Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A climate confession (Or Why I became a 'denier')

Once I believed in the theory of global warming. I thought, quite sincerely, that mankind was going to destroy life on Earth with an excess of CO2.

Being of an enquiring mind, I began to look at the figures and theories to gain a greater understanding of the subject to see if there was more I could do. What actually happened was that all my researches gave me quite a large reality check. The physics just didn't stack up. The increased CO2 levels actually lagged, not led an increase in temperature. There were proper, peer reviewed scientific papers about ice cores which proved this beyond all reasonable doubt.

Then I began to look at the history of climate over the past few millennia. Ice (or frost) fairs on the Thames? Greenland with thriving agricultural communities? Vineyards in northern England? Northwest passage ice free? All of these things are well recorded throughout our history. All well before human mass industrialised society. What on Earth was going on?

I looked at the effect of volcanic eruptions upon regional climate. I looked at the sunspot cycles, magnetosphere variations, the cosmic ray correlations of cloud formation, and then had a second long cool look at the original theory of CO2 climate change. In order to 'work' the theory needs an infinitely thick atmosphere, which planet Earth doesn't have. In addition, CO2 only trapped sunlight in two specific wavelengths. This was a bit of a revelation to me. My own amateur research, designed to gain a greater understanding of man made climate change actually led me to a change of heart.

The doom laden predictions in the media also made me pause for thought. Then I began to look at the old 'new ice age' predictions from the 1970's. Industry was on the decline in the Western hemisphere and people were already talking about a 'post industrial society' as early as the 1980's. So where was all this extra CO2 coming from? Cars alone? Yes, but improved engine technology is resulting in cleaner air. I remember what walking along the streets could be like before cleaner burning car engines became commonplace. The diesel fumes alone used to give me massive migraine type headaches. The same for jet engine technology. Power stations were becoming more efficient, and fluidised bed technology and reclaim technology was resulting in air cleaner than I could remember. Especially in the cities. Smog is less common than it was, and I remember how downright dirty the air in Birmingham, England could be back in the 1970's. In the late 1990's I genuinely thought we were winning the war on human produced air pollution.

Then there were the long range forecasts. My faith in those disappeared back in the 1980's after a series of weather events were gotten completely wrong by no less august a body than the UK Meteorological Office. They weren't just wrong, they made the opposite prediction. Likewise, all the predictions of global catastrophe I've been reading since the 1970's all have one major factor in common; they haven't happened.

When I looked more deeply at the physics and geophysics, I realised the doom and gloom predictions couldn't happen. For example, one prediction was about the Gulf Stream grinding to a sudden halt. To understand why this cannot happen you have to look at the Earth's ocean currents as a whole. The northwards flowing Gulf stream has a correlating deep water sister that provides recirculation of arctically cooled water, and as warm water flows on the surface, this flows underneath it to rise southward in warmer tropical waters and be reheated to become the Gulf stream again. If you think how many cubic miles of water this shifts in a day, you begin to see how idiotic this specific prediction is. The Gulf stream, and North Atlantic drift are part of the global Thermohaline (THC) circulation of ocean waters. The energy level changes for such an event would require a massive freezing, not warming. As I have posited before, the Physics just doesn't stack up. The disaster predictions are, if viewed objectively, downright anti-scientific. They are almost without exception emotional, and have more to do with politics than science.

Now there is a warming effect from greenhouse gases. Without it the Earth would be much colder. This warming effect has a limit though, and can be thought of as a blanket around the Earth. This 'blanket' also radiates a varying amount of energy out into space. Like an actual woollen blanket it can only retain so much heat energy. Anyone who has actually spent a night sleeping under the stars can confirm this. It can get awfully cold, even in tropical climes at night, and that is exactly what half our little blue green home world is sitting in; night. Year in, year out. Out of the glare of the sun, the temperature of space is very cold. Minus two hundred and seventy six degrees Celsius cold. Cold enough to freeze the very oxygen in your haemoglobin, and then some. That is what Earth orbits in. Without the suns heat there would be no little blue green world at all, because all the complex systems that produce the water and air could not happen. This is a very simplified view of an extremely complex system, but for all that is nonetheless valid because it works as it does.

There was also the political aspect. Back in my activist days (Tree planting, campaigning against green belt development), it was all rather genteel; and apart from raised voices in meetings and threats of lying down in front of earth moving machinery, the Environmental lobby was a small and mostly local affair. In the 1990's however, I noticed new voices at the back. More strident, more extreme. Quite frankly what the more conservative of our number called "serious wierdo's" were joining the movement. Those who didn't baulk at using violent tactics. The extreme Animal Rights activists, previously a minority, became mainstream. As did the anti-roads protesters. In the face of the new extreme Environmentalism I felt sidelined, my more low key views about a balanced environment ignored. Gradually I stopped going to meetings and disassociated myself from the various causes. Then when GreenPeace started telling lies over Brent Spar that was the last straw for me and as I watched the other causes like the World Wildlife Fund and RSPCA become ever more politicised, I knew that they were not causes I could support any more.

Then there was Al Gore's film, 'an inconvenient truth'. That was so full of pseudo scientific nonsense that it actually made me actively disbelieve in man made climate change. It was partially because of the misrepresentations within that film that I became a 'climate change atheist'. Nothing to date has made me want to change that outlook. In fact as the pro man made climate change lobby grows ever more shrill and hysterical, calling people who don't agree with them 'Climate criminals', 'Climate change deniers' or in the pay of 'Big Oil' oh pur-leaze!, I grow ever more convinced that they have lost the debate. My reasoning is this, if they had truth on their side, they wouldn't need to call people names when they disagreed with them.

Someone is bankrolling these strident voices. Probably not directly, but there is a small number of very rich people who stand to lose big time if 'Carbon trading' doesn't pay off. Al Gore alone is reputed to have pumped three hundred million dollars into the cause of promoting the apocalyptic view. That's not loose change. It has been suggested that companies with a vested interest in 'Green' technology have been implicated in promoting the anthropogenic element.

This is my last word on the subject; any effect man has on the 'climate' is generally localised. CO2 alone can't be the culprit because it has both physics and history against it.

It's not that the climate doesn't change, it's just that any human element is minimal and overall, inconsequential. The climate changes without, and even in spite of humankind. Committing economic seppuku for something they had no control over will be a very sad epitaph for the Western democracies.

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