Penny Wong: I'll have to get back to you.

ABC interview Just in – You would think the Government would have been more prepared, given Senator Steve Fielding’s simple question: “Where is the direct evidence of CO2 driving up global temperatures?”.

Senator Fielding was accompanied by the Australian “Gang of Four”: David Evans, Stewart Franks, Robert Carter, and William Kininmonth.

Where does the research on greater reliability of ocean temperatures from Steffen come from? Or did he just wing that?

Senator Fielding has questioned whether carbon dioxide is the bogeyman of the climate world and whether global warming is human induced.

With his Senate vote crucial to the Government’s proposed emissions trading legislation, Senator Fielding spent more than two hours yesterday with Australia’s chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett and the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

So has Senator Fielding made up his mind?

He is speaking here with Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Senator Fielding, good morning.

STEVE FIELDING: Good morning.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You asked for the meeting, saying that you have an open mind about climate change. You have had the access to the Government scientist that you asked for and discussed climate science. Are you now convinced that carbon emissions are going up and global temperatures have been going up – in other words that human activity is causing climate change?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, firstly I would have to say I am not a sceptic but at the same token, I do want to get to the bottom of the issues. Now up until now, we have seen carbon emissions go up and global temperatures, the way the IPCC has been measuring them, not going up.

Now if that is the case that is a real problem.

Now yesterday, yesterday’s meeting with the chief scientist and Professor Steffen, they outlined that they are using a different temperature measure which is ocean temperature. Now that is something we are going to have to look at because that is something that the IPCC wasn’t using to prove that carbon emissions were driving up global temperatures.

Previously they were using something from the Hadley Institute or the Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia. That is the measurement that I have been given and it quite clearly shows that carbon emissions have been going up but global temperatures haven’t.

Now yesterday they showed another figure which is ocean temperature.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So you are still not convinced that human activity is causing climate change?

STEVE FIELDING: Well, look when I put forward the question – isn’t it true that carbon emissions have been going up and global temperature hasn’t – they wanted to rephrase my question not answer it so I have got an agreement with Penny Wong that she would answer my question over the next day or so. So I am hoping to get that either later today or tomorrow and then we can get to the bottom of it.

Because really, that is a fundamental question – is carbon emissions driving up global temperatures – and there is a question mark over it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The main thing that was driving your uncertainly was you were saying that solar activity affected climate but you were told it is a very small factor in the grand scheme of things. That it is minor compared to human activity. Do you accept that?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, what was happening was that my major concern was if carbon emissions aren’t driving up global temperature, what else could be? So I was then looking at other alternatives but my fundamental question remains – is carbon emissions driving up global temperatures?

Now if it is not that, then we need to look for something else and I propose that maybe it was solar activity. Now yesterday, they made it quite clear that solar activity won’t actually influence temperatures that much.

Now that was disputed with a couple of other scientists in the room but look, it is not my major concern. My major concern is knowing for certain, is it that carbon emissions are driving up global temperatures and that is my concern and we need to get to the bottom of it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You took four climate scientists in with you. They have been described as being sceptical of the science of climate change. Do you need them to be convinced too before you are convinced?

STEVE FIELDING: Look, it is not them that needs to be convinced. They were there as experts to obviously listen in and actually hear the response. It is myself that needs to be convinced. It is not the other scientists.

As I said, I am not a sceptic. I am hoping the Minister can actually prove to my satisfaction that actually carbon emissions are driving up global temperatures. At the moment there is a big question mark and we need to resolve that before I move on.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So in a nutshell, where do you stand on climate change and the Government’s emissions trading scheme? Are you any closer to forming a view?

STEVE FIELDING: Well, look, I think we are closer to forming a very solid view as soon as the Minister gets back to me, I will be able to look at it from there.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Senator Fielding, thank you.

STEVE FIELDING: Thank you.

TONY EASTLEY: Family First Senator Steve Fielding speaking to Alexandra Kirk in our Canberra studio.

Update: Bolty lists the questions and asks:

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, unfortunately, that the media has shown so little interest in what questions were actually asked, and why Wong so struggled to answer. We are interested in the science, aren’t we?

Multiple choice quiz:
a) they don’t care
b) they don’t want to know
c) they are morons
d) all of the above

Update: Opinion piece in The Australian by the “Gang of Four”.

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0 thoughts on “Penny Wong: I'll have to get back to you.

  1. “Are you now convinced that carbon emissions are going up and global temperatures have been going up – in other words that human activity is causing climate change?”

    Is the use of “in other words” to imply the inevitability of the conclusion slick or stupid?

    • Most likely stupid. I heard the ABC report at 1am that Sen Fielding had now dispensed with solar as a cause of climate change and was looking into ocean temperatures. The answer to his question is not that hard either, just the non-zero probability of decade of level temperature in an overall rising trend. I don’t think you can read too much into these reports.

  2. “Are you now convinced that carbon emissions are going up and global temperatures have been going up – in other words that human activity is causing climate change?”Is the use of “in other words” to imply the inevitability of the conclusion slick or stupid?

  3. Most likely stupid. I heard the ABC report at 1am that Sen Fielding had now dispensed with solar as a cause of climate change and was looking into ocean temperatures. The answer to his question is not that hard either, just the non-zero probability of decade of level temperature in an overall rising trend. I don't think you can read too much into these reports.

  4. Throughout the interview, Fielding is at pains to indicate that he is not a sceptic.

    Wiki gives states the following as a definition of scepticism:

    # (a) an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object;
    # (b) the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain

    Fielding states:

    ‘Because really, that is a fundamental question – is carbon emissions driving up global temperatures – and there is a question mark over it.’

    Come on Senator; ‘come out, be proud!’

    • Seems like he is leaning towards becoming a card-carrying sceptic. Funny comment from Bob Brown the leader of the Greens, indicating he thinks Fielding’s indecision is posturing.

  5. Throughout the interview, Fielding is at pains to indicate that he is not a sceptic.Wiki gives states the following as a definition of scepticism:# (a) an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object;# (b) the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertainFielding states:'Because really, that is a fundamental question – is carbon emissions driving up global temperatures – and there is a question mark over it.'Come on Senator; 'come out, be proud!'

  6. Seems like he is leaning towards becoming a card-carrying sceptic. Funny comment from Bob Brown the leader of the Greens, indicating he thinks Fielding's indecision is posturing.

  7. I have asked Minister Wong how CO2 drives global warming/climate change at least twice in the past year. No sensible answer forthcoming even when she was presented with a copy of Dr John Nicol’s analysis of CO2’s role in the greenhouse effect. I think the real answer is that it is ALP policy..and I usually vote Labor.

  8. I have asked Minister Wong how CO2 drives global warming/climate change at least twice in the past year. No sensible answer forthcoming even when she was presented with a copy of Dr John Nicol's analysis of CO2's role in the greenhouse effect. I think the real answer is that it is ALP policy..and I usually vote Labor.

  9. I have asked Minister Wong how CO2 drives global warming/climate change at least twice in the past year. No sensible answer forthcoming even when she was presented with a copy of Dr John Nicol's analysis of CO2's role in the greenhouse effect. I think the real answer is that it is ALP policy..and I usually vote Labor.

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