By Tom Harris
Halloween comes a month early this year with the Sept. 27 release of the next big United Nations climate change report. Innocuously titled "Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis," the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn't sound scary. But it is certain to provide endless fodder for doomsday coverage by media the world over.
That is its purpose, of course: to convince the media to frighten the public so that citizens pressure governments into multibillion dollar climate change plans. The science is settled, the IPCC and climate activists will tell us. It is past time for action.
The IPCC could not conclude anything else. UN climate change activities must adhere to the doctrine laid down in 1992 by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). At that year's Rio Summit, virtually all national leaders endorsed the FCCC's proclamation that humanity must work to accomplish "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."
So in the two decades since Rio, the UN has convened huge international conferences in exotic locations to orchestrate climate treaties. They designed strategies to monitor and enforce countries' compliances with treaty obligations. And of course, the UN will run the developing nations' $100 billion Green Fund.
What has clearly been needed for a very long time is an anti-IPCC, a formal group of equally qualified, independent experts who do not support the hypothesis that our greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide in particular, are causing climate problems.
While there have been open letters and petitions signed by leading experts asserting that the IPCC is wrong, the skeptics side has never had anything like the weighty tomes issued every five or six years by the IPCC. So, most reporters cited IPCC proclamations as if there were no equally credible alternative.
All that is about to change. On Tuesday, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a panel of leading scientists and scholars from across the globe, will issue a report titled "Climate change reconsidered II: physical science." The NIPCC report will reveal a scientific community deeply uncertain about the reliability of the computer models used by the IPCC to predict climate problems. It also will demonstrate that many of the world's leading climate experts now question, or refute, the IPCC's basic postulates and its interpretations of the observational evidence.
The NIPCC criticism doesn't come from a "fringe" group of scientists: it is repeated in thousands of articles in the peer-reviewed literature. Unlike the IPCC, the NIPCC is not sponsored by the UN or member governments and so is not politically motivated to come to any preordained conclusion.
It is co-authored and coedited by Dr. Craig Idso, chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change; Professor Robert Carter, former head of the School of Earth Sciences, James Cook University, Australia, and S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. Forty-four other climate experts from 14 countries acted as authors and reviewers.
The NIPCC report focuses on research that was either overlooked by the IPCC or that contain data, discussion or implications arguing against the dangerous global warming hypothesis. The report concludes that the IPCC has exaggerated the amount of warming likely to occur due to rising CO2 concentrations and that whatever warming may occur will be harmless.
Among its other conclusions:
l There has been no global warming for 16 years, even though CO2 levels have risen 8 percent. Climate models clearly do not work.
l We may soon experience global cooling due to changes in the brightness of the Sun.
l The global area of sea ice today is close to that first measured by satellites in 1979.
l Sea-level rise is not accelerating.
l There have been no significant changes in the magnitude or intensity of extreme weather events in the modern record.
The key question to be answered in the climate change debate is not whether climate change is real, or whether human activities have some impact. Both are obviously true. The real question is whether reputable science indicates that it is worth spending hundreds of billions of dollars to restructure our energy infrastructure to avoid a man-made climate catastrophe.
Government, industry, education and media leaders must insist on an immediate cessation of expenditures on climate change pending a complete re-examination of the file. No matter who's right, the stakes are too high to do anything else.
Tom Harris of Ottawa, Canada, is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition, climatescienceinternational.org. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org