From my vantage point here in South Africa, I am aware of the momentum of the major build-up to the next big United Nations world environment conference, COP 17, which will be held in Durban, the city where I went to school and university.
We hear of ‘the road to Durban’ on international news broadcasts and, daily, people of all ranks are making comments on the issues to be addressed at COP 17. The conference organisers have already announced that the availability of bottled water will be limited, or, perhaps, prohibited because Durban tap water is so good that anyone can drink water out of any tap – be it in a hotel room, restaurant or back garden. Curtailing bottled water will limit the environmental impact of all the plastic bottles, water transport, refuse transport, and so on. I agree with that – Durban municipal water is excellent everywhere.
I find other images also drifting through my mind, such as those of legendary scientist and philosopher Galileo, who dared to announce that he was of the opinion that it was not the sun that orbited the earth but that it was actually the other way around. He stated that it was the planets, including the earth, which orbited the sun. The estab- lishment of the day jumped on Galileo and he was threatened with dire consequences if he did not toe the establishment line and recant his claims. He was forced to recant to stay alive, but he was placed under house arrest anyway to make sure that he did not spread his views, and his book was banned.
Many years later, when the French Revolution took place, there were baying mobs in the streets of Paris ready to chop off the head of anyone who was perceived not to be part of the new order. French scientist Antoine Lavoisier, the discoverer of both oxygen and hydrogen, was one of the unfortunate people to lose their heads to the French guillotine.
In modern times, I fear that we are experiencing similar sentiments to those of the Galileo period and the French Revolution period, when the topics of climate change and global warming are discussed. In far too many instances, any person who dares to challenge the climate status quo is branded a denier and is treated as an enemy of society. This is not only sad, but is also dangerous to all of mankind.
A chanting climate change advocacy group that wants modern business and industry to be guilty so that the branded anti- social industrialists can be hunted down and punished is destructive to reasoned scientific debate about climate change issues.
The scientific evidence that anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) is solely to blame for any observed climate change is scientifically very shaky. There are far too many holes in the theory for it to pass the conventional rigour that should be applied to scientific debate.
The scientific evidence shows serious deviations from the CO2 claims, as does the historical and archaeological evidence, to just brush it aside.
The CO2 concentrations and observed temperature changes over the past century just do not correlate anywhere near as much as is necessary for scientific rigour.
Historical evidence clearly tells us that there was a Mediaeval Warm Period (MWP) of great health, wealth and prosperity during which temperatures were warmer than currently, but with no anthropogenic CO2 in the equation.
Archaeology and history show us that successful Viking settlements died out in Greenland after the MWP, as a global cooling period, set in, the coldest point of which is well documented as the Maunder Minimum. Ice fairs were held on the frozen River Thames in London. Contemporary paintings of these frozen festivals still exist today.
The global warming advocacy faction does not want to discuss these previous global warm and cold periods. In fact, there are more such periods in the records, such as the Roman Warming, so previous significant climatic changes are not rare events.
In the past decade, signifi- cant scientific evidence came to light to indicate that observed global warming can probably be entirely explained by cosmic ray incidence on earth, linked to the magnetic shielding of our earth, which, in turn, links to solar activity, as measured by sun spot activity.
This theory fits the facts very well, so why do we witness a paranoia to demonise and bury any hint of solar activity being the cause of observed global warming? Why is the fact that 1998 has been the warmest year in modern times, and since then gradual global cooling has been occurring, being so efficiently suppressed by many?
Such action is far too close to the Galileo affair and the response of the crowds during the French Revolution.
False and misguided government and corporate policy and actions worldwide will be highly detrimental to mankind in the coming decades, if it is based on misguided and inaccurate climate science conclusions.
In the future, mankind must not look back at history and group the Galileo era, the French Revolution era and climate change era as being similar for the rapid crowd suppression of the analytical truth.
Let us hope that some world leaders at COP 17 have the courage to stand up and demand scientific rigour of the type that has been developed over centuries.
Science and sensible analysis must triumph over reactionary crowd theory worship in the international climate science debate.