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<p>Photo courtesy of Anna Rose.</p>

Photo courtesy of Anna Rose.

Nick Minchin and Anna Rose meet Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Left Out In The Cold

Climate change was once a scientific issue prompting relatively universal concerns. How did it get labelled left-wing?


Climate change, the battleground of modern Australian partisan politics, was once more of a scientific subject supported by a broad if tenuous political consensus.

Not so anymore. Although the scientific community is as close to consensus on the issue as you can get, there are vocal dissenters, who argue climate change is either not real or real but not caused by humans (and therefore not something we should try to control). The dissenters are having an impact: fewer people than three years ago believe that climate change is a problem. 

“I am wary of, you know, grand governmental solutions to something like climate, or the proposition that the governments of the world can unite and stop the climate changing. To me as a philosophically conservative person, that’s just nonsense.”

Former Prime Minister John Howard is one. In office, after many years of equivocating, Howard said he believed climate change was happening and government must act. He has since stepped back from that position. These days Howard describes himself as a climate change agnostic.

"In a sense the climate change debate has fulfilled the ideological hunger for one side of politics to have a cause, and I don't think they will lightly abandon it. This is the new religion of the global left. It has become a cause célèbre for the early part of the 21st century," he said when he launched a book by climate sceptic Ian Plimer in Sydney in December 2011.

The issue has become one less of science, policy and evidence than of ideology, politics and faith.

It frustrates the Australian National University's Will Steffen, who told The Global Mail:

"It's interesting that this noisy debate out in the blogosphere, out in the media, is not at all reflected in the scientific literature. In fact if anything the evidence is getting stronger with time, not weaker. So it's a phony debate. It's a political debate, it's not a scientific debate. It's cloaked in scientific terms but the fact is, it is not scientific."

Steffen believes the science of climate change is at a disadvantage because it is not reflected in most of what's being reported and debated in the media. The media, he says, have allowed "false balance" to infect coverage, distorting the science and boosting the influence of people who are not specialists in the field.

"It is good to balance political views and opinions, that's fine, but science doesn't work that way," he says.

On April 26, 2012, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a documentaryI Can Change Your Mind About Climate — which follows climate change action advocate Anna Rose and former Liberal minister and climate change sceptic Nick Minchin as they travel the world, trying to persuade each of the other's position.

Both are actively engaged in the kind of debate that has blurred the lines between science and politics.

In Rose's book about the experience, Madlands, released to coincide with the documentary, there are some very revealing discussions about the way advocates on both sides view their positioning.

"The first step is to acknowledge the loss that accepting climate science brings with it for those who hold a strong free-market ideology and oppose corporate regulation," Rose writes.

Minchin told ABC Radio he agreed to take part in the documentary because he wanted to enable ABC viewers to see that "from my point of view there are two sides to the debate."

"It is wrong to cast this as a moral issue, and it tends to colour the debate in a way that means that people who don't necessarily agree with the orthodoxy, as I call it, are cast as immoral somehow," he said.

In Rose's book, there is significant discussion about how politics shapes both her own and Minchin's positions — with very different outcomes.

As she records Minchin saying: "Yes, I'm someone who is wary of government intervention in the economy because it normally stuffs it up. So I am wary of, you know, grand governmental solutions to something like climate, or the proposition that the governments of the world can unite and stop the climate changing. To me as a philosophically conservative person, that's just nonsense."

<p>The Global Mail</p>

The Global Mail

On a Q&amp;A program broadcast after I Can Change Your Mind, billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer — now a likely LNP candidate for the Treasurer's seat of Lilley in Queensland — said the push to contain carbon emissions through regulation was "crazy".

"If we have a carbon tax here all we're going to do is lose our industry, lose our jobs… that's what's crazy [and] that's what this is all about, exporting our jobs overseas and destroying industrial production in this country," he said.

Steffen, executive director of ANU's Climate Change Institute, says pitting activists and politicians against each other (not to mention those whose business interests might be affected) has distorted the science and allowed the facts of climate change to be distorted.

"Neither [side] are competent scientists in climate science. What they do is grab the bits of information from science that support their case. That's what advocacy groups do, and that's fine. But that's not what science does.

"Science weighs up all the evidence and we debate it in the scientific literature, not in blogs, not in the media. And we try and come up with the best explanation based on the observations and based on the understanding of the climate system of what's going on, regardless of political implications."

