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CLIMATE CHANGE - With Net Zero are we sleepwalking to disaster?

There are terrifying parallels between the mistakes we made with COVID and the plans discussed at COP27 in Egypt. We will be struggling with the consequences of lockdowns for many years to come. Will the same happen with Net Zero?

Happily, a group of over 1,400 scientists, including some of the most eminent on the planet, have dared to put their heads above the parapet and to “strongly oppose” the Net-Zero policies. One has even said that the policies are “absurd”. But will anyone listen?

All this makes me want to set down some facts – facts that don’t get much publicity in the cacophony of climate alarmists. But please tell me where I’ve gone wrong.

1 The first fact is something that everyone seems to agree about, including people rudely (and wrongly) labeled as “climate change deniers”. The world is getting warmer. By how much? Here we may get into disputed territory, but my understanding is that the average temperature of the planet has increased by about one degree Celsius over the last 100 years – or is it 200 years? I think I’ve also seen it expressed as about 0.1 degree per decade, which amounts to a bit more. Does the exact amount matter? Maybe not. The important point is that warming has been happening – since what scientists call the “Little Ice Age” when the Thames used to freeze over in winter. So, it started at least 200 years ago – and that is important.

2 The next fact is that the warming doesn’t seem to have happened, as it were, in a straight line. There wasn’t much warming in the 1940s and 1950s. Indeed some cooling was noted. This caused a minor panic (which people as old as me can remember) that we were about to be in the grip of another Ice Age. But the cooling stopped in the 1960s and 1970s. There was then definite warming in the 1980s and 1990s. This was when the current panic started and we were asked to worry about “global warming”. Had the rate of 1980s warming continued, we might well have been experiencing unprecedented temperatures in the future. But happily it didn’t. During this century there has been little, if any warming – other, I believe, than what has been caused by natural events such as El Nino. Here, needless to say, we are definitely in disputed territory. But what seems clear to me is that the warming has not been evenly spread over the years: the numbers go up and down, although mainly up. And they started going up about 200 years ago.

3 This gets us to the all-important question: What is the cause and should we try to do anything about it? Or, more likely, what are the causes and can we do anything to stop it or even slow it down? Net Zero policies are based on the proposition that the cause, or at least the main cause, is the emission by human action of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – and, of course, that unless we reduce the emissions, life on the planet will be endangered. There is no doubt that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has greatly increased. But can it be the cause of the warming? And is it really believable that, by reducing the rate of increase, we can stop or even slow it down?

4 Scientists seem to disagree wildly on the subject. But to me, as a non-scientist, one thing seems clear. Even if carbon dioxide emissions are a cause, they can’t conceivably be the only, or even the main cause, for two reasons. The first is that the warming started way before we human beings were emitting anything like the amounts that could have made a difference. And secondly, various scientists who specialize in these things say that they can detect no correlation between the increases in carbon dioxide emissions and the warming – which is indeed clear from what I have just described. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing relentlessly over the last 50 years or so, but temperatures have been going up and even down, by no means in step with the increase of carbon dioxide.

5 Here am I, seeming to disagree with large numbers of scientists. We were told that 97% of scientists think that global warming will be immensely damaging to life on Earth; that the warming is due to human action; and that we must act now to avoid disaster. I have always found this narrative hard to believe, partly for the reasons I’ve indicated and partly because I have long known of eminent scientists, particularly those with relevant climate-related specialties, who do not believe it. And now, luckily, we are told that the 97% figure is nonsense.

6 A large number of scientists, including the eminent ones I’ve just referred to, have signed a declaration, called the World Climate Declaration, saying – bravely - “THERE IS NO CLIMATE EMERGENCY”. They are led by the Norwegian/American Nobel Laureate Professor, Ivar Giaever. The declaration has now been signed by over 1,400 scientists from all over the world. The signatories I particularly respect are Richard Lindzen (Emeritus Professor of Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate at MIT); Dr William Happer (Professor Emeritus of Physics at Princeton); Ian Plimer (Professor of Earth Sciences at Melbourne, Australia); and Dr Patrick Moore, one of the Co-Founders of Greenpeace (not the late astronomer of Sky at Night fame on the telly!).

6 The declaration is short and to the point and can be read in full on their website at CLINTEL. It says, in summary:

* There is no climate emergency.

* The climate models predicting dangerous levels of warming are not remotely plausible as global policy tools.

* There is no evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters or even making them more frequent. (Contrary, of course, to what the BBC and others are endlessly suggesting.)

* (Something that doesn’t get much airtime) Carbon Dioxide is plant food, is not a pollutant and is beneficial for greening the Earth.

* They strongly oppose what they refer to as the harmful and unrealistic net-zero policy.

Will our political leaders take any notice of this? Also, will the public even want to know? Editors of our national newspapers seem to think not: there has been little, if any, reporting of the Declaration. Such comment as I’ve spotted has been of the ad hominem variety (“Oh, he’s not a climate scientist” “He’s being paid by the oil industry” etc, etc), rather than any attempt to say where the Declaration is wrong.

I am hauntingly reminded of the way that lockdown critics were vilified and “cancelled”. (It is only now that we are confronting the costs of lockdown that many people – though probably still a minority - are thinking that they may have been right after all.) Will we sleepwalk into net-zero actions in the same way - until it’s too late to see that they’re not working; that the world is still getting warmer; and that the massive harm caused by Net-Zero policies has already been done and can’t be remedied?

To all of which some may still worry that the climate is changing (which is correct), that there may be adverse effects (indeed there may) and that “we should do something”. What should we do?

There is an obvious answer: namely, what human beings have been successfully doing for many thousands of years – observing changes in the climate; dealing with any adverse effects that occur or that we can realistically foresee; and adapting our lives accordingly.

Tony Herbert

20 November 2022

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