Doomed Planet

Climate Change, it’s Cyclical not Linear

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 –

*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



15 thoughts on “Climate Change, it’s Cyclical not Linear

  • March says:

    Thanks Dennis.
    Nice to see another geologist’s view. We are beset by short term views that have confused weather for climate with costly ramifications. One country seems to have it worked out though – China approving new coal fired power at the rate of 1 power station a week.

  • Citizen Kane says:

    Indeed, Thanks Dennis.
    Add to this overview, discussion of the cosmological drivers of climate change and their cyclical nature, such as the Milankovitch Cycles and one can have more confidence in the evidence that the world will slip into another glaciation period similar to that which dominated the Pleistocene, in roughly another 10 000 years than one can have in the marginal influence of 0.04% atmospheric CO2 on global temperatures. Funny how they never mention how elevated atmospheric CO2 levels in the early period of the Carboniferous epoch led to the greatest forests to ever exist on earth and was a net benefit to the biosphere. Contemporary climate science (if that’s what they want to call it) suffers from CO2centric myopia, which cannot see the forest for the tree!

  • Stephen Due says:

    “It will start cooling soon – you wait.” Donald Trump, after conspicuously failing to demonstrate an interest in the claim by California firefighters that climate change was driving wildfires.
    See also the geologist Ian Plimer’s latest book ‘Green Murder’ (Connor Court 2021)

    • gareththomassport says:

      Currently reading “Green Murder”.
      This article is an excellent accompaniment to Ian Plimer’s book.
      I’m always amazed at the simple minded thought processes of the alarmists. There seems to be a complete inability to comprehend actual science by these people.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Liked this article a lot. It is important I think that we don’t cede the premise by arguing for nuclear instead of wind and sun. There is no crisis. There is no problem. That points to the continued use of – abundant, affordable and reliable – coal, oil and gas. We need Dutton to carry a piece of coal into parliament. Fat chance.


    From the money-making point of view of that serial dissimulator, Al Gore, global warming due to climate change is linear and cumulative. Therefore, he conveniently ignores the inconvenient truth that climate change is cyclical.

  • ianl says:

    Good summary, Dennis.

    But whenever I’ve pointed these facts out to activist scientists (eg. within the CSIRO), the answer has always been: “That’s irrelevant”.

    Bluntly, there is no chance whatsoever of rational debate. Even deaths attributable to rationing of power will be insufficient. And this will occur.

    There is more than enough public opinion on the side of the AGW activists to swamp rationality. The turning point was the bushfires over the 2019-2020 summer. The fear and panic embedded from this cannot be expunged with rational debate.

    • Stan Yeaman says:

      For Ianl, here is something for CSIRO which dismissed your point as ‘irrelevant’. The IPCC temperature graph is misleading, if not outright fraudulent. The graph did’t start rising until 1900, and many of the temperature readings were taken close to or in big cities, ie within ‘heat islands’. These heat island readings were ‘homoginised’ (IPCC word, meaning included. Sounds good) with rural station readings, and thus their graph has little or nothing to do with global warming, but a lot to do with urban heat islands. Secondly, they like to say, “From the start of the Industrial Revolution (sic)”. James Watt’s coal-fired condensing reciprocating steam engine created the IR, but his first engine went into commercial use only in 1811, and the firm Bolton & Watt did not manage to sell many engines until the 1820s. By the 1830s the only country which could have been described even by the most vivid imagination as ‘industrialised’ was Great Britain, and the Empire got rich by using these engines. This is all very embarrassing to the AGW brigade because there is clear evidence of glacial retreat going back to the early 1700s. Oh dear! What do they do? They say the IR started in the mid-1700s,- well before young Jimmy Watt applied for his patents in 1785, let alone sell his first steam engine. So, if the facts don’t fit the story, just fudge the facts.

  • Stephen says:

    Thanks Dennis there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re telling the truth. The problem is that, when it comes to climate, the truth ceased to matter a long time ago. A recent comment I made to an article in the Auatralian covers the issue =

    What’s true or false in the Science, politics and economics of “Climate Change” unfortunately doesn’t matter. The shouty, fanatical activist promoters of “Climate Crisis” and Climate Emergency” have effectively won the argument, certainly in the West. Possibly even more so in the Anglophone West. Just about every where you look in the first world the leading political parties, left and right are now pro net zero by 2050. The fact that CO2 emissions are rising rapidly outside the first world bubble and countries like China, India etc are all pointing and laughing at us is besides the point. In the west it is now beyond science and politics. It is now all about making the right policy choices. So far all we have seen is brave announcement of intent which will cost many billions and will leave us with an over priced unreliable energy system leaving Australia a much poorer and less happy place without reducing global emissions a bit. Labor politicians may be optimistic about net zero by 2050 but any honest engineer will tell you it’s painfully impossible.
    It’s quite comical really. We laugh at the Dutch over the famously stupid Tulip issue. But are we really any smarter?

  • Stephen says:

    Bush Fires should be excluded from the climate debate because there are so many factors other than climate that determines their frequency and severity. How humans manage or don’t manage forests is an obvious factor and also, as I pointed out to a neighbor who works for the BOM, you can’t start a cyclone with a cigarette lighter.

    • Stan Yeaman says:

      Stephen, you will be interested to know that I recently saw a reliable report that there has been no trend in the frequency of major wildfires in Canada over a very long time. I think it was from 1900. The SD is pretty wide, but the regression line is horizontal..

      Similarly, there are official reports that there has been NO increase in the intensity or frequency of hurricanes crossing the US coast since records began in the early 1800s. Of dear, there goes another pet story of the ABC’s designed to whip up alarm based on ignorance.

      Why should North America be any different from Australia? Maybe the ABC and SBS will give us their reasons why Australia is different. Or is it just government propaganda?

  • Stan Yeaman says:

    I have infinitely more confidence in the honesty of the average second hand car salesman than Al Gore. Remember his pic of two polar bears on an icefloe? We were meant to feel sorry for them. The truth is polar bears can swim about 200miles, not kms, so these polar bears were at no risk at all. The hair of their fur is hollow, and this provides excellent insulation as well as acting as a very efficient buoyancy vest. This is why its zoological name is ursus maritimus, the maritime bear. I have observed them on the sea ice at the Svalbard Is, and about 78degN in Norway.

  • Stan Yeaman says:

    Further bad news for Al Gore. Satellite images of the September sea ice on the Arctic Ocean has not diminished since 2007. Dammit, another politician’s bs story shattered!

  • AndrewC says:

    Do the calculations of how much CO2 is released by electricity generation, transportation, industry, agriculture etc match the continuing rise in the atmosphere ?

  • AndrewC says:

    Does the basic concept of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere raising the average temperature make sense ? If there were none, would the temperature be below zero in any case

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