Auckland University associate professor Chris de Freitas (yes, that one) is a favourite of the NZ Herald opinion editor, regularly popping up in the paper to argue a sceptic line on climate change or, as has happened a couple of times recently, to talk about responses to earthquake disasters. Quite why the paper would go to CdF for the latter when there are many other better-qualified academics who could address the issue remains to be seen, but his article in response to the Canterbury quake in yesterday’s Herald was interesting. Compare and contrast CdF, 6/9/2010:
The focus on earthquake-disaster planning and crisis management is on risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery. In this context, government and local authorities have the responsibility to minimise social vulnerability and have a duty to promote community resilience through enlightened planning.
… with CdF, 1/5/09:
No one knows for sure what the future holds, but there are some good clues as to what’s going on. It hinges on growing evidence that natural influences on climate are in fact stronger than any man-made greenhouse effect. It may be premature to discard our anxiety over the threat of possible human-caused global warming, but this anxiety should not be based on ignorance of what science can tell us.
So for earthquake hazards, de Freitas is happy to argue for risk minimisation despite imperfect knowledge of the size of the risk (his piece looks into failed attempts to predict quakes), but when it comes to climate issues his argument is we shouldn’t do much because we don’t know enough!
Another example of the remarkable intellectual flexibility we have come to expect from the scientific advisor to NZ’s Climate “Science” Coalition. Or perhaps it’s simple hypocrisy. You decide…