Climate Change- Reality or Myth?

Letters, Gardening Australia, January 2005, p.10.

It is disappointing to see that Gardening Australia magazine (October 2004, page 55) has joined the chorus of doomsayers regarding climate change.

Professor John Brignell, from the University of Southampton, recently pointed out that "the spurious theory of (human-caused) climate change is easily disposed of by scientific argument and actual evidence".

Climate change has always been with us and always will be.

The rate and magnitude of present-day climate change lies within the natural limits which characterise Earth's previous climatic history.

Global climate change is controlled by many forcing agents, of which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are but one.

Predicting the course of climate change 100 years ahead is well beyond even the cleverest scientists and the biggest and best-programmed computers in the world, which includes the research undertaken by the organisations that you cite.

Regrettably, therefore, Gardening Australia's advice to readers is not grounded in reality or science.

But there is some good news - much of it is sensible practice that is well worth adopting in its own right.

Professor Robert Carter
James Cook University


Jerry Coleby-Williams replies

There is unprecedented support in both international scientific and political communities that human-induced climate change is occurring. The United Nation's International (sic) Panel for Climate Change, the Federal Government and its Chief Scientist, the CSIRO and the Chief Executive Officer of Shell Australia support these predictions.

We believed that last year's Australian Greenhouse Office's climate change report had significant implications for gardeners.

No doomsaying, just a practical, positive report for home gardeners, who are experiencing the changes first-hand.

That's why I remain committed to my sustainable house and garden project.


Bob Carter comments

Not for one moment would I seek to dissuade Jerry Coleby-Williams from enjoying his sustainable house and garden project. But he misses the point entirely.

Listing authorities who have pronounced upon an issue has nothing to do with science. Science operates by the testing of hypotheses.

The hypothesis that humans are today affecting global climate at a measurable level can be tested in many ways. Since 1990, Western nations have spent more than US$50 billion, and their scientists huge amounts of effort and ingenuity, doing just such tests.

As my letter states, and as many other knowledgeable scientists will confirm, the result is that so far no measurements exist which show a human impact on global climate which exceeds the known historical (natural) limits of climate variation.

To cite one example only, Dr William Kininmonth, a former Director of the Australian National Climate Centre and distinguished meteorologist, asserts in his recent book "Climate Change: A Natural Hazard", p. 134, that :

“There is every reason to believe that the variability of global temperature and other climate characteristics experienced over the past century are part of the natural variability of the climate system and are not a consequence of recent anthropogenic activities.”

Gardening is a science-based activity, and it behoves Gardening Australia to give its readers advice based on competent science, not ephemeral political fashion.


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