TCS Daily

The Dénouement Is Imminent

By Hans H.J. Labohm - July 20, 2004 12:00 AM

Time is running out to beat about the bush. The man-made global warming paradigm is about to collapse. In its wake the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) process will have to change tack. In the mean time, the Kyoto Treaty seems to be moribund.
A couple of years ago I started to get interested in the man-made global warming issue. The issue was considered to be a scientific 'chasse gardée' in which climatologists call the shots. As an economist and foreign policy analyst I was, however, concerned about the possible devastating economic implications of Kyoto, because of its high costs, in terms of loss of economic growth and jobs, its adverse impact on competitiveness, its risks of triggering trade wars between compliers and non-compliers, and the danger of intrusive government intervention into the economy, thus jeopardizing our free enterprise system.

Initially, it took me quite a lot of trouble to start a dialogue with the climatologists in order to question them about their basic views and to discuss the wider implications with them. But as time went by, we established a reasonable working relationship. Of course they referred me to their 'bible': the 'Summary for Policymakers' by the IPCC -- a concise document which was specially written for people like me who only had vague notions about climatological science. As a policy analyst I read thousands of policy documents throughout my career, but I never encountered a document which was so riddled with inconsistencies. This made me suspicious about the man-made global warming paradigm and the IPCC process at large and I decided to read more about putative 'climate change' and to visit the panoply of websites by climate sceptics. It only confirmed my earlier uneasiness.

During the same period, in personal discussions with scientists, one of them confided to me that man-made global warming was the greatest scientific swindle of the 20th century. Since I had already acquired the same feeling, I asked him whether I could quote him in my publications. But he declined. Apparently this issue did not lend itself to freedom of speech.

At that time it was still pretty difficult to pinpoint where things went astray. But in the course of my further investigations I came across many instances of invocation of scientific authority to 'prove' points, illogical reasoning, political pressure, refusal to take cognizance of contrarian views, derision of opponents, suppression of crucial information, falsification and manipulation of scientific data, intimidation and even expulsion of scientists who did not adhere to the man-made global warming paradigm, etc. In short, all the tricks in the book, which looked so familiar to me in the light of experience that I had gained during earlier parts of my career in a totally different field.

Although many people know about these incidences, they did not reach such proportions that they would fundamentally discredit the man-made global warming paradigm and the IPCC process, which is based on it. However, this may change very rapidly in the near future in the light of the outcome of a recent conference in Moscow, the current reviews of the so-called 'hockey stick' curve, which is a main pillar of the man-made global warming paradigm, as well as a wave of statements of many reputed scientists who now openly confess their doubts about the anthropogenic greenhouse effect.

In an earlier article (Russia's Vacillations on Kyoto) I noted that Russian President Putin, at a press conference in the Kremlin on May 21, told reporters that Russia would speed up movement towards the Kyoto Protocol's ratification as part of a deal including the EU's consent for Russia to become a member of the WTO. But I also referred to somewhat more cautious statements of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Vladimir Chizhov, who declared:

'Russia fully shares the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. However, its ratification will depend on the conditions provided to the country to join this accord. ... There are different opinions on the necessity to ratify this protocol in political as well as in scientific circles. ... The motives that made some countries join the Kyoto Protocol and others ignore it should be thoroughly studied.'

And I commented:

'It should not be forgotten that the Russians are reputed to be tough negotiators. Maybe Chizhov's reservations might bring new surprises. After all, the devil is in the details.'

Creeping Lysenkoism

And indeed, on 7 and 8 July 2004, the Russians convened a new seminar on the issue on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, the outcome of which seems to overturn the earlier impression of a Russian volte face in the face of political pressure from the EU.

As during the earlier conference on climate change in Moscow, the economic adviser of President Putin, Andrei Illarionov played a prominent role. During a press conference after the meeting, Illarionov complained that the Russians have repeatedly asked their foreign partners who advocate the Kyoto Protocol and who insist that Russia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, to answer a number of specific questions. But they did not receive any reply for a year. Illarionov:

'Instead of getting replies to our questions, we kept on hearing that replies did not matter. What was important is that whether or not Russia trusts Britain, the European Union and the countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and that have been exerting unprecedented pressure on Russia to ratify it. This is why it was so important for us to arrange a real meeting and a real discussion of real problems with the participation of foreign scientists who have different views ....'