If public opinion is on the side of the evidence then governments find it much harder to ignore. But Howard is right. In Australia, climate change these days is viewed as a left-wing cause. That wasn't always the case.

"There was a time when there was a perfect storm in favour of climate alarmists in Australia and I place it as the end of 2006," Howard told the audience at Plimer's book launch. And he said his government's emissions trading proposal was a response to the times.

It was a time when the political cost of not acting on climate change was high, and ultimately, was one of many factors that led to the downfall of the Howard government.

“It’s a political debate, it’s not a scientific debate. It’s cloaked in scientific terms but the fact is it is not scientific.”

After coming to power in November 2007, Kevin Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol — which Howard had refused to do — which set binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of five percent against 1990 levels over a five-year period to 2012. It was a symbol — that climate change was a political priority for the new Prime Minister.

Rudd was largely undone in the eyes of the public by his inability, even with a compliant opposition, to deliver on a climate change package. With the elevation of Tony Abbott to the Liberal leadership in late 2009, Australia's consensus position on climate change fell apart.

In many ways the debate here in Australia has mirrored what's been going on in the United States, where it is politically dangerous for Republican candidates to say they believe in global warming or something should be done to arrest it.

Failed candidate Jon Huntsman was reported to confess exasperation about it at a recent lecture in New York, saying that he was appalled to be expected to disown science to win the Republican nomination: "I had to say I believe in science — and people on stage look at you quizzically, as though you're an oddball."

But a series of incidents in the past few years have nurtured doubts about the science and the motives of the scientists.

Foremost was "Climategate", where more than a thousand emails between climate scientists, some purportedly showing data had been manipulated or fabricated, were leaked in late 2009, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change summit in Copenhagen in early 2010.

Conservative Melbourne-based climate sceptic Andrew Bolt jumped in with both feet, saying the emails — obtained through a breach of the University of East Anglia's server — suggested "conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more".

A probe into the work of the scientists was launched after the emails were published; the scientists' findings were upheld.

<p>Photo by Mike Bowers</p>

Photo by Mike Bowers

Wallerawang power station, a coal-powered station in the central west of N.S.W.

Still, two years later, in the lead-up to the Durban round of United Nations climate change talks in December 2011 — taking up where Copenhagen left off — more emails were released. "Climategate Two", the incident was dubbed.

The University of East Anglia held that the second release was timed to impact on the global talks: "This appears to be a carefully timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and a number of studies — including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group," the university's statement said.

Then, in January 2012, the Wall Street Journalpublished an op-ed co-authored by 16 scientists refuting the existence of human-induced global warming. The response, swift and brutal, was an open letter from 38 climate scientists who likened the op-ed to "the climate science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology".

The key point: many of the small number of scientists around the world who refute the importance of the human contribution to global warming, and the existence of warming at all, are simply not equipped to judge the science.

"While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert," the open letter said.

In February 2012, United States climate scientist Peter Gleick inserted himself into the debate, spectacularly but less than scientifically. He published documents he had obtained from a conservative anti-global warming organisation, the Heartland Institute. To obtain some of the documents, however, Gleick posed as a member of the board of Heartland. One document is now widely accepted as a fake.

Gleick blogged about his reasons: "My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organisations involved."

It was career-jeopardising behaviour that begs the question: If the scientists start playing political games, what hope is there for the rest of us to understand what is really happening?

“The first step is to acknowledge the loss that accepting climate science brings with it for those who hold a strong free-market ideology and oppose corporate regulation.”

Some governments have simply set aside the noisy ideological bickering.

In New Zealand and the United Kingdom, governments led by the political bedfellows of the Australian Liberal Party embrace the science of climate change and have implemented, or are planning to implement, schemes to reduce emissions. 

Then we have Canada and Australia and the US.

Here the loudest voices have changed the debate, whipping up a frenzy of protestat government attempts to legislate solutions to human-induced climate change.

In Canada, the right-wing government has begun to step back from action and in late 2011 withdrew from the Kyoto protocol. 

Tim Andrews is the head of the newly established Australian Taxpayers Alliance and an editor of the online conservative opinion site Menzies House. Andrews, who worked in Washington for the past few years, is well placed to observe the similarities between the Australian and US debates.

"There was a Yale University studylast year which demonstrated — to the shock of the authors — that the more persons were educated and aware of the issues surrounding climate change, then the more likely they were to hold that climate change did not pose a serious threat," Andrews says.

"This translates rather directly in politics. In the US and Australia, polls demonstrated that there was overwhelming support for action to address climate change when there was bipartisan support for them.

