I have been interested in whether climate alarmism is based on valid science for almost a decade, and have long held that it is not (see here and here). In the last few years the literature has blossomed with more and more serious damning studies from a climate alarmist viewpoint. Two weeks ago I outlined the nature of the costs being incurred to meet the desires of climate alarmists to reduce human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide.
It is becoming increasingly evident that increases in emissions of CO2 have had no significant effect on temperatures, and that assumptions made by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in related issues fail tests based on the scientific method and sophisticated econometric tests.
Skeptics have questioned many aspects of the UN IPCC’s justification of climate alarmism. One of many problems is that the “science” has never really been reviewed by a truly independent official review group. In the case of the US, the responsibility for this lies with the US Environmental Protection Agency. They did issue an Endangerment Finding (EF) in 2009. But they admitted that they used the “science” from the IPCC rather than their own independent analysis, and chose not to have it reviewed by the Agency’s Science Advisory Board or by truly independent outside reviewers. The Trump Administration has not chosen to reevaluate the 2009 EF to date. This appears to be likely to be a very serious error since it gives an opening for the alarmists to argue that their alarmist “science” actually has some scientific validity. The left wing of the Democratic Party is already pushing for a much more radical “Green New Deal” while the Trump Administration cowers from even challenging either the IPCC “science” or the 2009 EPA EF.
There has always been considerable doubt whether the UN IPCC’s reports have been intended to construct the best justification for climate alarmism they could or whether they really tried to carry out a truly independent assessment. I have long argued for the former. If ao, they had to argue that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide were increasing temperatures if they were to fulfill the unfortunate vision of the Club of Rome that preceded the IPCC. It was only by making CO2 a villain that they could attack modern civilization, as was their aim.
But what if this was contrary to reality and it is temperatures that impact atmospheric CO2 levels, not vice versa? There is now strong evidence that this is the case. This IPCC assumption is central to climate alarmism, and without it alarmism collapses.
If CO2 levels are impacted by temperatures, not human emissions, there is now both theoretical and experimental evidence for this. Higher temperatures result in higher levels of CO2. One important point is that the main issue is what actually is taking place in the real world, not what might happen theoretically. Too often the discussion centers on whether something could happen, not whether it is happening.
The Scientific Evidence
So in summary, the basic question is whether (A) Changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide impact temperatures as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims or whether (B) changes in temperatures impact carbon dioxide levels, as some climate skeptics believe. There are several ways to determine this:
- 1. Mathematically rigorous structural econometric studies. If successful, such studies should be able to impact what influences what in the natural world. The idea is to formulate reasonable equations describing relevant relationships in the natural world and then test them using real world data to see which equations are the most accurate in terms describing what happens in the real world.
- 2. Scientific method by reviewing whether IPCC assumptions leading to their conclusion to see whether they are invalid by showing that their inferences are not consistent with observations. The scientific method can determine which hypotheses are invalid, but not which hypotheses are correct. But showing that particular IPCC assumptions are invalid can play a useful role in showing that related IPCC conclusions are invalid.
- 3. Empirical studies that show whether temperatures impact CO
- concentrations, not the opposite.
1. The most direct way to determine whether CO2 impacts temperatures or temperatures changes impact CO2 changes is to explicitly test for this using mathematically rigorous structural econometric studies. By testing both formulations, such studies have shown that temperatures impact CO2. The study discussed in this blog post invalidates this IPCC basic hypothesis and shows that (B) increases in CO2levels have had no significant effect on temperatures. This is probably the most definitive answer to the basic question, but has rarely been considered in the climate debate despite its importance. But it needs to be.
2. Numerous IPCC assumptions have been shown to be invalid by showing that their inferences are not valid; even one such assumption means that the relevant IPCC hypotheses do not satisfy the scientific method, and must be discarded according to the scientific method.
3. A third approach is to directly compare CO2 empirical measurements of emissions with temperatures and determine how the two sets of data compare with each other. Several recent studies also support the hypothesis that CO2 levels are impacted by temperatures (see here, and here, and Appendix C here). One simple example is studies showing where high-CO2 levels are to be found (it is not over large urban areas with high CO2 emissions).
Although there has been debate, particularly on approaches 2 and 3, I believe that the evidence supports (B). There has been little debate on approach (1) even though it would appear to be the most direct and clear-cut of the approaches that have been used. But valid science supports (B) using all three of these approaches.
The simple conclusion is that even if we desire to keep global temperatures below some particular level, attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions serve no useful purpose other than to enrich those who claim to be doing that over those that do not. A particularly bad example is the offshore wind proposal approved for construction in the ocean off Norfolk, Virginia. This is to be done at particularly high cost and risk to electricity ratepayers.
By now there is ample documentation concerning all of this. But the Climate-industrial Complex pays no attention and calls anyone who expresses doubts concerning all those who advocate such views climate “deniers” that they allege are in the pay of companies supplying fossil fuels. Little time is spent examining the arguments made by climate skeptics, particularly those reported in blog posts such as this.
One estimate is that in recent years the world has spent roughly US$1.5 trillion each year on the basis of this bad science. Most of this has been wasted since there are lower cost ways to obtain more useful energy from fossil fuels, and substitution of wind and solar do not bring about lower temperatures (which would probably be a bad objective anyway). It is very tragic that such huge sums have been wasted when there are so many other important needs that could have been met with such a vast expenditure. Just as concerning is that climate alarmists have shown the vulnerability of valid science to attempts to sell junk science to the public. Is this what the future holds?
Climate Alarmism Is a Total Waste and Fraud
What this research indicates is that it appears to not be possible to lower temperatures by reducing CO2 emissions as the alarmists claim. It does not matter how much is spent or how much propaganda is used. It is a total waste and fraud. But let us assume for a moment that it were possible. CO2 is a minor constituent of the atmosphere in terms of volume; but its absence would end plant life on Earth and thus life on Earth. So it is not a pollutant; it is an essential building block of life itself. Trying to reduce it by reducing human-caused emissions is not possible and is the wrong goal even if we could. Within reason, we need more CO2 in the atmosphere, not less.
The costs of allegedly reducing CO2 emissions are so large in terms of both expenditures and reduced reliability of energy sources that it is clearly worthwhile to try to determine whether A or B is correct before building even one more solar or wind facility. The cost of doing this is a very minor fraction of the cost of actually trying to reduce CO2 emissions. Yet the world has largely concentrated on reducing human CO2emissions. The evidence shows that decarbonization is surely the most expensive and useless scam in all of human history. As long as the world depends on the IPCC to determine the answer, we will never learn the answers. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration may be scared to confront the “environmentalists” and reevaluate the EF, but that is what needs to be done.
It is very important to repeal the EF during President Trump’s first term so that subsequent administrations cannot use it to easily undo the changes made to EPA’s climate regulations during the Trump Administration; if so, it needs to be started very soon. Nothing else holds much prospect of bringing the climate alarmist scam to an end. The Trump Administration should directly challenge the junk science long pushed by the climate alarmists in a way that the alarmists cannot just ignore it, as they now do.