On Wednesday, April 22nd, more than 22,000 partner organizations and more than one billion people operating in 192 different countries will honor the 45th incarnation of Earth Day, which organizers report is the world’s largest non-secular celebration. The theme of this year’s festivities is “It’s Our Turn to Lead,” sounding a call to action among anyone with an interest in environmental issues. Perhaps this year more than ever, Earth Day organizers will be looking to mobilize citizens from countries all over the world towards a political moment that results in an international climate change treaty that would receive more international support than 1997’s Kyoto Protocol garnered. Organizers are calling for “citizens and organizations divest from fossil fuels,” and on the official Earth Day 2015 website the United States is called one of the top polluters in the world. Interestingly, there is no mention of China, which is the top polluting country in the world.
Here at IPWatchdog, we’ve taken a special interest in technologies related to the environment from time to time. We’ve covered major advances in solar technologies that have greatly increased the efficiency of generating electricity from energy radiated by the sun. We’ve profiled investments made by the U.S. Department of Energy in offshore wind farm development. We’ve even taken a look or two at innovations in the field of hydrogen fuel cells. We also focus on the environment each April in conjunction with Earth Day festivities.
With all of the focus this year on climate change and political mobilization we thought we would take a minute to provide a reality check. Beginning this week we will profile green technologies and environmentally friendly innovations, like we always have leading up to Earth Day. We will not, however, buy into the political rhetoric or hysterical claims pedaled by environmentalists as dogmatic fact. The truth is the predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists have never been accurate. So while we will celebrate Earth Day in our own way, we feel compelled to ask this inconvenient question: Why should countries be willing to submit to binding international environmental regulation that will undoubtedly do serious harm to the economy when doomsday environmental forecasts have not come to pass?
Do we actually know what’s at stake for our world with regards to climate change? The fair and honest answer is no, we do not. A big reason why we are still in the dark is because anyone that dare question the environmental orthodoxy was ostracized and labeled a quack. Times have changes. Mainstream scientific publications are finally starting to recognize that for most of the last generation there is no evidence of global warming, the predictions made by environmentalists have been wrong and their factual claims to support their political agenda are false. For example, did you know that sea ice in Antarctic has been increasing, not decreasing?
Consider this: At least two major reports which have been used to guide environmental-related policy decisions in America and many countries around the world have been proven to be erroneous with the passage of time. One, a 2003 report funded by the U.S. Pentagon and titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security, posited an annual increase to the world’s average atmospheric temperature of 0.5 degrees per decade. The report suggested that, by 2007, coastal areas like the Hague in the Netherlands would be underwater. It also suggested that an inland sea would form in California after rising sea levels caused levee failures along the Sacramento River. However, in 2015, years after these doomsday predictions were to come to pass, people are still walking around the Hague and the suggestion that California would have an inland sea just seems cruel given the incredible drought they’ve been dealing with in recent years.
Yes, it’s good to be concerned about the environment, but these studies go a long way towards influencing major decisions made by governments around the world. When it turns out that the models used by those reports are erroneous, we owe it to ourselves to ask what went wrong in the scientific process. That is what scientists are supposed to do — evaluate, examine, question and probe for the truth. After all, if your model cannot predict the past why would anyone expect you could predict the future?
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, federal spending on climate change-related expenditures nearly doubled from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $9 billion in 2010. Given the fact that some of the predictions have absolutely turned out to be wrong, is it possible that we’re throwing good money into unnecessary public investments? Are we simply trying too hard to pound a round peg into a square hole?
In 2007, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fourth assessment report on the topic of climate change. In the report’s Summary for Policymakers, it can be clearly seen near the beginning of Section 3, “Projected Climate Change and Its Impacts,” that the IPCC forecasted a warming trend over the next two decades, predicting an increase of 0.2 degrees (note the change from Fahrenheit to Celsius) per decade during that time. In the latest version of this IPCC report, which came out in 2014, the rate of atmospheric warming across the globe from 1998 to 2012 was only 0.05 degrees during those 15 years. That’s significantly less than the warming trend models presented in 2007 by the IPCC. A few smart readers are probably thinking, “of course the numbers are different, they cover different periods of time.” Unfortunately, the IPCC even acknowledges that different periods of time will very likely give different answers on warming trends, even when subjected to the same models. Because there is substantial decadal and interannual variability that causes fluctuations to globally averaged surface temperatures, “trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.”
