The speeches delivered at the most recent COP 27 conference in Egypt by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other presenters offered only doomsday predictions of the Earth spiralling into climate armageddon. Guterres insisted the world “is on the highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”, also pitching what amounts to a faux dilemma. “Humanity has a choice,” he continued, “co-operate or perish. It is either a climate solidarity pact – or a collective suicide pact”.
Failed US presidential candidate and snake-oil alarmist Al Gore, presenting at that same conference, cranked up the hysteria to an even greater height of absurdity:
Today, like every day, we are spewing 162 million tons of man-made heat trapping global warming pollution into the sky. It adds up and accumulates there … The accumulated amount traps as much extra heat as would be released by 60,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs exploding every day in our planet. That’s why we are seeing these disasters,” he underscored, warning that is getting even worse.
These claims by Guterres, Gore and most of the other COP-27 presenters are completely untrue. They are not backed by scientific facts or supported by empirical data. They are false and not worth the contrails of the private jets that shuttled the alarmist elite to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort on the shores of the Red Sea. How did we find our way to a situation where governments, politicians, the media, businesses and other players actively support false claims of human-caused climate change while warning endlessly of environmental catastrophes to come?
The consequences arising from these false claims are alarming. Billions of dollars annually are being provided to the “renewable energy” industry by way of subsidies whilst fossil-fuel power stations are shut-down, leading to supply insecurity for baseload power. These measures have caused a rapid increase in electricity prices, also prompting insane demands for an end to the production of synthetic fertilisers, the backbone of the modern agricultural process that facilitates the feeding of 8 billion people. As a case study, look at what the ban on fertilisers did to Sri Lanka, its economy and people.
The counter view, held by me and many other scientists with expertise in climate, is that the changes in weather we have accurately documented through proxy empirical measurement in the geological past and directly measured over the last 150 years are within known and normal natural cycles. The IPCC claims that humans are increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, which in turn increase the sun’s heat radiation trapped in our atmosphere. As a consequence, they claim, there is a linear and ever-increasing rise in temperatures that will fry the planet. What they pointedly neglect to notice is that the planet’s temperatures rise and decline come in long-term cycles, as will be explained below.
The main reason why the “human causation” marketing campaign has been so successful is that the UN-IPCC, supported by politicians and the media, have never allowed, on the one hand, any civil scientific debate to take place while actively suppressing the presentation fact-based dissent with the other. Have you ever witnessed Tim Flannery, David Attenborough, Al Gore, Will Steffen, Michael Mann or any other promoter of the notion of anthropogenic climate disaster engage with scientists holding an opposite view? Never! Have you ever seen the climate sceptic position aired by the ABC, SBS, Nine/Fairfax, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, PBS, New York Times, Washington Post etc. etc.? Again, never! The opposing view is consistently cancelled before it can be laid before the public. Debate is shunned, with ad hominem attacks the standard response.
Meanwhile, with truth suppressed and civilised discussion spurned, fatuous attempts to lower atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are costing vast sums for no measurable benefit while inflicting much harm on both emerging nations and the poor in wealthier ones. It is a global exercise in self-harm that, when rationality is restored, will astonish future generations.
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased from about 280ppm to a shade above 400ppm over the last 150 years. This increase is likely to have been partially caused by the burning of fossil fuels and partially by degassing of the oceans as they have warmed slightly (water covers about 70 per cent of the planet’s surface and the Earth’s temperature has increased by a little over 1 C in the last 150 years).
Observation and measurement of the recent, slight increase in the trace-gas concentration of CO2 does not automatically lead to proof that humans, by burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2 are directly driving up temperatures. There is no long-term correlation between increasing/decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations and increasing/decreasing atmospheric temperatures. Increasing the concentration of atmospheric CO2 does not significantly cause an increase in Earth’s surface temperature nor does it drive climate change. There is empirical data to support this statement.
