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Copenhagen: The Skeptics Views

February 10, 2010

The Oregon petition, signed by the 31,000 scientists, states: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”



February 10, 2010

The Oregon petition, signed by the 31,000 scientists, states: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

By Daniel Athzori
 
Global warming is an important issue, which deserves to be examined seriously. Very often, alarmism and irrational terrors overlap with the legitimate worries of the scientific community and public opinion.
To deal with the matter in an objective way, it is necessary to separate the research of the scientists from demagogy, also taking into account the views of the skeptics. Firstly, it is important to notice that not all the scientists agree on the link between human activity and global warming.
 
The Oregon petition denies that greenhouse gases are causing climate change
 
The Oregon petition, signed by the 31,000 scientists, states: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” To this regard, professor Timothy Ball, who taught Climatology at the University of Winnipeg, has published an article entitled: “Global Warming: The Cold, Hard Facts?” in which maintains: “Believe it or not, Global Warming is not due to human contribution of Carbon Dioxide(CO2). This in fact is the greatest deception in the history of science. We are wasting time, energy and trillions of dollars while creating unnecessary fear and consternation over an issue with no scientific justification.” Also Yuri Izrael, vice-president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations, argues that between human activity and global warming.
 
Once of the most famous skeptics is professor Willie Soon, astrophysicist at the Solar and Stellar Physics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Chief Science Adviser at the Science & Public Policy Institute. Professor Soon says that global warming is due to solar activity variations and that is by no means caused by human activity. In 2003, Professor Willie Soon published, together with Sallie Baliunas, an article on the scientific journal “Climate Research.” Here, quoting several scientific studies Soon claims that the XX century of the last millennium, so discrediting the official dogma which postulates the evidence of climate change. After the publication of the article, half of the editorial board of the journal resigned.
 
The U.S. government tends to fund research that conforms to its own views
 
Why? Was it not enough to confute Soon and Baliunas arguments with another article? Why are the scientists which contradict the dogma of the link between CO2 and global warming not simply subject to critics, but to ostracism by the academic community? Scientists should have the freedom to debate and freely exchange their ideas. Why, on the contrary, does free debate on this topic seem to be difficult? A tentative explanation has been proposed by Donald W. Miller, professor at the Washington University, author of “The Government Grant System: inhibitor of Truth and Innovation?” which describes how, in the United States, research funding is allocated by the government, which therefore tends to fund research which conforms with its views. In other words, politics decides the line to follow, and scientists get funding to demonstrate its validity. Thus, since politics, in particular after Al Gore’s documentary “An Unconvenient Truth,” decreed that there is a sound link between CO2 emissions and global warming, scientists conformed to that view. Such a system has tendency, according to Professor Miller, to produce an artificial consensus of the scientific community on the basis of political choices, inhibiting critical thought and debate. In particular, this issue is, especially in the U.S., highly politicized: if Democrats maintain the necessity to control the CO2 emissions to prevent global warming, Republicans tend to be more skeptical about the links between the two. Furthermore, part of the environmentalist movement presents the issue in purely ideological terms as a struggle between Good and Evil. Often, environmentalists seem to be moved more by anti-capitalistic drives than by a genuine will of understanding and solving the problems of our planet. Moreover, they seem persuaded that the panacea for all the problems of the world is the massive expansion of the prerogatives of the state. In short, the whole debate about the global warming seems to be driven more by an ideological agenda than by a scientific one.
 
Some commentators wonder whether it is worth hoping that an agreement will be signed
 
Therefore, some commentators are wondering whether we should really hope that the Copenhagen agreement will be signed. In the article “Has anyone read the Copenhagen agreement?” published in the 28th of October on the Wall Street Journal, Janet Albrechtsen hopes that the world leaders do not reach an agreement in Copenhagen. Indeed, the draft of the treaty provides for a transfer of sovereignty from the nation states to a sort of non elected transnational government, giving to this institution, still unnamed, huge competences in economic, financial, fiscal and environmental matters. Science fiction? The draft of the treaty, entitled “United Nations Framework Conventions for Climate Change” can be read online. The treaty also provides for a wealth transfer from the rich to the poor countries, and the experience shows that this implies, very often, transferring billions of dollars to the dictators and the oligarchs who oppress the Third World, without any real improvement of the life condition of the population. Also Lord Christopher Monckton, former Margaret Thatcher adviser, denounced the risks of signing the treaty, publicly inviting the United States not to sign it. If there is no certainty that global warming is caused by human activity, there are no doubts that the Copenhagen treaty can have a devastating effect on our economies, causing a dramatic increase in taxes and unemployment. Is this what the world economy needs while it is attempting, with difficulty, to emerge from the consequences of the international financial crisis? The debate is, we hope, still open.
 
Daniel Athzori attended the University of Jordan in Amman, where he studied Arabic langrage and Islamic culture. On behalf of the Fondazione ENI Enrico Mattei, he undertook a period of field research in the Middle East, in order to study the Islamic economy and its social and political interactions. He is currently studying topics regarding the Arab and Islamic world and is working on a PhD at the Institute of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Durham, England.    
 
With due permission from Oil Tabloid ENI Quarterly – Year II, No. 8 December 2009

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