Alan Kendall’s article, Climate Creed, effectively seeks reassurance and reasons why scepticism regarding climate change is appropriate and justified. It’s good to question what one thinks and why one thinks it, and his piece certainly set me thinking.

The first thought that occurred to me was that climate sceptics are not a monolithic group. Sceptics range from those who have serious doubts about all aspects of the science surrounding climate alarmism to those, like myself, who accept much, if not all, of the science, while remaining uneasy at the hysterical nature of many of the claims about, and the media coverage of, climate change. Scepticism regarding the science and the extent of the problems posed by climate change are in any event just part of the story. My own scepticism is hardened by anger at the damage caused to the environment by so-called environmentalists for whom climate change apparently trumps everything else, and deep frustration at the often damaging and expensive policies pursued in the misguided belief that they will “tackle” climate change.

To make sense of such a large subject, I think we need to look in turn at different areas connected to climate change and why in each case a sceptical view is justified. I suppose much that I’ve written here over the last 15 months or so covers a lot of what follows, so I apologise for referring to many of my previous articles which amplify points that can be made only briefly in this article. Indeed, the answer to Alan’s question could simply be “read the back catalogue at Cliscep” or read Jit’s book Denierland, or better still read both. Climate alarmism is “growing like Topsy” and reaching into ever more areas of our lives. Inevitably, an article such as this can do little more than scratch the surface of the subject.

Climate change itself

How rapidly is the climate changing? To what extent is it man-made? To what extent is humanity’s influence limited to greenhouse gas emissions, and to what extent do other factors come into play (e.g. urban heat islands, deforestation, etc.)? These all strike me as areas where the science isn’t settled, and where there is room for legitimate debate. Question any of it, however, and in all likelihood you will be labelled a denier (though quite what it is we are accused of denying is never really made clear – it’s enough simply to smear us with a discreditable label).

As I’m not a scientist, I don’t really challenge basic scientific assertions made by those better qualified and more knowledgeable than me, but I do question the extreme intepretations increasingly placed upon them. I notice that the IPCC put forward various Representative Concentration Pathways and yet RCP 8.5 is frequently used as the justification for routine alarmist statements. This despite the fact that it is an outlier and not a “business as usual” scenario. Even CarbonBrief tells us:

According to the researchers who developed it, RCP8.5 was intended to be a “very high baseline emission scenario” representing the 90th percentile of no-policy baseline scenarios available at the time.

The creators of RCP8.5 had not intended it to represent the most likely “business as usual” outcome, emphasising that “no likelihood or preference is attached” to any of the specific scenarios. Its subsequent use as such represents something of a breakdown in communication between energy systems modellers and the climate modelling community.

And yet a “sizeable portion of recent studies on future climate impacts have focused on a warming scenario called “RCP8.5”.”

I find myself wondering why – if the case for alarmism based on the more likely emissions scenarios is so strong – increasingly RCP8.5 is being pushed at us with a view to scaring us. It’s a bit like when the UK Government declared that Universities could charge fees up to a ceiling of £9,000 p.a., at which point the ceiling immediately became not only the ceiling but also the floor. RCP 8.5 represents an extreme and unlikely scenario, but more and more it’s the one chosen in studies and claims about a catastrophic future.

I accept that some media organisations are peopled by journalists who genuinely believe that we are facing a climate crisis, and therefore I am not surprised (though I am vaguely irritated) by the likes of the Guardian with its daily narrative of doom. However, the way in which pretty much the whole of the mainstream media push climate alarmism in a near-religious way can’t help make me but think that it’s a form of mass hysteria, where cool reason has gone out of the window. The shutting-down of debate strikes me as a sign of insecurity among the alarmed, rather than of confidence in the strength of their case. That alone is a reason to be sceptical.

A Changing World

By this I’m not referring to the changes which may or may not be caused by climate change. Instead, I’m referring to the fact that since 1900, the world’s human population has increased massively, from perhaps 1.65Bn, to not far short of 8Bn today.

It’s worth considering that the increased wealth we have now is a consequence of fossil fuel use. The (often comfortably-off middle class) activists demonise fossil fuels, but there is a good argument that their activism would not be possible without them because then they would instead be toiling long hours, not living a life that our ancestors would describe as one of luxury.

At the same time, technology has advanced at ever-faster rates, and today we live in a world where humans see every part of it, either by living or travelling there, or failing that, from satellites. Add to that fact the existence of the internet, smartphones and 24/7 news channels worldwide, and it isn’t surprising that every weather-related event is instantly reported and discussed. In the past, we might simply not have known about them.

