By Dr Kelvin Kemm – Re-Blogged From WUWT
Emotional, agenda-driven politics confronts sound, evidence-based science
The topic of global warming and climate change is far more scientifically complex than the public is led to believe.
Myriads of newspaper, magazine and TV items over decades have tended to simplify the science to the point at which the general public believes that it is all so simple that any fool can see what is happening. Public groups often accuse world leaders and scientists of being fools, if they do not instantly act on simple messages projected by individuals or public groups.
One often hears phrases like: ‘The science is settled.’ It is not. Even more worrying is that the reality of the correct science is actually very different to much of the simple public perception.
An additional complicating factor is that there are political groupings wanting to change the world social order and who are using the climate change issue as a vehicle to achieve these objectives. They want the ‘science’ to say what they want it to say and are not interested in the truth. Sections of the public, with noble good intentions, then frequently do not realize that they are being induced by such elements to unwittingly support a political agenda, which in reality is unrelated to the climate issue.
I found myself in an informal social debate on these topics, with some people getting rather heated. Attempts to cool the conversation temperature were not so successful. The political aspects of the climate change issue, as always, entered into the discussion. Points like: ‘saving mankind from disaster’ were made with much emotion, and UN and various government political votes on the science were referred to, as if a political vote settled the scientific facts.
Sadly, so much of the climate debate is the result of votes and not of sound science, as determined by scientific methodology and protocol which has been developed over centuries.
From the day when Archimedes ran down the street shouting ‘Eureka,’ science method has evolved along strict lines, highly conscious of the fact that bad mistakes can be made if the correct methodology and protocols are not followed.
The heated social debate, which I referred to, jumped and jolted from point to point. One moment it was science, then politics, then economics; all generating a rather random ‘Brownian motion’ of comment. People with no scientific qualifications of any sort were claiming equal right to a scientific opinion, in competition to the opinions of those of the qualified scientists present.
A result of all this was that a few days later I wrote a numbered list of points which were touched on during the discussion. The numbered list contained science, politics and economics points and I listed them in some logical sequence, to my mind. I emailed the list to a number of the people who were present that evening, and also to a number of other people who were interested, and it was well received. So I later enhanced the list, and the expanded list is presented here.
It is not intended to be totally complete and it does not contain all the scientific references that would have been inserted for a scientific paper. I wanted to make it easy reading. It is also not written as a unified flowing single article, but I believe that it presents a useful guideline to the nature of the current worldwide climate debates. These debates have huge economic consequences for all people.
Politicians, bankers and business people have significant power with respect to the national and international outcomes, but tend to be exposed largely to the daily ‘street science’ on the topic. So we really do need to get the facts and the real science into the various debates, in their correct perspective.
What about Enhanced Greenhouse Effect?
20. It has been claimed by numbers of groups of people that an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect is taking place, due to man-induced CO2 production, leading to Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). The real evidence for this is suspect and circumstantial.
21. What is generally meant by ‘man-induced’ or ‘anthropogenic’ CO2, by those opposing CO2 production, is the CO2 that is produced by modern industry. What is particularly targeted is the CO2 produced by fossil fuels used to produce electricity. What are overlooked are the millions of low-income human beings who are daily cooking and heating, using wood, dung and charcoal fires, which produce considerable pollution and CO2.
22. The modern Swedish schoolgirl phenomenon is a direct descendant of this sentiment, that only modern mankind is to blame. One can see in many groups, such as the radical movement Extinction Rebellion, that they carry posters demanding political reorientation. The concept of an ‘Environmental Crisis’ is a powerful platform for other political objectives.
It is therefore not surprising that many people do not want to establish the scientific truth about climate change, CO2, methane, or any of the factors in the climate debate. They don’t want to find a solution, because a solution would destroy their political platform for demanding their political objectives for a reorganized world order.
23. What is scientifically accurate is that there has been a planetary temperature rise of less than 1C since the Crimean War and US Civil War. That has been measured to be a figure something like; 0.8C. Today, temperatures are measured on the ground using highly accurate electronic thermometers, accurate to a few decimal places.
