*Kyoto As “Blankie”

Worth A Look, Environment, Frontier Centre

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On the weekend, some friends told us their nine-year-old still has a scrap of his “blankie.” Whenever he is overwrought or scared they give it to him, he clutches it and is instantly calmed.

The Kyoto accord is a lot like that scrap of baby blanket, for those who believe in it.

First, there is plenty of reasonable doubt that human beings are causing global climate change. The climate changes all be itself, all the time, over scales of decades, centuries, millennia and eons. We know that long before our primitive human ancestors sent smoke into the air from the first-ever campfires -before the first emissions, as it were – the Earth was at times much warmer and much cooler than it is now.

Less than a thousand years ago it was so warm vineyards flourished in the south of England – not the south of France – but in Kent and Sussex. Greenland really was green – well, sort of. Human settlements survived there along the coasts there for more than 300 years.

Indeed, before warming became politically incorrect, this period was known as the Medieval Optimal, as in optimum, the ultimate, the ideal against which all other climate periods should be judged. It was 4°C degrees warmer than it is now. That is the upper end of what climate modellers predict will occur over the next century. And it was a time of great expansion in Europe. Harvests were plentiful, famine rare. Most of the great Gothic cathedrals were built then. Wars were less frequent.

And, of course, in the other direction, there were ice ages.

There have been times when the concentrations of carbon dioxide – that evil capitalist gas that we are told is causing global warming – there have been times when CO2 concentrations were 10 times what they are now, and the average global temperature was no higher than it is today.

In other words, Earth’s climate has been much hotter and much cooler than it is today without any human influence. And it will be much hotter and cooler again, with or without our activity.

What we humans are contributing today to greenhouse gases is miniscule compared to what nature herself creates, on the order of 2% to 5% of the annual total. Decomposing organic matter in the rain forests likely contributes more. Our contribution could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, sure. But chances are, it won’t be.

So let’s concede for a minute the planet really is warming. Satellites and radio balloons do not detect this warming. But let’s say it is happening, anyway. The first thing to keep in mind is there’s a good chance the warming is not man-made, or at least not mostly. If the planet is warming, the likelihood is, it’s perfectly nature.

Second, even if it is “anthropogenic,” there is no evidence that implementing the Kyoto accords will stop, or even slow the warming.

So far, global warming only exists on computers. Surface readings over the past half century show warming of about 1°C, but as I said before, satellites and radio balloons do not.

There are problems with surface records

1) they cover only 47% of the planet’s surface, and their readings often taken only once a day. By contrast, eight NASA satellites, make more than 300,000 readings over nearly all of the Earth’s surface every day, day and night, in the middle of the most remote jungle or the largest ocean, the biggest city and the densest forest.

2) surface readings are taken by human beings, humans who, in lots of places, haven’t much scientific training

3) they are subject to the urban heat island effect, and

4) they haven’t always been as accurate as they are now. For instance, following the Second World War, large chunks of the very warm southern Pacific Ocean were added to the surface record for the first time in a significant way

So mostly, global warming exists on giant supercomputers. The warming is only in models, and the models are only as good as the information programmed into them. Even the most committed global warming theorists admit they cannot account for such variables as clouds in their models, or for the interaction between the oceans the atmosphere.

The models once predicted warming of 8°C to 10°C. Then as the modellers learned more and refined the inputs they were entering into their computers, that came down to 4.5°C to 6°C. Then down, and down again. Until at one point their predictions were that the warming over the next century might be between 1.5°C and 4.0°C.

This has since been revised upward, but without much explanation as to why. The models didn’t change. They weren’t made more sophisticated. The only reason I can see is political – the scenarios were failing to scare enough lawmakers into passing new legislation on the environment, so the nightmares had to be intensified.

To give you an idea of how irrational the modellers faith in their computers has become, John Christy, the NASA satellite scientist, likes to tell a story about one of the modellers approaching him after a speech in which he explained the readings from his orbiting sensors. “Dr. Christy,” the modeller said, “your readings cannot be correct because they do not match my predictions.”

This is like saying the hockey scores in the paper Monday morning must be wrong because they disagree with the bets I made Friday.

I want to give you another couple of examples of how irrational the True Believers have become.

