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home > archive > 2023 > this article

How pro-lifers can beat the climate scare challenging their movement

By Tom Harris
web posted September 4, 2023

In "How abortion became a tool to push the 'climate change' agenda," my March 27th Life Site News article, I described how climate alarmists are promoting abortion to lessen our population to supposedly help stop climate change. I also showed that the abortion industry is now citing climate change concerns to promote their agenda as well.

But both of these arguments utterly fail if pro-life activists demonstrate clearly that there is no climate emergency—not now, nor at any time in the foreseeable future. And that is exactly the case.

To show this, pro-lifers need not delve deeply into the complex science of climate change, such as the findings of Dr. William A. van Wijngaarden of Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University, Canada, and Dr. William Happer of the Department of Physics, Princeton University, that at current concentrations, increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have a very little effect on temperatures (see their paper "Dependence of Earth's Thermal Radiation on Five Most Abundant Greenhouse Gases"). That work is both important and fascinating, but for someone not trained in science, it is not easy to decipher.

Instead, pro-lifers should take the approach of The Right Climate Stuff (TRCS), a group of retired and highly experienced engineers and scientists, many of whom took America to the Moon in the Apollo program. Their motto is: "In God we trust, all others bring data."

After analyzing the best empirical data available, the TRCS team concluded that there is no climate crisis and increasing carbon dioxide and rising temperatures will be highly beneficial to our civilization and the biosphere. To learn more about TRCS and their work, I direct readers to my articles and podcast about this outstanding team:

Over the next couple of weeks, I will demonstrate how pro-lifers can follow TRCS's lead and use real world data to fight back against the climate change myths threatening their movement.

Let's start with the rise in so-called "global average temperature*."

[*Strictly speaking, a "global temperature" does not exist. Temperature, like density, pressure, viscosity or any intrinsic property of a substance, is not something that can be averaged. Global temperature is merely a statistic that may, or may not, be useful in different circumstances. For more on this topic, see "Does a Global Temperature Exist?" by Essex, McKitrick and Andresen in the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics.]

As can be seen in the graph below, this average has risen only just over 1o Celsius since 1875. This slight warming has been beneficial as we recovered from the centuries-long Little Ice Age during which cold conditions caused widespread crop failures and other serious hardships across the world.

Chart

While discussing temperature findings from Greenland ice cores, Dr. Jørgen Peder Steffensen, Professor of Physics of Ice, Climate and Earth at the University of Copenhagen explained:

"Around 1875, we have the lowest point in the last 10,000 years, and that matches exactly the time when meteorological observations started… I agree completely that we have had global temperature increase in the 20th century. But an increase from what? Probably an increase from the lowest point we've had for the last 10,000 years. This means that it would be very hard indeed to prove whether the increase of temperature in the 20th century was man-made or it's a natural variation. That would be very hard because we made ourselves an extremely poor experiment. We started to observe meteorology at the coldest spot in the last 10,000 years!"

Pro-life activists presenting this information will likely be called "climate change deniers" by activists attempting to discredit them by equating their position with that of Holocaust deniers. They can simply reply that no knowledgeable person doubts that Earth's climate has been changing since the planet's formation 4.5 billion years ago. Testifying before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on February 10, 2005, Professor Tim Patterson, now Chairman of the Department of Earth Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada put it well (watch his whole testimony here):

"Based on the paleoclimatic data I and others have collected, it's obvious that climate is and always has been variable. In fact, the only constant about climate is change; it changes continually. We certainly have no chance of stopping this natural phenomenon."

Then pro-lifers can tell their attackers that the changes that we witness today are minimal compared to what has occurred throughout geologic history. Consider, for example, the most recent glacial maximum that ended about 20,000 years ago. Glaciers covered most of North America all the way down to just south of the present-day border between Canada and the U.S. There was about 3.3 km of ice over the land where Montreal now sits. That's almost 5 and a half times the height of the CN Tower. Apart from a small area in the Yukon where there was little snow and ice cover due to low moisture levels in the atmosphere, practically no life survived in Canada.

Next, Patterson explained, "Ten thousand years ago . . . temperatures rose as much as 6 degrees C in a decade." This is about 50 times faster than what we have seen over the past century.

Pro-life activists can also cite Dr. Craig Idso, a lead author for Climate Change Reconsidered series of reports. Speaking at a panel held in Katowice, Poland while the UN's 2018 climate conference (COP24) was being held, Idso said:

"Given what is compiled in those reports and the thousands of peer-reviewed scientific references therein, I can tell you with complete confidence that there is absolutely no observational evidence that provides any compelling support for the contention that there is something unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about Earth's current warmth."

Yes, some regions will set new temperature records now and then. For example, the polar darkness period from April to September 2021 set a record for the coldest time near the South Pole (-61oC according to the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center). But Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of the German Wildlife Foundation, and the former CEO of a wind turbine company, was correct when he said in the 2019 documentary film "Global Warning,"

"… what we could show [in published in peer reviewed journals] is that the medieval warm period from 950 to twelve hundred fifty was as warm as today. The IPCC said, yes, it is only in Northern Europe. So, what we did is we investigated South America, we investigated Africa, Antarctica, Oceania and could show in all continents of the Earth it was as warm as today, 1,000 years ago… And if you go further to the Roman period, you have the same thing every thousand year you have a warm period."

