Terminologies are powerful. Over the past 50 years of public discourse, the climate controversy has had various names — global cooling, global warming, and, more recently, climate change. What do these names indicate about the climate hysteria that has blinded our political institutions?
As a graduate student in environmental studies at the prestigious University of East Anglia while it was at the center of the “Climategate” storm, I got to witness how some key players in the climate alarmist camp sought to preserve a narrative whose scientific basis was collapsing.
Before we try to decode the evolution of climate discourse in the past 50 years, it is critical to understand the historical background of a matter with profound implications for our global economic institutions.
Since humans have been held guilty for the deterioration in climate, it is fair to limit our focus to how climate patterns evolved in the past 2000 years — during which human population grew exponentially.
Scientifically verifiable and reliable studies in acclaimed international scientific journals indicate that the modern warm period is not exceptional.
Civilization thrived during the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, when agricultural yields were high, but struggled during the intervening cool periods, especially the Little Ice Age. For the last three centuries, the earth’s natural climatic system has been recovering from those cold centuries.
This leads us to closer inspection of the current controversy surrounding climate change.
In the 1970s over a hundred major news stories cited many scientists warning that we were entering a new ice age and giving clarion calls to prepare for it, or even to try to mitigate it by various means. Instead, the global temperature continued its upward curve.
In the 1980s, climate science did not advance enough to comprehensively understand how climate changes. Scientists remained clueless about the climate system’s intricacies.
Nonetheless, some declared a new emergency: global warming.
They declared that human emissions of carbon dioxide were driving a permanent warming trend that could destroy life on earth.
Completely oblivious to the historic temperature trends in the preceding centuries, the fringe group of scientists managed to win the trust of key political institutions — and with it the reputation of being mainstream. Together they introduced a climate-scare era of heavy restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. These academicians, along with their compatriots in political institutions, would go on to be called climate alarmists.
To sustain their extraordinary claim, they modified climate data over the past two millennia to eliminate the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods and the Little Ice Age while portraying an increase in temperature since about 1850 that was directly proportional to industrial activity. Thus, they created the false link between dangerous temperature levels and carbon dioxide emissions.
But that link has shattered. Temperatures have failed to rise significantly despite a consistent increase in carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere.
Their fraud set to be exposed, the alarmists, as an ultimate measure of survival, began renaming global warming “climate change.” That gave them some respite from the critics so that they could conjure up more manipulations of the temperature data to suit their warming narrative.
Then their worst fears came true in 2017. A large number of academic journals registered the prolonged period of temperature stability. Studies showed that global temperatures had not risen significantly at least since 2000, perhaps as early as 1997, confirming the inadequacy of faulty computer models that were used in the first place to declare an emergency.
Even staunch global warming advocates within the scientific fraternity admitted the glaring error in their understanding of temperature trends.
Alarmists suffered another blow from a more recent study of correlations between solar, volcanic, and ocean current variabilities on the one hand and global temperature variability on the other. It found that the first three variables are sufficient to explain all of the last, leaving no warming to blame on increasing carbon dioxide concentration.
And now, solar physicists are warning that the end of the “Modern Grand Maximum” in solar activity might already be ushering in a new era of global cooling — something far more dangerous than global warming.
The earth has been warming, cooling, and changing naturally for the past three millennia. It will continue to do so. The natural climatic cycle is undeniable.
In its 2001 “Third Assessment Report,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change candidly admitted, “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
We have spent billions of dollars on fruitless efforts to mitigate global warming. Nations still embracing the Paris climate accord plan to spend trillions more. That money could be used far more fruitfully to mitigate the real and present dangers of poverty.
Perhaps it is time to join the IPCC in acknowledging the limits on our ability to predict and control future climate.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.S., Environmental Science) is the Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He currently lives in Udumalpet, India.