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How many Andrew Bolts does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None, because it’s daytime and the past few hours have been getting lighter. There’s no proof of the need for lightbulb change, and besides, what difference would changing one lightbulb make. There’s no need to change a lightbulb until everyone else does!

On Friday, I wrote a response to John McLean’s article in “The Age” in which he questioned the IPCC. If you read the response, you’ll note that I raised questions about the funding of the “International Climate Science Coalition” and whether, when one looks at its core values, one can really say that they are scientific in nature. I also made the point that the arguments used by many who wish to dispute climate change had a very similar ring to the arguments used by the tobacco industry in the 1950s. At no point did I suggest a link between the tobacco industry and the “International Climate Science Coalition”.

As a humble blogger, I was surprised to receive the attention of both the writer of the article and the executive director of the “Coalition” within a couple of hours. The writer of the article used all his skills of persuasion to counter my arguments:

“What a pathetic piece from Rossleigh. Such attention to detail! The Age spells my surname correctly but Rossleigh gets it wrong despite the bio extract from The Age. Now let me see if I understand Rossleigh’s correctly … I think the claim is that I am wrong because I am a member of a certain coalition that can, with some contortions, be linked to the legal defence of tobacco companies. Hmmm … surely if Rossleigh figured that my claims about the IPCC, UNFCCC and others were wrong then surely those errors would have been discussed here instead of the pathetic ad hominem attack.

“I provide my URL so that any who is interested (and somehow I doubt that many people who haunt this blog will) can read my other documents including the unheard of action of a scientific journal not allowing authors the right of reply.”

I also provide Mr McLean’s URL.

Mr Harris, the executive director also seemed to think that, while it was entirely reasonable to question the motives and funding of climate sciencists, to question his organisation shouldn’t be allowed, and that it was an “ad hominem” attack. (Can questioning an organisation be an “ad hominem” attack? I’ll let the pedants work that one out.) He made a number of comments – apparently he doesn’t have anything better to do – but among them was this:

Kaye Lee, you have not answered my charge:

“Please show us exactly where it has been demonstrated that a large majority of climate experts who study the causes of climate change agree that: human produced carbon dioxide emissions is causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming (and other deliterious climate change).”

The reason no one properly demonstrates this is because the idea of consensus on this topic among these people is an urban legend and of no merit what-so-ever.

To which I replied:

Note: it does only say “very likely” because scientists often remain circumspect about possibilities. They establish hypotheses which can be disproved. They do not have “core principles” which begin with conclusions such as we find on the ICSC website.

Of course, that site was not “evidence”, because as he put it: is simply a statement by an official government body, rossleighbrisbane. Neither it, nor the sources they cite “demonstrate that a large majority of climate experts who study the causes of climate change agree that: human produced carbon dioxide emissions is causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming (and other deliterious climate change).”

Now, part of me would like to encourage you to have a look at the site and make up your own mind. But, then I know that any source one finds on the internet can be countered with another source. Or the figures disputed. And, let’s not forget that while Harris demands that one finds information to back this “urban myth”, he also concludes that it doesn’t have “any merit what-so-ever. (sic)”. So one could waste an enormous amount of time attempting to prove that the majority of climate scientists generally agree, only to be told that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re right.

Particularly if you start from the point that we must not trust the government or climate scientists, who are accused of indulging in rhetoric without regard to facts. On the other hand, in an article co-authored with Dr Tim Ball, Harris asserts:

Coal-fired electricity must be replaced with “clean energy” to save the climate, they still say. This approach completely disregards what happened in Europe when that approach was tried: economies collapsed and people froze to death, driven into poverty by unmanageable energy bills.

And here I was blaming the GFC for the economies of Europe collapsing!

Of course, the thing that is becoming more and more obvious is that the climate deniers always try to set the terms of the “debate”. For example, unless you can prove that a majority of climate scientists agree we need to do nothing, or unless you can prove that acting now on climate change will make any difference, we might as well wait. Or show us what China’s doing! And why are you kicking that way, when the goal posts have been shifted?

But as with smoking – and I’m not drawing any links between the Heartland Institute and tobacco here – it really doesn’t matter who believes what. In the end, it was found to be harmful. (Perhaps, some may argue that the science isn’t conclusive here either!) If you’d given up smoking when the first reports came out you’d probably have lived longer. I say probably before someone points out Uncle Fred gave up smoking and two days later got hit by a truck!.

It’s difficult not to allow the important questions to be sidetracked. What does the evidence suggest? What are the potential consequences of taking action? What are the potential consequences of inaction? What needs to be done?

In Australia, in the debate over the ETS, Abbott said that it would be better to have a simple tax. When Labor introduced a carbon tax, suddenly Direct Action is better. No wonder many people started to switch off and decide the whole thing was too hard.

And for those of you wondering about the “Direct INaction Plan”. Here’s the latest. Direct Action.

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