Concerning the basic assumptions of Kyoto, Illarionov commented:

'Basically, none of the assertions made in the Kyoto Protocol and the 'scientific' theory on which the Kyoto Protocol is based has been borne out by actual data. We are not seeing any high frequency of emergency situations or events. There has been no increase in the number of floods. Just as there has been no increase in the number of droughts. We can see that the speed of the wind in the hails in some areas is decreasing contrary to the statements made by the people who support the Kyoto Protocol. We are not witnessing a higher incidence of contagious diseases, and if there is a rise, it has nothing to do with climate change. If there is an insignificant increase in the temperature it is not due to anthropogenic factors but to the natural factors related to the planet itself and solar activity. There is no evidence confirming a positive linkage between the level of carbon dioxide and temperature changes. If there is such a linkage, it is a reverse nature. In other words, it is not carbon dioxide that influences the temperature on Earth, but it just the reverse: temperature fluctuations are caused by solar activity influence the concentration of carbon dioxide.'

After having complained about the behaviour of the British delegation, headed by Sir David King, who - unsuccessfully - tried to exclude certain 'undesirable' scientists from taking the floor, Illarionov went on to criticize the ideological and philosophical basis on which the Kyoto Protocol is built:

'That ideological base can be juxtaposed and compared with man-hating totalitarian ideology with which we had the bad fortune to deal during the 20th century, such as National Socialism, Marxism, Eugenics, Lysenkoism and so on. All methods of distorting information existing in the world have been committed to prove the alleged validity of these theories. Misinformation, falsification, fabrication, mythology, propaganda. Because what is offered cannot be qualified in any other way than myth, nonsense and absurdity.'

Illarionov's reference to Lysenkoism was particularly poignant. Who could have imagined some 15 years ago that a Russian would accuse the West of Lysenkoism and would have a point? Lysenkoism refers to an episode in Russian science featuring a non-scientific peasant plant-breeder named Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976). Lysenko rose to dominance at a 1948 conference in Russia where he delivered a passionate address denouncing Mendelian thought as 'reactionary and decadent' and declared such thinkers to be 'enemies of the Soviet people'. Under Lysenko's influence, science -- and especially biology -- was guided not by the most likely theories, backed by appropriately controlled experiments, but by the desired ideology. Science was practised in the service of the State, or more precisely, in the service of ideology. The results were predictable: the steady deterioration of Soviet biology. It was due to Lysenko's efforts that many real scientists, especially in the field of genetics, were sent to the gulags or simply disappeared from the USSR. Lysenko's methods were not condemned by the Soviet scientific community until 1965, more than a decade after Stalin's death.

At the end of the press conference Illarionov was asked to answer a very simple question: 'Why don't you go along with the words of your boss, President Putin, who said quite clearly: 'We are in favour of the Kyoto Protocol?' His answer was: 'I will permit myself to remind you of the words said by President Putin. President Putin has never said that he supported the Kyoto Protocol. President Putin said on May 24, 2004 that he supported the Kyoto process. So, I am sorry, but you can't say that I do not support President Putin on this issue.'

However, Illarionov still acknowledged that one cannot fully rule out that Russia decides to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, because of the influence of a 'fifth column' in Russia, which is in favour of Kyoto. But he added: 'If such a decision is taken, it would deal ... a very serious blow to Russia, Japan, the European Union and Canada, the countries and regions which were rash enough to assume such obligations [of Kyoto].'

Mounting Doubts

The IPCC claims that human activities are responsible for nearly all earth's recorded warming during the past two centuries. A widely circulated image that dramatically depicts these temperature trends resembles a hockey stick with three distinct parts: a flat 'shaft' extending from A.D. 1000 to 1900, a 'blade' shooting up from A.D. 1900 to 2002, and a range of uncertainty in temperature estimates that envelops the shaft like a 'sheath'. It was Michael Mann of the University of Virginia and Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia who updated the influential reconstruction of global and hemispheric air temperatures used in the IPCC's third assessment of climate change. However, five independent research groups have uncovered problems with this reconstruction, calling into question all three components of the 'hockey stick'. On the basis of this research David Legates, Director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, and a prominent climate sceptic, concludes: 'Mann's research is clearly the outlier and does not fit with the overwhelming evidence of widespread global warming and cooling within the previous two millennia.'

However, some climate sceptics believe that David Legates has perhaps been a little bit too hasty in his verdict. The discussion still goes on. But it is likely to be in its final stage. And is also likely that the hockey stick will prove to be flawed.

But the row over de hockey stick is only one example of growing doubts about the man-made global warming paradigm. In Germany, Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, recently declared: 'The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.' The implication of this statement is that the role of the sun has so far been underestimated. In the UK David Bellamy, a well-known British conservationist and TV presenter went even further. He bluntly stated:

'Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth. I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not. Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock.'

How come that so many honorable and highly reputed scientists have so long put their faith in man-made global warming paradigm? Were they victims of inadvertence? Misjudgement? Prejudice? Tunnel vision? Cognitive dissonance? Self-deception? Is the man-made global warming paradigm indeed the greatest scientific scam ever?

The dénouement is imminent. In the very near future we will know which of the preceding question marks we may drop. As inspector Morse used to say to his associate: 'It has been staring us in the face all the time, Lewis! And we have overlooked it!


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