Climate change dominates global headlines. Earth is our only hospitable home, global media are panicking about reports of a collapsing climate system.
Politicians, journalists, public policy advocates, and even Hollywood celebrities firmly believe in a climate apocalypse and the need for corrective measures, which includes a global downscaling of fossil fuel use.
But there is a problem with the proposed reduction in fossil fuel use: the evidence suggests it would do more harm than good.
Most political candidates today take definitive stances on climate change. Debates about it are major deciding factors in elections.
Recently the New York Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young socialist popular among Millennials, addressed climate change and said “We do not have a choice. We have to get to 100% renewable energy. There is no other option.”
The U.S. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said she is under tremendous pressure to make global warming a top agenda for the Democratic party in the next elections.
In September this year, world leaders met at New York to address the grand failure of the Paris climate agreement. At the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron asked world leaders to “not just talk, but be accountable.” Echoing his views, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “Time is not our friend.”
But how can the world leaders, and even budding politicians like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, be so certain about a future climate apocalypse?
As veteran academic researcher in global climate change, I think I can shed a little light on the question. Here are some truly inconvenient truths.
Al Gore’s famous documentary “An inconvenient truth (2006)” set the precedent for worldwide advocacy on combating global warming. Its major themes were rising temperatures, collapsing ecosystems, dwindling polar bear populations, melting polar ice, disappearing snow, and increases in extreme weather events all over the world.
Aggressive global warming advocacy by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which most governments accept as the most authoritative body on climate science and climate policy—further strengthened the documentary’s reach, instilling climate-change fear among the public.
But more than a decade later, real-world evidence proves Al Gore’s claims to be at best exaggerated and at worst false.
Global temperature levels remained well below IPCC’s climate projections. IPCC’s forecasts—based on faulty computer climate models—exaggerated the climate trend due to an over-reliance on carbon dioxide emissions.
In other words, other natural variations—like sunspot activity—tended to determine our climate much significantly than the popular suspect carbon dioxide.
In fact, carbon dioxide emissions do not determine temperature change. From 1940s through the 1960s, and again from 1999 today, global average temperature failed to increase significantly despite rapid increases in carbon dioxide during both periods.
This stability in temperature levels was also reflected in the ice mass levels of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Both the polar regions showed no drastic loss of ice mass and remain healthy (in comparison to the past 2000 years of climate history), with the exception of Little Ice Age in the 17th century, which saw massive increase in ice mass.
This October, the snow cover extent in North America was much higher than the 50-year mean. Between September 2017 and August 2018, the Greenland ice sheet gained around 500 gigatons, which is 150 gigatons above the 30-year average (1981–2010).
Polar bears likewise have benefitted from this healthy ice mass, and contrary to popular opinion, continue to display healthy population sizes.
In fact, local authorities in Nunavut territory of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago issued concerns of an increasing polar bear population recently, seeking legal solutions to reduce their numbers. The locals suggested that the government needs to prioritize Inuit lives over bears.
Nunavut’s Kitikmeot regional wildlife board questioned the trend of using polar bears as an icon of climate change, commenting “This is very frustrating for an Inuit to watch. We do not have resources to touch bases with movie actors, singers and songwriters who often narrate and provide these messages.”
For climate researchers like me, it is even more frustrating to see how the mainstream media lies about climate change in the midst of a very cold year. Parts of North America experienced the coldest Thanksgiving in 100 years.
Despite this, the alarmists continue to mislead the public on climate change. A common misconception is that climate change aggravates extreme weather events. The news media and politicians like Gore argue that wildfires in California and Europe, hurricanes, droughts, and flooding in many parts of the world all are increasing, and they blame their increase on manmade global warming.
But scientific data do not support their claims. Wildfires displayed no increase in frequency, rainfall levels were as common as they were earlier, and hurricanes did not become more frequent or intense.
The “inconvenient truth” broadcast in popular news media is much different from the really inconvenient truth: The climate is healthy, polar bears are flourishing, and there has been no increase in the frequency of extreme weather events.
These new inconvenient truths are indeed inconvenient to those in high positions in political institutions. They seek to use climate change as a political tool to leverage power and usher in an unnecessary, dangerous, and disruptive change in time-tested, fossil fuel-based development of global communities. Voters everywhere should reject their message.
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.