Another momentous scientific report announcing "irrefutable proof" that climate change is happening and it's all our fault. How long before global warming denial becomes an indictable offence?
But here's a funny thing. Two years ago there was a very catastrophic hurricane season in the Caribbean when, among other disasters, New Orleans was all but wiped off the map. We were sagely informed by the experts at the time that this was owing to global warming. I remember watching a BBC science programme and hearing a vastly learned professor with a beard tell us solemnly,
"The increased frequency and strength of hurricanes is what we shall have to learn to expect given global warming".
Yet last year there were far fewer hurricanes and those there have been were relatively mild. The explanation? Why, good old global warming again of course.
Professor Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, writes,
"In the constant media barrage of possible greenhouse related catastrophes, almost any event is now linked to climate change". He adds, "We should not spend vast amounts of money to cut a tiny slice of the global temperature increase when this constitutes a poor use of resources and when we could probably use these funds far more effectively in the developing world".
For saying this, Lomborg has had death threats. Other scientists who do not toe the global warming-is-happening-and-it's-all-our-fault line have received the same. There are plenty of dissenters. A whole regiment of senior climatologists and meteorologists wrote to The Times in 2007 to complain that they couldn't get their research findings published — because they disagreed with the maniacal orthodoxy.
Lomborg is not a lone voice of opposition. In 1998 Frederick Seitz was the instigator of a petition signed by more than 20,000 American scientists urging the US government to reject the 1997 Kyoto global warming agreement which places limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Seitz's petition said:
"The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology and damage the health and welfare of mankind."
Seitz, who died in March 2008, was one of the most distinguished scientists of the 20th century, noted especially for his application of the quantum theory of the solid state of matter.
In 2007 the meteorologist Anthony Watts forced NASA's Goddard Institute to correct a fundamental error in its data on US surface temperatures to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not, as the warmist fanatics claim, the 1990s, but the 1930s. Watts' careful research continues to be available on his website wattsupwiththat.com which shows a recent and dramatic dip in temperatures.
In the Spring of 2008, hundreds of climatologists and experts in statistics met in New York to question the so-called "consensus" on global warming. The chairman of the conference described their meeting as
"The kind of spirited discussion that is virtually absent from the global warming alarmist camp."
This meeting concluded by publishing the Manhattan Declaration which says:
"Attempts by governments to reduce CO2 emissions will markedly diminish prosperity while having no appreciable impact on the earth's warming."
2007 saw a very warm autumn. The experts, fanatics and obsessives all of them, put it down to global warming. If we have an extra cold winter, they will tell us it's a result of global warming. If my big toe feels cold or you get an attack of the gout, it will be owing to global warming. The same explanation will be given if England retain the Ashes in 2009 — or indeed if we lose them. In short, global warming has taken upon itself the character of a fundamentalist religion. And it is the nature of such religions that nothing, but nothing, is allowed to count against them.
In March 2008 winter raged furiously over great tracts of the earth's surface. In the USA there were atrocious blizzards as far south as Texas and Arkansas, while in the northern states and Canada they endured what they describe as "the winter from hell" which has broken records for cold and snow going back to 1873. Asia has suffered the northern hemisphere's deepest snow cover since 1966. In Afghanistan 1500 people have died from the cold and the farmers have lost 30,000 cattle. China officially reported "Our Winter Snow Disaster." Tibet has had six consecutive months of heavy snow with record low temperatures and 500,000 animals have perished, leaving three million people on the edge of starvation.
In my days as a philosophy student I did at least manage to learn that a proposition of alleged fact against which nothing is allowed to count as evidence is not a proposition at all, only something like a prejudice. But let us ask the basic question: "Is global warming happening?" I don't think it is. Of course we all know that the last twenty years or so have been warmer than usual, but that doesn't mean they will necessarily continue to be warmer. I can remember the 1950s and 1960s, colder decades, when the experts of those days confidently threatened us with an imminent ice age. And in any case the temperature measurements are skewed — because the observed increase is compared with the extremely low temperatures of the 1950s and 1960s.
The records over centuries and millennia show that the one thing we know for certain about the climate is that it is constantly changing. The regular cycle of climate change on planet earth is a series of ice ages interrupted by short periods of temperate weather. I have some friends, scientists and geologists, who have not swallowed the propaganda about global warming, and they tell me that actually we are overdue the next ice age.
If we look back, we notice at once that today's temperatures are by no means the highest experienced even in comparatively recent times. The earth is much cooler now than it was during the last post-glacial warming period between 6000BC and 3000BC. We know this to be a fact from the study of tree pollen data supplemented by animal, bird and insect remains as well as by tree-rings analysis. During those three millennia, mean annual global temperature was 2.1C higher than in the 20th Century and in northern Europe summers were 3.6C warmer and winters 2.7C warmer.
