An Alternative Perspective On Climate Change – Part 1: Is There Really A Climate Crisis?

Is climate change a crisis or emergency, how serious is it, what needs to be done, what sacrifices have to be made and who will pay the price, what is the timeframe?

Climate Crisis

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect the stance of The Friday Times

If you listen to political dialogue and the media you hear that science compels us to make large and rapid reduction in greenhouse emissions and take climate action immediately – and on a large scale. Their view is driven by the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at about 1.5 percent a year, and we have to get to “net zero by 30 years in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” as Dr Steven Koonin encapsulates the assertion of the climate crisis proponents. 

For a start, weather is not climate. Climate is the long term average, typically a 30 year average, of the variables of weather.

Why Deny Climate Crisis

  • The higher the percentage of renewables in the energy mix, the more expensive is the energy/electricity supply. In a keynote speech at the All Energy Day 2023, Dr Bjorn Lomborg explains that in the year 1800, around 90 percent of energy used was renewable. Currently, the less developed countries use some 16 percent renewables (wood, dung, biomass, etc) but globally the renewable energy supply percentage is only up to 6 percent.

  • There is a clear correlation between energy use per capita and resulting GDP per capita. For instance, some countries in Africa use one-thirtieth the energy per capita than the US.

  • 102 temperature simulation (computer) models, including those used by the UN, when compared to actual data observations by satellites, weather balloons and weather centres around the world, from 1975 onwards were all wrong. All overstated the increase in climate temperature, even by up to two or three times more or higher; as presented in a testimony to the US Senate by Prof J. Christy, Director Earth Systems Science, University of Alabama, and Alabama State Climatologist.

  • Climate (as differentiated from the highly variable daily, seasonal, annual weather) data shows no significant global change trend – whether floods, draught, heat waves, hurricanes or tornadoes. The trends are just not significant one way or the other. Nine hundred year data of the Nile river shows high year-to-year variability, sometimes six metres difference, according to the Roda Nilometer data. That is weather. There is also a lot of variability over decades. But no change in long-term trend, says Koonin, who served as Under Secretary of Science, US Department of Energy. He is Professor of Physics (and was Provost) at CALTECH and NYU.

  • In Greenland, ice loss data between 1900 and 2020, goes up and down a lot. This is natural variability. This is weather, not global warming, according to the Danish Meteorological Institute. 

  • The US daily temperature between 1890 and 2020 shows higher heat waves in the 1930s and 1950s compared to recent years. There were lots of daily variation but no long term-trends. In fact in the 1930s, there was less human influence based on the US EPA data. 

  • Global draught indices between 1982 and 2012 varies year-to-year but shows no change in trend, says Prof. Christy. 

  • Very wet (floods) or very dry (draught) were reported between 1895 and 2015 in the US. They were highly variable, year-to-year, but no long-term trend change was reported. Neither floods nor draught got more frequent or worse, according to Prof. Christy. (NOAA/NCDC and Hao et al data) 

  • Arctic ice has decreased between 1990 and 2010. One reason is that it is surrounded by land and cannot increase. It can only go down. In Antarctica however sea ice is surrounded by water and can expand, and it is showing expansion. Globally, it has averaged out and remained about the same, claims Prof. Christy. 

  • Hurricanes between 1917 and 2015 show no change in trend, no increase in intensity or frequency globally, asserts Prof. Christy. 

  • Climate-related deaths have been drastically reduced globally, from half a million each year to an average of 18,000 a year in the last decade, as per the International Disaster Database figures. Poorer areas suffer more damage and richer people are more resilient, says Dr Lomborg.

In the time that CO2 level is going up, research shows that the alarmist hypothesis about warming have not occurred, the warming is much more gradual than dire predictions.

  • GDP losses, globally, due to weather have been low, about 0.25 percent a year, as per Aon Munich Re, update Pielke, 2019. 

  • During the last century, there was around 1.3 degree Celsius rise in global temperature. It could have been due to El Nino, or strathospheric water vapour from underwater volcanoes or reduced aerosols, etc. It caused no catastrophe, the world saw prosperity like never before, and the highest agricultural production, asserts Dr Koonin based on the HadCRUT5 Analysis data (Tim Osborn, CRU, UEA). 

  • Scientists have examined many claims that things are getting worse but they are not. In general, says Prof R. Pielke of the University of Colorado, increased damage due to natural disasters is due to where we build, what we build, how we build.