165 years may be much longer than 20 years, but in the grand scheme of our planet’s history, it is less than a drop in the bucket. That’s as far back as our detailed temperature records go, the same records which are used as the basis of the argument that our planet is experiencing the warmest average temperatures in recorded history. That’s true, but that length of recorded history cannot adequately reflect the temperature fluctuations of entire eons. That would be slightly akin to looking at the temperature on an outdoor thermometer at one point on any given day and assuming that day won’t get any warmer or colder.
Furthermore, historical records show that over the last 400,000 years the temperature of the earth has risen, fallen, risen again and fallen again. Only for the last 10,000 years has the temperature of the earth remained relatively constant, and even during the last 10,000 temperatures have been higher than they are today. See for yourself below, which are taken from antarctic ice core data and reported by NASA (see Paleoclimatology: The Ice Core Record and Tales from the Ice Age):
As you can see, there have been several times over the last 400,000 that temperatures were as high as they are today, including many times within the last 10,000 years. At these earlier times in history there were no man made greenhouse gases polluting the environment. A true scientist would look at this and wonder why were the temperatures so high in the past when man could not have possibly contributed. A true scientific inquiry would look for an explanation that explained temperature fluctuations over the past 400,000 and not limit the inquiry to the last 165 years of detailed temperature records.
There are other revelations unveiled by the IPCC’s 2014 climate change that present anomalies that fly in the face of the typical climate change narrative, which involves melting ice caps leading to rising sea levels. There are those who are quick to sound the alarm on shrinking Antarctic sea ice and the potentially devastating consequences of that, but the IPCC found that, between the years 1979 and 2011, it was very likely that Antarctic sea-ice extent actually increased annually from 1.2 percent to 1.8 percent, although the organization did have high confidence in the fact that different regions of Antarctica are experiencing different rates of sea-ice growth or decline. On the whole, however, the IPCC has confirmed that Antarctica has added sea-ice extent over the past few decades, which somewhat deflates the argument that these past few decades have been the warmest ever. It also debunks popularly held beliefs.
Going back a little bit further and many doomsday predictions, which is what some extremely pessimistic forecasts by leading environmentalists could be called, just haven’t come to pass. A list of these is maintained by the American Enterprise Institute, a free enterprise economic and governmental think tank. An article in the 1970 issue of The Progressive argued that dwindling food resources would result in up to 200 million people dying annually of starvation by 1980; our world currently experiences 7.7 million hunger-related deaths every year. That’s a result which is incredibly far removed from the prediction. An issue of Life from that same year ran an article arguing that increasing air pollution would halve the amount of sunlight reaching the earth by 1985. Today, even in Chinese cities which are famous for the amount of smog pollution in their skies, only 25 percent of the sun’s rays aren’t reaching the ground. That’s not great, but it doesn’t fit the model or prediction. Again in 1970, German physician Paul Ehrlich predicted a scenario in which New York City and Los Angeles would experience 200,000 pollution-related deaths as early as 1973. In 2013, a comparatively miniscule 2,700 people died from pollution related deaths in New York City. This list goes on.
It’s not that climate change isn’t happening. Climate change is definitely happening, but this is hardly shocking news. The climate has always been in flux since the very beginning of time. For example, we know that parts of the earth that today are desert were once fertile lands. For example, we know that the for a millennia the Sahara Desert enjoyed plentiful rain and lush vegetation. There were no modern humans around, or man made greenhouse gases that caused the Sahara Desert to revert back to the dry and uninviting landscape it is today.
The consequences of climate change cannot be downplayed and will present challenges that must be addressed by people around the world if we are going to keep living in areas that shift from temperate to inhospitable. Climate change, which is normal and expected, is not the same thing as man made global warming.
