Monday, May 25, 2009

Cardinal George Pell, Ian Plimer, the climate catastrophe bandwagon, and science in the original Latin mass

(Above: not just a man who loves to wear a good frock, but a handy amateur scientist).

Joy to the world, we have a new scientific expert who has come amongst us to lead his flock to safety, away from the satanists who espouse climate change as a quasi-religious cause.

Hallelujah you cry, that's a relief. And who is this blessed deliverer you ask? Why it's none other than Cardinal George Pell, schooled at the blessed Loreto Convent and St Patrick's College in the grand gold rush town of Ballarat Victoria, before moving on to study for the priesthood at Corpus Christi Collge, Werribee and Propaganda Fide College in Rome. He was ordained a Catholic priest in December 1966, and has remained a mover and a shaker in the church ever since.

But how, you ask, does a priestly approach to the world prepare one for rigorous scientific debate, especially if you're going to lash out at those dastardly true believers, as Pell does in  Global Warming Pauses? Well it's simple, just read one book and it will change your life:

It is rare to read a new book likely to make a huge difference to public opinion. Professor Ian Plimer's 500 page book with 2300 footnotes "Heaven and Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science" is such a book. 30,000 copies were sold in its first month.

Wow, there's some knockdown science right off the blocks: 2,300 footnotes! Five hundred pages! 30,000 copies sold in the first month! Science on the march. Yep, in the true Catholic manner, never mind the quality, feel the width. 

Want more data?

Originally we were warned about the "greenhouse effect"; then it was "global warming", followed in turn by "climate change". Now we talk about reducing the "carbon footprint". The light is dawning and 30 per cent of scientists are sceptics or deniers.

30 per cent! What a pity Cardinal Pell forgot to footnote that little tidbit, but I presume he's referencing the heroic eight hundred souls who gathered in New York City in March, courtesy of the Heartland Institute to denounce the paranoid hysterics.

And don't worry about being a non-scientist. It's easy to form your own views, and indeedy to develop your very own set of scientific explanations:

Non-scientists should not blindly follow expert opinion and this includes Plimer. To the extent we can, we should examine their evidence. While it is still early days in the debate, Plimer's critics have been heavy with the abuse and short on counter evidence.

We should also look back at history for more accurate information and ignore computer models of the long-term future. Climate models making claims for decades into the future cannot work, because we do not know enough about many factors which influence weather, such as the level of activity of the sun, the earth's orbit and wobbles, the level of cloud cover, volcanoes.

Gulp, volcanoes? You mean L. Ron Hubbard was right? Those volcanoes are the source of all our troubles?

You know, I just love the glibness, above all the glibness. Critics heavy with abuse, short on counter evidence. How about turning a claim into a fact? Easy, a bit like transubstantiation turns wine and bread into blood and flesh (and if you can believe that, I guess anything in scientific thinking is a doddle):

One basic claim of Plimer is that an increase of carbon dioxide does not cause temperature rises, but might follow such rises.

What do we make of these facts? The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise, but the world's temperature has not risen since 1998.

In Roman times and in the Medieval Warming (900 - 1300 A.D.) temperatures were higher than today by five and six degrees Celsius. No industries then!

In different Ice Ages the earth's atmosphere contained five and ten times the amount of carbon dioxide today.

Evidence shows the wheels are falling from the climate catastrophe bandwagon.

Ah yes, it's just a bandwagon, and we're not talking about Vincente Minelli's 1953 musical The Band Wagon. 

And what would a sensible approach to husbanding (or wifeing) the earth's precious resources?

Australia, with its tiny economy, is no longer aiming to lead the world. The threat of massive job losses and increasing awareness of new evidence will provoke even greater caution in the future.

Aww, but we're always so good at leading the world, we're always number one at the Olympics (oh alright a little bit lower but we act like we're top of the world even when come fifth). 

And speaking of a climate catastrophe bandwagon, why are we only talking about the threat of massive job losses when it's clear true believers on a quasi-religious mission with the zealotry of  ... well zealots or Jesuits ... threaten to tear down western civilization as we know it.

But at least I can now relax. Plimer and the prattling priest Pell assure me that all is safe, even if we don't quite know what safe means or where we might be headed.

Plimer is not a climate change denier, because history shows the planet is dynamic and the climate is always changing, sometimes drastically.

Ice Ages have come and gone and we don't know why. History has seen glaciers at the equator and at one time Scandinavia was under 5 kilometres of ice. Sea levels have been 130 metres lower than today. Some consolation comes from the fact that ice sheets predominated for only 20 per cent of the earth's history.

Plimer demonstrates that a considerable amount of scientific evidence has been produced to counter the still predominant view that human activity, especially through industry, has polluted the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which will produce disastrous climate changes including a rise in temperature, a melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels.

Hooray, let's get on with fornication so we can bring that population level up from 6 billion to nine billion in a couple of decades.

And yo, lads, dig up that coal and ship it out as fast as you can, and never mind the city slickers preaching about being clever and devising new ways to generate energy for an energy hungry world. True conservatives never have the imagination to imagine a future that could be different, so we'll just keep on doddling along the way things are, thank you very much, and everything will tootle along nicely.

Now explain to me again why did we ever get rid of the Latin mass?

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