A few months ago, I wrote a series of unflattering columns on current trends among the Gaia worshippers. The last of these opened, “The more I think about ‘global warming’, in light of the most recent United Nations report, the more confident I become in averring that it is a fraud, a political stunt, a criminal imposture, that every intelligent journalist should be helping to expose.”
Since then, I have been bombarded with correspondence both favourable and unfavourable. I notice the former comes chiefly from those with plausible scientific backgrounds, the latter almost entirely from those whose ignorance of basic science scandalizes even me. However, there were a couple of credible science types who warned me against overstating the argument against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if only for tactical reasons. I’ve since continued to follow various links, both supplied and discovered, to intelligent discussion of the subject on the Internet.
I find nothing to revise nor repent, however. I don’t think it does any good to take a middle position between sense and nonsense. “Global warming” is not an exaggeration, but a fraud, in which possible human influences on climate—chiefly the increased proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels—are made to explain variations in average temperature that almost certainly have nothing to do with them. Yes, increasing CO2 could theoretically create a “greenhouse effect,” but that is to disregard compensating factors. Yes, the average temperature of our globe might rise uncomfortably high, if the slight warming trend of the last half-century continued and accelerated. But no, there is no reason to think it will.
There have been much more pronounced warming and cooling trends throughout recorded history, including two dramatic “mini ice ages,” and several more modest ones, in the last thousand years—and relatively torrid intervals between them. The freezes have coincided nicely with quiet periods in the solar cycle, the boils to extended periods of sunspots and flares. We are currently coming out of an extended session of abnormally heavy solar activity, that has lasted about fifty years, and therefore average global temperatures will soon be falling—if they are not doing so already. Quite possibly, they will fall dramatically, as we are overdue for one of the sun’s prolonged quiet spells.
Of course, the weather changes from day to day, and weather patterns from year to year, so you will always be able to convince the ignorant that something terrible is happening. Governments looking for opportunities to radically increase direct and indirect taxation, and vastly extend the regulatory bureaucracies that are the essence of their power, are currently playing on this public credulity. They are the chief investors in, and beneficiaries of, the fake science that employs computer modelling to generate alarming if meaningless long-term climate forecasts. The political effort to tag the better-informed sceptics with such epithets as “global warming denier” (on the analogy of “Holocaust denier”) is a crude and vicious, but nevertheless typical propaganda gambit of the bureaucracy-loving, environmentalist Left; and in due course we may expect efforts to criminalize free speech on this issue. For these are people whose arguments have never been able to withstand rational scrutiny.
Now to be fair, many of the scientific researchers who signed on for the global warming circus, are perfectly honest people who simply did not have the breadth of background to realize that they were being used. Over-specialization is the bane of current scientific research, and there are even “experts” on “palaeoclimatology” who don’t know anything about sunspot cycles.
Predicting solar activity is an art no better developed than predicting long-term weather trends, however. It also depends on computer modelling, which should soon enjoy the reputation phrenology acquired after its 19th-century vogue collapsed. Moreover, while the coincidence between solar magnetic and terrestrial climate trends becomes increasingly obvious, as isotope and pollen and other readings stretch back our records of both through thousands of years, the mechanism connecting them is imperfectly understood.
The best argument I have read from such specialists as Sami Solanki of the Max Planck Institute in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, or Leif Svalgaard at Stanford, California (both recently quoted in an article in New Scientist), comes down to this: Solar magnetic activity has recently declined to the lowest levels since the 1950s, and is likely to settle lower still, and for a long time, given that we have just passed through an abnormally frenetic half-century.
In other words, it is time to chill out.
P.S. Among the more interesting things several science types have sent me are links and patches to studies suggesting it is not clear that the planetary CO2 build-up over the last century or two actually happened, and we may be well within the usual fluctuations. It is alleged that the IPCC cherry-picked unrepresentatively low readings for CO2 in available core samples from the pre-industrial era, &c. That would tend to knock the last leaf off the Global Warming figtree. I am not qualified to assess such studies: but I am qualified to notice that they exist. And to notice, further, that the politicians are rushing to get the new environmentalcase legislation into place before the scientism behind it completely disintegrates.
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