Cyprus Mail

Data or dogma? Climate orthodoxy versus evidence-based science

Not so happy campers - Environmental protestors from the Extinction Rebellion group during a demonstration outside the BBC in December 2018 in London

By Elias Hazou

AS THEY circle the wagons eco-missionaries cling to their faith in anthropogenic global warming (AGW), prophesying Armageddon unless mankind mends its errant ways. Fear-mongering, virtue-signalling and guilt-tripping the doubting Thomases, they themselves fail to grasp a simple concept: that correlation, if any, between carbon dioxide and temperature is not necessarily causation.

First let us summarily dispense with the canard of the AGW ‘consensus’. The myth about ‘97 per cent of scientists agree that humans cause global warming’ largely derives from a literature review by John Cook et al. published in 2013. Though utterly discredited, AGW cheerleaders have latched on and won’t let go.

Cook’s survey looked at 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific papers from 1991 to 2011. Rather than rely on third-party accounts, the Sunday Mail went straight to the source.

The review reads: “We find that 66.4 per cent of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6 per cent endorsed AGW, 0.7 per cent rejected AGW and 0.3 per cent were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1 per cent endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

So even taking these numbers at face value, among only those papers with a strong opinion on AGW, 97.1 per cent of that subset alone were said to endorse the hypothesis. And that subset accounted for just 32.6 per cent of all papers. By far the majority of scientists (66.4 per cent) were agnostic on the subject.

Thus the reviewers are hoist with their own petard. So much for the vaunted 97 per cent – or any consensus for that matter.

Unfazed by their own findings showing no consensus, they conclude: “The public perception of a scientific consensus on AGW is a necessary element in public support for climate policy.”

Lesson: stay on message and don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

What if a consensus did exist? You may have heard of the headcount fallacy, whereby a proposition is said to be true because many or most people believe it. But whether or not there’s widespread agreement on something, tells you nothing about whether it’s true.

For ‘consensus’, read group-think.

Moving along. Alarmists like to parade their ‘the science is settled’ meme. But any true intellectual will tell you this amounts to hubris and no science is ever settled.

What does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claim? Briefly: the Earth’s atmosphere and surface are heating at an increasing rate; greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause; and warming is dangerous and we’ll reach a ‘tipping point’.

None of these assertions are up to snuff. For the IPCC’s models are flawed from the outset; their warming projections revolve around CO2 emissions alone. They don’t account for solar activity, natural variability, ocean cycles, geological factors or the unknown.

The IPCC’s terms of reference assume a priori – a red flag right there – that greenhouse gases drive global warming, with other causes munificently thrown in as an afterthought. When your terms of reference are that narrow, the outcome is largely predetermined. If all you see is CO2, then CO2 explains everything. And somehow this passes for ‘science’.

Alabama State climatologist Dr John Christy

Testifying before the US Congress in March 2017, John Christy, a distinguished climatologist, presented a graph that arguably blows away the AGW hypothesis.

The graph depicts the IPCC’s temperature projections for the mid troposphere for 1979 to 2016, contrasting these with actual data readouts from satellites and balloons.

The IPCC model runs – 102 in total – were way off the mark from the real data. Their prediction models consistently generated temperatures that were far higher than those observed.

Time and again, empirical evidence has falsified the AGW hypothesis. The IPCC’s failure to accurately predict the climate means – by definition – they don’t understand how the climate works. Yet it is these flawed computer simulations that are used to make policy and roll out the carbon taxes.

Christy also demonstrated that globally, severe weather events have been waning in recent decades, while droughts – a big talking point here in Cyprus – are likewise decreasing both in frequency and duration.

On the presumed correlation between CO2 and temperatures, Christy tells the Sunday Mail it’s actually fairly weak if one looks at individual years or changes on century timescales.

“CO2 is a greenhouse gas and is part of the atmospheric constituents which warm the atmosphere, but changes in CO2 appear to be only weakly correlated with changes in the temperature,” the professor said in an email.

According to Christy, the data show there hasn’t been much temperature change in the last 20 years – the peaks are due to El Nino events.

Now hang onto your hats. You’ve heard it said ad nauseam that ‘X number of the last five/ten years have been the warmest on record’. That is patently false. In fact there was no net global warming from 1996 to 2014. Zero. And the ‘Great Pause’ coincided with a continuing, rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

The Great Pause RSS monthly global mean lower-troposphere temperature anomalies (dark blue) and trend (thick bright blue line), September 1996 to September 2014, showing no trend for 18 years

Flummoxed, catastrophists switched gears, postulating the extra heat from human emissions has got to be somewhere out there, trapped deep within the oceans. Research has not borne this out.

Ice core studies show that throughout the millennia CO2 follows temperature rises, that is, CO2 does not cause but is a consequence of warmer weather.

What’s the optimal global temperature? One degree lower? How about half a degree higher? The Medieval Warm Period was hotter than today. Just what is ‘dangerous’?

