Climate change ‘heretics’ rebuff carbon dangers

  • February

A CANDIDATE for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about “global warming”.  Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true.

In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of Barack Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society with a letter that begins:  “I did not renew (my membership) because I cannot live with the (APS policy) statement:  ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: global warming is occurring.  If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’  In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?”

In spite of a multi-decade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilisation, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share Giaever’s opinions.  And the number of scientific “heretics” is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now.  This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009  “Climategate” email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth:  “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

But the warming is missing only if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapour and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.  The lack of warming for more than a decade — indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began issuing projections — suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause.

Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colourless and odourless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle.  Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth.

This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today.  Better plant varieties, chemical fertilisers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that they are afraid to speak of their doubts for fear of not being promoted — or worse.

They have good reason to worry.  In 2003, Chris de Freitas, the then editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming was not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past 1000 years.

The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position.  Fortunately, de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before.  For example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union.  Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs.  Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexed that the American Physical Society, from which Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word “incontrovertible” from its description of a scientific issue?

There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question “cui bono?” Or the modern update, “Follow the money”.

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow.  Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet.  Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: there is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to “de-carbonise” the world’s economy.  Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse gas control policies are not justified economically.

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio was achieved for a policy that allowed 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls.  This would be especially beneficial to the less developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material wellbeing, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy.

Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment.  And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

If elected officials feel compelled to “do something” about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data.  The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history.  However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of “incontrovertible” evidence.

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, co-founder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, England; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and chief executive of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former US senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

See the other side which has changed their angle a bit:


Wendell Krossa – Comments

As we continue to emerge from the Little Ice Age of the late 1600s, early 1700s a warmer earth will be appreciated by all life.  Let’s pray global warming continues after this current pause now going on over a decade.  The hundreds dying in another bitter European winter will especially appreciate more warmth.  Life suffers from these ice age eras with low levels of CO2.  Plant life had to make a major evolutionary adjustment to survive the low CO2 of this latest multi-million year ice-age era.  With no problems noted with high levels of CO2 in past eras (up to 7000 ppms) more CO2 will benefit all life. This was the heart of the  statement signed by the almost 32,000 scientists on the Protest Petition against global warming alarmism (see statement below).

Those signing the statement included the most respected climatologists on the planet, like Richard Lindzen of MIT, Roy Spencer, and many others like Freeman Dyson.

“We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals.  The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.  Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”