Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Climate change nonsensus: Only ~47% of Australian geoscientists endorse strong action to reduce fossil fuel emissions

From a comment at The Guardian [surprised they didn't delete it]:
Alan Mcintire commented on The claim of a 97% consensus on global warming does not stand up. 
07 Jun 2014 
From the June 2013 issue of "The Australian Geologist", 
from page 12,  53% of the members of the Geological Society of Australia
DISAGREED with the statement endorsing strong action to reduce fossil fuel emissions. OBVIOUSLY there's no 97% consensus.
DISAGREED with the statement endorsing strong action to reduce fossil fuel emissions. OBVIOUSLY there's no 97% consensus.

link from comment was broken, but Google cache below, see also a nice summary of skeptic positions included:

GSA Climate Change Statement

I was interested to read the four Letters to
the Editor of TAG in the last issue
(TAG 166, March 2013), commenting on
the Geological Society of Australia’s draft
Statement on Climate Change, prepared on
behalf of the Executive Committee by
Brad Pillans. All four respondents
disapproved of that statement.

In my opinion the statement presents
a balanced view of both sides of the
argument on the hypothesis of
anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
The Executive is to be congratulated on
their courage, knowing that the revised
statement would be condemned by AGW
believers who will only be satisfied by a
statement that is fully supportive of the
AGW hypothesis, without presenting any
contrary views. The previous GSA state-
ment on climate change ignored the
opinions of many members of the Society
(probably a majority) who are sceptical
about AGW.
A previous executive
committee had dealt with this issue by
conducting a poll of members asking
whether or not the Society should have
a position statement on climate change,
but failing to ask the key question of
whether members agreed with the existing
statement. The result was that a clear
majority of respondents (75.6%) agreed
that the Society should have a position
statement on climate change.

The then-President of the Society,
Brad Pillans, toured Australia to present
his own views on AGW, while inviting
comment from audiences regarding their
opinions on the issue. I don’t know about
the reaction in other States, but many
members at the Western Australian
meeting made it clear that they are
sceptical about AGW. An independent poll
of members of the Society (conducted in
2010) showed that a majority (53% of
626 members who responded) did not
agree with the Society’s position
statement. The Executive then agreed
to withdraw that statement from the
Society’s website, but by then it had been
picked up by other websites and continues
to be freely available.
Surely no rational person could disagree
that any statement by the Society on such
a contentious issue needs to reflect the
various views of its members. Indeed the
statement by Brad Pillans does just that.
For the interest of readers, my own views
as a ‘sceptic’ (known to some AGW
believers as a ‘denier’) can be summarised
as follows:

• Modern global warming is a fact; it has
continued, with stops and starts, since
about 1850, the end of the Little Ice

• Geological evidence shows that the
Earth’s climate has always been
changing, due to natural causes, for
billions of years.

• Climate changes were much greater at
many times in the geological past than
those being experienced today, and
AGW could not have been a factor in
those past changes.

• Historical evidence shows that there
have been large changes in climate
during the past two millennia, entirely
due to natural causes — including the
Medieval Warm Period (AD 950 to
1250, when wine grapes were grown
as far north as Yorkshire and the
Norsemen colonised Greenland) and the
Little Ice Age (AD 1550 to 1850, when
the Thames periodically froze over, sea
ice extended into the Zuyder Zee, and
the Norsemen had to leave Greenland).

• The presence of CO2 in the atmosphere
is vitally important to life on Earth, and
increasing levels stimulate plant

• CO2 is a known greenhouse gas and its
content in the atmosphere is rising
steadily due to the burning of fossil
fuels — but there is no accepted
scientific method to separate natural
causes of climate change from any that
are due to the rising levels of CO2.

• There was no global warming during the
period from the 1940s to the early
1970s, and again from 1999 to the
present, despite ever-increasing levels
of CO2 in the atmosphere

• During the 1970s serious concern was
expressed by some that the Earth was
about to descend into a new ice age,
which contrasts with the views of AGW
believers today that the Earth is about
to experience catastrophically hot
conditions and rising sea levels.

• Others now contend that Solar factors
are more important than has generally
been recognised, and the pattern of
recent sunspot cycles is similar to that
experienced prior to the Maunder and
Dalton Solar Minima, so that some solar
physicists predict that cooling of 1–2C
will occur during the next few decades.

I doubt that these issues can be resolved
conclusively in the near future. Although
the President of the [Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change] IPCC, Rajendra
Pachauri, has conceded that the rise in
global temperatures has stalled for the
past 14 years, he contends that this trend
will need to continue for at least another
30 or 40 years for it to invalidate the
AGW hypothesis. Some invoke the
‘precautionary principle’ in seeking to take
action to reduce CO2 levels in the atmos-
phere, and Australia is in the forefront in
that regard. However, in any case, Aus-
tralia produces only about 1.5% of global
CO2 emissions, and if it could entirely
eliminate its generation of CO2 that would
have no significant effect on the world’s



Subsequently, the GSA "declared itself unable to publish a position statement on climate change due to the deep divisions within its membership on the issue.

After more than five years of debate and two false starts, Geological Society of Australia president Laurie Hutton said a statement on climate change was too difficult to achieve.

Mr Hutton said the issue “had the potential to be too divisive and would not serve the best interests of the society as a whole.”

The backdown, published in the GSA quarterly newsletter, is the culmination of two rejected position statements and years of furious correspondence among members. Some members believe the failure to make a strong statement on climate change is an embarrassment that puts Australian earth scientists at odds with their international peers.

It undermines the often cited stance that there is near unanimity among climate scientists on the issue.

GSA represents more than 2000 Australian earth scientists from academe, industry, government and research organisations.

A position statement published in 2009 said the society was concerned about the potentially harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions and favoured “strong action to substantially reduce current levels’’.

“Of particular concern are the well-documented loading of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which has been linked unequivocally to burning of fossil fuels, and the corresponding increase in average global temperature,’’ it said.

“Risks associated with these large-scale perturbations of the Earth’s fundamental life-support systems include rising sea level, harmful shifts in the acid balance of the oceans and long-term changes in local and regional climate and extreme weather events.”

Publication of the position statement caused an uproar among members and led to a revised statement, after wide consultation. The revised statement said: “Geological evidence clearly demonstrates that Earth’s climate system is inherently and naturally variable over timescales from decades to millions of years.

“Regardless of whether climate change is from natural or anthropogenic causes, or a combination of both, human societies would benefit from knowing what to expect in the future and to plan how best to respond.

“The GSA makes no predictions or public policy recommendations for action on climate beyond the generally agreed need for prudent preparations in response to potential hazards, including climate change.”

The revised statement was criticised as being too vague.

In a short statement published in the latest edition of the society newsletter, Mr Hutton says: “After a long and extensive and extended consultation with society members, the GSC executive committee has decided not to proceed with a climate change position statement.’’

“As evidenced by recent letters to the editor … society members have diverse opinions on the human impact on climate change. However, diversity of opinion can also be divisive, especially when such views are strongly held.

“The executive committee has therefore concluded that a climate change position statement has the potential to be far too divisive and would not serve the best interests of the society as a whole ,” the statement says.

1 comment:

  1. I'm flattered that you referred to my post to "The Guradian". To give credit where credit is due, I got the information from Jo Nova's Blog.