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My Responses to an Article in Orthodox Judaism-orientated Mishpacha (Family) Magazine That Refutes Climate Threats

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SAVING THE PLANET BY KILLING IT

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 By Yonoson Rosenblum| DECEMBER 4, 2019

What fuels the climate change activists — science or politics?

Because there are so many misrepresentations and important omissions in this article that is read in many Jewish homes, I have provided an almost point my point response below. I hope my responses will help others in responding to climate deniers. My comments are preceded by ***** .

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A large group of Harvard and Yale students occupied the field during halftime of the annual Harvard-Yale game on November 23 to celebrate their virtue by demanding that the two universities divest all fossil fuel stocks. I assume that not one of the 40 or so students arrested by the police, who took an hour to clear the field, has any substantial knowledge of even one of the 20 or so disciplines subsumed under climatology or the history of climate change throughout human history. (That is also true, incidentally, of myself and well over 99 percent of those who write confidently about climate change.)

***** True, and this is why it is important to consider what scientific academies and peer reviewed articles in respected science journals are saying about the issues, and to note facts on the ground, in terms of temperatures increases and climate events (discussed more later).

If pressed, the students would have simply cited the alleged “scientific consensus” on anthropogenic global warming and shouted down anyone who challenged the existence of such a consensus.

No such consensus exists. In September, 500 scientists and professionals in climate-related fields sent the Secretary-General of the United Nations a “European Climate Declaration,” in which they noted, inter alia, that the computer climate models upon which the predictions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based have consistently failed as predictive tools. They therefore “are not remotely plausible as policy tools” and further ignore that enriching the atmosphere with carbon dioxide (CO2) is beneficial. A little over a decade ago, environmental scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch polled 530 colleagues from 27 countries and asked them to express their agreement with the statement “climate change is primarily the result of anthropogenic causes,” i.e., human behavior, on a scale of one to seven. The average, 3.62, came down almost exactly at the middle — not that scientific issues are determined by majority vote.

***** There are several problems with the above paragraph:

  1. There are far more than 500 climate experts who believe that climate change is a major threat to humanity, 97% according to many estimates;
  2. All the major science academies worldwide that have considered the issues agree that climate change is a major threat;
  3. Virtually all of the over thousand peer reviewed articles in respected scientific journals on the issue agree that climate change is a serious threat;
  4. It is doubtful if many, if any, of the scientists cited in the article have published peer reviewed articles, since so very few of these articles refute that climate threats are serious;
  5. In terms of the climate change models failing, they are generally programmed to be on the conservative side and generally climate realities have been worse that the predictions;
  6. Overall, the assertion that the scientific community is divided in their views on climate change is belied by many studies.
  7. In the book, “Climate Cover-up,” the author, initially a climate skeptic, documents the many ways that the fossil fuel industry aims to mislead the public on climate change. Some climate deniers are paid by the industry.
  8. Very few scientists agree that atmospheric CO2 is beneficial at its present amount, and it has already caused many severe climate events.
  9. Re the Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch study discussed above, I found the following on Wikipedia, which is sharply different from Rabbi Rosenblum’s statement above: “In the section on climate change impacts, questions 20 and 21 were relevant to scientific opinion on climate change. Question 20, “How convinced are you that climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic, is occurring now?” Answers: 67.1% very much convinced (7), 26.7% to some large extent (5–6), 6.2% said to some small extent (2–4), none said not at all. Question 21, “How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?” Answers: 34.6% very much convinced (7), 48.9% being convinced to a large extent (5–6), 15.1% to a small extent (2–4), and 1.35% not convinced at all (1)”.[28

Such consensus as exists refers primarily to the IPCC and the allocation of university research funding. Guy Sorman of City Journal reports that in a 2005 conversation with Rajendra Pachauri, the director of the IPCC, the latter told him that he recruited only climatologists convinced of the carbon-dioxide warming explanation.

***** First, it is not primarily the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that represents the scientific consensus, but that organization, as its name implies, is made up of leading climate experts from all over the world, and is highly respected.

