The Garnaut report is out and climate change is back on the agenda. And Clive Hamilton and John Quiggin have been back to their usual game of vilifying people they disagree with as “denialists” and “delusionists”. They say the debate is over. I disagree.
I’m not an AGW-alarmist. But I’m not an AGW-denialist. I’m a sceptic… which means that I’m not quick to accept the story from any side. Some people seem to have a strong faith that the end of the world is nigh. Others seem to have a strong faith that nothing is happening and it’s all a leftist joke.
I don’t have faith (an opinion based on something other than reason) but I do have beliefs. Based on my reading of the science, I believe that human-induced global warming is a potential danger. But I also think that this danger has been blown out of proportion, that we should be very careful about introducing new government programs, and the debate has become so political that few people honestly consider the arguments of the “other side”.
I want to quickly mention one example where I think both sides have put politics before truth — and that is the issue of “no warming since 1998”. This is commonly said by AGW-sceptics and often dismissed as a distortion by AGW-proponents. Both have a point.
First, here is a graph of the temperatures over the past 30 years as provided by Climate Audit.
1998 was hot. At the time, some AGW-proponents used this as evidence of global warming. Since then, temperatures have gone back to a more usual range. Some AGW-sceptics have used this as evidence that global warming has ended. Neither point is appropriate.
However, the AGW-sceptics do have a point that there hasn’t been much recent warming. If they said “no warming since 2002” then they would be on much stronger ground. AGW-proponents would accurately say that it’s too soon to conclude anything about this non-warming… and AGW-sceptics would accurately say that it’s worth watching carefully with an open-mind.
This is what would happen in an open and honest debate. But instead the two groups often talk straight past each other… looking only for evidence that supports their side… and looking for any reason to dismiss what the other side is saying.
So my plea is this. For AGW-sceptics… please start using 2002 as your base year, not 1998. For AGW-proponents… please consider the recent non-warming with an open mind and hope that perhaps things might not be so bad.