Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Global Warming Is Bunk, Part 10: Politics and Folly

This post stands in place of the seventh chapter of a paper that I wrote three years ago as a critique of the science and politics behind the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) thesis. The paper was peer-reviewed but never published. The predictions that I made in this paper have been universally borne out.

As a reminder to readers, the last significant update to this paper was made in April 2009.  Since then, vastly more empirical evidence supporting the alternatives to the falsified AGW thesis has been published.  There is also three more years of data illustrating the ongoing economic crisis that has been prolonged an exacerbated by the Obama Administration's catastrophic spending policies - including its baffling insistence on subsidies for economically unviable "green energy" industries ranging from wind and solar power to hybrid and electric vehicles and exotic alternative fuels.

But more on those later.


7             Politics: ‘The most costly of all follies

Magic requires tacit cooperation of the audience with the magician – an abandonment of scepticism, or what is sometimes described as the willing suspension of disbelief.  It immediately follows that to penetrate the magic, to expose the trick, we must cease collaborating.

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true.

- H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

7.1          More ‘ugly facts

Over the course of this paper we have reviewed seven “ugly facts” about the great climate panic.  These may be divided into two methodological sections.  The first four facts – that the world is not warming abnormally; that for the past seven years, it has been cooling; that there is no significant correlation between either atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations or human industrial activity, and global temperatures; and that there is, by contrast, a significant correlation between solar activity and global temperatures – constitute the scientific case that falsifies the AGW thesis.

Many more “ugly facts” might be offered.  There are, for example, innumerable published, detailed, methodologically rigorous, peer-reviewed studies showing, amongst other things, that

·         water vapour, rather than carbon dioxide, is far and away the dominant atmospheric greenhouse gas, both in terms of concentration and aggregate greenhouse impact;[1]

·         carbon dioxide is responsible for at most 4% of the warming effect of all atmospheric greenhouse gases;[2]

·         the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is miniscule.  About 3% of all carbon dioxide circulated in the atmosphere results from human activity.  The vast majority of carbon dioxide fluxes are natural rather than anthropogenic.  Human-produced CO2 therefore cannot possibly be responsible for more than about one-tenth of one percent of the aggregate greenhouse effect;[3]

·         the relationship between the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and radiative heating is logarithmic rather than linear,[4] and thus that even a doubling of current CO2 concentrations would add at most a few tenths of a degree to the average global temperature, as opposed to the 2.5-4.7ºC variously predicted by inter alia Hansen and the IPCC;[5]

·         the global temperature anomalies of the past decade “do not have the signature associated with CO2 climate forcing” (to wit, equatorial tropospheric warming) and that, therefore, the IPCC’s key 2007 contention (that “[M]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”) is wrong;[6]

·         there has been no net warming either of the upper oceans[7] or of the troposphere[8] since mid-2003, completely undermining the alarmists’ claims of a warming climate (let alone a dangerously warming one);

·         the upper oceans are in fact cooling, not warming;[9]

·         mankind benefits from a warmer climate, inter alia through an increase in habitable and arable land, a longer growing season, more productive plant life, and a reduction in excess mortality due to cold that is likely to outweigh any projected increase in excess mortality due to heat;[10]

·         the prediction that increasing CO2 concentrations will harm coral reefs is not borne out either by archaeological data, which demonstrate, first, that corals thrived during periods when temperatures were as much as 10-15ºC higher, and CO2 levels 2-7 times higher; and second, that corals have no difficulty adapting either to these phenomena or to rising sea levels.  Nor are such predictions borne out by recent observations, which demonstrate that elevated temperatures and CO2 levels are beneficial for corals;[11]

·         plants thrive in much higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, and that more carbon dioxide would in fact result in increased biomass, both in forests (improving, incidentally, their ability to “fix” carbon) and in agriculture (improving crop yields – an important consideration for human survival, especially if mankind intends to continue its disastrous flirtation with using food grains to produce fuel);[12]

·         temperatures during the current (Holocene) epoch have been as much as 5ºC higher than present, long before any significant human consumption of fossil fuels began, and that human, animal and plant life thrived in those temperatures;[13]

·         there is no discernible trend in sea ice coverage over the past 30 years.  Despite a very slight decline in total sea ice coverage, attributable – according to NASA – to “unusual wind patterns”,[14] the 2009 peak sea ice extent was exactly on the mean for the period 1979-2008;[15]

·         there is no unusual melting of glaciers or ice sheets taking place.[16]  Far from melting, Antarctic sea ice reached a 30-year high in 2007;[17]

·         sea levels are not rising abnormally.[18]  Despite rising at a rate of four feet per century for the past 10,000 years, sea levels rose only eight inches during the 20th century, and for the past 3 years, the average sea level has not risen at all;[19]

·         there is no scientific basis for the claims by alarmists that warmer temperatures will result in a greater incidence of “extreme weather events”.  The accumulated cyclone energy index, for example, reached a 30-year low in October 2008.[20] Historic and contemporary flooding events on the Mississippi river (contrary Al Gore’s claims re: Hurricane Katrina) are the result not of climate change, but of human land-use practices.[21] Similarly, according to a recent paper, "there is no prima facie evidence of a potential climate-change induced trend in TC [tropical cyclone] intensity in northwestern Australia over the past 30 years";[22] and finally, that

·         any human influence on climate is at best several orders of magnitude below the impact anticipated by the AGW thesis.[23]  There is, in fact, no detectable anthropogenic signal within the vastly larger natural variability of climate.[24]

I have not addressed these many studies for two reasons: first, the fact that the world is at present cooling in conformity with the cyclical temperature patterns that have characterized the past several hundred thousand years shows that there is nothing unusual about recent warming; and second, the fact that there is no significant correlation between CO2 and temperature (except in the sense that increases in temperature have preceded increases in CO2 concentrations, and therefore appear to drive rather than result from them), or between global fuel consumption and temperature, means that carbon dioxide – much less human-produced carbon dioxide –  cannot be a significant driving factor in climate change.  Because all of the myriad other complaints advanced by the alarmists derive from this single failed thesis, it is not necessary to do more than simply note them. 

The failure by the AGW theorists to provide any empirical evidence whatsoever to support the fundamental pillar of their thesis renders irrelevant all of their subsidiary arguments.[25]  As one sceptical climate scientist has put it,

Given the great natural variability exhibited by climate records, and the failure to date to compartmentalize or identify a human signal within them, the proper null hypothesis is that global climate changes are presumed to be natural unless and until specific evidence is forthcoming for human causation….because both the rate and the magnitude of recent warmings fall within the bounds of previous natural climate variation, the onus of proof of a human causation for change lies with those who assert it.[26]

Instead, all that the alarmists have to offer are the outputs of computer models that have repeatedly failed to replicate even known historical climate states.  As Professor Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laments, “It is indeed a remarkable step backwards for science to consider models that have failed to predict the observed behaviour of the climate to nonetheless have the same validity as the data.”[27]

The fact that the Sun appears to be the largest single determinant of climate on Earth should not come as a surprise (it certainly would not have surprised our ancestors).  Apart from residual nuclear fission amid the radioactive elements in the Earth’s core and crust, the Sun is the source of all energy, all heat, and all life on this planet.  The Earth receives more energy from the Sun in an hour than the human race consumes, from all sources, in a year.[28]  This is why Svensmark’s thesis about the nucleation of low-level clouds by cosmic radiation is so important.  Mankind’s energy production and consumption are miniscule by comparison, so if they did impact climate, even proportionally very large reductions in our consumption patterns would have very little proportional impact on global temperatures.  The Sun’s contribution to the terrestrial “energy budget”, by contrast, is comparatively enormous, so that even miniscule fluctuations in solar output, or minute changes in albedo due to very small increases in low cloud coverage, could have a significant impact on climate.  A more active Sun sends more energy our way, and prevents the nucleation of low-level clouds, meaning that less energy is reflected away – a synergistic warming effect; while a less active Sun sends less energy our way, and allows the nucleation of more low-level clouds, meaning that more energy is reflected away – a synergistic cooling effect.  The cosmic-ray nucleation thesis, furthermore, has been corroborated through the SKY experiment, which means that there is a demonstrated physical mechanism to explain the observed data.  The AGW “carbon-forcing” thesis, by contrast, has not been experimentally validated.

It should not be overwhelmingly difficult for a dispassionate and objective scientist to decide which thesis offers a more credible explanation for observed climatic changes.

So much for the “ugly facts” about the present state of climate science discussed in the chapters two through five.  Chapters six through eight of this paper offered an analysis of historical trends and patterns of behaviour, and are intended to convey what can happen when humanity allows itself to be taken in by confidence men; when it fails, through lack of imagination or by allowing itself to be stampeded by propagandists and rhetoricians, to differentiate between active, deliberate threats by those who mean us harm, and natural physical phenomena that cannot be “combated”, but only coped with; and when it betrays the principles of the scientific method, which are our best collective defence not only against errors of interpretation, reason and judgement, but also against “alchymists, sorcerers, charlatans, artful managers, and innovative financial scoundrels”.  These three “ugly facts” provide a broader historical and strategic context against which to evaluate the causes of climate change, the credibility of the AGW thesis, and the potential societal and economic costs of trying to fix something that isn’t broken. 

Just as the world has seen warmer temperatures before, so too has it seen innumerable instances of misrepresentation, exaggeration and fraud.  Reason was supposed to be mankind’s defence against folly; yet it is glaringly absent from the increasingly political debate about the origins and possible outcomes of climate change.  Why?  The absence of reason, and the potential consequences of that absence, are the final “ugly fact” about the climate change debate, and are the focus of the concluding chapter of this paper.

7.2          Self-interest, self-deception, and belief

In her 1984 treatise, The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuchman described “self-interest” as “whatever conduces to the welfare or advantage of the body being governed,” and “folly” as “a policy that in these terms is counter-productive.”[29]  It is difficult to conceive of a greater folly than deliberately hobbling – even crippling – a nation’s economy in obedience to policies that have no foundation in empirical science.  And yet, governments throughout the Western world continue to ignore mounting evidence that the theses upon which their “climate change policies” are based are fatally flawed, and the inescapable conclusion that the climate panic is, therefore, entirely unjustified. 

What prompts such wilful blindness?  Tuchman began her study with the following definition:

To qualify as folly…the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time…a feasible alternative course of action must have been available…[and] the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime.[30]

The climate panic meets all of these criteria.  Increasing numbers of scientists and politicians, realizing that the AGW thesis has no basis in empirical science, and concerned about the enormous potential impact of attempting to impose carbon taxes, carbon trading regimes, or some sort of “Son of Kyoto” upon the West’s struggling economies, have begun to argue strenuously against it.  A feasible alternative course of action – working to improve our understanding of climate science before lunging into irrevocable and costly action – has always been available.[31]  And finally, there is clear evidence that the climate panic is the policy of a group rather than an individual, having now persisted through several generations of government in all of the major Western countries.  The Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations all agreed that climate change (or its previous incarnation, “global warming”) is a “threat” – although they manifestly did not agree what should be done about it.  So, too, do all of the political parties in Canada, and most parties in Europe.  Never have so many disparate branches of political thought been so united in error.

