Condemned by history

So, after some farcical manoeuvres, the Senate has passed Abbott’s legislation removing the carbon price. I hope and believe that this outcome will be reversed in due course, but those who brought it about will stand condemned by history.

It’s not merely that this is a bad policy, which will impose large and increasing costs (depending on how long it takes us to get back on track) on Australia and the world into the future. Even more damning is the fact that this action is entirely based on conscious lies, embraced or condoned by everyone who has actively supported it.

First, and most obvious, no one (least of all Tony Abbott) believes that the government’s “Direct Action” policy is a superior alternative to the carbon price, one that will deliver emissions reductions more rapidly and at lower costs. It is, as everyone knows, a cynical ploy put forward simply to allow the government to say that it has a policy.

In reality, Abbott and the rest want to do nothing, and the motives for this desire are entirely base. For a minority of the do-nothing group, it is simply a matter of financial self-interest associated with the fossil fuel industry. For the majority, however, it is the pursuit of a tribal and ideological vendetta. Their position is driven by Culture War animosity towards greens, scientists, do-gooders and so on, or by ideological commitment to a conservative/libertarian position that would be undermined by the recognition of a global problem that can only be fixed by changes to existing structures of property rights.

Most of these people would describe themselves as climate “sceptics”. There is no such thing. That is, there is no one anywhere who has honestly examined the evidence, without wishful thinking based on ideological or cultural preconceptions, and concluded that mainstream science is wrong. Most “sceptics”, including the majority of supporters of the conservative parties, are simply credulous believers in what their opinion leaders are telling them. Those opinion leaders are engaged, not in an attempt to determine the truth, but in a cultural vendetta against their enemies or in an ideologically-driven attempt to justify a predetermined do-nothing position.

This is a sad day, but one that will come back to haunt those who have brought it about.

192 thoughts on “Condemned by history

  1. @Chris O’Neill
    He’s a hopeless misdirecting mess, flogging that appalling nonsense about stolen emails as though it is true, relevant and as though stolen matter is admissable.

    Then it all comes down to ‘political legitimacy’ that Gillard lost by ‘lying’.

    I expect he will savage Tony Abbot on that front…with a postcard of Whyalla and a $100 leg of lamb.

  2. @Fran Barlow

    One of the sadder aspects of today’s events is that we will never see those $100 legs of lamb of which Barnaby Joyce soke so passionately

    Barnaby knows the best promises are the ones you never have to worry about keeping.

  3. @Nick

    He’s a hopeless misdirecting mess,

    Hopeless and misdirecting but obviously not hopeless at misdirecting.

    flogging that appalling nonsense about stolen emails as though it is true, relevant and as though stolen matter is admissable.

    Yes but the clowns just lap it up. That’s the country we live in.

  4. It has always been very dishonest of Mr Abbott to lean on the Treasury forecast carbon price for 2050 (the figure he used was $350/tonne), as if this would lead to economic ruin. If the cap and trade system were allowed to run that long, Mr Abbott, our emissions would be a small fraction of what they are now. $350/tonne is not so bad when there are only a few million permits sloshing around!

  5. While our international reputation is suffering now I think critics/deniers conveniently underestimate the effect of the leadership role we could have played with carbon pricing .Australia normally ranks very highly on soft power indexes ,much higher than the size of our economy or army would suggest. Its not just about how much our effort alone would have directly lowered the worlds future temperature by .Why this lack of confidence from the sceptics ?

  6. @Ben

    And of course, it would only be $350/tonne if that was needed. With the current rate of technological development, it is unlikely it will get to that level.

  7. @David Irving (no relation)
    David, there’s no mention of a price change with my electricity bill, but the carbon price was less than a cent a kilowatt-hour here in South Australia and all up I’m paying 45.4 cents a kilowatt-hour, so even if there is miraculously no price increase despite the skyrocketing cost of gas before my next bill, at best I’ll get about a 2% decrease in what I have to pay. Yay.

  8. @Ben
    Ben, and then there’s the fact that the cost of agriculturally removing CO2 from the atmosphere may be as little as $70 a tonne. And if we had a $70 a tonne carbon tax we obviously wouldn’t be emitting much carbon. Suggesting the carbon price could reach $350 a tonne was crazy talk.

  9. Praising the “Axing of The Tax”, our Qld energy minister, or maybe it was the deputy premier (?), proudly informed Queenslanders that electricity bills will only go up 5% next year.

    Instead of a billionty percent – as they would have if the Tax wasn’t Axed. Yay.

