When hurricane Yasi followed massive floods to devastate Brisbane and parts of Queensland earlier this year, many climate alarmists seized upon them as evidence of human-induced climate change. Professor Ross Garnaut, climate adviser to the Australian Government, warned of more climate chaos to come unless Australians drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The “climate risk is set to worsen” he said. Professor Garnaut confidently claimed that “If we are seeing an intensification of extreme weather events now, you ain’t seen nothing yet”. Climate alarmists now routinely interpret every extreme weather event as unmistakeable evidence, even “proof”, of Man’s culpability. But what was so special about cyclone Yasi in February that distinguishes it from the nearly 200 other cyclones that have hit the area since records began in 1864, and the untold extreme weather events before then?
Since climate alarmism is something of a fashion these days, Garnaut is not alone with such dire forecasts. In an interview with Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun recently, Professor Tim Flannery, Australian Climate Commissioner, was so pessimistic he suggested there is no hope to save the planet even if we quit our CO2 habit now. “If the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as a thousand years”, he predicted.
From Garnaut’s alarming claims, and Flannery’s pessimistic outlook, one might imagine that such disasters as Yasi and the Brisbane floods were unique. However Garnaut contradicts Flannery by arguing that “With strong mitigation, we at least rule out, or reduce to low probabilities, the potential for catastrophe”, while Flannery argues that such mitigation efforts will have no effect for a thousand years because it’s already too late.
Presumably then they are both hinting at the same thing: the so-called “tipping point” that alarmists would have us believe is inescapable if we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere. Garnaut suggests it is imminent unless we change out carbon habits, whereas Flannery seems to imply it has already happened and there is no coming back from it no matter what we do – at least not for a thousand years.
Now I always thought it odd that no one seemed able to predict this “tipping point”, the point of no return, despite the millions of dollars thrown at computer modellers to generate climate scenarios fifty years ahead. The modellers are able to tell you exactly what the world’s climate will look like decades into the future based on so much data, kindly supplied (after careful laundering) by various climate research units around the world, but they are unable to tell you precisely when the “tipping point” will occur. Why not? They supposedly know the current CO2 levels in the atmosphere with precision (according to the laboratory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii), and the current temperatures to within a few tenths of a degree (according to the IPCC and its compliant suppliers of adjusted data). They then advise governments that our CO2 emissions must be cut back by specific percentages in order to reduce temperatures by specific degrees C by a specific date. They are also confident the “science is settled” as to how one affects the other while dismissing all arguments to the contrary as “denialist”. So why can they not feed these precise figures into their expensive supercomputers and make a confident forecast? The reason is that no one is prepared to risk his reputation in case it’s wrong. Which it is likely to be considering the utter failure of all computer models to forecast even five years ahead. Not one of the IPCC’s computer models predicted the downturn in global temperatures after the 1998 El Niňo spike, despite having all the (adjusted) data available. And while temperatures continue to decline, the models continue to predict warming, which renders them rather useless for climate forecasting. So there is no way anyone will use them to predict the “tipping point”. Yet this does not discourage climate scientists, politicians and the odd celebrity from using the term for graphic effect in order to sell the idea to the public. Indeed, on the strength of these computer models, climate scientists are quite prepared to advise the politicians that inescapable climate catastrophe is just around the corner (but in order to nail it down, we need more research money… another supercomputer might help… wink, wink).
But I digress. If hurricane Yasi was somehow special and unique, what was the cause of the other 200 recorded cyclones since 1864, plus the myriad unknown ones before that? What was the cause of the even larger floods in and around Brisbane in the nineteenth century?
These recent events are seen by climate alarmists as “different” to the previous millions of similar events going back in history because they are panicking. They feel obliged to single out each and every extreme weather event now because temperatures appear to be declining instead of increasing. So they have to pretend such disasters have rarely, if ever, occurred before and are therefore necessarily the fault of man’s CO2 emissions. Meanwhile the politicians are rubbing their hands together as they imagine the taxes they can collect in order to “save the planet” from human-induced “climate change”. They are thankful for all the climate scientists supplying them with the necessary data that’s been through a truth filter in order to give their political agenda a veneer of legitimacy.