Is there no escape?  Is it too late for Western governments change course?  To do so would require politicians and bureaucrats to step back, reflect, and objectively reassess everything they think they know about a vast, complex, highly technical, and at best poorly-understood subject.  Changing course would require rethinking a problem – something that governments, and especially bureaucracies, are loathe to do.  The economist John Maynard Keynes, criticized for having changed his position on monetary policy during the Great Depression, is said to have replied, “When the facts change, I change my mind.  What do you do, sir?”  Tuchman points out what a rarity this actually is:

Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government.  It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs.  It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.  It is epitomized in a historian’s statement about Phillip II of Spain, the surpassing wooden-head of all sovereigns: ‘No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence’.[32]

The defence against folly is virtually the same as the defence against moral panic: free, rigorous, transparent scientific inquiry.  Science, aimed not at elaborating untestable theories or at providing substantiation for a selected political perspective, but rather at interrogating nature in a robust and methodological fashion, devising theses capable of explaining observed facts, and testing them.  Huxley advised his colleagues to “sit down before fact as a little child…give up every preconceived notion, [and] follow humbly to wherever and whatever abyss nature leads.”  The results of scientific inquiry must be thoroughly tested and validated before politicians attempt to hang policies off of them.  Science is the tool that we invented to minimize our chances of going down the wrong road, but it is a tool that, if mishandled, can cut both ways, and it has led us astray before.  In all such cases, though, the errors have been more likely to be in our misapplication of the method, rather than the method itself.

Just as science is our shield against unreason, scientific rigor is our defence against scientific error and fraud.  And if rigour and due diligence are crucial facets of sound science, are they not equally (if not more) more important when governments are trying to devise policies on the basis of scientific results?  As McCullogh and McKitrick note,

When a piece of academic research takes on a public role, such as becoming the basis for public policy decisions, practices that obstruct independent replication, such as refusal to disclose data, or the concealment of details about computational methods, prevent the proper functioning of the scientific process and can lead to poor public decision making.[33]

Lack of transparency cannot be permitted when decisions affecting the well-being of millions are being made.  “Critical assessment of research,” they argue, “ought to be part of the policymaking process.” [34] Failure to do so constitutes negligence.  How else can policymakers be certain that the theory they are following adequately explains the phenomena they are attempting to affect through policy?  Do they simply shrug and accept the word of the IPCC on faith?  Do they ignore contrarian evidence?  Is this how they serve their constituents?

In any such reassessment, theories must give way before facts.  Science is not about proving whether a theory is “true”, because that is impossible; it is about finding out whether a theory adequately explains observed data, and searching diligently for data to falsify it.  Scientists should welcome critiques of their work, not fear them.  A scientist who clings desperately to his “beautiful theory”, and flees from “ugly facts” rather than working to find a theory that accounts for them, is betraying his métier.  As Popper notes,

…these marvellously imaginative and bold conjectures or ‘anticipations’ of ours are carefully and soberly controlled by systematic tests.  Once put forward, none of our ‘anticipations’ are dogmatically upheld.  Our method of research is not to defend them, to prove how right we were.  On the contrary, we try to overthrow them.  Using all the weapons of our logical, mathematical and technical armoury, we try to prove that our anticipations were false…

Science never pursues the illusory aim of making its answers final, or even probable.  Its advance is, rather, towards an infinite yet attainable aim: that of ever discovering new, deeper, and more general problems, and of subjecting our ever tentative answers to ever renewed and ever more rigorous tests.[35]

How are we to advance our meagre and inadequate understanding of climate if – as the ideologues, sophists and demagogues insist – the debate is over?

There is reason for hope.  A poll taken in January of 2009 found that out of twenty priorities for incoming President Barack Obama, US citizens placed “global warming” dead last.  “The Economy”, “Jobs” and “Terrorism” all attracted the concern of two-thirds or more of the electorate; “global warming” was listed as an important priority by less than one-third.[36]  Even “The Environment” only came in at 16th place, with 41% of respondents listing it as an important priority – well behind inter alia “Tax Cuts”, “The Military”, and “Moral Decline”.  A poll taken by Gallup in March 2009 showed that, for the first time in a quarter of a century, “economic growth” took precedence over “the environment” as a priority.[37]  It is likely that these evolving priorities reflect heightened economic worries in the wake of the financial crisis that erupted in autumn 2008; but it is also possible that US citizens are indulging a newfound scepticism about the credibility of the claims of the climate catastrophists.  Either interpretation would suggest that the American public is manifestly more rational as a group than the leaders it elects.  A similar phenomenon, incidentally, may have been at work in Canada’s last federal election, when the Liberal Party, whose leader had for months been proposing an environmental policy dubbed the “Green Shift”, was trounced at the polls, receiving 26% of the popular vote in its worst-ever electoral performance.[38]

Proponents of the AGW thesis viewed such results, incidentally, as a reason to work harder to sell their case (Al Gore lamented to his former Senate colleagues that he had “failed” in his mission to terrify his countrymen into supporting his extreme agenda); but perhaps what they show is that even after years of alarmist rhetoric buttressed by government-funded propaganda, the public has grown sceptical about the arguments of the alarmists, and the motivations of those pushing the climate panic.  The peddlers of climate disaster have yet to produce one.  Perhaps, as a result, the case is simply no longer sellable.

“[I]t is consoling to think,” Mackay states in summing up the eventual collapse of the witch mania, “that the delirium has passed away; that the raging madness has given place to a milder folly; and that we may now count by units the votaries of a superstition which in former ages numbered its victims by tens of thousands, and its votaries by millions.”[39]  We may, indeed, have reached a tipping point in the climate panic, when scientific integrity, reason and caution will begin to reassert themselves.  But it’s not over yet.  Populations and even scientists may be coming to their senses, but the levers of power in the Western world remain in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats for whom the great climate panic is not a question of science, but a matter of dogma, and a source of ideological and political power.  As Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, observed in November 2008, a politician should “never let a serious crisis go to waste….it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.”[40]  Where some see a crisis, “artful managers” and “innovative financial scoundrels” see a political or pecuniary opportunity.

These are the same people, incidentally, that are most likely to aver that they “believe” that human activities are causing catastrophic climatic damage.  The CBC trumpeted the results of a 2007 Angus Reid poll with the revealing headline, “Almost 4 out of 5 Canadians believe in global warming”[41] It is revealing that the pollsters did not ask respondents what they “believed” to be the principal driver of that warming.  As Monckton likes to say, the fact of warming tells us nothing about the cause of it – and the Earth has, after all, been warming slowly for three hundred years, as one would expect following the end of a phenomenon known as “the Little Ice Age”.  It is also revealing that the same poll found that fewer than half of respondents “believed” that global warming would “significantly impact” their lives or the lives of future generations (a not unsurprising perspective for the residents of a northern country that spends much of the year buried in snow).  That last figure, incidentally, is likely to change if Ottawa follows the disastrous policies enacted in Europe and being contemplated by the Obama Administration, and institutes carbon taxes or engages in carbon trading schemes.

One of the criticisms routinely levied by sceptics is that the arguments of the AGW proponents routinely display many of the characteristics of a religion, with belief replacing evidence, and with departures from dogma regularly condemned as heresy.  Given the occasional likening of climate sceptics to Holocaust deniers, the comparison of climate extremists to religious fanatics is perhaps inevitable.  But the government of the UK has gone a step further.  Tim Nicholson, a former environmental policy officer at Grainger, a British property investment company, has sought and received permission from an employment tribunal to sue his former employer for wrongful dismissal, claiming that he was fired for his environmental beliefs.  His complaint was levied under Britain’s 2003 Employment Equity (Religion and Belief) regulations, which do not specify what does, and what does not, count as a valid “philosophical belief”. 

Defending itself before the tribunal, Grainger representatives argued that the case should be declined, as Nicholson’s beliefs were based on fact and science, rather than being a “philosophical” belief.  The tribunal disagreed, ruling in the complainant’s favour, and stating that Nicholson’s “belief goes beyond a mere opinion.”[42]  The litigation was allowed to proceed.  The tribunal’s decision – that it doesn’t matter whether Mr. Nicholson had sound scientific reasons for his beliefs; it only matters that he believed – not only places “philosophical belief in global warming” on the same legal plane as mainstream religions like Christianity and Judaism; it also lodges the AGW thesis, at least insofar as UK law is concerned, firmly in the realm of the supernatural.  If believing is enough, after all, why bother with proof?

It is difficult to foresee the long-term implications of this decision, especially if Mr. Nicholson’s suit is upheld. One wonders what Al Gore and James Hansen would make of their dogma, which has already been condemned as quasi-religious or even cult-like, being officially recognized as a religion by British court. 

Every time somebody uses the word “belief” in a scientific discussion, our hackles should go up.  Belief begins where thinking ends; it is what we fall back on when we have no empirical evidence to corroborate or falsify a thesis.  It is a manifestation of faith rather than reason – and faith has no place in a scientific debate, where observed data are the standard of proof.  “For those who believe,” economist Stuart Chase once argued, “no proof is necessary.  For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”  Belief is fundamentally anti-scientific because it leaves no role for evidence.  But there is no dearth of evidence; the data are there, easy to see and to understand.  Emerging evidence continues to be uncovered all the time, demonstrating that natural phenomena, rather than human activity, are the only significant drivers of climate change. 

Anyone who states, in the face of observed data, that he still “believes” that human activities are the principle determinant of climate is not interested in proof.  He is making a political or theological statement, not a scientific one.

7.3           ‘The most repugnant option’

Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.

- President Elect Barack Obama, 18 November 2008[43]

As has been demonstrated (either in this paper, or in the peer-reviewed scientific papers I have cited), every one of the eight assertions made by then-President-Elect Obama in the course of this paragraph was, and is, dead wrong.  Eight factual inaccuracies in forty-nine words is a remarkably dense error rate even for a political address.  In fact, America, like the rest of the world, faces many challenges far more urgent than “combating” a phenomenon that, according to all empirical evidence, is almost certainly natural, cyclical, and not significantly susceptible to human influence.  The current economic crisis is one such global challenge; others include defeating jihadist terrorism, curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, quelling persistent regional conflicts, solving the problem of energy supply and security, combating infectious disease, reversing declining birthrates in the Western nations and Russia, and addressing genuine environmental concerns (i.e., actual pollution and environmental degradation, rather than imaginary problems deriving from “carbon emissions”). 

Politics is a zero-sum game.  Time, money and political capital wasted on fruitless quests to “combat climate change” will be unavailable to be applied to the real challenges that we face.  Robust science can help to ensure that finite resources are applied intelligently against these challenges – but not if science has been hijacked and corrupted by ideologues intent on spreading baseless fears, stirring up unwarranted public alarm, and making use of the resulting crisis to achieve political and ideological goals.  Politically-influenced science is a pernicious and dangerous thing, not only because it enables its wielders to claim the credibility of the scientific method as justification for their agenda, but also because it corrodes public confidence in the scientific method.  Rigorous science will not avail us if calculating demagogues, through repeated exaggerations, misrepresentations, and outright errors, teach the public to distrust science and scientists.

The wilful misrepresentation of science and its use as a lever to play upon the fulcrum of ignorance in order to generate panic, achieve power, or merely bilk the credulous has given us – amongst many other lamentable delusions – astrology, alchemy, the magnetizers, the phrenologists, phlogiston, the ‘luminiferous æther,’ and the twisted logic of eugenics.  Politicized science was the tool of Trofim Lysenko, whose politically-motivated lunacy set Soviet genetics back by two generations; and it is routinely wielded by the proponents of creationism (or its scrubbed and dressed-up cousin, ‘intelligent design’) in their attempts to shoe-horn religious dogma into educational curricula.

The nadir of scientific misrepresentation came when it was used as a club by the environmental lobby in the US to effectively ban the use of DDT to combat the anopheles mosquito in the developing world.  The result (as Archambault notes in Chapter 7), was that tens of millions of human beings – most of them almost certainly children living in the poorest parts of the world – subsequently perished of malaria.  At a time when real scientists were struggling in Africa and India to eradicate smallpox, pseudo-scientists and ideologues were striving, in Washington’s corridors of power, to undermine a vital technological tool in the battle against infectious disease.  The EPA’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, reportedly rebuffed the advice of scientific advisors in order to proceed with the domestic ban on DDT.[44]  This was an act of believers, a manifestation of the power of blind ideology to overturn reason.  It was an abuse of science, and the direct result was a human catastrophe of epic proportions.

