Around the world, the fight against “cli- mate change” and carbon dioxide e emissions is costing literally hundreds of billions of dollars - and this at a time when the Western world is ravaged by recession.
We can ill afford these sums. Many scientists think CO2 emissions have a trivial effect on climate, but even those who support the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) generally agree that the efforts we are making will result in changes so small that they cannot even be measured.
Given that China is building a new coal-fired power station every week, with India not far behind, it’s a fair bet that CO2 emissions will increase for decades regardless of what we in the West do. If the United Kingdom, for example, were to turn off its economy totally and not burn so much as a candle, China would make up our emissions savings in about 12 months.
Just 70 years ago, at the height of the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill gave what became perhaps the most famous political speech in British history. Were he here today and able to comment on the great climate debate, he might well be saying, “Never in the field of public policy has so much been spent by so many for so little.”
They say there’s “a consensus” of scientists who support AGW. But science proceeds by hypothesis and falsification, not consensus. As author Michael Crichton famously put it, “If it’s science, it’s not consensus. And if it’s consensus, it’s not science.”
We are told that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents a consensus of 2,500 experts in the field. Yet when we look at the details, we find that the IPCC process, and especially the Summary for Policymakers, is in the hands of a small group, no more than two or three dozen.
The practically incestuous links among these scientists were revealed in a 2006 report by a team led by George Mason University statistics professor Edward Wegman at the request of Congress following a report by the National Research Council. These people work together, publish papers together and peer-review each others’ work. And we now know from the “Climate” leaks that they also cobbled together unrelated data sets, sought to “hide the decline,” to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period from the record, to prevent publication of alternative views and to bring about the dismissal of editors who took a more open-minded approach.
Science is supposed to follow the facts and seek the truth. These guys started with a conviction about climate change and sought to make the data fit the preconception. They called themselves the “Hockey Team,” and they included Michael Mann - creator of the infamous “hockey stick” graph - perhaps the most discredited artifact in the history of science, which nonetheless took pride of place in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report.
To understand climate hysteria, we need look no further than the Watergate advice: “Follow the money.” Governments, think tanks, institutions and universities spend huge sums on climate research. Academics can’t obtain work, tenure, grant funding or publication without toeing the line. Even researchers in unrelated fields can ensure funding by adding the context of climate change to their proposals. Thousands of jobs in government, academia, the media and industry depend on the climate issue.
The East Midlands region of the United Kingdom, which I represent in the European Parliament, has just committed $1.5 million to “climate change skills training” (read “propaganda”).
And the propaganda works. Every schoolchild knows about dangerous sea-level rise. But the children don’t know that it’s simply a projection of a virtual-reality computer model. They don’t know that in the real world, sea-level rise (at around six to seven inches in 100 years) is the same as it has been for centuries, that the Maldives and Tuvalu aren’t sinking beneath the waves. They don’t know that successive IPCC reports have consistently reduced their alarmist estimates for sea-level rise by 2100.
Every schoolchild knows that the ice caps are melting - but glaciers and ice fields accumulate snow (which compacts to ice) at high levels, while chunks of ice break off at the margin. Vast blocks of ice tumbling into the sea make great video footage, but they say nothing about warming or cooling. That’s simply what ice sheets do.
There has been some retreat of glaciers since about 1800 (long before CO2 became an issue), but geological evidence shows that glaciers regularly advance and retreat with the Earth’s climate cycles. We are simply seeing a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age. And global ice mass is broadly constant.
In 1942, six Lockheed P-38F Lightning fighters were lost in Greenland. In 1988, they were rediscovered under 270 feet of solid ice. That’s an ice buildup of nearly six feet a year.
Every schoolchild knows about the plight of the polar bear (the alarmists’ pinup species), threatened by climate change. But how many know that polar bear numbers have increased substantially in recent decades and that polar bears are thriving?
In each of these cases, the alarmists put the projections of virtual-reality computer models ahead of real-world observation. Yet these models are programmed with a wide range of estimates and assumptions - including the assumption that CO2 is a major cause of warming. Little surprise, then, that they predict that outcome.
The models are seeking to make predictions about climate, which is a complex, chaotic nonlinear system. Yet a key feature of such systems is that they are hugely sensitive to initial conditions and therefore simply cannot be predicted in the long term.
But all the models make one clear prediction - that with a CO2 greenhouse effect, the maximum warming will occur high in the atmosphere and over the tropics. Here at least we have a prediction we can test. And the models fail the test. Observation shows the greatest warming at ground level and in the Northern Hemisphere. Because science moves forward by falsifying predictions, this one fact refutes AGW theory.
There is another way. It is possible to apply purely statistical/mathematical analysis to the climate record, to identify patterns and extrapolate those patterns into the future. Several researchers have done so. They find that climate is cyclical, with a temperature peak around 2000 and subsequent decline. Right on cue, the record shows that, indeed, the Earth has cooled slightly in the past decade.
Solar scientists also are pointing to a period of very weak solar activity as a possible precursor to global cooling.
Dan Quayle reputedly said, “Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future.” He’s right: It’s a mug’s game. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2030 will be cooler than today.
Roger Helmer is a member of the European Parliament and a former member of its Environment Committee and its Temporary Committee on Climate Change.