Another Domino Falls: UK’s Leading Scientific Body Retreats on Climate Change

By Patrick Henningsen 21st Century Wire Sept 30, 2010 It’s the latest in a series of high-profile set-backs suffered by global warming theorists- the UK’s leading scientific body has decided to rewrite its own definitive guide on climate change, now admitting that it is “not known” how much warmer the planet will become. The Royal Society has released a new guide which outlines a retreat from its former vanguard stance on the threat of climate change and man-made global warming. The decision to update their scientific guide came after 43 of its members complained that the previous versions failed to take into account the opinion of climate change sceptics. The new guide, entitled ‘Climate change: a summary of the science’, concedes that there are now major ‘uncertainties’ regarding the once sacred ‘scientific consensus’ behind man-made global warming theory, admitting that not only is it impossible to know for sure how the Earth’s climate will change in the future but it cannot possibly know what the effects may be. The 19-page guide states clearly, ’It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made”. The guide continues stating, “There is currently insufficient understanding of the enhanced melting and retreat of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica to predict exactly how much the rate of sea level rise will increase above that observed in the past century for a given temperature increase”. In a Sept 20, 2010 article published on the UK Daily Mail, Professor Anthony Kelly, academic advisor to  Britain’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) explains, ”The previous guidance was discouraging debate rather than encouraging it among knowledgeable people. The new guidance is clearer and a very much better document”. The decision to revise and tone down its alarmist position on climate change demonstrates a clear u-turn on its previous 2007 climate pamphlet, one which is said to have caused an internal rebellion by the 43 fellows of the Society, triggering a review and subsequent revision. The 2007 publication, which parroted the IPCC’s popular, but misleading impression that the ‘science is settled’ – made way for the new guide which accepts that important questions remain open and uncertainties unresolved. “The Royal Society now also agrees(with us) that the warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years,” said Dr Benny Peiser, the Director of GWPF. Economic realities and a marked shift in public opinion since last year’s Climategate scandal and failure of the much-hyped UN Copenhagen Summit have triggered a series of falling dominos within the climate change and anthropogenic global warming (AGW) orthodoxy. The Royal Society’s shift also follows last week’s blow to the radical climatist agenda within Britain, where the new Coalition Government announced it will be slashing its Climate Change Department’s budget and folding the former free-standing bureaucracy into the Treasury department.  

The UN's "Hopenhagen" Summit ended in failure as no real binding agreement could be reached (PHOTO: Patrick Henningsen)

  Some analysts also believe that the Society’s new guide does not go far enough. Dr David Whitehouse, the science editor of the GWPF said: “The biggest failing of the new guide is that it dismisses temperature data prior to 1850 as limited and leaves it at that. It would cast a whole new light on today’s warming if the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Bronze Age Warm Period were as warm as today, possibility even warmer than today. A thorough discussion of the growing empirical evidence for the global existence of the Medieval Warm Period and its implications would have been a valuable addition to the new report.” In addition, this retreat by the Royal Society signals a very real trend in climate science circles where political activism is slowly being replaced by a more sober assessment of the scientific evidence and ongoing climate debates. The Political Fallout To date, the political activist engine powering climate change has been anchored by an elite circle of scientists, foundations, green journalists, carbon financiers- and politicians looking for a good cause. The fuel for this engine has been supplied by short-term economic opportunities, most of which has been in the form of massive research grants, subsidies and feed-in tariffs(triggering a rise in energy costs to the consumer) by the State and confederate bodies like the UN and the European Union. In the US, problems with climate change inspired instruments like Cap and Trade are more chronic, where North America’s sole carbon trading market, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), has recently been scaled down following a decline in investment and the near complete collapse in carbon emission prices. As formerly obedient IPCC scientists and insiders gradually break ranks and defect over to the common sense camp, and foundations like the Royal Society reverse their policies on the nature of the climate threat, politicians may lose the once reliable traction they enjoyed when promoting their various green agendas. This is followed, of course, by the economic reality of any democracy whereby taxpayers cannot really back departments, much less policies, that do not deliver a measured benefit to the public welfare. If the IPCC’s elite chamber of scientists cannot be trusted to objectively measure past global temperatures (actual UN data sets show that there has been no temperature increase since circa 1998), then it goes without saying that politicians cannot build real-world policy catering for a crisis that is not actually happening. The rising tide of scepticism and the reemergence of real scientific analysis will surely spell an end to the innumerable faith-based policies and guesswork forecasting that has plagued the climate change movement to date. As science gradually makes its way back into line with reality and real world observation, it follows that many of the climate bureaucracies erected since 2000 will stumble as a result. The reason for this phenomenon is spelled out in the basic laws of ‘political physics’; a collapse of the so-called “scientific consensus” comes into direct conflict with one of the main tenets of politics- plausible deniability. When politicians can no longer use scientists as scapegoats, as in “it’s not our fault, they told us CO2 was heating up the planet…”, then the political agenda is all but dead. The reality curve is certainly catching up to climate change now.

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About the author: Patrick Henningsen is an independent writer, filmmaker, communications consultant and managing editor of 21st Century Wire. Contact: pj.henningsen@gmail.com

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