We are a carbon life form. Decarbonising is therefore self-harm, no?
There have been a number of books and articles published recently which push back against well-meaning but harmful Greenthink. Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never nails the energy-density uselessness of solar and wind; Bjorn Lomborg’s False Alarm continues decades of meticulous exposure of benefit of adaptation versus cost of interventions; the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation ploughs its lonely furrow of financial common sense; and possibly the greatest recent impact came from Michael Moore’s production of Jeff Gibbs’ Planet of the Humans: – no one should be in any doubt now about the bad policy that involves cutting down trees in North America, processing them into wood chips, sailing them across the Atlantic, and trucking them to a Yorkshire power station.
But none of these will achieve cut-through.
That’s because they all pay homage to an underlying error: the belief (it feels like we are dealing with a religious phenomenon here) that man-made carbon dioxide (hereinafter CO2) is leading to dangerous climate change. It may be more, it may be less, we could adapt, but at the bottom of all this, it is our fault and it is bad.
Well. I will try to explain why it is neither a problem, nor our fault, in what follows. But before I stumble through my reasoning, please just step back for a moment, suspend disbelief, hold fire on closely argued refutation and ask yourself – what if I’m right?
How many trillions of net zero costs would we avoid? How much could we lower energy costs by cancelling green taxes? How much economic vandalism would be avoided in not scrapping our cars, boilers or grids? How much money made available for recovering from Sars2? How amazingly popular and vote-winning would it be? Half the country celebrates Brexit; just about everyone would be cheering cancellation of net zero.
This is why I don’t think CO2 is the main driver of climate change, by which of course we mean dangerous global warming.
Depending who is counting, there are about ten clear swings from ice age to warm conditions over the last million years, and over twenty wiggles. And more before that. Look up Marine Isotope Stages and you will see. What strikes me is that the temperature peaks and troughs are roughly at the same points, and parallel. The graph is graceful, natural, rhythmical. And flat, no upward trend. There is some sort switch, and it is very powerful (and of course has nothing to do with man made CO2 because we were barely there most of the time).
Look closely and for much of the time (not always, as cycles reinforce and cancel out with odd timing and lags), temperature changes lead CO2 concentration.
No way can CO2 be the cause of temperature change if its own changes follow rather than precede. That’s not how cause and effect works.
That’s it, really. End of alarm.
Think about the simple physics and it is not that surprising. Gasses like CO2 are increasingly absorbed by liquids as temperatures fall, and are released as temperatures rise. Changes in CO2 concentration are the result of temperature change, not the cause. Temperatures have been rising since about 1800, which was around the end of a cold period, and CO2 release from oceans follows. Indeed, the rise is unaffected by Sars2 shutdown, which in itself argues it is not all man-made.
So it’s natural variation and not our fault. Phew.
Correlation is not causation, but lack of correlation absolutely rules out causation.
Now the UN IPCC talks about CO2 forcing being of the order of 1.5 to 2 watts per square metre. They admit this is too little to make a dent in glaciation, so they come up with all sorts of angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin feedback loops to account for it. And they ignore natural variation.
Orbital variation can swing up to 100 watts per square metre when cycles align. That’ll do it for me.
Then there’s the death spiral. One of the most insidious, unshakable bad ideas of the crisis lobby is that rising temperatures will cause polar ice to melt, entering into an unstoppable feedback loop as less sunlight-reflecting ice area allows more sea to warm, melting more ice and so on until we all drown. Didn’t happen in Viking times, when Greenland was green. Didn’t happen in those lovely Marine Isotope Stages. Temperatures have often risen faster than they are now. Check out Dansgaard Oescher events and The Younger Dryas. No death spiral.
Arctic sea ice has been a bit low this summer, but Antarctic is at the top of the graph, and above the 1981 – 2010 average. That’s after forty years. If there was anything in this warming malarkey each year, or to be fair each five year average, say, would be lower than the preceding one. Not happening.