***** Second, based on the recommendations of its climate experts, all of the 195 nations, including Israel and the US, at the climate conference in Paris in 2015 agreed that climate change is a threat to humanity and immediate steps must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

***** Third, as indicated above, all of the major science academies and virtually all of the relevant peer reviewed papers agree about climate change threats.

***** Fourth, because the vast majority of scientists agree that carbon dioxide is a major cause of climate change, it is hard to find a scientist who is active in the area of climate change who disagrees with the strong consensus. 

Dr. Judith Curry, former chair of the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, left academia and the world of government-funded research, she says, because “climatology has become a political party with totalitarian tendencies. If you don’t support the UN consensus on human-caused global warming, if you express the slightest skepticism, you are a climate-change denier [i.e., akin to a Holocaust denier]… a quasi-fascist who must be banned from the scientific community…. Those daring to take an interest in possible natural causes of climatic variation — such as solar shifts or the earth’s oscillations — aren’t well regarded in the scientific community, to put it mildly.”

***** This is a vast exaggeration. Climate experts have considered other possible causes of climate change and agree that the increase in atmospheric CO2, from 285 parts per million (ppm) pre-industrial revolution to over 400 today is a major cause of climate change. Historically, atmospheric CO2  and temperatures have risen and fallen generally in parallel.

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But why ignore natural causes? The earth’s temperatures have been at various times much warmer than today. Climate change alarmists point to rising sea levels as proof of impending doom from anthropogenic warming. But as Professor Richard Lindzen, the Albert P. Sloan Professor Emeritus of Meteorology at MIT, notes, sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age.

***** Yes, temperatures have been warmer than today and along with that seas have been much higher than today.

***** It is not just rising sea levels, as serious as they are with Venice now flooded and Miami and other coastal cities experiencing ‘sunny day flooding’ due to higher tides. It is also the rapid melting of glaciers world wide and polar ice caps, the rapid bleaching of coral reefs, and the major increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, and other climate events. It is notable that Rabbi Rosenblum complete ignores the seemingly almost daily reports of such climate events.

***** There have so many severe climate events in recent years that former California governor Jerry Brown indicated that, ‘Humanity is on a collision course with nature.’

Dr. Curry points out that from 1910 to 1940, before the dramatic increase in carbon emissions, there was a warming trend, and from 1940 to 1980, the earth experienced a sustained cooling period, even as carbon emissions jumped, giving rise to “consensus” predictions of an impending ice age.

***** This was nowhere near the current consensus about global warming, but a theory of just a relative small number of climate scientists.

And we may well be entering a similar cooling period. NASA satellites have recorded a heat loss from the thermosphere, which is consistent with observations that we are entering a period of low sunspot activity, similar to that which coincided with the period from the mid-17th to early 18th century known as the Little Ice Age.

Even the raw data of temperature upon which Global Average Temperature (GAT) is based is highly questionable. Seventy percent of the earth’s surface is water, and most of the measurements are based on interpolation between stations. And the recording stations are too frequently in places that inflate the temperature — e.g., near airport landing strips or in built-up urban areas. Aware of the problem, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration set up a network of 114 pristine temperature stations in the lower 48 states in 2005. The recorded data since then show no warming.

***** Rabbi Rosenblum seems to be ‘cherry picking’ studies and opinion. A Google study revealed an article entitled, “Claim of no US warming since 2005 is directly contradicted by the data it is based on.”

***** Most people today are well aware that there communities have become warmer in recent years.

***** Can the author or any other climate denier deny any of the following facts, based on many scientific studies:

  1. Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer that the previous decade;
  2. Every one of the 18 years in this century is among the top 19 hottest years worldwide since temperature records were kept in 1880;
  3. Worldwide temperature records were successively broken in 2014, 15, and 16, the first time his happened in recorded history;
  4. 2019 is on track to be the second or third warmest year, making the last six years in the warmest six in recorded history.
  5. Last June was the warmest June on record and last July was the warmest single month on record.
  6. Many areas of the world have experienced record temperatures in recent years.
  7. As discussed more later, climate experts agree that the world is likely to get much hotter, at a much faster rate than the past.

