A young lad called Leon asked me about my views about a WWF “fact sheet” on climate change. I googled for a good retort and couldn’t find one. The information is there if you know where to look, but it’s not all in one place.
So, here’s an attempt to take the Green’s claims and answer them.
97% of Climate Scientists Agree That Global Warming Is Caused By Human Activity
The Green’s claim
97% of climate scientists are in agreement that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are causing an increase in global temperatures.
There is a consensus amongst scientists and we have a responsibility to act upon The Science.
The 97% figure came from the results of a survey carried out by John Cook, the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. John set up a “climate consensus project” to .. well .. create a consensus. With a consensus established, opposing views could be castigated as an eccentric minority and dismissed without discussion.
What proportion of scientific opinion supported the theory that global warming was man-made and that its effect will be catastrophic?
We don’t know, because this wasn’t the question John asked. In fact, he didn’t pose any questions to any scientists. He reviewed papers produced by scientists and made a judgement. Unsurprisingly, this judgement supported his political opinion from which he produced a press release with filled the media of the western world and is still widely quoted.
What did John actually do? John and his team reviewed a large number of research papers. Firstly, he ditched about 8,000 papers because they didn’t take a position. He then put people who agree into three different bins
1.6% that explicitly endorse global warming with numbers
23% that explicitly endorse global warming without numbers
74% judged to have”implicitly endorsed” global warming because their research looked at other issues connected to global warming. John and his marketing team assumed that they agreed with human-caused global warming.
Voila, you got about 97% (actually, it’s 98.6%, but they rounded it down).
Notice, that nobody was asked if man was the primary or major cause of global warming. And nobody said anything about dangerous global warming. This meme simply got attached afterwards by politicians and campaigners.
Only 65 papers were identified as “quantifying AGW as 50%+”. Excluding the “No Positions”, there were 4011 papers classified in total, so we find that the number of papers agreeing that “humans are the primary cause of recent global warming” is only a tiny 1.6%. Not quite the the 97% claimed.
A real survey conducted of American Meteorological Society members asked “Is global warming happening? If so, what is its cause?”
Respondent options were:
- Yes: Mostly human
- Yes: Equally human and natural
- Yes: Mostly natural
- Yes: Insufficient evidence [to determine cause]
- Yes: Don’t know cause
- Don’t know if global warming is happening
- Global warming is not happening
52 percent of survey respondents answered Yes: Mostly human.
So, is it 1.6%, 52% or 97%? That depends on what you want in your press release, but it isn’t a “scientific consensus”.
Global Warming Is Happening At An Alarming Rate
The Green’s claim
Global warming is happening at an alarming rate. Record temperatures are being reached, with 5 of the hottest 10 years during the past decade.
Temperature records show:
- warming to 1878,
- cooling to 1911,
- warming to 1941,
- cooling to 1964,
- warming to 1998
- cooling to 2011
- negligible change through to 2016, though El Niño will have an effect
The warming rate from 1964 to 1998 was the same as the previous warming from 1911 to 1941. Satellites, weather balloons and ground stations all show cooling since 2001. The mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8 C over the 20th century is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium.
It’s also worth noting that the ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe; the stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas (“heat islands”), which show substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas (“land use effects”). Two science teams have shown that correcting the surface temperature record for the additional heat effects of urban development would reduce the reported warming trend over land from 1980 by half.
The El Niño events do affect the world climate. 1997-8 and 2014-16 have been particularly strong.
Statistics not science. There has been no catastrophic warming recorded.
If we take a longer perspective. The average global temperature before humans evolved was 25 degrees Celsius, it currently goes up and down around an average of 14.5.
By the way, how many politicians or members of the media or the public do you think are aware of this statement about climate change from the IPCC in 2007?
“we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
The Computer Models Show Dramatic Global Warming
The Green’s claim
The “hockey stick” graph shown in IPCC reports proves that the earth has experienced a sudden increase in temperature. Look!
Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time. For instance, the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to 1200 AD (when the Vikings farmed on Greenland) was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age (when the river Thames froze over during several winters).
Since the end of the 17th Century the “average global temperature” has been rising at the low steady rate mentioned above; although from 1940 – 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare. The “hockey stick”, a poster boy of both the UN’s IPCC and Canada’s Environment Department, ignores historical recorded climatic swings, and has now also been proven to be flawed and statistically unreliable as well.
It is a computer construct and a faulty one at that.
Even the IPCC have excluded the hockey stick graph from their recent reports, because it has been de-bunked.
Carbon Dioxide is Dangerous – We Have To Reduce Emissions
The Green’s claim:
Carbon dioxide is directly linked to global warming. It is a pollutant.
Our energy policy must be radically transformed to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions.
About one-third of all our CO2 emissions have been discharged during the past 18 years and there has been no statistically significant warming.
There is a correlation between temperature and the level of atmospheric CO2, indicating a possible cause-effect relationship between the two. But, CO2 lags temperature by an average of 800 years during the most recent 400,000-year period. Thus indicates that that temperature is the cause, not the effect.
Looking at the past 50,000 years of temperature and CO2 we can see that changes in CO2 follow changes in temperature. This is because a change in the temperature is far more likely to cause a change in CO2 due to outgassing of CO2 from the oceans during warmer times and an absorption of CO2 during colder periods. Yet climate alarmists persist in insisting that CO2 is causing the change in temperature, despite the illogical nature of that assertion.
CO2 is the currency of life and the most important building block for all life on Earth. All life is carbon-based, including our own.
We are witnessing the “Greening of the Earth” as higher levels of CO2, due to human emissions from the use of fossil fuels, promote increased growth of plants around the world. Only half of the CO2 we are emitting from the use of fossil fuels is showing up in the atmosphere. The balance is going somewhere else and the best science says most of it is going into an increase in global plant biomass. And what could be wrong with that, as forests and agricultural crops become more productive?
The Greens hate CO2 because it has a direct correlation with industrial development and modern life. Unfortunately for them, there is no actual correlation with global warming.
More CO2 should be welcomed.
Climate Change Is Causing Extreme Weather Events
The Green’s claim:
The climate is being made unstable by man-made global warming. This is creating unprecedented extreme weather events including record typhoons, floods and droughts.
Look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina 2005. Al Gore predicted that hurricanes will become “more frequent and more severe”.
Since Al Gore’s 2005 speech, the intensity of hurricanes has actually fallen from their peak in 1993 and 1998. The U.S. National Hurricane Centre actually predicts that global warming would result in fewer hurricanes, not more.
But what is really important, is that increasing prosperity means that we can protect ourselves from extreme weather events and continue to live in floodplains without fear.
26% of The Netherlands lies below sea level, 50% of the country is below one metre above it. It is a well developed prosperous country. It copes with extreme weather with little risk to life and minimal disruption.
Bangladesh is prone to flooding, it sits on a floodplain and has an extensive coastline. Each monsoon season, 20% of the country is flooded. During prolonged storms, as much as 75% of the country is flooded. Rural people build flood defences out of mud and turf. Bangladesh doesn’t have the resources to protect it’s people from the weather.
Singapore is spending $598,000,000 building flood defences. It can afford to because it is a well-developed country with a strong economy.
If we want to protect people from extreme weather, we should do all we can to help them build their economies and to become wealthy.
Wealth has increased dramatically across the world. The number of people dying as a result of extreme weather events has fallen dramatically because we have increasing resources to protect ourselves from the worst that nature can throw at us.
Since the 1920s, death rates resulting from extreme weather events globally has declined by more than 90% in spite of a four-fold rise in population and increased accurate reporting of such events.
The aggregate mortality rate declined by 98%, largely due to decreased mortality in three main areas:
1) Deaths and death rates from droughts, which were responsible for approximately 60% of cumulative deaths due to extreme weather events from 1900–2010, are more than 99.9% lower than in the 1920s.
