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  • 29-Jun-13 Climate change by the numbers.
  • (in TWTW Jun 29, 2013)
    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    Climate change by the numbers.

    Originally appeared in Shanghai Daily, Jun 23, 2013

    In his Shanghai Daily essay of June 19, Mr. Bob Ward, a publicist with the Grantham Research Institute (London), promotes an alarmist view of climate change. He presents the conclusions of the IPCC, which claims that human-caused emission of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), is producing dangerous global warming.

    The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] was set up by the United Nations to provide the necessary evidence to support the (Rio de Janeiro) Global Climate Treaty, signed by most nations. This 1992 Treaty resulted in the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which was supposed to reduce the CO2 content of the atmosphere. It has failed completely in its task; by now, CO2 has risen to 400 ppm, about 40% above the pre-industrial level. The Protocol expired in 2012; but activists want to set up another one. However, there is little enthusiasm for any such agreement to limit energy production and economic growth.

    The IPCC is supposed to survey published scientific results impartially but instead it has ignored research papers that contradict its conclusion. For evidence of human influence on climate, the IPCC relies on a supposed agreement between climate models and observations. In fact, the models cannot reproduce most of the observations and therefore fail to support the IPCC conclusion.

    This disagreement has now become apparent to many scientists around the world, who have set up a competing study group called NIPCC [Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change]. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has just translated and published the reports of the NIPCC. The CAS also organized a June 15 Workshop in Beijing, where an international group of NIPCC authors presented their results.

    Contrary to the IPCC, NIPCC finds that natural influences rule the climate and human influences are relatively insignificant. I will give several examples where models and observations disagree.

    Bob Ward mentions in passing that there has been no warming observed in the last fifteen years. But he fails to point out that this result disagrees with the predictions of every climate model.

    Ward is also dismissive of scientific research that cosmic rays from outer space can and do change the climate. The full story is that the cosmic ray intensity is affected by solar activity. Ultimately therefore, solar activity affects cosmic rays, which in turn change the earths cloud cover and thereby affect climate.

    One could cite many other examples of credible scientific work ignored by the IPCC. It has been the aim of the NIPCC to restore the balance of evidence necessary to permit informed decisions on policy.

    Bob Ward relates, with pride, that the IPCCs Summary for Policy Makers is approved line-by-line by the nearly 200 participating national delegations. But these delegates are not scientists; they are working with a draft carefully compiled by a handful of politically oriented scientists who cherry-pick evidence from the IPCC Report itself and ignore contrary evidence. Unlike the Report, this draft Summary does not acknowledge the existence of scientific uncertainties.

    It is on the basis of such a Summary that politicians then try to develop policies that affect energy use -- and therefore have tremendous economic consequences. Right now, China is beginning to experiment with cap-and-trade policies. The US Congress has refused to approve such a policy; yet President Obama will attempt to achieve a similar result through regulation  without the Congress. Europeans have tried it, but it has been an economic disaster. Australia has instituted a carbon tax as an alternative, but will soon abandon it. Only the State of California is proceeding with such a scheme, but is using it primarily to raise revenues, like a tax. It will have no detectible effect on climate.

    A cap and trade scheme in China may have some value in improving energy efficiency  in reducing the amount of energy required to produce a unit of output. That would be a useful objective. But it will do little if anything for the global climate and should not be considered as climate policy.

    A quick word about carbon dioxide: It is an odorless, non-toxic natural constituent of the Earths atmosphere. As the basic food for all plants, it is absolutely essential for maintaining life on our planet. CO2 should not be called a pollutant. In the geological past, its level has been ten times or more higher than its present value; in fact, our major food crops developed when CO2 levels were about five times higher. China is now the worlds largest emitter of CO2 and thereby making an important contribution to increasing agricultural yields at a time when much of the global population is still hungry. The world should be grateful to China.

    S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute, and an elected Fellow of several scientific societies. He co-authored the NY Times best-seller "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years." In 2007, he founded and has since chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports [See]. For recent writings see and also Google Scholar.

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