Global Warming & Climate Change Sceptics (skeptics) – Jo Nova

Anyone interested in the climate change/global warming debate should visit Joanne Nova’s website. Joanne has a science degree in molecular biology and has worked in a variety of science-related fields, including as an associate lecturer in science at the ANU and in the media; is author of The Skeptics* Handbook, and producer of cartoons and graphic designs. Jo Nova has a very interesting blog on the lack of objective scientific debate and public denigration of anyone who dares to disagree (Climate change / global warming sceptics), and the role of particular media organisations and identities amongst this. In particular, the ABC and Robyn Williams.

The introduction comments regarding the changing profession of science is well worth a read. The blog has a lot of theoretical discussion on the philosophy of science however there are also many practical examples provided by blog contributors of how the role, status and practicality of science has changed.

An absolute MUST READ is a posting by ‘Binny’ on 10th March 2010. Binny lives on a cattle station 1,000 km west of Brisbane and was visited by a young university student studying the resident koala population and habitat. This is an absolute classic story that sums up why rural Australians tend to be very sceptical of scientific research/academia and the tragedy of scientific research grant applications encouraging researchers to over dramatise and exaggerate. If all is well, they don’t get funding and the research stops. Hey, why bother to research a healthy environment, lets just ignore it until it has been decimated by some calamity (disease, feral animals & weeds, drought, fire, floods, human interference etc)! And if we find a healthy environment, find some problem, write a drama-queen article to send off as a media release to every scare-mongering rag in the land, and wait for the kudos and funding to roll in.

Until I lived in the Tambo/Augathella area I had no idea that koalas lived along the watercourses in this region of sheep and cattle station mulga country, and I guess more than 99% of Australians still don’t – they would presume koalas are located only in SE Qld in the path of new freeways and in a couple of bushfire-prone regions in Victoria – because these threatened groups of koalas are the only ones we ever hear about in the media. The koala populations on remote sheep and cattle stations are presumably poking along just as they always did, and ignored by researchers and the media. Almost all scientific researchers are urban residents with little or absolutely no understanding of remote areas and a glaringly obvious preference for researching hugely fashionable fields such as the Great Barrier Reef and North Queensland rainforest, while remote Australia remains largely ignored (apart from a handful of ex-cattle and sheep stations bought up by private groups and turned into ‘refuges’, and particular species that are cute and furry, such as bilbies).

There’s also a piece on the Jo Nova’s blog regarding the Welsh National Assembly agreeing that all cattle should be housed in sheds to capture the methane – with a comment added by someone else pointing out that this is even thought they admit that they don’t yet have the technology/equipment to capture the methane. Another classic. Because these shedded cattle would have to be handfed grain…which involves considerable expenditure of energy & resources to grow and transport (and then the cattle would produce far more methane if living on grain, rather than simply grass).

It’s a fascinating website and I can only wonder why the general public has heard so much about Tim Flannery over the years, and so little about Jo Nova.

**PS: ‘Sceptics’ is the Australian/English spelling; ‘skeptics’ is the U.S. spelling.