So, you were telling me about climate change…
Of course, you already know that carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere have been measured in previous times at 1,000 parts per million. (This was during periods when, as you quite rightly say, mankind had no carbon dioxide-producing machinery or manufacturing capacity of any kind. Pre-Industrial Revolution, in other words; thousands of years before).
But even at 1,000 parts per million, Earth sustained life as we would recognise is – plant life, oxygenated seas, animals.
Currently carbon dioxide levels are measured at 400 parts per million. But you knew that, yes?
And, of course, planet earth is 4.54bn years old. Over that time, it has changed its very atmosphere. One land mass has become seven major continents and tens of thousands of smaller islands. And the composition of its oceans has changed.
As you correctly say, 90% of species that have ever existed on the planet were extinct before Homo Sapiens appeared.
Dominant species have come and gone, . The first of these, Ediacara Biota, dominated for the best part of 40 million years. Ediacara Biota disappeared as the oxygen levels in the oceans increased – displacing vast quantities of C02 (that’s carbon dioxide, of course) and possibly iron particles. So that’s the entire oceanic system altered before mankind even placed one foot on the planet.
Four hundred thousand years ago, Britain and France were part of the same land mass. Sometime in the following 200,000 years, a cataclysmic flood drowned not only the inhabitants but also the land they lived on, which was a deep valley. It simply filled up with water and created what we now know as the English Channel. No factories, or man-made pollution involved in that.
As recently as the 19th century, and for 500 years before, the river Thames frequently froze over for up to three months a year – so solidly and reliably, that marketplaces, funfairs and even temporary residences were set up on it.
Directly before this was the Medieval Warm Period when England was a wine producing country (for internal consumption, natch).
Anyway, sorry, I interrupted you. You were going to tell me how mankind is responsible for climate change?
Maybe you were going to tell me that at the polar extremes, there are dedicated scientists removing cylinders of ice from hundreds of thousands of years ago? Trapped in this ice is atmospheric information about the period during which it formed.
One set of scientists, led by Dr Eric Wolff from the British Antarctic Survey, say that, having gone back as far as 800,000 years, they have yet to find a concentration of C02 that is as heavy as it is currently.
On the other hand, arctic paleo climatologist Professor Ian Clark says that the relationship between C02 levels and temperature has been misunderstood and, more significantly, misrepresented. In fact, he says, warmer periods on earth are the cause – not the consequence – of rising C02 levels. In ice core samples he and his colleagues have studied, he says higher C02 levels lag behind a warmer climate by 800 years. So our current levels of C02 are the consequence of a climate event 800 years ago.
Professor Clark testified to this before the US Senate Standing Committee on Energy, The Environment and Natural Resources, saying that the planet is currently coming out of a 400 year cold period.
There are many, many scientists and climatologists like Professor Clark who go against the received wisdom of the IPCC, the main plank in the wobbly shed that houses the anthropomorphic (man-made) climate change debate. (I’ll come back to the IPCC).
Meantime, next time you hear someone say “the wettest on record”, “the coldest” or “the hottest”, remind yourself that we didn’t start keeping records until 1910. Seriously, do you think that 100 years of record keeping is a reasonable basis for saying that we understand what causes our weather, or is a long enough comparative period to justify doomsday prophecies?
We didn’t even understand the reality of the jet stream until the end of World War II, when pilots were berated for reporting that as they climbed higher, they started to go backwards. And yet the jet stream can massively affect weather with a (literal) flick of its tail.
And then there’s the IPCC. In its very name, the IPCC gives the game away: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Think of that word: Intergovernmental.
Aren’t scientists supposed to be free from politics, objective and rational in their deliberations? (See my last post, http://tinyurl.com/d6byxxa).
Seriously, you should think of the IPCC as one big lobby, but with governments worldwide as its clients, rather than just the government of one country. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of scientists in the world. Membership of the IPCC stands at around 2200, and about one third of these members are not scientists at all but professional lobbyists and political hacks. Of the scientists, only around 20% are climatologists.
Nevertheless, if you disagree with the IPCC’s conclusions and remedies, you are in serious trouble and will find yourself at the sharp end of the kind of propaganda onslaught that would have made Joseph Stalin proud.
So, just to be clear. I’m not saying the planet’s climate isn’t changing. It has been changing for billions of years. It will continue to change till the sun burns it to a crisp. What I am saying is, we’re having little or no effect.
Most of all, I’m saying: We Are Not Destroying The Planet. It is utter arrogance to believe we have that power. The planet, on the other hand, could kill us off, and carry on its merry way without a backward glance. Planet Earth is not sentimental.
So, what we have to do is figure out ways of living with this quixotic organism that, while it currently supports our being, might just throw a cataclysmic hissy fit and put an end to us. How we might do that would require many dedicated blog posts.
But I’ll tell you how we won’t achieve it, and that’s by punishing ourselves and requiring rich countries to reduce carbon emissions when China alone is about to start pumping out more than we can have ever imagined.
Above all, we need to be clever and ingenious, rather than pious and masochistic. We can do it. We just need to stop letting the IPCC dictate terms, and we need to revolt against green taxes. We got rid of the Poll Tax, and yet we’re happy to whistle to the Green lobby’s tune, which is more punitive and unfair by a factor of about 1,000.