The other Copenhagen conference
In an elegant, 18th-century chamber at the Architectural Institute of Copenhagen, the other Copenhagen climate conference took place. Organized, improbably but successfully, by a British cleric and a Danish journalist under the auspices of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (www.cfact.org), the conference was at one point attracting almost as much media attention as the pantomime attended by the national delegations.
At our conference, among the classical landscape panels beneath the finely-wrought plasterwork ceiling, some of the world’s foremost scientists in climatology and related fields discussed something that is not on the agenda at the panto: the science and economics of “global warming”.
True theology, true journalism, true science, and mathematical logic share an important concept largely unknown to scientists and entirely unknown to the environmental extremists shrieking and hooting in every corner of the vast ugliness that is the Bella Center. That concept is objective or absolute truth – truth that is true in itself, whether or not you or I or anyone believe it to be true or wish it to be true.
The more reflective of the numerous journalists who crowded into our little conference chamber noticed a startling difference between our conference and the panto. There, all was screaming spin. Here, all was calm, rational scientific discussion among the world’s leading climate experts.
Professor Niklas Mörner, one of the liveliest lecturers on the circuit despite his great age, briskly wielded a wooden salad-fork as a pointer for his slides as he described his recent visit to Bangladesh, where, contrary to the near-universal assertions of the news media, sea level is not rising. If anything, said the Professor, it was falling a little. Of the scientists on the trip, he was the only one who had bothered to calibrate his GPS altimeter correctly by taking two readings at least 10 meters apart in height, allowing him – and only him – to determine sea level to within an inch.
The following day, at an unconnected presentation by Professor Fred Singer, the 82-year-old founder of the US Satellite Weather Service, a journalist from The Guardian jumped up and demanded to know why no one at our conference cared about the plight of Bangladesh. He had been there, he said, and he had seen for himself how it was sinking beneath the rising sea. Why had none of us bothered to go there?
Professor Mörner leapt to his feet and said he had just returned from Bangladesh, where his measurements had established that sea-level had fallen, except in one place where imprudent clearance of thousands of acres of mangroves to make way for shrimp-farms had caused coastal erosion. Overall, though, the land area of Bangladesh had increased by 70,000 square kilometers in the past 30 years – not exactly in line with the Guardian journalist’s belief.
Professor Henrik Svensmark described his astonishing but increasingly-accepted theory that changes in the Sun’s magnetic field displace cosmic rays that would otherwise provide nucleation points for the formation of clouds, amplifying warming when the Sun is active. He also pointed out that one of the major influences causing the biggest changes in the paleoclimate was the rate at which supernovae – giant stars at the end of their lives – exploded in our sector of the galaxy and emitted cosmic rays. The more the rays, the more clouds formed and the cooler the climate became.
As our solar system rotates around the galactic center, it passes through the four great spiral arms of the galaxy. As it passes through a spiral arm, it is close to stars which may become supernovae, so the cosmic-ray flux into the atmosphere increases, more clouds form, and the planet becomes generally cooler. But when the solar system is in the vast near-emptiness between the spiral arms, there are fewer cosmic rays and the planet warms up so much that all ice disappears. At the moment, we are in a minor spiral arm, so the climate is cold enough to allow ice.
Remarkably, every stage of Svensmark’s discovery was filmed by Lars Mortensen, a documentary film-maker. The day after Svensmark had presented his own idea, we watched the movie, which – though it is excellent – no major TV channel will air, because it is against the supposed “consensus”. The movie described every stage in the discovery: how a chance mention of cosmic rays in a quite different context had sparked the idea in Svensmark’s mind; how he had set up an expensive and complex laboratory experiment, with shoestring funding, to demonstrate that cosmic radiation could indeed cause water droplets to nucleate and form clouds; how he had come across Nir Shaviv, who had separately noticed that the major changes in the past climate established by one of his colleagues coincided with our galaxy’s passing in and out of the spiral arms; how he had spent more than a year trying to find a scientific learned journal that would publish his results, because he had dared to provide evidence that a natural rather than an anthropogenic influence was chiefly responsible for climate changes; and how he had presented his results in London to a group of leading climatologists, who were shown howling him down in the intemperate, unscientific terms we have now become used to from the Climategate emails.
The hatred and venom on the faces of the “scientists” who shouted Svensmark down shows with telling clarity in the movie. What the movie did not reveal is that Svensmark was so shocked at the entirely unjustifiable battering he received at the hands of these grant-gobbling monsters that he suffered a serious heart attack and is now kept alive by a pacemaker.
Let no one say that the true scientists who quietly came to our conference hold their views because they profit by them. The screaming intolerance of those whose taxpayer-funded research grants to study the non-problem that is “global warming” are menaced by the now-well-established scientific truth that CO2 is a bit-part player in the climate (see next posting), and they will do whatever it takes, however vicious, however mendacious, to crush any scientist, however brilliant, who dares to reveal that the emperor has no clothes.
Not all of the journalists who attended our conference were impressed. A representative of the unspeakable BBC said we were all elderly cranks, a view expressed by one or two others on the unthinking extreme Left. However, many of the journalists detected a seriousness of purpose and a depth of knowledge and a total absence of politics on the part of our scientists. One or two of them have now realized that there is another side to the story.
Though we were few in number, our scientists made up for that with the quality of their research and their presentations. After all, a dozen men in an upper room 2000 years ago changed the world decisively for the better. You don’t need numbers or consensus if you have the objective, absolute truth. And our scientists, being true scientists, were none of them arrogant enough to say they were sure they possessed the absolute truth. All of them made it clear how often and how carefully they checked their results. The father of the scientific method, the 11th-century Iraqi mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher of science Abu Ali Ibn al-Hassan Ibn Al-Hussain Ibn Al-Haytham, put it beautifully: “The road to the truth is long and hard, but that is the road we must follow.”