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'Carbon Is Life' - Interview with Author Ron House
What prompted you to write ‘Carbon Is Life’?
When I was teaching at the local University I had little free time, and I had simply assumed that we were being told genuine scientific findings about global warming and the dangers of carbon dioxide. But when I left the Uni to work on my own projects, I took what I thought would be a short break and I researched the science for myself. I have to admit I was amazed. Within a week I was convinced that the theory was false. Within two I was convinced that it was being pushed by people who also knew it was false. In other words, they were misleading non-scientists about science. Since then, I have found more and more evidence that has only reinforced my first impressions.
The worst part of this was that carbon dioxide is a positive benefit to life, and in a big way that has been thoroughly proved. An extra 300 parts per million of CO2 adds from 30% to 70% to the growth of most plants, which means food for people and wildlife. Quite literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers document this fact. But who is ever told about that by the politicians and climate scientists? Why this curtain of silence? Why the completely one-sided presentation? After all, even if one does believe the warming theory, the loss of world food supply that would come from reducing CO2 surely has to be up there as part of the discussion, otherwise we could be making huge mistakes. To cut a long short short, the combination of bad science and obvious attempts to mislead the public was just too much, I had to put down in print what I had learned. Hence the book and its title “Carbon Is Life”.
What do you hope the reader will get from the book?
I hope that I have explained the basic facts about carbon and carbon dioxide in a way that intelligent non-scientists will be able to follow. I just don’t buy the establishment climate scientists’ “trust us—we have a consensus—but don’t ask for proof” attitude. After all, even a theory as complex as relativity can be explained in a way that anyone with a good knowledge of high school maths can understand. (Einstein himself wrote a short book doing just that.) So there’s no excuse for climate scientists not giving us in simple terms the evidence they have for their theory. But you try to get any evidence from them! The evidence for the value of carbon dioxide, though, is huge, so I have given some of it. As for why the global warming theory is false, I have explained that too.
For a very short version, here it is: the global warming theory says that carbon dioxide has a small heating effect on the planet’s temperature, called (wrongly) the greenhouse effect. But just about everyone agrees with that, and no sane person would be worried that a small heating effect would harm the planet—least of all the Vikings who settled in Greenland in the medieval warm period when it was two or more degrees hotter, or the Romans who planted vineyards in northern England in the Roman warm period. Nor indeed would the Vikings who subsequently were starved to extinction in Greenland during the little ice age disagree! So what’s the dispute about? The global warming theory doesn’t stop there. It says that this small warming from CO2 evaporates extra water from the tropical oceans, and water, being a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, multiplies the warming by blocking the heat escaping to space. So the theory says there should be a tropical atmospheric hotspot, more water in the upper atmosphere, and less heat escaping to space. All these things have been measured, and there is a tropical atmospheric cool spot, less water in the upper atmosphere, and more heat escaping to space. Scientific theories are disproved by wrong predictions, and all this theory’s predictions about the operation of CO2 to heat the planet are exactly wrong. That’s not the punch line of the book, by the way!
So what else is in the book?
When I talk with people about global warming (which the pushers now dishonestly call ‘climate change’—as if the climate has ever not changed!) a big stumbling block is, why, if the theory is so wrong, do so many people push it? Am I claiming there is some global conspiracy or am I some sort of tinfoil hat fruitcake? And that, even though I am poking a little fun at it, is all the same a very, very important question! It wasn’t the question that concerned me when I make up my own mind because I had confidence in my own ability to think through the science. But we all rely on experts—I would rely on an expert doctor, for example, because I have no medical training myself. So why shouldn’t we all just trust “the experts” on this issue? My answer, of course, is that I can see why “the experts” are wrong; but that isn’t enough—and it shouldn’t be enough—for science lay people. What went wrong? Why do some very many people all agree on a completely wrong theory? I felt I had to sort out what was going on here and give a separate answer about this. To a degree my answer is speculative, but I hope it gives lay people something to take into account in coming to their own conclusions. I also have some ideas about how we move forward from here, how to fix the current mess and make sure we do much better in future.
How does this book help advance the ‘climate debate’?
