The so-called consensus on global warming is melting

December 19, 2008

News reports from last week's UN Climate Change Summit in Poland told us global warming is "a ticking time bomb" bringing "death and destruction" to the world. Others suggested Arctic ice levels are at their lowest point ever and may disappear entirely by 2015, CO2 levels are 10 per cent higher than what is safe and basic survival will force polar bears to give up their tasty staple of seal meat for "scrambled eggs" from the nests of snow geese. (Those who've attempted to convert a cat to new food will understand the potential difficulties in explaining this to the polar bears.)

Fittingly, self-proclaimed climate expert Al Gore called the situation "the equivalent of a five-alarm fire that has to be addressed immediately."

The only thing more significant to the future of our planet than the "five-alarm fire" reported from the conference is --what we weren't told.

Most news reports neglected to mention a major challenge to scientific claims in the UN's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) document at the core of conference policy discussions. The U.S. Senate Minority Report presents dissenting statements by 650 prominent international scientists, including current and former members of the IPCC. Further, the number of dissenters has increased from 400 just one year ago when the report was first released.

As news reports falsely told Canadians, "Scientists and governments from around the world have reached a consensus" about human activity causing global warming, the real story is that large numbers of scientists are switching teams to declare global warming science is far from settled and there is no consensus.

The Senate report quotes one Nobel-winning scientist as saying, "I am a skeptic . . . global warming has become a new religion." A climate expert says the debate now follows "a fundamentally unscientific approach, "while a former IPCC member says the climate change models used to project global warming changes are only useful in "explaining climate changes after the fact." Another former IPCC member is now undertaking a "detailed assessment" of how the IPCC policy-makers "distorted the science" when drafting its policy document.

How did the UN IPCC reports become the gold standard for documenting global warming if there are so many doubters? Because non-scientist policy-makers have the final say on what scientific conclusions and policies are included and UN claims of scientific support are highly exaggerated.

For example, the UN claimed 2,500 scientists supported its key claim that human-generated greenhouse gases are the primary cause of global warming. But those 2,500 weren't asked to support it--they were only asked to review it. Only 62 completed the review, and 55 had serious concerns, leaving a total of seven to support the science that is the basis of the IPCC climate-change policy.

This, in part, is why many scientists are now speaking out.

A 2008 survey of 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68 per cent disagreed with the claim that global warming science is settled. And 31,000 American scientists have signed the Global Warming Petition Project that urges the U. S. government to reject the Kyoto treaty and any similar proposals, saying there is "no convincing scientific evidence" of a "catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere."

We may be experiencing some extreme weather, but there is no scientific consensus global warming is the cause or is even occurring. If it is occurring, there is no scientific consensus it is creating catastrophic conditions for the planet or that humans are the primary cause.

Despite all this, Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice told the U. S. there is a "sense of urgency" to negotiate a climate change agreement and Canada is prepared to act. That's particularly frightening when the scientific basis of the plan is not only unproven, but increasingly being disproven.

Ironically, our only hope for an appropriate response may be the downward spiralling economy. Surveys consistently show Canadians' altruistic support for climate-change initiatives drops as our cost grows. As we enter a recession, the last thing Canadians will want is for government to toss tax dollars into an unproven climate change money pit.

If scientific trends and scientists are increasingly contradicting what environmental interest groups have been telling us about climate change, it's quite reasonable to expect any consensus on what we should do could be very different three years from now. It would be a shame to take steps now that will later be considered a foolish waste of time and money.