    This will be like “interest rates will always be lower under a Liberal government”. The LNP will spook idiots into believing that their extortionately increasing power prices would have been even worse under the ALP/Green “Tax”.

    The ALP will run dead on this, of course.

  10. @J-D

    Absolutely! Property *is* theft.

    “The hunter-gatherer literature shows that “economic rationality” is peculiar to market capitalism and is an embedded set of cultural beliefs, not an objective universal law of nature. There are many other, equally rational, ways of behaving which do not conform to the laws of market exchange.

    “The myth of economic man explains the organizing principle of contemporary capitalism, nothing more or less (Heilbroner 1993).

    “It is no more rational than the myths which drive Hadza, Aborigine, or !Kung society. In industrial societies, however, the myth of economic man justifies the appropriation by a few of the human material culture which has evolved over millennia, and also the appropriation and destruction of the world’s physical and biological resources ”

  11. @J-D

    Yep I find the argument that ‘property *is* theft’. a more rational claim than anything Phoenix has ever written here.

    “Marx claimed that “the vitality of primitive communities was incomparably greater than that of … modern capitalist societies.” This claim has since been vindicated by numerous studies which are neatly summarised in the prestigious Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers.

    John Gowdy explains that “Hunting and gathering was humanity’s first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least 90 percent of human history. Until 12,000 years ago, all humans lived this way”

    “The hunter-gatherer literature shows that “economic rationality” is peculiar to market capitalism and is an embedded set of cultural beliefs, not an objective universal law of nature.

    “There are many other, equally rational, ways of behaving which do not conform to the laws of market exchange.”

    There is earlier comment in moderation with a link to the ‘libcom’ article I am quoting here – that should be deleted or left in limbo now.

  12. @Julie Thomas
    JT ;- you may be interested in a book called ‘The Righteous Mind’ by Jonathan Haidt .He is a moral psychologist with an interest in human evolution and politics. He challenges the widely accepted notion that we are essentially selfish. Much of human evolution happened at the level of the group so that those who werent simply selfish prospered at the expense of the selfish ,and, private property only became a big deal after humans started farming etc,etc .There is 100 pages of references and 100’s of studies cited. He is particularly worried about huge multi national companies which he sees as another step in human evolution, he calls steps like that ‘super organisms’. Normally when an organisational leap like that is taken they grow until the physical world is exhausted.

  13. With reference to Murdoch’s callous comments about the Maldives, I sent the Maldivian government the following email:


    As you may have heard at a speech at a recent media industry dinner in Australia Rupert Murdoch pooh poohed global warming and said: ‘if the Maldives goes under so what? People might have to move.’

    Can I suggest that you send Mr Murdoch an estimate of the costs of moving the Maldivian population somewhere else, and ask him whether he would like to contribute to this project.

    You might also like to publicise the letter and the estimate of costs around the world, to show to people that global warming will indeed have costs.

    All the best….”

  14. The success of marketing the doubt, deny, delay message has been quite remarkable and must not be underestimated. And if climate consequences really hurt us economically – that will transmute into reasons to delay any commitment to domestic action some more and to protect the ‘productive’ export mining industry some more.

    The messages have been hammered in deep and are now strongly and widely held –

    Climate has always changing – true enough in one sense but it’s a line definitely implying that current global warming has nothing to do with anything we do – a dog whistle denial of climate science that is conveniently deniable. When US Republicans chose to insist it not be called global warming, preferring ‘climate change’ in it’s place, they hit a real winner, giving climate science deniers a ubiquitous straight line that, as heard repeatedly in LNP mouths, rarely goes unused.

    Scientists don’t agree. Apparently 3% who disagree means means half the climate scientist disagree. And Ian Plimer – a writer of sciency fiction – is a leading climate scientist to boot! And, unlike socialist tax suckers at the CSIRO and BoM, coal mining company directors like Plimer don’t have any conflict or overriding self-interest! Right.

    We are small, nothing we do can matter, so we shouldn’t have to do anything – the biggest coal exporters in the world as well as highest per capita emitters don’t count for anything? Wow.

    Only a unanimously supported international process will get Australia’s green light – but with Australia working tirelessly to prevent any unanimously supported international process?

    We’ll all be rooned by the exorbitant costs of committing to addressing the climate problem – taken on faith – but apparently not by the climate problem itself, which, by the expedient of not admitting it counts, doesn’t cost anyone anything. Doesn’t matter that failing to address climate is far more likely to lead to $100 lamb roasts than sound emissions policy ever will.