Temperatures are also measured from satellites, with a great degree of accuracy. But what was the level of sophistication of temperature measurement at the time of the Crimean War? The really accurate thermometers at that time were mercury-in-glass handheld thermometers. Any accuracy of measurement, better than one degree, depended very much on the skill and experience of the person holding the thermometer.
24. At the time there were some very skilled physicists and meteorologists who could reliably measure temperature to about a quarter of a degree, but there were not very many of them. Also, there were no automatic temperature measuring devices, which could be left far out in the countryside, to measure daily temperatures for months, to produce a continuous representative record of a region.
Furthermore, temperatures would have been measured where the person happened to be, or where the person was prepared travel to, which would most probably have been near buildings or in a town. So one must wonder just how representative those Crimean War era temperature records are, when wanting to compare them to modern electronic measurements of large areas. So, how confident are we really that the reported 0.8C rise, since Darwin published his ground-breaking book, is accurate. If that figure is being fed into highly complex modern computer models, how confident are we about the computer output scenarios.
Even with the accurate modern ground-based thermometers there are potential problems related to the Heat Island Effect. Many temperature measuring sites have not been moved in decades, during which time buildings, roads, or other activities have developed around them which have increased the localised temperatures which have been reported. This is known as the Heat Island Effect.
25. In 1992 the great Rio Earth Summit took place, to much fanfare. It was officially named the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and was the greatest gathering of world leaders seen in the history of the planet. It was not possible to get so many world leaders together for disarmament or world trade, but it was possible to gather them for the environment and to ‘save the Planet’. An impressive 172 Nations were represented, with 108 heads of state arriving.
Also in attendance were nearly 10 000 journalists and interestingly 2 400 NGOs were represented. An additional 17 000 NGO representatives attended a parallel NGO forum that provided ‘recommendations’ to the Earth Summit. On 4 June journalist Paul Brown reported from Rio, in The Guardian, that during the opening ceremony of the day before, the Conference Secretary General, Maurice Strong, had said: “One part of the world cannot live in an orgy of unrestrained consumption where the rest destroys its environment just to survive. No one is immune from the effects of the other.”
Strong added that rich countries must provide more money to the developing world and cancel Third World debt. Over years Strong has also been frequently quoted for his sentiment that: “What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of the rich countries? In order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”
26. So all this shows clearly that the Rio Summit, plus many subsequent offshoot meetings, did not only have the environment as a concern but that they also had an objective of rearranging structures of world power and finances.
27. A major fundamental in world political and industrial power is energy. There is a well-known graph in economics which shows that the GDP and economic prosperity of a country is directly proportional to its energy consumption. Thus one can see that green political objectives to control CO2 emissions means; controlling economic growth. More economic growth means more industrial output and therefore more CO2. So clearly, from a green political perspective, it is good to limit energy supply.
28. A way to control and limit energy supply is to advocate solar and wind power, and to go even further and advocate a system of every household having solar panels on their roof, so that ‘everybody contributes collectively’. This also has the effect of aiming to remove large central power stations where big power resides; big power electrically speaking and big power politically speaking.
The sentiment also explains why there are many groups who advocate moving away from fossil fuels and adopting ‘clean energy’ like solar and wind, but who so frequently, are also opposed to nuclear power, which emits no CO2. Nuclear power represents centres of large centralised power which they don’t want.
However, large nuclear power stations can be sited anywhere where there is adequate water cooling, whereas economic reality dictates that large wind and solar generating points have to be sited where the wind and solar conditions are ideal. These wind and solar sites can be far from where the consumers are, particularly in large African countries. So the dream of decentralized citizen-controlled wind and solar power production is not as easy as that may at first seem.
29. A very influential philosopher of the 20th century was the German, Martin Heidegger. One of his intellectual positions was that he condemned the view of nature being considered as a mere resource for human exploitation. He described this position in his 1954 essay “The Question Concerning Technology”. In this essay he wrote: “modern technology puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such… Air is now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium…to yield atomic energy.”