There are now a dozen or so really good books about global warming—all explaining why it’s wrong, of course, because it is so easily proven to be one of the worst scientific theories of the past century. But the ones I have read explain why the theory is wrong, or they go into details about the scientific and political malfeasance of the pushers of the theory. But I think we need more than that. People don’t vote Green for the Greens’ Marxist policies. They don’t even vote for their plans to shut down modern civilisation and sending themselves and their descendants into poverty (and yes, relying on bird-killing wind turbines, or even on solar, amounts to that—another question I address in the book). No. What people vote for when they vote Green is for caring for the planet, for caring for wildlife. This isn’t a political book, but people will need to be well informed to make political decisions, and it is a tragic fact that by ignorance or design, the Green and most other political parties of the world have gambled all their moral credits on a fallacy. Now that global warming theory is falling apart, the leaders of these parties are still pushing the fallacy for all they’re worth. Who is dishonest and who is simply in denial is a question I have no wish to think about. But it raises an all-important question: how do we care for our planet and protect the plants and animals, and live in harmony with them, and creating a world that is truly worth living in? I try to make a start on that in the book, but it goes way beyond what I have covered. But anyone who isn’t aware of the facts about carbon dioxide cannot take a useful part in that far greater discussion; they are likely, in fact, as the Greens have done, to work very hard for policies that actually destroy the things they hold most valuable.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?
That’s a hard one! So many, all vying for the top spot! On a practical level, there is the fact that, as I discovered, you can’t trust anyone. For an example from a different field, take nuclear power. Is nuclear fission economical? I don’t know. The figures given by energy companies and by environmentalist are so different they can’t all be right. Thorium, which they won’t use because you can’t make bombs in a thorium reactor, seems better than uranium and plutonium, and fusion, if it could be got to work, would solve our energy problem permanently. But the basic uranium reactor, is it worth building, simply from a cost standpoint? Maybe one day I’ll have time to really look into that one, but for now, I just don’t know who to trust, so I hold off.
Another problem was that so much was changing so fast that it was hard to keep the evolving text up to date—new discoveries, the Climategate exposes, new physical theories. On the other side, new nonsense about global warming is invented every day, and contrary to the oft-repeated slander, climate skeptics are not funded by Big Coal or Big Oil or Big anybody—quite the opposite when you add up all the grants given by government to pro-alarmism voices. So all this nonsense keeps turning up. For example just this week some blather about the Earth’s pole shifting. Guess what, it’s been shifting ever since the planet formed 4.3 billion years ago. But who has the resources to answer all the nonsense? One has to stop somewhere.
The scientific issues weren’t that hard—the basic fact that the theory is wrong was, as I said, obvious a week into my investigation—but putting the science in a clear form can be very hard indeed! But the really big problems were about the imponderables. I give my answer to how so many people can believe a fallacy, but my answer isn’t the only one. For example, a recent paper shows that where there is a great deal of certainty (as there is now) about a fundamentally complex topic (such as global warming), the consensus belief is actually less likely to be correct! And there are probably a thousand other ways to look at it, but it is important, and at the end one feels one’s best efforts might not be good enough.
What about the ebook version?
[Updated] My original plan was to simply make it free, but unfortunately various internet trolls etc. misuse these offers. So yes, the book has a list price to reflect its normal commercial value like any other book, and if you like you can buy it at the normal price, and you can buy the paper version, of course. But I am providing various low- or no-cost download options through our mailing lists and other places. As long as I can defeat the trolls, I don't want to refuse to give this information to anyone who wants it. Too much hinges on it. We are seeing science basically being destroyed from within. Politics is corrupted, scientists are working hard to say what the politicians want, rather than give their best scientific opinion. Scientists are becoming activists in a case of what is now being called “noble cause corruption”—the cause is thought to be so noble it justifies any amount of lying, any skullduggery of any sort.
Some years ago now I came to the opinion that we are heading into a new dark age. People living in the Roman Empire under pax Romana—the Roman peace—thought the good times would last forever. Just the way we often do. But they didn’t, instead there was a thousand years of obscurantism and superstition, burning heretics, drowning witches, compelling people to believe the Earth was at the centre of the solar system—and all justified by a consensus of experts, of course! I have been surprised this past year or so to read many, many others who have come to the same conclusion. One person wrote that there has been no really big advance in science since the 1960s. Someone else claimed we no longer know how to get to the moon—so much for being on Mars by 1990! True or not, one thing I know from my own personal observation is that some key climate scientist figures now believe in something called “post-normal science”. In case you haven’t heard of it, in post-normal “science”, truth is said not to matter. In other words, it isn’t science at all. Another told us we may have to choose between effectiveness and honesty. If this is the way things are going, the writing is on the wall for our free, democratic societies. If we as free peoples don’t find ways to protect ourselves and our institutions from dishonesty and nonsense ideas, everything could fall apart much quicker than any of us expect. I don’t go into these specifics in the book, instead I have some thoughts about our overall approach, our “vision”, if you like, that we’ll need to succeed in taking our civilisation onward and upward rather than down and out.