Every seven years, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reviews the impact of man-made greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. The latest review – its Fifth International Assessment – comprises three reports, each of which runs into thousands of pages. The Working Group I report, which assessed physical scientific aspects of the climate, was released in September last year. The Working Group II report, assessing the impact, adaptation and vulnerability of climate change on socio-economic and natural systems, was released last week. The report from Working Group III, expected later this week, will assess options for mitigating climate change through limiting greenhouse gas emissions and removing them from the atmosphere.
While the Chairman of the IPCC, Rajandra Pachauri, alleged that last week’s report was its most terrifying yet, claiming ‘no one on this planet is going to be untouched’, some analysts have described it is as being more ‘reasonable’ than previous reports.
If it is more moderate, there is, of course, a very good reason – there has been no global warming for the past 16 years. In spite of increasing levels of human emissions of carbon dioxide, world wide global temperatures stopped rising in 1998. Essentially, this means that the dire predictions that the world is headed for a climate catastrophe if mankind keeps on producing carbon dioxide, is not credible.
In light of that, it is difficult to understand why so many journalists representing the independent press continue to report the IPCC’s predictions of impending catastrophe as if they are fact – when clearly they cannot be factual. As we know, the vital role a sceptical media plays in a democracy depends on the maintenance of high standards of accuracy, fairness and balance in their reporting. With a duty to not deliberately “mislead or misinform readers by commission or omission”, surely this means that they must present both sides of a debate whenever there is any doubt whatsoever.
Fortunately, some media do understand that it is their role to challenge misguided assumptions – in How IPPC report was ramped up to predict wars, extreme weather and famine, the UK’s Mail On-line exposes how the latest IPCC report has been hyped up in order to grab more headlines and scare more people.
The IPCC’s predictions are of course, based on computer models. But modelling the climate is notoriously difficult since the climate is an extraordinarily complex system that averages weather over time and space. Weather itself is a chaotic system that is largely unpredictable beyond about five days. In Chaos Theory – the field of mathematics that studies the behaviour of highly sensitive dynamic systems like the weather – small differences in initial conditions, such as rounding errors, can produce such widely divergent outcomes that long-term predictions are virtually impossible.
The number of factors that influence the weather and the climate is huge – including the sun, the oceans, mountain ranges, the poles, wind, rain, clouds, humidity, atmospheric pressure, even the earth’s orbit. Natural events can also cause devastating impacts – lightening strikes dozens of times every second, giant cyclones occur every four days, major earthquakes every ten days, volcanic eruptions every two weeks, and tsunamis every two months.
In light of these difficulties it is no wonder that the IPCC’s computer models have proved to be inaccurate. But questions remain – why are their reports being treated so seriously, when the fundamental premise they are based on is wrong? And, if mankind isn’t the cause of changes in the earth’s temperature, what is?
To answer this second question, we need to look at history. As we know, global temperatures have been in a constant state of flux since the earth was formed some 4.5 billion years ago. There have been periods when the planet has been so warm that it has been completely ice free. During those periods – which lasted millions of years – the oceans were higher, covering around a third of the present land area.
Eventually, however, the earth would start to cool, snow would fall on the mountains reflecting more of the sun’s heat, the poles would begin to freeze over, glacial ice would start to cover the land, the sea level would fall, and an ice age would begin.
Within an ice age there are cycles of warmer weather called interglacial periods, when the earth’s temperature increases but permanent snow and ice remain. These interglacial periods are followed by colder glacial periods where the temperature cools and glacial ice sheets advance.
The earth is presently in an interglacial period within an ice age. Interglacial periods last for around 10,000 years, to be followed by glacial periods of around 100,000 years. With the present interglacial period having already lasted for some 10,500 years, history would suggest we are now overdue for a new glacial period.
As the above graph from the IPCC shows, when the earth comes out of a cooler period, such as the Little Ice Age – which lasted from around 1500 to 1700 AD and was so cold that London’s River Thames froze over with ice so thick that Frost Fairs could be held – global temperatures slowly increase accompanied by a gradual rise in sea levels. However, once a temperature plateau is reached, global warming will stop and the sea level rise will peter out. That, of course, is what appears to now be underway – since 1998 there has been no appreciable warming and little noticeable sea level rise.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is Dr David Kear, a former Director General of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, United Nations consultant, and South Pacific geoscientist. Dr Kear has produced a paper, Global warming alias Climate Change – the non-existent threat to us all, including our grandchildren, in which he debunks the alarmist predictions being made by the IPCC and raises concerns about public policy implications.
Dr Kear explains that in 1957, he was invited to join an international group researching sea level changes: “Most interest then was about the rate of sea level rise as the Earth warmed following the ‘Little Ice Age’. Our Group determined the rate of sea level rise in many different World regions, from widely-available readings of tide gauges. The average for us all was 125 mm/century. Hence it would take 8 centuries for sea level to rise 1m – no serious threat to us.
