You may have seen in the media on the Mothers Day weekend
that Maurice Newman, Prime Minister Abbott’s ‘business advisor’ claimed that
climate change was a ruse by the United Nations to instil a new world
order. While everyone is entitled to
an opinion – does anyone else find this opinion, publicly admitted by someone
with considerable business and political clout, scary?
Newman in the past has been the head of a number of ‘household’ organisations, including the ABC
and the ASX. Clearly he is not a silly
person and he does know what happens when he opens his mouth. If instilling a new world order is based on
reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels and creating an emphasis on the
population of this planet ‘living with the means’, Newman is probably right. The problem is the ‘logic’ that Newman uses
to underpin his argument. Newman claims that:
well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models we are told prove the
link between human CO₂ emissions and catastrophic global warming have been
found, after nearly two decades of temperature stasis, to be in error. It's not
surprising," Mr Newman wrote on Friday.
with such little evidence, does the UN insist the world spend hundreds of
billions of dollars a year on futile climate change policies? Perhaps
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN's framework on climate
change, has the answer?"
Mr Newman continued that global warming was a "hook" to
install a new world order."
Lets face it – Newman is wrong as there is substantial proof
that human emissions of CO₂ are causing change to the climate.
You see, unlike Newman (who has economic and business qualifications)
and his pronouncements in the Australian media, climate modelling published in
scientific papers has to undergo a ‘peer review’ process. Effectively the process entails another group
or groups of scientists with similar qualifications looking at the same data
and coming up with the same result.
Others use the ‘peer reviewed’ data to support or disprove their own
theories. If it is found to be incorrect
by subsequent research or peer review; the theory is discredited. Newman should know this – he was the
Chancellor of Macquarie University from 2002 to 2008.
In the case of human influence on climate change, Namoi Oreskes and her
researchers examined nearly 1000 peer reviewed papers on this subject in 2004, specifically
looking for papers that did not support the view that mankind was having an
influence on the earth’s climate. She
found nothing. As the link to the Sceptical Science website
discusses, some have later claimed to find some papers that do not support the
position. One objection was withdrawn
later on and the website which is run by scientists argues that the other
objection does not used peer reviewed material.
Dr John Cook is the “Climate Communication Fellow’ at the
Global Change Institute working at University of Queensland. Cook also has formal science qualifications
and is one of the ‘staff’ on the Sceptical Science website. He and a number of others researched a paper
published in 2013 that followed on from Oreskes work in 2004. The paper – available here – reviewed 11944 papers
that discussed ‘climate change’ or ‘climate warming’ published between 1991 and
2011. They found
that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed
AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global
warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the
consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of
this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract
ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW
(35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed
Cook claims that the abstracts that expressed no position
were based on the premise that ‘everybody knows that’; in a similar way to
people know to wear additional clothing if it is cold.
Newman’s opinion on climate change has as much evidence
behind it as yours or mine. The
scientific consensus does not support his view.
It is concerning when it seems that Abbott’s Business Advisor claims the
reason his view is not supported is basically a conspiracy theory.
Conspiracy theories are pretty common. There are theories that ‘explain’ a number of
historical events including Lee Harvey Oswald had nothing to do with the
assassination of John
F Kennedy; the 1969 moon landing was actually done on a Hollywood sound
stage, Harold Holt didn’t drown off Portsea
Beach and more recently the reasons behind the loss of MH370. Wikipedia publishes a (long) list of conspiracy
theories – and to finish off there are always conspiracy theories regarding
countries with different political systems to the one you operate in – such as
‘reds under the
beds’ or the state sponsored isolation in North Korea. Newman’s claim of the UN attempting to instil
a new world order needs to be assessed against the almost unanimous agreement
amongst suitably qualified scientists that global warming is real and humans are
While a lot of conspiracy theories are just plain illogical others are not as harmless. Why would someone spend probably millions to fake a landing on the moon? Why would Harold Holt not just resign if he
wanted to either go back to China or live with a mistress in France? Newman clearly
has the ear of a number of the business and political elite in Australia. If his dismissal of climate change is based
around a fear that ‘the greenies’ are planning a world takeover – it’s a
problem, as well as being unsupported by reality.
As Newman doesn’t seem to be the type to be taking mind
altering drugs, his determination to start yet another debate on climate change
is concerning. If the reason for
discarding the almost unanimous scientific agreement on human induced climate
change is based on a conspiracy theory – how good is the 'business advice' that you and I
as taxpayers are paying for going to be?
What do you think?