This letter appeared in The Canberra Times of Monday 5 July 2010, in response to this article:

Martin Parkinson (“Accept climate science, economists told”, June 29, p3) makes a false parallel between unilateral tariff reductions and carbon pricing. Unilateral tariff reductions have helped Australia by allowing cheaper imports and freeing up resources for internationally competitive industry.

A unilateral emissions trading scheme would reduce world carbon by about one-millionth, a few months’ by China alone, and would simply export carbon-using industry to countries with less environmental protection. Parkinson seems to say not trust science but trust the scientists – unwise when the International Panel on Climate Change seems unable to get basic research regarding Amazon rainforests, Himalayan glaciers and even the area of Holland below sea level right!

What Climategate, the leaking of emails from the University of East Anglia, has shown is that scientific peer review can mean nothing, with reviewers not asking for data or computer programs.

I recently attended a Deliberation on Climate Change. I asked whether he could rebut claims that the Canberra region has got colder in the last century. He didn’t answer but claimed global warming was evident because parrots had got lighter in eastern Australia. Breaking news is that the consensus of 2500 scientists is a fabrication.

John Coochey, Chisholm

Here’s my response:

Bravo, John Coochey (Letters, 5 July), for pure chutzpah. Clearly it doesn’t matter that the poorly-dubbed “Amazongate” claims – that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had misrepresented research on warming impacts on the Amazon rainforest – turned out to be completely baseless, that the IPCC was entirely correct, and that the story was subsequently withdrawn with an apology by the UK Sunday Times; in the world of the climate denier, it lives on as if it were all true.

Who cares that all the deniers’ bluster over the area of the Netherlands below sea level turned out to be not the IPCC’s fault at all, but an easily corrected error in data provided by the Dutch government? Don’t mention that the much-trumpeted error in Himalayan glacier projections was actually a mere two sentences buried deep in a regional section of the latest IPCC report, whereas the main section on glaciers, all 45 pages of it, was solidly based and did not contain the error at all; when you’re a climate denier, if a story in any way supports the mantra that climate science is an enormous global conspiracy, then it must be true.

If the purpose of the ugly and criminal exercise dubbed “ClimateGate” – the theft of emails from the University of East Anglia – was to show some sort of unethical manipulation of data or fraudulent treatment of results, then it was a complete failure. A non-Gate. In fact, the stolen emails revealed the opposite: the absence of any such wrongdoing showed quite clearly that the scientific process, and the honesty and integrity of the scientists involved, is sound.

It’s a remarkable variety of single-mindedness that allows one to completely ignore the vast body of evidence out there showing that human activities are warming the planet, instead to focus on a handful of misleading or simply false soundbites that give the impression of doubt. As the tobacco lobbyists (several of whom are still advising the climate denial campaigns) said last century, “doubt is our product”.

What’s sad is that various senior figures, including the Leader of the Opposition, buy in to this transparently deceptive rubbish. A would-be leader of the country ought to pay more attention to the evidence, and have the common sense to understand just how serious the consequences of these greedy backpedal-and-delay political games are.

Matt Andrews.