To this day, no one – not the politicians and bureaucrats who supported and enacted the ban, nor the environmental gurus who pressed them fervently to do so – has been held accountable for the entirely foreseeable result of actions that, in terms of numbers of dead humans that resulted, may have exceeded the butchery of the Holocaust by an order of magnitude.  Hitler’s Mein Kampf is rightly condemned as the philosophical precursor of the Nazi programme of war and genocide – but if mortality estimates are accurate, it did not, in the end, result in any more dead human beings than Rachel Carson’s polemic, Silent Spring, the book that launched the pesticide panic.[45]  One could argue that the two tomes should not be compared in this manner, because presumably Carson, unlike Hitler, did not intend her arguments to lead to the deaths of millions.[46]  Such arguments may well be a comfort to those who survived their encounter with malaria.  But intentions, good or bad, are irrelevant to the dead.

Such are the wages of political folly when it is enabled and abetted by ideologues misusing science to prey upon the ignorance or apathy of the public.  But why should the public be ignorant or apathetic?  We know that apathy is fatal for the citizens of a democracy; and in this enlightened age, there is no excuse for scientific ignorance.  There is no reason to accept blindly the word of those who, like Al Gore, have an obvious financial stake in convincing you that they are right – not when the data and the methods are available so that we may check their figures.  There is no justification for blaming the global warming alarmists for their misrepresentations, and excusing ourselves for falling prey to their machinations because we failed to detect their duplicity.  We cannot protest, as the Londoners taken in by the South Sea scam artists did, that we are “a simple, honest, hard-working people, ruined by a gang of robbers.”  We have seen too many episodes of bad science made worse by bad faith to accept uncritically the protestations of self-appointed and manifestly self-interested “experts.”  We have been down this road before, and we know where it leads.  In the wake of the DDT catastrophe, we have no more excuses – we know from bitter experience that “gullibility kills.”[47]

We stand at a precarious cross-roads vis-à-vis the great climate panic.  The bankruptcy of the AGW thesis has been laid bare, for all to see, but its failure is not being publicized by the mainstream media.  Its proponents and advocates have not ceded the field; and the public, after more than a decade of government-sponsored propaganda, is only just beginning to understand that there may be a perspective on climate change other the one offered by Al Gore.  Moreover, the arrival in the White House of a President who supports the AGW thesis, his recent promise to “reverse the climate policies of the Bush Administration,”[48] and the dominance of both houses of Congress by the Democratic Party together raise the likelihood of imminent, expensive, and thoroughly pointless regulatory action to “combat climate change.”

What might the results of such action look like?  Sadly, the ruinous impact of unnecessary, ideologically-driven legislation and regulation is already plain to see.  In California in 2006, Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law America’s most stringent emissions control legislation, creating a cap and trade system on carbon dioxide, limiting CO2 emissions by businesses, and imposing new taxes on companies that exceed established caps.  This new legislation was sold to the public on the basis of the contention (by the bill’s advocates, naturally) that the imposition of $23B in new taxes would have no impact on the economy – a notion that was thoroughly panned by independent economic reviewers engaged by Sacramento to review the legislation and the report (by the state’s “air resources board”) substantiating it.  The reviewers called the state’s report “severely flawed”, noting that it “systematically underestimated costs” and asked (reasonably) why, if emission controls were beneficial for the economy, should it be necessary to impose them by government fiat?[49] 

California’s disastrous experiment offers further “ugly facts” for our delectation.  Since 2006, the state’s unemployment rate has gone from 4.9% to 9.3% - a net loss of three quarters of a million jobs (the national unemployment rate went from 4.4% to 7.1% during the same period).[50]  By January 2009, unemployment had reached 10.5%, its highest level in more than 25 years.[51]  California has the fourth-highest foreclosure rate in the US, faces a $40B deficit, and has lost more businesses than any other state in recent years, as companies look elsewhere to avoid the impact on operating costs of Sacramento’s cap-and-trade regulations and fines.[52]  While at least some of these economic woes are the result of the state’s incredible profligacy and its enormous public sector, the adoption of further environmental policies that are deliberately hostile to business is unlikely to help.  Where will those companies go next if the Obama Administration follows through on its promise to implement nation-wide the same policies that are strangling California?  It is interesting, in the context of this last question, to note that California’s emissions regulations apply to cars sold, rather than merely to cars made, in the state.  This broader application was necessary because, as a direct result of what one writer has called “decades of aggressive anti-energy policies,” that have raised the operating costs of heavy manufacturing, California – the twelfth-largest economy in the world – no longer has an automobile industry.[53]  At time of writing, California state legislators were considering passing a law designed to reduce carbon emissions by banning dark-coloured cars – because they grow hotter in sunlight, and therefore require more energy to cool.[54] 

There are times when words fail even the most logorrhetic of analysts.

If the world were indeed facing a “climate apocalypse”, then there might at least be some moral satisfaction (if no logical purpose) in bankrupting one’s-self for the greater good – even though there is no chance of California “saving the planet” on its own, given that far more energetic polluters (e.g., China) have no intention of shoe-horning their exploding industrial sectors into the environmental hair shirt that Schwarzenegger has, at the behest of the ‘green lobby’, forced Californians to don.  One author has calculated that even if one were willing to use the (exaggerated)[55] IPCC estimates for greenhouse warming, “cutting all carbon emissions from California immediately would theoretically stop global sea levels from rising by less than a millimeter by 2050.”  She adds that this “would surely qualify as one of the most expensive, unquantifiable outcomes that any committee ever aimed for.”[56] 

Patrick Michaels, a widely-published professional climatologist, has warned of the potential broader impact of applying California’s disastrous experiment to national economies, arguing that:

…calculations of the costs of inaction, based upon models that are clearly overestimating warming to the point that they can no longer be relied upon, are likely to be similarly overestimated. In that eventuality, the costs of drastic action can easily outweigh the costs of a more measured response, consistent with what is being observed, rather than what is being erroneously modelled.[57]

Even Michaels, however, soft-pedals the issue.  There is clearly no “dangerous warming” on the horizon; even were it not presently cooling, the Earth has been much warmer in recent human history, and humans benefited directly from that warmth.   Will this “ugly fact” change anyone’s mind?  When confronted with clear evidence that the AGW thesis has failed, is it likely that an Administration composed largely of global warming ‘believers’ will willingly shed its devotion to the climate change dogma, and change course?

If history is any guide, we should not hope for too much.  One of the greatest fears of any politician, after all, is admitting publicly that he was wrong.  As Tuchman notes, when a government body faces the collapse of one of the central tenets of its faith,

mental standstill fixes the principles and boundaries governing a political problem….when dissonances and failing function begin to appear, the initial principles rigidify.  This is the period when, if wisdom were operative, re-examination and rethinking and a change of course are possible, but they are rare as rubies in a backyard.  Rigidifying leads to increase of investment and the need to protect egos; policy founded upon error multiplies, never retreats.  The greater the investment and the more involved in it the sponsor’s ego, the more unacceptable is disengagement….pursuit of failure enlarges the damages…[58]

Tuchman laments that, “to recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government.”[59]  As the examples of folly cited by Tuchman suggest (she highlights the Renaissance popes provoking the protestant secession; the British driving the American colonies to rebel; and America’s baffling mismanagement of the Vietnam War), the fear of changing course appears in every case to have been even more “repugnant” than the fear of failure, of disaster, and of incurring the condemnation of history. 

David Evans, writing in The Australian in 2008, opined that any politicians who persist in pursuing useless and costly carbon emissions legislation and regulations when all empirical evidence points away from human-produced carbon dioxide as a significant agent of climate change, would be deemed “criminally negligent or ideologically stupid,” and would be punished at the polls for decades to come.[60]  Perhaps.  But will the threat of voter vengeance be enough to deter folly in the first place?  In any event, turning gullible politicians out of office for having indulged in panic-driven regulatory folly would be cold comfort to an electorate facing power and fuel shortages, the flight of companies seeking a less punitive business environment, a disintegrating industrial base, massive job losses, a devastated economy – and a cooling climate.

7.4          What’s worse than warming?

The alteration of course that may be necessary could well be more than simply calling a belated halt to the climate panic; it may require a full-scale reversal of environmentally-derived anti-energy policies. 

Solar physicists have begun to speculate that the observed, and extremely slow, start to solar cycle 24 may portend an unusually long, weak solar cycle.  According to NASA, in 2008 the Sun experienced its “blankest year of the space age” – 266 spotless days out of 366, or 73%, a low not seen since 1913.  David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, noted that sunspot counts were at a 50-year low, meaning that “we’re experiencing a deep minimum of the solar cycle.”[61]  At time of writing, the figure for 2009 was 78 spotless days out of 90, or 87%, and the Goddard Space Flight Centre was calling it a “very deep solar minimum” – “the quietest Sun we’ve seen in almost a century.”[62]

This very low solar activity corresponds with “a 50-year record low in solar wind pressure” discovered by the Ulysses spacecraft.[63]  The fact that we are simultaneously experiencing both extremely low solar wind pressure and sustained global cooling, incidentally, may be considered prima facie circumstantial corroboration of Svensmark’s cosmic-ray cloud nucleation thesis.

 Figure 17 - Solar cycle lengths 1750-2007; and the 2 longest cycles of the past 300 years [64]

Measured between minima, the average length of a solar cycle is almost exactly 11 years.  The length of the current solar cycle (Solar Cycle 23, the mathematical minimum for which occurred in May 1996), was, as of 1 April 2009, a little over 12.9 years.[65]  This is already well over the mean, and at time of writing, the minimum was continuing to deepen, with no indication that the next cycle has begun.[66]  Only one solar cycle in the past three centuries has exceeded that length – solar cycle 4, which lasted 13.66 years, 1784 to 1798 (see figure 17).  This was the last cycle before the Dalton Minimum, a period of lower-than-average global temperatures that lasted from approximately 1790-1830. The Dalton Minimum was the last prolonged “cold spell” of the Little Ice Age, from which temperatures have since been recovering (and which, as noted above, the IPCC and the proponents of the AGW thesis invariably take as the start-point for their temperature graphs, in a clear demonstration of the end-point fallacy in statistical methodology).[67]  On the basis of observations of past solar activity, some solar physicists are predicting that the coming solar cycle is likely to be weaker than normal, and could result in a period of cooling similar to the Dalton Minimum.[68]

If we were to experience a similar solar minimum today – which is not unlikely, given that, as noted above, we are emerging from an 80+-year Solar Grand Maximum, during which the Sun was more active than at any time in the past 11,000 years – the net result could be a global temperature decline on the order of 1.5 degrees over the space of two solar cycles, i.e. a little over two decades.[69]  According to Archibald, during the Dalton Minimum, temperatures in central England dropped by more than a degree over a 20-year period, for a cooling rate of more than 5ºC per century; while one location in Germany – Oberlach – recorded a decline of 2ºC during the same period (a cooling rate of 10ºC per century).[70]  Archibald predicts a decline of 1.5ºC over the course of two solar cycles (roughly 22 years), for a cooling rate of 6.8ºC per century.  This would be cooling at a rate more than ten times faster than the warming that has been observed since the mid-1800s.  “At this rate,” Monckton notes wryly, “by mid-century, we shall be roasting in a new ice age.”[71]

Which phenomenon would pose a greater challenge to mankind’s adaptability: global warming at a rate of 0.4ºC per century, as was recorded over the past century and a half?  Or global cooling at a rate seventeen times higher, as was recorded during the Dalton Minimum?  We may be about to find out.  As seen in Figure 5, between 2001 and 2008, the observed average global temperature declined by 0.08ºC.  This equates to a cooling trend of 1.14ºC per century.  For the past seven years, the world has been cooling at a rate nearly three times faster than the rate at which it warmed between 1850 and 2000.  Is this a development worthy of alarm or panic?  Is it the most “urgent challenge” facing America and the world?  Are vast arrays of draconian regulations and punitive taxes necessary to “combat” this observed, not theorized, manifestation of climate change?

