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Snow? Let’s talk global warming
10:50am Tuesday 3rd February 2009 in Peter Mullen
HERE in London it feels as if I’m going about with earmuffs on – it’s so quiet in the snow, which is deep and crisp and even. And the reflected light through the window is so bright I can work at my desk without the light on.
Of course, the capital has skidded to a stop. No Tube. No buses. The biggest snowfall for 15 years – so it’s a good time to air the subject of global warming.
For the media, especially the BBC, it’s a certainty, of course, and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before global warming denial becomes a criminal offence. But the evidence does not all point one way and there are plenty of informed sceptics.
In 1988, Professor Frederick Seitz started a petition signed by more than 20,000 American scientists urging the US government to reject the 1997 Kyoto global warming agreement, which places limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Seitz’s petition said: “The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology and damage the health and welfare of mankind.”
Besides, some of the statistics that are alleged to be accurate are nothing of the sort.
In 2007, the meteorologist Anthony Watts forced Nasa’s Goddard Institute to correct a fundamental error in its data on US surface temperatures to show that the hottest decade of the 20th Century was not, as the warmist fanatics claim, the 1990s, but the 1930s. Watts’ careful research continues to be available on his website – wattsupwiththat – which shows a recent and dramatic dip in temperatures.
The winter has been raging furiously in many places. In the US, there were blizzards as far south as Texas, while in the northern states they are enduring “the winter from hell”, which has broken records for cold and snow going back to 1873.
Asia has suffered the northern hemisphere’s deepest snow cover since 1966. In Afghanistan, 1,500 people have died from the cold and the farmers have lost 30,000 cattle.
China officially reported “Our Winter Snow Disaster”. Tibet has had six consecutive months of heavy snow with record low temperatures and 500,000 animals have perished, leaving three million people on the edge of starvation.
If we look back, we see that today’s temperatures are not the highest, even in comparatively recent times. The earth is much cooler now than it was during the last postglacial warming period between 6000BC and 3000BC. We know this to be a fact from the study of tree pollen data supplemented by animal, bird and insect remains, as well as by tree-ring analysis. Global warming fanatics frequently try to frighten us by pointing to the melting polar ice caps, but the fact is that in 2009 Arctic ice covers an area 28.7 per cent greater than it did in 2007.
Even in modern times, there have occurred much bigger climate changes than anything we are seeing now. Parts of the 18th Century were much colder than today. Dickens tells us of times when the Thames froze over for weeks on end. In the 9th Century, there were vines growing in Greenland. Are we to suppose that the warmth which produced vines at such a northerly latitude was owed to Vikings driving around in four-by-fours?
Maybe there is global warming and maybe not. All I’m asking is that we be allowed to doubt it – instead of being shouted down by the politically-correct warming fanatics.
■ Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.