Is Al Gore out of a job?

I‘m talking about his gig as the Goracle. Is it over?

Last Monday – on ABC Radio National, of all places – there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: “Is the Earth stillwarming?”

She replied: “No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you’d expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years.”

So depending on your reference point (10 years ago or 6 years ago) you have either cooling or no change. Next question:

Duffy: “Is this a matter of any controversy?”

Marohasy: “Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued … This is not what you’d expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you’d expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up … So (it’s) very unexpected, not something that’s being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it’s very significant.”

Well actually I disagree. It is being discussed. But it is also being pretty roundly ignored. Vested interest and all.

Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn’t support their case. “People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?”

Marohasy: “Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that’s what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we’re going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling.”

For the most part, those of us who’ve continued to point out that the big old firey hot yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday might have a whole bunch to do with whatever climate change happens here were mostly derided as know-nothing kooks. It has to be that infinitesimal, by comparison, bit of CO2 we contribute, of course.

Duffy: “Can you tell us about NASA’s Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we’re now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?”

Marohasy: “That’s right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you’ve got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you’re going to get a positive feedback. That’s what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite … (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they’re actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you’re getting a negative rather than a positive feedback.”

And yet when the skeptics pointed out the dearth of knowledge about cloud formation and albedo, and that clouds were badly modeled or not modeled at all, we were again told we simply didn’t have a clue.

Duffy: “The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?”

Marohasy: “That’s right … These findings actually aren’t being disputed by the meteorological community. They’re having trouble digesting the findings, they’re acknowledging the findings, they’re acknowledging that the data from NASA’s Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they’re about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide.”

You mean that reductions in that convenient single source “blame-all” gas that could be attributed to increased human activity probably isn’t the way to defeat global warming? Wow. There go a whole boat load of “green jobs” in politics on such things as “Global Warming Commissions”. And the cap and trade programs – oh, the humanity. Not to mention those 1,000 “Climate Change Messengers” Al Gore has out there spreading the word? Will it be the unemployment line for them as well? This could be catastrophic!

Duffy: “From what you’re saying, it sounds like the implications of this could be considerable …”

Marohasy: “That’s right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer’s interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point.”

Well we’ll see how shocked they really are when we see them actually admit that not only isn’t the science settled, it may be all wrong. In the meantime, the policy implications of CO2 caused AGW continue to be planned for and, as with all such things political, it’s like trying to turn a battleship around going full speed – it takes a very long time to slow it down enough to do that.

My concern, if all of the above is accurate – and as I read more and more there seems to be a good number of scientists recognizing the current AGW data is bad and the models are deficient in may important ways – the policy implications are enormous.

Whether you are convinced or not about what Marohasy is saying, it is more than enough to give pause and by that I mean pause in both an intellectual and policy execution way.

It is far to early, given the new data that seems to be coming available, for anyone to claim that we must “save the earth” by reducing carbon dioxide out put through severe cut-backs – far too early.

Pity – Al Gore was just cashing in too.

First published at QandO.

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