As we plough headlong into the ‘ClimateGate’ scandal let’s remind ourselves what is really at stake here:
LET COOLER HEADS PREVAIL
by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley and Paul Maynard
The CII’s latest report, Coping with Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities for Insurers, says we are changing the climate, the science is settled, and there is overwhelming evidence for anthropogenic “global warming” caused by rising atmospheric CO2 concentration (CII, 2009).
The worldwide obsession with CO2 as the chief driver of climate is scientifically unfounded: yet Western governments are outbidding one another to make drastic cuts in carbon emissions, and CO2 is demonized as a dangerous pollutant. James Hansen, an activist who nominally works for NASA, decries railway coal-trucks as “death wagons”, incites civil disobedience against power stations, and predicts – absurdly – that sea level will rise 246 feet (Hansen, 2009).
The flimsy, pseudo-scientific basis for official alarm has long been definitively contradicted not only by theory but also by observational and experimental evidence. Yet the UN’s climate panel (which reached its conclusion not by scientific analysis but by a mere show of hands on the part of its political representatives) claims greater than 90% confidence that CO2 emissions have caused most of the warming of the past half-century (IPCC, 2007, Summary for Policymakers). As we shall conclusively demonstrate, there is in fact no anthropogenic signal whatsoever in the temperature record.
Much of the UN’s alarmism is based upon computer models of the climate. Yet its 2001 climate assessment admits that the climate is “a complex, non-linear, chaotic object” whose long-run evolution cannot be predicted “by any method” (Lorenz, 1963; Giorgi, 2005) because it is in practice impossible for us to know, to a sufficient precision, the initial state of the millions of parameters that define the climate.
Even a small perturbation in just one of these parameters can radically change the future, so that there is no way at all to predict the sudden, natural, radical changes that mathematicians call “phase-transitions” and environmentalists call “tipping-points”.
Climate models cannot be more than expensive guesswork. They have been proven incapable of predicting actual climate even a few weeks ahead. The Met Office predicted a hot, dry summer in 2007, just weeks before the coldest, wettest summer on record. It predicted a mild winter in 2008, just weeks before the coldest winter in 20 years. These failed forecasts were just for one region of the planet.
In this article we focus on actual, real-world observations to demonstrate that recent climate change is comfortably within natural variability. Our impact on the climate is small, harmless and beneficial, and cannot lead to the catastrophes predicted by the alarmists. 8
Indeed, a peer-reviewed survey (Schulte, 2008) of 539 scientific papers mentioning “global climate change” and published since January 2004 – the true scientific “consensus” – found not a single paper that offered a shred of evidence for even one of the disasters, catastrophes, cataclysms and apocalypses so luridly imagined by politicians looking for an issue, academics looking for grants, journalists looking for headlines, and insurers looking for profits.
CO2 occupies just 0.039% of the atmosphere, compared with 0.028% in pre-industrial times. There are 39 molecules of CO2 for every 100,000 in the atmosphere. There is 70 times more CO2 dissolved in the oceans than there is in the atmosphere.
CO2 is a bit-part player. It occupies only one-ten-thousandth more of the atmosphere than it did 250 years ago. Will Happer (2009), an eminent Princeton scientist, recently testified before the Environment and Public Works Committee of the US Senate that the world is currently starved of CO2 compared with its concentration in geological time.
The most important greenhouse gas is water vapor, responsible via its sheer abundance for two-thirds of the greenhouse effect (Kiehl & Trenberth, 1997).
The question is not whether CO2 enrichment of the atmosphere causes warming, but how much warming it causes. As we shall show, the answer is “very little”.
Even the UN’s climate panel accepts that the direct effect of increased CO2 on warming is limited. Estimates, with a huge margin of error, range around 1 C of temperature increase in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration (Manabe & Wetherald, 1975; Hansen et al., 1984, 1988; IPCC, 2001, ch.6.1).
The UN says that this 1 C warming becomes 3.26 ± 0.69 C in response to positive temperature feedbacks that amplify the initial warming effect, though, as we shall show, a growing body of scientific literature demonstrates this multiple to be a substantial exaggeration.
The most important of the feedbacks is the water vapor feedback. One of the few proven results in climatology is the Clausius-Clapeyron relation. This demonstrates that as the atmosphere warms it is capable of carrying near-exponentially more water vapor.