BUT EVEN IF ALARMISTS were right about anthropogenic warming, their policy prescriptions are economically and practically insane. Nor do they believe their own hysteria. Former president Obama is famously pronounced his 2008 nomination “the moment the oceans began to slow their rise and the earth began to heal.” Yet he recently put down $15 million on a mansion on Martha’s Vineyard, a coastal island that would be a prime candidate for submersion by rising sea levels.

***** Some people make foolish decisions, but that does not counteract the realities of severe recent climate events and the increasingly dire warnings of science academies and organizations.

If the alarmists believed their own 12 years to doomsday scenarios, they’d be pushing the rapid expansion of nuclear energy — the only non-carbon producing form of energy. Yet almost all reflexively oppose any reliance on nuclear energy, despite dramatic recent advances in developing cheaper, smaller, and safer nuclear plants.

***** Yes, there have been such improvements, but still no safe way to store nuclear waste and to insure there will not be a terrorist attack that would have devastating consequences. Far better to move toward solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy. A Google search revealed the following quote: “Barriers to and risks associated with an increasing use of nuclear energy include operational risks and the associated safety concerns, uranium mining risks, financial and regulatory risks, unresolved waste management issues, nuclear weapons proliferation concerns, and adverse public opinion.”

Not one Democratic presidential candidate openly repudiated Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal, and several have endorsed it, even though it would bankrupt the United States and end all industrial development, without making a dent in overall carbon emissions.

***** A vast exaggeration. There would have to be discussions and negotiations, but there is no doubt that major changes are needed to avert a climate catastrophe.

***** It is far more likely that there will be bankruptcies due to increased flooding and wildfires and other severe climate events.

 By far the largest polluters — China, India, and Brazil — would still do little to reduce their emissions. A brilliant strategy if we all want to end up in Chinese re-education camps.Actually, these countries are recognizing climate threats and taking steps to reduce GHGs, although like most countries, far from enough.

***** The US administration, under President Trump, seems to be the only one in denial, doing the urgency of doing everything possibly to weaken or eliminate legislation to reduce GHGs.

Indeed, American capitalism has proven the best engine of carbon emission reduction. The fracking revolution has simultaneously enabled America to reduce carbon emissions more than any other country, by switching to natural gas from coal and petroleum, and to achieve the once-deemed-impossible goal of energy independence. Diogenes had a better chance of finding an “honest man” than one would have of finding a Democratic supporter of fracking.

***** There are problems with fracking, including increased probability for earthquakes and dangerous gas spills.A Google search brought up the following quote: “In addition to air and water pollution, fracking also increases the potential for oil spills, which can harm the soil and surrounding vegetation. Fracking may cause earthquakes due to the high pressure used to extract oil and gas from rock and the storage of excess wastewater on site.” Once again, the best approach seems to be CARE – conservation and renewable energy.

Unrealistic “green” mandates drive energy prices through the roof. In 1992, Germany committed to reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020. It will not come close. But electricity rates in Germany, as a result of its Energiwend (energy transition) commitment to wind and solar power, has reached nearly three times the US average. The Minnesota-based Center for the America Experiment did an economic study of the cost of a proposal to use 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2030. It found that doing so would cost the state $80 billion on infrastructure by 2050, increase the average family’s electric bill by $1,200 annually, and reduce the state’s “GNP” (gross national product) by $3 billion per annum, while costing 21,000 jobs.

***** This ignores the many economic problems related to climate events and threats. Many people are losing their houses and cars due to wildfires and floods. The California insurance companies paid out $24 billion in 2018 to cover damages from wildfires, and insurance rates in the state have skyrocketed, making it unaffordable for many. Yes, there will be some additional costs in efforts to combat climate change, but they will be far outweighed by the economic benefits,

***** The old adage, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ is very relevant in terms of climate change,  Sir Nicholas Stern, an economic advisor to the UK government, stated that if we do not send one or two percent of gross domestic product today, we may end up spending 15 to 20 percent later.

***** In December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out the many negative potential health effects from climate change, and this will result in major societal health costs.

***** Millions of people die annually from air pollution, largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Too frequently, the obsession with renewables only results in higher carbon emissions. Federally mandated ethanol requirements for gasoline proved a boon for corn farmers and led to skyrocketing world food prices. But the process of producing ethanol, it turns out, releases more CO2 than it saves. 

