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Panicking about the benign climate

Published On: 26. März 2023 4:30

The only explanation I can think of for the hysterical nonsense in the latest report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is panic about our benign climate. Over the last fifty years or more, the Earth has enjoyed a healthy climate and rising prosperity, and all the evidence shows that this will continue. Dangerous global warming has not happened; extreme weather events have not increased; world food crops have increased; life expectancy has lengthened. Horror! Horror!

The IPCC’s previous predictions of over-heating and disaster have proved wrong. So it feels compelled to double up on the warnings of catastrophe. “It’s worse than we thought!” Naturally the mass media, including the BBC, the Economist, the Guardian, CNN and our own Daily Maverick have been eager to spread the fear. “The world is running out of time to avoid catastrophe, new UN report warns!”

The March 2023 “SYNTHESIS REPORT OF THE IPCC SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT” happened to coincide with the death this month of the French scientist, Claude Lorius, at the age of 91. Lorius did very important work at the Antarctic by developing a method of measuring its CO2 levels and temperatures over the last 400 000 years. His work increases the evidence that CO2 has not driven global temperatures for as far back as we can measure.

My girlfriend, who copy-edits my articles before I send them off, tells me I must stop repeating myself on climate science. She’s probably right but for the sake of any new reader I shall make a quick summary. Please skip the rest of this paragraph if you’ve read my climate stuff before. CO2 is a wonderful, safe, natural gas upon which plants, and therefore animals, depend. It is a weak greenhouse gas (one that traps outgoing radiant heat). Above 150 ppm it has never been seen to have any warming effect (over the last 550 million years). From about 150 million years ago, CO2 began dropping from about 2 000 ppm – probably because of an increase in shell-forming marine organisms. About 10 million years ago it had dropped to about 300 ppm. If it had dropped to below 150 ppm, there would have been a catastrophic extinction of plant life. During the ice ages, it dropped to 180 ppm – skirting with catastrophe. When the ice ages ended, about 12 000 years ago, CO2 levels in the air rose to about 280 ppm as the oceans warmed. They remained the same until about mid-19th Century, when mankind, by burning fossil fuels, drove them up to their present levels of about 430 ppm – still far too low but a lot better than 280 ppm.

During this time CO2 has never been observed to have any effect on temperatures, which rose and fell while CO2 remained steady until the 19th Century. The Sun became very active in the 20th Century and global temperatures duly rose, although they are still lower than they were in most of the “pre-industrial age” – the 10 000 years before the 18th Century.

Human activities

In the new IPCC report, Section 2.1 begins like this: “Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850-1900 in 2011-2020.” This is nonsense. There is no evidence whatsoever that rising CO2 (and methane) has caused the present slight warming. It was warmer than now 1 000 years ago, 2 100 years ago and 3 200 years ago, when CO2 was lower than now. Notice that the IPCC only refers to the 19th Century for past temperatures. There are two reasons for this.

The lesser reason is that thermometer readings only came into widespread use then. The main reason is that those temperatures belong to one of the few times when they were lower than now. When the absurd Paris accord of 2015 asks to keep present temperatures not more than 1.5 degrees C about “pre-industrial times”, by pre-industrial times it did not mean the 10 000 years between the beginnings of civilisation and the beginnings of industry in the 18th Century. It meant only the Little Ice Age, from about 1300 to 1850, the coldest period in the last 10 000 years, when the Sun was exceptionally quiet.

The distinguished French climate scientist, Claude Lorius, began studying the Antarctic in the 1950s. He devised a new method of measuring past temperatures and levels of CO2 by drilling cores in the Antarctic ice. There are various ways of studying CO2 and temperatures in the past, but his method gave very good resolution (although only going back about 160,000 years). Ice is deposited year by year in layers. By going deeper into the ice you can measure the year very accurately, somewhat like dating trees by their tree rings. Little bubbles of air get trapped in the ice each year. The concentration of CO2 in the bubbles of each year give its concentration in the air at that time.

The oxygen in the bubbles has two isotopes, Oxygen-16 (most common) and Oxygen-18. By measuring their ratios, you get a good idea of the temperature of that year. This allowed scientists to draw up the famous graphs you see of CO2 and temperatures rising and falling together during the ebb and flow of our ice ages in the last 400 000 years. This is highly significant. Close study reveals that temperatures move first, and then CO2 follows. This is because warming seas release CO2 into the air and cooling seas absorb it from the air. Temperatures drive CO2, not the other way round. The rise and fall of the ice ages has the same period as changes in the Earth’s orbit, and so this is likely to be their cause, but nobody knows how it happens. How do you think the big media responded to Lorius’s death?

Nothing of the kind

As usual, the BBC lead the pack. “Claude Lorius, a leading glaciologist whose expeditions helped prove that humans were responsible for global warming, has died at the age of 91.” Of course, they did nothing of the kind. They helped proved that humans (raising CO2) were not responsible for global warming.

The IPCC report is dense with unsupported claims of disaster, and with projections and predictions based on wild guesses and illustrated with dramatic graphs. It is dotted with phrases like high confidence, medium confidence, and very high confidence, to which it gives percentage uncertainty ranges but no explanation of how they were acquired. For example, it says, “Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts on food and water security, human health and on economies and society and related losses and damages to nature and people (high confidence).” This is more nonsense (even if it was set in a pink box to give it extra authority). Extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, hurricanes, unusual heat and unusual cold, have not increased in the last fifty years. They were far worse when the weather was colder, much worse in the Little Ice Age and much, much worse in the big Ice Ages.

The IPCC is an utter disgrace. It has caused terrible corruption of science. It has abused and betrayed many good, honest scientists working for it around the world. In its 2001 report, it published six times the notorious “Hockey Stick” graph showing temperatures steady from 1000 AD to 1900 and then suddenly shooting up. It was complete nonsense, using blatantly wrong statistical methods and relying of one series of tree rings known to be defective. Its authors refused to give their computer codes for deriving it but threatened with defamation anyone who dared question it. The ”Climategate” emails revealed the scientists who control the IPCC to be lying, cheating, deleting data, hiding data, crooking graphs and, above all, plotting to denigrate, bully, dismiss and frighten any scientist who told the whole truth about climate change.

The appalling cover-ups from the climate alarm establishment made the scandal much worse. The IPCC is not a scientific body; it is a political body dedicated to making a lot of money by spreading fear about climate change. It has the longest funding gravy train in history, giving jobs, grants, research funds and travel to a massive army of activists, academics, politicians and bureaucrats.

However, the driving force behind climate alarm is not money but ideology – or rather religion. For some reason, humans down the ages are fascinated and attracted by the idea of impending doom. Most of the great religions predict catastrophe as a result of man’s sins. People love it. They seem to get some perverse comfort in the expectation that we are all going to suffer horribly because of our naughtiness. We have sinned through industrialisation and the consumer society, and we shall be punished with climate catastrophe. Young people seem especially prone to this apocalyptic view. If you show them that the climate is just fine and that CO2 is doing no harm at all but is greening the world by encouraging plant growth, they will shriek with horror.

How to combat this age of irrationalism? I don’t know. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, the raging irrationalism was witch-burning. Solemn juries sentenced old ladies to be roasted to death for causing famines and crop failures. It petered out in the following centuries, but how it did I have never found out. Perhaps this could tell us how to end the raging irrationalism of climate hysteria.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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