The Politics Of Global Warming

The search for truth leaves some scientists in the cold.
From the April 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Please fill in the blanks: “It is a ____ fact: The Global _______ presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years.”

The correct words are “cold” and “Cooling.” Author Lowell Ponte went on to warn that our decisions regarding the trend of global cooling were of “ultimate importance” and would determine “the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.” The year was 1976. Newsweek had published similar dire predictions in April of 1975, warning that the global cool down would cause a drastic decline in food production. One solution: Pour soot over the Arctic ice cap.

Today, of course, politicians and the media have declared the debate over. Global warming is now the threat to Planet Earth—and it is dire indeed.

Ellen Goodman wrote in the Boston Globe that “global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

While there are certain scientific realities connected to the global climate change scare, the search for truth is political at best and deceptive at worse. Despite many media claims that scientists have reached consensus on the reality of global warming and its causes and effects, the reality is that scientists are as divided on climate change as ever.

The Report Cometh

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc) started the latest round of media frenzy by announcing that man’s responsibility for global warming is no longer in question, sparking such headlines as “Scientists Call Global Warming ‘Unequivocal.’”

The announcement itself was bold: “February 2 will be remembered as the date when uncertainty was removed as to whether humans had anything to do with climate change on this planet. … The evidence is on the table,” the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program said.

However, that evidence has not yet been made public; the UN did not release a report, only a summary; the report itself will be held until May. The ipcc writes: “Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.” In other words, write the conclusions in the summary, then fix the data to match.

Politicians and press took the summary at face value, with no meaningful evidence to back it up, as though it were fact. Others, however, including respected scientist and one-time adviser to Margaret Thatcher, Lord Christopher Monckton, provide evidence that should give us pause about accepting the summary without question.

Comparing the current report’s findings to those of the UN’s last report in 2001, Monckton found that the new data overturned several previous conclusions. The 2001 report “overestimated the human influence on the climate since the Industrial Revolution by at least one third” and overshot its predictions on rising sea levels by more than double (Monckton, “ipcc Fourth Assessment Report,” February 2007). Monckton also reported that the rise in temperature between 2001 and 2006 was about 3/100ths of a degree—small enough to be “within the range of measurement error” and therefore not “statistically significant” (ibid.).

Why the wrong conclusions in the 2001 report? Monckton showed how it “undervalued the sun’s effects on historical and contemporary climate, slashed the natural greenhouse effect, overstated the past century’s temperature increase, repealed a fundamental law of physics and tripled the man-made greenhouse effect” (Sunday Telegraph, Nov. 5, 2006).

The UN is obviously not keen to publicize such faulty assumptions, and it can count on the media to glaze over the facts to headline alarmist pronouncements.

Perhaps most condemning, however, is the fact that scientists who are skeptical of global warming are, as the Wall Street Journal reveals, “routinely vetoed from contributing” to the debate (February 5). The much-publicized item from the summary that it is “very likely” (greater than 90 percent) that man is responsible for global warming may be directly related to that censorship. Vancouver Sun reporter Peter McKnight points to an ipcc document saying these likelihoods “may be based on quantitative analysis or an elicitation of expert views.” The trouble is, only those experts who already support the idea of global warming were polled, an omission that McKnight rightly calls a “political rather than scientific act.”

Consensus

The suggestion that scientists have reached a consensus on global warming is absurd, although it has been repeated often. There is a consensus that Earth’s overall temperature rose seven tenths of one degree during the 20th century. It is also true that co2 levels rose about 30 percent over this period. Everything else is contested.

For example, more than 60 leading climatologists sent an open letter on April 6, 2006, to Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, warning, “‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. … Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise.’”

Monckton asserted, “[U]sing reasonable data and assumptions, a simple global model shows that temperature will rise by just 0.1 to 1.4 degrees Celsius in the coming century, with a best estimate of 0.6 degrees Celsius, well within the medieval temperature range and only a fifth of the UN’s new, central projection” (Sunday Telegraph, op. cit.).

New Scientist magazine reported in January 2002 that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, contrary to expectations, is actually growing thicker. As it simply put it, “despite decades of research, Antarctic climate patterns remain poorly understood.” Researchers at the University of Illinois found that Antarctic temperatures have actually been getting cooler for the last 30 years using the novel approach of taking temperature readings rather than using computer models.

