Last month’s major scientific breakthrough was rightly lauded; Einstein’s century-old gravitational wave theories proved correct. How will we view current theoretical climate science in 2100? Will there be global headlines confirming validity or a consigning to history’s dustbin?
So far prospects are worrying, with climate computer predictions, on which costly taxpayer-funded policies are based, well wide of measured reality. In terms of temperature increase, ocean acidification, sea levels and polar ice, predictions have massively exaggerated what is happening. Polar ice and bear populations are now larger than when Al Gore made doomsday predictions ten years ago. This is the year Arctic ice vanishes completely, remember?
The “burning” question is the real extent to which CO2 influences global temperature. There was cynical “rebranding” of global warming as “new improved” climate change; when it became clear measured data showed no significant global warming since 1998 and still doesn’t. This despite models predicting large increases and CO2 increasing over the period, so why trust future predictions; up or down? The sensitivity of models to CO2 is now challenged, they may “run hot” by up to 300 per cent, models ignore clouds, key climate factors. There’s a big difference between climate and weather – despite perceptions global extreme weather damage is actually decreasing, as are climate-related deaths, acording to the UN. El Nino was by far the most important 2015 factor, as in the warmer 1999 and 2011. Media sadly ignore the positive narrative.
So CO2: Hero or Villain? A pollutant according to the US EPA or celebrated as Patrick Moore, GreenPeace founder, suggests? Without CO2 Life on Earth dies. Without CO2, no green plants, no grazing animals, food chain or humans, no wonderful nature documentaries!
Parents with sick children rely on thermometers rather than computer models falsely running Hot. Despite the claims of data-manipulating activist-researchers and politicians, the science is not “settled”. By its very nature, science is never “settled” – the only people who claim that are non-scientists or charlatans or both.
Scottish Government policies based on these models cost Scottish households significant and increasing sums. They drive the poor into food and fuel poverty and divert funds from healthcare, education and research, damaging industry through uncompetitive energy costs.
Since colleagues and I published pioneering research on greenhouse emissions in the early Eighties, the search for scientific truth has too often been hijacked by quests for funding and profile on the multi-trillion dollar climate gravy train. Let’s be clear: there is no such animal as a “Climate Change Denier” – who could deny impacts of climate change over millennia? Vikings cultivated Greenland, Romans tended Yorkshire grapes, even our glens testify to change – the only constant. Only flat-earthers deny change. The “denier” myth is a cynical activist construct to marginalise genuine questioning of the science, which should be welcomed.
It’s an undeniable fact that increasing CO2 increases plant growth. CO2 increases since 1985 have led to increased rainforest and crop growth, satellites show a 14 per cent increase in global greenery – fantastic news for nature and food security. Despite climate pessimists, global food prices remain low, with record yields achieved last year. Food prices would be even lower if the US ceased growing subsidised, inefficient “green” bioethanol crops. Extra production from rising “CO2 fertilisation” is equivalent to an extra 15 per cent land globally. This equals 35 times UK arable area, enough to feed the entire world their daily bread, worth over £100 billion yearly, plus the environmental benefit of increased growth in natural ecosystems. All down to a supposed “villain”. Positive effects are beyond doubt and reduce famine, war and instability. So like Patrick Moore, let’s have a balanced view and celebrate this life-sustaining “noble” gas, which is as vital as oxygen.
CO2 certainties contrast with inaccurate computer models driving the toothless COP21 Paris Agreement towards ludicrous, unmonitored, easy-to-defraud “reparation” funds, and costly renewable energy policies. China and India plan 2,400 new coal-fired plants while we close ours, doubling electricity costs and increasing food prices. Rising CO2 is not a major factor in climate change but an overwhelming net benefit to humanity.
Recent film The Big Short tells the true story of cynical herd behaviour by banks in the sub-prime market, causing the 2008 global economic collapse. Current climate science and politics has many of the hallmarks of the sub prime disaster. Once again, the gamble is taken with our money and hits the poorest hardest. Public faith in science will, tragically, be part of the collateral damage when the Emperor’s state of undress finally becomes evident. In a democracy people are entitled to their own opinions – but not to their own facts.
• Dr Keith P Dawson is vice President at the Scottish Society of Crop Research