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19.maaliskuu 2013 - 17:27

Confession of a climate agnostic

The discussion on climate warming is indeed continuing in Europe. On Christmas Day, the UK MET Office website published a rectified graph on the annual global temperature forecast, which it had originally published a year before. Only on 5 January the sharp-eyed climate bloggers noticed, how different the figures were compared to the ones of the year before. The new graph, which was pictured next to the old one, spread quickly in the media all over the world and aroused bewilderment. A BBC headline interpreted that the MET Office does not consider global warming as serious a problem as it had predicted a year before. This headline brought about a major dispute, as the MET stated that it had merely sharpened its five-year prediction, instead of forecasting climate change overall.

For what it is worth, if the MET’s new prediction is correct, we can speak of a period of up to 20 years without a substantively warming trend, while CO2 emissions have increased forcefully. According to the current theory, this surge in emissions should be starkly reflected in temperatures. At some point, a limit has been reached, and the theory should be reviewed.

In politics, the climate discussion has created an unnecessary juxtaposition. An often presented statement relates to this: ”Of the peer reviewed scientific articles that were published during 1991-2012, 13,950 comes to the conclusion that human activity changes the climate, while 24 denies it.”

This statement has been used misleadingly, as it was suggested that all the 13,950 articles were in line with the politically influential climate alarmists. This is not the case. No sensible human being questions climate change, as the climate has always changed. No sensible researcher questions human influence on the climate either, as the impact takes place at many levels ranging from land use and urbanisation to puffing fossil-fuel particulate emissions. No researcher aspiring to be taken seriously questions the warming effect of carbon dioxide either, as it is a law of nature, which was already observed by Svante Arrhenius in the 19th century.

In the end, the question is whether the influence of carbon dioxide is of the extent that it has a practical effect next to the Sun and oceanic cycles. Is it that significant that we should maintain massive political operations to prevent it? Can we prevent it? The question is also, what the influence of CO2 is in combination with the other factors like air pollutants; i.e. while some of these raise temperatures, and others reduce them.

At the same time, everything has to be put into a bigger picture: for two thirds of its existence, the Earth has been 7 degrees warmer that it is now.

I wrote about the issue last week, and I have been most surprised by the private feedback, which I have received from many researchers in the field. Several of them have been unsatisfied with the alarmist talk that reigns in the politicised climate discussions. It is also considered a problem that the predictions, which are based on greenhouse gas concentrations, do not take into account the actual principal factors of climate, i.e. the Sun’s and oceanic cycles’ long-term effects. The Sun’s effect is virtually absent from the IPCC models. When the issue is not sufficiently known, it is merely disregarded.

It should be mentioned that the scientific part of the IPCC’s report is a far cry from alarmism. On the contrary, the researchers’ text is significantly different from the summary for policymakers. For instance, floods are regularly used as proof of climate change. These catastrophes, which are human tragedies, naturally require action. But, is there really reason enough to focus on carbon dioxide politics, or would it be better to prepare for the damages? According to the newest, i.e. fifth, IPCC report, which leaked to the public ”[t]here continues to be a lack of evidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”, even though floods have already been made the symbol of climate change.

From all of this follows a range of important political questions. These are our actual field of responsibility.

This is what I also tried to say in my previous blog. Whether the primary role of human-induced carbon dioxide in climate change is assumed or not, in neither of the cases, can the current policies be considered appropriate. In their one-sidedness, they are, on the contrary, extremely bad, while at the same time, the European industries – the cleanest industries of the world – suffer.

For this reason, I have come to think that a good politician should rather be a ”climate agnostic”. In principle, it does not matter, what conclusion science comes to: if the legislation we make is good enough, one does not have to take sides; except the side of consideration and quality. Climate policy should be so robust, sturdy and of such good quality that it does not struggle with the uncertainty factors and differences of opinion within science.

Until now, too much impulse politics has been made in the EU. First, biofuels were demanded under the direction of the Greens, and then, the same group started opposing them frantically. As a matter of fact, the same thing is happening to wood-burning: first, its increase was demanded, until the problems it causes to sustainable forestry, were noticed. I warned of both; in time.

I am just wondering, what an unbearable situation this creates for the actors in the field, industries and companies. How can they continue their product development work and plan their future, if politics is a constant struggle: first bluster, then destruction? They would need long-term predictability, not reacting in accordance with alarmist rushing.

 

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