Intent as the enemy of truth | On Line Opinion

From Jennifer Marohasy:

When all 1,655 maximum temperature series for Australia are simply combined, and truncated to begin in 1910 the hottest years are 1980, 1914, 1919, 1915 and 1940.

…..Considering land temperature across Australia, 1914 was almost certainly the hottest year across southern Australia, and 1915 the hottest across northern Australia – or at least north-east Australia. But recent years come awfully close – because there has been an overall strong warming trend since at least 1960, albeit nothing catastrophic.

……there is compelling evidence that the Bureau of Meteorology remodels historical temperature data until it conforms to the human-caused global warming paradigm.

I would like to see more open debate around this issue rather than the typical “trust me I’m an expert” or “the science is settled” response.

Source: Intent as the enemy of truth – On Line Opinion – 9/1/2017

19 thoughts on “Intent as the enemy of truth | On Line Opinion

  1. Teddy says:

    There are major problems with the whole augment put forward by the GW enthusiasts

    The planet has been warming and cooling for 4.543 billion years without our help.

    The components of natures contribution to cooling and warming are always carefully excluded, even the way the figures are collected is suspect as to size of sample and the “model” used to arrive at an answer. The time in question is infinitesimal in the life of the planet

    It is a fact that unless we take greater care of the environment where we dump waste, remove shrubs and trees, kill off the fauna and generally stuff things up we will eventually damage things beyond repair regardless of what we do to rectify the problems

    The only way to compare today’s figures with those of 100 years ago is to use exactly the same methods and the same locations otherwise you have to “adjust” and to use computer modelling it is turning science into pure guesswork

    Then add in the economic benefits to those envolved in the GW industry who in line with their business model will massage the figures to their direction.

    So although there will be contrary opinions due to the fact that neither side can prove their augment we should all agree to do what we economically can do to safeguard our home and the other species that rely on us

    • acb256 says:

      It was climate change over 25m years the dried out Africa and turned forests into savanna that forced apes about 7m years ago to stand on 2 feet and ultimately grow a bigger brain because they had no natural defences such as sharp teeth and claws to defend themselves. They had to develop complex, co-operative behaviours to survive as hunter gatherers. Human ancestors probably evolved in what is now part of the Saharan Desert. Further climate change forced them to move to more temperate climate near the Rift Valley and later through what we now call the Middle East into Asia and Europe.

      Modern humans just like us with big brains and speech evolved 170 or more thousand ya. For the next 160,000 years they continued to live as hunter gatherers, the main innovation being better stone tools. About 14,000ya the world came out of the last Ice Age and archeological digs show rapid population growth in Israel, Syria, Turkey etc until a sudden drop about 11,000ya (in less than 50 years) into the Younger Dryas Mini Ice Age that forced humans to change the behaviours they had evolved over millions of years.

      The sudden climate change forced hunter gatherer humans to become farmers and herders. Almost all of the foods humans now live on – cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, barley, chickpeas, lentils, etc etc. existed in what became known as the Fertile Crescent. Humans began herding what they previously hunted and farming what they previously gathered. The change in behaviour enabled some humans to survive the mini ice age, which ended about as fast as it began, 10,000 ya.

      Farming meant settling on land, settlements became towns and when a lengthy dry spell about 6,000 ya forced herders into the fertile river valleys, towns became the first cities. That is when humans developed the economy and, incidentally, when the Bible fable says that God created human society.

      Teddy, you are right. Over billions of years this planet has fluctuated from hot and rocky to an ice bound snowball. However, human society as we now know it has developed during the last 10,000 years, the longest relatively stable temperate climate in the 300,000 years that has been reliably plotted so far.

      What that 300,000 years record has shown has been a cycle of higher than present temperatures plunging into Ice Ages. Those massive changes drove evolution of humans who needed a large brain to give them complex behaviours to survive the changes.

      So if, as the evidence quite convincingly shows, massive burning of carbon that was sequestrated underground 4-500 million ya, which may have been a major factor in creating our present relatively stable climate, is the critical factor that tips climate back into its previous oscillations, humans should now be planning beyond the warming period to when a future plunge into the next Ice Age makes northern Europe, Asia and America uninhabitable.

      What supposedly intelligent humans need to do is to not stick their large brain into the sand or, as may happen sometime in the next million years, the nearest snow drift, but to use those brains to weigh the evidence intelligently to realise that the main risk is not global warming, it is the risk of kicking the planet back into the previous well documented cycle that will at some stage lead to the regions presently populated by a sizeable proportion of the world’s population becoming uninhabitable.

