Written by CFACT
Over the past several months people have asked CFACT a number of questions about climate change, energy and the environment. We responded to them, and then decided to compile their questions and our answers below that present these science-based issues in brief, understandable, lay terms.
The Earth has warmed – and cooled – over the past 50 years. We’ve also experienced periods of “unusual” weather and “normal” weather, more frequent and intense storms and droughts, less frequent and less severe storms and droughts. That’s natural and cyclical. However, I don’t agree that humans are responsible, or that climate change is becoming dangerous or catastrophic.
CO2 is a trace gas, but without it life on earth would be impossible. Carbon dioxide fertilizes algae, trees and crops, to provide food for humans and animals. We inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. Slightly higher atmospheric CO2 levels (390 ppm or 0.039% of the atmosphere at present) cannot possibly supplant the numerous complex and inter-connected forces that have always determined Earth’s climate.
As University of London professor emeritus Philip Stott has noted: “The fundamental point has always been this. Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically-selected factor (CO2), is as misguided as it gets.” Carbon dioxide is not the tail that wags the dog. Even the global warming activists at RealClimate.org acknowledged this in a September 20, 2008 article, which said, “The actual temperature rise is an emergent property resulting from interactions among hundreds of factors.”
As the real world evidence mounts that global warming claims are failing, climate activists have ramped up predictions of future climate change impacts, declaring that it is “worse than we thought.” But a prediction or projection 50-100 years into the future is not “evidence.” Recent scientific data and developments reveal that Mother Nature is playing a cruel joke on promoters of man-made climate fears. The scientific reality is that on virtually every claim – from A to Z – the claims of manmade climate disaster promoters are failing. In many instances the claims are moving in the opposite direction.
Antarctic sea ice has been at or near record extent during the past few summers and is now expanding. Arctic sea ice has been ebbing and flowing due to giant storms, ocean currents and high pressure days. Polar bears are thriving across the Arctic. Sea level rise has not been accelerating. Cholera and malaria are not related to climate change and refuse to follow global warming predictions. Mount Kilimanjaro melt fears are mocked by gains in snow cover. Global temperatures have been stable for over a decade, and many scientists are predicting global cooling is ahead. Deaths from extreme weather are declining dramatically.
Global tropical cyclone activity is near historic lows, the frequency of major U.S. hurricanes has declined, and big tornados have dramatically declined since the 1970s. In fact, 2012 is thus far the quietest tornado and quietest hurricane summer on record. Even with Hurricane Sandy, November 2012 marks the quietest long-term hurricane period since the Civil War, with one major hurricane strike on the U.S. in seven years. Droughts are not historically unusual nor caused by mankind, and there is no evidence that we are currently having unusual weather.
When global temperatures are the question, the answer is not the sun or CO2. It is the sun, volcanoes, tilt of the Earth’s axis, water vapor, methane, clouds, ocean cycles, plate tectonics, shifting ocean currents, albedo (Earth’s changing reflective properties), atmospheric dust, atmospheric circulation, cosmic rays, particulates like carbon soot and volcanic dust, forests and grasslands, urban and other land use changes, and numerous other variables. Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, not just CO2.
The idea that there is a “scientific consensus” does not hold up. Scientists who are skeptical about “dangerous manmade climate change” have been speaking out for years. Just this year, two prominent former believers in man-made global warming announced they were reconsidering the science. “Gaia” scientist James Lovelock had been “alarmist” about climate change for years. Now he says, “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.”
German meteorologist Klaus-Eckart Puls also reversed his belief in man-made global warming in 2012 and called the idea of CO2 regulating climate “sheer absurdity.” “Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us,” he said. “One day I started checking the facts and data. First I started with a sense of doubt, but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day, I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it.”
In 2010, a report documented that “More Than 1000 International Scientists Dissented Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.” Many of them were former IPCC scientists. Climate scientist Mike Hulme dismantled the “thousands of scientists agree” claim put forth by the United Nations and news media. Claims that “2,500 of the world's leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate” are disingenuous, Hulme noted. The key scientific case for CO2 driving global warming, like many others in the IPCC reports, “is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.” Other scientists are excluded or not consulted.
Dr. William Schlesinger agrees with the UN climate view but has admitted that only 20% of UN IPCC scientists deal with climate. In other words, 80% of the UN’s IPCC membership are experts in other fields and have no dealing with or expertise in climate change as part of their academic studies.
