From Roger Pielke Sr. – Guest Weblog By Syun Akasofu Of International Arctic Research Center At The University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Syun Akasofu has provided us with a guest weblog based on a translation from Japanese of an article he wrote. I pleased to use my weblog to communicate viewpoints on climate science issues from credentialed climate scientists.
Recommendation to postpone the 2009 Copenhagen Conference:
The so-called “global warming” issue viewed in the context of politics and the economy of the world.
Syun Akasofu International Arctic Research Center
1. The US must have decided to drop the making of cars as their primary manufacturing activity and gave it to Japan. The Obama administration and the US public believe that enough has been done for the ailing car makers, and hope that they will be able to survive by making good electric (not fossil fuel powered) cars.
2. What does this mean? In the history of manufacturing, there has been a trend in which advanced countries lose their primary manufacturing capabilities one after another to developing countries. The textile industry in the UK was taken over by the US, then by Japan, then by China and others. The iron manufacturing industry in the UK was taken over by the US, then by Japan, and then China and other ‘catching-up’ countries. The car manufacturing industry in the UK was taken over by the US (mainly by GM), then Japan (Toyota and Honda), and some day perhaps China. This historical trend cannot be stopped. (The US tried to take over the world’s financing activities from the UK, which had lost interest in manufacturing altogether, but failed miserably in the recent days and caused the current economic recession.)
3. Then, the question is what kind of primary manufacturing industry is the US going to choose to work on in the future? It is likely that the Obama administration has chosen the construction of atomic power plants as the next great US manufacturing effort.
4. The reasons for choosing atomic power plants are obvious. First of all, the US has to secure future electric power because electricity is needed for everything, including future electric cars. The US wants to get away from its reliance on oil (and the unstable oil-producing countries), which will undoubtedly either diminish or become very expensive within the next 50 years. Reducing oil imports will reduce the great deficit. It should be noted that the primary purpose of changing from carbon power to atomic power is not necessarily to reduce the release of CO2 and global warming. It is an excuse. This will become clearer as we look into the related issues.
5. How is global warming related to atomic power? In order to understand this question, it is important to learn how the global warming issue was born. In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher, then the British Prime Minister, came to the conclusion that the UK needed atomic power energy for their future, but she faced strong objections by her people. It was also about the time when the first crude computer simulation of the greenhouse effect of CO2 was made, and it predicted a great disaster and catastrophe due to the expected temperature rise, unless the release of CO2 could be greatly reduced.
Margaret Thatcher must have taken this result into account in promoting atomic power, asking her people to choose either atomic power or global disaster/catastrophe, which would require a great sacrifice in their standard of living in order to avoid it. Without her strong endorsement, the IPCC would not have been established. She also established the Hadley Climate Research Center for further study of the effects of CO2. Until that time, climatology was a rather quiet science (not something dealt with in newspaper headlines), but Thatcher put a great spotlight on it for her political purposes. Therefore, although the CO2 hypothesis is appropriate as a hypothesis in science, the IPCC was related to atomic power from its birth and its destiny was to predict a great disaster/catastrophe. This, in spite of the criticism that the IPCC is predicting the end of the world, although we are not doing very well at even predicting the next day’s weather or the severity of the next winter. Science was used for political purposes. At the same time, the world news media was looking for something exciting to report on because the Cold War was ending. Global warming and reporting on imaginary disasters/catastrophes caused by CO2 has become one of their major headline topics.
6. How is the history of global warming and the IPCC related to the Obama administration’s interest in atomic power plants, making the construction of atomic power plants as the new primary manufacturing industry of the US? This is because if they proposed atomic power plants by singling the issue out, they will face fierce opposition of the people. Since the Three Mile Island plant accident, there has been no atomic plant built on US soil. Therefore, the Obama administration, like Thatcher, will ask the people to choose between atomic power plants (maintaining or improving their present standard of living) or a great disaster/catastrophe caused by CO2 (actually, reducing drastically the present living standard, including not being able to drive (electric) cars).
