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Should We Believe the Latest UN Climate Report?



By Dennis T. Avery

Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues



February 07, 2007


The UN Climate Change panel is asserting--again--that humans are overheating the planet. Again, they have no evidence to support their claim--but they want the U.S. to cut its energy use by perhaps 80 percent just in case. Stabilizing greenhouse gases means no personal cars, no air-conditioning, no vacation travel. Nancy Pelosi says one-third of the Senate want this too.


It's a remarkably sweeping demand, given that the earth has warmed less than 1 degree C, over 150 years. This on a planet where the ice cores and seabed sediments tell us the climate has been either warming abruptly or cooling suddenly for the past million years.


The first long ice cores from Greenland and Antarctic were brought up in the 1980s. The ice layers showed the earth warming 1-2 degrees roughly every 1,500 years--usually suddenly. The natural warmings often gained half their total strength in a few decades, then waffled erratically for centuries--rather like our planet's temperature pattern since 1850.


History tells us the coolings, not the warmings, have been the bad part. After the Medieval Warming ended about 1300, Europe was hit by huge storms, gigantic sea floods, crop failures, and plagues of disease.


My big gripe with the IPCC is that they're still keeping this climate cycle a virtual secret from the public.


What does the IPCC say about hundreds of long-dead trees on California's Whitewing Mountain that tell us the earth was 3.2 degrees C warmer in the year 1350 than today? In that year, seven different tree species were killed--while growing above today's tree line--by a volcanic explosion. The trees' growth rings, species and location confirm that the climate was much warmer that of today, says C. I. Millar of the U.S. Forest Service, reporting in Quaternary Research, Nov. 27, 2006.


The new IPCC report warns us it can't explain the recent surge of warming from 1976-1998. Therefore, it claims the surge must have been caused by human-emitted CO2. But the IPCC also can't explain why more than half of the current warming occurred before 1940, before the Industrial Revolution improved global living standards and increased CO2 emissions.


Look at this interesting coincidence: The "inexplicable" l976-1998 surge in global temperature looks very much like the warming surge from 1916-1940. After 1940, we had a 35-year cooling--which the IPCC also can't explain. But in 1996, researchers discovered a 50-60 year Pacific-wide climate cycle they call the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. This cycle caused the salmon decline in the Columbia River after 1977. It also causes shifts in sardine and anchovy catches all around the Pacific.


The PDO shifted into a cool phase in 1940, with lots of salmon in the Columbia, until 1977. That's almost exactly the period of the 1940-76 global cooling. Then the PDO turned warmer and the Columbia salmon declined--until about 1999. That closely matches the 1976-98 surge in global temperatures.


Does the Pacific climate cycle explain the last two short-term blips on the world's temperature chart better than humanity's small contribution to the CO2 that makes up only 0.03 percent of the atmosphere? It is certainly worth exploring more carefully before we make huge changes in our standards of living world-wide.


Past climate warmings haven't correlated with CO2 changes. The Antarctic ice cores show that after the last four Ice Ages, the temperatures warmed 800 years before the CO2 levels increased in the atmosphere. The Warming produced more CO2 in the atmosphere, not the other way around.


It's worth noting that the environmental movement and the politicians also blamed human activity for the salmon decline. Farming, fishing, and logging were reined in, sending the Pacific Northwest's rural economies into despair. Now we've found the PDO. Is a natural cycle also the answer for the UN climate change panel?

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