On Climate

By:  Robert D. Brinsmead

Even the work of hard-nosed scientists is not disconnected from their worldviews, from peer pressure, group-think and their sources of funding.  As Herman puts it (from memory) he says that a pessimistic worldview and an optimistic worldview is not something the researchers derive from the evidence, but it is a bias that they bring to the evidence.  We could all provide many illustrations of this in the history of scientific advancement.

When we come to talk about greenhouse gases (not a very apt adjective, but we all use it now because we are stuck with it like we are stuck with “the big bang”) we must always remember that greenhouse gas is about (90% water vapour and around 5% CO2 and the rest is hardly worth reckoning with)  Now these two are non-toxic and a natural part of life.  When it comes to greenhouse emissions, the ocean (in the reckoning of Dr. Roy Spencer, former NASA climatologist) emits every day 240,000 times more greenhouse gas than humans in the form of water vapour and C02.  The oceans produce about 80% of the world’s oxygen and about 40% of the world’s CO2 – it is all natural.  It is not pollution.  The rest of the CO2 is emitted by the soils – most of it, just returning the vegetation or organic matter to the atmosphere in the form of CO2 and methane from where it came, and that mostly from soil organisms, and to a lesser extent termites.  The total human contribution of C02 is from 3% to 4%, but as a percentage of greenhouse gas, you have to multiply the 4% by about one part in a hundred – in other words put a couple of noughts in the front of the 4%.  For the climate system to adjust to that variation is about what it is like for your body adjusting to a bit more CO2 or a bit more water (like drinking one more glass of water a day than you need).  Now if CO2 were really a toxic pollutant, then any slight variation might be disastrous, but when you look at the history of the planet back through the Cambrian Age when life exploded or the Jurassic Age you see that CO2 levels have varied dramatically, up to twenty times more than at present.  CO2 is safe for animals and humans at least to a level of 5,000 parts per million (currently we have a bit less than 400 ppm).

We need to stand back from a lot of the fuss and ask, What does the science tell us, and what does the science not tell us – at least as yet?  Science tells us that greenhouse gas is like a blanket of insulation that keeps the earth warmer and the climate more equable than it otherwise would be.  Just think of how a desert in which there is little moisture in the air can get very hot in the day and then quickly turn very cold after the sun goes down – ah, too little greenhouse gas.  Science also knows and I think has proved beyond reasonable doubt that a doubling of CO2 would, if everything else remained equal) increase world warming by about 1 degree Celsius give or take a fraction.  What scientists can’t agree on is how that initial 1 will affect the whole system, whether the feedbacks will be positive or negative – in other words, it is far from agreed whether the human influence here is likely or even capably of being catastrophic – or even might at the end of the day be beneficial.  A very recent survey was taken up among scientists and when questions about likely a dangerous influence of human CO2 were put to a large number of scientists.  Surprise, surprise, only 38% of scientists said it might be dangerous – and the majority of scientists thought that natural variation is far more significant than human impacts.  I have suspected for some time that the scientists register about the same level of alarm or non-alarm as the general public, or even as the educated general public.  Surveys have also shown that the more educated the public are, the more sceptical they are inclined to be.

So when you hear it bandied about that 97% of the scientific community agree on the GW science, it only means they agree on the basic science of what is called the GHE – greenhouse effect – that CO2 does have a warming effect.  97% of sceptical scientists agree on that too.  There is no settled science on feedbacks and climate sensitivity.  As the numbers keep rolling in, it is becoming clear that the alarmists have exaggerated the human greenhouse effect.  Nearly everything associated with Climate Change has been grossly exaggerated, like Acid Rain, YK2 bug, swine flu –” so Twain; reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”