Unbiased Hearings Will Benefit Science on Climate Change

Commentary, Climate, Frontier Centre

“Stopping climate change” may be all the rage with celebrities and environmental lobbyists, but fortunately for the rest of us, the scientific foundation for the scare is disintegrating rapidly.

A fundamental pillar of the hypothesis that humanity is causing dangerous climate change is the belief that levels of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of concern in countries such as Canada, have risen steadily since the start of the industrial revolution.

But what if CO2 levels have not increased? How could our emissions of this otherwise benign gas then have anything to do with the past century’s modest warming of the planet? While Antarctic ice core records supposedly “prove” a significant increase in CO2 in this period, there are serious problems with this data.

Besides the fact that ice bubbles take about 80 years to form and thus cannot give a single-year accurate measure, the continual freezing, refreezing and pressurization of ice columns may greatly alter the original composition of the air trapped in the bubbles. Nevertheless, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and many others have accepted as meaningful the ice core results that indicate a pre-industrial CO2 level of 280 parts per million, compared to today’s 385 ppm.

The most accurate way to determine the atmosphere’s average CO2 content simply is to conduct a direct chemical analysis at many places and times. Fortunately, there are more than 90,000 direct measurements by chemical methods between 1857 and 1957.

However, in what appears to be a case of cherry-picking data to fit a pre-determined conclusion, only the lower level CO2 data were included when the pre-industrial average was calculated. This is the average that was used to supposedly “validate” the long-term ice core records on which Al Gore and others depend.

So, if not 280 ppm, what was the real pre-industrial level of CO2? In a new scientific paper in the journal, Energy and Environment, German researcher Ernst-Georg Beck, shows that the pre-industrial level is some 50 ppm higher than the level used by computer models that produce all climate predictions.

Completely at odds with the smoothly increasing levels found in the ice core records, Beck notes: “Since 1812, the CO2 concentration in northern hemispheric air has fluctuated, exhibiting three high level maxima around 1825, 1857 and 1942, the latter showing more than 400 ppm.”

In a paper submitted to Senate committee hearings in the U.S., Polish Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski, a veteran mountaineer who has excavated ice from 17 glaciers on six continents, stated bluntly: “The basis of most of the IPCC conclusions on anthropogenic [human] causes and on projections of climatic change is the assumption of low level of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. This assumption, based on glaciological studies, is false.”

Another measure of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is the size of stomata, the small openings on plant leaves which vary in size with CO2 levels. Stomata data also support Beck’s conclusions.

Clearly, the federal government immediately must convene open, unbiased hearings into the science of climate change, something that never has happened in Canada. If the science that drives CO2 reduction plans is as solid as environmental lobbyists would have us believe, they have nothing to fear.

But, if it is wrong, as increasingly it appears to be, then we stand on the verge of the largest and most costly science scandals in Canadian history.

Tom Harris, an Ottawa-based engineer, is Executive Director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project.