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id21 viewpoint - Questioning climate change: is it really dangerous and fossil fuel induced?

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Sonja A. B. Christiansen
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Who benefits from disasters and the claims of dangerous, man-made (but still avoidable) global warming? Not that disasters never happen, but do we have the right diagnosis in this case?I
would like to add a note of optimism to the report by the New Economics
Foundation (NEF) and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) called
'The end of development'. Both warn of the reversal of human progress, unless of
course humanity responds as these 'experts' advise.
Such claims call for political analysis.
There
have been so many false alarms raised by the green lobby! I am old enough to
remember the death of the ocean, the death of the forests, then limits to
growth, the population bomb… Now we have melting glaciers when the facts show (overall)
an increase of ice in Antarctica and falling sea levels in Greenland.
We
do live in an interglacial period and solar impacts are largely ignored by the
climate modellers. Far too much credence is given to computer models. We cannot
as yet (if ever) simplify the complexities of climate into mathematics. But
what an opportunity for green ideologues! Also, may the cure be worse than
disaster?
Kyoto
is likely to be a break on development with increased debts, altering
priorities from 'above' and wasting much needed resources. By selling their
cheap emission reduction options now, future reductions - if necessary - will
become more expensive.
Climate
change, seen from a more rational perspective, consists of natural or
unavoidable changes that are neither new, necessarily more
serious, nor even uniformly bad. Humans have affected climates for a
long time and not only through 'emissions'. Indeed we may have 'developed'
because we had to adjust the climatic changes, such as glaciation.
There is no consistent correlation between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and
surface temperatures. The climate system is by no means well understood, and
certainly along way from being quantified enough to take preventive measures that
will have the desired result.
The
real danger today is that human mistakes and policy failures are far too readily
blamed on 'global warming' (and hence the USA, industry, aeroplanes or, in
future, China). Climate determinism undermines rational thought, and policy
responses are likely to fail because problems have been wrongly diagnosed by
those who claim to have the solutions.
I
do not see knowledge and genuine concern for the afflicted acting as the driving
forces of climate alarmism and disaster prevention, but rather an ideology
misusing science. Non-governmental organisations adopting alarmism and
pessimism are already destroying societies with poorly considered disaster
relief and aid. Ever larger research lobbies and single issue 'helpers' are
clamouring for public attention and funding, and do so by predicting disaster
only they, or rather their advice, can prevent.
The
green beliefs so many of these groups currently espouse appear to be founded on
guilt, self-loathing and pessimism concerning almost everything. While I would
not accuse the NEF of deliberately misleading us, I do see it as jumping on a
rolling band-wagon that is likely to crash soon because it generates unhelpful
blame games, relies on the politics of fear and profoundly misuses science and
economics for ideological purposes.
The
advocated 'sustainable' policies may well prevent developments that serve poor people
while de facto promoting those that serve the rich through the creation of new
markets for expensive 'green' goods, the decline of tourism, support
for population control. Forests should not be replaced by fields and
plantations, farms should make way for ecotourists. Industrialisation should be
slowly stifled. (For evidence, read the green guru, James Lovelock, or listen
to Sir Crispin Tickell.)
 
All
I can advise in good faith is a closer look at climate scepticism (the journal
I edit has tried to keep this debate alive) and more awareness of the governmental, and hence political nature, of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change and the UK Hadley Centre.
Environmentalism
is an ideology of the guilty rich wanting to return to some poetic idea of
'Nature' that has never existed. 'Global warming' provides for a vast but
expensive research agenda for earth systems science and energy technology, as
well as green 'imperialisms'. What is called the new economics, given its fears
and search for local autarchy, may in fact be quite old and rather 'brown' in
colour.