Thus according to the UN, more CO2 equals more warming equals more water vapor and hence amplified warming.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CO2 AND TEMPERATURE OVER TIME
If CO2 is an important greenhouse gas, as the UN and its supporters argue, its impact should appear in the temperature record. Here we look at four periods going back 600 million years.
In the Cambrian and again in the Triassic era, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was at least 18 times today’s. Yet the planet did not fry, and the ocean did not acidify. The calcite corals emerged in the Cambrian and the delicate aragonite corals evolved in the Triassic. 9
Figure 1, from the authoritative Monthly CO2 Report (SPPI, 2009), shows that, on all measures, global temperature for the past seven years has been falling at a rate equivalent to >2 C°/century –
Seven years’ global cooling at 2 C°/century
Seven years’ global cooling: The arithmetic mean of the Hadley and NCDC monthly terrestrial global-temperature datasets and the RSS and UAH satellite lower-troposphere datasets shows a (largely-unreported) cooling for seven years at a rate equivalent to 2.1 C°/century. The pink region shows the UN’s projected range of warming rates: the pale pink region is 1 standard deviation either side of the UN’s central estimate that global temperature will rise 3.9 C° to 2100.
This fall was largely unreported: yet the decline in global temperatures is of great significance, for the UN’s current methodology cannot explain it. Over the past seven years, CO2 concentration has risen from about 370ppmv to 386ppmv. The UN deems the contribution of natural forcings (non-anthropogenic influences that have a positive or negative impact on warming such as incoming solar radiation) to be minuscule. Therefore, warming should have resulted from the increased CO2.
Though seven years is too short a period to allow anyone to claim that further warming cannot occur, it is a long enough period to cast considerable doubt upon the magnitude of anthropogenic warming as imagined by the UN, because not one of the models upon which it relies had predicted so long or so large a cooling.
Lord Hunt, recently answering a Parliamentary Question by Lord Leach of Fairfield, valiantly but vainly tried to attribute the past seven years’ rapid cooling to natural variability in the climate. If the past seven years’ cooling – enough to reverse one-third of the warming of the 10
previous quarter-century – is natural, then, by the same token, the previous warming may also be attributed chiefly, if not exclusively, to natural variability. Indeed, Scafetta & West (2008) attribute 69% of the 1975-1998 warming to the Sun, leaving only 31% for other natural processes and for CO2.
Some say that “global warming” is on hold because the oceans are accumulating heat from the atmosphere. However, sea surface temperatures have shown a slight decline over the past five years, based upon high-quality data from the 3175 automated Argo bathythermograph buoys that were deployed throughout the world’s oceans in 2003. The media have largely failed to report either the seven-year global cooling of the atmosphere or the five-year cooling of the oceans (see also Lyman et al., 2006; Gouretski & Koltermann, 2007).
Plainly, a longer perspective is desirable. Let us look at the record for 150 years in Figure 2, an official UN graph, to which we have added three parallel magenta lines –
No anthropogenic signal in the recent temperature record
Identical warming rates: The global warming rate from 1975-1998 was identical to that from 1860-1880 and from 1910-1940 (magenta lines). There is no anthropogenic signal in the global-temperature record.
From 1860-1880, temperatures rose. From 1880-1910 they fell despite an increase of 15ppm in CO2 concentration. From 1910-1940 there was another 15ppm increase in CO2, whilst temperatures increased by about 0.3 C°. From 1940-1975, temperatures declined whilst CO2 increased. From 1975-1998 temperatures increased, as did CO2. However, the warming over this last period was no greater than the warming rate from 1860-1880, or that from 1910-1940. During the two earlier periods, humankind cannot have had much influence on temperature. 11
Therefore – and this cannot be stressed too firmly – there is no discernible anthropogenic influence on global temperature whatsoever. Indeed, that was the explicit finding of the scientists who submitted the final draft of the UN’s 1995 climate assessment report. They stated as much in five places. However, the UN’s bureaucrats did not find the mere scientific facts acceptable, and removed all five statements, substituting a directly-contradictory statement to the effect that there was a discernible human influence on temperature. And that – regardless of the science and data – has been the official line ever since. Politics, not science, has prevailed.
Let us take a still longer view. Figure 3 is the record from the Vostok ice cores in Antarctica used by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth –
650,000 years’ methane, temperature and CO2 data
Which came first? Methane concentration (red), temperature proxy (black) and CO2 concentration (blue) from the present (left) to 650,000 years before present (right). Data source: Vostok ice-core data.
