Saturday, July 24, 2021
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How the climate doomsters have got it all wrong

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FLOODING last week in Germany, Denmark and Holland has become a cause celebre for the climate doomsters. ‘We have to make the state more climate-proof,’ one official said in response to Germany’s floods. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, was among several others who made the connection. ‘It shows the urgency to act,’ she said.

Such flooding is not new, of course. There are many examples from the past, see here and here. 

But climate alarmists are wont to seize on any out-of-the-ordinary event as proof of climate change and therefore the urgent need to act. As the Telegraph’s Charles Moore wrote last week: ‘The demand to do something big, now, at once, is a hustler’s trick.’ Unfortunately for the climate doomsayers, their argument (such as it is) works the other way.

In his 2005 article Is there a basis for global warming alarm?  Professor Richard Lindzen wrote: ‘That the promotion of alarm [about extreme weather events] does not follow from the science, is clearly illustrated by the following example.

‘According to any textbook on dynamic meteorology, one may reasonably conclude that in a warmer world, extra-tropical storminess and weather variability will actually decrease. The reasoning is as follows. Judging by historical climate change, changes are greater in high latitudes than in the tropics. Thus, in a warmer world, we would expect that the temperature difference between high and low latitudes would diminish. However, it is precisely this difference that gives rise to extratropical large-scale weather disturbances. Moreover, when in Boston on a winter day we experience unusual warmth, it is because the wind is blowing from the south. Similarly, when we experience unusual cold, it is generally because the wind is blowing from the north. The possible extent of these extremes is, not surprisingly, determined by how warm low latitudes are and how cold high latitudes are. Given that we expect that high latitudes will warm much more than low latitudes in a warmer climate, the difference is expected to diminish, leading to less variance.

‘Nevertheless, we are told by advocates and the media that exactly the opposite is the case, and that, moreover, the models predict this (which, to their credit, they do not) . . . Clearly more storms and greater extremes are regarded as more alarming than the opposite. Thus, the opposite of our current understanding is invoked in order to promote public concern.’

Professor Lindzen has more understanding of atmospheric physics than the entire army of so-called climate experts. Just to remind readers, some of the very worst weather occurred during the 15th to 19th centuries during what is called the Little Ice Age.

To get a wider historical picture, we are living in an inter-glacial period which began perhaps some 18,000 years ago. Most such inter-glacials last about 18,000-20,000 years, so we are approaching the end of ours. It is worth reflecting that the whole of human history (as opposed to pre-history) has taken place within this interglacial period. Most of this was during the last 7,000-8,000 years during a particularly warm period known as the Holocene, when farming began, and the Bronze Age and Iron Age developed. There have been other warm periods such as the Minoan, the Roman and the Medieval; in each case they coincided with the flourishing of civilisations, whereas the colder periods coincided with their waning or collapse – eg the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.

If, for whatever cause (none due to human activity) a Big Ice Age were to begin – and they can do so surprisingly quickly – we will need to wait 80,000 years for the next inter-glacial. Meanwhile the UK, much of north America and northern Asia, New Zealand, south Australia and the southern part of South America would be enveloped in a mile-deep sheet of ice. Due to the cold, carbon dioxide levels would fall so low that even plants outside the ice sheets would die. Life on earth might never recover.

So choose: warming which has always been overall beneficial, or cooling which might end all life on earth.

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Philip Foster
Revd Philip Foster is the author of While the Earth Endures: creation, cosmology and climate change.

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