2011-05-30 09:14:26Upcoming series by Australian academics to be reposted on SkS
John Cook


Steve Lewandowsky has organised a series of articles to be published on The Conversation website and http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/ and asked if SkS would be interested in reposting them too (to which I said yes - good to get these important articles out to as wide an audience as possible). So here is the schedule of posts - I think we'll just slide our SkS posts in amongst the schedule. Note one on the Galileo movement - some SkSers were collecting climate myth quotes from the Galileo Movement founders so I'm thinking that blog post can go on the same day.

13 June


Opening statement (100-200 words; organized by S Lewandowsky, to be co-signed by numerous climate scientists and authorities).

  • Outline briefly what is to follow in these pages. Outline magnitude of the problem, health implications, ethical issues, and so on. Touch on the difference between denial and skepticism by linking to existing material.

13 June

 Authoritative statement from Bureau of Meteorology (likely Dr. Karl Braganza, Bureau of Meteorology)

  • Overview of current state of climate and how it is evolving globally as well as in Australia. The Bureau has approved a contribution from their scientists.

14 June

Recognizing an Alarming Reality is not Alarmist (Dr James Risbey, CSIRO)

  • Public discourse is awash with the charge that scientists are “alarmist” when they point to the rate at which the climate is changing in response to human emissions. In actual fact, the scientific evidence is mounting that the IPCC has been overly conservative rather than alarmist. Recognizing this alarming reality is not alarmist but sensible; what is alarming is that our culture has been unable to absorb and act on such sensible warnings in the past. As a consequence, the time for half measures is past and addressing climate change requires real commitment. We have very little time and an increasingly small carbon allowance to avoid lock-in impacts. Our generation is setting the climate future for the next thousand generations, whether we admit to that or not. Urgent action is needed to drastically cut emissions. We know that half measures will tip us into a climate last seen millions of years ago and all we can hope is to avoid that with the strongest and fastest mitigation.

15 June

Inadvertent geo-engineering: The human footprint on the planet (Prof Mike Sandiford, University of Melbourne)

  • Can human activity rival the forces of nature? It seems breathtakingly arrogant to believe that our impact on the immense grandeur of Earth could be anything but minuscule. At least, that's what some prominent climate sceptics indignantly assert. Their incredulity may be understandable, but they are just plain wrong: Our species is already a geophysical agent of unprecedented power, albeit with unsustainable growth expectations. By 2060, we will be using energy at a rate faster than is released by the entire Earth in making all the mountains, earthquakes and volcanoes on the planet. We now collectively consume energy at a rate equivalent to detonating one Hiroshima bomb (60 trillion joules) about every four seconds and are on a trajectory towards one Hiroshima bomb every second before the end of the century.

16 June

 Suitable material from the Garnaut Report (byline Professor Ross Garnaut)

  • After the release of the final report on 31 May, suitable material from that will be made available by Garnaut’s office for this series of exposes. Anna Freeman (Anna.Freeman@climatechange.gov.au) will be negotiating content and timing directly with The Conversation editors after that date.

17 June

Peer review and climate denial: Opinion vs. substance (Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, UQ)

  • The general public is often confused about which “expert” they should to listen to. Is any “professor” like any other?  To deal with this confusion, scientists often talk about the mysterious process called 'peer-review'. I recently analysed a number of self-proclaimed “skeptic” climate-change scientists and was shocked to find that they had no peer-reviewed papers on climate change to their name.  How could this happen and what can we do to ensure integrity and science?  More importantly, how we communicate the importance of scientific peer review is a process that is absolutely essential to progress in convincing a sceptical public of the importance of responding to global climate change.

20 June

If side-stepping is insufficient, subvert: Denial and the subversion or abuse of peer review (Prof Stephan Lewandowsky, UWA)

  • By and large, denialists do not publish in the peer-reviewed literature. Nonetheless, there are a handful of papers that have appeared in refereed journals and that either directly or indirectly question the scientific consensus on climate science. In a disturbingly large number of cases, those papers appeared either through subversion of peer review or in “journals” with no definitive review process but a stated political agenda. In one such instance, half of a journal’s editors resigned in protest over the appearance of a flawed paper after inadequate review, which led to a public apology by the publisher. In another instance, a paper that claimed to provide evidence for climate change being the result of natural variation was in fact not about climate; and in a recent case, a paper published after deeply compromised review turned out to be largely plagiarized and was withdrawn by the publisher. The sum total of those activities are difficult to reconcile with ethical conduct of science.

