``Earth Hour" is yet another futile attempt to solve a problem that, according to recent developments in climate science, does not exist.
"Earth Hour" will make not the slightest difference to New Zealand's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In the South Island, all the electricity comes from hydropower, so it is obvious that there will be no saving in CO2 emissions.
If, in response to "Earth Hour", people turn off electric heaters and light their wood or coal fires, CO2 emissions will actually increase. If people switch off lights in the North Island, the sudden drop in load will be handled by backing off hydro power stations, leaving the thermal power stations running at a steady output (because they cannot change load rapidly).
The need to "fight against climate change" (ie. man-made global warming) has passed because there is no evidence that we are still in an overall warming phase. World temperatures peaked in 1998 and since 2000 they have been relatively stable; 2006 and 2007 were cooler than 2000; 2008 is expected to be cool because of the current La Nina phase. So we now have 10 years of no evidence of warming despite ongoing increases in man-made CO2 emissions.
In addition, research since the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was finalised refutes much of the science supporting the theory of man-made global warming. For instance, if greenhouse gases caused the warming observed between 1976 and 1998, the most pronounced warming would be in the upper atmosphere above the tropics. Recent research shows no sign of this warming signature. Therefore, greenhouse gases have not been a major factor in the late 20th century warming.
Other research shows that when the world warms, there are more low-level clouds. Low-level clouds cause cooling. The IPCC and all its computer models assume that warming will increase high-level clouds that are known to cause warming. If the IPCC corrected its climate models to reflect what is actually observed, the models too, would show that greenhouse gases have only a small effect on the climate.
There is stronger and stronger evidence that sunspot related effects and cosmic rays are the major influence on the climate. Recently published – and peer reviewed – research shows that there is far better correlation between sunspots and cosmic rays and world temperatures. This correlation can be identified over thousands and millions of years. Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder explain this very well in a recent book called The Chilling Stars.
Research is being carried out at CERN (a huge "atom smasher" complex in Switzerland and France) that is expected to show that high energy cosmic rays trigger the formation of low-level clouds. If this proves to be the case, then the theory that "man-made carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming" falls flat on its face. And not before time.
One of the crazy things about the man-made global warming scaremongering is that history tells us that when the world was warmer civilisations prospered. Records from ice cores show clearly that the world was warmer during the Middle Ages, and Roman and Minoan times were also warmer than now.
During the Middle Ages warm period, Polynesian explorers in open canoes discovered New Zealand and were making two-way voyages to Easter Island. When the Little Ice Age came along, New Zealand and Easter Island were cut off from the rest of Polynesia by cold stormy weather.
History leaves us in no doubt that cooling is bad. The Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age were not pleasant times to be alive. Famine, disease, malaria and the plague were rife.
The research indicating that sunspot effects and cosmic rays control our climate also predicts that the world is probably entering a cooling phase comparable to the Little Ice Age. Some respected Russian scientists believe that we may be on the edge of a real ice age that could last for 100,000 years. If severe cooling does set in, then all the money and effort squandered on "fighting climate change" will have left the world far less able to cope with the far more dangerous global cooling.
But, I can hear people saying "what about the Arctic ice? What about the polar bears? What about the glaciers retreating?" and so on. The fact is that Arctic ice is now back to normal after a record rate of re-freezing, Antarctic ice was at a record extent last winter, the Arctic had less ice in the 1930s, of the 13 populations of polar bears 11 are increasing, and glaciers have been retreating at the same rate for more than 100 years.
And, by the way, there is no abnormal rise in sea level. It is still rising at about 2mm per year – a rate that has been steady for more than 100 years!
We don't need an "Earth Hour". What we need is an objective look at recent developments in climate science by people who have resisted the temptation to go along with the mantra of dangerous man-made global warming in the pursuit of money, influence and political power.
* Bryan Leyland is a power industry consultant and chairman of the economics panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.