7. For these reasons, from the perspective of the Obama administration, the greater the disaster/catastrophe predicted due to CO2, the better it is for the purpose of promoting atomic energy. As a first step toward the goal of switching to atomic power, the Obama administration states that atomic energy is “green” (meaning no air pollution), that atomic energy is “non-carbon”, and even that CO2 is “unhealthy”. Note also that Obama uses the words “climate change”, not “global warming.”
The physics of CO2, absorbing and re-emitting infrared radiation is clear. On the other hand, geophysicists must find how much heating CO2 will cause when a given amount of it is released into the complex earth system. Thus, in this situation it is meaningless and useless for the real science of global warming/climate to face off against the political decisions and propaganda for the planning of atomic power plants.
8. One problem in this particular discipline of science is that scientists who base their research on computer simulations have become too arrogant, saying that they can predict the temperature in 2100, although too much is still unknown about the earth system. Ignoring natural causes of climate change and even unknown aspects of cloud physics, they rely on computer work in predicting the temperature rise in 2100. However, a computer is like a robot. It can perform only what it is instructed to do by the programs produced by the human brain. If a computer program is incorrect or inaccurate, the output will also be incorrect or inaccurate. In science, incorrect programs or hypotheses (produced by one or a group of scientists) are criticized by other scientists and can thus be improved. That is the way science should progress. However, the IPCC regards those who criticize them as “skeptics”, or “deniers”, etc., and brought this newborn and immature science to the international stage. They stated in 2007 that scientists have done all they can and that the science is settled, and the rest of the task should be in the hands of policy makers. Such a statement is very irresponsible.
9. However, even if the US decides that its next primary manufacturing industry is the construction of atomic power plants, there will be fierce competition between the US group (US, Japan, Russia) and the French group, which has more experience than the US, at last in the safety of operation. (A further problem is that Toshiba owns much of the Westinghouse stock.) There will eventually be uranium wars in the future; energy securing wars will continue forever.
10. The Obama administration is promoting wind power and solar power. However, there is no way to supply more than 10% of the US power needs (Obama says that they should try for 20%, but has he estimated the cost involved?) It is only about 2.5% at present. In any case, 80-90% of future electric power has to be found.
11. The US has to rely on coal power plants (at present 40%), until a large number of atomic power plants can be built, perhaps about 15-20 years from now. Thus, there is no way for the US to agree on any international agreement on a near-future CO2 reduction at the present time. The US has been saying that unless China and India agree to a significant reduction of the release of CO2, any agreement is useless. On the other hand, the US has made China its factory, and furthermore the US owes a great debt to China. Unless China can remain healthy, politically and financially, and with sufficient energy, the US will have a serious problem. Therefore, the US cannot force China to reduce its CO2 emission. On the other hand, in spite of the fact that China is now “richer” than the US, it continues to claim that it is still one of the developing countries and that the developed countries should reduce their release of CO2 first. The US and China must surely understand each other, so that the above statements are only rhetorical. The IPCC chairman has stated recently that India will not agree to a “cap”. Further, global capitalism is such that the rest of the world relies on the US buying power (even if they are using credit cards), so that the US economy has to be healthy. EU officials have had a large number of conferences on the reduction of CO2, but they have not reached any conclusion they can agree on.
12. For the above reasons, is it useful to have any more conferences on global warming? How many international conferences with the heads of nations have been held in the past? There has been no substantive agreement on the amount of release of CO2 by individual countries, in spite of the fact that protecting the earth from the CO2-based disaster/catastrophe should be the most solemn duty of the heads of nations (although environmental destruction caused by global capitalism is conveniently forgotten). So far, all the past conferences ended with a “fight” between rich nations and poor nations. The latter trying to snatch money from the former using the so-called “cap and trade” as an excuse, and the former trying to protect themselves from such an assault, in spite of the fact that the “cap and trade” negotiations have no effect on reducing the overall release of CO2. It is suspected that the heads of nations do not really believe in the global disaster/catastrophe scenario caused by CO2. However, they stated they believe in the IPCC, so they cannot publicly say that they do not believe in the disaster scenario, because they and their countries would be called enemies of humanity, like George W. Bush.
13. It has been said that the only thing they agreed on at the past conferences is to decide on the time and place for the next meeting. Such conferences are useless, although they are better than a world war. It is suggested that they should postpone future meetings until the science of global warming will advance farther. It is not too late, as the proponents of global warming advocate, since there has been no predicted disaster/catastrophe after the release of CO2 increased rapidly in 1946. In the tropics and middle latitude, there has been no discernible disaster/catastrophe so far. This is why the world media flocks to the Arctic and reports on erroneous global warming effects. None of the phenomena and changes they reported are related even remotely to the CO2 effects. A good example is glacier calving at the terminus. Nevertheless, the world media reports that the changes are caused by the CO2 effect.
14. In Japan, they are overjoyed by the statements of President Obama, saying that he is quite serious about “global warming” (actually, he says “climate change” instead of global arming). They interpret his statements as a sign that the US has finally become serious about the release of CO2, and that Obama is different from George W. Bush.
15. It is very unfortunate that science is being used for political purposes. Global warming is an imaginary product used for promoting the atomic power industry. When the truth will eventually become apparent, the credibility of science will be seriously damaged, since so many scientists (not only climatologists, but also many scientists in general) blindly trusted the IPCC and accused their opponents as “skeptics” and “deniers”, etc.
16. Actually, judging by what has been described earlier, the IPCC is NOT a scientific research organization, although they skillfully mobilized 2500 “world experts in climatology”; they were used by the IPCC, some probably unwittingly. The IPCC skillfully created the impression of “consensus” among 2500 scientists. Their contribution, a large volume of publications, is conveniently used for the IPCC publication, “Summary for Policy Makers”, as an apparent back-up document, although the IPCC charter clearly states that they are not supposed to make recommendations to policy makers.
The IPCC has tried to emphasize that global warming began unexpectedly and abruptly after 1900 because of the enhanced release of CO2. However, global warming began as early as 1800-1850s at the same rate as the present (0.5°C/100 years), namely about 100 years earlier than the beginning of a rapid increase of CO2 release, as the earth began to recover from the Little Ice Age (1400-1800). The recovery from a cold period is warming. Actually, the warming until 2000 and the present cooling trend can reasonably be explained as natural changes. The IPCC has ignored natural changes as at least a partial cause of global warming, in order to promote their CO2 hypothesis.
17. The IPCC tried to ignore the fact that the earth experienced the Little Ice Age by using the co-called “hockey stick” figure, because it is not convenient to know that the global warming began in 1800-1850, and not as they claim in the 20th century. The recovery from the Little Ice Age (a cold period) is warming. How many of the 2500 scientists trust the hockey stick figure? Perhaps only very few. Is this then the “consensus” of 2,500 experts in climatology? Unfortunately, the IPCC and the world media have presented this hypothesis as a fact.
18. There is another reason for proposing the postponement of future global warming conferences. After 1998 or 2000, global temperature has stopped rising and shows a sign of cooling, in spite of the fact that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is still rapidly rising. This is an observed fact. Therefore, their temperature prediction for the year 2100 has already failed during the first 10 years. However, IPCC scientists have not recognized it, saying that it is just a temporal change; but 10 years of consistent change is considered climate change.
19. The world political leaders should be able to decide to postpone future conferences until scientists could find the causes for the present halting of global warming. Temporary or not, there must be unknown forces and causes to suppress the CO2 effect or even overcome it.
20. We should bring back the science of climate change to a basic science, avoiding interferences by policy makers and the world mass media. Only then can this particular science proceed in a scientifically healthy way. Only then can we discuss any global warming hypothesis as proponents and opponents (instead of as “believers” and “skeptics” or “deniers” in the religious sense), regardless of one side being in the majority or minority. In science, unlike in politics, a minority can be right.