English translation of the article Mélyebben megismerni a természetet (published in the daily newspaper Magyar Hírlap on 9 September 2020 in the Hungarian language, https://www.magyarhirlap.hu/velemeny/20200909-melyebben-megismerni-a-termeszetet)
Getting to know nature more deeply
Some former media and climate gurus have already ecologically converted: Michael Moore (Producer of Fahrenheit 9/11), for example, has released his documentary exposing biomass and solar energy fraudsters.
László Csaba SZARKA
In the 4 August issue of Magyar Hírlap, economist Károly LÓRÁNT, an adviser to the National Forum, questioned some of the statements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this context, he described the European Union’s climate policy, namely the intention to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions to zero, as “propaganda growing into an economic programme”, and predicted its certain failure. János ZLINSZKY, an associate professor at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, in his counter-opinion of 4 September supporting the IPCC’s view, rejected Lóránt’s method and style. At the same time, he expressed his desire for a “calm, impersonal, knowledge-based and long-term political discourse for the common good […] both within the Christian Democratic political community and between political camps”.
Károly Lóránt was indeed inaccurate here and there, and some of the arguments were certainly emotional, but emotional tools were used by János Zlinszky, too. In my post, following the course, method and style of Zlinszky’s counter-opinion, I conclude that it is he who sees all the essential issues incorrectly.
The starting point for the debate is whether anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be reduced to zero by 2050. If we ask the question whether it is physically feasible to achieve one hundred per cent renewable energy, the answer based on real science is no. Not one single wind or solar power plant has been or will be produced by the energy of wind and solar power. This is because the construction (and partly the operation) of such installations requires efficient (i.e. high density) energy types. Today’s choice extends to coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy as well as to hydropower as the only renewable. Given the specific needs of renewable energy sources (unusual materials, vast areas and low energy density), most experts estimate that their share in the energy mix is somewhere around twenty per cent, which can be thought of as desirable, optimal or “still tolerable” depending on individual preference.
A hundred per cent renewable energy target would be tantamount to falling back to medieval levels. And the ambition of zero carbon emissions could only be achieved through the spread of carbon-free yet efficient (nuclear) energy. At this point, it is worth remembering what István Széchenyi (1790-1860, the statesman known as “the greatest Hungarian”) said, a statement quoted several times by the historian Ágnes R. Várkonyi. Grieving over the environmental conditions of pre-industrial Hungary, Széchenyi commented, “In order to let the trees live, let the coal come to the surface!”, highlighting the nature-conserving role of powerful energy sources.
It is obvious that we should exercise restraint when intervening in nature. Energy and nature policies need to be reconciled, which is not easy, but it is possible. However, the total subordination of energy policy to climate policy is irrational and wasteful. Scientifically, this is highly controversial, and, in my opinion, unfounded. The motivation for linking climate and energy policy was seen by a meteorologist academician (Rudolf Czelnai) in 2011 as follows: “We know from Machiavelli that the secret to successful policy is that the masses rarely fall for rational things; they also need some humbug. Well now, if the energy issue is the rational and it is hidden behind the climate issue, this makes the climate issue the humbug. This is like putting foxes in the henhouse… Thus, hiding behind policy, perhaps the biggest business of the millennium could start: the climate business.”
The prevailing view today, also represented by János Zlinszky, is that carbon emissions from human activity must be curbed in order to prevent global warming. This assumes that 1. anthropogenic CO2 emissions really increase the atmospheric CO2 concentration; 2. the primary cause of the increase in the global greenhouse effect is an increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; 3. the primary cause of the perceived warming is an increase in the global greenhouse effect. All three assumptions are quite debatable:
1. It is by no means certain that the increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is due to man. In fact, only four to five per cent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is of anthropogenic origin. The vast majority of CO2 emissions are of natural origin, coming from the oceans, land and biosphere. In the first half of this year, fossil energy use (i.e. anthropogenic CO2 emissions) declined globally by about ten per cent, yet the atmospheric CO2 concentration broke previous (daily, weekly and monthly) records. At the NOAA Observatory in Manua Loa, the daily record (418.32 ppm) was measured on 1 June 2020. The carbon dioxide concentration remains higher on the day of writing this article than it was a year ago: 411.36 ppm on 5 September 2020 as opposed to 408.54 ppm on 5 September 2019.
2. Arrhenius calculations showing that doubling the atmospheric carbon dioxide content would mean a temperature rise of 5 degrees Celsius are outdated. (Even Milankovitch, cited both by Lóránt and Zlinszky, did not agree with Arrhenius.) Researchers close to the IPCC (Sherwood et al) have recently suggested a rise in temperature (climate sensitivity) in the range of 2.3 to 4.5 degrees Celsius as the response to doubling the atmospheric carbon dioxide content. In the light of the latest discoveries in cloud dynamics, aerosol and oceanic absorption, the IPCC will probably be forced to reduce both the lower and the upper values. The true carbon-climate sensitivity, as deduced by William Happer in a recent article in Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics, may be around 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
3. It is a completely natural thing in science to set up competing hypotheses to explain complex phenomena. The IPCC interprets all climate change-related phenomena as a series of positive feedback caused by the anthropogenic CO2 greenhouse effect. A theoretical problem, however, is that the IPCC does not want to take note of the scientific approaches that deviate from its own approach. Yet the periodic dynamic changes of the largely unknown (or fragmentarily known and difficult-to-grasp) natural forces surpassing both human imagination and human ability to influence nature by a vast order of magnitude have always toyed with Earth’s climate as a plaything. If we take the trouble, we find a whole spectrum of competing hypotheses in climate literature. One such ˗overly fatalistic ˗ view is that the Sun’s super-eruptions (micronovae) about every twelve thousand years overwrite everything.
The cosmic environment, the Sun, space weather, the Earth’s gravitational, magnetic and electric fields, as well as the interaction of several aforementioned and further factors, are the most frequent players in most moderate hypotheses.
For example, a surprising scientific result related to the Milankovitch theory, which describes climate change as the effect of variations in the Earth’s orbit, is that the mechanism suggested by Georg Bacsák (1870–1970) eighty years ago (the so-called latitudinal insolation gradient) has been found not only in the period range of tens of thousands of years, but also in changes of a few years and even within a year. This effect is real, although it is not the only one and not the most important among the forces of perpetual climate change. A decade ago, French geophysicists found that solar activity even affects the Earth’s rotation. Who would have thought that the Length of Day (LOD) anomaly could be a robust climate indicator?
An extreme weather event may cause damage, but this does not imply any relationship with anthropogenic carbon emissions. A series of “extreme” weather events which have been declared a consequence of “climate change” have turned out to have geophysical and/or solar origins. Many weather anomalies in the polar regions are caused by volcanic activity. In a few months’ time, the American Geophysical Association (AGU) will put solar activity as the possible origin of the hurricanes in September 2017 on the agenda.
It must be recognized that climate science cannot be limited to the current IPCC science. In science, there is no authority or consensus; only the right to seek the truth.
Discussion among researchers is a necessary corollary of research, and the use of precise and clear definitions is an essential precondition for this. Well, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992) distorted the concept of climate change in a way that is incompatible with science: natural causes were simply excluded from the concept of climate change. “Climate change means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” (Source: Article 1 of the UNFCCC; in Hungary, Act LXXXII of 1995 on promulgating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Since then (the period between 1992 and 1995), it has been ambiguous what is meant by climate change. The IPCC is also aware of the dual interpretation. Among researchers, the IPCC mostly uses the traditional definition, but in their official guideline drawn up in 1998 (“learning the scientific basis of the risks of man-made climate change”) they clearly follow the UNFCCC definition.
The artificial barrier to science can be overcome by considering the phenomena observed at the output of the complex climate system as the result of natural and anthropogenic effects. We cannot even estimate the extent of the anthropogenic impact until we know the various unique and repetitive changes in nature around us (the Earth in capital letters) in sufficient depth. Who are the Galileos today? Those who think the scientific background has been settled (as seen by Zlinszky) or those who think there is still a lot of research to do?
Finally, some thoughts on the non-scientific (personal, civil, spiritual, ecclesiastical) aspects mentioned by János Zlinszky. In addition to electromagnetic geophysics, I have been dealing with global environmental issues with varying intensity for two decades. I observed an unfounded overemphasis on the CO2 hypothesis right at the outset. Presenting Al Gore’s and the IPCC’s 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a scientific prize to the world opened the eyes of many. My view on the interrelationship of basic global environmental issues, i.e. that climate is only one of the environmental problems and not even the most important, was formed 10 to 12 years ago. Later, it was a bitter discovery to realize that the whole of environmental science (the selection of the environmental elements and climate science most certainly, but I suspect ecology as well) had been governed by the same globalist circle for decades. Their spiritual leader was the Canadian Maurice Strong (1929–2015), the first executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He built the global network of green organizations. It is natural that they tried to influence the churches as well. “Ecological conversion” is the brand product of this endeavour. A simple conversion without an adjective would be more appropriate. We must not strive for a new world order, but find our way back to common sense, created nature and each other.
The good news is that some former media and climate gurus have already converted in an ecological sense: Michael Moore (the producer of the movie Fahrenheit 9/11) has released his documentary on biomass and solar energy fraudsters (Planet of Humans); Time magazine’s former “Environmental Hero” (Michael Schnellenberger), on the occasion of the premiere of his book (Apocalypse Never), publicly repented the sins of environmentalism. Finally, in Alberta, Canada, the documentary “Global Warning” providing a startling account of a place (Calgary) where an energy policy totally subordinate to climate policy has already won, has been nominated for an award.
(The author is a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)