Proponents of manmade global warming often point out that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and American Meteorological Society (AMS) have issued statements endorsing the so-called “consensus” view that human emissions drive climate change. However, neither the NAS nor the AMS has ever allowed member scientists to vote directly on these statements. A couple dozen members of the institutions’ governing boards produced the statements – and then issued press releases.
The governing boards are steeped in politics and seek more funding for “research” that promotes politically accepted viewpoints. The full membership of actual scientists never gets to vote on the activist statements and in many cases is completely unaware until too late that the boards have issued them. Many such organizations have faced open rebellion by their skeptical member scientists for such actions: the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society and International Geological Congress.
The claim that “97% of scientists agree” is based on 77 anonymous scientists who responded to an online survey. The survey started by seeking opinions from 10,257 scientists. However, the survey authors selectively whittled down the responses to just 77 scientists. So the 97% “consensus” claim is not based on thousands of scientists or even hundreds of scientists – but 75 out of only 77 scientists. In other words, the oft-repeated 97 percent “consensus” is based on only 75 anonymous scientists. And on this basis we are supposed to eliminate hydrocarbons and shackle the American economy!
Actually, global temperatures have been holding steady for more than a decade. 1998 is still the high point in global temperatures during the recent era. While 2005 and 2010 were both declared “hottest” years by global warming proponents, a closer examination revealed that the claims were “based on year-to-year temperature data that differs by only a few HUNDREDTHS of a degree Fahrenheit.” In other words, global temperatures have held very steady with no sign of “acceleration.” In September 2012, even UN IPCC scientist Phil Jones’ data revealed there has been no global temperature change for the last 16 years.
It was a hot summer in much of the continental USA. But it was also a very cold summer in Alaska and parts of Europe, and a very cold winter in places like South Africa, where the seasons are reversed. Continental USA represents only 1.6% of the Earth’s surface.
Media and climate activists attempted to extrapolate this small surface area heat wave into a global trend – but it wasn’t. In fact, global temperatures were below the 15-year temperature average. Contrary to recent news stories, the 1930s still record the largest number of “hottest” days in U.S. history.
Climatologist Dr. John Christy rejected such claims in testimony to Congress in September 2012: “The recent claims about thousands of new record high temperatures were based on stations whose length-of-record could begin as recently as 1981, thus missing the many heat waves of the 20th century. So, any moderately hot day now will be publicized as setting records for these young stations because they were not operating in the 1930s,” Christy said.
“About 75% of the states recorded their hottest temperature prior to 1955, and over 50 percent of the states experienced their record cold temperatures after 1940,” Christy pointed out.
Recent Arctic ice changes are not “proof” of manmade global warming, nor are they unprecedented, unusual or cause for alarm, according to experts and multiple peer-reviewed studies. After weeks of media hype blaming global warming, NASA finally admitted in September 2012 that an August Arctic cyclone “broke up” and “wreaked havoc” on sea ice. According to NASA: “The cyclone remained stalled over the arctic for several days ... pushing [sea ice] south to warmer waters, where it melted.”
Reuters news finally reported that the Arctic storm played a “key role” in ice reduction, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown that low Arctic summer ice seasons are due to high pressure days, unusual winds and shifts in ocean currents – not to global warming.
Global warming activists have long hyped satellite era data, which begin in1979, to claim record low Arctic sea ice – while ignoring the satellite data that show record sea ice expansion in the Antarctic. Moreover, satellite monitoring of Arctic ice began at the end of a 40-year cold cycle (remember the 1970s fears of a coming ice age?), when ice was probably at its highest extent in the modern era.
We have had similar Arctic melting ice panics in the past. A November 2, 1922 Washington Post article was headlined “Arctic Ocean getting warm: Seals vanish and icebergs melt.” The Arctic Ocean is warming, icebergs are growing scarcer and in places the seals are finding the water too hot, it said.
“There is a lack of evidence to blame humans for an increase in extreme events. One cannot convict CO2 of causing any of these events, because they've happened in the past before CO2 levels rose,” climatologist John Christy testified before Congress in 2012. “There are innumerable types of events that can be defined as extreme events – so for the enterprising individual (unencumbered by scientific evidence), weather statistics can supply an unlimited, target-rich environment in which to discover a ‘useful’ extreme event.”
Scientists rebuked former Vice President Al Gore for attempting to link CO2 levels and extreme weather. “Al Gore is doing a disservice to science by overplaying the link between climate change and weather,” said Myles Allen. “When Al Gore said last week that scientists now have ‘clear proof that climate change is directly responsible for the extreme and devastating floods, storms and droughts,’...my heart sank.”
