CARBON – What is Driving the Strategy to Demonize the Most Amazing, Life Sustaining Element?
Written by: Robert D. Brinsmead
Irenic Publications – September 2018
For some years now, the public has been bombarded with a lot of negative press about carbon and carbon dioxide. Talk about “carbon pollution,” “carbon emissions,” “carbon footprint,” “de-carbonizing the economy,” “greenhouse gas emissions,” and “reducing emissions” has been so negatively loaded and repetitious that carbon is now widely regarded as some dirty black pollutant that should be shunned and banished from the environment. It is as if the language of the public discourse has been deliberately manipulated to demonize carbon.
Changing public perceptions by the manipulation of language is exactly what George Orwell warned us about some years ago. The negative sloganeering to demonize carbon emissions is like that famous scene in Orwell’s Animal Farm where the pigs teach all the other animals to keep chanting “Four legs good, two legs bad.”
It has been said that a big lie will go seven times around the world before the truth can get its boots on.
It’s time for the truth about carbon to get its boots on.
Basic Facts About Carbon
There are 118 elements listed in the Periodic Table. Carbon is listed as number 6 with the letter C.
Carbon is the 4th most common element in the Universe, following hydrogen, helium and oxygen. It is also the 15th most abundant element in the earth’s crust.
When elements are chemically bonded together they are called compounds. There happens to be about 10 million carbon compounds – more than all other compounds combined.
There are three reasons for this:
In the first place, carbon exists in different forms which are called allotropes of carbon. As an example, diamonds are an allotrope of pure carbon. Diamonds are transparent and the hardest of all natural substances. On the other hand, graphite is also another allotrope of pure carbon, but it is opaque and one of softest of all natural substances.
In the second place, the carbon atom has 15 different neutron formations called isotopes (8C-22C). Consequently, there are 15 isotopes of carbon, the most common of which are identified as 12C, 13C and 14C.
In the third place, the electrons of the carbon atom have some unique “hook up” features which enable it to more easily bond with other elements in a diversity of ways.
All of these unique features of carbon add up to making it the most amazingly versatile, adaptive and bondable element of the Periodic Table. This is why carbon compounds are the most numerous, making carbon chemistry by far the largest field of chemistry. It is the reason why most new alloys, fibres and polymers used in thousands of products are made by finding new ways of bonding carbon with other elements.
A great leap forward for mankind occurred in 19thCentury Great Britain when it was discovered how to make an alloy called steel by bonding carbon with iron in a coal-fired blast furnace. That discovery launched the world into a new age of using steel to construct rail tracks, bridges, ships, fortified concrete structures, motor vehicles and lots more. New carbon-based products started as a trickle but by now have become an avalanche of new alloys, fibres and polymers. Carbon is now used to make specialized kinds of insulators, conductors and semi-conductors – a feat that uses carbon to do very opposite things or even both things together.
Without carbon technology there would be no modern transport industry, or construction industry, electrical industry, communications industry or space industry. Just about every new man-made product – from the heat shields on the NASA spacecraft that is now exploring the sun to the tennis racquets we give our kids for Christmas – are made with new carbon materials.
Given carbon’s amazing versatility, will we ever run out of new ways to bond carbon to the other 117 elements? That is like asking if we will ever run out new ways of using the 26 letters of the alphabet to make new books.
Life itself is carbon-based.
As we have seen, Homo sapiens (“the wise ones”) have learned how to use carbon in so many ways to make so many things. That is an impressive feat, but it cannot match the far greater feat of using carbon to make life. All life as we know it is carbon-based. Any good text-book on biology will tell us that. All living things, whether they are plants or animals, humans or micro-organisms, have one thing in common: everything that lives is made of carbon.
It is estimated that there are at least 39 trillion cells in the human body. Whether they are blood cells, bone cells, nerve cells, skin cells or brain cells, like the cells of all other living things, they are all made of carbon-based compounds. The human body is about 20% carbon. Aside from oxygen, it is the most common element in the human body, and for that matter, it is also the most common element in every other form of life.
Whether it is the spectacle of giant whales sporting in the ocean, bees harvesting pollen from blossoming trees, children screeching with laughter in the playground, birds calling each other to mate or hunt for food, our little Blue Planet is the only place that we know about in this big wide universe that puts on this astonishing display of living, working, playing, singing, dancing, even thinking and loving carbon organisms.
Knowing something about the origin of carbon adds a beautiful touch to this mystery of life. According to physical cosmology theory, carbon was formed by the stupendous heat of supernovae. That is the name given to the disintegration of a giant star. While the heat energy of our sun is powerful enough to convert (fuse) hydrogen into helium, it required far more energy than this to turn the gases of a giant star into carbon. When a massive star died, its carbon dust was scattered through the universe to eventually become the stuff from which life was made. As the celebrated scientist Carl Sagan used to say, “We are made from star dust.” If we can celebrate life, why not also celebrate the stuff upon which all life is based?
Carbon sustains all life
Every form of life – plant life, animal life or microscopic life – is not only made of carbon, but it has to grow and be sustained by ingesting carbon. There are no exceptions. Every carbon-based organism must feed on carbon – or die.
The animal kingdom gets this carbon from plant food. Even the meat-eating animals called carnivores are just as dependant on plant food as the herbivores because they eat the animals which eat the plants. No plant food means no animal food, and of course, no human food.
Food is composed of carbohydrates, proteins and fats (plus minerals, vitamins and other micro-nutrients). These three food groups are all carbon-based, although as even the name indicates, carbohydrates contain the most concentrated source of carbon – sugars (e.g. sucrose, glucose, galactose, lactose, fructose, mannose, etc.), starches and fibres. Fats are hydrocarbons and protein contains carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. So the whole food chain (or the food pyramid as some call it) is a carbon-based fuel that has been designed to sustain a carbon-based organism.
By now, any escape from this ubiquitous, demonized stuff called carbon should at least be starting to look like a mad hatter’s dream. But just to ratchet up the difficulty of engaging in ridiculous stunts to reduce our carbon footprint or de-carbonize our way of life, let us pause to reflect that we not only eat this so-called pollutant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but every morning we get out of a bed that’s made of the stuff, in a house that’s made of the stuff, full of furniture, fittings and gadgets that’s made of the stuff. And if it is not enough to recognize that our bodies are full of the stuff and that we must eat the stuff, we need to also recognize that we even dress ourselves in the stuff. The clothing we put on, whether made of natural fibres or synthetic fibres, is all made of some kind of carbon fibre. Carbon is involved in every aspect of human existence.
Carbon sustains all plant life.
Plants too have to be sustained by carbon like everything else that lives on earth. They cannot absorb carbon through their root systems, however, no matter how much carbon there may be in the soil. While the roots of a plant take up water, nitrogen and a relatively tiny amount of essential minerals, it is the leaves of the plant which have tiny stomata which open to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. By using sunlight in a process which is called photosynthesis, the plant absorbs the carbon and breathes out the oxygen, then synthesises that carbon with the water and minerals taken up by the roots to make carbohydrates, proteins and fats for all creatures great and small. This carbon which is absorbed from the air in the form of carbon dioxide provides more than 90% of a plant’s nutritional needs.
The food we eat is for the most part processed carbon dioxide. It would be hard to think of a greater irony than having the stuff we have demonized ending up on our tables as delicious steaks, mangoes, avocados and all manner of delicious deserts and treats. Not a bit of food, whether that is good food or junk food, could end up on tables unless there were first some carbon dioxide emissions to feed the plants which feed us. Every day the atmosphere needs to be replenished with billions of tons of carbon dioxide to nourish the plants, otherwise we would all starve.
The irony of having to eat the very stuff we demonize as a pollutant is a reminder of this piece of good advice: “Let your words be ever soft and sweet because the time may come when you might have to eat them.”
Where do all the carbon dioxide emissions come from?
