Polar journey

Poles Apart: The Great Climate Change DebatePerhaps the most interesting thing about Gareth Morgan’s Poles Apart is the process he used to arrive at his opinion: using two “teams” of experts — three of NZ’s leading scientists against the pick of the climate cranks — to provide advice. The Science Media Centre has just posted an interesting article by the New Zealand trio, all based at the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University — Dr Dave Lowe, Adjunct Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, Dr Lionel Carter, Professor of Marine Geology and Dr Peter Barrett, Professor of Geology, discussing their experiences while working on Morgan’s project. And, with the kind permission of the SMC, I’m delighted to reproduce the article here.


In mid 2007 Peter Barrett and wife were invited to dinner at the Morgans to talk about their upcoming Antarctic trip. Late in the evening Gareth mentioned an idea he had for a book on climate change to sort out the range of views he was seeing in the press.

Two weeks later Peter received a two-page 9-chapter outline for comment. It covered everything from: “What is Climate Change” to “What should New Zealanders do about it”, and the words “need a well-formed scientific perspective” appeared in several places.

Peter’s initial response was “Thanks…need a bit more time..”. Through the rest of the year Gareth motor-biked from Cape Town to London (among other things), and by the following January, Gareth had in hand a substantial report on why climate change was no cause for concern from a climate “Sceptic”. The book was plainly under way and it was time for some balance. Peter suggested a small group to cover what we considered the mainstream view. This would be led by recently retired atmospheric chemist Dave Lowe and include marine geologist Lionel Carter, who had recently moved to VUW. Gareth agreed, and that’s where the story really begins.

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