That was the title to a letter from Heath Craft to the editor of the Border Mail on 18 July. As I am always hoping that the predicted global warming will turn out to be a bad dream, I decided to see if the writer had something to say that I may have missed in the past.
Early in the letter Heath says:
“Firstly let’s not forget the change from ‘global warming’ to climate change’. Damn, is only they had data to prove this global warming they would not have needed to change slogans.”
When was this change? The International Panel on Climate Change was created by the UN in 1988.
Comment: The term ‘climate change’ seems to have been around for some time.
The author continues:
“And let’s not forget the well-documented 800 year global climate cycle – oops that doesn’t fit the approved settled science mantra does it?”
I typed ‘800 year climate cycle’ into Google but failed to find anything.
Comment: Heath’s 800 year cycle does not appear to be as well documented as claimed.
“Or how about the fact that the globe actually cooled by 0.7 of a degree in the last century.”
This is an ambitious claim. The graph below is from NASA at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/
The graph below comes from: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Ten-temperature-records-in-a-single-graphic.html and it represents the average of ten different climate records maintained by different organisations around the world
Figure 1: All Method Temperature Index (AMTI). 1990-2000 Baseline.
Some climate change sceptics will say that the graphs above cannot be relied on because the temperature measurements might be inaccurate. The graph below suggests that something is melting the ice.
Arctic sea ice volume by month
The graph above is from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/19/977559/-eSci:-78-of-Arctic-Sea-Ice-Melted-Since-1979
Comment: It is difficult to see a reduction in temperature in the past century as claimed by Heath.
The author then writes:
“How about that volcano in Iceland that spewed out more greenhouse gases in four days that the whole world has tried to negate in five years, and the volcano in the Philippines in 1991, which emitted more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in all its years on earth”
These claims about volcanos sound plausible until they are investigated. Have a look at this graph from http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ which measures the CO2 in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa in Hawaii: You will observe that the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991 (which was the second biggest eruption since 1900) did not even register on the graph. If the author’s claim was true there would be a huge spike on the graph at 1991. Further support for this view can be obtained from the US Geological Survey at: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php which contains the statement:
“…there is little doubt among volcanic gas scientists that the anthropogenic CO2 emissions dwarf global volcanic emissions”
Comment: Heath’s claims about volcanoes (which he is repeating from material circulating in the blogosphere) are totally without substance.
Heath also says:
“And how about the analysis that assuming the government’s figures are correct the impact on global temperature will be about 1/14,000 of a degree by 2020”.
Once again this claim is based on some spurious arithmetic circulating in the blogosphere. The figure of 1/14,000 of a degree is arrived at by assuming:
- that only 3% of the CO2 in the atmosphere is man-made,
- we are trying to reduce emissions by 5%
- Australia is responsible for 0.045 of the world’s emissions, and
- the temperature rise caused by doubling of CO2 will be 1 degree Celsius
Firstly, is mankind only responsible for 3% of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere? Consider this graph from http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/lawdome.gif : The graph above shows that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere only began to climb when land clearing and the industrial revolution got under way in 1750. (By the way, this graph is out of date; the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 390 ppm. Put your finger at 390 on the left hand axis to see what is happening).
The twin graphs below are from http://www.bis.gov.uk/go-science/climatescience/natural-factors
It is easily proved that the total amount of CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels is about twice what is required to cause the recent increase. About half goes into the atmosphere and the rest into ‘sinks’ such as the ocean and vegetation. Instead of 3% of the CO2 in the atmosphere being due to human intervention, it is 100%
Another quantity used to arrive at the 1/14,000 of a degree above is the 5% reduction in Australia’s emissions that is the target for 2020.
Chapter 2 of the Garnaut Climate Change Review at http://www.garnautreview.org.au/update-2011/garnaut-review-2011/chapter2.html shows that without climate mitigation policies Australian emissions will grow 24% between 2012 and 2020, but with them the emissions will hopefully reduce by 5%. The difference between acting and not acting is thus 29%, not 5%
I don’t know what the actual effect on the temperature would be if Australia managed to reduce its emissions but it is certainly not 1/14,000 of a degree. However it will still be small, because Australia is not a big emitter. If Australia takes action on carbon emissions it will send a signal to the world that will encourage other countries to take action.
Comment: The claim that action by Australia will only reduce the temperature by 1/14,000 of a degree is based on spurious information.
Toward the end of the letter the author quotes Tim Flannery as saying: “if the world as a whole cut all emissions tomorrow the average temperature of the planet is not going to drop in several hundred years, perhaps as much as 1000 years because the system is overburdened with CO2”. Whilst I have not checked the quote, I suspect he got it right.
Heath Craft’s final statement is: “Of course the truth is out there for those who want to look and see”
Comment: Very true