Does the government really believe in climate change?

It is difficult to believe the UK government is serious about climate change.

Anyone in power who believes that global warming is happening, that it is dangerous, and that it is caused by human emissions of CO2 would conclude that unilateral action in a country the size of the UK, however effective, could make practically no difference to the likely growth of carbon dioxide output, as China and India industrialise rapidly. They would go on to decide that what the UK had to do to deal with the problem is invest in tackling the likely adverse consequences of it. They would also be unlikely to commission new coal fired power stations without carbon capture and storage, given the only progress in cutting CO2 the UK has made in the last 20 years was the dash for gas initiated by the Conservative privatisation policy.

I have been urging the government for a long time now to take action to prevent flooding and to increase the piped water supply, as more flooding and shortage of piped water are the two most likely adverse consequences of a warmer Britain. I have identified a number of anti flood projects that need to be undertaken in my own constituency. Many of them require relatively modest expenditure – enlarging a ditch with a digger here, cleaning out a culvert there on a regular basis. Indeed, they could probably be accommodated by spending less on reports, reviews and letters denying legal liability by public authorities and hiring a man with a digger for a few days. A couple require larger schemes, that need to be fitted into the Environment Agency’s overall budget, and some require action by the local Water monopolist. I have had another conversation with Hilary Benn, and have followed it up with another letter, as I suspect what I find in Wokingham is common in all the areas subject to flooding around the country.

I have also been urging action to tap into borehole water where water levels are rising, to build an additional reservoir for the South-east and to press ahead with a stand-by desalination plant in London for water provision.

We are going to need better flood defences and an increase in water supply, regardless of climate change. So come on government, wake up.

I am also grateful to a correspondent for sending me the following quotes, which shows how professional opinion changes, as it should do in the light of new facts and theories

“The world’s climatologists are agreed” that we “prepare for the next ice age” (Science Digest Feb 1973)
“..the approach of a full-blown 10,000 year ice age” (Science, March 1 1975)
” The North Atlantic is colling about as fast as an ocean can cool…growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter” (Christian Science Monitor 27 August 1974)
Lowe Ponte, “The Cooling” 1976 forecast the problems of global cooling

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21 Comments

  1. Posted April 4, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we could kill two birds with one stone and start having those who are sentenced to community service be given shovels and told to clean out or enlarge ditches.

    This might be cheaper still, and it would mean those who transgress get the opportunity to repay their debts to society.

  2. John of Enfield
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Just a minor point on the causes of global warming: The percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere always significantly lags behind global warming it does not lead it, therefore it cannot be the cause of it. It might well make the warming worse – but it does not cause warming in the first place. Source – BBC documentaries. I am sure that it is a "good" thing to encourage efficient use of unsustainable carbon-based energy sources but when it results in an unseemly rush into bio-fuels, inefficient windmills & other excesses then I think it is time for the so-called "greens" to provide a much more scientific basis for their proposed actions.

    Reply:FUEL ECONOMY AND CURBING HARMFUL EMISSIONS ARE BOTH GOOD THINGS IN AN ENERGY SHORT WORLD WHERE WE LIKE CLEAN AIR. IT WAS GOOD OF THE BBC TO RUN THE ITEM YOU MENTION AS MOST OF THEIR REPORTS HASTEN TO INCLUDE CLIMATE CHANGE OR GLOBAL WARMING AT EVERY CONCEIVABLE OPPORTUNITY

  3. Elizabeth Elliot-Pyl
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone else noticed the subtle shift from "global warming" to "climate change"?
    When face with irrefutable proof that many parts of the world are cooling (as pointed out repeatedly by Christopher Booker) these "scientists" change the name of the problem!

  4. tim holden
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Anything the government says is difficult to believe, and we should probably spare ourselves the bother of trying to believe anything they say. Their moral capital is spent.

    There is a severe risk of the climate change issue being polluted by this government's effort to gain apparent virtue by linking itself to concern over global warming.

  5. Posted April 4, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    This Government doesn't take climate change seriously, but uses it as an excuse for tax hikes. What happened to the Stern report?

    In tackling flooding, there are several issues, increased building and tarmak car parks mean more sealed surfaces and less groundwater recharge. So more flooding and less drinking water. People turning their front gardens over to parking can help by using permeable paving.

    Collecting rooftop rainwater for non drinking purposes (toilets flushing, showers, garden use) will help reduce energy used to treat water, and reduce the impact of rainfall on flooding.

