August 31, 2011 | William York

Flannery of the Overflow 2011

With particular apologies to Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

I HAD written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him on the Murray, years ago,
He was boating when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec, addressed as follows, “Flannery, of The Overflow”.

And an SMS came directed from a source quite unexpected,
(And I think it was dictated from a river bank or bar)
’Twas the Prime Minister who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
“Flannery’s gone all catastrophic, and I don’t know where we are.”

With Australia Day flattery, visions come to me of Flannery
Gone a-driving “down to Canberra” where the politicians go;
With the journalists and stringers, Flannery pointing with his fingers,
Draws a future of disasters none of us will live to know.

And the Greens come out to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
While the politicians ponder an election to be won,
And he sees the vision horrid of our country turning florid,
With a baking sun, a rising sea and little being done.

With opinion polls a worry, I wonder what’s the hurry
For a government that has reached the tipping point
Of potential suicide with a carbon bill that’s mired
In spin and righteous claims that can but disappoint.

It seems to me Prime Minister that this is a little sinister
In the push to place our country in the global melting pot.
Will we really lead the world or will we all be hurled
Into a distant future where we just destroy our lot?

Clancy of The Overflow was written by A B ‘Banjo’ Paterson and published in The Bulletin, an Australian news magazine, on 21 December 1889.


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August 30, 2011 | Graham

Perhaps ABC’s Williams might do a more disCERNing interview

You have probably missed it because the mainstream media hasn’t been reporting it much, but climate science just got a little less settled.

A key component in the climate, and in climate models, is cloud formation, but according to results just published in Nature, much of what we thought we knew about cloud formation is wrong.

As the official release says:

The CLOUD results show that trace vapours assumed until now to account for aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can explain only a tiny fraction of the observed atmospheric aerosol production. The results also show that ionisation from cosmic rays significantly enhances aerosol formation. Precise measurements such as these are important in achieving a quantitative understanding of cloud formation, and will contribute to a better assessment of the effects of clouds in climate models.

“These new results from CLOUD are important because we’ve made a number of first observations of some very important atmospheric processes,” said the experiment’s spokesperson, Jasper Kirkby. “We’ve found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds. However, we’ve found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays.”

So that’s two unsettling things. One we were more or less aware of – cosmic rays have an effect on cloud formation. As the amount of cosmic radiation that reaches the earth is modulated by the sun’s activity, this provides a causal connection between observed temperature changes and sunspot activity. Henrik Svensmark gets the credit for proposing this mechanism.

The other I suspect is a surprise to everyone. Apparently we have virtually no idea what is required for lower level cloud formation as the “vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction”.

You would have thought that something like this would have been on the ABC’s Science Show, but alas, presenter Robyn Williams is still catching-up with old news in climate science.

This week he investigates the role of CO2 in plant fertilisation and he starts the interview by saying:

Robyn Williams: Is carbon dioxide really a plant fertiliser? Will it simply increase plant growth as we add more to the atmosphere? Well, no, according to Associate Professor Mark Hovenden, who is a plant ecologist at the University of Tasmania, and done what scientists must do, an experiment.

Dear old Robyn can’t get his own interviews right. If you read the transcript you will find that AssPro Hovenden says CO2 is a plant fertiliser, and yes, it will increase plant growth  as we add more to the atmosphere.

It doesn’t work that way in his own experiments because he is growing the plants on nutrient deficient soils and the lack of nutrients limits the rate at which the plants can grow. But it does work that way if the nutrients are there, although there is a diminishing return.

As Williams has long been over-invested in global warming hysteria he tries to obscure the fact that CO2 is a plant fertiliser. He also invents a straw man argument – that the increased plant growth will exactly counteract the anthropogenic component of the increase in CO2.

I haven’t heard anyone of any consequence say that. CO2 sequestration is fairly complex, although as the hydrocarbons we are mining were once  organic, over the long term it’s got to be reasonable to expect plants to sequester a lot of the additional CO2.

So, now that the ABC has caught up with CO2 fertilisation, perhaps they could cover the CERN findings, which are more startling, novel, and a lot more significant.


Posted by Graham at 12:23 pm | Comments (30) |
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August 29, 2011 | Graham

What’s the future for local film?

Crikey Weekender asks what is the future for local product.

