The Complex Climate Conundrum: Moving from Panic to Progress

climate complex

By Vijay JayarajBarbWire guest contributor

The media buzz about climate doomsday can be quite overwhelming to any ordinary person who is not into sciences or academia. In recent decades, more and more people have been persuaded to believe that an imminent climate collapse is at hand.

But do we know enough about climate change to justify such claims? How much sense can we make from what we do know?

I’ve grappled with these questions for over a decade, starting with my graduate studies in climate science at the University of East Anglia back at the time of the infamous “Climategate” email dump that revealed serious scientific misconduct at the highest levels of the climate alarmist establishment.

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Climate science is extraordinarily complex. To simplify climate change and confine it to a few variables, such as carbon dioxide emissions or global average temperature, is extremely naïve.

We have sought understanding of climate change through observation. Temperatures have been measured using

  • thermometers (invented in 1714 but used widely only since the 1880s),
  • weather balloons (predominantly from the 1950s),
  • and satellites (since the 1970s).

We also make sense of historical temperature by inferring temperature measurements from proxy sources. We depend primarily on tree-rings and ice cores, but we also use the latitudes and altitudes at which trees and other plants grow and at which glaciers are or have been.

Past temperatures have shown a cyclic pattern. Sometimes they have increased to levels similar to the present. But they have also fallen to dramatically low levels, giving us the Little Ice Age of the 16th and 17th centuries (when the Thames River froze and agriculture in Europe was restricted to minimal levels).

Perceiving the future of climate change has so far proved to be very difficult. Most predictions on climate behaviour and their impacts on our ecosystem have proved to be false.

Forecasts on climate change and its supposed impacts on our ecosystem and economies are used to make policies. Such policies usually demand huge, costly investments and that could be needless if the forecasts are wrong by even a small margin.

To be used for making real-world policies that have significant impact on people’s everyday lives, scientific analysis on subjects of such high importance should survive the most rigorous critique. It should also be unambiguous.

But that is not the case with climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the most widely recognized authority on climate change science and policy—remains tentative about the impact of climate change on extreme weather events.

The IPCC states that there is no verifiable correlation between temperature increase and extreme weather events like cyclones, floods, and droughts.

So, if climate change is not aggravating extreme weather events, what exactly else is it disrupting?

The moderate increase in global average temperature (GAT) over the past two centuries has not caused any significant negative consequences.

Further, GAT showed no significant increase in the last 20 years, contrary to computer climate model forecasts generated by climate scientists associated with the IPCC.

Moreover, almost all the dangers climate alarmists forecasted have failed to materialize in the last four decades. Their predictions—on temperature increase, frequency of extreme weather events, rate of sea-level rise, Arctic melting, Polar Bear decline—all have failed.

That shows us that there is a long way to go before we can fully comprehend how our climate system works. My colleagues with The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation have published a paper that weighs the pros and cons and sets forth sensible policies designed especially to ensure that the world’s poor can conquer their poverty—which is a far greater threat than anything related to climate change.

The very notion that “climate science is settled” is in fact anti-science and detrimental to the empirical methodology of verifying (and correcting) scientific theories and claims.

Hundreds of peer reviewed academic papers suggest that it was the sun which caused many of our past changes in climate.

The observations give us a few clear conclusions:

Progress in climate science is possible only if scientists and politicians are willing to acknowledge the current gaps in our understanding of how climate works.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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