UNFCCC Submission

UNFCCC Submission

John Reid Ph.D.

202 Wylies Road, Cygnet, Tasmania

23 April 2015

The Scientific Basis

The issue of emissions targets is based on the belief that carbon dioxide emissions from industrial activity affects global climate and that, by limiting these emissions, we can ameliorate this effect.

While this belief is held by many scientists, no scientific evidence has yet been found to support it despite the billions of dollars in research funds that have been spent on it over the last 30 years. On the other hand there are a number of observations that indicate that it is not true. These include:

  1. The observation that the amount of industrial CO2 added to the ocean-atmosphere system since the beginning of the industrial revolution, (320 Gt – James Hansen, Congressional testimony), is only a tiny fraction of the total amount in the system (32,000 Gt – IPCC, Third Assessment Report)

  2. The observation that existing concentrations of CO2 and water vapour in the lower atmosphere are sufficient to render it almost completely opaque to out-going long-wave radiation. The observed rate of decrease in temperature with height, the adiabatic lapse rate, is measured many times a day throughout the world by weather balloons and it fits a convective heat transport model of the lower atmosphere. It does not fit a radiation heat transport model.

  3. Careful comparisons of small changes in global average temperature with variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration indicate that the latter lags the former by about ten months indicating that temperature increases cause CO2 increases and not the other way around (Humlum, Stordahl and Sondheim, 2012).

  4. The global distribution of atmospheric CO2 concentration recently observed by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory does not support the view that increases in this gas are largely due to Western industrial activity. Rather, the gas appears to emanate from the rice paddies and rain-forests of the Third World. Whatever the origin, CO2 variations in the atmosphere are still not well understood.

  5. The observation that global average temperature has a variance spectrum which is “red” at every time scale from a year to 40,000 years (Pelletier, 2002), i.e. the longer the time scale the bigger the variation. This implies that the small variations (~0.8°C) which occurred during the 20th Century are to be expected. Indeed prehistoric temperature records deduced from ice-core samples indicate that we are living in a particularly benign period. However these same records also indicate that climate is chaotic and unpredictable and we have no reason to be complacent.

The predictions of coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation models (“Climate Models”) are frequently quoted as evidence that atmospheric CO2 increases are the cause of increased global temperatures. These are not observations; they are theories in numerical form and rest on some dubious assumptions (see the attachment Climate Modelling Nonsense below). The recent plateau in global temperature, the “Pause”, was not predicted by any of these models and, as a consequence, their validity as descriptions of the real world must be questioned.


It follows from the above that there is no scientific basis for introducing an emissions scheme. There may well be a political basis for doing so if we do not wish to be seen as an environmental pariah internationally. In which case we should chose the most conservative commitment such as parity with that of, say, China.

However it should be borne in mind that the present “Pause” in global temperature increase could, over the next decade, turn into a full decline and further confound the experts. Likewise the observed steady increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration may cease or even reverse. In either event, taking an independent line on this issue could serve us well in the long term.

Author’s background and affiliations

I make this submission as a private citizen. I am a retired scientist, a pensioner and a former employee of the Australian Antarctic Division and of CSIRO. By vocation I am a physicist with a PhD in Upper Atmospheric Physics from the University of Tasmania. Over the last few years I have operated two Web pages concerned with popular science and science commentary, viz.: Science Heresy and Blackjay. I have also contributed to the magazine Quadrant and Quadrant-on-Line. The appended documentation is taken from my Web pages and from Quadrant.

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are appended:

Climate Modelling Nonsense

A Physicist Ponders the Pause

Mapping Carbon

An Inconvenient Truth

Ice Age Climate


A pdf of the complete submission may be downloaded here: JohnReidSubmission.

The submission is also available from the parliamentary Web site, viz.: https://www.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/unfccc-public-submissions/Att%20to%20157%20Reid_Redacted.pdf