Similarly, detailed and reliable weather stations are very much a function of the modern age. Many countries had no reliable stations either at all, or in more than one or two locations, until the 20th century. Today, although there are still swathes of the planet for which we have no data, nevertheless we have never previously had so much information. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that new records are still set almost daily, not least given the nonsense of some of the records, such as the recent hottest New Year’s Eve/Day story in the UK. Neither day remotely represented a December or January UK temperature record, but by narrowing the criterion to the temperature for single days, records were magically created. None of this would be taken seriously by proper climate scientists, but the mainstream media and the climate alarmists love it.

Despite all this, climate/weather-related deaths are around 1% of their levels 100 or so years ago.

No doubt this is what leads to:

Creative accounting

Instead of focussing on the good news of climate-related deaths declining by 99% (or, I suppose we could say, in per capita terms, by 99.8%), the alarmists focus instead on the monetary value of damage, thereby ignoring the increasing wealth of the world, and the sad inevitability that as the population increases inexorably, it spreads into less safe areas where floods etc. are more likely to be encountered.

A few years ago, I watched on TV some footage of the flooded Severn Valley taken from a helicopter or drone, and I noticed that although the modern town of Tewkesbury was flooded, the medieval town was high and dry. In the past, people knew the valley flooded, which is why they built up the hill. They weren’t under the pressure of high populations that we suffer from today, and therefore they didn’t build in inappropriate locations.

Such places have always flooded – it’s nothing new. Yet there is a concerted attempt to persuade us that it is something new. I wrote A Flood Of Disinformation to highlight the fact that the mainstream media (especially the BBC) are pushing a narrative that “flooding is ‘the new reality’ in Wales”, yet an analysis of the available rainfall data shows that such claims are not remotely justified.

Ignoring or downplaying the urban heat island (UHI) effect is common practice. As I hope I demonstrated in Hot in the City there is reason to be sceptical regarding adjustments made to temperature data from large (and even small) cities, and to question whether those adjustments are adequate to reflect the effect of UHI, or whether claimed average world temperatures are being distorted by the effect of the UHI.

Data adjustments for UHI might or might not be adequate. However, worldwide temperature data are revised regularly and sceptics cry foul. Whether or not the adjustments are downplaying temperatures in the past and effectively increasing those of more recent times is a discussion that should not be closed down. There is room for scepticism here. If the datasets are subject to constant adjustments, then we are entitled to question the accuracy and reliability of the datasets. Another trend is the way in which climate alarmists, in their determination to announce more and more “hottest ever” days, are seeking to discredit records from the past, while accepting modern records set in airports.

Another area where creative accounting is on display is with regard to claims that we in the UK are reducing emissions, when in reality we are exporting them. I looked at this in some detail in How Do You Measure Hot Air?. It’s worse than simply using creative accounting to pretend that something is other than it is. Along the way we are destroying the UK’s manufacturing economy and self-reliance, exporting jobs and wealth, and sending them all to nations (most obviously China) with lower environmental and human rights standards than we enjoy. It’s positively stupid. And thus it offers good grounds for scepticism.

Ignoring satellite data is another area where sceptics might wonder what is going on and why. Roy Spencer’s website is worth a look. Despite the fact that satellites can apparently be safely ignored when they provide the wrong answers, they can apparently be great for the alarmist agenda. For instance this article in the Guardian tells us:

The impact of global heating on the Alps is visible from space, with the snow-white mountains increasingly colonised by green plants, according to a study of high-resolution satellite data.

Or how about this one, which is part of the Guardian’s campaign to conflate climate change with pollution.

Finally, exaggerating modern climate extremes and ignoring past records is a tactic as common as disparaging past records and accepting new records set in inappropriate locations. I have already mentioned A Flood of Disinformation in this regard. It Never Rains But It Pours explores the recent work carried out to record old data, and which shows that the weather in the past has been a lot more surprising and extreme than one would ever guess from the constant stream of alarmism about the current climate to which we are subjected on a daily basis.

Failed Predictions (Sorry, Projections)

Failed predictions by climate scientists are legion. However, whenever sceptics point this out, we are told that they are not predictions, rather they are projections, and this apparently justifies the failure of the claims. And then we find ourselves bogged down in a semantic discussion as to the difference between a prediction and a projection, and the fact that whatever the claims are, they proved to be wrong, is swept under the carpet.

Jit’s Arctic Death Spiral Update offers an excellent illustration of the alarmist claims that have been made about the death of Arctic Ice and their repeated failure to come true. It’s interesting to note that while such claims are, when made, regularly given a great deal of publicity by the usual suspects in the mainstream media, there always seems to be a deafening silence when the dates for the claims come and go without the claims being borne out. It might even be enough to make one a little sceptical.

