Roger Helmer is a Conservative MEP in the East Midlands and chairman of the Freedom Association. He writes here about a recent meeting of climate realists in New York, where he is pictured, right, with the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus.
I’ve just got back to Strasbourg from the Heartland Institute’s International Climate Conference in New York (Subtitled "Global Warming: was it ever Really a Crisis?"), which brought together around 800 scientists, politicians and commentators from across the USA and around the world, all of a broadly climate-realist disposition. This was the second Manhattan Climate Conference, and 2009 attracted about double the attendance of the 2008 event.
We had an impressive array of scientists, including Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT; Professor Fred Singer (University of Virginia); Ross McKitrick (who exposed the IPCC’s Hockey Stick graph, widely seen as the most discredited artefact in the history of science); Professor Tom Segalstad of the University of Oslo; Professor David Douglas (University of Rochester); Prof Bob Carter of James Cook University of Queensland, Australia; and Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University, who publishes CCNet. Not impressed yet? Google them and check their CVs! Plus a host of others.
I had been invited to speak on the EU’s experience of Emissions Trading (or as people at the Conference called it, "Tax’n’Trade"). I explained what a disaster it had been, drawing heavily on the excellent work of Open Europe in a series of papers. My speech is available online here.
Our keynote speech was given on Sunday evening by Vaclav Klaus,
President of the Czech Republic, which by a deliciously ironic
coincidence, currently holds the Presidency of the uber-alarmist
European Union. Klaus pulled no punches. He has seen the light on the
climate issue, and has written an excellent book on it, Blue Planet in
Green Shackles (he kindly quotes my work in a footnote on page 34!).
But he also understand the politics. Climate alarmism is driven by the
people who hate freedom, who hate prosperity and growth and consumption
— the same people who worked for the hard left in earlier decades, or
supported the Club of Rome when it declared that we should run out of
resources by the seventies and die of starvation in the eighties.
Climate alarmism is about more power for governments and supra-national
institutions like the EU and the UN. It is about higher taxes. It is,
says Klaus rightly, profoundly illiberal.
I seem to have been following President Klaus around recently: I heard
him speak in the European parliament a few weeks back when he told them
a few home truths, causing dozens of federalist MEPs to walk out in
protest, while I and fellow-sceptics cheered him to the echo.
The consensus of the Conference was straightforward: that the small
increase in mean global temperature over the last century (< 1
degree C) is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term
natural climate cycles (the same cycles that gave us the Roman Optimum,
the Medieval Warm period, and the little Ice Age — indeed the warming
we saw recently is the recovery from the little Ice Age, as we move
into what may be a new 21st Century Optimum). There is no need of any
exceptional explanation, and no evidence that the warming we see is
caused by human activity. It is impossible to prove that there is no
human impact on climate, but if there is, it is so small that it is
lost in the noise of random variation, and cannot be identified in the
It is straightforward to prove the lack of human/CO2 impact. All the
CO2 models (as set out by the IPCC, no less) predict a "hot-spot" in
the troposphere, at about 5 to 10 kms high, and in the tropics. This
is a distinct feature or "signature" of CO2-based climate models. Yet
we have a wealth of data over decades from meteorological balloons and
from satellites, and the hot-spot, the signature, is simply not there.
This in itself is sufficient to disprove the anthropogenic/CO2
I recently wrote to the European Commission, challenging their stated
objective to bring global temperatures "back to pre-industrial levels"
(How’s that for hubris?), pointing out that in the last thousand years
before the pre-industrial era, temperatures varied widely and at
different times were both warmer and cooler than today. Their reply
said that they had no doubt that the current warming was anthropogenic,
as "it was faster than any natural warming". In fact they are quite
wrong. At the end of the Lower Dryas cool period (around 15000 BC)
temperatures rose several degrees C in sixty years — much faster than
in the last century. In fact the rate of rise in the 20th century is
very comparable to that leading to the Roman Optimum and the Medieval
I thought I had a good understand of the climate issue, but I gained
two new insights from the Conference. First, I guess I’d just assumed
that any CO2 we choose to emit simply adds to atmospheric CO2. But of
course we have a carbon cycle, and it’s reasonable to suppose that the
level of atmospheric CO2 might affect the rate of absorption of CO2 by
the biosphere and/or the oceans. This indeed seems to be the case,
since over the last decade emissions have grown faster than the IPCC’s
highest-range estimate, while the actual level of atmospheric CO2 has
risen slower than the IPCC anticipated. We saw evidence that CO2 is
reabsorbed typically in around five to seven years, and that biomass
creation and crop yields (suggesting increased up-take of CO2) have
increased as a result of the higher atmospheric level.
The second point was presented by Lord (Christopher) Monckton. He
presented a detailed argument to make a case that the sensitivity
factor for the greenhouse effect of CO2 used by the IPCC may be
exaggerated by an order of magnitude — a factor of ten. That might
just be his opinion versus the IPCC, but for two experimental results
that appear to support Lord Monckton’s position. First, applying the
equation to the rise of temperature and CO2 over the whole of the
twentieth century supports the lower figure for sensitivity. Secondly,
we can use satellites to measure the heat radiated from the earth. If
increasing CO2 acts as a blanket holding heat in (the greenhouse
effect) we should expect to see a corresponding reduction in out-going
radiation. And indeed we do, but apparently the reduction is much
lower than the IPCC numbers would suggest, and tends to confirm Lord
Monckton’s lower sensitivity figure.
The whole climate alarmist scare is a media-driven frenzy, very
comparable to other media scares like CJD and Y2K (and Christopher
Booker was also in New York — his book Scared to Death analyses the
anatomy of media scares over the past three decades). We need to
forget the hype and the propaganda and look at the science and the
facts. Alarmism is simply mistaken, and it follows that the policy
prescriptions proposed to deal with it are wrong too.
In New York, we also had news of a major new film about to be released
entitled AL GORE: Not Evil, Just Wrong. I can’t wait to see it.