Thursday, August 27, 2009

Australian Scientists and Alarmism - Professor Barry Brook

Professor Barry Brook, a biologist who is the Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide and the Foundation Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change. (Pictured above). By title at least, he must be the eminently qualified person in Australia on Climate Change. So you would expect him to discuss the topic in a calm and rational manner, displaying the science for all to see and not resort to name calling and demonising of those that don't share his views or understandings on climate change.As with many other alarmists he is dismissive and displays contempt towards anyone that does not share his view. Instead he often does the latter rather than the former and seems not to be able to discuss the science with the public except in terms of alarmism.

Active and forthright public communication of science is not only an obligation of scientists, but a critical necessity. This is especially true for climate change and environmental sustainability, where we are perilously close to running out of time.

"Climate scientists don't use temperature charts to 'prove' global warming."

“nature has been holding climate change at bay (!!!) but all hell is about to break loose from 2009.

When talking about sceptics or any one who opposes his views:

Do not feed the trolls

“in climate science and policy there were still a few, apparently well-educated people who continued to deny the vast body of scientific knowledge and analysis.” ..they are variously called sceptics, aerialists, contrarians, delayers or deflationists.

.."Whatever the label you attach to them, they are all cut of the same anti-intellectual cloth,"
"Some people will attempt to hijack science for political or ideological reasons and in doing so
besmirch science's public image,"

"They are good at doing this and they often exert a disproportionate influence on policy.”

"Groups with vested interests in business-as-usual will attempt to push so-called scientific evidence to support their claims.”

Professor Brook uses these lines again and again (see below at the bottom of this post).

"In fact they are at best drawing selectively on a small part of the evidence, or at worst relying on junk science - that is, outdated, discredited or fabricated data and ideas."

“if confronted with good science, deniers sidestepped valid critiques and ignored counter-evidence.”

"They are hard to pin down because they don't want a serious scientific debate,"

In an exchange with Herald Sun Columnist Andrew Bolt, Professor Brook demonstrated his contempt for those he believes are beneath him to argue with, where instead of rebutting Bolt with undeniable facts, he instead uses (according to Bolt) a series of misrepresentations and evasions to make his case.

Professor Brook even tries a school yard “gotcha” with this comment in an attempt to prove his superior intellect over Bolt:

“After all, to be consistent, if all those extra greenhouse gases really don't cause global warming, and if the sun is now in a cool phase, then why haven't the thermometers immediately dropped back to the levels of the 19th century?”

Bolt responded with :

Could Brook be seriously arguing that global temperatures zip up and down so instantly? That there really is but one influence on them? Is he really holding out this clumsy "gotcha" as proof that the world has in fact warmed, despite what the temperature measurements tell us? As proof that man's gases must therefore be responsible for any warmth that we did in fact have? Seems so:

Then finally Professor Brook offers some scientific argument to support his rebuttal of a graph put up by Bolt in his column showing the seas had stopped rising and were possibly even contracting:

Andrew also claims that the seas have stopped rising because of a dip in 2007. But he left out the standard "inverse barometer" correction – with this the blip then vanishes.

However, on that one piece of scientific evidence offered by Brook he is proved incorrect by the University of Colorado site which monitors the satellite data of sea level rises which adds:

"The inverted barometer does not have much apparent effect on the global mean sea level because the ocean as a whole is not compressible.”

Without correction is the top graph, with correction is the bottom one. Following correction it is obvious that "the blip" is indeed still there.

A further twelve months has passed and what is now becoming very clear is that the blip a Professor Brook referred to it has become a plateau and the sea levels has risen (if at all) by only the smallest of margins since 2005.

This become even more obvious once all the dots and misleading black trend line is removed. the 20mm line crosses the sea level first in 2005. Four years later it is still barely above that line but is heading back towards it.

What makes this one encounter so interesting is that fact that one of the countries most eminently titled climate scientists is not able to use the science he proclaims is there to answer the questions raised by a newspaper columnist.

