Opinion: Let's get the facts on climate change
The devastating effect of Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year, when reports said the United States had never experienced such a large amount of rainfall across such a vast area since records began. Photo / AP The fact is, climate change is happening ... It has from the beginning of creation ice ages, ocean level rises and falls, forests turned into deserts, deserts turned into forests. It's all happened many times and will do so in the future. However, are the increasingly alarmist views, largely predicted by the media, scientists, naive politicians and some commentators, actually going to become reality? The truth is that, despite the tsunami of dire predictions forecast over the last 20 to 30 years, very little has changed. The Maldives are still above water, despite claims to the contrary. Remember the alarmist views on climate change were first titled man-made climate change - then, as science challenged this theory, we had global warming and now we have climate change because it fits every conceivable weather event flooding, drought, storms, hurricanes and anything else that, when analysed, is a natural-occurring event that Mother Nature throws at us from time to time. Depending on the data or scientists you listen to, average global temperatures have hardly altered from traditional warming and cooling trends. Greenhouse gases form approximately 3 per cent of our atmosphere by volume; 97 per cent of those are water vapour and clouds with CO2 constituting only about 0.04 per cent of the atmosphere. Some scientists now say a small increase in CO2 emissions will actually increase the value of crop production. Astrophysicist Dr Fred Singer in his book Hot Talk, Cold Science says that "the pessimistic, and often alarming, global warming scenarios depicted in the media have no scientific basis". He says a small amount of global warming would be positive for the world, with a longer growing season for food and a reduced need to use fossil fuels. He also says solutions like carbon taxes would have severe consequences for economically disadvantaged nations. To add confusion, a report by Valentina Zharkova, a scientist at Northumbria University in the UK, claims that, due to a record low level of solar radiation, sunspots and other solar activity, we could be heading into a mini ice age during the 2030s. However, such conclusions have already been called into question. The last mini ice age seen on Earth was in 1645 and lasted until 1715. It was so cold that the Thames froze over in London every winter. If that were to happen this would cause a major crisis, with food production slashed in a rapidly over-populated world. Canada is experiencing significantly colder and snowier winters and, similarly, colder winters are occurring in Europe and elsewhere. So is global warming or global cooling, climate change or whatever you want to call it, really happening? Perhaps nothing significant, bar the normal fluctuations, are taking place. Remember when the "experts" in the 1970s and 80s warned that world oil production would peak and decline from the year 2000, while others suggested that the Y2K bug at midnight on New Year's Eve 1999 might see computers, energy supplies etc all stop? Well, as we know, nothing happened. So why are some political parties, scientists and others creating so much hype over climate change? Could it be that for minor political parties and individuals, it's a surefire way to grab a headline and votes from an easily-led public? Could it also be a means to raise major funding for research and certain individuals' salaries? We all need to pause, present a balanced view and make informed decisions about our future and that of our children. Predictions appear almost daily in our news media, along with every storm, dry spell or cold snap being blamed on climate change, along with the naive thought that if we all convert to electric cars, plant trees and stop cows farting, we will change the world. This ignores the very real threat to humanity of overpopulation, especially in countries that can least afford to feed its people. Here there is potential chaos that could be created, with mass pollution, war, famine and extinction of most of our wildlife. Climate change, yes but first get the facts right. Dave Hill is a Whanganui businessman and Wanganui Ratepayers' Association chairman It replaces the police weigh station on State Highways 1/3.