Axing the Climate Commission splits Australians from science

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The new Abbott Government decided today, just one day into governing, to axe the Climate Commission. This decision demonstrates to the Australian public the government is not interested in talking to them about climate change science or climate change action.

I was recently in a taxi on the way to give a talk about communicating about climate science, when I decided to ask the driver if he believed in climate science. “Oh no,” he said, giving me a horrified stare. “I don’t get into politics.”

Climate science has become increasingly politicised over the past five to ten years. People are no longer engaging with the science, but rather engaging or dis-engaging with the politics of the issue. This creates a public controversy, despite almost no scientific controversy.

The Climate Commission was set up to provide all Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change, the economics of carbon pricing, and the international action being taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Now the Commission has been axed, there is no independent body in Australia providing simple, direct explanations of the climate science. 

Written By: Jenni Metcalfe
continue to source article at theconversation.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. Decisions, decisions. Shall I make a crude remark about how the headline of this article means something entirely different in Ebonics? Oops, sorry, I guess I just did. Punish me, if you feel it’s deserved.

    • In reply to #5 by David W:

      Tony Abbott thinks climate change, to use his words, “is a load of crap”. We don’t even have a science minister anymore. God help us…oh right, that’s not going to happen.

      It’s the first time since 1931 that we have not had a Minister for Science. I am almost set to leave these golden shores as long as this collection of people is in government.

  2. Clearly these politicians do not want the people to have competent independent scientific advice.

    First law of democracy – “Elect political monkeys, – live in the political jungle”. (Apologies to real monkeys for the deep insult of comparison with these politicians.)

    Given Australia’s vast potential for solar powered industries, this is just sooooo ridiculous!

    http://www.gizmag.com/waterless-solar-thermal-tower-power-plant/16738/

    But with water not always readily available in locations suited to harnessing solar energy, such as deserts, a new type of solar thermal field, tower and research facility is being built in Australia that requires only air and the sun, making it ideal for parts of the world that receive minimal rainfall.

    The technology, developed by Australia’s national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), functions in much the same way as a conventional solar power tower plant. It focuses the sun’s rays with a field of mirrors known as heliostats onto a 30-meter (98 ft) high solar tower. But instead of heating water into steam to power a turbine, the solar Brayton Cycle system uses the concentrated solar energy to heat compressed air, which expands through a 200kW turbine to generate electricity. To overcome sun variability the compressed air can also be heated by natural gas combustion.

    The solar Brayton Cycle project will also incorporate the option of a future solar thermal storage system that would allow extended operation during peak demand times and address the challenge of continuous operation from renewable energy sources.

    Once completed the solar Brayton Cycle field will be the largest of its type in the world, covering an area of 4,000 square meters (43,055 square feet). The field will be used to refine the technology in order to make it a cheaper, more efficient energy source suitable for many desert locations in Australia and around the world. Although the facility will be used for researching solar technology, the CSIRO says a field of this size could generate enough electricity to power nearly 100 homes.

    This is a pilot scheme in Australia.

    Meanwhile in the USA:-

    http://breakingenergy.com/2013/04/03/concentrated-solar-power-tower-technology-hits-milestone/

    PWR developed technology for the receiver panels, as well as critical components for the molten salt power tower. It also supplied the technology for the receiver structure, onto which the heliostats will direct sunlight. When commissioned in 2014, the 110-megawatt project will be the nation’s first commercial-scale, molten salt solar power tower and world’s largest plant with fully integrated energy storage system, able to provide enough energy to supply 75,000 homes 24/7.

    “This is a major milestone for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and molten salt technology,” said Bill Leinart, CSP Program Manager for PWR. “The receiver panels and heat shields are installed and we’re now in the process of installing the interconnecting piping between pans at the top and bottom of the receiver panels. We will be ready to start commissioning the receiver in a few weeks, in preparation for converting reflected sunlight from the heliostat field into electrical power that is will go directly into NV Energy’s transmission lines and the nation’s power grid.”

  3. “It’s true: 97% of research papers say climate change is happening”

    I have to confess I’ve never seen a hypothesis supported by “endorsement” before, well at least not since the enlightenment, the article comes with graphs as well, one axis representing time and the other indicating “percentage of endorsement” all very scientific.

