By Andrew Bernstein
In 2017, I published an essay, “The Truth About Climate Change,” showing the evidence that climate periods cycle–and that climate change is natural, on-going, and likely incessant. The Modern Warm Period from the late-19th to the early 21st centuries, is only trivially man-made and not pernicious, but rather, is overwhelmingly natural and fully benign.[i] It is to be neither deplored nor curtailed–but to be celebrated. Now, after further research, I present more evidence supporting these conclusions.
Part One: Endless Climate Predictions Endlessly Wrong
Does anyone remember the great ice age fear of the 1970s? Although during the 20th century the Earth generally warmed slightly, there was a cooling period roughly from 1940 to 1975. It triggered a mini-hysteria in response. For example, on April 16, 1970, the Boston Globe ran a story entitled, “Scientist Predicts a New Ice Age by 21st Century.” James P. Lodge, a scientist at the national center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado claimed that within the first third of the 21st century ice age conditions might prevail on Earth.[ii] Similarly, on July 9, 1971, the Washington Post published a story entitled, “U.S Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming,” in which Dr. S.I. Rasool of NASA predicted possible ice age conditions within the next 50 or 60 years.[iii] Continuing, on January 29, 1974, the British newspaper, The Guardian, ran a story with the sensational headline, “Space Satellites Show New Ice Age Coming Fast.”[iv] Time, on June 24, 1974, in its Science section, published an essay entitled, “Another Ice Age?” It fretted that declining temperatures since the 1940s might herald the dawn of a new ice age. Finally, one of many other essays that could be cited to this effect, “The Cooling World,” published by Newsweek on April 28, 1975, worried that declining temperatures of the past few decades might signal a “reversion to the ‘little ice age’ conditions that brought bitter winters” to northern Europe and North America between 1600 and 1900.[v]
It is important to note that many of these media reports cited scientists considered experts at the time. Dr. George Kukla of Columbia University is referenced many times, for example, as are numerous other scientists. A New York Times essay, “International Team of Specialists Find No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend in Northern Hemisphere,” is especially noteworthy. It mentions that with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, rising temperatures, not falling ones, should be expected. The aforementioned Dr. Kukla said that “the cause of the apparent cooling remained unknown…”[vi] This New York Times article, claiming that no end to the cooling was in sight, was published on January 5, 1978. By 1979-80, the Earth started slowly warming again. Oops.
It is fascinating that Dr. Kukla (and presumably other scientists who believed that rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide should cause warming) did not know the cause of the apparent cooling. For part of the answer shined on them virtually every day: The Sun. But more on the sun-climate connection to come.[vii] So from roughly 1979 until the present day, the Earth gently warms again…as it did in the early years of the 20th century. By the late-1980s, a full-blown hysteria regarding warming, to dwarf the previous one regarding cooling, is underway.
Let’s cite a few examples. An Associated Press story of June 30, 1989, quoted “a senior UN environmental official” to the effect that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”[viii] Less than a year before this prediction, in September 1988, the Environmental Affairs Director of the Maldives claimed that these Indian Ocean islands could be entirely submerged “within the next 30 years.”[ix] In March, 2000, Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) at Britain’s East Anglia University predicted that, in England, winter snows “will become a very rare and exciting event.”[x] In December, 2008, Al Gore warned that the “North Polar Ice Cap would be completely ice free in five years;” in 2009, Gore amended his prediction to claim that the Arctic would have ice-free summers by 2014.[xi] In July 2013, a report in Britain’s The Guardian quoted scientist, Peter Wadhams, who claimed that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2015.[xii] And on it goes….Including the prediction that the Arctic polar bear population would be severely diminished, if not made extinct.
How about a reality check? No nations were wiped off the face of the Earth by 2000, nor by 2019, nor were any close to it–and the Maldives are still above water. By 2018, there were still millions of square kilometers of summertime Arctic Ocean with at least 15 percent sea ice[xiii] and, in 2017, ice increased in parts of Greenland and the Arctic.[xiv] As for snow in England, a severe snowstorm hammered the United Kingdom, including England, in March 2018;[xv] October 2019 saw record cold temperatures across significant swathes of the country;[xvi] and, also in 2019, snow fell across parts of Wales, England, and Scotland during the second weekend of November.[xvii] The polar bears, of course, are flourishing. Due to a ban on hunting, their population has increased from some 5,000 in the 1960s to roughly 22,000 to 30,000 today.[xviii]
Why are the doomsday warming predictions always flagrantly wrong? Why, for thirty years now, are the warnings regarding dangerous consequences of warming never accurate? Why do the hyperbolic warming claims turn out to be as repeatedly mistaken as the earlier hyperbolic cooling ones? Let us approach these questions like intellectual detectives seeking to unravel a mystery, and we’ll find the truth.
