“Natural forces causing climate change such as solar sunspots, earth’s orbit changes, ocean currents, volcanoes, etc. are considered unimportant during this period of increased fossil-fuel-produced carbon dioxide (mid-20th century to the present). This is a serious distortion of the simple meaning of the term climate change.”
On March 31, the New York Times featured an article by Justin Gillis “Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst is Yet to Come” that reported findings in the just released UN IPCC Working Group II report “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability”.
The 44-page Summary For Policymakers defines climate change as follows:
Note that the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes.
Thus “climate change” in UN IPCC Reports is changes in climate due to human-caused atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. This marginalizes climate change that has occurred over the 4.5 billion-year history of the planet.
Natural forces causing climate change such as solar sunspots, earth’s orbit changes, ocean currents, volcanoes, etc. are considered unimportant during this period of increased fossil-fuel-produced carbon dioxide (mid-20th century to the present). This is a serious distortion of the simple meaning of the term climate change.
CO2 Benefits Food Supply
New York Times correspondent Gillis gives the alarmist summary for policymakers top play. “In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at a considerable risk—a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.” He adds, “Studies have found that parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out because of climate change, and some experts believe that droughts there have contributed to political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Can global warming due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide be a serious threat to the food supply? Carbon dioxide is an airborne fertilizer that increases leaf growth and root sizes that makes crops more tolerant to drought. Food growth since mid-20th century has increased drastically due to population growth from 2.5 billion to 7 billion. It may be the increase in carbon dioxide from 310 ppm to today’s 400 ppm is the reason we are able to feed 7 billion.
The article said there is a decrease in food supply due to climate change. This is true due to making biofuels from food fuels–corn and soybeans. In the U. S. alone, 5 billion bushels of corn are used annually to make ethanol and one billion bushels of soy beans to make biodiesel. It was estimated in 2012 the amount of corn diverted to ethanol in the U. S. would feed 412 million. Thus foolish efforts to mitigate climate change are costing the public dearly as well as other efforts to replace coal, oil, and natural gas with renewable energy sources– solar and wind.
Food diverted to making biofuels caused substantial price increases. The overthrow of the Egyptian and other North African governments in early 2011 called the Arab Spring is blamed on the high cost of food in those countries leading to political unrest among the poor without hope.
Conflict: Stretching the Alarm toward Comedy
Mr. Gillis also wrote, “The report also cited the possibility of violent conflict over land, water, or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly ‘by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.’”
Past history shows the earth progressed for thousands of years through cycles of warming and cooling of approximate 500-year duration. The present cycle is called the Current Warming Period which started in 1850. This cycle was preceded by the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1850. Historians note the Little Ice Age was a period of much misery. War was conducted over land and resources with names 100 Years War, 30 Years War, Napoleonic Wars– just to name a few.
Human health suffered through events like the Bubonic Plague Plague that wiped out one-quarter to one-half the population of Europe. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels remained the same from 1000 AD until about 1900. If climate change was a cause for these events, it had to be natural causes.
The recent occupation of the Crimea by Russia shows lack of fossil fuel energy production by the European Union and United States left them in a position of weakness in proposing sanctions to stop Russian aggression. Capturing oil resources were major motivations of Germany and Japan in their starting World War II that left tens of millions dead. Wind mills and solar panels are a poor substitute for the transportable energy supplies of fossil fuels needed in providing stability in modern society.
Sea Level Rise
Another citation by Mr. Gillis, “The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants….”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration displays a website that show tidal gauge measurements covering over 150 years for 128 U. S. locations and another 112 locations covering the rest of the world. Examining the data shows sea level rises range from 1 to 3 mm per year at most locations or 4 inches to 12 inches per century.
Examination of sea level rise the past 20 years, when the greatest increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has taken place, show the rate of rise is decreasing compared to the first half of the 20th century. Residents of Miami Beach have no greater fear of losing their property the next fifty years as those who built the homes in the early 20th century.
Market Adaptation, Not Government Mitigation
Lord Matt Ridley wrote for The Spectator “We have a new climate change consensus –and its good news everyone”. He noticed that in many locations in the IPCC reports were remarks about adapting to threats of climate change which are less expensive and disruptive than attempts at mitigation by replacing fossil fuels with non-carbon dioxide emitting energy sources or other techniques.
Adapting can be as simple as using hurricane anchors in home construction in areas threatened by hurricanes or tornados. Another example of adaptation is the century-old practice of building storm cellars for homes in areas prone to tornados as done in the U. S. Midwest.
Mitigation is the proposed abandoning the world’s abundant sources of coal, oil, and natural gas that are relatively inexpensive, easily transported, and spread throughout the planet. Alternative energy sources are more expensive, less reliable, less mobile, and require great land areas that make them impossible to scale up to the demands of a prosperous planet.
Abandoning fossil fuels leave no hope for developing nations to rise above poverty and insures great sacrifices in life’s pleasures for developed nations. Abandoning fossil fuels as a means of mitigation will be as successful as placing large fans on beaches threatened by hurricanes in hopes of blowing back the wind and storm surges.
Correcting Political Science
Justin Gillis most likely based his New York Times article on press releases about the Yokohama meeting to decide the wording for the Summary for Policymakers, portions of the Summary for Policymakers, and interviews with those promoting a United Nations-led movement to regulate fossil fuel use.
This would produce an article describing a scary future and demands for immediate actions to stop carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Such stories are needed to provide ammunition for a new world-wide version of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty the UN hopes to pass in Paris late November 2015.
Reports refuting exaggerations of this UN IPCC Report are given by publications of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)—a group of scientist organized since 2003 to report the truth about issues involving climate change. Responses to this latest UN IPCC Report are given by Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts which gives an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on impacts of climate change on plants, terrestrial animals, aquatic life, and human well-being.
Another report, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy, and Policies, then uses economics and policy analysis to explain the implications of climate change on energy production and consumption and a wide range of public policies.
Four other reports by the NIPCC are published in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013 challenging previous UN IPCC Reports. All these reports are from an international network of climate scientists sponsored by three nonprofit organizations: Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), and The Heartland Institute. Those volumes along with separate executive summaries for the second, third, and fourth reports are available free online on this site.
Heartland Conference Ahead
In order to provide current information on climate change, The Heartland Institute is sponsoring the 9th International Conference on Climate Change July at the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas July 7-9. Details about the conference and registration material are given at the link. This is the 9th conference of a series started in 2008 that featured an international group of speakers on the latest information about climate change and follies of mitigation.
A more common sense examination of this latest UN IPCC Report may lead to the conclusions of Matt Ridley that adaptation is the route for preparing for the climate change we know will naturally occur in the future. Humans can’t control the uncontrollable . It is senseless to continue wasting tax dollars on UN IPCC meetings spread around the world and a proper title for Justin Gillis’ article might read “It’s Time for the UN IPCC Call ‘Last Dance’.”
James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute