Launch of Thank God for Carbon

Senator Cory Bernardi

Adelaide, 27 January 2009

It's a pleasure to be with you here today to launch the book 'Thank God for Carbon' by Ray Evans and published by Lavoisier Group.

Many of you will not know who I am and why I am here.

For the record, I am a South Australian Senator serving my second term in the Senate.

Before this I was an investment adviser and fund manager.

I am the author of three books on trading financial markets, teaching children good money habits and a soon to be launched book for children about healthy diet, exercise and pursuing your goals.

My political life is dedicated to strengthening families and changing our nation through the development of our children.

It could be considered a selfish goal sparked by my desire for my two sons to be afforded opportunities that were not available to me. I want them to inherit a world of progress and values, a sustainable world where all our children have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and be rewarded for working hard to achieve them.

I have fought and will continue to fight to defend for the core values that have built our nation---that of faith and family and freedom. I believe in smaller government, less tax and personal responsibility. I also believe in freedom of speech.

Many people may also say they agree with those sentiments but few are prepared to risk personal loss in order to defend them. I hope I am one of those few.

I also consider myself an environmentalist---committed to using the God given resources available to us for food, shelter, energy in a responsible manner. There is nothing special about that, it is a concept shared by every farmer, fisherman and family that I know.

So why am I here to launch a book entitled Thank God for Carbon?

Is it because I am a regarded as a climate change sceptic?

Am I here because I one of a only a few politicians who has dared go public in my scepticism through my essay of 2007 entitled "Cool Heads needed on Global Warming".

Or is it that I have questioned the wisdom of an Emissions Trading Scheme as the best means of solving a current political problem?

Perhaps these are a few of the reasons I was invited to launch this booklet today, but they are not the reasons I accepted the invitation.

I am here because I support the battle of ideas and I support the right of free speech for every Australian.

I support the right for every person to be able to question prevailing beliefs and orthodoxy in an open manner without being demonised .

I support the concept of duelling scientists, who parry and thrust as they explore theories, proving them right or wrong in accordance with the expansion of scientific knowledge.

And I am here because I know that just because something is popular doesn't make it right.

And just on this point, today, I'd briefly like to reflect on some of my personal experiences and the lessons of history about popular notions being left unchallenged.

In his book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds –written by Charles Mackay and published in 1841, Mackay wrote of "National Delusions", "Peculiar Follies", and "Philosophical Delusions". He detailed an array of amazing historical events including the tulip bulb mania in Holland, The South Sea Bubble and The Mississippi scheme, among many others.

But according to Mackay these mania's had more to do with the nature of man rather than the specific events themselves.

He said that "during seasons of great pestilence men have often believed the prophecies of crazed fanatics, that the end of the world was come. Credulity is always greatest in times of calamity.

He went on to say that, "Men, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!"

But recent history also offers many examples of irrational thought and mania.

In the early 1970s a great deal of publicity was afforded to scientists who predicted an imminent food and resources shortage unless population growth was stabilized or reduced to zero.

A similar theme was advanced in "A Blueprint for Survival" signed in 1972 by a large number of eminent scientists, including five Fellows of the Royal Society and sixteen holders of science chairs in British universities.

This Blueprint was described as a "major contribution to the current debate" in a letter to The Times signed by another 150 scientists, including nine more fellows of the Royal Society and 20 more university science professors.

Their claims---popular as they were at the time--- have thus far not been realised.

I can remember as a student at school in the late 70's we were being warned about an imminent ice age after 3 preceding decades of falling temperatures!

We laugh at that now given our warm climate and drought conditions (in this country at least) but I wonder, will we look back in 50 years time on the current global warming debate and wonder what we were possibly thinking?

In more recent years, there have been any number of hysteria's that have captured the publics imagination and created global group think.

Investment markets provide perhaps the richest examples.

There was the gold run of the early 80s when it soared to over US$800 oz---or more than US$2000 in today's money.

I saw the extraordinary dot com bubble of the late 90s grow and implode among calls of 'this time it is different' and 'the global business model has changed'.

Locally, I saw irrational prices for shares involved in the Gawler Craton region of South Australia and have heard many tales about the legendary Poseidon boom of the 70s.

And what about the popular mantra that that 'you can't go wrong with real estate'?

It doesn't seem to ring true in today's market, or the market of the early 90s, or the early 70s before that.

Popular thought has seen mania's arise the end of the world come and go in various guises on numerous occasions---Y2K is another that springs to mind---but as I said earlier, just because something is popular doesn't make it right.