      Of course, those populations could always migrate to warmer countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libyia and Somalia – and Australia.

      • ColinTwiggs says:

        So what you are saying is we need to stop burning massive amounts of carbon-based fuel which risks greater climate oscillation. Whether the planet is actually warming or cooling at present is irrelevant.

        Can’t fault that.

  2. frankaquin0 says:

    Brilliant post – so much discussion. Ms Marohasy’s issue seems to be about whether the BoM is cherry-picking data to suit current climate-change dogma. If she’s right, the BoM should fess up quick smart and take the hit early rather than wait for the inevitable Watergate-style resignation and wholesale loss of credibility. If she’s wrong, the BoM should politely show her where and why, since she, like you and I, have a right to know. We pay their salaries; they work for us.

    But deeper down beyond the “I’m smart and you’re not” mentality that pervades this world wide quarrel, I wonder what it really matters. Does reducing our emissions cause any harm? Is anyone worse off because we’re a little less wasteful of our resources? Or is the problem that some people can’t cope with the idea that the planet “might” be warming faster than past trends, or that humans “might” be to blame, irrespective of whether either of those things is true. Does it scrape the “never admit anything” raw nerve embedded in modern society? Is that why they fight it? Who knows, and as I say, who cares? Be more energy efficient; inhale less fumes; turn off the tap while you brush your teeth; recycle your trash. Where’s the injury?

    This is so reminiscent of the tobacco debate, and more lately the sugar debate that it must have more to do with psychology than evidence. Both were compelling enough to change wholesale health behaviours for the better, yet both were also riddled with exceptions that sceptics still love to fight to the death over for goodness knows what reason.

    • ColinTwiggs says:

      Great point, Frank. While interest groups fight tooth and nail over the science, the average consumer would suffer little harm from practices that promote a cleaner environment…..and probably have much to gain.

    • Chris Gilbert says:

      The fundamental answer is simple and can be seen if we care to look, which many of us choose not to. We live inside a metaphorical balloon. That balloon has expansion limits. Every living thing uses energy and produces waste, especially humans. We are encouraged by economists and market forces to consume more; more waste per capita. Waste pollutes land, sea and air. World population will include another 3 billion people in 50 years and world consumption per capita will double. The balloon will burst. All life, including humans, is and will suffer stress and possible extinction unless population growth can be curbed and we consume less – highly unlikely. We can argue the niceties of measurement but look at the macro picture to see where we are going.


      • ColinTwiggs says:

        Every species on the planet both consumes and produces waste. In a sustainable system, the waste of one species is consumed by another, but human consumption (and waste) over the last few centuries has disrupted this cycle. Population growth is slowing in most parts of the world (except sub-Saharan Africa) which is good news. But we need to change our consumption patterns — carbon fuels, plastics, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides are ready examples — in order to restore the cycle.

  3. Laurence says:

    Fully agree ! You may be interested in Professor Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction based in UK

  4. mjpwelly says:

    I suggest you read these relevant sources:
    Adjustments made by BoM actually *decrease* the warming trend relative to unadjusted records.

    Perhaps more directly to your point, also this:
    Marohasy made a fuss about the Rutherglen temperature record. BoM identified that the algorithm used had correctly picked up a station change that they had otherwise not been aware of. The second link demonstrates how this impacts on the record and it’s adjustment.
    As I said, in my original post, BoM have responded to at least some of Marohasy’s claims and shown her to be incorrect.
    I believe there is also a similar track record regarding the Darwin record.
    Yet Marohasy still claims there is something afoot for this station, and I can see no evidence to justify her doing so. I base my comment that I don’t consider her a credible source with reasonable consideration.

    There is only so much time and taxpayer dollars a budget limited entity can put into chasing false assertions. Particularly when, despite the assertions, adjustments made to the raw data overall have reduced the warming trend.

  5. frankaquin0 says:

    Ha! Well, you just knew I would wade into this one – didn’t you Colin. I was going to go through her points one by one, but she’s used the old blunderbuss technique, scattering supported and unsupported snippets willy-nilly, so I gave up – not that I’m qualified to do so anyway, but I thought it would be fun. And who knows? She might be right. The Bureau of Meteorology may well be part of a worldwide left wing conspiracy to put PV panels on our roofs. But somehow I doubt it.