    What if, for the sake of argument the “endorsement” of a particular hypothesis was say 99.99% what does that tell us about the truth of the hypothesis? When Galileo was summoned before the inquisition, it was not simply that his hypothesis was contrary to Church teaching and prevailing dogma it also contradicted the scientific “consensus” of the time, the Ptolemaic model, with its deferents and epicycles and finely tuned adjustments (value added data?), described the movement of the heavenly bodies quite accurately, so the sun centred model was not simply contrary to church teaching but also the prevailing science of the time, 99.99% for the Ptolemaic model a very, very small percentage for the new revolutionary Copernican model, luminiferous aether anyone?

    Just out of interest, what evidence would be required to change the prevailing view of climate science? What is the climatologist’s equivalent of the Cambrian Rabbit?

    • In reply to #7 by ShinobiYaka:

      I have to confess I’ve never seen a hypothesis supported by “endorsement” before, well at least not since the enlightenment, the article comes with graphs as well, one axis representing time and the other indicating “percentage of endorsement” all very scientific.

      Well that’s what you get by reading newspapers and the like. This article is about science not science itself. Please find me a a peer review article which gives as its only proof that we all agree its happening. I think you’ll find they can back up their assertions very well. The public however are right to ask this question seeing as we are not all climate scientists. This is much the same as health care I do not seek health care from Homeopaths because I know all peer review studies have found no evidence of it working, I’m not a doctor so I go by the opinion of the medical establishment or are you implying we should always go with the maverick doctor or quack, the maverick aircraft engineer. Sure they are sometimes right, they have been valuable in science but the correct place for them is to do the science if they can come up with a good alternative explanation fine, they haven’t. So the prudent thing to do is to listen to the advice of the majority.

      When Galileo was summoned before the inquisition, it was not simply that his hypothesis was contrary to Church teaching and prevailing dogma it also contradicted the scientific “consensus” of the time, the Ptolemaic model, with its deferents and epicycles and finely tuned adjustments (value added data?), described the movement of the heavenly bodies quite accurately, so the sun centred model was not simply contrary to church teaching but also the prevailing science of the time, 99.99% for the Ptolemaic model a very, very small percentage for the new revolutionary Copernican model, luminiferous aether anyone?

      Only Gallelio had done something the Ptolemy was not able to and the Catholic church had not. He had gathered data, namely the phases of Venus (look at Venus through a small telescope and you will see it is not a round disk but has phases like the Moon) only explicable through the Copernican model and clear to anyone who cared to look through a damn telescope. Much like climate science issue only one side here has bothered to look through the telescope. Ptolemy was perfectly justified to think he was right given the data he had, although Copericous and others at the time of Ptolemy had proposed the Sun was the centre and had much simpler models Occam’s razor tells us if everything else is the same ditch the unnecessarily complicated model.

      In addition to this Catholic Dogma made it impossible for us to know what scientists really thought as you could be lit on fire for disagreeing, something Tony Abbot might like to re-introduce if he had half a chance. Certainly anyone doubting it after the invention of the telescope would be a fool or being wilfully ignorant.

      So care to present some data to counter the mountains of data climate scientists have gathered carefully over the past decades, subjected to peer review, argued over refined, re-tested etc. etc. Well point me to it and we can argue about that. Otherwise you have said exactly nothing about the science and your simply wrong about the history.

      Just out of interest, what evidence would be required to change the prevailing view of climate science? What is the climatologist’s equivalent of the Cambrian Rabbit?

      There are plenty, just look to the peer reviewed journals and you will find heaps, every assertion/prediction they make is open to failure unfortunately for us it keeps coming up AGW is real now can we please just hurry up and try to do something about it!

    • In reply to #7 by ShinobiYaka:

      “It’s true: 97% of research papers say climate change is happening”

      I have to confess I’ve never seen a hypothesis supported by “endorsement” before, well at least not since the enlightenment, the article comes with graphs as well, one axis representing time and the other indicating “percentage of endorsement” all very scientific.

      The “endorsment” is from 97% of peer-reviewed papers authored by expert climate scientists. ALL scientific bodies support the view that the global warming is man made!

      All of the reviewed papers were “scientific”. Only misreporting and wilful deniers dispute this.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/

      Just out of interest, what evidence would be required to change the prevailing view of climate science? What is the climatologist’s equivalent of the Cambrian Rabbit?

