CARBON dioxide is not an air pollutant. It is plant food. All life on Earth depends on it. It is natural. It forms the bubbles in bread, champagne, and Coca-Cola. You breathe it out, and plants breathe it in.
The Earth contains a lot of CO2, but the atmosphere contains so little that the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rightly calls CO2 a “trace gas”. A scientific mystery is why the air does not hold more CO2 than it does. Half a billion years ago, there was almost 20 times today’s CO2 concentration.
Most farmers would prefer to grow crops under much-higher concentrations of CO2 than today’s 385 parts per million—less than 1/25 of 1 percent of the atmosphere. To feed the world, low CO2 concentration is not such a great idea. High concentrations are better, and they cause no harm. Experiments have shown that even delicate plants such as orchids thrive at CO2 concentrations of 10,000 ppm.
That is why U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia has declared that if CO2 is to be labeled an “air pollutant”, then so must Frisbees and flatulence.
What about the danger of overheating the Earth by CO2? Al Gore is spending $300 million telling us “global warming” will be a catastrophe. Yet a survey of 539 scientific papers containing the words “global climate change” and published between January 2004 and February 2007 found not a single one that provided any evidence that “global warming” would be catastrophic. It does not matter how many scientists or politicians say that more CO2 will cause a catastrophe. To true scientists, what matters is whether any real-world data support the idea.
If CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas, we would have seen a great warming trend in Indonesian temperature history. We haven’t. Recent temperatures, according to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, have been scarcely warmer than they were 70 to 100 years ago. Instead of a strong warming trend, the Indonesian data are dominated by year-to-year changes and natural oscillations every 50 to 100 years.
It is remarkable to find documents on the Internet, circulated by WWF-Indonesia, trying to scare the unsuspecting public by saying the temperature in Indonesia has “increased by 0.3º C” over the twentieth century and that one can expect additional warming of 0.1 to 0.3º C per decade for the next 20 to 100 years.
In a humid, equatorial nation such as Indonesia, with annual temperatures between 23º and 32º C, there is little chance of seeing those predicted warming trends, or any of the predicted changes in rainfall.
Professor Mezak Ratag of the Indonesia National Agency for Meteorology & Geophysics says,
“The output from different models is often different and sometimes contradictory. For example, [a UK climate model] predicts increases in temperature and decreases in precipitation for Indonesia, while [a German model] predicts an increase in both temperature and precipitation.”
When climate models say that both increased and decreased rainfall are possible, they are not actually making any predictions.Worse, climate scientists from Stanford University and the University of Washington in the United States recently admitted that the islands of Java and Bali are not even represented as land in many global-circulation models [used by the IPCC].
The 100-year mean temperatures over the period 1901-2000 for March-April-May, June-July-August, September-October-November, and December-January-February are 26.2, 25.6, 26.1, and 25.9º C, respectively. This confirms the clear dependence of the basic climatology of Indonesia on the arrival and relative intensity of the sun overhead. More sun means warmer weather, and vice versa. It is as simple as that.
More sun also means more rain, except that during the December-January-February season there is an additional large contribution from the northwest monsoon and the southward migration of the inter-tropical rainbelt.
Look to matahari (the sun in Bahasa Indonesia) rather than CO2 as the key player in Indonesia’s climate.
Cutting CO2 emissions by sharply curtailing the use of gasoline and other fossil fuels will make no difference to the weather. It will merely lead the foolish to feel good about “saving the planet”. Even if the planet needed saving, all proposed mitigation measures would be futile. It would be cheaper and less irresponsible to adapt to warmer weather as—or rather if—necessary.
We have already seen food prices double and triple worldwide because the “green” movement told us biofuels would “save the planet”. Science, however, demonstrates that biofuels have a bigger carbon footprint than does gasoline.
Foolish mitigation measures that owe everything to political fashion and nothing to scientific rigor are already harming the world’s poor. It is time to stop the hysteria about CO2 before anyone else gets hurt—or even killed.
Willie Soon is a geoscientist at the Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He will address the International Symposium on Climate and Weather of the Sun-Earth System, hosted by Indonesia’s National Agency for Meteorology & Geophysics in Jakarta November 24-26.
Christopher Monckton is chief policy adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute in the USA. (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org).
This article has been republished from Indonesia Matters with permission from Dr Soon.