Our Green Climate Policies are Probably unnecessary: In 1975, serious scientists were warning of Global Cooling and the coming Ice Age. They were wrong. Today some of the same scientists are warning of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). I think they’re wrong again. If you imagine that the world began in 1975, you could be forgiven for buying into the AGW theory. But the moment you take a longer view, it’s clearly untenable.
In the last hundred years, average global temperature has risen a mere 0.7°C. Even this may be an exaggeration, because of the “Urban Heat Island” effect. There is ample evidence that results from ground-based weather stations have been contaminated by urban sprawl, tarmac, car parks, vehicles, buildings and air-conditioning units. Temperature data from satellites over the last thirty years show some warming, but less than that from ground stations.
This slight rise is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate cycles. We need no special explanation. It is possible to identify a long-term, 1000 to 1500 year climate cycle that has been in place for a million years. It can be clearly seen during the 10,000 years or so of the current Interglacial, with the Holocene Maxima; the Roman Optimum, followed by the cool Dark Ages; the Mediæval Warm Period (when the Vikings got to Greenland, it was green!); the Little Ice Age (with winter ice so thick on the Thames that they had fairs, and roasted oxen, on the river); and now a gentle recovery to what promises to be a new 21st Century Optimum.
They tell us that we are at risk of a Tipping Point, of “runaway global warming”, and species extinction. But look at the history: it was warmer in the last two climate optima, yet there was no Tipping Point, no runaway effect, no species extinction. Last time I checked, polar bears, the Warmists’ pin-up species, were thriving, with increased numbers, as the Arctic has warmed slightly.
Many scientists believe that the Sun is the main driver of the Earth’s climate, and certainly the long-term correlations of climate and solar activity are much better than with CO2. In particular the Maunder and Dalton Minima, very cold periods of the Little Ice Age, were clearly associated with low solar activity. There is a credible theory that solar magnetism affects the flux of cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere, which in turn drives cloud cover and hence climate. NASA has identified warming over recent decades on Mars, where the carbon dioxide ice caps are shrinking, and on the moons of Jupiter. Since there are no 4x4s on those planets, this warming across the Solar System strongly points to a solar cause.
There are at least four good reasons to believe that the current warming is not caused by CO2 – man-made or not.
1. Current CO2 levels are rather low: In geo-historical terms, current CO2 levels are very low. It is true, as the Warmists say, that the current CO2 level of around 400 ppm is the highest since the Industrial Revolution. Yet taking the long view, it is historically low. Atmospheric CO2 levels have been ten or fifteen times as high – 4000 to 6000 ppm. And these periods were not associated with warming. Indeed they partly covered a major Ice Age. No Tipping Point. No runaway global warming. Biologists tell us that if we halved the CO2 level to 200 ppm, plants would cease to grow. CO2 a good thing. It is virtually airborne fertiliser. It increases biomass formation and crop yields. It is our best hope of feeding a hungry planet.
2.The Signature or Fingerprint of warming: The computer models on which the Warmists’ predictions are based, in their Nintendo Games approach, give widely different results, depending on initial conditions. But they all agree on one point: a CO2/greenhouse warming should be most marked in the upper atmosphere, between 5 and 10 km altitude, and in the Earth’s equatorial region. Here we have a testable hypothesis. There should be a tropical hot spot. But observation shows no such effect. The little warming we have seen is primarily at ground level, mainly Northern hemisphere. Science works by falsifying hypotheses. The predictions of the AGW hypothesis have been falsified, which is sufficient to disprove AGW.
3. The record of the temperature/CO2 relationship: In Al Gore’s science-fiction movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, he makes great play of graphs representing a reconstruction of temperature and CO2 levels over the last 600,000 years. He lays one on the other, and Hey Presto, they match! Proof, he says, that CO2 drives temperature. But if you look at those graphs in higher resolution, you find that the CO2 graph lags the temperature graph by around 800 to 1000 years. So Yes, there’s a causal relationship, but exactly the opposite of Gore’s point. Temperature drives CO2, not vice versa. And the explanation is not hard to find. There is about fifty times as much CO2 dissolved in the oceans as in the atmosphere. If the oceans warm, they give up dissolved CO2, and when they cool, they absorb it again.
4. The Law of Diminishing Returns: Those who haven’t studied the science tend to assume a linear relation between atmospheric CO2 and the corresponding greenhouse effect. In fact, it’s governed by a negative logarithmic equation – a law of diminishing returns. The higher the current level of CO2 in the air, the smaller the effect of any further addition. We’re already so far up the curve that further CO2 increases will have little effect.
