Many people prefer their ‘facts’ to be short and to the point. But climate science is complicated and, despite the considerable expenditure on research, our understanding of the atmosphere is far from complete. Climate science is also important. I have no doubt that if we had a properly constructed theory of climate, scientists would be able to better forecast droughts, floods and bushfires. There would be less fear of catastrophic sea-level rise, and more curiosity rather than despair when it comes to polar bears and penguins.

In this latest book in the Climate Change: The Facts series, we give the scientific facts to date, whether or not they fit the catastrophic human-caused global warming paradigm. We also revisit the pioneering work of the late John Daly (1943–2004) and Joanne Simpson (1923–2010).

Simpson studied cloud formation and tropical thunderstorms, and how they could result in tremendous amounts of energy transfer from the Earth’s surface to the top of the troposphere – where it can be radiated to space. According to Peter Ridd, writing in Chapter 12, these clouds are the heat engine of the atmosphere driving global circulation and mitigating any increase in temperatures from greenhouse gases. Ridd builds on the mathematics laid out by Simpson and Herbert Riehl back in 1958.

Simpson received numerous formal accolades and awards throughout her working life, including the American Meteorological Society’s 1983 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal – the highest award in atmospheric sciences. She is remembered within this community as having a powerful combination of intellect, determination, leadership and drive.  She also insisted that as a scientist it was important to be always sceptical, particularly of models that purport to represent reality while not being very good at forecasting rainfall.   This book is dedicated to her memory. 

The importance of an accurate weather forecast

Weather forecasting at the moment is woeful, as IPA senior fellow Dr John Abbot explains in Chapter 14. Abbot demonstrates an innovative new method for forecasting rainfall based on the latest advances in artificial intelligence. But this new, more skilful, method is shunned by leading climate scientists, perhaps because it would make general circulation models (GCMs) obsolete. GCMs, of course, underpin most assumptions about catastrophic human-caused global warming.

Skilful weather forecasts would not only be useful for agriculture, and management of dams for hydroelectricity, but more generally for scheduling activities in a range of industries, or for planning weddings. Skilful weather forecasts can also provide a military advantage. Some say it was a weather forecast that won World War II for the Allies. The D-Day landing was postponed by two days because British meteorologist James Stagg – who was trusted by the supreme commander of allied forces in Western Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower – knew how to forecast the weather, enabling the Allies to take the Germans by surprise. Stagg understood the key variables that affect weather (including lunar cycles) and he had access to a network of weather stations, including one at a post office at Blacksod Point in the far west of Ireland. That weather station proved crucial in detecting the arrival of a lull in the storms that Stagg calculated would allow for an invasion on 6 June. Even as rain and high winds lashed Portsmouth on the night of 4 June, Stagg informed Eisenhower of the forecast for a temporary break. This forecast proved correct.

The scientific–technological elite versus the facts

Eisenhower went on to become president of the United States. In his farewell address, in a television broadcast on 17 January 1961, he warned about the dominance, or the ‘capturing’, of science-based public policy by what he called a ‘scientific–technological elite’. It is this same elite who have dictated climate-change policies for some decades now, with wide-ranging economic implications. The Paris Climate Accord, for example, sets out to change the mix of energy types that we use. While these so-called climate policies have the veneer of science, it is unclear whether they really are fact-based. It could be, as Ansley Kellow explains in Chapter 18, that climate science falls short of the criteria for good science. Far too frequently climate science has demonstrated noble cause corruption – where the ends justify the means, or where there is a belief in a moral commitment – in producing evidence, any evidence, intended to have an influence on the political landscape.

A fact is something that is known, or proven, to be true. A scientific fact cannot be established by a consensus of opinion, or by the popular vote, or because it is morally good. A fact may contain offensive information, but may nevertheless still be true.

This book is prefaced by the assumption that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own version of the facts. For something to have the status of being ‘a fact’ in climate science it needs to be supported by objective evidence in the form of repeatable observations or transparent experimentation. It cannot simply be the output from a politically driven United Nation’s working group, associated with what Eisenhower may have called ‘the climate–industrial complex’. Yet this is increasingly the case, with significant implications, as Paul McFadyen, Scott Hargreaves and Bella d’Abrera explain in Chapter 19 with particular reference to university funding. In Chapter 15, I explain how less ideology and more active management of our eucalyptus forests could have saved human lives, property and so much wildlife over the 2019–2020 summer in south-eastern Australia.

