OPINION: An enormous amount of misinformation has come out of the climate conference in Durban.
These people refuse to consider the proposition that the climate changes naturally and that any man-made climate influence is small. Instead, they endlessly tell us that the world is warming rapidly, that the warming will be dangerous, that sea levels are rising rapidly and that, if we get a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, we will reach a "tipping point" that will cause untold damage to the world.
In New Zealand, Greenpeace has claimed that we have to take drastic steps immediately. Either they are not up to date with the latest information or they are being deliberately misleading. I suspect it is the latter.
None of these statements are in line with the latest science either from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or from independent climate scientists who have looked closely at the evidence.
Although the world did warm by about 0.7C between 1975 and 1988, there has been no significant warming since then. All the major temperature records show that global warming has flattened off. Given that the last sunspot cycle was long and that sunspots are declining, we could be in for a period of cooling that may be quite severe. History tells us that cooling brings famine, disease and war, while warming brings prosperity and good health. Only the IPCC and its minions tell us that warming is bad.
Regarding sea levels, the highly accurate sea-level gauges installed around Australia and on the Pacific Islands (including Tuvalu) in the early 1990s showed that sea level rise is small - less than 3mm a year - and that, in recent years, it has levelled off. The 3mm a year is consistent with the sea-level rise that we have experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age. So the only strange thing that is happening is that we cannot explain why the sea level is no longer rising.
There is a lot of loose talk about a 2C tipping point. There is no evidence to support this assumption. None. What we do know is that during the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Minoan Warm Period, temperatures rose by 2C or so and civilisation and people prospered. Anyway, if a tipping point did exist, it would have been triggered millions of years ago when carbon dioxide levels were much higher and, as a result, we would not even exist. All the evidence of history tells us that the climate changes naturally and flips in and out of warm periods for reasons that we do not yet understand.
The climate models predict that an increase in carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming purely because they have been programmed to do just that. The science tells us that if we double carbon dioxide from the present level it might cause a warming of about 1C. The climate modellers escalate this 1-to-3C, with little supporting evidence, and then, quite predictably, the models show a much higher rate of warming. But if you talk to the modellers, they will tell you that the big unknown is the effect of clouds because they cannot model them with any accuracy. There is more and more evidence that an increase in temperature brings an increase in clouds and this has a cooling effect.
So why are we being misled by lots of people who should know better? The reason seems to be that politicians, carbon traders, developers of renewable energy, environmental groups, climate researchers and many others all benefit by perpetuating the myth of dangerous man-made global warming.
It was heavily promoted by Enron, who, even though an internal report told them that probably wasn't happening, saw it as a way of making heaps of money from carbon trading.
Promoters of heavily subsidised wind and solar power realise that without the subsidies the industries would collapse overnight. So they employ lobbyists to tell the politicians that the world is warming and that (against all the evidence) new renewable energy technologies can make a big difference.
Climate scientists have quickly learnt that any research designed to show that global warming is happening will get funded and any research questioning its existence will not.
The Climategate 2 emails tell us that some climate scientists (including one based in New Zealand) have gone to extreme lengths in attacking fellow climate scientists who have published peer-reviewed papers that show that man-made global warming is not in line with the evidence.
In New Zealand we have an additional problem that the people who are advising the Government are firmly locked into the IPCC process. The same people occupy senior positions in Niwa, the IPCC and the Royal Society climate panel. So no matter where the Government turns, it gets the same advice from the same people. Yet one of these people told me, in effect, that he accepted that the world was not warming and that he didn't really know when it would restart.
A prudent government would look at all aspects of the evidence rather than relying on one source that has a vested interest. If it accepted what science tells it, it would probably abandon the emissions trading scheme immediately.
Bryan Leyland is a power industry consultant and New Zealand Climate Science Coalition energy adviser.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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