Of pseudoscience, fake news and moral panic

In 2017 Professor Lindzen sent a petition to President Trump, asking the President to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. The petition contained the names of “around 300 eminent scientists and other qualified individuals”, and called on the United States and other nations to “change course on an outdated international agreement that targets minor greenhouse gases,” starting with carbon dioxide.

At this point you will probably want to know: if these people claim that man isn’t responsible for such global warming as has undoubtedly occurred in the past 30 years, then who or what is? The brief answer is: the Sun. Durkin, in the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, gives most airtime to the theory recently advanced by Doctors Friis-Christensen and Svensmark of the Danish Meteorological Institute. It goes like this: CO2 is a very small element among greenhouse gases; far and away the most significant element is water vapour – which forms clouds. When the sun is very active it emits more intense bursts of cosmic rays which, inter alia, have the effect of dissipating clouds on Earth, and therefore increasing temperatures.

On its own, this is just a theory – and not an entirely new one, but Friis-Christensen and Svensmark have accompanied it with a very detailed multi-era superimposition of global temperatures against solar activity (measured by sunspots). The correlation turns out to be striking, to put it mildly. As I said, the idea itself is not breathtakingly new: a long-dead British astronomer, E W Maunder, noted that the coldest part of the “Little Ice Age” (1645 to 1715) coincided with a period of very few detectable solar eruptions – now gratifyingly referred to in the textbooks as “the Maunder Minimum”.

Even if you don’t buy that, you should definitely watch the programme, if only to see the head of the International Arctic Research Centre, Syun-Ichi Akasofu, describe how “the Arctic has always been expanding and contracting … the press come here all the time and ask us: will you say something about the Greenhouse disaster? And I say: there is none.”

Then Dr Akasofu emits a tiny laugh – the laugh of a true scientist at the idiocy and hysteria of the world’s media and politicians.

Dominic Lawson

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