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Don't Cede a Thing to the 'Climate' Scaremongers
Peter Smith • 19 Apr, 2023 • 4 Min Read
A warmer planet is a greener planet.
Talking to a conservative friend the other day. OK, I admit it. Outside of church, I only have conservative friends. I’ve ditched any others or they’ve ditched me. Can’t do too much about wet Anglican churchgoers, they come with the territory. Anyway, he said, what’s wrong with a bit of warming. Surely that’s a good thing? It is indeed. For a start, many more people die of cold than of heat. But I noted that my friend talked about warming without at all identifying the source of this warming. It could be inferred, and reasonably in context of the current hype, that he was talking about warming generated by man-made CO2. Implicitly ceding part of the premise of climate hysterics.
Another friend ups the ante in ceding the premise. He has disengaged from debating the science and solely focuses on the ineffective and ruinous things being done to combat "climate change." Perforce, this takes the debate to the fashionable idea of using small-scale nuclear power plants, aka small modular reactors (SMRs).
SMRs provide reliable power. As required, they can be linked up. And they can be located close to where power is needed. Marvelous, to be sure; as are motorized wheelchairs for elderly people who have difficulty walking. But such chairs are redundantly expensive if you can, in fact, walk without difficulty. Equally, SMRs are redundantly expensive if coal, oil or natural gas is readily, conveniently, and cheaply available. That’s certainly the case in Australia, as it is the United States and Canada.
SMRs -- it's that simple.
Ergo, SMRS are better than sliced bread if you are in short supply of accessible and affordable hydrocarbons. Otherwise, if the market were to let rip, you’d probably find investors in SMRs going to pastures unendowed with close-by coal, oil, or gas. Unless, that is, man-made CO2 emissions are actually, after all, a serious problem. Then, of course, SMRs come into their own.
At this point, implicitly ceded is not only that a "climate-change" emergency is underway, but that man-made CO2 is the primary cause. Best not to go there. Best not to provide a scintilla of support for a highly tenuous scientific hypothesis primarily promoted on the public stage by assorted oddballs and know-nothings. By honorary doctor of theology Greta Thunberg, by Prince (now King) Charles, by Al Gore, John Kerry, Tim Flannery (worth a mention for predicting in 2007 that Australia's since overflowing dams would never fill again), by the U.N.'s António Guterres, by Leonardo DiCaprio and the Hollywood set, and by public broadcasters and TV weathermen, etc.
It appears to have got hotter since 1850. John Christie and Roy Spencer, scientists at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, reliable skeptics both, compile temperature data sourced from NOAA satellites. Since the beginning of 1979 and the beginning of 2023 (44 years), a trend line through this data shows a rise of 0.6⁰C. The longest running surface data, HADCRUT data from the Met Office Hadley Centre in the U.K., shows a trend rise in temperature from 1850 until the end of 1978 (128 years) of 0.36⁰C. Accepting this data at face value, two things stand out:
First, the global temperature has risen since the end of the Little Ice Age. Second, the rise has become somewhat more acute since around 1980. Industrial CO2 emissions began to rise more sharply from the 1950s onwards; a trend which has continued. Hence the alarmist hypothesis. And if you think there is much more to the hypothesis than imperfect linear correlation and imaginative extrapolation, think again. If there were more to it, the various IPCC predictive models would not produce such wildly divergent outcomes. And so?
And so there is no merit in conceding anything but that the planet has warmed since 1850 and, seemingly, at a somewhat faster rate in more recent decades. And that the measured level of CO2 in the atmosphere has also increased, beneficially greening the planet. Beyond that lies politicized conjecture.
Dan Peña’s metaphorical flourish that man-made CO2 is a “fart in the wind,” might, possibly, be a bridge too far. However, there is no compelling evidence that the increase in CO2, however caused, is the main factor in increasing global temperatures. And even if it were, scientists William Wijngaarden and Will Happer make the solid case that its warming effect progressively peters out; and that from here on its effect will be next to nothing.
A short piece by Professor Richard Lindzen written in 2009, “Resisting Climate Hysteria,” stands the test of time. An excerpt:
The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth… The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations... only about a third of the warming is associated with the greenhouse effect, and, quite possibly, not all of even this really small warming is due to man… Climate alarmists [say] that some of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past decade. Given that we are in a relatively warm period, this is not surprising, but it says nothing about trends.
I saw Lindzen interviewed only a few weeks ago. He hasn’t changed his mind. Our minds should be equally resolute. Don’t cede the premise. Man-made CO2 is bringing the planet undone. Really? A revolving door of patently bogus doom-laden predictions is not evidence; except, that is, of the prevalence of scaremongery as an avenue for acquiring ill-gotten loot and power.
After a career in economics, banking and payment-systems management, Peter Smith now blogs on the topics of the day. He writes for Quadrant, Australia’s leading conservative online site and magazine. He has written Bad Economics, of which, he notes, there is much.