Why Australia should not sign up to the Paris Climate Summit

by on 23 November, 2015

Ahead of the terror attack that took place in Paris, climate change is not an immediate concern. Celeste Arenas gives the scientific and economic reasons not to sign up to the UN Paris Summit in December.

11651173_1125567404137282_902298289_nFollowing the unprecedented terrorist attack in Paris, the French government and other world leaders are set to continue the upcoming Climate Summit as planned. There are innumerable reasons, both environmental and economic to cancel the conference, but raising morale and refusing to submit to terrorism is the best reason to draw all the world’s leaders together in the same city that the horrific murder took place. Their presence is better served however, by aiming to resolve some of our biggest world problems; from the horrendous human rights violations that ISIS has committed, to the starving population of North Korea to the dictatorial suppression of people in Venezuela. Instead, they will gather to take action against climate change, whose unjustified concern has been exposed by the recent tragedies that have taken place. If leaders like Obama were right in saying that “climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” legislation to curb carbon emissions would make sense. However, the science surrounding climate change is unclear at best and blatantly misleading at worst. A treaty based on dubious scientific claims will lead to an unnecessary economic decline hurting all the nations that sign up. It will particularly devastate developing nations without doing any good for the Australian economy. The very last thing the world needs at this stage is economic decline; the inevitable outcome of binding environmental legislation.

Before Australia commits to reduce emissions by 26% by 2030, one must first ask: why? Scientific inquiry requires natural scepticism, yet the debate over climate change is shut down, often by force. France’s top meteorologist and television personality Phillipe Verdier was recently fired for questioning the validity of climate change. The decision ironically proves the main thesis of his book that “any contrary views … not hostage to [the] planetary scandal … are eliminated.” He says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “blatantly erased” data contrary to their conclusions and there is “little accuracy” in the IPCC’s climate models. This is the political setting under which negotiations over the climate are about to take place. There is a need to reverse the current trend that makes doubting the merit of climate change tantamount to religious heresy. Before catapulting Turnbull into this political arena, scientific scrutiny has to be applied to ensure the theory is as valid as its proponents claim.

Paris will be constructive, it is argued, because leaders have a united goal to mitigate climate change to “limit the increase the of Earth’s global surface temperature to only 2 degrees above the preindustrial level.” This is drawn from the fear that “current warming has proceeded at an unprecedented rate for the last 1,300 years.” These NASA graphs show a positive correlation between carbon emissions and temperature that escalate vertically from 1950 onwards. However, a graph like this is as accurate as Piketty’s graph on income inequality. Using highly selective data, the graph persuasively misleads the reader into thinking correlation equals causation. A graph on income inequality says the growing distance between the highest and lowest income earners makes capitalism bad for the poor. This graph on climate change says that increasing temperature in the past 200 years makes capitalism bad for the environment. Much like Piketty’s graph, current climate projections do not encompass full historical trends nor do they cover the degrees of difference between regions.

NASA’s estimates go back 650,000 years. This is old, but not as old as the planet itself. Temperature swings date back as far as 65 million years, according to Alaskan geologist David Lappi. His study points out the variety of different stages in the earth’s climate. From various ice ages to temperatures “drastically warmer than now,” the modern day is “cooler than usual.” This graph demonstrates that despite the high degree of variability, temperatures are consistently sliding downwards. Lappi’s study uses “oxygen isotope thermometry of deep ocean sediment cores,” which not only covers more areas of the earth’s surface but a wider time frame compared to NASA. Additionally, NASA’s projections are based on “atmospheric samples of ice cores” which researcher David Middleton has shown seriously underestimates the variability of interglacial carbon dioxide levels.

Lappi argues that the extent of volatility within Earth’s historical climate makes it possible to “pick virtually any trend you want depending on the dot you start from.” NASA chose a recent trend using a less precise measurement in order to claim that global warming is not only unprecedented but must be attributed to carbon emissions.

Cracks in this theory are evident in the false predictions made by environmentalists. By failing to address the variability in the earth’s historical and geographic climate, they have deterministically argued that global warming will increase temperatures worldwide. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth predicted that the North Pole could be “completely liquidated by 2014” due to the “impending threat of global warming.” In fact, the total opposite has occurred as there has been “a dramatic increase in the amount of ice covering the pole.” In the past two years alone, polar ice caps have “grown by 63%.” Predictions along the same false alarmism of Gore continue however as Professor Peter Wadham argues “the ice area will be less than 1 million square kilometres by September 2015.” It is now November 2015 and even NASA has shown that “an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation … is currently adding enough ice to outweigh the loss of its thinning glaciers.” Any theory with such clear empirical evidence against it should be re- classified as such, instead of rising to the pedestal of undisputable scientific fact.

