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Of bad science and worse politics

By November 6, 2021November 7th, 2021No Comments

The politics of the moment is the only kind of politics there is. Few but historians are interested in the politics of yesteryear and a politician who speculates about the politics of the future is being more  philosopher than politician. If only the Queen and the heir apparent would take her prescription and rise above the topical concern of the climate change debate, a contentious political issue if ever there was one.

What will its proponents say when, after “decarbonizing” at enormous cost in terms of lives lost, livelihoods destroyed, security undermined and opportunities missed, it is found that it made no difference whatever to climate change? No doubt they will say “We acted on the best evidence available at the time” and “Lessons will be learnt”.

Just as they did after the Iraq war when no WMD were discovered. Could they help it if they became much richer as a result of the war?

Regarding the former hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic: how do we know that changes to CFCs and refrigerants stopped it growing? Perhaps other factors unrelated to industrial activity did that and recently also caused it to close completely.

Similar considerations apply to the theory of man made global warming and climate change. With man made CO2 being such a tiny constituent of total CO2 in the atmosphere and CO2 itself being only a minor greenhouse gas, the great bulk of which is cloud and water vapour, the notion that it is responsible for a claimed warming (that is difficult accurately to measure) is counter-intuitive.

The Antarctic continent has not warmed in the last seven decades, despite a monotonic increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases. If man-made CO2 is causing the Arctic to warm, why is it not also causing the Antarctic to warm?

The vast majority of the greenhouse effect comes from water vapour, which is driven by the oceans. A much smaller effect comes from naturally occurring greenhouse gases. A very much smaller effect may be added by the extra parts per million of CO2 in the upper troposphere. That effect may or may not be measurable in the oceans.

Changes in ocean heat drive climate. The data we have suggests that the oceans are warming at a rate of 0.4C per century. However, the ocean cycle-time is over 1,000 years and the data record is only 15 years, so this is very speculative. If the oceans are warming at a rate of 0.4C per century, it seems very unlikely that the speculation about rapid and dangerous warming of the atmosphere is well founded.

Even if some warming is occurring the human contribution to it is likely to be infinitesimal. Some warming is likely to have benefits as well as disadvantages. If it is occurring mainly due to natural processes with a time scale spanning decades and centuries any human intervention is likely to be ineffectual. And made at what cost?