What are we to believe when a hot summer is forecast and it proves to be disappointing, or when told that melting icecaps will cause widespread flooding while others report that the ice is thicker than a year or two ago? Do we really have any confidence that scientists can predict the climate a century hence? Most of us can remember heat waves while wishing it was warmer now, yet we are continually threatened with global warming, and told of extreme measures and unthinkable expenditure to ‘save the planet’. Increasing man-made, ‘anthropogenic’, carbon dioxide is said to be the trouble, and any questioning of the orthodox view receives scant publicity. ‘No global warming’ would hardly be a newsworthy item. As to man-made CO2 being the cause there is now a polarisation into protagonists and antagonists, or ‘warmists’ and ‘deniers’. Each camp is motivated by zeal and mutual antipathy reminiscent of Catholics and Protestants in Tudor times.
The warmist camp is led by former vice-president Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their supporters include NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies run by Dr Hansen, the US Environmental Protection Agency, our own Royal Society, the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (UEA), former energy minister John Hutton, Nicholas Stern, adviser to the government on climate change, assorted film actors, rock groups, prime ministers, presidents, other political and church leaders and members of the royal family.
The deniers of man’s influence on warming are at last rallying their troops, including many eminent scientists around the world, the Heartland Institute of Chicago and our Global Warming Policy Foundation chaired by Lord Lawson. The Russian Academy of Sciences was firmly in this camp until undermined by Putin who saw a way of making billions from carbon credits. China’s senior climate change negotiator recently questioned anthropogenic global warming. Deniers include the authors of many books on the subject.
Warmists have likened climate change sceptics to holocaust deniers and have called for ‘some sort of climate Nuremberg’ trials. Deniers have accused the warmists of dubious science and all sorts of dirty tricks such as obfuscation of evidence in the so-called ‘Climategate’ row involving hacked emails at the UEA, and the ‘Glaciergate’ row over unfounded predictions by the IPCC of disappearing Himalayan glaciers.
The direst predictions emanate from the IPCC, a body consisting of scientists, not all climatologists, whose research grants depend on predicting global warming. Those producing less than seriously intimidating reports apparently have their work revised before publication. Their computer forecasts are often based on speculative assumptions, so there are wide variations. Just as the media tend to ignore contrary views they seize on the worst case to publish news. Thus if estimates of sea level rise by the year 2100 range between 4 inches and 20 feet, the one hitting the headlines will be 20 feet, the small print saying that some scientists predict that sea levels may rise by this amount with no mention of lesser options. Even so, the books questioning global warming are increasing in number, some being listed below. The first three are based on the premise IF global warming is a result of increasing carbon dioxide, a very big IF.
Lomborg, the first author, a professor of statistics and in his own words ‘an old left-wing Greenpeace member’, says among other things that the IPCC’s assumptions for the rates of increase of CO2 are unrealistic, exaggerating the warming computations. He shows that moderate warming would give more reduction of cold weather than increase of hot, beneficial both for human health and agricultural output, without increasing hurricanes or storms. He ends by concluding that ‘global warming is not anywhere near the most important problem facing the world’.
Booker and North recall a 1975 New York Times headline: ‘Scientists ponder why world’s climate is changing: major cooling…inevitable’. They call today’s global warming scare ‘the new secular religion’, expose fallacies in the accepted thinking, show ‘skewed evidence’ in the arguments of global warming proponents and say it is hard to recall any precedent for the outpouring of hypocrisy shrouding the whole issue.
Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, quotes the 19th century philosopher, Schopenhauer: ‘There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is generally adopted’. He concentrates on economics, explaining how the proposed vast expenditure could be mitigated. He says that Singapore and Helsinki are both economic successes despite one having a mean annual temperature 22ºC higher than the other, showing that it should be easy to adapt to a predicted change of, say, 3ºC (IF it happens) over the next hundred years. He calls global warming ‘the new religion of eco-fundamentalism’, breeding intolerance of dissent and reasoned argument that is unattractive and dangerous. ‘Save the planet’ is a strong contender for the most ludicrous slogan ever coined, writes Lawson.
The most radical of these books is that of Svensmark and Calder. Danish scientists claim it is water vapour in the form of clouds that affects global warming, not CO2. In our Galaxy, the Milky Way, there are billions of stars, larger and smaller than our Sun, often collapsing with enormous explosions generating huge amounts of cosmic radiation. When this reaches the Earth’s atmosphere electrons are liberated causing nuclei to form, enabling water to condense into clouds, as verified in laboratory experiments. Clouds reflect the Sun’s rays, keeping the Earth cool, hence the title ‘The Chilling Stars’. Why, then, does the Earth’s climate vary so much? Because sunspots cause relatively frequent, irregular increases of the Sun’s magnetism that reduce cosmic radiation and cloud formation, giving hotter weather. Also, the Sun and its planets move slowly through the arms of our spiral Galaxy causing low-frequency variations about once every 145 million years. Research shows that, from millions of years ago to the present, climate bears little relationship to carbon dioxide levels but closely follows cosmic radiation intensity, supporting their ‘chilling stars’ theory. The authors conclude that the idea of CO2 causing global warming is clearly disproved.
