Friday, June 22, 2012

Climate Correction

Exaggeration or just wrong? 
A friend alerted me to an article that appeared in The Telegraph published in the UK this week. The article by Professor Fritz Vahrenholt, who is one of the fathers of Germany's environmental movement, is based on his presentation to the 3rd Global Warming Policy Foundation Annual Lecture at the Royal Society in London, UK.

In the article Vahrenholt essentially recants his belief that the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is the primary driver of global warming/climate change. Of course that is the theory espoused by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and numerous environmentalists around the world.
In the article here, Vahrenholt uses historical data which shows that dramatic shifts in climate occurred in the absence of carbon dioxide fluctuations (no kidding) which Vahrenholt now attributes to the Sun. Imagine that? Here is a quote from the article:
"Based on climate reconstructions from North Atlantic deep-sea sediment cores, Professor Gerard Bond discovered that the millennial-scale climate cycles ran largely parallel to solar cycles, including the Eddy Cycle which is – guess what – 1,000 years long. So it is really the Sun that shaped the temperature roller-coaster of the past 10,000 years."
Vahrenholt goes on to say:
"... the IPCC's current climate models cannot explain the climate history of the past 10,000 years. But if these models fail so dramatically in the past, how can they help to predict the future?"

Vahrenholt even suggests that a model proposed by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark (which has received very little public exposure) might be promising. I pointed out this hypothesis about a year ago here and here.

Given all of this and the data that shows there is a lack of correlation of temperature rise with CO2 increase Vahrenholt says:
"In the UK and Germany, (and I will add McGuinty's Ontario toofor example, power-station closures and huge expenditure for backup of volatile wind or solar energy or harmful ethanol production will raise energy prices massively and even threaten power cuts: the economic cost will be crippling, all driven by fear." .....and that there is no need for "....the massive (energy) poverty currently planned."
So what's going on here, is this the beginning of the end of the carbon dioxide theory, or should I say hypothesis of climate change? Vahrenholt seems to hedge, he thinks its time for "rational decarbonizing," whatever that meansHe has too many friends in the system to just flush them away, so he calls for more research (keeps his friends happy) and all the usual central planning but with a greater variety of energy sources including fossil fuels.

Vahrenholt is no libertarian, but he does deserve credit for speaking out against the current orthodoxy.


  1. "dramatic shifts in climate occurred in the absence of carbon dioxide fluctuations"

    The climate system responds to what pushes on it. The sun is one such forcing mechanism, but right now, it's greenhouse gasses that are pushing, and hard.

    The current warming is occurring on a 10-100 year scale; it's not entirely clear why you think that 10^3-10^4 year oscillations are relevant. At any rate, the sun can not explain late 20th century warming. Any solar parameter which has been proposed as a climate influence is going in the wrong direction to be causing warming, and has been doing so for decades. Additionally, fingerprints such as a cooling upper atmosphere, nights warming faster than days, and winters warming faster than summers all contradict solar warming, and all confirm greenhouse warming.

    '[Svensmark's cosmic ray hypothesis] has received very little public exposure'
    ... what planet are you on? The CERN experiments shot him into the mainstream media big time. Of course, cosmic rays are going in the wrong direction to cause observed warming, and have been for decades.

  2. If greenhouse gases are pushing so hard, why is the global average temperature not changing? See elsewhere on this page.
    And svendmark's hypothesis did receive some media attention - nothing like the attention re CO2, causes. Finally, what if you are wrong and all the money spent was for nothing? Even if you are right, what gives you or anyone for that matter the right to force your hypothesis on anyone?

    1. Global average temperature is rising, as any data set will show - GISS, HadCRUT, RSS, UAH, BEST, etc. You'll have to be more specific about your counterexample. And I really hope that it doesn't rely on confusing short term noise with long-term trends.

      Svendmark's hypothesis received media attention disproportionate to its evidence-based backing.

      "What if it's all wrong" can be applied to any empirical claim. What if heliocentrism is all wrong?

      You're perfectly free to hold any delusional belief that you choose.

  3. Thanks, I prefer to hold by my delusional belief that "fixing" the planetary temperature when not all the facts are known, while destroying the economies of nations is a bad idea.

    You may think this is an issue that requires urgent attention, my opinion is that it is best solved by the free market (if allowed). The cost to economies in Europe and elsewhere (including Ontario) is far more damaging than a little warming. Of course that's exactly what Fritz Vahrenholt (a former warmist) is saying in his recantation outlined in my posting.

    1. All the facts that you have discussed thusfar are, in fact, known.

  4. The MOST important fact that is known is that regulating the carbon output of countries or individuals will destroy entire economies - as they are doing, throughout Europe and here in Ontario. If this persists than your own use the very computer you are using to argue with me is in jeopardy.
    Why not TURN OFF your computer, save the power and the planet, eh?

    1. Comparing the electrical consumption of a laptop to the systemic inefficiency of industry, transport, and heating is frankly asinine.

      As is considering the economic costs of carbon controls while neglecting the costs of increased food price, added healthcare load, and degraded infrastructure, to name a few risks of climate change.

      As is discussing 'regulating the carbon output' in a world of massive fossil fuel subsidy.

  5. //massive fossil fuel subsidy// and we will ignore the more massive alternative green energy subsidies that have helped collapse entire European economies (Spain?), so they require massive bailouts, resulting in "energy poverty" in northern Europe and the UK and has priced Ontario out of the business of manufacturing.
    Economic turmoil, unemployment, poverty on a massive scale, I'd say those issues are far more immediate and important than the chance that global temperatures might increase someday. Maybe you don't care about people?

    1. Global temperatures are increasing now. They have a number of serious consequences for *people*. I enumerated several; I notice you ignored them.

      I can't comment on the situation outside of the US, but here, fossil fuel subsidies far outweigh 'green' subsidies. For example:

      In any case, if your economic argument was solid, it would stand on its own and you wouldn't need to invoke nonsense about the sun or cosmic rays. That you do seem to rely on those talking points suggests to me that your case is rather weaker than you claim.

  6. //if your economic argument was solid, it would stand on its own and you wouldn't need to invoke nonsense about the sun or cosmic rays.//

    The "nonsense" is that CO2 is the danger and that everyone will work together to fix it.

    As far as the economic argument is concerned, if people really cared and the dangers of catastrophic global warming were immediate and real, instead of just in the minds of eco-fascists, and politicians, then there would be competitive market choices to minimize the danger that people would readily accept.

    Instead politicians have embraced this flavour de jour to accrete power and influence, and direct tax revenues to massively subsidize the moribund green industry and bring nations to the edge of financial collapse. Need evidence?

    1. 'The "nonsense" is that CO2 is the danger...'

      The environmental hazards of fossil fuel combustion have been amply demonstrated. Hiding your head in the sand won't make them go away.

      '... and that everyone will work together to fix it.'
      Sadly, that is probably true.

      ' if people really cared and the dangers of catastrophic global warming were immediate and real, [garbage snipped] then there would be competitive market choices to minimize the danger that people would readily accept.'
      You are correct. If people were informed, rational actors, market forces might give a solution. Unfortunately, market forces have instead made it much more profitable to pay for antiscience PR campaigns.

      Neither of the articles you linked compared European fossil fuel and green energy subsidies, and I'm having trouble finding concrete data on the subject. Do you have any sources?

  7. Sources:

  8. None of those articles discussed European fossil fuel subsidies. The EnviroPaul article is in favor of green energy. Anything else? I have difficulty believing that no such subsidies exist at all.

  9. I thought you meant "green" subsidies. They are legion!
    As far a fossil fuel subsidies, I doubt they exist in Europe - except to "help" those suffering from energy poverty as a result of the centrally planned chaos created by European governments. That will come to a crashing end.

  10. I did a bit more digging and while I still can't find the direct comparison of renewable vs. fossil fuel subsidies that I was looking for, fossil fuel subsidies most certainly do exist in Europe. For example, from the EEA's 2004 report "Energy subsidies in the European Union":

    'The German Federal Environment Agency (2003) compared the subsidies received by the German coal industry with the number of employees in this sector. It concluded that safeguarding employment in the coal sector for 2001 was costing EUR 82,000 a year in subsidies for each coal miner’s job saved [...] On-budget aid to the EU coal industry is authorised under a Council Regulation which replaced the expired European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) treaty in July 2002. This allows for the continued support of domestic coal mining in the remaining coal producing Member States until 2010. In 2001, under the ECSC treaty, the amount of aid granted was approximately EUR 6.3 billion.'

    This infographic from Nat'l Geo is also quite revealing:


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