The importance of historical perspective

This is a big area, of course. As a brief illustration, I mentioned above the flooding of the Severn Valley and old Tewkesbury being built up the hill. “Oh”, alarmists might say, “but building up the hill was just a sensible precaution, it doesn’t mean that flooding was so bad then”. If they were to say that, I would invite them to read a little history and learn about the Duke of Buckingham’s Water and other historic Severn floods.

From the historical record, it is clear that the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Optimum period really did exist. Alarmists do like to minimise their importance and to suggest that they were restricted to local areas rather than being global phenomena, but I am sceptical about such attempts. I also note that life during those periods didn’t seem to be all that bad, given the relatively primitive nature of society at the time.

I wrote The Sands of Time to illustrate that, inter alia, sea level changes, coastal erosion, and many of the other alarmist talking-points are nothing like so straightforward as is regularly claimed.

Try reading Bill Bryson’s book “One Summer: America, 1927”, a history of events in 1927 in the USA. Weather-related details are astonishing, not least his account of the Great Mississippi Flood of that year. It was, according to Wikipedia:

the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles (70,000km2) inundated in depths of up to 30 feet (9m) over the course of several months in early 1927. The uninflated cost of the damage has been estimated to be between 246 million and 1 billion dollars.

About 500 people died and over 630,000 people were directly affected; 94% of those affected lived in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, especially in the Mississippi Delta region. More than 200,000 African Americans were displaced from their homes along the Lower Mississippi River and had to live for lengthy periods in relief camps. As a result of this disruption, many joined the Great Migration from the Southern United States to the industrial cities of the North and the Midwest; the migrants preferred to move, rather than return to rural agricultural labor.

It was followed, of course, by the Dustbowl years. As Wikipedia again tells us:

After fairly favorable climatic conditions in the 1920s with good rainfall and relatively moderate winters,which permitted increased settlement and cultivation in the Great Plains, the region entered an unusually dry era in the summer of 1930. During the next decade, the northern plains suffered four of their seven driest calendar years since 1895, Kansas four of its twelve driest, and the entire region south to West Texas lacked any period of above-normal rainfall until record rains hit in 1941.

To listen to modern Apocalyptic claims and warnings about climate change is to wonder if those making the claims are aware of previous events.

I have a book on my shelves at home, titled “Since Records Began. The highs and lows of Britain’s weather” by Paul Simons. I smile wryly at the end of an introduction which mentions all types of extreme weather imaginable, all faithfully chronicled through Britain’s history. 250 pages of tales of almost incredible extremes, deaths, droughts, floods, heatwaves – a sceptic’s bible, one might think – and yet we are told in conclusion:

But now something different is happening, which is no longer natural, as the long-term trend is growing increasingly under the influence of man-made effects. That is climate change.

I find it remarkable that a book full of extreme weather, of records untouched in recent years, of death numbers beyond our imaginings, resulting from cold, floods, droughts and all the rest of it, can nevertheless be written off by its own author as merely Britain’s unpredictable weather, and apparently as nought compared to the climate havoc we are unleashing. Thus far has climate catastrophism extended its tentacles. 250 pages of evidence counts for nothing in the face of climate alarmism. I challenge anyone with an open mind to read the book, and not be at least a little sceptical about what is going on.

Alan Kendall’s point about emissions following rather than driving temperature is a good one. While modern CO2 emissions are (possibly in large part) driven by humankind’s activities, earlier emissions can’t be blamed on humans. Often they were many, many times higher than today. So far as we can tell, they went up in response to rising temperatures. So what, naturally, caused temperatures to rise and fall in the past? If we are (as we are told) reaching a tipping-point, how did temperatures fall in the past at times when CO2 ppm were at levels very much higher than today? CO2 concentration levels are an interesting area. The graph that follows is taken from the Earth.Org website and illustrates just how relatively low current CO2 concentrations are:

It represents only around the most recent 10% of the life of the planet, and the website also tells us:

CO2 levels are determined by the imbalance between carbon sequestration (burial in sediments, capture by plants), and carbon emissions (decomposition and volcanic activity). Imbalances in this system created a downward trend in CO2 levels, leading to a glaciation period around 300 million years ago. This was followed by a period of intense volcanic activity, doubling CO2 concentration to about 1000 ppm. Levels then dropped until they reached today’s concentrations during the Oligocene era, 33 to 23 million years ago, when temperatures were still 4 to 6 degrees C higher than today.

