Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Why we have cancelled Climate Change ‘11

Although I am beginning to wish that I hadn’t, almost a year ago I opened up a long debate on the blog on climate change and the effect that it might have on the minerals industry. The debate was primarily initiated by a series of emails that I received from a South African academic, who was very pro-anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and criticised the scope of the MEI Conference Climate Change and the Minerals Industry ’11 (blog of 22nd August).

Since then I sense that the consensus has swung towards the non-AGW lobby, and the strongest voice arguing for AGW on this blog is Stephan Harrison, who had agreed to be one of our speakers at next year’s event. I know that Stephan is totally sincere in his belief that global warming is human-induced, and that he is a highly competent scientist.

I have been browsing through various LinkedIn group discussions and find that even on the Climate Change groups the swing is towards non-AGW. A very long discussion (Climate Change- Fact or Fiction) can be found on the Think Green group, and an even longer one (Has Global Warming Ended?) on the Green group.

There is a particularly strong anti-AGW discussion, initiated by Neville Roberts, an international mining consultant, on the Minerals & Metals Professionals Globally Group. Neville doesn’t hold back at all:

"Those of you following the real science will know that this is the biggest and most expensive scam ever perpetrated on the human race. The chicanery, professional corruption and downright fraud associated with this will eventually be totally exposed; meanwhile the bluster and unethical cover ups will continue to obscure the facts. As professionals whose industry will be significantly adversely affected by the proposals to counteract this non event we all ought to add our comments to the multiplicity of pseudo scientific articles polluting the web. We can't match the histrionics of the green religion crowd, but we can still be advocates for truth and supporters of the true scientists who are exposing the fraud."

There are over 40 comments on this discussion almost all agreeing totally with Neville and his almost evangelical views on the "truth" and “real science”. I commented on Stephan Harrison’s proposed keynote speech and my quest to find a speaker to give a counter-argument to Stephan’s views, and Neville responded with “..there is overwhelming evidence of bias against the presentation of evidence to disprove AGW.... The last thing we should be doing is adding our weight to that bias by giving a platform to a known 'the science is settled' proponent like Harrison."

This to me sounds pretty hard on Stephan but is typical of how heated, and, in many cases, totally unprofessional, these arguments are becoming, while effectively going nowhere. One of the most sensible comments comes from Gregg Wagner, Director of Sustainability and Environment at Rio Tinto Minerals, USA:

"I find it simply amazing regarding the amount of time and effort that those in our industry are expending to fight the idea of climate change and emissions trading. You don't have to believe in climate change. The only thing we should do is focus on becoming more energy efficient. By reducing our energy intensity we increase profitability. The added benefit of reducing CO2 emission is a savings account against the possibility of potential emission trading programs."

I agree totally with Gregg on this. I am a climate change agnostic- basically I do not know what to believe, as the problem is so complex, and there are even doubts as to whether global warming is actually occurring, so I keep asking questions. However, the arguments are becoming very emotive, abusive in some cases, and seem to be going round and round in circles. Politicians huff and puff about human induced CO2, but when it comes to the crunch, as Copenhagen showed, they won’t do anything about it.

So are the arguments now purely academic? I feel that nothing meaningful will come out of a conference debate on whether climate change is caused by man or other factors, and for that reason have decided to cancel next year’s Climate Change and the Minerals Industry conference. Certain elements of the conference:

• The economic impact of carbon emission controls on the industry.
• Case studies of existing methods to reduce emissions and new technology being developed, such as carbon capture and storage.
• Efforts to reduce energy consumption in mining and mineral processing operations.

will now be incorporated into the conference Sustainability through Resource Conservation and Recycling ’11, which will be extended to 3-days, and held in Falmouth from May 10-12, 2011.


  1. Good Barry, I like your plan. Also glad to see I didn't upset anyone. I also like the scope outlined for your Sustainability conference and trust it will be a success. You wouldn't know it from my comments but apart from my mining consulting duties I was also in charge of environmental affairs for a fairly large Mining Group.

  2. I too am agnostic although I don't think there is much doubt that there has been a warming trend since the end of the little ice age. I agree totally with Gregg Wagner and would like to see rapid development of "non-Carbon" base load power generation.

    My main complaint against the AGW camp, apart from CRU scandals etc, is that "The Science" has been hijacked by ideologists and the simply power hungry, together with the incredible patronising arrogance of some of AGW's main proponents.

  3. "You don't have to believe in climate change. The only thing we should do is focus on becoming more energy efficient."

    Absolutly correct, it's just good business. No one would argue against increased effiecincy as good business. But that is not what AGW is about. Control of carbon is being forced down our throats as a way of saving the world, there is no metion of good business practices. So the skpetics ask for proof that this will save the world; and they get a song and dance in response, or they are called Holocaust deniers. This is is one of the reasons why the skeptics are so vocal, something does not add up, they smell a rat.


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