Gore said that when CO2 concentration increased the world got warmer. However, analyses that were available at the time when Gore made his movie demonstrate that CO2 lagged temperature change in the early climate by 800-2800 years (Petit et al., 1999, Indermuhle, 2000; Monnin et al., 2001, etc., etc.).
The High Court in London, ordering the Department of Education to issue corrective guidance before allowing Gore’s movie to be shown in schools, found that the palaeoclimate record did not demonstrate what Gore had said it demonstrated. 12
Finally, in Figure 4, we come to the record reaching back 600 million years – one-seventh of the age of the Earth. For most of that period, global temperatures are thought to have been 7 C warmer than the present. Yet CO2 concentration fluctuated up to 7000 parts per million–
600 million years’ CO2 and temperature data
No correlation: CO2 concentration (black) and temperature (blue) for 600 million years. There is no correlation between the two graphs, and CO2 concentration today is very close to its least value.
Why is there so little correlation between CO2 and temperature in this geological timespan, when there is a close, temperature-driven correlation over the past million years or so?
The reason is that, throughout most of the past 600 million years, though not in the past million years, CO2 concentration was above 915 parts per million.
Beyond that threshold, adding further CO2 to the atmosphere makes very little difference to temperature, and vice versa.
THE UN’S PROJECTIONS FOR CO2 CONCENTRATION
We now turn to the UN’s projected CO2 concentration. Here, it is important to draw the distinction between the increase in CO2 emissions, which has recently been at the high end of the UN’s projections because China and India are growing fast, and the corresponding increase in CO2 concentration, which has recently been very near linear. 13
The year-on-year increase in CO2 concentration has been running well below the least of the exponential rates of increase projected by the UN, as shown in Figure 5 –
CO2 concentration is rising, but still well below IPCC predictions
Observed and predicted CO2 concentration, 2000-2100: The pale-blue region, bounded by exponential curves, is the UN’s predicted path for CO2 concentration over the present century. The observed, deseasonalized CO2 concentration change calculated by NOAA from January 2000 to November 2008 (dark blue) is near-coincident with the least-squares linear-regression trend, (solid, light-blue line) on the data: in short, CO2 concentration is no longer rising ever more rapidly, but is rising only in a straight line, even though CO2 emissions are rising ever more rapidly.
On the current, linear observed trend, CO2 concentration in 2100 will be just 575 ppmv compared to the UN’s central estimate of 836 ppmv (IPCC, 2007, p. 790). There are two reasons for this. The UN admits that it cannot add up its global “carbon budget” – the balance between emitted CO2, CO2 residing in the atmosphere and CO2 fixed by the biosphere and hydrosphere – to within a factor of two of the right answer.
CO2 emissions, at their current record levels, ought to be adding some 4.1 ppmv/year to the atmosphere, yet the observed increase is only 2 ppmv/year, as displayed in the chart above, which uses data from the NOAA. Ever since CO2 concentration has been measured by modern methods, it has increased at less than half the expected rate.
This single consideration requires that the UN’s central projection of CO2-induced temperature increase to 2100 must be halved from 3.9 C° to a harmless 1.9 C°. 14
CLIMATE SENSITIVITY TO CO2
The central question in the climate debate is this. How much warming will a given proportionate increase in CO2 concentration cause? This “climate sensitivity” question is central because if – as we shall show – the warming is very small, then there cannot be and will not be any “climate crisis”, none of the disasters imagined in official circles will occur, and the childishly Messianic millenarianism of the more excitable and less scientifically-literate politicians and journalists will have proven to be without foundation.
Arrhenius (1906) estimated 1.6 C° of warming at CO2 doubling; Hansen (1988) 4.2 C°; IPCC (1995) 3.8 C°; IPCC (2001) 3.5 C°; and IPCC (2007) 3.26 ± 0.69 C°. Plainly, the “consensus” does not agree with itself. Apart from the improbable precision of the UN’s most recent value, we may immediately draw two conclusions.
First, there is no “consensus” as to the magnitude of the effect of CO2 on temperature, and if there is no consensus on that question then there can be no consensus on anything else. Secondly, the UN’s “official” estimates of climate sensitivity – the temperature response to doubling CO2 concentration – are inexorably falling. How much further must they fall before they start to conform both to scientific theory and to observed reality?