    Climate action is the preserve of the loony green fringe – except it never was. That line was never more than an expedient choice of the opponents of climate action to frame the issue that way, in order to marginalise it; it could and should have been – ultimately has to be – mainstream and central. Whether it would have been wise or not, had the LNP spent the past 3 decades dedicated to solving the climate problem and convincing the public of the necessity – instead of convincing people it’s not and obstructing the efforts of others – we’d probably have nuclear power in service or under construction in Australia now.

    We are so economically dependent on coal that no alternative is possible. This is an article of faith, not to be questioned. Our Media certainly don’t. What energy actually costs must not include the irreversible, accumulating climate costs – in case anyone sees through this illusion.

    Clean energy jobs aren’t real jobs, the money they make and spend, the taxes they pay are completely unlike other kinds of “real” jobs, and have no economic benefit.

    Coal power, using Aussie coal of course, lifts developing nations out of poverty. No irreversible climate consequences and costs allowed to intrude on that little socio-economic delusion; not only is coal profitable, it bestows benevolent prosperity upon the poor! Win – win, as long as climate is deemed not to count.

    These beliefs – all dependent on rejection of mainstream science on climate – won’t be easily turned around, and, having inculcated them within their party faithful, the LNP leadership will be very resistant to playing any part in doing so.

    Hard to feel much optimism about the politics, not even in Shorten’s declarations of commitment to emissions trading, although it would be nice to be proved wrong. The only solace is that renewables – solar in particular – are driving up coal fired electricity costs by shaving off the lucrative daytime peak demand, and may create an inescapable market price signal that governments can’t repeal. But that will be spun as being the fault of cheap solar power – which needs to be restrained!

    It’s a bit scary to think that the only way out is hoping renewable energy gets so cheap and ubiquitous that the fossil fuel industry collapses on it’s own, without any further policy intervention.

  15. Sundshine, Haidt is very much worth reading.

    He used to blog at his own site for a few months before the last US election – in an attempt to foster some cooperation and less partisanship – and there were some fascinating comments and discussions there. I think they are still available and his earlier book The Happiness Puzzle – or something similar – is also worth reading.

    He was here in Oz and was interviewed on the Counterpoint program by the Vanstone woman last year maybe. She failed to benefit from any of his insights into the human mind and behaviour, although she seemed to understand and accept his arguments during the interview. That should be available on the RN website with some triffic comments also.

    Haidt did a guest post at this site and there are many many other blogs on this site that are soooo interesting and challenging.

  16. @Nick
    I am glad to see the back of the ALP policy because it was a fake. The Rudd/Gillard approach so compromised policy that we ended up with a carbon policy and a mining tax – the two things they actually went into a ditch for – that were completely ineffectual. The carbon tradeoffs even compensated the aluminium industry, which already lives off giant subsidies from other power consumers. The mining tax collected nothing because Swan allowed BHP and Forrest etc to write the final tax legislation.
    Before the ALP gets set for any future policy they should get their act together on its formulation and then make sure the public gets it. Abbott got in because Labor was incompetent, not because policy was no good.

  17. @Fran Barlow

    I don’t have any quarrel with that.

    So if somebody said ‘Party A is slightly less dishonest than Party B; therefore, Party B is more to be reprehended [and/or ‘more to be opposed’] than Party A’, would I be right in thinking that your response would be along the general lines of ‘Perhaps, but it doesn’t follow automatically’?

  18. U@John Quiggin You comment #38

    Well I suppose we all have bad days; feeling a bit cranky or just suffering a heavy head cold but you do really seem to have set up a problem of inconsistency for yourself. After what you have done to bar blunt critics of some of the dimmer of your bog acolytes you say unequivocally that I am a liar or a fool and probably both.

    And it gets worse, far worse, because you rely on alleged fact that is totally unfounded and on which I have recently made the truth crystal clear. I do not “claim to believe” Plimer and in fact have avoided his books and presentations because I dislike his smug manner (despite its success in riling the egregious Monbiot) and don’t think he would contribute what, for me, would be critically important. (If you actually refresh your memory by reading the transcript of the 15th December 2009 Lateline in which Monbiot behaved like a rude undereducated London tabloid journalist and didn’t even try and grasp what Plimer was saying I trust you would detach your intellectual credit from supporting Monbiot whatever you thought, after due research, of the explanations that Monbiot was refusing to hear).

