[extropy-chat] Ian Plimer: Global warming a damp squib

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Jan 5 00:17:41 UTC 2006



HEAT, bushfires. Just another Australian summer, some hotter, some wetter, 
some cooler, some drier. As per usual, the northern hemisphere freezes and 
the blame game is in overdrive. At the 2005 UN Climate Change Conference in 
Montreal, Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault stated: "Global warming can mean 
colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that's what we're dealing with."

It is that simple! If it's hot, it's global warming; if it's cold, it's 
global warming. Demonstrators in frigid temperatures in Montreal chanted: 
"It's hot in here! There's too much carbon in the atmosphere!" The same 
apocalyptic Guilbeault says: "Time is running out to deal with climate 
change. Ten years ago, we thought we had a lot of time, five years ago we 
thought we had a lot of time, but now science is telling us that we don't 
have a lot of time." Really.

In 1992, Greenpeace's Henry Kendall gave us the Chicken Little quote, "Time 
is running out"; in 1994, The Irish Times tried to frighten the leprechauns 
with "Time running out for action on global warming, Greenpeace claims"; 
and in 1997 Chris Rose of Greenpeace maintained the religious mantra with 
"Time is running out for the climate". We've heard such failed 
catastrophist predictions before. The Club of Rome on resources, Paul 
Erlich on population, Y2K, and now Greenpeace on global warming.

During the past 30 years, the US economy grew by 50 per cent, car numbers 
grew by 143 per cent, energy consumption grew by 45 per cent and air 
pollutants declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, 
sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. 
Most European signatories to the Kyoto Protocol had greenhouse gas 
emissions increase since 2001, whereas in the US emissions fell by nearly 
1per cent. Furthermore, carbon credits rewarded Russia, (east) Germany and 
Britain, which had technically and economically backward energy production 
in 1990.

By the end of this century, the demographically doomed French, Italians and 
Spaniards may have too few environmentalists to fund Greenpeace's business. 
So what really does Greenpeace want? A habitable environment with no humans 
left to inhabit it? Destruction of the major economies for .07C change?

Does it matter if sea level rises a few metres or global temperatures rise 
a few degrees? No. Sea level changes by up to 400m, atmospheric 
temperatures by about 20C, carbon dioxide can vary from 20 per cent to 0.03 
per cent, and our dynamic planet just keeps evolving. Greenpeace, contrary 
to scientific data, implies a static planet. Even if the sea level rises by 
metres, it is probably cheaper to address this change than reconstruct the 
world's economies.

For about 80 per cent of the time since its formation, Earth has been a 
warm, wet, greenhouse planet with no icecaps. When Earth had icecaps, the 
climate was far more variable, disease depopulated human settlements and 
extinction rates of other complex organisms were higher. Thriving of life 
and economic strength occurs during warm times. Could Greenpeace please 
explain why there was a pre-Industrial Revolution global warming from AD900 
to 1300? Why was the sea level higher 6000 years ago than it is at present? 
Which part of the 120m sea-level rise over the past 15,000 years is 
human-induced? To attribute a multicomponent, variable natural process such 
as climate change to human-induced carbon emissions is pseudo-science.

There is no debate about climate change, only dogma and misinformation. For 
example, is there a link between hurricanes Katrina and Rita and global 
warming? Two hurricanes hit the US Gulf Coast six weeks apart in 1915, 
mimicking Katrina and Rita. If global warming caused recent storms, there 
should have been more hurricanes in the Pacific and Indian oceans since 
1995. Instead, there has been a slight decrease at a time when China and 
India have increased greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of hurricanes 
might seem more severe because of the blanket instantaneous news coverage 
and because more people now live in hurricane-prone areas, hence there is 
more property damage and loss of life.

Only a strong economy can produce the well fed who have the luxury of 
espousing with religious fervour their uncosted, impractical, impoverishing 
policies. By such policies, Greenpeace continues to exacerbate grinding 
poverty in the Third World. The planet's best friend is human 
resourcefulness with a supportive, strong economy and reduced release of 
toxins. The greenhouse gases - nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane - 
have been recycled for billions of years without the intervention of human 

Ian Plimer is a professor of geology at the University of Adelaide and 
former head of the school of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne.

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