The History of Climate Scares

After the formation of the World Wildlife Fund, the Club of Rome was founded in 1968 as an international agency to popularize the myth that population and economic growth inevitably must fall back, because of limited resources. It sponsored the work of Dennis Meadows, whose fraudulent book The Limits to Growth claimed that an end to growth was nigh and that an environmental calamity confronted the human race in the near future (read more). These conclusions were all based on calculations of industrialization, pollution, and resources, performed by computer models inadequate to the task of modeling the system they supposedly comprehended. (Sound familiar?)

Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 book The Population Bomb, was one of the most prolific (and pathetic) peddlers of pessimistic forecasts. In 1969, he was quoted in the New York Times as saying:

“The trouble with almost all environmental problems is that by the time we have enough evidence to convince people, you’re dead. . . . We must realize that unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.”

A 1971 article in the Washington Post reported on warnings by Dr. Rasool of NASA and Columbia University:

"“In the next 50 years,” the fine dust man constantly puts into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees."

"If sustained over “several years”—“five to ten,” he estimated—“such a temperature decrease could be sufficient to trigger an ice age!"

Yes, you read that right. In the 1970s, claims of the perils of global cooling were commonly heard from the National Academy Sciences and many top universities, and were presented to the public in many articles. Here is an example, from a 1970s issue of Science News:

On June 24, 1974, Time magazine published an article “Another Ice Age?” which put forward the argument:

"Telltale signs are everywhere—from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. . . ."

"Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend." 

Are today’s claims—about extreme weather, mass extinctions, and deadly warming—just new scary stories?

Read more silly climate scare stories here.

CO₂ Climate Models Don’t Work

Scary stories about environmental devastation have been promoted for decades without coming to pass. The case of climate change is yet another example.

You may have learned about the “greenhouse effect.” This concept is based on the fact that specific frequencies of light are either absorbed, reflected, or transmitted by such gases as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor. Although this simple concept sounds compelling, actual claims about the impact of any change to the Earth system—such as the introduction of additional CO₂—are based on modeling the entire Earth.

The models generally used to make forecasts that are then cited by policy makers are known as general circulation models (GCMs). These models divide up the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth, and even the oceans into pieces, and then calculate how the various pieces and processes impact each other over time. These models include various sorts of feedback, such as the impact of temperature on cloud cover, which in turn affects how much sunlight is reflected back into space.

Climate models predicted a relatively smooth increase of temperature from the year 2000 onwards, but temperatures remained essentially constant for over a dozen years. What went wrong? Can such models be trusted in the future?

Since such models are based on many, many assumptions, it is possible that they are incorrect, for example, by including numbers that are wrong, or by entirely leaving out important processes.

Since such models have been used for many years now, it is possible to compare their past predictions with what actually happened.

A “pause” in the warming, which occurred from the late 1990s to the mid 2010s, was not predicted by these models. This is a significant mistake, and it shows that even if a model works to re-predict the past, you cannot inherently trust it to predict the future. With so many numbers to adjust, it is possible to make a model work well for any given data set (to “overfit” it). The question is how accurate they are over the longer term, at making future forecasts.

The failure to predict the “pause,” and to rather consistently predict more warming than has actually occurred, show that relying on these models to create policies that would redirect literally tens of trillions of dollars and impose significant physical, personal costs on people, especially in developing countries, is a mistake.

The cause for the error? Omitting important processes that play a key role in shaping the climate. For more, see What Does Cause Climate Change on page 16.

Climate Alarmists Fake the Data

Looking at the activity of proponents of the man-made climate change catastrophe narrative, we are led to ask about their apparent methodology — if the experimental or observational data do not match the model, why not just change the data?

This brings to mind the statements of some of the founders of the climate catastrophe story. Dr. Stephen Schneider was an early leading advocate of the need to stop a man-made global warming catastrophe in the 1980s (after having warned of an imminent threat of man-made global cooling in the 1970s). He founded and served as the editor of the journal Climatic Change, authored or co-authored hundreds of papers on climate change, was a coordinating lead author in the IPCC’s 2001 Third Assessment Report, and served as a consultant to many US presidential administrations. In a 1989 article, Schneider was quoted discussing the “method” needed by the alarmists:

"On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. . . . On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well … we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. . . . So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have… Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

Much of the narrative that human CO₂ emissions are bringing us to the abyss relies on the claims that recent climate changes are unprecedented.

However, many climate records show that, about 1,000 years ago, temperatures were near current levels, if not warmer. The existence of this “medieval warm period” posed such a challenge to the notion that present warming is “unprecedented” that it was disappeared. 

