There IS a problem with global
warming... it stopped in 1998
ByBob Carter (Sunday Telegraph 09/04/2006)
For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and
urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither
environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the
simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research
Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global
average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease,
though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of
temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired
pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say
"how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in
the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of
warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and
man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional
facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well
prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling
occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were
increasing at their greatest rate.
Does something not strike you as odd here? That industrial carbon dioxide is not
the primary cause of earth's recent decadal-scale temperature changes doesn't
seem at all odd to many thousands of independent scientists. They have long
appreciated - ever since the early 1990s, when the global warming bandwagon
first started to roll behind the gravy train of the UN Inter-governmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) - that such short-term climate fluctuations are chiefly
of natural origin. Yet the public appears to be largely convinced otherwise. How
is this possible?
Since the early 1990s, the columns of many leading newspapers and magazines,
worldwide, have carried an increasing stream of alarmist letters and articles on
hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Each such alarmist article is larded
with words such as "if", "might", "could",
"probably", "perhaps", "expected",
"projected" or "modelled" - and many involve such deep
dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to
The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the
sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public,
bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive
policy advice on climate from independent scientists. Rather, they seek guidance
from their own self-interested science bureaucracies and senior advisers, or
from the IPCC itself. No matter how accurate it may be, cautious and politically
non-correct science advice is not welcomed in Westminster, and nor is it widely
Marketed under the imprimatur of the IPCC, the bladder-trembling and now
infamous hockey-stick diagram that shows accelerating warming during the 20th
century - a statistical construct by scientist Michael Mann and co-workers from
mostly tree ring records - has been a seminal image of the climate scare
mongering campaign. Thanks to the work of a Canadian statistician, Stephen
McIntyre, and others, this graph is now known to be deeply flawed.
There are other reasons, too, why the public hears so little in detail from
those scientists who approach climate change issues rationally, the so-called
climate sceptics. Most are to do with intimidation against speaking out, which
operates intensely on several parallel fronts.
First, most government scientists are gagged from making public comment on
contentious issues, their employing organisations instead making use of public
relations experts to craft carefully tailored, frisbee-science press releases.
Second, scientists are under intense pressure to conform with the prevailing
paradigm of climate alarmism if they wish to receive funding for their research.
Third, members of the Establishment have spoken declamatory words on the issue,
and the kingdom's subjects are expected to listen.
On the alarmist campaign trail, the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David
King, is thus reported as saying that global warming is so bad that Antarctica
is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century.
Warming devotee and former Chairman of Shell, Lord [Ron] Oxburgh, reportedly
agrees with another rash statement of King's, that climate change is a bigger
threat than terrorism. And goodly Archbishop Rowan Williams, who self-evidently
understands little about the science, has warned of "millions,
billions" of deaths as a result of global warming and threatened Mr Blair
with the wrath of the climate God unless he acts. By betraying the public's
trust in their positions of influence, so do the great and good become the small
Two simple graphs provide needed context, and exemplify the dynamic, fluctuating
nature of climate change. The first is a temperature curve for the last six
million years, which shows a three-million year period when it was several
degrees warmer than today, followed by a three-million year cooling trend which
was accompanied by an increase in the magnitude of the pervasive, higher
frequency, cold and warm climate cycles. During the last three such warm
(interglacial) periods, temperatures at high latitudes were as much as 5 degrees
warmer than today's. The second graph shows the average global temperature over
the last eight years, which has proved to be a period of stasis.
The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly
in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid
episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate
that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of
benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last
two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than
today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far
more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than
the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.
The British Government urgently needs to recast the sources from which it draws
its climate advice. The shrill alarmism of its public advisers, and the often
eco-fundamentalist policy initiatives that bubble up from the depths of the
Civil Service, have all long since been detached from science reality.
Internationally, the IPCC is a deeply flawed organisation, as acknowledged in a
recent House of Lords report, and the Kyoto Protocol has proved a costly flop.
Clearly, the wrong horses have been backed.
As mooted recently by Tony Blair, perhaps the time has come for Britain to join
instead the new Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6),
whose six member countries are committed to the development of new technologies
to improve environmental outcomes. There, at least, some real solutions are
likely to emerge for improving energy efficiency and reducing pollution.
Informal discussions have already begun about a new AP6 audit body, designed to
vet rigorously the science advice that the Partnership receives, including from
the IPCC. Can Britain afford not to be there?
Prof Bob Carter is a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, engaged
in paleoclimate research