Today, I have posted a guest blog from Anthony Thompson…
The BBC and the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons have recently announced that allowing climate sceptics to put their case should be avoided because it gives ‘false’ balance. They say it is like giving airtime to people who think the moon landings were faked.
In doing so they are ignoring the 134 scientists who, in November 2012, wrote to the UN Secretary General, to say: “We the undersigned, qualified in climate-related matters, wish to state that the hypothesis that emissions of CO2 cause dangerous warming is not supported by the evidence”. They are also overlooking scientists as eminent as Freeman Dyson, holder of the Professorial Chair once occupied by Albert Einstein at Princeton University, and even James Lovelock, founding father of the Green movement, who has said: “Take this climate matter. They all talk as if they knew what was happening”.
Scientific truth will survive the efforts of the BBC and the Science and Technology Committee to suppress it. In the meantime we risk being thought contemptible for raising questions about climate science. To be heard, we have to approach the subject from other angles.
One way is to take the ‘consensus’ science at face value and see where it leads. For example, the International Panel on Climate Change says that the earth will warm by 3oC for a doubling of CO2. This is known as climate sensitivity. Rather than challenge this view – pivotal for climate change science – let us assume it to be accurate. We can then use it to see whether our climate change policies make sense.
In the UK we have put up thousands of wind turbines and solar panels to reduce our CO2 emissions. To fund this we spend £2 billion a year in subsidies and, according to the Government’s official estimates, this will rise to £5 billion a year. By 2020 we will have spent £100 billion. Is it worth it?
Since 2005, these turbines and solar panels have increased the share of the UK’s electricity generation from renewable sources from 1.8% to 4.6%. The UK makes up 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, and 20% of that is for electricity generation. In short, we have saved the world an increase of 0.01% in its overall CO2 emissions.
With a climate sensitivity figure of 3oC we can calculate just how much this reduction of CO2 in the UK has slowed down global warming. The result of these calculations is that global temperatures would be 0.0004oC higher had we not put up all those wind turbines and solar panels.
What are we getting for our £100 billion? So far, it would seem, a 0.0004oC reduction in warming.
It’s not difficult to dislike current policies on climate change even if you’re not sceptical of the science. We object to wealthy landowners getting large subsidies, to landscapes disfigured, to property values blighted, to bats and birds slaughtered, to a 50% increase in electricity prices, to widespread fuel poverty, to the exporting of thousands of jobs to countries with lower electricity prices and higher CO2 emissions. But for now, whether we like them or not, we are simply asking whether these expensive policies are successful. The answer is self-evidently, no. They are a disaster.
Are we going to continue down this road? The UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act which is supported by all the political parties in Parliament requires us to reduce carbon emissions by 80% from 1990’s level by 2050. If we go on as now that will mean covering an area the size of the whole of Wales with wind turbines. There has to be another way.
You might have thought that anyone who is genuinely concerned about the dangers of global warming – especially the politicians – would be desperate to abandon polices that are having so little impact. Instead, we find that all of them are continuing to back failure. They have revealed their true colours: Appearing to be ‘green’ matters more than practical solutions.
So what should be done? Apart from fracking (which has enabled the USA to reduce both its CO2 emissions and its energy prices dramatically) the sensible thing is to focus on research into alternative forms of energy. There are two front runners: Thorium and Fusion. China, India and Norway are all developing thorium as a safe alternative to uranium nuclear power; thorium is plentiful throughout the world and it does not entail long term storage issues. Fusion power, which would give us almost limitless electricity free of charge, is under development in the south of France funded by the EU, the US, China, India, South Korea and Russia. For a tiny fraction of the £100 billion we are frittering away on wind turbines and solar panels, scientists could experiment and evaluate many other possible forms of energy.
And, finally, we should not lose sight of the fact that, according to the Met Office statistics, global temperatures did not actually rise at all between 2005 and 2013, and indeed have not risen since 1996, even though the rise in CO2 has continued unabated.