Guest blog by Christopher Monckton on climate change

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Science is not, repeat not, done by consensus. Head-counting scientists forms no part of the scientific method. The fallacy of argument from consensus (or, as the medieval schoolmen sneeringly called it, the argumentum ad populum) has no place in any rational argument. Nor is it any help to appeal to the supposed authority of scientists (who, for one thing, are as prone to rent-seeking and profiteering as anyone else: white lab-coats are no indication of exceptional purity). For the fallacy of argument from authority (the argumentum ad verecundiam) is another bogus form of argument. Both of these fallacies, and a dozen others like them, were categorized and excoriated by Aristotle 2350 years ago. They really should not appear in any educated discussion of a scientific topic today.

In fact, the claimed “consensus” does not exist. The largest peer-reviewed survey of opinion as expressed in the peer-reviewed learned journals on climate and related scientific topics found just 41 of 11,944 papers, or 0.3%, endorsing the official UN IPCC “consensus” to the effect that most of the global warming since 1950 was manmade. However, the authors of the “study” that analyzed the 11,944 papers reported the “consensus” as 97.1%. Police in Queensland and in the UK have been poring over the paper concerned, and prosecutions may yet follow. The patience of those of us who have diligently been contributing papers to the learned journals (my latest, on the IPCC’s aprioristic failure to take uncertainties properly or honestly into account, is attached) is running short, and outright falsehoods such as the “97%” lie are no longer going to be tolerated.

It is in fact barely possible that most of the warming since 1950 was manmade, but only if one assumes not only that CO2 exerts a larger forcing on the climate object than is at all plausible but also that the “temperature feedbacks” in response to the direct warming arising from that forcing are strongly net-positive when observation indicates they are somewhat net-negative. A paper by me in Physics and Society in 2008 was among the first to suggest, by the application of elementary climate physics, that there would be less than 1 K global warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration – and that only half of that would be likely to make itself manifest within 100 years of the doubling. Now such papers are appearing just about once a week, as others pick up the threads I exposed in that early paper. Indeed, I am very close to publishing a further paper providing for the first time a climate model that anyone with a pocket calculator can use to obtain estimates of climate sensitivity less unreliable than those of the billion-dollar brains on whose feverishly over-excited and anti-scientific predictions the climate scare was founded.

The fact that there has been no global warming for 18 years 1 month, according to the RSS satellite dataset, comes as no surprise at all to me. For I see things not only in a mathematical perspective informed by both physical theory and observation but also by the climate over geological time. One example: in the Neoproterozoic era, 750 million years ago, CO2 concentration was three orders of magnitude greater than it is today. It was at least 30% of the atmosphere, compared with today’s paltry 0.04%. Yet during that era of very high CO2 concentration glaciers a mile high came and went twice, at the Equator. And how many equatorial glaciers are there today?

True, the Sun was somewhat fainter then than now. And the continents were in different places. But I have seen the tillite deposits of one of the major equatorial glacial moraines at Arkaroola Station, South Australia, rubbing shoulders with deposits of dolomitic limestone (which can only be precipitated out of the ocean if the atmosphere contains at least 30% CO2). I have poured hydrochloric acid on to the rock to see the CO2 foaming back out of it. I have seen the curly mallee trees above it, which only grow on dolomitic limestone (though the 600 other mallee species are not so picky). And I have done some calculations that suggest the forcing effect of CO2 was – and, therefore, is – a very great deal less than the models find it to be. I was so perplexed by the IPCC’s forcing value (which has already had to be cut by a hefty 15%) that I investigated how it had been arrived at. I discovered – not greatly to my surprise – that it had been reached by intercomparison between three models. There appears to be no direct, observational estimate of the CO2 forcing, because that forcing cannot easily be distinguished from the far more significant water vapor forcing. It is really the latter that keeps the planet warm: at the crucial lower-to-mid-troposphere altitudes where it would be necessary for warming to take place if there were to be much effect on near-surface temperatures, the characteristic absorption bands of CO2 are almost entirely overlain by those of water vapour.

