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What constitutes Climate Crime?

Is failing to have a Plan B as much a crime, if cooling
is just as possible as a warming?

Post: 12th July 2020

Is failing to have a Plan B as much a crime, if cooling is just as possible as a warming? It’s amazing how ignorant man can be! That applies for ‘infectious diseases” and “climate change”. In both cases, the ability to look ahead and the crisis management are not very convincing. While dealing with pandemics has recently proved far less that reasonable, preparing for “climate change” is a disaster, if merely meant as “global warming”, and only described as “climate change”, which should be in the long run regarded as “climate crime”, according a UNESCO publication (see Fig. on the right). Ignorance and blindness is not good for the future of mankind.

The infectious diseases matter

100 years ago, between 50 and 100 million people worldwide died of an unknown virus within a few months. A total of around 500 million people are said to have been infected. Currently in 2020, within the first 6 months after the first signs of the coronavirus (COVID-19), more than 12.5 million infected were registered and 560,000 deaths assigned to this pandemic (as of July 11). Since the fall of the Roman Empire there have been more than a dozen until 1918/19,. The Black Death (1346-1353) is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population. More recently the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, 2009-2010, infected as many as 1.4 billion people across the globe and killed between 151,700 and 575,400 people.

Although virology – the scientific study of viruses began in the late 19th century, by January 2020, the world was not ready to face the pandemic. Even now in July the situation is not safe under control.  But that is by far not the most serious failure by modern society.  Presumably it is handling the issue “climate change”.

The climate change issue.

Reputedly the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, has called climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind” and urged world leaders to curb their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions.” (NYT, March 29, 2018) His call has a strong backing. According NASA:

Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

Here is not the place to challenge “climate-warming”, nor the lack of reasonable scientific terminology (see our previous posts, e.g. HERE & HERE), but the narrowness of the view that the truth is to 97% global warming.  Neither the current nor one of the historical pandemics has been handled with so extreme ignorance and short-sightedness as the scientific claims and general discussion on “climate change” and “global warming”.

Warming versus Cooling

The starting point is that without the sun nothing would work on earth, but radiation fluctuations alone may change the earthly system a bit over a period of time, which is presumably the only  result  from varying radiation.  As far as “scientists think 100% of global warming is due to humans” (see: CarbonBrief), we are on safe ground. The sun can be excluded, man is not involved.

Concerning large climatic fluctuations, more relevant for sustainable human life on earth are the two earthly components, volcanoes and the oceans.  The effects of volcanoes are well known. It gets colder regularly wherever volcanic ash reduces the income from sun rays. Assessing the impact of the oceans is much more complex. They can cool down the atmosphere whithin a very short period of time, because they only have an average temperature of approx. + 4 ° C (39 ° F). Human activities at sea can cause massive shifts in the short and long term. Science is not very interested in this and knows very little about whether humans have contributed to global warming or cooling phases over the oceans in the past 150 years. More on that later.

Many historical events, still little understood.

The latest news on volcanic impact is: “new evidence that a period of extreme cold in ancient Rome with an unlikely source: a massive eruption of Alaska’s Okmok volcano (43 BC)”, HERE . The following two millenniums showed considerable variations.  In some cases it is evident that volcanoes caused the cooling, but numerous remain without explanation.

In 1895 the New York Times (NYT, Feb. 24) expressed concern about the “Prospects Of Another Glacial Period”, subtitled; “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again”.

The article mentions, inter alia, that in 860 and 1234 ice formed a secure bridge from Venice to the opposite Dalmatian coast. In 1709 the Adriatic was completely covered with ice. All rivers in France were frozen in the years 1305 and 1364, in some places 15 feet (4.57m) thick. The winter of 1788/9 was rigorous throughout Europe. A similar situation emerged at the onset of the Second World War. Suddenly Central- and Northern Europe plunge in three of the coldest winters for 100 years, followed by a global cooling until the mid-1970s.  The most likely causes are changes to the sea, but science offers little explanation.

Too obvious is the cooling threat related to many volcanic events. The TAMBORA (1812) for its extreme degree of cold, causing in 1816 the “year without a summer”, while in New England snow fell in every months throughout the year (NYT). The next event, a devastating effect on modern civilization, was volcano KRAKATOA (1883).  Such an event today again, most of the aviation would be grounded for 3-4 years, and a serious cooling inevitable. During the years 1884 to 1886, inner-continental regions cooled more than coastal areas, indication the heating-potential of the oceans, even if sun-radiation reaching the earth surfaced is reduced. More: HERE and HERE.

Cooling is inevitable

The pervious listing of events is an indicator that regional or global cooling can occur at any time. Even if one ignores the last 2000 years, the earth used to be a much, very much colder place during the last 500K years (see: Fig. on the right). How little temperature decrees we need to get in big trouble can been seen by the developments after TAMBORA, The surface temperature anomalies during the summers: 1816, the “year without a summer” were −0.51 °C (−0.92 °F); summer 1817,  −0.44 °C (−0.79 °F), and summer 1818, −0.29 °C (−0.52 °F). During the northern hemisphere summer of 1816, cooling directly or indirectly shall have caused 90,000 deaths.

Although the statistical deviation seem remote, but having an effect, succeeding many pandemics.  The data from the Vostok Ice Core (Fig. obove right) had been very much colder over a half-million years.

Even if it is clear that humans have no way to prevent sun fluctuations and the occurrence of volcanic eruptions, the world needs a plan B and preparations for regional and global cooling.

Human made warming or cooling?

While the scientific community is only discussing human made warming, does not mean that human caused cooling does not excites.  The sources of concern are human activities at and in the sea. If the water temperatures in the North- and Baltic Sea increase considerably more than elsewhere, it is at least grossly negligent, not investing heavily in research to find out why. Since industrialization these semi-enclosed waters a subject to huge human activities, with shipping, fishing and more recently off-shore windfarms. Huge water masses are churned around every day. The sea surface may be cooler during the summer season, but warmer in winter and spring, resulting in a net warming. (see a detailed assessment:  HERE.

On the other hand, a lasting heavy human impact at sea, over several months or years, can lead to a regional cooling in Europe as during the winters 1939/40, 1940/41 and 1941/42, and a global cooling subsequently until the mid.1970s. More: HERE.  During the Second World War, the weather was documented many folds higher than any time before. It was the longest cold period after the end if the Little Ice Age around 1850. Until now the reason for the three decades cooling period has been neither thoroughly investigated nor explained.  With the billions spend in climatic research since long the impact of shipping and other activities at sea on global warming since the later 19th Century should have been done since long. But not one dollar has ever been spent. It is difficult to consider this not as a shocking failure of climate sciences.


Ignorance, incompetence and arrogant is not a crime. But it was easy to show that wide openness is required if atmospheric temperature changes are at stake.  Human behavior can influence the direction, warming them up or cooling them down. A major failure, if not tragic irresponsibility, however is, if one of the inevitable possible events, warm or cold, is completely ignored. Not planning for this and not having Plan B is grossly negligent and could, one day, be classified as a “climate crime”.  The current pandemic (see above) is evident for too little pre-preparation.

The statement by Prof. Catriona McKinnon, of UNI Exeter/ U.K., (above Fig.1) “Climate crimes must be brought to justice“, is not a great moment in the climate debate.

Author: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts