Scientific method or climate ‘science’? Which should we prefer?

Brief to Hague Court by three eminent U.S. scientists is a devastating refutation of climate catastrophism

By Joe Oliver, National Post, July 2, 2024

An expert opinion, submitted pro bono last November to the Hague Court of Appeals by three eminent American scientists, presents a devastating refutation of climate catastrophism.

Their conclusions contradict alarmists’ sacred beliefs, including that anthropogenic carbon dioxide will cause dangerous climate change, thus obliterating the desirability, let alone the need, for net-zero policies that by 2050 would inflict US$275 trillion in useless expenditures on wealthy countries and harm the poorest people in the world’s poorest economies. Predictably, the study has been ignored by mainstream media.

The three scientists are: Richard Lindzen, emeritus professor of Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at MIT; William Happer, emeritus professor of physics at Princeton; and Steven Koonin, professor at NYU, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of the 2021 book: Unsettled: What climate science tells us, what it doesn’t, and why it matters. 

Although seriously outnumbered in their views, they are not alone. John Clauser, who won the physics Nobel in 2022, has said “The popular narrative about climate change reflects a dangerous corruption of science that threatens the world’s economy and the well-being of billions of people.”

Scientific method, not ‘consensus,’ underlies critique of climate alarmism

The foundation for three scientists’ opinion is, not surprisingly, the scientific method, which Richard Feynman (1918-88), theoretical physicist and 1965 Nobelist, defined with trademark clarity: “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

To be reliable, science must be based on observations consistent with predictions, rather than consensus, peer reviews, opinions of government controlled bodies like the IPCC and definitely not cherry-picked, exaggerated or falsified data. The paper makes the point colloquially: “Peer review of the climate literature is a joke. It is pal review.”

Canada’s public authorities promote their intrusive, exorbitant agenda by hectoring Canadians to “trust the science.” As Michael Crichton pithily pointed out, however, “If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it is science, it isn’t consensus.” The challenge for a non-scientist is to determine what the science is.

CO2 and climate temperatures rarely correlated

During the past 600 million years, the Hague submission argues, there was often an inverse relationship between CO2 and climate temperatures, i.e. temperatures were high when carbon dioxide was low and low when CO2 was high.

Moreover, the authors assert, “no scientist familiar with radiation transfer denies that more carbon dioxide is likely to cause only small and benign warming.” They conclude “there is no risk CO2 and fossil fuels will cause catastrophic global warming.”

The study points out that much-cited models predicting catastrophic warming and extreme weather have been dramatically wrong. There has been no significant trend in high temperature records in either the past century or the past 40 years, nor in the global number of tropical cyclones nor in hurricanes making landfall in the U.S.

Similarly, there has been no risk of increased damage from rising sea levels or from droughts due to increased atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuels. In summary, the authors agree with Kooning’s statement in Unsettled: “Science says that most extreme weather events show no long-term trends that can be attributed to human influence on the climate.”

CO2 is life-giving element, not ‘pollution’

We hear incessantly from the prime minister and the minister for environment and climate change that carbon dioxide is dangerous “pollution” that poses an existential threat to humanity. In fact, as the study explains, it is a miracle molecule that is the basis for nearly all life on the planet.

Higher CO2 increases the amount of food that plants produce through fertilization. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution a much lamented rise in CO2 from 280 ppm in 1750 to 420 ppm today increased food production by 21 per cent. If it were to almost double to 800 ppm, food production would increase a further 60 per cent. Also, higher CO2 lessens water lost by plant transpiration, meaning more food in drought stricken areas.

Conversely, reducing carbon dioxide through net-zero policies could inflict hunger and malnutrition on hundreds of millions of people. Nitrogen fertilizer, which is made from natural gas, sustains half the world’s population; eliminating it through net-zero policies could result in mass starvation.

Sri Lanka is a cautionary tale. When it banned the importation and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in April 2021, rice production fell in half and prices increased 80 per cent. A real existential threat would come from eliminating CO2, without which “there would be no food and thus no human or other life.” At 150 ppm, many plants die of CO2 starvation.

None of these realities will sway alarmists who have a financial, political, ideological or professional stake in perpetuating the global warming scare. Cue personal attacks, attempts to silence dissent and wilful blindness to the scientific method.

It took 40 years for Stalin-era Lysenko pseudoscience to be debunked, but not before millions perished. Groupthink dies hard despite the harm it inflicts and the falsity it perpetuates. An open and rigorous scientific discussion is urgently needed to evaluate green policies based on scientific reality.

Joe Oliver was minister of natural resources and of finance in the Harper government.

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