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Letter to Greta
From Deb Newell 12 October 2019
You should feel very proud of yourself. Your crusade against Climate Warming has taken you into the homes and schools of the world and to the United Nations. At sixteen years of age this is a huge achievement. I know that you are very, very worried about the current dynamics of what is a dynamic system. Climate by deﬁnition is variable from one day to the next, one month/one season/one year/one decade/one millennia/one geological time frame…to the next. We now stand upon the shoulders of instruments that measure the temperature of the atmosphere, the oceans, the soils and deep into Earth’s crust to assess tiny changes in heat in a multitude of sites across this planet. This capacity is very new, about 200 years of instrument design and ongoing adaptations allow us to do this on a regular basis so when we read about the ‘hottest ever’ we must understand that ‘ever’ refers to about 200 years of readings from instruments of varying speciﬁcity and accuracy. To collate this data we use techniques like homogenisation before feeding such modiﬁed data into the analytic phenomenon of the twentieth century – computer software. This is new knowledge that can be mishandled.
At your age I loved science. Most of my family are in one ﬁeld or another of science, so I was always encouraged to never accept what I was being told was ‘the truth’ as this is a dynamic (just like the climate) coloured by perspective. Back then there was an American scientist who reached pop-star fame, travelling the world to talk Science to theatres full of students. His name was Professor Sumner Miller, and his message of intellectual enquiry was to constantly ask the question ‘Why is this so?’ For your own integrity now and into the future, please start asking ‘why is it so?’ to understand the complex systems that run the climate. This capacity for critical analysis is what deﬁnes humans. Many, overwhelmed by information, accept what they are told as it is easier. Religions don’t take kindly to questioning, nor do fairy tales or prejudices, but science depends upon the power of scepticism, the power of proof by enquiry. Don’t follow the easier path of acceptance. Ask hard questions of the science and scientists that have captured the attention of the world, many scientiﬁc institutions and many scientiﬁc publications to conﬁrm your own intellectual dignity.
Scientists are like the rest of us with mortgages, families, children to educate and jobs to maintain this. Science is so costly it needs signiﬁcant funding, so gone is the day when Lord Rutherford addressed the Royal Society saying ‘Gentleman we have no money so we will have to think’. Thinking is the job description for scientists but they can’t do this without research funding. This comes with strings attached. In Australia the valid, replicable science of a respected ocean scientist saw him lose his job because his research was not ‘collegial’ with the position that university held. Many major scientiﬁc research institutions have a ‘gag’ policy on their scientists prohibiting them from publicising scientiﬁc evidence against the position that institution holds which ensures its funding. I am not the ﬁrst to observe that ‘science is for sale’ but, now, this is very real and very serious. That frightens me more than the current status of the climate for in science I can no longer trust. Perhaps time to go back to religions? Is Climate Catastrophism a religion?
Feed your curiosity, Greta, by digging deep to ﬁnd uncompromised research on Climate. Many international players on the world ‘climate’ scene have been called out for faulty modelling, non-replicability of data, biased teaching, ‘distortion-by-selectivity’ of data and so on. Look for geological evidence that the CO2 atmospheric concentration was at 6 parts per million during the last major Ice Age (only 4 parts per million now); seek reports of the active volcanic, 1,800km Gakkel Ridge, beneath the Arctic Ocean, central-heating the Arctic with ice-shattering eruptions; search for total raised oceanic levels due to ingress volumes from precipitation run-off from now vast impervious surfaces; hunt down estimates of total-built construction weight on shorelines and harbours that are sinking land; read historical references of major storms/cyclones/hurricanes/blizzards/droughts and ﬂoods over thousands of years pre the age of industrialisation and its gaseous impact; look at the pivotal role carbon plays for life as we know it, currently increasing planetary greening to pull more CO2 out of the air; ﬁnally look at macro effects such as cloud cover, the migration of Magnetic North south-east taking the magnetic shield from the Arctic, the huge increase in tectonic plate instability/ volcanism/earthquakes/sink holes evidencing the molten layer is on the move, the current tilt and wobble of Earth and, most of all, solar activity – to learn from your own research.
Do not allow yourself, in years to come, to regret that you accepted what your family, your teachers and the scientiﬁc media have told you without taking responsibility for your own independent inquiry. In geological time frames our planet is currently in an Interglacial Warming Period. It lurches between Ice Ages and Warmings – it is the Ice Ages that devastate more than the Warmings. It’s been warming since the end of the 300+year Little Ice Age around 1850-1870 so comparing temperatures across 200 years will ﬁnd a warming (even with instrumentation variance). During the Little Ice Age (caused by a drop in solar activity) people starved as crops failed and livestock perished, it was cold and dark with many deaths from hypothermia and the Plague ﬂourished. Geological evidence points to volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes as the causal factors behind the ﬁve major Ice Ages, not the effects of any animal species. Humans are at greater danger from deep cold than from climate warmings so it is not the time for fear and panic.
Yes, Greta, we can clean up our act and impacts on ecosystems to ensure our future, but irrational panic won’t help. Please pick up that heavy stone you are carrying and look underneath where you will ﬁnd answers to questions that should be asked and why there is no current emergency. What we must now do is seek efﬁciency across power, food, transport and housing to lighten our load on this planet.