The other night I had a nightmare in which a general election was approaching and all three main competing parties had the same suicidal policy. They all believed in this thing called the Big Bad Fairy and were convinced that the only way to drive off the BBF and her evil hordes was by spending huge sums of taxpayers’ money – £18 billion a year was, I believe, the figure quoted in the nightmare – and by ruining the country with ugly, spinning Fairy Towers for the bad fairy hordes to nest in.
Then I woke up and found…
Seriously, though, what do we do? How we can possibly stop the environmental and energy policy of our next government being based on what US meteorologist Dr Roy Spencer calls “the worst case of mass hysteria the world has known.”?
Dr Spencer, formerly senior scientist for climate studies at NASA, now leads the US science team for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSRE) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He co-developed the original satellite method for precise monitoring of global temperatures from Earth-orbiting satellites. He’s just the kind of egghead the IPCC claims to represent when it tells us the world is getting dangerously warmer, it’s man’s fault – the result of CO2 emissions – and it must be urgently addressed.
Except Dr Spencer doesn’t agree with any of that. He thinks it’s all nonsense, based on a very elementary error he describes in his new book The Great Global Warming Blunder. I summarise his arguments in this article.
Climate change, he shows, is an almost entirely natural process on which human influence is negligible.
Of course, sceptics have been making this point for years, arguing that the quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by man are so tiny that even if they were to double there would still be no dangerous Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).
What they have been unable to answer convincingly until now, though, is the alarmists’ counterargument that CO2 emissions are exaggerated by “positive feedbacks”.
One type of positive feedback often cited by alarmists is cloud cover. When CO2 causes the world to warm, they argue, it reduces the number of clouds. Clouds are what help protect our planet from the burning heat of the sun, by reflecting solar radiation.
So even if the effect on climate of CO2 is relatively small, the potential knock-on effect is vast. This is why the predictions of temperature rises made by the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports are so large and terrifying.
But according to Spencer, these alarmists have got completely the wrong end of the stick. The mistake they have made is to confuse cause with effect. It’s not man-made global warming that is causing cloud cover to grow thinner, leading to a spiral of ever-rising temperatures. Rather, it’s natural variations in cloud cover that are helping to cause global warming.
This is what’s so annoying about the drivel produced by people like the Conservatives’ Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate Change Greg Clark. I mention him because the likelihood is that this ill-informed buffoon will, this time next week, be in charge of arguably the most important sector of our economy: making decisions on how we power our industry, how much our utility bills are inflated through “green taxes”, how much money we waste on windfarms, and so on.
Yet this man’s entire ecological world view – his Weltanschauung, if you prefer, because I know how much some of you love it when I come over all German on you – is based on an urban myth.
I’m not necessarily saying “Don’t vote Conservative?” But “Don’t vote Greg Clark” might be a good start.
PS Telegraph blogs has been having a bit of trouble with the system, so you may need to be patient trying to get your comments in. My guess is that the trolls will be unusually active on this post, and that one of the things they’ll rush gleefully to point out is that Roy Spencer is a proponent of Intelligent Design. As if, somehow, that killer fact is so damning it utterly nullifies Dr Spencer’s meteorological expertise.