Climate Change update

The recent loss of electrical power to over 500,000 homes in Victoria has again demonstrated the fragility of the Australia national grid because of the focus on renewables.   I thought it would be helpful to my readers to explain why I am a Climate Sceptic.  Typically, when in an argument with an alarmist two arguments are used.:

  1. There is a scientific consensus that anthropogenic CO2 we emit is responsible for ‘climate change’ and this is accepted by ‘every reputable’ climate scientist and 99% of all climate scientists.
  2. Ad hominem attacks.

Why Consensus is Non-scientific

I have never forgotten the opening lines of my first lecture at Cambridge which was in Experimental Psychology (part of the Natural Sciences Tripos) in 1964.

“Welcome to Cambridge.  At the other place they produce Prime Ministers, here we produce Nobel Prize winners.  Cambridge has won more Nobel Prizes in Science than any other university.  Why? Cambridge is the world citadel of Empiricism & Scepticism.

Empiricism means Experiment & Observation trump Innate Ideas & Traditions. 

Scepticism means you doubt everything and everyone.

Astrology is a quack science, Freud was a quack, Jung was an even bigger one.

If you want to understand real science in psychology read Miller’s paper, “The Magical Number 7 ± 2.”

Ever since then I have been a sceptic and an empiricist.

Then I learned about Karl Popper.   Popper’s principal contribution to the philosophy of science rests on his rejection of the inductive method in the empirical sciences. According to this traditional view, a scientific hypothesis may be tested and verified by obtaining the repeated outcome of substantiating observations. As the Scottish empiricist David Hume had shown, however, only an infinite number of such confirming results could prove the theory correct. Popper argued instead that hypotheses are deductively validated by what he called the “falsifiability criterion.” Under this method, a scientist seeks to discover an observed exception to his postulated rule. The absence of contradictory evidence thereby becomes corroboration of his theory.

One of the great myths perpetuated by people who lack scientific training is that the “science” proves something. The opposite is the case. What good science does is disprove commonly held beliefs and forces you to come up with an alternative hypothesis. All the time you are adopting the Socrates mindset. You are a sceptic; you realise how little you know and begin by doubting everything.

We have been told for many years there is a scientific consensus that anthropogenic CO2 we emit is responsible for ‘climate change’ and this is accepted by ‘every reputable’ climate scientist/

There never has been any climate consensus, with many eminent international scientists such as Richard Lindzen, Henrik Svensmark, John Christy, Judith Curry, Ferenc Miskolczi, Miklos Zagoni, our own Ian Plimer, David Evans, and the late Professor Bob Carter at odds with the unproven CO2 hypothesis. More than 1,800 scientists, academics and professionals have also recently signed a petition refuting man-made global warming and stating: ‘There is no climate emergency.’

Whenever I get into a discussion about climate change my first question is what is the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?  Usually, the answer is between 5 and 20%.   Here is Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) at a House Transportation Committee about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in March 2023 questioning senior bureaucrats from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA was established in December 1970 by the executive order of President Richard Nixon. It is an agency of the United States federal government whose mission is to protect human and environmental health. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the EPA is responsible for creating standards and laws promoting the health of individuals and the environment.

(Note the video has had over 2.5m views and attracted 15,500 comments.)

The actual percentage is 0.04%.  If you poured a pint of beer into a vat and then poured in 100 pints of water you would have the equivalent concentration.  If you just look at the numbers the emphasis by governments and the media on carbon dioxide being the major driver of climate change is misplaced.  I just cannot accept that an increase in mass of a trace gas equal to 3 millionths of the total mass of hydrosphere + atmosphere will cause significant rise in the temperature of both.

On the other hand, I can accept that a heat radiating celestial object only 8 light-minutes away and 1,300,000 times the mass of the earth can have an effect on the earth’s temperature.  And this is substantiated by the difference in winter and summer temperatures caused by the position of the earth in its elliptical orbit and angle of the earth’s axis to the planetary orbit plane.

Ad hominem attacks.

This fallacy occurs when, instead of addressing someone’s argument or position, you irrelevantly attack the person or some aspect of the person who is making the argument.

The most recent egregious example is the current defamation case by Michael Mann against Mark Steyn.

Margaret Thatcher Case Study

Former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher was the first world leader to voice alarm over global warming, back in 1988.  She backed the setting up of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, and promised the Met Office lavish funding for its Hadley Centre, which she opened in 1990, as a world authority on “human-induced climate change”.

It is not widely appreciated, however, that there was a dramatic twist to her story. In 2003, towards the end of her last book, Statecraft, in a passage headed “Hot Air and Global Warming”, she issued what amounts to an almost complete recantation of her earlier views.

She voiced precisely the fundamental doubts about the warming scare that have since become familiar to us. Pouring scorn on the “doomsters”, she questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive the scare, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of “costly and economically damaging” schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.

In other words, long before it became fashionable, Lady Thatcher was converted to the view of those who, on both scientific and political grounds, are profoundly sceptical of the climate change ideology. Alas, what she set in train earlier continues to exercise its baleful influence to this day. But the fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of “climate sceptics” has been almost entirely buried from view. (See Was Margaret Thatcher The First Climate Sceptic? 08/10/19, Christopher Booker, The Daily Telegraph).

Margaret Thatcher rarely referred to her being the first female UK Prime Minister; on the other hand, she often claimed she was the first scientist to be Prime Minister.  The above change from alarmist to sceptic demonstrates she was a true scientist.

This blog first appeared on LinkedIn on 18 February 2024 


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