It is only in the upper troposphere, where water vapor is rarer, that CO2 might in theory have some warming effect. However, the atmosphere in the upper troposphere is so attenuated that little warming is to be expected at that altitude. No surprise, then, that in the mid-troposphere, where the models predict that in a warming world the rate of warming would be thrice that at the surface, no such “hot-spot” is to be observed. It was I who gave the “hot-spot” its name: but it is non-existent in very nearly all of the datasets.

And all of this is before we even begin to consider the economic case. A paper by me for the World Federation of Scientists’ Annual Proceedings three years ago demonstrated that it is 10-100 times costlier to mitigate global warming today than to adapt to its imagined net-adverse consequences the day after tomorrow. I remain the only researcher to have applied the IPCC’s own climate methodology and results to the standard techniques of intergenerational investment appraisal in order to provide a proper economic analysis. So far, the most heroically stupid of all the heroically stupid methods of trying to make non-existent global warming go away is to introduce electric vehicles, as you will see from my Energy & Environment article, which contains an admittedly breathless summary of the calculation.

So far, despite careful enquiry, I have seen no compelling case for doing anything about the climate. It has changed for 4.5 billion years. It will continue to change. And there is not a lot we can do about it. There are plenty of real and solvable problems: why waste an instant longer on non-problems that could not – even to the extent that they were rela problems – be solved except at entirely disproportionate and extravagant cost?

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Fire-walking: A key skill for EU Commissioners?

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The first Slovenian nominee for EU Commissioner, was Aleka Bratusek. As a result of odd electoral circumstances, she had managed to nominate herself, despite her party having just been voted out of office – but that’s another story.  She gave a very lack-lustre performance at her parliamentary hearing (which I attended), and as a result, she was persuaded to withdraw.

Her replacement is Violetta Bulc, Slovenia’s Development Minister  She is a woman of remarkable views and skills.  She has the ideal solution to global warming.  She says “Natural environmental heat can be transformed directly into electrical energy”.  Wonderful.  We can cool the planet and generate electricity at the same time.  I just hope that Violetta has a patent on the process, so that she can make a few kopeks out of it.

Then, she is a campaigner for Syntropy. No, I don’t know what it is, either.  But she refers to complex formulæ.  And floods of emotions.  So it must be important.  She’s also a blogger.  A recent blog is entitled “The vibrations of the white lions in the new era” .  I haven’t read it in detail, but it shows an original angle.

She has a Black Belt at Tae Kwan Do.  But best of all – she’s a qualified Shaman and Fire-Walker!  How about that?  It never occurred to me before, but I guess fire-walking is a very valuable skill for an EU Commissioner-Designate.  It might help her to negotiate some of the hot issues she’s sure to face.

Only one problem: so far as I can find out, she doesn’t walk on water.  But there.  You can’t win ‘em all.

(Hat-tip to Open Europe, who came up with most of this stuff)

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Cameron keeps digging

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Cameron keeps digging

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David Cameron is terrified of UKIP.  He’s afraid he’s going to lose the Rochester & Strood by-election.  And he knows that the biggest single issue he faces is public concern over mass immigration.  So he’s making more and more proposals aimed at reassuring the public and winning back support.  What he hasn’t promised, and can’t promise, is a clear numerical cap on “EU citizens” entering the UK – and still less can he promise that EU citizens will be treated in exactly the same way as applicants from elsewhere.

It can’t be stated too often that the current UK immigration system is profoundly discriminatory.  It discriminates against the brightest and best – brain surgeons from Canada, nuclear physicists from Australia, engineers from India – and in favour of poor and unskilled immigrants from central and eastern Europe, many of whom are arguably coming for welfare payments and/or higher health-care standards than they could expect at home.  This is not only unjust – it’s economically damaging, as we welcome the poor and dependent, but exclude the skilled and the capable.

Critics of UKIP will point out that there are European brain surgeons and nuclear physicists and engineers.  Indeed there are.  But they should be considered fairly and equally with applicants from the Commonwealth and elsewhere, and subject to the same criteria.

So if Cameron can’t cap the numbers, what’s his Plan B?  He’s talked about temporary derogations on immigrants from new member-states – but that’s even further off into the future than his 2017 referendum promise.  He wants to limit welfare benefits for immigrants – but that’s merely fiddling at the margin.  He’s talked about restricting the issue of National Insurance numbers for immigrants.  But to the extent that this might work, it would be in breach of the EU’s free movement rules, and illegal under the treaties.  And even if could do these things, he still wouldn’t be equalising treatment of EU and other immigrants.

He’s in a hole, but he keeps digging.  To counter the UKIP threat, he’s making more and more commitments on which he will be unable to deliver.

Speaking in London yesterday, out-going Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was unequivocal.  “Free Movement” is a foundation-stone of the EU project.  It’s not up for renegotiation.  Cameron is making a big mistake (for once I agree with Barroso, though for a different reason).  He risks alienating other member-states, especially in Eastern Europe.

There are those who hope that the new Commission President Jean Claude Juncker will be more amenable – though after Cameron’s aggressive but doomed attempts to block Juncker’s appointment, that seems unlikely.  Of course Juncker says that he will seek to solve “the British problem”.  In his new rôle he has to say that.  But as a dyed-in-the-wool federalist, he will no more abandon free movement than will Barroso.  Any change in the free movement principle would require Treaty change, and the agreement of all 28 member-states.

Barroso also said that the UK would suffer outside the EU.  Leaving would be an historic mistake. “Even the proudest nation can’t shape globalisation by itself”, he said.  He’s right.  But neither can the EU “shape globalisation”.  However as an independent nation, Britain is better able to respond to the challenges of globalisation than it would be in the ossified European Union.  I liken it to a ship in mid-Atlantic.  No, the Captain can’t alter the weather.  But if he’s properly in control of his vessel, he can cope with it.  Subject him to one-size-fits-all responses from a remote bureaucracy, and he’ll soon be in difficulties.

Just as Cameron is in difficulties.  He’s making promises on which he must know that he cannot deliver.  He’s in a hole, but he just keeps on digging.

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Public meeting in Chichester

At the Chichester meeting with Diane James

At the Chichester meeting with Diane James

On Friday, I travelled down to Chichester for a UKIP meeting in the Assembly Rooms – and I was delighted to see that they were flying the Union Jack (OK – for purists – the Union Flag) over the building, and not the EU’s sorry Crown of Thorns.

There were 180 seats in the hall, and by the time we started a couple of minutes after seven I had trouble in seeing any empty seats at all.  I was appearing alongside our parliamentary candidate for Chichester, Andrew Moncrieff, my colleague Diane James MEP, and someone I hadn’t met before but who has worked closely with Diane, Elena McCloskey, UKIP’s council candidate in Rogate.

Andrew Moncrieff has an interesting opponent in Chichester, Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie.  Tyrie is surprisingly realistic on climate and energy issues, but sadly is also a sell-out Europhile.  That should present some easy targets and quick hits for UKIP’s Andrew in the forthcoming battle of the two Andrews.

Elena McCloskey is a very interesting candidate indeed.  There was a slight foreign accent in her perfectly-articulated English, and we learned that she had come to Britain from Russia, started a successful business, and become a British citizen.  She gave a very impressive account of herself, and coming from a former communist country she had a very focused view of the values of democracy and self-determination.  She saw some disturbing parallels between Soviet totalitarianism and developments in the Brussels.

Diane delivered one of her marvellously professional and convincing speeches on the imminent threat posed to British citizens by the European Arrest Warrant.  If this coalition government carries out its plan to sign up to the EAW by December 1st, we’re stuck with it.  No way out except Brexit.  (Roll on the Day!)

I talked about our recent run of election results, and of course about energy — the dual threat to our security of supply, and competitiveness, as a result of failing green policies (and don’t miss Charles Moore’s splendid piece on this subject).  And Andrew ran through some detailed voting statistics that gave the lie to Cameron’s claim that “A vote for UKIP is a vote for Miliband”.  In Heywood & Middleton, 617 Conservative votes gave the seat to Labour.  In Chichester, Labour have no chance of winning, come what may.  It’s a two horse race between UKIP and the Tories.

All in all, a very successful meeting, with lively questions both during the session and informally afterwards.  UKIP is on a roll in Chichester.