Empirical data, based on numerous direct and proxy measurement, confirms that there is a strong correlation between atmospheric temperature increases preceding, not following, increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations caused mainly by degassing carbon dioxide from solution in surface water (mainly the oceans). CO2 is soluble in water, and this solubility increases with decreasing temperature. Put simply, as the surface waters of the oceans warm they release CO2 into the atmosphere and re-absorb CO2 as they cool.
Oceans cover over 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface and have a vast storage capacity for CO2, far more than the atmosphere or plants. The oceans contain 80 times more CO2 than the atmosphere and provide a better understanding of surface CO2. Only 0.001% of all carbon is in the atmosphere.
The chart above demonstrates the point that temperatures increase in advance of atmospheric CO2 increases, not after them, with a lag of several hundred to a thousand years or more. Therefore, claims that weather events recorded over mere months, years or even decades are proof of human causation are also false. Climate change is cyclical, not linear, with the current climate cycle about 130,000 years in length. Selecting weather events over the span of a decade or less in a cyclical system is statistically meaningless and conclusions drawn from this short-sampling are by their very nature incorrect.
Earth has been in the grip of an overall cold cycle for the last 34 million years and this period has been named the Late Cenozoic or Antarctic Ice Age. The current 130,000 year climate cycle (these cycles have spanned the last 1 million years) incorporates a 10,000-12,000 year warm period before a 120,000 year descent into a glacial maximum. A few years of weather data (ie. drought, floods, warm or cold weather) in a cyclical system spanning 120,000 years or even 10,000 years is statistically meaningless in the concept of predicting climate change or making claims of human causation.
There is no need to resort to computer derived climate models of Earth’s natural system to determine that climate change is a naturally driven process with little to no influence exerted by humans. Earth’s natural system is not fully understood and it is not possible to computer model it with any degree of accuracy. Take clouds, for example, which are by far the greatest contributor to maintaining climate balance on Earth. Unfortunately the IPCC and supporting researchers always fail to include, to any meaningful extent, cloud data and behaviour in their models.
Within the last 10,000 year warm period (Holocene) there have been noticeable periods of colder climate (eg. Holocene Climate Minima, Little Ice Age) where recorded temperatures have been up to 3°C colder than today, and periods of warmer climate (eg. Holocene Climate Optima, Roman Climate Optima and Medieval Warm Period) where temperatures have been up to 3°C warmer than today. Sea level has also varied, being higher during these warmer part of these cycles (+/-1.5-3m) and lower during the colder parts (+/-1.5-3m).
The current atmospheric temperatures fits within known Holocene variations. The current atmospheric CO2 concentrations are within known natural limits. An increase in atmospheric CO2 does not cause an increase in atmospheric temperature. An increase in atmospheric CO2 follows an increase in atmospheric temperature. As the oceans warm they release CO2.
Sweeping claims by the IPCC and others regarding anthropogenic climate change since the Industrial Revolution are backed by short term measurements and observations (150 years in length) that are statistically meaningless when viewed in the overall length of the climate cycle, which is non-linear.
The 150-year data record, so often quoted as proof, only represents 0.00125 per cent of the overall climate cycle and only about 0.012 per cent of the subset representing the warming phase.
Making claims about long-term climate based on such a small data sample is akin to watching one frame of a feature length movie and from that one frame determining all the characters, the plot, all locations and the outcome. How many times have you heard on news broadcasts and printed in newspapers the claim “hottest temperature on record”. That would be the 150-year record which is statistically meaningless when it relates to climate and climate change causation.
Dennis Morton is a sedimentary geologist with First Class Honours from Macquarie University and who has worked in the petroleum industry for 47 years. Sedimentary geologists generally possess detailed knowledge of climate and climate change because the physical effects of climate change are recorded in sedimentary rocks
*1 – https://oz4caster.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/three-million-years-of-climate-change/
*2 – Petit et al: Climate and Atmospheric History of the Past 420,000 Years from the Vostok Ice Core, Antarctica; June 1999Nature 399(6735):429-436; DOI:10.1038/20859