Climate denial tide is turning



Image of sun through bushfire haze

Many have seen the election of the Coalition Government as a blow to sensible policy on climate change in Australia. However marginally effective the carbon tax may be, it is a more effective mechanism for lowering carbon emissions than the direct action plan, proposed by Greg Hunt and Tony Abbott. Not only is the Coalition plan unlikely to achieve the set goal of 5 per cent reductions on emissions by 2020 with the money allocated, Abbott has made it pretty clear no further money will be forthcoming.

Now the Government's own independent adviser, the Climate Change Authority, is arguing that a 5 per cent target is inadequate and a 15 per cent target is the minimum acceptable option. While professing to believe in the science of climate change, the general public has every right to be sceptical about the reality of Abbott's apparent conversion to the cause. 

On the other hand, it is clear that globally the tide is beginning to take a very serious turn. With the publication of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Los Angeles Times made the bold decision to no longer publish letters from climate change denialists saying it would not print 'letters that have an untrue basis'. The Times' letter editor, Paul Thornton, noted: 

Scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change ... The debate right now isn't whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us. Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying 'there's no sign humans have caused climate change' is not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy.

With a bit of prompting from its readership, but not a concerted campaign that I know of, the Sydney Morning Herald has followed suit. Now there is a campaign to get other newspapers in Australia to follow suit. 

While this might seem like a small victory, the more substantial issue on the horizon is the global campaign for divestment in the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel companies base their market value on their reserves in coal, gas and oil. It is becoming increasingly clear that a significant proportion of these reserves can never be used without causing catastrophic climate change.

A group of 70 global investors, managing more than $3 trillion worth of assets, has launched a coordinated effort to ask the world's 40 top fossil fuel and power companies to fully assess the risks posed by climate change and the benefits of supporting low carbon energy. These investors are demanding to know how fossil fuel companies plan to manage climate risks and the emerging clean energy economy; for example, by reducing the carbon intensity of assets, divesting from the most carbon intensive projects, and investing in lower carbon energy sources. 

The movement to divestment will gain momentum and fossil fuel companies will be forced to reassess the value of their assets. A global campaign to encourage divestment has emerged which points out that such investments are not just bad for the environment, but bad economics, with assets that can never be realised in a carbon constrained world.

This is a major economic issue. If you look at the top ten companies in the world, seven are major investors in fossil fuels; another two are high consumers of fossil fuels (power generation and automobiles). The level of investment here dwarfs most national economies. One can expect these companies to push back, and they have virtually unlimited resources to do so.

And the third point of interest is the newly elected Pope Francis. In the recently published biography, Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, Paul Vallely notes that the Pope is planning a major encyclical on environmental matters. In a move which will drive conservatives to distraction, Pope Francis has asked Leonardo Boff to send him his writings on eco-theology as part of his preparation. Boff was a major figure in the liberation theology movement and his writings were closely scrutinised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Indeed his book, Church: Charism and Power was the subject of a notification from the Congregation.

In an interview in 2010 Boff noted:

There are regions in the world that have changed so much that they've become uninhabitable. That is why there are 60 million displaced persons in Africa and Southeast Asia, which are the most affected by climate change and which emit less carbon. If we don't stop it, in the next five to seven years there will be as many as 100 million climate refugees, and that is going to create political problems.

It will not be difficult for the Pope to connect this issue with his own very public concerns on the plight of refugees.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez de Maradiaga confirmed during a recent visit to Australia that Pope Francis is indeed planning a document on the environment. The Cardinal is chair of the group of eight cardinals chosen by Francis to advise him, and is a strong proponent of action on climate change. A strong and clear statement from Francis on climate change will be heard all around the world. The Pope has proven himself an able and direct communicator and a document from him will be difficult for our political leaders to ignore.

Neil Ormerod headshot

Neil Ormerod is Professor of Theology at Australian Catholic University. His latest book, with Cynthia Crysdale, is Creator God, Evolving World (Fortress Press, 2013). 

Bushfire image by Shutterstock.