    I have a friend who recently tried to draw me into a who’s right and who’s wrong discussion about climate change. I offered him the following reply:

    “The capacity of the human brain for self delusion may well be limitless. It is truly amazing to me how many smart people can’t cope with the idea that if we all keep farting in a room it will eventually smell. They just can’t do it. Not that it matters. There is no possible proof in the universe that will convince everybody of anything. When we attach our self-worth (or our pay cheques in this case) to any ambiguous idea that either pleases us or annoys us, no amount of data and graphs will make us switch sides. That’s the problem with self esteem. We can talk about this till the cows come home, but we’ll all be dead by the time someone might come up with a definitive answer. And even then – probably not.”

    So back to Ms. Marohasy: Rather than check her science I looked up her credentials. She’s a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs ( Its aims are listed as advocating free market economic policies such as privatisation and deregulation of state-owned enterprises, trade liberalisation and deregulated workplaces, climate change scepticism, the abolition of the minimum wage and the repeal of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in part. I thought how strange to have an aim of being a climate change sceptic. You’d think the aim would be to get to the bottom of the climate change debate, rather than to be a perpetual sceptic. Then I looked at the supporters and patrons and understood perfectly: Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch, Tony Abbott, and Cardinal George Pell were among the great and the good, financially supported by ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris, Murray Irrigation Limited, Visy Industries, Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso, British American Tobacco. I thought whew! We’re in good hands. These guys would never bend the truth in their own interests. Would they?

    As I say, she might be right, but it’s hard to see her as any less biased than the evil Met Bureau she claims to have the dirt on.

    • ColinTwiggs says:

      Thanks Frank,
      Her credentials as a climate change skeptic seem irreproachable but I would prefer BoM to argue the science. Our own experiences of climate change (e.g. a very hot summer or a poor skiing season in the Alps) are too subjective and prone to confirmation bias.

      NASA have a good website on climate change but I find some of the wording “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree……” reminiscent of toothpaste or hair-loss commercials. Consensus is not a scientific argument……ask Galileo, Darwin, et al.

      • ColinTwiggs says:

        P.S. Not saying we shouldn’t take steps to guard against global warming but that we should remain open to opposing views.

      • arnold says:

        From a quick search looks like Jennifer Marohasy is a biologist – not a climate scientist. Fields are related but different – heavier math and modelling content in climate science. Maybe Jennifer can do some further study to confirm her skepticism – and then publish her results to debunk the anthropogenic climate change. ……… Hmmmm sounds to hard – opinion is cheaper faster, easier and for the moment pays better…. I am looking for a downside….. Can’t find one.

        And in your last point comparing scientists to marketers (toothpaste etc.) Getting a little straw man there.

      • ColinTwiggs says:

        Jennifer has a detailed biography here: Seems she is not afraid of controversy.

        Straw man? “97% of climate scientists agree” is not science but an attempt at persuasion (as in the toothpaste commercials).

    • Hayden says:

      “if we all keep farting in a room it will eventually smell.” Interestingly, I was watching a u-tube video a few days ago from a reputable source wherein they were saying that we are adding heat into the atmosphere at the astonishing rate of 400,000 (Hiroshima) H bombs every single day. (It would take me a while to find the link, sorry)

  6. mjpwelly says:

    There is ample contempory evidence that most meteorological themometers in Australia were not exposed in Stevenson screens until very late in the nineteenth century, and in many places not until well into the twentieth century. There is also evidence, from a long-running comparision at Adelaide, that mean temperatures in a Stevenson screen are lower than in an open stand in Australian conditions. Thus, there are strong grounds for expecting that ninteenth century, and some early twentieth century, Australian temperatures are biased warm, relative to modern exposures.;2-S/abstract

    • ColinTwiggs says:

      The effect of introduction of Stevenson screens was excluded according to the author: “When all 1,655 maximum temperature series for Australia are simply combined, and truncated to begin in 1910 – thus avoiding problems of equipment change associated with Stevenson screen installations – the hottest years are 1980, 1914, 1919, 1915 and 1940, respectively…..”

      • mjpwelly says:

        Thanks for pointing that out. I am not sure how “well into the twentieth century” we are talking about for “many places” to still not have Stevenson screens, as my quote from a published paper on this stated. But Marohasy is arguing a conspiracy theory that is barely credible – and that Tony Abbott intended to address with an Inquiry into BoM practices. The fact he did not pursue that, plus the BoM’s responses to a number of Marohasy’s claims that I am aware of, have suggested to me that she is not a credible source.

      • ColinTwiggs says:

        I would still prefer BoM to answer her objections, to the way they measure land temperature, rather than question her credibility.

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