Historical perspective is critically important. One of the problems I have with the alarmist case is that it sees the world and its climate in terms of only human timescales, and the time we humans have been on the planet is a tiny fraction of the time that our planet has been in existence. Another problem I have is with the view that somehow, for reasons that are never fully explained, today’s climate (or perhaps that of 100 or 150 years ago) is the paradigm, the ideal, the one that must be preserved at all costs – and I mean at all costs – despite the patent inability of humankind to achieve that.

False Attribution

We are facing “A World on Fire”, or so we are commonly told. A variation on this theme is the headline to a BBC article this week, which reads “Bonn climate conference: World is “cooked” if we carry on with coal, US says”. Whether cooked or on fire, it’s not exactly measured, scientific, language, is it?

John Ridgway’s article earlier this year (The Greek Wildfires – Looking Beyond The Obvious) offers a useful debunk to seemingly never-ending claims that the world is on fire and it’s all because of climate change. Curiously, those at the Guardian who regularly try to scare us with such claims are also aware of this. A Guardian long read article effectively trashes the claims found elsewhere in the Guardian on a regular basis, and says things like this:

Despite the rise of headline-grabbing megafires, fewer fires are burning worldwide now than at any time since antiquity.

And this:

Satellites allow researchers to monitor wildfires around the world. And when they do, they don’t see a planet igniting. Rather, they see one where fires are going out, and quickly. Fire has a long and productive place in human history, but there’s now less of it around than at any point since antiquity. We’re driving fire from the land and from our daily lives, where it was once a constant presence.

Other examples of this sort of thing can be found in my articles, Volte-Face, The Gambia Gambit, and The Cancun Con. All offer an alternative view to claims based on little evidence regarding alleged climate change and the problems inevitably attributed it. Usually climate change plays no, or at best only a small, part with regard to the claims made in its name.

A variation on this theme is the way in which alarmist articles often blithely blame a problem on X,Y and Z, but throw in (often without any linked justification or amplification of the claim) “and climate change”. Examples can be found at Mothballs, Can’t See The Wood For The Trees and Glow-Worm Waning.

A Convenient Excuse

Just as covid has become a great excuse for poor service and Brexit has become a catch-all easy-to-blame event for economic problems, so climate change is a handy excuse for people who havn’t done their jobs properly. I don’t think you have to be too sceptical (although no doubt it helps) to see that this is the case. I offer an illustration in Culvert Chaos.

Political Scientists

Climate scientists (many of them, anyway) seem to believe that we are facing an existential threat. Increasingly they call for extreme action. There is even a group called Extinction Rebellion Scientists, with their own website. The website has a section entitled Why 2025 but all I got when I tried to look at it was a message saying “(If pdf doesn’t load, below, please refresh page)”. I refreshed the page three times, but the pdf still wouldn’t load. Maybe scientists aren’t very good at IT? The “News” section of the website is replete with things like the front page of the Guardian reporting on Scientists for XR gluing themselves to offices at BEIS, a series of Tipping Points published by the Grantham Institute, and pictures of people in white coats brandishing placards saying things like “science says new oil & gas = death”.

They are entitled to their opinions, of course, but the political (and strident) nature of their claims diminish the value of their claimed scientific expertise, to my mind. And certainly, whatever expertise they may have as scientists does not endow with them any special claim to be better placed to know what policies should be adopted in response to their claims. Those are political decisions, based on political priorities, and in that regard we are all entitled to a view, alarmists and sceptics alike.

As for “science says new oil & gas = death”, I have only contempt for such views. The denial of economic development, based on cheap and reliable energy, to developing countries, is more likely to equate to death for the inhabitants of those countries than any amount of oil and gas use. Then there is the real world, which contains countries like China and Russia, with regimes that see the world very differently from the way it is viewed by some in the west. The lengthy quote that follows is worth some consideration, in my view. It comes from an article written by Ted Nordhaus that appeared on the Foreign Policy website on 5th June 2022:

Even as Western countries such as Germany continued to build out their coal plants, they advocated for phaseouts of coal-fired power generation in poorer countries. Rich-nation governments have all but cut off most development finance for fossil fuel infrastructure, despite continuing to exploit their own domestic sources.

Resentment runs deep. For decades, Western environmental and other NGOs, often with the tacit or direct support of governments and international development institutions, have broadly opposed large-scale energy and resource development, from dams to mines to oil and gas extraction.

The NGOs’ environmental and human rights concerns are often real. But the crusading and frequently patronizing nature of Western engagement with these issues, combined with the fact that the NGOs’ local campaigns against major energy projects are mainly financed, staffed, and organized by the West, has tapped into a deep reservoir of anti-Western sentiment going back to the colonial era.

