The Australian backs Ian Plimer
Surely a measure of scepticism is healthy for a scientist. Professor Manne's dogmatic approach is questionable in light of the complexities surrounding climate change. Much of Antarctica is cooling, for instance, and ice is expanding in much of the region. Contrary to popular belief, extensive Antarctic melting would be required to raise sea levels substantially. Not that the trend is new. As long ago as 1995, this newspaper reported that the sheet of snow and ice covering Antarctica was growing. Scientists speculated it was an early indicator of global warming, and that the extra ice would increase sea levels when it eventually melted over 10,000 years.
Such a scenario does not support Professor Manne's belief that "humanity is at present marching, with eyes wide open, towards disaster". It lends greater credence to Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg's view that the immense cost of cutting greenhouse emissions in nations such as Australia would be better spent redressing malnutrition and preventable disease.
That the climate is changing is undisputed - it has done so for millions of years, notably before the Industrial Revolution. Given that the levels of carbon emissions have been measured only relatively recently, it remains to be be proved that their rise is the major driver of global warming. In the meantime, The Australian accepts the IPCC finding that the evidence of climate change calls for global intervention [This sentence is the only black mark. No-one should accept anything the IPCC says, but at least we're moving in the right direction - Ed]. A pragmatic approach, including investment in carbon sinks, renewable energy and clean coal research, is prudent. And nuclear power cannot be discounted forever in Australia. Professor Plimer's sceptical eye on climate science is not to be dismissed as the "zealotry" of a "pseudo-sceptical scientist".
And in a separate article, another convert (apparently as a result of Plimer's book) writes about the "hubris" of believing that humanity can affect climate:
According to this scenario, human beings are the most important players in the history of the planet; they are the lords and masters who can destroy things as well as set them right. This belief in the capacity of humans to control the environment is very old. In some ancient civilisations the ruler was supposed to have the power to create a beneficial climate. If there were a prolonged drought, then the ruler sometimes was expected to make the ultimate sacrifice to propitiate the gods. During the depths of the Little Ice Age in Europe, some communities asked God for forgiveness of their sins so that a better climate might return.
Yet, reading Ian Plimer's excellent Heaven and Earth, what impresses one about his extraordinary account of the Earth's history and its climate is the many forces of nature that are beyond human control. These range from cosmic radiation to the movement of continents and the force of volcanoes. In so many ways we are just spectators, pilgrims who spend a short time on Earth.
That so many people need climate change in the face of the immense forces of nature can be put down to human hubris. They want the illusion of control, and the tool that they use to further that illusion is no longer religion but the state.
Bravo, The Australian!
Read it here and here.