Climate change: The sun and the oceans do not lie
Even a compromised agreement to reduce emissions could devastate the economy - and all for a theory shot full of holes, says Christopher Booker.
By Christopher Booker Published: 6:10PM BST 11 Jul 2009
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The moves now being made by the world's political establishment to lock us into December's Copenhagen treaty to halt global warming are as alarming as anything that has happened in our lifetimes. Last week in Italy, the various branches of our emerging world government, G8 and G20, agreed in principle that the world must by 2050 cut its CO2 emissions in half. Britain and the US are already committed to cutting their use of fossil fuels by more than 80 per cent. Short of an unimaginable technological revolution, this could only be achieved by closing down virtually all our economic activity: no electricity, no transport, no industry. All this is being egged on by a gigantic publicity machine, by the UN, by serried ranks of government-funded scientists, by cheerleaders such as Al Gore, last week comparing the fight against global warming to that against Hitler's Nazis, and by politicians who have no idea what they are setting in train.
What makes this even odder is that the runaway warming predicted by their computer models simply isn't happening. Last week one of the four official sources of temperature measurement, compiled from satellite data by the University of Huntsville, Alabama, showed that temperatures have now fallen to their average level since satellite data began 30 years ago.
Faced with a "consensus" view which looks increasingly implausible, a fast-growing body of reputable scientists from many countries has been coming up with a ''counter-consensus'', which holds that their fellow scientists have been looking in wholly the wrong direction to explain what is happening to the world's climate. The two factors which most plausibly explain what temperatures are actually doing are fluctuations in the radiation of the sun and the related shifting of ocean currents.
Two episodes highlight the establishment's alarm at the growing influence of this ''counter consensus''. In March, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has a key role in President Obama's plans to curb CO2 emissions, asked one of its senior policy analysts, Alan Carlin, to report on the science used to justify its policy. His 90-page paper recommended that the EPA carry out an independent review of the science, because the CO2 theory was looking indefensible, while the "counter consensus'' view – solar radiation and ocean currents – seemed to fit the data much better. Provoking a considerable stir, Carlin's report was stopped dead, on the grounds that it was too late to raise objections to what was now the EPA's official policy.
Meanwhile a remarkable drama has been unfolding in Australia, where the new Labor government has belatedly joined the "consensus'' bandwagon by introducing a bill for an emissions-curbing "cap and trade'' scheme, which would devastate Australia's economy, it being 80 per cent dependent on coal. The bill still has to pass the Senate, which is so precisely divided that the decisive vote next month may be cast by an independent Senator, Stephen Fielding. So crucial is his vote that the climate change minister, Penny Wong, agreed to see him with his four advisers, all leading Australian scientists.
Fielding put to the minister three questions. How, since temperatures have been dropping, can CO2 be blamed for them rising? What, if CO2 was the cause of recent warming, was the cause of temperatures rising higher in the past? Why, since the official computer models have been proved wrong, should we rely on them for future projections?
The written answers produced by the minister's own scientific advisers proved so woolly and full of elementary errors that Fielding's team have now published a 50-page, fully-referenced "Due Diligence'' paper tearing them apart. In light of the inadequacy of the Government's reply, the Senator has announced that he will be voting against the bill.
The wider significance of this episode is that it is the first time a Western government has allowed itself to be drawn into debating the science behind the global warming scare with expert scientists representing the "counter consensus" – and the "consensus" lost hands down.
We still have a long way to go before that Copenhagen treaty is agreed in December, and with China, India and 128 other countries still demanding trillions of dollars as the price of their co-operation, the prospect of anything but a hopelessly fudged agreement looks slim. But even a compromise could inflict devastating damage on our own economic future – all for a theory now shot so full of holes that its supporters are having to suppress free speech to defend it.
Flying in the face of reason
Even now it is not widely appreciated that in 2003 the power to regulate air safety across the EU was taken over by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Several times I reported evidence that this new EU body in its shiny headquarters in Cologne would be too weak, incompetent and bureaucratic to do the job properly. Since then one of many problems reported to EASA has been a serious fault in the speed probes of some Airbus airliners, which can cause the automatic piloting system unexpectedly to shut down. EASA did nothing to ensure that the fault was corrected.
Last month, when Air France’s Airbus flight 447 plunged into the Atlantic, killing everyone on board, this fault was high on the list as a possible cause. So far, apart from hinting at 'pilot error’, the authorities have come up with no explanation. But last week Air France pilots demonstrated in Paris, writing a letter to EASA and its French subordinate agency, protesting that 'appropriate measures from either agency’, forcing the manufacturers to make the necessary changes, 'would have helped prevent the sequence of events that led to the loss of control of the aircraft’. The real problem with handing over to the EU the power to govern Europe is simply that it doesn’t work.