  • Dr W. Happer, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Princeton University, explains that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is essential for human life on earth. It hinders the cooling of the earth, it is a greenhouse gas, it does warm the earth and we should be grateful, without it, most of the earth would have been too cold to live on.

  • In the time that CO2 level is going up, research shows that the alarmist hypothesis about warming have not occurred, the warming is much more gradual than dire predictions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that if CO2 is even doubled, it reduces radiation to space by only 1 percent (warming of earth), based on the Max Planck and Karl Schwarzchild curves. Their model exactly matches real life observations. There is no uncertainty to this. A one percent change in radiation to space effects temperature by less than one degree Celsius, the direct warming from CO2 would be around 0.7 degree Celcius. Projected warming by CO2 is too small to matter. 

  • CO2 is essential for plant vegetation matter. And plants need substantially less water when there is more CO2. Wheat, cotton, corn all grow better with more CO2. Because of higher CO2, in the past decades, we saw the ‘greening of the earth’. It may be said roughly that a doubling of CO2 can halve the water required for plants. In addition, there is less of the wasteful photorespiration in plants with more CO2. CO2 cannot be seen or smelled, so pictures of pollution blanketed hazy cities do not show CO2, claims Dr W. Happer. 

  • Renewables, solar and wind, require backup energy source, when the sun is weak or its night, and when the wind is too light. According to Dr Lomborg, currently all the available battery capacity would give 1 minute 15 seconds of backup for electricity consumption of the world. By the end of another decade, battery power will last perhaps some 11 minutes, globally. Therefore, a backup power source is necessary, usually natural gas (a fossil fuel) is the choice as coal is not to be used under ‘green’ pressure, causing gas price to hike. To be viable, renewables will require storage capacity, through batteries, for 30 days or so. But the technology does not exist, it is not economically viable, “…its wishful thinking, pie in the sky,” says Dr B. Peiser, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Wind and solar do not make economic sense unless massively subsidised by the state.

  • At present, the science is not settled on climatic matters, for instance, not enough is known about the influence of clouds and of ocean currents on climate, claims Dr J. Curry, Professor Emerita at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Challenging the validity of Climate Model Simulations 

People say that “how is it that 97 percent scientists say there is a terrible emergency here that we have to cope with. Science is not voted on, it depends on how well your theory agrees with actual data observations. In science, people have made many mistakes, and decades later more evidence proved one side right. That illustrates the fallibility of scientists and the groupthink that goes with science”, says Prof Happer.

A climate model simulation is a hypothesis, a claim. In science, a claim is made and then that is tested against independent observations and data. One such test is to compare global average temperatures in models and in the real world observations. 

In a presentation to the US Senate, Climatologist for the State of Alabama, Prof. Christy, shows that when 102 climate model simulations were tested against real world observations, all 102 simulations were found to exaggerate the predicted temperature increase. All the models over estimated how CO2 is really responded to in the actual atmosphere. He states, “When all the models miss the point and predict temperatures that are significantly above the real world, they cannot be used as scientific tools, and definitely not for public policy decision-making”.

Climate modelling scenarios talk about plausible futures or the most likely future. Scenarios have less extreme and more extreme projections. IPCC (UN climate body) used the most extreme scenarios as the ‘reference’ scenario – meaning, this is where we think we are headed, this is the baseline to evaluate policy. The extreme scenario is not plausible, it is too much, says Prof R. Pielke of the University of Colorado.

As discussed above, warming by CO2 is too small to matter. That is not enough to justify a climate emergency. So models (including UN) involve a huge positive feedback from water vapour, clouds, whatever sounds plausible to increase predicted warming to 3 degree Celsius or more from a doubling of CO2. So instead of acting like a normal system, the 0.7 degree Celsius increase in warming gets multiplied by 3 or 4 or even more to get an attention grabbing or scary number. However, as the French chemist, Henry Le Chatelier noted that in nature, in most natural processes, feedbacks are negative. Positive feedbacks almost never occur. But climate alarmists assume a positive feedback, otherwise they wouldn’t get more funding next time.  When a simple system in thermodynamic, “equilibrium is subjected to a change in concentration, temperature, volume or pressure, (1) the system changes to a new equilibrium, and (2) this change partly counteracts the applied change,” asserts Prof Happer.

A climate model simulation is a hypothesis, a claim. In science, a claim is made and then that is tested against independent observations and data. One such test is to compare global average temperatures in models and in the real world observations.

