POLITICIZATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE & CO2
by Pete Ridley, Anthropogenic Global Warming Skeptic
Vested interest groups are abusing the issue of climate change to further their own causes. Climate scientists cannot predict climate and computer models have significant limitations. Model projections are flawed and the models cannot as yet be validated. The IPCC summaries for policy makers are merely a political interpretation of the IPCC's scientific reports. These reports do not take into consideration recent research showing that increasing atmospheric CO2 content has negligible affect on global climate. The proposed reductions in consumption of fossil fuels will do nothing about controlling climate change but will horrendously impact the economic well-being of many of the world's most deprived communities.
1. Political Aspects
Numerous political and activist movements have hijacked the greenhouse gas theory in order to promote their own individual causes. Politicians seek ways of attracting votes and justifying increased taxes. Environmentalists seek ways of restricting economic growth in order to protect the environment. Under the umbrella of The Real World Coalition organizations such as Forum for the Future, Friends of the Earth, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the United Nations Association, the Wildlife Trusts, the World Wide Fund for Nature, etc. have endorsed the statement (Ref. 1) that the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change ".. has confirmed the very strong likelihood that global warming will occur as a result of emission of … carbon dioxide..". They also state that "Global warming .. derives from … the consumption of fossil fuels. Further economic growth .. can only lead to higher carbon dioxide emissions." and "The UK's contribution to global warming comes mainly from its carbon dioxide emissions".
These misleading and unscientific interpretations appear nowhere in the IPCC's latest scientific reports (Ref. 7). They are used merely as propaganda intended to drive a global "sustainability" movement seeking to stall global economic growth through restricting the use of "the engine of modern economies .. fossil fuels" (Ref. 1).
Never mentioned in activist and political propaganda is the growing conviction among scientists that human influence on climate through the use of fossil fuels is negligible. Nor is the fact that the IPCC's political arguments rely significantly upon climate projections from computer models that, unless prompted with corrections, contradict reality.
A leading figure in relation to the activities of the Real World Coalition recently stated (Ref. 2) that "the latest data about climate change is fast exceeding our worst fears". Many of us do not accept this view due to the lack of convincing scientific evidence for it and the mounting evidence against. Accepting that climate change has been occurring throughout the earth's long existence, the big question is to what extent is this affected by human activity, particularly the use of fossil fuels.
One comment in the ensuing debate on "Globalism & Regionalism" (Ref. 2) was that "If nothing else can we not at least use the climate change debate as a way in to the re-assessment of our pollution footprint?". This could be suggesting that even if significant anthropogenic global warming is a myth, then use it anyway to promote the cause - the end justifies the means. Alas, this is already endemic within many groups to further their chosen causes. In some cases this does relate to causes involving our pollution of the environment, but not always. Politicians (including the UK government) and others are (ab)using the anthropogenic climate change issue to further their own individual vested interests, regardless of whether there is any validity in the arguments for and against this issue.
A media report (Ref. 3) in 2005 stated that at an Environment and Energy Cabinet Committee meeting the Chancellor and the Secretaries of State for Transport and Trade & Industry pressed for a promise to reduce CO2 emissions by an unachievable 20 per cent by 2010 to be abandoned. At a summit of environment and energy ministers around the same time the Prime Minister indicated that he preferred to shift away from the target system for tackling climate change. This reportedly surprised and dismayed environmentalists, including the government's chief advisor on sustainability issues. He declared it "really worrying that a style of thinking in the US seems to have crept into the UK position here". He blamed the apparent change on the US President.
The UK government (claiming to have conquered the "boom and bust economics of the Conservatives") has promoted 11 years of unsustainable economic growth based upon relentless and reckless consumer spending of borrowed money, without any regard as to how the money would be repaid. The consequences are upon us.
