Tonight’s ABC orgy of climate change pseudo-balance could be a right royal waste of space, time and life…

I fear it may be as enlightening as the recent Q&A featuring in the red shorts George Pell and in the black shorts some noisy English scientist whose name escapes me… Some things it seems to me just don’t stack up in the QandA formula.

The Sydney Morning Herald probably gets it right this morning when it calls tonight’s double-header “ABC TV’s latest attempt to convert political controversy into mass entertainment.” “Beauty and the Beast meets the climate change debate” indeed.

Frankly I would rather have root canal therapy or listen to Alan Jones all day than watch the insufferable child-debater in adult garb Nick Minchin apply his razor sharp gifts and strong sense of irrelevance to an issue he quite clearly will not understand because it offends his political and economic presuppositions. I had a go at him two and a half years ago and I have had no reason to change my mind.

Dear Senator Minchin

I am a great admirer of your principled positions on issues like the monarchy and above all on so-called global warming. That you are sticking it up that socialist glove puppet Malcolm Turnbull fills me with joy!

I treasure your sage words on Four Corners earlier this month:

I frankly strongly object to you know, politicians and others trying to terrify 12 year old girls that their planet’s about to melt, you know. I mean really it is appalling some of that that sort of behaviour…

For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion…

I don’t mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change – of global warming. I don’t accept that and I’ve said that publically. I guess if I can say it, I would hope that others would feel free to do so…

Such wit! Such god-like wisdom!…

What must appal us staunch supporters of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is that she now seems to have been seduced! Can you believe it? Of course she is over 80, but I ask you!

And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more. The threat to our environment is not a new concern. But it is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come.  Many of those affected are among the most vulnerable, and many of the people least well able to withstand the adverse effects of Climate Change live in the Commonwealth.

Really, you just don’t know who to trust any more, do you?

His opponent seems a worthy person, but I really know little about her. I just feel in my water that the whole thing will be a waste.

Ms Rose kept a diary during the trip and has used it as the basis for a book, Madlands, which will be released later this week.

She says she hopes the documentary will be ”used as a starting point for Australians to re-engage with the science of climate change”.

However, she was disappointed over what she says was the producers’ decision to use fewer of her nominated advocates than Mr Minchin’s.

In particular, she says the claims of right-wing US blogger and anti- global warming campaigner Marc Morano (who denies any sea-level rise) were demolished by Rear Admiral David Titley, the chief oceanographer of the US Navy, but Admiral Titley’s segment did not make it to air.

Well I can help out there.

And then there’s these:

Mind you I just can’t get past how unbelievable it is that this debate even needs to happen…

Don’t get bogged down by deniers. Focus instead on the integrity of the science. That’s the tag line in a piece also in today’s Herald by Stephan Lewandowsky , an Australian professorial fellow and Winthrop professor at the University of Western Australia.

Stephan Lewandowsky is an Australian Professorial Fellow and Winthrop Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia. He is a cognitive scientist who has published more than 100 papers, chapters, and scholarly books on how people remember and think, with a particular emphasis on the role of skepticism in the updating of memories. His latest book on “computational modeling in cognition” draws together strands from philosophy of science, mathematics, and computer science to illustrate how cognitive scientists can best learn to understand how a complex system such as the mind operates.

Hmm. Also talking outside his field of expertise, though arguably a bit closer to the relevant disciplines than Minchin has ever been. Perhaps psychology and Minchin is relevant in another sense, however. Certainly psychology as much as any relevant climate science seems a fruitful approach to self-styled skepticism on the subject.

Science is debate. Science is about balancing evidence. Scientific debates are about the weight of evidence and they are conducted in peer-reviewed literature, which screens out ideas and opinions that do not withstand scrutiny. As a result, science expressly and inevitably differentiates nonsense from ideas that have scientific merit. It is the very essence of science that some ideas – such as the Earth being flat – count for nothing whereas others are taken seriously.

The only conclusion about the climate that is taken seriously by every single reputable scientific institution in the world is that the Earth’s climate is changing due to human greenhouse gas emissions. This is the only idea that has survived peer review and it is a fact on which the national academies of all industrialised countries converge independently.

There is a scientific debate about the climate – but that debate focuses on the likely consequences and on the resolution of remaining uncertainties, not on the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect which was established 150 years ago.

Read more: Denier vs Skeptic.

See my follow-up: No, I didn’t.