|Global Warming||John Tyndall questions the impact of man-made pollution on climate|
p>The world of science is by no means unanimous about the theory that man-made industrial effusions are affecting the climate. Is this theory being exploited for political purposes?
I have always been instinctively suspicious of the theory of "global warming". However, not being a scientist, I have felt inhibited from getting into a debate on the subject at least until now. The reasons for my suspicions have been twofold:-
In the first place, it has never made sense to me that the world's climates could be affected fundamentally by human actions. Certainly, the actions of man (and here we are in fact speaking only of a very small section of mankind as a whole, distinguished by high intelligence and imagination) can harness the power of nature for human purposes. Dry areas can be irrigated by the redirection of rivers, energy an be generated by the impact of water on man constructed dams. Then there are solar energy and the energy of wind power applications, albeit so far limited in their scope, of the same principles: man-made constructs to use the forces of nature as a human resource. People more expert than I could no doubt provided many more example of the same rule.
But these amount only to an exploitation of the powers of nature and on a peripheral scale, they do not constitute man's control of nature in the sense of preventing natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes, avalanches, volcanic eruptions or floods, or indeed of being able to regulate the world's weather.
Most certainly, fundamental climatic changes have occurred - as will he examined later in this article, but they have done so over far greater spans of time than has ever been acknowledged by the "global warming" lobby. Also, beyond any doubt, it is nature itself alone that has effected these changes, never human contrivance of any kind.
PC article of faith
The second factor making for strong scepticism on my part as to "global warming" is the identity of its most enthusiastic believers. Largely, though by no means exclusively, they are to he found in the ranks of the politically correct. Largely though not exclusively, they are the same people who are to be found singing the virtues of internationalism, multi-racialism and liberalism. One can almost see the glow that comes into their cheeks as they speak of "global warming", not just as a theory of climatic change which has its advocates just as it has its opponents, but as a fact of life in the modern world that is beyond dispute except by cranks, reactionaries, non-thinkers and folk in general who show insufficient a sense of "global responsibility". The obsession with the latter concept leads to a heartfelt welcoming of the global-warming idea: here is just another imperative, one an almost hear them saying, for us all to think of ourselves as world-citizen with a common interest in dealing with a common problem, and thus a duty to act in the interests of our planet rather than out of narrow personal, commercial or even national considerations! It does not seem an accident that the quot;Green-peace" crowd have swallowed the "global warming" idea hook, line and sinker, while Prince Charles, ever on the lookout for trendy and "progressive" causes with which to align himself, has done likewise.
But a backlash is now growing - and not a moment too soon. Two recent articles have shed much welcome light on the matter, coming as they do from writers with some acquaintance with science - not thought to be a necessary qualification by so many of those who pontificate on the subject.
"A great story"
Michael Hanlon, science editor of the Daily Express, made his contribution in the midst of the November flood season when writing in The Spectator on the 11th of that month, saying:-
But is it? Hanlon continued:-
Hanlon went on to list a few examples of freak weather at time far removed from the year 2000: 4.7 inches of rain in Louth, Lincolnshire, on the 29th May 1920, causing 22 people to drown; worse still, a storm in East Anglia on the night of 25-26 August 1912 bringing 8.1 inches of rain - with large parts of Norfolk remaining under water for eight months in the following winter. Then even worse than that 7.9 inches of rain in five hours in Cannington in Somerset on the 18th August I924. All far more severe than anything last November!
The Little Ice Age
But this was only yesterday in real historical terms. Quoting from The Weather of Britain by the late Robin Stirling Hanlon continued:-
The global-warming theory, said Hanlon, is a relatively recent one - which prompts the suspicion that its origins are not scientific but that it has simply occurred to certain people to use it as a political weapon, along with others involved in the creation of "global problems", requiring (of course!) "global solutions". According to Hanlon:-
Mention of Nigel Calder was apposite, for only two days later that writer had his own piece in the Daily Mail. Calder, another science writer, was also contemptuous of the global-warmers, referring to them as "green-house scientists" and "gloating environmentalists." Scientists on the whole, he said, were deeply divided on the matter of climatic changes and their cause, and some tended to speak irresponsibly. Of these, he said:-
But he, Calder, disagreed. What we really face, he said, is the risk of global cooling, not warming. Calder also reminds us of the distant and not-so-distant past:-
Coming closer to our own times, Calder reminded us:-
And that brings me to my own experience, as a very non-scientific person applying a little memory and common sense to the question, I shall not forget the winter of 1962-63, being then in a situation in which the usual home comforts as a refuge from inclement weather were not available. That time was a real freeze-up, and I have always felt that the two-decade gap between then and the experience of "global-warming" doctrines in the I980s was much too short to give the latter any validity.
Influence of the sun
Calder's theory is that climatic changes are much more likely due to changes in the sun, quoting the astronomer William Herschel in finding "that the price of wheat was higher when there was a scarcity of dark sunspots blemishing the sun's bright face." The sun-spots, Calder claims, herald warmer weather. I, myself, am in no position to comment on this theory, but at least it acknowledges that alterations in the climate are, as I have always suspected, due to natural causes far beyond human control - unless of course there are some zealots who would aver that these sunspots are themselves created by industrial emissions!
But the trouble with that theory is that the sunspots, according to Calder, are presently in recession suggesting that global cooling is on the way.
As I said earlier on in this article, l am not a scientist. From this it would follow that I have no dogmatic opinions on whether Messrs Hanlon and Calder are right or the "global-warming" brigade is right. I presume the idea of these two writers simply, as some would say "as contribution to debate."
But the feeling persists that what Hanlon and Calder have said - backed up as this is by many others in the scientific world - makes much more sense as an explanation of our weather than does "global warming".
And the feeling likewise persists that there are powerful lobbies in the world of politics, who have their own reasons for wanting us to believe differently.