Saturday, November 28, 2009

Flannery's incomplete understanding - admission sailed right over Tony Jones' head.

TONY JONES: I mean, what sceptics like Andrew Bolt would argue is that it's happening because there are people out there who don't believe these scientists, now they appear to have proof, there's a dissension among the scientists, and they are not letting the public know that there's dissension between themselves about the arguments about what is happening. Take one, because one of these published emails, it goes to one of the hottest sceptic arguments, that since 1998, and I say hot, you know, advisedly, because 1998 the hottest year, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased after that, but the temperature did not keep going up. So the argument of the sceptics is therefore the theory of global warming is not working like it should.

TIM FLANNERY: Well, the thing is we deal with an incomplete understanding of the way the earth's system works, we know enough to say as the IPCC said that greenhouse gases cause warming. They are 90 per cent sure, 90 per cent plus sure that it's caused by humans, we can go that far. In the last few years, were there hasn't been a continuation of that warming trend, we don't understand all of the factors that create earth's climate, so there are some things we don't understand, that's what the scientists were email about, you know, we don't understand the way the whole system works, and we have to find out.

TONY JONES: The published email that made the front pages of papers was from a respected US climatologist, called Kevin Trenberth saying we can't account for the lack of warming, it's a travesty that we can't. He appears worried that science is not doing the right thing or the climate is not doing what he expected it to do.

TIM FLANNERY: No, it's not. These people work with models, computer modelling, when the computer modelling and the real world data disagrees you have a problem, that's when science gets engaged. What Kevin Trenberth, one of the most respected climate scientist in the world, is saying is, "We have to get on our horses and find out what we don't know about the system, we have to understand why the cooling is occurring, because the current modelling doesn't reflect it". And that's the way science progresses, we can't pretend to have perfect knowledge, we don't. We have to go forward and formulate policy on the basis of what we know now.

TONY JONES: Is it right that cooling occurring? I mean 1998 was the hottest year, there's many other hottest years since recorded history in that 10 year period. Are they right to say it's cooling or not?

TIM FLANNERY: We had a huge cooling event in Sydney between yesterday and today. Time scales are important. If you take too short a time scale you won't get a climate signal, you get a regional weather signal or whatever else. The scales that the climate scientists use to look at the overall trend is century long, and on that trend we are still warming, sure for the last few years we have gone through a slight cooling trend, we saw it in the 1940s the same sort of thing, but that does not negate the overall warming trend.
Read it all here.

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