But challenging popular opinion demands courage. It often involves significant personal risk and usually very little reward. In fact, in gambling parlance, it would most likely be termed a 'dumb bet'.

And in no sphere is this more apparent than the new religion of climate change where all questions challenging the orthodoxy are treated as heresy and those that dare to raise them are heretics or worse still 'deniers'.

Make no mistake this latter term is a deliberate and grubby attempt to link those who question anthropogenic climate change with those who deny the atrocities of the holocaust during WW2.

Such vitriolic abuse has more in common with the tyranny of despotic regimes than with the modern and stable democracy we enjoy in Australia today.

The stifling of debate and the demonisation of those who question the 'climate emporers new clothes' has no place in this country---yet these rules seem not to apply to the global warming debate.

Strangely, it is only those that dare question the orthodoxy of the new religion who are exposed to ridicule. The preachers in this new church seem immune from mainstream criticism no matter how grievous their errors.

With each discredited prediction and claim, the apostles of global warming have become increasingly shrill in their doomsday scenarios

The seas haven't risen by 80 metres as some claimed they would and the earth hasn't warmed for over a decade.

The famous hockey stick graph used by the IPCC to support their claims has been proved false and the Kyoto protocol has proved to be largely symbolic.

Al Gore's film was exposed by an English Judge as containing significant errors that could not be supported by mainstream scientific opinion. This proved to be an 'inconvenient truth' for Mr Gore and his acolytes but he is yet to return the Nobel prize he received for his work of fiction.

Populist of the year, Kevin Rudd pronounced Global warming as the 'most important moral issue of our time' but only offers a solution that guarantees all Australians will lose out through higher tax and a sprawling bureaucracy that will determine the who, what and how much of the economic equation.

A bit too much like socialism for my liking---but perhaps that is the ultimate goal of those who worship at the altar of global warming?

Let me be frank here, the issue of our climate changing is not in question.

Historical evidence suggests the climate of our planet has continually evolved and changed and it always will.

I also accept that there is a large and very vocal group of people that demand governments across the world do something about it. But exactly what is causing climate change and what---if anything---should we be doing about it should remain the subject of debate?

I also want to be clear, that I am not here to debate the science. That is for those who are far more qualified to do so. But as a legislator, I must be prepared to consider all the available evidence and make decisions that are in Australia's best interest.

But to make the best decisions, to make an informed decision, there needs to be an open debate about cause and effect.

We need the duelling scientists. We need to question the prevailing orthodoxy of belief, just in case we are experiencing another event (like so many throughout history) where mankind has been caught up in a mania of irrational belief.

And that is why I support the Lavoisier Group and their work. They are singularly focussed on providing a balance to the debate about the cause of climate change and what we can and should do to respond to it.

The publication, Thank God for Carbon is a key element of that debate.

It provides a concise and objective view about the role of carbon and its link to climate change.

Covering five main topics, Thank God for Carbon defends and reaffirms carbon's role as an element vital for life and not the diabolical foe that carbonista's would have us believe.

Ray Evans succinctly reveals the history of climate, and carbon's role in life and nature, the role of the sun, the IPCC and the politics played through the climate change debate.

Much of this debate has centred around the computer models that climate change activists have been using to predict our climate fate.

In my previous role as an investment manager, we also used computers to predict probability of profits and losses. Just as these models failed to predict the global financial meltdown we are currently experiencing, the carbonistas computer generated models have not been able to predict or explain the climate we have experienced over the past decade or so.

This of course has proved to be another inconvenient truth for the church of climate change and its disciples but they remain undeterred in their advocacy for radical action.

The challenge for Australia---and the Australian parliament is to examine the facts about climate change and not just the opinion polls.

This includes the growing body of scientific opinion that conflicts with the previous work that has driven public awareness in recent years.

Whatever action we as a nation undertake in response to climate change needs to be carefully considered.

Any action we take needs to be based on a 'no regrets' policy. This means that if anthropogenic climate change is ultimately exposed as a falsehood, Australia will still derive long term benefit from prudent policy decisions.

We can only make these prudent policy decisions under the framework of an open and transparent debate about the implications of specific action and non action.

That is why I am so glad that so many of you are here to support this launch today.

Your support for Lavoisier, a group that seeks to open the closed mind is an important part of our democracy.

Your preparedness to advocate regardless of public opinion will strengthen our nation and help ensure the best possible decisions are taken within our parliament.

So in congratulating Ray Evans and the Lavoisier team on this fine publication, I am pleased to say 'Thank God for Carbon' and I also say 'Thank God for You"

Lavoisier the Man
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