Part Two: Further Mistaken Predictions
One such truth is that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide continue to rise but there is no corresponding acceleration in the rate of warming. The computer models deployed by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict that as atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide increase, the Earth’s rate of warming should accelerate. The models project that from 1995 to the present, the Earth should have warmed by just under a full degree Celsius (a significant amount in such a short time period). Finally, they predict that the rise in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide occurring since 1880 should have increased Earth’s temperatures by 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 2.3 degrees Celsius).
All of these predictions, when compared to real-world measurements, are mistaken. In fact, the rate of warming since 1995 has not increased; rather, the Earth has continued to warm at a gentle rate of 0.096 degrees Celsius per decade, that is, by less than one-tenth of a degree every ten years, the same as it was in 1995.[xix] A 2017 study in the journal, Nature Geoscience, acknowledges this truth. “‘We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models,’ said Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at Oxford and one of the authors of the study. ‘We haven’t seen that in the observations.'”[xx] This truth is known via satellite data, which measures the entire atmosphere, not merely parts of it, and is consequently the most accurate data available.
Further, since the rate of warming is so slow, the Earth since 1995 has not even approximated a one-degree Celsius temperature rise; rather, the satellites show virtually no increase in temperature since the late-1990s.[xxi] Finally, real-world measurements show that since 1880 global temperatures have risen not by 2.3 degrees Celsius but by merely 1.2 degrees.[xxii]
AGW (anthropogenic or man-made global warming)supporters argue that 2016 was the hottest year on record. Insofar as this claim goes, it is true. But it is not the full truth. The full truth is that 2016 was a major El Nino year with the significant warming that this generates. Not surprisingly, early in 2017, global temperatures plummeted by some 0.6 degrees Celsius.[xxiii] As if all of this weren’t bad enough, it gets worse for the AGW Hypothesis.
Part Three: Inconvenient Truths For the AGW Hypothesis
Climate scientist, Dr. Fred Singer, points out that most of the 20th century warming occurred before 1940…before a significant rise in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. Then, as a post-War industrial boom pumped substantial amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, the Earth cooled between roughly 1940 and 1975. “Most of the current warming occurred before 1940, before there was much human-generated CO2 in the air. After 1940, temperatures declined until 1975 or so, despite a huge surge in industrial CO2 during that period. These events run counter to the CO2 theory…”[xxiv] They certainly do. They coincide, however, with variations in emission of solar radiation, as well as with multi-decadal shifts in ocean currents, as will be seen.
Making matters worse, some 95 percent of all carbon dioxide spewed annually into the atmosphere comes from natural, not man-made sources. Given the hysteria over human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, this is an astonishing truth. Dr. Roy Spencer, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, confirms it. Dr. Spencer holds a Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and he–along with his partner, Dr. John Christy–received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. He points out: “…natural CO2 emissions are about 20 times what anthropogenic emissions are…(since human emissions are now close to 5% of natural sources and sinks)….we emit twice as much [carbon dioxide] as is needed to explain the atmospheric increase…”[xxv]
So, according to the best estimate of one of our best climate scientists, human beings emit twice as much carbon dioxide as is needed to explain observed atmospheric increases, and nature emits twenty times as much CO2 as we do. Where in hell does all the carbon dioxide go? The IPCC acknowledges that it does not know. We know there are “sinks,” i.e., natural repositories that absorb carbon dioxide. The oceans, for example, contain 50 times as much carbon dioxide as does the atmosphere.[xxvi] Is that a clue regarding where the “excess” carbon dioxide might go?
