Richard Courtney: Biblical lessons lost in the rush to control Earth's natural process

IN THE Bronze Age, Joseph told Pharaoh that climate had always changed everywhere: it always would.

He told Pharaoh to prepare for bad times when in good times, and all sensible governments have adopted that policy throughout the millenniums since.

It is a sensible policy, because people merely complain about taxes in good times. They revolt if short of food in bad times. But several governments have abandoned it and, instead, are trying to stabilise the climate of the entire Earth by controlling it.

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This attempt at global climate control arises from the hypothesis of anthropogenic (that is, man-made) global warming (AGW).

AGW does not pose a global crisis, but the policy does, because it threatens constraint of fossil fuels and that would kill millions – probably billions – of people.

There is no evidence for man-made global warming. None, not any of any kind. The existence of global warming is not evidence of AGW, because warming of the Earth does not prove humans warmed it.

At issue is whether humans are, or are not, affecting changes to the Earth's temperature that have always happened naturally.

The AGW-hypothesis says increased greenhouse gases – notably carbon dioxide – in the air raise global temperature and anthropogenic emissions are increasing the carbon dioxide in the air to overwhelm the natural climate system.

But empirical evidence says the hypothesis is wrong. Firstly, the man-made emissions and global temperature do not correlate. Secondly, change to atmospheric concentration follows change to global temperature at all time scales. Thirdly, the recent rise in global temperature has not been induced by a rise in atmospheric concentrations.

Global temperature fell from 1940 to 1970, rose to 1998 and has fallen since. That is 40 years of cooling and 28 years of warming. Global temperature is now similar to that of 1990. But atmospheric has increased at a near constant rate and by more than 30 per cent since 1940. It has increased by 8 per cent since 1990.

So, the normal rules of science say the AGW hypothesis is completely refuted. Nothing the hypothesis predicts is observed, and the opposite of some of its predictions are observed.

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Some people still promote the hypothesis, for several reasons (personal financial gain, protection of their career histories and futures, political opportunism). But support of science cannot be one such motive, because science denies the hypothesis.

Stopping the emissions would mean reducing fossil fuel usage, resulting in economic damage. This would be worse than the oil crisis of the 1970s, because the reduction would be greater, would be permanent and energy use has increased since then.

The economic disruption would be world-wide.

• Richard Courtney is an energy and environment consultant who has acted as peer reviewer for the Independent Panel on Climate Change.

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