In recent years, Western development assistance has prioritized factors such as transparency, civil society engagement, market liberalization, and climate change. All of this sounds proper and appropriate to Western ears. But the practical result has been the withdrawal of Western governments, development agencies, and financial institutions from virtually all large-scale infrastructure, energy development, and other resource-related projects across the developing world.

China and Russia, by contrast, have no such qualms and have leveraged investments in energy, resource extraction, and infrastructure to advance their geopolitical interests. Their intent is to create dependency in ways that advance Moscow’s and Beijing’s economic priorities while creating international leverage. Since the Ukraine invasion, the efficacy of this strategy is now plain for all to see.

Whatever some scientists think, we do have to live in the real world.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a respected scientific organisation, with a wealth of information available to it. I refer to its monthly climate reports as and when they appear. And yet increasingly they read (to me, at least) like a tabloid newspaper with their sensationalist headlines, and increasingly desperate attempts to persuade us that we face a climate crisis, even though hottest ever years are increasingly failing to appear, despite the ever-rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. A quick look at the headlines on the front page of the NOAA website dealing with monthly reporting throws up headlines such as:

April 2022 tied as Earth’s fifth-warmest.

Wildfires, severe weather marked April 2022.

March 2022, year to date rank as Earth’s 5th warmest.

A warm, dry March worsened record drought conditions in the West.

February 2022 was Earth’s 7th warmest on record.

February capped off a warm, dry winter for U.S.

November 2021 was Earth’s 4th warmest on record.

U.S. Saw its coolest, driest January in 8 years.

When eminent scientific organisations shriek at us in tabloid manner, should we be scared (good grief, it must be bad) or sceptical regarding the underlying agenda? My money’s on sceptical.

Mitigate or Adapt?

This leads us in to the question of what should be done in the face of climate change.

Only last week, US climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe wrote in the Guardian that the world cannot adapt its way out of the “climate crisis”, and counting on adaptation to limit damage, she said, is no substitute for urgently cutting greenhouse gases. This, despite the fact that humanity has proven to be remarkably successful at adapting to a changing climate in the past, despite the rapidly rising number of the people on the planet. Fewer people die today of floods or famine than at any time in recorded history, despite there being many more of us. But apparently our ability to adapt is about to come to an end, and this is because:

People do not understand the magnitude of what is going on,” she said. “This will be greater than anything we have ever seen in the past. This will be unprecedented. Every living thing will be affected.”…“If we continue with business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, there is no adaptation that is possible. You just can’t,” she said, in an interview with the Guardian….The whole of modern life was at stake, she added. “Human civilisation is based on the assumption of a stable climate,” she said. “But we are moving far beyond the stable range.”

Remarkable claims (and I think these are remarkable claims) require remarkable evidence. I haven’t seen evidence sufficiently remarkable to convince me. I prefer to believe that the evidence of past adaptability is our best guide to the future. I suspect that any future failure to adapt will be driven by there being too many people rather than by a changing climate.

Even if I am wrong, however, I still think we’d be better trying to adapt rather than to put all our eggs in the basket of mitigation. We seem to be doomed to be unable to mitigate, given the rapidly rising number of humans on the planet. A theme of my early writing here at Cliscep has been regarding the futility and failure of the various COPs over the years. As Ted Nordhaus puts it in the article cited above:

The carbon intensity of the global energy system fell faster in the 30 years before the first major U.N. climate conference than after it—a result of rising energy efficiency, the spread of nuclear power, and the changing composition of the global economy. After 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, both total and per capita emissions rose faster than before.

The capacity to adapt to rising temperatures and extreme weather events rose significantly as well—as evidenced by the continued decline in weather-related deaths. But this was not due to any U.N.-led efforts to fund climate adaptation, which never materialized. What made people all over the world more resilient to climate extremes was better infrastructure and safer housing—the product of economic growth powered by cheap fossil fuels.

…Globally, the share of electricity from clean sources—nuclear, hydropower, and renewable energy—peaked in 1993, just after the Cold War ended. Hopes that the world would turn from brinkmanship to cooperation on the shared goal of reducing emissions proved illusory. Instead, peace, prosperity, and access to plentiful cheap energy in the post-Cold War era dramatically lowered national incentives to make major investments in energy security. In an integrated global economy free of major conflict, the world could run on Russian gas, Middle East oil, and, more recently, Chinese solar panels.

