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The Simon Kerr Perspective 

Some great climate change  resources

 The website Skeptical Science is a fabulous resource for understanding climate change and the denial and challenges to that science.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is leading international organisation for the investigation of climate change. It involves the world's leading scientists regularly reviewing the current peer reviewed science and producing the worlds most authoritative reports on climate change. They  are also conservative, with the final draft having to be agreed to by all the member nations (currently 195, including Australia, but not North Korea)

The Australian Academy of Science is also a reliable and trustworthy source of information about the science. Similar societies in other countries are also very sound, given they are the gathering of the most prestigious and informed science minds in their countries.

The Climate Council  of Australia started life as the Government's Climate Commission, but was abolished by the Abbott Government in September 2013.  It was relaunched as a not-for-profit organisation as a result of Australia's larges crowdfunding campaign shortly after. It has a series of excellent publications addressing the challenges of climate change.

Beyond Zero Emissions is a not-for-profit organisation is producing a series of significant reports on how Australia can create a zero emissions economy. It works in collaboration with the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne. These reports demonstrate that economic and technical viability of moving all parts of the economy to renewable energy.

There are some NGO (non-governmental organisations) that do excellent work and, generally, are careful in their claims about the science. Among them, 350.org is supporting a very effective coalition of activist organisations. Set up by Bill McKibben, it has a very simple message that has been instrumental is helping many people understand the climate challenge http://350.org/about/science/

A note on our references

Where did we get the information for the claims in our show?


The ability to use Google or some other search engine is not the same as doing ‘research’
(sorry, but search engines can't work out good from bad quality information!)

 

We therefore ask, ‘Who provided the information?’ and ‘Where did the evidence come from?

 

All statements of fact (like, for example, the amount of CO2 currently in the atmosphere), are sourced from peer reviewed science.

 

But what’s so good about that? Thanks for asking! Read on ...

 

The scientific method(s) is, far and away, the best means humans have invented to accurately figure out how the world works. And key to that is 'peer review'. Scientists are never (or rarely) dogmatic. They can’t afford to be. They investigate an issue and then ask their peers (other experts in their field) to criticise their work; pick holes in in, find its flaws, test its assumptions. Then, and only then, if its stands this test, does it get published.

 

But that's not enough. One published paper that says, for example, that global sea levels are rising, is not enough evidence by itself to provide confidence (or to ‘prove’, to use a lay term) that sea levels are, in fact, rising. So more scientists do new studies, and it is the collective effort over time that provides scientific evidence that, yes indeed, it seems that global sea levels are in fact rising. (This is the big difference between science and other knowledge claims; get people to test the ideas and don't jump to conclusions too quickly!)

 

Our Rule Number One: have the claims been peer reviewed over time?

 

But science is complex and difficult for most lay people to follow (after all, it takes at least 7 years, usually more, to get qualified with a PhD. And then a new PhD is really only the new kid on the block and has to learn their craft as part of a lab or research group)

 

So how are us non-scientists to read all these technical peer reviewed science papers? We don’t! What we need to do is to read reliable summaries of the latest science by people qualified to do this. This leads to our second rule:

 

Rule Number Two: Are those providing the summary information of the science reputable?

 

They need to be qualified both in the science and have a broad understanding of the relevant fields. How can you know? Well, a simple rule of thumb is to go to any prestigious scientific society, organisation and international science body. See side panel for some examples: