Mr Miliband’s latest purple prose has suggested that global warming, now called climate change, is the cause of the recent floods. He deduces from this that the UK needs to do much more to arrest the output of CO2 to the atmosphere.
Let me annoy many of you and suppose that Mr Miliband is right – that CO2 does warm the climate, that man made CO2 is the key part of that process, and that this has directly caused the recent floods. Many of you disagree with one or more of these steps in the argument, I know.
He should still ask himself if the UK cutting its CO2 output more is going to stop such floods in the future? I cannot for one moment see how that can be true. The UK’s role in total world CO2 is small. If we take yet more action to make energy dearer and scarcer here, we will simply import more energy intensive goods from elsewhere. The amount of fossil fuel energy burned worldwide will not be reduced, even if the UK stopped burning all fossil fuels over say the next twenty years.
This weekend a climate scientist made clear that the recent bad weather in the UK has been caused by the position of the jet stream. He has stated that “there is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter”. Others have reminded us that this wet winter is no wetter than some other winters over the last 250 years, and is not the wettest on record.
I will agree with Mr Miliband on one important thing. We do need a new consensus about doing more in the UK to give ourselves resilience against wet weather. It would be a good idea to build into that more resilience against hot weather as well, in case we break out of the recent run of cool wet summers and have a hot dry one for a change. We need to store more of the water when it does fall as rain, and direct more of the water away from homes and farms into reservoirs, aquifers, and into rivers and the sea in manageable ways. Surely we could all agree on that, whatever our views on the global question of warming and CO2?