The second flaw in NASA’s projections is that global warming is a direct result of carbon emissions. Whilst the barrage of climate change literature suggest climate change is man-made, empirical data shows otherwise. Anthony Lupo, professor and former reviewer of the IPCC, explains that “climatological changes since the 1850s” are not unique as “there have been periods where there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than today.”

Natural global warming is also determined by the sun as a 2014 Nature Geoscience study established an “unexpected link between solar activity and climate change.” According to geological scientist Dr Raimund Muscheler, inputs of solar energy “indirectly change atmospheric circulation” that result in “increases and decreases of temperature in certain regions.” Whilst the impacts of the sun on climate change are evidently significant, current models used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not take solar activity into account. A climate model that does not include every major factor in its predictions cannot be considered the benchmark of global environmental legislation.

Here we have a have a conference that will attempt to eliminate the “vague threats of climate change,” when we know with absolute certainty that “poverty kills people.” Whilst the developed world’s carbon emissions have barely changed since the turn of the century, carbon emissions are rising mainly because of the unprecedented levels of economic growth in India, China and Brazil. These countries are now classified the “world’s largest polluters” as if rescuing entire populations out of poverty is a crime that must be punished.

While the Kyoto Protocol said developing nations were not required to curb their emissions until reaching an acceptable stage of economic growth, Paris will be different. All 192 nations attending; both developed and undeveloped will be obligated to reduce their carbon emissions. The crippling economic impacts this will have on developing countries led to Obama’s proposal of a Green Climate Fund. The only way developing countries can access these finances will be by “adjusting to renewable energies.” If Obama’s goal is to halt poverty reduction in the developing world, this is probably the best way to do it. The American policy goal to adjust to renewable energy in 1995 has been an ongoing failure that cost over $1,700,000,000,000 with “no clear carbon reductions.” This useless spending has only been offset by a heavy dependence and increasing production of oil as a primary energy source. If developing countries apply the same policy failure, this will devastate their ability to grow as they will not be allowed to use carbon emitting energy to sustain their industrial production.

The left are not wrong to talk about the economic disparity between the North and South. They are wrong however, to blame capitalist expansion for this divide. The emergence of global capitalism is the one mitigating factor eliminating the economic distinction of developed and developing nations. Climate legislation directed at developing nations is exactly what will keep these nations in poverty. A treaty obligating both developed and developing nations to reduce emissions at an equal rate will have similar consequences to the binding legislation of the European Union. Like Greece and Italy, nations that are better off independent will be led to economic catastrophe that is the result of political dependency. Individual bureaucrats will extract the benefits of increased funding but this will come at the expense of the economic growth for the everyday people.

As a developed nation, Australia will not face the same ravaging economic decline as Brazil, India or the Philippines. However, its dependence on coal makes it particularly susceptible to emissions cuts following the Paris Summit. Australia’s economic prosperity is largely the result of an ability to emit as many carbon emissions required in order to sustain production. In past climate conferences, Australia has been subject to the harsh labels as “one of the world’s worst polluters per capita” given the extent of its emissions and its low population. However, what is ignored in these remarks is Australia’s claim to one of the highest living standards in the world, a low rate of poverty and ongoing economic growth. Tony Abbott fully understood this when he passed legislation to the development of Queensland’s new $16 billion coalmine. He knew that “powering up the lives of 100 million people in India” is a higher priority than submitting to the unjustified political environmentalism of various lobby groups.

If Turnbull signs environmental legislation in Paris, he will acquiesce that carbon as the root of all evil, regardless of its economic benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth as coal is an integral part of achieving modern energy demand for 38% of the world’s population that still cannot access electricity.

Global leaders will be rightly welcomed in one of the darkest periods of Parisian history, but the redundancy of their goals has been exposed by the immediate concerns of global terrorism. Instead of gathering to rectify the situation, they will be working towards eliminating a non – existent threat by punishing the world’s most vulnerable people. The irony of this legislative indictment is the moral righteousness that will not only accompany the process but the recent context that has emerged. World leaders emboldened to stop global warming after the Paris attacks will only compound the number of victims to suffer needlessly.

Celeste Arenas is a 3rd year Arts student at the University of Sydney. She is the Community Relations Manager for the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and on the Executive Board of Australia & NZ Students for Liberty, as well as on the Executive of the University of Sydney Libertarian Society.

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