Who are the real ‘refuseniks’?

By Andrew L. Urban.

On the eve of the Paris climate change conference, COP21, The Weekend Australian (Nov 28/29, 2015) ran an editorial that coins ‘refuseniks’ as the word to describe those who question the politically orthodox view about global warming.

If a ‘refusenik’ is one who refuses to accept an unproven hyposthesis, what do you call those who refuse to accept empirical facts?

Said The Weekend Australian: 

“In a parallel universe, critics savage Malcolm Turnbull for having the temerity to go, armed with targets, to next week’s Paris climate meeting. In fact, Turnbull’s position is exactly what he inherited from Tony Abbott and is a sensible compromise appealing to the political centre where most voters are to be found. The wilder claims of climate activists warrant independent scrutiny, but doing nothing on climate change is not an option. It has been the case for more than a generation that no major party will adopt a climate refusenik position and that is because there is no popular constituency for such a lack of realism. For example, John Howard took a carbon trading scheme to the 2007 election.”

My reply in Comments:

“It’s sad to see this (usually intelligent) paper’s editorial using the phrase “a climate refusenik position”; I wouldn’t be surprised to see the phrase “the science is settled” in the next piece on what has come to be known (meaninglessly) as ‘climate change’. True scientists deplore the ignorance such a view shows about science, the process of constant scepticism and discovery. ‘Refusenik’ belongs in the same category as ‘denialist’ – this is the language of the Inquisition, folks. Heretics are burnt at the stake. Witches, too. We are being urged to believe in computer modelled scenarios (dangerous warming) that the empirical evidence (no warming) disputes. Who is the ‘refusenik’? We are also bullied by such language into accepting (believing as in blind faith) that man is contributing to this warming, albeit we don’t know how much of the atmosphere’s 0.04% of CO2 that is. Science it ain’t.”

In the same edition of The Weekend Australian, in Letters to the Editor, Michael Asten, School of Earth Atmosphere, Monash University, Vic, writes:

“Rather than being panicked by the WMO press release, Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt and their opposite numbers represented in Paris would serve us well by pausing their deliberations until science delivers a global temperature model consistent with measurement.”

His letter begins:

“The UN climate agency, the World Meteorological Organisation, has predictably hyped the global warming associated with this El Nino to encourage political leaders to action in next week’s Paris climate conference (“UN tips 2015 as hottest year”, 26/11). However, its press release overlooks the full WMO discussion which notes that this El Nino is similar to three significant events in 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98. It is not an unprecedented event, and past experience shows that prediction of the progress of El Ninos is notoriously difficult.

The WMO quotes only surface temperature data, which may be subject to upward biases from meteorological stations sited in cities and ships that are thermal sources. The two data sets of lower atmosphere temperatures as measured globally using weather balloons and satellites were not used by the WMO, but they show a less alarming result — there is no upward statistical trend in global temperatures over the past 18 years, a feature much discussed in scientific journals as “the pause”. Empirical scientists should be alarmed that while the most commonly quoted climate models predict a global temperature increase of 3C per century over this time, it is not happening.”

It is not happening. So, I repeat, Who are the ‘refuseniks’? The Weekend Australian’s editorial says ‘Doing nothing about climate change is not an option’. I think a searching, mature and informed discussion about the global climate ‘industry’ is the first thing to do about it, to try and make sure it is not a self-serving, bureaucracy-feeding monster.

As Louise, another commenter on The Weekend Australian’s Editorial put it:

“This issue is in its death throes, kept alive by a mammoth industry that has been built around it and people who daily demonstrate that brainwashing, via constant climate doomsday propaganda, is extremely effective. I’ve found a simple history lesson in Paleoclimate (simply showing graphs going back 400,000 years) to be very effective in deprogramming. What usually follows is red-hot anger at the media and our political class!”

Follow the Prophet

There are two key questions in the climate debate, but they are inevitably blended into one blunt question of ‘do you believe in climate change’:

1 – is dangerous and measurable warming threatening our world’s well-being?

2 – if so, is human activity contributing to such warming and if so, how and to what extent?

The trouble is, we don’t seem to be able to answer either question with any accuracy or confidence. So what ‘action’ do you take when you don’t know what is the problem you are trying to solve? You follow the Prophet Al Gore …



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