<p>Photo courtesy of Anna Rose.</p>

Photo courtesy of Anna Rose.

Nick Minchin and Anna Rose meet Richard Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

"When this changed — and there was a political message educating people with the opposing viewpoint, and people were able to weigh up both sides — then support for action plummeted," he says.

Some 1,000 people were questioned in the Yale study, and of these, only 14 per cent had ever heard of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body established by the United Nations in 1988 to deliver comprehensive assessments of scientific, technological and socio-economic information worldwide on the effects of climate change and the contribution of humans to it.

It seems in the US, where the political debate is being won by the sceptics, it's the climate scientists whose voice is least known.

"In the UK and Europe, people have not been exposed to this level of debate, and as such, being generally unaware of the facts surrounding it, accept the alarmist narrative," Andrews says.

As Jill Duggan, a European Commission specialist on carbon trading schemes, told ABC radio in March 2011, in the United Kingdom there was political consensus on the need to take action on climate change. They considered it important and urgent.

"Emissions trading was put forward by industry as their preferred solution. They pushed the UK Government for an early emissions trading system in the UK before there was a European emissions trading system. So it was a question of industry was saying — we need certainty on this, this is a risk that we're going to have to deal with… and let's be part of the solution."

Will Steffen says that approach has been key to building successful climate change policies.

"Both sides of politics have gotten together and agreed on an approach so if the government changes, the policy and approach to climate change doesn't change. So there's absolute certainty out in the private sector about what's going to happen. So I think that's one thing you can see clearly when you look around the world," he says.

“There was a time when there was a perfect storm in favour of climate alarmists in Australia and I place it as the end of 2006.”

In Australia it is the use of those regulatory mechanisms that is causing friction; Andrews contends that a regulatory approach is inherently left-wing.

"The traditional right/left dichotomy has always been that the left prefers greater government control, whereas the right prefers to leave matters to the individual. As such, the acceptance of the climate change alarmist thesis necessitates government action, and would naturally be far more compatible with the left's ideological framework," he says.

Andrews pushes it further, seeing a broader agenda in the policy discussion.

"Even if climate change was not an issue at all, the left would still be demanding the same regulatory responses, which to me suggests strongly that climate change activism is primarily driven by ideology."

And Andrews' argument that climate change is essentially a left-wing proposition is not an isolated opinion.

Last year American right-wing radio commentator and blogger D.R. Tucker wrote a long explanation of his shift from denial to embracing the science of climate change.  In an interview following the post, he told journalist Brian Merchant that conservative and libertarian ideologies are just incompatible with the mechanisms that need to be employed to arrest global warming.

"Once you accept the scientific findings, the best mechanism and the only mechanism to reduce pollution is through government, and that's anathema to a conservative ideology, so you almost have to be a [small l] liberal or a moderate," Tucker said.

Pat Michaels, a climatologist and a senior fellow in environmental studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in the United States is a vocal opponent of the push for regulation of emissions. Frequently attacked as a climate change sceptic, Michaels says even if the earth is warming, action through regulation is ineffective and "political poison".

“The acceptance of the climate change alarmist thesis necessitates government action, and would naturally be far more compatible with the left’s ideological framework.”

"President [Barack] Obama's approval rating went negative the day after [cap-and-trade] legislation passed [Congress] and it hasn't been positive one day since. The issue is poison. Not just in Australia, it was poison in the United States," he says.

But, Michaels contends that climate change is a financial issue rather than a left-wing issue.

Fixing the problem through regulation is unpopular, because it will hit the hip pocket. "[Emissions trading] is not going to do anything. Unless you want China to stop buying your coal, which I don't think would be real popular in Australia… It's meaningless," he says.

As time has passed without a demonstrated, climate-related calamity, people's initial concerns about climate change have waned, he argues.

"Several things have changed between the early part of the Noughties and now, because [Earth's] surface temperature hasn't really changed that much in 15 years and it's harder to scare people," Michaels says.

NASA data on surface temperature says that 2011 was the ninth-warmest since 1880, and that the ten warmest years have all been in the 21st century.

Still, Michaels says as more time passes without calamitous outcomes, more developed nations will question the rhetoric that calls for regulation, because the financial burden of the regulatory system will prove too great.

"It certainly wasn't a left-only issue, but once the regulatory framework starts to take hold and a carbon tax is passed, or in the US the cap-and-trade passes one of the houses, then that's going to make it political — and the right wing is much less disposed to taxation than the left wing, and so I think we might argue that the political process made it a left-wing issue. But it wasn't initially."