The climate changes, but how does it change

We live at a time when climate change is deemed a morally important issue. It is claimed that greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels are causing unprecedented and potentially catastrophic warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. Those who disagree with this claim, or who ask for more evidence, are generally labelled ‘deniers’ of climate change. In reality, the dispute is not whether the climate changes; it is what causes the change (could it be mostly natural rather than human-caused), and whether the current rate and magnitude of change is unusual. Then there is the issue of how this change is perceived and described – this has a philosophical dimension.

In climate science, as in life, we can perceive change as something that will tend to occur as a cycle that will one day come to an end. Alternatively, we may perceive change as more-or-less linear, as something that will continue in the same direction for a long time, perhaps forever. My mother lived through World War II as an adolescent in London, and she says that at the time, no one in her family had any idea that the war would one day end. Mum remembers D-Day. She says they woke up to clear skies on the morning of 6 June, and to the droning sound of aircraft overhead and what looked like thousands of aircraft in the sky. That was the beginning of the end of the war, but who really knew that at that time? 

Mainstream climate scientists generally describe the rise in global temperatures since the late 1800s as linear – as consistently increasing in intensity and showing no sign of abatement. In contrast, sceptics generally perceive the current warming as part of a natural cycle that will one day end.

The first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published in 1991, suggested that the current warm period is not quite as warm as the Medieval Warm Period, which extended from about 985 to 1200 AD. This was when the cathedrals with their very tall spires were built across Europe and the Vikings settled south-west Greenland. The Medieval Warm Period was followed by a cold period known as the Little Ice Age that included the Maunder Minimum when Greenland became too cold for human habitation. So, over just the last 1000 years or so, there is evidence of a climate cycle; it was warm and then cold and now it is warm again.

Howard Brady, who once worked as a scientist in Antarctica, explains in Chapter 2 that there is compelling evidence that south-west Greenland was warmer 1000 years ago than it is today, and even warmer between 5000 and 8000 years ago, during a period known as the Mid-Holocene Thermal Maximum. Brady makes the case that climate change at both the North Pole and Antarctica has been occurring for at least 10,000 years – in cycles. Therefore, it might seem reasonable to assume that the warm period we are currently experiencing will eventually end.

This cyclical history of temperature change, however, has been arbitrarily altered; it has been remodelled in more recent IPCC reports. The Medieval Warm Period, for example, was ‘flattened’ by the hockey stick in the third assessment report of the IPCC, which was published in 2001. (This was discussed in some detail in the previous book in this series Climate Change: The Facts 2017, in Chapter 16 by Simon Breheny.)  Flattening the Medieval Warm Period gives the false impression that global temperature change is linear, somewhat like the handle and shaft of a hockey stick, rather than cyclical, like waves at a beach.

Climate change, sea level change and volcanism in Antarctica

Antarctica is a focus of this book because it is so important in terms of global atmospheric circulation. Did you know that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the strongest ocean current on Earth and the only ocean current linking all major oceans – the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans? Without the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and its impact on planetary heat redistribution, the global climate would be very different.

According to mainstream climate science, global warming should be most pronounced at the North and South Poles. And you might also be misled by mainstream climate scientists on numbers of polar bears at the North Pole, and numbers of penguins at the South Pole, as scientists Susan Crockford and Jim Steele explain in Chapters 1 and 3, respectively. As journalist Donna Laframboise explains in Chapter 1, this has implications not just for science, but for our ability to freely communicate information.

Ken Stewart was once a primary school teacher. Now he is retired, and spends his days analysing temperature data and blogging. I asked him if he would have a look at the publicly available historical temperature measurements for Antarctica and write a chapter for this book. An advantage with Stewart’s approach, detailed in Chapter 7, is that it is accessible to people without a science PhD. He presents the numbers in a straightforward way, as a schoolteacher might.

