James Kerr. This is how I critique all articles, the ones I generally agree with and those I dont. I check facts, evaluate conclusions and generally look for errors of logic and science. QED.
Moore’s statements are in italics. My comments in text.
Thank you for the opportunity to set out my views on climate change. As I have stated publicly on many occasions, there is no definitive scientific proof, through real-world observation, that carbon dioxide is responsible for any of the slight warming of the global climate that has occurred during the past 300 years, since the peak of the Little Ice Age. If there were such a proof through testing and replication it would have been written down for all to see.
The contention that human emissions are now the dominant influence on climate is simply a hypothesis, rather than a universally accepted scientific theory. It is therefore correct, indeed verging on compulsory in the scientific tradition, to be skeptical of those who express certainty that “the science is settled” and “the debate is over”.
But there is certainty beyond any doubt that CO2 is the building block for all life on Earth and that without its presence in the global atmosphere at a sufficient concentration this would be a dead planet. Yet today our children and our publics are taught that CO2 is a toxic pollutant that will destroy life and bring civilization to its knees. Tonight I hope to turn this dangerous human-caused propaganda on its head. Tonight I will demonstrate that human emissions of CO2 have already saved life on our planet from a very untimely end. That in the absence of our emitting some of the carbon back into the atmosphere from whence it came in the first place, most or perhaps all life on Earth would begin to die less than two million years from today.
Moore here is basically stating his position.
I have skipped the potted history of his life as it contains nothing of relevance to climate change debate.
The Keeling curve of CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere since 1959 is the supposed smoking gun of catastrophic climate change. We presume CO2 was at 280 ppm at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, before human activity could have caused a significant impact. I accept that most of the rise from 280 to 400 ppm is caused by human CO2 emissions with the possibility that some of it is due to outgassing from warming of the oceans.
Current CO2 levels are at 409ppm and are higher than any point in the historical record. The basic statement from Moore about is essentially factually correct. Man by burning fossil fuels has raised the atmospheric levels of CO2.
Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
NASA tells us that “Carbon Dioxide Controls Earth’s Temperature” in child-like denial of the many other factors involved in climate change. This is reminiscent of NASA’s contention that there might be life on Mars. Decades after it was demonstrated that there was no life on Mars, NASA continues to use it as a hook to raise public funding for more expeditions to the Red Planet. The promulgation of fear of Climate Change now serves the same purpose. As Bob Dylan prophetically pointed out, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”, even in one of the most admired science organizations in the world.
So here we need to apply some basic clear thinking logic.
“Carbon Dioxide Controls Earth’s Temperature” in child-like denial of the many other factors involved in climate change. There is no evidence given here. This is just an opinion statement, at no point in this paragraph does Moore even suggest other factors he feels are involved in climate change. Linking the quote to life on not being found on Mars is off topic. The quote from a Bob Dylan song is used totally out of context and begs relevance here. Moore just seems to want to discredit NASA.
The next 4 paragraphs continue in the same vein.
Broad rambling statement about the G7 leaders. Just opinion about how they seeming want to end the world as we know it and that they are fools.
Discredit the IPCC. Again just an op ed, no facts just a rant about how it is conflicted.
Then attack the media. Again just opinion and a rant.
None of this is well argued. Sure if you believe like Moore does that there is some sort of global conspiracy between the G7, NASA, IPCC and the media then you will love this but there are no facts and certainly no science here at all. Just a framework of global conspiracy theory.
Let’s begin with our knowledge of the long-term history of the Earth’s temperature and of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. Our best inference from various proxies back indicate that CO2 was higher for the first 4 billion years of Earth’s history than it has been since the Cambrian Period until today. I will focus on the past 540 million years since modern life forms evolved. It is glaringly obvious that temperature and CO2 are in an inverse correlation at least as often as they are in any semblance of correlation. Two clear examples of reverse correlation occurred 150 million years and 50 million years ago. At the end of the Jurassic temperature fell dramatically while CO2 spiked. During the Eocene Thermal Maximum, temperature was likely higher than any time in the past 550 million years while CO2 had been on a downward track for 100 million years. This evidence alone sufficient to warrant deep speculation of any claimed lock-step causal relationship between CO2 and temperature.