Present British public opinion about the government's competence has sunk to almost as low a level of that of the US government. In an attempt to recover some ground, the UK government is now using the alleged anthropogenic global climate change issue and the genuine global economic situation to present its leader as the world's savior. His latest proposed cuts in CO2 emissions of an impossible 30% by 2020 will be used merely as an excuse to initially bolster his government's flagging status. Subsequently (after the next general election) it will be used to take enormous amounts of British taxpayers hard-earned money in order to replenish the seriously depleting Treasury coffers. It will achieve nothing as far as global climate change is concerned. This money would be far better spent dealing sensibly with all of the many genuinely serious (and better understood) environmental pollution and economic deprivation issues around the globe.
It is time that all of those who are advising politicians about climate change and other environmental issues started paying proper attention to both sides of the argument. Let us have a bit more honesty and open-mindedness in these debates instead of mere scare-mongering hype. Few of us expect this from politicians (remember Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction", deliverable within 10 minutes and the consequences of that) or from other cause advocates, but we ordinary folk need not stoop to that level. Let us try to resist insulting those who challenge our views and simply let our arguments stand or fall on their own merits, rather than resorting to ridiculing those who disagree with us.
Propagandists are adept at merging fact and opinion in order to obtain public support for their particular cause. The booklets "Politics of the Real World" (Ref. 1), "Playing Safe: .. " (Ref. 4) and "Six degrees:.. " (Ref. 15) are prime examples of this. It is very easy for any one of us to merge chosen bits of scientifically identified knowledge with our own opinions in order to present a persuasive argument supporting our preferred point of view. This is what the politically aligned authors of each IPCC Summary for Policy-makers have done.
On the other hand scientists use known facts in order to prove the laws that govern our existence. Where the known facts are incomplete, available expert opinion is then introduced in order to develop theories. These theories are then tested against actual outcomes to see if they still apply. If a theory is considered by the experts to be based upon sound (factual) argument, then it is usually accepted if and until proven as flawed, when the theory is either modified or rejected. As an example, Fourier (1827) and Arrhenius (1905) predicted the "greenhouse effect" and the contribution of the emission of CO2 through burning fossil fuels. These theories are now being tested and their limitations determined, however, there is no consensus among scientists that the latter theory is significant in relation to global warming. The latest scientific analyses shows to the contrary.
2. Climate & Models
Multiple complex factors affect the global climate, interacting in an extremely complex, almost chaotic manner. Our present scientific understanding, although improving, remains seriously incomplete. The IPCC scientists themselves acknowledge this complexity and have never claimed that they are able to PREDICT the future global climate, even with the help of their computerized General Circulation Models. Predictions of weather (albeit limited in accuracy even for just a few days ahead) are made easier through the use of computer models, but this practice makes use of relatively accurate data obtained from current and direct global measurements of relevant parameters. This is far from the case regarding global climate prediction. Accurate weather prediction, difficult as it is, is trivial by comparison.
Any computer model based upon significantly incomplete knowledge of the system it purports to model will generally produce misleading projections. It can be made to produce plausible (but not necessarily accurate) projections by feeding it with appropriate "prompts" based upon assumptions. The validity of these assumptions and the degree to which they affect the projections need to be fully understood. If this is not the case then these projections must always be treated with suspicion and should not be relied upon when making important decisions, economic or otherwise.
Because, as the IPCC admits, climate models ".. continue to have significant limitations"( Ref. 8) and "The possibility of developing model capability measures … has yet to be established." (Ref. 6), model projections cannot be relied upon. Only when measures of the models' capabilities have been developed can proper validation of the complete modeling system be undertaken. This requires the application of formal Validation, Verification and Test activities by an independent professional VV&T team. These essential quality assurance procedures have never been applied to general climate models.
NO GENERAL CLIMATE MODEL HAS EVER BEEN PROFESSIONALLY VALIDATED!
Dr. Vincent Gray, IPCC expert reviewer (and signatory to Ref. 10) was responsible for having the IPCC admit that climate models had never been properly validated, despite the IPCC trying to suggest otherwise. In response to his comment, the chapter entitled "Climate Models - Validation" in an early draft of the IPCC's "The Science of Climate Change" had the word "validation" replaced by "evaluation" no less than 50 times.
