Nearly 140 science papers have been identified that cast doubt on the dominant role that carbon dioxide is said to play in the global atmospheric temperature. According to the climate site No Tricks Zone, the list has grown significantly from 50 in 2016.
Much of the ongoing science debate, ignored by almost all media, concerns equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) – the increase in the global temperature that will follow a doubling of atmospheric CO2. When green activists talk of ‘settled’ science, they refer to their certainty that humans drive all or most of the changes in the climate. But this political certitude is far from settled among scientists, notably those who study physics and chemistry. Nobody actually knows what the ECS figure is, so estimates are made all the way up to 6°C. These are then used in climate models, which have spent the last 40 years producing inaccurate forecasts. In addition, a worst case prediction or ‘pathway’ called RCP8.5 assumes that temperatures will rise by 5°C in less than 80 years. This ‘pathway’ was quoted in 57% of the disaster scenarios in the recent doomsday IPCC report.
No Tricks Zone highlighted a recent paper from the German physics Professor Dieter Schildknecht from Bielefeld University. This work suggested that a further atmospheric increase of CO2 beyond 300 parts per million (it currently stands at around 418 ppm) “cannot lead to an appreciably stronger absorption of radiation, and consequently cannot affect the Earth’s climate”. This finding is one of many that suggest the ability of CO2 to radiate heat back to the Earth’s surface declines rapidly after a certain point. Professor Schildknecht finds that doubling CO2 leads to 0.5°C warming as ”absorption reaches close to 100%”. He concludes that the effect of an anthropogenic CO2 increase on the Earth’s climate is “fairly negligible”.
Some of the work on the warming properties of CO2 and other greenhouse gases such as water vapour, methane and ozone uses the HITRAN database, which helps detailed study of the infrared spectrum. It can be seen that CO2 traps heat, but only within certain bands on the spectrum. This has led many scientists, notably Professor William Happer of Princeton University (pictured), to suggest that CO2 becomes “saturated” once it reaches a certain level. Most, if not all, the heat that is going to be trapped will have already been radiated back by the CO2 molecules evenly distributed in the existing atmosphere.
The atomic physicist Dr. Boris Smirnov is another scientist who has conducted work on the radiative abilities of greenhouse gases. In 2018, he published a paper that suggested doubling CO2 would lead to a rise of only 0.4°C in global temperature. The human contribution from burning fossil fuel is put at a “negligible” 0.02°C.
At the heart of the Net Zero agenda is an assumption that burning fossil fuel is responsible for all or most of the recent rise of atmospheric CO2. However, humans contribute barely 4% of the gas that enters the atmosphere every year. Three physics professors led by Kenneth Skrable from the University of Massachusetts recently examined the three isotopes of carbon found in the atmosphere. The carbon produced by burning fossil fuel has a slightly higher proportion of carbon isotope 12C and marginally alters the balance of the other two. By examining the isotope trail, the scientists found that human-released CO2 between 1750 and 2018 “was much too low to be the cause of global warming”.
The direct link between rising, or falling, CO2 and temperature has never been conclusively proved. In the historical and geological past, few links have been shown. In the recent past, CO2 rose by 5.2% in the atmosphere from 1900 to 1940, before global industrialisation took off. From 1940 to 1980, the global temperature fell, but CO2 rose 8.9%. For almost two decades, recent warming has run out of steam and the temperature hasn’t moved for the last seven years and four months. This despite CO2 continuing to rise.
Physics Professor Peter Stallinga from the University of the Algarve states that the correlation between CO2 and temperature is “readily explained” by the outgassing of the oceans. This suggestion is certainly plausible in explaining the recent rise in atmospheric CO2. The oceans hold vast reserves of CO2 and any natural warming is likely to release some of this into the atmosphere. Some ice core evidence also suggests that CO2 rises in the atmosphere after the temperature increases.
The climate change business has largely been captured by ‘post-normal’ scientists, as the Daily Sceptic showed last Monday. This occurs when high cost decisions are at stake, but there is considerable uncertainty over the relevant scientific facts. Numerous other perspectives – social, political and economic – are sought from an extended peer base. Traditionally, scientists have looked to falsify an hypothesis by empirical data. Under this rigour, it is not possible yet to prove humans caused all or most climate change (let alone single weather events, as is sometimes claimed).
Net Zero relies on the ‘settled’ science lie, a lie that after three decades of constant green activism is widely accepted. The command-and-control Net Zero political agenda needs science debate to be stifled, and therein lies the current danger of a suggested referendum on the matter. Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Madeline Grant called Net Zero a “fantasy” and a ”worthy ambition” in the course of the same paragraph. Net Zero is an impractical fantasy, and is likely to collapse of its own accord, with or without the immediate help of the Red Army. But Net Zero has some validity if the world is going to end in a climate fireball, and there is something humans can do about it. For a full, reasoned, educated debate to occur, the lie that is ‘settled’ science must first be nailed.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.