Positive feedback means to increase the change or output: the result of a reaction is amplified to make it occur more quickly. Negative feedback occurs to reduce the change or output: the result of a reaction is reduced to bring the system back to a stable state.

There are fluctuations in climate all the time – over tens of years, over thousands of years. The planet evolved when CO2 was much higher than now, many times more than now. Prof Koonin concurs with the estimate that more realistically, this century is expected to have about the same temperature rise as the last century.

“The UN’s inaccurate Antarctic claims were illustrated most comically, perhaps, when a ship full of alarmists seeking to study ‘global warming’ was trapped in record Antarctic sea ice in the summer of 2013 and had to be rescued by ships burning massive amounts of fossil fuels,” states The New American.

Climate alarmism has had profound impact even in the developed world. Prof Peiser explains that the market has been completely distorted by the prioritisation of renewables. Now EU has declared that natural gas and nuclear are green energy so that they can subsidise them, to convince producers to build more plants. Now industry has to be subsidised even to stay in Europe, since industry claims that energy has been made so expensive for them that they cannot compete with the global market. This means, (1) subsidies for renewables, (2) subsidies for the backup (for solar and wind, which otherwise are not feasible), (3) subsidies for converting plants and (4) to keep the industry from abandoning Europe. Now markets no longer function, ministries decide who gets what – mostly based on less efficiency, more costs, less reliability. 

It is a reverse robin hood, says Prof Happer, to rob the poor and give to the rich, as wind and solar are only feasible with massive state subsidies. Utilities raise prices and subsidies are paid for expensive electric cars and for electric power to charge them and so on. The rich can afford the land and costs of installing solar and wind power and the common people who have little spare income pay more and more for the necessities of life.

Noble laureate economist W. Nordhaus of Yale University estimates that the demanded climate policy would globally cost more than the cost of expected losses (estimated by McKinsey consultancy) due to the climate crisis forecast by alarmists. And according to Dr Lomborg, even if everyone does all they say they will for climate change mitigation, still the goal would not be reached till 2175, even when making all the most favourable and unlikely assumptions.

Some, like Dr. Lomborg, argue that while they agree that climate change is a real problem, the current approach of prioritising reducing carbon emissions is misguided and ineffective. Instead, he advocates for a more cost-effective approach that focuses on addressing other pressing global issues, such as poverty, disease and education.

How Much Climate Change Will Net-Zero Avert?

Dr J. Curry estimates that it won’t be noticeable against natural climate variability. Perhaps it may change sometime in the 22nd century. Basically, we have no clue how much climate change this will avert, and certainly not in the short term.

A fast and drastic reduction in non-renewable energy sources would deprive the developing world from generating power – a billion people deprived in Africa that is ‘energy apartheid’, terms Dr Curry. There is a correlation between energy use per capita and GDP per capita. At present, it indicates that the higher the installed renewables capacity, the higher the cost of electricity.

Global industrial/manufacturing centres – China, India, Russia and others – are not going to destroy their economies because of this alarmist climate agenda.

The New York Times quotes an Indian Environment Minister, P. Javedekar as saying, “What CO2 cuts? That’s for more developed countries. The moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away. India’s first task is eradication of poverty. Twenty percent of our population doesn’t have electricity, that’s our top priority. We will grow faster, and our carbon emissions will rise”. Elsewhere, PM Modi is quoted as saying, “The colonial mind-set hasn’t gone, the developed nations are closing to us the path that made them developed”.

“[American] Universities have become totally captured by a certain political narrative which is held in place by spending government money and also the pursuit of power [control] that is the heart of the alarmist climate agenda. No science involved there,” says Scott Turner of the National Association of Scholars. When asked how come so many highly qualified people have signed petitions in support of a climate emergency? A former university department chair held that whoever controls decisions about funding to scientists and for their labs and departments, can get many signatures in support of their proposition – “And in any case, science is not done by voting”.

The total energy produced in 2015 came from carbon 87 percent (coal, oil, natural gas), Nuclear 9 percent and Hydroelectric 3 percent, with renewables hardly making the charts, now said to have increased up to 6 percent. “It is wrong to say we are addicted to oil. No, we are addicted to long life, good health/medical advances, technical progress, affordable services, freedom of mobility, affordable and enough food, clean water/air,” which all depend on affordable and sufficient energy sources, maintains Dr Christy.

To be continued.

The writer consults on national development and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Principles of Public Policy Redefined’.