It is reasonable to expect that before the general climate models used by the IPCC scientists are considered capable of predicting future climates resulting from different levels of CO2, they should be validated against actual climate conditions based upon actual CO2 levels. On the contrary it has been commented that the basis used in the models for calculating the radiation mechanisms of the atmosphere and the temperature profile (Ref. 5) gives the mean global surface temperature as an unbearable 77oC, not the pleasant 15oC enjoyed for centuries!
Despite this, supporters of the anthropogenic global warming cause regard climate model computer projections as indisputable predictions, ignoring all else. Fair consideration is required of the views of the anthropogenic global warming sceptics. Climate science and climate models are nowhere near a developed state that permits valid predictions to be made.
3. Recent Climate Science
In 1998 Dr. Heinz Hug concluded (Ref. 11) that "It is hardly to be expected that .. CO2 doubling … can cause any significant global warming or even a climate catastrophe". Significant scientific debate on this paper took place on the INTERNET (Ref. 12). During this debate, Dr. Jack Barrett commented that "the rate of warming of the lower atmosphere will be unaffected by an increase in carbon dioxide".
In 2001, Dr. Hug and Dr. Barrett challenged the IPCC over the manner in which scientists were applying spectroscopy in coming to their conclusions about future climate change. Debate on this challenge (Ref. 12) includes the comment "If Hug and Barrett are correct, the effects of doubling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere seem to be minimal and are no cause for alarm and the extensive alteration of national economies".
In 2007 it was reported (Ref. 9) that Dr. Roy Spencer and co-authors published an article in Geophysical Research Letters QUOTE ".. that seriously undermines the credibility of computer climate models. Every model assumes that tropical-region cirrus cloud cover, which has a net warming effect on surface temperatures, increases with increasing surface temperature-- a positive feedback. But six years’ data from three NASA satellites shows .. that the cirrus cloud cover diminishes --.. a negative feedback. .. The models don’t just get the magnitude of the feedback wrong, they get its sign wrong. Rather than magnifying whatever warming takes place, the response of tropical cirrus cloud cover is to reduce it. This both supports the theory .. that cloud response to warming acts similarly to the eye’s iris, opening to let more heat radiate out to space as temperature rises and closing to hold more heat in as temperature falls, and generally supports the understanding that Earth’s climate is self-regulating and therefore not prone to a “tipping point” or a “runaway greenhouse effect” or “catastrophic warming.” .. Says Spencer, “To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent. The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming.” UNQUOTE
In 2007 Dr. Anastasios A. Tsonis et al. approached the complexity of the climate system from the position that it is chaotic and proposed a whole new theory to explain climate shifts. They used synchronized chaos theory to study the last 100 years of known ocean cycles (Pacific Decadal Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, El Nino, and North Pacific Oscillation). Their paper (Ref. 13) showed that the major climate shifts observed thus far are explained by the periodic synchronization of the patterns of these cycles, without any reference to trends in greenhouse gases.
As recently as June 2008 Dr. John Nicol published a detailed scientific analysis of the heating effects of greenhouse gases which supports the arguments of Dr. Hug and Dr Barrett. This paper (Ref. 14), addresses the mechanisms of atmospheric heat transfer not only via radiation but also by convection, which is not mentioned once in the IPCC's scientific reports (Ref. 7). It includes the conclusion that "The above analysis … shows that the actual level of GHGs in the atmosphere…is almost of no consequence in determining the increase in surface temperature from the Greenhouse effect.…In summary, small quantities of radiation from excited Greenhouse gases …. provide direct feed back of heat towards the earth…The proportion of this free radiation…. will be independent of … the concentration of a given Greenhouse gas".
In mid-October 2008 a challenge was issued to several climate scientists and to the chairman and commissioners of the Sustainable Development Commission to provide a detailed scientific analysis showing where Dr. John Nicol's analysis is flawed. So far there has not been a single response. Later in October a paper on the subject was submitted to the Sustainable Development Commission asking for it to be made available on its Web-site for open debate, again with no response. It is obvious that none of these proponents of man-made climate change can refute the findings of Dr. Nicol or Dr. Tsonis, yet they still insist on promoting the cause. This lack of a worthwhile response suggests that Dr. Nicol's findings are irrefutable and burning fossil fuels is not causing global warming. Governments around the world should stop using this myth purely to support their efforts to attract votes, increase taxation and make the global economy less reliant upon the Middle East, Russia and other less dependable sources of energy through reducing the use of fossil fuels.