All the rotting vegetation returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. All breathing creatures on land and in the sea (and that includes most micro-organisms whose biomass is far greater than all the visible creatures) give off carbon dioxide or methane (CH4) – except that cyanobacteria exhale oxygen. Humans too give off carbon dioxide not only as they breathe, but in all their industrial and other activity wherein we burn hydrocarbons such as coal, oil or gas for energy. Active volcanoes also give off carbon dioxide emissions. In the early beginnings of earth, there was enormous volcanic activity. This was the atmosphere’s original source of carbon dioxide. There are still more than 3 million volcanoes under the oceans, and it is not yet known how many of these are active at any one time.
The world’s oceans, lakes and rivers, which make up 71% of the earth’s surface, store about 50 times more carbon dioxide in them than is stored in the atmosphere. An exchange of carbon called the carbon cycle is constantly taking place. All plants on the earth and in ocean, lakes and rivers ( the greatest biomass of these are microscopic plants like fungi and algae) take up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen as a waste product, and all the living creatures on earth and in the sea take up oxygen and give off the carbon dioxide as their waste product. For all plants great and small, carbon dioxide is the gas of life, and for all creatures great and small, oxygen is the gas of life. The carbon cycle is driven by the simple principle of giving and receiving: all living creatures give off carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere to feed the plants, and the plants turn this into carbon-based food to feed the creatures.
It is therefore no more correct to call carbon dioxide a pollutant than it is to call oxygen a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is a natural, odourless, invisible, non-toxic plant food. It is just as essential to life as oxygen and water.
All human carbon dioxide emissions, including all the emissions which come from burning fossil fuel, amount to about 3% of all carbon dioxide emissions going into the atmosphere. The oceans, lakes and rivers, which make up what is called the hydrosphere, produce at least 10 more carbon dioxide emissions than is produced by all human activity. With 50 times more carbon dioxide in the hydrosphere than in the atmosphere, the oceans are like a great body of carbonated water that are constantly exhaling and inhaling carbon dioxide. As they warm, they exhale more of it just as a warm carbonated drink de-fizzes more quickly. As they cool, the oceans absorb more carbon dioxide. No one calls the carbon dioxide emissions from the oceans a pollutant and any suggestion to reduce these oceanic emissions would rightly be seen as ridiculous.
The soil of the earth, which is called the lithosphere, produces even more carbon emissions than the oceans. Most of this carbon dioxide comes from rotting vegetation, termites and micro-organisms which make up the biggest part of the biomass. Some of it comes from creatures exhaling, and some comes from volcanic eruptions.
There is currently about 3,200 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Since there is one ton of carbon to every 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide, there are about 870 billion tons of carbon in the world’s atmosphere.
This may sound like a lot of carbon dioxide, but it is actually only a very tiny 0.04% or 400 parts per million (ppm) of the atmosphere. This is just one molecule of carbon dioxide in every 2,500 molecules of air. Given that the air we breathe is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon and 0.25% water vapour, carbon dioxide, taking up only 0.04%, is a miniscule amount. Yet no life could exist without it because carbon dioxide is the primary source of plant food.
Since the beginning of our Industrial Age around 1800 CE, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 ppm to a little over 400ppm. This is a rise of 45%, most of which has happened in the last 50 years. Most of these elevated carbon dioxide levels are due to mankind’s increasing use of hydrocarbons such as coal, oil and gas. We have been digging up and pumping out hydrocarbons from the ground and returning it to the atmosphere.
Although there may be some question whether these rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are partly or entirely due to human activity, it makes no difference to the fact that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere means more plant growth and bigger food harvests.
Craig Idso, PhD (an agricultural scientist) is a world leader in carbon dioxide research and the long-time editor of CO2 Science. He has spent more than 30 years either doing or reviewing thousands of trials to find out how a whole range of different plants respond to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Although all plants do not respond to the same degree, he has documented how species generally have better growth and produce higher yields when they are fed with more carbon dioxide.
His findings have been replicated by other trials all over the world. As a recent peer reviewed report puts it, “Numerous studies of CO2 enrichment in chambers (e.g. greenhouses) have demonstrated dramatically improved crops yields. Ainsworth-Long (2005) performed a meta-analysis of 124 papers on 40 species tested at 12 sites, 7 in USA, 3 in Europe, 2 in New Zealand and Japan, using free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE). The actual increases achieved (above the ambient level of the CO2 at the time of the study) varied from 30.5% to 60% with a median of 50-55% (550ppm) and an average of 49.2%.” (Climate Change and Health: CO2 Coalition)
Growers who operate indoor greenhouses to raise crops such as tomatoes and flowers now prove the benefits of carbon dioxide enrichment on a daily basis. By raising carbon dioxide levels by up to 300% (1,200 ppm) they raise the volume of their tomato harvests by about 40% without any further inputs.
In 2015, former IPCC delegate Dr. Indur Goklany, wrote a paper calling for a reassessment of the benefits of carbon dioxide. He said: “Carbon dioxide fertilizes plants, and emissions from fossil fuels have already had a hugely beneficial effect on crops, increasing yields by at least 10-15%.” He also said that these carbon dioxide benefits were worth $140 billion p.a.
In a Forward to the Goklany paper, the world renowned Princeton physicist, Freeman Dyson wrote:
“Indur Goklany has done a careful job, collecting and documenting the evidence that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does far more good than harm. To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial… I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence.” Princeton, September 20
The world has enjoyed record food harvests, especially in the basic grain crops, over the last three years (2016, 2017 and 2018). Record aerial carbon dioxide levels (an increase of 11% over the last 20 years) correlate with record food production.
On top of increasing crop yields, elevated levels of aerial carbon dioxide has been found to significantly increase the level of flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin A, glutathione, protein, isoflavone, glucosinolates and other antioxidants . To cite just one example: “Growing spinach at 800ppm increased the fresh weight by 67%, the soluble protein concentration by about 52% and vitamin C by 21%.” (Climate Change and Health).
The good news about carbon dioxide keeps coming. Trials have shown that plants which which can draw on higher levels of aerial carbon dioxide require less water. This is because increased levels of aerial carbon dioxide cause the stomata on the leaves of plants to open less, and because of that, transpire less. These water savings on a thirsty planet are enormously significant. It also means that some plants can now thrive in more arid conditions, or that trees that could not survive can now survive under very dry conditions. Plants nourished with more carbon dioxide are fortified to withstand harsher conditions generally – not just a drier environment, but one that is hotter, colder or has lower nutrient levels. Carbon dioxide makes plants tougher and more resilient.
All these factors played a role in enabling the world to achieve record food harvests. The world is now growing more food than ever and despite the population growth of another billion people in the last 25 years, the percentage of people not getting enough food is the lowest it has ever been. During the last 25 years carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere have risen by 11%, and this has boosted for production by about the same amount. That extra carbon dioxide is feeding an extra billion people. Just think about that for a while before supporting any reduction to carbon dioxide emissions.
During the 1960’s it was widely feared that the world would not be able to grow enough food to support a projected 6 billion people, to say nothing of 7 billion people who now live on the planet. Paul Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb (l968) predicted that hundreds of millions of people would perish of starvation before the end of the 20th century.
A contemporary of Paul Ehrlich was an agronomist by the name of Norman Borlaug. During the 1960’s he quietly launched what became known as the Green Revolution in high-yield agriculture on three continents (Mexico, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Africa). As world population doubled over the next 40 years, thanks largely to the work of Borlaug, world food production trebled using the same amount of land. Borlaug was hailed as “The man who fed the world,” and credited with saving a billion people from starvation. He received the Nobel Prize and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Besides developing better strains of grain and using pesticides judiciously, Borlaug realized that high yield agriculture could not be achieved without the aid of nitrogen. Although there is a lot of nitrogen in the air, plants other than legumes cannot access it. Their roots must take it up from the soil, but Borlaug also knew that soils generally contain far too little nitrogen for optimum plant growth. While animal manures can provide some of that nitrogen, Borlaug soon figured out that there was nowhere near enough land to support all the animals required to produce enough nitrogen to meet the challenge of feeding the world. Fortunately for Borlaug, a method of creating lots of cheap nitrogen fertilizer using fossil fuel had recently been developed. Here was a method of taking the nitrogen that is so plentiful in the air and putting it into the soil where it was accessible to plants. Borlaug demonstrated that this simple action alone would dramatically raise food production by an average of 30%.