Despite oft-repeated claims by the IPCC and its fawning apologists that the planet is heading for some kind of apocalyptic meltdown, the actual empirical evidence suggests precisely the opposite. Europe and the United States are buried in record amounts of snow every year, but somehow the alarmists manage to twist even this into “evidence” of manmade global warming. Having hijacked both ends of the argument, they can’t lose. Heat wave: global warming. Blizzard: also global warming. Floods: obviously global warming. Drought: also global warming. Everything it seems can be attributed to global warming, everything from acne and declining bat populations to deaf fish and zoonotic diseases (www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm). And in order to dilute growing public scepticism and suspicions that the science is not stacking up, the alarmists shift the goal posts so that “global warming” tends to be downplayed while promoting “climate change” or “climate disruption” and now “climate challenges” to account for the obvious contradictions.
However the alarmist argument, as championed by Professor Garnaut et al, relies entirely on computer models and fudged data, while the sceptical argument is based on clear physical evidence. Yet for some reason the media and the politicians believe the models. How and why does supposition (I almost said “superstition”) trump real-world evidence? Why is the actual, measurable, empirical evidence against manmade climate change mocked as the work of “deniers” in the pay of “Big Oil”? The climate science community is so tendentious it behaves like a medieval church where those who argue with the received wisdom of the High Priests are heretics. Are we back in the Middle Ages? What happened to science and the scientific method?
Unfortunately the science went out the window with Al Gore’s tragie-comedy, An Inconvenient Truth, for which he won an Oscar – the acting must have been that good. No, actually it went out the window with James Hansen’s famous sweaty testimony to Congress in 1988, the sham event that kick-started the whole mad charade. If this issue was about the science instead of some moralistic crusade, the sceptical arguments – that climate change is perfectly natural and that mankind has as much chance of heating the planet catastrophically as a snowball’s chance in Hell – would earn as much respect as the alarmist argument that we are all going to Hell in a carbon-based handcart! And the politicians would be just as inclined to listen to them as they are to the alarmists for the sake of balanced and sober decision making. The kind of decision-making that changes the course of a country’s economy and impacts on individual wealth.
But so far, the argument has been a lopsided doom fest as though there is no other side to the issue worth a mention. Of course, according to Al Gore and his fellow ‘believers’, “the debate is over”, so it’s no surprise the politicians wouldn’t have a clue and refuse to listen to sceptics. The alarmists have their hands clapped over their ears to avoid being offended by searching questions of doubt. There is more kudos and money in promoting politically correct dogma. But since when did science become a code of ethics that no one may question, challenge or even doubt? Since when was science done by a show of hands, the so-called “consensus”? The day filthy political lucre entered the arena and corrupted the easily corruptible. The day so many scientists and academics realised they were onto a winner by supplying politicians with the ‘adjusted’ data they need in order to ‘prove’ a disaster looms, while hiding or deleting the unsavoury data that suggests the opposite. So apparently we need to be taxed and told how to behave, what light bulbs and how much hot water we can use in order to avoid the approaching “catastrophe” of our own making. The climate science community, nay the scientific establishment as a whole, has had the unmistakable whiff of corruption ever since politicians poisoned the well and invited the media to fan the flames of alarm. Everyone is a winner. Well everyone except the poor tax payer who has to finance the madness.
Hence it seems to me that the global warming brigade is becoming rather more hysterical and extreme by the day. More determined to get their message of climate doom across to the public before the game is up. But they also have to keep the politicians happy because they hold the purse strings. I can only imagine that this unbridled enthusiasm for a lost cause is due to mounting evidence to the contrary and declining public interest (not to mention declining temperatures). It is truly amazing how intemperate the hyperbole is becoming, especially from individuals like Prof. Garnaut and many others of standing, whose training and background should render them dispassionate and moderate instead of fanatical and unrestrained. One might get the impression their interest is rather more politically based than purely professional. Or is it incumbent upon them to be advocates for the global warming message and to hell with objective assessment of the evidence? That certainly appears to be the focus and intent rather than acting as impartial and sober advisers to Government. There are too many passionate advocates for this politically poisoned movement for anyone to take the alarmists seriously anymore.
The public are afflicted with alarm fatigue, sick to the back teeth with the endless doom mongering from the media. So Professor Garnaut and others of his esteemed ilk must be getting the uncomfortable feeling they have backed the wrong horse. Writer James Delingpole correctly observed that no one cares anymore except “morons, cheats and liars”.
Joe Fone is a member of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.