Topic tags: Neil Ormerod, climate change, denial, IPCC, fossil fuels, Pope Francis, Greg Hunt


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Existing comments

It's nearly 2014, so it looks like Boff is going to be out in his predictions by, oh, 100 million. Seems he's as good a climatologist as he was a theologian. Still, I can't blame him - he was probably in thrall to the alarmists at the UN, which put out a map in 2005 predicting 50 million climate refugees by 2010. When the news that that didn't eventuate went round the world's media, the UN promptly pulled the map from its site, but clumsily, so it was able to be retrieved and shown up for the alarmist farce it was. I suppose the LA Times and other heroic organs like the SMH will have learnt from that embarrassment and clean up their suppression of the debate more thoroughly. However, it's a bad start for the Times with that blatant verballing by the editor. No skeptic I know says: 'there's no sign humans have caused climate change'. Of course humans cause climate change: how could they not with their farming and settlement patterns? What is in dispute is whether humans are causing dangerous global warming through their addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Desperation stakes as the warmist models crumble?
HH | 01 November 2013

Remarkable. The most striking thing about all this talk of Francis the eco-pope is how it reveals nothing more than the deadly modern embrace between the new environmentalists and the old Catholic order; the former clearly hoping that His Holiness will add the necessary authoritative weight of traditionalism to its incessant demands for carbon-cutting . Whereas earlier popes promoted sacrifice as a tool in the sharpening of spirituality, such as during lent, modern Catholic eco-mortifiers promote sacrifice simply for the sake of sacrifice; carbon-cutting for its own sake. There’s no higher spiritual purpose to eco-self-denial; it offers no transcendence whatsoever. Does the pope really want to grubbily encourage folk to obsess over the minutiae of their daily carbon output to the end of being less of a burden on the planet? I guess we will all have to wait and watch.
DavidSt | 01 November 2013

I'm open to human induced "climate change' as a concept, but am astounded that a Theology Professor like Neil Ormerod would be comfortable with a newspaper (The LA Times) simply refusing to publish any letters that contradict the 'dogma' of climate change. Wow, even in our beloved Catholic Church, 'dogma' is fair game. Whenever the 'powers that be' in our Church say, "this is fact, we will not allow any further discussion" ... it simply inflames the debate! So I find it hard to reconcile the enquiring mind of a theologian with his stance that opponents of 'climate change' should not be heard or published. Because of this totalitarianism that the climate change 'mob' exhibit, I feel suspicious of their scientific method.... good science is open to constructive criticism. Bad science says, 'this is the truth. no debate will be entered into".... It is this latter mantra that seems to have become the "Creed" of the 'climate changers'. Is 'climate change' a science or a pseudo-religious dogmatic belief system? Just asking....
Just asking.... | 01 November 2013

The sorts of environmental and economic issues Ormerod rightly raises here were an integral part of the NSW Secondary School Geography Syllabus during the 1980's which I spent many years teaching and discussing with interested students. There was little if any resistance from students in those days and they for the most part accepted the science and saw the sense in switching to renewable energy. Those students would now be in their mid 40's. One wonders how many shake their heads that we still are not acting appropriately in terms of environmental stewardship. I too shake my head all these decades on. thanks Neil, for raising it again.
Jennifer Herrick | 03 November 2013

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Annoying Orange | 03 November 2013

Please read Donna Laframboise’s book “The Delinquent Teenager who was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert” . It blows the lid clean off the biased and politicised organisation otherwise known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is a political organisation, it does not allow the valid critique of eminent scientists who have differing theories on climate events. Sad to see science so compromised and so politicised.
Skye | 04 November 2013

How cool that we should censor opinion and vilify our critics as denialists (deniers?) We are dealing with complex phenomena and complex solutions. One need only look at the predictions regarding climate change that have proved incorrect.
Peter | 04 November 2013

Thanks, Neil. A reasoned and timely article.
Bruce Laidlaw | 04 November 2013

Before the last major global warming episode, the polar ice cap extended as far south as Denmark, the human population has been estimated to be some 300,000, fire alone (no burning of fossil fuels, no cars etc) released carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and the planet was covered in vegetation, avidly sucking up carbon dioxide and converting it to life promoting oxygen. I wonder. What drove global warming at that time? And that episode of global warming was incredible - the polar icecap receded north and rising sea levels split continents, isolating land masses like Australia. Climate change is a fact. The cause is the point of contention. But whatever that cause, no amount of money, political rhetoric, population control, taxation, prayer or encyclicised musing is likely to solve it.
john frawley | 04 November 2013