    To the substance… I can believe that Plimer needed a good editor for his book contra Creationism. I would also advise him to take advice on his TV appearances too. But I am surprised that you are happy to go into bat on a cause you care about by leading off, even before accusing me of being a liar and a fool, with an ad hominem attack against Plimer on an unrelated issue

    As to the much more substantial figure of Lindzen whom you also accuse of lying (possibly giving the word a special meaning: a kind of Quiggin term of art – but for the moment you are accusing him of uttering deliberate falsehoods) I was hoping you might be dealing with the much more important – indeed absolutely critical – issue of feedback via increases in water vapour after initial warming caused by increases in CO2 the relatively minor greenhouse gas. The (from memory) August 2009 paper by Lindzen and Choi was I think criticised but later corrected and purported to show that no adequate positive feedback could be found. Instead I found your link took me to a superficial sneer about Lindzen’s use or misuse of statistical method and nothing like what it takes to show that a respected scholar is lying. If you had been interested in making a case which would carry weight with peers rather than on your own website you would have dealt with the equally problematic issue of what is the proper interpretation of Kevin Trenberth’s leaked email of October 2009 saying “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming [scil. while fossil fuel emissions of CO2 continue apace] at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t”. His later explanation didn’t help because he admitted the lack of data which would “track the warming he believes (sic) is there”. Hence a great deal of scepticism about all those different IPCC models which are already suspect for failure to predict the plateauing of temperatures in recent years and the major failures in retroprediction.

    Of course the earth’s atmosphere has been warming since about 1750 and nearly all of the few scientists whose opinions have prima facie value think that rising CO2 contributes but that doesn’t justify you orating from your pulpit like an evangelical preacher condemning the wicked doubters and calling the careful liars and fools, especially when you dig so deep as to write of my ignorance of statistics, even of basic statistics just to make the point more humiliating to the sinner. I can assure you that protecting your super from the misuses of Gaussian distributions by excessively simple minded extensions to the use of the Black-Scholes and kindred models (cf. LTCM circa 1998) requires first year stats and a bit more. (Would you care to advise on the utility of the VIX products as hedges against the next crash now that volatility is so low?). Do you think the CHI Squared test or the Chow Test is more relevant to analysis of climate data? Actually I suspect that your studies antedated the Chow Test but, if you are familiar with it, perhaps you would like to tell us what you think it says about the late 1970s Great Pacific Climate Shift hypothesis.

  19. @zoot
    That obviously taxed your mind for two seconds. Please don’t bother to give us more.

    l’m a working taxpayer who helps pay for you – and a bit more next year thanks to the Hockey stick – so I had felt it less than my highest priority to attend to the coterie’s cares. As it happens someone elsewhere mentioned an issue that reminded me of JQ’s boast that he had seen off flim-flam and I looked to see if he had dealt with the Lindzen and Choi papers – the difficult and important matters of substance. Sadly h had not.

  20. @Midrash
    For Plimer’s claims about volcanoes to be correct, it would mean that a) humanity has located less than 2% of the active volcanoes on the planet (this appears to be his claim when he says “And we have 64,000 kilometres of volcanoes in submarine environments with massive super volcanoes there. We do not measure them” – never seen volcanoes measured by the kilometre before) and b) these 98% of unknown Dark Matter volcanoes just happen to emit CO2 of exactly the same isotope as is emitted by fossil fuel burning. Either proposition is absurd, both is farcical. Plimer is lying, senile, or both.

  21. @J-D

    So if somebody said ‘Party A is slightly less dishonest than Party B; therefore, Party B is more to be reprehended [and/or ‘more to be opposed’] than Party A’, would I be right in thinking that your response would be along the general lines of ‘Perhaps, but it doesn’t follow automatically’?

    Pretty much. Firstly, at some point the quality and pervasiveness of the lying renders quantitative difference moot — and therefore not worth measuring.

    Secondly, lying, while in general ethically damning, is not the only ethically damning thing parties can do, and it might be that some things that Party A does make them qualitiative less worthy of support than Party B notwithstanding that the track record of both on lying is fairly similar.

    If for example, I became aware that Party B was by and large doing good things in public policy and avoiding doing things that were profoundly unethical, but often lying about their motives or misrepresenting parts of their policy that weren’t working out so well, whereas Party A was consistently behaving badly on public policy but being honest about it most of the time, I’d prefer Party B.

  22. @Nevil Kingston-Brown
    The tactic of the denialist is to employ bluster and pomposity to sow uncertainty and then quickly change topic or disappear before the evidence can be assembled to destroy their sham arguments. That’s why so few of them publish anything substantive.

  23. @Michael
    … and the high profile effective ones (the type that are paid as keynote speakers for your typical mining exec denial-grazing conventions) often utilise “verbal pyrotechnics” to supplement empirical evidence with camouflage and misdirection eg. Monckton.