How long will it be before governments acknowledge this observed cooling trend?  How will they react to it when they do?  Will they view declining temperatures as cause for alarm, and, as Tuchman puts it, “alter course”?  Will they turn away from advocating economic martyrdom to stave off “global warming”, and instead advocate economic martyrdom to stave off what would no doubt be billed, once again, as “global cooling”?[72]  In the 1970s, the last time cooling was touted as a cause for terror, scientists were talking about fighting the freeze by spreading soot across the arctic ice cap in order to decrease its albedo and induce melting.[73]  Will such bizarre schemes enjoy a renaissance?  Will the “artful managers” and “innovative financial scoundrels” find a way to profit from global cooling – perhaps by selling carbon credits back to businesses that fail to meet government-specified targets for higher emissions?  We can only wonder.  As we have seen in the cases of the South Seas and John Law scandals, when it comes to ingenious schemes for bilking the credulous, there are few limits to human inventiveness.

Such a temperature decline today, when the world’s population is an order of magnitude larger than during the Dalton Minimum and food supplies are already precarious, is in fact a much better excuse for a climate panic than the mild warming that the IPCC has projected will occur in response to a postulated doubling of CO2 concentrations over the coming century.  Moreover, if we are indeed facing a prolonged solar minimum and a consequent multi-decadal period of “global cooling”, then the measures being advocated by inter alia the IPCC, Gore, Hansen, Obama, and the governments of all Western nations, are likely to exacerbate rather than ameliorate the coming climate crisis – not only by impeding the search for and production of energy, and by damaging industrial capacity at a time when mankind will need energy and industry in greater quantity than ever; but also by restricting carbon dioxide emissions at a time when a cooling planet may need every last little bit of warming it can muster – even the vanishingly small amount attributable to the tiny proportion of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human industrial activity.

Monckton has argued that “we must get the science right, or we shall get the policy wrong.”[74]  When the consequences of getting the policy wrong are potentially so dire, is it not reasonable and responsible to delay action until we are certain that we have got the science right?

I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, natural gas, you name it—whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers under my plan of a cap-and-trade system. Electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

- Candidate Barack H. Obama, January 2008[75]

On 18 February 2009, the New York Times reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency was on the brink of acting “to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet.”[76]  On 20 March 2009, the EPA sent its determination – a finding that carbon dioxide “is a danger to public health” – to the White House.[77]  In April 2009 this finding was confirmed by the EPA, classifying CO2 as a “dangerous pollutant” and opening the way for the Agency to launch “one of the most extensive regulatory rule makings in history.”[78]

If this finding is upheld, it will stand as one of the most profoundly ridiculous things that any government has ever done.  More than 300,000,000 Americans exhale more than 300,000 metric tonnes of this “dangerous pollutant” every day.  An average North American automobile emits 4 to 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year,[79] so Americans exhale roughly the same amount of CO2 as about 25,000,000 cars.  The US Government does not, of course, plan to tax exhalations.  But the question is, why not?  Carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide.  The CO2 produced by a coal-fired generating station is chemically indistinguishable from the CO2 that humans exhale,[80] and has precisely the same physical qualities from a point of view of radiative forcing.  Every exhaled breath contains about 4% CO2 – roughly 100 times the concentration already in the atmosphere.  If carbon dioxide is indeed a “dangerous pollutant”, then the source – whether a human, an animal, a bacterium, a grass fire, an electrical generating station, or the propellant in underarm deodorant or a weekend warrior’s paintball gun – shouldn’t matter. 

It is patently absurd to designate as a “dangerous pollutant” one of the two key gases without which life on Earth would be impossible.  As I have already noted, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide today is so low in comparison to historical norms that, from the perspective of photosynthesizing plants,[81] it may be characterized as a “CO2 famine.”[82]  Abundant atmospheric carbon dioxide allowed ancient plants to evolve; oxygen, a product of photosynthesis, only came later, building up over a period of three hundred million years, and proving so toxic to the predominantly anaerobic life of the Siderian period (about 2.7 billion years ago) that the era is chiefly known for the “Oxygen Catastrophe” that led to mass extinctions.  Evolutionary adaptation allowed aerobic organisms to take hold and survive.  Today, humans exhale a little over 2 Gt of carbon dioxide, or about 600 Mt of “carbon”, each year.  Plants take that carbon dioxide in through respiration, and convert it into stored sugars, starches and cellulose.  If carbon dioxide is a “pollutant,” then virtually every form of life on Earth more complex than a virus is either a source or a consumer of “pollution.”[83] 

But if carbon dioxide is a “pollutant”, then why are only human industrial emissions a matter for concern?  Why are some carbon-emitting processes, to borrow a phrase from Orwell, “more equal than others”?  The alarmists rail against the roughly 8 Gt of carbon that human industrial activities (chiefly the consumption of fossil fuels and the production of cement) inject into the atmosphere every year; but they ignore the vastly greater exchange of carbon between the surface ocean and the atmosphere (about 90 Gt).  Why is the equally extensive exchange of carbon between plant matter and the atmosphere – about 100 Gt per annum – deemed unimportant?[84]  Is CO2 emitted by volcanoes or forest fires any less “dangerous” than CO2 emitted by a sports utility vehicle?  Forest fires in some US states (e.g., Alaska) produce more carbon dioxide than is emitted by the state-wide burning of fossil fuels.[85]  Should governments not, therefore, be placing at least as much emphasis on extinguishing forest fires as on taxing fuel consumption?

The question of forest fires illustrates the confusion in climate policy.  A study of direct carbon emissions from forest fires in Canada from 1959 to 1999 found that, on average, forest fires produced as much as one-fifth the carbon emissions of Canada’s entire energy sector, and that, in some years, emissions from forest fires rose as high as three-quarters of the emissions generated by the entire Canadian energy sector.[86]  Is forest-fire carbon somehow “greener” than energy-sector carbon?  It must be, because, far from struggling to prevent all forest fires, the Government of Canada follows a policy of deliberate, controlled forest burns to “renew ecosystems” and “encourage biodiversity.”[87]  It is impossible to burn wood without producing carbon dioxide (as well as a variety of truly hazardous combustion products, chiefly carbon monoxide and nitrous compounds).  So the question is, how can the burning of trees, controlled or not, benefit forest ecosystems if it simultaneously produces a “dangerous pollutant” that is responsible for initiating a climatic catastrophe?  Which of these two patently contradictory policies is wrong?

I make these points simply to illustrate how fuzzy thinking prompted by bad science leads inevitably to nonsensical policy.  The answer, of course, is simple: carbon dioxide is not pollution; it is plant food.  Without it, plants die; in the presence of more of it, they thrive.[88]  It is an unavoidable by-product of animal life (including microscopic life, which produces vastly more carbon dioxide than any human activity), and an indispensable part of the terrestrial biosphere.  The designation of carbon dioxide as a “dangerous pollutant”, and the inevitable regulatory follow-on action to control it, would be scientifically unjustifiable acts of administrative mayhem that would impose vast and crippling compliance costs on every aspect of human activity. 

North America’s electrical grid would be the first to fall.  More than half of all electricity consumed in the US is produced by coal-fired generating stations.[89]  As happened in Europe when “emissions trading” was introduced, the cost of generated power would immediately skyrocket,[90] leading to significant increases not only in the cost of living, but also in the cost of every good and service produced in the United States, further impeding economic competitiveness.  Increased costs would be passed on to consumers, an effect that would propagate not only through the US economy, but also through the economies of all countries with close economic ties to America – which is, not to put too fine a point on it, most of the world.  The result would be a metastasising economic shock wave of unprecedented proportions – at a time when the entire world is already struggling to cope with the aftershocks of the US financial crisis (itself the direct result of policies based on ideology rather than reason),[91] and with a burgeoning recession that bears all the hallmarks of deepening into a widespread depression.

Because there is no evidence that human-produced carbon dioxide plays a significant role in influencing climate, any attempt to regulate carbon dioxide emissions would be a meaningless gesture of economic self-immolation.  The Times piece on the EPA finding states that there is “near-unanimous belief among agency experts” that carbon dioxide is a “dangerous pollutant”.[92]  If true, given the scientific evidence presented herein, this tells us a lot more about the scientific literacy and critical faculties of the EPA’s “experts” than it does about carbon dioxide.  And of course, once again we find the word – “belief” – that people retreat to when they have no empirical evidence to support a thesis.  “I believe” really means “I don’t know.” 

But we do know.  We know that the warming experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age is to be expected; that it has been much warmer in recent history; and that human civilization thrives in warm periods, and suffers in cold ones.  We know that, contrary to all of the predictions of the failed AGW thesis, temperatures have for the past decade been falling, not rising.  We know that there is no significant correlation between carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature (except insofar as changes in the former seem to follow rather than precede changes in the latter), or between world fuel consumption and temperature, over any time scale – and we know that where there is no correlation, there can be no causation.  We also know that the Sun is now exiting a particularly active phase; that it has caused simultaneous, observed warming on at least four other planets and moons in the solar system; that there exists a mechanism, experimentally verified, whereby solar activity cycles can influence terrestrial climate (and that, by contrast, no such experimental verification exists to support the AGW thesis); and that solar activity correlates closely with global temperatures over short and long time scales.  These are not things that we “believe” – they are things that have been verified through empirical science.  These are things that we know.

Why, then, are the EPA and like-minded government agencies throughout the Western world persisting in acting on “belief”, rather than on the basis of observed data and empirical results?  Why are government bureaucracies obeying the global warming orthodoxy instead of looking for more robust scientific explanations for observed phenomena?  On a matter where regulatory action is guaranteed – not merely expected, but guaranteed – to impose enormous economic and societal costs, why are officials not exercising patience and restraint, doing more research, trying to fill in the gaps in their knowledge, and withholding regulatory action until they know more?

These are all important questions.  They should have been asked already, because in addition to the many other things we know, we also know, from bitter experience, where the path of scientifically unjustifiable, ideologically-driven regulation leads.  Regulating carbon dioxide as a “dangerous pollutant” would be an act of the most egregious folly – but it is not a folly without precedent, because we have already witnessed a folly of equal proportions: the EPA-sponsored ban on DDT.  In addition to all the “ugly facts” that we know about climate change, we also know how high the human cost can be when government agencies act in response to environmental panics based on dogma instead of on sound empirical science.  Science, as I have argued above, was supposed to allow us to learn from our errors.  If governments cannot learn from the colossal blunder of the DDT ban, then what hope is there of avoiding a similar (although hopefully less lethal) error in the case of carbon dioxide?

Perhaps the problem lies not in science, but in ourselves.  Humans, by virtue of our primate ancestry, have an innate predilection for passion, unreason, and obedience to perceived authority.  Sagan and Druyan have written extensively on the correlations between human behaviour, and authority and dominance hierarchies among our cousins, the apes.  In a primate society, they remark, the leader “adopts an impressive demeanour, even something approaching pomp, in part because his subordinates demand it of him.  They crave reassurance.  They are natural followers.  They have an irresistible desire to be led.”[93]  Why should we, their descendents, be any different?  “Darwinian Man, though well-behaved / at best is only a monkey shaved.”[94]  For all of our remarkable achievements, we are still primates, and a hundred centuries of human civilization are a paltry counterweight when balanced against nearly a million centuries of primate evolution.