Thank you Noel for a very worthwhile article.
Jim Jones | 04 November 2013

HH, Respectful debate occurs between people and people have names. Please put you full name to your comments so that respectful discussion can occur. John Francis Collins
John Francis Collins | 04 November 2013

Here Here John Collins, and not just HH. All the rest too, who hide behind pseudonyms. Why?
Jennifer Herrick | 04 November 2013

Why do we keep on worrying about whether humans cause climate change. The real question to answer is, can we do anything to mitigate it? We should be able to work at that without belittling one another.
Gavan Breen | 04 November 2013

Gavan Breen asks if we can do anything to mitigate climate change. It strikes me that carbon dioxide is made up of both carbon and oxygen, and we tax only the carbon. What about the oxygen? Should we not also tax oxygen? Imagine. Such a tax would be charged on all those who destroy trees and vegetation, the source of life-giving oxygen and the destroyer of the beastly carbon dioxide. We would save the worlds forests like the Amazon for instance and at the same time through a carbon emissions tax reduce the amount of carbon dioxide even further. The combined effect would be much greater than taxing only the carbon!! And the Greens would love it - they might even smile for a change!
john frawley | 04 November 2013

Congratulations Neil on a clear and precise formulation of the problem. The facts are Climate Change is happening, it is largely caused by human action, viz, the industrial revolution, the solution is obvious; stop using the atmosphere as a garbage dump. The only thing needed is the will to act and we have to start with ourselves. Live simply so that others can simply live. Patrick & Lois O'Shea
Patrick & Lois O'Shea | 04 November 2013

'Khalifa' is Arabic, it means successor, leader, shining light. My granddad is Muslim and he gave me that name.
Annoying Orange | 04 November 2013

My real last name is Galifianakisburg.
Zach Galifianakis | 04 November 2013

I dont think asking for honesty is belittling. Not in my world anyway. Lord knows I've had enough of dishonesty.
Jennifer Anne Herrick | 04 November 2013

To John Francis Collins; I agree with HH 100 per cent. But I don't know John Collins' view on climate change. There is nothing wrong with carbon dioxide. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and give us oxygen.
Ron Cini | 04 November 2013

Thanks Neil for this worthwhile essay. People can shoot the IPCC messenger all they want, it does not alter the evidence. As for hiding behind pseudonyms, it's what is written that matters, not the initials or whatever that people call themselves. Look at the ideas, not the name and you will find much to discuss. But I agree that sarcasm and smart alec put-downs do nothing to persuade others to one's point of view.
Brett | 05 November 2013

So it's ok to ban letters but not ok to use pseudonyms. Let's ban pseudonyms too rather than answer people's claims.
Peter | 05 November 2013

Re comments from John Frawley and Gavan Green, a comment about the science: The current scientific conclusion is NOT that all global warming is caused by human activity but that the rate of global warming is accelerated by those human activities which produce carbon dioxide and other so-called 'greenhouse gases'. Peter refers to the "predictions regarding climate change that have proved incorrect". Where some of the climatologists have over-reached the available evidence is in making short term predictions about what is inherently a long-term process. Because the proof of human impact on global warming rates is based on comparison of present average global temperature change against ancient natural records drilled from the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps, short term predictions to 2020, 2050 and end of the century are unreliable. Similarly we cannot say with certainty that the recent NSW bush fires were caused by global warming. Scientists, like many other people, get swept along by the urgency to speak up and try to avert the danger they see approaching. Naturally after too many unfulfilled predictions, climate scientists are seen by the public as the boy who cried 'Wolf!'
Ian Fraser | 05 November 2013

I am sorry Neil that you are enduring such a frantic attack from unhappy readers. Be assured that there are many who are reacting in the opposite way to your excellent article. Unlike your excited critics, the LA Times has accepted a duty to settle the dust so energetically raised by merchants of doubt over this whole matter of the changing ecology of planet earth. The result of 40% increase in one of the components of its atmosphere, carbon dioxide, due to the insatiable generation of energy from carbon by one species - Homo sapiens. Every breath we take now has this altered composition compared to decades ago. We don't notice that, but the thickening "blanket" of carbon dioxide is making the whole planet notice. A warming atmosphere shows changed physical dynamics, much of it unpredictable, but - crops mature earlier and with lower yield, flowering dates differ and the dependent insect life is destabilised, and so on. The complex life of the planet reached its present state in an atmosphere functionally different from what our pollution has now generated. This will play out, slowly but surely, whereas loss of ice sheets and more extreme weather events are already here.
Mike Foale | 05 November 2013