“There is no evidence that disasters are getting worse because of climate change,” notes Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. “There’s really no evidence that we’re in the midst of an extreme weather era – whether man has influenced climate or not.”
Across time scales required for any meaningful analysis, “droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century,” Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. observes. “U.S. Midwestern drought has decreased in past 50+ years? That is not skepticism; that's according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” he adds.
Even U.S. government scientists have admitted that recent droughts are not due to climate change. “This is not a climate change drought,” said Dr. Robert Hoerling, a NOAA research meteorologist, who served as the lead author of the U.S. Climate Change Science Plan Synthesis and Assessment Report: “The good news,” he emphasized, “is that this isn’t global warming. This is not the new normal in terms of drought.”
For scientists who take the long view of history, the U.S. drought of 2012 is “merely a climatological blip, E&E News reported, in an article titled “Dust Bowl and 1988 both eclipse 2012 drought, scientists say.”
No. Any attempt to link man-made global warming to rainfall events in any specific region is the stuff of pure politics – not science. Current data show that global precipitation has actually undergone a slight decrease over the past 30 years. As a result of this and similar realities, global warming activists are desperately seeking to tie any and all weather events to global warming.
In Australia, climate activists were caught blaming too little rain on manmade global warming and then – when there was too much rain – they blamed that on manmade global warming. Other studies have found both temperatures and precipitation were higher 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period.
Peer-reviewed studies reject these claims, too. “Are US floods increasing? The answer is still ‘No,’” says a new scientific paper by Roger Pielke, Jr. The evidence demonstrates that “flooding has not increased in U.S. over records of 85 to 127 years. This adds to a pile of research that shows similar results around the world,” Pielke said. It is also worth noting that “the world’s ten deadliest floods all occurred before 1976.” In other words “all of the world's deadliest floods occurred with CO2 well below 350 PPM.”
In addition, a recent study by the U.S. government found no evidence that climate change caused more severe flooding during last century. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey found that in some regions “floods become less severe as greenhouse gas emissions increased.” Moreover, at this time, “we do not see a clear pattern that enables us to understand how climate change will alter flood conditions in the future,” USGS scientist Robert Hirsch explained.
No. Major hurricanes are now less frequent. Not a single decade during past 50 years witnessed an above-average number of major hurricanes. In fact, for the United States, during the past four decades, “the fewest number of major hurricanes struck during any 40-year period since at least the 1800s.” The worst decade for major (category 3,4 and 5) hurricanes was 1940s, according to the website Real Science, which analyzed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. In 2011, a new study found that “overall global tropical cyclone activity has decreased to historically low levels during the past five years.”
No. In fact, big tornadoes have seen a drop in frequency sine the 1950s. “There has been a downward trend in strong (F3) to violent (F5) tornadoes in U.S. since 1950s.” In fact, “warming causes fewer strong tornadoes, not more,” climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer explained.
Other prominent scientists also reject global warming links to tornadoes. There is “no scientific consensus or connection between global warming and tornadic activity,” emphasized Greg Carbin, tornado warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. “NOAA statistics show that the last 60 years have seen a dramatic increase in the reporting of weak tornadoes, but no change in the number of severe to violent ones,” Corbin commented.
No. “Data from both U.S. and Canada show the number of wildfires has declined over the past 40-50 years and the number of wildfires was higher during the global cooling scare of the 1970’s.” In fact, the number of U.S. wildfires has dropped 10% per decade. The U.S. government’s National Interagency Fire Center has reported that US wildfires now occur “half as often as they did 50 years ago.”
Spanish researchers confirmed climate change is not to blame for increased forest fires. “The change in the occurrence of fires that are recorded in the historical research cannot be explained by the gradual change in climate,” they reported. Instead, it “corresponds to changes in the availability of fuel, the use of sources of energy and the continuity of the landscape.” In the United States, wildfires are also due to a failure to thin forests or remove dead and diseased trees – due largely to environmentalist protests and lawsuits.
Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. There is currently no acceleration in sea level rise. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea level is rising very slowly, and a recent peer-reviewed study found that sea level rise has greatly decelerated over past ten years. Another recent study concluded that sea level is controlled by natural variability, not man-made causes. Most of the fear from rising sea level comes from unverifiable computer model predictions for hundreds or even thousands of years into the future.
No. Polar bears are at or near historic population highs. The only threats they face are from virtual world computer model predictions that do not reflect reality or account for the adaptability of these animals. “The only reason the service listed them was based on speculation from fairly untested models, based on what the fate of polar bears may be in the future,” perhaps if global warming ever dramatically alters the bears’ habitat, Alaska’s coordinator for endangered species explained.
