The Real Climate Change Catastrophe
In a startling new book, Christopher Booker reveals how a handful
of scientists, who have pushed flawed theories on global warming
for decades, now threaten to take us back to the Dark Ages.
Next Thursday marks the first anniversary of one of the most
remarkable events ever to take place in the House of Commons.
For six hours MPs debated what was far and away the most expensive
piece of legislation ever put before Parliament.
The Climate Change Bill laid down that, by 2050, the British
people must cut their emissions of carbon dioxide by well over
80 per cent. Short of some unimaginable technological revolution,
such a target could not possibly be achieved without shutting
down almost the whole of our industrialised economy, changing
our way of life out of recognition.
Even the Government had to concede that the expense of doing this
which it now admits will cost us £18 billion a year
for the next 40 years would be twice the value of its supposed
benefits. Yet, astonishingly, although dozens of MPs queued up
to speak in favour of the Bill, only two dared to question the
need for it. It passed by 463 votes to just three.
One who voted against it was Peter Lilley who, just before the
vote was taken, drew the Speakers attention to the fact
that, outside the Palace of Westminster, snow was falling, the
first October snow recorded in London for 74 years. As I observed
at the time: Who says that God hasnt got a sense of
By any measure, the supposed menace of global warming
and the political response to it has become one of the
overwhelmingly urgent issues of our time. If one accepts the thesis
that the planet faces a threat unprecedented in history, the implications
are mind-boggling. But equally mind-boggling now are the implications
of the price we are being asked to pay by our politicians to meet
that threat. More than ever, it is a matter of the highest priority
that we should know whether or not the assumptions on which the
politicians base their proposals are founded on properly sound
This is why I have been regularly reporting on the issue in my
column in The Sunday Telegraph, and this week I publish a book
called The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the obsession with
climate change turning out to be the most costly scientific delusion
There are already many books on this subject, but mine is rather
different from the rest in that, for the first time, it tries
to tell the whole tangled story of how the debate over the threat
of climate change has evolved over the past 30 years, interweaving
the science with the politicians response to it.
It is a story that has unfolded in three stages. The first began
back in the Seventies when a number of scientists noticed that
the worlds temperatures had been falling for 30 years, leading
them to warn that we might be heading for a new ice age. Then,
in the mid-Seventies, temperatures started to rise again, and
by the mid-Eighties, a still fairly small number of scientists
including some of those who had been predicting a new ice
age began to warn that we were now facing the opposite
problem: a world dangerously heating up, thanks to our pumping
out COv(2) and all those greenhouse gases inseparable from modern
In 1988, a handful of the scientists who passionately believed
in this theory won authorisation from the UN to set up the body
known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
This was the year when the scare over global warming really exploded
into the headlines, thanks above all to the carefully staged testimony
given to a US Senate Committee by Dr James Hansen, head of NASAs
Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), also already an advocate
for the theory that COv(2) was causing potentially catastrophic
The disaster-movie scenario that rising levels of COv(2) could
lead to droughts, hurricanes, heatwaves and, above all, that melting
of the polar ice caps, which would flood half the worlds
major cities, struck a rich chord. The media loved it. The environmentalists
loved it. More and more politicians, led by Al Gore in the United
States, jumped on the bandwagon. But easily their most influential
allies were the scientists running the new IPCC, led by a Swedish
meteorologist Bert Bolin and Dr John Houghton, head of the UK
The IPCC, through its series of weighty reports, was now to become
the central player in the whole story. But rarely has the true
nature of any international body been more widely misrepresented.
It is commonly believed that the IPCC consists of 1,500
of the worlds top climate scientists, charged with
weighing all the scientific evidence for and against human-induced
climate change in order to arrive at a consensus.
In fact, the IPCC was never intended to be anything of the kind.
The vast majority of its contributors have never been climate
scientists. Many are not scientists at all. And from the start,
the purpose of the IPCC was not to test the theory, but to provide
the most plausible case for promoting it. This was why the computer
models it relied on as its chief source of evidence were all programmed
to show that, as COv(2) levels continued to rise, so temperatures
must inevitably follow.
One of the more startling features of the IPCC is just how few
scientists have been centrally involved in guiding its findings.
They have mainly been British and American, led for a long time
by Dr Houghton (knighted in 1991) as chairman of its scientific
working group, who in 1990 founded the Met Offices Hadley
Centre for research into climate change. The centre has continued
to play a central role in selecting the IPCCs contributors
to this day, and along with the Climate Research Unit run by Professor
Philip Jones at the University of East Anglia, controls HadCrut,
one of the four official sources of global temperature data (another
of the four, GIStemp, is run by the equally committed Dr Hansen
and his British-born right-hand man, Dr Gavin Schmidt).