Dr. Tom Segalstad thinks it is. Dr. Segalstad is a Norwegian geologist, he has served as head of the Mineralogical-Geological Museum at the University of Oslo, and has accomplished much else besides in his distinguished career.[xxvii]He is a former expert reviewer for the IPCC. “The IPCC,” he asserts, “needs a lesson in geology to avoid making fundamental mistakes…most leading geologists throughout the world, know that the IPCC’s view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible.”[xxviii]How so? Because the agency holds that man-made carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for 50, 100, or even 200 years, leading thereby to substantial atmospheric accumulations. “This is nonsense,” Dr. Segalstad states. Dozens of real-world studies, conducted by numerous scientists, in varying disciplines, relying on differing methods of measurements, over a period of decades, have established that the shelf life of atmospheric CO2 is five to ten years, perhaps as long as twelve years.[xxix]
“Amazingly, the hypothetical results from climate models have trumped the real-world measurements of carbon dioxide’s longevity in the atmosphere.” The IPCC’s claim that “CO2 lasts decades or centuries [in the atmosphere] have no such measurements or other physical evidence to support their claims….Neither have they demonstrated that the quite various forms of measurement that support the traditional five-to-ten year view are wrong.
“‘They don’t even try,’ says Prof. Segalstad. ‘They simply dismiss evidence that is, for all intents and purposes, irrefutable. Instead, they substitute their faith, constructing a kind of science fiction or fantasy world in the process.'”[xxx]
What, according to the real-world studies, happens within 5-10 years to CO2 pumped into the atmosphere? The studies show that the oceans have a “near-limitless capacity to absorb CO2.”
Herein lies one reason that the IPCC’s predictions are always wrong, and always overstate–never understate–the warming. AGW advocates consistently over-estimate the duration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Part Four: The Failure of the AGW Hypothesis to Explain Climate Change
The AGW hypothesis cannot explain how or why most 20th century warming occurred before 1940, prior to human emission of large amounts of industrial CO2. The theory does not and cannot explain the mid-20th-century cooling that triggered the mini-hysteria regarding an impending ice age. Worse, it cannot explain why the rate of 21st century warming does not accelerate even as atmospheric levels of CO2 gradually rise. Nor can it explain why the total warming of the entire Modern Warm Period dating back to 1880 is significantly less than the models predict. Finally, it does not explain how the 5 percent of CO2 spewed annually into the atmosphere by humans contributes more decisively to rising CO2 levels than does the 95 percent regurgitated by natural sources.
The AGW Hypothesis has little evidence to support it. The best that might be said for it is this: There is a greenhouse effect, rising levels of atmospheric CO2 will cause a slight warming, human activities contribute marginally to rising CO2 levels–therefore, human activities might contribute trivially to the observed 20th century warming. But predictions based on this theory are relentlessly, manifestly false.
It is time to point out, as in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, that the Emperor has no clothes…or, at best, a few threads. What the AGW Hypothesis does have is a gigantic, noisy fan club. But, as I instruct my Logic students regularly, popularity does not equal truth. The scientific theories opposing such innovative minds as Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, and Pasteur were widely held, as well. Their popularity among scientists did not make them true. Only evidence in support of an idea does that.
Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide only trivially explain the Modern Warm Period and explain the mid-20th century cooling not at all. We need to look further and deeper to find the causal factor(s).
Part Five: The Sun-Climate Connection
Astrophysicists have identified that the Sun undergoes various cycles in its emission of radiation. To put it simply, at times it gives off greater amounts of energy, at other times lesser. The varying amounts of radiation reaching the surface of the Earth contributes to rising or falling temperatures. Further, diverging amounts of the Sun’s output trigger other natural processes, terrestrial and/or celestial, that in concert drive Earth’s temperatures up or down. One such process, identified by Danish astrophysicist, Henrik Svensmark, is the role of cosmic rays, and the complex relationship between the Sun’s varying output, the amount of cosmic rays reaching Earth’s atmosphere, and the role these rays play in generating cooling cloud cover.[xxxi] The complexity of factors impacting Earth’s natural climate cycle is staggering, still little understood, and extends way beyond atmospheric accumulations of CO2, which is merely one factor.
