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Debate continues over science of global warmi -

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Debate continues over science of global warming

Reporter: Brett Evans

TONY JONES: In the lead-up to the signing of the Kyoto protocol last month, there was a concerted
attack on the science of global warming. Yet how valid is the science behind the campaign of
scepticism? And are special interests such as the coal and oil industry fuelling a public relations
push? Two weeks ago, we heard from one of the most outspoken global warming sceptics, Andrei
Illarionov, who is also an economic adviser to the Russian President. Shortly we'll talk to the
author, Ross Gelbspan, who claims that powerful business interests are promoting the sceptical view
of global warming at the expense of the planet's long-term health. First, this background report
from Brett Evans.

BRETT EVANS: Like many other Sydney-siders, Sophie O'Brien uses her car whenever she needs to, but
she doesn't own it. On her way home after asking the bank for a car loan, O'Brien stumbled across
an innovative solution to her transport needs.

SOPHIE O'BRIEN: It was the CarShare service which was exactly what I was looking for. It was
perfect, I didn't have to fork out for a car.

BRETT EVANS: The CarShare service allows its members to book a vehicle on-line, any time they need
one, from a small fleet parked within walking distance of their homes. For O'Brien its convenient
and cost effective, but she's also motivated by a sense of personal responsibility.

SOPHIE O'BRIEN: In terms of the sort of pollutants that go into the air when you're running a car,
but also I guess all of the industry that goes around it - the oil industry, the petrol industry,
all of the chemicals that come out of that - that's something we should try and limit.

BRETT EVANS: It's the same idea motivating the controversial Kyoto Agreement which came into force
last month. In the face of dangerous climate change, human beings are being asked to alter their
behaviour and use less fossil fuel.

KEVIN HENNESSY: There's an overwhelming consensus that there's been a 30 per cent increase in
carbon dioxide concentrations in the last 200 years or so, increases in other greenhouse gases, a
warming of about 0.6 degrees celsius since 1900, and that's likely to be due to mostly human
activities in the last 50 years.

BRETT EVANS: CSIRO scientist Kevin Hennessey is describing the famous hockey stick graph which
shows global warming on the increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

But like any good scientist discussing a subject characterised by uncertainty, he is also keen to
delineate what is yet to be discovered as well.

KEVIN HENNESSY: There's uncertainty however about the rate of climate change that may occur over
the next 100 years, but we think it's somewhere in the range of 1.5 to 5.5 degrees Celsius.

BRETT EVANS: Given the strength of the scientific consensus on global warming, it's not surprising
that Kyoto is presented as the only game in town by the green movement.

JOHN CONNOR: It's a starting point. Nobody is saying that it's perfect, but it's happening, its
real, there are economic opportunities there for Australia if it joins up with the community of
nations that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

BRETT EVANS: But just as there are those who question the science of climate change, there are
policy sceptics who think Kyoto is overrated. Australian economist Warwick McKibben, for example,
is concerned that Kyoto is deeply flawed.

WARWICK MCKIBBEN: It's a command and control approach with targets and timetables. It's very
dangerous and I don't think it will survive unless we're lucky.

BRETT EVANS: And other critics of Kyoto go even further.

ANDREI ILLARIONOV: Kyotoism, from my point of view, is quite totalitarian ideology that is imposed
on the world and on many societies with totalitarian means, and in this regard, this totalitarian
ideology is very similar to other totalitarian ideologies that we have seen in the past, like
fascism and communism.

BRETT EVANS: In recent years climate change contrarians have stepped up their attacks on the
science of global warming. America's best known, and best qualified, contrarian is Doctor Richard
Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT. He recently compared the science of global warming to
the now discredited theory of eugenics, claiming the field has been hopelessly politicised. And
it's not just maverick scientists pushing the sceptical line - the best-selling author Michael
Crichton has also entered the debate with his recent book, State Of Fear, in which he argues that
the science of global warming is really just an elaborate hoax. Bizarrely for a work of fiction,
Crichton's book contains graphs, footnotes and a detailed bibliography making it read like a
political tract cunningly disguised as a novel. Yet despite the best efforts of the sceptics, many
ordinary citizens, such as Sophie O'Brien, now believe that reforms like Kyoto are essential to the
earth's well-being.

SOPHIE O'BRIEN: It's always easy to criticise when large-scale events like that happen, where's
there are lots of people involved and lots of opinion involved, there's never going to be an
outcome that everyone's happy with. However, I think it's always worth the attempt, every single
time. Brett Evans, Lateline.