It would be best if scientists were allowed to investigate the climate without being ostracized and castigated for challenging the global warming orthodoxy. How much more would we know if political correctness and ideology did not stifle scientific research into alternative theories? If science prevails and those who question man made global warming are allowed to go where the science leads, it is very likely that humans are up to the task of addressing changes to the climate. For example, rising sea levels threaten few urban areas quite like that of Venice, which suffers from the compound problem of its foundation subsiding into the sea by a couple of millimeters each year. People intend to continue living there thanks to a multi-billion dollar public project that will install 78 flood barriers by 2016. There are future generations of people that may very likely still be able to call Venice home, in spite of rising sea levels. But this is emblematic of the political problem. As recently as several generations ago if a place like Venice, or New Orleans, became uninhabitable people would move to a new location. Today many of the climate problems are because people want to continue living in areas nature has selected out in a Darwinian sense.
One last point important to this debate: It has not proven that climate change is entirely the fault of man. The IPCC has labelled as extremely likely the theory that climate change is a product of human activity. But according to the highly respected scientific journal Nature, there has been no evidence of rising temperatures for 17 years. Indeed, researchers are puzzled as to where the so-called “missing heat” has gone. Jeff Tollefson, a science writer for Nature explains: “Some have pointed to the Sun, volcanoes and even pollution from China as potential culprits, but recent studies suggest that the oceans are key to explaining the anomaly.”
Furthermore, we know that climate scientists fabricated data to show warming trends where none existed. The e-mails disclosed from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) clearly show there was a concerted manipulation of data and a cover-up, despite what global warming advocates want to believe. The e-mails are exceptionally clear. In one Climate Scientist Kevin Trenberth, Climate Scientist says: “The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” In another from Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, admitted fabricating data to hide temperature declines: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” Believers in global warming try and explain these admissions away, calling those who believe they speak for themselves all kinds of names, but the e-mails do pretty clearly speak for themselves. We don’t need a commission to tell me that the e-mails don’t mean what they clearly say.
While the IPCC and other believers want to say man is responsible for climate change, so many predictions have proved wrong over the years. Environmentalists with doomsday predictions have been nothing more than the boy who cried wolf, or perhaps better to say the boy who always and continuously cries wolf. These true believers conveniently ignore ice-core data as if it doesn’t exist, when in fact it shows drastic temperature changes for over 400,000 years. As you can see from the graphs above provided by NASA, there have been many times throughout the last 400,000 years were it has been as warm as it is today. When you broaden the analysis out to 400,000 years, going beyond 165 years environmentalists want to focus on, you see that there is absolutely no evidence that the has ever Earth experienced an open ended cycle of unrelenting global warming.
Often, the debate over climate change focuses on the negative aspects of human activity. Humans can certainly do better and no one should aspire to pollute or deplete the Earth of its resources. However, to discount the climate change-causing activities of Mother Nature herself are misguided. There have been multiple earthquakes in the past decade or so which were so high in magnitude that they shifted the axis of the earth slightly. Further, according to Scientific American, scientists believe that the Earth’s magnetic poles are likely to soon shift, and that the magnetic field which protects the Earth from cosmic radiation is “weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought.” As ground breaking as they may be, higher fuel efficiency vehicles, cleaner biofuels and more solar panels are not the answers to the climate change posed by those natural events.
All of this is simply to say that although our world has climate change issues, which we will have to address as time goes by, time and time again it has proven fruitless to argue that our world is in some kind of death spiral. The Earth has been here for over 4.6 billion years and it will be hear long after we are all gone. Still, even if man made global warming has been called into question in recent years there is no reason to unnecessarily pollute our environment. Good stewardship requires that we at least attempt to leave the planet better than when we found it.
As we approach Earth Day this year we will again take some time to profile technologies that are designed to help people in regions all over the world deal with some of the actual consequences of climate change that are being experienced today. As we do so we will celebrate ingenuity and innovation relating to green technologies. We will not buy into the hysteria that blames man, or the predictions that simply never seem to be accurate.