Fresh insights into the ruthless suppression of plausible alternative explanations surrounding the effect of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are contained in a new book written by former lawyer, Jeremy Nieboer, and published by the right of centre think tank, the Bruges Group. The hypothesis that CO2 ‘saturates’ after a certain level, and its warming properties fall away dramatically, has been around for many years. In recent times, and in the interests of promoting the collectivist Net Zero project, it has been ignored under ‘settled’ science requirements in favour of the rival suggestion that humans control the climate by burning fossil fuel. Nieboer highlights the crucial role of the late Professor Stephen Schneider who promoted the saturation hypothesis in the early 1970s when the global temperature was falling, but switched suddenly to the tenets of anthropogenic warming when it started to rise.
Nieboer draws attention to a remark Professor Schneider made later in life when he warned of “disastrous climate change”, and said scientists have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts they might have. “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest,” he suggested.
The saturation hypothesis holds that CO2 is a very efficient absorber of heat reflected from the Earth’s surface within narrow bands of around 15 microns on the infrared spectrum. There is some debate about the level at which peak absorption is reached, but scientists say the absorption work is mainly done around 300 parts per million (ppm) concentration, about 100 ppm below the current atmospheric level. Since greenhouses gases such as CO2 are estimated to have raised the temperature of the Earth by 33°C, the role of some saturation is in fact widely accepted. Even the wild predictions of 5-6°C of heating in the next 80 years if CO2 keeps rising are far less than a straight line projection.
The saturation hypothesis is much more in line with scientific observations. It explains why CO2 levels have been much higher in the past with no evidence of runaway temperatures. This observation alone casts serious doubt on the attempt to tie rising CO2 levels caused by humans to automatic and potentially catastrophic rises in temperature. Even the last 25 years of a barely measurable temperature rise casts doubt on the alarmist hypothesis.
Of course any acceptance of this rival saturation argument puts the tin hat on the transfer of vast amounts of wealth to those able to benefit from the enormous subsidies available to transform economies. It can be argued that Net Zero is a ‘punch down’ on a scale never witnessed before in human development. The rich, virtue-signalling elites may well benefit in the short run by picking up the cash, but it will be an unimaginable disaster for the poor in the West and, even more so, in the developing world.
In July 1971, Stephen Schneider, then Professor of Biology and Global Change at Stanford University, published a paper with S. I. Rasool, Chief Scientists for Global Change at NASA, in which they calculated that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere by a factor of eight would only increase the surface temperature by 2°C. Doubling the gas only boosts the temperature by 0.8°C. The scientists concluded that the runaway greenhouse effect does not occur because the 15 micron CO2 saturates “and the addition of more CO2 does not substantially increase the infrared capacity of the atmosphere”. The science can be complex, but a simplified illustration is to note that doubling the lagging in a house loft does not trap twice as much heat, since much of it has already been captured.
Five years later, Schneider was promoting a coming ice age with “disastrous consequences for food yields and famine in undeveloped countries”. Shortly after, he said global cooling presented humankind with some of the most important challenges it has had to deal with for 10,000 years. Alas, the short burst of global cooling didn’t last the decade, but fresh scares emerged to boost the rising green collectivist agenda. In the vanguard of mainstream opinion, Schneider switched tack and by 1989 he said man-made global warming could increase temperatures by 5°C by 2050, unless “drastic action” was taken.
Nieboer doesn’t pull any punches in describing Schneider’s about-face. He was said to be “at ease with the practice of deceit in order to persuade”. He was “indifferent” to whether he was the champion of global cooling or warming. He worked with others on each of these “falsehoods”, and used his professional position and status to “concoct an intellectual justification for extorting certainty from ambiguity”.
The fix was firmly in by the time Schneider wrote a subsequent book on global warming. In 357 pages, Nieboer notes there is no mention of saturation. The author suggests Schneider knew anthropogenic warming was falsified by the laws of spectroscopy and physics. “Never at any moment since the emergence of multi-cellular life on Earth 570 million years ago had there been runaway warming for the reason that saturation by CO2 rendered it impossible”, he added.
The saturation work of earlier scientists such as Schneider was confirmed recently by two distinguished atmospheric scientists, Emeritus Professor William Happer and Professor William van Wijngaarden. They completed highly complex work on the spectrum to calculate per greenhouse gas molecule ‘forcing”. Their calculations provided results similar to earlier work. The two scientists worked on the assumption of a clear sky but if the effect of water vapour is taken into account, the warming results are lower still. Happer and Wijngaarden’s research is backed by other recent calculations. The German physics professor Dieter Schildknecht notes that atmospheric increases of CO2 past 300 ppm “cannot lead to an appreciably stronger absorption of radiation, and consequently cannot affect the Earth’s climate”.
The story of the ever-adaptable Schneider gives an insight into the way climate science has been captured and then debauched in the interests of political masters controlling the purse strings. Towards the end of his life, Schneider was promoting a new form called “system science”, explaining: “Climate science is not like test tube science … we do not falsify by single experiments. We falsify on the basis of accumulated numbers of papers and numbers of bits of information.” And so we witness the birth of ‘consensus’ to promote the unproven idea that humans control the climate thermostat – consensus, plus cancellation and defunding of unbelievers, fact check attacks, trusted messenger journalism, the emergence of mass death cult movements, etc etc.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.
Profanity and abuse will be removed and may lead to a permanent ban.