My debut article, A Lot Of Hot Air dealt with the manifold and manifest failures of the Paris Climate Agreement. Those failures are too lengthy and detailed to dwell on in any depth here, but a reference to my conclusions might be appropriate:

The worst offenders are the least committed

Some of the signatories, who were among the first to submit their NDCs – Switzerland, EU, USA, Norway etc., really do seem to be serious about the whole thing. Unfortunately, even including the US, only countries responsible for up to 30% of global GHG emissions were offering real reductions. Some of the main emitters of GHG emissions (most notably China, but also India, Russia, down to the likes of South Korea, and Bangladesh) have not engaged with the process at all. They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. China, most obviously, is the rock on which the Paris Accords break. But there are others.

Fossil fuel export is blithely ignored

The rules for accounting for fossil fuel extraction and export let the countries who gain most from this totally off the hook. The Middle East oil producing countries are the ones most obviously to benefit from making the right noises whilst in reality making no meaningful commitment to the process whatsoever. But they’re not alone. As is the case with Canada, they make a virtue in their NDC about their GHG emissions, but they’re remarkably coy about their fossil fuel extraction and export, and how dependent their economies are on it.

The sums don’t add up

The sums required by the NDCs of some undeveloped countries are quite modest, especially on a per capita basis, while others are truly staggering, most notably India and somewhat cheekily South Africa. In total, however, I would suggest they are unaffordable, especially in view of the financial carnage caused by coronavirus and the world’s reaction to it. Even if the money can be found, so that conditional, as opposed to the much less ambitious unconditional, targets are achieved, the net effect is that GHG emissions are on target to grow massively – just not as massively, perhaps, as would otherwise be the case. Should people who claim to be concerned about AGW therefore really have been so hysterical about Trump’s decision to take the USA out of the Accords? Personally I think not. Unless China, India and Russia can ever be brought on board, and unless rapidly growing populations in developing countries can somehow be controlled, the whole thing is hopeless, not least in view of the perfectly understandable desire of developing countries to industrialise and raise living standards, and a growing tendency to the urbanisation of the populations of such countries.

Developing countries want to eat their cake and have it

Many developing countries are, perfectly understandably, seeking to use the Paris Accords to lever large sums of money from the international community to improve the lot of their people. In many cases, they seek to develop renewable energy to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels (some of the island countries are almost entirely dependent on imports of fossil fuels). I suspect this is more about saving money and increasing energy independence than it is about “saving the planet”. In almost every case they seek to improve GDP alongside increasing populations. Inevitably, whatever they do, GHG emissions are going to increase, and the idea that the Paris Accords can do anything about this is a sham.

Years later we saw the same hype surrounding COP26, the same claims of success, and the same reality of failure. I summarised the extent of this failure in The Party’s Over. Inevitably, I urge you, dear reader, to read the article if you have not already done so. However, for the sake of brevity, my conclusion this time was significantly shorter:

I appreciate that I have allowed a degree of cynicism to colour this summary of the Glasgow Climate Pact. However, were I of the view that humankind urgently needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to save life as we know it, then I would be mightily unimpressed with this outcome of a fortnight of noise, emissions, wall-to-wall media coverage, hype, disruption, covid risk, and all the rest of it. The Glasgow Climate Pact is, frankly, a waste of time, whether you think something urgently needs to be done, or whether you think it’s all a waste of money. From either point of view, this document contains nothing of substance.

Even as I write, I spot an article on Paul Homewood’s website linking to an article in The Hindu which tells us:

The demand for coal in India is set to jump to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2040, according to India’s coal minister. This is an increase of 50% from the current demand of 1 billion tonnes

The thermal coal requirement in India will go up to 1,500 million tonnes (MT) even as the country’s energy demand is set to double by 2040, Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi has said.

And this week the Guardian has an article which tells us that:

African countries should be able to exploit their vast natural gas reserves despite the urgent need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, the former UN climate envoy Mary Robinson has said.

Robinson, the chair of the Elders group of former world statespeople and business leaders, said African countries’ need for energy was so great that they should use gas widely, in contrast to developed countries that must halt their gas use as quickly as possible to stave off climate breakdown.

Of course poor developing countries should be allowed to exploit fossil fuel resources that will enable them to develop and improve the lives of their people, just as developed nations have done. But not, presumably, if you believe in imminent “climate breakdown” or if, like XR scientists, you believe “new oil & gas = death”. Yet “the former UN climate envoy Mary Robinson” presumably believes in both imminent “climate breakdown” and the rights of developing countries to exploit their fossil fuel resources even in the face of that. Are there reasons to be sceptical? Oh yes.