I’d been in London earlier in the day, and I got to Chichester in time to have a look around.  It’s a delightful town, with lovely and interesting shops.  I daresay I’d been there before — I have a vague recollection of the theatre — but that was several decades ago.  This time I made a point of visiting the Cathedral.  Begun in 1076, 962 years ago, it is mostly Romanesque, with hints of early Gothic creeping into the later parts.  It was rebuilt after a fire early on, and again after the spire collapsed in 1861 — almost miraculously, without loss of life.  Workmen trying to shore it up were out to lunch.

Both the Cathedral volunteers, and the guide-leaflet, were keen to draw my attention to the Piper Tapestry, behind the high altar.  Woven in France in 1966, it seemed to me far too brash and sixties-modern, and out of place in the splendid and sacramental space of a great Cathedral.  Apparently a Victorian High Altar had been removed as “Out of keeping” with the tapestries, replaced by a modern stone alternative.  Personally, I’d have kept the Victorian altar and gone without the tapestries.

By contrast a High Altar Frontal tapestry by G.F. Bodley (1900), in sumptuous shades of red and gold, was redolent with order, reverence and beauty.  But it was relegated to a side aisle, and neither the volunteers not the guide made any reference to it.

But perhaps the high point of art in the Cathedral was the magnificent Arundel Tomb (what’s the Arundel Tomb doing in Chichester? I hear you ask.  I also asked, but no one seemed to know). It shows a mediæval couple side by side in death.  He is in armour, and has his right gauntlet in his left hand, while his un-gloved right hand discreetly holds that of his wife.  A touching detail immortalised by Philip Larkin in his poem “An Arundel Tomb”. Do read it.

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Jaguar Untamed

A the JLR event with Amjad Bashir MEP; Sudhir S. Deshpande, JLR Deputy General manager in India; and Nicky Denning, JLR Corporate Affairs in Brux

At the JLR event with Amjad Bashir MEP; Sudhir S. Deshpande, JLR Deputy General manager in India; and Nicky Denning, JLR Corporate Affairs in Brux

Last night I attended a British Chamber of Commerce event at the British Ambassador’s residence sponsored by Jaguar Landrover,  We were addressed by Mike Wright, Executive Director of JLR, as well as West Midlands Labour MEP Siôn Simon, and Carlo Pettinelli, from the Commission.

Given the patchy record of the take-over of British auto brands by Asian companies, I must admit that I feared the worst when I heard in 2008 that Jaguar was to be taken over by Indian conglomerate Tata.  (Let me declare an interest: I love the marque, and currently drive an XKR).  I was utterly wrong.  Tata brought a combination of deep pockets, management skills and distribution networks, critically coupled (in the case of Mr. Tata) with a profound respect and love for the brand.  They have done wonders.  Today JLR is making annual profits that exceed the price Tata paid for the business.

Mr. Wright told this story in clear and cogent terms – though remarking on the way that energy prices in the UK posed a problem for the manufacturing sector.  That’s an issue I’ve been banging on about for years.

I was accompanied by several UKIP colleagues, including Amjad Bashir from Yorkshire; Jill Seymour, Transport Spokesman, W.Mids; and Bill Etheridge, W.Mids.  Between us we rather dominated the questions session, but I was delighted by the clear, positive and professional way in which colleagues made their points.  They reflected well on the Party.

I managed to get the first question.

Mr. Chairman, I have questions for all three panellists.  Siôn Simon told us that EU membership was fundamental to Jaguar’s success, and that if the UK left the EU, inward investment would dry up, existing investors would flee to the continent, and jobs would be lost.  Does he recall that EU advocates were saying exactly the same, fifteen years ago, about what would happen if we failed to join the €uro?  Does he recognise that they were wholly wrong then, and can’t he understand that they are wholly wrong now?  Does he recall that Ford, no inconsiderable auto company, recently moved its van operations out of Hampshire, out of the UK, out of the EU, to Turkey?  Doesn’t that show that you don’t have to be in the EU to trade with it?”.

