CAR­BON DIOX­IDE WAS IDEN­TI­FIED BE­FORE CAP­TAIN JAMES COOK MADE THE FIRST MAP OF THE EAST COAST OF AUS­TRALIA. HOW MUCH THE GAS CON­TRIB­UTES TO THE GREEN­HOUSE EF­FECT WAS DIS­COV­ERED WHEN NED KELLY WAS A BOY.

Wheels (Australia) - - In Gear - Care­johny

And the first rough cal­cu­la­tion of how much the tem­per­a­ture of the earth would change if the amount of car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere in­creased, or fell, was done be­fore Fed­er­a­tion.

So the ba­sics of the sci­ence of cli­mate change are truly ven­er­a­ble. Now, more than a cen­tury af­ter Swedish sci­en­tist Svante Ar­rhe­nius pub­lished the last find­ing men­tioned above, we know even more about the big­gest and bad­dest green­house gas of them all.

Sci­ence is like that. It plods along, year af­ter year, re­lent­lessly adding to our ac­cu­mu­la­tion of re­li­able knowl­edge and sub­tract­ing any­thing found to be faulty. The sci­en­tific method is, dare I say, hu­man­ity’s best idea ever. Why raise this sub­ject now? And here? Be­cause it’s ex­actly 25 years sincece I first men­tioned in this his mag­a­zine the con­nec­tion be­tween cars, car­bon ar­bon diox­ide, and global warm­ing. It was a para­graph ph or two in a cover fea­ture story in­volv­ing Bathurst, rst, Brock and Bond, a pair of fast Fords, and a cou­ple ple of quick Com­modores.

It seemed ob­vi­ous ious to me back then that hu­man­ity, be­ing the smartest species on the planet, would take ke one look at what sci­ence was say­ing and take ake ac­tion.

But I’ve waited pa­tiently for a quar­ter of a cen­tury and, when n it comes to cars… noth­ing. In that time no ef­fec­tive, ctive, let alone vi­sion­ary, pol­icy moves have been made by our elected lead­ers. Even as the he pile of ev­i­dence that we hu­mans are chang­ing Earth’s h’s cli­mate has grown steadily higher, and other na­tions have re­acted to thee dan­ger with vary­ing de­grees es of vigour, the prospectt of Aus­tralia ever join­ing ng in the ef­fort seems re­mote.mote.

What a vic­tory for r the en­e­mies of rea­son, on, those shouty zealots who have in­flu­enced d the tone and shape of the e Cli­mate Change de­bate ate in Aus­tralia for so long. ng.

They’ve never been too con­cerned about log­i­cal con­sis­tency. Their start­ing po­si­tion was sim­ple: global warm­ing isn’t hap­pen­ing. When that started to look silly, it moved to ‘global warm­ing is hap­pen­ing, but hu­mans aren’t do­ing it, and in any case it will be very costly to do things a dif­fer­ent way than we’re do­ing now. And by the way, don’t those wind tur­bines look aw­ful or make you ill or cut rare par­rots in half?’

Through­out, they’ve sought to dis­credit sci­ence. “Cli­mate change is a con­spir­acy dreamed up by thou­sands of in­sanely greedy and ut­terly un­eth­i­cal sci­en­tists to gain fund­ing”, is one ex­am­ple I’ve heard first-hand. And you’ll all have heard the one about it be­ing a con­spir­acy dreamed up by Chi­nese sci­en­tists, pre­sum­ablyp um­ably on or­ders from Bei­jing, to bring about the ruin of the US econ­omy.

“If I have seen fur­ther it is by stand­ing on the shoul­ders of gi­ants,” wrote Isaac New­ton, one of the great­est sci­en­tists of all time. It’s the same for to­day’s cli­mate sci­en­tists. Their work rests on solid foun­da­tions laid cen­turies ago, by for­got­ten greats like Joseph Black, John Tyn­dall, and Svante Ar­rhe­nius.

But Aus­tralia seems in­stead to pre­fer the view of cli­mate change you get when perched on the shoul­ders of anti-sci­ence pyg­mies. So sad.

The work of to­day’s cli­mate sci­en­tists rests on solid foun­da­tions laid cen­turies ago

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