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Looking after - the planet?


pic: red sky in morning, Zelda Wynn


Ranjendra Pachauri, Climate Science Head of the U.N. IPPC, announced in Australia in February this year that 'there has been no Global Warming for 17 years’. Now the same IPCC say global warming is currently accelerating faster than ever before and man is to blame. So who is right, him or himself?

Since 1993 the US has spent $150 billion on climate change research. That’s $20 million every day. According to economist Bjorn Lomberg the European Union will pay $250 billion for its current climate policies each and every year for 87 years.  %20And    And for almost $20 trillion, temperatures by the end of the century could be reduced by a negligible 0.05ºC. Expenditure on R&D in NZ comes to around $10 million per year, with very little to show for it.

To date over 70 climate models have failed in the past to deliver correct predictions for now, and the elusive “hot spot” that global warming science a decade ago said would establish CO2 as a culprit is still not to be found. Alternative theories have been offered, like that the heat must have gone into the deep ocean without anyone noticing, but earth scientists are just as confused as they ever were and forward extrapolation is still beyond the current scope of their computer models.

The perverse public have an annoying habit of grasping the bleeding obvious, which is that climate is as it has always been, always changing with the seasons but essentially constant in the longer term. But the proletariat is less organised, so the establishment can put out periodic propaganda heading off the dubiousness of the science. Sceptics are attacked as traitors and “deniers”, a common tactic of oligarchies fearful of challenge.

But the proportion of people e.g. in the UK who don't think the world's climate is changing has more than quadrupled since 2005. When asked the question, 19 per cent of 2013's respondents said they don't think the climate is changing, compared to four per cent in 2005. That is closer to a quintupling of climate skeptics since 2005 - not just a quadrupling. It's also an eight per cent increase on last year.  

Sceptics rarely attract interest from the media because scary headlines sell more papers. But too hot? Too cold? Too wet? Too dry? Too many cyclones? Not enough cyclones? Too many tornadoes? Not enough tornadoes? How can all of it be global warming? If so, then what would cooling get to be called?

Nothing, it would seem from the NOAA’s announcement that the 2013 winter was overall the coldest winter in 30 years for the entire northern hemisphere. Europe had one of the coldest springs on record. In the USA it has been overall the coolest summer for more than 30 years, notably in the West, despite some widely reported intense heat in the east.

In North Dakota the only month in 2013 that snow has not been recorded in has been August. It has also been the coldest summer Alaska has had in many years - about 15 degrees colder In fact the Arctic has had the shortest summer on record. Normally the high Arctic has about 90 days above freezing but this year there was less than half that. There is now more ice at the Arctic than what the National Geographic map showed for 1971.

In the southern hemisphere, Peru is having the coldest winter in 100 years, with reports of people and animals dying in exceptionally cold weather, and yet you won’t find that on our TV news. But over 250,000 alpacas have perished and there was such severe chaos to the Andes region in their worst winter in 50 years that the government of Peru declared a state of emergency across 10 different regions. The cold spell has killed at least seven people in Peru, four in Bolivia and two in Paraguay. In Chile, homeless deaths rose to 16. This is global warming?

Tasmania has had a frozen winter, and according to the NOAA, Antarctica is having a winter -23 degrees below normal. Also, according to two recent studies (Frezzotti et al and NASA's Jay Zwally ICESAT) the Antarctic is gaining ice mass not losing it. It is so cold in Antarctica that a major expedition to cross the ice has been abandoned, due to the impossibly harsh conditions. Said leader, Brian Newham from Antarctica. “.. we have reached an unexpected crevasse field which, from satellite images and our own local survey using ground penetrating radar (GPR), we believe could extend up to 100 km to our South. The crevasses are certainly bigger and deeper than any we have previously encountered."

In NZ, we have had no shortage of cold snaps and snowfalls, particularly in late June and then July, and it is not over yet as the South Island braces for more cold and snow this coming week. Despite a fairly mild August, not many Aucklanders were wearing T-shirts before October began.

In record-warm winters less people turn on heaters. But NZ’s major power companies have reported increased profits. Contact Energy has posted a full-year profit of $199 million, up 4.7 per cent, and bumped up its dividend, despite an "oversupplied and highly competitive market". Meridian Energy has said its full year underlying profit was $162.7 million, up 53 per cent on last year. And Genesis Energy has made an after-tax profit of $104.5 million in the past financial year, up from $86.3m the previous year. It means we have had a normal winter.

If the reader is confused then join the club. There seems to be no system separating fact from fantasy. We punish children for lying, but handsomely reward climatologists. When scientists feed fiction to the media to justify receipt of grants the very heart of science dies.

It’s looking after something, and it aint the planet.

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