October was a great month for science. Einstein’s view on science’s limits were proven wrong and his Theory of General Relativity proved right, by scientists directly weighing a white dwarf via gravitational lensing.
A Scottish biologist, Dr Richard Henderson, was awarded the Nobel Chemistry prize for pioneering work on molecular imaging, revolutionising the study of Alzheimer’s and cancer. Despite what non scientists Al Gore and John Kerry and some climate scientists would have us believe, science is never “settled”.
As an environmental scientist and an active environmentalist, rather than an environmental activist, I welcome the peer-reviewed paper in Nature:Geosciences from climate academics at University College London and several other recent papers.
Climate change fears have been exaggerated by alarmists and activist researchers with vested interests and inaccurate models. Lead UCL scientist Richard Millar, highly voluble at the Paris climate conference, now admits he was wrong, and so do a growing body of other scientists.
The “hottest ever” 2016 was shown to be largely influenced by the cyclical El Nino event, independent of CO2. Global mean temperatures are now dropping back to previous plateau levels and both polar ice and bears are increasing. Good news!
Models upon which expensive policies are being based are “running hot” – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now acknowledges this. This means 800,000 Scots in fuel poverty, who have to choose between eating or heating are paying too much in unfair “green” taxes.
It’s time the Scottish Government reduced “too far, too fast” taxes, which fund renewable energy schemes, generating expensive electricity and fuel poverty. Last year we paid £82million for wind factories not to generate! Is it not time for government to pay ALL consumers a rebate? These funds would benefit the Scottish economy far more in the hands of consumers, or spent on health and education, than in the coffers of multinational power firms.
The “dash for gas” was more effective at reducing emissions than renewables. This puts another question mark against Scottish fracking and nuclear bans.
It’s been 12 years since hurricanes hit the US mainland, despite model predictions. Even Jeremy Corbyn linked hurricanes wrongly to climate change, despite his eminent meteorologist brother Piers taking the diametrically-opposed view. The worst US hurricane killed 9000 in 1900, so it’s also good news that hurricane intensity and frequency have actually reduced.
Confidence rises in two key aspects of climate change scepticism. First, climate models have run “hot” and inaccurately in predicting both speed and extent of warming. Secondly, the two decade unforecast global temperature plateau is real. The science is not settled and worthy of genuine rational debate rather than repetition of cultist dogma. A third prediction is also being challenged. Food security should now be under threat, but we have had four record global harvests in a row. Never before have as many been fed so cheaply.
A key factor is the proven increase in crop yields caused by increased atmospheric CO2. This is worth more than $100bn per annum in extra grain and reduced prices alone. After initial rebuttal from alarmists, this good news too has been accepted reluctantly. Ever inventive, they have now hypothesised that this means lower micronutrients and protein in the extra yield. Science doesn’t support this angle. Lower yielding organic crops have been shown to be no more nutritious than higher yielding conventional crops. The yield difference between organic and conventional, at 40-50 per cent is much greater than the extra 10-12 per cent produced by extra CO2.
Grain protein in malting barley, a good Scottish indicator, is similar to 30 years ago, despite higher yielding varieties, less rotational grass and extra yield from carbon dioxide fertilisation. The main sources of vegetable protein, legumes are excellent protein maintainers as yield increases, through extra nitrogen fixation. Alarmists would complain about the ink colour if handed a lottery cheque. This is exactly what the world’s hungry have received due to extra yields driving down prices.There is much good news on climate, energy and food security as well as challenge. We need evidence-based policy rather than policy-based evidence. Rejoice and fear not!
Dr Keith P Dawson is a member of the Scientific Alliance and chairman of the Scottish Centre for Crop Research.