We have an innate tendency to follow those who adopt the guise of leaders; to respect their wisdom, to heed their pronouncements, to obey their calls for action.  It’s in our nature.  We may come by these traits honestly; but as primates that now use tools, and reason, and science to better our lot and to exert a modicum of control over our environment, we need to understand that these traits are not optimized for long-term survival.  They make us particularly susceptible to folly – especially follies perpetrated by those whom we regard as experts, leaders or authority figures. 

History and bitter experience teach us that we need to watch such individuals carefully; to require that they demonstrate transparency and accountability; and to insist, as we would of any third-grader, that they ‘show their work.’  Most of all, we must demand that those who would hold up science, either as a justification for action or as a shield against criticism, must first conform to its principles, subordinate their biases to its rigor, and obey its tenets – the foremost of which is that observed data take precedence over theory; and that theories that are incapable of explaining observed data have no value.

Mankind needs to develop better means of detecting and combating not climate change, but bad science, and its deliberate misuse as the basis for politically, ideologically and financially-motivated demagoguery.  The political satirist P.J. O’Rourke once suggested that, “If we’re looking for the source of our troubles,” people ought to be tested not for drugs, but rather for “stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”[95]  These are dangerous traits in citizens, to be sure, but they only blossom to their full, catastrophic potential when the first two are present in the citizenry, and the latter two in bureaucratic ideologues, and elected – or self-appointed – leaders.

If we must list the “dangerous pollutants” that threaten the future of human civilization, I would argue the list should begin not with carbon dioxide, but rather – pace O’Rourke – with “stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”  Would that it were as easy to regulate, tax or ban these hazardous traits as it is to regulate, tax or ban a vital, life-sustaining atmospheric trace gas.

7.6          Energy and power in the modern world

The falsification of the AGW thesis has important and far-reaching implications for national and international security.  For more than a decade, throughout the Western world, the direst predictions of the climate alarmists have been incorporated into national security strategy concepts and planning.  As Archambault notes in Chapter 7, “global warming”, euphemized as “climate change”, is routinely cited as a “threat” to the security of states – placing it on a par with actual threats deriving from human intentions coupled with the capability to do harm.  This false equivalency degrades threat analysis, which is based upon (amongst other things) differentiating between actors – human agents engaged in attempting to secure and advance their own interests – and factors – aspects or elements of the political, strategic, operational or tactical environment, which may affect planning and which, therefore, must be taken into consideration; but which do not constitute a “threat” as such, because they do not derive from intentional efforts to anticipate and counter one’s own objectives.

The elevation of climate (or “climate change”) from the status of a factor to that of an actor undermines the process of conceptualizing, developing and implementing a national security strategy (NSS) in a number of different but equally dangerous ways.  The purpose of evolving a NSS, after all, is to guide government in decision-making on national security issues.  A sound and useful NSS comprises, at a minimum, the following four elements:

·         a description of the nation’s vital interests;

·         a description of extant, emerging and potential threats to those interests;

·         a determination of what the government plans to do to defend and advance the nation’s vital interests; and,

·         a description of how the government intends to organize the nation’s resources to do so.

Climate has traditionally been an operational planning factor deriving from the government’s determination, under the third of these NSS elements, of where military force is likely to have to be applied in order to defend and advance the nation’s interests.  “Climate change”, however, has been elevated to the status of a threat under the second of the four NSS elements.  Based on the projections offered by the IPCC, and the alarmist predictions founded (however imaginatively) on those projections, Western governments are now preparing for inter alia rapidly rising sea levels, an increase in extreme weather events, an ice-free Arctic, more frequent droughts and famines, mass movements of “environmental refugees”, infectious disease, and a significant increase in regional conflict.  The problem, as pointed out over the course of this paper, is that first, none of these things are happening at present; second, none of them would be likely to happen even if the globe were warming; third, even if they were likely to happen as a consequence of global warming, that global warming is not taking place; and fourth, even if the globe were warming, the lack of any evidence linking human-produced carbon dioxide to climate change means that there is absolutely nothing that humans can do to alter the course of events.

Because there is no discernable human signal in “climate change,” there is no way for humans to affect climate through behavioural modification, e.g., decreasing energy consumption and (therefore) the production of carbon dioxide.  How, then, is it reasonable to claim that there are any national security implications deriving from “climate change”?  The answer, of course, lies in the third and fourth elements of a NSS outlined above: what a government is prepared to do to address a posited threat to the national interest (a fundamentally political question); and how much of the nation’s resources it is prepared to expend in doing so (a question of economics).

The key tools of government are legislation, regulations and policy.  Western governments are at present using all three in an attempt to alter the behaviour of their citizenry (both human and corporate) to influence them to emit less carbon dioxide.  As I have outlined in this paper, a variety of methods are being used to effect this goal, the principal tools being the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions through taxes and emissions trading mechanisms.  The one thing that all of these have in common is that they are all designed to discourage industries, businesses and individuals from emitting carbon dioxide through the relatively blunt force approach of making it more expensive to do so.  As virtually all “carbon emissions” originate in the consumption of fossil fuels, these measures amount to making it more expensive to consume fuel.  The end result of this approach is to increase the cost of any activity (including the production of any good, or the provision of any service) necessitating the emission of carbon dioxide.  This is, in a word, everything.  There is no human significant activity in the modern world that does not result, one way or another, in the production of at least some carbon dioxide.

“Sin taxes” are a common tool used by governments to discourage behaviour that, for one reason or another, has been deemed undesirable.[96]  The most obvious manifestation of this approach may be seen in the high taxes levied upon, for example, alcohol and tobacco.  But industrial activity, commerce, the creation of goods, the provision of services, and the consumption of both – these are not “undesirable behaviours”; they are economic activity – the basic heartbeat of any society, and the foundation of the state whose “vital interests” governments are charged with protecting.  Carbon taxes, like all other taxes, increase the cost of economic activity, resulting – in accordance with the ineluctable rules of the market – in less of it.

As stated in the foreword to this paper, it is sometimes necessary, when confronting egregious examples of folly, to speak bluntly.  Simply put, attempts to regulate carbon emissions amount to an attempt to roll back modern civilization.  The most productive economies in the world, and the ones with the highest standard of living, are those that consume the most energy.  Productivity and comfort are a function of how much energy you use, and how efficiently you use it.  While some non-Western countries – e.g., China and India – are approaching or even surpassing the Western nations in gross consumption of energy, the industrialized Western nations at present have an unmatched edge in the efficient per capita consumption of energy.

Energy, however, is a red herring.  What keeps civilization afloat, what pushes it ever forward, is not “energy”.  If energy were all it took, then the nations with high insolation, with vast forests, would reign supreme.  A more appropriate measure is power, which may be defined in many ways, but which boils down to ‘energy in a useful form’.  Power is energy where and when you need it, and in a form that does what you require it to do.  Modern civilization is built on power, and is defined by its ever-escalating demand for more power in ever more-concentrated forms.  This is the logical and inescapable result of the development and adoption of technologies that require more – and more importantly, ever more highly organized – power. 

When we talk about organization, we enter the realm of mankind’s oldest technological battle: the eternal struggle of order against entropy.  Achieving order in any system, including power, takes energy.  Sadi Carnot’s epiphany was that the useful power you can extract from a heat engine does not depend on how much heat you can generate, but rather upon how much you can get rid of (in thermodynamic terms, the efficiency of a heat engine is a function of the difference in temperatures between the hot and the cold sides of the system).  In simple terms, it takes energy to push anything – even energy itself – up the thermodynamic slope, away from entropy, and towards order. Highly-ordered power is therefore achievable only through the disposal of waste heat.  Every last power-production system in the scope of human technology is designed to use moderately-organized energy to produce highly-organized energy by disposing of less-organized energy.  At best, half of the energy in the coal consumed by a coal-fired generating station comes out of its transmission lines as highly-organized alternating current; the rest goes into the environment as waste heat.  More energy is lost in transmission lines, in step-down transformers, and in the local lines that deliver electricity to households.  By the time the end-user flips the light switch, most of the energy in the primary fuel used to generate the electricity has been dissipated, the vast majority of it as waste heat emitted by the machines that dug, processed, delivered and burned the fuel.  Even more will be lost as heat generated by the light bulb.  But the end result of all of this “wasted” energy is that the consumer has access to clean, white light, any time he or she wants it.

As figure 18 demonstrates, there is a direct correlation between per capita energy consumption, and standard of living (in terms of GDP per capita).  All other things being equal (and they usually are not), the countries that consume more energy per citizen enjoy the highest standards of living in the modern world (which is to say, in the history of the human race).  Those which use less energy per capita enjoy a measurably lower standard of living.  No one “chooses” a lower standard of living; and no one “chooses” to use less energy.  The two are intimately and inextricably interconnected.

Figure 18 – GDP/capita ($USD) vs. Energy Consumption/capita (kgOE/a)[97] 

Quality of energy, however, is at least as important as quantity.  You cannot pump crude oil into a car’s fuel tank, much less the fuel tanks of a modern airliner.  You cannot shovel coal, wind, sunlight or pitchblende ore into a microwave oven, a computer microprocessor or an x-ray machine.  It takes technology to turn useless, disordered energy into useful, ordered energy – technology, and power.  The modern technologies that make our civilization possible, moreover, demand highly ordered power, and the reality of the second law of thermodynamics is that order comes only at the cost of waste. 

One estimate of the “pyramid of waste” that is necessary to run modern society goes as follows: 20 kWh of laser energy requires 200 kWh of power supplied to the laser drivers and cooling systems; this requires 400 kWh supplied to the power supply in the form of AC current, which demands 1000 kWh in chip fabrication, which in turn requires 2000 kWh supplied by electrical generating stations – which must burn 6600 kWh worth of primary fuel to do so.[98] 

99.7% of the energy in the coal burned by the power plant never makes it out of the aperture of the laser.  But the last 0.3% that does can reattach a retina. Is the end result worth all of the energy that was “wasted” in order to generate those highly-ordered pulses of photons?  Ask the person whose sight was saved.

Calls by environmentalists to “reduce energy demand” through the introduction of “new, more efficient technologies” ignore the fact, amply demonstrated by history, that the demand for energy never decreases unless there is a concomitant, vast decline in industrial, which is to say economic, activity.  Energy demand always increases – and what causes it to increase is usually the introduction of the “new, more efficient technologies” that the environmentalists claim will reduce demand for energy.  Yet the demand never seems to fall.  This is because the introduction of new, more energy-efficient technologies doesn’t mean that they will use less energy; it means that they are capable of cramming more power into less space.  It means that they can do more – and by doing more, they end up using more energy than before. 

And because such technologies by definition offer either hitherto unavailable capabilities (e.g., a MRI scanner) or existing capabilities at a much lower price (e.g., microprocessors with a higher clock speed, or LEDs with lower power demands, more colours, etc.), they will lead either to demands for more power through exploitation of hitherto unexplored technological areas; or to vastly increased exploitation of new capabilities in hitherto unexplored commercial sectors.  The introduction, for example, of a new, more capable microprocessor that performs calculations five times as fast as its predecessor and uses only twice as much power, will not lead to the same number of calculations being done and a concomitant reduction in power consumption; it will lead to vastly more calculations being done, and therefore to an net increase in power consumption.  This is not supposition; it is fact.  As Huber and Mills put it:

To reduce energy consumption, a more efficient technology has to have a greater impact in the replacement market it creates than in new markets it infiltrates.  New, more efficient engines must replace old ones faster than we find new uses for the new-and-improved engines.  LEDs have to replace old light bulbs, for example, faster than they get deployed in jumbotrons and countless other places that the very compact, cool, new light can go – all the new applications that old bulbs couldn’t serve at all.  But this just doesn’t happen.  The new uses invariably multiply faster than the old ones get retrofitted.[99]

This is the nature of the relationship between technological advance and aggregate demand for power.  New technologies always lead towards higher demands for more highly-ordered power.  Low-ordered power sources – like wind, solar and carbohydrate-based fuels (e.g., ethanol) –are caught in a losing game of catch-up with much more dense fuels like coal, oil, gas, and of course uranium.  Were it not for heavy government subsidization – if “green power” was constrained to rely solely on market forces, which always seek the best cost-for-value in available commodities – then there would be no wind, solar or ‘biofuel’ energy sectors at all. 

