Climate change is a fact, but the reasons for it are still up in the air

FOLLOWING my column two weeks ago, it was suggested that I was attacking Green Party policies and somehow suggesting there was no basis for conservation, recycling or cleaning up our air and water, and it was even said that I was suggesting that global warming is nonsense.

Global warming is a fact. It will undoubtedly lead to a rise in sea levels and some flooding could result, but the 20-foot rise predicted by Al Gore is a hysterical figment of the imagination of a failed politician.

Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — which sparked much of the hysteria with its doctored report in 1996 — predicted just a 36-inch rise in the sea levels by the end of this century. It has since cut that prediction by more than half to 17 inches.

The Dutch have staved off such flooding over the centuries, and people should be making plans to cope with rising sea levels rather than taking futile measures to prevent inevitable warming, which is a result of solar activity over which we currently have no control. The opinions expressed in the column were the published views of recognised experts.

Of course, we should still tackle air pollution because of the respiratory problems it causes.

Fortunately, we no longer witness the kind of pea-soup fogs that went on for days and even weeks in Dublin and London in the 1950s. They were the result of a deadly combination of normal fog, industrial smog and the prolific use of soft coal.

On the basis of the greenhouse gas arguments, cigarette smoking is helping to provoke climate change. There is no proof of this, but there is proof that smoking damages health by contributing to both cancer and heart disease.

Environmentalism has it place and many greenhouse gas sceptics are staunch environmentalists. It is important, for instance, that drinking water should be cleaned up in Galway because cryptosporidium is a distinct threat to people’s health.

It may cost millions to clean up the water, but it should be done for health reasons, not because an epidemic of the runs in Galway will lead to global warming. It will have no more impact on climate change on Earth than it will contribute to the shrinking of the polar ice caps on Mars.

Cleaning up our water and air is important to our quality of life. That’s enough reason for doing so; the State should tackle those problems and not waste money on carbon credits to promote daft and unproven theories about climate change.

On April 8 last year, 60 prominent international experts in the fields of Earth science, climatology, meteorology, geophysics, maths and economics sent an open letter to Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister. Their goal was to get the Canadian government to review the actual evidence of climate change before implementing provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.

“While the confident pronouncements of scientifically unqualified environmental groups may provide for sensational headlines, they are no basis for mature policy formulation”, they warned.

The study of global climate change is an emerging science and it will likely take many years before we understand the Earth’s climate system properly.

“Significant advances have been made since the protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases”, they continued.

“If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist because we would have concluded it was not necessary”.

People have been citing a phoney ‘consensus’ of scientists on the IPCC to justify theories about global warming, but the actual 1996 consensus was that they could find no definite evidence that greenhouse gasses were responsible for global warming in any of their studies. “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increased greenhouse gases” is what they actually concluded.

Unfortunately, this conclusion was excluded from the final report in order to fit a political agenda.

In the case of the 1996 IPCC report, the summary was published first, followed several months later by the actual report. But when the report was published several of the participating scientists were appalled that their conclusion about there being no clear evidence that greenhouse gases were responsible for global warming was dropped. Many of them denounced the change as an unscientific distortion designed to fit a political agenda.

OFFICIALS of the IPCC explained that the report’s revisions were “to ensure that it conformed to a ‘policymakers’ summary’ of the full report.” Those officials were getting the whole process backward.

A summary is supposed to conform to the report, and while it might be permissible for policymakers to draw up such a summary with the approval of the experts, it is utterly perverse that the report drawn up by the scientists should be altered by policymakers just to comply with their own summary.

The people of Castlegregory, Co Kerry, had a practical example of the impact of distorted science in relation to their efforts to build an 18-hole golf course. They built a nine-hole course in the 1980s, but they have been blocked ever since by a bogus controversy over natterjack toads that were flourishing in ponds built as part of the course. In a report commissioned by the Council of Europe, Dr TJC Beebee of the University of Surrey wrote that “all three ponds, and the drainage channels, have been heavily used by natterjack and all contained between hundreds and tens of thousands of well-grown tadpoles at the time of our visit” (1991).

He admitted that natterjack toads were flourishing on the course, but contended that the area “must have supported a large local toad population” before the course was built. There was therefore no way of knowing what damage the construction of the course had done to the breeding grounds of the toads.

He was presuming there had been no scientific surveys of the natterjack in the area prior to building the course, but there had been a number of surveys which demonstrated that the area had not previously been a breeding ground at all.

Dr Maria Gibbons from UCG said she had been “monitoring and researching the Kerry toad populations on and off since 1981, and there is consequently much information available, most of which has been presented to the Wildlife Service in reports published in 1981, ‘82, ‘83 and ‘86”.

“As far as I am aware (and I have been in Kerry for six breeding seasons),” she continued, “there were no toad breeding sites, at least during the 1980s, existing in the area now occupied by the nine-hole golf course. Toads would have always used this area for foraging during the summer, and that is presumably how they discovered the existence of the new golf course ponds in the first place”, she explained.

“Evidently Dr Gibbons has more extensive knowledge of the Castlegregory area than I do”, Dr Beebee candidly acknowledged in December 1992. He admitted natterjacks had flourished to a degree beyond what he had believed possible, but the building of a second nine holes had been blocked because of a supposed threat to natterjacks.

The people of Castlegregory were “natterjacked’, just as the rest of the world is being deceived by distortions about the cause of global warming. Such behaviour gives environmentalism a bad name, and the environmentalists will ultimately endorse it at their own peril.

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