Those who think of the IPCC as an august body might want to reconsider. In the IPCC’s second assessment report published in 1995, the earlier drafts had featured five statements that no evidence could be found on humans causing most global warming. These inconvenient statements were expunged from the final draft.

Here’s one example of the AGW ideologues massaging the data: the IPCC retroactively ‘adjusted’ temperatures relating to before 1990, making it look like the planet was colder in the past, thus yielding a sharper trend in temperature increase from 1990 onward. Whenever their narrative falters, they simply move the goalposts.

Unsurprisingly, many scientists call out the IPCC for operating in an echo-chamber.

What the public isn’t being told is that life thrives on CO2. Currently, CO2 concentration is about 400 parts per million (ppm). Below 150 ppm, plant-life dies off on a massive scale. Humans annually put approximately 40 billion tonnes of CO2 into the air. Sounds a lot – until you learn that, by mass, this extra CO2 is only about 0.0008 per cent of the Earth’s total atmosphere.

Though deforestation continues, the total biomass of green matter growing on Earth has increased in recent decades owing to CO2 fertilisation. A study using satellite data from Nasa showed increasing leaf cover over the past one-third of a century.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, whereas sea levels have been rising they have done so at a remarkably steady rate, and well below the apocalyptic scenarios peddled by alarmists.

Nor are the data on the ice sheets conclusive. Latest data show a diminishing expanse of Arctic ice, but growing in Antarctica, likely due to long-term variability. The situation at the poles is in constant flux.

In an emailed response to the Sunday Mail, Lord Christopher Monckton, an active campaigner against the AGW agenda, dismissed the hysterics over climate change.

Commenting on the science-policy interface, Monckton demonstrates how measures aimed at curbing global warming are impractical and futile.

Citing the recent example of France, he’s worked out that the government’s controversial carbon taxes on gasoline and diesel would burden French taxpayers with an additional €2.865bn a year.

By contrast, the assumed benefits to the environment from CO2 abatement are infinitesimal.

Monckton calculates that the planned French measures would cut global C02 emissions by a mere 0.006 per cent.

Globally, the cost of abating all of the 4.2 Kelvin global warming predicted for this century would be €6 quadrillion – an annual per-capita loss of €8,000, approaching 90 per cent of the €8,950 global mean annual per-capita income in 2016 (World Bank).

In 2010 IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer stated: “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth…”

For a teaser on how climate zealots imagine the world, head on to Youtube and watch ‘A Future Without Waste’. It’s a talk by Ida Auken, Denmark’s former minister for the environment. Here, she instructs how in the future we’ll own no property, but rather we’ll rent and be assigned energy credits.

Notwithstanding her touchy-feely delivery, Auken is openly advocating for the abolition of private property, which if history has taught us anything goes hand in glove with totalitarianism.

The authoritarian proclivities of the ‘Save The Polar Bear’ brigade manifest in their language. People questioning their unproven hypothesis get browbeaten into silence by being labelled ‘deniers’ – the modern-day equivalent of ‘heretics’ pursued by the Inquisition. Doctrine, it seems, has replaced scientific inquiry.

A mother polar bear protects her cubs – data on Arctic ice sheets is inconclusive

In the words of former IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri: “For me the protection of planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than my mission, it is my religion.”

In 2015 US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse called for criminal statutes to be applied to ‘climate deniers’.

So laughable is the ‘denier’ slur, one doesn’t know where to begin. There’s nothing to deny in the first place, because AGW isn’t a fact to be denied, but an opinion, a hypothesis. Moreover, eco-evangelists muddy the waters by omitting to mention that so-called ‘sceptics’ don’t doubt at all that CO2 may cause some global warming. It’s scientific fact that CO2 traps heat. The question is how much warming does CO2 cause, and in the real world no one’s nailed it down because the Earth’s climate is an incredibly complex, dynamic, and self-correcting system. As climatologist Judith Curry has stated, there’s more we don’t know about the climate than we do know.

Curry is another scientist who’s experienced eco-bullying for straying from the orthodoxy. Neither she nor Christy are beholden to special interests.

Back to Monckton: “On the scientific and economic evidence, it’s time for governments to pluck up the courage to do nothing about global warming. In the past 20 years, the raw-material price of coal, oil and gas has fallen by two-thirds, yet the cost of electricity has doubled. The West is inflicting needless and severe economic damage on itself through overpriced fuel and power, while tens of millions a year die in Third World countries because they don’t have access to electricity.”

So here’s what you need to know: for all the hype, the science on climate change is far from settled. Bias, cherry-picking and outright disinformation abound. Should you run into a poor soul who’s been drinking the climate Kool-Aid, be gentle. Use reason and facts to de-programme them. If it still fails, at least you tried.


Related posts

Twitter warns readers that Trump’s ballot claims were false

Public invited to help create new slogan for Paphos

Bejay Browne

Our View: Optimism over opening of airports short-lived

CM: Our View

After shortages, Britain opens new protective equipment supply lines

White House says late-June G7 summit would be great reopening example

Overseas tourists have shown interest in Cyprus this summer says Perdios

Jonathan Shkurko