Our duty to the environment

I get occasional letters from constituents who make two points on the environment.  Given the universal scientific consensus on climate change, how can one realistically disagree?  And is it not my duty, as an elected politician, to promote the best interests of my constituents by fighting CO2 emissions and climate change, even if I harbour personal doubts?
Of course there is no “universal scientific consensus”.  More and more scientists (including IPCC contributors) are coming out of the woodwork to challenge the alarmist paradigm, and in my judgement their case is much more compelling than that of the IPCC.  Historically CO2 levels lag temperature changes, suggesting that global temperatures drive atmospheric CO2, rather than vice versa.  As even the IPCC admits, the warming effect of CO2 is logarithmic — a law of diminishing returns.  Most of the total possible CO2 warming effect is already in place, and further changes in atmospheric CO2 levels will make very little difference.  Some glaciers are melting, but some are growing, and several recent studies suggest that total ice mass in the Antarctic (home to 90% of the word’s ice) is growing, not shrinking.
There has been a slight up-trend in average global temperature since 1970, but there was a slight decline in the previous 30 years (then the alarmists warned of the next Ice Age!).  And the trend seems to have stalled in 1998.  Despite rises in CO2, temperatures have been broadly static for the last ten years.  This is consistent with a cyclical model of temperature, not with run-away warming.  2030 could well be cooler than 2010.
Should we not cut CO2 emissions just in case?  Not if we aren’t convinced about warming, because the cost and economic damage both to developing countries and to rich countries will be huge.  Many economists have challenged the facile proposition in the Stern report that “The costs of inaction exceed the costs of mitigation”.
So why the apparent consensus?  I fear there is a toxic combination of media hysteria (bad news is always news, good news usually not — remember the millennium bug?); natural public concern as a consequence; politicians seeking to respond to perceived public concern; companies responding to the public mood; many companies seizing “rent seeking” opportunities, like subsidies on wind farms etc; a mood in academia where only conformist research is funded and published and career success depends on accepting the current alarmist paradigm; politicians realising that the green agenda provides an excuse for higher taxes and more nanny-statism; and finally supra-national organisations like the EU using environmentalism to extend their powers at the expense of the democratic rights of citizens.
I agree that my job is to act in the best interests of my electors, but I am a representative, not a delegate.  I am not required merely to respond to majority opinion on every issue.  It is my duty to use my knowledge and my judgement and the reading and research I have done to establish what I believe the best interests of my electors to be.  And after that they can choose either to re-elect me or not!

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3 Responses to Our duty to the environment

  1. Jorgen says:

    The consensus among the academics is more that you cannot get funding by writing “our computer modeling project is still failing, but improving so we need more money”.

  2. Roger Helmer says:

    Nice one Jorgen. Very true!

  3. Ryan Lavelle says:

    Statistical computer models are incompetent science, just as they are in the realm of economics – as we are finding out to our chagrin with the events in the “credit crunch”.

    Just more apocalyptic ballyhoo designed to get us used to the new EU economic and political dictatorship that they are gearing up to ram down our throats.

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