Australia: 'Your argument is weak': Climate scientists offer briefing to sceptical Liberal MPs Dennis Jensen and Chris Back

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Top Australian researchers have offered to educate Liberal Party sceptics on the evidence of climate change, saying a push for Federal Parliament to re-examine the science is unnecessary and ignoring expert consensus may "imperil" the nation.

But Liberal MP Dennis Jensen has accused those who point to broad scientific agreement on climate change of trying to avoid scrutiny of the data.

The 13 leading scientists wrote to Mr Jensen and fellow West Australian backbencher Chris Back, who supported an internal push for the Abbott government to delay signing up to a meaningful agreement at the upcoming Paris climate talks until global warming data has been further investigated.

The MPs backed a motion put to the party's federal council meeting late last month that called for a parliamentary inquiry to "examine the evidence" around climate change before agreeing to any post-2020 emissions targets.

The motion was referred to the party's policy committee, averting a potentially damaging public debate over the issue.

Among those who signed the letter were leading Great Barrier Reef researcher Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and ecologist Lesley Hughes, who is a member of both the Climate Council and the respected Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

The scientists said evidence of climate change has long been available for all to see and "the time for delay is over".

The government is expected to announce its emissions commitments in the next few weeks ahead of the United Nations summit, which starts in November.

The scientists said the decision must be based on the best available science, adding to not do so would "imperil our people and our country".

"The scientific consensus on climate change and the urgency of need to take action to avoid its worst impacts cannot be overstated," the letter said.

The scientists, many of whom are attending a scientific climate change conference in Paris this week, said re-examining climate change evidence in Parliament was "unnecessary".

"We would welcome the opportunity to instead brief you and your colleagues on the latest science and answer any questions you may have," they said.

The plea from scientists follows an open letter from farmers calling on the Liberal Party to defeat the climate sceptic motion.

Had the motion gained traction, it would have likely forced Environment Minister Greg Hunt to fight off the push, pitting him against his parliamentary colleagues.

Mr Jensen said he was willing to meet the scientists to hear their views.

"I'm open to being convinced but the data and the evidence that I've seen [on climate change] thus far certainly I don't find compelling," he said.

He claimed that pointing to a scientific consensus on climate science "indicates your argument is weak".

"When is the last time you heard the consensus of the world scientists is that the earth is roughly spherical?" he said.

"You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it's an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence."

Senator Back said he was happy to meet the scientists.

As "a person with a scientific background", Senator Back said he was concerned by claims that "the science is in and no-one should challenge it". He is trained as a veterinarian and does not have expertise in climate science.

Professor Peter Newman, a signatory to the letter and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the panel's research was an "exhaustive" process.

He said the political debate around climate change action was legitimate but "frustrating".

Professor Newman said MPs should "just deal with the politics, that's their job", adding "the scientists have done their job".

Professor Hughes said MPs who cast doubt on the science of global warming were trying to delay political progress on the issue.

SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, 06/07/2015,