And that is where it all begins to unravel.

Sarah-Jane Collins, in 2004, edited Honi Soit, the University of Sydney newspaper, with Anna Rose and was on the national executive of the National Union of Students in 2005, when Rose was NUS environment officer.

13 comments on this story
by Dr Peter Coombes

Interesting article - as usual the important detail is absent - it is the generalisations and the extremes (and inaccurate) claims on both sides of the discussion about related and apparently supporting detail that creates the wedge.

I have worked in water resources and policy throughout the world. Yes the globe is warming and the impacts are stark. We also need to reduce atmospheric pollution of all kinds - this arguement stems, in part, back to the industrial age (for example: London).

However, policy makers need to be cognicant of the considerable vested interests on both sides of the debate. And the trend to make extreme claims about secondary issues that clouds the key policy issues. The claim that rainfall in the east coast of Australia will never recover from the small reductions in the recent drought, a step change in rainfall and that Warragamba Dam will not fill again were patently incorrect but have disproportionate influence on public policy. Similarly, the claim that there is no evidence of severe impacts of warming are also incorrect and so on.

April 30, 2012 @ 4:17pm
by Kevin

The Oz blogosphere and twitterdom captured a similar spirit to your article. Believing is seeing and loudest wins!

My roundup for Global Voices Online: cf. Australia: What Would Change Your Mind on Climate?

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/04/27/australia-what-would-change-your-mind-on-climate/

April 30, 2012 @ 4:40pm
by Rob

It's a well balanced article, but I will mention a few things I disagree with.

First, you wrongly framed the whole debate in terms of "the science" versus "the skeptics", implying from the very beginning that you believe one and only one side is right. It is not like that. The battle is between scientists who support a particular scientific model (CO2 driving the Earth's climate) versus other scientists who think that model is a lot of codswallop. The latter group include also climate scientists, as well as physicists and engineers who may not do climate research but know about model parameters, feedback and data analysis as well and probably better than any climatologist.

Second, you regret that the debate is based on politics rather than science, but you do not make any effort to correct that. For example, you could have mentioned the main prediction of CO2 models from 15 years ago, and showed us whether they turned out to be right or wrong, regardless of politics. Have temperatures increased with CO2 since 1997? Has sea level rise accelerated? Have hurricanes/floods/droughts/tornadoes become stronger? Has the Ocean warmed? Has the global ice area decreased? (The answer to all that is NO, by the way. That may give you a clue why more and more people are unconvinced about the CO2 model).

Third, public opinion is not stupid, and can see through the arrogance of certain self-interested scientists. We remember so many other over-hyped crises, all of them requiring massive spending in favour of a certain group of scientists who could "save the world". IT consultants guaranteeing that modern civilization would collapse because of the millennium bug, unless they were handsomely paid to fix it... astronomers over-hyping the asteroid threat... epidemiologists over-hyping SARS, bird flu, mad cow disease... climatologists over-hyping the danger of a new ice age (in the 1970s). Nothing new under the Sun. Which, by the way, is the main driver of our climate.

April 30, 2012 @ 9:33pm
by Foxxy

There are really three separate questions around this whole climate change issue.

1) Is climate change happening? Only an ignoramus would deny this, as the data supporting climate change is overwhelming. Note this question is a simple empirical question - it is either happening, or it is not, and simple *observation* can answer. No need for models, or ideology.

2) Is climate change caused by human activity? This is a much more difficult question to answer, because the global atmosphere and the global climate are extremely complex systems. Because it is so complex, we really need to seek advice from the climate scientists, rather than jump to conclusions based on justification of our own behaviours. Personally, I accept that 99% of climate scientists have concluded human activity HAS contributed to climate change.

3) Given climate change is happening, can we do something about it? The interesting thing about this question, is that the answer to 2) is irrelevant, except indirectly. If climate change is caused by human activity, it may be easier, or more obvious how to change it back. Even if the answer to 2) is negative though, it is meaningful to ask what we can do to reverse it, or at least ameliorate the effects.

In my view, a big reason why the debate has moved from 3) all the way back to 1) is because of the time frames of political and economic decision making. Politicians only care about the next elections, 3, 4 or 5 years away at most. Business only cares about profits this quarter, or this year.

Climate change is a bit like Hurricane Katrina, advancing on our human civilization, but on a time scale of decades, or even centuries. At present, we are trying to detect and measure the storm, forecast the path, and deciding whether or not the storm will hit New Orleans.