And lastly, greening. Plants turn CO2 into carbohydrates. Food. More CO2, more plant. Satellites calculate a measure of of plant cover called Leaf Area Index. It has grown by at least 17% over the last 35 years or so. A new green area about twice the size of the USA. That’s got to be good, right? Moreover, plants take in CO2 through holes in the undersides of their leaves, and lose water through those holes too. When CO2 concentration rises they can get by with smaller holes so survive in drier lands. Greening has been greatest in semi arid country – deserts shrink. And crop production is at record levels. Famine is about politics not climate.
So. That’s what I think. Lots of people have put it better, and I list a few below. But it did occur to me that I was barking up the wrong red herring so I wrote to a few of the great and the good asking if they thought change in concentration of CO2 was the main driver of climate change. Amazingly, more than a third were kind enough to reply. See what you make of what they said (I paraphrase a little). Senior opinion writer: I’m not a scientist so I don’t know. Senior journalist: the science is settled, don’t waste my time with references to nonsense like notrickszone.com. Economist: I don’t do science so can’t comment. Professor of Astrophysics: the UN IPCC says so. Another senior journalist: you are trying to trick me, but I don’t care. I believe climate change is the greatest risk to civilisation right now. MP: I believe climate change is the greatest risk to civilisation right now but can be a great opportunity for government to create green jobs. Sigh. Appeals to authority.
I read most of the UN IPCC fifth report during lockdown. It starts with an assumption, that CO2 is the only thing they can think of to drive climate change, then launches models to make projections based on that assumption. Forty five of them. We have had a bit of experience with models during this health crisis. The old rule – garbage in, garbage out – applies to climate models too. The models are running three times hotter than history. They have been running for more than thirty years but are not getting better. Seems careless to be counting on models to justify trillions of dollar costs to decarbonise.
Also, there is controversy about corruption of the IPCC’s central message; Nasa fiddling the numbers to make the past cooler and the recent warmer; the hockey stick; hiding the decline; Climategate; cancelling of dissenting scientists, and so on.
It has become common to talk about carbon pollution when referring to CO2. Industries or cars are said to emit this or that many tons of carbon. Carbon is thereby meant to feel bad, dirty, sooty, toxic. This is climate crisis propaganda but words have power, bad ideas have a life of their own just as good ones do. I am searching for stronger words but I am no wordsmith. It would take genius like Stay home, Save lives. I tried Green Taxes Kill: too ugly; CO2 is Food: too bland; Greenhouses good: hmm; We are Carbon – oh well.
All I am asking really is for you to think for yourselves. Read a few of the suggestions below. Maybe red team the issue before going Tonto. Make up your own mind. Try listening to the first line of that old Sam Cooke song – no, not that one: “If you ever/change your mind…” there, that’s you hooked.
Goklany Carbon Dioxide: The Good News | The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) you might start with the second section at p 21
Robinson, Robinson, Soon:
UN IPCC 2 watts/sq m https://infoproc.blogspot.com/2020/01/certainties-and-uncertainties-in-our.html
Mr. Koonin was undersecretary of energy for science during President Obama’s first term.
(Hat tip Dominic Cummings’ blog)
Steve Koonin again: https://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-seminar-transcript.pdf
100 watts/ sq m: https://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-seminar-transcript.pdf skip through to pp 314 – 318. Its a quick read, single column double spaced. “I don’t know of a better correlation in geophysics”.
APS pp 342 – 361 Christy demolishes editors.
p 466 DR. LINDZEN: In the models,
what causes the 1919 to 1940 warming? DR. HELD: The models tend to
Greening https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth, : https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3004 , the planet has greened by about 14% during 35 years of satellite observations (Donohue et al., 2013) , Zhu et al. (2016)
Deserts recede: Donohue RJ, Roderick ML, McVicar TR and Farquhar GD (2013) Carbon dioxide fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid envi- ronments. Geophysical Research Letters 2013; DOI: 10.1002/grl.50563.
Crops record http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#compare
“The balance of evidence suggeststhat there is a discernible human influence on global climate” According to Christopher Booker (Groupthink 2020 p 17,18) this definitive sentence was written into the Summary for Policymakers in the UN IPCC second report 1996, despite not having appeared in the formally approved draft. 15 key statements expressing doubt over the human contribution to global warming had also been deleted.
NASA NOAA adjusting the numbers: Understanding NOAA US Temperature Fraud | Real Climate Science