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Miranda Devine: Has Science Become An Alternative Religion?

The three wise monkeys of Australian climate science, professors Will Steffen, Matthew England and David Karoly, posted a self-justifying report on the Climate Commission website last week linking recent floods, heavy rain and low temperatures to global warming.

“The science behind southeast Australia’s wet, cool summer” is their explanation for why the much-ridiculed predictions of endless drought by fellow climate activists, such as Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery, failed to materialise.

“The wetter conditions experienced in southeastern Australia in the last two years are consistent with scientists’ knowledge and understanding of how the climate is changing in the long term,” they write.

It’s just the media that got it wrong.

“Most parts of Australia have experienced exceptionally heavy rains over the past two years, filling many dams around the country … There has been much confusion in the media about what this means for climate change.”

It’s a pity these scientists weren’t so proactive when the media was lapping up Flannery’s Armageddon forecasts.

And no, contrary to Malcolm Turnbull’s claims last week, Flannery wasn’t “verballed”.

It’s a matter of public record that Flannery has warned of endless drought for years.

In 2007 he predicted, “rainfall across eastern Australia will reduce until a semi-permanent El Nino-like (drought) state is induced”.

He urged desalination plants be built within 18 months.

He claimed, “even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems”.

He was wrong.

But through his best-selling book The Weather Makers, the Climate Commissioner influenced a lot of Australians.

Blind faith in alarmist predictions has serious consequences.

In last year’s floods in Brisbane, for instance, we now know that engineers at the Wivenhoe dam chose to believe the doomsayers rather than the evidence of their own eyes and the actual weather forecast that told them the drought had broken and Dorothea Mackellar’s “flooding rains” were back.

Conditioned to believe permanent drought was the new reality, the engineers hoarded water.

Instead of releasing it slowly and early, they waited until it was too late, and huge volumes of water escaping from the dam flooded Brisbane, engulfed 15,000 homes and businesses.

The hapless engineers, now facing criminal charges, are the scapegoats.

But the real culprits are opportunistic politicians and mad greenies, whose apocalyptic warnings supersede prudence and common sense.

With just four months left until the advent of the carbon tax, the alarmists have regrouped.

Without admitting any errors of the past, they blithely explain away the inconvenient truth of all that rain and ramp up Armageddon scenarios that justify the tax.

With the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report due next year, the hyperbole meter is set to screech.

Historian Geoffrey Blainey, speaking last week, suggests science has become an “alternative religion”.

Research into his new book, A Short History of Christianity, leads him to think our attitude towards science in an era of technological advances is akin to religious faith, with gods to worship, a vehemence of belief, good and evil, heretics and saints.

He says alternative religions have taken the place of Christianity, including communism, and nature worship.

The third alternative religion is “science, its cousin technology and its god, reason”.

“Science has become incredibly powerful and influential, which is understandable.

So much of our increased standard of living in the last 150 years has come from science and technology and understandably science is worshipped by a large number of people.”

MIT atmospheric physicist Professor Richard Lindzen also views climate alarmism as “quasi-religious”.

Climate alarmists want science to act as the servant of politicians pushing for carbon control.

That is not the role of science.

Sunday Herald Sun, 18 March 2012