With the world population now reaching 7 billion, a new phase of the Green Revolution is already under way. Just as Borlaug took nitrogen in the air and put it into the soil to feed the plants, the new phase of the Green Revolution is about taking carbon out of the earth and putting it into the atmosphere to lift food production.
Ecologist Patrick Moore PhD points out that in earlier geological ages such as the Cambrian Era there was a lushly vegetated earth teeming with life and with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels orders of magnitude higher than now. In our present Pleistocene Era, these carbon dioxide levels have been limping along barely above a level where plants would starve. On the other hand, if present carbon dioxide levels were doubled, all plant life would thrive and crop yields would receive a massive boost.
By highlighting the agricultural benefits of higher levels of carbon dioxide, scientists like Craig Idso and Patrick Moore are carrying on the work of “the man who fed the world” in the last half of the 20th Century. The new phase of the Green Revolution in this 21st Century requires higher rather than lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Increased aerial carbon dioxide levels are not only boosting world agricultural yields, they are also dramatically greening the earth. Leaf density of the rainforests has significantly increased. The fringes of desert regions have greened, especially because trees benefit from higher aerial carbon dioxide levels more than most other plants.
In April 25, 2016 the journal Nature Climate Change published a report on the findings of 32 research scientists from 8 different countries. By analysing NASA satellite data with high resolution imaging technology, they found that the earth had greened by 14% in the 30 years from 1980 to 2011. They said that the expansion of green areas were as large as 2 continental USA’s. That’s also double the size of Australia. To what did the researchers credit these astonishing gains? They estimated that 9% was due to more nitrogen, 8% was due to global warming, 4% was due to land change, but a whopping 70% was due to more aerial carbon dioxide.
So this demonized dirty black polluting stuff called carbon is quite literally greening the world.
This throws a new light on what has been dubbed “the social cost” of dumping 10 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. About half of this is being hungrily gobbled up by plants which are now using it to create an exciting new chapter of the Green Revolution. With carbon emissions feeding the world and greening the world, the political discourse should be lauding “the social dividend of carbon.” The politicians and the scientists who go on decrying “the social cost of carbon” have all this up-side-down and back-to-front.
Instead of being demonized, carbon should now be celebrated as mankind’s best friend. We have all heard it said that diamonds (which are wholly carbon) are a girl’s best friend. Carbon is mankind’s best friend and the planet’s best friend.
The impacts of carbon dioxide on the climate have so dominated the political discourse and have so demonized carbon that the beneficial impacts of higher carbon dioxide emissions have not received the consideration they deserve. Once the facts about carbon dioxide’s enormous benefits are understood, it becomes much easier to defang this monster called climate change.
There are two very straight forward questions which need to be addressed in the climate change debate: (1) Is carbon dioxide a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that causes global warming? (2) How much warming will result from rising carbon dioxide emissions?
The answer to the first question is “yes.” It would be hard to find a scientist, even among the so-called climate sceptics, who would challenge the thesis that carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that causes some global warming. The main heat-trapping gas, however, is water vapour. It comprises about 90% of all greenhouse gases, although this can vary a lot between the tropics and the poles where the air is cold and dry.
Unfortunately, the very term “greenhouse gases” has been tossed around for so long in such a fear-generating context that greenhouse gases have become demonized too. This is really quite silly because water vapour is by far the largest greenhouse gas. The reality is that without this greenhouse “blanket, earth’s surface would become so hot and cold, that no plant or animal life could survive on it.
An inland desert provides a partial illustration of what happens where there is too little greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Due to its very dry air, the desert can become extremely hot during the day, and then quickly turn deadly cold at night. This is because there is not enough water vapour to moderate the temperature extremes.
It is generally agreed that most of the warming from carbon dioxide occurs at night, in winter and in the colder high latitude regions, due to their being less water vapour and its greenhouse effect in those times and places. This greenhouse warming is beneficial to agriculture because more carbon dioxide emissions lengthens the growing season and boosts food production in the cooler agricultural regions of the world. It also benefits human health because this lessening of the diurnal temperature variation has been proven to lessen the risk of heart attack, stroke and some other health risks. (See Climate Change and Health).
Climate Sensitivity is the technical term used to refer to the amount of warming likely to occur if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are doubled, i.e., from 280 ppm to 560 ppm. The carbon dioxide levels are presently 409ppm.
There is a general agreement on all sides of the climate change debate that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, if everything else remained the same, would warm earth’s surface by 1.10 C. The reason why there is a general agreement on this point is because the effect of this additional carbon dioxide can be scientifically measured and replicated according to true scientific principles.
If the 1.10 of warming resulting from a doubling of carbon dioxide from 280 ppm to 560 ppm were all there was too it, then there would be no grounds for alarm because that very modest amount of warming – 45% of which is already achieved – would cause far more good than harm. It would boost food production and greenery in general as well as having human health benefits. After all, the Pleistocene Era in which we now live is recognized by geologists as the coolest Era since plants evolved.
The theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) rests on the unproved assumption that the 1.10 of warming caused by doubling carbon dioxide levels will have “positive feedbacks” – meaning that others factors in the climate system will kick in to multiply the modest carbon dioxide effects. Specifically, the theory of DAGW rests on the assumption that the 1.1 degree of carbon dioxide-induced warming will result in more evaporation of water, and that this increased water vapour (the most dominant greenhouse gas) will multiply that 1.10 of warming by anything from 3 to 6 times. This is like saying that carbon dioxide is like the little dog that wakes up the big dog (water vapour) which does more damage after being woken up by the little dog.
This assumption about the “positive feedbacks” of water vapour (to which has been added some now discredited speculation about the behaviour of clouds) has been fed into the climate Models which project a sensitivity of anything from 30 upwards. Those who are sceptical of these DAGW projections, and for very good reasons, have become known as “climate change sceptics.” They don’t question that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. They don’t question that man-made carbon dioxide emissions have a warming influence. They don’t question that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would, if everything else remained equal, cause 1.10 of warming. They are simply sceptical of a theory of “positive feedbacks” which turn a modest and beneficial amount of warming into a dangerous amount of warming.
As for the claim about their being an overwhelming scientific consensus about the climate science, it is really a very misleading if not a dishonest bit of band-wagoning. There never has been any consensus on the issue of sensitivity, and sensitivity is precisely what the crux of the argument is about. Even the IPCC reports, all five of them, indicate there is no consensus on this question of how much warming? There is not even anything like a consensus among the DAGW advocates. As time goes on, however, more and more scientific papers are moving toward a lower sensitivity.
The hypothesis about the “positive feedbacks” of water vapour is being blown out of the water (pun intended). Sceptics of any high or dangerous sensitivity make the perfectly valid observation that the process of evaporation itself has a cooling effect, that the clouds formed by additional water vapour have a cooling effect during the day, and that increased precipitation (rainfall) permits more evaporative cooling at the surface. It appears that the best scientific papers now being published estimate sensitivity to be about 1.3 -1.50. And we need to remember that 45% of this warming has already occurred. If there are other “negative feedbacks” not yet understood, sensitivity may prove to be even lower. That is because in all complex natural systems, there are checks and balances to maintain normalcy. In other words, the “feedbacks” should tend to moderate rather than exacerbate the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels. This is why some very highly qualified atmospheric physicists and climatologists (e.g., Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer) argue for “negative feedbacks.”