IPA research fellow Jaco Vlok follows up with a slightly more sophisticated analysis in Chapter 8, while John Abbot and I include some signal analysis and artificial neural network forecasting in Chapter 9. What we each find (Stewart, Vlok, Marohasy and Abbot) accords with Roy Spencer’s analysis, that there is no ‘global warming’ at Antarctica. Spencer’s analysis is detailed in Chapter 6. Spencer is a meteorologist, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the US Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has served as senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and was awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.

Something as basic as easily accessible, publicly available, unadulterated historical temperature measurements, as analysed by someone as experienced as Spencer, should be the building blocks for any theory of climate.

Then there is the issue of volcanoes and the possible risk they pose to the stability of the West Antarctica ice sheet. In Chapter 4, Arthur Day – who has a PhD from Monash University on modelling of volcanic processes – focuses on the implications of Antarctic volcanism for global sea-level rise. Specifically, he writes about volcanism in West Antarctica where there are at least 138 volcanoes comprising one of the world’s largest active continental volcanic fields, 91 of them only newly discovered and hidden kilometres beneath the ice sheet.

I asked Day to write this chapter to help us better understand the situation, because both sides in the ‘climate wars’ often claim volcanism to advance their position. Alarmists believe that ice-sheet melting and sea-level rise are being accelerated because of ‘climate change’, and that the volcanoes magnify the risk to the ice sheet. Conversely, some climate sceptics claim that heat linked to volcanism is the main threat, contributing to melting and temperature rise, instead of carbon dioxide (CO2)-linked climate change. Day concludes that on any time frame relevant to human experience, there is no evidence that the intensity of volcanism will increase, future volcanism is unlikely to change overall ice-sheet melting rates; and, because the ice sheet is already in long-term balance with volcanic effects, future volcanism is extremely unlikely to destabilise the ice sheet and accelerate global sea-level rise.  

It is the case that at some places on this Earth there has been recent sea-level rise, and yet for other coastlines, sea levels appear to be falling. In Chapter 17, Arthur Day extends his analysis of sea-level change at Antarctica to a world tour based on tidal gauge data, building on the work of the late John Daly. Daly’s work remains relevant because it was mostly a compilation of particularly important historical sea-level records – placed in context. Daly was an inspiration to many concerned about the direction of climate science going back more than forty years. Daly was described by Professor Emeritus John Brignell of the  University of Southampton on this death in 2004 as:

“Daly was the epitome of a new phenomenon of the post-scientific age, a lone scholar with all the traditions of meticulous attention to detail and truth that the word implies, with limited means upholding the principles of the scientific method in the face of adversaries with vast resources.”

Arthur Day continues this tradition, updating John Daly’s charts and providing more context.

The potential of clouds

In the early 1980s, Richard Lindzen was working as a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he accepted the basic tenets of global warming theory. In Chapter 13, Lindzen explains that, like most people working on climate, he assumed relative humidity remained fixed as climate changed. He tried to measure this by measuring water vapour at different altitudes. At first Lindzen assumed a relationship between high cloud and concentrations of water vapour. He was surprised to find that the data suggested they were unrelated. Further, he went on to realise that clouds themselves were a major factor in Earth’s radiative budget.

Low clouds, usually below 2000 metres (6500 feet), have a cooling effect on the Earth by reflecting incoming solar radiation and in this way casting a shadow. High clouds, above 6000 metres and possibly as high as 12,000 metres (20,000 to 40,000 feet), can have a warming effect by reducing the rate at which the Earth’s surface and atmosphere radiate energy to space, and also by reradiating infrared radiation back towards Earth. In this way, clouds can contribute to what is known as the ‘greenhouse effect’.  

There are many different types of clouds, but one type of cloud dwarfs all others in size; it is cumulonimbus. The lower portion is composed of water-droplets, then there is a tower with an upper portion that is a roiling mix of ice, snow, hail and super-cooled water that has not yet frozen. At the very top of these clouds, the ice is ejected and spreads to form a characteristic wide, flat-top anvil shape. Multiple cumulonimbi towers can share a sprawling anvil-shaped top.  

At any one time there may be more than 1000 of these towering cloud formations in a band across the Earth’s tropical oceans. We can see them in satellite imagery as large storm cells that extend from the Earth’s surface to the top of the troposphere, with vast quantities of wispy white cirrus cloud streaming away from them.

