CLIMATE-change denier Anthony Cox has accused the Australian Bureau of Meteorology of adjusting some temperature records to give false and higher temperatures (“Adjusted temperatures need explaining”, Herald, 15/9).
The bureau has responded to these months-old claims – mostly propagated by Jennifer Marohasy from the Central Queensland University – and stands by its methods and data.
The reasons for the bureau’s legitimate and necessary adjustment were well explained in a recent article in The Conversation (“No, the Bureau of Meteorology is not fiddling its weather data”, 1/9). In it, Lisa Alexander and Andy Pitman, both of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW, clearly explain why some temperature data needs adjustment, and that we would have false readings if it was not adjusted.
Moreover, they explain that Australia’s warming trend would be even higher without the adjustments.
Similarly, climate journalist Graham Readfearn, writing in The Guardian on August 27 (“Climate sceptics see a conspiracy in Australia’s record breaking heat”) gives a good summary of the reasons for the temperature corrections.
A common reason, for instance, is that a weather station has moved to another site.
Readfearn goes one step further and gives an interesting account of Marohasy’s background with right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a well-known track record of disputing climate science.
Readfearn also tells us that Marohasy’s university position is paid for by a Perth-based climate sceptic and that her claims against the Bureau of Meteorology have not been peer reviewed, whereas the bureau’s data has.
By the way, the raw data, before the adjustments, is freely available for all to see, as are the corrections.
Unfounded claims by sceptics have gone on for many years as they cherry pick here and there and prove nothing.
An excellent book explaining the sordid history and reasons behind climate-change denialism is Merchants of Doubt (2010) by Professor Naomi Oreskes, from the University of California, San Diego.
Meanwhile, certainty about the human causes of a warming trend has gone from 95per cent to more than 99per cent (“99.999% certainty humans are driving global warming: new study”, The Conversation, 4/9).
That is a study by the CSIRO and published recently in the journal Climate Risk Management.
Yet despite the proof beyond reasonable doubt about climate change and its causes, I presume sceptics still manage to sow some doubt in the minds of those not acquainted with climate science, and that suits the business aims of those who want action on climate stopped or delayed.
It should go without saying that these business interests are well-funded and there are always puppets who will dance to their tune.
But delaying tough action on climate change gets more dangerous and expensive, the longer we delay.
True, there are serious top-level international efforts aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and you might think that articles like the one by Anthony Cox could do no real harm.
However, the implications of climate change are so serious that sceptical comments need to be tested before publication.
Stephen Williams was the founding editor of the Living Green section of the Newcastle Herald