Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Climate, carbon, temperature, science and politics

Recent stories

Why do we have sacred topics? Ideas, theories or policies that appear to be off limits. For now, the topics are somewhat still accessible if you’re happy to peel back the web pages and more diverse social networking. This may not be so in the future if you have read any of my stories on the mis-, dis- and mal- information bills proposed here and around the globe.  

Three sacred topics of late have been Covid-19, climate and carbon. What happens when ‘misinformation’ actually is proven correct? And why have we forgotten that science doesn’t need a consensus, merely the ability to withstand the light of scrutiny.

To venture off the approved path laid out by global organisations, governments and mainstream media, there are some interesting gems to be found.

One such gem I came across is Dr Willie Soon, astrophysicist and a geoscientist based in Salem, Massachusetts, USA. With over 30 years at Harvard and over 130 peer-reviewed papers, Dr Soon is quick to admit it’s not the number of papers one produces but the quality of one’s work. (Find out more here www.ceres-science.com/willie-soon)

What if everything we were being told about carbon and the relationship to temperature was wrong? What if the demonisation of the gas of life, carbon, was due to sloppy science and a self-interested agenda? 

Dr Soon’s work argues the sun is more likely controlling current climate, and the modest temperature rises recorded in recent history may have more to do with urbanisation than actual climate change.

These fundamentals are critically important to get right as our current path is reshaping our energy generation landscape and littering the countryside with ‘green alternatives’.

When looking at global temperature records, Dr Soon points out urban climate change has a significant impact on the data recorded. The urban heat island (UHI) has been known since the 1800s. With cities getting bigger, so are the UHI’s. Urban areas make up 3-4 per cent of the land and less than 2 per cent of the planet, but more than 75 per cent of weather stations are in areas that are now urbanised. Since 2011, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This means for most people, the biggest local climate change they experience is urban warming. (See figure 1)

If the urban and rural temperature data is uncoupled, long-term warming (1.1°F per century / 0.6°C per century) is much less than the ‘urban and rural’ combined estimates (1.6°F per century / 0.9°C per century). That suggests urbanisation bias accounts for 40 per cent of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) ‘global warming’ estimates. (Scientific peer-reviewed papers: 1. W. Soon and 36 co-authors (2023). Climate, 11(9), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli11090179. 2. R. Connolly, W. Soon, M. Connolly and 17 co-authors (2023). Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics. https://doi.org/10.1088/1674-4527/acf18e.) (See figure 2)

It’s hardly the first time temperature records have come under fire. In Australia, the removal of maximum temperatures from the records and also the digitisation and homogenisation of data sets have brought accuracy of data into question. A David Stockwell and Ken Stewart paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy & Environment (https://doi.org/10.1260/0958-305X.23.8.1273) in 2012 showed how the transition to the first homogenised dataset, known as the High Quality Network (HQN), added 31 per cent to the average temperature trend, which they calculated to be 0.7°C in the historical unhomogenised data for Australia.

Setting the actual number aside, what are the real drivers of temperatures? Is it carbon at 0.04 per cent of the atmosphere? As our temperatures have fluctuated over eons, what were the other factors that drove the cooling since Roman times, the warming since the Dark Ages (535-900 AD), the cooling since the Medieval Warming (900-1300 AD) and warming since the Little Ice Age (1300-1850 AD)?

A new international study published in the scientific peer-reviewed journal, Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics by 20 climate researchers, including Dr Soon, suggests that the IPCC might have substantially underestimated the role of the sun in global warming.

The scientists, from 12 countries, in the paper concluded that the scientific community is not yet in a position to establish whether the global warming since the 1850s is mostly human-caused, mostly natural or some combination of both.

When the IPCC models the relationship between sun activity and urban and rural temperature change, it relies on one of the 27 available estimates of the sun’s varying solar activity.

Dr Soon sees a fundamental difference between the role of science and the IPCC when it comes to climate change. 

Believing IPCC’s approach to be

  • Main goal = help international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Helping the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) with their goals
  • Requires uniform ‘scientific consensus’ on all issues. Otherwise, it might create ‘climate action hesitancy’
  • Therefore, any scientific disagreements in the scientific community need to be either:

a) Ignored

b) Downplayed, or

c) Dismissed as already resolved

Whereas the scientific approach would require 

  • Main goal = trying to improve scientific understanding of climate change
  • Helping the scientific community investigate this fascinating and challenging topic
  • Requires open-minded scientific inquiry on all issues. Otherwise, we might succumb to confirmation biases in our work 
  • Therefore, any scientific disagreements in the scientific community need to be either:

a) Investigated, or at least

b) Acknowledged

Dr Soon said ‘green energy’ policies meant the world spent US$3,660 billion on climate change projects over the eight-year period 2011–2018. 55 per cent of all global climate expenditure in the years 2011–2018 was spent on solar and wind energy – a total of US$2,000 billion. Despite this, wind and solar energy still produced only 3 per cent of the world’s energy consumption in the year 2018, while the fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) produced about 85 per cent. (Scientific peer-reviewed paper ÓhAiseadha, C; Quinn, G; Connolly, R; Connolly, M; Soon, W. Energy and Climate Policy – An Evaluation of Global Climate Change Expenditure 2011–2018. Energies 2020, 13, 4839. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13184839) (See figure 3).

Dr Soon also believes there is no such thing as ‘green energy’, stating that green energy technologies require a 10-fold increase in mineral extraction compared to fossil fuel electricity. Replacing just 50 million of the world’s estimated 1.3 billion cars with electric vehicles would double the world’s annual production of cobalt, neodymium and lithium, and use more than half the world’s current annual copper production. While solar and wind farms need 100 times the land area of fossil fuel electricity, these land use changes can be devastating for biodiversity, and the effects of bioenergy on biodiversity are worse, and the increased use of crops such as palm oil for biofuels is already contributing to the destruction of rainforests and other natural habitats.

Can we truly afford to make decisions without the open, honest and transparent sharing of information? Lord knows, the last thing we need is for this decision making process to be political.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 18 January 2024

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 18 January 2024.

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