      Average global temperatures going down out of synch with the natural Milankovitch and solar cycles, along with atmospheric CO2 levels dropping. – While we continue to burn billions of tons of coal oil and gas, it is not going to happen!

  4. Thank you, ShinobiYaka (comment 7) for saying what I, too, have been thinking. Will a commission doing a study paid for by a government ever report that things are really OK and there is nothing that needs to be done, thereby putting themselves out of a job?

    • In reply to #8 by 78rpm:

      Thank you, ShinobiYaka (comment 7) for saying what I, too, have been thinking. Will a commission doing a study paid for by a government ever report that things are really OK and there is nothing that needs to be done, thereby putting themselves out of a job?

      Their job was to communicate the science to Australians, businesses and politicians. They were not there to do studies rather to translate complicated science to people who need to make decisions on what it implies to the countries future. Are you suggesting we should just stick our heads in the sand and hope nothing is happening? Do our policy makers not need to know what the science is saying? Nice that so many are prepared to tar decent citizens with the brush of motivation for financial gain in the scientific community but refuse to apply the same logic to the fossil fuel industry? Tell me how much is Clive Palmer worth oh that’s right Billions! What about the CEO’s of BP or Exxon? How much did Tim Flannery get paid to do this job? Peanuts.

  5. It has just been confirmed on Lateline, that the Climate Commission will continue operations, however on a voluntary basis. All commissioners and Tim Flannery himself have vowed to stay in their roles. The former Commission will now be known as The Climate Council.
    No better way to democratically show contempt for government cost-cutting, and highlight the serious importance of the issue, than to keep doing your job, unpaid. Some Aussies are better than the government some of us, somehow elected.

    • In reply to #10 by Timothy McNamara:

      Hi Timothy,

      Some Aussies are better than the government some of us, somehow elected.

      Doesn’t that say something about Australian politics?

      You saw it coming.

      Big Media are poisoning the well of political dialogue. There’s your problem.

      Peace.

  6. This is like having a room mate who likes to experiment with making various poison gasses such as HCN and H2S. He assures you they cannot hurt because of some biblical verse. This man will do far more harm to the planet that Hitler ever did.

    • In reply to #14 by Roedy:

      This is like having a room mate who likes to experiment with making various poison gasses such as HCN and H2S. He assures you they cannot hurt because of some biblical verse. This man will do far more harm to the planet that Hitler ever did.

      Yes, especially considering how much coal we export. The Australian conservative, climate denying politicians like to say how little impact we can have by pursuing this policy or that policy of carbon abatement. Aside from just taking responsibility for our part in the problem as individual citizens powered by coal, we are one of the worlds biggest exporters of coal. If we chose to put the coal industry on notice and told the world essentially we are going to phase out coal exports what impact would that have? Of course we’ll never do that. What will happen instead is other countries like China will continue to adopt newer technologies (some of them from Australian scientists who can’t get Australian government or industry to take an interest) and at some point it will be as cheap as our coal and no-one will want to buy it any more. With what we we be left then? Holes in the ground.

      I perhaps cynically think they can see this happening and are in an almighty rush to dig and sell as much carbon as they can before the market shifts in a different direction. Any delay in this is time they can continue to sell this black crap to the world. Like uranium (most Australians want nothing to do with nuclear power but we’re happy to sell uranium to you), we are easily led and hypocrites. I think this might have something to do with the fact that I don’t find myself moved when looking at the flag or listening to the national anthem, we need to earn our pride and right now I don’t feel it.

  7. It would appear that Abbott’s view of climate change is infected by his Catholicism .
    The evidence is now pretty well comprehensive although there is still more to be learned about this most important scientific investigation.
    The science background of Angela Merkel has led her to great success based on her acquired scientific logic.
    I’ve arrived at the conclusion that scientists could be more talented politicians based on their evidence based reasoning rather than the desultory dogma that clouds their reasoning.
    Political correctness and the restriction of free speech is our current cultural poison!

  8. I don’t, for the life of me, understand what the global warming fuss is all about. Fer krisake, of course the mean global temperature is rising.

    In a nutshell, since the Precambrian (the data doesn’t go much beyond about 700 million years) the mean global temperature has been cycling between a low temperature of about 12 deg. C where it hovers there for a few million years, then climbs rapidly (in geological terms) to a maximum of 22-23 deg. C where it remains there for many tens of millions of years, then drops suddenly again, and the long term cycle continues..

