Monday, 7 October 2019

A brief history of climate alarmism

It is a strange paradox that the longer the global temperature remains flat, the greater the alarm becomes about rising temperatures in the future. This year the hysteria has been ratcheted up by the mob activities of Extinction Rebellion, the doomsday hectoring from the Swedish teen savant Greta, the indoctrinated school truant protestors, the latest alarmist projections from the IPCC, and the recent UN climate groupthink summit in New York. So it is time to analyse how and why so many people have succumbed to this collective madness.

At the end of the 19th century Svante Arrhenius from Sweden was the first scientist to link increased CO2 in the atmosphere with rising global temperature. But it would take the scientific community another eighty years before expressing any concern about increasing CO2 emissions. During the 1970s some of the more vocal were concerned that we may be heading towards a new ice age as described in this earlier blog. They had reached this conclusion as global temperature had been falling for three decades.

However, from the mid 1970s global temperature began a rising trend. During the 1980s a network of scientists concluded that this temperature change was caused by increasing CO2 emissions caused by the use of fossil fuels. They predicted that if fossil fuel use was not curbed then the resulting increase in CO2 emissions would lead to damaging environmental consequences.

As a result of this concern the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 under the auspices of the United Nations. Crucially, those placed in charge of the IPCC were totally committed to the theory of ‘human induced climate change’. Thus from its inception this supposedly impartial body has been packed with activists promoting the man made global warming agenda, and anyone questioning this belief has been ruthlessly excluded from its deliberations.

During the coming decades the IPCC would produce increasingly alarmist reports and projections about the future. Its scientific credentials were boosted by its establishment under the authority of the United Nations. Any dissenting scientists opposed to its conclusion were effectively marginalised and their criticisms, however valid, were dismissed as being contrary to the global scientific ‘consensus’.

It is often argued that because of this repeatedly exaggerated ‘consensus’, supposedly existing amongst scientists, that the ‘debate is now over’, and that the ‘overwhelming evidence’ supporting the ‘science’ of man made climate change promoted by the IPCC should now be accepted without demur. What this outlook overlooks is that there has never been a proper debate about climate change.

All that has occurred is that the IPCC climate alarmist agenda has been institutionalised at government level by the Kyoto Agreement, and the various climate summits held since then, which have mandated governments to sign up to increasingly restrictive and economically damaging measures to ‘combat’ a threat, the validity of which has never been debated in the global forums promoting the alarmism. Any critics of this approach are denounced as ‘deniers’, and no attempt is made to address their arguments or concerns. The reality is that there has been no change to our climate since the end of the ‘little ice age’ over 200 years ago. During the 20th century there were only minor fluctuations in global temperature. According to the respected UAH temperature research findings, for the past twenty years global temperatures have been flat except for a couple of short spikes due to the El Nino weather phenomenon, which is unconnected to the burning of fossil fuels.

During the past century there has been a significant increase in the trace gas CO2 but this has not led to any noticeable change in global temperature. The ideology of the climate change activists is based on nothing more than a belief in a dubious discredited theory which grossly exaggerates the threat from CO2, together with alarmist computer predictions and projections. So it is reasonable to assume that, as there has been very little change in temperature during the past century, despite the CO2 increase, the remaining part of the current century will be no different.

In short, the past evidence shows that there has been no correlation between increasing CO2 emissions and global temperature, and there is no reason why this situation should not continue into the future. Moreover, CO2 is not a pollutant as many climate change activists ludicrously claim, but is essential for the continued existence of all plant life.

As described above, majority scientific opinion performed a complete U-turn, in a relatively brief period between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, on the impact of CO2 emissions. But neither the science nor the evidence changed, only the politics. The climate alarmist cause was then hijacked by the politically correct class eager to proclaim their superior moral virtue, in contrast to ‘deniers’ supposedly eager to promote the vested interests of the oil companies and a rampant capitalist class intent on destroying the planet. The leadership of all the main political parties have uncritically bought into this outlook and treated the IPCC scientific opinion as being near infallible, aided and abetted by the BBC propaganda machine.

Yet in practice the views of scientists on this matter have turned out to be a highly adaptable, and susceptible to political pressure. This political agenda promotes the alarmist consequences of increased CO2 emissions, in defiance of the actual scientific evidence which has shown no significant global temperature change over the past century and more.

The theory underpinning their claims is that X amount of increased CO2 in the atmosphere will ‘inevitably’ lead to Y amount of increase in global temperature, variously estimated as between two to five degrees higher, by the end of this century. This is pure speculation, falsely but repeatedly presented as scientific fact. The climate alarmists then go on to claim that this increase in global temperature will have catastrophic consequences, hence their calls for the various public authorities to declare a climate emergency. However, no evidence has been provided for these unsubstantiated claims since they are all based on a theory which, on real evidence that is readily available, is seriously flawed.

The credible evidence for this comes with an analysis of the past behaviour of the climate. The alarmists state correctly that there has been a 0.8 degree increase in the global temperature since pre–industrial times, a period of over 200 years since the end of the ‘little ice age’. What they overlook is that the significant increase in CO2 emissions which has occurred during this period has, importantly, not been translated into anything like the temperature increases they are predicting for a much shorter period in the future.

Thus the evidence of the past suggests that by the end of the century the worst case outcome would be a global temperature increase of no higher than half a degree, but more likely to be less, with quite possibly no increase at all. This outcome is well within normal temperature fluctuations from the past, and even the higher estimate would be lower than the drop in global temperature that took place between 2016 and 2017, after the contraction of the last El Nino weather phenomenon.

Today’s protesting schoolchildren will not thank their elder groupthink climate alarmists for their deception when they reach more mature years and can better think for themselves on this matter. Nor will they likely appreciate living in a society in which they are subject to endless top down bureaucratic decrees that will place curbs on citizens’ rights such as travelling by air, owning cars and consuming meat and dairy products, as advocated by the Extinction Rebellion anti-capitalist agitators. Moreover, they are unlikely to be too pleased with having to fund expensive crackpot schemes to bury harmless CO2 underground which are being promoted, or to pay the additional trillion pounds estimated by the former Chancellor that will be needed to meet the government’s latest emission targets.

Finally, it should not really be necessary to state the obvious, since we can all observe with our own eyes that the climate in Britain today is no different to what it has been for the past two centuries. Moreover, there has been no change in the underlying global temperature this century so far, so for the reasons explained above, the declaration of a climate emergency by parliament and a number of local authorities is patently nonsensical, as it is in direct conflict with observable reality.

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