of advice on other issues that turn on scientific evidence.

Mr Abbott, those children you spoke to are our future, as well as the ones who will be left with the legacy of our inaction of global warming. You, as a potential Prime Minister have a special duty not mislead these same children with incorrect statements and poor logic.

Yours sincerely, Ian Musgrave

EDIT: The The Roman Warm Period really did exist, but was not a global event, rather a largely European/North Atlantic one, based at least on changed ocean currents (see for example Earth and Planetary Science Letters Volume 213, Issues 1-2, 1 August 2003, Pages 63-78). And the most recent evidence is that it was not warmer than the medieval warm period (GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L20703, doi:10.1029/2006GL027662, 2006) except perhaps in isolated spots. So Mr. Abbott, when you get climate advice, make sure you get it from real climate scientists.

EDIT AGAIN: Tim Lambert traces Mr Abbott's assertions to Ian Plimer. No wonder Mr. Abbott got it wrong.


Well said.
I'd be happy to append my blogononymous name to your letter, Ian.

I'd also like to ask Abbott to explicitly detail the science that he relies upon in order to make his comments about the physics of climate change, and about how he reconciles his faith-based belief in sky fairies with the evidence-based objectivity of the scientific methods - and even of economic rationalism.

I will also guarantee that nothing will be forthcoming, from our country's very own mad monk, about these matters.

Bernard J.
Abbott makes a valid point. Just because you have a hockey stick graph and references to RealClimate all over the place doesn't validate your assertion. Check all the graphs in Jo Nova's piece here in support of Abbott's claim:
So what caused the the MWP and LIA if, as you say, humans weren't pumping extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere then?

Note also that although CO2 may have gone up by 30% in the last 150 years or so the recovery from the LIA began 400 years ago, from your own graph. Note also that while CO2 has gone up 30% the overall rise in infrared absorbing gases is much, much less than this due to the overwhelming influence of water vapour. Try at least an order of magnitude lower effect.

Unlike the anonymous cowards I'll use my real name.
Mike Jowsey wrote: Check all the graphs in Jo Nova's piece here in support of Abbott's claim:

This actually proves my point. Actually LOOK at the graphs, they are all over the place in time and extent, some show no warming at all. What is happening is that you are looking at (badly) cherry picked LOCAL data, which naturally vary a lot, what we are concerned with is the GLOBAL data. While you don't care for Real Climate (despite being real climate scientists), you should read this article http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/what-we-can-learn-from-studying-the-last-millennium-or-so/. As well there is this article which is not from the RealClimate group which also puts things in perspective http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/Bradley.pdf. Or perhaps you prefer the NOAA page on the medieval warm period http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/medieval.html. There is also the Paleoclimate chapter from the IPCC http://www.ipcc-wg1.unibe.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/ar4-wg1-chapter6.pdf. You can even download the original data yourself and graph them ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/contributions_by_author/ljungqvist2009/ljungqvist2009recons.txt.

Summary, don't confuse limited, regional changes with global changes.
Mike Borgelt wrote: So what caused the the MWP and LIA if, as you say, humans weren't pumping extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere then?

The Medieval Warm Period (more properly the Medieval Climate Anomaly) is apparently associated with changes in oceanic circulation (see references in reply above) and localised warmth, rather than a significant global event. Some areas became warmer, some became colder and wetter. The Little ice Age is associated with the Maunder Minimum, where solar irradiance fell for several decades. It is of interest to note that warming has continued during the most protracted solar minimum for several solar cycles.
A minor OT comment re ozone depletion.
CFCs are released predominantly in the N hemisphere and do not migrate to the S Pole in significant quantities.
CFCs are 4 times denser than other gases in the air so do not rise up into the stratosphere in the way the computer models say. By analogy, concrete blocks are 2400kg/m3 and water is 1000kg/m3. The blocks don't float, even if one agitates the water vigorously.

Edgar Bronfman (major Dupont shareholder) funded millions of dollars of the research into ozone over the Antarctic and Dupont has profited by billions of dollars from the banning of their own product. Even before the expiry of their 17 year CFC patent they had a dormant plant ready to come on line with their replacement (patented) HCFC gas.

The British Antartic Survey say that Mt Erebus was putting out around 1000 tonnes of hot chlorine gas each day during its peak eruption in the early 80s. (I find this hard to believe. Perhaps it was only 1000kgs) Tonnes or kilograms, this is a huge volume of gas at sea-level pressure. Logic says that this could have been the source of the chlorine found in the upper atmosphere.
CFCs are very stable and described as "inert" in some science dictionaries, having an atmospheric life of over half a century. Theoretically, all those CFCs should still be breaking down and making the ozone "hole" bigger but actual measurements show that the size of the annual ozone hole is shrinking and the topic is no longer news-worthy.
To me, the theory of ozone depletion by man is a very long stretch, while the theory of ozone depletion by chlorine from Mt Erebus (while it was erupting), makes simple common sense.
I'd be interested to hear more on this topic.
"Currently, several of our warming indicators are tracking near the worst case scenario predictions, which is quite disturbing."

Rubbish. Hansen's A B C scenarios have spectacularly failed to happen.

The 'warming indicators' are no where near Hansen's worst case scenario A (despite CO2 levels being at the level Hansen predicted would result in the catastrophic Scenario A).

Alarmism at it's finest.

I always refer back to Hansen's failed ABC scenarios as he was instrumental in starting this global warming (whoop sorry, climate change, whoop sorry, climate disruption) hysteria in the first place.

And let us not forget that High Priest Hansen once predicted global catastrophe from a 'new ice age'. A 1971 Washington Post scare piece entitled "U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming" fretted that "burning fossil fuels discharges particles into the atmosphere that reflect the sun's rays back into space. Emissions over 5–10 years supposedly could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.
The NASA research behind this hysteria was "supported by a computer program developed by Dr. James Hansen,"

Seems Hansen and all the other warmists are just 'catastrophe junkies', hitching their band wagons (and growing bank accounts) to whatever is the latest climate scare du jour.
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