August 24, 2009
FROM-Quadrant On Line
by Ian Plimer
Destroying the factory, building the bureaucracy
The government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has the potential to ruin Australia’s productive economies and to build an even greater bureaucracy. Even the name of this bill should ring warning bells as carbon is the foundation of life and is not a pollutant.
It is claimed that there is a scientific consensus about human-induced climate change. Consensus is a process of politics not science. There is certainly no scientific consensus about human-induced climate change and the loudest voice does not win scientific discussions. Science is married to evidence, no matter how uncomfortable.
To argue that temperature has increased 0.8ºC since 1850 is misleading because the Little Ice Age ended in 1850 and it is absolutely no surprise that temperature increases after a long cold period. Since 1850, there has been temperature increase (1860-1880, 1910-1940, 1976-1998) and decrease (1880-1910, 1940-1976,1998-present) and the rate of the three periods of temperature increase has been the same. A simple question does not get asked: What part of warming and cooling since 1850 is natural? The first two warmings could not be related to human additions of CO2 from industry hence why wouldn’t the 1976-1998 warming also be due to natural processes?
It is claimed that, since 1950, human additions of CO2 has been the dominant cause of warming. The scales and rates of temperature change in the past have been far greater than when humans emitted CO2 from industry. What has caused the coolings (1940-1976 and 1998-present) or, by some tortured logic, is global cooling this century actually global warming cunningly disguised?
At present, atmospheric temperature is decreasing and CO2 is increasing again showing that CO2 is not the principal driver of climate change. Planet Earth is a warm wet greenhouse volcanic planet. The planet is dynamic, change is normal. Five of the six major ice ages occurred when the atmospheric CO2 content was up to 1,000 times higher than at present and for half of Earth history CO2 has been sequestered naturally into algal reefs, coral reefs, sediments, altered rocks, bacteria, plants, soils and oceans. This process is still taking place.
The hypothesis that high atmospheric CO2 drives global warming is therefore invalid. The Earth’s atmospheric CO2 initially derived from volcanic degassing. Much of it still does and the rest is recycled CO2 from the oceans, rocks and life.
The claim that warming will increase in the future has been disproved by the climate modellers’ own data. Climate models of the 1990s did not predict the El Niño of 1998 or the cooling in the 21st Century. If such models are inaccurate only 10 years into the future, how can they be accurate for longer-term predictions? Furthermore, when these models are run backwards they cannot be used to identify climate-driving processes involving a huge transfer of energy (e.g. El Niño), volcanoes, solar changes and supernovae. Models tell us more about the climatologists than they do about Nature.
Another claim is that climate cannot be reversed. This invokes a non-dynamic planet. The fact that previous warmings with an atmospheric temperature some 5ºC higher than now (e.g. Minoan, Roman, Medieval) were reversed is conveniently ignored as are the great climate cycles driven by the Sun, the Earth’s orbit, tectonics and tides seen on modern, archaeological and geological time scales.
‘Tipping points’ are another sensationalist unsubstantiated claim. In past times when atmospheric CO2 and temperature were far higher, there were no tipping points, climate disasters or runaway greenhouse. The climate catastrophists attempt to create fear by mentioning the carbon cycle but just happen to omit that significant oxygenation of the atmosphere took place when the planet was in middle age and this process of photosynthesis resulted the recycling and sequestration of carbon.
The atmosphere now contains 800 billion tonnes (Gt) of carbon as CO2, soils vegetation and humus contain 2,000 Gt carbon in various compounds, the oceans contain 39,000 Gt and limestone, a rock that contains 44% CO2, contains 65,000,000 Gt carbon. The atmosphere contains only 0.001% of all carbon at the surface of the Earth and far greater quantities are present in the lower crust and mantle of the Earth. Human additions of CO2 to the atmosphere must be taken into perspective. Over the last 250 years, humans have added just one part of CO2 in 10,000 to the atmosphere. One volcanic cough can do this in a day.
Climate chestnuts about polar ice are commonly raised. What is not raised is that ice is dynamic, it advances and retreats, while the Arctic is warming the Antarctic is cooling and vice versa and if ice did not retreat, then the planet would be covered in ice. For less than 20% of time Earth has had ice. The Antarctic ice sheet has been with us for 37 million years during which time there were extended periods of warmth and the ice sheet did not disappear. So too with the Greenland ice sheet which has enjoyed nearly 3 million years of expansion and contraction yet did not disappear in extended times far warmer than at present.
Sea level is also dynamic and has risen and fallen over time by at least 600 metres. Since the end of the glaciation 14,000 years ago, sea level has risen some 130 metres at almost 1 cm per year. It is now at about 1 mm per year. This sea level rise has flooded Bass Strait, the English Channel and destabilised the west Antarctic Ice Sheet. It is this sea level rise that has stimulated coral growth, created larger shallow water ecologies and changed the shape of landmasses.
The fear mongering suggestion that oceans will become acid is also misleading. The oceans are buffered by sediments and volcanic rocks on the sea floor and even in past times when atmospheric temperature and CO2 were far higher than at present, there were no acid oceans. If there had been, there would be no fossils with calcium carbonate shells. Although industrial aerosols are decreasing, the climate catastrophists omit to state that volcanic aerosols kill. At least three of the five major mass extinctions of complex life on Earth were probably due to aerosols.
If our climate catastrophists want to twiddle the dials and stop climate change, they need to play God and change radiation in the galaxy, the Sun, the Earth’s orbit, tidal cycles and plate tectonics. Once they have mastered volcanoes, then we can let them loose on climate change. In the interim, science and our great institutions are greatly damaged by the politicisation of science, the demonising of dissent and ad hominem attacks on matters of science.
Senator Wong argues that it is in the national interest to have a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. To which nation does she refer, because it is certainly not Australia? Australia faces the biggest financial decision since Federation yet there has not been an independent scientific and financial due diligence on an emissions trading scheme. Even the Regulations for this legislation have not been drafted so how can Australia even contemplate an emission trading scheme when the legislators do not know the details? It is this legislative time bomb that will destroy productive industries in rural and industrial Australia.