The Abbott government’s chief business adviser, Maurice Newman, has warned that Australia is ill prepared for global cooling owing to widespread “warming propaganda” in his latest critique of mainstream climate science.
Newman, who chairs the prime minister’s Business Advisory Council, said there is evidence that the world is set for a period of cooling, rather than warming, leading to significant geopolitical problems because of a lack of preparedness.
Adam Bandt, deputy leader of the Greens, said Newman’s comments were an “embarrassment to the government”.
“Tony Abbott needs to repudiate these views and dump Mr Newman from his Business Advisory Council,” Bandt said. “Someone with these flat-earth views has no place helping set policy for 21st century Australia.”
Mark Butler, Labor’s environment spokesman, said of Newman’s article: “These kinds of comments would be laughable if he didn’t have the prime minister’s ear.
“As it is, it’s terrifying that Maurice Newman continues to advise the prime minister at the same time as he campaigns against clean energy for Australians, and peddles myths unsupported by any credible scientist in the world.”
In an opinion piece for the Australian, the latest in a number of articles for the newspaper on climate change, Newman says: “What if the warmth the world has enjoyed for the past 50 years is the result of solar activity, not man-made CO2?
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its acolytes pay scant attention to any science, however strong the empirical evidence, that may relegate human causes to a lesser status.”
Newman says money spent on studying climate change has been “to largely preordain scientific conclusions”. Governments “like primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods” have used the “biased research to pursue gesture politics”.
The former ABC chairman says this has caused “serious damage on economies and diminished the west’s standing and effectiveness in world affairs”.
Newman claims scientists have discovered a rapid drop in solar activity, with a “global warming pause” having occurred in the past 18 years.
“But the political establishment is deaf to this,” he says. “Having put all our eggs in one basket and having made science a religion, it bravely persists with its global warming narrative, ignoring at its peril and ours, the clear warnings being given by mother nature.
“If the world does indeed move into a cooling period, its citizens are ill-prepared.”
Newman, who has no scientific background, has waged repeated assaults on mainstream climate science over the past year, claiming that Australia has become “hostage to climate change madness” and dismissing the overwhelming evidence of warming caused by carbon emissions. He has also railed against investments into renewable energy.
Climate scientists told Guardian Australia that Newman was misguided and “arrogant” for dismissing well-established evidence of warming in favour of a theory of global cooling.
“There’s nothing credible to what he says, I can’t believe this stuff about cosmic rays is being raised again after it has been discredited so often,” said Professor Matthew England, whose work shows how strong Pacific winds are pushing surface heat underwater, contributing to the slowdown, or “pause”, in the global temperature rise.
“The amount of greenhouses gases we are pumping into the atmosphere means that the solar minimum is just a blip in the next few decades,” he said. “The idea that solar cycles can override climate change driven by greenhouse gases is fanciful.
“Saying we aren’t prepared for global cooling is like saying we aren’t prepared for an alien invasion. There is no credible scientist saying this is on the horizon.
“It’s completely weird to be calling for investment into something that’s completely unfounded and I think he’s arrogant to think he knows the answer to climate physics when he hasn’t studied it.”
Professor Steve Sherwood said he wasn’t sure how to respond to Newman, given the number of errors in his article.
“The sun doesn’t have as much influence on the climate as we previously thought, the latest estimates are that it explains only 5% of the warming over the last 150 years,” he said.
“We have been in a solar minimum and no one really knows what the sun will do next. I don’t think anyone is saying that the sun will compete with greenhouses gases when it comes to warming the planet.
“What he says may be entertaining but it’s also scary because it’s so out there. It’s so prominent that it’s concerning.”
Despite the warming “pause” that Newman has repeatedly referred to, 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred in the 21st century. 2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record, while each of the past three decades has been warmer than the previous one.
According to the IPCC, the world has warmed by about 1C over the past century and will get even warmer – by between 0.3C and 4.8C – by 2100, based largely on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Provided by Oliver Milman