You’re a TV executive under pressure from shareholders. You could produce a local drama, commissioning Australian stories and putting local industry to work, at well more than $1 million a week. Or you could air an episode of Two and a Half Men, at less than half the price and for probably the same ratings results. The choice is all too obvious.

The Crikey email makes it all too obvious – and “all too obvious” does not mean that I disapprove of their conclusion.

Nestled to the right of the text in the email is an advertisement for The Guard, which is presumably supporting the Crikey email. The Guard is an Irish movie.  Seems like any good movie is a good movie, irrespective of where it was made.

Well could have been worse. It could have been made in Hollywood.


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August 16, 2011 | Ronda Jambe

Of wars and walls

These past few months of travel have sometimes felt like a tour of wars, both long ago and more recent. It is possible for individuals to learn about history, but do societies ever change?

It is tempting to say ‘yes’, after being part of the cheerful crowd welcoming the Tour de France into Paris, and watching the pleasant socialising at the Paris Plage:

France seems so civilised and comfortable with itself. The countryside is gorgeous, the food is wonderful, the people relaxed. It is possible to distance yourself from the violent stories that unfold in so many of their special places.

There’s the Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval version of a cartoon, some 85 m long, and unrolled on special occasions to remind the population of the noble virtues of their own leader, and to justify his invasion of England. One panel shows a bishop riding into battle with the knights,  holding a cudgel but not a sword. Men of god were not allowed to draw blood, but they could give the enemy a good thwack on the head.

On the same day we visited the Normandy beaches, and learned about the complex logistics of the D-day landing. Another justified act of warfare I suppose, but still full of  horror and death for both sides.

So many walls on so many hills, so many variations on defense and attack. Today walls are (sometimes) virtual, economic rather than physical.

How chillingly quaint to see the drawings and actual torture accoutrements at the Museum of the Inquisition in Carcassone. Makes you wonder about a species that could devise and implement such procedures.  I offer one of the less obvious device from the museum for your imagination:

If torture involves inhumane decisions about human well-being, then probably nothing can top Gallipoli, which we visited yesterday. Much more recent, much less abstract, and those stories are still stomach churning after nearly 100 years. We know Gallipoli achieved nothing, but what exactly did the whole first world war achieve, except to lay the seeds for the second?

Berlin was another story on our travels, replete with reminders of the war and its wall. I’ll save those impressions for another time.

Of course there was always a charitable counter to war, like this hospital for the poor established in the middle ages by a rich merchant. Beautifully preserved and lovingly displayed, it also tugs at the heart strings in a more hopeful way:

It is also amusing to see that more than one ancient Roman colosseum is now being used for rock concerts and other cultural events, like this one in Nimes:

Perhaps there is something to Tom Friedman’s claim that countries that have McDonald’s outlets don’t fight each other. If so, bouquets to them. For the time being, the rich west continues military adventures, but without the monumental impacts earlier generations experienced. Elsewhere progress is not so evident. About 4.5 million have died in the Congo alone in the past decade, but who’s counting?


My own belief in non-violence sits apart from my anger over exploitation and distorted economic regimes that allow some to live as princes while others eke out a living. The days of the guillotine are gone and the chateaux on the Loire are just tourist attractions, as are the portraits of their prancing owners:

Similar types still thrive today, not caring that vast masses under their care lead stunted lives while they plunder their nation’s riches. The sword still rules in too many places. Freedom of commerce has to be part of the answer, and punishment for those who attack protesters with troops.  Maybe one day they too will see the light.


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August 15, 2011 | Graham

“Dr No” too prone to say yes

The government might call Tony Abbott “Dr No”, but the evidence suggests he is sometimes too ready to say “Yes” and that this is a fault he shares with some of his state colleagues.

Take his recent misstep over coal seam gas.

Talking to Alan Jones Abbott said that he would give landowners the right to prevent mining on their own land. This has now been modified to restrict it to prime farming land. Either way it is over-reach and over-reaction and sees him successfully wedged by the Greens.

It also suggests that the Opposition has no coherent policy on this issue, and this appeared to be confirmed by Malcolm Turnbull’s performance on Q&A last night where he made things worse for the coal seam gas industry, and for Tony.

It is over-reach, because land tenure is the business of state governments, and they give freehold title to the surface, not the subsurface. Not only has Abbott no power over the situation, but he is suggesting transferring rights from one group of entities – the states and people who own mining leases – to another – landowners. This would unjustly enrich one and impoverish the other, and raises an issue of sovereign risk.

