Tuesday, 17 September 2013

editorial 17/9 The warm hard facts

The warm hard facts

EXAGGERATED, imprecise and even oxymoronic language pollutes the climate change debate. The polar opposites of religious faith and empirical evidence are sometimes melded in pronouncements about whether people "believe in the science" when, surely, it is facts rather than "belief" that matter. The climate issue is about how a vast and evolving field of science can help us understand and, potentially, manage the impact of our activities on global climate.
To that end, new scientific findings and adjustments in the consensus across a range of disciplines should always be welcome. The facts are apolitical and science exists to pursue and identify them. For all kinds of reasons, politicians and activists from Al Gore to Tim Flannery have sought to cherry-pick findings and foster alarm, but inconvenient facts keep emerging. While media organisations such as the ABC and Fairfax have prominently reported frightening forecasts and supported the trite symbolism of events such as Earth Hour, they have been less willing to keep their audiences apprised of all the relevant facts: the significant revisions published by the British Met Office (a leading global climate authority) last year that confirmed global average temperatures had been virtually on hold for the past 15 years do not seem to have been noticed by the national broadcaster. While this is clearly not good enough, the ABC's denial cannot hold back the evidence.
Later this month, the next iteration of the IPCC's climate assessment will revise downwards (by close to 50 per cent) warming trends. Leaked excerpts confirm it will also report increasing certainty on the causal link between human-induced carbon emissions and global warming. For more than two decades, it has been widely accepted in the scientific community (and by this newspaper) that increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will have an impact on climate. Some activists have used this as the precept for attacks on industry, development and capitalism. But the real issues have always been to understand the extent of that impact in combination with the myriad similarly complex factors that influence climate, the consequential costs and benefits in various parts of the world, and the most pragmatic responses from a wide variety of options for adaptation and mitigation.
- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/editorials/the-warm-hard-facts/story-e6frg71x-1226720454591#sthash.43rApmbc.dpuf

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