In Chapter 12, former head of physics at James Cook University, Peter Ridd, with Marchant van der Walt, make the analogy between these rising towers of cumulonimbi – that move vast quantities of heat from the surface of the Earth to the top of the troposphere – and the pistons in a car engine. This huge atmospheric engine helps cool the surface atmosphere. Building on the pioneering work of Joanne Simpson – who was the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate in meteorology in 1949 – Ridd describes how the resulting tropical convection drives atmospheric circulation. Convection causes warm air, which is less dense than cold air, to rise up.

The analogy of tropical convection as the heat engine of the atmosphere is a clever one. Applying some mathematics, Ridd shows that more greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere can have the effect of making this heat engine more powerful. In short, Ridd shows that with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the lower atmosphere, air temperatures can increase and thus raise the water vapour content of the air if this occurs over tropical oceans. Water vapour, in turn, is the fuel driving this deep tropical convection – the giant pistons.

To summarise, according to Ridd, more greenhouse gases will have the effect of increasing the efficiency of the heat engine that drives global atmospheric circulation. Ridd calculates that for every 1 °C rise in tropical temperature, the heat transfer by the convection pathway will increase by 10%. This increase will mostly be within the towering cumulonimbi clouds that are transporting the additional heat to the top of the troposphere, where it can be lost to space through infrared radiation. This suggests a strong negative feedback to rising temperature, from any cause, including greenhouse gas concentrations.

A completely different type of cloud, called cirrus, forms from the dissipating tops of these storm cells. Wispy and white, cirrus clouds are composed only of ice crystals. Whipped about by the strong winds at very high altitudes of 7300 to 13,700 metres (24,000 to 45,000 feet) they form strands. In fact, the name ‘cirrus’ is derived from the Latin term for a lock of hair.  

Richard Lindzen’s work has been primarily focused on these cirrus clouds and their heating effect on the environment, because they reflect infrared radiation back to Earth. According to Lindzen, beneath cirrus clouds temperatures are known to rise by up to 10 °C because of the greenhouse effect. According to Lindzen’s theory called the ‘iris effect’, as temperatures rise because of the increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the concentration of upper-level cirrus cloud decreases relative to the area of cumulonimbus.

Lindzen makes the analogy with the pupils in our eyes changing size relative to how bright or dim the light is. Specifically, Lindzen has hypothesised that as the atmosphere warms from increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, the area of cirrus cloud decreases, providing a negative feedback as more infrared radiation is able to escape into space.

So, Lindzen and Ridd concern themselves with different types of cloud and different types of processes. Both hypothesise that there are cloud-related negative feedback loops in place that will mitigate the potential effects of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases on Earth’s temperature. Neither of them deny the potential for greenhouse gases, especially water vapour and CO2, to warm the Earth. Rather they explain that because of the complexity of the physical processes at work, in particular, and the role clouds play in facilitating negative (cooling) feedbacks, the Earth is unlikely to overheat.

Lindzen did not set out to disprove human-caused global warming theory. His seminal paper, with Ming-Dah Chou and Arthur Hou, simply recommended that mainstream models of global atmospheric circulation incorporate the iris effect in order to achieve a better match with observational data. However, rather than testing the iris effect as an hypothesis, an attack was launched by the climate science establishment against Lindzen’s research – that was twenty years ago and continues today, as explained in Chapter 13.

Ridd’s hypothesis, building on the work of Joanne Simpson from the 1950s to the 1970s, is outlined for the very first time in this book. In Chapter 12, he concludes that the complicated GCMs used by the IPCC will never be able to adequately simulate the role of convection and clouds because thunderstorms (the pistons in the heat engine) are far smaller than the grid-scale of their models. Ridd’s hypothesis is detailed here in the hope that others may find a way to test it.

Before reading either Lindzen’s or Ridd’s chapters, it is worth taking the time to understand the facts in Chapter 11 by Geoffrey Duffy, former Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Auckland. This chapter also explains some of the basics of short- wave versus long-wave (infrared) radiation, which is fundamental to understanding something of the Earth’s energy balance, and thus climate change.

