There is widespread belief that the recent warming is due mainly to global warming gases produced by mankind -- i.e., the anthropogenic global warming (AGW). I have been searching for years for good science to support this theory. I can't find any. In fact, most of the scientific work that has passed independent, objective review contradicts this theory. What I have found falls into 3 main categories:
- Good, but inconclusive work - Objective analyses that presents interesting and possibly useful findings, but acknowledge that there is a high degree of uncertainty in the input data and assumptions. These analyses normally end with the conclusion that more work is needed to resolve the uncertainty.
- Junk science - Analyses built on unsubstantiated assumptions and/or questionable data that employ models that have not been validated. These typically conclude that climate catastrophe is likely and we need to do more analyses and/or take steps immediately to avoid disaster. This work typically comes from scientists who are working in areas they do not understand or who have abandoned the basic principles of scientific investigation.
- Apocalyptic predictions based on questionable research, selective interpretation of good work (e.g., only presenting the high end or a range) or blatant distortion. These typically come from the media, politicians and environmental activists rather than serious scientists.
This is plea for sanity. We cannot afford to waste more resources on a hypothetical problem when they are so desperately needed to address real, overwhelming problems such as the global financial crisis, energy supply problems, health care, hunger, etc.
The following section summarizes some of the main "inconvenient facts" that are being ignored or suppressed by those inciting carbon hysteria. This list of fact is followed by an expanded explanation of why this movement is a serious threat, my thoughts on why this is happening, and some recommendations on what you should do about it.
Some "Inconvenient Facts"
Carbon hysteria proponents keep claiming "the science is settled and the debate is over." This is the centerpiece of an aggressive campaign to crush discussion and intimidate those who challenge their claims. These proponents need to take this approach because their case is so weak. A few of the major inconvenient facts that they are trying to suppress are:
-The last warming wave ended over 10 years ago in 1998. Temperatures have been lower than the 1998 peak ever since and the trend has been downward in the last several years. The claim that global warming is accelerating is a blatant lie. Even some of the prominent AGW advocates have publicly admitted that we have entered a cooling period that probably will continue for another 10 to 20 years (this is based on the well established sunspot cycle and correlations between sunspots and climate changes).
-The claim that the consensus of scientists agrees with AGW theory has become one of the "big lies" of our time. A few examples of the multitude of scientists who disagree are:
- Over 31,000 American scientist who signed the Petition Project (you must have a degree in hard sciences or engineering with relevant experience to be eligible to sign the petition)
- Over 700 prominent international scientists who have publicly disagreed (Senate EPW blog; note that this list includes several IPCC panel members)
- Over 35,000 Canadian Scientists (68% of group surveyed in 2008)
- The NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change) report issued in May 2009 cites thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that present contradictory results
- Supportive statements issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and IPCC (Summary for Policy Members) were prepared by the governing board members only. Society members and IPCC panels were not given an opportunity to vote on or approve the statements, so the boards cannot claim they represent the opinions of members on this issue.
- The 4th technical report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified 12 phenomena that affect global temperatures and rated our understanding of 8 of these as "very poor." How can the governing panel (all political appointees) claim they are over 90% certain that AGW is a major threat when they admit that two-thirds of the analyses inputs are very questionable?
- Warming impact studies generally ignore benefits such as expansion of agricultural land and reduced need for heating fuels. In addition, they typically use unrealistic escalation and discount rates to downplay the real costs of the measures that are proposed.
- Climate changes are cyclic. Apocalyptic claims all come from extrapolating recent changes indefinitely into the future. These changes include real problems such as local droughts and postulated changes that do not exist such as increasing hurricanes or spreading diseases.
- The time frame for claimed apocalyptic sea level and temperature changes is hundreds of years. There would be plenty of time to adapt to the theoretical sea level and climate changes if these were real problems.
Why is the Carbon-Control Movement a Problem?
Many people I know admit that they don't believe AGW claims, but they support the movement because they think it will help increase energy efficiency. Increasing energy efficiency is essential for our future well being. However, trying to achieve this worthy goal through the back door of carbon caps/taxes is dangerous. Major problems with this approach include:
- Carbon capture and sequestration and carbon caps/taxes/trading are the dominant focus of this movement. These efforts are a total waste of resources that actually will make our energy supply problems even worse. Improving energy efficiency is a secondary issue in the proposals and debates.