The UN calculates greenhouse-enrichment-induced temperature change over time as the product of four parameters – the radiative forcing, which is the extra energy at the top of the atmosphere caused by atmospheric enrichment with a greenhouse gas such as CO2; the Planck parameter, which converts the tropopausal radiative forcing to surface temperature change in the absence of feedbacks; the temperature-feedback multiplier; and the natural logarithm of the proportionate increase in CO2 concentration.
The relation is logarithmic because each additional CO2 molecule has less effect on temperature than its predecessors, and – beyond 915 ppmv – it has practically no effect on temperature at all (Myrhe et al., 1998, hold that the logarithmic formula fails at this point).
It is at once apparent that even a very small exaggeration in the value of each of these four parameters will cause a very large exaggeration when the four parameters are multiplied together to give the UN’s projection of anthropogenic temperature change over time. For instance, even if each of the four parameters is exaggerated by as little as one-third, once the four parameters are multiplied together the projected temperature change will appear to be more than thrice what it should be.
However, as we shall demonstrate, the UN has, on average, approximately doubled the value of each of the four parameters. Thus, when they are multiplied together, the UN’s projection of temperature increase to 2100 becomes approximately 16 times too big.
Yet the vast majority of the scientists who wrote and reviewed the UN’s climate reports are unaware of these exaggerations, and unaware that it is the multiplication together of four separate exaggerations that causes the absurd overestimates of anthropogenic temperature change over the coming century without which the UN’s entire case for alarm about our effect on the climate falls away. 15
Most scientists are unaware because the UN’s treatment of the central question of climate sensitivity is obscurantist in the extreme. Consideration of the four key parameters is scattered untidily through several separate chapters of each report: yet the chapters are written and reviewed by different groups of scientists.
At no point are the four parameters and the relationships between them drawn explicitly and clearly together. This is why no one has noticed the large – and possibly accidental – exaggeration that has demonstrably resulted from the UN’s methodology.
As we have already seen, the UN’s projection of the rate at which CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere leads to an unwarrantable doubling of its estimate of temperature increase over the present century. The three other parameters we have mentioned – radiative forcing, the Planck parameter and the feedback factor – are similarly exaggerated, as we shall now show.
First, the UN predicts a distinctive fingerprint of anthropogenic greenhouse warming – a “hot-spot” in the tropical upper troposphere (IPCC, 2007: Figure 6) –
Temperature fingerprints of five forcings
Modeled zonal mean atmospheric temperature change (Cº/century, 1890-1999) from five distinct forcings (a-e), and from all forcings combined (f). Altitude is in hPa (left scale) and km (right scale) vs. latitude (abscissa). Source: IPCC (2007). 16
All of the models on which the UN relies predict that most of the atmospheric warming that arises from greenhouse-gas enrichment of the atmosphere will occur about six miles up in the tropical upper troposphere.
At that altitude, the warming rate is predicted to be 2-3 times that observed at the tropical surface (Lee et al., 2007: Figure 7) –
Fingerprints of anthropogenic warming projected by four models
Zonal mean equilibrium temperature change (°C) at CO2 doubling (2x CO2 – control), as a function of latitude and pressure (hPa) for 4 general-circulation models. All show the projected fingerprint of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas warming: the tropical mid-troposphere “hot-spot” is projected to warm at twice or even thrice the surface rate. Source: Lee et al. (2007). 17
The predictions of four such models are shown in Figure 7. However, this tropical upper-troposphere “hot-spot” does not occur in reality, as Figure 8 shows. It has not been observed in 50 years of radiosonde and drop-sonde measurements. It has not been observed in 30 years of satellite observations. It has not been observed at all. It is not there (HadAT, 2006; Figure 8) –
The absent fingerprint of anthropogenic greenhouse warming
Altitude-vs.-latitude plot of observed relative warming rates in the satellite era. The greater rate of warming in the tropical mid-troposphere that is projected by general-circulation models is absent in this and all other observational datasets, whether satellite or radiosonde. Altitude units are hPa (left) and km (right). Source: Hadley Centre for Forecasting (HadAT, 2006).
In a lecture given in 2008, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT, has concluded from the absence of the “hot-spot” that –
“… A doubling of CO2 leads to surface warming of from about 1.5-3.5 C. By contrast, the observed warming over the past century or so amounts to only about 0.6-0.8 C (not all of which need be due to increased greenhouse gases). … Using basic theory, modelling results and observations, we can reasonably bound the anthropogenic contributions to surface warming since 1979 to a third of the observed warming, leading to a climate sensitivity too small to offer any significant measure of alarm …”. 18
In short, the absence of the model-predicted “hot-spot” requires us to divide the UN’s climate-sensitivity estimates by at least 3. Lindzen’s result is in line with that of Scafetta & West (2008, op. cit.), who attribute more than two-thirds of the past half-century’s “global warming” to the Sun.
