I’ve just got back to Strasbourg from the Heartland Institute’s International Climate Conference in New York (Subtitled “Global Warming: was it ever Really a Crisis?”), which brought together around 800 scientists, politicians and commentators from across the USA and around the world, all of a broadly climate-realist disposition (www.heartland.org) . This was the second Manhattan Climate Conference, and 2009 attracted about double the attendance of the 2008 event.
We had an impressive array of scientists, including Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT; Professor Fred Singer (University of Virginia); Ross McKitrick (who exposed the IPCC’s Hockey Stick graph, widely seen as the most discredited artefact in the history of science); Professor Tom Segalstad of the University of Oslo; Professor David Douglas (University of Rochester); Prof Bob Carter of James Cook University of Queensland, Australia; and Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University, who publishes CCNet. Not impressed yet? Google them and check their CVs! Plus a host of others.
I had been invited to speak on the EU’s experience of Emissions Trading (or as people at the Conference called it, “Tax’n’Trade”). I explained what a disaster it had been, drawing heavily on the excellent work of Open Europe in a series of papers. My speech is available on http://www.rogerhelmer.com/ets.asp
Our keynote speech was given on Sunday evening by Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, which by a deliciously ironic coincidence, currently holds the Presidency of the uber-alarmist European Union. Klaus pulled no punches. He has seen the light on the climate issue, and has written an excellent book on it, “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” (he kindly quotes my work in a footnote on page 34!). But he also understand the politics. Climate alarmism is driven by the people who hate freedom, who hate prosperity and growth and consumption — the same people who worked for the hard left in earlier decades, or supported the Club of Rome when it declared that we should run out of resources by the seventies and die of starvation in the eighties.
Climate alarmism is about more power for governments and supra-national institutions like the EU and the UN. It is about higher taxes. It is, says Klaus rightly, profoundly illiberal.
I seem to have been following President Klaus around recently: I heard him speak in the European parliament a few weeks back when he told them a few home truths, causing dozens of federalist MEPs to walk out in protest, while I and fellow-sceptics cheered him to the echo.
The consensus of the Conference was straightforward: that the small increase in mean global temperature over the last century (< 1 degree C) is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term natural climate cycles (the same cycles that gave us the Roman Optimum, the Medieval Warm period, and the little Ice Age — indeed the warming we saw recently is the recovery from the little Ice Age, as we move into what may be a new 21st Century Optimum). There is no need of any exceptional explanation, and no evidence that the warming we see is caused by human activity. It is impossible to prove that there is no human impact on climate, but if there is, it is so small that it is lost in the noise of random variation, and cannot be identified in the data.
It is straightforward to prove the lack of human/CO2 impact. All the CO2 models (as set out by the IPCC, no less) predict a “hot-spot” in the troposphere, at about 5 to 10 kms high, and in the tropics. This is a distinct feature or “signature” of CO2-based climate models. Yet we have a wealth of data over decades from meteorological balloons and from satellites, and the hot-spot, the signature, is simply not there. This in itself is sufficient to disprove the anthropogenic/CO2 hypothesis.
I recently wrote to the European Commission Challenging their stated objective to bring global temperatures “back to pre-industrial levels” (How’s that for hubris?), pointing out that in the last thousand years before the pre-industrial era, temperatures varied widely and at different times were both warmer and cooler than today. Their reply said that they had no doubt that the current warming was anthropogenic, as “it was faster than any natural warming”. In fact they are quite wrong. At the end of the Lower Dryas cool period (around 15000 BC) temperatures rose several degrees C in sixty years — much faster than in the last century. In fact the rate of rise in the 20th century is very comparable to that leading to the Roman Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period.
I thought I had a good understand of the climate issue, but I gained two new insights from the Conference. First, I guess I’d just assumed that any CO2 we choose to emit simply adds to atmospheric CO2. But of course we have a carbon cycle, and it’s reasonable to suppose that the level of atmospheric CO2 might affect the rate of absorption of CO2 by the biosphere and/or the oceans. This indeed seems to be the case, since over the last decade emissions have grown faster than the IPCC’s highest-range estimate, while the actual level of atmospheric CO2 has risen slower than the IPCC anticipated. We saw evidence that CO2 is reabsorbed typically in around five to seven years, and that biomass creation and crop yields (suggesting increased up-take of CO2) have increased as a result of the higher atmospheric level.
The second point was presented by Lord (Christopher) Monckton. He presented a detailed argument to make a case that the sensitivity factor for the greenhouse effect of CO2 used by the IPCC may be exaggerated by an order of magnitude — a factor of ten. That might just be his opinion versus the IPCC, but for two experimental results that appear to support Lord Monckton’s position. First, applying the equation to the rise of temperature and CO2 over the whole of the twentieth century supports the lower figure for sensitivity. Secondly, we can use satellites to measure the heat radiated from the earth. If increasing CO2 acts as a blanket holding heat in (the greenhouse effect) we should expect to see a corresponding reduction in out-going radiation. And indeed we do, but apparently the reduction is much lower than the IPCC numbers would suggest, and tends to confirm Lord Monckton’s lower sensitivity figure.
The whole climate alarmist scare is a media-driven frenzy, very comparable to other media scares like CJD and Y2K (and Christopher Booker was also in New York — his book “Scared to Death” analyses the anatomy of media scares over the past three decades). We need to forget the hype and the propaganda and look at the science and the facts. Alarmism is simply mistaken, and it follows that the policy prescriptions proposed to deal with it are wrong too.
In New York, we also had news of a major new film about to be released entitled “AL GORE: Not Evil, Just Wrong”. I can’t wait to see it.
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