“Subsequently, I attended many international science conferences representing DSIR, NZ or Pacific Nations. I noted the words ‘Global Warming’ appearing increasingly in paper titles, and sensed a growing number of adherents. Those latter arranged a first-ever ‘Conference on Global Warming’ in Vienna in 1985. Unlike most such meetings, where a communiqué summarising achievements was released on the final day, the full results of this one were delayed for over 2 years.
“When they did appear (front page, NZ Herald, two days before Christmas 1987) a World Declaration included ‘Overseas scientists have estimated that the seas around New Zealand will rise by up to 1.4m in the next 40 years’. That article concentrated on the massive consequent problems, caused by our carbon dioxide emissions, but gave no adequate supporting science. That rate of rise was equivalent to 3,500 mm/century, 28 times faster than our 125. Hence we stupidly ignored it, thinking no-one could possibly believe it. But the World did believe, and the Global Warming mirage was born. Had 3,500 been true, sea level should have risen by almost 1m by today – it hasn’t, not even closely. This showed unambiguously that those ‘Overseas Scientists’ were not true scientists.
Dr Kear explains that once the United Nations became involved and established the IPCC, “They accepted that ‘1.4m in 40 yrs’ was wrong and re-evaluated it as ‘0.49m by 2100’. Thus they dropped 3,500 down to 500 mm/century, 14% of the original. The cause remained unchanged – our CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. In no other human activity would those involved retain a belief when the most crucial item involved was found to be 86% wrong by themselves.”
It is important to remember that the United Nations is a political organisation, not a scientific one. If the UN’s IPCC was a scientific body, it would have produced reproducible scientific evidence proving that human induced carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming many years ago, but it has been unable to do so. Not only that, but true scientists would not be able to get away with claiming their computer models can accurately predict the climate in a hundred years time, when they couldn’t predict that global warming would stop in 1998. Under these circumstances, their credibility would have been in tatters and their predictions ignored.
In their latest report, the IPCC again claims that sea level rise in Australasia is a major threat: “Risks from sea level rise continue to increase beyond 2100 even if temperatures are stabilised.” Their ominous predictions have already been incorporated into government policy. The Ministry for the Environment warns local body councils to plan for sea-level rises of between half a metre and 0.8 metre by the end of the century – going up to 1 metre beyond 2100 – based on “the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report”.
With local government being required to plan for massive sea level rises, David Kear explains that it can be a major challenge convincing officials that the physical evidence shows that sea levels are falling:
“The fact that sea level is no longer rising is a new extra factor for councils to ignore. In the example of Ohope Beach, a Commission of enquiry, set up by Council, backed the Council’s view of landwards inundation. That rejected all citizens’ factual evidence of seawards net movement for periods ranging from 50 to 5,000 years. Much worse, the Council’s own appointed consultants provided an additional report based on every coastal survey for which a record was available. It showed a ‘retreat of the sea’ [seaward shoreline movement, or accretion] at the only three Ohope sites, of 0.30-0.94 m/yr over 130 years that was still ongoing in 2008. Clearly neither Council nor Commission had bothered to read that critical report, written by highly regarded consultants, who had been appointed for this project by the Council itself.”
So with no appreciable rise in global temperatures or sea levels for around 16 years, surely our governments should not only be rejecting any new policies designed to prevent non-existent global warming, but they should also be repealing all policies designed to mitigate man-made greenhouse gas production, like the Emissions Trading Scheme, which are pushing up the price of electricity, the cost of living, and are standing in the way of economic growth – all for no benefit whatsoever to the climate or the country.
I will leave the last words to Dr Kear: “The widespread obsession with Global-Warming-Climate-Change, in opposition to all factual evidence, is quite incredible. It leads to unfair treatment of some citizens, and a massive bill for all, for nothing useful. When will citizens revolt effectively against such callous disregard for their observations and wishes, by those who are essentially their elected employees? When will the perpetrators examine the basis of their ideology, and realise that it’s based on unfounded unscientific beliefs, not on confirmed, widely-available investigations by real scientists who abide by the moral standards of their profession?”
I would urge everyone reading this newsletter who shares our concerns about how climate change misinformation is being used to force through unwarranted public policies, to visit our website and read Dr Kear’s short paper – then let me know (by email HERE) whether you think we should try to find a way to make the paper available more widely as part of a national public information campaign.
THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:
Should recommendations from the UN’s IPCC be used as a basis for public policy in New Zealand?
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1. IPCC, Climate Change 2014: Impact, Adaptation, and Vulnerability
2. Mail On-line, How IPPC report was ramped up to predict wars, extreme weather and famine
3. Ministry for the Environment, Coastal Hazards and Climate Change
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