We published a column by regular columnist Andrew Kenny entitled ‘The climate scandal of 2009’. A reader, Bruce Sobey, commented at length on the article and challenged Andrew on a number of points.

We thought it of interest to publish Mr Sobey’s comments followed by Andrew’s response to them.

Bruce Sobey:

Andrew, your article is rife with half-facts. Contrary to what you say CO2 has been demonstrated to be one of the gases that have a warming effect.

In the 1820s Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier calculated that the earth would be much colder than it is if the incoming radiation from the sun were the only warming effect. He concluded that the Earth’s atmosphere acts like an insulator.

In the 1850s John Tyndall conducted experiments to measure precisely how infra-red radiation is absorbed by the earth’s gases. He found that oxygen and nitrogen have little effect but that water vapour, carbon dioxide and ozone are strong absorbers of heat radiation.

In 1898 Svante Arrhenius put forward the theory of the greenhouse effect and calculated that doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase temperatures by 5°C to 6°C.

In 1956 Gilbert Plass, using computers, confirmed that more carbon dioxide would have a warming effect and calculated that doubling CO2 levels would result in a warming of 3-4°C.

In 2018 the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reached 407.4 ppm. Based on ice core data for the past 800,000 years, CO2 has never been higher than 300 ppm.

In 2019 a study in the journal The Cryosphere, citing research by a team from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, tells of a reduction of almost 30 percent in the area covered by glaciers on all Peruvian mountain ranges between 2000 and 2016.  I am a mountaineer (as well as an engineer) and know of no mountaineers that deny climate change – we have seen too rapid changes to deny heating.  Note that CO2 is not the only warming gas.  Methane is about 12 times as bad with SF6 much worse.

A good review of the history is https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/successful-predictions-of-climate-science/   Watch the video.  It shows how the CO2 effect is checked with heating of Venus and how Astrophysics calcs tie up with Climate Change calcs.

You are totally incorrect about scientific consensus. Refer to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_consensus_on_climate_change  If the scientific consensus is as poor as you say then why do publications like Scientific American, National Geographic, agree with it and why does NASA also form part of the consensus on their website?

You vilify Greta, but she has every right to do what she is doing.  She is saying “you are poisoning the well that we are going to have to drink from”.  There is an old Greek saying to the effect that a good society is one where the old people plant trees that they will never sit under.  What type of society do we have where the children have to strike to attempt to stop their elders from destroying the earth that they have to live in?  You may want to read “The Climate Casino” by William Nordhaus.  “The Carbon War” by Jeremy Leggett also will give you some detail about climate misinformation sources.

Andrew Kenny:

Dear Bruce,

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your interest in my article, and I’d welcome any data, facts, evidence or science that dispute anything I have written. I always want to learn.

My responses are as follows:

1. CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas

As I had written previously the Earth’s surface temperature is probably about 33 deg C higher than it would have been without greenhouse gases – of which water vapour is by far the most important, accounting for over 90% of the greenhouse effect.

CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas, with only one significant absorption band (15 micron) in the Earth’s IR emission spectrum. In a test tube of air, CO2 should have a tiny and diminishing (logarithmic) heating effect (usually given by ΔF  =  5.35 ln (C / C0 )watts / m2). In the real world no such effect has been seen in the last 550,000,000 years. The two obvious reasons why not are negative feedback and overlap with the bands of the more important greenhouse gases.

CO2 averaged about 280 ppm in the last 10,000 years until about 150 years ago, when man increased it by burning fossil fuels.  In those years there were periods of warming higher than now (worldwide) and also a period, the Little Ice Age, about 1300 to 1850 AD, when temperatures were lower than now. CO2 never varied. So it is quite obvious that rising CO2 has nothing to do with the slight rise in temps over the last 150 years or so. The reason for the warming and cooling is variation in the sun’s emission of charged particles.

Over the last 550,000,000 years, CO2 has averaged about 2,000 ppm. During the Cambrian, the Golden Age of life, when almost all of the modern phyla evolved, it was over 6,000 ppm. It dropped to dangerously low levels about 5 million years ago, threatening mass extinction. Mankind – purely by accident of course – has rescued the planet by returning carbon into the air where it came from.

2. Consensus

“Consensus” is for politicians not scientists. Water at 1 bar boils at 100 deg C regardless of any “consensus” of scientists. Most Soviet scientists said Lysenko was right; but he was wrong. But, on the secondary point, the “scientific consensus” on climate alarm is false. It is incorrect that “97% of scientists” say mankind is changing the climate in a dangerous way. Of the papers in this silly survey, fewer than 1% of scientists said so.

3. Greta Thunberg

Ms Thunberg is a rich and privileged Swedish schoolgirl, who has been ruthlessly exploited by the powerful climate alarm machine. She lives in luxury utterly unknown to the poor people of the world; she travels in staggeringly expensive, high tech carbon fibre yachts with associations with the super-rich aristocrats of Europe. Her country, Sweden, is very rich and successful thanks to very high economic growth, very efficient capitalism and very successful exploitation of fossil fuels. As far as I can see she doesn’t want the poor countries to enjoy the same economic growth as Sweden or for poor black Africans to becomes as privileged as she is. 

Best wishes,

Andrew Kenny