With remarkable speed, from the time of its first report in 1990,
the IPCC and its computer models won over many of the worlds
politicians, led by those of the European Union. In 1992, the
UN staged its extraordinary Earth Summit in Rio, attended by 108
prime ministers and heads of state, which agreed the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change; and this led in 1997 to the famous
Kyoto Protocol, committing the worlds governments to specific
targets for reducing COv(2).
Up to this point, the now officially accepted global-warming
theory seemed only too plausible. Both COv(2) levels and world
temperatures had continued to rise, exactly as the IPCCs
computer models predicted. We thus entered the second stage of
the story, lasting from 1998 to 2006, when the theory seemed to
be carrying everything before it.
The politicians, most notably in the EU, were now beginning to
adopt every kind of measure to combat the supposed global-warming
menace, from building tens of thousands of wind turbines to creating
elaborate schemes for buying and selling the right to emit COv(2),
the gas every plant in the world needs for life.
But however persuasive the case seemed to be, there were just
beginning to be rather serious doubts about the methods being
used to promote it. More and more questions were being asked about
the IPCCs unbalanced approach to evidence most notably
in its promotion of the so-called hockey stick graph,
produced in time for its 2001 report by a hitherto obscure US
scientist Dr Michael Mann, purporting to show how global temperatures
had suddenly been shooting up to levels quite unprecedented in
One of the hockey sticks biggest fans was Al Gore, who
in 2006 made it the centrepiece of his Oscar-winning film, An
Inconvenient Truth. But it then turned out that almost every single
scientific claim in Gores film was either wildly exaggerated
or wrong. The statistical methods used to create the hockey-stick
graph were so devastatingly exposed by two Canadian statisticians,
Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick (as was confirmed in 2006 by
two expert panels commissioned by the US Congress) that the graph
has become one of the most comprehensively discredited artefacts
in the history of science.
The supporters of the hockey stick, highly influential in the
IPCC, hit back. Proudly calling themselves the Hockey Team,
their membership again reflects how small has been the number
of closely linked scientists centrally driving the warming scare.
They include Philip Jones, in charge of the HadCrut official temperature
graph, and Gavin Schmidt, Hansens right-hand man at GISS
which itself came under fire for adjusting its
temperature data to exaggerate the warming trend.
Then, in 2007, the story suddenly entered its third stage. In
a way that had been wholly unpredicted by those IPCC computer
models, global temperatures started to drop. Although CO2 levels
continued to rise, after 25 years when temperatures had risen,
the worlds climate was visibly starting to cool again.
More and more eminent scientists have been coming out of the
woodwork to suggest that the IPCC, with its computer models, had
got it all wrong. It isnt COv(2) that has been driving the
climate, the changes are natural, driven by the activity of the
sun and changes in the currents of the worlds oceans.
The ice caps havent been melting as the alarmists and the
models predicted they should. The Antarctic, containing nearly
90 per cent of all the ice in the world, has actually been cooling
over the past 30 years, not warming. The polar bears are not drowning
there are four times more of them now than there were 40
years ago. In recent decades, the number of hurricanes and droughts
have gone markedly down, not up.
As the world has already been through two of its coldest winters
for decades, with all the signs that we may now be entering a
third, the scientific case for COv(2) threatening the world with
warming has been crumbling away on an astonishing scale.
Yet it is at just this point that the worlds politicians,
led by Britain, the EU and now President Obama, are poised to
impose on us far and away the most costly set of measures that
any group of politicians has ever proposed in the history of the
world measures so destructive that even if only half of
them were implemented, they would take us back to the dark ages.
We have less than 50 days to save the planet, declared
Gordon Brown last week, in yet another desperate bid to save the
successor to the Kyoto treaty, which is due to be agreed in Copenhagen
in six weeks time. But no one has put the reality of the
situation more succinctly than Prof Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technolgy, one of the most distinguished climatologists
in the world, who has done as much as anyone in the past 20 years
to expose the emptiness of the IPCCs claim that its reports
represent a consensus of the views of the worlds
top climate scientists.
In words quoted on the cover of my new book, Prof Lindzen wrote:
Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that
the early 21st centurys developed world went into hysterical
panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths
of a degree and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly
exaggerated computer predictions combined into implausible chains
of inference, proceeded to contemplate a rollback of the industrial
Such is the truly extraordinary position in which we find ourselves.
Thanks to misreading the significance of a brief period of rising
temperatures at the end of the 20th century, the Western world
(but not India or China) is now contemplating measures that add
up to the most expensive economic suicide note ever written.
How long will it be before sanity and sound science break in
on what begins to look like one of the most bizarre collective
delusions ever to grip the human race?
Reference Source 172
October 26, 2009