However, Fred Singer reproduces a graph published by astrophysicists, Dr. Sallie Baliunas and Dr. Willie Soon. It charts the relationship between amounts of solar radiation emitted and terrestrial temperatures from 1750 to 1995, a period of almost 250 years.[xxxii] Dr. Singer comments: “Given the variability of the temperatures, the close relationship between the two is startling.”[xxxiii]
Dr. Singer continues: “Richard Wilson, affiliated with both Columbia University and NASA, reported that the sun’s radiation has increased by nearly 0.05 percent per decade since the late 1970s [tracked from 1978 to 2003]….The trend is significant because the sun’s total energy output is so huge. A variation of 0.05 percent in its output is equal to all human energy use.”[xxxiv] This time line correlates exactly with the late-1970s resurgence of warming and the Earth’s continued warming throughout the rest of the century. The timing is also congruent with the Great Pacific Climate Shift. We know today that the Pacific Ocean (and the Atlantic, as well) undergoes multi-decadal oscillations. In 1976, the Pacific entered its warm phase and proceeded to warm the northern Pacific area by a full 3 degrees Celsius[xxxv] (roughly 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit). This event drove some of the warming observed by satellites between 1979 and 2000.
Earth’s temperatures do not correlate exactly with atmospheric levels of CO2, but they do with such natural occurrences as variations in emission of solar radiation–and with oscillations of Earth’s ocean currents. This includes the mid-20th century cooling, as well as the entirety of the Modern Warm Period.[xxxvi]
Related, the sun-based climate theory helps explain another truth regarding carbon dioxide. The oceans, it turns out, are a source of, as well as a sink for CO2. “The oceans swing both ways [between source and sink]: they have enormous capacity to absorb CO2, but sometimes they give it up.”[xxxvii] When do they function as a source of CO2? Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov has one possible answer to the question. Abdussamatov, born in Uzbekistan in 1940, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Leningrad and headed the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science’s Pulkovo Observatory. “If the temperature of the ocean rises even a little, gigantic amounts of CO2 are released into the atmosphere through the evaporation of water,” explains Dr. Abdussamatov. “It is no secret that increased solar irradiance warms Earth’s oceans, which then triggers the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the common view that man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause-and-effect relations.”[xxxviii]
So total solar irradiance (TSI) increases–the Earth, including its oceans warm–the warmer water evaporates more quickly, releasing large amounts of CO2 into the air.
Although there are numerous factors that drive the natural climate cycle, the activities of the Sun are one of the principal causes. The bad news is that the Sun currently winds down toward the Dalton Minimum, a relative low point of the sun spot cycle. Diminished solar irradiance will reach Earth’s surface, bringing in its train a colder climate, as it has done in the past.[xxxix] Dr. Abdussamatov asserts that: “The depth of the decline in solar irradiance reaching Earth will occur around 2041 (plus or minus 11 years, he estimates) and ‘will inevitably lead to a deep freeze around 2055-60,’ lasting some 50 years, after which temperatures will go up again.”[xl] A colder climate means shortened growing seasons and diminished agricultural production. In poorer nations, this will inevitably unleash famine.
Dr. Abdussamatov’s prediction of a looming colder climate is not based in ignorance of its cause, as was the case during the 1970s scare; nor is it based on the relatively puny power of man-made carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, rather, it is based on known cycles of the Sun, and the colder climates associated with the Dalton Minimum in Earth’s past. Largely because of AGW hysteria, we are not paying attention to the colder climate looming before us. But reality has a way of painfully slapping the faces of those who try to ignore it. We need to pay attention. Now.
Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the City University of New York. He lectures all over the world. He is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. He has written numerous books, including his novel, A Dearth of Eagles, recently published and available from Amazon.
[i] Andrew Bernstein, “The Truth About Climate Change,” www.andrewbernstein.net
[ii] Myron Ebell and Steven Milloy, “Wrong Again: Fifty Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions,” September 19, 2019, cei.org/blog/wrong-again-50-years-of-failed-eco-pocalyptic-predictions. Retrieved on November 6, 2019.
[v] www.dennisdutton.com/cooling_world.htm Retrieved on November 10, 2019. An extensive list of 1970s essays predicting global cooling and/or possible ice ages can be found at: Dr. Roy Cordato, “Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way…within a lifetime…” www.johnlocke.org/update/climate-experts-believe-the-next-ice-age-is-on-its-way-within-a-lifetime/ Retrieved on November 10, 2019.
[vi] Walter Sullivan, “International Team of Specialists Find No End in Sight to 30-Year Cooling Trend in Northern Hemisphere,” January 5, 1978, www.nytimes.com/1978/01/05/archives/international-team-of-specialists-finds-no-end-in-sight-to-30year.html Retrieved on November 11, 2019.
[vii] And a great deal regarding this issue is discussed in my first climate change essay.
[viii] Myron Ebell, Steven Milloy, “Wrong Again: Fifty Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions,” September 18, 2019, cei.org/blog/wrong-again-50-years-of-failed-eco-pocalyptic-predictions. Retrieved on November 6, 2019.
[xiii] Anthony Watts, “Ten years ago, Al Gore predicted the North polar ice cap would be gone. Inconveniently, it’s still there,” December 16, 2018, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/12/16/ten-years-ago-algore-predicted-the-north-polar-ice-cap-would-be-gone-inconveniently-its-still-there/ Retrieved on November 8, 2019.
[xiv][xiv] “Global Warming: Who Are The Deniers Now?” http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/global-warming-who-are-the-deniers-now/ Retrieved on November 8, 2016.
[xv] Andrea Tonks, “UK snow in Pictures as Met Office issues weather forecast warning for Beast from the East,” http://www.express.co.uk/news/weather/933224/snow-UK-latest-pictures-weather-forecast-Met-Office-warning-pics. Retrieved on November 8, 2019.
[xvi] “Central England Experiences Historically Chilly October,” http://electroverse.net/central-england-experiences-historically-chilly-october/ Retrieved on November 8, 2016.
[xvii] Faye Brown, “Snow blankets parts of UK as temperatures plunge to -7C,” November 9, 2019, http://metro.co.uk/2019/11/09/snow-blankets-parts-uk-temperatures-plunge-7C-11071817/ Retrieved on November 10, 2019.
[xviii] Craig Rucker, “Polar bear expert purged,” October 18, 2019, www.cfact.org/2019/10/18/polar-bear-expert-purged/ Retrieved on November 11, 2019.
[xix] “Another Global Warming Study Casts Doubt On Media’s Climate Change Fairy Tale,” November 30, 2017, www.investors.com/politics/editorial/another-global-warming-study-casts-doubt-on-medias-climate-change-fairy-tale/ Retrieved on November 9, 2019.
[xx] “Global Warming: Who Are The Deniers Now?”Op. cit.
[xxi] “Global Warming: Who Are The Deniers Now?” Op. cit.
[xxii] “Another Global Warming Study Casts Doubt On Media’s Climate Change Fairy Tale,” Op. cit.
[xxiii] “Global Warming: Who Are The Deniers Now?” Op. cit.
[xxiv] Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.: 2007), 10.
[xxv] Roy Spencer, “How Much of Atmospheric CO2 Increase is Natural?” August 27, 2014, www.drroyspencer.com/2014/08/how-much-of-atmospheric-co2-increase-is-natural/ Retrieved on November 11, 2019.
[xxvi] Lawrence Solomon, The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud–And Those Who Are Too Fearful to Do So (Minneapolis, Minn.: Richard Vigilante Books, 2008), 84.
[xxvii] Ibid., 84.
[xxviii] Ibid., 80.
[xxix] Ibid., 79-83.
[xxx] Ibid., 83-84.
[xxxi] Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder, The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change (Cambridge, England: Icon Books, 2007), passim.
[xxxii] Singer and Avery, Unstoppable Global Warming, op. cit., 192. Source: S. Baliunas and W. Soon, “Solar Variability and Climate Change,” Astrophysical Journal 450 (1995): 896.
[xxxiii] Ibid., 192.
[xxxiv] Ibid., 192.
[xxxv] Brian Hartmann and Gerd Wendler, “The Significance of the 1976 Pacific Climate Shift in the Climatology of Alaska,” https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI3532.1 Retrieved on November 15, 2019.
[xxxvi] The sun-climate connection is discussed much more extensively in my prior essay on this topic.
[xxxvii] Solomon, The Deniers, 80.
[xxxviii] Ibid., 163.
[xxxix] “NASA Predicts Next Solar Cycle Will Be Lowest In 200 Years,” June 18, 2019, https://electroverse.net/nasa-predicts-next-solar-cycle-will-be-lowest-in-200-years-dalton-minimum-levels-the-implications/ Retrieved on November 14, 2019.
[xl] Solomon, The Deniers, 163.