CLIMATE CHANGE by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Obama's rhetoric doesn't match his actions
, October 11, 2014
Climate change, not terrorism, is the greatest threat to the future of mankind, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed when he addressed the recent United Nations’ Climate Summit in New York.
This was a very big statement from a leader who had just committed the United States to lead a crusade against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
Mr Obama said, “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of changing climate.”
In reporting his speech, the Sydney Morning Herald enthused, “The U.S. President argued that the problem of climate change had surpassed terrorism as the biggest threat to life on Earth” (SMH, September 24, 2014).
In fact, President Obama’s actions fall far short of his words. The United States has not yet set targets for reducing its own CO2 emissions. To those who argue that the President cannot get legislation through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the fact remains that between 2008 and 2010, when the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, the U.S. President did nothing — not even ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
But speaking before an adoring audience of environmentalists and politicians, particularly from Western Europe — but significantly without the new leaders of China and India, who have indicated that they will not accept UN-mandated emission limits — President Obama was in his element.
He said, “In America, the past decade has been our hottest on record. Along our eastern coast, the city of Miami now floods at high tide.
“In our west, wildfire season now stretches most of the year. In our heartland, farms have been parched by the worst drought in generations, and drenched by the wettest spring in our history.
“A hurricane left parts of [New York City] dark and underwater. And some nations already live with far worse.
“Worldwide, this summer was the hottest ever recorded — with global carbon emissions still on the rise.”
Responding to rallies called by environmentalists to coincide with the UN Climate Change Summit, he added, “We have to answer the call … we cannot condemn our children, and their children, to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair.”
Every one of President Obama’s statements about climate change is either a fabrication or an exaggeration.
Claims that, in the United States, “the past decade has been our hottest on record” ignore the fact that comprehensive records have been kept for only a few decades, and even these have been “modified” by the U.S. climate authorities, suppressing high temperature records before 1950.
As for his claim that “the city of Miami now floods at high tide”, this is simply untrue. Over the past 130 years, it is estimated that average sea-level rises have been about 20 cm, very substantially less than the average tidal variation of about one metre, which occurs twice daily.
Miami, which is built on soft limestone, is sinking — like Venice in Italy and south-east England.
It is true that a few streets in Miami, a city which lies just a few feet above sea level, do occasionally suffer inundation; but they suffer far more during the region’s periodic hurricanes. Obama’s statement that the city floods at high tide is simply untrue.
In fact, rising sea levels would be caused by several factors: increasing ocean temperatures (as warmer water expands), melting glaciers and melting ice-caps.
Except in the case of a geological catastrophe, ocean temperatures cannot change significantly, because warm water sits above the mass of ocean water which is slightly above freezing point. Sea water mixing is a very slow process which for complicated reasons occurs mainly in the equatorial regions and in the northern hemisphere.
There is little change overall in glacial melting, and the extent of Antarctic sea ice is now at record highs, and Arctic sea ice extent is a little below average.
Mr Obama’s other statements were equally inaccurate.
In light of the unreliability of long-term weather observations from terrestrial sites — due to the heat-island effect and closure of weather stations — satellite observations are the most reliable measures of global temperatures.
Dr Roy Spencer and Dr John Christy in the United States are the acknowledged leaders in this field, and their observations show that current global average temperatures are 0.2°C above the long-term average, and have not risen for the past 16 years, despite rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
With China and India expanding their use of coal to produce steel and electricity, it is inevitable that CO2 levels in the atmosphere will continue to rise — as they have over the past 150 years — regardless of the actions of countries like Australia and the United States or the EU.
Most of this extra CO2 will eventually be absorbed into the oceans, and the rest will accelerate plant growth, to the benefit of mankind.