Ok finally we get to some science. Before life on earth (pre Cambrian) there is some good research on what may have been the conditions on early earth. One thing is pretty certain, the chemical composition of the earth has been the same since the earth was formed. The various % of elements on earth are the same now as when the was formed with the addition of a small % arriving via collision with asteroids, comets etc. He starts at 540 million years ago with the beginning of life on earth.
Moore then goes on to state “ It is glaringly obvious that temperature and CO2 are in an inverse correlation at least as often as they are in any semblance of correlation” By this statement he is actually saying that CO2 and temperature historically sometimes linked and sometimes in opposition but it is a vague statement with the intent of saying CO2 and climate are not linked. (more on why that happens next)
Moore states At the end of the Jurassic temperature fell dramatically while CO2 spiked. He offers no further explanation of this event. We only need to look at the geological record to find what was going on. There was a massive increase in volcanism at that time. Naturally occurring carbon dioxide spikes were generated by large scale volcanism. At the same time as CO2 is emitted vast quantities of ash are produced and this in the upper atmosphere blocked out a significant amount of solar energy lowering temperature. So the spike in CO2 and the cooling was a direct result of a period of very active volcanic eruption. It must also be noted that the rate of temperature change was very slow, millions of years not the 10s of years we are currently experiencing. 1
1https://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/18740/20151213/volcanic-event-triggered-ice-age-during-jurassic-period-researchers.htm from a peer reviewed paper refereed to in the item.
Moore also states: During the Eocene Thermal Maximum, temperature was likely higher than any time in the past 550 million years while CO2 had been on a downward track for 100 million years. This evidence alone sufficient to warrant deep speculation of any claimed lock-step causal relationship between CO2 and temperature.
As this event is more recent in the geological time scale it has been well studies and Moore’s statement that CO2 had been on a downward track for 100My is not correct. There is a measured increase in CO2 that is believed to have caused the Eocene Thermal Maximum, it is being extensively studied as it seems to replicate our current global warming so provides a model we can measure the current CO2 lead warming event against. For more on this event there is a good item on Wikipedia with a host of references to peer reviewed papers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene%E2%80%93Eocene_Thermal_Maximum
Moore then goes on: The Devonian Period beginning 400 million years ago marked the culmination of the invasion of life onto the land. Plants evolved to produce lignin, which in combination with cellulose, created wood which in turn for the first time allowed plants to grow tall, in competition with each other for sunlight. As vast forests spread across the land living biomass increased by orders of magnitude, pulling down carbon as CO2 from the atmosphere to make wood. Lignin is very difficult to break down and no decomposer species possessed the enzymes to digest it. Trees died atop one another until they were 100 metres or more in depth. This was the making of the great coal beds around the world as this huge store of sequestered carbon continued to build for 90 million years. Then, fortunately for the future of life, white rot fungi evolved to produce the enzymes that can digest lignin and coincident with that the coal-making era came to an end.
So what Moore is saying here is that this period sequestered vast quantities of Carbon and transferred it from the atmosphere into lithosphere, while at the same time releasing Oxygen into the atmosphere thus making life possible for air breathing animals. (It is this same Carbon that we are now reconverting into Carbon Dioxide to alter the chemistry of the atmosphere now) While basically correct that this is the carbon source of our fossil fuels. It is also true that it was locked out of harms way until mankind started burning it in ever increasing quantities.