"Just asking...." is "... open to human induced "climate change' as a concept, but am astounded that a Theology Professor like Neil Ormerod would be comfortable with a newspaper (The LA Times) simply refusing to publish any letters that contradict the 'dogma' of climate change." Err, perhaps the LA Times adheres to CP Scott's aphorism that while "comments are free, facts are sacred". That is, while "Just Asking ..." may conceptualise as he/she sees fit, human-induced climate change as a perfectly straightforward consequence of perfectly straightforward atmospheric physics, is established fact. I refer "Just Asking ..." to the American Chemical Society's Climate Science Toolkit, at
David Arthur | 05 November 2013

John Francis Collins, it's the comment that counts - not the person's name, pseudonym, gender or social position. Vous ne pensez pas?
Annoying Orange | 05 November 2013

Skye is concerned that the "IPCC is a political organisation, it does not allow the valid critique of eminent scientists who have differing theories on climate events". While the IPCC may be a political organisation, the basis of the concern for which it was founded are perfectly straightforward consequences of atmospheric physics. I refer Skye to the website of that decidedly non-political organisation, the American Chemical Society, particularly its Climate Science Toolkit:
Name | 05 November 2013

Gavan Breen asks why we "... keep on worrying about whether humans cause climate change. The real question to answer is, can we do anything to mitigate it? We should be able to work at that without belittling one another." Well, Mr Breen, the first step to mitigating climate change is to stop exacerbating it, which necessarily means ceasing to use fossil fuels. This, however, would place Australia and Saudi Arabia in the invidious position of losing much of the export markets on which our economy presently depends.
Name | 05 November 2013

Thanks for the comments, JFC & JH. But (with due respect) I've had many productive conversations over the years with unknowns. There's a long tradition of anonymity on blogs, and with identity issues proliferating, its days are not numbered. So I don't personally hold it against anyone for concealing their identity. They have their prudential reasons for privacy, I have mine, and I respect their choice. (Frankly, I would counsel anonymity where it's not unfeasible.) Anyway, for the most part it's what is said, not who said it, that counts. I think the really concerning "respect" issue here is that on E.S., which often stresses the importance of conversation, listening, and not demonising the "other", we have an E.S. columnist/theologian praising media which have chosen to suppress dissenting voices on global warming. Yet even the head of the IPCC no less, said in February, "People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning." ("Nothing Off Limits in Climate Debate" The Australian Feb 22, 2013). Dr Pachauri's is a far more respectful - and constructive - position than Dr Ormerod's, in my humble opinion.
HH | 05 November 2013

To Annoying Orange, HH and any other contributors that do not use their name in their posts. My desire is to engage in intelligent and respectful discussion and debate on serious issues. Professor Ormerod is clearly identified as is willing to be identified with his ideas. I am also happy to be identified with my posts. My sense is that if you do not identify who you are that there is a question with regard to your conviction. The internet is a wonderful tool to assist in promoting communication and understanding. Dialogue is between people in all of their complexity and ambiguity, "mystery" if you will. When I see a comment that in which the author is unwilling to fully identify with for me, the comment or idea is of significantly diminished authority. Why should I take seriously comments made by those who are not willing to identify with their own comments. I am encouraging all who make comments to simply stand behind their comments by letting the rest of know who you are. If we do not do this our conversations are less than human.
John Francis Collins | 07 November 2013

Ian Fraser correctly notes that: "... we cannot say with certainty that the recent NSW bush fires were caused by global warming." Absolutely true, but has anybody tried to make that conclusion? All I have seen is a number of opinions, expressed by scientist and non scientists, that we will experience increasing incidences of extreme weather events. I think that the mere mention of this bushfire / climate association has driven overly sensitive sceptics to wrongly interpret what is being said. The best parallel is that between any person's cancer and cigarette smoking. It is impossible in law to establish a one to one link, but at a broad level the link is irrefutable.
Chris Harries | 07 November 2013