    The main thing we can do to reduce our emissions is reduce flying, the main London Mayorall candidates are against Heathrow expansion, what about you?

    Reply: Please see my blog and interventions in the debate on this topic

  6. alexis broadbent
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Why is the language used to discuss climate change always phrased in semi religous tones?

    Surely is is a question of fact rather than belief?

  7. Posted April 4, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    As Iain Dale has pointed out even the BBC are starting to hedge their bets.

    The sunspot cycle is somewhat worryingly late. That, plus the cooling at the end of last year, suggests that warming will be the least of our problems.

  8. APL
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth Elliot-Pyleon: "Has anyone else noticed the subtle shift from “global warming” to “climate change”?"

    Elizabeth, yes. If you are old enough to remember the '70's then the scare then was 'next ice age.

    This decade it is 'Global warming' and you are correct, they have been pretty quick, it is now 'climate change'.

    Climate change means nothing and it means anything. Sadly not too many people pay attention to news and current affairs, perhaps too busy living – who knows. But in these circumstances, anyone can start a scare – one priviso, it needs the cooperation of some in the political sphere, to give credance – in the US people like Gore, and sadly in the UK somebody prominent like David Cameron will serve the purpose well.

  9. Posted April 4, 2008 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    John is right to call it climate change, some people managed to mistake 'global warming' for lovely sunny days. Actually science tells us to expect storms, floods and extreme weather.

    And while emissions gets the headlines, peak oil, pollution, species loss are all similar problems. We cant go on as we are, it is wise to prepare for the future, not just keep going as we are.

  10. Posted April 4, 2008 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    The Government is indeed failing to act properly to save our economy. For one thing, it hasn't implemented all the measures that the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) asked for in its report on climate change.
    http://www.avtclient.co.uk/climatereport/

    And John's right, we need to take protective measures too. Everything from flood defenses, to becoming energy independent.

  11. Posted April 5, 2008 at 12:23 am | Permalink
  12. Posted April 5, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Adrian says it is right to call it "climate change" rather than "global warming" not because the latter would not be more accurate (if warming was actually taking place) but because it is not sufficiently scary.

    I think he has thus answered Alex' question about why & by whom the campaign is being fought in religious rather than scientific terms. That plus the fact that the theory that we are undergoing catastrophic warming is a theory but with no evidential basis to it.

    I would also question John's reply that cutting fuel use is automatically good. This seems to be obvious but actually it only applies if fuel & power are in short supply. We know that we could saisify all our power needs for billions of years with nuclear power. I think getting richer is a better answer than accepting reductions.

  13. Simon
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Follow the link below to an article which shows headlines of The New York Times and Time Magazine over the years. HOTTER, COLDER, it's like Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right.
    http://www.inteliorg.com/archive/FireandIce.pdf

  14. Atlas shrugged
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    Nobody wants to live in a polluted environment. NO ONE

    Nobody wants to live in a fridge or an oven either. NO ONE but an Eskimo or a lover of S+M.

    But the evidence for global climate change especially global warming has simply got so many holes in it is might as well not exist at all. Any government that condemned its population to even an ounce of poverty on the evidence available who be worse the Stalin on a dad day IMO.

    If is a well know fact of life that if the US economy sneezes the UK economy catches a cold.

    Therefore if the UK economy get a cold the developing world gets influenza. If the developing world gets influenza not only do countless millions die. It does not take a nazi rocket scientist to work out what happens to people in the third world.

    So if the American economy catches global warming disease and seriously act on it. Half the population of the world could already be dead, before the worlds average temperature changes even one degree.

    I for one would take the risk that UN scientists are just being paid to make it up as they go along. Which there is plenty enough evidence already to say that they are doing exactly that.

    The UN is simply finding a role for itself, thats just the plane TRUTH of the matter.

    The only thing that worries me is that if we don't do what the UN and the people that control it want us to do. The UN will simply come up with another scam or cause the global warming by technological means ON PURPOSE. The technology already has long since existed to do this. I do not trust the people that control the UN not to use it, if the chips are down.

  15. Posted April 6, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    "What happened to the Stern report?"

    Well, what happened was that the Stern report was found to be so absurdly biased and scientifically flawed that both scientists and economists ridiculed and vilified it. Only politicians have been gullible enough to take any notice of it.

    Crucially, the Stern report took only the very worst of the IPCC's scenarios and then applied some random elements of its own, and thus came up with an utterly absurd conclusion.