- The obsession with postulated global warming catastrophes distracts attention from real, serious, imminent problems such as coming energy shortages, rebuilding our financial system, population control, etc.)
- A serious backlash is likely once the general public and political leaders learn they have been misled. The widespread corruption of the scientific process that this movement has fostered will result in a loss of trust in scientists that will haunt us for years to come.
- The carbon industry is huge already. The Waxman-Markey bill currently being considered by the US Congress and the multitude of international efforts in progress would provide additional resources for the carbon industry and their government supporters, creating an even larger long-term drain on the global economy. All entrenched industries or bureaucracies try to grow and resist shrinking, even after their purpose for existence is gone.
I think there are two main drivers behind this movement. The first originates from the widespread recognition that we do face many serious environmental problems (e.g., hazardous pollutants in water and air; rainforest destruction, ocean overfishing; aquifer depletion, desertification, etc.). Many people feel guilty over contributing to these problems and want to do something to help the environment. This desire has made them receptive to the claims of carbon hysteria proponents. The zealots have done a good job of convincing these people that AGW is a crisis and that we can "solve" it.
The dominant drivers, however, are money and power. Staggering sums of money are involved and much of it will be collected and distributed based on subjective decisions and political negotiations. The leaders of the carbon-control movement are working hard to get as big a piece of the pie as they can. Obvious vested interests include:
- Academia - funding for the research they need to publish papers ("publish or perish")
- Legislators & government agencies - power from controlling carbon taxes and allocating funds; funding for their agencies
- Consultants - defining carbon footprints, developing sustainability plans, managing trading, etc.
- Lobbyists - carbon taxes vs. cap-and-trade; funding for federal & private research programs, etc.
- Industry - "green" products and services to sell, improving image by being green.
- Environmental associations - funding to support programs and issues to attract members.
- Carbon offset sales & tracking - a new industry with a long list of beneficiaries
The frenzy of activity surrounding the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade Bill is a perfect example of why this movement is so strong. Lobbying on how to allocate or sell CO2 allowances is intense - one source estimated that there are over 4 lobbyists per legislator working on this issue. At one time the draft had 85% being given to utilities and other generators for free.
What Can We Do?
My first recommendation is to check out the serious science to convince yourself that global warming due to CO2 generated by mankind is a non-problem. I have plenty of backup to substantiate all of the above statements plus a lot of additional information I could share. However, I don't want anyone to simply take my word for it. You need to see for yourself how thoroughly the facts contradict the claims. Some good starting points for the search are listed at the end of this article.
Once you are convinced, start challenging the claims being made by carbon hysteria promoters. Call them when they repeat one of the big lies like "no serious disagreement." Demand that they disclose the work on which their claims are based and make it available for independent review. There are two simple points to check: have the models the analysts used been validated and do they have a good basis for their assumptions. If the analysts cannot provide convincing answers to these two questions, their results are no better than pure speculation.
Another important task is working to defeat any carbon legislation and any international treaties to replace the Kyoto agreements. Kyoto was a farce -- most signatories never came close to meeting their commitments. However, it did provide political cover for sustaining the hysteria and the justification governments needed to waste more resources on this issue. We don't need another treaty like Kyoto that will be ignored by all the signatories except when it comes to spending money.
Remember, the only losers in this game are consumers and taxpayers. Every dollar that goes to the above groups comes out of our pockets. Don't get suckered into this scam. If you have been supporting it, open your eyes and join the rapidly growing ranks of scientists and other who recognize the absurdity of the carbon hysteria that has overcome so many.
Update on Energy - a Real and Important Threat
In 2005 and 2006 I prepared assessments of the energy outlook which were published here in Energy Pulse (and still are online). The trends I discussed are playing out pretty much as presented with one exception - natural gas supply in the US. The rapid growth of gas from shale in the last few years actually led to an increase in production in 2008. However, production is expected to decline this year due to the sharp drop in drilling. Gas from shale provides a temporary reprieve from the steady decline in gas supply, but it is too soon to tell how long the upward blip in the curve will last.