The final evidence of how much warming will be found in measuring the temperature itself over a period of time. According to the Satellites that measure temperatures (UAH and GISS) there has been little or no statistically significant [exceeding 0.20] temperature gains for 20 years even though carbon dioxide levels have increased by about 11% over that period.
There is one more reason to be less apprehensive about rising levels of carbon dioxide. Its warming effects are logarithmic, meaning that the effect of carbon dioxide diminishes as the levels rise. (See D. Weston Allen, The Weather Makers Re-examined, 201-3)
Climate change alarmism reminds us of Mark Twain’s quip: “Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated.” Freeman Dyson has said, “The possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated.” Over an entire generation, the public has been bombarded with scary scenarios of climate catastrophes, none of which have happened.
We were told that the Arctic would be free of ice by 2013. It hasn’t happened.
The UN warned that by the year 2010 there would be 50 million climate refugees. There’s not even been one.
They said the polar bears would disappear. They’ve doubled in numbers since the scare mongering started.
The experts said that global warming would reduce agricultural yields. There have been world record harvests instead.
The IPPC declared that all the glaciers of the Himalayas would soon disappear. Even the IPCC had to admit it got that one wrong.
Londoners were told that their children would never see snow again. That prediction soon got buried in record snow falls.
Who hasn’t heard that the small islands of the Pacific would soon disappear below rising sea-levels? Those Islands are not only still there, but some of them are rising further above sea level.
It has been said repeatedly for a generation that the world is warming at an unprecedented rate. Any kid just leaving school can look at the weather Satellites records from UAH or GISS and see that there has been very little global warming since they were born.
Then there was that Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, who told us that even the rain that fell on the ground would not fill our dams. He had hardly finished telling us this before the La Nina rains flooded an area of Australia larger than France.
Who hasn’t heard that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and other weather disasters are becoming more frequent and more destructive? Even Barack Obama came out to Australia and repeated that factoid. Yet all the authentic public statistics (which are not difficult to find) show that these destructive events have actually decreased in the last 20 years.
There are now whole books that have documented this litany of failed climate predictions. Would you buy a used car from these climate change salesmen?
James Lovelock (“may his tribe increase”) was once the father-figure of global warming alarmism. He went on record saying that the world would soon become so hot that there would soon be only a few pairs of breeding humans left in the Antarctic. Statements like that went seven times around the world before the truth could get its boots on to say (from the same humbled James Lovelock), “We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world by now.” “I was needlessly alarmist, but I wasn’t the only one.” “Twenty years ago we thought we knew what the climate was doing, but the climate is doing its own thing.” “I’ve grown up a bit since then.” Would that we had more scientists like him rather than those who act like politicians who can never admit that they got it wrong.
There is one stark fact that is enough to blow all this angst about carbon dioxide emissions away. Over the last 20 years mankind has dug up and pumped out of the ground 1/3rd of all the hydrocarbons it has ever used. The atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased by 11%. If Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth was correct, we should have had this unpreceded global warming.
The DAGW Emperor has no clothes.
The only rational conclusion we can draw from all the evidence is that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are good for the planet and for all life upon it. Increased carbon dioxide emissions are giving us more food and a greener earth. They are making it a little warmer at night, a little warmer in winter and a little warmer in those cooler regions where it is needed most. Their overall impact on human health is very positive.
Can we have too many carbon dioxide emissions?
According to Patrick Moore PhD. (Ecology), the optimum atmospheric carbon dioxide level for plants is somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm. This is indicated by thousands of trials and also by the wide use of carbon dioxide to boost plant yields in indoor greenhouses. If at first blush that much atmospheric carbon dioxide appears to be too high, consider that during the geological Cambrian Era (about 500 million years ago) there was up to 17 times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we have today.
Yet that era is called the “Cambrian explosion” because it was the time when a great diversity of life forms exploded into existence all over the planet. In the later Jurassic Era atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were still many times higher than today. With all that aerial carbon available the earth was lush with plant life and massive forests proliferated. For the last 150 million years, however, plant life has been drawing down carbon from the atmosphere. Much of this carbon has been buried in the earth as coal deposits instead of being returned to the atmosphere. Marine life too has been steadily drawing down carbon from the atmosphere for shell making, and by this process turning the carbon into billions of tons of carboniferous rocks.
We are now living in the Pleistocene Era which began about 2 million years ago. It is also called the era of the Ice Ages in which 30% of the earth has been covered in ice for 100,000 years periods, with warmer interludes lasting about 10 thousands years. In this present Pleistocene Era carbon dioxide levels have plunged to their lowest level ever – 150 ppm during a recent glaciation. At that level, plant life cannot continue to survive. Fortunately, aerial carbon dioxide levels rose to 280 ppm in our present Holocene, but that is still bumping along just above the level of plant starvation (This information about the geological eras is drawn from Dr. Moore’s paper cited above).
Some scientists appear over-anxious to tell us that our present 400ppm levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are the highest they have ever been for 400,000 years. What they don’t tell us is that this 400,000 year geological blink of an eye brings us to the middle of the present Pleistocene Era when carbon dioxide levels were not only dangerously low, but the lowest they have ever been in the history of our planet. The scientists who dish out this kind of spin should know that life began, exploded and flourished on this planet when the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were orders of magnitude greater than they have been for the last 400,000 years.
By digging up the hydrocarbons buried in the earth, mankind is not proving itself to be the one rogue species that destroys the earth. Rather, by replenishing those depleted aerial carbon dioxide levels, mankind is proving to be the only species which can arrest the dangerous decline of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Here in the ground below our feet there is the greatest battery for storing energy that has ever been devised. Plants capture the sun’s energy more efficiently than anything mankind has been able to invent. The energy stored in nature’s great underground “battery” is carbon-based energy which plants drew down from the atmosphere. When we use that carbon-based energy we are simply activating the carbon cycle by returning that carbon to the atmosphere. This carbon cycle is the life cycle. We feed the plants, and the plants feed us.
There are two great advantages of using this carbon-based energy. In the first place, this source of cheap and abundant energy has enabled mankind to achieve a level of unprecedented prosperity, comfort and longevity. At the same time, it is has raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to dramatically increase food production and the greening of the earth. This man-made achievement is something to celebrate:
“We – humanity – should be throwing ourselves the party to outdo all parties, a combination graduation-wedding-birthday-all-rites-of passage party, to mark our emergence from a death-dominated world of raw-material scarcity. Sing, dance, be merry – and work. But instead we see gloomy faces. They are spoilsports, and they have bad effects.
“The spoilsports accuse our generations of having a party – at the expense of generations to come. But it is those who use the government to their own advantage who are having a party at the expense of others – the bureaucrats, the grants-grabbers, the subsidy-looters. Don’t let them spoil our merry day.” (Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource, p.408)
Breaking Through With the Good News about Carbon Dioxide
There are some news and current affair commentators who seem to be willing to put their head up above the parapet to question the wisdom of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions at the expense of the economy. They are against the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions, at least as far as making these reductions legally binding. But they are not breaking through to enlighten the public that higher emissions are highly beneficial.
If the thesis of this paper is correct –
- that carbon dioxide emissions are highly beneficial rather than harmful,
- that carbon dioxide emissions are not just another plant food but the primary plant food,
- that carbon dioxide emissions have raised world food production from 10 -15%,
- that reducing aerial carbon dioxide levels could starve a billion people,
- that rising carbon dioxide levels are dramatically greening the earth,
- that aerial carbon dioxide levels are a long way from reaching optimum levels,
- that reducing the carbon dioxide fertilization of plants would sabotage the “Green Revolution” this century just as reducing nitrogen fertilization would have sabotaged the Green Revolution last century,
Then the only conclusion we can come to is that more carbon dioxide emissions are needed rather than less.
Why then should it even be implicitly conceded that reducing carbon dioxide is a desirable thing? For instance, nuclear energy may be beneficial for a number of reasons, but why use the argument that its zero carbon dioxide emissions is any advantage? Gas may be a better energy source than coal for a number of reasons, but why argue that its lower carbon dioxide emission is one of them? New coal-fired power stations (HELE) may be more efficient and have better scrubbers to reduce real pollutants, but why concede that lower carbon dioxide emissions makes them superior?
