With all the panic and politics surrounding global warming, sometimes we don’t get a chance to take a step back, have a deep breath and say “where is the proof?” Where is the proof that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are having any meaningful impact on our planet’s climate. This is the critical part that remains unanswered. It just seems to be as basic as this; well, we are pumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and we know this is a greenhouse gas, therefore it will lead to catastrophic warming. For one thing, carbon dioxide is an insignicant greenhouse gas compared to water vapour, and at a concentration of less than 400 parts per million (0.04%), it is seems inprobable that it result in any problem for us.
Al Gore in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, presents two pieces of data that seemed to solve this problem for any skeptics in his audience. One has been discredited and the other misrepresented.
I will deal first with the Michael Mann (1998) “hockeystick” graph which shows temperatures for the last millenium relatively constant before climbing sharply towards the end. For one thing, climate is simply not this stable as is depicted before our supposed impact. Another point is the absence of the medieval warm period which was actually warmer than today. Gore mocks this claim by skeptics where he points out a minor peak around 1200 AD but fails to mention the controversy surrounding this set of data that should have dissuaded him from relying on it. In fact, the very next year, it was proven that Mann would have produced this hockeystick shape with the program he used no matter what data he had, ignoring the fact that he relied on dubious tree ring proxy data. The year after that, we saw in the “climategate” emails that Mann tried to hide his program from Stephen McIntrye and deliberately set out to “contain the putative medieval warm period”.
Gore also presents a graph, produced from Vostok ice core samples, that shows temperatures and carbon dioxide levels for the past 600 000 years. The two sets of data are almost identical. This seems convincing, we will be responsible for our own doom, but what is Gore really saying? Does he really think that for as far back as we can measure, carbon dioxide has been responsible for climate above all other factors? This minor player in the greenhouse effect has been the culprit all along? Is Carbon dioxide really more important than other more obvious factors like, um I don’t know, the sun, among other things like the thermohaline circulation. Of course not, so why do we have this correlation? As all scientists know, correlation does not imply causality and in this case, it is the temperature that has driven the carbon dioxide which we have been able to determine by developing more sensitive equipment to the point where we can see carbon dioxide following temperature (feedback is very low) with a time lag of 800-2800 years. It is unlikely that Gore would not have known this.
These were the only bits of evidence that claimed our impact on climate is significant, but they are both irrelevant to the picture. While I would like to go into more depth into Gore’s Oscar-winning movie, Christopher Monckton does it better.
So not only do we see no evidence of note-worthy human impact on climate, but very fishy behaviour by those claiming otherwise. Why is it that they advocate anti-democracy in response to global warming? Perhaps because it is the only way the truth can be silenced. Al Gore famously declared “the debate is over”. Former greens candidate Clive Hamilton proposed that “(T)he implications of 3C, let alone 4C or 5C, are so horrible that we look to any possible scenario to head it off, including the canvassing of “emergency” responses such as the suspension of democratic processes.” He had advanced this position after claiming the situation was hopeless; “Humans will be powerless to stop the shift to a new climate on Earth, one much less sympathetic to life.” What then is the point of robbing us of our right to have a say if we can’t make a difference anyway? Julia Gillard insists on going ahead with this carbon dioxide tax and refused to seek a mandate for it in spite of public outroar and her slowly dwindling support from unions ect.
Tim Flannery provides us with further insight into the midset of the believers, although probably and I hope that, these ideals are limited to just himself and a few other members of the faithful. He refers to a “global super organism” for which we will be a “regulating intelligence” with a “shared set of values” that “will lead to a stronger gaia”. Listening to his preaching, you get the impression that he is promoting a communistic, fascist utopia (if you could call a communistic, fascist society one) and it is scary to listen to. Interestingly, Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” also talks about us being a nervous system for the planet.
There is also the evolution of such hate for anyone who doesn’t hold their ideals, skeptics are refered to as “deniers”. Robert Manne illustrates why the term is used by him and those like him. “Scepticism is in general, as it should be, a positive word, denoting scientific or humanistic curiosity and in particular the presence of an open mind… Denialism, a concept that was first widely used, as far as I know, for those who claimed that the Holocaust was a fraud, is the concept I believe we should use.” Clive Hamilton goes even further with his likening of skeptics to Hitler. “Instead of dishonouring the deaths of six million in the past, climate deniers risk the lives of hundreds of millions in the future. Holocaust deniers are not responsible for the Holocaust, but climate deniers, if they were to succeed, would share responsibility for the enormous suffering caused by global warming… So the answer to the question of whether climate denialism is morally worse than Holocaust denialism is no, at least, not yet.” It is an intolerance and an arrogance that we witness from the pro-global warming crowd; intolerance for those who do not hold their views and arrogance that they are the only ones who can be right.
For all this urgency surrounding the issue, you would think the primary advocates would practise as they preach. Not Al Gore, just one of his three homes uses more energy in a month than the average American home uses in a year. Richard Branson is another so-called greeny. Didn’t he just set up Virgin Galactic? How frivilous and excessive for someone who believes this kind of activity is poisoning the planet. And now he wants to explore the Mariana trench. What about the Copenhagen summit, where representatives from all over the world jetted into Denmark to talk about how to stop global warming. It’s not just the rich and powerful acting in this way. I recall seeing youth leaders from Australia attending the conference as if their contribution would offest the carbon dioxide emitted to get there.
This is why the whole global warming movement just plain smells. It reakes of not only bad science, but of ideals contrary to democracy and of hypocrisy.