In fact climatologists (even the Warmists) know perfectly well that a doubling of CO2 would affect climate by only around 1°C. To generate an alarmist scenario, therefore, they have to postulate positive feedback effects. These are entirely possible. For example, slight CO2 warming could result in more evaporation of water from the oceans, and more water-vapour in the air. Water vapour is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, so that would enhance warming. But many scientists believe that there may also be negative feedback effects. These too are plausible. Extra water vapour could increase cloud formation, so more solar radiation would be reflected back into space, leading to cooling. Such a negative feedback would help to maintain an equable global temperature.
So the issue comes down to an arcane debate over a scientific question which the public might have trouble getting their heads round, and of which most politicians and policymakers are blissfully unaware. Yet they have chosen to bet the ranch, and put the competitiveness of our economy and the prosperity of our grandchildren at risk, on one side of that arcane debate.
In this context, what are we to make of the “scientific consensus” of the IPCC? The IPCC has shown itself not to be the consensus of unbiased and disinterested scientists, but an advocacy group driven by a small clique of committed Warmists, who control the IPCC’s editorial process and fiercely defend their own agenda. These scientists work together. They peer review each other’s papers, and they work to exclude dissenting opinions. Their machinations were made public by the famous leaks from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. We found that this group have cobbled together unrelated data sets without admitting doing so. They have deliberately subverted the peer-review process. They have tried to block publication of dissenting views, and have sought the dismissal of editors of learned journals who take a more open approach. They have (in their own words) sought to “hide the decline”, and to eliminate the Mediæval Warm Period from the record. Much of the “peer reviewed science” in the Fourth IPCC Report, on which so much climate policy is based, was found to be no more than propaganda from extreme green zealots like the WWF and Friends of the Earth.
For more on the science of Global Warming, see the book list below.
Our Green Climate Policies are Certainly Ineffectual: There are two reasons to suppose that despite the eye-watering costs, our efforts to mitigate climate change will come to nothing (even if you accept AGW theory). Those reasons are (A) Political: and (B) Scientific.
If we in the UK were to shut down our economy entirely, our emissions reductions would be made up by growth in China in around twelve months. China is building a new coal-fired power station every week, with India not far behind. If China and India won’t play ball, the USA will not be able to get serious CO2 reduction programmes through Congress. It is clear that these vast countries will not forego economic growth for the sake of AGW theory, which is why Copenhagen failed, and why Cancun will also fail. Global CO2 emissions will continue to grow, and our painful sacrifices will have been for nothing.
But reducing emissions will not actually affect the climate significantly anyway. A widely quoted estimate in respect of the Kyoto Protocol illustrates the problem. Kyoto was of course not fully implemented, and will not be, and looks unlikely to be replaced. Yet if it had been fully implemented, it would have reduced mean global temperatures (from what they would otherwise have been) by only 0.2°C – by 2100. This is a difference almost too small to measure, lost in natural and random variation, and in ninety years time. Yet we would have spent, globally, many billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars to achieve it. Which brings me to my third point:
Our Green Climate Policies are Ruinously Expensive: In the UK, our current climate programmes (at the behest of EU regulation) look set to raise the cost of electricity by as much as 40% by 2020, while at the same time creating a huge risk of black-outs as reliable coal and nuclear power stations are replaced by intermittent wind. That’s £16 billion on electricity bills by 2020. It’s also another million British families forced into fuel poverty. These price rises damage the prosperity of all of us. And they damage the competitiveness of our economy, not just against the rising giants of Asia, but also against France, which gets 80% of its electricity at low cost from nuclear power stations. We are embracing poverty by choice in pursuit of a disputed scientific theory.
As Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph put it: “A fascinating scientific theory about a controversial subject has been magicked by its supporters into a hard fact”.
So there you have it. Our green climate policies are probably unnecessary, certainly ineffectual, and ruinously expensive. It’s time to change course.
Recommended further reading:
“Cool Thinking on Climate Change”, Roger Helmer, Bruges Group
“An Appeal to Reason”, Lord (Nigel) Lawson
“Unstoppable Global Warming (every 1500 years)”, Prof Fred Singer
“Blue Planet in Green Shackles”, Vaclav Klaus
“Climatism!”, Steve Goreham
“Red Hot Lies”, Chris Horner
“Climate: The Counter Consensus”, Prof Robert M. Carter
“The Wind Farm Scam”, John Etherington
“The Hockey Stick Illusion”, A.W. Montford
“Heaven and Earth”, Prof Ian Plimer