A little more than two weeks ago it was announced that a giant iceberg broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. One of the first reports, from Reuters, contained a telling statement, this calving had reduced the Antarctic formation “to about the size it was in 1911 when explorer Robert Scott’s team first mapped it.”

So, apparently, during the 20th Century, while the Earth was warming, the Ross Ice Shelf was EXPANDING – warmer temperatures AND more ice. Hmmm. And now, despite the hype, the Shelf is no smaller than it was when it was first mapped.

In a similar vein, a few years back, after I had written a column calling global warming “junk science,” a well-known hydrologist from the University of Alberta wrote a guest column saying I was nuts, warming was going to devastate the planet. As proof he said “southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan…had large areas of shifting sand dunes in the late 18th century. The dunes returned in the dirty ’30s, and were beginning to move again in the late 1980s.”

These Great Sand Hills have apparently expanded and contracted numerous times in the past, before the internal combustion engine, before CO2 emissions. None of these earlier expansions were cause for concern. But this time the expansion is proof positive of anthropogenic greenhouse warming.

But let’s put our blind faith in the computer projections, too. When the Kyoto accord is run through the climate models, assuming a fairly high compliance rate, the computers show little or no impact on warming. It temperatures will rise 2.5°C to 4.0°C without Kyoto, they still rise 2.2°C or 2.3°C to almost 3.7°C without the accords.

If the global warming alarmists are fearful of a 2.5 – 4.0°C rise without Kyoto, why does a rise of only 0.2 or 0.3°C less scare them not at all?

Here is where the blankie analogy comes in. The global warming alarmists are all in a flap. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” or at least bursting into flames.

But add in the involvement of big government, and it’s like giving them a blankie. Just the presence of government – of central control and planning – calms all their fears.

Like our dinner companions’ nine-year-old, their fears are irrational – spooky shadows and monsters under the bed sort of stuff. The fears weren’t real and adding the blankie changes nothing in the real world. But it sure makes them feel a lot better. It helps them sleep. Just knowing that the UN and national governments have arrived to rescue us makes it all better, despite the evidence to the contrary.

That is, then, what Kyoto is ultimately about – creating a new level of international regulation, economic planning and enforcement in the name of saving the environment.

The accords are also an attempt to redistribute income from the developed world to the developing. If it were only about saving the environment, it would apply to the much dirtier factories of the developing world, too. But it doesn’t. Like so many other UN initiatives, Kyoto is about punishing capitalism and making the world “fairer,” not just cleaner.

I don’t mean it’s a conscious plot. Rather those people most deeply committed to Kyoto are the type of people who put all their faith in government to improve the economy and socially engineering better citizens and theorize away crime, create income inequity and end family violence.

This actually scares the hell out of me. If the global warmers do for the environment what other friends of big government have done for the economy and society, we could find ourselves living in a desertified wasteland.

So just what is causing global warming, if it is not our oil wells, power plants and blow dryers?

The sun. That’s were I would put my money.

Seventeen of the last 19 periods of intense global warming, such as the Medieval Warm Period, stretching back tens of thousands of years, correspond almost exactly with periods of equal intense solar activity. And the coldest trough of the Little Ice Age, from which the Earth only began to emerge 150 years ago, corresponds with what is known as the Maunder Minimum, a stretch of 70 years in the 17th and 18th Centuries when astronomers observed almost no sunspots.

There has been enough solar brightening, and increases in solar wind and sunspot activity over the past 100 years to account for all the global warming observed to date, even at the surface.

This makes perfect sense. The sun gives us day and night. It produces our seasons. Without it, life on Earth would cease. It’s a giant ball of burning gas that’s 20 million degrees Celsius at its core, for crying out loud!

Is there any human impact then? On the environment, yes. On global warming, I can’t say. Pollution can denude forests and render streams lifeless. But the worst examples of this have been in the most heavily centralized economies in the world – those in the old Soviet bloc. Despite the regulation of every economic detail – or perhaps because of it – many Eastern European countries still suffer tens of thousands of acres of non-arable land and brown coniferous forests.

But that would seem to be an argument against permitting the UN and national governments to plan us out of global warming, rather than a recommendation to give them even more power to control our economies.

Thank you.