Moore continues: There was no guarantee that fungi or any other decomposer species would develop the complex of enzymes required to digest lignin. If they had not, CO2, which had already been drawn down for the first time in Earth’s history to levels similar to todays, would have continued to decline as trees continued to grow and die. That is until CO2 approached the threshold of 150 ppm below which plants begin first to starve, then stop growing altogether, and then die. Not just woody plants but all plants. This would bring about the extinction of most, if not all, terrestrial species, as animals, insects, and other invertebrates starved for lack of food. And that would be that. The human species would never have existed. This was only the first time that there was a distinct possibility that life would come close to extinguishing itself, due to a shortage of CO2, which is essential for life on Earth.
This paragraph is a mishmash of facts, combined to make a false conclusion. With the development of fungi to consume lignin, the game changed. Moore’s prediction of a future without fungi is plausible, but fungi arose and so regardless of Moore’s prediction the earth was forever changed. Moore is playing “What If’s” here, and using his “what if” to justify the next point.
150 ppm CO2 is the point where plants start to suffer from low atmospheric CO2. But the system is self regulating, lower CO2 leads to lower plant growth. But the most important point Moore misses is the Fungi and many herbivorous animals have come into existence and can process all that plant material in the world post the Devonian period.
His next statement the life would all end because they have starved is a moot point and based on the false presumption that Fungi ( and associated bacteria) never arose which they in fact did. So the conclusion is false because the premise that fungi never came into existence is false.
Moore continues: A well-documented record of global temperature over the past 65 million years shows that we have been in a major cooling period since the Eocene Thermal Maximum 50 million years ago. The Earth was an average 16C warmer then, with most of the increased warmth at the higher latitudes. The entire planet, including the Arctic and Antarctica were ice-free and the land there was covered in forest. The ancestors of every species on Earth today survived through what may have been the warmest time in the history of life. It makes one wonder about dire predictions that even a 2C rise in temperature from pre-industrial times would cause mass extinctions and the destruction of civilization. Glaciers began to form in Antarctica 30 million years ago and in the northern hemisphere 3 million years ago. Today, even in this interglacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age, we are experiencing one of the coldest climates in the Earth’s history.
Ok, there is not a well-documented record of global temperature over the past 65 million years. There is a reasonable fossil and geological record but temperature is interpreted from other data. Like what was living where as compared to now. There are certain key indicator species in the fossil record that allow us to make an approximation of past temperatures but no fossil thermometers. We can say is there is permanent ice the average temperature is below the melting point of water. But we need to understand we are talking in temperature ranges not specific temperatures that we think of today. We have already looked at the ETM 50 My ago.
Moore’s premise that ancestor species survived the ETM is obviously correct but the vast majority of these plants and animals are very different to the species that inhabit the planet today. Also many were living near the poles where it was cool enough to survive. Remember, the planet we live on is dynamic, tectonic plates move about, land rises and falls, in time-frames of millions of years. It is these same time-frames of warming and cooling we also need to keep in mind. It has taken 65 million years for the temperature to drop by 16C, that is -0.000000246 C per year on average. Climate change was a slow, very very slow process in the past. Where as our current change of temperature since 1880 have increased by 0.007 C per year and since 1970 by 0.017C per year, rocketing up by geological time frame standards.
It makes one wonder about dire predictions that even a 2C rise in temperature from pre-industrial times would cause mass extinctions and the destruction of civilization. Moore again totally misses the point on timeframes yet again with this statement. He seems to have no concept of geological time and how slowly things have changed in the past. The only times that earth has seen rapid changes in timeframes close to what we are experiencing now were mass extinction events from cataclysmic events. That is the history we need to compare our world to now.
We need to remember that the human line diverged from Chimpanzees about 7.5 million years ago and Homo sapiens appeared on the scene about 280,000 years ago. So we need to think that while life on earth will survive a large change in climate, will man also survive a change of climate? Moore’s premise that “life” has survived before has no bearing on the survival of civilization as we know it. What history tells us is that civilizations have risen and fallen, often due to failures of food supply and changes in local and regional climates. The Sahara and Mesopotamia were green once.
To continue further is to my thinking waste of time, the remainder of the speech continues in the same vein, facts, unrelated premise and conclusion based on that premise. It would make a good secondary school clear thinking exercise.