Katherine Hayhoe tells us that adaptation is futile, and Mary Robinson tells us that developing countries (those we are regularly told are in the firing line when it comes to climate chaos) shouldn’t be obliged to mitigate. The Guardian displays a CO2 tracker on its website which shows, on a daily basis, atmospheric CO2 in parts per million. Today it shows 418.9, a figure we are assured is 68.9 above the safe level (which we are told was passed in 1990) and which represents an increase of 24.9 in the last 10 years. That increase in the last 10 years therefore represents an accelerating trend since 1990 (a 22 year rate – 1990-2012 – of 2 p.a. has become in the last 10 years a rate of 2.49 p.a.). That’s a 25% increase in the annual rate. Patently, then, despite all the COPs and the daily hysteria in the mainstream media, the “net zero” agenda, the Council climate officers, and the rest of the ballyhoo, all attempts to mitigate are failing miserably. And they’ll fail still more miserably if we accept the decent urge to allow developing countries to exploit fossil fuels to try to reduce their poverty levels. It’s curious, though, to me at least, that apparently we aren’t urging them to use what we are regularly told is the cheaper option of renewables. I wonder why that could be? Reasons to be sceptical? I think so.

By the way, try eyeballing that Guardian graphic. You certainly won’t spot a declining trend, and you may even notice that it is indeed trending upwards.


I am here referring to the damage caused worldwide to the environment by policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and damage caused to the economy and to energy security by those same policies, specifically in the UK. This article is already more than long enough, so I don’t propose to expand on those thoughts. Instead, I refer you, as regards the former, to Saving The Planet By Trashing It and For Peat’s Sake. As for the latter, please refer to Counting The Cost, 20,000 Volts Under The Sea, Energy Through The Looking-Glass, Where Power Lies and Capability Down.

Before leaving this, I offer a final thought. We don’t even know for sure what emissions are being produced where, given that nations are allowed to self-certify under the Paris regime. Nor are our claims of emissions reductions in the UK really borne out. For all the damage that we have caused to the nation’s finances, to our environment, and to our energy security, the reality is that most of the claimed reduction arises not from a real reduction, but from shifting those emissions off our books – we have exported them (along with wealth, jobs, and self-sufficiency). Please refer to How Do You Measure Hot Air?.


Are there good reasons to be sceptical? I leave that to you to decide, but I hope that I have here made at least the beginnings of a case for scepticism. I hope you will keep coming back for more.


  1. A big thank you to Jit for his help with technical issues and for allowing me to bounce ideas off him. The article is better for his input. Needless to say, any errors or inadequacies are my own alone.


  2. Mark, I will admit to only a very minor role, and demand to be held co-responsible for any mistakes.

    Meanwhile, I think it is notable that we have been north of the “safe” level of CO2 for 32 years now, and to coin a phrase “nothing bad has happened so far.”

    I think this review is an excellent entry point for someone who unlike us has no climate obsession, but is wondering why some people oppose the consensus so vehemently. It turns out it’s a perfectly rational response to the data in hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Are there good reasons to be sceptical?”

    Other factors that indicate ever-changing climate has benign influences besides population growth, is that life-expectancies are generally increasing, and, increased atmospheric CO2 concentration has helped increase yields of most staple food crops.

    Despite the increased numbers and their extended life of consumption, the proportion suffering hunger and undernourishment generally declines.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Joe Public, very useful links and information – thank you. Well worth bearing in mind some real-world data when next the BBC or the Guardian try to convince us that it’s all going to hell in a handcart because of climate change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark, Beautifully written. I had not realised just how qualified you had become to tackle this topic. Almost everywhere you turn we find that you have written an appropriate article that takes a reader deep into the heart of the topic.

    Nevertheless although you more than adequately cover huge swathes of the sceptical canon, you actually did not cover the cause of my particular malaise – CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it has been increasing due to human use of fossil fuels, so how do I argue that our activities will not cause a change in climate that will be harmful? In large part claims of harm are based upon models which if applied to problems in other disciplines would be judged woefully inadequate. Yet every broadcast of doom comes from this type of spurious certainty.

    So what should happen to your efforts Mark? I suggest we erect a new type of article in Cliscep, one that, unlike others here, remains in constant view. Anyone venturing near our space will find it and determine why we hold the views we do. Anyone (like me) who finds their beliefs wavering can find a source of reasoned reassurance. So to those editors who have the technical know how to accomplish such a feat, how about it?

    Finally Mark (with JIT’s assistance) has written a summary of what must be some of our core beliefs, and with a beautiful style, yet the last time I looked there were only five likes. What does this signify? Don’t we care?


  6. Alan,

    I am too busy at the moment to read Mark’s effort and what little Cliscep time I have is being spent putting together my own effort. I will get around to reading Mark’s article, no doubt, and when I finally publish my own I trust it will work well when read side by side with Mark’s. It will be called ‘Deconstructing Scepticism’.


