For the past few decades it was the talk of the town — the principal talk of every town around the globe.
Now there is hardly a peep about global warming. Could it be that we no longer regard it as an urgent threat that sometime later in this century or the next our planet will be a bit warmer?
In fact, that is all that has been left of the global warming emergency that the UN declared in its first report on the subject in 1990.
Global warming has been conveniently renamed “climate change”, after all, what’s in a name? They both mean the same thing, the increase in Earth’s surface temperature due to the use of greenhouse gases.
Not only does it sound better, more serious, more heavyweight, “climate change” is a long-term, future change in the climate, which includes global warming. It matters little, the result is the same.
Bad humans are ruining our dear planet and we have to stop it.
The fact is, nobody cares. After three years of Covid-19, followed by a severe economic crisis, a war between Russia and Ukraine, and a shortage of fuel for the upcoming cold winter, our plates are lavishly overloaded and global warming is a distant noise that is hard to hear.
Yet the US Congress is set on their “green deal”, a bold plan to eliminate carbon emissions. That is impossible. What is possible is that it can eliminate our present lifestyle. With food, fuel, and commodity prices going through the roof, it has already started.
The Keystone pipeline under construction was shut down as soon as Joe Biden took office. It was to transport fuel from Alberta, Canada, to the US. At present, the US as well as Europe have a shortage of fuel and the US president had to go and beg the presidents of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, despite unfriendly terms, to increase oil production.
Will that not affect global warming? Does it make any difference to Earth who or where oil is explored and extracted?
Ah, the pity of it. Millions of jobs lost, businesses folded, restaurants closed and a mammoth recession looming ahead.
Worse still are the billions of dollars spent daily by the US to defend Ukraine from the Russian invasion. Anyone ready to bet that Russia will lose this war?
War is the talk of the town.
Disregarding coronavirus, JLO and Ben Affleck, the funeral procession of the beloved queen Elisabeth II, the whining of Meghan Markle, and the future of the British Empire, war is always bad news.
So is the United Nations. It was the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) that loudly warned the world of the ominous global warming.
The temperature will rise from 0.1 to 0.5 degrees Celsius in 30 years. Woe is me.
Yet, without fanfare, it later downgraded it to 0.3 degrees Celsius, but the harm was done and the trust was gone.
Sceptics came out of the woodworks disclaiming the UNIPCC findings and the danger of fossil fuels. Following a long period of panic, cries were heard that there was no solid evidence of global warming, or climate change, if you like.
Judith Curry, head of the Climate Science Department at Georgia Institute of Technology, admits that “Climate Change is very, very complicated.” Burning fossil fuels are a minor factor compared to others, such as ocean temperatures, soot, clouds, and solar radiation. “I’m also sceptical about our ability to do something about it.”
A sorry history of bio-fuels, which was supposed to green up the earth by substituting for fossil fuels, caused deforestation.
Extravagant subsidies are being paid by consumers for uneconomic solar, wind, and even carrot power sources.
Enthusiasts say the risk is so great that we need to act now, because doing something is better than doing nothing. No, it is not.
Our primary source of energy is oil, gas, and coal. The world’s energy consumption is 84.3 per cent fossil fuels.
Serious scientists had serious questions. Even Kevin Trenberth, lead climatologist for IPCCC, expressed his concerns in his 2009 book Climategate. “The fact is we cannot account for the level of warming at the moment.” An admission from an honest scientist and they are becoming fewer by the second.
Scientists observe and report accurately; they pass no judgement — except for climatologists. The issue has become politicised and that is a dangerous threshold. Why should a political body like the IPCCC tell scientists what to do and when did scientists’ belief translate into proof?
It was one Albert Arnold Gore who rang a bell that was heard around the world. While a student at Harvard in 1970, he attended a lecture by an outstanding oceanographer, Roger Revelle in which he considered the possibility that human causes might effect climate change, but did not express any particular concern about possible negative impact of global warming.
Al Gore did.
He flew with the idea, enforced it globally as a senator and a vice president. Two decades later, in 1990, Robert Revelle presented a paper on ocean farming to lower CO2 from the atmosphere to the ocean.
Gore had become godlike. He went from $1.7 million as VP to $330 million as author, filmmaker, Nobel Laureate, divorcee, above all questioning his mentor’s mental capacity.
One fact all scientists acknowledge: now, not centuries from now, we cannot live without fossil fuels, confound global warming.
“Unfortunately, the global warming hysteria as I see it is driven by politics, not science.”
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020)
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.