Montréal, 14 octobre 2000  /  No 69
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David MacRae is a software consultant who works out of his home in St. Laurent, Quebec.
by David MacRae
          When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, one of the highlights of my TV-viewing week was David Suzuki's excellent The Nature of Things. Each week I looked forward to yet another lucid insight into the workings of technology and the natural world. As a consequence of that long-running series, Suzuki is by far the best-known scientist in Canada. In fact, he has a considerable reputation worldwide. 
Half-truths man 
          It's sad to see how a man I once admired has recently stooped to obfuscation, half-truths and outright lies in support of the Luddite cause of stopping technological progress. He imagines that we should return to some mythical past in which Mankind lived in harmony with nature. 
          Of course, Man has never lived in harmony with nature. Instead he has fought it from the beginning, and rightly so. Until the capitalist revolution of the last 250 years gave us some control over Nature's depredations, the vast majority of people lived lives that were brutish, backbreaking and short. The « rich » were those who had a full belly with an occasional helping of meat. 
          In their mad dash back to this imaginary garden, Suzuki and the other eco-nuts have always set their sights first and foremost on the energy industry. This is because energy is the foundation of a modern of economy. Destroy that and mankind will truly return to the past. In their lemming rush, they ignore one small detail: if they ever achieved their goals, billions of people would die. In their death throes, they would unleash an ecological catastrophe that would dwarf the extinction of the dinosaurs.           
          Twenty-five years ago, the eco-nuts were fussing about how another ice age was coming. Remember that? Today it's the opposite problem; the ice caps are about to melt and we're all going to be drowned. Conveniently, the cause of this coming disaster is the energy industry. To support this idea Suzuki and the rest of the eco-nut fringe present us with the following « reasoning »: 
1) The earth is warming up; 
2) Man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are the cause;           
3) This global warming will have a disastrous effect on the future of Mankind and the planet on the whole; 
4) The Kyoto Protocol, forcing developed nations to cut back on carbon emissions, will save us from this disaster.
All four of these claims are false. Let's take them in turn: 
  • Claim: The earth is warming.
  • Fact: The global temperature reached its modern peak about 1940 and declined somewhat in the following decade. It has not changed significantly in the last fifty years although there has been considerable variation from year to year, largely due to the El Niño phenomenon.

  • Claim: The cause of warming is man-made increases in atmospheric CO2.
  • Fact: The cause of global temperature change is – wait for this – changes in the amount of radiation emitted by the sun. Should this surprise anyone? It is intuitively obvious and was first verified scientifically more than a hundred years ago.

  • Claim: This warming will cause global disaster.
  • Fact: A somewhat higher global temperature would be beneficial. Since the end of the last Ice Age, the global temperature has usually been higher than it is today. A long high plateau occurred between 8000 BC and 4000 BC. This period is called the Neolithic Climatic Optimum, not the Neolithic Climatic Disaster. Another shorter rise around 1000 AD has a similar name: the Medieval Climatic Optimum. Global temperatures were at a minimum between 1300 AD and 1650 AD. This period is called the Little Ice Age. To put it simply: Heat good. Cold bad. Can any Canadian really doubt this?

  • Claim: Kyoto will save us all.
  • Fact: Even if fully implemented, Kyoto will have a minimal effect on atmospheric accumulations of carbon dioxide. According to the exact same climate models which supposedly prove that the earth is heating up due to CO2 emissions are the cause, Kyoto would not change things by more than 0.1ºC over the next century, an insignificant amount.
          I am not going to justify these statements. If you want to look further into it, has some good links. I especially recommend John Daly's Still Waiting for the Greenhouse and Arthur B. Robinson's Oregon Petition Project. Instead I want to concentrate on Suzuki part in this scam. 
          Since his thesis contradicts known facts in every way, he necessarily resorts to lies, blustering and misdirection in order to support his position. This is typical of any fanatic. 
The Canoe Session 
          Let's watch his mendacity and obfuscation in action. On September 21st, sponsored him in an Internet Chat Session on this subject. From the transcript, I've extracted all the exchanges he made with his debunkers, people who disagree with his precepts. The rest were supporters or people who were simply looking for information. 
          We'll start with a simple request for information before we go on to people who actually confront his lies. 
Richard Weatherill: Is it fairly conclusive that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, or can it be attributed equally as well to some cyclic phenomena, of which we are only dimly aware, if at all? Thank you. 

