Last month I witnessed something shocking. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was giving a talk at the University of NSW. The talk was accompanied by a slide presentation, and the most important graph showed average global temperatures. For the past decade it represented temperatures climbing sharply.
As this was shown on the screen, Pachauri told his large audience: “We’re at a stage where warming is taking place at a much faster rate [than before]”.
Now, this is completely wrong. For most of the past seven years, those temperatures have actually been on a plateau. For the past year, there’s been a sharp cooling. These are facts, not opinion: the major sources of these figures, such as the Hadley Centre in Britain, agree on what has happened, and you can check for yourself by going to their websites. Sure, interpretations of the significance of this halt in global warming vary greatly, but the facts are clear.
So it’s disturbing that Rajendra Pachauri’s presentation was so erroneous, and would have misled everyone in the audience unaware of the real situation. This was particularly so because he was giving the talk on the occasion of receiving an honorary science degree from the university.
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Later that night, on ABC TV’s Lateline program, Pachauri claimed that those who disagree with his own views on global warming are “flat-earthers” who deny “the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence”. But what evidence could be more important than the temperature record, which Pachauri himself had fudged only a few hours earlier?
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
In his talk, Pachauri said the number of global warming sceptics is shrinking, a curious claim he was unable to substantiate when questioned about it on Lateline. Still, there’s no doubt a majority of climate scientists agree with the view of the IPCC.
Today I want to look at why this might be so: after all, such a state of affairs presents a challenge to sceptics such as me. If we’re right, then an awful lot of scientists are wrong. How could this be?
This question was addressed in September in a paper by Professor Richard Lindzen, of the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lindzen, probably the most qualified prominent global-warming sceptic, suggested that a number of changes in the way science is conducted have contributed to the rise of climate alarmism among American scientists.