21 June

The Counter Noise (Prof David Karoly, University of Melbourne)

  • A prominent Australian “skeptic”, Bob Carter, recently published a book appealing to an alleged “counter consensus” that questions the actual scientific consensus. This book is a curious read, full of misinformation, straw-man arguments, and poorly-documented assertions. To become immersed in it, we must enter the through-the-looking-glass world of the “independent” scientist, where actual scientists are the ones “…who have dissembled, told half-truths, cherry-picked their data, fantastically exaggerated, and suppressed the circulation of better science.” This inversion of reality continues throughout a volume that is basically a compendium of specific errors and nonsense.

22 June

6. No science but conspirology: The dark vortex of true intentions (Prof Stephan Lewandowsky, UWA, and Prof Michael Ashley, UNSW)

  • Denialists escape peer review and publish in The Australian instead. But why? What motivates denialists? There is of course substantial evidence that professional ideologues and vested interests are responsible for much of the attack on scientists in the public sphere. These intentions can be visualized by public statements such as “To win the political aspect of the climate debate, we have to lower the western climate establishment's credibility with the lay person… The strategy … is to undermine the credibility of the establishment climate scientists. That's all. There is nothing special science-wise…”. The close connection between organized denial and other conspiracy theories can be seen by public statements such as “…There are a small number of families who, over the centuries, have amassed wealth through financial rent seeking. They are leading members of the paper aristocracy. For example, the Rothschild’s are the biggest banking family in Europe, and were reputed to own half of all western industry in 1900.” Importantly, the overwhelming evidence for climate change mandates that “skeptics” escape into a vortex of conspiratorial thinking, an aspect of public debate that is often ignored and must be highlighted in the interest of posterity.


23 June

 Galileo or Bobo the Clown? (Prof Ian Enting, University of Melbourne)

  • Self-proclaimed “skeptics” often claim heroic outsider status, presenting themselves as disinterested “independent” scientists who take on the “corrupt establishment”, suggesting that there is much valuable “scientific” material to be found on “skeptical” blogs. This activity has culminated in the recent creation of a website called the Galileo Movement, which links together well-known Australian denialists in this stance. This piece explores the background of this flock of “skeptics” and shows how all have been shown to be wrong multiple times over. Their insistence to recycle known falsehoods is not compatible with the ethical conduct of science and is the precise opposite of what Galileo actually did. [SL2] 


24 June

The Chief Troupier: The Follies of Mr. Monckton (Prof John Abraham, University of St. Thomas)

  • One of the most outspoken leaders of the denialist troupe is Christopher Monckton, a person with excellent credentials in speaking but no credentials in real science (he has not published a single peer-reviewed paper on any topic). Real scientists have never taken Mr. Monckton seriously, but this hasn’t stopped him from traveling the world, presenting his views on science to anyone who will listen as an “expert” on climate change—including, alas, the U.S. Congress. That testimony, in May 2010, presented 9 key assertions that were without merit.  Monckton’s assertions were so misleading that a group of 26 scientists (myself included) wrote a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal for Congress.  Scientists are generally a reserved group, but in this instance the statements used to describe Mr. Monckton’s testimony included, “Monckton’s reasoning and calculation is incorrect … the remainder of his statement is simply chemical nonsense” or “The submission from Monckton … is profoundly wrong …” Profoundly wrong individuals with no relevant expertise should have no place in public debate in a 21st-century knowledge economy.

24 June 

11. Concluding piece (Prof S Lewandowsky, UWA)

  • What does all this add up to? Could climate science be wrong? This concluding piece will touch on those issues and explain how science is in principle always falsifiable, and it is only the possibility that it might be wrong that gives it the power to describe reality. The scientific description of climate reality provides plenty of reason for action, in the same way that uncertainty of the outcome when one drives into a brick wall at 80km/h deters few people from avoiding the collision altogether. The scientific and ethical imperatives for action are clear, and the economic costs are affordable—inaction therefore represents a failure of human intellect and spirit.
2011-05-30 09:25:55
Dana Nuccitelli

LOL @ "Galileo or Bobo the Clown?"  I don't know if we can change these posts at all, but Lindzen the Anti-Galileo would be a relevant cross-reference for that subject.

2011-05-30 12:25:24Ian Enting & his Galileo piece
John Cook


This piece in particular is one I hope to coordinate with other SkS posts so Dana, I'll mention your Lindzen post to him, send him the link.

2011-05-30 17:47:18Enting & Plimer
Glenn Tamblyn


Might also be worth linking something on Plimer to Enting since his list is the best takedown of Plimer.


Also, great list of contributors by the way.

2011-05-30 17:51:40Enting and Plimer
John Cook


I've been in touch with Ian Enting about his takedown of Plimer and he's okay with us taking his huge tome and translating it into a series of bite-sized blog posts. It just needs SkSers to do it. I started a thread on this but noone has expressed interest yet. But we are juggling a few balls at the moment so it is understandable.

2011-05-30 21:38:46
Rob Painting

The excerpts look great!. Look forward to it.