Was COP26 Peak Snake Oil?

We’re publishing a guest post by journalist Chris Morrison asking whether COP26 was the high water mark of climate change alarmism.

One of the defining photo opportunities of the recent COP26 climate conference was the image of Tuvalu foreign minister Simon Kofe drawing attention to rising sea levels by addressing the assembly in two feet of water. Inexplicably missing from any commentary on the PR stunt was the welcome news that the Tuvaluan chain of islands actually grew in size from 1971 to 2014. Back in the real world, a 2018 paper by scientists from the University of Auckland found: “Results highlight a net increase in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5ha (2.9%), despite sea-level rise, and land area increase in eight of nine atolls.”

Coral reefs and sand banks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are not the most stable geological formations but numerous natural forces determine their size, apart from small rises or falls in sea levels. Using these islands and others such as the Maldives and the Marshall Islands, which are also increasing in size, is yet another example of faulty science being pressed into political service to advance the cause of net zero.

Was COP26 a success or failure? The always disappointed George Monbiot of the Guardian sounded the usual unhinged Marxist-Leninist call to arms in a piece entitled: “After the failure of COP26, there’s only one last hope for our survival.” “Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilising the 25% who can flip the system,” he wrote.

BBC presenter and activist Chris Packham was also underwhelmed by COP26: “Angry, scared and betrayed. We have been failed and scorned by the stupid, the greedy and the evil. Life is now in mortal danger. But it’s not over, it’s just down to us to do what needs to be done and we need to go to it now.”

For fully practicing green zealots who will never be satisfied, it is easy to understand their usual emotional reaction. Elsewhere, many politicians and climate journalists have tried to put a positive spin on the Conference. But the sense of disappointment was evident in the way COP26 disappeared from the headlines almost immediately. It is difficult to get enthusiastic about a final communique running to 97 paragraphs that firmly commits to almost nothing. Plenty of “urges”, “welcomes” and “recognises”, but actual, bomb proof obligations, there are practically none. Asked to ban all fossil fuels within less than 30 years and the message from developing countries couldn’t have been clearer – get lost.

The COP project resembles a large fully laden ship travelling at high speed. In Glasgow it came up against the looming icebergs of unrealistic economic and social expectations and faulty, politically driven science. It is clear that many developing countries led by India, China and including Russia are not going to remove fossil fuels from their energy mix any time soon.

Of course, many smaller countries will happily repeat tall tales about climate change blowing their houses down in the hope that cash will be provided. The suspicion is that the United States is also an unreliable partner since half the country that votes Republican is sceptical about any major part played by humans in climate change. This actually leaves only a few economically significant countries, mostly from Europe led by the U.K. and Germany to carry the green flag. If we are successful in removing 85% of our cheap energy from our modern industrial economies and replacing it with windmills and the sun without causing massive economic and societal hardship, no doubt all the others will be happy to follow in our pioneering footsteps. We are the canaries in the abandoned mine shaft.

It is often asked why climate virtue hunters don’t take their protests to China and India. Why do they not glue themselves to Chairman Mao’s tomb in Tiananmen Square and chant: “What do we want? Climate justice! What do we need? Better loft insulation!” Perhaps because they realise that in a country where half the population barely had enough to eat 40 years ago, they would get a less than welcoming reception.

In 1989 the late Professor Stephen Schneider of Stanford University and an IPCC lead author remarked that in working to reduce the risk of “potentially disastrous climate change” there was a need to capture the public’s imagination. He continued: “That, of course entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

This is the second large obstacle that COP is coming up against. 40 years of increasingly preposterous forecasts of climate doom from Prince Charles and others are now getting beyond a joke. The idea that a scientific hypothesis claiming that humans cause all or most global warming is ‘settled’ when not a single credible peer reviewed paper is able to prove it, is considered by a growing number of people to be little more than an insult to their intelligence. Climate models are not evidence, they are guesses and an excellent discussion of much of the science surrounding atmospheric warming, and cooling, was published by the Daily Sceptic on November 18th by Dr. Rudolph Kalveks.

Many of the scare stories used to promote political climate science have been debunked. Polar bears are not declining in number, they are increasing; tropical corals are not being wiped out by marginal increases in air temperature, they are thriving in waters between 24C and 32C; global temperatures are not soaring, they have barely risen for 25 years and according to reliable satellite measurements have fallen marginally over the last seven years; walruses are not leaping off cliffs to escape climate change, but to escape thriving polar bears; there are more penguins than you can shake a stick at in Antarctica and the South Pole has just recorded its coldest six month winter since records began; London is not about to be flooded – in fact, the Thames flood barrier has hardly been used since 2015; most wildfires are caused by humans; Atlantic hurricanes have shown no upward trend for almost 100 years. Finally, the ‘billions will die’ script of media darlings Extinction Rebellion has to be seen in the context that weather-related deaths have fallen from 500,000 in 1920 to 14,000 last year

Extremist views, often bearing little connection to reality,  are the norm around climate science and net zero. Maybe the tide is about to turn.

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