Something is rotten in the state of climate science. The atmosphere is so poisonous it’s like a throwback to the days when the Nazis tried to discredit the ‘Jewish physics’ of Albert Einstein by commissioning a book called ‘100 Authors Against Einstein’. Einstein was unimpressed by this appeal to authority: ‘If I were wrong, then one would be enough.’
But see — already I am in breach of Godwin’s Law, the nebulous code so tirelessly invoked by those on the green-tinged liberal-left whenever their dodgy antics are compared to those of the Nazi Germany regime. Apparently, the moment you mention Hitler you’ve lost the argument.
So maybe they’d feel more comfortable if I invoked Stalin, for that comparison works just as well. I’m thinking in particular of Trofim Lysenko, the morally and intellectually corrupt junk scientist who flourished in the Soviet Union by telling the regime exactly what it wanted to hear, even as his more honest colleagues were carted off to the Gulag.
The point I am making is this: suppressing open scientific inquiry in order to promulgate a heavily politicised ‘official’ version of the truth is the behaviour of totalitarian dictatorships, not Western liberal democracies like Australia. Or so you might have imagined if you weren’t familiar with the recent treatment by two Australian universities — Macquarie and James Cook — of two eminent scientists working in the field of ‘climate change’. Both have been ostracised by their institutions for reaching conclusions unsatisfactory to the controlling regime.
Murry Salby, an American astrophysicist was appointed professor by Macquarie in 2008 but fell out of favour when his research into greenhouse gases contradicted the so-called ‘consensus’. Salby’s discovery that — contra the Alarmists — there is nothing unprecedented about modern changes in atmospheric CO2 went down like a lead balloon with his politically correct colleagues. First, Macquarie made its displeasure known by giving him increasingly menial tasks unbecoming to his professorial status; then, when that didn’t do the trick, it accused him of misconduct and terminated his contract.
Bob Carter, the other recent Green purge victim, will be familiar to many readers as one of Australia’s most articulate, brave and outspoken resident climate sceptics. A marine geologist, Carter was for many years professor and head of James Cook University’s School of Earth Sciences. On his retirement, he kept his adjunct professor status which, though unpaid, enabled him to supervise the occasional graduate student while continuing to have a university email account and access to the library. Last month, however, these privileges were withdrawn. Staff at the School of Earth and Environmental Studies had decided that Carter’s ‘views on climate change did not fit well within the School’s own teaching and research activities’.
Still, at least in one respect, the timing of this humiliation — and the resulting media furore — could not have been better for Carter. It coincides with the publication of his latest book Taxing Air: Facts And Fallacies About Climate Change (Kelpie) which he has written with cartoonist (and fellow sceptic) John Spooner from (of all places) the Age. There are many excellent works I could recommend on climate change written from a sceptical perspective — by Ian Plimer, by Christopher Booker, by that skinny, swivel-eyed pom with the funny glasses whatever his name is — but this is the most useful of the bunch because it keeps things so very simple.
Each chapter comprises a series of commonly asked questions — to each of which it gives two answers: a pithy one in italics, then a longer, more detailed one. Its short answer to ‘Is today’s temperature unusually warm?’ is ‘No — and no ifs and no buts.’ Then it goes on to note all those periods — from the Pliocene to the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods — when temperatures were higher than they are now, despite the fact that not a single person back then was driving around in 4x4s or flying in CO2-belching airliners.
This, you could argue, represents the biggest flaw in the Warmist argument. If the planet’s temperatures have fluctuated so dramatically before without man’s intervention, how can we be so sure that late 20th century warming wasn’t largely natural too? The answer, as this book makes painstakingly and unarguably clear, is that we can’t. Eyewateringly vast sums of taxpayer’s money are being squandered, rent-seeking corporatists are being grotesquely enriched, corrupt science is being promoted, energy bills are being inflated, jobs are being killed, and the economy is being spavined with unnecessary carbon taxes — all to deal with a ‘problem’ which remains, at best, unproven. And at worst, the biggest and most expensive scientific fraud in history. Anyone reading Taxing Air with an open mind will inescapably be drawn to the latter conclusion. Its argument doesn’t rest on emotion, after all, but on basic and verifiable facts.
Is the science really settled? No. Scientific knowledge is always a moving feast.
But don’t 97 per cent of all scientists say that dangerous warming is occurring? No. A majority of scientists have expressed public scepticism about dangerous warming.
But isn’t there supposed to be a consensus about global warming? ‘If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.’ [It says, quoting the late Michael Crichton.]
Has Australia recently had more droughts than usual? No.
Has Australia recently had more ‘flooding rains’ than usual? No.
Is climate change destroying the Great Barrier Reef? No.
What was Climategate and why was it important? Scientists behaving badly.
Not all scientists, of course. Just those scientists who for whatever reason — ‘noble cause corruption’; ideology; self-preservation; pure, naked greed — have a vested interest in propping up the man-made climate change ‘consensus.’ Scientists, perhaps, like the ones who treated Professor Salby and Professor Carter so badly for the crime of ‘incorrect’ thinking. At the risk of breaching Godwin’s Law twice in one article, both Hitler and Stalin would have been proud of them.
James Delingpole is the author of Watermelons, which is published in Australia as Killing The Earth To Save It: How Environmentalists Are Ruining The Planet, Destroying The Economy And Stealing Your Jobs (Connor Court).
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 3 August 2013 Aus