An open letter to John Boscawen and his party

Dear John, four months ago, when you were sitting in for Rodney on an ETS Review committee hearing, you wondered why the evidence I gave in my submission was so different to the submitters who preceded me at that session. You asked me if I would, as a personal favour, examine their evidence and explain why they were wrong. The chairman, Peter Dunne, made your request a formal one, and I happily agreed. I submitted my comment on the McCabe Environmental Consultants evidence on April 22, and I slept easy in the knowledge that I had met your request. You see, I think it’s important that those who seek to guide the ship of state are well-informed, and I was glad of the chance to cast a little light into the dark corners of your understanding of climate science.

But you didn’t read my evidence, did you John?

Continue reading “An open letter to John Boscawen and his party”

Unreliable witness

NZETS.jpgDuring my appearance before the ETS Review committee earlier this month I was asked by committee chairperson Peter Dunne to comment on the evidence presented by the submitters who appeared immediately before me — McCabe Environmental Services, being one Bruce McCabe and Kathleen Ryan-McCabe. ACT member John Boscawen was clearly wondering how two sets of evidence could present such diametrically opposed interpretations of the basic facts.

The committee secretariat were kind enough to provide me with a recording of the McCabe’s oral evidence, as well as their written submission. My comments on the MEC submission were delivered to the committee on April 22nd, and are now available on the parliamentary web site here (direct link to PDF). The McCabe’s evidence is here. Not to put too fine a point on it, the MEC evidence is wrong in just about every material respect, choosing as they did to rely on Fred Singer’s Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change booklet as their primary source. You’ll find chapter and verse in my evidence, but I also took the opportunity to provide the committee with a quick list of arguments that signal the presence of cranks arguing for inaction:

  • Cooling since 1998, 2001, 2005, etc
  • There is no correlation between CO2 and temperature…
  • Climate models cannot forecast the future/are unvalidated…
  • Future warming from CO2 will be tiny/the greenhouse effect doesn’t work the way the IPCC thinks it does.
  • The hockey stick is broken.
  • The sun/sunspots/cosmic rays are the real cause.
  • “There is no consensus” or “The science is not settled”.
  • Any mention of Al Gore.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to see how Bob Carter’s evidence (given today) stacks up against that list…

[PS: At the recent European Geophysical Union meeting Fred Singer’ announced his NIPCC is not yet dead. Apparently there’s an 800 page report due this year. Must be costing Heartland a fortune…]

Do you remember the first time?

NZETS.jpgThere’s a first time for everything, and today it was making an oral submission to a parliamentary committee — the ETS Review committee. I made my written submission public a while ago, so I won’t repeat that here, but in my 15 minute slot (5 mins for initial presentation, 10 mins for questions), I chose to emphasise four key points:

  • That the effects of climate change are being observed now, ahead of expectations. I quoted from the recent Copenhagen conference closing statement in support: For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.
  • That the emissions reductions New Zealand will have to make are likely to be much steeper than currently envisaged, because the science is beginning to suggest we need to move beyond stabilisation of GHG levels into active sequestration (I mentioned Hansen and 350 ppm), and because simple equity demands that the developed world adopts a “cap and converge” approach to emissions in order to engage China and India.
  • That the climate commitment — the fact that we have 20 to 30 years of warming in the pipeline whatever we do means that New Zealand has place considerable emphasis on adaptation. We need to build resilience to the direct impacts of climate change here (which with luck won’t be too bad), and to the actions that other countries take to address change (counter food miles arguments and so on).
  • Finally, that early action on reducing emissions would be significantly less costly than making drastic forced changes later.

I closed by reiterating my first recommendation: that the government should seek to build a consensus of business and consumer interests on both the need for action, and the direction to be followed.

The questions were interesting. Charles Chauvel, Labour’s climate spokesman, asked me to elaborate on the matter of targets. John Boscawen (ACT) commented that my evidence flatly contradicted the previous submitter, Dr Bruce McCabe (which appears to have been along the lines of “cooling since…”), and asked if I would examine that evidence and explain to him why it was wrong. Peter Dunne asked me to do that on behalf of the whole committee, and I happily agreed. Should be an interesting exercise… 😉 Jeanette Fitzsimons (Green) then asked me to explain the significance (if any) of 8 year trends in climate data — obviously making a point to Boscawen. Finally, Nicky Wagner (National) asked me to elaborate a little on why regulatory action was required to complement the emissions trading scheme: I mentioned efficiency measures.

Looking at the full list of submitters the committee is hearing (available at Carbon News), it’s clear that more than a few of the usual crank suspects have got through: Bryan Leyland’s there, as is Vincent Gray and the NZ CSC. Plenty of debunking to come, as their submissions are made public… 😉