Duffy also explains the nuts and bolts of the water cycle – water evaporation from land and sea, condensation as clouds, and precipitation as rain. Duffy does not spend much time on tropical convection, but then he is from New Zealand – the land of the long white cloud. (Ridd is from the tropics, from northern Australia.) Instead, Duffy focuses on incoming solar radiation and its re-radiation as infrared radiation, principally by water vapour and CO2 – the basis of the greenhouse effect – and on popular concern about catastrophic human-caused global warming. Duffy explains in just enough detail why, if radiation is the key issue, the focus should be on water vapour rather than CO2. He doesn’t formulate an alternative hypothesis, as such, but he does explain that water vapour is twelve times more effective than CO2 in long-wave (IR) radiation absorption and re-radiation. He also explains, tangentially, how water vapour can drive tropical convection because humid air is less dense than dry air. Water vapour is critical to our understanding of Earth’s radiative energy balance and the operation of convection, as Duffy explains in Chapter 11.

Like Richard Lindzen, Henrick Svensmark is a university professor who has spent much of his career somewhat obsessed with clouds. But while Lindzen has focused on high-altitude cirrus clouds, Svensmark’s theories concern low-altitude clouds.

Svensmark is a physicist in the Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics division at the Danish National Space Institute (DTU Space) at the Technical University of Denmark.

Small and puffy white cumuli are perhaps the best known of the low-altitude cloud types. They are common over the tropical oceans. Strati clouds are uniform grey and featureless blankets: ‘stratus’ is from the Latin ‘to spread out’. Stratocumuli are like fluffy blankets, more common in the subtropics and often thick enough to block the Sun. These are the main low-altitude cloud types. Altocumuli, altostrati and nimbostrati occur at higher altitudes, above 2000 metres (6500 feet).

According to Svensmark, since low clouds are very important for the radiative energy balance of the Earth, any systematic change in cloud cover will affect the temperature of the atmosphere and, ultimately, the climate. But according to Svensmark, it is changes in cosmic-ray flux, not water vapour, that drives changes in cloud cover. Remember, Lindzen, early in his career, assumed a relationship between high cloud and concentrations of water vapour but couldn’t find one. This is perhaps because a key to the puzzle lies beyond Earth, even beyond our solar system.

In Chapter 10, Svensmark explains that cosmic rays are electrically charged particles (ions) ejected from exploding stars (some in far-away galaxies), and that cosmic rays drive the ion-nucleation of aerosols. Aerosols of many types are critical for cloud formation on Earth.

The cosmic-ray flux reaching the Earth’s surface is modulated by changes in the Sun’s magnetic field. Svensmark explains that the flux is also affected by our solar system’s proximity to exploding stars. Our solar system travels around the Galactic Centre of the Milky Way in a journey that takes 240 million years. When our solar system enters those regions where there are open-star clusters (e.g. the Pleiades), our planet is showered with more energetic galactic cosmic rays that will affect cloudiness and thus climate.  

In summary, understanding the clouds is critical if we want to understand climate change because clouds both influence, and are influenced by, atmospheric circulation. They affect the radiative energy budget of the Earth. The physical processes are complex and may be intrinsically self-regulating, but they may also amplify other processes. For example, any increase in greenhouse gases may increase the efficiency of tropical convection, which may, in turn, reduce the relative area of high-level cirrus cloud. This is my hypothesis, not necessarily supported by Ridd or Lindzen, although it is derived directly from their research. Increases in the cosmic-ray flux may increase the area of low-level cumulus and stratus cloud, also potentially cooling the Earth. In this way, changes in the cosmic-ray flux, through its modulating effect on cloud cover, could amplify by a factor of perhaps ten, changes in solar irradiation that are considered too small to affect climate change, according to the popular consensus.  

If we want to truly understand climate change, then we need to place all the facts in context. To repeat what was stated at the outset of this introduction, a fact is something that is known, or proven, to be true. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Climate change then becomes a puzzle that we are clearly still elucidating. I am hoping that Chapters 10, 11, 12 and 13 move us forwards in our understanding, perhaps by some significant margin.

