I’m beginning to wonder if I picked the right career, or perhaps I’m coming down with a touch of the climate change denial syndrome.
When I enrolled in an Integrated Climate Change Studies degree I was convinced that knowledge-based solutions to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases were the most important thing I could be doing with my life, with cool field work in Antarctica and on ships and all, and besides a good job in the Department of Climate Change was virtually guaranteed when an emissions trading scheme came in.
When Kevin Rudd’s Labor Government came into power I thought we could get a bigger and better scheme than Howard had promised, as all that reporting, legislation, regulation and subsidies would be so complex people would be knocking my door down for someone with my talents and training.
Howard had slashed climate research funding because the climate scientists said they had the solution and the science was settled, so he thought they didn’t need any more money. They learned from that mistake and made sure to keep finding more problems.
Perhaps it started with ClimateGate and the release of embarrassing personal emails between climate scientists. Honestly, it was only a small trick anyway and the Hockey-stick is so last decade. They were exonerated by 4 inquiries. Research has moved on. Climate models are the rage. Sharing your data so other can check your results seems so unscientific.
Then those awful HimalayaGates and so on insinuating there was something wrong with Greenpeace and WWF advising the IPCC. I mean, if we are going to have a better world, the right people need to be in charge, don’t they? Then there was the Copenhagen debacle. (Note to self – pack dinner jacket and knee-pads.)
Now, and this is most worrying, Dr James Hansen, the defender of creation as we have grown to love it, has just suggested that the models might have exaggerated the amount of human-caused warming – a lot! Does this mean that we are going to have to keep discovering climate catastrophes for twice as long? The threat of perpetual drought worked when we were actually in drought, but it had to rain eventually, and it gets a bit hard to blame both drought and flood on CO2.
Then there is the missing hotspot, the forecast warming of the part of the atmosphere called the middle troposphere. Satellite observations of warming in the hotspot region fall significantly
below all of the model estimates. Thankfully the climate scientists can still blame the data and not the models, but if the temperature doesn’t start going up again soon, I don’t know what we will do. Working in Meteorology doesn’t pay well enough, and you actually have to be useful.
What I am really worried about is this Ocean Heat Content [OHC] thing. Everyone agrees that the OHC is the true indicator of the extent of the warming of the planet, even Penny
Wong. Someone had the bright idea of actually measuring what is really important to global climate – the rate of heat uptake of the oceans. It’s removed the uncertainty, and it’s looking decidedly flat.
And there is this big spike in 2003 between the old measurements when the high quality Argo floats came in; they say might not be real, just a calibration error. Remove that spike and the big acceleration in the OHC fades by 40%.
Those American right-wing climate scientists who are really physicists not climate scientists don’t appreciate the Integrated Human-Climate Dimension are funded secretly by Big-Oil. They deny it of course. They say ocean heating is a fraction of what the models say it should be, because the feed-backs are negative and sensitivity to CO2 is very low, less than 1 degree C for doubling, and CO2 is beneficial to plants anyway.
I don’t think it’s a good research direction to reduce the uncertainties about climate sensitivity, and the role of aerosols, clouds, and indirect solar effects. It’s complicated and satellites involve rocket science.
Climate adaptation is a much better direction, as there are lots of government jobs in improving storm-water systems to reduce flooding, dealing with community coastal issues and agricultural pests. Always has been, always will be.
We went to a top secret meeting with the senior scientists at CSIRO the other day and they told us that the main thing holding back a flood of research funding that will flow from the introduction of a carbon tax is poor communication, not the widening gap between the models and reality. As I say, I am starting to wonder, but I trust them, they are the experts. After all, I only just got my name on my first
They stressed that we should have nothing to do with those deniers at blogs like ClimateAudit that will only try to confuse us.