Whatever the arguments there may be for other sources of energy, why drag along the old bogey about the advantage of lower emissions? Since carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless, non-toxic gas which is just as natural and essential to life as oxygen and water, why concede that anything that gives off carbon dioxide is not “clean energy”? Making any concessions toward “reducing carbon dioxide emission,” “reducing greenhouse gases” or “reducing our carbon footprint” plays into the hands of those who have coined these phrases to demonize carbon and brainwash the public. The time has come to cut through by saying it clearly and repeatedly, “Carbon dioxide is good for you” and “We need more of it, not less.”
When that hugely respected American scientist, Freeman Dyson (a self-confessed Democrat and supporter of Barack Obama) looked at how carbon dioxide was being demonized, he said, “The people who are supposed to be the experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence…I hope that a few of them will make the effort to examine the evidence in detail and see how it contradicts the prevailing dogma, but I know that the majority will remain blind. That to me is the central mystery of climate science. It is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that the whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?”
Dyson went on to explain how the global warming science had become a shared story that a lot of people, including a lot of scientists, have embraced. It is a story that holds them together in loyalty to a cause. It has even become a story they will defend against dissenters as fiercely as religious zealots used to burn heretics at the stake.
What Professor Dyson is really suggesting is what a lot of observers and even participants in the DAGW movement like James Lovelock have concluded: the so-called science has become a religion. By religion we mean a worldview – something of ultimate concern, the meaning-giving centre that becomes like a pair of powerful glasses which determines the way we see ourselves, the world and everything else. In that sense everyone, including the most confirmed atheist, has a religion or a worldview.
The reason some people can’t see the real facts about carbon dioxide is because DAGW is one of those shared stories that has penetrated human consciousness to the level of becoming a worldview. It has become a belief system which appears to explain what is wrong with the world and what must be done to fix it. In other words, it addresses some of the questions traditional religion used to answer. No wonder it has been called “the religion of the 21st Century.”
We human beings are capable of changing our opinions, even as John Maynard Keys famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind.” But an opinion that has become an integral part of our worldview is different. Trying to convince any DAGW believer that carbon dioxide emissions are beneficial may be as difficult as trying to change the opinion of a Catholic or a Muslim on a point that is a vital part of their religion. Try telling an orthodox Jew that a ham sandwich is kosher or a Jehovah’s Witness that a blood transfusion is beneficial!
The powerful role of shared stories is the theme in Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. He points out that our nearest cousins in the animal kingdom are the chimpanzees which happen to share 89% of our genes and DNA makeup. The chimps bond together in bands of no more than about a hundred after which they break up into smaller bands. Harari’s raises the question of how Homo sapiens (the wise ones) were able to bond together in groups big enough to become a city or even a nation. Why are the sapiens the only animal species that can do this? His answer at first blush seems to be almost too simple, but the more he makes one think about it (using numerous examples) the more it appears to be transparently correct. Only humans have the imaginative ability to visualize entities that can’t be seen or that don’t even exist. This gives them the ability to tell stories that capture and live on in the human imagination in a way that shapes a worldview with a value system and a sense of destiny.
Shared stories can not only hold a whole city together, but they can hold a whole tribe or nation together with shared values and a sense of identity. They might even hold an empire together. They can bond a large community of people across international boundaries, as it happens for instance with Catholics or Sunni Muslims. It is not some genetic inheritance that holds them together. They are simply held together by a shared story that gives them a common worldview. The dissenter, reformer or heretic who is thought to threaten the bonds of the shared story is instinctively resisted, whether by brutal force, ridicule or ostracism – think Socrates being made to drink hemlock for desacralizing the Greek myths, Jesus getting himself crucified for blasphemy, Galileo being forced to recant to save himself from being burned at the stake, or something as mundane as Peter Ridd being expelled from James Cook University for exposing the story of his peers about the Great Barrier Reef in crisis as a fallacious myth.
All the great religions – and even the smaller religions or sub-religions – are held together by shared stories. Judaism has been held together by its shared story of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt. Buddhism has its story of the Prince who left the comforts of a palace to find enlightenment. Christians share a common story of the man whose kind of love triumphed over death. The Muslims have their story of Muhammad being visited by the angel Gabriel as he fasted in a cave during Ramadan. The Mormons have their story of Joseph Smith’s miraculous translation of a lost sacred text. Whether or not any of these bonding stories are well-attested historical events makes no difference to the enormous power they exert to bind large national or international communities together.
Man-made climate change has its own story to tell the world. Its narrative is about the way industrialized civilization is dangerously warming the planet. It presses a lot of guilt buttons about our consumerism, the economic rat race, the folly of “keeping up with the Jones,” the yearning for a simple life more in harmony with nature. This climate change story also has a redemptive plan to save the planet. That too can press the buttons of our nobler aspirations. Here are all the features of a religion. Perhaps the less said about the ruthless aspects of religion the better – like suppressing, ridiculing, labelling, ostracising, expelling, silencing, and destroying dissenters. These features too are the tell-tale signs that appear when something has become a religion.
Some of the main thought leaders who worked at crafting the story about our dangerously warming planet were not even scientists. They were a cabal of socialists or One-World-Government dreamers centred in the UN and its ancillary organizations. Their real aim, sometimes blatantly stated, was to dismantle the free-market economic order and to replace it with a more centralized collectivist order. Another name for this outlook is neo-Marxism.
One of the chief strategists in this vision to construct a new World Socialism order to replace the failed one behind the Iron Curtain was Maurice Strong, a Canadian businessman and self-confessed neo-Marxist. Strong was a brilliant networker in UN circles. His reign as the chief organizer behind a bewildering array of world conferences, UN climate science organizations and programs lasted from 1962 to 2005.
“He organized the 1972 UN conference in Stockholm, where the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) was proposed, and he became its first head. UNEP later made wildly exaggerated claims about ‘acid rain’… In 1990 Maurice Strong said: ‘Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilization collapses.’ It was Strong who arranged and chaired the 1992 Rio Earth Summit [ which launched Agenda 21], where it was decided that the term ‘Climate change’ would refer only to change caused by human activity, and change due to natural causes would be referred to as ‘natural variability.’” (D Weston Allen, The Weather Makers Re-Examined, pp. 251-2)
With the collapse of the “acid rain” scare that dominated environmental issues for a few years before it was proved to be nonsense, Strong began casting around to find better evidence to support his worldview that free-market Capitalism exerted a destructive and damaging effect on the world. He found a valuable ally in Bert Bolin, a Scandinavian meteorologist who had studied at the Stockholm University where 60 years earlier Arrhenius did some ground-breaking work on carbon dioxide. Strong began to work with Bolin and others at the UN to build a case against carbon dioxide.
Just as Strong had organized the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and became its chairman, so again he played a huge role in setting up another UN sponsored organization called The International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 and became its first chairman. From the beginning, this UN organization was stuffed with money and dominated by green socialists bent on highlighting the environmental sins of the free-market economic system.
The charter of the IPCC stated that it was all about investigating the human influence on the climate. A huge number of scientists from all over the world were corralled to participate by submitting and reviewing papers.
If scientists are asked and rewarded handsomely with grants to find a human influence on the climate, then that is exactly what they are going to find. They were not asked to find the evidences of natural variability which is obviously a much larger field than merely looking at the human influence. Some researchers and reviewers were apprehensive about this bias toward highlighting human influences and demoting natural influences. They even complained that more balanced studies were being sidelined. Not a few of them resigned from further participation in the IPCC program. (See D. Weston Allen, The Weather Makers Re-examined, for a more detailed critique of the IPCC)
During this period, one of the participating scientists wrote to a colleague saying that they needed “to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.” For even the IPCC’s earlier Assessment Report still featured a climate graph on its front cover showing that the Medieval Warm Period was as warm as our present era. That kind of graph did not sit well with the agenda to magnify the human influence and minimize the influence of natural variability. For if it was conceded that the Medieval Warm Period was as warm as today, then it would weaken the case that the present warming could was mostly caused by mankind’s carbon dioxide emissions.
