Bad Science & Climate Alarm Distracts Us From Real Problems

Principia Scientific Aug. 5, 2019

Written by Sanjeev Sabhlok


As a rule of thumb, 80 percent of policy development should be about understanding the problem. Once a problem is understood, the solution generally presents itself. 

But in the case of climate change, policymakers have bypassed this step and are insisting on “fixing” the “problem.” They forget that the IPCC’s own reports show that there is no problem.

Even in its extreme scenario (highly speculative), the worst that could happen is that our much richer future generations will become two percent less rich.

But the IPCC fails to emphasize that without using fossil fuels today, our future generations won’t become even half as rich.  Our party wants the Modi government to identify the optimal level of CO2 in the atmosphere beyond which it becomes a proven pollutant.

The Earth’s geological history should be used as a basis for this determination and not the hugely speculative climate models.

There is overwhelming evidence that today’s CO2 level of 400 ppm is simply too low. Commercial greenhouse farmers insist on 1,500 ppm of CO2 to get the best plant output.

That makes sense because most of today’s plants evolved over the past 250 million years when average CO2 levels were around 1,200 ppm. We also know that at 150 ppm of CO2 plants struggle to survive. It seems sensible, therefore, to aim for a minimum level of 1,200 ppm of CO2 in the air. 

At what level will CO2 start harming us? A simple calculation can answer this. At 21 percent of the atmosphere, oxygen is currently 500 times the concentration of CO2.

We also know that millions of Tibetans and Ladakh residents routinely live at 60 percent of this oxygen level. This means there is “space” in the air for up to 200 times more CO2 without reducing oxygen availability.

While submariners routinely operate at 5,000 ppm, they could easily do so also at higher levels if necessary.

In summary, CO2 levels of 1,500 ppm are hugely beneficial and CO2 levels up to 200 times higher than today’s levels won’t harm us. So where exactly is the problem?

It is all about the greenhouse effect. But there are many proofs that the impact of this effect is grossly exaggerated. First, plants evolved to love 1,500 ppm of CO2, which means the Earth did not burn up at that stage since we are all happily alive today.

Second, there is conclusive geological evidence of far higher CO2 levels in the past, even as the Earth was much hotter (the Earth has been cooling down since its creation). There was never any runaway greenhouse effect even at those much higher CO2 levels.

Climate change alarmists call those who question their false claims “climate deniers” but they are the real climate deniers since they deny all proven biological and geological evidence. They rely, instead, on an entirely speculative impact.

The nature of the “greenhouse effect” is such that its “power” or “sensitivity” cannot be measured inside a lab. There are only two ways to do so: first, through geological studies which have already declared CO2 to be perfectly harmless even at much higher levels.

The second is through climate models. So far, within just 30 years, the models have dramatically overshot reality. I expect them to even more badly overshoot reality by 2050.

Based on this, and following in the footsteps of Julian Simon I have offered to put my money where my mouth is – by wagering with IPCC that the Earth’s temperature will not rise by two additional degrees by 2100 if mankind does nothing whatsoever about CO2.

Even for those who are not convinced by the analysis, I have provided over the course of four articles, by 2050 everything will become clear as day.

By 2050, as well, fusion energy would have become commercially viable, thereby making fossil fuels largely redundant and this debate irrelevant. 

People forgot today the passionate “peak oil” debates of the past fifty years, and although peak oil remains well into the distant future, there is no doubt that mankind needs to switch to non-fossil-fuel energy sources in the next few decades. That is an imperative unrelated to the CO2 alarm.

As far as CO2 is concerned, we should take a policy holiday and shut down the IPCC.

And we can keep researching alternative energy technologies. However, interventions to divert precious resources into uneconomic solar and wind energy are the surest way to harm future generations. 

The climate-change alarm movement is driven by extremists. The CO2 panic is dressed in a veil of bad science. 

If CO2 ever does become a proven pollutant in the distant future, a simple cap and trade scheme will help markets work out the most efficient way of keeping CO2 levels capped. But the need for such a policy will never arise. 

Instead, there are many severe and real environmental problems today, including plastic and toxic waste and the man-made destruction of forests and wildlife. Dealing with them requires a sophisticated understanding of economic incentives to create policies that will effectively address them.