The other significant update is that the crude oil production plateau that seemed to be forming in early 2005 definitely has been confirmed. The huge increase in drilling over the last several years was unable to expand production. The combination of the sharp drop in drilling since prices collapsed last year, increasing depletion rates, and shortages of capital to fund exploration makes it highly unlikely that global oil production ever will exceed the plateau levels of the last few years. The start of the unavoidable long-term production decline may in fact arrive sooner than anticipated thanks to the reduction in exploration.
Our entire transportation system (except for electrified trains) is totally dependent on oil and our economy is totally dependent on transportation. None of the alternative transportation fuels (natural gas, biofuels, electricity) could have a significant effect for several years due to infrastructure constraints and the time required to build fleets. Oil truly will be the lifeblood of our society for years to come. The impacts of shortages and the resulting price spikes can be devastating if we are not prepared for them.
Across the globe there is close correlation between oil use and economic activity. Oil supply constraints will affect all economies, but they are being ignored in the debates over how to resurrect our economy. If global oil production is flat or declining, the only way any country can expand its economy is to divert oil away from other consumers. Given our current financial situation, why would anyone think the US will be able to win the bidding wars that are sure to come?
A few other important points to keep in mind when considering this situation are:
- Oil prices will spike to as soon as we start to see real economic recovery. Gasoline at $4/gal will seem like a bargain within a few years.
- Small oil shortages will produce big panics. Remember what happened when Katrina and Rita disrupted supplies for a few weeks. Think about what could happen if shortages continue for a few months or longer. US citizens are not accustomed to shortages and many people will react badly. If those shortages come as a surprise, the response is likely to be worse.
- Our economy is highly complex and interconnected. Shortage or price-induced problems in one area can quickly ripple into big problems in many other areas.
- Some commentators tell us we don't have to worry about oil shortages because we will never run out of oil and the market always solves supply problems. This is a triumph of wishful thinking over realistic analysis of the facts.
-The claim that we will never run out is correct, but irrelevant. Production will continue indefinitely, but the problem is that we will not be able to produce oil fast enough to sustain the global economy, much less enable it to grow. Once the production decline starts, problems will multiply quickly.
-There is nothing in the development pipeline that could lead to a replacement for anything close to our current consumption of oil. Don't delude yourself into thinking that something is coming.
- Conservation is the only option that can have a big effect on oil demand and can be implemented quickly. This means car-pools, mass transit, telecommuting, bicycles and walking for individuals and shifting freight from trucks and airplanes to trains and water wherever possible. You should start preparing for the ones that fit your situation.
The opinions presented here are the views of the author and do not reflect the viewpoints or positions of any of his clients or employers.
Sources for Further Information The Petition Project - www.petitionproject.org/ Comments by over 700 leading scientists challenging carbon hysteria: Senate Environmental & Public Works Minority Blog, - (http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&Content... Science and Environmental Policy Project - www.sepp.org Global Warming Facts - www.globalwarmingheartland.org/ List of peer-reviewed articles skeptical of man-caused global warming - http://petesplace-peter.blogspot.com/2008/04/peer-reviewed-articles-skep... The Carbon- Sense Coalition - http://www.carbon-sense.com/ The Anti "Man-Made" Global Warming Resource, Stop the Hysteria - http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=2050
NIPCC report: Climate Change Reconsidered - www.nipccreport.org/
The Petition Project - www.petitionproject.org/
Comments by over 700 leading scientists challenging carbon hysteria: Senate Environmental & Public Works Minority Blog, - (http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&Content...
Science and Environmental Policy Project - www.sepp.org
Global Warming Facts - www.globalwarmingheartland.org/
List of peer-reviewed articles skeptical of man-caused global warming - http://petesplace-peter.blogspot.com/2008/04/peer-reviewed-articles-skep...
The Carbon- Sense Coalition - http://www.carbon-sense.com/
The Anti "Man-Made" Global Warming Resource, Stop the Hysteria - http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=2050size="1">