Sunday, May 31, 2009

All Fur Coat and No Knickers

Momentum is gathering amongst world leaders with respect to the agenda for Copenhagen in December – the world gathering to develop a post-Kyoto treaty on climate change. We can expect lots of lies, damn lies and statistics to appear between now and then, some from scientist seeking to sway the agenda and others from polemicists and activists seeking a new world order in a post-carbon economy. It will be messy and verbally violent.

Recently, there was a report that some 300,000 persons a year die and a further 30 million impacted as a result of climate change. Sponsored by an organization headed by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, this disreputable report uses sleight of hand and deception to reach this conclusion. Treating all deaths from hurricanes, floods, tsunami, earthquakes and other naturally occurring events as “climate change impacts”, they arrive at this figure. It is surprising they did not include the 500,000 people a year who die from flu to boost this number. Despite the widespread condemnation of this piece of rhetoric by serious scientists, the media continue to report this as is if it were fact.

Then we have had the deniers. Those who deny the facts and prefer instead to rely on climate change models for their “evidence”. These models have singularly failed to predict the climate since they began to appear and be taken seriously some twenty five years ago. The fact is that the earth has not warmed since 1998 and has been in a cooling period since 2001, due in part to changes behaviour of the sun. Also a fact is that the polar bear population in most of the polar bear communities is either stable or increasing, not decreasing and that the Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker. These inconvenient truths are denied by climate change campaigners and their camp followers, since models show that these satellite based observations do not tally with the model predictions.

Prince Charles has suggested that we have just 100 months to save the planet, by which he means reforestation of the rainforest and a substantial reduction in the use of carbon based fuels and in CO2 emissions. Supported by twenty Nobel laureates, he suggests that action now can “change the climate” and save the planet. In this kind of rhetoric he is following a royal tradition, established by King Canute who thought he could command the tides to change and drowned as a result of how own stupidity. Man cannot change the climate and “stop” global warming unless man alone causes climate change, and there is little convincing evidence that man is responsible for the climate. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) makes clear in its extensive report that the evidence favoring health effects of climate change or the impact of climate change on ocean levels is not at all the story the IPCC would have us believe, and is not as fear-mongering as the press like to hear. The NIPCC study, supported by more scientists than have been involved in the IPCC work, is also clear that the impact of CO2 emissions from man-made systems on the climate are not as serious or threatening as many would like us to believe.

The story of the arctic is the story that seems to convince most people that climate change is real. The story is that the arctic is melting so fast that, within a very short time, the Northwest Passage will be open and the North Pole will be a grassland. As a result of the melt, the oceans will rise and a number of small islands will disappear in the flood of ocean water that will occur.

Now to some facts. The opening and closing of the Northwest Passage is not a new phenomenon – it has happened several times before, the last time being in 1906. The ice melt which has occurred is part of a cyclical pattern of ice melting and is connected to a variety of factors, not least of which is the pattern of ocean currents. Despite claims to the contrary systematic measurement of ocean levels on the coast of the vulnerable islands do not show any rise in ocean levels significant enough to threaten these islands. Once again, computer models are the basis of these claims, not observed data.

The scares will keep coming, getting more intense as it becomes clear that the compromises and fixes that the politicians will deal in over the next few months will not appease the most ardent of the climate change deniers – those who claim that man made climate change will destroy the planet, in denial of the facts. Greenpeace and others will be shrill and their scientific allies, fearful of the loss of their grant farming and rent seeking resources, will come to their aid with more scare stories.

If Kyoto is anything to go by, there will be a lot of talk and very little actual achievement. Bu then, I guess this is the nature of the climate change business – “all fur coat and no knickers”, as my grandmother used to say when warning me to be careful around certain kinds of people. She may well have been right.

No comments: