Why are we paying a carbon tax?

By Donald Offwood

16 June 2011

In terms of the science of climate change, I am a layman, but the questions are simple, so a layman should find easy answers. The IPCC has had many learned scholars gather and present their conclusions as to the involvement of human generated CO2 in the science of climate change and many other learned scholars have held opposing views. Indeed, in August 2009 Dr Vincent Gray of the UN IPCC Expert Reviewers Panel said, ‘There are no plausible arguments currently available which support the view that human greenhouse emissions are having a detectable influence on the climate.’


CO2 is a trace element, about 0.038% of our air, which is essential to the production of all vegetation and food; without it all plants would disappear and we would die very quickly. CO2 is not a problem nor a pollutant; it is an essential gas to our survival. A good argument can be made for increasing CO2 to encourage crop and food production.


The CO2 concentration when the world’s coal and oil were being laid down was 10 times as high as they are now, so the level fluctuates naturally. Has CO2 had anything to do with climate change over the centuries? No, but the climate has certainly changed, both warmer and colder. Natural CO2 is about 97% while man-made CO2 is about 3%, which is within the margin of error for the CO2 production of naturally rotting vegetation worldwide. It is hard to understand how we have caused any problem and impossible to see how taxing ourselves will solve it.


Tony Robinson recently presented an excellent TV show on Nat Geo Man on Earth in which he traces some of the earlier civilisations and follows what happened to them when the climate changed, without any input from mankind at all.


The warming of the world thousands of years ago apparently released the water contained in a Canadian lake which raised the sea level of the Atlantic and Mediterranean about a metre. This water washed over the natural weir about where Istanbul is now in 5600BC and the Black Sea was flooded. There was no man made CO2 involved.


About the same time the Sahara was green and occupied by an agrarian civilisation.  A very sudden climate change forced them to migrate to the Nile River valley where they became the highly civilised Egyptians within 1,000 years. There was no man made CO2 involved.


The Mayan civilisation of Central America had a very sophisticated civilisation in 900 AD, until the climate dried a touch and their tropical paradise dried and withered, along with their civilisation. There was no man made CO2 involved.

Similarly, the Pueblo Indians of Mesa Verda, Colorado supported a large population until the climate changed in 1260AD and they died or moved on. There was no man made CO2 involved.


The early Norse (Vikings) migrants to Greenland had a successful farming lifestyle until the climate cooled about 1500 AD and the crops failed, followed by the disappearance of the Norse settlements. There was no man made CO2 involved.

The Medieval Warm Period, from 950 – 1250AD saw crops flourish, such that grapes were grown as far north as the Scottish border with England, such abundance supporting a growing population and giving rise to the great cathedrals of the area. There was no man made CO2 involved.


That time of abundance was followed by the Little Ice Age, when the climate of England was so cold that the Thames regularly froze over and the inhabitants of London built small dwellings on the river and had ice fairs! That lasted until about 1850 and then the climate started a warming cycle all by itself.  There was no man made CO2 involved. This natural warming cycle peaked in 1998 and we have as a world been either stable or cooling by 0.1 degree for the last 13 years. The warming is over.


Although only an aircraft engineer and airline pilot, I attended a lecture a few years ago at the University of Canterbury and I naively hoped to find an answer to my question, ‘If man had not contributed to the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, why do you suggest with religious fervour that we have caused the warming since 1850?’ I was dismissed with a statement from the stage that, ‘the science is settled.’ It is not settled for most New Zealanders. It was a simple question and remains unanswered.


A recent NZ radio poll had only 18% of us believing we have caused the world to yet again turn its natural cycle. Now that the infamous hockey graph of Dr Mann has been discredited and the ‘correction’ of data from East Anglia and other institutions is made public, what the hell is going on?

Let’s keep it simple, the graphs of CO2 change and world temperature bear no resemblance to each other. In fact, any temperature rise leads  an increase in CO2. The graphs of sunspot activity and climate change, both warmer and cooler, bear an exact correlation. If a layman can see that, why does our government follow the UN dictate and impose carbon taxes on us to try and fix this non-existent problem?


A cynic might suggest that all governments love to scare us and then provide the solution and tax us along the way. There is also a story about, that it was all started by UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, when she needed a way to curb the extreme demands of the coalminers, who fed the coal fired power plants. One Scandinavian scientist had suggested that there might be a link between man made CO2 and the warming of the world. (0.7degrees over the 20th century) the story goes that she grasped at this idea and went to the Royal Society with a pot of gold and asked them to prove the link, which would allow her to establish nuclear power stations and so step around the militant coalminers. Communism was collapsing at the same time and all these left-thinking intellectuals who had supported the concept of communism had nowhere to go intellectually. As the Berlin wall was torn down they moved quickly to the new hammer with which to beat capitalism. The UN is of course a hot bed of left wing politicians and so the IPCC developed via the Kyoto protocol.


If we are on the edge of total catastrophe as Al Gore in his An Inconvenient Truth would have it, then perhaps the facts would support the theory, which has been around for some time now.


Has the sea level risen world wide? No, according to Dr Nils-Axel Morner, a member of the IPCC review committees.  It fluctuates within a few millimetres of its long time mean. After 35 years of study by measurement, not computer modelling, he has found ‘absolutely no trend, no rise’ in the Maldives, Tuvalu, Vanuatu or anywhere else in the world. By long term measurement and observation, the sea levels are not rising.


In Hong Kong and Venice the sea level is rising at a measured rate due to the subsidence of those cities.  The average change world wide, up or down, is minuscule and it has nothing to do with man made CO2. It is related to the natural expansion of the oceans as we came out of the Little Ice Age, but that is now over.


Should we be trying to develop alternative and sustainable fuels, yes, but that has nothing to do with climate change; it is just a good idea anyway. Should we be worrying about global warming, no, because the actual record, not the computer models, shows the earth has entered a cooling cycle, which is predicted to last some decades. The sun has had the quietest period of sun spot activity for a very long time, so we cool and the oceans contract.


Can we tax ourselves and make any difference, no, absolutely futile. Can we try to adapt to a cooling climate, yes; that would be worth while. A change of crops perhaps, take less agricultural risks involving long hot summers as they will not be so long or hot and out of season storms are more likely.


Now, you don’t have to take my word on all this; I am just a layman after all, but I still have to pay carbon tax and I don’t understand why? The damage done to the world economy by carbon taxes and the ETS schemes will cause far more death and damage than would ever occur even if AGW theory were true.


Climate change, both up and down, is driven by the sun’s activity. The main question to keep asking the imposers of carbon taxes is my simple layman’s one, ‘In times when man was making miniscule CO2, what caused the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age?


Donald Offwood is a retired airline pilot and aircraft engineer, has written 10 books and stood for the Values Party in 1978.