Even in the period we call modern history, there have occurred much bigger climate changes than anything we are seeing now. Parts of the 18th century for example were much colder than today. Dickens tells us of times when the Thames froze over for weeks on end. Whereas in the 9th century, there were vines growing in Greenland. Are we to suppose that the warmth which produced vines at such a northerly latitude was owing to Vikings driving around in four-by-fours? Incidentally, the Greens are notorious for getting their predictions wrong. Again I can remember the oil crisis of the 1970s when they told us assuredly that the world would have finally run out of oil by the year 2000. Wrong again.
Even on the figures produced by the global warming fanatics — they call it "the model" — there is no definite proof that global warming is in fact taking place. In every mathematical estimate there is always an allowance to be made for miscalculation, the margin of error. And on the present climate change models the margin of error is such that it might not be getting warmer at all, but staying the same or even cooling.
Global warming is reckoned to be caused by two gases: methane and carbon dioxide. The fact is that the amount of methane in the atmosphere has actually reduced in recent years. And, within the margin of error, levels of carbon dioxide have remained the same. Carbon dioxide is a gas necessary to sustain life on earth and most of it comes from plants and human exhalations. We couldn't do much to reduce that apart from universal defoliation and mass suicide.
In May 2008, 31,000 scientists signed a petition denying that mankind is responsible for global warming. They also claim that greenhouse gases, so far from being the scourge described by the Green fanatics, actually benefit the environment. The scientists say:
"The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology and damage the health and welfare of mankind. There is no convincing scientific evidence that the human release of greenhouse gases is causing or will cause in the foreseeable future, catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the climate."
The petition was issued by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in response to Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. Arthur Robinson, the Institute's president, said,
"If this many American scientists will sign the petition, you certainly can't continue to contend that there is a consensus on this subject."
Why is there this obsession with global warming, this fierce insistence that it is happening and that it is our fault? There are many reasons. First, it's a nice little earner for the university laboratories. Governments have been persuaded by the Green lobby that global warming is happening and so they are chucking money like mad — well, like Gordon actually — at research departments that will tell them what they want to know.
Also, after the fall of Communism, the stroppy, former revolutionary, Left has adopted pretended care for the environment as a stick with which to beat big business. Global warming is happening, they say, and it's all the fault of the nasty capitalists. But this is all part of the anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation lying agenda. They use global warming to play on that well known human failing, neurotic guilt. Mankind loves nothing better than to wring its corporate hands and cry, "It's all our fault! " And the media love a sensation. "Apocalypse Soon!" sells more papers than, "We rather believe the world will carry on pretty well as it has done in living memory"
The Left-Green totalitarians actually have a bit of a problem on their hands. They say we must cut down drastically on the use of fossil fuels. At the same time they are opposed to nuclear power. What do they think — that the world economy will survive by shoals of windmills on the North Yorkshire moors? I wonder that our contemporary Green enthusiasts can actually claim to care for the environment at all when their policies show that they have nothing but contempt for it. Except their motive were pure spite, how could they propose these forests of wind turbines which will industrialise our sublime country landscape (and seascape) into hideousness? Besides, these windmills are inefficient at providing a substantial source of energy. If it is a reliable energy source they are looking for, then they should look no further than nuclear power — and in the foreseeable future the prospect of nuclear fusion.
Worse, the environmentalists' obsession with biofuels means that land which used to be devoted to cereal production is being diverted from this primary usage just at the time when there is a critical world food crisis. Of course, this crisis moist affects "the developing world" about which the Greens say they care so fervently.
Whatever the contemporary mass psychosis or utopian fantasy, you can count on the Church of England to be among its most fervent devotees. Twenty years ago the obsession was with unilateral nuclear disarmament, despite the fact that it was the West's nuclear deterrent and our threat of massive retaliation which prevented the Soviets from launching a pre-emptive strike; and in the face of the conclusive argument against unilateralism presented by the fact that Japan, the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack, did not possess atomic weapons.
Now the Bishops and the Synod are obsessed with low-energy light bulbs and our "carbon footprint" and the pagan fantasy of global warming has become a regular preacher's substitute for authentic doctrine. I have heard four pseudo-apocalyptic sermons based on climate change in the last twelve months alone. There was an especially deranged example preached in St Giles Cripplegate in the City of London on Ascension Day 2007 in which the speaker said that Christ's apostles in the 1st Century thought the end of the world was imminent. They were wrong, said the preacher, it is we who are living in the last days — owing to global warming. I don't know whether this is a technical blasphemy, but it certainly counts as a vicious satire on the traditional doctrine of the Last Things. So much for the mind of the Church of England.
Of course I will be reproached for writing these things — because I've spoken out against, and I hope helped expose, the phoney religion of global warming. The totalitarian obsessives who preach it incessantly will accuse me of being irresponsible. I repudiate their charge. All the evidence is that the world has a climate which fluctuates constantly. It may be getting warmer just now. Soon it will start cooling again — just as it always has.
The rest is sheer propaganda and self-interested political fantasy.