David Suzuki: It's possible of course that there are things we don't even know about but the overwhelming consensus of climatologists is that we are a major cause of a warming that is not a natural cycle.

          This claim is simply a lie. The overwhelming consensus of climatologists is that, if warming exists at all, its causes are natural. In all polls of climatologists conducted so far, those who expressed an opinion were far more likely to disagree with the Greenhouse theory than to accept it. For example, a 1997 Gallup poll indicated that 83 per cent of North American climatologists disagree with it. 
Alan Caruba: Is it not true that the earth's overall temperature has not increased in at least the past fifty years? That no satellite or radiosonde balloon data has found a rise in temperature since around 1950 or so? 

David Suzuki: The data that have been gathered, including recalibrated satellite info, support a 1º rise in the last century.

          Notice that he did not answer the question. Everyone agrees that temperatures have risen over the last century. In fact, they have risen steadily over a three hundred year period starting about 1650. As I noted, the modern peak in 1940 and temperatures have been stable since 1950. Yes, temperatures rose in the first half of the twentieth century. The question was about the second half. 
     « As the years go by, there is a stronger and stronger consensus among climatologists that global warming does not exist. There is virtual unanimity that if warming is taking place, the causes are natural. » 
          Three completely different temperature measurement techniques, two in balloons and one in satellites, have shown essentially no change in global temperature since balloons were first used in 1958 and satellites in 1979. Instead they show a random walk (influenced by El Niño) and they agree with each other on where the walk took us. They also agree locally with surface measurements made in the stations with the best records (North America, for example). Other surface measurements, notably in Siberia, indicate a rise in temperature over this period. Four reliable sources, which agree with each other, must surely trump an unreliable source out in left field. 
          Besides, how could satellite measurements detect any change previous to 1979? Does Suzuki have some data from UFOs that he is hiding from the rest of us? 
          This recalibrated satellite data that Suzuki refers to delights the eco-nuts to no end. Because of the recalibration (made to account for the fact that a satellite's orbit deteriorates over time), the data now show that global warming has occurred, unlike the original data which embarrassingly showed a cooling effect. But in fact, all that has really changed is the sign of the tiny fractional change since 1979. The data now show a change of +0.04º per decade instead of -0.04º. There have been some further re-recalibrations which may yet flip the sign again, but the bottom line is that zero is zero is zero. 
Warren: How do you respond to arguments that the general circulation models used to predict how increases in greenhouse gases will affect climate are so unreliable that we ought not to use them as a basis for large changes in our way of life?
          This question was asked three times and Suzuki never offered any response. He couldn't even find a way to lie about it. Admittedly, his task is difficult. The models all say that temperatures in the lower troposphere should increase faster than ground readings, but the opposite is true. They completely disagree with each other on what the future will hold, not to mention that they can't « retrodict » the past either. They all show bizarre effects from future warming such as closely juxtaposed hot and cold regions. This is not really surprising because they are full of fudge factors, some of which have a bigger effect than the actual data. This is junk science at its worst. 
Alan Caruba: You say that climatologists agree that human activity is responsible for the earth heating up, but 18,000 have signed a statement disputing this. There have been other proclamations disputing global warming. There is no consensus. Do you disagree with this? 
David Suzuki: The poll/petition you are referring to was a semi-fictional effort by some sceptics in which they misrepresented themselves as the National Academy of sciences. In fact the national academy took the unprecedented step of issuing a press release condemning the tactic. Some of the signatories to the poll included fictitious characters.
          The petitioners have never represented themselves as the National Academy of Sciences. Furthermore, the NAS press release in question did not accuse them of doing so. As Frederick Seitz, one of the people behind the petition was a former Academy president, the press release simply stated that « The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences » and that they did not agree with its position. Caruba was right. There is no consensus.  
          Actually Caruba is not quite right either. As the years go by, there is a stronger and stronger consensus among climatologists that global warming does not exist. There is virtual unanimity that if warming is taking place, the causes are natural. 
          For example, Seitz himself signed the IPCC protocol of 1995, which the eco-nuts use to prove their case. He has since changed his mind. Or maybe he didn't. The protocol was fraudulently altered after he signed it. Among other things, the following two paragraphs were removed: 
1) « none of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases. »  
2) « no study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to ... man-made causes. »
We next find out that the « fictional character » accusation is a lie too. 
Bob Ferguson: Your response to Mr. Caruba is inaccurate. That is a false claim circulated by Ozone Action, a radical environmental group. Which signers were fictional?  

