Re-examining climate change

Dec. 9, 2009
“The science of climate change is not settled; it is evolving rapidly with critically important discoveries, many of which contradict IPCC findings, coming out every month.” –Professor Robert Carter, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University ...

The science of climate change is not settled; it is evolving rapidly with critically important discoveries, many of which contradict IPCC findings, coming out every month.” –Professor Robert Carter, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

I know, I know – the second post in as many days about climate change. Seems like the world talks of nothing else at the moment (well, that and the follies of Tiger Woods … but let’s not go there). Yet climate change is a gargantuan issue, no matter which side of the table you sit on, requiring more than mere blind acceptance of the solutions being bandied about this week in Copenhagen, Denmark.

If, for example, you are a proponent of the theory that man-made emissions are causing a warm-up in the Earth’s surface temperatures, you are primarily concerned with the ecological havoc such warmer temperatures could wreak on both the planet and human civilization.

Yet if you are a skeptic of this climate warming theory, you are equally concerned – largely about the economic havoc potential regulations could wreak upon a whole slew of industries, not to mention the daily way of life for millions of people that can ill afford such costly disruptions.

And costly this could be: the economist Nicholas Stern said in a report he compiled for the British government about global warming that the world needs to spend about 1.5% of global gross domestic product to address this problem – equivalent to about $1.5 trillion a year. That’s before you get into the economic impact of cap-and-trade legislation on manufacturing refining and transportation.

That’s why the debate over the hard science upon which global warming theories is so critical. You can’t just dismiss the e-mails hacked and released from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at Britain’s University of East Anglia last month as just people “spouting off” as one scientist put it, for the kinds of restrictions being proposed to reduce man-made global warming emissions come with a trillion dollar or more price tag.

Even if the data is only slightly off, or the models that use that climate data even only partially incorrect, we’d be in the position of throwing a giant economic wrench into the global economy for nothing.

But If the data turns out to have been manipulated in order to fit certain theories concerning global warming, we’ve got an even bigger problem on our hands. That would impugn the very core of the scientific method – in essence demonstrating that scientists are not above engaging in Machiavellian tactics; a charge the scientific community regularly levels against politicians and religious leaders. If manipulation of climate data by the CRU turns out to be true, then the reputation of climatologists everywhere gets tarnished significantly – perhaps irrevocably. No one will believe them – they will become the boy crying “wolf” in the night ... even if a real wolf shows up at the front door.

That’s but one reason why the International Climate Science Coalition wants the United Nations and other global warming supporters at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to produce convincing “observational evidence” for claims about human-caused global warming emissions and other human-related changes in climate trends.

Some might call them cranks, but the ICSC has 140 climate experts from 17 countries around the world on board with this effort to really prove global warming is happening like everyone says it’s happening, without the use of the comprised CRU data streams.

"With revelations that critical temperature data used by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) appear to have been intentionally distorted to increase warming trends, national representatives to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference must demand a thorough re-examination of the scientific evidence supporting proposed mitigation actions,” noted Tim Patterson, professor of earth sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and the ICSC’s chairman.

“This should not be limited to simple temperature data auditing but must also include a re-evaluation of many of the climate-related assertions uncritically accepted by politicians and media worldwide,” he stressed.

Three data streams in particular need further proving out, the ICSC states: That recent climate change is unusual in comparison with historical records; that human emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) are dangerously impacting climate; and most importantly that computer-based models are reliable indicators of future climate shifts.

“While policies designed to conserve energy, reduce pollution and help vulnerable peoples adapt to climate change are important to pursue, proposals to severely curtail GHG emissions in an effort to control climate make no sense, given the current state of scientific knowledge,” noted Wibjörn Karlén, professor emeritus of physical geography at Stockholm University in Uppsala, Sweden.

"Instead we need to focus on environmental issues we know we can positively impact – air, land and water pollution being primary examples,” Karlen said. “Governments need a several decade long time-out while the science matures before even considering the possibility of GHG emission restrictions.”

Maybe we don’t need decades to figure this out, but we do need years – a good chunk of years to really sit down to once and for all address not only IF the global warming trend the science purports is occurring is in fact doing just that, but HOW it can be mitigated with the least disruption to an already fragile global economy that wouldn't need much of a negative hit to send back into recessionary mode.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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