It is over-reaction because he is pandering to a constituency that is going to vote for him at the next election whatever he does on this issue, so there is no need to bribe them. If his position can’t be clear, logical and unequivocal on this can we expect any better from an Abbott government than we do from this Gillard one?

Coal seam gas is a much “cleaner” fuel than coal: when it burns it emits much less CO2 into the atmosphere. If you believe CO2 emissions need to be reduced, then apart from nuclear energy, using it for power is one of the few ways of doing this and sustaining a modern lifestyle. It may not be the future, but it is a good halfway house.

Coal is not the only place you find this gas, and in the US it is being extracted from shale seams kilometres under the ground. Reserves have also been found around the world in such amounts that analysts suggest it will remove Saudi Arabia and the Middle East from their crucial position in energy supply, which would be a major benefit for global stability.

Development of this industry is being opposed by the Greens, and many of those who live over exploitable deposits. It is easy to understand the NIMBYs but why the Greens? Afterall, if this is a cleaner technology than coal and oil, shouldn’t they favour it.

They should, but the Greens have staked their sustainable energy dreams on a range of technologies that are unviable for large scale power generation at competitive prices such as solar and wind.  So instead of letting the market determine which technology will be used, they want to kneecap one of the competitors to their favoured energy sources before it grows into even an adolescent industry.

Similar dynamics are at work overseas, and a campaign of disinformation has been launched to demonise the gas industry. Josh Fox’s Gasland, part of the propaganda front, has screened in Australia. It’s trying in its own way to do to gas what An Inconvenient Truth did to CO2, and with similar dishonesty.

It is well-worth watching this YouTube Video of film-maker Phelim Macaleer extracting an admission from Fox that the sequence where he lights water coming out of a tap probably has nothing to do with the gas seam industry – ground water in this area has been known to be naturally contaminated with hydro-carbons for decades, and Fox knew that. Fox was so sensitive to the truth that for a while the video was withdrawn by YouTube after threats from his lawyers. Fox indeed.

There are water issues with some of the gas extraction, but these cut both ways. Tiny amounts of chemicals are introduced in the fracking process which is used to make the gas flow, and in one case in Queensland it appears they have got into the ground water. The government has closed that mine using existing environmental legislation.

The majority of extraction is nowhere near ground water and actually provides a potential benefit as it can be desalinated and used for irrigation. It is a major water resource that farmers can potentially use.

Of course it won’t last forever, but then, neither will the Great Artesian Basin, which is a vast reserve of water trapped underground which we have been mining for a century.

Abbott needs to change tack on this issue to not only defend his position, but to advance the legitimate interests of the industry.

Australia has thus far escaped the ravages of the international financial crises because of our mining industry. Our continued good health depends on that industry’s good health.

Next time “No Alan” might be the right answer.

Posted by Graham at 9:34 pm | Comments (3) |
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August 14, 2011 | Tracey

Nussbaum challenges contemporary education policies

Last week Martha Nussbaum – an Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago – delivered the 2011 Hal Wootten Lecture at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law.

Nussbaum spoke about “a world-wide crisis in education” across all levels of the education system, spawned by an increased focus by nations on technical skills that will drive direct and short-term profits, and the subsequent loss of skills acquired through the humanities and the study of the arts, history, philosophy and literature.

She noted that “Today, radical changes are occurring everywhere in what democratic societies teach the young, and these changes have not been well thought through. Eager for national profit, nations, and their systems of education, are heedlessly discarding skills that are needed to keep democracies alive. If this trend continues, nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves, criticize tradition, and understand the significance of another person’s sufferings and achievements. What are these radical changes? The humanities and the arts are being cut away, in both primary/secondary and college/university education, in virtually every nation of the world. Seen by policy-makers as useless frills, at a time when nations must cut away all useless things in order to stay competitive in the global market, they are rapidly losing their place in curricula, and also in the minds and hearts of parents and children.”

Nussbaum cited several cases where this trend is evident, and links it directly to the worldwide pursuit of economic growth in favour (almost unconsciously) over the long-term wellbeing of a strong democratic society.

