Imagine basing global or national energy and economic policy on a false theory; pursuing that policy even if clear evidence shows it is wrong; continuing even though the devastating effects of such actions are already manifest; putting your economy in competitive disadvantage when other major economies are not taking the same action.
Sadly, many politicians in developed nations don’t understand climate science and are eager to appear ‘green’. They and the people are being driven by exploitation of their fears and lack of knowledge. A brief review of the science is essential to assuage those fears. If the difference between what the public are told and what science knows was small I would not write this article. However, the difference is vast and what is amazing is how much the public have been misled.
Normally the Scientific Method requires testing a theory by proving the assumptions on which it is based are incorrect. You disprove the theory; what Karl Popper called falsibility. The theory that human production of CO2, generally known as Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory (AGW), would cause runaway global temperature was never properly tested. As Richard Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT, said the consensus was reached before the research had even begun. Almost all scientific effort, through the machinations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and government funding, went to proving the theory.
Scientists are skeptics and should question a theory, but in this case those who dared were derisively isolated as global warming skeptics. When this didn’t stop them they were called climate change deniers, with all the holocaust connotations. Ironically, most were anything but deniers because they were telling people climate changes all the time. There was a concentrated and nasty effort to silence them, especially through personal attacks, surely a sign that something was wrong. The result was the normal scientific method was thwarted. (See the series of articles of why and how this was achieved*)
The original theory claimed dangerous global warming would occur because of human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere. Three major assumptions were:
Assumption 1: CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
Contrary to general belief Water Vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas being 95% by volume. CO2 is less than 4% and the human portion is just a fraction of this. Annual estimates of the sources of atmospheric CO2 show human contribution is within the error range of estimates from at least three natural sources. Here are estimates for 2005.
CO2 EMISSIONS :
- Respiration Humans, Animals, Phytoplankton 43.5 – 52 Gt C/ year
- Ocean Outgassing (Tropical Areas) 90 – 100 Gt C/year
- Volcanoes, Soil degassing 0.5 – 2 Gt C/ year
- Soil Bacteria, Decomposition 50 – 60 Gt C/ year
- Forest cutting, Forest fires 0.6 – 2.6 Gt C/year
- Anthropogenic emissions (2005) 7.5 – 7.5 Gt C/year
TOTAL 192 to 224 Gt C/ year
Of course, we also remove 50% of our annual production through agriculture and forestry so the ability to determine the effect of human CO2 is even more difficult.
Most people are unaware there is a limit to the amount of temperature increase CO2 can cause. The atmosphere is almost saturated in the effect CO2 has on temperature. Some call this the black paint problem. You can stop most of the light coming through a window with one coat, second and third coats reduce light very little more. Current levels of CO2 are like the first coat. Doubling or even tripling atmospheric CO2 raises temperature very little more. The IPCC avoid this problem in the computer models by assuming a scientifically unjustified positive feedback. They claim the small temperature increase due to CO2 causes higher temperature and more evaporation, and the water vapor in turn causes more temperature increase. There’s no agreement on the amount of temperature increase and more clouds are likely thus reducing temperatures.
Assumption 2: An increase in CO2 would cause the global temperature to increase.
This assumption is completely false. There is no record of any duration for any period of history when CO2 increase precedes a temperature increase. In fact, the evidence is exactly the opposite. Temperature increases precede CO2 increases In every record from the 420,000 years of Antarctic ice cores to the modern data. This alone is sufficient to reject the theory because CO2 is not driving temperature increase or climate change. The switch from a focus on warming to climate change occurred because global temperatures declined slightly while CO2 levels continued to increase since 2001. As Thomas Huxley said, ”The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
Assumption 3: Atmospheric CO2 would continue to increase because of human activities, especially among the developed nations.
We hear of the negative effects of warming, but most change provides positive effects as well. History shows cooling is a much greater problem for flora and fauna. For example, the claim that CO2 is causing warming/climate change ignores the positive importance of increased CO2 for plants. Research and commercial greenhouse operations show plants function best between 1000 and 1200 ppm. It is likely they’ve evolved to this level because it is the average atmospheric level over the last 300 million years. Current levels of 385 ppm mean plants are effectively malnourished. Reduction of the level puts plants in jeopardy because at 250 ppm they begin to die and at 150 ppm most are dead. No plants, no oxygen, no life on the planet. I want power of attorney for the plants so I can cast their vote in any legislation to reduce CO2 levels. I want to speak for them when legislation incorrectly lists CO2 as toxic and a pollutant.
Some call the global warming theory a hoax. It is not. A hoax has pomposity pricking humorous intentions. There is nothing humorous about the disastrous monetary and human costs already incurred over the last two decades because of the monstrous deception that human CO2 is causing or even could cause warming or climate change. The sole source of ‘predictions’ that warming will continue are from computer models. The same models that are unable to provide accurate forecast beyond a few days. The same models that assume a CO2 increase causes temperature change when there is no evidence of that claim whatsoever.
Some argue we should act anyway just in case. This is the infamous Precautionary Principle. In this case there was never a point when this had justification because it assumes a theory has some validity. This was not true when the theory was untested. It is even less true now we know the theory is wrong.
My career began in the 1970s when cooling was the consensus. Here are quotes eerily familiar from the hysteria of the time.
“It is cold fact: the global cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance: the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.” [Lowell Ponte “The Cooling” (1976)]
Change the seventh word “cooling” to warming and it is identical to today’s hyperbole. Then come the predictions (threats) if we don’t listen and make the correct decisions.
“This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.”
Imagine what policy politicians would have been urged to enact then? Imagine what would have happened in the subsequent warming if they had acted? Today many experts anticipate cooling at least until 2030. Imagine putting global and national economies in even more jeopardy. The truth is we are better to do nothing because the climate will change naturally as it always has and always will.
Articles in Canadafreepress by Prof Tim Ball on the growth of the global warming movement: