Apocalypse – not

Matt Ridley (from rationaloptimist.com)

Matt Ridley, writing in Wired, exposes the end-of-the-world cultism that infects environmental activism, and shows how in almost every case, they got it spectacularly wrong.

From SARS to mad cow disease to acid rain to ozone holes, the environmentalists cannot resist the temptation to invoke apocalyptic prophesies to scare the public witless (and secure more funding perhaps?).

What’s the betting that climate alarmism will eventually be relegated to the dustbin of failed environmental scares? They all have several things in common:

  • an element of reality, which can be large or small;
  • which in each case is elevated to a full-blown scare;
  • by activists, who are usually driven by emotional, political, financial or other non-scientific motives;
  • the scare will command wall-to-wall media coverage, often for many years;
  • eventually, however, possibly decades later, it will be shown to have been exaggerated;
  • followed by a collective wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth from those in power;
  • and the public becomes ever more cynical and untrusting of such prophesies in the future.

In the climate debate, the extraordinary hysteria of the alarmists has polarised the debate to such an extent that outright denial (no matter how irrational) has sprung up almost out of necessity to counter it. Balanced elucidation of a potential crisis usually results in balanced responses – frenzied Chicken Little rants will inevitably result in precisely the same in response.

Ridley correctly concludes that the middle ground is where the debate should be focussed:

So, should we worry or not about the warming climate? It is far too binary a question. The lesson of failed past predictions of ecological apocalypse is not that nothing was happening but that the middle-ground possibilities were too frequently excluded from consideration. In the climate debate, we hear a lot from those who think disaster is inexorable if not inevitable, and a lot from those who think it is all a hoax. We hardly ever allow the moderate “lukewarmers” a voice: those who suspect that the net positive feedbacks from water vapor in the atmosphere are low, so that we face only 1 to 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century; that the Greenland ice sheet may melt but no faster than its current rate of less than 1 percent per century; that net increases in rainfall (and carbon dioxide concentration) may improve agricultural productivity; that ecosystems have survived sudden temperature lurches before; and that adaptation to gradual change may be both cheaper and less ecologically damaging than a rapid and brutal decision to give up fossil fuels cold turkey.

We’ve already seen some evidence that humans can forestall warming-related catastrophes. A good example is malaria, which was once widely predicted to get worse as a result of climate change. Yet in the 20th century, malaria retreated from large parts of the world, including North America and Russia, even as the world warmed. Malaria-specific mortality plummeted in the first decade of the current century by an astonishing 25 percent. The weather may well have grown more hospitable to mosquitoes during that time. But any effects of warming were more than counteracted by pesticides, new antimalarial drugs, better drainage, and economic development. Experts such as Peter Gething at Oxford argue that these trends will continue, whatever the weather.

Just as policy can make the climate crisis worse—mandating biofuels has not only encouraged rain forest destruction, releasing carbon, but driven millions into poverty and hunger—technology can make it better. If plant breeders boost rice yields, then people may get richer and afford better protection against extreme weather. If nuclear engineers make fusion (or thorium fission) cost-effective, then carbon emissions may suddenly fall. If gas replaces coal because of horizontal drilling, then carbon emissions may rise more slowly. Humanity is a fast-moving target. We will combat our ecological threats in the future by innovating to meet them as they arise, not through the mass fear stoked by worst-case scenarios.

Read it all, and enjoy Ridley’s list of apocalyptic predictions that didn’t come to pass.

Matt Ridley blogs at Rational Optimist.

(h/t WUWT)

Queensland environment minister questions scale of human climate impact

Climate sense

A glimmer of climate sense from the new Queensland environment minister, who states the realist position that yes, humans affect the climate, but how much we can’t be sure. He should have gone on to say that the remedies proposed are eye-wateringly expensive, will cripple our economy and will do nothing for the climate – maybe he will next time.

The ABC reports this as heresy, of course, and wheels in a “conservationist” to put the ABC’s view, er, I mean the opposing view:

Queensland’s new Environment Minister is the latest politician to voice scepticism about man-made climate change.

Andrew Powell says he is yet to be convinced of the degree to which humans are responsible, but he does support efforts to reduce carbon pollution.

“I believe the climate is changing, I am still to be convinced of the degree to which we are influencing that,” Mr Powell said.

“But having said that, are we polluting the environment? Certainly. Are we using a non-renewable source of energy? Certainly. Do we need to address both of those factors? Most definitely.”

But his comments have alarmed conservation groups.

Toby Hutcheon, from the Queensland Conservation Council, says his comments are inconsistent with the State Government’s official position.

“I hope that Andrew is simply talking as an individual, and not as the responsible minister for Queensland,” Mr Hutcheon said.

“Because that would certainly suggest a change of position by the Government that has long held the view that climate change is a serious threat to Queensland and is being caused predominantly by human activity.” (source)

But there’s more good news as pointless environmental gestures are being wound back, allegedly because the carbon tax will make them redundant. That’s not the correct reason – they are redundant anyway and should be abandoned even without the carbon tax. None of them will do anything for the climate, after all.

UK Daily Express: 100 reasons why climate change is natural

Climate sense

Climate sense

Like its cousin, The Daily Mail, the Daily Express is rapidly becoming a beacon of sanity in the sea of alarmism and gullibility, and today presents Climate Change is Natural: 100 Reasons Why:

HERE are the 100 reasons, released in a dossier issued by the European Foundation, why climate change is natural and not man-made:

  1. There is “no real scientific proof” that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from man’s activity.
  2. Man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history.
  3. Warmer periods of the Earth’s history came around 800 years before rises in CO2 levels.
  4. After World War II, there was a huge surge in recorded CO2 emissions but global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940.
  5. Throughout the Earth’s history, temperatures have often been warmer than now and CO2 levels have often been higher – more than ten times as high.
  6. Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time.
  7. The 0.7C increase in the average global temperature over the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate trends.
  8. The IPCC theory is driven by just 60 scientists and favourable reviewers not the 4,000 usually cited.
  9. Leaked e-mails from British climate scientists – in a scandal known as “Climate-gate” – suggest that that has been manipulated to exaggerate global warming
  10. A large body of scientific research suggests that the sun is responsible for the greater share of climate change during the past hundred years.

And I particularly like number 95:

Australia has stated it wants to slash greenhouse emissions by up to 25 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, but the pledges were so unpopular that the country’s Senate has voted against the carbon trading Bill, and the Opposition’s Party leader has now been ousted by a climate change sceptic.

Go the Express! Read the remaining 90 here! (h/t Climate Realists)

Quote of the Day: Danish Speaker of Parliament



While the rest of Copenhagen is running round in ever decreasing circles of alarmism and hysteria, it is refreshing that the Speaker of the Danish parliament has some cool-headed words of wisdom:

“The problem is that lots of people go around saying that the climate change we see is a result of human activity. That is a very dangerous claim,” Parliamentary Speaker and former Finance Minister Thor Pedersen (Lib) tells DR.

“Unfortunately I seem to experience that scientists say: ‘We have a theory’ – then that crosses the road to the politicians who say: ‘We know’. Who can be bothered to hear a scientist who says ‘I have a theory’ when politicians go around saying ‘I know’” Thor Pedersen says.

Thor Pedersen adds that the temperature has not risen in the past decade.

“I’m not saying that in the decade that the temperature has fallen or stagnated is enough to evaluate developments. But one should only say what one knows,” the Speaker adds.

“You should say that although we believed in our models, that the temperature would rise from 1998 to 2008, we have to admit that it has not risen. We cannot explain why it has not risen, but we believe we still have a problem. I’m just asking that people say what they actually know,” Pedersen tells DR.

If climate scientists and politicians did that, the world would be a far better place.

Read it here (h/t Climate Change Fraud)

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