In April 2006, David Cameron drove his team of huskies across Norwegian snow, to highlight the "threat of global warming".
However, in an extraordinary editorial, the Scotsman on Sunday on the 23rd of that month, bucked the usual trend of agreeing with the global warming hypothesis and observed that:
Apocalyptic alarmism from green activists has become the secular equivalent of those religious cults that regularly assemble on mountain tops in expectation of the imminent end of the world.
What are the facts about global warming? The only honest answer is: we do not know.
Nor is our knowledge advanced by scientists who are not climatic experts issuing sensational pronouncements. Detailed temperature records date only from 1860. These show that between then and 1915 there was no change in the northern hemisphere. Between 1915 and 1945 there was a rise of 0.4C, countered in the following 20 years by a fall of 0.2C. During the remainder of the 20th century there was a rise of 0.4C, making an overall increase of 0.6C over the century.
That is hardly grounds for panic in the streets, especially when we recall that Britain had almost tropical temperatures in the Roman period and was at least as hot as today in the Middle Ages.
What casts further confusion on the issue is the supposition that our curbing sulphur dioxide emissions (which have a cooling effect) from 1965 allowed carbon dioxide full rein to heat up the planet. In that case, might China's planned 562 new coal-fired power stations, while emitting twice as much warming carbon dioxide as gas-fired stations, also restore cooling sulphur dioxide emissions to pre-1965 levels? The equation is unreadable…
Science and the market are the twin pillars on which environmental recovery will be supported. Instead of fining firms for carbon emissions, they should be offered tax breaks to clean up their act. Incentive rather than coercion should be the motor of environmental improvement.
If there is an urgent need for something, the market can react by producing it.
We do not know the scale of the risk. But we must allow for the possibility that the more pessimistic forecasts are right.
We need an insurance policy; but we should shop around discriminatingly and calmly. We are not
a' doomed; but we need to research, to plan and to invest in a sensibly green future.
Dominic Lawson has put it very well:
Now, however, we as a nation are responsible for less than 2 per cent of the world's carbon emissions.
If these islands were to be vaporised tomorrow there would be no statistically significant effect on the future of the world's climate -- even if you believe that man-made CO2 emissions are indeed the cause of what is commonly known as global warming.
Among the many peculiarities of the Kyoto accord is the fact that the People's Republic of China is effectively excluded from its commitments. Thus China, which is already the world's second largest producer of industrial energy, last year set out on a seven-year programme to build over 500 new coal-fired power stations. Now, what will be the impact on Chinese political opinion of the individual moralising of this nation? My guess -- it's more of a forecast, actually -- is: absolutely nothing.
If we seriously want to impress the Chinese -- and help our own industrial base at the same time -- an infinitely more promising approach is to develop cheaper methods of "clean coal" technology which could be sold under licence to China.
The one thing of which we can be absolutely certain is that those countless millions of rural Chinese who currently live without electricity will not be persuaded that they should abstain from the industrial progress which has bought warmth, comfort and good health to the people of western Europe; although if any of this paper's readers who despise the life of conspicuous consumption wish to swap places with a member of the Chinese peasantry, I'm sure they will find no shortage of takers.
Dominic Lawson, "Do you want to live in a country with rising unemployment and far less public spending?"
The Independent, 31-3-06, p.31.
What's Wrong with Warm?
Ruth Lea of the Centre for Policy Studies stated in the Daily Telegraph of 20-9-04:
And what are the benefits of struggling to meet the current carbon targets, the centrepiece of the current climate change policy, for Britain?
The answer is little, if anything. As already implied, changes in British generated anthropogenic greenhouse gases are far too small to have a significant impact on global warming, which in any case may be a good, bad or neutral thing for us with our temperate climate and ability to adapt. Why on earth are we bothering? And, boy, aren't those wind farms ugly!
John R D Stewart's letter in The Scotsman of 9-2-07 summed things up:
With regard to Professor Sir Alan Peacock's article (Platform, 7 February), if an antidote is needed to Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, I suggest The Big Freeze, part of Aubrey Manning's "Earth Story" series, which establishes the climate has always fluctuated; ice sheets wax and wane, while sea levels, and CO2 levels move in accordance with cyclical pulsations of varying amplitudes. At least 20 minor ones have occurred in the last 60,000 years alone.
The Big Freeze concludes that this is probably attributable to constantly occurring fluctuations in solar radiation received as a result of wobbling in earth's orbit. If man's emissions play any part in the latest warming it is as a possible minor accelerant.
3 SENSIBLY GREEN REASONS to REDUCE ENERGY USE
The best we can say about global warming and its "climate change" effect is that, it's an unknown quantity, which may, perhaps, someday at an unknown time, and in an unknown place, have an unknown effect.
Having said that though...there are 3 good reasons to cut down on energy use, which also helps to cut down on fossil fuel usage:
1. It saves us money. Cutting down on unnecessary energy use will save you money. It will benefit us personally. What better incentive can there be?
2. It reduces toxic pollution. There are less unhealthy fumes for us to inhale.
3. It builds national energy independence, which stops us having to go to war to secure supplies, having to kill and get killed!
These are 3 practical, immediate, tangible benefits, which we can personally experience in the here and now. We're more likely to get people to reduce energy use, based on these reasons, than we are through peddling fear of the abstract "global warming" scare story -- the effects of which not one of us will ever personally experience!
These are the 3 reasons which we use to argue to reduce energy use. These are the 3 "sensibly green" reasons, as opposed to the scientifically questionable, apocalyptic and, frankly, neurotic fear of "global warming leading to climate change leading to disaster".