Public policy has a major impact on our lives; that goes without saying. If the assumptions upon which policy is based are sound, there is a good chance that the resulting laws and regulations will have a positive influence on the country. But when the assumptions are driven by ideology instead of reason, the outcomes can be detrimental.
As a public watchdog, an independent press plays a vital role in providing accurate, fair, and balanced reporting of public policy debates. When the matters are contentious, the Press Council states that “a fair voice must be given to the opposition view”.
However, in the controversial area of anthropogenic global warming, media reporting is not balanced. As a result, pro-global warmers have gained traction with their apocalyptic claims. In the process they have secured lucrative funding for salaries and projects, as well as gaining major influence over policy makers and governments.
Nor are they willing to let anyone cast doubt on the authenticity of their claims – in fact, it has reached the point where many of those who disagree are too afraid to speak out publicly, as the risk to their careers and reputations from vindictive attack has become too great.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Bryan Leyland, an energy analyst and consulting engineer, has submitted many articles to newspapers countering such claims, but says most are rejected:
“Many articles in the Herald over the past few years have emphasised the dangers of man-made global warming and warned us that extreme measures are needed to save us from this imminent climatic disaster. Almost without exception, the authors of these articles have assumed that man-made carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming, rapid sea level rise and more floods, droughts, cyclones and so on.”
Bryan explains that the evidence simply does not support such claims, and concludes, “As is so often the case, the perception and reality are vastly different. In New Zealand this is not helped by a mainstream media that seldom publishes anything that examines the evidence and propounds a different view. Yet there is no doubt that the science is NOT settled and debate is needed.”
Without challenge by the media, the merchants of a climate Armageddon are being given free reign.
Dr James Renwick, formerly of NIWA and now Professor of Physical Geography at Victoria University in Wellington is a leading proponent of the dangers of man-made global warming and a regular media commentator. Dr Renwick, who has served on the selection Board of the Marsden Fund, has, over time, received a total of $1.3 million in grants. Through having been a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he also claims to be a contributor to the 2007 Nobel Prize that was awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC.
Over the last few months, Dr Renwick has proclaimed that the world could be heading for “an average temperature rise of over 10 degrees and complete glacial meltdown”. He has stated that large emissions of CO2 would lead to significant warming: “The relationship appears to be essentially linear – twice as much CO2 emitted equals twice as much eventual warming …” He alsoclaims: “Almost 100 per cent of scientists are certain that global warming is human-induced. In the game of attributing global warming to humankind’s use of fossil fuels, scientists are almost 100 per cent certain… Skeptics would do well to stop wasting their energy, and distracting the public and scientists by trying to deconstruct this scientific truth, and join the rest of humanity in helping figure out what to do about climate change.”
To add some balance to this debate, let’s look at what the earth’s historical record tells us.
Firstly, our planet is presently in an interglacial period within an ice age. Interglacial periods usually last for around 10,000 years, followed by glacial periods of around 100,000 years. Since the present interglacial period has already been going for 10,500 years, history would suggest we are overdue for a new glacial period.
Secondly, since the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has been many times higher in the past than today, peaking during the Cambrian Period 500 million years ago at 7,000 parts per million – around 18 times higher than the present – it is clear that the industrialisation of mankind is not the main cause of increasing levels of carbon dioxide.
Thirdly, since the late Ordovician Period around 450 million years ago, when CO2 concentrations were nearly 12 times higher at 4,400 parts per million, was an ice age, it is clear that high concentrations of carbon dioxide do not cause catastrophic global warming.
In other words, the fact that high levels of carbon dioxide occur naturally and do not cause the planet to fry, totally negates the claims of the global warmers that mankind’s CO2 emissions will cause catastrophic climate change.
In addition, Dr Renwick claims that the relationship between carbon dioxide and warming is linear – “twice as much CO2 emitted equals twice as much eventual warming” – but this is not correct. The relationship is logarithmic, which means that increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide will have a progressively smaller warming effect, not a larger one.
In their 2004 report, Why logarithmic, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Huang and Shahabadi also note that the “logarithmic equations for calculating the radiative forcing of CO2 are given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…”
The IPCC explains: “For carbon dioxide, parts of the spectrum are already so opaque that additional molecules of carbon dioxide are even less effective, the forcing is found to be logarithmic in concentration.”