  7. Alan, thank you very much for your kind words.

    I wish the article was better than it is – it could certainly be a lot longer, as the subject is huge, but at a 25 minutes read I reckoned that it was already more than long enough.

    I am sorry that I can’t answer your fundamental doubt/worry, because as I am not a scientist, I don’t have the qualifications, knowledge, or ability to do so. My scepticism has always been very much at the end of climate politics that is concerned with harms to the environment, the wisdom (or otherwise) of policy and beyond that geopolitical reality. In all those areas, I believe that scepticism is amply justified and that the powers-that-be have long since lost the plot.

    I did my best to square up to the issue that concerns you, but in the end, my “best” couldn’t deal with it head-on, only around the edges. In the meantime, I notice this today at the Daily Sceptic, not that I think it’s by any means conclusive, though it may offer some food for thought:

    “Net Zero Shock: Carbon Dioxide Rises AFTER Temperature Increases, Scientists Find”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I could perhaps have posted this against “The Road to Glasgow,” but as it includes the graph in the Guardian, which I mentioned in my article this week, showing the remorseless rise in CO2 emissions (including a header to the graph saying “Carbon emissions have continued rising over the past 30 years since the Rio Earth summit took place”) I will put the link here:

    “Thirty years of climate summits: where have they got us?”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “The race against time to breed a wheat to survive the climate crisis”

    “A 2007 study found that for every 1C increase in night-time temperature there is a staggering 6% drop in wheat yields – a steeper decline than hotter days. The climate crisis is triggering record-breaking day temperatures, but night temperatures are increasing significantly faster.”

    And yet, from Joe Public’s links:

    “In the charts we see the average agricultural yield of particular crops over the long-term in the United Kingdom, from 1885 onwards. In the first chart, we have plotted cereal crops (wheat, barley and oats). Overall, we see that improvements in cereal yields from the 19th century into the first half of the 20th century were relatively slow– by the 1940s, yields were typically in the range of 2-2.5 tonnes per hectare. Productivity gains between the 1950s and 1990s was rapid, growing 2-3 fold over this period. Since the turn of the millennium however, cereal yields in the UK have been relatively stagnant.”

    Admittedly, stagnant yields in the last few years in the UK, but not going backwards either. And the graph for wheat yields globally looks pretty encouraging too.


  10. Well, the science might (or might not) be settled, but it seems that there is no agreement on policy:

    “Africa must forgo gas exploration to avert climate disaster, warn experts
    Call comes after former UN climate envoy urged African countries to exploit their natural gas reserves”

    “Africa must embrace renewable energy, and forgo exploration of its potentially lucrative gas deposits to stave off climate disaster and bring access to clean energy to the hundreds of millions who lack it, leading experts on the continent have said.

    Their call came as the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned that exploring for gas and oil anywhere in the world would be “delusional”.

    Several African leaders are considering pushing for new investment in exploration as gas prices around the world soar. Some European countries are also eager to provide such investment to replace supplies from Russia.

    Last week, Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland, UN commissioner for human rights and UN climate envoy, stoked controversy when she backed an expansion, saying African countries should exploit their gas reserves.

    She said the gas should be used within the continent for clean cooking and power generation for the 600 million people who lacked access to power and the 900 million who were cooking on biomass or dirty oil, rather than exported for profit.

    Mohamed Adow, the director of the Power Shift Africa thinktank and 2020 winner of the Climate Breakthrough prize, said Robinson was wrong….”.


  11. Speaking of reasons to be sceptical, based on policy demands:

    “India takes tough stand at climate talks as Delhi endures brutal heatwave
    As capital swelters, India urges rich countries to provide funds to help deal with effects of climate crisis”

    “The heatwave has prompted India to take a strong stand in Bonn, Germany, where officials are meeting to prepare for the next UN climate conference in November in Egypt.

    Media reports say members of the Indian delegation have told representatives of rich countries that India is suffering loss and damage owing to the climate crisis. They are demanding massive funding so the government can prepare for extreme weather events by building early warning systems.

    The delegation also wants money to carry out reconstruction after extreme events that damage infrastructure, homes and crops.

    India’s demand is that if it has to make these large investments, wealthy countries must support it through a “loss and damage” finance facility.”

    That would be this India:

    “India Reopens 100 Coal Mines”


  12. It just goes to show how memories can be deceptive. In Reasons To Be Sceptical I said I remembered seeing Tewkesbury during a Severn flood, and seeing the old town “up the hill” high and dry while the rest was underwater. Well, I was half-right, I suppose. It’s not so much of a hill as my deceptive memory would have me believe, but the old part is definitely high and dry. This article on the BBC website helpfully includes a photo:

    “Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson supports climate bill”


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