Extreme green environmentalists were celebrating in the US when President Obama gave in to their demands and refused to allow the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline. Dressed in rabbit and polar bear outfits, they danced and sang in front of the Whitehouse.

The greens said what a victory this was, because it would stop the use of more fossil fuel, and so ‘save the planet’.

In fact the oil company said; no it would not stop the use of the oil they will now merely transport the oil by road and rail, thereby increasing its price.

Meantime the greens have also said that talking to governments is not working, so they are resorting to more ‘direct action’. This means blockading ports, rail lines and so on. Apparently this is democracy in action.

Greenpeace has announced that its campaign for COP-21 in Paris will be ‘no fossil fuel and no nukes’. They say they want the whole world running on ‘renewable energy’ by 2050. This is like believing in the Toothfairy and the Easter Bunny.

They talk in sweeping theoretical terms, with no calculations of any sort to explain how this majestic goal can be achieved. Of course they also talk of living a simpler lifestyle, more in tune with the earth. That means don’t drive your car, fly in an aeroplane, or browse the internet on your cellphone, and so on.

Meantime, let me examine the basic thesis of all this. The argument is that CO2 causes global warming which leads to climate change. Another thesis is that all results of climate change are bad; nothing good can come of this.

However, over the last 1000 years the average temperature of the Earth has varied a great deal. Grape growing and winemaking were possible in England between 1100 and 1300, a time known as the Medieval Warm Period (MWP). This MWP is proven by science to have existed all over the world.

During this time the Vikings settled in Greenland. There were 3000 Viking farmers Viking greenland buildingin Greenland in 1300, and the place was green, and farming thrived.

During the MWP global temperatures were warmer than they are now.

But then a cooling phase set in. This was during the time of Shakespeare, and when the Dutch East India company pioneer Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to start a halfway station, for shipping travelling from Holland to the Far East. This cooling period has been named the Little Ice Age (LIA) and it lasted from about 1350 to 1850. During this time the river Thames froze solid and Frost Fairs were held on the river. People rode horses and carriages up and down the frozen Thames. Paintings survive to this day of the Frost Fairs. The last Frost Fair was held 1814.

Meantime, the cooling had hit the Vikings in Greenland and they slowly left and died out. The last Viking supply ship left Greenland in 1410. Modern historians had wondered why the prosperous Viking settlements had been abandoned. The answer has turned out to be simple. Climate change led to cooling and they were frozen out of their lands.

What is also evident from history is that periods of global warming led to health, welfare, and prosperity. Global cooling led to crop failure, disease, and hardship.

Some historians say that Jan van Riebeeck was sent to the Cape in 1652 in the middle of the LIA, partly because food was becoming more expensive in Europe, and the Dutch East India Company had to supply the increasing number of ships travelling the valuable trade routes to the east. Remember that the great plague of Europe, the Black Death, was in 1665. Even the rats were desperate for food and they spread the plague. Once when I visited a small country church in England I suddenly found myself standing on a large gravestone embedded in the ground. I looked down and read the inscription at my feet: “Here lie twenty six monks who died of the Black Death – 1665.” I will never forget it. I imagined the social impact of losing 26 monks from one small church.

In addition, the historically significant British settlers of the year 1820 arrived in South Africa at the end of the LIA, desperate to find a better life, compared to the poor conditions in England. One wonders to what degree the conditions in Europe, resulting from the LIA, contributed to their decision to move to South Africa.

If one goes back further in history to Roman times, there was a well-documented Roman Warming Period. This was also a period of prosperity.

During the MWP, the temperature was warmer than now. Of course there was no industrial Carbon Dioxide to be blamed for this warming. So what caused it?

Today in modern times there is a theory that the cause of global warming and cooling is the sun. But we are not talking of just the slight warming and cooling of the sun, which is known to occur. That effect is too little. It appears that climate change variations are due to major solar activity; which in turn means the mighty solar storms which appear on the sun in well-known cycles. These storms cause major alterations in the magnetic effects produced by the sun. These outbursts of magnetic activity in turn interact with the magnetic field of the Earth, which then alters the strength of the magnetic screening around the earth. This changing magnetic screen then alters the amount of cosmic radiation which penetrates the upper atmosphere of the earth. The cosmic radiation alters the amount of cloud cover, which exists around the planet. The cloud cover alters the amount of sunlight reaching the ground and so alters warming and cooling patterns. Carbon Dioxide has nothing to do with it. The solar activity model fits the facts well, including the onset of the MWP, the LIA, and the Roman Warming. The CO2 model does not fit the facts at all well; in fact in some instances it totally contradicts them.

But the extreme greens are not interested in this solar answer. They want an enemy to blame and to attack. That enemy is modern industry. To be able to attack industry the industrial CO2 generated globally has to be the culprit. Reason and logic have nothing to do with it.

In Paris the extreme greens will use all the media-grabbing opportunities they can, to force their case to the forefront of the public messages. They will not ask science for legitimate answers. COP-21 will be a war of promoting alternative political models for running the world, it will not be a search for the truth.


  • Kelvin Kemm

    Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and CEO of Nuclear Africa (Pty) Ltd, a project management company based in Pretoria, South Africa. He is the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievers Award of the National Science and Technology Forum of South Africa. He does international consultancy work in strategic development.