Sceptical of Climate Change 'Gospel'

Howard Curnow

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This piece appeared in the Methodist Recorder, 16 Nov 18, and is republished here by permission. There are minor edits for clarity where necessary.

Editor's note
Howard Curnow, a familiar figure here, reminds us of the nature of the IPCC.

It would seem that official Methodism and "Recorder Comment" (19 Oct) are both inclined to take IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports as "gospel" on the subject of climate change. There are, however, good reasons why I and others are unconvinced by many of its statements; while it likes to give the impression that it is a scientific body concerned with all aspects of climate change, it is, and always has been, as much a political body as a scientific one.

The premise underlying all the IPCC reports, and the most basic assumption in all the computer programs producing predictions about future global temperatures is that climate change is driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Most of the computer programs have predicted appreciably higher temperatures than have turned out to be the reality, which ought to have led the proponents of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory to question their assumptions.

The very name Intergovernmental Panel on Cliamte Change (IPCC) may lead people to think that this body is concerned with all aspects of climate change, but this is not so. Basically the panel ignores all data, theory and research which does not focus on carbon dioxide - it has no interest in research on natural, cyclical or non-human caused external factors, such as the sun - although clearly in the past climate has changed without being driven by carbon dioxide.

From the IPCC point of view, since climate change is driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide (though this level is well below one percent of the atmosphere), the cure must be to decrease emissions of the gas by phasing out fossil fuels. Advocates of this policy should recognize that "renewables" on their own cannot possibly supply the electricity necessary for the function of developed societies and reliance upon them would make progress in undeveloped countries very slow indeed.

The IPCC likes to give the impression that there is a consensus of "climate scientists" in agreement with its reports. Leaving aside the question of how relevant the political idea of consensus is to questions of science, there are reputable and respected scientists who are highly critical of its reports and of its methods in producing them.

One such is Prof Richard Lindzen, one of a number of critics of the IPCC who were invited, as were a number of supporters of the "consensus" to give evidence to a House of Lords select committee in 2005.

Supporters of the consensus have a tendency to pressure the public with scary scenarios, to make simplified dramatic statements, with no admission of doubts or questions. Former US Vice-President Al Gore justified this in a recent interview about the report, saying: "The language that the IPCC used in presenting it was torqued up a bit, appropriately, how else do they get the attention of policy-makers around the world?"

One might wonder, for those who believe in AGW, how they can talk confidently about ways of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C above "pre-industrial levels" (whatever that might mean) when they know that China is continuing to build coal-fired power stations.



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