Essentially, this means that doubling or even tripling the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere would not appreciably change the warming effects of the CO2 levels we currently have, since the ability of CO2 to trap heat declines logarithmically, reaching a point of significantly reduced future effect. This is the reason why carbon dioxide levels have been so much higher during past geological eras, without causing runaway greenhouse warming.
Since the logarithmic relationship between carbon dioxide and warming is such a fundamental point, it is indeed astonishing, that man-made global warming theories have not been unilaterally discredited on that basis alone. What it means is that the claims that the planet will reach a tipping point, where temperatures will skyrocket because of increasing levels of carbon dioxide, are simply not credible and are revealed as ideological scaremongering. It shows that it is politics that is driving this debate, not science.
In fact, last year Christiana Figueres, then head of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted as much by saying that their goal was not to save the world from ecological collapse but to destroy capitalism: “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”
To ensure their threats of climate collapse dominate the debate and that opponents are intimidated into silence, proponents of man-made global warming claim the science is settled and that there is a consensus amongst scientists that the earth is on the cusp of an ecological disaster – unless we follow their agenda.
But in stating that “Almost 100 per cent of scientists are certain that global warming is human-induced”, Dr Renwick appears to have overlooked some important initiatives that contradict his claims.
Back in 2009, over 100 brave scientists allowed their names to be published by the US-based Cato Institute in newspaperadvertisements opposing President Obama’s claims that combating climate change was urgent and that the science was beyond dispute. The ad stated, “We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.”
By 2010, the number of scientists prepared to be publicly named as opposing the sort of views held by Dr Renwick and others had grown to over 1,000. Each appeared in a report to the US Senate: “More than 1,000 dissenting scientists from around the globe have now challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Vice President Al Gore.” The report included many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who had turned against the organisation and its agenda. It also noted that over 1,000 dissenting scientists, was more than twenty times the number of UN scientists (52) who had authored the media-hyped 2007 IPCC Summary for Policymakers.
In addition to those specific initiatives, a total of 31,487 American scientists, including 9,029 with PhDs, signed the petition run by the Global Warming Petition Project, to publicly demonstrate that the scientific community in the US rejected claims that the science around man-made global warming was either “settled”, or that a “consensus” existed.
In spite of what Dr Renwick and others might wish for, the reality is that there is no consensus and the science is far from settled.
In light of this, it is indeed unfortunate that successive New Zealand governments have bought into global warming propaganda – with Labour introducing their bureaucratic Emissions Trading Scheme in 2008, and National not only expanding it, but also announcing in May’s Budget that the subsidies will be removed over the next three years, forcing New Zealand families to pay more for power and the cost of goods in general.
Fortunately however, there are signs that the cosy international consensus could be crumbling. The new British Prime Minister Theresa May is understood to be more sceptical about global warming than her predecessor. US Presidential candidate Donald Trump thinks the whole thing is a rort. And with Britain departing the European Union, there are signs of squabbling amongst member nations over who will pick up the shortfall in climate compensation to developing countries.
Meanwhile, real scientists are worried that the sun’s on-going lack of sunspots is a sign that global cooling is on the way.
In June US meteorologist Paul Dorian reported that the sun had gone completely blank for the second time that month. He feared the lack of sunspot activity could signal the arrival of a cold snap similar to the Maunder Minimum – otherwise known as the Little Ice Age – which started in 1645 and continued until 1715.
Right now the El Nino – a naturally occurring oceanic cycle that produces warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures – which has been keeping New Zealand’s weather unseasonably warm, is now fading and it is expected to be replaced by a La Nina, which will produce colder-than-normal temperatures. Since warmer seas emit more carbon dioxide, and colder seas absorb more, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may start to fall.
If the mini-ice age, that has been predicted by a number of scientists around the world resumes, political leaders may well rue the day when they allowed themselves to be persuaded by global socialists that implementing decarbonisation policies was a good idea. And the media might also wish they had lived up to their own code of ethics and allowed those like Bryan Leyland, who are brave enough to speak out, to state their case in order to protect the public from the impact of a perverse policy prescription that is doing far more harm around the world than good.
Dr Muriel Newman is the founder and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research – a public policy think tank she established in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. Her background is in business and education. A former Chamber of Commerce President, she currently serves on the board of a children’s trust.