*****Ethanol should not be used because it is very inefficient and, especially when over ten percent of the world’s people are chronically hungry, we should not be using corn to produce fuel. Perhaps a main reason it is being produced is that Iowa, a major corn producing state, is the first state to have a primary election every four years, and very few politicians are brave enough to tell the truth about it.

Sir John Beddington, former chief science advisor to the British government, notes that to meet European Union renewable directives, countries increasingly have to burn wood, which releases four times as much carbon dioxide as electricity or natural gas per megawatt-hour and 50 percent more than coal. And in cutting down vast numbers of trees, the world is deprived of forests that serve as vast carbon sinks.

***** Once again, sun and wind and other renewable sources of energy are preferable, plus conservation and a reduction of the constant effort to sell as many goods as possible.

***** Huge numbers of trees have been burned down by the many widespread wildfires in the Amazon California, Australia, and other places, even the Arctic. And many additional trees have been destroyed to provide grazing land and land to grow feed crops for animalsIn addition to air and water pollution, fracking also increases the potential for oil spills, which can harm the soil and surrounding vegetation.


DR. CURRY EXPLAINS
 the elites’ devotion to climate change alarmism. It serves their opposition to capitalism and industrial development, and their preference for world government, run by experts, over democratic nation states. That strikes me as right. To that indictment, I would add one other charge: hatred of human beings. 

***** Hard to believe that the thousands of climate scientists who are convinced climate change is a great threat to humanity all oppose capitalism and industrial development and that many hate human beings. Many are very involved in efforts to reduce climate change because they recognise the threats to human beings.

Population control frequently ranks at the top of the climate alarmists’ agenda. 

***** Actually I very seldom have seen this argument by scientists who believe that climate change is a threat.

Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg long ago argued in The Skeptical Environmentalist that with the $150 billion dollars that enforcement of the Kyoto Treaty (predecessor to the Paris Accords) would have cost annually, and which would have resulted in, at most, a .2 degree reduction in world temperature by 2100, we could purify all the water in the world and save tens of thousands of lives annually.

***** First, a 0.2 degree Celsius reduction in world temperature is not insignificant, although it sounds small. It is the about 1.1 degrees Celsius average increase since the start of the industrial revolution that is causing so much damage from climate change today, An additional 0.2 degree C increase would have a substantial impact.

***** Second, the world should be able to come up with $250 billion to purify the water. It is, for example, a small fraction of the amount spent annually for the military.

***** Third, much of the pollution of the waters is from the fossil fuel industry and the constant promotion of people continuing to buy more and more material goods, at the expense of the environment.

I wonder if the virtuous Harvard-Yale demonstrators thought of that?

***** Perhaps not, but they are thinking of the most important point: That the world is rapidly approaching a climate catastrophe, according to the overwhelming consensus of climate experts and everything possible must be done to avert it.

***** I believe, respectfully, that Rabbi Rosenblum has done a great disservice in writing this article and Mishpacha has done a great disservice in publishing it. I hope my responses will result in their reconsidering their positions and join the struggle to avert a climate catastrophe and help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. 

***** As indicated, Rabbi Rosenblum has misrepresented some factors and ignored others, Here are a few of the additional factors that should be considered.

  • Climate experts believe that there are self-reinforcing positive feedback loops that could soon result in an irreversible climate tipping point, when climate change spins out of control, with disastrous consequences.
  • Israel is especially threatened by climate change. A report prepared by the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry (MEP) for the December 2019 Madrid climate conference projected a sharp increase in temperature and a significant decrease in precipitation, making the country even hotter and drier, which makes terrorism and war more likely, according to military experts. 
  • The Pentagon and other military organisations believe that climate change can be a catalyst and a multiplier for terrorism and war, as millions of disparate, hungry refugees flee from severe climate events.
  • Animal-based diets are a major contributor to climate change, largely sue to methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, being emitted from cows and other farmed animals.

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 788. Yonoson Rosenblum may be contacted directly at rosenblum@mishpacha.com

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