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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11840


Dr JENSEN (8:30 PM) —The Prime Minister is a coward. He is a leader who takes his shots at people from a protected position yet lacks the courage to actually debate people directly. A little over a week ago the Prime Minister delivered one of the most outlandish speeches ever uttered by a senior politician in Australia. In that speech he made all sorts of bizarre allegations that anthropogenic climate change sceptics were being driven by vested interests, were out to destroy the future of our children and grandchildren—the typical refrain of those who do not have the facts on their side and therefore resort to emotive terminology—had a lack of knowledge and were cowardly. On the question of cowardice, I will debate Kevin Rudd on the science of climate change anywhere, anytime. I am very confident that he will be too cowardly to accept the challenge. It is far easier to resort to invective.

The reason for his hysterical speech is that he is afraid. He can see that the viewpoint of the Australian population is changing rapidly as the costs of his emissions trading scheme, or ETS, become apparent. As more and more people are becoming acquainted with the fact that the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, are diverging more and more from the observed reality, he fears that the coalition may well oppose the ETS and thus will not share responsibility for the massive costs that the ETS will burden the Australian economy with. He is afraid of the electoral ramifications of having the economic and social costs of his extreme tax system being put before the Australian people on a daily basis during an election campaign. I have asked on a few occasions how much his new tax system would lower global average temperatures. Funnily enough, I have received no response, as that number would be close to an embarrassing zero even if the consensus position is accepted. The ETS will not save Kakadu or the Great Barrier Reef even if you accept the IPCC position. We will, however, lose industry and damage our industry’s competitive position against our trading partners.

The Prime Minister also deliberately misrepresents the science on this. He speaks of 4,000 IPCC scientists all agreeing on the anthropogenic causes of climate change. The fact is that, within the IPCC, there is dissent from the consensus position. There are only about 2½ thousand scientists involved and many of them are reviewers whose comments and criticisms are frequently ignored. So much for the vaunted so-called peer review process. The reality is that there are only about 60 authors of the critical chapter 9 of the fourth assessment report, which is the chapter examining attribution to the causes of climate change—only 60 or so authors. Peer review is not an assurance of infallibility. Reviewers simply determine whether the research was conducted using proper scientific techniques. It does not mean that the results are correct; indeed, the reviewers by and large do not repeat experiments.

One need only look at Michael Mann, a previous lead author of the IPCC and now an expert reviewer. Not only is he infamous for using bad statistics for the infamous hockey stick graph used in the third assessment, but it now turns out it was a fraudulent misuse of data, as I outlined in a previous speech to the House. That means a paper, peer reviewed by the literature and then peer reviewed by the IPCC, was fraudulent. Not content to leave it there, Mann has, in a recent paper, deliberately inverted a graph from a Finnish paper on proxy data from the sediments in Lake Korttajarvi. This is to make it appear that the temperatures from the Finnish paper agree with his predisposition on global temperature history. This is the type of science and the type of scientists whom we are supposed to trust when it comes to making very significant and damaging changes to our economy. We even see such people as IPCC lead author David Karoly stating—this was on Four Corners:

Typically there would be one to 2,000 scientific papers published every year in the fields of climate change science contributing to the understanding of climate change science and none of those—

I reiterate: ‘none of those’—

seriously contradict the conclusions of the IPCC.

When I challenged him on this, his response was:

I am aware of the peer-reviewed journal paper that you mention below, together with a small number of other peer-reviewed journal papers that seek to challenge some of the conclusions of the IPCC.

I am also aware of a number of flaws in such papers and therefore do not consider that they seriously contradict the conclusions of the IPCC.

So in one case at least for a lead author of the IPCC questions on the science that are inconvenient are ignored. It is a case of situating the appreciation rather than appreciating the situation.

Rather than looking at data contradicting an accepted paradigm and asking whether it means that the paradigm they accept could be wrong, the decision is made simply to look at other ways of attempting to explain the inconvenient data and facts in terms of the accepted paradigm. Consensus and appeal to authority even weaker propositions. With consensus you need only look at the fraud perpetrated with Piltdown Man, a fabrication accepted by the bulk of palaeontologists for four decades, and Lysenkoism, a paradigm that was the consensus position of Soviet scientists and that resulted in the deaths by starvation of millions of Soviets.

Much is made of the 90 per cent figure, meaning very likely, the IPCC document attributes to certainty of anthropogenic causes. Problematically, the figure is completely unscientific and has no basis in statistical analysis. It is simply a number agreed to by some of the scientists and bureaucrats in the process.

The Prime Minister also talks about it being 30 years ago that the first world climate conference called on governments to guard against potential climate hazards. Ironically, given what was occurring at the time and the consensus position of climate scientists at the time, the assessed hazards would have been a coming ice age.

The Prime Minister asserts that if his ETS is not voted into law there can be no certainty in business. That is patently ridiculous. There is certainty in having no ETS at all. He maintains that a sceptical viewpoint—and scientists should be sceptical, not simply singing from the same songbook—is radical, risky and reckless. The reality is that his ETS is radical. It is a new tax and essentially a tax on air. It is risky because it will damage our industry, put people out of work and cost a nation dearly.

I spoke previously of the serious threat that the Copenhagen draft treaty presented to our national sovereignty. Fortunately, since that draft treaty was outed this issue has received international attention. That attention and a clear prospect of no binding treaty have meant that what we now have is a watered down ‘plan B’ document of no more than 15 pages with no binding targets or agreements. So why the desperate deadline of legislation before Copenhagen, Prime Minister?

As I have said, it is clear that the Prime Minister is concerned that we will oppose his ETS. If he were not concerned and wanted this as a double dissolution trigger he would simply have said ‘no deal’ on the amendments. His negotiation on and acquiescence to some of the amendments clearly indicate that he is in fact concerned about the electoral consequences of the opposition voting against the ETS. The politics—never mind anything else—of this issue have moved considerably. It is time for the Prime Minister to show some courage and debate me on the science of climate change. The Australian people deserve no less than a full justification of the science by the Prime Minister before embarking on a process of damaging our economy. How about it, Prime Minister? Do you accept the challenge?