I feel compelled to add here a point that I have made in a number of blog conversations. That is, the need for us to respect those people who are in a state of denial. This applies to all sorts of denial, not only denial over climate change. Understanding human behaviour, nobody really wants to accept climate change. Climate scientists can't avoid seeing the bald truth. Most of us are witnessing predicted changes just by watching the news. But for many innocent people, being confronted by really bad news sets in a denial reaction. This phenomenon was explored in depth by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her theories of denial and grief, and put into practice when helping people in bereavement. It takes time. We need to appreciate that denial is a perfectly natural human response when coping with negative news. Being angry or impatient with those who are in a state of denial does absolutely nothing to help them through to acceptance. The only caveat I would place on that thought is that denial in society is added to somewhat by those who financially or politically benefit from maintaining the status quo. I think we should be less patient with those social forces.
Chris Harries | 07 November 2013

Chris, try the UN FCCC's Christina Figueres for a start: "The fact is we are already, as you have just pointed out, we are really already paying the price of carbon. We are paying the price with wildfires..."
HH | 07 November 2013

Ian Fraser, interesting comments. But if you main point is correct, then dangerous anthropogenic global warming can't be pushed as "settled science" right now, as the hypothesis will only be empirically verifiable a few hundred years (at least) from the present. In which case the "extremely likely" confidence levels touted by the IPCC and similar utterances from other scientists, are to be ignored. For myself, I compare the slope of the rise in global temperature from the 1970's with the slopes of rises earlier this century (when there was much less atmospheric CO2). There seems to be no detectable difference in the gradients. Which suggests that, even with the massive increases in GHGs towards the end of last century, nothing may be happening but the gradual defrosting of the earth from the Little Ice Age of a few hundred years back. And which also means that, after the current 15-odd year pause, ceteris paribus we can expect temperatures to resume rising, for reasons totally unrelated to atmospheric CO2 levels.
HH | 07 November 2013

Correction: "earlier last century".
HH | 07 November 2013

HH, I presume you have the appropriate scientific qualifications to choose which variables and over what time span to determine rates of change. You write "For myself, I compare the slope of the rise in global temperature from the 1970's with the slopes of rises earlier this century." Why do you choose these variables over this time-frame? If we knew who you were we could check if your opinion was worth considering or whether it is simply an opinion of one operating out of his or her discipline. This is the problem with Richard Dawkins, a scientist speaking on religion. Professor Ormerod has a PhD in pure mathematics and this informs his judgement with regard to reading and understanding the climate science. I know this because I can check his background. I cannot check who HH is and as such his opinion is worth no more than that of my barber.
John Francis Collins | 07 November 2013

We aren't disagreeing, H.H. Christine Figueres statement is correct. Society has been paying the price of smoking, via cancer deaths. That's true. We are, similarly, paying the price for polluting the lungs of the world. That's also true. We are paying that price via increasing frequency and seriousness of of extreme weather events as recorded by statistics. The big insurance companies are unequivocal about this because they have to fork out.
Chris Harries | 07 November 2013

@ JFC “Diogenes, filthily attired, paced across the splendid carpets in Plato's dwelling. Thus, said he, do I trample on the pride of Plato. Yes, Plato replied, but only with another kind of pride.” - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Annoying Orange | 07 November 2013

Chris, thanks. If Figueres is correct, then the Sydney wildfires are due to global warming - in which case your statement that no-one has concluded that the Sydney bushfires are linked to global warming is incorrect. Or are you saying she's right to attribute increased bushfires generally to global warming, but this doesn't include the Sydney fires specifically? If so, tell us what other specific wildfires she was referring to. (It wasn't obvious from her statement.) Regarding the evidence from insurance firms: how come a "Nature" editorial headlined last year: "Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming."? Who are we to believe?
HH | 07 November 2013

Responding to Chris Harries, I noticed in the follow-up to the Greens' Mark(?) Brandis reminding us during the NSW fires that we will 'experience increasing incidences of extreme weather events' not only was he taken to task by those offended by what they saw as political opportunism, others, including some RFS firefighters, stated that they believed the fires were caused by global warming. Responding to HH, yes it is probable that we do need a few centuries before we can have the same level of certainty about anthropogenic global warming and resultant climate change as we have about the generally spherical shape of the earth and the evolutionary origins of homo sapiens. However I do not agree that we should therefore ignore the predictions and statements from IPCC. As a frequent 110kph driver on the Hume freeway, I always leave about 10 car lengths between me and the vehicle in front NOT because I believe that vehicle will stop suddenly but to ensure that I will not collide if it does suddenly stop. If we waited for scientific certainty before taking precautions we would be living in a recklessly perilous world.
Ian Fraser | 08 November 2013