Anyone who wants a proper understanding of the true status of current knowledge about climate change should give fair consideration to more recent work such as that of Dr. Nicol, Dr. Spencer, etc. quoted above. Although climate research findings more recent than 2005 have not generally been considered in the IPCC reports, the Fourth Assessment Reports of IPCC Working Group 1 "The Physical Science Basis" (Ref. 7) should also be read, but NOT the politically orientated IPCC summaries for policy makers.
In December 2007 100 prominent scientists, including Dr. Gray, Dr. Nicol and Dr. Spencer, sent a less well-publicized but more recent (and non-political) "summary" (Ref. 10) to the Secretary General of United Nations. They stated that "The summaries .. cannot .. be represented as a consensus view among experts. In stark contrast .. significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming. .. cost/benefit analyses provide no support for .. global measures to .. reduce energy consumption for .. restricting CO2 emissions. …Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems". (These themes are developed further in Ref. 16 and Ref. 17)
Aspects of the IPCC position of particular concern are the:
- distortions/misrepresentations/interpretations of material from the scientific reports put into the SPM's,
- willingness to accept the predictions of models that have never been validated,
- willingness to overlook the fact that increases in atmospheric CO2 lag the associated temperature increase by up to 800 years, i.e. a consequence not a cause,
- emphasis on CO2, CH4 and other minor greenhouse gases while the effects of water vapour are regarded as a feedback and totally ignored (burning methane produces twice as much H2O as CO2),
- acceptance of CO2 concentration level measurements in ice cores at only a few locations as representative of actual historic levels across the globe, particularly with regard to absorption of CO2 and clathrate formation,
- arbitrary selection and manipulation of items of data about CO2 concentrations taken from:
- numerous actual measurements near the ground across the northern hemisphere during the last 200 years,
- ice-cores at a "dot" on the globe that is claimed to represent global historic CO2 concentrations,
to harmonize with recent data from measurements at high altitude at another "dot" on the globe (Ref. 18).
It is difficult to accept much of this as proper science. Increasingly the skeptical climate scientists are exposing the myths surrounding the climate change issue.
Any reasonable anthropogenic global warming skeptic should be open to persuasion provided that convincing arguments are presented, but where are the convincing arguments refuting those of Dr. Nicol, Dr. Spencer and Dr. Tsonis. The merging and blurring of fact and opinion adopted by vested interest groups in their propaganda will not persuade many.
A perfect example of this is Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth", copied to UK schools at the instigation of the government. In October 2007 a London High Court judge, aware of errors in the film, indicated that the Government’s earlier distribution of the film to English schools had been an unlawful contravention of the 1996 Education Act prohibiting the political indoctrination of children. Mr Justice Burton said the government could still send the film to schools - if accompanied by guidance giving the other side of the argument. The consequences of this were avoided through the Government sending a corrected guidance note making clear the mainstream scientific position on the significant errors in this movie.
The anthropogenic climate change crusaders may find it difficult to overcome the strong distrust that members of the public have of anything supported and promoted by politicians or other vested interest groups. Open-minded consideration of the arguments presented by supporters and challengers of the anthropogenic global warming issue, along with decades of personal experience of climate change, lead to the conclusion that the arguments of Dr. Hug, Dr. Barratt and Dr. Nicol are more convincing than are those of the IPCC. Although there was significant reaction to the contributions by Dr. Barratt and Dr. Hug in 1995 there are on the INTERNET no readily available scientific rejections of the analyses in 2007 and 2008 by Dr. Nicol's, Dr. Spencer and Dr. Tsonis. It is reasonable to expect that if flaws exist then detailed alternative analyses would have been on record by now showing clearly where and how it is considered that these scientists have erred
Until such time as these recent analyses are proven flawed it should be accepted that any increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations caused by the use of fossil fuels has negligible impact upon the global climate. It follows that current and proposed programs to reduce our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere are unjustified. Proposed reductions in the consumption of fossil fuels will do nothing about controlling global climate change. They will simply impose totally unnecessary and substantial burdens on the world's taxpayers and horrendously impact the economic well-being of many of the world's most deprived communities.