A climate researcher by the name of Michael Mann became the hero of the day. He and several colleagues (Bradley and Hughes) came up with a study to support an entirely new climate graph. It showed temperatures maintaining a flat line for the last 1,000 years, and then suddenly rising like a hockey stick blade at the end of the 20th century in lockstep with rising carbon dioxide levels. This Hockey Stick graph did everything the drivers behind the IPCC program wanted. It got rid of that troublesome Medieval Warm Period which would always throw their story into some doubt. And it showed temperatures perilously rising to unprecedented levels, correlating with mankind’s carbon dioxide emissions. This Hockey Stick graph was then featured on the front cover of the next IPCC Assessment Report.
A number of experts in statistical analysis in Canada and also in Europe, on reviewing Mann’s Hockey Stick research data, found that the statistical methods used by Mann were invalid. The Hockey Stick was more like a contrived cut and paste trick than authentic science. By this stage, however, nothing was going to stop the IPCC cart rolling triumphantly on.
In its 4th Assessment Report the IPCC declared that it could now say with 90% certainty that most of the global warming over the last 50 years was due to a human influence. This was upgraded to 95% certainty in the 5th Assessment Report (2013). The story was quite clear now: there can be no doubting that our carbon dioxide emissions were pushing our world toward a climate apocalypse.
Move over mighty sun, great ocean currents and all other celestial and terrestrial influences on the climate! All these past drivers of the climate were now supposed to be put in the shade by man’s mighty carbon dioxide emissions. (They were not going to spoil their story with any reminder that the natural carbon dioxide emissions from land and sea are about 33 times greater than all human emissions combined).
With the story telling us that mankind’s industrial emissions are exposing the world to a climate apocalypse, then it logically follows that we can also stop this climate apocalypse. “Yes we can” said Obama in his first Presidential Inaugural address. He said that beginning with his Presidency the world would begin to cool and the oceans would cease to rise. Here was someone greater than King Canute!
If there was any doubt about where this narrative of dangerous man-made climate change was heading, Sir Nicholas Stern put those doubts to rest by declaring, just after the 2007 IPCC Report was published: “Climate change is the result of the greatest market failure in history.” With this amazing one-liner we are given the answer to the great climate whodunit story. It’s the MARKET – not the sun, not cosmic rays, not the variability of the earth’s orbit around the sun nor the earth tilting on its axis, not the planetary alignments, not the changing ocean currents, volcanoes or any other natural forces that have brought on Ice Ages and warm periods in the past. The one thing that has caused this “unprecedented”, “runaway”, “tipping-point”, “destructive climate change” is the market. Yes, blame it all on the free enterprise system that has lifted more human beings out of poverty, improved the human condition and increased the human life span more than anything else in human history!
It’s the market silly! The official submission from Bolivia to the UN Paris Conference on climate change says this: “The structural cause that has triggered the climate crisis is the failed capitalist system. The capitalist system promotes consumerism, warmongering and commercialism, causing destruction of Mother Earth and humanity…For a lasting solution to the climate crisis we must destroy capitalism.” (The Australian, 13/11/20150)
That’s exactly the conclusion the UN framers of the climate story had come to and wanted others to conclude. It’s a no brainer. If our free-market capitalist system is the cause of the climate disaster, we must Get-up (pun intended) and get rid of it. That is exactly what Maurice Strong said must happen: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that industrial civilizations end.” That was the direction of his 40-year career networking at the UN, from his setting up the Earth Summit in Rio (1992) to his setting up the IPCC in 1988, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and lots of other UN programs in between. But he was not the only dreamer of a One-World Socialism.
From a UN climate official Ottmar Edenhofer: “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole. We redistribute the world’s wealth by climate policy.”
From Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change: “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, with a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution. This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”
The thesis is summed up in Naomi Klein’s recent book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.” The message here is crystal clear: Come dance on the grave of the free market capitalism and save the environment. In a preview documentary of her book she said, “It’s the best chance we have to build a better world.”
The UN’s climate science has always been driven by the UN’s worldview. That worldview also determines the way the science is used. Timothy Wirth, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Issues, said this: “We have got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” Richard Benedick, a deputy assistant secretary of state who headed policy divisions of the U.S. State Department did his bit to let the cat out of the bag with this statement, “A global warming treaty must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the greenhouse effect.” (Cited in EIR Science, March 16, 2007, CO2: The Greatest Scientific Scandal of our Time, by Zbigniew Jaworowski, Ph.D. )
The August 7 Newsletter of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (a British think-tank chaired by Lord Nigel Lawson) recently published several articles and reports about scientists and government advisers who believe that only a new collectivist order of global socialism can save us from the climate apocalypse. One of them is Australian scientist Will Steffen whose name is attached to a group of scientists who claim that only “collective solutions”, and “new governance arrangements and transformed social values” can enable us to decarbonize our whole way of life. He could have suggested that we stop breathing!
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber who is deeply involved in European and UN climate affairs says that national governments “will have to give up a good deal of their national sovereignty and establish a true regime of global governance.”
Another German government adviser expresses the view that “decarbonisation can only be achieved by the limitation of democracy.”
Did Maurice Strong, Naomi Kleim, Nicholas Stern and all these other neo-Marxist dreamers draw their pessimistic conclusions about the free market system from their study of the climate, or did they bring their pessimism of the free market to their study of the climate? It is clear that their story of climate catastrophism grows out of their core belief that there is something radically wrong with the whole capitalist system. They want to replace it with their new kind of World Socialism.
This story of the man-made climate disaster has been widely embraced because it taps into the mood of cultural pessimism that has become endemic. Cultural pessimism is a belief that everything is in a state of decline, going downhill and getting worse. This pessimistic mood flies in the face of the real evidence about the improving state of the world and the human condition on so many fronts. As Thomas Macaulay has said, “On what grounds when looking back we see nothing but progress can we look forward and see nothing but decline.”
As an illustration that feelings are not always in line with the facts, ask the average housekeeper if the food she has to buy to feed the family is more expensive now than it used to be. More often than not she will say that food is becoming more expensive. In actual fact the cost of food today in real terms is about 1/3rd of what it was 50-60 years ago. The cost of most other things has declined too.
There is a widespread belief that as the population grows and industry expands, the world’s forests are disappearing at the rate of knots. Who hasn’t heard the stories about how many trees equal to filling so many football fields are disappearing every hour? But during the last 34 years (1982 -2018), while the population of the world increased by more than a billion people, the tree cover of the earth has increased by a stunning 7.1%. That’s about 2,250 million square kilometres of extra tree cover.
It seems that everyone knowns (unless they are the knuckle dragging climate sceptics) that cyclones, droughts, floods, tornadoes and other weather disasters are becoming more frequent and intense because of all the human greenhouses gases. Right? Wrong again! Destructive weather events have actually decreased during the last 20 years.
Why do so many of us so readily believe the bad stories? “We do not see things as they are; we see them as we are.” (Talmud) In his truly monumental work, The Idea of Decline in Western History, Arthur Herman makes the same observation: “Pessimism and optimism are attitudes the scholar brings to his analysis of events, not conclusions that arise from that analysis… For the cultural pessimist, the bad news is actually good news. He greets economic depression, unemployment, world wars and conflicts, and environmental disasters with barely concealed glee, since these events all foreshadow the final destruction of modern civilization.” (pp.3,9)
In looking at the conception and development of the story of a climate apocalypse, we are not looking at some kind of a conspiracy to create a hoax. Conspiracy theories totally miss the point. We are looking at the conception and the development of an idea that is part of a belief system that nothing can dislodge except a return to the myth-busting rationalism of the Enlightenment, or otherwise the inevitable train smash that eventually happens with every apocalyptic movement.
