Neil Henderson to Gisborne Herald re Barry Coates of Oxfam


I attended the meeting addressed by Mr. Barry Coates of Oxfam on 23 April. I consider that many points made by him were incorrect. I will comment on two of these.
He claimed the IPCC reports are robust peer reviewed documents. A report has just been released by “Citizens Audit Project” that has checked every paper quoted in the forty-four chapters of the IPCC’s fourth report. One chapter has only 15% of its papers peer reviewed. Twelve of these chapters have less than fifty percent of their papers peer reviewed. Another eighteen chapters have less than 75 percent of the papers peer reviewed.
Mr. Coates claimed the science is settled. Our planet’s climate is very complex, and even the IPCC admits that there are still many unknowns, making this an outrageous claim. But we hear it all too often. Let me list three recent items that detract from the theory that the globe is warming dangerously.
1.    Many scientists, including Phil Jones, a lead author of the IPCC and part of the “Climategate” scandal at East Anglia University, now concede there has been no significant warming since 1995. Mr. Coates is wrong when he asserts that the world is warming even faster than the IPCC originally predicted.
2.    Ice has built up over the last three years in the Arctic, replacing the ice that melted over the preceding six. Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre has admitted that it had been an overstatement to conclude in 2007 that global warming had pushed the Arctic to tipping point from which it might not recover.
3.    Many scientists believe the sun’s solar cycle is the main driver of temperature on earth. These scientists, among whom is NASA’s chief solar scientist, Dr. David Hathaway, now believe that a recurrence of the Dalton Minimum, a very cold period in the early 1800’s, is possible. The previous three cold Northern Hemisphere winters are evidence of this.
I do agree with Mr. Coates that the ETS and growing biofuel will do nothing for climate change and that biofuel production hurts people in poverty. But planting trees to soak up carbon dioxide does not work either. Eventually the trees reach maturity and more need to be planted taking more land that should be growing food for hungry people.
If carbon dioxide really is causing global warming, the only solution is to stop producing it. It was suggested that New Zealand needed to reduce its emissions to forty percent below 1990 levels. But we are currently about 24% above 1990 levels, so we need to reduce our current emissions by over 60%. This means every person will have to drive their car only 400 kilometres for every thousand they drive now.
The food we eat also has emissions from growing, processing, transporting etc. Efficiency gains may help reduce emissions, but each person will have to account for the balance of their share. If they do not wish to go hungry they will have to drive even less. The same applies to the clothes they wear and the house they live in. It is possible that no one will be able to use a car if we are to achieve the 60% target.
I admire Mr. Coates’ concern for the poverty stricken people of the world. But is it climate change that is the primary cause of their condition? Or is it man’s inhumanity to man in the form of corrupt government, ethnic violence, greed for power etc that is adding to the list of poverty stricken people of the world?
Yours faithfully
Neil Henderson