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Media Opinion Nonsense and Actual Climate Change

Somewhat notorious for his selective referencing, Alan Bolt comes first with a frankly weird act of excessive cherry-picking. Interviewing Daniel Fitzhenry, a hydrographic surveyor of NSW, it is noted that the data collected by the tidal gauge at Fort Denison by the Bureau of Meteorology, from 1914 onwards, shows rise and fall within the range of 15 centimetres, but no net overall change. The implication provided is that there is no increase in sea-level overall. Let's be clear about this; localised weather effects do not confirm or deny climatic changes. Aggregate values over a time sequence do. Likewise, localised sea-level changes, especially in a harbour, do not confirm or deny global sea-level changes. Now I am no expert is sea-level change but here is a graph from Church (2008) who is.

Or Hay (2015) who knows a thing or two about the subject.

Or the Smithsonian Institute.

Or the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who also are quite knowledgeable about the subject.

Following in step, Alan Jones has tried to claim on Facebook that the fires in the Amazon are nothing unusual. He makes quite a big deal from a statement of NASA's Earth Observatory, which states: "As of August 16 2019 an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison with the last 15 years". When the actual content from NASA is reviewed, a very different picture emerges, mainly because Jones has selected an August 16 date, before the fires were even major news. NASA continues "While the fires appeared to be furious, but not record-setting as of August 16, the blazes have continued to grow... The National Institute of Space Research (Inpe), a research unit of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, which suggests that Brazil has seen a record number of fires in 2019, with its satellite data showing an 85% increase over the same period in 2018." As time goes on, the number and radiative forcing of the fires becomes increasingly abnormal.

Another piece of nonsense comes from Sanjeev Sabhlok, which is so embarrassingly bad I have to seriously wonder whether he really is pro-science but is simply offering bait to see how climate-change deniers will support an ignorant screed over actual facts. Hi article, Climate hysteria is a great opportunity to teach children to ask questions, and starts with a very legitimate claim: "Most adults have little or no time to investigate the claims about climate change", and certainly the asserted facts that follow are good evidence of such a statement. After launching into a bizarre claim that there is no science supporting climate change or that young activists have "little difference" to the Hitler Youth or ISIS's madrassas, the following proposition is presented:

"What information is needed to confirm (or reject) the CO2 hypothesis? What is the correlation between CO2 and temperature over the recent past? (Answer: very little.) What is the correlation as we stretch out to hundreds and then millions of years? (Answer: zero.)"

Carbon dioxide emissions are, of course, not the only forcing of temperature. There is other greenhouse gas emissions, changes in solar irradiation to consider, changes in ozone, volcanics, sulfates etc. So in a sense, the question is confused. What would be a better question would be what is the temperature changes relative to CO2 emissions after taking into account other forcings. This said, there is a very strong correlation between temperature and CO2 emissions because CO2 emissions are a powerful force. As a result, one can expect the short-term correlation to be weak, and the medium and longer-term to be stronger.

Annual atmospheric carbon dioxide (NOAA) and annual global temperature anomaly (GISS) from 2002 to 2008.

Annual atmospheric carbon dioxide (NOAA) and annual global temperature anomaly (GISS) from 1964 to 2008.

Temperature change (light blue) and carbon dioxide change (dark blue) measured from the EPICA Dome C ice core in Antarctica (Jouzel et al. 2007; Lüthi et al. 2008).

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Just when I thought I had discovered enough nonsense for the week, then the IPA makes a frankly remarkable contribution

Between 1997 and 2017, the share of renewables in our energy mix increased by 97%. In a completely unrelated event, household electricity prices increased by 85%. Looks like renewable energy isn't all it's cracked up to be.

That's from Kurt Wallace's new report Technological Neutrality in Australia's Energy Market, released last week.

Looks like the best-and-brightest of unregulated free-market advocates, the IPA, have just made rather spurious correlation.