HARRIS: Time to get real about climate change

10/10/10 and 350.org based on urban legend, not science

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“We are very energized and enthusiastic about millions of people coming together and making this the biggest day of climate action ever,” said a young German activist wearing a 350.org T-shirt at Berlin’s 10/10/10 demonstrations on Sunday. Campaigners around her, and indeed, “people at 7,347 events in 188 countries,” according to organizers, danced, sang, planted trees and picked up garbage as part of the massive worldwide 10/10/10 Global Work Party.

What’s that all about? And what is so special about 350?

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, explained: “It’s the boundary condition for a habitable planet. We’re already past it. We’re at 390 parts per million [of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere]. That’s why the Arctic is melting. That’s why Australia is burning up … . If we put very much more carbon into the atmosphere, we’ll pass the kind of tipping points … that mean we’ll never be able to get back there, even if we stopped driving every car and powering every factory. …We’re fighting to keep real collapse at bay.”

Mr. McKibben asserts that only misguided “climate change deniers” disagree with the urgent need to reduce humanity’s CO2 emissions to avoid climate catastrophe.

But he is wrong.

First, no rational scientist denies that climate changes. As professor Tim Patterson of the Department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa testifiedbefore a parliamentary committee, “Based on the paleoclimatic data I and others have collected, it’s obvious that climate is and always has been variable. In fact, the only constant about climate is change; it changes continually.”

Scientists such as Mr. Patterson obviously would deny that they deny climate change - they are denial deniers.

If anyone could rationally be labeled a climate-change denier, it would be one of those who hold the absurd view that our climate was tranquil until we started to emit significant amounts of CO2.

The “denier” label is simply an attempt to equate those of us who question political correctness on climate change to Holocaust deniers. It is trying to discredit a message by discrediting the messenger, a logical fallacy referred to as ad hominem - against the man. It’s also irrational to put the questioning of forecasts of future events on a par with denying what has happened already.

Climate activists claim there is a consensus among experts that humanity’s CO2 emissions are causing a climate crisis. In reality, there has never been a reputable worldwide poll of the thousands of experts who study the causes of climate change. Assertions that the multitude of scientists who worked on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports agree that our CO2 emissions are taking us to a planetary crisis are unfounded. Climate data analyst John McLean of Melbourne, Australia, has demonstrated repeatedly that only a few dozen scientist participants in the IPCC process even commented on the issue.

Most climate statements by national science academies are quite meaningless, as well. They are simply proclamations from academy executives or select panels, not their scientist members, because no national science body that has spoken in support of schemes to “stop climate change” have demonstrated that a majority of their members agree with the academy statements.

We cannot forecast climate decades from now any better than we can predict the weather two weeks ahead. The system is simply too complex and our understanding of the science too primitive. Chris Essex, professor of applied mathematics at the University of Western Ontario, explains, “Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.” Not only are today’s computerized climate models (the primary basis of the alarm) not known to properly represent the climate system, they cannot be programmed to do so, because we do not know the underlying science well enough to know what to program the computers to compute.

Many scientists who work with the IPCC know this. They even stated in their Third Assessment Report: “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) chief science adviser Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia writes in his new book, “Climate: The Counter Consensus” (Stacey International, 2010) that “science provides no unambiguous evidence that dangerous global warming or even measurable human-caused global warming is occurring … despite the expenditure since 1990 of many tens of billions of dollars searching for it.”

It is no secret that many experts in the field agree with Mr. Essex, Mr. Carter and Mr. Patterson. ICSC’s recently launched Climate Scientists’ Register already has attracted the endorsement of 139 leading climate experts from 21 countries. The register states, “We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.”

Sadly for the environmental movement, which has committed vast resources to this activism, 10/10/10, 350.org and similar campaigns are dangerously off-track. When the public finally comes to realize how it has been so seriously misled on what has become a central theme of modern environmentalism, efforts to address real environmental problems may very well be set back decades.

In the meantime, billions of dollars are wasted and thousands of jobs threatened, all for an unproven hypothesis that never made any sense in the first place.

Tom Harris is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition.

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