Figure 19 – Energy sources for electrical generation: cost/installed kWh[100]

These technologies simply cannot compete economically with fossil fuel or even nuclear generation, especially in the area of electrical generation.  The experiment has already been tried in Spain, where attempts to create “green jobs” have been grimly ineffective.  One recent study found that for every job created in Spain’s wind and solar energy sectors (at a cost, incidentally, of more than three quarters of a million dollars per “job”), 2.2 jobs were destroyed elsewhere.[101]  Rates for green power rose to more than ten times the rates charged for power generated from burning fossil fuels.  Barack Obama’s budget proposal for 2010 contains some $20B for “clean energy” programmes.  How likely is it that the outcome of the Obama Administration’s attempt to create “green jobs” will differ significantly from Spain’s?

Discussion of alternative energy sources displays a startling lack not only of common sense but also of basic arithmetic.  In April 2009, US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar argued that offshore wind farms in the Atlantic could supply the US with 1000 GW (1 TW) of power.[102]  Such arguments are easily investigated.  Taking the state-of-the-art Horns Rev offshore wind farm in Denmark as an example, we find that modern large turbines tend to be rated at around 2 MW generating capacity.[103]  Thus, roughly 500,000 such turbines would be necessary to produce 1 TW.  However, even in notoriously windy Jutland, wind turbines are subject to an available capacity factor of roughly 25% (meaning that for every MW of power needed, 4 MW of generating capacity must be installed).[104]  Thus, two million 2 MW turbines would be required – at the very least – to generate 1 TW of power.  At Horns Rev, these turbines are spaced 560 metres apart for reasons of safety and the avoidance of interference between rotors.  The eastern seaboard of the US is approximately 3000 km long, from Maine to Florida; thus, at most 6000 turbines could be lined up, shoulder to shoulder, along the eastern US seaboard from Miami in the south, to Grand Manan in the north.  The wind farm would perforce have to be some 333 turbines deep – a band of turbines extending 162 km into the Atlantic Ocean.  Most of these would, therefore, have to be located in water hundreds if not thousands of metres deep (the Horns Rev project, incidentally, stands in very shallow water, 6-14 metres in depth). 

Two other facts are relevant.  First, Horns Rev cost 2B DKK to build 80 turbines; this comes to $4.35 million USD per turbine (and in shallow water).  Thus, Secretary Salazar’s proposed wind farm would cost at least $8.7 trillion USD (roughly two-thirds’ of America’s current GDP).  Second, as a purely practical matter, one wonders what the impact on shipping would be if every vessel coming into port on the US eastern seaboard had to run a 100-mile gauntlet of spinning seven-ton rotors, 70 metres above the waves and 80 metres in diameter, spaced every five hundred metres.  80 metres in diameter and 500 metres long are the dimensions of a modern Very Large Crude Carrier.

The absurdity of suggestions like Salazar’s is abundantly clear.  But there are also significant problems with far more modest applications of “alternative energy”.  The principal one is cost.  According to data compiled by the US Energy Information Administration, generating electricity from biomass, offshore wind power, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic generation are all more expensive per installed kWh than nuclear generation, and can cost two to six times as much fossil fuel generation (see figure 19).  “Alternative energy” does not offer economically viable alternatives to current energy sources.  The attempt to push energy consumption patterns towards these non-viable alternatives is driven by politics and ideology rather than by market forces.  One would have thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union might have thrown into sharp relief the unwisdom of making economic and industrial decisions in this way.

It’s not as though Washington hasn’t already tried to go the “green power” route.  The generation-long attempt to replace conventional power generation with alternative energy sources in America’s electrical generation profile has failed utterly.  The reactor accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania in March of 1979 provided hitherto unheard-of political impetus to the already strong anti-nuclear faction within the environmental movement. 

 Figure 20 – The impact of 28 years of renewable energy subsidies on US energy consumption[105]

Regulatory changes in the wake of the accident made it extremely difficult to obtain approval to open, certify and operate new nuclear power stations.  Anti-nuclear activists pushed the US government to move away from both nuclear power and fossil fuels, and towards “renewable” energy sources like wind and solar power generation.  The immediate result was heavy government subsidization of “renewables”.  The long-term result was rather different.

As figure 20 shows, in the thirty years that have passed since the accident at Three Mile Island, US energy consumption has increased by roughly 25%, from about 80 quadrillion BTUs (or “quads”) per year, to more than 100.  At the same time, the population of the United States has increased by roughly 35%.  Given the vast array of new, power-intensive technologies – especially computers – that have propagated throughout US society during the period in question, it seems clear that the US has become significantly more efficient, on a per capita basis, in using energy.  Its total consumption, however, has nonetheless increased significantly.  What is more interesting is how the impact of Three Mile Island changed where America obtains its energy from.

The net impact of America’s deliberate, sustained, highly-subsidized drive to move away from fossil fuels and nuclear power and towards “renewables”, was this: thirty years after Thee-Mile Island, the representation in the national energy budget of hydroelectricity had fallen, while other renewables made comparatively little progress: the use of biomass (largely the on-site burning of waste for power generation by the forest industry) increased by 7%; wind power, by 2%; and geothermal power, by 1%.  The use of solar thermal generation and solar photovoltaic generation together increased by less than one-half of 1%.  By contrast, during that thirty-year period, America’s consumption of crude oil had increased by 13%; natural gas, by 14%; nuclear power, by 27%; and coal, by an astounding 37% (figure 20).

In other words, for the past generation the US government has made a conscious effort to reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuel and nuclear power, and the net result was a vast increase in both.  Environmentalists argue that the “government” didn’t try hard enough.  The fact is, the government couldn’t do it, for two simple, ineluctable reasons: first, the demand for energy in a technologically advanced society always increases; and second, in a market economy, demand is satisfied on the basis of price.

Consumption of energy is affected by price in the same way that price affects consumption of every other commodity: higher prices lead to less consumption; lower prices lead to higher consumption.  In a free market economy, businesses follow lower prices; in the US, both Google and Microsoft, for example, reportedly moved their servers closer to the Canadian border in order to benefit from cheaper power.[106]  Efficiency, however, also leads to lower prices.  Increased efficiency in consuming energy to generate power, and in using that power to do work, therefore inevitably leads to lower prices for the work done – and therefore, in turn, to more work being done, and therefore to greater consumption of energy.  As Huber and Mills point out, the only way to lower consumption is by artificially increasing the price of power – either by deliberately increasing price (e.g., through taxes on energy); or by actually reducing the efficiency of the machines that turn energy into useful power (and, therefore, reducing supply).  Increasing the price of power leads directly to reduction in economic activity in precisely the same way that reduced economic activity leads towards less consumption of energy.  As figure 21 demonstrates, notwithstanding close to 40 years of strident calls by government and environmental pressure groups to reduce energy consumption, the only times that energy consumption has actually fallen in the US over the past 60 years has been when economic activity has contracted due to a socio-economic catastrophe: the 1973 oil shock, followed by the 1973-74 stock market crash; the severe recession of the early 1980s; and the aggregate impact, from 2000-2002, of the collapse of the dot-com bubble, and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

Figure 21 – Declining energy consumption correlates with economic disaster[107]

The correlation between economic catastrophe and reduced energy consumption is painfully obvious.  It will be interesting to see whether the current economic crisis, and the concomitant reduction in economic activity that is almost certain to ensue, has a similar impact on energy consumption patterns in the US.  As figure 22 suggests, there are many uncomfortable similarities between past economic crises and the present one.  The losses experienced by the Dow Jones composite industrial index in the present crisis, for example, already exceed in percentage terms the low points reached during the 1973 oil shock and the combined impact of 9/11 and the dot-com crash.  Obviously, phenomena that lead to reductions in economic activity lead also to reductions in energy consumption.  In an economy as energy-hungry as that of the Western democracies, it would be ludicrous to argue that the arrow of causality is not bi-directional.  The deliberate reduction of energy consumption is as likely to provoke economic catastrophe as it is to result from it.

 Figure 22 – The DJIA and S&P 500 during economic crises of the past and present[108]

Calls to reduce energy consumption therefore not only deny economic common sense; they run counter to the tide of the technological progress that has made modern society possible.  They are, in fact, an attempt to reverse history.  In view of how intimately energy consumption and economic activity are linked, any event – including government action – that depresses one of these factors significantly is almost certain to depress the other as well.  Recent history demonstrates how painful such events can be when they happen by accident.  The potential implications of any government attempting to do so as a matter of policy should be obvious.

It is impossible to overstate this point.  Over the past 60 years, US energy consumption has only ever fallen as the direct result of a bruising economic crisis.  Because economic productivity is directly proportional to energy consumption, and vice versa, there is every reason to believe that the process works both ways, and that policies designed to reduce energy consumption will, in turn, provoke a bruising economic crisis.  Moreover, history demonstrates that, when an economic crisis ends, energy consumption eventually recovers and continues to grow (indeed, this is a key indicator of the end of an economic crisis).  If government policies permanently depress energy consumption, however, then the recovery process will be derailed, and the prospects for recovery from the economic crisis resulting from the enforced reduction of consumption will be that much poorer.

Politicians considering imposing carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes would do well to consider what history teaches about the relationship between economic productivity and energy consumption, and the potential consequences – intended, and unintended – of artificially increasing the cost of every form of economic activity in the state.

I will not recapitulate in this final section points that have been made in the main body of this paper; I will simply note that any decision by a government to deliberately undermine a nation’s economic performance in obedience to an ideological objective unfounded in empirical science would be an act of profound unreason deeply injurious to the nation’s vital interests.  Moreover, any policies deriving from that scientifically unjustified ideological objective – including but not limited to the signature and implementation of international agreements aimed at reducing carbon emissions; orders to government departments to reduce their own aggregate emissions; the mandated purchase of more expensive vehicles that consume more expensive exotic fuels while offering less performance; and heavy subsidies for commercially unviable energy, power and transportation technologies[109] – are all equally unjustifiable.  Individually or collectively, such policies would constitute an historically unprecedented diversion of finite resources, all to no useful purpose.

Such policies are, nonetheless, being pursued internationally and at the domestic level throughout the Western world.  No area of public or private endeavour is immune.  Concept development, “alternative futures”, financial and operational planning, capital programmes and budgeting exercises are all being undertaken on the basis of projections about future climate states derived from the AGW thesis.  How much time and money have already been spent on such efforts?  How much more will be wasted before that falsified thesis and all of its cascading assumptions, from the mundane to the fantastic, are relegated to the dustbin of failed science?  How much of this might have been avoided if, instead of buying into the prognostications of doom-mongers, governments had simply exercised caution, temperance and reason?

The single greatest danger that climate change poses to national security is not the degree or so of warming that may (or more likely, will not) occur over the coming decades, but rather the potential damage to national economies that is likely to result if governments continue to pursue costly and meaningless policies in a Quixotic attempt to counter a phenomenon that, according to all observational evidence, is overwhelmingly natural in origin.  The threat is not “climate change” so much as it is the possibility that legislators may enact policies aimed at rolling back the economic and technological progress that has been achieved over the past century only through the steady, and entirely necessary, consumption of ever-increasing amounts of energy.

The sooner governments recognize the “ugly facts” presented in this paper, the sooner they may begin to dial back the catastrophist rhetoric; allow science, reason, and common sense to reassert themselves as the foundations of energy policy; and cease their ill-advised pursuit of the scientifically groundless, and economically and socially disastrous, proposals being bandied about by the prophets and purveyors of climate doom.

