Thanks but no thanks. This was the reply of Maurice Newman, top business advisor of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to an invitation from the Climate Council to a climate science briefing in an attempt by the latter to brief him about the economic risks of global warming.
Professor Will Steffen, one of the six members of the council and a renowned climate scientist, said he was informed by the Business Advisory Council Secretariat of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet that Mr. Newman has declined the invitation to attend a climate science briefing.
Maurice Newman: Climate Change Sceptic
Newman has been very sceptical on climate change, claiming that the world is cooling down and not warming, explaining his rejection of the climate science briefing.
A few weeks ago, Newman wrote in The Australian that the world could be entering a global cooling phase. While it was an opinion article, Newman did cite some scientists in lending credibility to his piece.
He also suggested that countries would not be prepared for such phase, and added that the cooling phase was to be brought by the reduced activity of the sun.
Newman also questioned the process of the Bureau of Meteorology in homogenizing climate records. He particularly question how the BoM adjust historical data, saying this is tantamount to manipulating the temperature records of Australia.
He said that the bureau should explain why homogenization has consistently turned the cooling trends to warming, and why it dropped pre-1910 records.
This comes as the United States has pushed forward with the promotion of practical renewable energy applications, and Barack Obama expressing his intention to tackle climate change at the G20 held in Brisbane this week.
A member of the World Meteorological Organisation, Newman said the BoM may have been caught up in the business of global warming politics. He added that the bureau, which costs the government $300 million annually, should dispel rumours that it is biased towards parties suggesting that the world is warming.
He called on an independent audit of the BoM, saying that it is critical that there is public trust on Australia’s climate records.
However, academicians have come to the rescue of the BoM, saying that the country is considered a global player in meteorology and that the changes employed by the bureau have actually resulted to a trend suggesting an overall cooling.
Climate Science Briefing: Ignorance Not a Defence
Steffen said Newman’s refusal to attend the climate science briefing represents deliberate and wilful blindness on the part of the Australian official.
The climate change expert said the views of Newman were economically reckless. He maintained that global warming poses serious risks to the Australian economy. He lamented that it should be Newman who should be advising Prime Minister Abbott on the dangers of global warming and the risks that the country faces.
He said that it is dangerous that the top business advisor of Australia’s leader thinks global warming is a farce.
The climate change expert cited a report by the Council last week which showed that more than $220 billion of coastal infrastructure around the country is in danger of being exposed to a sea level rise of more than one meter.
Still, Steffen says the offer of the Council to have a climate science briefing with top climate scientists in Australia still remains.