For at least a decade, intimately connected with energy use, have been claims on climate change. Richard Lindzen, arguably the world's most renowned climate scientist, describes our understanding of the science of climate as "primitive." Yet many in the media persist in treating alarmist "climate experts" as "all-knowing." But then the same media have a long history of taking up "end is nigh" scaremongering. It's good for ratings. We have had a litany of warnings that "billions could die" when AIDS, Avian flu, SARS, Ebola, mad cow disease, the millennium bug -- the list is endless -- hit the headlines. When they didn't of course, media alarmists shrugged, claimed they "simply report the facts" and moved on to warn about the next looming disaster.
Since man set foot on the earth, however, nothing has quite gripped the angst-ridden imagination like the weather gods visiting their fury at human behavior and life, so much connected with the use of fossil fuel energy. Media editors know this. Where once we banished such "end is nigh" eccentrics to the limits of society, today, they are fêted for spinning prediction as science and conducting publicly funded research to "save the planet." Their messages are aided by apocalyptic video game scenarios passing for media news reports.
Nowhere has this been thrown into more graphic relief than in two international climate conferences held in March this year. The "expert" conclusions of each could not have been more starkly divergent. But it is in the aims, nature and public pronouncements of each conference that we discern where the real science of climate understanding lays, and thus who are the real "climate deniers." All of which has profound implications for the future of energy, energy policy and energy investment.
The Alarmist Conference
The climate alarmist conference met in Copenhagen March 10-12 and was attended by over 2,000 activists, mostly non-scientists. It was billed as an "emergency summit" ahead of next December's UN global climate summit to be held in the same city. Such is the panic among climate/political activists that world governments will use the economic crisis as an excuse to avoid committing to binding national carbon targets come December, it was felt vital to up the political ante. If you thought that would mean scientists pointing to the latest accruing scientific evidence of impending disaster, however, you would be wrong. Far from presenting any new (or old) actual evidence, the conference majored on politicians doling out the media's headlines based on the latest apocalyptic computer-modeled predictions.
The conference duly warned of even higher sea levels and even higher global temperatures all presaging even greater catastrophes. Apparently warnings of temperature rises of 2 to 3 degrees C. clearly were not shocking us enough. Now they could be as high as 4 or 5 degrees C. The London Times reported the conference as claiming the "ice sheets are melting" and that increased global warming would lead to other "impacts," including more hurricanes, floods, and starvation.And just to show how previous prevarication by world leaders has already cost us, we learned that "two years ago it was widely thought that holding temperature increases to a maximum of 2C was achievable if governments made the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. It is now recognised that an 80 percent cut is needed."
To sum up, the alarmist conference in Copenhagen was not about science, it was about politics and prophecy. For the actual science, including the latest scientific evidence and trends, observers in Copenhagen would have had to travel to New York.
The Non-Alarmist Conference
Seven hundred climate "skeptics," many of them scientists, including Richard Lindzen of MIT, attended the Second International Conference on Climate Change, "Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?" The conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute, was held in New York on March 8-10. This was a wholly different kind of affair. It focused on the empirical science of climate, the latest scientific data and climate trends. As such, in dealing with the gritty reality of climate science, it duly got almost zero mass media coverage. Most journalists, it seems, do not like dealing with real science and allaying public scares is just bad for business.
In complete contrast to Copenhagen, the New York conference was addressed by a who's who of distinguished climate scientists. As well as hearing from Professor Lindzen, the conference was addressed by Professor Syun-Ichi Akasofu, former director of the International Arctic Research Center, Professor Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute, and Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to name but a few. These eminent scientists are the very ones the media likes to smear as "crackpots" and "climate deniers." What the conference received was the fruit of real research and study that showed sea levels, far from experiencing dramatic rise, are seeing the same level of rise they have been seeing for over 200 years. Professor S. Fred Singer, highlighting the claim of one alarmist who warned a rise of even 18 cm over a century would be "catastrophic," pointed out that the gentleman concerned is "apparently unaware that 18cm a century is the ongoing rate of rise -- which implies no additional rise in sea levels. In other words, the human influence is zero."
Alarmist claims over the "melting of the Western Antarctic ice sheet" also got short shrift as it was revealed the long-term melting of the Western ice sheet has been known about for decades. Far more significant was the data that confirmed how the Antarctic is not melting at all except for one tiny corner, the Antarctic Peninsula. The lack of scientific evidence that global ice was in meltdown was tied in with the fact that key computer-modeled temperature predictions -- upon which the whole alarmist edifice stands -- assume a linear rise in temperatures as carbon emissions rise. But such computer predictions were shown to have proven consistently and hopelessly inept. Far from following the linear rise anticipated by the alarmists, the actual satellite-measured global temperature data reveals that global temperatures have flattened out in recent years and, more recently, dropped. On the plain scientific data, if the present trend continues, the world will in fact be 1.1 degree C. cooler by 2100. In short, the world's ice is not in meltdown. Similarly, claims that hurricane activity was rising was refuted by the scientific data showing hurricane activity, currently, is at a 30-year low.
Much more could be said, but reading the New York presentations (linked below) one can only be impressed by the standard of empirical scientific study and debate and, in Copenhagen, the distinct lack of it. The juxtaposition of these two conferences is thus iconic of the entire climate debate -- or rather the mass media's collusive and shameful closing down of it. Unfortunately, many political leaders have simply bought the media-dominating alarmist line.
Vaclav Klaus, keynote speaker at the New York conference and current president of the European Union, lamented that, "the minds of world leaders are firmly shut to anything but the fantasies of the scaremongers." Yet it's those same leaders who are about to consider diverting vast economic and energy resources at the current G20 and at December's "Kyoto II." Frightening, when you consider they will do so based on an agenda propagated by a highly anti-intellectual, exclusively prophetic, anti-science 'faith' movement -- the real climate deniers.
(Go here for a list of links to the audio, video, power point and pdf presentations from the ICCC's "Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?" -- decide for yourself.)
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