    The Stern Report notably did not include any models for the SRES A1 family of scenarios, which opts for mitigation through increased wealth. This increased wealth comes as a result of increased free trade and technology sharing across the world.

    Which is why the Libertarian Party have adopted the SRES A1 family as our reaction to climate change: because it is the best scenario for human beings.

    DK

  16. kieran
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    as someone who's worked in the field of scientific research and statistical analysis of data, I have one big, nay, huge problem with the anthropomorphic climate change arguments – and that is the fact that the data used to formulate the analysis is all "corrected" or "balanced" prior to use – in other words, there is a high risk of data being manipulated to support the predicted outcome.

    Just for one, I'd like to see an analysis based upon raw data!

  17. Posted April 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    "“Has anyone else noticed the subtle shift from “global warming” to “climate change”?”"

    No. What do you think the CC in acronym IPCC stands for? The IPCC was formed in the 1980s.

    The only person I know of who is on record as advocating a change from the term 'global warming ' to 'climate change' has been a republican advisor in the US who thought 'global warming' sounded too scary, and wanted to downplay it.

    "If you are old enough to remember the ’70’s then the scare then was ‘next ice age."

    No it wasn't. Here is a review of what the scientific literature said in the 70s, and scientists were predominantly concerned about greenhouse warming even then:
    http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

  18. DennisA
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    No, the government doesn't believe in global warming, because they know it for what it is, a fraud. However they need it to get nuclear power back in the frame, in order to address the impending energy black hole.

    It is also a great means of citizen control and an excellent source of taxation. There are currently serious plans under discussion for individual carbon credit cards, a product of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research; the new over-60 bus passes are smart cards which could be adapted for that purpose, along with the "voluntary" student ID cards already mooted. David Blunket's entitlement cards never went away.

    We have to have nuclear power and we have to have coal.

    Carbon dioxide is NOT A POLLUTANT. Carbon capture is an expensive, uncertain and unnecessary technology and there are many potential geological problems.

    What happens to it once it's buried, do we let it out again bit by bit to warm the planet up again as we get colder over the next few years? What if there was an earthquake and it all escaped at once?

    Of course, the Precautionary Principle is a one way street and the sole property of the environmentalists, (I use the word advisedly, as they are in favour of detroying our wild uplands and our coastal waters with inefficient heavily subsidised.wind turbines, in the process killing untold numbers of wild birds and bats).

    Control pollution, yes, but clean-burn coal technologies,such as fluidised bed combustion, will do that.

  19. Travis Bickle
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Strange how the BBC, in their olympic flame love fest today, although probably for one time only, never once mentioned the carbon footprint of this absurd exercise.

    As to other points, yes it would be fantastic if our population recycled more, used energy more wisely and didn't drop litter everywhere that suits them, but taxing ourselves to poverty isn't going to make any of this happen, nor make a blind bit of difference to the earth's climate.

    How arrogant of our political masters to peddle the myth that the pain and sacrifice of British citizens towards reducing our miniscule contribution to the worlds greenhouse gasses will ever cause the likes of China, India or America to follow our lead. Still whilst they're all laughing at us Brown/Darling are smiling at trousering yet more of our hard earned cash.

  20. APL
    Posted April 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    APL: “If you are old enough to remember the ’70’s then the scare then was ‘next ice age.”

    FOD: "No it wasn’t. Here is a review of what the scientific literature said in the 70s, "

    We are not talking about scientific literature, we are talking about the general information avaliable to the man in the street through the MSM.

    your citation:

    "Developments that are dramatic or new tend to draw the news media's attention, Revkin argues, rather than the complexity of a nuanced discussion within the scientific community (Revkin 2005). A handy peg for climate stories during the 1970s was the cold weather."

    Firstly the peg could just have easily been the warming trend in the '70s but the as it turned out the bias of information commonly avaliable was the so called cooling trend or the 'new ice age'.

    Another quote from your citation, there was "no consensus" in the scientific community about 'climate change', hardly surprising since govenrment had not really managed to infiltrate the 'scientific community' with their grants or other blandisments at that time.

  21. Provincial John
    Posted April 13, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Desalination: standby plant for S.E. England. Certainly necessary sooner or later. Perth, W. Australia, copes with persistent drought using a non-nuclear desalination plant for about 20% of its water. We should find out more and have the details at our fingertips.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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