Finally the big guns were out at the climate change conference in Durban. Global warming advocates disdainfully called them 'The Sceptics'. Over the past decade, global temperatures seem to have not risen as much as was predicted, but the debate over science of climate change has clearly become even more heated. The pall bearers of global warming today call them climate deniers. They prefer to describe themselves as ‘climate realists’.
In Durban this week, a whole host of climate realists, among them a US senator, former advisor to British Prime Minister, former Australian ambassador, blogger and activist, joined issue with the official church of climate alarmism.
Craig Rucker, co-founder of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT, came out to meet the press and put forward their view that “nothing needs be done” to tackle climate change. This was primarily because the alarmist situation painted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and latched on by activists and governments was not based on good science. On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, CFACT members went on a “parachute advocacy” where they jumped out of a plane and floated banners - “Climategate 2.0, Science Not Settled” and “No New Treaty” - high in the sky. They were trying to do a Greenpeace which is known for its stunts to attract attention. “If they can do this to attract attention to urge billions of dollars for climate change, why can’t we do it to bring about a sense of sanity,” said Craig. Indeed, CFACT had floated banners from a Greenpeace ship, calling it “A ship of lies” and “Propaganda Warior”, in Copenhagen in 2009. Greenpeace was in a bit of bind in Durban, this time of their own making, when some thirty of their members turned up at a Durban hotel where a business meeting was being held. Some of their members were arrested, and three, who tried abseiling down the wall of the hotel, would be deported, according to the police, since they “violated their terms of the visa.”
Lord Christopher Monckton, a former advisor to the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and well known for his heretical views on global warming, was asked at a press conference, the only question that a vociferous journalist managed to raise (due to lack of time) about ocean acidification. Monckton replied there was no chance of the oceans becoming acidic since their Ph factor ranged between 7.9 and 8.2, and the corals which had developed millions of years ago had survived even when the carbon dioxide levels were 12 to 15 times higher. “Climate change is not a problem,” he told the reporters and IPCC was basing its alarmist reports on very poor science. Monckton said that “IPCCs lies were getting exposed, and its latest report on extreme events had diluted its own belligerent position earlier” on hurricanes, floods and other such weather phenomenon.
Marc Morano of Climate Depot, a popular web resource on global warming, released a copy of the report “A-Zs of Climate Change” saying it revealed that the predicted “great man-made global warming catastrophe—has been cancelled.” He took on the alarmists saying that there was no evidence to support that greenhouse gas emissions would end up in disasters. “We have looked at hurricanes, we have looked at polar bears, we have looked at the Arctic, at the Antartica and almost all the outrageous scenarios painted by IPCC and other alarmists.” The report did not find any support for the extreme positions in peer-reviewed literature or in data from credible institutions. Whether it was about hurricances, which showed there was no appreciable change in their frequency or intensity (it has been a quite season in western Atlantic), or whether it was polar bears, who were thriving in their habitat, evidence only confirms that many of the alarmist positions are not based on facts. Morano also took on the criticism by some that sceptics were being paid by big companies or Big Oil to advocate their position. “Exxon was accused of giving out 16 million dollars over a period of 20 years. Compare this with hundreds of projects which are supported by governments and institutions where some of them are over $20 million dollars each, to advocate the alarmist position.” Global warming advocacy has attracted billions of dollars from everywhere, but the press does not like to talk about this. Morano said that the sceptics had hundreds of well-known scientists supporting their position, including several Nobel Prize winners.
James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma, USA, who is well known for his non-conventional views on global warming, sent a pre-recorded video message for the press conference. He believed that the Durban conference had collapsed on Kyoto Protocol. In Copenhagen, two years ago, he said Barack Obama had promised a cap and trade legislation in the US, but fortunately this was killed by the Senate, otherwise it would have led to the largest tax increase in US history. The law was dead and could not be revived in the near future. But the Obama administration was doing its best to do through regulation what they could not achieve through legislation, by getting the Environmental Protection Agency to take action on climate change. Inhofe said he would have liked to have come to Durban to witness the final nail being driven into the climate change coffin, but could not do so. He ended his message by asking people to say “Hello to Al Gore for me.” Well, Inhofe would have to do that himself, since Gore is not here in Durban either. Most world leaders, who had made a beeline to Copenhagen two years ago, have decided to give Durban a miss this time.
In yet another event, Alan Oxley, former Australian ambassador to the WTO, who now heads World Growth released a report on the impact of industrialised country climate strategies on the world’s poor. He said that while all the parties virtually in agreement that the Kyoto Protocol was dead, yet many industrialised economies were pushing developing nations to reduce growth in their forestry and agriculture sectors. They were also trying to get poorer nations to restructure to a ‘low carbon economy.’ This was not only unjust but smacked of neo-colonialism, Oxley noted. He said that all the “reduce-emissions” lobbies were basing their demand for not cutting down forests on the assumption that cleared forest raised emissions by 17 per cent. He said this was wrong. Latest reports put this figure between six and eight per cent, which would take away the very plank on which they were fighting. He said unless forests were cleared for productive purposes, including agriculture, the poor would suffer. Developing countries need to clear forests in order to grow to the level of developed nations. With increasing agricultural productivity, demand for agricultural land would decline, which would in turn make it possible for the forests to make comeback. Oxley was not advocating total clearance of forests. After reserving some portion of the forest, he wanted other parts be put to good use. He said Greenpeace and other advocacy groups were opposed to commercial forestry as they were opposed to commercial use of anything. But this stand only helps to keep the poor in their state of poverty. They have every right to growth, as have the developed nations for centuries.
Science is not about being certain. Science is only one of the many inputs that go to make a public policy, including economics, ethics and equity. What this debate in Durban highlights is the legitimacy of debate and dissent in the democratic climate of today, where aspirations of people for freedom and prosperity cannot be killed.