During this second cold and wet summer in succession it is good to enjoy the occasional day of warm sunshine, and remember wistfully past summers which were so much hotter. At least I can blog more, because week-end games of cricket are being cancelled all too regularly owing to rain and bad light! This week I was in a game where we played on into the dark after 6.30 pm at considerable hazard to fielders.
It was against this background that I found the following comments of Dr David Evans, the author of the Australian carbon accounting model, most interesting:
â€œ The satellites that measure the worldâ€™s temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6 degrees in the past yearâ€¦.The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warmingâ€ (This first appeared in an article in the Australian)
I was also sent copy correspondence Christopher Monckton has been having with the American Physical Society over an article of his written for their Journal in July 2008. Apparently they commissioned him to write a piece claiming that the extent of the likely impact of human generated carbon dioxide on global temperature change is less than commonly thought. He tells me wrote it and that they asked for other professional opinion on it. He was therefore surprised to learn that they intended to place a disclaimer on the article saying â€œThe following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Committee of the American Physical Society disagrees with this articleâ€™s conclusionsâ€.
All this is looking very dated, as the world faces recession, credit crunch and downturn. In these circumstances there should be more opportunity to concentrate on practical greenery. Most could surely agree it makes sense to recycle and re-use more, to generate more power from sources other than oil and gas, to waste less fuel and raise the efficiency of everything from home heating to industrial production. All these things will help cut the costs of production, help price firms back into weak markets, and help householders reduce their bills.
There are two ways of going green. The UK government belongs to the tax them and regulate them camp. They have put taxes on petrol and owning cars, taxes on business and taxes on using city centre roads. They have with the EU written endless pages of new regulation. They have made the green cause unpopular, by seeing the opportunity it affords to introduce everything from more taxes to a spy on your rubbish bin. People feel robbed. They are nervous about whether they are conforming with the mass of new regulation bossing them around.
The alternative approach is to rely on incentives and new technology. At the end of the nineteenth century people were worrying about how to handle all the horse manure in London from the build up of horse drawn traffic. They did not foresee the technical revolution that the car and bus represented. It is going to be possible to cut the amount of carbon and of noxious gases emitted by engines to produce much greener motorised transport. It is going to be possible to generate more of our own power and capture more of our own water at home, and to insulate our homes to much higher standards. We know how to generate electricity without needing to burn oil or gas.
The best green policy the UK has enjoyed in recent years was the duty reduction on petrol to encourage people to switch from leaded to unleaded fuel. The modest tax incentive achieved the switch effortlessly and comparatively quickly, as people saw the need to cut lead in the atmosphere and liked the cut in their bills. We need more policies like that, to go with the grain of human nature, to cut our fuel use and to promote better technology.