  24. Interestingly, in the Netherlands legal proceedings were started against the government recently, because it (as the plaintiffs claim) does not do enough to prevent climate change, thus inflicting harm on the Dutch citizens (both present and future citizens). See here:

    Although I am somewhat pessimistic, it cannot be ruled out completely that the plaintiffs will (partially) win.

    Would such a lawsuit be possible in Australia?

  25. I have tried to look into the matter of law a little bit, but it is not my disciplinary area so it’s a bit difficult. It would be administrative law probably. I think a claim against the crown/commonwealth would be best. You would have to get standing recognized by the supreme or high courts and probably mount a case that the natural climate is a common good or something similar held in trust by the crown for present and future generations. I think it would be best also to find what the duty of the crown (and crown officers including MPs and the public service et al) is to the crown’s subjects and the country/environment – because the UK constitution we inherit along with our own state and commonwealth constitutions is made up of documents and unwritten conventions it is quite difficult to research I have found especially because I would argue all the awful intrigue and murders and so forth was unconstitutional in the past, but an opponent could argue that such terrible things were constitutional. things like the coronation vow and chancery law suggest a case should be made that the laws the crown makes have to be just and good. I am told it would be better if there was a sizable group involved in mounting the case.

    A group in the US is mounting cases there now – the federal court has ruled it is a state’s issue there.

    That organisation is if you are interested they have material on their website.

  26. @Dick Veldkamp

    The piece you linked to includes a link to an article in a legal journal. As best I can make out, the Dutch lawsuit is based partly on general legal concepts of negligence, which seem to be similar in the law of different countries, and partly on breach of statutory duty. I suspect the Australian government doesn’t have the same statutory duties as the Dutch government (particularly not the parts that relate to European law, including European human rights law), but perhaps an action for negligence against the Australian government is possible. Chances for success are a separate question.

  27. @ZM

    I don’t know what makes you think administrative law would be involved. Administrative law is concerned (unsurprisingly) with administrative decisions and actions, whereas what is at issue here is political decision and action.

    I also don’t know what makes you think we inherit the British Constitution. That doesn’t sound right to me. Australia has inherited English common law, but that’s something different.

  28. Just to avoid confusion – I am a Dutch citizen – not Australian.

    I think Australia was doing great things with their climate scheme (too bad about this setback) – and is in the matter of plain packaging.

  29. @Elaine
    It is a shame that people think like this, because actually the Clean Energy Futures legislation was quite a good scheme, and was working in the energy sector that it covered – particularly electricity.

    As a historian, I think people will look back with surprise at some of the misconceptions that were around at this time. Sure, we have a media that is largely owned or influenced by Murdoch, and we had an Opposition Leader (now PM) who would say anything to discredit the previous government, but it still seems strange – and basically sad – that people could be so misguided about this.

  30. As I understand it we inherit common law, chancery law (these two were amalgamated in the 19th C sadly) and constitutional law. Because legally we are a settled country not a conquered country we inherit British law at the time of settlement – someone in the 19th C stated this was out great birthright inheritance. I think if we were a conquered country legally speaking then the laws of the Indigenous peoples would have applied to British officials and immigrants, like after the Norman conquest the Normans had to agree abide in part by the existing English people’s laws (there was much consternation over matters of law during the Norman conquest I think) So we inherit the constitution of Great Britain at the time of settlement. Luckily the founders of the Commonwealth made sure the federal parliament here can’t just go about trying to alter or not abide by the constitution like the parliament does in Westminster – they ensured we had to have referendums to alter any constitutional matters. As Queenslanders know the state parliaments seem confident to take liberties such as abolishing the upper house – although I don’t know if any one took this to court to get a judgement on it as to whether this was constitutional depriving the people if their customary right to a house of review as it did.

    I was told such a case would likely be in the area of administrative law. I assumed this was because it would be a claim against the crown for the improper and imprudent administration of common good resources. But maybe a claim against the crown/commonwealth is a different type of law? I am not a lawyer as I said, so I don’t know the whole variety of all the types of law.

    It is not a ‘political’ matter (whatever you mean by that) where the parliament and the crown can do whatsoever it pleases however wrong – we do not have a nihilist crown and parliamentary and judicial structure where the crown and it’s officers in the houses and the public service and judiciary et al ought to do and legislate exactly as they like whether good or bad – the laws made ought to be just and good under our existing structure – therefore it is very derelict indeed to make laws causing damaging and harmful climate change, and the crown/commonwealth should have to remedy the ills it’s caused in as timely a manner as is humanly possible, and not just through making a price on carbon but from comprehensive practical action.