Pro-lifers will undoubtedly be attacked for denying the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable people in our society. Here is how to answer that charge:

There is no question that climate change has had a huge impact on human affairs. The following plot of temperature versus time for Central Greenland is a good illustration of the natural climate change we have seen over the past four thousand years and the related societal impacts. Note how cold periods coincided with hardships for humanity while, in most cases, warm periods were beneficial. Contrary to the proclamations of global warming activists, every year more people die from the cold than from the heat. A study in the British Medical journal The Lancet found that, "Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries."

Chart


If one goes back further in geologic times, you have even more evidence that today's temperatures are normal. Note that in the following plot of temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) over the past 600 million years, the estimated range in temperatures of Earth is from 12oC to 22oC, with the mean of 17oC. Clearly, we are at the low-end today at 15o C as we are still warming from the last glacial period, which ended over 10,000 years ago.  

 

Chart

The modest, beneficial warming that has been experienced across the world since the end of the Little Ice Age, slightly more than 1o Celsius, has essentially stopped, as can be seen in the following satellite-based temperature record. Indeed, the February 2023 "average temperature" was about the same as the 1991 – 2020 average.

Chart

No informed person would call this temperature record "fast-rising" or a "climate emergency," as proclaimed by the UN, mainstream media and climate activists.

So, what causes climate change, pro-lifers may be asked. Here is how I suggest they respond:

Temperature trends apparently follow in accordance with solar cycles, and indeed, we may be entering a Grand Solar Minimum when the Sun could be at its weakest in the past 300 years. This could result in significant global cooling, something we need to prepare for. The Epoch Times reported on November 23, 2021:

"In an exclusive interview, scientist Valentina Zharkova told The Epoch Times that her 2015 paper predicting the onset of a grand solar minimum between 2020 and 2053 has been borne out, prompting her to warn that temperatures could soon rapidly fall.

"Grand solar minima last for multiple solar cycles, during which the Sun produces less energy and sunspot activity is low. During a previous grand solar minimum, the Maunder minimum between 1645 and 1715, glaciers expanded and the River Thames in England frequently froze over."

Professor Zharkova has a PhD from the Solar Division of the Main Astronomical Observatory, Kyiv, Ukraine. She is now a Professor in Mathematics at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. In "Modern Grand Solar Minimum will lead to terrestrial cooling," her editorial published on August 4, 2020 in the journal Temperature, which publishes papers related to interactions between living matter and temperature, Professor Zharkova wrote:

"This period [upcoming grand solar minimum in which solar magnetic field and its magnetic activity will be reduced by 70%] has started in the Sun in 2020 and will last until 2053. During this modern grand minimum, one would expect to see a reduction of the average terrestrial temperature by up to 1.0°C, especially, during the periods of solar minima between the cycles 25–26 and 26–27, e.g., in the decade 2031–2043.

"The reduction of a terrestrial temperature during the next 30 years can have important implications for different parts of the planet on growing vegetation, agriculture, food supplies, and heating needs in both Northern and Southern hemispheres. This global cooling during the upcoming grand solar minimum 1 (2020–2053) can offset for three decades any signs of global warming and would require inter-government efforts to tackle problems with heat and food supplies for the whole population of the Earth."

A common refrain from the climate activists is "1.5 to stay alive." Indeed, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advocates that we make greenhouse gas emission reductions adequate to limit global warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC even published a special report in 2018 titled "Global Warming of 1.5oC."

But this makes no sense. According to the World Meteorological Organization report Provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022, "The global mean temperature in 2022 is currently estimated to be about 1.15 [1.02 to 1.28] °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average."

So we are only 0.35oC from the dreaded 1.5 oC rise that so frightens climate campaigners. Most normal people can see that an additional three-tenths of a degree rise in a statistically computed "global temperature" is inconsequential.

Finally, determining a temperature rise from pre-industrial levels requires that we know what the temperature was long ago and that we know what it is today. ICSC-Canada board member Dr. John McLean explains that neither criterion is met by the temperature data from HadCRUT that is being used to back up trillion-dollar policy decisions around the world. McLean said,

"Today, about 85% of the world is covered with temperature data. I recently looked closely at the HadCRUT5 data, especially between 1850 and 1900. I wanted to see if the data collection was comparable to recent data. It's not by a long way. What data we have from back then are from very variable coverage (annual average coverage from about 14.5% to 49%), very different number of weather stations, and it isn't homogenous around the world but focussed heavily on Europe, the Atlantic Ocean and the voyages from Europe to Indonesia and Hong Kong. And it wasn't until 1949 that we started to get temperature data from even 50% of the southern hemisphere.

"The newest version of the composite data from weather stations, the CRUTEM5 dataset, has no data for the southern hemisphere - and therefore no global average - until January 1857.  The previous version, CRUTEM4, did have global averages, but in 2018 it was pointed out to the CRU people that there was very little data from the southern hemisphere in the early years after 1850, including that a single weather station provided the only data from January 1850 to June 1852.  Of course, they should have already recognised this and taken action rather than claiming how accurate their global averages were, but, with enough pushing, they've finally accepted that coverage of the southern hemisphere was far too small to claim that, when data from both hemispheres were combined, there was sufficient to label the result a global average.

"What's even more dishonest is claiming that climate models are sufficiently accurate that they can meaningfully work backwards from the scant 1850-1900 data to define what the global average temperatures were in true pre-industrial times [i.e., 1720 – 1800 is the pre-industrial date range suggested by this paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society].

"Therefore, the actual 'global temperature' rise since pre-industrial times is really unknown."

Next week, I will show pro-lifers how to refute climate alarmist claims that today's weather is unusually extreme, which, like virtually everything else mainstream media tell us about climate change, is completely wrong as well! ESR

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada's Parliament.

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