Booker’s ‘Real Global Warming Disaster’, a more recent publication, expands the global warming chapter in the earlier book, ‘Scared to Death’, with new material. The cover quotes a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor: ‘Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree and on the basis of gross exaggerations… proceeded to contemplate a rollback of the industrial age.’ Booker describes the history and development of the so-called ‘consensus’, and goes on to show how it began to crumble in 2007-2009 when it was noticed that despite increasing atmospheric CO2, temperatures had started dropping instead of accelerating upwards as predicted. Faults in the warmist theories were uncovered and natural reasons for climate change became more widely considered. The ‘real disaster’ is the likely result of measures to avert a non-existent threat.
Dr Spencer, a distinguished American climatologist, his writing pleasantly laced with humour, is emphatic that ‘manmade global warming’ (his italics) is by no means a fact. He gives some explanation of how weather works with huge transfers of latent heat when water evaporates into the atmosphere and condenses again at high altitude to fall as rain. Computer modelling of such effects with a projected increase of CO2 is very difficult and ‘scientists claim to understand more than they really do’. Some think there is positive feedback from global warming that will cause a runaway increase, but Spencer claims negative feedback will cause stabilisation and believes that ‘the Earth’s climate system is not nearly as sensitive to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions as many scientists think’. Belief in catastrophic global warming ‘has little scientific basis, and perpetuates the bad habit scientists have of predicting environmental doom’.
The Australian Professor Plimer’s book is the most comprehensive, 500 pages with over 2000 references to scientific literature. He discusses the Sun, and the Earth and its ice, water and air, through ‘geological, archaeological, historical and modern’ times. Climate change always has and always will be happening, he says. In bygone times before industrialisation began emitting CO2 the Earth was sometimes hotter than now. Candidates for climate drivers are Sun’s variations (even on Mars there is strong evidence that the Sun drives climate), changes in the Earth’s orbit and cosmic ray forcing, i.e. Svensmark’s theory mentioned above. Greenhouse gases compound this, water vapour being the main contributor, with carbon dioxide only a trace gas at less that 0.04%, although of course essential to life. Like Spencer, he says there is no ‘tipping point’ because all systems involving CO2 have natural upper and lower regulators. Plimer says ‘to call for lowering the carbon footprint is asinine’, and ‘to refer to “carbon pollution” is ascientific political spin’. He concludes that a ‘new religion has been invented…extreme environmentalism’.
Christian Gerondeau is described as a major figure in French scientific and engineering circles. In the English version of his book, ‘Climate: The Great Delusion’, he sums up with three final points: I:- On a global level, we can do nothing significant about CO2 emissions and concentrations. II:- There is no proof CO2 emissions and concentrations are or will be a significant problem for the planet. III:- We have to stop wasting public and private money in the illusion it will ‘save the planet’. Huge savings are at hand.
The final word should be given to Andrei Kapitsa, former head of the National Academy of Science in Vladivostok, and later a professor at Moscow State University. In 1998 at a London conference he said “global warming as a result of man’s activities does not exist”, and that claims that the Antarctic ice sheet was shrinking were “absolute nonsense”. Global warming, he ended, was “all to do with politics”.
Those who still fear global warming and rising sea levels might wish they could consult the highest authority, higher even than the IPCC. Would not the reply be the same as to those terrified men in a storm at sea, thinking themselves at imminent risk of drowning: ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ (Matthew 8: 26)
Bibliography for global warming
‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ (chapter 24), by Bjørn Lomborg.
‘Scared to Death’ (chapter 14), by Christopher Booker and Richard North.
‘An Appeal to Reason, a Cool Look at Global Warming’, by Nigel Lawson.
‘The Chilling Stars’, by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder.
‘The Real Global Warming Disaster’, by Christopher Booker.
‘Climate Confusion’, by Roy Spencer.
‘Heaven and Earth’, by Ian Plimer.
‘Climate: The Great Delusion’, by Christian Gerondeau.
‘Andrei Kapitsa’, obituary in The Daily Telegraph’, August 27 2011
See also Christopher Booker’s regular column in The Sunday Telegraph.
Gordon Latham, Worthing, West Sussex