Posted 19 February 2014
"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was right to tell Indonesians on Sunday that climate change is a serious danger to humanity if not addressed appropriately. ...But Kerry ruined his credibility on the issue when he asserted that climate science is “simple”, and “not really a complicated equation.” Trying to unravel the causes and consequences of climate change is arguably the most complex science ever tackled." - Tom Harris, executive director, International Climate Sciencve Coalition.
Secretary of State John Kerry out
of touch with climate
of State John Kerry was right to tell Indonesians recently that climate change
is a serious danger to humanity if not addressed appropriately. While asserting
that such changes are “the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen” was
clearly over the top, history shows that disaster ensues when societies do not
properly deal with climate change.
ruined his credibility on the issue when he asserted that climate science is “simple”,
and “not really a complicated equation.”
unravel the causes and consequences of climate change is arguably the most
complex science ever tackled. The Nongovernmental International Panel
on Climate Change demonstrates that much of what we thought we knew
about climate is wrong or highly debatable. The science is becoming more
unsettled as the field advances.
We do not
actually know how much climate will change as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels
continue to rise. We do not even know whether warming or cooling lies ahead.
surprise many people. We have been told for years that “future
warming is unequivocal.” Al Gore and others regularly cite the
predictions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) that a steady rise in temperature is inevitable with increasing CO2 levels.
But nature is
not cooperating with such forecasts. While atmospheric CO2 concentrations
have increased about 8% over the past 17 years, even the IPCC now acknowledges
that planetary temperatures have not risen during this period for reasons they
do not understand. They’re also in the dark as to why their forecast of “a
decline in the frequency of cold air outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere
winter in most areas” have failed so spectacularly in recent years.
concern than hypothetical future warming is the possibility that the past
decade’s cold weather records are a harbinger of significant global cooling.
Solar scientists are forecasting that cooling is inevitable as the sun weakens
into a ‘grand minimum’ over the coming decades.
Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov of Russia’s Pulkovo Observatory near St. Petersburg explained,
“from approximately 2014, we can expect the start of the next bicentennial
cycle of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055 plus or minus 11 years.”
We won’t know
for decades whether Abdussamatov and his peers are right, but history shows that
cold periods are far more dangerous than warm times. Yet governments across the
world are planning only for warming, a relatively benign scenario and one that
is appearing increasingly improbable.
So what should
be done about climate change given that we don’t know what will happen next?
We should focus
on adapting to climate change, not vainly trying to stop it. Adaptation
measures should include upgrading our heating, cooling, and irrigation systems,
relocating populations living in dangerous areas, burying electrical and
communications cables underground, reinforcing infrastructure, and preparing
for continuing sea level rise.
To do this we
will need massive quantities of inexpensive, high quality, reliable power. Yet
in discussing his solutions to these dangers, Kerry promotes wind and solar
power, the least reliable and most expensive options available. Moving away
from coal and other hydrocarbon fuels to flimsy alternative power sources
because of climate concerns would be suicide.
encouraged his audience to “have a frank
conversation about this threat.” To facilitate such a discussion, Kerry must
admit what science and engineering really tell us about these topics, not just
what is politically convenient. We have no hope of fulfilling his goal “of
leaving our future generations the safe and healthy planet that they deserve”
if we do otherwise.
Tom Harris is
Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science