On the right, we see the divergence between satellite temperature measurements and those taken by ground-based equipment. “Adjustments” made to the ground-based data cause it to show a greater temperature change.

Above: The 1999 presentation of past temperature data showed an decrease of 0.6 °C from the 1930s to 1999, while the presentation of the exact same records in 2006—after “adjustment”—showed an increase over that time!

What Does Cause Climate Change?

The failure of general circulation models to model the climate accurately comes either from their use of wrong data or their omission of processes which must be included to properly understand the climate.

One significant omission—of a process whose importance has been clearly demonstrated and whose lack would devastate any model not using it—is that of processes beyond our Earth itself. Our planet does not exist in its own universe, but is part of our Solar System, itself located within the Milky Way galaxy. The Earth is subjected to changes in its orbit, variations in the intensity of the Sun’s light and magnetic field, and the impacts of our Solar System’s motion through the spiral arms of the galaxy.

Our Changing ‘Space Environment’

Over time scales of 100,000 years, the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit changes, as its motion around the sun becomes alternately more circular and more elliptical. This results in periodic ice ages—when, for example, ice several kilometers thick covers significant portions of North America—and the interglacial periods between them, such as the interglacial we are currently enjoying.

Below: Over the past one million years, changes in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun match the periodic climate changes from ice ages to relatively brief interglacial periods.

There are even longer cycles that affect the Earth. Just as our planet moves around the sun, so too does the entire Solar System move around the Milky Way galaxy, alternately finding itself within and in between the spiral arms with a high density of stars. When we are surrounded by more stars within one of the arms, the level of cosmic radiation reaching us increases. Amazingly, this can be measured! The evidence lies in meteorites, which can be recovered and studied, and which provide insight into the levels of radiation they have received during the billions of years they have spent in the Solar System before hitting the Earth. Evidence supports the theorized motion of our star:

Above: A schematic shows the hypothesized motion of our sun (and the Earth with it) through the Milky Way galaxy, over hundreds of millions of years. On the top right panel is a comparison of measurements on earth and hypothesized galactic motion. In blue and green are seen past ice ages and an inverse measure of temperature (where up means cooler). These values correlate with the hypothesized level of cosmic rays (orange) that would be encountered by motion through the spiral arms (purple). In red is a reconstruction, created via measurements of meteorites, of the cosmic radiation environment in the past. These meteorites support the hypothesis of our motion through the galaxy.

What is most amazing is that there is a connection between our galactic motion and the climate!

Even more interesting is that this relationship is seen not only over periods of hundreds of millions of years, but even on the level of months and days!

To the right is a chart over 25 years of the correlation between cosmic radiation and cloud cover. The change in cosmic radiation is caused by the sun, which has an eleven-year cycle, seen in its sunspots and measured in its changing magnetic field and solar wind.

When the sun is stronger, it is able to deflect more of the cosmic rays that would reach the Earth. Since cosmic rays cause an increase in cloud cover, which in turn reflects more sunlight, the increase in solar intensity, by reducing clouds, will have the effect of causing warming.

Testing a Hypothesis

Experiments to understand how this occurs have been performed in Europe at CERN (the European Center for Nuclear Research). Their experiments use their powerful equipment to create “artificial” cosmic rays, to test their effectiveness at creating cloud condensation nuclei, which are required for water vapor to condense into droplets to become clouds (or rain).

The relationship between cosmic radiation and temperature can be directly observed, and the results are very strong. Here, the cosmic radiation is shown (inverted) in red, while the temperature is seen in blue:

Examining the levels of cosmic radiation, temperature, and CO₂ over the past two thousand years, we can see that while cosmic radiation has a strong correlation with temperature, CO₂ does not:

The Cost of Decarbonization: Dead Babies

“Even if global warming isn’t a major risk, what’s the harm of creating green energy and green jobs? Won’t all that green investment help the economy?”

No, it won’t. And anyone telling you it will is either completely ignorant of the basics of economics, or is trying to reduce human living standards and population levels.

We have grown as a species by increasing the productive power of our labor, through improvements in science and technology, and increasing the energy flux density of the economy. By these means we increase the potential human population. Consider energy in particular:

This graph shows the correlation between electricity consumption and well-being, as measured in lifespan. (Each dot on the graph represents a different country.) It is not possible to ensure good living standards and a long lifespan without adequate electricity.

World Energy Needs

Let’s put the world energy situation in context. According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United States enjoys an average annual electricity use of 12,990 kWh per person. The value for the European Union is 5,910. The 2014 energy use in sub-Saharan Africa was 480, only slightly higher than the 1979 level of 450. In contrast, China’s use of electricity has exploded over the last forty years, rocketing upward 1350%—from a 1979 value of 270 (below the average for sub-Saharan Africa) to 3,930 in 2014, surpassing the world average.

