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Climate confusion

Read time: 5 minutes.
sun controls climate

I attended a briefing on ‘Eco-Church’ which unfortunately was more eco-alarmism!

The good news is that we're not in a climate crisis. I can understand why the speaker thinks this (as I did) as it's the dominant narrative and any challengers are 'deniers'. However we've seen over the last few years that the official/MSM narratives have often been badly wrong. I started researching this as many restrictions and costs seem to depend on the climate-CO2 argument. It turns out there are many critics of the narrative whose evidence is persuasive as it relies on sober scientific enquiry.

Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore observed in January 2011: "We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years...The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It's not good for people and it’s not good for the environment...In a warmer world we can produce more food." (Forbes) Also to US Congress in 2014. Many key scientists agree: World Climate Declaration.

The speaker highlighted greenhouse gases – but only the bad points. In fact 0.7% of the atmosphere is taken up with greenhouse-effect gases. Of these 95% is H2O. Without our 'greenhouse' the temperature on earth would be 33C lower! It's the lack of water vapour that makes clear nights in the UK or desert nights so cool. Of the 5% of CO2, human-related may be 0.25% - the rest being natural CO2. The greenhouse effect of CO2, a trace-gas, decreases with volume and is currently nearly at the maximum effect.

The vast majority of the CO2 is part of the carbon cycle where carbon is emitted from geological and biological processes into the atmosphere. CO2 is absorbed in the cooler sea areas, transported in currents and emitted when the sea warms (which is why its peaks follow temperature rises, not precede them - as Al Gore had to admit when cross-examined in Congress). It's also obviously 'plant food'. NASA has shown that the small amount of extra CO2 has actually been 'greening' the planet. The air in commercial greenhouses is actively enriched with CO2.

Atmospheric CO2 has been much higher in the past and therefore the carbon-cycle, part of the complex interactions between hydro, geo, atmo and bio-spheres is self-correcting (as designed!). It is not running out of control, as our speaker asserted. The temperature has also been higher in the past, most recently in the Middle Ages - which was edited out of the infamous 'hockey stick' graph.

CO2 is just one small aspect of the argument - clouds are the biggest mediator of energy from the sun and a very small % change in cloud cover would account for all the recent warming. We get all our energy from the sun so changes in earth orbit and sun activity affect the energy we get and are the main drivers for the temperature increases we are currently experiencing.

The speaker worried about the effects of warming, however it seems wildfires have decreased, hurricane intensity is at a low, droughts not increased.

So what's going on?

Climate seems to be a useful tool to serve political ends. The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (note its political nature).

Dr Steven Koonin (Undersecretary for Science, Department of Energy under Obama) relates his experience of the skewing of science in his popular 2021 book ‘Unsettled?’. As a senior insider, he was alarmed that the IPCC summary reports did not reflect what was actually being found by the scientists - instead it was being altered to fit a pre-determined conclusion. He challenged this to no avail. 

The UK House of Lords picked up on this in 2006 noting in its understated way ‘If scientists are charged with writing the main chapters it seems to us they must be trusted to write the summaries without intervention from others...’

In the 2009 Climategate scandal leaked emails between activist scientists at East Anglia University showed they discussed how to suppress reports or cancel scientists whose work did not align with the cause (2019 update). 

The IPCC models have been shown to be hopelessly inaccurate, forecasting results much worse than actually observed, despite numerous 'parameter adjustments' (fudges). This is because the world's climate depends on complex interactions between all four ‘spheres’ that happen at different rates, many of these not well understood. However instead of acknowledging this the IPCC claims 95% accuracy and does not seem to mind how much incredulity this arouses from external experts.

There seems to be, at least, a political aspect to this. 

IPCC's Ottmar Edenhofer said 'one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy... One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.'

Ex-Senator Timothy Wirth (now UN Foundation) at 1992 UN Earth Climate Summit: 'We have got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.' (ie redistribution of wealth)

'No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.' Christine Stewart Canadian Minister of the Environment 1988.

Lots more could be said!

Doing the right thing

We obviously do want to insulate buildings and use energy efficiently, as it should save us money (ha!).
We should also reduce, reuse, recycle (as practical people always have).

Dr Bjorn Lomborg has pointed out (including in his recent book 'Best Things First') that a lot of the money being spent on the UN's Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) is not what would really help the world's poorest. The World Bank is also diverting normal development funds to climate-related spending rather than where it's actually required (see '12 Best Things').

Where eco-alarmism is appropriate is in the way our money, resources and freedoms are being eroded with climate as the excuse. Getting this right does matter. And maybe we should 'follow the money' to see who is really benefitting, both around the UK and abroad.

Ethical issues

There are genuine ethical issues at stake here that we all want to take seriously:
    • truthful science is required - it's been joyful to discover how intricately the world is made
    • efficiently husbanding scarce resources is important - eco-projects do not always score well
    • in helping others (including overseas) we need to be as practical as possible not ideological or politicised
    • it’s understandable to go along with what the world asserts, but other drivers and motivations are in play, and we're called to have wisdom
    • unjustifiable taxes and surcharges are wrong - a form of theft
    • we should not scare people needlessly – many young people have been terrorised unnecessarily

 I think Eco-Church is a sound idea but needs to be re-imagined with solid science and practice. We have a great opportunity to speak good news here.

Christians can serve their communities by challenging unwarranted alarm and advancing evidence-based approaches. Without this, we will all be impoverished spiritually, emotionally and practically.

Next month we'll look in more depth at why the UN/WEF is involved in this - see 'Climate confusion motives'.

A good video on this is Climate: The Movie.

(image credit: posted on