2) Deaths and death rates for floods, responsible for over 30% of cumulative extreme weather deaths, have declined by over 98% since the 1930s.
3) Deaths and death rates for storms (i.e. hurricanes, cyclones, tornados, typhoons), responsible for around 7% of extreme weather deaths from 1900–2008, declined by more than 55% since.
Death rates have fallen as global temperature has changed. There is no correlation between the two.
Polar Bears Are Dying
The Green’s claim:
Polar bears are dying because global warming is melting the ice in the Arctic.
Polar bears are powerful, beautiful -looking creatures. Although very few of us have actually seen one in the wild, we don’t want to see them harmed.
This is why the Greens have chosen the polar bear as the ultimate victim of global warming. It helps them raise £millions in donations and invokes a strong emotional response.
So, what is happening to the polar bears?
Firstly, there are more polar bears in the world than there were in the 1960s.
Why? Because the population has boomed since hunting licences were imposed. There are an estimated 20,000 – 25,000 polar bears in the world, distributed in 19 populations across the Arctic. The population continues to increase and is estimated to increase to 27,000 – 32,000.
The growth in the number of polar bears is a great example of a conservation success story, so why don’t the Greens celebrate their success? Simply because it would expose their tales of doom to be false and they would lose a strong emotional campaigning tool.
The Greens prefer pictures of polar bears dying. Every polar bears will eventually die, so if you hang around in Hudson Bay long enough, you’ll get your photograph.
Stand back and consider that polar bears have been around for 100,000s of years. They have successfully adapted to times when there is much more ice than now and times when there is much less. Such survival indicates that these Arctic species, in an evolutionary sense, are very well-adapted to their highly-variable habitat.
There is nothing to worry about. The polar bears are fine and Greenpeace will only tweak your emotions and take your money.
Green Energy Can Power A Modern Economy
The Green’s claim:
Although the current economy is based on fossil fuels, we can enjoy the same standard of living by using “renewable” energy which doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.
Everything that makes live easy and pleasurable exists because of fossil fuels.
Without the diesel engine we would have no food. Diesel powers the tractors, refrigerated lorries, container ships and delivery vans that grow, store and distribute our food.
When we cook, if we use gas that is 100% fossil fuel, if we use electricity, it is on average 67% fossil fuel. Without fossil fuels the world’s population would starve. With fossil fuels, we, in the developed world, can enjoy food from across the world that is cheap and abundant.
This applies to everything that protects and enhances human life. If you consider that machines are an extension of our muscles and computers an extension to our brains, every machine that maximises the effect of our work is powered by fossil fuels. Whether than is a mechanical digger or a data centre. Similarly, everything that enhances our enjoyment of life is powered by fossil fuels – foreign travel, television programmes and films, the clothes we wear when hiking or cycling.
But what about people who live in the under-developed world? 1/3 of the world’s population has no access to electricity. The quickest and cheapest way to roll out an electricity grid is build coal-fired power stations. The investment required for hydro-electric dams and nuclear power stations is beyond the reach of many countries. Under pressure from wealthy Green lobbyists, the World Bank now refuses loans for coal, nuclear and hydro-electric dams to poor countries. The Greens have won a victory – poor people will continue to live without electricity.
The Green’s claim:
Fossil fuel technology should be replaced by sustainable energy – using wind, solar and biomass.
Denmark is often quoted as the best example of a successful transition to wind power. At times Denmark has produced 42% of it’s electricity using wind power. Luckily for Denmark, it is a small country which can rely on it’s neighbour – it is connected to the German grid. So when the wind isn’t blowing, it takes electricity from German coal-fired power stations. The banks of wind turbines producing unreliable supply and dependence on Germany has given the Danes the highest electricity bills in Europe. Oh, and the Germans are rapidly building more coal-fired power stations.