To all subscribers. My sincere thanks to all contributors offering their valuable comments on the critical issues related to the warming of our climate and its serious impact on communities without resources.
Frank Hornby | 08 November 2013

It is not just what is said as opposed to who said it that is important. If this were so, anyone could comment on economics, anthropology, sociology, theology, philosophy, climatology, and expect to be taken seriously no matter what their academic credentials and vocational experience. This is clearly absurd.
Jennifer Anne Herrick | 08 November 2013

John Francis Collins, I don't care if HH is Herman Hesse, Heinrich Himmler, Harry Houdini, Henry Higgins, Hungry Hippo, Hard Hearted, Heavy Handed or Hard (at) Hearing. I don't care about his age, his religion or his sex, although I do keep assuming male, I could be wrong about it. My interest is in the words he puts on the blog, many of which show a disregard for evidence inconsistent with his mindset over a number of topics and a condescending attitude to people with alternative viewpoints. My advice is to forget about who he is, it isn't important, and focus on what he writes. The target is large.
Brett | 09 November 2013

Brett, I strongly agree with (half of !) what you've written above. I certainly don't expect anyone to take what I assert as incontestable. Like you I'm much more interested in counter reasoning and evidence than letters after someone's name. Unfortunately (yourself an exception) a lot of what I get back on E.S. is neither counter reasoning nor evidence, but just slogans, analyses of my various alleged spiritual moral or psychological pathologies, or other forms of ad hom. Or, just ignored: I forget how many time's I've pointed out from peer reviewed literature that the Kiribati islands are not all sinking - a few are, most are static and the 3 main ones (Betio, Bairiki, Nanikai) have actually grown in the last 60 years. Yet every few months there's an article appears on cue here, bewailing the sinking of the Kiribati Islands due to global warming, with no citations of peer reviewed literature. If I get snarky and condescending sometimes, I apologize, but making this point over and over again to such a response does get a little tiresome.
HH | 11 November 2013

Stopping opinion is the start of a Fascist regime.. Just as it happened in Germany in the '30 there is no difference to this article and the supporters of it.
Michael | 14 November 2013

Well I certainly hope the Pope doesn't make some definitive statement on anthropological climate change. In years to come when it turns out we humans don't have the influence some of us seem to think we have, it won't look good for his infallibility to non Catholics, or even some Catholics who don't understand the concept. Secondly The LA Times decision to not publish sceptics letters reminds me of people in the Middle Ages not being allowed to acknowledge that the earth is not flat. How unscientific the LA Times must be.
Sceptic | 22 November 2013

Thank you Neil for a great summary. Chris Harries I understand the need for respect for those who are truly "in denial". But there are several types of "denialists". Beware those who are really Merchants of Doubt (see Oreskes) and they add to the burden of the fearful. The merchants of doubt worked for years to continue the sale of tobacco (public health was my field). Similarly vested interests are alive and well in fanning the fires of doubt re the science of climate change. Agnotology is the study of the cultural production of ignorance and doubt. Skeptics you are being tricked.The IPCC has never claimed to be a research body and the figures claimed to be "predictions" are often projections which have a different meaning. By grouping data in various combinations a variety of useful projections can be made.
Ann Long | 24 November 2013

I have been observing the weather and climate for almost 50 years, 30 of them in Canberra.2013 will be the hottest year on our records and no doubt this fact will be confirmed by the Bureau in January. It is almost certain that 2013 was the warmest worldwide as well. Extreme cold in the US and the unusual warmth in Europe as well as the severe storms affecting the UK as signs of altered weather patterns worldwide. There is absolutely no doubt that we humans are accelerating climate change by altering the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is a part of Earth's thermostat and we are turning it up by releasing carbon that has been locked up for millions of years. I am looking forward to Pope Francis response to this environmental issue. To my mind the profit driven exploitation of carbon is environmental vandalism for which our children will pay the price in a world which we would not be able to recognise. The Church has a moral and ethical obligation , like the prophets of old, to warn mankind of the consequences of its greed.
Gavin O'Brien
Gavin O'Brien | 25 December 2013

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