David Suzuki: For more information on the poll you should check out the National Academies of Science web site. I believe you can find a definite statement on the poll in the archives of their press releases.

          Once again, Suzuki did not answer the point – that he was repeating the lies of a radical environmentalist group. Instead he repeated his references to a NAS press release which did not say what he claimed it said. Suzuki must have known the contents of the press release when he propagated his lie. He also appears to know that Ozone Action fabricated the accusation that there were fictional signers. Certainly he did not refute the questioner. Yet he repeated Ozone Action's libel anyway. As for why he insists on misrepresenting a petition as a poll, this is simply bizarre. 
Dick Kahle: Half of the warming of this century, about 0.4 C, occurred prior to 1940 before most of the big increase in CO2. The 0.4 C warming left, which might be caused partially by man, is much less than the 0.8 C that the latest models predict, which include aerosols. Why the difference?  

David Suzuki: Historically greenhouse gas emissions have been on the increase since the Industrial Revolution. I believe that the 0.8 includes the earlier 0.4. More importantly future warming is likely to be based on the emissions which are taking place now and those from the past two decades, when emissions soared.

          The eco-nuts do, in fact, claim a warming of 0.8º C over the last century (notice that Suzuki earlier rounded it up conveniently to 1ºC). But he ignores the writer's point – that half of this claimed warming took place in the first half of the century when CO2 emissions were a fraction of what they are today. In fact, Man has been adding to CO2 levels in the air since the invention of fire. Almost all of this increase has taken place in the last fifty years, yet the global temperature today is somewhat below the average of the last 10,000 years. 
          Aside from this, where exactly does he get his idea that « future warming is likely to be based on the emissions which are taking place now »? Nobody has ever made such a claim, including the junk scientists themselves. Their models all assume that current warming is caused by current emissions. 

          There's a good reason for this. If I build a greenhouse today, the area underneath its roof won't experience a temperature rise 50 years from now. It happens when I construct the roof. His explanation here doesn't even qualify as junk science. It's ad-hoc argumentation pure and simple. It's designed to shut up his opponent, not advance science or the human condition. It's shameful. 
          After this exchange, the transcript ends but Suzuki's hypocrisy on this issue certainly doesn't. 
Of farts and belches 
          James Hansen was one of the original alarmists who brought forth this notion of global warming in 1988. He was the principal instigator behind the original IPCC protocol in 1992, which claimed that global warming was a serious problem and that carbon dioxide emissions are the cause. 
          Mr. Hansen now believes that he was wrong, that global warming is, at fact, caused by emissions of other gases. His reasoning is that when fossils fuels are burned, soot and other impurities are also thrown into the air, which prevent solar energy from reaching the earth. The consequence is that the net contribution of fossil fuels to the greenhouse effect is roughly zero. 
          Hansen now believes that the main culprit causing global warming is methane emissions, primarily generated by cow farts and rice paddy belches. So the solution is thus to reduce methane emissions. By attaching a hose to the aft side of cattle, perhaps? Maybe the answer is to return to using dirty gasoline and inefficient engines in order to throw more pollution up into the atmosphere. 
          Bah. Maybe the answer is that Hansen didn't know what the hell he was talking about back in 1988 – and still doesn't. 
          As for Suzuki, when Hansen made his new ideas public, the Great Canadian Environmental Guru responded by saying simply that he hadn't read the report but doesn't believe that it would have anything useful to contribute to the debate. 
          The fact of the matter is that Suzuki has nothing useful to contribute to the debate either. 
          As to why he lies in public, the answer can only be either that he and his causes benefit hugely from the publicity and the money it generates or simply that he is a fanatic. I make no claim to know which is the truth. Perhaps both. One thing is clear. He is no scientist. 
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