In the UK, coal-fired power stations are being economically crippled to ensure that they are demolished or re-fitted to burn biomass. George Osborne introduced an escalating carbon tax which is five time the EU average. So, as coal, oil and gas prices fall in the real world, in the world of carbon make believe, the price is artificially inflated keeps electricity prices high, bankrupts power stations and reduces supply to create the risk of blackouts.
Power stations in the EU pay £5.30 per tonne of CO2 emitted, but British coal-power plants pay £23.38 per tonne.
The Labour Party can’t blame the Tories (Labour imposed the Climate Change Act and supports the tax).
The Tories can’t blame the EU (the UK carbon tax is five times higher than other EU countries).
No-one can blame “the climate” (the global temperature hasn’t risen this century despite record CO2 emissions).
The carbon tax is making odd things happen.
Drax power station, in Yorkshire, produces 7-8% of the UK’s electricity powered by 6 massive turbines. Two turbines have been re-fitted to burn biomass at a cost of £700 million. This is how it works:
1)Trees are cut down in Canada and the US
2)The trees are broken up and wood is moulded into pellets
3) The wood pellets are shipped across the Atlantic to Liverpool docks
4) The pellets are transferred to specially-built rail containers and shipped to Drax power station
5) The pellets are stored in massive warehouses where the oxygen is pumped out because of the fire risk (coal could be simply piled up outside, it burns wet)
All of this process uses diesel.
Drax now produces electricity that is four times the cost of burning coal.
The last deep coal-mine in the UK, at Kellingley, closed down in December 2015. It is 7 miles from Drax with a direct rail link.
Why is no UK politician pointing out how mad this is? It can’t even be considered environmentally friendly.
And now onto a question..
Ok, so if what you say is true, why are you bothered about it?
What harm can be done?
Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
I think the the meaning of life is the meaning that we give it – as individuals and as societies of people. The most exciting times are those when we take our destiny into our own hands and shape it. As individuals, we feel fulfilled when we achieve something – the more profound the achievement, the more profoundly we experience the sense of fulfilment. As societies, people feel truly alive when they are collectively shaping the future. Our ability to shape our societies makes us human.
The Green philosophy is based on the idea that there is a natural limitation, that nature is limited and that we should stay within these restrictions. They believe that our destiny should be shaped by natural limits, not human potential. Ironically, the limits are ideological, not natural. They are limits that the Greens wish to impose upon us in the name of “the earth”.
Human societies have evolved and developed more in the past 200 years than at any time throughout the human history. This could not have happened if we hadn’t developed machines to make the hours we work produce more and more over time. We did this by applying scientific knowledge through engineering. Basically, we built machines that massively extended what we can do. A mechanical digger does the muscle work of a hundred people. A data centre carries out the brain processing of a million people.
This all needs energy – the carbohydrates to power the brain and muscle. First we used wood and, in the UK, we experinced a wood crisis as the trees were chopped down across the land. Coal saved us and took us to through the early industrial revolution. Gas, oil and nuclear took us further. We will discover and develop new energy sources, but the next ones needs to be more, not less, energy intensive .. or we go backwards.
Cheap and abundant energy is fundamental to modern society. It gives us wealth. With wealth and abundance, we can increasingly spend our time on what we consider valuable. We can develop things which improve the quality of people lives. With wealth we can argue about whether more hospitals should be built, or invest in childcare nurseries or cinemas or high speed trains. Without it we will argue about who will have to suffer.
The Green ideology is this argument. Limits and suffering.
For the 1/3 of the world’s population poverty has terrible consequences. Death in childbirth is common, infectious diseases are rife, education is limited and there is little protection from the heat, cold, rain and drought brought about by the natural “climate”.
The Greens want to limit economic development. This will trap billions of people in conditions that we in the west would find unbearable.
If you believe in human progress, opposing the Green ideology of limitations is our starting point.
If you think more claims need to be looked at to see if they are myths, tweet me @AndyShaw1
Patrick Moore, the Greenpeace founder who left for good reason. If you want to make sense of this subject, his book is a must Patrick Moore “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout”
6th March 2016