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As I write, the Associated Press reports that:
“Talks on a global pact to fight global warming appeared to make progress late Friday, with some negotiators telling The Associated Press a deal was close.”
The global pact is being hammered out by the COP (the Conference of the Parties) in Paris. The stated goal is to limit human CO2 emissions in order to stop global warming. But perhaps they should take a break. You know, pause. After all, the Earth has.
Global warming stopped 18 years ago—they call it ‘the pause.’
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the media have been building our fears of global catastrophe with claims of an ever warmer Earth. But guess what? The very minute this campaign really got started in 1998—with IPCC climate simulations predicting dramatically accelerated global warming—the Earth stopped warming. And there is zero controversy about the pause itself. Everybody agrees it is happening.
You never heard about it? I think I can explain why.
The IPCC, a United Nations organization that brings together the world’s most powerful governments, claims to have recruited the world’s best climate scientists, and to have the moral support of a 97% ‘consensus’ of all scientists (the other 3%, one hears, are getting oil industry bribes). So IPCC climate simulations—the media remind us almost every day—must be almost certainly (totally) correct.
What could go wrong?
The IPCC’s climate simulations assume that tiny increments of CO2 in the atmosphere lead to whopping rises in temperature. So these simulations simply had to predict a sharp acceleration in warming after 1998, because humans were expected to produce record amounts of CO2. We did produce that—in fact, 1/3 of all man-made ‘greenhouse gases,’ as they call them, were generated in this period. But the warming stopped... in 1998. That’s a bit of an embarrassment for both the IPCC and the mainstream media.
Perhaps that’s why you didn’t hear about this. And perhaps that’s why you are still hearing that the Earth is getting (even...) warmer.
And yet even the most alarmist scientific publications (e.g. Nature) now confess that a “mysterious” phenomenon is taking place: we are in a ‘global-warming pause’ (or ‘hiatus’)—and we have been for the last 18+ years.
Some argue, of course, that warming will resume (any time now…). And perhaps it will. But whether or not that happens, one thing is already clear: the IPCC—and their media cheerleaders—have been dead wrong for 18+ years. And that suggests that CO2 does not seem to have quite so dramatic an effect on climate.
So here’s the question: Should we agree to overhaul the world’s energy consumption patterns—and impoverish millions—on the basis of simulations that have been dead wrong for almost two decades?
Perhaps we should pause.
I paused a few years ago when friends of mine got together to start ‘Environment University’ (Universidad del Medio Ambiente), out by a beautiful lake not far from Mexico City. The idea was to help ‘change agents’ develop the tools to improve our socio-environmental systems in order to heal them and make them more resilient. I loved the idea, and eventually helped them set up the school.
At the time, like my friends, I thought the most important environmental challenge facing the world was global warming. But then I happened to watch the film documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. The film interviewed several top climate researchers who vehemently disagreed with the IPCC’s claims. Stunned, I decided that, for the sake of the new school, perhaps I should investigate the matter, for here was a controversy where I had thought there was none.
Last year I summarized years of research in my series The Antarctic Ice Cores and Global Warming, but most HIR readers have not seen it because it was not sent to the list. Now, as the COP draws to a close, with the world’s eyes on Paris, it seems like a good time to hit ‘send.’ Below I summarize my findings, with links to the various parts of the series that deal with particular issues.
The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis states that global warming is significantly caused by human activity, namely, human production of so-called ‘greenhouse gases,’ of which the most important would be CO2. This hypothesis has been defended on the basis of the following three pillars:
1) the Antarctic ice-core evidence
2) the ‘hockey stick’ temperature reconstruction
3) the IPCC’s climate models (computer simulations)
Each pillar is hollow and crumbles at the merest push. I briefly explain.
With the Antarctic ice-cores, the first pillar, climate scientists have established a geological record of Earth’s temperatures and CO2 concentrations going back 650,000 years. An amazing feat. What this record shows is that at the end of each glaciation, without exception, the temperatures rise first and only then, hundreds of years later (800, on average), rise the atmospheric CO2 concentrations. It’s called the ‘CO2 lag.’ The CO2 lag is not consistent with the hypothesis that CO2 concentrations importantly affect Earth’s temperatures; it is consistent with the hypothesis that higher temperatures cause rises in CO2 concentrations (which makes sense, because CO2 is more soluble in cold than in warm water). But Al Gore and the IPCC reported this evidence backwards: they claimed the ice-core data showed CO2 concentrations rising first, followed by rises in atmospheric temperature. It is interesting to speculate whether this was a mistake (hard to believe; it’s a simple graph) or conscious fraud, but either way they got it wrong.
Out goes the first pillar.
The second pillar is IPCC scientist Michael Mann’s famous graph, featured prominently in Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth. The graph showed the temperatures flat for the last 1000 years and then shooting up sharply in the 20th c. The curve has the shape of a ‘hockey stick.’ This was useful to the IPCC’s claims because the dramatic rise in temperatures apparent in the graph coincides with a dramatic rise in the human production of CO2 as ‘fossil fuels’ became our main source of energy. So the argument became: “Look, we never had such warm temperatures before, and we had never produced so much CO2; so the two must be related.” The problem is that we have been this warm before. In order to produce the ‘hockey stick’ Michael Mann got rid of the Medieval Warm Period, which paleoclimatologists had established with a plethora of studies and multiple lines of converging evidence, according to which the Earth was even warmer than today right around the year 1000, when the Vikings settled what they called ‘Greenland.’ But these Earth temperatures were achieved without any burning of ‘fossil fuels.’ The Climategate scandal raised very serious questions about possible breaches of scientific ethics by Michael Mann and other important IPCC scientists in the construction of the ‘hockey stick.’ That controversy still rages. What nobody now disputes (except for Michael Mann) is that the ‘hockey stick’ is wrong.
Out goes the second pillar.
The third pillar consists of IPCC climate simulations. Many global warming stalwarts insist that this is the decisive evidence, and they take refuge in it whenever anybody highlights the embarrassments that have knocked down the other two pillars. The problem is that computer simulations are never evidence. A computer simulation is a sophisticated way of representing a hypothesis—but it is still a hypothesis. Thus, if the CO2 appears as a cause of rises in temperatures in the computer simulations, this is because the simulations assume that CO2 causes rises in temperature. In order to test that assumption we need to compare the simulation’s predictions to future temperatures. The IPCC simulations have failed miserably: they have predicted nothing. For example, they did not predict that for the last 18+ years the world would cease to warm despite record amounts of human-generated CO2. In addition, the ice-core evidence is a direct refutation of the assumption of a significant CO2 impact on world temperatures.
Out goes the third pillar.
What remains? Nothing. The claims about the 97% of scientists that agree with the IPCC were always false. As you might expect, because there is so far not one iota of evidence supporting the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis.
The climate variability is natural.
In the absence of evidence, the IPCC and its cheerleaders in the media and elsewhere have resorted to telling us each week that it is getting very warm. This is not even true: it hasn’t warmed in 18+ years. But even if it were, warming by itself is not an argument for changes in energy policy if our energy consumption is not responsible for the warming. Neither can claims of bigger and more frequent hurricanes, or bigger floods, or longer droughts, even if true, make such an argument. After all, climate has always changed, all by itself, so the mere fact that it changes, even if it scares us, cannot justify a costly human energy overhaul. (Why make a bad situation worse?)
HIR’s series on global warming addresses all of these issues, and also investigates:
in order to explain why the public has been misinformed on such a massive scale.
We hope this series, and the evidence it presents, will become a useful tool for stirring debate and critical thinking.
If you find these questions interesting, and you would like to start at the beginning, then click here (or scroll below for an overview).
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