“With the rush to profitability in the global market, non-technical abilities are at risk of getting lost: abilities crucial to the health of any democracy internally, and to the creation of a decent world culture and a robust type of global citizenship, capable of constructively addressing the world’s most pressing problems. These abilities are associated with the humanities and the arts: the ability to think critically; the ability to transcend local loyalties and to approach world problems as a ‘citizen of the world’; and the ability to imagine sympathetically the predicament of another person.”

This purely economic approach to the education system, Nussbaum argues, is driven by the standard model of development widely adopted by nations worldwide-that which focuses on increasing its Gross National Product per capita. This approach however fails to consider the distribution of this wealth across the society and therefore fails to capture an overall picture of quality of life. Nussbaum points to South Africa as a shining example of this ‘old model of development’, where the discrepancies between the elite wealthy minority and the distributional inequalities, health and education differences and apartheid regime, were largely ignored. Similarly Australia enjoyed a period of a high GDP in parallel with the exclusion and oppression of its aboriginal people.

“The goal of a nation, says this model of development, should be economic growth: never mind about distribution and social equality, never mind about the preconditions of stable democracy, never mind about the quality of race and gender relations, never mind about the improvement of other aspects of a human being’s quality of life such as health and education.”

This old model of development, Nussbaum points out, has been rejected by many development thinkers, despite still influencing policy makers. She cites the poor correlation between economic growth and achievements in health and education, as well as the correlation between the booming Chinese economy and its political liberty.

Nussbaum argues that under this ‘profit-making’ model, educators will not only ignore the arts, but fear them as well. She notes that “a cultivated and developed sympathy is a particularly dangerous enemy of obtuseness, and moral obtuseness is necessary to carry out programs of enrichment that ignore inequality.”

However, Nussbaum notes that within flourishing democracies, pure models of economic growth are hard to find as the foundations of democracy are built on respect for everyone, as opposed to the growth model which only respects the aggregate.

In contrast to the growth-based model, Nussbaum is associated with the Human Development paradigm – the primary alternative. This paradigm focuses importance on providing opportunities for everyone in areas such as life, health, bodily integrity, political participation and education – and providing the ability for each person to exceed the threshold level of opportunity in each area.

Nussbaum argues for three values that are crucial to decent global citizenship.

“The first is the capacity for Socratic self-criticism and critical thought about one’s own traditions…Critical thinking is particularly crucial for good citizenship in a society that needs to come to grips with the presence of people who differ by ethnicity, caste, and religion. We will only have a chance at an adequate dialogue across cultural boundaries if young citizens know how to engage in dialogue and deliberation in the first place. And they will only know how to do that if they learn how to examine themselves and to think about the reasons why they are inclined to support one thing rather than another — rather than, as so often happens, seeing political debate as simply a way of boasting, or getting an advantage for their own side.”

Nussbaum points out that this ability to think critically is an important skill to posses in all aspects of our lives, particularly in the increasingly polarised spaces of ethnicity and religion.

Even within the highly profit-driven corporate world, leading executives are driving cultures where the critical voice along with individuality and accountability are fostered and respected.

Within the political arena, Nussbaum points to the importance of counteracting our human tendency of subservience to peer pressure and authority by creating “a culture of individual descent”.

“By emphasizing each person’s active voice, we also promote a culture of accountability. When people see their ideas as their own responsibility, they are more likely, too, to see their deeds as their own responsibility.”

Nussbaum argues that the second value of a modern democratic citizen is “the ability to see oneself as a member of a heterogeneous nation, and world, understanding something of the history and character of the diverse groups that inhabit it. Knowledge is no guarantee of good behavior, but ignorance is a virtual guarantee of bad behavior.”

Nussbaum however stresses the importance of infusing critical thinking with this broader educational approach.

“In curricular terms, these ideas suggest that all young citizens should learn the rudiments of world history and should get a rich and non-stereotypical understanding of the major world religions, and then should learn how to inquire in more depth into at least one unfamiliar tradition, in this way acquiring tools that can later be used elsewhere. At the same time, they ought to learn about the major traditions, majority and minority, within their own nation, focusing on an understanding of how differences of religion, race, and gender have been associated with differential life-opportunities. All, finally, should learn at least one foreign language well: seeing that another group of intelligent human beings has cut up the world differently, that all translation is interpretation, gives a young person an essential lesson in cultural humility.”

The third ability, which is closely related to the first two is what Nussbaum calls the ‘narrative imagination’.

“This means the ability to think what it might be like to be in the shoes of a person different from oneself, to be an intelligent reader of that person’s story, and to understand the emotions and wishes and desires that someone so placed might have.

