Friday, March 02, 2007

Climate skeptics

Here’s a great example of what it means to be a humbug hunter. This comes from and all the associated papers - Climate change 'a campaign of alarmism' by Denis Peters:

A CONCERTED and well-organised campaign has created alarm over human-induced climate change, industrial magnate Sir Arvi Parbo says... The former head of Western Mining Corporation, BHP and Alcoa Australia, is the keynote speaker at a gathering of climate change sceptics being hosted by Western Australian Liberal MP Dr Dennis Jensen, at Parliament House. It also is supported by the Lavoisier Group, an Australian organisation set up as a base for climate change sceptics...

Sir Arvi said he had kept an open mind through 20 years of listening to debate about climate change but was now witnessing a "semi-religious fervour" overshadowing it. "One must admire the skilful way in which the public has been led to believe that there is no longer any uncertainty, and that disastrous climate change caused by humans is imminent," he said. "The appointment of Mr Al Gore as adviser to the UK Government on climate change is a good example...

"His film, The Inconvenient Truth has been widely publicised, has been seen by, and has influenced millions of people around the world. "It has been severely criticised for deliberately and grossly exaggerating and distorting the issues and I understand that the recently published summary for policymakers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contradicts a number of Mr Gore's major contentions. "This, in contrast, has had virtually no publicity and no effect on the public."

...Greens climate change spokeswoman Senator Christine Milne later described the forum as "the last gasp of the Dad's Army of sceptics". "What they try to do is give the impression that climate change science is uncertain," she said. "They've been reasonably successful because they've been well funded, as with the tobacco industry before them. "Now this group of people is trying to extend the life of the fossil fuel industry. "They are backed by the coal industry and the oil industry." She said the Lavoisier Group was associated with the Liberal Party and right-wing bodies such as the HR Nicholls Society.

This is a good example of hunting humbug because I, like Milne, am not a climate change skeptic. As far as I can tell, the science behind anthropogenic climate change is quite conclusive. But as a "seeker after truth", I don't care about winning (blatant hypocrisy aside), I care about the quality of an argument.

So, though I might agree with her with regard to climate change, the arguments she uses to attempt to disparage the "Dad's Army of sceptics" are completely flawed and would suggest she is a deeply disturbed individual. In a few short sentences she finds the time to Poison the Well (associated with the Liberal Party and right-wing bodies) and Impugn Motives (trying to extend the life of the fossil fuel industry). These points may well be true, but they say nothing about the validity of the arguments forwarded by the skeptics. Much easier to spout some standard political ad hominem than address any of the actual points made by Parbo I suppose.