Bias or Blindness… de Freitas lets fly

Chris de Freitas

Chris de Freitas takes aim at decision-makers who should know, but apparently don’t know, what they’re doing. If they don’t squirm on reading this stinging criticism, then surely they possess no conscience. Let us hope they’re strong enough to honestly re-evaluate their position. I’m posting his article in toto; crafted with the best possible reasoning, it deserves the widest possible circulation.

Published in Energy New Zealand, Sept 2009.
by Chris de Freitas

Bias or blindness… emission targets

THE KYOTO PROTOCOL, an icon of the global environmental movement, is soon to be replaced by a more radical international treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

What it will involve depends on the outcome of negotiations that begin this December in Copenhagen. In preparation, the Government has committed New Zealand to cut up to a third of current emissions by 2020.

The economic, social and moral implications are immense, since carbon taxes and tradable emissions alone cannot make such a massive reduction. Sweeping legislation restricting the use of oil, coal and natural gas would be required, along with far-reaching reforms in pastoral farming to cut methane release.

Not a shred of evidence

Labour and the Greens have accused the Government of not going far enough and, predictably, the debate has become focused on the size of the emissions target rather than justification for it. Given the enormity of the social and economic disruption associated with emissions reductions, we need to be convinced that the benefits are worth the enormous costs.

The US federal government has spent US$80 billion on climate research on the assumption that human-caused rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a problem. Despite this, no one has yet found even a shred of objective evidence that humans are causing damaging global climate change.

The so-called evidence emanates from vociferous members of the global warming industry set on promoting predetermined conclusions that are not supported by empirical data or real-world observations. The science they rely on is all about the percentage of scientists who agree with them and claims of consensus to suppress quality control in climate research.

There are no published scientific papers that show irrefutable proof of human-caused global warming. Proof is not the output of hypothetical climate models, none of which has been proved to reliably predict climate. Proof is not merely evidence of warming, and not the “we don’t know how else to explain it” line which is simply admission of ignorance.

No audit for IPCC

Statements promoted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not evidence of damaging global warming. The IPCC is a governmental institution that selectively accepts and rejects critical comments from expert reviewers of its reports, as my climate science colleagues and I can prove, having been part of the IPPC-managed review process.

Surprisingly, given the costs and impacts of emissions reducing policies, there is no government-funded “ombudsman” or any means to “audit” what is going on in the IPCC, or to tell if all the extravagantly-funded research has been a good investment.

The notion of an unchanging climate has been used to confuse the public. It is a conveniently forgotten fact that most of the industrialised world went into hysterics during the 40 years of global cooling beginning in the late 1930s. It has been replaced by global warming hysteria over a temperature rise over 100 years of less than one degree, a trend that started before modern industrialisation caused atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to rise.

Hysteria will astound future generations

According to eminent MIT atmospheric scientist, Professor Richard Lindzen, hysterics over changes in global mean temperature of a few tenths of a degree “will astound future generations”. Lindzen says “such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well.”

Fifty years ago it became clear that global carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were increasing at a rate of about 1.8 ppmv per year. It was assumed that this was the prime contributor to an observed increase in global temperatures. On this basis carbon dioxide data were used in climate model projections for future global warming.

By 2006, despite the ongoing rise in global carbon dioxide emissions, data showed that mean global temperature rise had slowed, and currently shows signs of falling.

High CO2 but temperature remains low

A similar thing happened from 1940 to 1980 during the post-Second-World-War industrial boom when carbon dioxide increased rapidly, but was accompanied by 40 years of global cooling.

On the other hand, there was a distinct global warm period in mediaeval times when carbon dioxide levels were much lower than they are now.

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is currently higher than at any time in the past 600,000 years, yet global temperature was much higher during all the major warm interglacial periods that occurred during this time, despite much lower levels of carbon dioxide.

Empirical data completely falsifies the expectation of a dangerous rise in global temperatures from growing carbon dioxide emissions. More importantly it is clear that emission-control initiatives are a costly exercise providing no climatic benefit, but harm the global economy with higher energy and food prices.

Not one government scientist with open mind

Government decision-makers should have heard by now that the basis for the long-standing claim that carbon dioxide is a major driver of global climate is being questioned; along with it the hitherto assumed need for costly measures to restrict carbon dioxide emissions. If they have not heard, it is because of the din of global warming hysteria that relies on the logical fallacy of ‘argument from ignorance’ and predictions of computer models.

That there is not one government scientist in New Zealand associated with climate issues who is willing to speak out on global warming alarmism with some sense of balance or with an appearance of an open mind says a lot about how New Zealand is governed.

The Government receives advice on climate matters from the eight-member climate committee of the Royal Society of New Zealand. At least six of the eight members of that committee are people with direct or indirect links to the IPCC, or have actually been part of the IPCC process of reporting. Thus, it is not surprising that the committee’s view coincides with that of the IPCC, with no semblance of independence.

Several New Zealand corporations including those from the energy sector have supported the call for emission legislation, quite likely because of public pressure and in the interest of good public relations. But this support, no matter how small the target reduction, is tantamount to accepting human-caused global warming is a real problem and thereby propagating the “dangerous global warming” myth.

They should know better.

Dr de Freitas is a climate scientist and Associate Professor in the School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Auckland.

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