  31. @Nevil Kingston-Brown
    Re your comments on Plimer. You may be right but I won’t bother checking because I don’t regard his contributions as helpful to my understanding of the economic, scientific or moral issues that AGW raises.
    I too wondered about that 64,000 kilometres. But maybe it wasn’t a slip. It is surely conceivable that he was referring to vast trenches/ridges full of volcanic activity like the Atlantic ridge or trench running thousands of kilometres south from Iceland (and north?). Almost every tectonic plate boundary must have the potential to allow escape of magma. Your point about the isotopic signature sounds knowledgeable and telling but…..
    I must ask you to elaborate because at least one well credentialled physicist has made much of the oceanic isotopic signature of the CO2 increases in recent decades. For various reasons, including his recent work on where most fossil fuel CO2 emissions come from (actually not from fossils but burning tropical forests) and where they go and my feeling that he might be pursuing inconsistent lines I won’t enter into that but invite you to give us the benefit of your less superficial appraisal of the C13/C13 related questions.

  32. @ZM
    Not a bad summary of the historical position and our legal heritage but I suggest that there is virtually no scope under our Australian or any state constitutions for legal enforcement of alleged positive duties that the Crown in right of the Commonwealth or of a state ought to perform. You might consider habeas corpus an exception and there could be some analogies to the results of judicial activism in the US flowing naturally from their Bill of Rights into decisions on redistricting (electoral redistribution) or school busing. The High Court has given every indication that it would make mandatory positive orders to protect the basic constitutional functioning of our parliamentary or judicial activities. With Kirby no longer on the bench treaties, especially ones not expressly incorporated Into domestic law are not likely to be helpful to potential litigants especially private ones.
    The basic problem (and there might be worse alternatives) is that the underlying scheme of democratic constitutions is to commit to those elected the assessment of what is important, how important it is, and hos to desl with it. The most intrusive judicial doctrine that would be almost universally accepted is that which can require a minister to apply some rule or discretion honestly and in good faith and even decide in extreme cases that he hasn’t because there is simply no way on the admitted or indisputable facts that he could have reasonably formed the view that he claims to have. Unfortunately, despite the rather absurd innovation of recent decades which allows courts to have regard to what is said about an act in the parliament which passed it (as though what is said in the government’s Second Reading Speech has any necessary relationship to the reason a majority of MPs let the bill pass or what they think it means!) it remains true that is almost logically impossible for a court to know whether the MPs are doing their duty in good faith when they vote or refain from voting. Accordingly there really is little alternative to courts accepting that parliaments have given proper consideration to the issues constitutionally allocated to them and cast their votes in good faith. But aren’t a great number of the Commonwealth Parliament’s powers contained in Sec. 51 which speaks of making laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth sith respect to….etc.? Yes but it is hard to create positive duties out of that when individual MPs can’t be made to swear to their reasons as the cast their votes and the courts decide to second guess those views. Lots of boundaries and limits but no positive duties. (OK remind me of some exception…).

    As indicated in a later post, I am all in favour of someone doing their best to get AGW before the courts in the absence of a respected Royal Commission into all the big AGW related issues. It might be possible to get a lot of sworn and cross-examined evidence in a case by or against a local government body that bases planning decisions on a particular view of AGW but that’s not going to take things further than the UK litigation which resulted in Al Gore’s movie being found to be so seriously flawed that it shouldn’t be influcted raw on schoolchildren.

  33. @ZM [responding now to your earlier post]
    Definitely yes to trying to get up cases which will get all the controverted AGW related issues raised and appraised after evidence, cross-examination and full argument. The only reason I have heard that a government minister has given for not holding a Royal Commission that Prof Q, inter alios, has said he favours – as many conservatives do – is that Its like religion and no one would change their minds. A pity. No doubt that is an honest view but too pessimistic in my opinion as change of public opinion towards the truth whatever it may be is inevitably a slow process which needs a starting point that can be respected. Still, how much would have been achieved by a Royal Commission into human evolution in 1860?

  34. Midrash,
    I think Australia is actually one of the better jurisdictions for rulings for the Crowns obligations and powers due to the Governor General having recognized authority to stand down a Prime Minister not acting dutifully, as His Excellency did in the 1970s.

    Justice French from the High Court in his book says subjects formerly could make a petition of right (or bill of grace) directly to the King or Queen, who would then put together a bench to determine the matter, but now for this subjects in Australia go through the Claim against the Crown (State) or Commonwealth (Federal) process. Since he wrote it down in his book I can’t see how he could object to any one doing so.

