“Alarmists refuse to take on skeptical geologists” (June 8th, 2011). Anthony Watts agrees with the assertions of Canadian right-wing lobbyist Tom Harris in the reliably denialist Financial Post newspaper (No Climate Debate). Funny how fast Anthony was to copy-and-paste this one. Harris says that if “alarmists” won’t be caught dead presenting at the same symposium last month in Ottawa, “Earth climate: past, present, future“, as debunked denialists (make that “leading geoscientists”) like Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, Henrik Svensmark and “Friends of Science” director Norm Kalmanovitch, they’re chicken. (They couldn’t squeeze Lord Monckton in there?) Friends of Gin and Tonic ask some interesting questions about this.
Unlike medical researchers, who are rushing to embrace discredited and debunked anti-vax fraud Andrew Wakefield in debate.
According to Harris, “climate skepticism was widespread” at the recent industrial GAC-MAC conference (Joint Annual Meeting of the Geological Association of Canada, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the Society of Economic Geologists and the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits), but we’ll have to take his word on that. It doesn’t seem to show up in any of the 26 other Symposia or Special Sessions though.
Here’s Professor Andrew Miall’s Symposium preface, with a few editorial remarks:
Earth climate: past, present, future
The scientific debate about climate change is far from over [not contested]. Some of the projections of climate change and its consequences contained in the 2007 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been called into question [successfully?].. This symposium will address some of these issues and present a geological perspective on the scientific debate. For example, what is the relative importance of water vapour versus carbon dioxide as a medium of heat retention in the atmosphere? How important have variations in solar output and in sunspot levels been in determining energy input to the Earth’s atmosphere? Is the current global temperature regime now warmer than the Medieval Warm Period or the Holocene Hypsithermal? [Gosh, no-one's ever thought of studying those things before! Someone should get on that.] This is a significant question, given that many damaging ecological, faunal and weather changes have been predicted based on such warming. Yet Earth and its assemblage of life forms clearly survived these and even earlier exceptionally warm periods [not so good for some species of course, but perhaps we should roll the dice anyway]. Is it possibile [sp] that other causes, such as the density and ubiquity of the human presence on Earth, rather than climate change, may be the cause of the observed deterioration in many environmental indicators? [Of course they are factors! This is not an either/or situation.]
“The scientific debate about climate change is far from over.” Ooh, that stings. Could this prove that the alleged alarmist chorus of “the science is settled” is a despicable alarmist tactic? No, that evergreen denialist straw-man argument that has never been true. Climate scientists don’t make that claim. Just like plate tectonics, we’re continually refining our understanding. This doesn’t mean the core principles are teetering on the brink of rejection. Funny how often questions like “is it possible that” show up in these ‘criticisms’. Plenty of things are possible, but showing them to be more likely is the tricky part.
To repeat the words of George Bernard Shaw; “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.” Credible scientists apparently understand this and stay out of the pig pen.
On a personal note, I once studied under Dr. Miall. It’s sad to see him in his late sixties endorsing such sloppy discredited arguments. While geologists know that huge environmental changes have affected the Earth in the past, some of them seem incapable of connecting the dots that the extinctions that resulted from those changes could have any bearing on this species, or that the evidence shows that these environmental changes are occurring at rates never recorded before.