The UN also exaggerates the Planck parameter by at least one-third, because it incorrectly takes temperature and radiant-energy values from planetary emitting surfaces six miles apart, thereby repealing the fundamental equation of radiative transfer.
Also, the UN fails to make any allowance for diurnal and latitudinal variations.
Finally, the UN exaggerates the feedback multiplier. It assumes that feedbacks, which we explained earlier, amplify the original forcing more than threefold.
However, it underestimates the cooling effect of evaporation in calculating the water-vapor feedback (Wentz et al., 2007); it fails to notice that relative humidity in the upper troposphere is low, greatly reducing the water-vapor feedback and possibly rendering it negative (Paltridge et al., 2009), and it regards the cloud feedback as strongly positive when it should be net-negative (Spencer, 2007).
These three considerations alone suggest that the UN has at least doubled the true value of the feedback multiplier. If the UN’s stated maximum values for temperature feedbacks were right, the Earth would suffer from a “runaway greenhouse effect” that has self-evidently not occurred.
Correcting for the UN’s exaggerations of each of the four key parameters reduces climate sensitivity from 3.26 C to little more than 0.25 C by 2100, and near-certainly less than 1 C (Chylek, 2008; Lindzen, 2007; Monckton, 2008; Schwartz, 2007; etc., etc.). It is probably fair to say that the majority of the tiny fraction of papers on the climate that take the trouble to focus on this central question of climate sensitivity find it to be very substantially below the UN’s wide but prodigiously-exaggerated range of estimates.
There are two further reasons for doubting the UN’s climate-sensitivity analysis. First, in 1600 pages the UN – extraordinarily – neglects to describe any of the laboratory experiments on the basis of which it wishes us to believe that CO2 will in future have an effect on temperature far larger than that which it is visibly exerting today, still less how such experiments can be reliably translated from the ordered laboratory to the chaotic atmospheric column.
We are expected to take the UN’s stated climate-sensitivity values on faith – and that is what too many careless scientists have done.
Secondly, the UN does not mention whether the outgoing infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface, as measured by satellites, has declined as fast as its models have predicted.
As Professor Lindzen has pointed out, has been established in several papers over the past 20 years that the observed decline in outgoing long-wave radiation over time, as measured by satellites looking down at the Earth, has been one-seventh to one-tenth what the UN’s models had predicted (see e.g. Covey, 1995). 19
This confirms empirically our own calculation that climate sensitivity is one-seventh to one-tenth of the UN’s estimates (Figure 9) –
Outgoing long-wave radiation is not trapped as predicted
The smoking gun: 14 years’ model-predicted (black) and ERBE satellite-observed (red) change in outgoing long-wave radiation from the Earth’s surface. Seven times as much long-wave radiation as the models predict continues to escape to space, demonstrating conclusively that the greenhouse effect has only one-seventh the effect on global temperature that the UN’s models predict. Source: Professor Richard Lindzen.
Combined with the UN’s self-confessed failure to add up the carbon budget correctly, its overstatement of climate sensitivity leads to a near-sixteenfold exaggeration of the anthropogenic temperature increase to 2100.
Divide the UN’s temperature predictions by 16 to restore them from the realm of computer-game fantasy to that of satellite-observed reality, and the supposed “climate crisis” vanishes into thin air.
WHAT CAUSED THE WARMING FROM 1975-1998?
Though recent temperature changes have been well within natural variability and there is no need to posit any external forcing as the reason for those changes, there is compelling evidence that much of the warming from 1975-1998 was caused by an exceptional increase in solar activity. During the 70 years 1645-1715, known as the Maunder Minimum or Grand Minimum, the Sun was less active than in 10,000 years.
Thereafter, solar activity inexorably and rapidly increased for almost 300 years until, during the years 1925-1995, peaking in 1960, the Grand Maximum, the Sun was at least as active as at any time in the previous 11,400 years. Hathaway et al. (2004) illustrate this recently-20
unprecedented increase in solar activity by reference to the 11-year cycles of sunspot numbers depicted in Figure 10 –
Grand Minimum to Grand Maximum: the Sun’s activity grows
It’s the Sun, stupid! The 11-year cycle of sunspot activity shows an inexorable increase over the past 300 years, offering a possible explanation for the corresponding increase in global temperatures over the same period. Source: Hathaway, 2004.