Heidegger then argued that the solution was to link human society to unreliable energy flows, and he praised windmills because they “do not unlock energy in order to store it”.
In a 1962 book “Our Synthetic Environment” author Murray Bookchin agreed with Heidegger and said that the goal of renewables was to turn modern industrial societies back into agrarian ones. He said that his view: “conjures up an image of cultural isolation and social stagnation, of a journey backward in history to the agrarian societies of the medieval and ancient worlds.”
One can see how the Heidegger sentiment has some charm, and projects a quiet simple life, rather than a hectic, complex, modern one. One can also see how others can advocate this lifestyle. But they omit to mention what happens when your child desperately needs antibiotics, or emergency surgery, or when your crops fail and there is no mechanism for the importation of food.
If people want to live this way they are welcome to do so, but is it reasonable for them to try to force everyone else to do it too. Why should millions of Africans be denied advanced medical care, education, and modern technology, because some moralistic first world people feel that it is better for Africans to live ‘in harmony with nature’ and not to have a reliable high power electricity supply.
Carbon Dioxide: Humps and Dips
30. Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere have always varied since life started to appear on the planet. A high of 4000ppm (parts per million) was detected in the Cambrian period of 500 million years ago, compared to a low of 180ppm during the Quaternary Glaciation of the last two million years.
At the time of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the Earth’s atmospheric concentration of CO2 was about 280ppm and in January 2020 it measured at just over 400ppm. In modern times, of course, CO2 concentrations in air can be measured with great scientific accuracy. For the bygone periods a method used is to examine the bubbles of air that have been trapped in Arctic and Antarctic ice.
They are excellent ‘time capsules’ which can be dated far back in time. In fact the trapped bubbles give rather accurate results, so scientists have been able to show that atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose by about 12ppm, or about 4%, during the lifetime of Queen Victoria.
So there is no scientific dispute that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have gone up and down dramatically during Earth’s history. There is also no scientific dispute that since the Crimean War, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased from about 280ppm to about 400ppm.
31. There is some scientific evidence that although the trapped ice bubbles give very accurate readings, they may have trapped less CO2 than was actually present in the past. But for now we will put that consideration aside. If it turns out to be true it will mean that the case for CO2-induced AGW is weaker, so putting the consideration aside for now will not affect the thrust of this argument.
32. Over the last 200 years the CO2 concentration has continued to rise steadily, although not on a smooth curve.
33. The scientifically observed global warming which has been measured since the time of Lincoln is attributed by some to the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. However the claimed correlation (not causality) is not at all good.
At times, during the past two centuries, when CO2 concentration continued to rise, temperature did not.
34. Another interesting observation, which is regularly overlooked, is that there are clear indications that atmospheric temperature increase precedes CO2 concentration, and not the other way around. An interesting link to this observation is that there is a huge amount of CO2 which is dissolved into the oceans. Another factor ignored or glossed over, is the time delay. The oceans are so large that heating or cooling and CO2 release take a very long time, as much as a century.
Anybody who has used a home carbonation device to make fizzy cooldrinks knows that you always use cold water, the colder the better, because cold water absorbs much more CO2 than does warmer water. So if even a shallow depth of the oceans warms by a small amount, huge amounts of CO2 would be expected to be released. So CO2 atmospheric concentration lagging behind temperature change strikes one as extremely logical. So why is this fact so skilfully ignored by the proponents of anthropogenic global warming?
35. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the UN in 1988. Many such initiatives are set up in a well-meaning fashion with people’s hearts in the right place. No doubt the IPCC was set up in this manner. The actual task of the IPCC, as defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), originally limited their scope to examining human causes only.
It stated:-“a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is, in addition, to natural climate variability observed over considerable time periods.”