His answer was mostly flannel, and the assertion that all major companies wanted to stay in.  This in fact is simply not true, and many of those that say they want to stay in have a weather eye on EU contracts and EU funding.  They can only maintain their lobbying position by toeing the party line.  I continued:

Mr. Pettinelli, you said it was the Commission’s job to create conditions in which EU businesses could succeed.  Did you notice that Mr. Wright called attention to the problems created by high energy prices in the EU?  Do you recall that out-going Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said that “We are creating an industrial massacre in Europe with energy prices?”

In reply, he talked about the importance of energy efficiency, about increasing competition, completing the internal market, and improving distribution infrastructure.  These are all worthy aims, but they are merely fiddling at the margin compared to the elephant in the room – our vast waste of money and resources on inefficient and intermittent renewables that fail to deliver either significant reductions in emissions or competitive prices.  The EU has no policy that can deliver secure and affordable energy.  UKIP has.

I also put a couple of questions about the business to Mr. Wright, but they were of less political consequence.

I was struck by another comment that Mr. Simon made.  He said that China was prepared to deal with Europe, not the UK, and that was a reason for continued EU membership.  Clearly, he was just plain wrong. China does in fact trade rather substantially with the UK, and it does that because we are a major market, not because we’re in the EU.  But his point is surely irrelevant in this case.  JLR is just opening its first big factory in China.  We’re talking Jaguar cars built in China in a factory owned by an Indian company.  The EU simply has no relevance at all.

Our MEPs, 24-strong and the largest UK delegation in Brussels, are certainly starting to make their presence felt.  And in a good way.  I was proud of them.

British Chamber of Commerce event at the British Ambassador's residence sponsored by Jaguar Landrover

British Chamber of Commerce event at the British Ambassador’s residence sponsored by Jaguar Landrover

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Renewables re-visited

The Bioethanol plant at Yarm, Stocton-on-Tees

The Bioethanol plant at Yarm, Stocton-on-Tees

In my pre-political career, I spent four very happy years with United Distillers/Guinness plc (now Diageo), in Korea and Singapore.  Indeed I was “Mr. Johnnie Walker” in Korea.  In the course of my time with United Distillers, I visited a number of distilleries, both malt and grain, in Scotland.

So it came as rather shock today, in a meeting with representatives of the bio-ethanol business, to realise that in essence, the bio-ethanol production process is simply an analogue of a grain whisky distillery.

Thankfully, they start generally with wheat (not malting barley), and with sugar.  They ferment it.   They distil it.  And the result is – well – vodka without the water.  (It is the malt whisky and the barrel ageing that give whisky its distinctive character).

I’ve always been a sceptic about bio-fuels.  They add cost.  They reduce performance. They use land that we could be using for food.  So I was impressed to find that UK bio-ethanol, made from British wheat or sugar, doesn’t quite match my expectations.

First, the wheat we grow in the UK is largely soft wheat, unsuitable for bread-making.  Second, the land use for wheat is three-quarters offset by the value of the main by-product (or as we have to say these days, co-product).  The spent grains, after fermentation, become high-protein animal feed, which we need anyway, and which displaces imports of (typically American) soya beans.  And of course the ethanol displaces imports of fossil fuels.  There is a substantial two-way balance-of-payments benefit.

The industry also claims that it reduces CO2 emissions, even allowing for the energy inputs along the way – though we in UKIP are less obsessed with that aspect.

But the game-changer for me was the claim that bio-ethanol is now price-competitive with regular petrol, and doesn’t require subsidy.  Is there any other renewable (except hydro) which can say that?  And the icing on the cake: bio-ethanol is high-octane, and doesn’t reduce engine performance.  It may even enhance it.

The difficulty facing the industry is that they have invested £750 million in the UK based on the earlier mandated 10% figure for the proportion of bio-fuels in transportation.  Recognising the land use change implications (known as “ILUC”) for bio-fuels generally, the EU institutions are now proposing to reduce that figure.  The Council wants a 7% cap for bio-fuels – and fails to take into account the fact that bio-ethanol is benign in terms of land use.  It doesn’t have a significant ILUC issue.

We need to get this idea through to the UK government.  Otherwise a £750 million investment, and several thousand jobs in the North of England, are at risk.

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