Not long ago, like many others, I thought it was likely that the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by burning fossil fuels was building up in the Earth's atmosphere and causing the increased global temperatures experienced over the last century. Being a scientist, trained to base my views on data rather than the opinions of others, I started to look deeper. The more I looked, the less certain I became.
The only relevant data we have is the small rise in temperatures the Earth has experienced over the last two centuries – about 1 to 2 Cº – and rising CO2 levels. I eventually came to the conclusion that the temperature increase was just the ending of The Little Ice Age – an historical fact – and we were in what the historians have called a ‘climate optima’ like the previous Medieval, Roman, and Minoan warm periods when humans, and Life on Earth generally, thrived.
Looking at the Earth's carbon cycle, it became obvious that the mere 1% we have added with our total industrial era emissions was not upsetting the carbon cycle and that other factors were determining atmospheric CO2 levels.
I was also surprised to realise how little public discussion and serious debate this issue had received, given the extreme measures that were being proposed. We were being told by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we had to ‘decarbonise’ our energy use – a massively costly act of deliberate self-harm if not justifiable. There are two links in the chain of logic that supported this conclusion. The first was that our industrial CO2 emissions were the primary cause of increasing atmospheric CO2. The second link was that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere controlled surface temperatures.
I am now convinced that the IPCC is wrong on both counts, and that the counter-measures the UN have pushed on us are ill-considered and failing. Those countries that have pursued this course are now facing industrially crippling energy prices and supply uncertainty. We need to act quickly to prevent further damage.
My latest research is summarised in the article Radiative Delay in Context. Its abstract reads:
It is said that radiative gasses (RGs, or greenhouse gasses) trap heat radiated from the Earth's surface causing it’s temperature to rise by 33 K above the theoretical temperature with no atmosphere. The word ‘trap’ is misleading. RGs delay the radiative transmission of heat from surface to space.
I estimate this delay and conclude that its average impact on atmospheric temperatures, the Radiative Delay Effect (RDE), is in the order of 0.15 [0.1 to 1] K. This result is then placed in the broader context of atmospheric thermodynamics where it complements recent work on the air-surface interaction. The combination leaves no significant role for carbon dioxide.