    We do not have a democratic constitution – we are a constitutional monarchy with elected Parliamentary representatives and reviewers, a judiciary and public service and universal adult suffrage – quite different from a constitutional democracy.

    The constitution says the parliament must be good, so it doesn’t suffice if they are wrongdoers but somehow so foolish they do wrong in good faith – you can just look at what they do and see if it is good or bad whatever their professed faith might be. Quite clearly causing harmful climate change is bad and this has been done and us being done, so as it is definitively bad the crown should have to remedy it.

    Also, as you mentioned it says peace as well as good – and climate change is likely to cause conflict – military people state this in reports etc so the government must know about this if I know about it and I am not even privy to private briefings or anything.

    The crown has many positive duties – but since the Parliament chopped off the head of the Queen’s relative Charles I for trying to give enclosed land back to the common people, then with the help of rhetoric from the writer John Locke who was involved in much intrigue claimed her relative James II & VII had abdicated when he hadn’t , the following Kings and Queens have not been so courageous in standing up to the parliament as they might have been. That is why the Queen doesn’t go in the Lower House – because historically they are such dangerous sorts of people there.

    I think having testimony under oath in court would be good too – and then everyone in the country could follow the matter and be well informed. I am sure most people would be very alarmed and upset about the risks the governments have created and continue to create for their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and so forth.

  35. Derogatory comments on individuals and generically described groups have been freely deployed on this blog.
    I have just come across a Cut & Paste quote from the Oz last December which had former Treasury Secretary John Stone describing the enthusiasm for AGW disaster as a global fraud (I paraphrase but accurately I think). It is quite possible to disagree with Stone on many matters of judgment including his support for the Joh for Canberra push and even to scoff – especially if you didn’t have the opportunity or curiosity to hear his reasons expressed in his forceful way – but he isn’t now any more than he has been for well over 60 years someone whose intellect and intellectual energy can be sneered at by anyone who doesn’t want to make a fool of himself. And it is worth pointing out that before he became Rhodes Scholar and got the top first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford he had a first in Mathematical Physics – close to the best scientific preparation for forming a view about “climate science” (would anyone disagree – even allowing for the fact that very important but irrelevant novelties like the Standard Model postdate Stone’s first degree).
    FWIW it is my observation that those with a strong physics background tend to be sceptics. Mathematicians tend to fall short in empirical proofs and medical people with no relevant expertise, however distinguished in their fields, can be blowhard moralists…. Many exceptions of course, but serious experimental physicists get my vote for the people to listen to who don’t claim to be that almost formless being, a “climate scientist”.

  36. Well he is not a climate scientist and I don’t know what his unusual climate scientific argument is that holds GHG emissions don’t cause climate change – does he state what his evidence is anywhere?

    Anyway, he seems to be a ‘prime mover’ in and co-founder of the H R Nicholls Society and the Samuel Griffith Society as well as being part of the IPA so I doubt his good intentions although not his flair for rhetoric.

  37. @Midrash
    Arguing from authority. Check.
    Never use one word when ten will suffice. Check.
    Wrong again. Check.

    Dr. Michael Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University.
    Rasmus E. Benestad is a physicist by training and has affiliations with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. He has a D.Phil in physics from Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
    Stefan Rahmstorf is a physicist and oceanographer by training.
    Raymond T. Pierrehumbert is the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, having earlier served on the atmospheric science faculties of MIT and Princeton. He received an A.B. degree in Physics from Harvard, was then a Knox Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, and completed his PhD on hydrodynamic stability theory at MIT, in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

    And that’s just from the contributors to RealClimate. But of course John Stone is a much more authoritative figure than all of them put together. (if that’s what rattles your cage)

  38. @zoot
    Sorry, can’t give this more than a ten second glance but errors (probably of understanding) and fallacies leap out.

    1. Not arguing from authority. Merely inviting those tossing generalised slanders and facile explanations about to see if they can explain Stone’s view (other than through pop-psych or the prism of their glib prejudices) and maybe pause to thinl about their tribal views and the soundness of the basis for their beliefs since very few, if any, on this blog could stay in the ring for five minutes with Stone;
    2. Put word counting ahead of precision as illustrated by

    3. Another low grade fallacy. I say that I tend to give weight to physicists’ opinions above most and that the ones I am familiar with tend to be more sceptical than others and you think it some kind of refutation when you can cite a number of people with a physics background who are proponents of the view that AGW is so dangerous that urgent action to reduce CO2 emissions is necessary (assuming that as contributors to Real Climate they do assert that).

