Cartoon; from the late Stan Cross.
In the January floods that inundated many areas in Queensland and New South Wales, Greens leader Bob Brown assured us that the mining industry should be made to pay for the damage owing to his belief that they caused global warming, and that was the cause of the whole thing in the first place. The science is settled he told us.
Of course, for the few years leading up to the big floods, governments were abandoning any plans to build new dams. The reason for this was that climate guru, Tim Flannery, had predicted that it would never rain again so there was no point in building dams that would never fill. It would be much better to recycle sewerage, and build desalination plants powered by renewable energy. The science is settled he told us.
Some years prior to that, the doomsday predictions of rising sea levels made by all round everything guru Al Gore, caused astute property investors to rush into buying potential ocean front properties in Colorado and Montana. The science is settled he told us.
And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out." (The science is settled he told us.)
Now we have a new IPCC report, the gist of which is that they really have little understanding of why the hell they have come up with the current predictions they have made. Scientific understanding of global weather systems is inadequate, and there is an immediate need for massive new grants to carry out more research into the subject. The science is settled they told us:
The report concedes that extreme events are rare, making it difficult to say with precision what changes have taken place or what to expect in the future. On human impact, the report concludes that "anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures on the global scale."Perhaps the science is not all that settled.
And it says there is "medium confidence" that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation on the global scale. The question of whether this has led to increased flooding is hotly contested. "There is low agreement in this evidence (regional flooding), and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of these changes," the report says.
Given the central scientific thesis on climate change -- that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide will lead to rising global temperatures -- it would have been extraordinary had the report not forecast the prospect of more frequent heatwaves. But what this actually means remains uncertain and will not become clear for decades.
The words of old Mrs. McLennan come to mind here; “When the weather was in the hands of the Good Lord everything was fine, but since the government took it off him and gave it to Lennox Walker, there’s been nothing but droughts.” The science probably wasn’t settled on that either.