Plimer vs. Karoly

Yesterday on the Steve Vizard show, two scientists presented opposing views on the global warming debate, skeptic and geologist Ian Plimer and warmist/meteorologist David Karoly. It is good to see both sides of the argument presented to the public, however I would rather the two went head to head, an actual debate.

Plimer talked about his role as a geologist and how through temperature reconstructions, we would never suspect carbon dioxide as a major driver of climate. Further it is a trace gas, 0.04% of the atmosphere.

Karoly right away got to talking about attributing observed climate changes to human activity. This is after all his chapter in the IPCC reports. He talked about fingerprints which is an area of productivity in the debate. He later implies skeptics cherry-pick the results they want, but this is what he does with his talk of fingerprints. Warmer nights, warmer winters and atmospheric temperatures rising before ocean temperatures constitutes all the evidence needed for Karoly to convict carbon dioxide of the crime of climate change.

Are these exclusive to greenhouse warming however? Warmer nights are more likely to be caused by the urban heat island effect. Warmer winters could also have the same cause. What is plainly clear however, is that the profile of warming observed (by latitude and altitude/1979-1999) is not consistent with greenhouse warming. There is approximately equal rates of warming at the surface and upper troposphere which on its own rules out the enhanced greenhouse effect. The stratospheric cooling observed, while consistent with greenhouse gases, is more likely the cause of ozone depletion which stopped after the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

Karoly gives an insight into how the IPCC arrives at “consensus” (which as Plimer points out is not scientific). He claims they look at a “body of evidence” which is fair enough. However, this should not mean, as Karoly implies, that you disregard inconvenient papers as erroneous. It seems to me that the IPCC has just counted papers and assumed those that don’t fall into the “consensus” are irrelevant. Were it the case they do consider natural factors, they would at least mention Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory.

Then we hear a meaningless argument by authority, that all major scientific organisations agree, “even” geological societies.

Vizard poses a question that skeptics, in my opinion, put too much stock in. How can man’s 3% contribution play a significant part? I accept that nature’s sinks have been unable to cope with the extra input and like most skeptics, accept that man is causing most of the increase in carbon dioxide concentration. Though I am concerned the carbon dioxide record may not be accurate (see the part on Ernst-Georg Beck).

Vizard then asks Andrew Bolt’s favourite question, how much will this tax decrease the temperature by? Karoly, after first discussing how the tax will act as a “waste disposal”, admits it is small, but we will be doing our part. Interestingly, he claims our inaction will encourage other nations to “pollute”.

While it is refreshing to hear the science, I think it would be a lot more productive to allow two scientists from opposite sides to talk directly to each other in a public forum. Only then can we get a true debate. You would have to allocate more time for this, but with this tax bearing on us fast, with Tim Blair counting the days, it is in the public interest.


About Climate Nonconformist

Hi, I'm the climatenonconformist (not my real name), and I am a global warming skeptic, among the few in generation Y. With Australia facing the prospect of a carbon tax, we need to be asking the simple question; where is the evidence that our emissions are causing any dangerous warming?
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One Response to Plimer vs. Karoly

  1. Leigh Harwood says:

    There is no doubt whatsoever on either side of the debate, that human beings emit vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere (around 30 billion tones, if not, more). Although this is a factual statement in itself, this is certainly not evidence human emissions of CO2 are driving global climate change.

    The previous comment touches upon a vital question in this debate:’ Where is the evidence that our emissions are causing dangerous warming?’. The reality is – there is no evidence. There can’t be – because we are primarily addressing the future which resides in the ‘unknown’ category.

    It is the easiest thing in the world – to assert theories in the present according to current knowledge and understanding and then project them into the future – using computer models. It is important to understand that we do not have PERFECT KNOWLEDGE of how all the earth’s systems operate and many assumptions are incorporated into computer models for this reason.

    It is important to understand that there is no such thing as an ‘optimal climate’ in precisely the same way – as there is no such thing as a ‘standard climate’. To assert that human emissions of CO2 are likely to cause dangerous global warming in the future – one is acting on the assumption that prior to industrialisation such a thing as a ‘normal climate state’ existed. There is no such thing as a standard or normal climate! There is no such thing as a ‘STABLE CLIMATE’.

    The temperatures on planet earth have been fluctuating since the year DOT! They are endlessly shifting upwards or downwards – depending on a multitude of natural and solar forces.

    Furthermore, the use of computer models is a dubious practice at best with respect to projecting future climate states – simply because they cannot be objective as a scientific tool. Rather, they are ADJUSTED by the programmer once new information/knowledge comes to light – which deeply limits their value for predictive purposes. A computer model will only reflect a picture as a consequence of the information that has helped – shaped it. It cannot actually tell you anything meaningful or relevant when applied to future climate scenarios – because there are too many ‘unknowns’ for the model to begin with. Hence, the model can only be useful if assumptions are incorporated to compensate for the that lack of knowledge e.g. unless are variables are understood in the climate system – the model and it’s programmer will have to rely on many assumptions that they have no way of either knowing or proving!

    As for a Carbon tax – you might as well have a scientific conversation with a monkey. They will both lead to the same outcome P.S. achieve absolutely nothing! A Carbon Tax will simply result in the offshoring of jobs to different countries and will undoubtedly devastate economies in the process. The climate will not change as a result of TAXATION! It will continue doing precisely what it has always done for billions of years – NATURALLY CHANGE. You cannot limit the Earth – PERIOD!

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