“Learning to see another human being not as a thing but as a full person is not an automatic achievement: it must be promoted by an education that refines the ability to think about what the inner life of another may be like – and also to understand why one can never fully grasp that inner world, why any person is always to a certain extent dark to any other.”

Nussbaum cautions that “while the humanities and arts can cultivate students’ sympathy in many ways…thought needs to be given to what the student’s particular blind spots are likely to be, and texts should be chosen in consequence.”

With a specific focus on the legal profession and delivering these teachings, Nussbaum is an advocate of co-teaching – where humanities scholars such as historians, political philosophers and the like have an important role to play.

Students “gain exposure to John Stuart Mill, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and a variety of literary authors who make the issue of perspective-taking come alive for them.”

Looking at the overall picture of global citizenship, Nussbaum cites that “universities of the world have great merits, but also great and increasing problems. By contrast, the abilities of citizenship are doing very poorly, in every nation, in the most crucial years of childrens’ lives, the years known as K through 12. Here the demands of the global market have made everyone focus on scientific and technical proficiency as the key abilities, and the humanities and the arts are increasingly perceived as useless frills, which we can prune away to make sure our nation (whether it be India or the U. S.) remains competitive.”

Nussbaum draws a bleak picture of a world without the arts and humanities.

“What will we have if these trends continue? Nations of technically trained people who don’t know how to criticize authority, useful profit-makers with obtuse imaginations, technically trained lawyers who don’t know how to understand and have concern for the communities they serve.”

In contrast Nussbaum’s opinion of the value of these skills go beyond simply a richer and more in-depth education.

“They only do what is much more precious than that, make a world that is worth living in, people who are able to see other human beings as full people, with thoughts and feelings of their own that deserve respect and sympathy, and nations that are able to overcome fear and suspicion in favor of sympathetic and reasoned debate.”

Posted by Tracey at 11:38 am | Comments (3) |
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August 04, 2011 | Ronda Jambe

New media, new world order?

Did you know that in the first 6 months of this year, 536 people in the US had died in tornadoes? Or that this was more than the entire previous decade? Don’t bother checking News Corp for that factoid.

Rupert Murdoch has been found wanting, his imperial power over pollies now mocked amid calls for him to step down and let his son get on with the business of taking journalism into the 21st century.

In the developing world, this still means print. For online readers, mutations are abundant, and we love clicking on a video clip about whatever tickles our fancy. Convergence makes our media habits more promiscuous, and social media allows us to become producers as well as consumers of news.

All this is well-established now, and I commend the Economist’s survey of the changing landscape of news production and consumption (July 9th) for a broad overview on how this is taking public discourse back to the age of the coffee house and pamphleteer.

They quote a technology commentator, David Weinburger,  as the source of the insight ‘transparency is the new objectivity’. It is not feasible to even try to pretend to total objectivity, but being honest and open about sources and perspectives gives the audience a fair go at holding writers and their publishers to account. For example, a public speaker who either does not know or is not telling who funded their speaking tour falls somewhere on the spectrum from disingenuous to clown.

New media business models reflect this new reality, looking for ways to encourage alternative reporting and not just commentary. Good commentary, of course, also triangulates sources of information, assembling it in ways that contribute to public discourse.

It is harder to support real reporting and research, but some new media, such as the California Bay Citizen, are doing this through a mix of grants, donations, corporate sponsorship and, importantly, syndication of their content. All tried and true, and part of the world of e-commerce, as described by my much missed friend the late Paul Bambury in this article on types of internet commerce:

Of course, even philanthropy has social (and therefore political) objectives.

And if content, dialogue and trust are drifting away from mass media, does this mean that the public is becoming more informed, or that the global polity is also becoming more mature and responsible?

Not so fast. The problems of the democratic deficit will remain difficult as long as big corporate interests have their fingers in politicians’ pockets, and on their throats. That is the real lesson of the Murdoch scandal, which the UK, and perhaps sleepy Australia, will gradually set to rights.

Back home at Online Opinion, I continue to ride my particular hobby horse. I believe that the lies we were told about weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion of Iraq were mere peccadilloes compared with the irresponsible gloss being given to the evidence on climate change.

Real world evidence, after all, should take precedence over models.