Even the idea that co2 is responsible for global warming has dubious origins. Canadian climatologist Timothy Ball explained: “The theory of global warming assumes that co2 is an atmospheric greenhouse gas and as it increases temperatures rise. It was then theorized that since humans were producing more co2 than before, the temperature would inevitably rise. The theory was accepted before testing had started, and effectively became a law. As [Richard] Lindzen [a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] said many years ago: ‘the consensus was reached before the research had even begun.’ Now, any scientist who dares to question the prevailing wisdom is marginalized and called a skeptic, when in fact they are simply being good scientists” (Canada Free Press, February 5).

Many scientists have pointed to solar activity, rather than human activity, as the cause for global warming. Sami Solanki, a solar physicist, claims the sun has been hotter, for longer, in the last 50 years than at any time in the past 11,400 years. Using his calculations, the sun could account for just about all of the Earth’s warming during the past century.

Lord Monckton has produced a wealth of data and numerous articles for the Telegraph providing what the wsj calls a “voice of sanity.” There is a concerted effort underway, however, to silence such voices. Lindzen reports that “Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis” (Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2006).

In 1995, Dr. David Deming, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Geosciences, published in Science a review of data showing a one-degree temperature increase in North America. The article, he later wrote, gave him “significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. … So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing e-mail that said, ‘We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period’ [a well-documented, widely recognized period during the Middle Ages warmer than any period in the 20th century]” (Tom Bethell, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science). The Medieval Warm Period subsequently disappeared from the UN’s 2001 report.

Deming also encountered one example of the media hiding the facts. When he was asked by a National Public Radio reporter if he intended his article to imply that the North American warming trend was due to natural causes (a point he assumed was uncontroversial), Deming said yes. The reporter replied, “Well, then, I guess we have no story. … People are only interested if the warming is due to human activities. Goodbye” (ibid.).

The trend continues today. Last November, Britain’s Labor foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, “compared climate skeptics to advocates of Islamic terror. Neither, she said, should have access to the media” (Telegraph, Nov. 12, 2006).

Solutions—But for What?

Adding to the dubiousness of the debate, numerous analysts have pointed out how pointless the reductions in greenhouse gasses demanded by the Kyoto protocol are—unless the goal is to devastate the U.S. economy. This is why the Senate voiced its disapproval of the protocol with a vote of 95-0 even with the Clinton/Gore administration pushing for it.

Canada’s environment minister has warned that his country’s economy would collapse if it worked harder to meet its Kyoto obligations; currently it is 30 percent over par. Russia initially refused to sign Kyoto on economic grounds, but finally acquiesced in 2004 with the promise to reduce its emissions by 0 percent.

Now, the UN has upped the ante. The current draft of the report recommends that 5 percent of gross domestic product worldwide be allocated to protect the climate—a $2.5 trillion investment. How effectively would this investment combat climate change? According to Monckton, if everyone complied with the Kyoto protocol, in one century, the global temperature would drop 1/25 of one degree. He also noted that if Britain “stopped using energy altogether, global temperature by 2035 would be six-thousandths of a degree Centigrade less than if we carried on as usual” (ibid.).

The Truth

“No matter if the science is all phony,” Canada’s Minister of the Environment Christine Stewart told reporters in 1998. “There are collateral environmental benefits. … Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world” (emphasis mine).

Read that again. Such faulty thinking infects much of the debate on global warming—ideology is more important than truth, and politics takes precedence over science. Considering how consistently the UN serves as a sounding board for open hatred of all things Western, capitalist and American, is it so outlandish to ask whether such bias taints the objectivity of the global warming report and affects how it is being used—especially considering how much its prescriptions would damage the U.S. economy?

But there is another level of this debate being overlooked by both sides.

The most important truth of the matter is this: Though humans may be able to effect a miniscule change in the climate, we don’t control the weather and we never have. Almighty God does. The Bible prophesies of weather disasters in the end time, not because of greenhouse gas emissions but because God uses catastrophe to punish for sin (e.g. Revelation 6:5-8; 8:4-12). In that sense, man is responsible for catastrophic weather (e.g. 2 Chronicles 6:26). That is the cause of our weather crisis—and repentance for those sins is the cure.

God doesn’t promise rain in due season and bountiful land yields for dumping soot on the Arctic ice cap or cutting co2 emissions. He does promise those things if we obey His commandments (Leviticus 26:3-4). We must not allow the highly politicized debate on this issue to obscure that critical truth.