Like ancient Druids pleading with the gods for good seasons, world leaders and their aides recently devoted a fortnight in Paris to pleading with each other to stop global temperatures from rising more than an average 2C above pre-industrial levels, when the Earth was emerging from the Little Ice Age.
Of the 196 nations represented at the COP21 conference, 154 were developing economies. Regardless of the direction of world temperatures, they left Paris happy that the UN’s Green Climate Fund, which aims to reach $US100 billion a year by 2020, will give them cash for anything they can pass off as remotely related to their intended national contributions to world CO2 reduction. They argue this is only fair. Poor countries fare worst from climate change and must be compensated for unspecified damage and their share of repairing the West’s legacy. You can bet $US100bn a year won’t do it.
Overwhelmingly, the money for the fund will come from 42 guilt-racked wealthy nations. That is their moral responsibility. They caused the warming. They threaten the planet. It’s time for them to repay their climate debts.
It matters not that there is no empirical scientific evidence to support these claims. Even the 2C target is not based on science, it was originally plucked out of thin air by the European People’s Party for election purposes. But then climate change is not about credible scientific evidence. It has its roots in Marxism, and ultimately the Green Fund is presided over by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, run by Costa Rican Marxist Christiana Figueres. The “paradigm-shifting” fund will provide employment for an army of green bureaucrats who will offer “concessional finance” for the development needs of less advanced countries.
China, the leading emitter, venting one billion tonnes of CO2 a year more than it admits to, has been adroit in dealing with the politics. It approaches its domestic air quality crisis under the banner of climate action and so turns a domestic necessity into a global virtue. From this and its lack of interest in aid for itself, China projects moral authority and, while there is no cap on its emissions and only a promise that they will peak by 2030, promotes emission restraints for others, for its own competitive advantage.
India has adopted a similar line. The world’s third largest emitter is set to overtake China. It will not accept constraints on development and does not spell out when emissions will peak. Like China, it will adopt cleaner energy to improve air quality and will claim UN compensation.
Having successfully captured the West, post-Paris, the noose will tighten. Despite assurances that intended nationally determined contributions, delivered before the conference, would keep temperature increases to no more than 2C, we are now told that even if fully implemented, temperatures will rise by 2.7C by 2100. So the Paris agreement will “only lay the groundwork” and all those hard-won pledges were based on a miscalculation.
How disappointing. But there is now an aspirational 1.5C ambition on the table that Figueres quickly endorsed. Should it ever be agreed to, expect more ambit claims. And without a Tony Abbott in Canberra or a Stephen Harper in Ottawa, no world leader utters a peep in protest.
Caught in a moral dilemma of its own making, the developed world concedes its culpability. Its representatives succumb to propaganda and bullying and credulously accept bogus science and catastrophism. They pay no heed to alternative views. They consider abandoning fossil fuels, the world’s cheapest, most efficient and wealth-creating power source, and baulk at nuclear alternatives.
Instead, they pour hundreds of billions of dollars into costly, in-efficient renewable energy, robbing their industries of flexibility and competitiveness and, punishing the world’s poorest citizens.
Indeed, Western capitalist societies have given up on rational thinking. They embrace junk science and junk economics and adopt wealth-destroying postmodern pseudo-economics, which teaches that taxpayer subsidies can produce desirable “economic transformation” and faster growth. Pigs may also fly.
Climate change has cowed once great powers into meekly surrendering sovereignty and independent thought to unelected bureaucrats in Geneva. From the White House to the Lodge, private choice now runs a distant second to collectivist visions.
Although only an aspiration now, the 1.5C target will be relentlessly pursued until adopted. The media, in step with the Green Machine, will bombard us with climate alarmism to the applause of the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, who says: “My mission is to make the world aware that climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism.” Really? That’s serious. Clearly authority, not common sense or science, now rules the world.