This definition was used during the first three IPCC reports, those of 1990, 1995 and 2001. The definition is fine, it states:“over considerable time periods” and it specifies human activity “in addition” to natural. But then in the 2007 report the definition was altered in a rather dishonest manner. It was done, very quietly and unobtrusively in a footnote, in the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM). The footnote states:
“Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere, and that is in addition to natural climate variability, observed over comparable time periods.”
So now we are in a position in which we have to view the IPCC as a political body which chooses what it will tell the world, rather than viewing it as being a scientific body which reports scientific results for other scientists to interpret in a professional manner. (see the book: ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’ by Dr Tim Ball)
36. The IPCC brings out large scientific reports every few years. But a few days before the scientific reports are released, a summary is released for the media, and for easy reading for governments around the world. These summaries are called the Assessment Reports (AR). In the first few reports they were called the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM). Unfortunately the media and governments mostly do not look at the actual large detailed scientific reports; they only look at what the AR claims that the scientific report says.
The AR is put together by government representatives who debate and then vote on what goes into the AR. AR1 in 1990 based its entire claim for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) on the fact that both CO2 concentration and surface temperature increased during the 20th Century, even though they did not follow the same curve.
The AR assigned the significant warming of 1910 to 1940 to human activity, but did not explain why during the post-war, post 1945 boom in consumer industrialisation, there was minimal warming. It also does not explain why for a period in the 1970s there was actually a world fear of global-cooling, while during all of that time the CO2 continued to increase.
37. In the translation from the original IPCC science reports to the summaries for the media and governments, there were instances of what can only be interpreted as intentional changes of meaning. For example, in the 1995 science report it stated: “While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”
But then in the Summary for Policy Makers the lead author of Chapter 8, Mr Benjamin Santer rewrote this statement as: “The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate”. Predictably the phrase; ‘discernible human influence’ became major media headline material, yet this sentiment did not even appear in the original scientific report.
38. At this point it is important to pause to consider the difference between the terms ‘correlation’ and ‘causality’. These two terms are very frequently confused by people not trained in the sciences. ‘Correlation’ is when two or more different variables move in sync with one another, or which when drawn graphically appear to have the same or similar pattern. ‘Causality’ is when one can show definitely that one action causes another.
If you happen to notice fruit delivery records from a farming area, and you see that five times more fruit is regularly delivered to City A than to City B, it is tempting to conclude that the people in City A eat much more fruit than do those in City B. This is a ‘correlation’ situation, which shows that one city seems to be absorbing five times more fruit than the other, on a regular basis.
But then you take a closer look and discover that City A is a port city and that most of the fruit delivered there is exported, and in fact the people living there eat exactly the same amount of fruit, per person, as in City B. It all too frequently happens that people look at graphs or at records and conclude some result, or they conclude that one action causes another, when in fact it does not. So establishing real causality is very important.
39. AR3 of 2001 uses the infamous Hockey Stick graph to ‘prove’ that human-induced global warming is happening and that it was actually far worse than imagined. AR3 claimed to be at least 66% certain that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for 20th Century warming. But then Canadian scientific investigators Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick showed that the Hockey Stick was not only incorrect, but actually intentionally fraudulent.
After an embarrassing public exposure concerning the inaccuracy of the Hockey Stick Graph the IPCC stealthily distanced themselves from it, but this action never received anywhere near the publicity that the original false Hockey Stick claim received.
In 2007 AR4 claimed that the climate computer models showed that a doubling of CO2 concentration would lead to a temperature rise of 2.0C to 4.5C and that the IPCC was 90% certain of this. Half a dozen years later in 2013, AR5 widened the uncertainty to a span of 1.5C to 4.5C but then claimed 95% certainty. In other words: more certainty on a less certain prediction. Interesting move!
Interestingly both AR4 and AR5 ignored the fact that essentially no surface warming had been detected during the 21st Century. They also ignored the absence of any significant warming in the troposphere, or the ocean record during the critical preceding 1979 to 1997 period, which many computer models had so confidently predicted, as necessary to prove AGW.