A group of dissident scientists and climate researchers has affirmed that there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity cause climate change, and has called on world leaders to abandon all efforts to reduce emissions "forthwith." Issued last week at the close of the International Conference on Climate Change in New York, the Manhattan Declaration challenged the notion that a scientific consensus on climate change exists, and claimed that efforts at emissions reduction would diminish prosperity while having no appreciable impact.
The Declaration stems from the work of the Nongovermental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which one might term the evil twin of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which published a closely-argued report on the subject this month. The report takes the form of a critique of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, which last year helped win the organisation a joint Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
No such plaudits for the NIPCC - last week's conference was described as, among other things, the climate equivalent of Custer's last stand for the climate change deniers. Otherwise, it scarcely troubled the news agenda.
The report's arguments, however, probably deserve more than satirical remarks in response. The NIPCC, set up by a group of scientists at a workshop in Vienna last year, sets out to provide a "second opinion" on the data used by the IPCC and on its conclusions, factoring in 'inconvenient' research that it claims the IPCC has missed or ignored, and seeking to disrupt the widely-held global consensus that the questions surrounding climate change are settled. "The IPCC seems to be aware of... contrary evidence," says the report, "but has tried to ignore it or wish it away."
The report states that climate change has always happened and always will, and accepts that man-made CO2 emissions are growing, but argues that the effect on climate is insignificant. Solar activity, which it says has been pretty much ignored as a possible factor by the IPCC, is in the NIPCC's view the most likely cause of climate change.
It further argues that the fatal flaw in the IPCC lies in its brief. It is "pre-programmed to produce reports to support the hypotheses of anthropogenic [man-made] warming and the control of greenhouse gases, as envisioned in the Global Climate Change Treaty." The evidence supporting the consensus, effectively, is being sought after its establishment - scientists are being hired to support a hypothesis, rather than to conduct a broad examination of the possible causes of climate change.
The NIPCC's conclusions so far are that the global warming trend is less significant than claimed, as is the case with sea level rises, that the models used by the IPCC do not establish human activity as the main cause, and that this is possibly explained by their failure to take into account negative feedback. Accordingly, efforts spent on tackling CO2 emissions will have no significant effect on the 'problem', and will take resources away from more pressing issues. ®