Quality assurance

Some argue that the idea there are negative feedback mechanisms compensating for any increase in the concentrations of greenhouse gases – as proposed by Lindzen and Ridd in the previous section – is laughable, because we have temperature charts that clearly show a dramatic increase in global temperatures since at least 1880. But these charts are only ‘constructs’ of historical temperatures. There is nowhere on Earth where its actual temperature can be measured. Rather the statistics that show catastrophic global warming are weighted averages from thousands of weather stations situated at different latitudes and altitudes, each remodelled according to some particular formula. The issue of how temperatures are remodelled was detailed across six chapters in the last book in this Climate Change: The Facts series – published in 2017. In Chapter 16 of this book, I show how historic (already measured) temperatures for Australia were warmed by a further 23% by remodelling undertaken by the Bureau in 2018 – since the last book was published. The Bureau claims that this remodelling of temperatures is justified because of changes to the equipment used to record temperatures; and because of the relocation of weather stations. However, there have been no changes to equipment and no relocations since the release of ACORN-SAT Version 1 for either Darwin or Rutherglen, both of which are my case studies.

Vlok explains in Chapter 8 how the Australian Bureau of Meteorology artificially remodels a perfectly good temperature series recorded at a weather station at Mawson in the Australian Antarctica Territory by mimicking trends at a distant Russian weather station called  Molodeznaya using complex software. At the same time, the Bureau appears to omit to check from thirteen months of overlapping data, that there is nearly half a degree difference in measurements between the old and new location for its Casey weather station, also at Antarctica. So, the original Casey values (which are a mishmash from different locations) are entered into official databases unchanged. While the trend in mean temperatures as recorded at Mawson (which has never moved) is changed from cooling at a rate of 0.284 °C to warming at 0.396 °C per century.

Any sceptic who raises such issues in polite society, however innocently, is likely to be branded a conspiracist as well as a science denier and a shill for oil companies. This sad state of affairs is explained by Scott Hargreaves in Chapter 20 with reference to Dante’s great work about how we can find ourselves, most innocently, dragged down into hell. Perhaps, Chapter 20 should be read first, to serve as a warning to those of us who seek the truth through this book. The path is not without its dangers. Yet, I am reminded of the words of Thomas Huxley (1825–1895) that have always guided my approach to facts:

“Sit down before each fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.”

Some years ago, wanting to better understand how CO2 levels are determined from ice cores, I began reading some of the first papers that discussed the technique. These only date to the early 1980s – just 40 years ago. One of the first papers is by a Swiss scientist Werner Berner, published in the journal Radiocarbon (volume 22), it shows CO2 levels much higher than at present (up to 500 ppm) just a few thousand years ago. This does not accord with more recently published ice-core studies that almost universally conclude that over the last 10,000 years atmospheric CO2 levels have not exceeded 300 ppm – but the result does better accord with the known temperature history of the Holocene, specifically that there was a warmer Holocene optima some thousands of years ago when sea levels were also higher. I have discussed the need for a proper review of this literature with Jo Nova for some years, and she has done a version of this with a focus on plant stomata as an alternative measure of atmospheric CO2 levels: a measure that has a 400 million year history. As Nova explains, one of the big mysteries of paleoclimate studies is why stomata are accepted as one of the main proxies of atmospheric CO2 going back hundreds of millions of years, but not used to compare with results from ice cores for more recent periods.

The previous book in this series Climate Change: The Facts 2017, began with a chapter by Peter Ridd about the Great Barrier Reef in which he challenged the orthodoxy on Great Barrier Reef science and in particular reporting on coral calcification rates. In media promoting that book, Ridd argued for better quality assurance of Great Barrier Reef science and questioned the veracity of claims by some of his colleagues about the effects of climate change on the reef. This contributed directly to his subsequent sacking. Undeterred, Ridd continues to call for the release of fifteen years of missing coral growth data by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Ridd’s fight not only for this data, but also for his job back, has attracted significant attention worldwide. It confirms what many people have suspected for a long time: Australia’s universities are no longer institutions encouraging the rigorous exercise of intellectual freedom and the scientific method in pursuit of truth. Instead, they are now more like corporatist bureaucracies that rigidly enforce an unquestioning orthodoxy and are capable of hounding out anyone who strays outside their rigid groupthink.  

