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On climate, be skeptical of the profiteers of doom

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

As the author of numerous peer-reviewed papers on climate change, I am disappointed that the lavishly taxpayer-funded Christopher Keating (August 30) called my scarcely-funded friends Dr Tim Ball and Tom Harris “liars” and “paid shills” for the coal industry. In Britain, to accuse anyone of lying without proof that the victim intended to deceive is to libel him, and to accuse him of lying for profit is to aggravate the libel and multiply the damages. So let us set the record straight.

Ball and Harris had written a blameless op-ed (August 29) pointing out that coal-owners had betrayed their workers by doing too little to fight for them against the climate-change industry’s canting profiteers of doom.

Keating says coal is the chief source of sulfur and nitrogen compounds, radioactive particles and soot in the air and arsenic in the water. He does not say that modern coal-fired power stations produce negligible quantities of these trace pollutants. Nor does he say that coal, the cheapest source of reliable, base-load power, has done more to lift Man from poverty, disease and death than anything else. A true scientist weighs both sides.

The true reason for the campaign against coal-owners is that they were once among the biggest supporters of the Republican party. Keating claims, however, that coal is damaging the climate by emitting carbon dioxide, but is careful not to put that claim into scientific perspective. Despite almost a third of a millennium of industry, to the nearest tenth of one per cent there is no CO2 in the air at all. Therefore, mainstream climate science leads us to expect just 0.5 C° global warming by 2100.

All this fuss just to prevent half a degree of warming by our great-grandchildren’s time. In case the exiguity of this figure surprises you, a simple one-page calculation fully justifying it is available here. It was presented recently at the World Federation of Scientists’ annual conference in Sicily.

Time to fact-check the accident-prone Keating.

“Global warming has not stopped.” In fact, though a third of Man’s influence on climate has happened since 1997, the least-squares linear-regression trends on the UAH and RSS satellite records show no global warming for 18 years 5 months and 18 years 7 months respectively. The pause in global warming is old enough to vote. Surface thermometers show a little warming, but on all datasets the measured warming rate since the first report of the UN’s climate panel in 1990 has been one-half to one-third of the rate the panel had then predicted with “substantial” but misplaced confidence.

Hurricane activity is not at “a worldwide low”. Keating cherry-picked a couple of regions and a couple of years to prop up this misleading claim. According to the global Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index compiled by Dr Ryan Maue at Florida State University, the combined frequency, intensity and duration of all hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons has been at or close to a satellite-era low for five years.

There has been no decline in tornadoes. In fact, the linear trend on the tornado series, too, has been downward in recent years. As with typhoons, so with tornadoes, Keating cherry-picks by taking individual years or regions rather than doing what real climate scientists do: calculating least-squares trends on global data.

Antarctic ice is “10% below last year”. Again a cherry-pick. For the 18 months January 2014 to June 2015, the University of Illinois record shows Antarctic sea ice extent was at or close to its highest extent in the 35-year satellite record, which shows a rising trend. And global sea ice shows little change either in extent or in trend throughout the satellite era.

Antarctic land ice is declining. If it is (the records differ), it cannot be because of global warming. The UN’s climate panel, for whose most recent climate assessment report I was an expert reviewer, showed no warming of Antarctica during the satellite era. Same result from the satellites of UAH.

Land-based ice is “disappearing” worldwide. In fact, 95% of land-based ice is in Antarctica and Greenland, which show minuscule percentage declines in ice volume. For non-polar glaciers, the record is mixed – no particular change in the Himalayas, for instance, according to Prof. M.I. Bhat of the Indian Geological Survey. And the ice loss began almost everywhere in 1820-1880, long before we could have been the cause, suggesting a continuing natural recovery of global temperature following the Little Ice Age of 300 years ago, when solar activity was lower than for 11,000 years.

Keating reveals himself to be driven more by hard-Left prejudice than by hard-science fact when he says, “The science about manmade climate change is settled.” Er, no. His statement is too vague to be scientific. In general, science is very seldom settled. Keating should try reading the peer-reviewed journals of climate to which he contributes so little. Legates et al. (2013) reported that just 0.3% of the abstracts of 11,944 papers on climate and related topics published in the 21 years 1991-2011 said that recent warming was mostly manmade. Not much of a consensus there, then.

True, experiment shows greenhouse gases cause warming, but the question how much warming they may cause is not settled. It is the subject of vigorous debate: see, for instance, the list of peer-reviewed references to low future warming rates in Keeping it simple, a recent paper of which I was lead author, in the Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

One question is indeed settled. The overwhelming majority of the authorities in the peer-reviewed journals of economics conclude that, even at the exaggerated warming rates predicted by the failed computer models of climate, it is many times costlier to attempt to prevent global warming today than to let it happen and adapt to its imagined (and largely imaginary) net-adverse consequences the day after tomorrow.

On the facts, the correct policy to deal with global warming is to have the courage to do nothing.

Lord Monckton was an Expert Reviewer for the Fifth Assessment Report (2013) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and is the author of many papers on climate science, modeling and economics in the peer-reviewed journals.

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