While some activists such as James Hansen may criticise the Paris agreement as “worthless words”, those such as Figueres, interested in reconfiguring the world’s political and economic structure, will be pleased with progress. We are another step closer to her ideal of ‘‘centralised transformation”, with the UN at the authoritarian centre, calling the shots and doling out transfer payments from the rich to ensure poor countries remain her mendicants. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “If we really want to put an end to global poverty, if we really want to make the world healthier and planet Earth environmentally sustainable, we have first to address the climate change issue.”
The only certainty to come out of COP21 is that there will be a COP22.
In 1589, Princess Anne of Denmark left to marry King James VI of Scotland. En route, her boat was struck by storms. Someone had to be blamed and, as was standard for the time, witches were the usual suspects.
More than 100 suspected witches were duly arrested and at least four people were burned at the stake. The fact James and Anne went on to be happily married, apparently unmolested by tempests, must have reassured them that justice had been done.
The supposed connection between human activity and the weather is an instinctive one and perhaps helps explain the remarkable persistence of incorrect views on climate change.
Every time there is a big cyclone a finger is soon pointed to the modern witch of carbon dioxide emissions. This continues despite there being no evidence that extreme weather events have increased because of global warming. The latest reportof the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits that “evidence suggests slight decreases in the frequency of tropical cyclones making landfall in the North Atlantic and the South Pacific”.
A significant issue with climate change science is that often only one side of the debate is heard, so clear exaggerations and untruths can remain unchallenged.
The US military pioneered the use of so-called red teams whose job was to argue against prevailing wisdom, making its strategies more robust. Climate change science would benefit from more red team analysis.
For example, if you listen to the mainstream media, you would not realise that since the last major attempt to forge a climate change agreement in Copenhagen six years ago, the science has become less certain and gives us less reason to worry. This is primarily because the globe’s climate seems less sensitive to increases in carbon dioxide than previously thought.
In just the past 18 years we have experienced one-third of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution, but temperatures have not increased as expected.
Satellite data shows no or only minimal warming, and surface-based measures show a warming rate far below projected climate models. At a US Senate hearing this week, John Christy, a lead author on previous IPCC reports, presented evidence that, on average, climate models over-estimated the rate of warming by three times compared with what actually has occurred.
If these models cannot replicate the past, how can we rely on them to predict the future?
The IPCC has recognised this uncertainty by winding down its estimates of how sensitive the climate is to carbon dioxide levels.
In 2007 it reported a possible range of 2C to 4.5C, whereas last year it reported a range of between 1.5C and 4.5C. More recent evidence indicates that the figures could be even lower.
The greatest uncertainty revolves around debates about the climate impact of aerosols in the atmosphere. A paper published this year in the Journal of Climate by Bjorn Stevens from the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology argues that the impact of aerosols on climate is significantly smaller than the latest IPCC report assumes.
Using these estimates shows that the upper bound of climate sensitivity should not be 4.5C but just 2.2C.
That is pretty close to what we were told the world needed to avoid dangerous climate change. Readers who are paying attention will note that some green activists are now saying we need to keep warming below 1.5C rather than 2C.
When the facts change, so can your arguments.
Whatever the facts, too much weight is placed on conformity in climate change science — most widely demonstrated by the inane argument that “97 per cent of scientists agree”.
Presumably 97 per cent of pundits agreed in the power of witchcraft in the 16th century.
Science is not a democracy. Scientific knowledge progresses from the ruthless exposure of competing hypotheses to criticism. But who is doing that critique of climate change theories today?
Public funding of climate change science almost exclusively flows to one side of the debate. Even just a small sliver of the reported $US100 billion ($139bn) fund that Paris is creating for developing countries could make a difference.
We need red team funding of scientists who take a different view on climate change. Even if such teams ultimately take positions that are incorrect, by challenging the climate zeitgeist they would make our scientific knowledge stronger. That means the policies we implement would be based less on dogma and more on a true appreciation of how carbon dioxide emissions affect our world.
Matthew Canavan is a Nationals senator for Queensland.