Owen McShane weighs in today in the Herald, on Brian Rudman's piece. I will quote a few parts but you should read the whole thing yourself.
Mr McShane is a very constructive debater, an example to us all. My feeling is that either he hasn't worked out that global warming is a religion, or because he knows that it is, but wants to convince believers that god doesn't exist. Either way, it should be clear to most observers that the adherence to global warming goes well beyond scientific interest. As usual he makes a number of good points:
Whatever the state of the global science, there are many
local scientific matters that should be addressed before we start
imposing huge costs on our local economy. For example, he quotes global
sea level rises, which are no more than a statistical artifact with no
relationship to what is happening on our own coastlines, where tectonic
plate and earthquake movements have far more impact.
The temperature changes and sea level changes are so tiny that they are dwarfed by the annual 'noise' of the climate. This makes any serious determination difficult, because you are looking for statistically significant changes, in a small amount of data, which is really only reliable going back 30 years, and even then not from ground stations.
Also, sea level rising has slowed, not increased as Rudman claims.
Sadly, many councils have rushed to regulate coastal development on the
basis of these global predictions even though actual measurements show
their local sea levels are falling rather than rising.
New Zealand councils have made wonderful place for Environmentalists to reside. With all their imagined environmental problems, and a few real ones, they create all sorts of strange regulations and rules. We need to have a clean-out in this area and try to get councils back to focussing on the here and now, and less on what might be based on computer models.
The urban heat island effect (caused by cities) is well
recognised, and the extreme economic and demographic inputs into the
IPCC computer models have also "assisted" in creating an impression of
There are scores of papers in peer-reviewed journals challenging the
hypothesis that anthropogenic actions, and in particular, the burning
of fossil fuels, are causing dangerous levels of global warming.
No doubt their authors have been vilified as climate cranks, in the pay of oil companies, or worse.
The select committee could also focus on science relevant to
New Zealand. Rudman might like to find a peer-reviewed paper containing
a simple equation describing the change in greenhouse gas emissions
resulting from turning forestry into perennial pasture in New Zealand.
We simply do not know the size and nature of the biological transfers
or even whether the final outcome is positive or negative.
How can we base any form of taxation or subsidy on such ignorance?
Quite easily. We can adopt a 'precautionary principle' where even if we know absolutely nothing about anything. we still introduce regulations to protect against its imagined effects. The result is a bit like putting a legal framework around voodoo: black magic, strange beliefs and sharp pain if you are the victim.
However, the most powerful argument for repealing the
Emissions Trading Act is that it was passed by a reluctant, divided and
narrow majority in the dying days of Parliament in a manner that was
undemocratic, failed to address the national interest, and in breach of
longstanding constitutional conventions.
As (Minister for the Environment) Nick Smith said in a recent public forum, "the worst day
in my life in Parliament was being confronted with a bill with over
1000 amendments with only three days to make a decision". Those
amendments had not been reported back to the select committee.
The last government seems to have developed a reputation for itself, in forcing through legislation which had wide-ranging effects without much concern for getting all parties on board. In decreasing order of support, I suppose they were the Emissions trading scheme, the Electorial Finance Act and smacking.
These assessments should be undertaken diligently,
impartially and from a non-partisan position. The previous Government
obscured the first, evaded the second, and ignored the third.
I think in reality there will always be opposition, but certainly it must start with a non-partisan position. At the very least, if they are going to ram something through, they must be right about it. Otherwise the result will simply be undone anyway.
It should also provide an opportunity to look closely at the
way any climate changes may affect us in New Zealand, rather than
depend on data and policies from the Northern Hemisphere.
No, surely not a call for even more research into the effects of global warming! We are struggling to produce enough newsprint to keep up with these stories as it is.
Labour's then Climate Minister David Parker dismissed any
independent climate experts, who provided rebuttal evidence, as a
This is common with environmentalists. Having reached some particularly island in the lake of opinion, they look around at all the other islands representing different opinions and points of view, and declare that they are below the water line, beneath contempt. That's not going to get environmentalists anywhere.
In spite of Rudman's assertions, John Key is more
likely to make himself a laughing stock by rushing to adopt potentially
catastrophic interventions, with massive opportunities for fraud,
rather than taking a prudent approach in line with our trading
partners, who are certainly not rushing to judgment given the state of
economies around the world.
Very true, and well put. Any major government action on global warming will need solid support, careful analysis (including accurate cost/benefits) and a strong focus on the resulting economic impacts, particularly in the current economic climate.
UPDATE: Whaleoil comments also.