Wednesday, 30 November 2011

ANDREW KENNY: Climate change ushers in a new age of superstition

BusinessDay - ANDREW KENNY: Climate change ushers in a new age of superstition:

ANDREW KENNY: Climate change ushers in a new age of superstition

The general prediction is that the COP-17 conference in Durban will not produce any binding agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Let’s hope this is true.
Published: 2011/11/28 07:27:09 AM

AS COP-17 kicks off in Durban, with all its apocalyptic warnings and religious gestures towards "reducing your carbon footprint", it is clear climate change has brought in a new age of superstition. Today we smile when we look back on the witch-burnings of the 16th century where all manner of ill fortune, such as crop failures, deformed children and disease, was blamed on harmless old women with warts on their noses. We should wipe that smile from our faces. Today, all manner of ill fortune, such as crop failures, droughts and floods, is blamed on a perfectly benevolent trace gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide.

The climate of our planet is complicated, far beyond our current understanding and perhaps beyond future understanding. But the scientific rebuttal of the scare that rising carbon dioxide will change the climate in a dangerous way (the essence of the alarm) is simple. I’ll do it in a short paragraph.

carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas, whose only significant absorption band is already saturated at its peak. Basic physics shows it can never have a serious effect on global temperatures and observation of the past shows that it never has had. carbon dioxide is now about 390 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere, which is extraordinarily low in the life of the planet, probably dangerously low for the green plants on which we depend.

Since the Cambrian Period about half a billion years ago, carbon dioxide has averaged over 2000 ppm. A doubling of carbon dioxide , which would take more than 150 years on present trends, would have the direct effect of raising the temperature about 1°C but negative feedback (which counters the change, and for which there is overwhelming evidence) would reduce it to less than that. Predictions of increases of 3°C or more are nonsense.

Rising carbon dioxide will have a negligible effect on the climate but will make green plants, including forests and crops, grow better. It will benefit our planet.

The slight rise of temperature, about 0,7° C, in the 20th century, was no different, either in magnitude or rate, from previous natural warming periods. These include the worldwide Mediaeval Warm Period, from about AD 900 to AD 1200, when temperatures were rather higher than now, while carbon dioxide was even lower than now. Changing temperatures correlate closely to changes in the sun (especially in its emission of charged particles) and not to carbon dioxide.

In the 21st century, contrary to all the predictions of the climate alarmists, while carbon dioxide has risen considerably, there has been no rise in global temperatures.

Here are some indicators. Sea levels were rising about 3mm a year until last year; this would have lead to an increase of 270mm by the end of the 21st century; since last year, however, they have dropped. Since satellite measurements began in 1978, the Antarctic has been getting colder and its ice increasing. Since 1978, the Arctic ice decreased until 2007, and has recovered somewhat since then; open water at the North Pole happened throughout the 20th century; I have a picture of the US submarine Skate in open water at the North Pole in March 1959.

There has been no increase in the natural variation of extreme weather events; hurricane energy has been in decline; the "dustbowl" drought in the US in the 1930s was worse than the recent one; the floods in Australia in the 19th century were worse than the recent one. In 2000, Dr David Viner, an alarmist British scientist, predicted: "Children just aren’t going to know what snow is"; this warning was followed by winters of heavy snow in the UK.

The quiet voice of science says there is nothing unusual or alarming about our climate. But it is drowned out by a cacophony of pseudo-science and superstition, sounded first by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and then amplified by politicians, green activists and the media.

The IPCC, formed in 1989, is the high church of global warming. It pretends to be a scientific body but is actually a political lobby group campaigning to promote climate alarm. To understand how the IPCC has corrupted science and fooled the public, you can do no better than read a new book, Delinquent Teenager, by Donna Laframboise, an investigative journalist. She likens the IPCC to a spoilt teenager — indulged, never criticised, given large amounts of money, fawned upon and so corrupted.

She shows how genuine, highly qualified scientists with decades of experience and hundreds of publications, have been elbowed aside in the IPCC by young activists with few qualifications, few publications and no experience. They are often from organisations such as Greenpeace and the WWF. Science has been replaced by propaganda.

The IPCC’s claim that it uses only "rigorous, peer-reviewed science" is nonsense. From the IPCC’s 2007 report, she lists 5587 references (30% of the total) that were not peer-reviewed at all, which were just "grey literature", or propaganda by the likes of the WWF. So when the IPCC declares: "Science says… ", what it often means is "An activist from the WWF says…".

Let me give two examples of the junk science of the IPCC. In its 2001 report, it showed at least six times the notorious "Hockey Stick" graph. This piece of quackery attempted to sweep aside thousands of scientific studies and a huge mass of historical records. It showed temperatures steady from AD 1000 to AD 1900 and then suddenly shooting up to unprecedented heights in the 20th century. It denied both the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age (about 1400 to 1850). It was shown to be complete junk, using data known to be wrong and crooked statistical methods that could produce a hockey stick out of random noise.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC claimed that the Himalayan glaciers could all be gone by 2035. Indian scientists protested that this was nonsense. With a characteristic response, the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, declared that they were "arrogant" and guilty of "voodoo science". Of course, it turned out that the claim was complete nonsense and, as so often, it was the IPCC that was guilty of voodoo science.

In 2009, the "climategate" e-mails showed scientists in the IPCC’s inner circle cheating, hiding data, proposing to delete data, manipulating graphs, plotting to bully journals who dared to publish papers questioning climate alarm, and generally perverting science. This scientific corruption was made worse by establishment "investigations" that more or less said that such gross violations of scientific ethics are acceptable in climate science.

The general prediction is that the COP-17 conference in Durban will not produce any binding agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Let’s hope this is true.

Such reductions would be devastating for the poor nations of the world that need fossil fuels for their development. It would please only the rich politicians and film stars from the West and the privileged activists from Greenpeace and the WWF, who will come flying in on jet aircraft to Durban prepared to sacrifice science and our precious planet for their green ideology, which has become the superstition of the day.

• Kenny is a consulting engineer with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering.

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