Senator Steve Fielding is the leader of a small political party in Australia and a member of the the Federal Senate (the Australian upper house). For some reason he sends me occasional e-mails, which usually go straight in the bin, but on this occaision he was dealing with the subject of action on climate change, an issue that he (as one of the small group of Senate members outside the two major parties) has a disproportionate influence on. The relevant part of his e-mail was:
CLIMATE CHANGE – Are you sure carbon dioxide (CO2) is the problem?
Check it out for yourself – see what I presented to Minister Wong and Australia’s Chief Scientist after I returned from a self-funded trip to Washington, and see their response. Read more here…
and here is my response:
Dear Senator Fielding
I’m not sure why you keep sending me e-mails, but since you ask, no I’m not absolutely certain that human sourced CO2 emissions (and other greenhouse gasses) are the primary source of climate change, but what we can say is:
- On the balance of probabilities the scientific evidence suggests that the costs of likely climate change will far exceed the cost of reducing emissions.
- The probability of climate change having disastrous consequences for countries with large heavily populated low lying regions is unacceptably high.
- There is a small, but certainly not negligible possibility of still more extreme consequences, such as that climate change will have a catastrophic effect on world agricultural output, leading to mass starvation.
In summary I believe that seeking to slow down or stop action on reduction of emissions of greenhouse gasses because the science is not “certain” is grossly irresponsible, and smacks of political opportunism.
On the subject of political opportunism, using a “cherry picked” graph of temperatures against emissions to support your arguments is ignorant at best, and most likely outright dishonest.
I hope that answers your question.
Well said Doug. Working as a provider of public information I see that sort of cherry picking a lot – questions come in worded in such a way that they should really be read “Please find me some figures that could support my argument”. Of course the advantage for Steve Fielding of using figures in that way is that if public opinion shifts enough he could always use the same figures to argue the opposite side of the debate…
Geoff – “Yes Minister” on getting the answer you want:
Tnx for nice blog. It’s really interesting, I’m continue to read your blog and waitning for your next posts =).