This is now not the only time this has happened that pro climate change climate scientists have been unable to satisfactorily answer the posing questions put to them by people who are not their peers. On June 15th 2009 Family First Senator Steve Fielding presented three questions on Climate Change he wanted answered prior to voting for or against the Rudd governments Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation which was due in August. The questions were put to the Minister Penny Wong and her scientific advisers Professor Penny Sackett (Chief Scientist of Australia) and Professor Will Steffen (Director, ANU Climate Change Institute). After trying to get Senator Fielding to alter his second question more to what they wanted to answer, the meeting concluded with the Minister and her team "getting back" to Senator Fielding at a later date. Again the question has to be why, if the science is so settled couldn't they satisfactorily answer three straight forward questions put by Senator Fielding to his and his teams satisfaction? A full outline of that meeting and what was asked and what was answered is here.

So going back to Professor Brook's exchange with Andrew Bolt, was Professor Brook drawing selectively on a small part of the evidence, that was outdated? Why when he was confronted with good science, did he choose instead to sidestep valid critiques and ignored counter-evidence? Was Professor Brook in his own words perhaps being " hard to pin down because he didn't want a serious scientific debate?"

But this isn’t the only time Professor Brook has been dismissive of opinions or information that doesn’t suit his cause. With regard to McIntyre's debunking of the Hockey stick graph:

There's really no need to respond, as this hoary old chestnut has already been gathered, roasted and eaten. If the folks at Climate Audit choose not to keep up to date, or to ignore any refutation, that's their limitation.

So again Professor Brook when “confronted with good science” In his own words “sidestepped valid critiques and ignored counter-evidence.”

Of course Professor Brook isn’t afraid to wheel out this hoary old chestnut when it suits his cause, as again (this time on the ABC) he uses:

Groups with vested interests in business-as-usual (such as tobacco spokespeople or fossil fuel lobbyists) will attempt to push so-called "scientific evidence" to support their claims. In fact they are at best drawing selectively on a small part of the evidence, or at worst relying on "junk" science - that is, outdated, discredited or fabricated data and ideas.

Look familiar at all?

Because as we all know, all deniers are of course “in the pay of Big Oil” or are “Tobacco scientists" , aren't they?


  1. Anyone truly interested in the science behind AGW need only go to Professor Brook's blog to realise he knows what he is talking about. His blog not only provides answers to sceptical questions but also suggests a workable solution to the problem.
    BTW Climate Observer - you may want to correct your English mistakes - the plural of scientist is scientists (not scientist's - which is the possessive i.e. belonging to scientist's) and therefore of course, the plural of politician is politicians not politician's!

  2. Oh - and just for interest - it seems the Australian BOM and CSIRO are also alarmists according to your definition

  3. Thanks for your comments Plover. As you can see I will post your comments here.

    I have a couple of questions for you in reply. By the sounds of it you are a fan of Professor Brook and no doubt a believer in AGW. My first question to you is if Professor Brook has undeniable proof that Man's emissions are causing climate change then why didn't he simple roll it out against Bolt and silence him once and for all? Why the need for all the alarmist and belittling language if it served no purpose? Surely the science should say it all. I’m also surprised you didn’t recommend Realclimate as a source of true information on AGW.

    I am also not surprised that you have quoted from "The Age" newspaper as they are one of the most alarmist media outlets in the country. As for the BoM and CSIRO, yes they too sadly have been for a large part co-opted by an alarmist sector. From your article there are three points that are of particular interest.

    First is this: ''In the minds of a lot of people, the rainfall we had in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was a benchmark. A lot of our [water and agriculture] planning was done during that time. But we are just not going to have that sort of good rain again as long as the system is warming up.''

    Why is the wettest period considered the benchmark unless you are using a highpoint show a low. The simple truth is that we have fallen back to similar levels of rainfall that were experienced in the 1900 to 1940 period (before the rise of CO2.
    So why is that not considered the benchmark?

    Two, you didn't mention this bit in your post:
    "But not all experts agree. Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief Rob Freeman told a water summit in Melbourne last week he believed the extreme climate patterns that have dried out south-east Australia would not prove to be permanent."

    The program covers the Murray-Darling Basin, Victoria and parts of South Australia.

    Much of Adelaide and South East South Australia have experienced above average or average rains this winter. Why did their "computer model" not predict this and instead in true alarmist terms suggest the dry was permanent and man made.