Aussie Doctor Urges a “Bipartisan” Response to Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to gastroenterologist and chief editor of the Australian Medical Journal Professor Talley, politicians of all sides should do what they are told on climate policy, just as they follow the advice of doctors when dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic. But Talley appears to shy away from offering specific policy advice, other than demanding the government set up a new committee.

Climate change demands same leadership as COVID-19, and Australia is failing

by Medical Journal of Australia
DECEMBER 23, 2020

A leading Australian medical clinician and researcher has called on the Federal Government and the health sector to commit to showing the same leadership on climate change as was shown during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Neurogastroenterologist and Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Journal of Australia said in an editorial, published today, that Australia’s response to COVID-19 had been “strong and effective.”

“Key to this success was the valuing by governments of science and data to guide decision making.

“This bipartisan, science-based approach is a model for the future management of climate change, if implemented alongside an appropriate national plan.”

Professor Talley called on the Federal Government to establish a National Health and Climate Change Centre within the Australian Department of Health to develop a National Plan for Health and Climate Change with real-time monitoring.

Read more: https://phys.org/news/2020-12-climate-demands-leadership-covid-australia.html

Which scientists’ advice should politicians follow? Because there is significant disagreement in the scientific community about how we should respond to the climate crisis.

Dr. Ken Caldeira, Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Tom Wigley, arguably the most senior climate scientists in the world, say we should go all out building nuclear power plants. Renewables alone they say are not enough to save the world from climate change.

Does Professor Talley mean we should follow their advice and build nuclear power plants?

Or should we follow the advice of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and treat nuclear power as a “false solution” to the climate crisis?

Consider the USGS (United States Geographical Survey) advice on climate models.

According to the USGS (h/t Dr. Willie Soon);

… A climate scenario describes a plausible future outcome associated with a specific set of societal actions that captures the relationships between human choices, greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and consequent climate change as simulated by global climate models. Because scenarios are developed n a risk-based framework with a high degree of uncertainty about future societal developments, the primary scenarios used in policymaking contexts are usually not assigned a formal likelihood of occurrence (that is, each scenario is considered to be a “plausible” outcome without assuming the “likelihood” of the outcome).

In the near term (years to one to two decades in the future), natural climate variability is the largest source of uncertainty in climate projections. For time periods approximately 30 to 50 years out, scientific uncertainty about the climate system is the largest source of uncertainty in climate projections. Beyond 50 years, human decisions that affect global greenhouse gas emissions are the largest source of uncertainty.

Read more: https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2020/1058/ofr20201058.pdf

So policy makers should treat any climate model as if it could happen, but bear in mind that poorly quantified sources of natural variability could overwhelm projected warming up to 50 years into the future, and cause something completely different to happen.

Yet these wild guesses which scientists are not prepared to own are supposed to be the basis of policy decisions which could affect the lives of billions.

It is easy to demand in general terms that politicians should follow the advice of climate scientists, if you hold back from providing specific suggestions about which group of climate scientists politicians should actually listen to.

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December 24, 2020 at 12:08AM

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