Most solar physicists accord a far greater role to the Sun than the counter-consensual UN finds it expedient to allow.
The 2004 Symposium of the International Astronomical Union concluded that the Sun had been responsible for the warming of the past 300 years; that solar activity was now likely to decline; and that global cooling, not warming, was likely. In the four years since then, they have been proven right –
Ø Solar activity has declined sharply;
Ø The magnetic convection currents beneath the surface of both solar hemispheres have slowed to a rate never before observed, implying a possible long-term decline in solar activity;
Ø There were 266 days without sunspots in 2008, the second-least solar activity in more than a century; and
Ø Global temperatures have duly fallen at a rate equivalent to 6 C°/century. Note that the cooling rate is accelerating.
If the past four years’ very rapid rate of cooling were to persist, there would be an Ice Age by 2050.
The apparent rise in hurricane frequency and damage is often cited as a consequence of anthropogenic “global warming”. Pielke and Landsea 2008, demonstrated that although hurricane losses in financial terms, even after adjustment for inflation, have been rising (Figure 11), the losses do not allow for the massive growth in population and property in the region over the past century. Once adjustments are made for these factors, losses have shown no growth in a century (Figure 12). 21
Total annual losses from Atlantic tropical cyclones
Losses in billions of 2005 dollars, 11-year centered average. Source: Pielke & Landsea, (2008).
Population-normalized (PL05) annual losses from Atlantic tropical cyclones
Population-normalized losses (in 2005 $bn), 11-year centered average. Source: Pielke & Landsea, (2008). 22
For instance, the worst hurricane event in the US, the 1926 Florida “Great Blow”, if it happened today, would result in insured and uninsured losses in excess of $200 billion. The High Court justifiably condemned Al Gore’s movie for inappropriately linking hurricane activity to “global warming” in the face of explicit statements by the UN, in its 2001 report, that no such link with individual extreme-weather events is supportable.
Many peer-reviewed studies show only a weak correlation between hurricanes and sea surface temperatures. Most importantly, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index, a running two-year sum of the frequency and intensity of all hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones, now stands at its lowest-ever value (Figure 13) –
Global tropical cyclone energy at its lowest for 33 years
Hurricanes hardly happen: The Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index is now at its least value in a third of a century, indicating that “global warming” over the same period has not led to the increase in severe tropical storms that had been widely but baselessly predicted.
Sea-level rise is often cited as the most severe consequence of “global warming”. If some of the more alarmist predictions were true, then the threat to insurers would be self-evident. For example, sea-level rise is cited as increasing the storm-surge threat to south-east England. In reality, sea level is rising at a mere 8-12 in/century, about one-fifth of the mean centennial rate of rise of 4ft/century over the past 10,000 years. There is little sign of acceleration in this rate: indeed, in the past three years there has been no statistically-significant rise in sea level at all (JASON satellite data, 2009). Nor is there a shred of evidence that sea level will imminently rise by 20 ft, as suggested by Al Gore in 2005. Gore cannot have believed his own prediction: that year he bought a $4 million apartment in the St. Regis Tower, San Francisco, just feet from the ocean at Fisherman’s Wharf. As the High Court bluntly found in 2007, “The Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view.” 23
A fortiori, James Hansen’s recent statements that “global warming” will raise sea level by 246 feet may be dismissed as mere rent-seeking rodomontade, tinged with hysteria at the continuing failure of his apocalyptic predictions. Professor Nils-Axel Moerner, who has written 520 papers on sea-level rise in his 35-year career, told a recent debate on “global warming” at the University of St. Andrews that “sea level is not an issue”. The undergraduates duly rejected a motion that “global warming is a global crisis”. Moerner (2004) projects a sea-level rise of just 8 inches to 2100.
The Maldives and Tuvalu are often cited as examples of sea-level rise. Yet many of their problems are to do with subsiding land and extraction of fresh water. There has been no sea-level rise in Tuvalu (or in most other Pacific atolls) for a quarter of a century, and Professor Moerner, after a meticulous and continuing survey, has demonstrated that there has been no sea-level rise in the Maldives in 1250 years. In any event, corals are capable of growing towards the light at ten times the most rapid rate of sea-level rise, which is why it is no mere coincidence that many coral atolls are only a few feet above sea level.
