Yesterday, President Obama and a phalanx of other world leaders joined 40,000 delegates in Paris for the formal opening of what has been billed as “one of the most important international conferences in history”.
Its aim is to win agreement on a plan that would halt global warming, by holding down temperatures to 2 degrees C above their pre-industrial level.
They want “a binding treaty” committing the world’s nations to make massive cuts in their emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).
For 30 years we have been told how, thanks to the dramatic rise in CO2, temperatures have been soaring to unprecedented levels. This is causing polar ice to melt, sea-levels to rise and has brought a dangerous increase in “extreme weather events”, such as hurricanes, heatwaves, droughts and floods.
Nothing has been more influential in promoting this “consensus” view than a succession of reports by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These are based on computer models which predict that, unless the world abandons fossil fuels, temperatures will rise through the 21st century by 0.3 degrees per decade. Indeed by 2100 they could even have soared by as much as 5 degrees.
So what could be wrong about the world’s nations getting together to prevent such a disaster before it is too late?
In fact, in more recent years scarcely a single point in this “consensus” theory has not been questioned by a growing array of independent experts, including some of the most eminent scientists in the world.
Here are 10 of the claims made by those gathered in Paris, with commentary on just how far their fears are really justified.
1. Thanks to the rise in CO2 emissions, we are faced with a rise in global temperatures never before seen in history.
It is true that when the alarm over global warming was set off in the 1980s and 1990s, the world was undoubtedly hotting up, apparently in tandem with an inexorable rise in CO2. But this rise in temperatures was not unprecedented. The world has in fact been heating up for 200 years, ever since it emerged from what climatologists call the “Little Ice Age’ when, between 1350 and 1800, it markedly cooled. The temperature rise of 0.5 degrees C between 1975 and 1998, hailed as “the hottest year in history” was no greater than that recorded between 1910 and 1940, before “global warming” was thought of.
This graph by Phil Jones of East Anglia University’s Climatic Research Unit shows that the late 20th century temperature rise was very similar to that between 1910 and 1940
2. But what about the so-called “Pause”, the claim by “climate sceptics”, that after 1998, temperatures again fell, and have shown no rising trend since?
It is true that some surface temperature records have continued to rise, showing 2010 and 2014 as even hotter than 1998. But the much more comprehensive temperature measurements made by satellites have shown a very different picture. Since falling back after 1998, the rising trend in temperatures has for 17 years come to a halt – what even the IPCC accept as “the Pause”.
This graph from the respected Woodfortrees website shows the temperature record since 1998 as recorded by RSS, one of the two official satellite data sources
The significance of this stalling of the temperature rise is that it was not predicted by any of those IPCC computer models, programmed to predict that, as CO2 continued to rise, temperatures must inevitably follow. Even fervent supporters of the “consensus” have found this hard to explain, and have had to admit that natural factors, such as changes in solar radiation and ocean currents have much more influence on climate than their computer models allowed for.
3. The overall temperature rise of the past 200 years has been wholly unprecedented, and the C02 emitted since the start of the industrial revolution must still be a major factor.
Nothing more troubled the supporters of the “consensus” theory than worldwide evidence that 1,000 years ago the world was even hotter than it is today: what climatologists call “the Medieval Warm Period”.
But in 1999 this led to the producing of a new graph, nicknamed “the Hockey Stick” and heavily promoted by the IPCC, which rewrote climate history. This purported to show that the Medieval Warm Period had never existed, and that temperatures had suddenly shot up in the late 20th century to 1998 as “the hottest year in history”.
The Hockey Stick graph, showing late 20th temperatures suddenly shooting up to the ‘hottest year in history’
Expert computer analysts then demonstrated, however, that the methods used to construct this graph were hopelessly flawed. It became the most discredited artefact in scientific history. The Medieval Warm Period was back, showing that the heating up of the world 1,000 years ago had nothing to do with human CO2 emissions and was entirely natural.
4. Two recent studies have shown that “97 per cent of all climate scientists” still believe in man-made global warming. How can this evidence be denied?
It is true that no statistic has been quoted more often by supporters of the “consensus” than this, including President Obama. But analysis of how these two studies were conducted have shown them as even more dodgy than the “Hockey Stick”.
The first was based on a survey by a student for a Master’s degree. Of her original sample of 10,257 scientists, she eventually identified only 77 as bona-fide “climate scientists”, all but two of whom had endorsed the “consensus” view on man-made climate change. Hence her “97 per cent”. But this represented only 0.007 percent of her original sample.
When another academic, John Cook, attempted to produce a more convincing result, based on a sample of 4,011 academic papers, he claimed that “97 percent” of them endorsed the “consensus” that “humans are the primary cause of recent global warming”. But closer examination showed that only 65 papers argued that man-made CO2 was responsible for more than half of the warming. Cook’s true percentage should have been far, far smaller.
