When the facts change

Nationally, provincially and municipally, governments are making very serious decisions based on a theory. Lots and lots of money is being spent on this idea and we are asked to make significant economic sacrifices because of it. That proposition is that CO2 emissions cause the earth to warm.

Federally the government has instituted a “regulatory framework” on “green house gas emissions while the opposition tries to sell carbon taxes as a “solution”. Both have a significant cost to the economy.

Provincially a whole new “sustainable” environment administration has been added and alternative energy industries subsidised.

Municipally the whole MPS and LUB has been revised with “sustainable” principles in mind which are not without cost to the Town.

Also private money is being put into alternative energy businesses which these investors see as profitable because of this theory. Could this money have been invested more wisely?

Because, we ask the question, What if the theory is wrong?

…since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?

What indeed? Facts are piling up against the theory. The person who wrote the above lines is no small town fish, not one of the grumpy contrarians whose opinions are meaningless because they sit behind a computer screen and anonymously criticise council just for the fun of it as we are accused of doing. Guess who he is?

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I’ve been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

And what does he think now?

There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming. …

2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

3. The satellites that measure the world’s temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the “urban heat island” effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect. …

The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician’s assertion. [emph ours]

So- when the facts change Wolfville mayor and Councillors what do you do? Do you change your minds? Or do you dig your heels in? Does it matter?

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.

What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.

The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence for why the changes are necessary. [link to source] [emph ours]

Unfortunately not many people have the courage of this man. The courage to say. “It looks like I was wrong“.

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3 responses to “When the facts change

  1. I have been reading the contrarian views about global warming that have been expressed on this website for some time. This latest article makes it seem that the person who is expressing the doubts is a serious scientist who has investigated global warming. He is in fact, according to his biography, a mathematician who was hired by the Australian Government to write the software for accounting for their reductions according to the Kyoto protocols. I’m not sure how this qualifies him to decide that global warming caused by carbon dioxide is a bunch of hooey.

    I believe the case has been clearly made by the vast majority of scientists who actually looked into this. While it is not impossible that they are wrong, the weight of evidence is strongly in their favor. I do not believe the opponents of global warming caused by carbon dioxide have marshaled any great deal of evidence, outside of rank speculation, to dispel anyone’s fears. Nor have they proposed any credible theories to account for all the phenomena that are rising up and slapping us in the head, e.g. the disappearance of Arctic ice.

    I am sure that it is great fun to cherry pick small data points that are still in question. I should point out that most of these data points have been raised by the scientists who are studying global warming and who are bringing them up in order to allow the scientific community to try to modify their theories to account for them. This is known as a scientific method and it is the way that theories are gradually refined into laws.

    I am not sure what the motivation of anyone would be to oppose sensible use of our resources. Even if global warming was not being caused by the use of fossil fuels our ridiculous consumption rates and growth in consumption will rapidly bring us to disasters of an economic nature rather than a physical one. Most of the proposed remedies make a lot of sense even if global warming were not the prime motivator.

    This contrarian nonsense flies in the face of the obvious fact that if the scientists are wrong we will still have set in motion actions that are better for our planet and future generations. If the scientists are right, and we do not take action, disaster awaits us. Please tell me what the sensible tack would be given these obvious facts.

  2. Truth will out. We will see the results in a few years and then one of us can say, told you so, but for us that would be poor compensation for the waste in the meantime.

  3. Oh yes, and by the way – since you are interested – you might like to follow this debate.
    http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/editor.cfm