Science values scepticism; religion damns it.
In his book, The Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan makes an interesting comparison between religion and science. Religion tends to laud faith and damn scepticism. Not so with science. As Huxley famously said about science, “Scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”
If this is true, then the DAGW science walks like a religion and quacks like a religion. It is a religion. It says “The science is settled!” “The debate is over!” That kind of talk sounds like the Church of Climatology. Anyone who dares to be sceptical of the “settled science” is liable to be derided as a “flat earther,” “a knuckle dragger,” “a denier” [like a Holocaust denier] who should be suppressed, expelled, even jailed, as some now suggest, for a crime against the planet. Unbelief in the dogma of emissions reduction is regarded as almost as appalling as questioning a dogma of the Medieval Church used to be. Expressing any scepticism about the climate science dogma has become a career hazard, a grant-getting hazard, a political hazard and a reputational hazard. This is not the way science works; it’s the dark side of religion at work.
Further evidence that it is more religion than science is the ad hominem approach to any contrary argument, article or research paper. Instead of dealing with the arguments or evidence, DAGW devotees immediately begin digging up dirt on the messenger: sinful scientists can’t be trusted, only saintly DAGW ones. Even when their saints falter, like substituting real temperatures to “hide the decline” in inconvenient proxies when concocting hockey-stick temperature charts, the climate church whitewashes and protects them.
The first experiment in World Socialism was driven by a grand narrative that was scripted by Karl Marx. Marx’s parental background was Jewish. Marx’s father converted to Evangelical Christianity and young Marx was baptized into the Lutheran Church. Marx fashioned his socialist narrative along the same lines as the Christian story of Paradise lost and Paradise restored.
Whereas the Christian narrative begins with the fall of man from the ideal human state at the beginning of history, in Marx’s script it was the fall of man from a classless society into a state of alienation. In his story, the “original sin” that destroyed the classless society was not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but “eating” of the tree of capital and labour. This created on the one hand bosses who owned the means of production and workers on the other who became alienated from the true enjoyment of their own productive work. The way to restore the lost Paradise, according to the story of Marx, was to destroy the whole system of capital and labour which creates class and alienation, and to restore the classless society of human equality. “Workers of the world unite” became the mantra of the Marxist religion.
In going head-to-head with the capitalist World centred in the United States and Western Europe, the Communism that developed behind the Iron Curtain always claimed the high moral ground, especially in its ideals of human equality. Its motto, “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” seemed to reflect the way of life among the first Christians in Jerusalem who held all things in common ownership (Acts 2:44-46).
Capitalism, on the other hand, didn’t appear to claim any high moral ground that could match Marxism. Some would even argue that there was no moral high ground in a system which fostered the belief that “greed is good.”
It was soon found, however, that when a central planning authority took charge of the economy and a collective system took over the farm or the factory, the individual was expected to lay aside his own dreams and freedoms for the good of the collective. The collective mattered, but not the individual. The individual became seriously devalued and dispensable. People lost the dignity of their individuality, and the system ended up disposing of millions of people as if they were trash.
Things became so bad that the authorities had to build the Berlin Wall to prevent the workers escaping from their workers’ Paradise. The bitter irony of this must not be missed. Marx had scripted a story that created a dream about a better world for the workers. From the beginning, the story line was that Marxism would create a better world, with better working conditions and a better standard of living for the workers.
For all of its shortcomings, the capitalist world of the market economy had one thing going for it, and that was freedom. Human beings perform at their most creative and productive best only when they are free. No collective ever painted a Mona Lisa, designed the Sydney Opera House or discovered the theory of Relativity. Most of the great discoveries, inventions and scientific breakthroughs in history were not arrived at by some collective, but by free individuals – like a Thomas Edison or a Steve Jobs expressing their creative genius. Whoever or whatever takes individual freedom away kills the goose that lays the golden eggs for the benefit of the whole society.
Thanks to the freedoms of the capitalist system, no generation has ever been as well fed, clothed, educated, medicated, travelled, entertained or has had as many years to live as this generation. When Julian Simon did a survey of the health and wealth of the people in the different nations of the world, he found that it was a general rule that the less oppressive the government and the more freedom the people of a country enjoyed, the healthier and wealthier were the citizens.
Milton Friedman summed it up like this: “When a society places freedom before equality, then it gains a great measure of both, but when a society places equality before freedom, then it attains neither.”
The old Marxist dream of creating more goods and services for its workers is now dead and buried, but that does not mean that the dream of socialism is dead. When the Berlin Wall and all that it symbolized collapsed, many socialists poured out from its ruins only to pour into the environmental movement. That is how the term “watermelon Greens” originated, meaning that inwardly they were still socialists. Yet instead of pushing the old Marxist line that the greedy capitalist world of the free market gives the workers of the world too little goods and services, the new Green socialists started complaining that the Free World was creating too many goods and services. It pushed the new line that there was too much affluence, too much consumption of the world’s scare resources, and above all, such a prodigious use of carbon-based energy, that the free-market was creating a climate apocalypse.
We have already traced how this neo-Marxist story line was crafted by a cabal of neo-Marxists working in the UN network of climate change organizations and conferences. Instead of running the old story line that sweeping away the free-market will create a better world for the workers, they spun the story that their new World Order of Socialism was needed to create a safer and healthier environment. It’s called sustainability.
Here is a new twist to the old narrative about the fall of man and original sin, but it now dressed up in green garments. The original sin becomes the hubris of mankind’s thinking it could get above nature in order to rule and subdue it (Genesis 1:27-29); and redemption is returning to the Gates of Eden by living in harmony with nature. You bet it’s a religion!
This neo-Marxist dream is a far greater threat to human freedom than old-time Communism.
The old Marxism did not set out to be anti-human. It wanted to improve the human condition far beyond anything capitalism could do. The same thing can’t be said about environmental socialism. It is deeply misanthropic. It sees mankind in terms of being the scourge of the environment and a cancer of the earth. Short of eradication, it says that mankind should have its numbers drastically reduced. The affluence and extravagant consumption of the earth’s resources has to stop. But in this worldview, it all has to start with reducing carbon dioxide emissions, decarbonizing the economy and reducing the human carbon footprint on the earth. If this war on carbon is going to starve a billion people and destroy industrial civilization, some would even say, “Hoorah! that is what we want.”
The old socialism behind the Iron Curtain ended up destroying people because it thought the Collective was more important than people. The new socialism makes its environmental cause more important than people. A classical illustration of this is Greenpeace’s opposition to Golden Rice which has been genetically modified to correct a Vitamin A deficiency that is killing more than a million people a year. But because Greenpeace is ideologically opposed to the GM technology, it has prevented Golden Rice from being grown in Third World countries. This is the enormous error of elevating any ideology or ism to become more important than people. Another name for this is Fundamentalism.
Carbon and carbon dioxide are so bound up with every aspect of life – as this paper has shown – that it is not possible to control carbon without controlling every aspect of human existence.
Those who plan this neo-Marxist future for us, on the pretext of saving us from the climate apocalypse, at least can recognize that to achieve the level of decarbonisation required, they will have to (1) radically curtail our economic freedoms, (2) drastically wind back our political freedoms, and (3) most threatening of all, reach into the inner sanctum of our minds to change our values, reform our behaviour and re-educate us to have a different worldview.
We say, “most threatening of all,” because the values and worldviews that the socialists envisage are the domain of religion. That domain includes freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and the freedom of each individual to choose his own values. This is absolutely the domain of the individual where no collective of any kind has a right to intrude or impose its will.
This trilogy of human freedoms – religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom – represents the greatest achievement of Western Civilization. These freedoms were conceived only after long centuries of the struggle of the human spirit against the oppressive union of Church and State that began with the conversion of Constantine the Great. These human freedoms never saw the light of day until the Enlightenment had followed on from the Reformation. It was then that a galaxy of intellectual giants conceived of frontiers of human freedom that had heretofore never been crossed.