Location Electricity use (kWh / yr / capita)
United States (2014) 12,990
European Union (2014) 5,910
Sub-Saharan Africa (1979) 450
Sub-Saharan Africa (2014) 480 (up 7%)
China (1979) 270
China (2014) 3,930 (up 1350%)
World (2014) 3,130

Source: International Energy Agency

This enormous increase in electrification has occurred during a time of unparalleled improvements: reducing the poverty level by 700 to 800 million people, upgrading agriculture and industry, building the world’s most extensive high-speed electric rail network, and achieving staggering reductions in infant mortality and disease.

To bring the entire world up to the electricity levels of the European Union—as part of absolutely eliminating poverty and providing opportunities worldwide, within one generation—would require doubling global electricity use.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report in 2018, entitled “Global warming of 1.5°C.” The $48 trillion this report calls for spending worldwide on misnamed “green” energy—such as the centuries-old technology of windmills—could instead be invested in nuclear, natural gas, and coal, completely eliminating energy poverty worldwide for the same investment as shifting grossly inadequate levels of electricity production to “renewables.”

It would be the height of hypocrisy for anyone claiming to be concerned about our common future to deny energy to a world in need!

Directing physical investment into expensive and unreliable forms of power means depriving people of energy. Such a policy of enforced energy poverty through a “green energy” initiative through 2035 would result in the deaths of at least ten million infants over the next decades. Perhaps they would gladly lay down their lives for the cause, but we can’t ask them: they will die before they are able even to speak.

Why are Renewables So Expensive?

Although individual bird-killers wind turbines and solar panels have come down in price dramatically over the past decades, the cost of energy in nations that generate an increasing portion of electricity from these “renewables” has gone up. Why?

The low power density and irregular supply of sunlight and wind mean that widespread use of such electricity generation requires a massive supporting infrastructure of redundancy, storage, backup power, and power lines and equipment for electricity transfer. The more wind and solar generation units are installed, the less value each provides.

This effect is seen in a 2015 research article that correlated the amount of per capita installed wind and solar capacity with the costs of electricity. Right: Denmark and Germany lead Europe in “renewables,” with 1,000 watts of solar and wind capacity per capita, and they also have the highest electricity costs globally (excluding small island nations), at 30 euro cents / kWh. European nations with half that per capita level of “renewable” capacity (e.g., Belgium and Austria), paid a third less, 20 euro cents / kWh; and nations with 100 watts or less of wind and solar capacity per capita (e.g., Poland and Finland) had electricity prices less than half those of Germany and Denmark, 10 to 15 euro cents / kWh. Average U.S. electricity prices were just under 10 euro cents at the time.

A recent article by Dr. Lars Schernikau, “Why today’s renewables cannot power modern civilization” updates these figures, and references a new cost estimating methodology developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Previous IEA estimates of wind and solar costs failed to account for “(1) the additional cost of interconnections required. . . (2) the cost of managing networks with highly volatile energy inputs. . . (3) the efficiency losses resulting from keeping coal, gas, or nuclear power as backup.” To attempt to account for these additional costs, in 2018 the IEA developed the “value-adjusted levelized cost of electricity” (VALCOE). This better enables thinking through the cost of energy in terms of an energy system as a whole, rather than individual components.

Above: Under the prior methodology, which considered components individually (dashed lines), solar would be cheaper than coal in India by 2025. But the new model, which recognizes that each addition of solar power has less value, due to the growing support required for it, shows something quite different (solid lines): the cost of solar power in India will actually start increasing after 2025, and will never reach a cost cheaper than coal.

Although these costs are given in monetary terms, they reflect the actual physical/social costs. The higher energy densities of nuclear reactions (fission and fusion) are key to lowering the physical/social costs of electricity production, which is the only way to support higher levels of electrical energy flux-density of economies globally.

Lyndon LaRouche made this clear in his 1980 book Basic Economics for Conservative Democrats:

"In general, the potential productivity of an economy is limited on the higher side by the energy-density of the basic modes of energy production being used by that economy. The higher the energy-density, the cheaper the energy can be in terms of social costs of producing energy, and the more abundant the energy available for expanding the economy. . . ."

"The step-by-step advance from a full-scale fission energy economy into a fusion energy economy is the unique path of development which enables our nation and the world to increase the effective rate of capital formation into the next century and beyond. It is the only policy which leads to this successful survival of our civilization."

Next Up: 


· The World Needs the Exoneration of Lyndon LaRouche 


· For an Economic Renaissance of Humanity 

 & the Exoneration of Lyndon LaRouche 

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