The "tipping point" is reached though, before we have felt any serious impact of the storm, but when we can no longer avoid it. It will hit, but not for another 20 or 30 years.

If you want your kids to deal with the devastation of Global Katrina, go right ahead maximizing corporate profits today. On the other hand, if you want to help your kids and grandkids out a bit, then listen to the SCIENTISTS, not the big business lobbyists, and stop burning carbon.

It's high time to build us some levees.

May 1, 2012 @ 7:42am
by Darwinb0y

I was reading a science article recently that reported on local increases in surface temperature from wind farms in the US. It went on to suggest that large scale wind farms may even influence local weather conditions.

My point is that surely it is self-evident that 7 billion humans and the millions of cities and towns on the Earth are certainly altering local temperatures, weather and ultimately global climate. I find it disingenuous for either side of politics to deny the influence of humanity on the state of the planet.

But the climate debate will not end anytime soon, as it goes to the heart of our capitalist civilisation where economies are expected to keep on growing.....seemingly endlessly.

Let’s leave the complexity of climate science to the scientists and get back to the grassroots issues of garbage, effluent, pollution, land clearing, water quality and biodiversity maintenance.

We certainly need some innovation and efficiency in our use of Earth's resources.

May 1, 2012 @ 1:25pm
by Lynn

Another excellent article but as with almost everything to do with the climate change discussion one wonders why population numbers/control is never considered.This applies particularly to the synthetic climate program on the ABC and the mechanical and entirely predictable discussion process going on as Q & A. Any population of creatures that increases it's numbers as humans are will influence it's environment. So why no serious discussion, is it too sensitive or perhaps we feel easier if we in the west berate ourselves foe energy usage? This is a planet wide issue which includes seeking economies not based on perpetual growth and an attempt to stabilise population. This is the debate we should have until then Earth Day and it's ilk is simply a joke.

May 1, 2012 @ 4:29pm
by Dean

Climate change started being a left wing issue when it started being packaged with social justice.

Copenhagen was about "climate aid". Initially the goal of the solar rebates was to get the most units for the lowest cost to government. Later it was to enable lower SES households to benefit from reduced power costs from rooftop solar. Similar goals exist with the current emissions legislation.

Striving for social justice is arguably a good thing, but it is a left-wing thing. By packaging climate change with social justice you effectively wedge the right (smooth move by the lefties) but at the cost of narrowing support for climate change.

May 1, 2012 @ 6:25pm
by El

It is interesting to hear this growing narrative about how climate change doesn't match up with small government conservative ideology.

Have a listen to a Melbourne Uni lecture on climate change and conservatism by a former Thatcher cabinet minister in March 2011.

In that talk, Lord Deben (formerly known as John Gummer) discussed how prudence and avoiding large scale change is central to conservatism.

Lord Deben and others have also written about conservative politics around the world which support ambitious climate change policy.

May 1, 2012 @ 7:02pm
by Craig

Firstly, the argument IS entirely about "the science" versus the "sceptics". The evidence for climate change is sourced form hundreds of thousands of independent scientists working in a wide variety of disparate fields of study. Each of their findings is peer reviewed before publication, not to verify the outcomes but to validate the robustness of their methods. The aggregation of all these independent sources combines to form a picture that is overwhelming in terms of the data, leading to an indisputable conclusion that humans have caused sudden changes to our planet's climate. Those scientists who oppose this message are vastly outnumbered, largely unpublished and have ulterior motives.

Secondly, agreed; politics will always be part of the issue. However, as the sceptics are sprout, claiming 1997 as a starting point is disingenuous cherry-picking in extremis. Science has access to climate records spanning tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years, using a diverse and proven array of methods, each of which contributes toward the big picture; that human since human industrialisation CO2 levels have spiked unnaturally. One cooler year, or indeed several years where the temperature does not increase "noticibly" does not undermine the longer-term averages.

Third, the public is being dumbed-down by the day. The manipulation of the media is evident in the vacuousness of the stories continually presented. Most scientists have very little to gain from presenting their findings. Most are relatively underpaid and their motivation is the thirst for knowledge. Compare this with the overt motivations from oil and gas producers, all of whom earn vast sums of money from disparaging the science and by virtue wield considerable political power. Y2K didn't happen because people invested a lot of time, effort and money to avoid the problems; similarly with SARS, bird flu, etc. It is long-term planning and decisive actions of a few that managed to avert potentially catastrophic disasters for the many.