  39. Of course there is a point about the older sceptics that doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. They have nothing to prove, no favours to curry. They can’t be bought and probably care a lot more about future generations relative to themselves than up and coming ambitious Emissions Traders, academics or IPCC editors or contributors. This may be contrary to common rhetoric amongst the young and the preachy. It reminds me that, last I heard John Stone had 17 grandchildren. A bit of a stake in the future yiu might say.

  40. Really Midrash, get a life.

    Do *you* have grandchildren? Do you know them? Will they care about you when you die or are they just waiting to get their hands on whatever you will leave them?

    Older sceptics like you are so obviously unreconstructed old men with psychological ‘issues’; there is no doubt about this. You will be a diagnostic category in the near future. Your problematic personality characteristics are well documented already.

    For example you have anger management issues and usually cope by drinking too much. And the biggest problem is that so many of you are unable to speak to women as fellow intelligent human beings.

    Can’t you see that you have failed to build a society that works for all of us and that you are not the best of all possible human personalities or the most intelligent?

    Inequality sucks and the judgemental ism that is characteristic of people with your personality disorder destroys people more intelligent than yourself and you are so unintelligent that you are unable to see this as a significant problem.

    Can you get out of the way and cease to demonstrate so crassly your lack of character and integrity. It was funny at first to laugh at your discomfiture but this latest round of self-pitying self-serving justification of the god like ability you assume you have to discern the truth, is pathetic.

    Suck it up as they say, and let others with a higher, less individualistic and less competitive intelligence try to find a way to fix some of the problems that your arrogance, ignorance and lack of understanding of human nature has created in our society.

  41. @Julie Thomas
    Your are at least partly wrong – the angry old men do usually care about their offspring. Their continued denial is based on their inability to except that the way of life they embraced and built their shallow and brittle identities with is a cause of the problem. Deep down under the incoherent rage and self pity they know it’s true but it’s a painful truth they can’t deal with.

  42. @Midrash

    Do you think the CHI Squared test or the Chow Test is more relevant to analysis of climate data? Actually I suspect that your studies antedated the Chow Test but, if you are familiar with it, perhaps you would like to tell us what you think it says about the late 1970s Great Pacific Climate Shift hypothesis.

    Midrash claims not to be a Plimer fan, but he is happy to use Plimer’s standard tactic of throwingout fancy-sounding but irrelevant technical terms. However, he’s made a bit of a messup of this one. The Chow test is a test of structural change published by Chow (1960), when (as can easily be checked) I was four years old. It was already a little old-fashioned by the time I learned it as an undergraduate and hopelessly out of date by the time I lectured econometrics (specifically, cointegration analysis and error correction models) in the 1990s. The idea of using a chi-squared test in this context (presumably, he means Pearson’s chi-squared test for independence) seems bizarre to me. The Great Pacific Climate Shift is, I assume, the latest denialist talking point, maybe related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. I’ve whacked too many of these moles to bother with another.

    More generally, I agree with other commentators. The spectacle of a bunch of scientifically illiterate and statistically innumerate (but mostly high-status) old men preening themselves on their cleverness while screwing up the future is utterly contemptible. It would be funny if it weren’t so costly.

  43. @Ben
    I did, actually (or at least most of it). There was always a rebate amount included on the bill.

  44. John Quiggin :
    More generally, I agree with other commentators. The spectacle of a bunch of scientifically illiterate and statistically innumerate (but mostly high-status) old men preening themselves on their cleverness while screwing up the future is utterly contemptible. It would be funny if it weren’t so costly.

    On the plus side, we are talking about an elderly demographic with high rates of smoking, alcohol and saturated fat consumption and low rates of exercise, who don’t eat their veges and have anger issues to boot. So the chances are good that the majority of the powerful or influential “skeptics” will drop dead and/or be incapacitated within a decade or so. Enough time for the policies they are attempting to set now to be reversed before too much cumulative damage occurs, I hope.

  45. @Midrash

    In regards to Plimer, see Ian Enting analysis (O6 posted the link). Does it change your opinion of Plimer at all?

    To say Lindzen & Choi 2009 was criticised is an understatement. Even Lindzen said the paper contained “some stupid mistakes…It was just embarrassing”. The 2011 redo was rejected (at least) twice before being sent to a lesser journal, where it has had no impact (outside of blogs and The Oz).

    Some commentary on L&C 2011
    All 4 PNAS reviews recommending rejection of the paper (2 of which Lindzen recommended)

    Sks post

    Gavin yawns (in the comment thread)

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