From Peter FitzSimons to climate emergency…

Loved Peter FitzSimon’s 2019 Andrew Olle lecture, which is not to say I agreed with everything in it. But this I surely do agree with:

… A planet that really DOES face a critical threat through climate change – again, obviously the most pressing issue of our time, and indeed all time, whereby the world must choose between quickly transitioning to some green decades or facing some very black millennia.

I love the fact that six years ago, under editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir, the Herald brought in a policy whereby we not publish  climate change denialism on the same grounds that we wouldn’t publish letters or columns maintaining the earth was flat – because sometimes there actually aren’t two sides to this story, there is just one, the truth.

And we have enough respect for our readership that we won’t publish what we know to be nonsense.

This approach has brought many critics who continue to rant – to this day – that they and the shock-jocks with the fossil-fuel sponsors just happen to know more than the scientists with the Nobel Prizes . . .

Yes, it’s all a furphy!

And, after all, what if we cleaned up the planet, made the air, the earth, and the oceans safer for all living creatures – for nothing?

Climate change and the range of options in dealing with it, raises complex issues, and good, important journalism consists of painstakingly exploring those issues and fearlessly reporting on them.

What is the TRUTH of the matter? Print that!

Today we have Climate emergency declared by 11,000 scientists worldwide who warn of ‘catastrophic threat’ to humanity.  Now that really should impress you — us! Strictly speaking it is more impressive than (though in line with) what Greta Thunberg  is saying. She after all is no more a climate scientist, or any kind of scientist, than I am (or Bolt, or Jones, or silly Timmy.)

Key points:

  • The 11,000 scientists who put their name to the paper say they have a “moral obligation” to humanity
  • The scientists, from 153 countries, have backed governments across the world that made similar declarations
  • The group of scientists say there needs to be greater emphasis on human activities that can change the climate such as fertility rate, air travel and meat production

Now if you care to, do your homework: the actual paper is accessible — World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency — free from BioScience.

Since 1964, BioScience has presented readers with timely and authoritative overviews of current research in biology, accompanied by essays and discussion sections on education, public policy, history, and the conceptual underpinnings of the biological sciences.

A peer-reviewed, heavily cited, monthly journal with content written and edited for accessibility to researchers, educators, and students alike…

The paper begins:

Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.

Do go there and read on.  What you then do is up to you, but I am afraid that, while understanding the actions taken, I am not so sure that gluing yourself to things or disruption seemingly for its own sake are really all that useful. Nor is “blaming capitalism.” See Who are Extinction Rebellion and why are they blocking your commute to work? which makes in my view some very good points.


See also Ross Garnaut: three policies will set Australia on a path to 100% renewable energy.  Saw him on ABC this morning. The book looks worth following up.

And as always when I raise the topic of climate change, please note the side-bar links here! Particularly useful and well-informed (won the Eureka Prize a few years back) is Skeptical Science.

Skeptical Science is based on the notion that science by its very nature is skeptical. Genuine skepticism means you don’t take someone’s word for it but investigate for yourself. You look at all the facts before coming to a conclusion. In the case of climate science, our understanding of climate  comes from considering the full body of evidence.

In contrast, climate skepticism looks at small pieces of the puzzle while neglecting the full picture. Climate skeptics vigorously attack any evidence for man-made global warming yet uncritically embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that refutes global warming. If you began with a position of climate skepticism then cherrypick the data that supports your view while fighting tooth and nail against any evidence that contradicts that position, I’m sorry but that’s not genuine scientific skepticism.

So the approach of Skeptical Science is as follows. It looks at the many climate skeptic arguments, exposes how they focus on small pieces of the puzzle and then puts them in their proper context by presenting the full picture. The skeptic arguments are listed by popularity (eg – how often each argument appears in online articles).