The polar bear population is very, very healthy,” Canadian Inuit have emphasized. “We live in polar bear country. We understand the polar bears. We are unanimous in our belief that polar bears have not declined.”
Professor J. Scott Armstrong, a forecasting expert at the Wharton School says polar bear models are critically flawed. “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades, due to hunting restrictions.
Evolutionary biologist and paleozoologist Dr. Susan Crockford of the University of Victoria agrees. “Polar bears have survived several episodes of much warmer climate over the last 10,000 years than exists today,” she wrote. “There is no evidence to suggest that the polar bear or its food supply is in danger of disappearing entirely with increased Arctic warming, regardless of the dire fairy-tale scenarios predicted by computer models.”
University of Iceland professor and award-winning quaternary geologist Dr. Olafur Ingolfsson notes that a fossil specimen “confirms that the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago, and this basically means that the polar bear has already survived one interglacial period.” This tells us that, “despite the on-going warming in the Arctic today, maybe we don’t have to be quite so worried about the polar bear.”
Biologist Josef Reichholf heads the Vertebrates Department at the National Zoological Collection in Munich. “In warmer regions, it takes far less effort to ensure survival,” he points out. “How did the polar bear survive the last warm period? Whether bears survive will depend on human beings, not the climate.”
Penn State professor and UN IPCC modeler Michael Mann did publish a hockey stick-shaped graph that purportedly showed an unprecedented sudden increase in average global temperatures, following ten centuries of supposedly stable climate. However, Dr. Mann was at the center of the Climategate scandal. His graph and the data and methodology behind it have been scrutinized and debunked in peer-reviewed studies by numerous climate scientists, statisticians and other experts.
The latest research clearly reveals that the Medieval Warm Period (also called the Medieval Climate Optimum) has been verified and was in fact global, not just confined to the Northern Hemisphere. The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change reported in 2009 that “the Medieval Warm Period was: (1) global in extent, (2) at least as warm as, but likely even warmer than, the Current Warm Period, and (3) of a duration significantly longer than that of the Current Warm Period to date.”
The Science and Public Policy Institute reported in May 2009: “More than 700 scientists from 400 institutions in 40 countries have contributed peer-reviewed papers providing evidence that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was real, global, and warmer than the present. And the numbers grow larger daily.”
Many in the media repeatedly cite the various Climategate investigations as an “exoneration” of the UN global warming scientists. But a closer look reveals that the investigations were nothing more than the global warming industry pretending to investigate itself, and of course pretending to find no wrongdoing.
Penn State’s investigation of Michael Mann is a prime example of what a mockery the process became. Clive Crook of the Atlantic Monthly summed it up this way: “The Penn State inquiry exonerating Michael Mann would be difficult to parody. Three of four allegations were dismissed out of hand at the outset.”
Despite all the evidence and studies presented in this paper, many people continue to say that Congress and the United Nations need to take immediate action to prevent more extreme weather, rising sea levels and planetary “overheating.” The reality is that politicians who say government “can do something about” droughts, floods, sea levels, hurricanes and tornadoes are practicing the equivalent of medieval witchcraft.
Laws, treaties and regulations – whether from the United Nations, U.S. Congress or Environmental Protection Agency, cannot control the weather. CO2 does not control global temperatures, and current global temperatures are well within natural variability, as demonstrated by surface and satellite data and extensive historic records. Scientific studies and data also show that droughts, floods and wildfires and extreme weather are not unusual, unprecedented or related to CO2 emissions or climate change.
The climate bill that died in the Democrat Senate was a scientifically meaningless bill that Obama’s own EPA admitted would not impact global CO2 levels – let alone global temperatures.
The climate bill would only have raised the cost of energy for American families and businesses, and killed jobs, while doing nothing for the climate. A major Bloomberg News report revealed that U.S. oil companies would likely cope with the climate legislation by “closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports.” Bloomberg also reported that “one in six U.S. refineries probably would close by 2020,” and this could “add 77 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline.”
EPA’s unilateral “carbon dioxide endangerment” regulations would have much the same effect.
CFACT: In 1985, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) was founded to promote a positive voice on environment and development issues. Its co-founders, David Rothbard and Craig Rucker, believed very strongly that the power of the market combined with the applications of safe technologies could offer humanity practical solutions to many of the world’s pressing concerns. A number of leading scientists, academics, and policy leaders would also agree with them and soon joined their effort, along with thousands of citizens from around the country