The need for a new paradigm

Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to treat data selectively and favour information that confirms their beliefs. In the case of ‘climate change’ there is a trillion-dollar climate-industrial complex supporting a sophisticated research program generating ‘facts’ that cannot be questioned. So, we are told there is ‘the science’, which is ‘settled’, as though science is a fact, when science is a method of finding out about the world. As we learn more, our understanding should improve. But sometimes scientists are asking the wrong questions, based on politically motivated assumptions and using tools that are not useful. It is important to understand, for example, that there is nothing equivalent about the scientific methods that have established that Newton’s law of universal gravitation is fact, and the theory of human-caused global warming. The law of gravity has been tested over and over and found to be true. Meanwhile, when Richard Lindzen tested the hard core of the greenhouse effect back in the 1980s and found it to be wanting, his findings were misrepresented and attacked, as explained in Chapter 13. He was told there were some aspects of climate science that could not be questioned.

It is possible to accept that high-level clouds absorb and reradiate long-wave (IR) radiation thus contributing to the greenhouse effect as Lindzen does, while also understanding that water vapour may be the most important greenhouse gas that fuels tropical convection as I do. This alternative ‘science’ of climate change provides at least two possible natural mechanisms in operation that could mitigate the future impacts of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels from the burning of fossil fuels. In short, the climate system could be intrinsically self-stabilising, thus limiting the impacts of increasing CO2. This would explain why vastly higher natural atmospheric CO2 concentrations throughout much of geological history showed no relationship with past climate. This was discussed in the last book in this series, Climate Change: The Facts series – published in 2017, in Chapter 19 by Ian Plimer. Yet to suggest such an alternative explanation is to risk being labelled a denier. 

This is because science, as a human endeavour, has always been more complicated that the simple assembling of facts through observation and testing. As the famous physicist and historian Thomas Kuhn explained in his seminal book back in 1962 titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (University of Chicago Press), a majority of scientists tend to operate within a particular research program (also known as a paradigm) that dictates not only the research method, but also which questions are permissible. The history of science would also suggest that such research programs will dominate and attempt to exclude all others. Furthermore, the established research programs, for example that more CO2 through the greenhouse effect will inevitably lead to dangerous global warming, are rarely disproven until they are replaced.

Accepting the history of science would suggest that those of us who would like to see the current obsession with CO2 discarded need to take an interest in possible replacement theories and actively support new competing research programs based on different methods.

For almost a generation, mainstream climate scientists across the Western world have defended the greenhouse effect. This has precluded the development of an understanding of the truly major climate changes that have characterised the Earth’s history. The failed ‘global warming’ paradigm has also contributed to worse, not better, weather and climate forecasts. This has real implications for the efficiency of food production and also each nation’s capacity to skilfully forecast weather fronts for battles that may be critical to winning future world wars.

This is the fourth book in the Climate Change the Facts series, a series which was conceived, and continues to be supported, by the Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs, John Roskam. Roskam is fond of the Galileo quote:

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”

Roskam says that Galileo’s statement applies not only to climate science but to other fields of human endeavour and enquiry.

This book is a compilation of chapters by individuals, or at most three authors. Not all chapters come to the same conclusions about particular issues. For example, whether temperature change at Antarctica is the best measure of global climate change – or not. What is most important is that reasons are provided, and that the reasoning is logical and valid and supported by the available facts.

We have not been able to include everything or everyone in this book. I sincerely thank those scientists who submitted chapters that did not make it all the way to print. In the end judgements must be made about the extent to which a conclusion is adequately supported by the available facts – and there can only be so many pages in each book in this Climate Change the Facts series.

As you read through the chapters in this book, I hope you will find:

  1. some rebuttal of questionable ‘facts’ derived from current research into the greenhouse effect
  2. gain a better understanding of the importance of data integrity, and how some temperature, sea-level and ice-core series are constructs generated through the remodelling of actual measurements
  3. realise that there are methods for researching climate change, and forecasting the weather, additional to GCMs, and
  4. start to ask new questions about everything from water vapour to cosmic rays to emperor penguins.

Climate science necessarily touches on many different scientific disciplines, and it is complicated. It can also be so much fun! Treat it as a puzzle, that is my advice. Also, remember, it is much better to have questions that cannot be answered, than living and doing science according to answers that cannot be questioned.