Augie Auer is irritated. The former MetService chief meteorologist is irked by the bad science that has gone into the dire predictions of the effects man-made global warming will have on the planet.
Dr Auer, of Auckland, past professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wyoming, is part of a group of climate scientists who have formed the Climate Science Coalition, aimed at refuting what they believe are unfounded claims about global warming.
In fact, he said, if we didn’t have the greenhouse effect, the planet would be 33C colder.
"The average temperature of the planet is about plus 15C. It would be minus 18C if we didn’t have the effect of the greenhouse warming."
He said the history of the controversy dated back to the 1980s and he blamed both the media and scientists for the resultant fear.
Some journalists were "a bit scientifically illiterate" and when scientists put out the results of their computer modelling, worst-case scenarios were usually reported.
"It was usually an envelope of figures, one which said the planet could warm 6C in the next 100 years and the other end of the envelope was perhaps 0.5C in 100 years," said Dr Auer. "And you know which one would be quoted.
"And the scientists were, I feel, in some respects, to blame because they never came forward and said ‘wait a minute, you took that out of context’."
That in turn started a rather insidious environment in which maintaining that perception of crisis drove the research funding, he said.
"Crises are what always drives the funding.
"If you think back, you have never heard anything positive that could come about from global warming ... everything is always negative, alarmist, fear, doom," he said.
He said the issue had been based on hysteria.
"It’s been based on some very poor science and the bottom line is that the greenhouse effect, which unfortunately the public’s perception of is something that’s very bad and very harmful, the fact of the matter is, it’s a near miraculous process that keeps this planet liveable ... it makes it really a beautiful place, not literally the third rock from the sun."
Professor Auer said three-quarters of the planet was ocean, and 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect was governed by water vapour.
"Of that remaining 5 per cent, only about 3.6 per cent is governed by CO2 and when you break it down even further, studies have shown that the anthropogenic [man-made] contribution to CO2 versus the natural is about 3.2 per cent.
"So if you multiply the total contribution 3.6 by the man-made portion of it, 3.2, you find out that the anthropogenic contribution of CO2 to the the global greenhouse effect is 0.115 per cent ... that’s like 12c in $100. It’s minuscule ... it’s nothing.
"So if that’s the driving science, why do we need to be all concerned about CO2 and why do we need Kyoto and why do we need all the consequences from it?"
Owen McShane, of Kaiwaka, director of the Centre for Resource Management Studies and convener of the establishment committee, said many scientists and economists were concerned that the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had an effective monopoly on public announcements on global warming.
"Those of us involved in forming this coalition believe that now is the time for individual countries like New Zealand to assemble their own national expert panels, so that these panels can form larger groupings with like-minded panels from other countries so as to be ready to deal with the reports to be published by the IPCC next year."
He said that the coalition would publish papers by members, audit statements by other organisations which could influence public policy and audit the forthcoming UN climate change report.
The coalition has registered a domain name, www.climatescience.org.nz, which it expects to have running within two days.