Blazing the trail toward a new dawn of religious freedom was John Milton in England and Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams in America. Yet the freedom they envisaged could not be realized until the founding fathers of the Unites States of America had achieved the separation of Church and State. Without this world-first breakthrough, religious freedom would have been stillborn.
Opening up a new frontier of political freedom were the fathers of liberal democracy – Jefferson, Voltaire, John Locke, John Stuart Mill and others of that ilk. The liberal democracies they fathered were about the freedom of political ideas, the freedom of political association, the freedom to vote for whom one choses, the freedom to run for political office and the freedom of speech. It created a free “market” of political ideas where this philosophy would prevail: “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Before Marx had formulated his Communist Manifesto in 1848, Adam Smith, a leading figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, had already drafted his vision of economic freedom in his Wealth of Nations. This was a brilliantly reasoned defence of a free market economy as a means of creating the greatest wealth to benefit the greatest number of people. It was this idea of economic freedom which opened up the heretofore untapped potential of human ingenuity and creativity.
These freedoms achieved by Western Civilization belong to the whole human race. Any nation that embraces them rightly belongs to what is called the Free World. These freedoms have brought with them the greatest improvements of the human condition that has ever been seen in human history – in nutrition, in hygiene, in medicine, in education, in travel, in technology, in access to information, in entertainment, in longevity and above all, in human rights. Much remains to be done to make conditions better for everyone. But nothing is to be gained by going back to fondle the old chains of an oppressive socialism.
The Free World had to fight bitterly for this heritage of freedom in its conflict with the National Socialism of the Nazis and World Socialism behind the Iron Curtain. These great enemies of human freedom were enemies outside the gates of the Free World. But now we face a new phase of the war because this time the enemy is not hammering at our gates but is an enemy trying to destroy us from within our gates.
The neo-Marxists have employed the myth of carbon pollution as a weapon to beat up on our hard won freedoms, to beat up on our values and everything else that has made us free and prosperous. We call their weapon a myth because carbon and carbon dioxide are as pure as the driven snow and as essential to life as oxygen and water. Far from being harmful, carbon dioxide emissions are enormously beneficial. The story of the dangerous effects of carbon dioxide is a delusion. It’s a cuckoo in the nest of human freedom. The false information of this myth acts on the body of our society like a virus acts on the immune system to cause the body to start destroying itself.
The Free World fought off the enemy from without and preserved its heritage of freedom. The question now is whether it will rise to the challenge of fighting off the enemy within to preserve its heritage of freedom.
How can we look at what has gone on in the international Climate Conferences from Rio to Copenhagen, or from Paris to Bangkok and not conclude that the nations are doing things to destroy the gains of a free civilization. This UN crusade to stop climate change has become a trillion dollar industry that does nothing more to change the climate than a pagan rain dance. Yet it is doing an enormous amount of environmental damage in program after program.
It is also doing enormous amount of damage to science by compromising its independence by massive government patronage. It has turned science into a political weapon with scientists becoming paid advocates of government policy. This now makes the separation of Science and the State as necessary as the separation of Church and State.
The war on carbon is doing great damage to the economy as illustrated by what it has done to escalate electricity prices. Rising energy costs, all politically created, threaten to de-industrialize whole nations. That is exactly how Maurice Strong thought it should happen, starting with his first international Conference in Rio (1992) where the insidious Agenda 21 program was launched.
The greatest threat of all, however, is the threat to human freedom. Why allow ourselves to be so deluded that we would surrender the freedoms inherent in self-government to a UN government? The only way a free people could be enticed down this road is brilliantly stated by H.L. Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
It is not possible to control carbon and its emissions without taking control of every aspect of human existence. Carbon emissions enters into absolutely everything we do right down to our breathing. If we spit we make carbon emissions. If we travel to work, buy a pair of shoes or other goods and services of any kind, we cause carbon emissions. If we go to a football match we become part of an event that causes massive carbon emissions. If we go to church we cause carbon emissions. Even when we die we will add to those carbon emissions.
We are all carbon-based organisms which run on food which is made of carbon, we live in houses built of carbon materials, dress in carbon fibres, and participate in the great dance of life made possible by the constant exchange of carbon. It is called the carbon cycle. We can’t avoid being part of it and can’t live without it. How then is a war on carbon possible without a war on life itself? This is madness gone mad.
At least Will Steffen understands that de-carbonizing the economy will mean massive social engineering and re-education to change human values, to change human behaviour, and to change governance away from the principle of self-governance to more centralized control. To be sure, Will Steffen clothes what he thinks must happen with the kind of obfuscated jargon that will not frighten the horses. He could, however, just cut to the chase and say that what he is really on about is establishing a carbon dictatorship that abolishes that whole trilogy of religious, political and economic freedoms.
Why not simply call it for what it is? – a carbon police State. Or an eco-Taliban.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Mayweather, we can’t sell you a plane ticket to Sydney to see your daughter because you have already exhausted your carbon rations.”
“No Kidman, we can’t allow you to run another 100 head of cattle unless you pay a massive Flatulence Tax for all those extra carbon emissions from the cattle.”
“Bristleway, you are being sent to our re-education camp for six months to overcome your inclination to scepticism.”
“Your family must cut back on eating meat and choose a more climate friendly diet. Remember, you can get carbon credits by becoming vegetarian and even more if you become vegan or a locavore.”
“No Jones, you must shelve your dream of owning that little red sports car.”
“Believe what the Science believes, no more, no less; that the Science is right and always right, confess.”
“Isn’t it time you went to carbon confession?”
“Don’t tell the carbon police that I’m away on fishing trip in a power boat. That’ll blow my carbon credits for the whole year.”
Says Patrick Moore Ph.D., one of the four co-founders of Greenpeace: “I fear for the end of the Enlightenment. I fear an intellectual Gulag with Greenpeace as my prison guards.”
The radical Left is already running amok inside the city, preparing the way for this neo-Marxist takeover. They have already taken over most of the Universities and most of the Media. Their sacred cow is the climate change dogma because it is their big stick to beat up on Capitalism, Western Civilization and all the freedoms of the Enlightenment. Using political correctness, identity politics, the manipulation of language itself, plus the tactics of censorship and intimidation, they are shutting down freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and an individual’s right to her own worldview and values. Anyone who has not seen this going on right now in Universities and other speaking venues would have to be living under a rock.
At stake here is the right of every individual to choose their own story and to live their own story. At stake too is every person’s right to form their own worldview, determine their own values, live by the dictates of their own conscience, and enjoy the right to free speech and free assembly. All this comes under the umbrella of what is broadly called freedom of religion. On that freedom depends our hard won political and economic freedoms.
This rock of human freedom, however, has proved to be a hard old rock. The first experiment in World Socialism came to grief on it. We can be confident that neo-Marxism, which is being carried on the wings of climate change catastrophism, will also be smashed to pieces on that same old rock. We have nothing to fear for the future except we forget that freedom was our civilization’s finest achievement. To cite Macaulay again, “On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?
Patrick Moore, Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?
Matt Ridley, Global Warming versus Global Greening
Indur Goklany, Carbon Dioxide: The Good News
CO2 Coalition: Climate Change and Health
CO2 Science (Craig Idso –the world’s leading expert on C02 benefits to agriculture and plant life)
CO2 Coalition (Carbon Dioxide Benefits the World)
GWPF Newsletter (Highly recommended)
- Weston Allen, The Weather Makers Re-examined (Irenic Publications)
Jennifer Marohasy (Editor), Climate Change. The Facts 2017 (Institute of Public Affairs)
Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White, Fueling Freedom. Exposing the Mad War on Energy
Alex Epstein, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science
Indur M. Goklany, The Improving State of the World. Why we’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet