by Vijay Jayaraj
In 2008, I was in my early 20s and about to complete my undergraduate degree in engineering. Despite being in a remote part of Asia with no Internet facility—except for the Internet cafes—the news surrounding global warming still managed to reach most of us.
Being an ardent lover of the environment and passionate about conservation, I decided to pursue a career in environmental sciences, especially given the “rising problem” of global warming.
Al Gore’s 2006 climate documentary An Inconvenient Truth made global warming an extremely popular topic in those years all over the world.
Like millions of others, I trusted Gore’s predictions. I had no reason to doubt them. The thought of global climate doomsday and the call to avert it struck a chord with my passion for nature and conservation.
Hence, I pursued my graduate studies at one of the world’s leading universities for climate studies, the University of East Anglia in the UK. The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) there is responsible—along with the Hadley Centre—for developing global temperature datasets, known as HadCRUT datasets.
But my perceptions about global warming and the science surrounding it were about to be shaken. As I was attending one of my lectures, we received an email from the University asking us to change our email passwords immediately.
A week later that I understood that the University’s email system had been breached, and email content scientists from the CRU leaked to the public. The event is infamously known as “Climategate.”
It took me a few more years before I completely understood the implications of that email leak. Email exchanges between scientists from the CRU and other universities revealed a deliberate attempt to exaggerate the present warming and make it appear unprecedented.
Ross McKitrick in “Understanding the Climategate Inquiries” showed how the evidence proves that “The scientists involved in the email exchanges manipulated evidence in IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and WMO [World Meteorological Organization] reports with the effect of misleading readers, including policymakers.”
Besides, upon foreseeing inquiries coming their way, “The scientists took steps individually or in collusion to block access to data or methodologies in order to prevent external examination of their work.”
McKitrick noted that Phil Jones—one of the scientists from CRU—admitted to deleting emails, in a likely attempt to prevent disclosure of information subject to freedom of information laws, and had asked his colleagues to do the same.
Numerous enquiries and boards investigated the leak and declared the scientists not guilty. In two detailed, assiduously documented book-length analyses, Andrew Montford, author of the climate books Hiding the Decline and The Hockey Stick Illusion, summarized his findings in a shorter paper: “the inquiries into the conduct and integrity of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit were rushed, cursory and largely unpersuasive.”
Commenting on Climategate, Andrew Turnbull, who served as the Permanent Secretary of Environment Department (1994–1998) and Permanent Secretary to the Treasury (1998–2002) in the United Kingdom, said, “Only if the integrity of the science is reestablished and the strengths and weaknesses of the main propositions are acknowledged will there be the basis of trust with the public that policymakers need.”
But that integrity was never reestablished.
For example, the work of the very same scientists involved in climategate is treated as the ultimate standard of climate science. Some of them, like Michael Mann, are among the most influential people in the IPCC and chart the climate blueprint for policymakers, whose policies then are implemented in many nations.
The Climategate episode certainly made me question whether the global warming was as dangerous as it is made up to be.
The answer to my question trickled in slowly over a number of years. Evidence began to emerge that scientists acknowledged a large gap between the actual observed real-world temperature datasets (from satellites) and those temperature predictions from computer climate models.
While these differences may not prove the allegations against the Climategate scientists, they do confirm us about one thing: the computer climate models exaggerate the future warming rate due to their high sensitivity to carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, the models continue to show an excessive and unreal warming rate for future decades.
Despite plenty of evidence, the IPCC continues to use these faulty model predictions to inform the public and policymakers about future changes in temperature.
A steady stream of scientific studies has documented the evidence for lack of dangerous warming—IPCC’s level of warming based on fifth- and sixth-generation (CMIP5 and CMIP6) models and the apparent absence of climate-induced ecological collapse.
In 2020 alone, over 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers took up a skeptical position on climate alarmism. These papers—and hundreds from previous years—address various issues related to climate change, including problems with climate change observation, climate reconstructions, lack of anthropogenic/CO2 signal in sea-level rise, natural mechanisms that drive climate change (solar influence on climate, ocean circulations, cloud climate influence, ice sheet melting in high geothermal heat flux areas), hydrological trends that do not follow modeled expectations, the fact that corals thrive in warm, high-CO2 environments, elevated CO2 and higher crop yields, no increasing trends in intense hurricanes and drought frequency, the myth of mass extinctions due to global cooling, etc.
Academia is filled with scientific literature that contradicts the position of those who believe climate change is unprecedented.
Also, during the course of the last decade, it became apparent that most of Al Gore’s claims in his 2006 documentary were false. Contrary to his claims, polar bear populations remained steady, the Arctic did not become ice free during the summer of 2014, and storms did not get stronger due to global warming.
In simple words, Gore misled the world and promoted falsehood as science, and he continues to do so while profiting from a renewable industry that is sold as the cure for global warming. Yet, he himself generates carbon dioxide emissions and many times higher than an average family’s.
So, not only are the predictions of models are wrong, but also the interpretations of climate data and the propaganda of a climate doomsday were also wrong.
Today, we know the modern warming rate is not unprecedented. Warming of such magnitude has happened twice within the past 2000 years. Further, ice at both poles is at historic highs, even compared with the Little Ice Age of the 17th century.
Besides, there has been no increase in extreme weather events due to climate change and the loss of lives due to environmental disasters has drastically reduced during the last 100 years.
So, I am a climate realist. I acknowledge that there has been a gradual increase in global average temperature since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. I acknowledge that climate change can happen in both ways—warming and cooling. I do understand that anthropogenic CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases could have positively contributed to the warming from mid-20th century onwards.
I also acknowledge that warming and the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide that has contributed to it have actually helped society. The current atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, nearly 50 percent higher than in the 17th century, and the warming—which has occurred chiefly in winter, in higher latitudes and altitudes, and at night, thus raising cold temperatures but with little effect on hot temperatures—have actually resulted in optimal conditions for global plant growth, thus aiding in the flourishing of the agricultural sector.
The Bengal tiger populations have bounced back, and polar bear populations are steady, thanks to conservation efforts. Forest area in Europe is increasing every year, and countries are planting tree saplings at a record rate. Life expectancy has reached all-time highs in many countries, and more people are constantly pulled out of extreme poverty every year (although business lockdowns to fight COVID-19 threaten to reverse that trend). Access to freshwater has improved and human productivity has increased drastically.
So, there is no actual climate emergency. Instead, what we have celebrities, activists, un-elected political bodies like the UN, and even some climate scientists religiously promoting a popular doomsday belief.
The models do not know the future, and neither do the Climategate scientists. But an exaggerated view of future warming provides the ideal background for anti-carbon-based fuels policies that will undermine the economic well-being of every society in the world. We must not allow that.
Be a climate realist.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and resides in New Delhi, India.