A valuable source of my new media is FAIR, or Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. This analysis by Neil deMause details how the media down-plays the likely impacts of climate change:

I’m writing this from Berlin, no escape here from layers of lessons about lies and distorted media. Would it have mattered if Hitler had Twitter?

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 5:41 am | Comments (3) |

August 03, 2011 | Graham

Note to Julia Gillard: Stop talking crap

According to new research, increase in CO2 emissions are more dependant on global temperature and soil moisture than what we burn in our industrial world. Not what you are likely to hear from the government.

CO2 is not in the driving seat, it is in the back seat.

Speaking at a seminar held by the Sydney Institute Professor Murry Sawlby, author of the text book Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics and an IPCC reviewer, outlined his research which was first delivered last week to an international climate conference and will appear in a peer reviewed journal later this year. You can listen to the podcast here.

I’ve listened to the podcast, and without seeing the charts he holds up it is difficult to get your head around the details of what he is saying, but it is broadly in line with what we knew from ice cores – that CO2 rises after the temperature rises. What surprised me was that the human contribution might be trivial.

Although man has been said to contribute somewhere around 3-5 percent of annual emissions, if you assume that all carbon sinks remain constant, then it only takes you 33 years at the lower figure to put out a figure equal to 100 percent of annual emissions. Because of the CO2 fertilisation effect which means plants grow faster with higher levels of CO2 and thus absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere, we know that one of the sinks is not constant, so that abatement will increase with emissions, but not to the full extent of the increase in emissions.

Apparently, based on observations, that is not what happens. As I say, I will have to delve more deeply into this one, but as Professor Sawlby says in his lecture – if you don’t understand and can’t predict carbon emissions you can’t model them, and apparently we don’t. Which means that the Global Climate Models can’t be relied upon and the science is anything but settled.

Note to Julia Gillard: stop talking crap. As Professor Sawlby also said “Anyone who thinks the science of this complex thing is settled is in Fantasia.”

Posted by Graham at 10:26 pm | Comments (5) |
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August 01, 2011 | Graham

Why the science is unsettled

I haven’t seen it reported in the mainstream of the Australian media yet, but two very recent high level scientific experiments, and their results, show just how unsettled climate science really is.

An experiment at CERN into a theory of Henry Svensmark and a paper published by Roy Spencer in MDPI (peer reviewed for those who care about those things)based on real world observations of radiation emissions into space, invalidate the computer models currently being used to “prove” that global warming will be catastrophic.

Now before I go further, let’s make one thing clear. The science is settled that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. If anyone disputes that with you, lock them up, they’re mad.

But what isn’t settled is the exact effect of CO2 on atmospheric temperature, particularly the hypothesis that temperature increases caused by CO2 will cause an increase in water vapour, and as water is a much more powerful greenhouse gas, a dramatic warming.

Which is where Svensmark and Spencer come in. There is a well-known correlation between fluctuations in solar activity as measured by sunspots and temperature on earth.  This is puzzling because changes in sunspot activity do not appear to correlate with changes in radiance.

Svensmark’s theory is that the mechanism by which it might effect the earth’s climate is that when the sun is active it deflects cosmic radiation from the earth. When it is less active the cosmic radiation penetrates into the atmosphere, reacts with sulphur particles and leads to the formation of more low level clouds which deflect solar radiation back into space before they hit the oceans and the land and have a chance to warm anything much.

The CERN experiment is to have a closer look at this proposed mechanism. CERN is of course the home to the Large Hadron Collider. The results of the experiment have not been published, but comments from CERN indicate that they are positive for Svensmark.

Spencer’s paper looks at the rate at which radiation escapes into space and concludes, that because of the time lag between radiation and heating it is not possible to diagnose feedback with a zero time lag, which is what the models try to do.

In fact “If you try, you will get a “false positive” even if feedback is strongly negative!”.

As neither of these findings are incorporated into the computer models, it just adds to the list of factors they cannot model and must fudge, invalidating them.

I also came across this interesting article which explains some of the aspects of modelling that one ought to understand. Particularly the claim that by taking the average of a number of different model runs we are getting a more certain picture of future climate.

The author calls it “post-normal science”. This is the same “scientific” method brazenly advanced by our own Ian Lowe as “sustainability science” where you abandon the traditional scientific method and first assume a conclusion rather than a hypothesis because if your conclusion is sufficiently bad, there may not be enough time left to test the hypothesis.

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