Saturday, October 3, 2009

Is the greenhouse effect a boondoggle?

The jury, in my view, is still out on man-made climate change. Is our 10,000-year trend to warmer temperatures—with a cooler blip here and there—natural and inevitable, or has the emergence of mankind as the dominant influence on our planet been the recent cause of the warming, and can it be slowed or reversed?

Governments around the world are starting to bet hundreds of billions of dollars that global warming is heavily—perhaps overwhelmingly—caused by our lifestyle choices and can be slowed or maybe even reversed. Yet there remains a troubling number of naysayers—called “deniers” by the Green community to marginalize, and even demonize, them.

I remain agnostic with a bias towards the naysayers. I’m just not convinced. I am of the belief that the warming trend is inevitable regardless of any actions we are capable of taking.

So far, however, I’ve thought that actions to prevent warming of our atmosphere—however futile they may be—are good for they will help clean up pollution, which I see as a serious threat to our health and quality of life. I’m all for clean water and clean air, but will move to higher ground as my answer to global warming and rising sea levels.

Among the most troubling aspects of the idea of man-made global warming, has been the long-held belief among scientists that in medieval times the atmosphere was warmer than it is now, making 20th century statistics on global warming rather unimportant, at least, in relative terms. This said to me that the planet continues to warm and cool, and eventually we will probably have another ice age.

In the Financial Post, there is an opinion piece about “flawed climate data” that is a welcome addition to the debate, which I believe is far from being over. The author is Ross McKitrick, a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, and coauthor of Taken by Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy, and Politics of Global Warming.

“Thus the key ingredient in most of the studies that have been invoked to support the Hockey Stick, namely the Briffa Yamal series, depends on the influence of a woefully thin subsample of trees and the exclusion of readily-available data for the same area. Whatever is going on here, it is not science.”

- Ross McKitrick

The essay questions the accuracy of the so called “Mann Hockey Stick” graph so heavily relied upon by those who sought to “prove” man-made global warming. The Hockey Stick graph was developed by a U.S. climatologist, Michael Mann, and was a statistical compilation of tree ring data, which was supposed to prove that air temperatures had been stable for 900 years, then soared off the charts in the 20th century.

As you read through the essay, you wonder at how some scientists seem to search through evidence to find a set of data that confirms what they already believe to be the case and happily toss out those data that cause questions about the validity of their belief.

Usually, I would care less about those who like to fool themselves, however, with the world’s largest economies set to spend hundreds of billions on Green projects and reconfigure tax policy to align with the flawed theory of man-made global warming, I feel compelled to add my small voice to the cause of the deniers.

Here’s the author’s concluding paragraph:

“I get exasperated with fellow academics, and others who ought to know better, who pile on to the supposed global warming consensus without bothering to investigate any of the glaring scientific discrepancies and procedural flaws. Over the coming few years, as the costs of global warming policies mount and the evidence of a crisis continues to collapse, perhaps it will become socially permissible for people to start thinking for themselves again. In the meantime I am grateful for those few independent thinkers, like Steve McIntyre, who continue to ask the right questions and insist on scientific standards of openness and transparency.”

Here, here! to that.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. Global warming is real, and I think a way to tackle it is to make more efficient stuff? Even if global warming did not exist (which is false) more efficient cars n stuff would be good right?

  2. Few, if any, dispute global warming, Elisa. What some doubt, however, is the it's man-made rather than being a normal global cycle.

  3. Most of the remaining hockey stick graphs depend on one larch tree in Siberia for their hockey stick shape. Steve MacIntyre, Ross's co-author, has many recent posts on this at his blog climateaudit. Some of them have been criss posted at the "watts up with that" blog.

  4. I would like to know how shipping billions of $$$ to underdeveloped countries will fix glowBULL warming

  5. Elsa - global climate change has happened, is happening, and will happen. If it weren't for global warming, most of Canada would be buried under kilometres of ice. Also, historically, warm has been better, as cooler times produce crop failures. The 'little ice age' in the latter part of the 1000's (think about 1600 - 1850) was not overly much fun for the people living at that time as various crop failures produced famine.
    The current 'science' tries to insist that 1) the earth is warming up at a greater rate than ever before; 2) it's all man's fault for burning fossil fuels; and, 3) it can be stopped by reducing our standard of living sufficiently (the reducing the carbon footprint bit). Even if there is warming (disputed as data shows a cooling trend), and it is caused by human activity (also disputed as a quick study of geology shows the earth hotter and cooler without human help), there is major question as to whether the carbon sequestration and cap-and-trade currently touted as the answer do anything other than remove a source of plant food (plants love CO2) and enrich the traders.
    I agree one should 'walk gently this good earth'. But I think the current 'crisis' is a boondoggle manufactured to allow the ruling elites to more firmly control the peons and to enrich themselves. Much better, in my opinion, would be to spend the money to clean up air and water pollution.
    When I see Mr Gore, Dr Suzuki, and the Prince of Wales reducing their living standards to that which they say the rest of us should observe, I might be less sceptical. Until then, no way.