    The last time the mean global temperature hit a low of about 12 deg. C was at the end of the Tertiary, and it has been climbing since. At present we are on the rising slope of the long term cycle, and within a few million years the mean global temperature will once again reach 22-23 deg. C, and will remain there for tens of millions of years when the planet will once again be as hot as hell, suitable only for dinosaurs and small mammals.

    Within the long term cycles (in millions or tens of millions of years), however, there are medium term cycles (in tens or hundreds of thousands of years) where the temperature goes up and down like a yo-yo. And within the medium term cycles are short term cycles (in thousands of years) which also go up and down like a yo-yo, and within these are unpredictable cycles that we observe over years, decades and centuries.

    The long, medium and short term cycles are tied up with the heat output from the sun, solar wind, volcanic activity, the precession of the equinoxes and other factors completely outside any influence that Johnny-come-lately humans can exert.

    All humans can do is muck up the mean global temperature within the variations in the short term cycle. There is no question that human activity, such as fossil-burning, not to mention the flatulence (25 times more effective than carbon dioxide) from the millions of animals we keep to feed the seven billion humans (and rising exponentially).

    Jenni’s taxi-driver, like the rest of us, can be excused for not knowing who to believe, politicians, oil companies, preachers promising the rapture, or the Green Party. He can, nevertheless, rest assured that his taxi, together with my Jeep Cherokee, are doing their bit to nudge up the level of the “greenhouse” gases. Shame on us.

    What I cannot stomach are the crooks who have become billionaires by buying and selling “carbon footprints” and who go around confusing taxi-drivers and everyone else by criminally extrapolating ad abserdum the pimple on the back of a rising bit of the variation in the short term cycle, within the medium term cycle, within the long term cycle.

    I won’t mention any names in case GCHQ and the NSA (to name the same) are reading my posting, but is it any wonder that these crooks scare the living daylights out of ordinary decent people who don’t know where to find the solid, unbiased, scientific data.

    (Long, medium, and short term graphs of mean global temperatures, plus graphs on carbon dioxide levels over the last 600 million years, solar-wind and sea-levels are available on request).

    • In reply to #19 by ZedBee:

      I don’t, for the life of me, understand what the global warming fuss is all about. Fer krisake, of course the mean global temperature is rising.

      Within the long term cycles (in millions or tens of millions of years), however, there are medium term cycles (in tens or hundreds of thousands of years) where the temperature goes up and down like a yo-yo. And within the medium term cycles are short term cycles (in thousands of years) which also go up and down like a yo-yo, and within these are unpredictable cycles that we observe over years, decades and centuries.

      Just to put some figures on these: -

      Milankovitch cycles

      Solar cycle – From Wikipedia,

      Summary of 100,000 Years – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/ctl/100k.html

      Timeline of glaciation

      • In reply to #20 by Alan4discussion:

        Excellent.

        Thank you, Alan, for for inserting some useful links. I hope that many readers will take just a few minutes to glance at the graphs to see for themselves the fluctuations and trends in the mean global temperatures, and that it is fraudulent for the extremists on both sides of the global warming argument, to extrapolate absurdly either upwards or downwards from any point in any cycle.

        • In reply to #21 by ZedBee:

          In reply to #20 by Alan4discussion:

          Excellent.

          Thank you, Alan, for for inserting some useful links. I hope that many readers will take just a few minutes to glance at the graphs to see for themselves the fluctuations and trends in the mean global temperatures,

          Perhaps I should have put on some other links as well!

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal
          Coal is primarily used as a solid fuel to produce electricity and heat through combustion. World coal consumption was about 7.25 billion tonnes in 2010[33] (7.99 billion short tons) and is expected to increase 48% to 9.05 billion tonnes (9.98 billion short tons) by 2030.

          This is a list of countries by coal production in 2011, based mostly on the Statistical Review of World Energy published in 2012

          List of countries by oil consumption

          There are further links at the bottom of the pages.

          Of course denial muppets claim that climate scientists do not have the figures and do not know how to calculate or measure!

          • In reply to #23 by Alan4discussion:

            It gets better and better, but, Alan, you are rationed to just one accolade from me per topic :) However, I wish the global warming deniers, as well as the enthusiasts, would read the articles, through the links you posted on this page. They are very interesting as well as educational..

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