Global Warming? Don't Wait Up! the Science of Climate Change Is Not Immune to Fads, Fanatics and Frauds, According to This Distinguished Professor of Geology - but Here Are the Cold (and Rather Reassuring) Facts

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), November 29, 2009 | Go to article overview

Global Warming? Don't Wait Up! the Science of Climate Change Is Not Immune to Fads, Fanatics and Frauds, According to This Distinguished Professor of Geology - but Here Are the Cold (and Rather Reassuring) Facts


Byline: Ian Plimer PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE

Perhaps it is comforting to believe that science is an absolute discipline: immune from fads, fanatics and frauds, untroubled by extremists, evangelists, glory-seekers and bigots. But it is not. It is as vulnerable to the vested interests and biases of its practitioners as any corporate entity or political party.

Uncomfortable truths are suppressed and dubious evidence given undue prominence.

Nowhere is this more worryingly obvious than in the science of climate change. As a field of research it has become so heavily politicised that opposing views are spoken of in terms of religion: believers and nonbelievers, with the accent being on the righteousness of the former and the benighted state of the latter.

Those who believed scientists to be relentless seekers of the truth will have been shocked by the row sparked by a hacker who got hold of emails sent by staff at the University of East Anglia. It has been claimed that the emails exchanged by members of the university's Climate Research Unit showed statistics had been finessed using 'tricks' and material that didn't fit the computer model of Climate Change presented to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was allegedly suppressed.

In my book Heaven And Earth, I hinted at the existence of this sort of activity and was pilloried by those who have everything to gain from keeping the climate-change gravy train rolling. Because that is what it has become.

Sensationalist theories are generated by scientists who have evolved into professional alarmists who can influence the IPCC and reap rewards in research grants and fame. The trouble is that the only way to protect this position - and transmit their message of doom and gloom - is for the elite little coterie of climate comrades in the UK and United States to ignore geology, archaeology, history, astronomy and solar science. You see, these are the things that don't fit.

The reality is that the Earth has been here before, it has been here through worse and it is still, resolutely, here today. Climate-change theory and the dire prognosis given by its proponents is just wrong.

Look at the facts. Earth is a warm, wet, greenhouse planet. There has been ice on its surface for less than 20 per cent of its history, and in the geological past there have been six great ice ages. Two ice ages were characterised by ice at the Equator, with sea levels rising by up to 5,000ft. That is sea-level change!

Five of the ice ages saw a far higher atmospheric carbon-dioxide content than at present. So carbon dioxide could not have caused past climate changes. Indeed, early Earth had 1,000 times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than now - yet there was no runaway greenhouse effect, tipping points or acid oceans.

The initial source of the two main greenhouse gases, water vapour and carbon dioxide, was volcanoes. Water vapour is still the main greenhouse gas. Once oceans formed and life appeared, carbon was then recycled between the oceans, atmosphere, soils, life and rocks. Carbon dioxide is a plant food, not a pollutant.

Humanactivity produces only three per cent of the world's carbon-dioxide emissions each year. One volcanic belch can emit as much as that in a day. Carbon dioxide has a short life in the atmosphere and is absorbed by natural processes that have been taking place for billions of years.

At the normal past rates of absorption, even if we burned all fossil fuels on Earth, the atmospheric carbondioxide content would not double. In past ages it has been naturally absorbed into everything from limestone reefs to soil, rocks and living things. For example, limestone is a very common rock and contains 44 per cent carbon dioxide.

Dissolving carbon dioxide in ocean water has not created ocean acidity. The constant chemical reactions between ocean water and sediments and rocks on the sea floor have kept the oceans alkaline.

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Global Warming? Don't Wait Up! the Science of Climate Change Is Not Immune to Fads, Fanatics and Frauds, According to This Distinguished Professor of Geology - but Here Are the Cold (and Rather Reassuring) Facts
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