5. Melting polar ice is threatening a disastrous rise in sea-levels (not to mention those vanishing polar bears).
Ever since 2007, when Arctic summer ice hit a record low, we have been warned that summer ice in the Arctic ocean is melting so fast that that it will soon be “ice free”. But repeatedly the date when this would come about has been moved forward. In fact, since 2007 satellite measurements have shown the ice recovering, until in 2013 less of it melted than at any time for nine years.
In 2013 and 2014, according to the European Space Agency, the volume of Arctic ice jumped back by more than 30 percent
In 2013 and 2014, according to the European Space Agency, the volume of Arctic ice jumped back by more than 30 per cent. Even more remarkable, however, is what has been happening at the other end of the world. In recent years the extent of sea ice around Antarctica has been greater than at any time since Nasa’s satellite records began in 1979. A recent Nasa study showed that the mass of ice and snow covering the 5th largest continent on earth has been growing dramatically.
In recent years the extent of sea ice around Antarctica has been greater than at any time since Nasa’s satellite records began in 1979
In fact there is as much polar ice in the world today than at any time since satellite measurements began in 1979. As for those polar bears, they are doing absolutely fine. Experts such as biologist Dr Susan Crockford who rely on direct observation rather than computer models agree that their numbers are well up on where they were 40 years ago.
6. Global sea levels are still rising – so worryingly that little island nations like bmay soon have vanished beneath the waves.
Despite the best efforts of those supporting the “consensus” to use their computer models to claim otherwise, all direct evidence indicates that if anything these “small island states” are not shrinking but actually growing in size.
According to one study, the main atoll on Kiribati has recently been increasing its area by up to 4 per cent or more for four decades
As for the Maldives, where their former President famously staged a Cabinet meeting under water to publicise his country’s plight, Dr Niklas Morner, a former president of the International Commission on Sea Level Changes, says that in 40 years of studying their tide gauges and shorelines, he has observed no sea level rise at all.
7. No evidence for the impact of climate change is more alarming than the increase in “extreme weather events”, such as heatwaves, storm, droughts, floods and hurricanes.
Again, however often we are told this – as we are by the BBC and others every time there is a disastrous heatwave, flood or cyclone somewhere in the world – even the IPCC itself had to concede this in its latest report that there is no hard evidence that any of these things are becoming more frequent or intense than they were previously.
As for droughts, one comprehensive study showed that, far from becoming worse as the 20th century progressed, they actually became rarer. Of the last century’s “30 major drought episodes”, 22 were in the first six decade. The two decades between 1961 and 1980 produced just five. The final two decades, when the global warming scare was taking off, saw only two.
8. Terrible hurricanes and cyclones like Katrina and Erica give clear proof of how global warming is bringing us more deadly storms.
The curious thing is that, however much these storms may make global headlines, not one has broken any records from the days before global warming was heard of. In fact the evidence shows that in the past 45 years the world has seen no increase in the frequency or intensity of such storms at all.
9. It’s still better to rely on “renewable energy” than fossil fuels.
Christiana Figueres, the UN’s “climate chief” and organiser of this week’s conference argues that, even if global warming is not taking place as fast as predicted, it would still be sensible to “decarbonise” the world’s economy and rely on renewables, because fossil fuels are a finite resource.
Ms Figueres argues that not only should richer countries abandon their dependence on coal, oil and gas, to rely on renewables, they should also be prepared to pay “$1 trillion a year” to help poorer countries develop their economies on the same lines.
Photo: Xinhua News Agency/REX
But, despite all the hundreds of billions of dollars, euros and pounds Western countries have already put into windfarms and solar panels, the results are not, so far, encouraging, According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, wind turbines are currently supplying only 1.2 per cent of the world’s energy. The contribution from solar is just 0.3 per cent. To realise Ms Gigueres’s dream, we still have some way to go.
10. The Paris summit will come up with a result: a binding treaty that will change the world.
Unlikely. China, already responsible for 50 per cent of all the world’s CO2 emissions, has made clear that it now plans to double them within 15 years. India, the third largest emitter, insists that it will treble its CO2 output by 2030.
The story from most of the other major “developing countries”, such as Russia, Brazil, South Korea and Vietnam, is much the same. Not one of them has any intention of reducing its “carbon emissions”. The best they can offer is that, if Western countries want them to build more windmills and solar farms, we must be prepared to pay them to do so out of a “Green Climate Fund”, which the UN plans by 2020 to be handing out $100 billion a year. Pledges so far amount to just $700 million. We still have $99.3 billion to go.
However much the EU and President Obama may huff and puff, and however much they may end up with a meaningless fudge of an “agreement”, the binding treaty they want is simply not going to happen. Now or ever.
But don’t worry. This won’t have the slightest effect on the world’s climate. We shall just have to go on putting up with whatever nature sends us – as we have had to do throughout history before.