New book claims no link between emissions and global warming

Climate change is not linked to industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and rises in carbon dioxide could even be beneficial, according to a new report by a Canadian-based economic think-tank.

Even current predictions of climate change are inaccurate due to inadequacies in computer modelling techniques and the fact that there are around five million variables that have to be taken into consideration, say the authors of Global Warming: A Guide to the Science, published by The Fraser Institute.

Furthermore, most of the greenhouse effect arises from water vapour in the air and water in clouds, with minor contributions from gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, say the researchers. In the 100 years prior to the industrial revolution, global temperatures rose by about 0.5 to 0.6°C, the book says. They then peaked around 1940 and cooled until the 1970s, and have been rising again since then.

“Since approximately 80% of the rise in levels of carbon dioxide during the twentieth century occurred after the initial major rise in temperature, the increase in carbon dioxide cannot have caused the bulk of the past century’s rise in temperature,” said co-author Dr Sallie Baliunas, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics and Deputy Director at the Mount Wilson Observatory. “Most of the warming must have been natural.”

“What is even more unsettling is the fact that the primary impact of the greenhouse effect of added carbon dioxide is in the lower atmosphere – rather than surface, but accurate measurements of that layer of air by US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of NOAA satellites over the last 22 years have not shown any hint of global warming,” added Baliunas. “In other words, the whole idea of carbon dioxide causing global warming just does not add up.”

Extensive evidence from agricultural research even points to enhanced carbon dioxide environments being beneficial, says the report. Studies based both in the field and in laboratories have shown that increases in the gas should cause many plants to grow more quickly, with a doubling of carbon dioxide resulting in a rise of 30-50% in the productivity of most herbaceous plants, with the rise for woody plants being even higher. In addition, most plants tend to use water more efficiently with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide.

“In the case of recent fears of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, science indicates that, at most, a little warming and, certainly, better plant growth will result from the projected future increase of carbon dioxide content in the air,” said Baliunas. “An optimal warming and enhanced plant growth should be of great benefit to mankind and the environment.” However, she made no mention of the magnitude of the consequences that this warming might have on effects such as sea level rises, and Pacific Island states, in particular (see related story).

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