Climate change – debate, not rhetoric is needed.
With Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and New Zealand’s emissions trading legislation promising to add billions of dollars to the annual cost of electricity, transport and agriculture, there is no doubt that "climate change" is important to everyone in both countries. Sadly, recent statements from leading politicians and others concentrate on suppressing debate and ridiculing sceptics of dangerous global warming. Yet anyone who studies the evidence will realize that the science is most uncertain. Therefore, objective, unimpassioned debate is desperately needed.
One thing is certain: our climate changes naturally, it has always done so and it will continue to do so. Studies of past climate change show that when the world was warmer, civilizations prospered. Records from ice cores and other sources show that the world was warmer during the Middle Ages when the Vikings settled in Greenland and Polynesian explorers made two way voyages to Easter Island and New Zealand. It was also warmer in Roman and Minoan times. Cooling, on the other hand is bad news. During the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age, famine, disease, malaria and plague were rife and the Polynesian’s two-way voyaging stopped.
Research since the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was finalized in 2006 shows that the world is no longer in the 23 year warming phase that started in 1975. Using the same data that the IPCC accepts as accurate, we can see that the world’s average surface temperature peaked in 1998 and, more importantly, there has been a cooling trend since 2002. This despite an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of more than 4%. None of the climate models predicted this would happen.
There is strong evidence that solar variations influence global climate. Recent research shows that temperatures correlate well with sunspots and cosmic rays. This correlation extends over thousands and millions of years and is very clearly demonstrated by records from a stalagmite in Oman covering a period of about 8000 years. Recent research by John Mclean and Prof Bob Carter from Australia and Chris de Freitas from New Zealand shows that there is a very clear correlation between the Southern Oscillation Index (a measure of the El Niño effect) and the world temperature seven months later. There was no sign of a significant greenhouse gas influence.
The only logical conclusion is that, since 2006, the weight of evidence goes against the (unproven) hypothesis that man-made greenhouse gases cause dangerous global warming.
Sadly, instead of debating this new evidence, we are told that we must reduce emissions of "polluting" greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane and accept without question various forms of carbon tax that, it is easy to show, are unlikely to make any noticeable difference to greenhouse gas emissions. Politicians in Australia and New Zealand are falling over themselves to make commitments to tax carbon dioxide and, in New Zealand, tax the unmeasurable and quite natural greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Not one of these politicians has offered us convincing scientific evidence that all this will reduce world temperatures. Is it not time that they "put up or shut up"?
What is most noticeable about all this is that everybody involved seems to have completely forgotten about the objective – saving the world from a postulated disaster called "dangerous man-made global warming". In all the rhetoric there is nothing that will
a) demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that it will be damaging, or
b) if it was true, an emissions trading scheme is the best way of solving the problem and
c) demonstrate that an emissions trading scheme will have a large overall benefit for the country and its taxpayers.
Instead, the objective is to tax greenhouse gas emissions because, our governments have decreed, it will save the world from global warming. King Canute was wiser than that! He sat on the beach to prove that he could not stop the tide coming in, not, as is often reported, in an attempt to stop it.
What makes it worse is that there are all too many people ready to leap on this lucrative bandwagon. Carbon traders and "auditors" see it as an enormous pot of gold that they can get their hands on by charging huge fees – often as high as 30% – for each trade in a commodity that can serve no useful purpose for the buyer or the seller, that cannot be measured accurately and, if the quantity being traded is fraudulently inflated, benefits both buyer and seller.
Then there are the "renewable energy" developers who have succeeded in persuading the government that wind and solar farms can make a big difference and demand huge, long term, subsidies for expensive technologies that can only make a tiny difference while substantially increasing the cost of operating the power system – for which the consumer, poor sucker, pays.
Scientists who rely on the government for research handouts and the like, know that unless they mention the magic words "climate change" in their research proposal, it is likely to be turned down. So the last thing they are inclined to do is to bite the hand that feeds them by pointing out that "the Emperor of Global Warming has no clothes".
These shysters are supported by the politicians who believe (wrongly, it now seems) that the majority of Australians and New Zealanders have been conned into believing in man-made global warming and so believe that global warming scare mongering will increase their chances of re-election.
Everybody involved must stop this indecent haste towards economic self destruction based on greed and scientific fraud and demand an answer to a few simple questions:
- What does control the climate? Is it man-made greenhouse gases or is climate change dominated by natural forces which we do not fully understand, such as sunspot effects?
- Why have all the climate models failed to predict the decline in temperature since 1998? Why have all of them failed to predict El Niño events, which are a major climatic disturbance? Given these two failures, why should anyone have any faith in climate models? Yet all the predictions of future doom and disaster rely on the outputs of these failed models.
- Why is carbon dioxide labelled a "pollutant" when it is as important to life on Earth as it is oxygen and water?
Every thinking person in Australia and New Zealand should demand that their governments immediately abandon their emission trading schemes and, instead, answer these questions.
Bryan Leyland is a power industry consultant based in New Zealand. He specializes in renewable energy. He is the chairman of the Economics Panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.