Transcript of Interview with Professor Bob Carter

Professor Carter, of James Cook University in Australia was in New Zealand in 2010 to give a lecture. This is one of two interviews he did with the New Zealand interviewer, Allan Lee. It can be seen at

AL = Allan Lee

BC = Bob Carter


AL - Let’s start with the big one, the Copenhagen Conference. 

BC -  Well, I think Barack Obama said it was an … I forget the exact words but something … I quote them in the book … “A dramatic step forward”. Of course it wasn’t an important step forward, it was a fiasco. Um, that said, I do think that Mr. Obama and other political leaders need to have a national climate policy. A leader of a country’s most sacred duty is protecting the people against foreign invaders, (it’s a little bit old fashioned but nonetheless it is … that’s a sacred duty) and, natural hazards. So, this should be right up there, Number 1. But … it’s not about stopping speculative human climate change – it’s about being prepared for what Mother Nature is going to impose on you. 

AL - And then there was the scandal of the … the ‘Climategate’ emails. This was at the University of East Anglia, where it seems, from the emails that were in the press, that basically they’ve been ‘cooking the books’. 

BC - Yes, it’s interesting. I mean, all of us shift slightly uncomfortably in our seats when a story like that breaks. Um, it’s not at all clear whether the emails were hacked, which was the original claim or, more likely, leaked by what’s viewed as a whistleblower. And at that stage (?) the moral issue shifts slightly because this is somebody on the inside who is privy to this information who decides, in the greater public good, this information should be in the public domain because these people, these scientists, are not behaving properly. (It’s) not just any old research group who’s behaving in ways that are unscientific, but the world’s premier climate research group, in many people’s eyes, that provides the basic data base that the United Nations uses in its intergovernmental panel, the temperature records for the last 150 years. But then the New Zealand government takes advice from these people. And you take that chain all the way back down and the data base is unrecoverable, and they cannot reconstruct the way in which they constructed the temperature, and it’s very clear from the emails that all sorts of marginally scientific practices were being engaged in

AJ – And, all the way through, I guess that the ‘elephant in the room’ is the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which seems to be behind all these things. And they seem to be the power that generates all the publicity and all the information about scary climate change. 

BC – I think that is true. It’s always been known by independent scientists that it was not a science organization, it was a political organization. But they’ve managed to present themselves, up until about the end of last year, as a science organization. Now that’s been completely exposed. Our governments, both in New Zealand and Australia, are signatories to what’s called ‘The Framework Convention on Climate Change’. That is the UN umbrella under which the IPCC is organized. Now, if your government is a signatory to that framework convention, then this advice to you from the IPCC is official policy advice you have agreed to accept. You haven’t agreed, necessarily, to implement an emission trading scheme but you’ve accepted that is the official conduit of advice. In both Australia and New Zealand, the public has been denied any due diligence, any scientific audit on that advice. And that is a scandal because the advice, as we now know in retrospect, and we suspected for a long time, is not science-based advice, it’s political advice. It’s not true to say that if an emissions trading scheme is passed, there will be no benefits for New Zealand. There’ll be a big benefit – people will feel better about themselves. But you're going pay an awful lot of money for that ‘feel good’.  

AL – Isn’t it a fact, when the public asks the questions, they ask the questions of the scientific reality, they want the scientific answer, but the answer comes from the political reality and … so that, they’re not getting the data that they need.  

BC – Well, that’s … I haven’t seen that myself but that’s perfectly true. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s useful to tease out these different realities because in the public discussion, it’s a confused morass.  

AL – So, what is the answer? 

BC – The answer is Plan B. Plan A hasn’t worked, won’t work, can’t work. You’ve got to have a Plan B. Plan B is adaptation to climate change as it occurs, a contingent plan, in the same way you do for an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. 

AL – Bob, it’s always good to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time. 

BC – Thanks, Al.