We live in an insular bubble where we believe we have control, but climate change presents us with a reckoning we really don't want to face; that through our comfortable and complacent lifestyle, we are destroying the very ecosystem that give us life. The scale is too large for us to comprehend, instead we have entered into the first of the 5 Stages of Grief; Denial > Anger > Bargaining > Depression > Acceptance.

It is so much easier to deny our involvement, divert blame (China/India), externalise efforts onto others (future generations). We need to mature enough to recognise the phases, take responsibility for our actions and pay the price accordingly. We still have an opportunity to act, yes it will be costly, but not acting condemns our children to pay a much, much greater price for our profligacy.

May 1, 2012 @ 9:32pm
by ghl

"A probe into the work of the scientists was launched after the emails were published; the scientists' findings were upheld."
I have read three of the climategate investigations and all of them specifically stated that they did not address the science. They specifically did NOT exonerate the science. Google it and see.

May 9, 2012 @ 10:52am
Show previous 10 comments
by Apoxonbothyourhouses

It is most disappointing that so many of the media continue to publish photos of cooling towers unwittingly, or otherwise, misleading their readers that the water vapour emerging is "pollution". The non scientific theme continues with this obsession with "consensus". Scientific consensus is an oxymoron as in; the consensus was that the earth was flat or the consensus was that the sun revolved around the earth. True scientists open up their work completely for examination. They actively seek criticism. Find me a so-called scientist who takes desperate action to hide source codes (Mann, Jones etc.) and I'll bet you my last BSc. cent that they have something to hide! Contrary to the article the jury is very much out on this. Unlike the IPCC projections of conveniently distant (keep that funding coming folks) doom, if the solar scientists are correct we will know in a couple of years. Then, man's arrogance exposed, we can refocus our money on those in genuine need.

May 10, 2012 @ 7:28am
by WillMarine

I am not a Climate Scientist, so I do not pretend to be able to understand their rather complex science. However, I am a Marine Biologist and I did do High School Chemistry, which equipped me to understand that if you bubble CO2 into water you create Carbonic Acid (something that every parent demonstrates understanding of when telling their kids that Coke will dissolve their teeth!).

There is NO disagreement on this simple science, AND it is measurable that humans have radically increased the amount of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere, AND that the ocean has being absorbing as much as its gigantic surface area has allowed (~30% of the excess). It is also well known even by non marine biologists that much marine life has a shell (a limestone exoskeleton) that could get 'dissolved' by this acid (it will actually just be harder for the animal to grow these shells over generations, as has been observed by Australian scientists looking at single-celled shelled organisms in the Antarctic that have become excessively latticed over time, soon to the point of instability – a bit like osteoporosis). The extrapolated impacts of this are also pretty obvious, with a potentially huge reduction in shelled plankton, which could have devastating impacts on the amounts of fish and other seafood humans can harvest (never mess with the primary producers in a food pyramid that you are part of is the general rule………..).

It is also pretty obvious that this acidification of the oceans will cause a huge reduction in limestone-based coral reefs. These coastal coral reefs support a huge range of fish that are caught in artisanal inshore fisheries, which provide a large percentage of the world's poor with up to 70% of their protein ......... If our conservative commentators think we have lots of boats now then this will pale into insignificance when millions of protein-starved Indonesians start to look just a little bit south to the Lucky Country and start arriving en mass........ over half of their 240 million people subsist on these inshore coral reefs.

SO, I think here is a much more easily understandable bit of science that addresses the same root cause as Global Warming (excessive CO2 emissions) – but is so simple and demonstrable that people won’t have to ‘believe in’ the issue. We need to stop arguing, accept this simple bit of science and work together to solve the very serious implications that we are rapidly bringing upon ourselves.

May 26, 2012 @ 11:18pm
by Jagger

First year Geology degrees tell us the world is an amalgam of complex systems within simple, easily comprehended systems. The weather itself is a system. A system that is self-regulating. Like the weather, the natural world is self-regulating and produces 1,000s of times more carbon emissions than we humans do. It is through this indisputed fact, the warmists are comprehensibly wrong. The truth is, one will die from pneumonia for not putting the heating on before one dies from man-made climate change. China and India however, are over-populated and air & water quality utterly putrid and should act more responsibly, not simply on behalf of climatic myth, but for the health and wellbeing of their own people.

June 3, 2013 @ 5:57am
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