My thanks to Patrick Moore, co-founder and ex Greenpeace leader, and since 1986 ‘the sensible environmentalist’, for his permission to repost this article printed in the Australian recently. The name of Patrick’s own venture – Ecosense reflects his logical and humanist approach to the climate debate.
Patrick Moore: We Need More Carbon Dioxide, Not Less
Australian politics has been more influenced by the climate debate than any other country. Yet Australia is responsible for only 1.5 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Perhaps this speaks of Australia’s extraordinary commitment to the international community. Yet Australia has threatened to hobble its own economy while much larger nations take a pass while making pious pronouncements.
I am sceptical that humans are the main cause of climate change, and that it will be catastrophic in the near future. There is no scientific proof of this hypothesis, yet we are told “the debate is over”, the “science is settled”.
My scepticism begins with the warmists’ certainty they can predict the global climate with a computer model. The entire basis for the doomsday climate change scenario is the hypothesis that increased CO2 due to fossil fuel emissions will heat the Earth to unliveable temperatures.
In fact, the Earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since the Little Ice Age ended, long before heavy use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Little Ice Age, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonised Greenland and Newfoundland, when it was warmer there than today. And during Roman times, it was warmer, long before fossil fuels revolutionised civilisation.
Looking back over millennia, today the Earth is colder, and has a lower level of atmospheric CO2 than during nearly all the history of modern life. The idea that it would be catastrophic if CO2 were to increase and average global temperature were to rise a few degrees is preposterous.
Recently, the IPCC announced for the umpteenth time that we are doomed unless we reduce CO2 emissions to zero. Effectively this means either reducing the population to zero, or going back 10,000 years before humans began clearing forests for agriculture. This proposed cure is worse than adapting to a warmer world, if it comes about.
By its constitution, the IPCC has a hopeless conflict of interest. Its mandate is to consider only the human causes of global warming, not the many natural causes changing the climate for billions of years. We don’t understand the precise workings of the natural causes of climate change any more than we know if humans are part of the cause at present. But if the IPCC did not find that humans were the cause of warming, or if it found that warming would be more positive than negative, there would be no need for the IPCC under its present mandate. To survive, it must find on the side of the apocalypse. Either the IPCC should be reconstituted with a larger membership of UN bodies (it is now a partnership between the World Meteorological Organisation and the UN Environment Program), and its mandate expanded to include all causes of climate change, or it should be dismantled.
Climate change has become a powerful political force for many reasons. First, it is universal; we are told everything on Earth is threatened. Second, it invokes the two most powerful human motivators: fear and guilt. We fear driving our car will kill our grandchildren and feel guilty. Third, a powerful convergence of interests among key elites support the climate “narrative”. Environmentalists spread fear and raise donations; politicians appear to be saving the Earth from doom; the media has a field day with sensation and conflict; science institutions raise billions in grants, create whole new departments, and engage in a feeding frenzy of scary scenarios; business wants to look green, and get huge public subsidies for projects that would otherwise be economic losers, such as large wind farms and solar arrays. Fourth, the Left sees climate change as a perfect means to redistribute wealth from industrial countries to the developing world and the UN bureaucracy.
So we are told CO2 is a “toxic” “pollutant” that must be curtailed when in fact it is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, gas present at 400 parts per million of the global atmosphere and the most important food for life on earth. Without CO2 above 150 parts per million, all plants would die.
Over the past 150 million years, CO2 had been drawn down steadily (by plants) from about 3000 parts per million to about 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution. If this trend had continued, CO2 would have become too low to support life on Earth. Human use of fossil fuels and clearing land for crops have boosted CO2 from its lowest level in the history of the Earth back to 400 parts per million today.
At 400 parts per million, all our food crops, forests, and natural ecosystems are still on a starvation diet for CO2. While one wing of CSIRO promotes the IPCC line, another is demonstrating the positive impact of the small increase in CO2 over the past 50 years due primarily to fossil fuel use — a 10 per cent to 30 per cent increase in plant growth in many regions. Australia is benefiting more than most because its vegetation evolved for dry conditions. Increased CO2 means plants don’t need as much water, so our deserts are lusher.
The optimum level of CO2 for plant growth, given enough water and nutrients, is about 1500 parts per million, nearly four times higher than today. Glasshouse growers inject CO2 to increase yields of 50 to 100 per cent. Farms and forests will be much more productive if CO2 keeps rising.
We have no proof increased CO2 is responsible for the slight warming over the past 300 years. There has been no significant warming for 18 years while we have emitted 25 per cent of all the CO2 ever emitted. Yet we have absolute proof CO2 is vital for life on Earth and plants would like more of it. Which should we emphasise to our children?
The IPCC’s followers have given us a vision of a dying world due to CO2 emissions. I say the Earth would be a lot deader with no CO2 and more of it will be a very positive factor in feeding the world. Let’s celebrate CO2.
Patrick Moore was a co-founder, and leader of Greenpeace for 15 years is now an independent ecologist and environmentalist based in Vancouver, Canada. You can follow him on twitter @EcoSenseNow