NOTE: Unlike in the statements of The Real World Coalition, quotations given in this paper are not INTERPRETATIONS of what was said, but a presentation of those EXTRACTS from the sources which support the opinions presented in this paper (this is another clever trick of the propagandists). Anyone who wants the complete picture should read the original papers, not just this selection of extracts.
WG1 Working Group 1 GHG Greenhouse Gas
AR4 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
CO2 Carbon Dioxide SPM Summary for Policy Makers
GCM General Circulation Model
1) "The Politics of the Real World" The Real World Coalition, Earthscan Publications Ltd.
2) http://www.jonathonporritt.com/pages/2008/08/globalism_regionalism.html, August 14, 2008
3) The Independent on Sunday, 6 November 2005
4) "Playing Safe: .. Science and the Environment" by Jonathon Porritt, Thames and Hudson Ltd.
5) "Atmospheric Radiation, Theoretical Basis" 2. ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 1989 by Goody and Young.
6) AR4 WG1 Technical Summary, Cambridge University Press, 2007
7) AR4 "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis"
8) AR4 "Climate Models and Their Evaluation"
9) The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, Newsletter, August 15, 2007
10) "Open Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations", December 2007
11) "The Climate Catastrophe - A Spectroscopic Artifact?" 1998, by Dr. Heinz Hug
12) John Daly's WEB-site at john-daly.com
13) “A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts" by Dr. Anastasios A. Tsonis et al. in Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34, L13705).
14) "Climate Change (A Fundamental Analysis of the Greenhouse Effect)" 1/06/2008, by John Nicol, PhD Professor Emeritus of Physics, James Cook University, Australia
15) "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet" by Mark Lynas
16) "Cool It", by Bjorn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School
17) "The Greenhouse Delusion" by Dr. Vincent Gray.
18) "CO2: The Greatest Scientific Scandal of Our Time" by Z. Jaworowski, M.D. Ph.D. D.Sc. March 2007
5.3 A Glance into the Future
Many anthropogenic global warming disciples argue that the agnostic scientists are merely puppets of the oil companies. On the contrary, forward-looking energy companies recognize that there is no sustainable commercial future in fossil fuels. This is why they are now withdrawing the support and sponsorship that they previously gave enthusiastically to institutions and individuals who challenged the position of the IPCC. This allows them to claim altruism in their research into renewable energy sources and attract government sponsorship for it. It is in fact driven by the self-interest of commercial survival. Governments are happy to sponsor this research for political, not environmental, reasons.
Jonathon Porritt says in his blog that the days of cheap oil are gone, however the price of crude has more than halved in recent months. By the time the global economic depression reaches its deepest level (well after the next election) those earlier days may have returned. Of course, by then we may be well on the way into the next ice age - unless we start burning much more fossil fuel, which will be far cheaper than now.
5.4 Jonathan Porritt
Jonathon Porritt is co-founder and Programme Director of Forum for the Future and Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, the Government's principal source of independent advice across the whole sustainable development agenda. He is also Vice-President of the Socialist Environment Resources Association. He was formerly Director of Friends of the Earth (1984-90), cochairman of the Green Party (1980-83) of which he is still a member, chairman of UNED-UK (1993-96) and a trustee of WWF UK (1991-2005).
He was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford where he was awarded a First Class degree in modern languages. He abandoned his training as a barrister and started working in Shepherd's Bush, west London in 1974 teaching drama and English at St. Clement Danes Grammar School (later to become a comprehensive). He then gave up teaching and joined Friends of the Earth.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Green Party in local government elections (1977), in the UK general elections (1979 and 1983) and for the European Parliament (1979 and 1984).
Since then he has concentrated on environmental and sustainability issues through his involvement with charitable and related organizations. He has authored several non-scientific books relating to environmental and sustainability issues.