Sea ice in the Arctic has been melting a little, particularly in the summer, but its winter extent is much as it was 30 years ago when the satellites first looked. Sea ice in the Antarctic reached a record high (but largely-unreported) extent in October 2007, almost at the same moment as Arctic sea-ice reached a 30-year minimum (that was widely reported). There has been little trend in global sea-ice extent in 30 years. Land ice in Antarctica (90% of the world’s total) and in Greenland (5%) has been accumulating throughout the period (Doran et al., 2002; Johannessen et al., 2005). Mountain glaciers had begun to recede in 1820-1880, long before human influence could have been significant, and there has been no increase in the rate of recession during the past 30 years, when we might have had some influence.
Kilimanjaro’s glacier had lost half its ice by 1936, when Hemingway wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Yet the glacier is not melting. It is ablating (passing from its solid to its gaseous phase without an intervening liquid phase) because of atmospheric desiccation caused not by “global warming” but by regional cooling (Molg et al., 2003). Northern-hemisphere snow cover, on which 40% of the world’s population depends for its water supply reached a record high extent in 2007/8, bids fair to do so again in 2008/9, and shows no trend in 30 years (Rutgers University Snow & Ice Lab).
LOSS OF SPECIES
Though some extravagant claims for widespread species loss have been made, most of the world’s life-forms thrive in the tropics (where it is warm), not at the Poles (where it is cold). Warmer weather facilitates speciation, not extinction. The warming of the 20th century, like that of the 19th and 18th centuries, was around 0.75 C°: not enough to cause harm.
There is little reason to suppose that the warming of the present century (if and when it begins) will be any more severe than that. Recent statements by a Potsdam-based pressure-group to the effect that 6 billion of the world’s 7 billion people are threatened with extinction by “global warming” are mere petulant pusillanimity. It is not known, even to within several orders of magnitude, how many species exist, how many have already 24
become extinct (though approximately 99% of all species that ever walked the Earth became extinct before Man first stood upright), or how many are coming into being. Nor are the UN and its fellow-travellers able to tell us what is the optimum temperature for life on Earth today. Should it be higher? Lower? By how much, if at all? No one can say. The Voltairean notion that today’s temperature is the best of all possible temperatures in the best of all possible worlds has no plausible scientific foundation.
The climate has always changed. Only 15,000 years ago, a mile or two of ice covered much of what is now the contiguous USA. As recently as 9000 years ago, natural global warming as the Earth’s temperature recovered after the last Ice Age caused the last glaciers to recede from Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
During all but the last 30 of the recent 300 years’ planetary warming, we cannot have been to blame. There have of course been more warm years at the end of the 300 years’ warming than at the beginning, but the fact of that warming does not necessarily imply that any (still less all) of it was anthropogenic.
Global temperatures were 7 C° warmer than the present throughout most of the past half-billion years; 5 C° warmer in each of the past four interglacial periods; 3 C° warmer throughout most of the past 10,000 years; and, notwithstanding a clumsy attempt by the UN in 2001 to abolish the mediaeval warm period, 1-3 C° warmer then than today.
As just one indication of the absence of the claimed scientific “consensus” in support of the UN’s often-fantastic propositions, it is possible to cite papers written in the past 25 years by 670 scientists from 391 institutions in 40 countries, establishing by careful measurement and analysis – rather than by mere X-Box 360 computer games – that, in line with the UN’s 1990 climate report and contrary to its 2001 report, the mediaeval warm period was real, global, and appreciably warmer than the present.
We conclude that the notion of catastrophic, anthropogenic “global warming” is a fantasy; that insurers, for their own legal protection, should be very careful to avoid explicit endorsement of the current official documents on “global warming”, which are inspired more by politics than by science and are materially, serially, seriously, blatantly deficient in ways such as those we have outlined; and that there is no case for spending a single penny more of taxpayers’ money on “global warming” unless and until mean global surface temperatures shall have risen by at least 1 C° above those prevailing in the year 2000. If we are right, that threshold will not be crossed for at least a century, if then.
The slight warming we are now experiencing is benign. It is the return of an ice age that we have to fear. Alarmism over “global warming” has the potential to enrich insurers unscrupulous enough to take advantage of it, but only at the risk of damaging and alienating their consumer and commercial clients. Our clients rightly expect us to do some proper due diligence before we leap greedily upon the “global warming” bandwagon just as the wheels are falling off. 25
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