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Greenpeace ad hominem attack rejected

The New Zealand
Climate Science Coalition

7 March 2009

Ad hominem attacks no substitute for science in climate change debate

The personal criticism of Prime Minister John Key for his stance on climate change issues are typical of the ad hominem attack tactics that Greenpeace and similar zealots like Labour MP Charles Chauvel resort to when they lack scientific basis for argument, according to Terry Dunleavy, secretary of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

He was commenting on the statement by Mr Chauvel in Parliament this week that John Key had told Investigate Magazine that he wanted to ‘have flexibility so that if the science deteriorates and the climate change sceptics are right we have an ability to alter the impact on our economy’. As a result of learning of the Prime Minister’s comments, Greenpeace, “one of the world’s leading NGOs in the climate change area”, advised that it would not be participating further in the ETS Review Select Committee. Greenpeace went on to say that John Key’s comments were ‘irresponsible’ and ‘embarrassing’ and that the Government has ‘no credible programme for tackling this growing global crisis’.

“To those of us involved in the debate about climate change, these ad hominem attack tactics are nothing new,” said Mr Dunleavy. “Greenpeace has been at it for years, causing one of its co-founders Dr Patrick Moore to quit in disgust at these tactics of shooting the messenger when unable to rebut the facts of the message. Now, it seems, they have attracted a new recruit, Charles Chauvel, whose assertion that Greenpeace is one of the world’s leading NGOs in the climate change area conveniently conceals the fact that it has no more scientific status or credibility than his own NGO, the New Zealand Labour Party. Both are political advocates blinded by mistaken belief that hysterical assertions of zealotry are acceptable substitutes for the truths of science.

“No wonder Greenpeace has taken the first excuse it could find to toss its toys out of the cot rather than participate in the forthcoming review of the Labour/Greens emissions trading scheme legislation by a special Parliamentary Select Committee. Far from being settled, as the zealots claim, the science of climate change is moving rapidly to belated recognition that there is no valid evidence for claims that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide can or will cause dangerous ‘global warming’, a fact that becomes increasingly more obvious as world temperatures have cooled since 2002, in spite of a continuing small rise in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Prime Minister Key and his National-led government are being highly responsible in keeping their options open pending the deliberations of the Select Committee in a review that was initiated by the only MP in the present Parliament who does possess credible qualifications: Act leader Hon Rodney Hide, who holds a master’s degree in environmental science, and who made the review a condition of his party’s confidence and supply agreement with National.

“Here is just one example of why it is so vital that New Zealand addresses the science of climate change: although our economy is so highly dependent on agriculture, the previous government made the astonishing decision to include agriculture in the activities it signed up to under the Kyoto Protocol, the only signatory to make such a concession. As a result, while US cattle farmers are now being ‘subsidised’ by their ability to sell carbon credits generated by the carbon dioxide sequestered by their annual pasture grasses, New Zealand cattle farmers would be penalised under our existing emissions trading scheme by the need to purchase carbon credits to compensate for the methane generated by their belching ruminants. The science supporting the American position is better founded than the science claimed to support our decision to include ruminant methane as an anthropogenic greenhouse gas. Cows don't run on fossil fuels. Indeed, US scientists have concluded that New Zealand pasture is a more effective carbon sink than American rangeland because our pasture grasses are perennial and have a deeper and more extensive root system.

“Whether or not there was the over-arching global financial meltdown now causing governments like those in Europe and Australia to re-think their emissions trading policies, the costs to New Zealanders of the measures legislated by the previous government to mitigate so-called climate change are of such a magnitude that it is highly responsible for the new Key Government to be absolutely certain of the science before committing us to costs well into the billions of dollars,” Mr Dunleavy concluded.

He was speaking from New York where, as executive vice-chairman of the International Climate Science Coalition, he is attending the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change, at which he will present a paper entitled ‘Consensus’ in climate science – an unsubstantiated urban myth, rebutting claims that assessment reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are the work of thousands of scientists.

Another New Zealander, Dr Kesten Green, of Wellington, an internationally respected expert on the principles of forecasting will speak at the same conference, on the topic: Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making.


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