[1] It has been calculated that without the greenhouse effect due to water vapour in the atmosphere, average global temperature would be lower by about 14ºC.  R.S. Lindzen, “Climate Dynamics and Global Change”, Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics 26 (January 1994), 353-378.
[2] Robinson, 6-8.
[3] de Freitas, 301-02.
[4] Carter, 8.  See also S.B. Idso, “CO2-induced global warming: a skeptic's view of potential climate change”, Climate Research 10 (1998), 69-82.
[5] The IPCC has continually refined downwards its projections of temperature increase in response to CO2 concentration, as the relative insensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide becomes increasingly apparent.  In 1988. Hansen argued that a doubling of CO2 concentration would lead to a temperature increase of 4.2-4.7ºC.  The IPCC in 1995 put the projected warming at 3.8-4.25ºC; in 2001, at 3.5-3.92ºC; and in 2007, at 3.26-3.65ºC.  Hansen, in 2008, further reduced this projection to 2.5-2.85ºC.  The global warming alarmists keep moving the goal-posts closer – but the closer they get, the less catastrophic their predictions appear.   Monckton, incidentally, has demonstrated the inaccuracy of the IPCC’s mathematics on climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide concentrations, concluding that “a doubling of pre-industrial carbon dioxide concentration TS will rise not by the 3.26 °K suggested by the IPCC, but by <1 °K.” (see Monckton, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered”, []).  For the IPCC’s progressive refinements of its temperature estimates, see Christopher Monckton, “A Response to Al Gore’s Senate Testimony of January 28, 2009”, Science and Public Policy Institute, 12 February 2009 [ gore_testimony_response.html].
[6] David H. Douglass and John R. Christy, “Limits on CO2 Climate Forcing from Recent Temperature Data of Earth”, submitted to Energy and Environment, September 2008 [].
[7] Roger Pielke Sr., “A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system”, Physics Today 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.
[8] See the RSS/MSU data at [].
[9] See J. Lyman, J. Willis and G. Johnson, “Recent cooling of the upper ocean”, Geophysical Research Letters 33 (2006).  See also a new paper by Craig Loehle, “Cooling of the upper ocean since 2003”, to appear in Energy and Environment 20 (2009), which details ocean buoy temperature measurements showing a linear heat content trend of -0.35 (+/-0.2)x1022J/year over the past 4.5 years.
[10] See inter alia S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, “Health Fears About Global Warming Are Unfounded”, Heartland Institute, October 2007 [].
[11] See Craig D. Idso, “CO2, global warming and coral reefs: prospects for the future”, Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, 2009 [ papers/originals/coral_co2_warming.pdf]
[12] Robinson, 8-9.
[13] Jason P. Briner, et al., “A multi-proxy lacustrine record of Holocene climate change on northeast Baffin Island, Arctic Canada” Quaternary Research 65 (2006), 431-442.  See also L. Ababneh, “Bristlecone pine paleoclimatic model for archeological patters in the White Mountains of California”, Quaternary International 188 (2008), 59-78.
[14] NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, "NASA Examines Arctic Sea Ice Changes Leading to Record Low in 2007", 1 October 2007 [].
[15] See the University of Illinois Cryosphere website, []; Johannesen et al., "Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland ", Science, 11 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5750, pp. 1013 – 1016; Willie Soon, "Is the Arctic Melting?", TCS, 9 November 2004; and Tim Ball, "Wide Fluctuations in Arctic Temperatures Common", Frontier Center for Public Policy, 20 November 2004 [].
[16] See, for example, C.J. Pudsey, et al., “Ice shelf history from petrographic and foraminiferal evidence, Northeast Antarctic Peninsula”, Quaternary Science Reviews 25 (2006) 2357-2379; and P.T. Doran, et al.,  "Antarctic climate cooling and terrestrial ecosystem response", Nature 415, pp. 517-520.
[17] See the University of Illinois Cryosphere website, with accompanying graph, downloaded 8 March 2009 [].
[18] See J.A. Church et al., “Estimates of the regional distribution of sea-level rise over the 1950-2000 period”, Journal of Climate 17 (2004) p. 2609-2625; and S.J. Holgate, “On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century”, Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2006GL028492.
[19] See the data charts at the University of Colorado sea level change website [].
[20] See, for example, Robert Balling Jr. and Randall Cerveny, “Compilation and discussion of trends in severe storms in the United States: Popular perception vs. climate reality”, Natural Hazards 29 (2003), 103-112; Keith Hage, “On destructive Canadian Prairie windstorms and severe winters: A climatological assessment in the context of global warming”, Natural Hazards 29 (2003) 207-228; and M.L. Khandekar, “Extreme weather trends vs. dangerous climate change: A need for a critical reassessment”, Energy & Environment 16 (2005) 327-331.
[21] See N. Pinter, et al., “Flood trends and river engineering on the Mississippi River system”, Geophysical Research Letters 35 (2008) 10.1029/2008GL035987.  Incidentally, if you build structures on a flood plain or below sea level, you should probably not be too surprised when they flood.
[22] B.A. Harper, et al., “A review of historical tropical cyclone intensity in Northwestern Australia and implications for climate change trend analysis”, Australian Meteorological Magazine 57 (2008), 121-141.
[23] L.F. Khilyuk and G.V. Chilinger, “On global forces of nature driving the earth’s climate: Are humans involved?”, Environmental Geology 50 (2006), 899-910.
[24] Carter, “Knock, knock: Where is the evidence for dangerous human-caused global warming?”, 190.
[25] In a recent revised policy statement on “global warming”, certain members of the American Physical Society summarized the present state of the science on climate change.  This summary is provided in Annex A.
[26] Carter, “Knock, knock: Where is the evidence for dangerous human-caused global warming?”, 186.
[27] Lindzen, “Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?”, 17.
[28] The Earth’s cross-section is 1.274x1014 m2; the solar constant is 1366 W/m2.  Thus, Earth’s daily total insolation is 1.55x1022 J.  This gives an hourly total insolation of 6.46x1020 J.  According to the US Energy Information Administration, the total world energy consumption in 2006 was 4.37x1020 J, which is about two-thirds of the energy that the planet receives, every hour, from the Sun. 
[29] Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly from Troy to Vietnam (New York: Ballantine Books, 1984), 5.
[30] Tuchman, The March of Folly, ibid.
[31] Even if “catastrophic global warming” were happening, another feasible alternative course of action – adaptation, as advocated by inter alia Bjorn Lomborg – would be available.
[32] Tuchman, The March of Folly, 7.
[33] B.D. McCullogh and Ross McKitrick, “Check the Numbers: The Case for Due Diligence in Policy Formulation”, The Fraser Institute, February 2009, 2 [ product_files/CaseforDueDiligence_Cda.pdf].
[34] ibid., 31.
[35] Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 278-81.
[36] “Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Priorities In 2009”, Pew Research Centre for People and the Press, 22 January 2009 [].
[37] Frank Newport, “Americans: Economy takes precedence over environment”,, 19 March 2009 [].
[38] Ian Austen, “Canada’s Liberal Party Leader Says He Will Step Down”, New York Times online, 21 October 2008 [ Countries%20and%20Territories/Canada].
[39] Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions, 582-83.
[40] “A 40-Year Wish List”, Wall Street Journal, 28 January 2009, [ SB123310466514522309.html].
[41] CBC News, “Almost 4 out of 5 Canadians believe in global warming: poll”,, 22 March 2007 [].  Given the CBC’s relentless water-carrying for the alarmists over the past decade, it is remarkable that the figure was not higher. 
[42] Andrew Pierce, “Sacked executive can sue for unfair dismissal over his green beliefs”,, 19 March 2009 [].
[43] “President-Elect Obama Promises ‘New Chapter’ on Climate Change”,, 18 November 2008 [].
[44] Seavey, ibid.
[45] You can’t buy Mein Kampf at Chapters in Canada; the chain’s manager, Heather Reisman, refuses to sell it.  But you can buy the new ‘Anniversary Edition’ of Silent Spring, published in 2007.  It’s a “Trusted Advisor” pick on the Chapters website, recommended by environmental activist David Suzuki.  Make of that what you will.
[46] I am not at all convinced of this.  One of the hallmarks of the extreme end of the environmental movement is its profoundly anti-human weltanschauung.  According to Paul Murtagh, for example, a statistician at Oregon State University, each human is responsible for fifty percent of the carbon emissions that will be generated by each of his or her offspring – plus one-quarter of each grandchild’s emissions, one-eighth of each great-grandchild’s, and so on.  By this logic, the “environmentally responsible” thing to do, for anyone who “believes” in the AGW thesis, is to cease human procreation at once.  This is not far off what Jonathan Porritt, one of the leading climate advisers to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is suggesting.  Porritt recently advocated reducing the UK population from 61M to 30M.  The logical consequences of such an approach are not difficult to divine.  See “Children come with a high carbon cost”,, 15 March 2009 [ mg20126994.200-children-come-with-a-high-carbon-cost.html]; and Jonathan Leake and Brendan Montague, “UK population must fall to 30M, says Porritt”, Sunday Times, 22 March 2009 [ article5950442.ece].
                Some more extreme environmentalists have gone a long way down the road suggested by Porritt et al., voluntarily sterilizing themselves in order to “protect the planet”.  Statements like “Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet” strain not only one’s credulity but also one’s vocabulary.  What can one do but salute the dedication of such individuals, to their ideology if not their gonads?  Happily, their actions preclude transmission of this autogenocidal psychosis to the next generation, at least by genetic means.  Natash Courtney-Smith and Morag Turner, “Meet the women who won’t have babies – because they’re not eco friendly”, Mailonline, 21 November 2007 [ femail/article-495495/Meet-women-wont-babies--theyre-eco-friendly.html].
                Finally, we have the example of Dr. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.  During a March 2009 conference in Copenhagen, Dr. Schellnhuber suggested that warming of as little as 9°F could cut the global population to 1 billion.  He remarked that, “In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something – namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people.”  One must admire the equanimity with which this eminent gentleman contemplates the prospect of more than five billion deaths due to disease, mass starvation, rising coastlines, and extreme weather.  Such an outcome would go a long way towards achieving the post-human utopia envisioned by the more extreme environmentalists.  There can certainly be no “anthropogenic global warming” if there are no anthropoids.    James Kanter, “Scientist: Warming Could Cut Population To 1 Billion”, DotEarth, 13 March 2009 [http://dotearth.blogs. scientist-warming-could-cut-population-to-1-billion/]. 
                One wonders whether the general public might not be less sceptical about the environmentalists’ doctrines if these were only a little less explicitly exterminationist.
[47] Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 218.
[48] Jeff Mason, “Obama begins reversing Bush climate policies”,, 26 January 2009 [].
[49] Stephen Moore, “California’s ‘green jobs’ experiment isn’t going well”, Wall Street Journal, 31 January 2009 [].
[50] Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2006-December 2008 [], downloaded 3 February 2009.
[51] Bob Willis, “California’s Unemployment Rate Rises to 26-Year High”,, 22 March 2006 [].
[52] Moore, ibid.
[53] Max Schulz, “Ocala’s California Dreaming’ ”, 26 January 2009, [ eon0126ms.html].  The “twelfth-largest economy” figure comes from the 2008 edition of the CIA World Factbook   California, with a gross state product of $1.812T in 2007, ranks just ahead of Italy ($1.801T) and just behind Brazil ($2.03T).
[54] Jeremy Korzeniewski, “California to reduce carbon emissions by…banning black cars?!”,, 25 March 2009 [].
[55] See Monckton, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered”.
[56] Joanne Nova, “Carbon Credits: Another Corrupt Currency?”, Science and Public Policy Institute, 2 February 2009, 10 [].
[57] Michaels, ibid.
[58] Tuchman, The March of Folly, 383.
[59] Tuchman, ibid.
[60] Evans, “No Smoking Hot Spot”, ibid.
[61] NASA, “Spotless Sun: Blankest Year of the Space Age”, NASA Press Release, 30 September 2008 [].
[62] “Deep Solar Minimum”,, 1 April 2009, [ 01apr_deepsolarminimum.htm].
[63] NASA, “Spotless Sun: Blankest Year of the Space Age”, ibid.  The Sun is also going through a 55-year low in radio emissions.
[64] Data obtained from the National Geophysical Data Centre of the NOAA Satellite and Information Service [].
[65] At time of writing the minimum for Solar Cycle 24 had not yet been established.  The longer Solar Cycle 23 continues, the more likely a prolonged period of cooling becomes.  For those wishing to perform their own calculations, all of the data on sunspot numbers (and much more) are available at the website of the National Geophysical Data Centre of the NOAA Satellite and Information Service [].

[66] Based on current science, the date for the solar minimum ending a prior cycle is generally determined from sunspot counts and is generally agreed by scientists post-facto, once the subsequent cycle is under way.  However, in addition to very low smoothed sunspot numbers, solar minima are also defined in terms of peaks in cosmic rays (neutrons) striking the Earth (because the Sun’s magnetic field, which shields the Earth from cosmic rays, is weakest during the solar minimum.  For more information on this point, see chapter 5).  Because the neutron counts, at time of writing, were still increasing, it is unlikely that the solar minimum separating solar cycles 23 and 24 has yet been reached.  See Anthony Watts, “Cosmic Ray Flux and Neutron monitors suggest we may not have hit solar minimum yet”,, 15 March 2009 [].  For anyone interesting in charting the neutron flux data for themselves, these can be obtained from the website of the University of Delaware Bartol Research Institute Neutron Monitor Program [].

[67] Jeff Id, “Sunspot Lapse Exceeds 95% of Normal”, posting at, 15 January 2009 [].  Id’s data, and the data one which this chart is based, are drawn from official NASA figures.
[68] C. de Jaeger and S. Dunham, “Forecasting the parameters of sunspot cycle 24 and beyond”, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 71 (2009), 239-245 [].
[69] Archibald (2006), 29-35.
[70] Archibald, ibid., 31.
[71] Christopher Monckton, “Great is Truth, and mighty above all things”; valedictory address to the International Conference on Climate Change, 10 March 2009, 3 [ Great_ Is_Truth_and_Mighty_Above_All_Things.html]
[72] In 1975, Newsweek magazine published an article entitled “The Cooling World”, and claiming, amongst other things, that “[t]he evidence in support of these predictions [of global cooling] has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.”  Fortunately, Newsweek’s climatic prognostications 34 years ago were no more reliable than they are today.  The rhetoric, however, has not changed: “The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.”  Peter Gwynne, “The Cooling World”, Newsweek, 28 April 1975, 64.  Whatever the imagined crisis, the punditocracy can always be relied upon to urge immediate action to address it.
[73] Gwynne, “The Cooling World”, ibid.
[74] Christopher Monckton, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered”, Physics & Society, July 2008 [].
[75] Barack H. Obama, during a January 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.  This video, incidentally, was not made public until 3 November 2008, only two days before the Presidential election [].
[76] John M. Broder, “E.P.A. Expected To Regulate Carbon Dioxide”, New York Times, 18 February 2009 [].
[77] Ian Talley, “EPA Raises Heat on Emissions Debate”, Wall Street Journal online, 24 March 2009 [].
[78] Broder, “E.P.A. Expected To Regulate Carbon Dioxide”, ibid.
[79] According to the GHG emissions calculator provided by NRCan [ transportation/tools/fuelratings/ratings-search.cfm?attr=8].
[80] Although not isotopically indistinguishable.  Indeed, the isotopic signature of Carbon is how we know that 94% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of natural, non-organic origin; and that, of the remaining six percent (according to the IPCC itself), only half – or 3% of all atmospheric carbon dioxide – is of human origin.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), Table 3.
[81] A plant’s “perspective” is of course chemical rather than cognitive.  The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide at present – less than 400 parts per million – is several times below what greenhouse operators routinely maintain as the optimal concentration for plant growth.  Plants thrive in higher CO2 concentrations.  See, for example, B. Aloni, et al., “The effect of high temperature and high atmospheric CO2 on carbohydrate changes in bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) pollen in relation to its germination”, Physiologia Plantarum 112 (2001), 505-512; A. Dag and D. Eisikowitch, “The effect of carbon dioxide enrichment on nectar production in melons under greenhouse conditions”, Journal of Apicultural Research 39 (2000), 88-89; and G. Niu, et al., “Day and night temperatures, daily light integral, and CO2 enrichment affect growth and flower development of pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)”, Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science 125 (2000), 436-441.
[82] Testimony of Dr. Will Happer, ibid.
[83] Nor should even viruses be exempted, as they subsist by exploiting more complex organisms, all of which either inhale or exhale carbon dioxide.  CO2 is key to terrestrial life.
[84] Robinson, et al., 6.  The apparent disagreement in the figures for human exhalation cited by Robinson et al. are an artefact of different methods of calculation.  Physiological data suggest that humans exhale roughly 1 kg of carbon dioxide each day.  The roughly 6 billion people on earth would therefore exhale roughly 2.2 Gt of carbon dioxide yearly; yet Robinson et al. put the total for human exhalation at 600 Mt.  This is due to the fact that Robinson et al. are counting carbon, not carbon dioxide, and the carbon atom in a molecule of carbon dioxide constitutes only 27% of its total mass.  2.2 Gt of carbon dioxide therefore contain 600 Mt of carbon.
[85] “A severe fire season lasting only one or two months can release as much carbon as the annual emissions from the entire transportation or energy sector of an individual state.” See Christine Wiedinmyer and Jason C. Neff, “Estimates of CO2 from fires in the United States: implications for carbon management”, Carbon Balance and Management 2007, 2:10 [].
[86] B.D. Amiro, et al., “Direct carbon emissions from Candian forest fires, 1959-1999”, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 31, No. 3 (March 2001), 512-525.
[87] See Parks Canada for further information (
[88] See, inter alia, Henrik Saxe, David S. Ellsworth and James Heath, “Tree and Forest Functioning in an Enriched CO2 Atmosphere”, Tansley Review No. 98, New Physiologist 139 (1998), 395-436.
[89] According to the US Energy Information Administration, “Electricity Generators and Electrical Utilities” produced 2,504,131 GWh in 2007, 1,409,985 GWh (or 59.54%) of it from coal.  EIA, “Net Generation by Energy Source by Type of Producer, 21 January 2009 [ electricity/epa/epat1p1.html].
[90] See, for example, J.P.M. Sijm, et al., “CO2 Price Dynamics: The Implications of EU Emissions Trading for Electricity Prices and Operations”, 16 October 2006, Power Engineering Society General Meeting 2006 [10.1109/PES.2006.1709269].
[91] The sub-prime mortgage and banking crises in the US that precipitated the present global financial crisis are topics for another day.
[92] Broder, “E.P.A. Expected To Regulate Carbon Dioxide”, ibid.
[93] Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992), 296.
[94] W.S. Gilbert, Princess Ida, Act II [].
[95] P.J. O’Rourke, Give War A Chance (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1992), 110.
[96] And they are invariably sold as being “unnoticeable” – as in a $5-per-barrel levy recently proposed by Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Environment Agency.  But if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, then the levy should be painful, not “unnoticeable”.  The only reason for making it small enough to be “unnoticeable” is to be able to slip it past consumers without their “noticing”, and presumably objecting to, the new tax.  Steiner’s logic also ignores the fact that his proposed “levy” would, by his own numbers, drain $100B from the global economy every year and divert it to the UN – an organization with a penchant for lowest-common-denominator politics, an unprecedentedly abysmal stewardship record vis-à-vis funds supplied by member states (c.f. “Oil-for-food”).  Alister Doyle, “$750 billion ‘green’ investment could revive economy: UN”, Reuters News, 19 March 2009 [ idUSTRE52I09T20090319?sp=true].
[97] Figures from the BP Statistical Survey of World Energy (June 2008) and the online CIA Factbook.  KgOE/yr is “kilograms of oil-equivalent per year”.  There are clearly some interesting statistical outliers in the chart.  Russia uses the same amount of energy per capita as Japan, France, Germany, and the UK, but has a substantially lower per-capita GDP.  Similarly, Canada and the US have roughly the same per-capita GDP as France, Germany and the UK, but consume much more energy.  Such divergences may be attributable to differences between countries that are or are not arctic; that are or are not producers of energy; that tend towards smaller or larger homes, vehicles, and distances covered in everyday affairs; that have varying levels of government corruption; and so forth.  One clear correlation is that energy consumption alone is not sufficient to explain higher standards of living; however, energy consumption plus liberal democratic government certainly helps to clarify our understanding of this chart.
[98] Peter W. Huber and Mark P. Mills, The Bottomless Well (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 46.  Many of the arguments in these paragraphs are derived from Huber & Mills’ rethinking of the energy-power dynamic in modern society.
[99] Huber and Mills, ibid., 114.
[100] Data from US Energy Information Administration [].  Chart reproduced from NextGen Energy Council, “Lights Out In 2009”, Figure 4, 9.  IGCC = Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle; NGCC = Natural Gas Combined Cycle.  Based on this chart, one might reasonably ask why NGCC is not the dominant electrical generation technology in the US.  The answer is operating cost.  In the US, natural gas is scarce and expensive, while coal – like uranium – is cheap and plentiful.
[101] Gianluca Baratti, “Job Losses From Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen In Spanish Study”,, 1 April 2009 [ a2PHwqAs7BS0].
[102] Wayne Parry, “Offshore Wind Power Could Replace Most Coal Plants In US, Says Salazar”,, 6 April 2009 [].
[103] Data on the Horns Rev project may be found at [ 365787ourxc/366203opera/555848newpo/557004biofu77761/1466604ourxw/557004biofu/index.jsp].
[104] D.A. Neill, A Strategic Framework for Exploring Alternative Energy Options in DND/CF (Ottawa: Defence R&D Canada – CORA, TM 2009-010, March 2009), 31.
[105] Data from the US Energy Information Administration [ overview.html].  2007 data are provisional.
[106] Gianluca Baratti, “Job Losses From Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen In Spanish Study”,, 1 April 2009 [ a2PHwqAs7BS0].
[107] Energy consumption data from the US Energy Information Administration, downloaded 10 March 2009. [].
[108] Graphic from, a website run by Doug Short, a financial consultant.  Doug Short, “Bear Turns to Bull”, 13 March 2009 [].
[109] The fact that alternative energy sources are not at present cost-competitive with conventional energy sources does not imply that this a permanent state of affairs.  Quite the contrary; it is, as I have argued above, impossible to predict the technological future.  Moreover, just as every successful technology did not work until it did, all new technologies are not cost-effective, until they are.  Modern solar photovoltaic cells, for example, are vastly more efficient at converting sparse sunlight into electricity than their primitive forebears, and orders of magnitude less expensive.  They are growing more efficient and less expensive every year.  Incremental improvements, such as we have seen with LEDs and digital logic, could conceivably make SPV cells competitive – if not for mass power generation, then at least to replace niche technologies, e.g. batteries for portable appliances.  Or more.  We cannot know where technology will lead us, nor what marvels it may vouchsafe us in the future.
                That said, there is a practical upper limit to the power density that SPV systems can attain, determined by the amount of solar energy illuminating a given patch of the Earth; but if SPV cells were to improve to the point of being able to capture a significant fraction of that energy while continuing to decrease in price, then solar power might one day begin to furnish a more significant proportion of mankind’s every-growing demand for highly-ordered power.