Monday, 19 May 2014
From Local Transport Today by Andrew Forster
“I have never in my life experienced the extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification which I – along with other dissenters, of course – have received for my views on global warming and global warming policies'. He says.
Yes and you see the same attitudes against pro drivers from the anti driver religion too Nigel. Read on.
Policies to dramatically cut carbon dioxide emissions are politically, economically and scientifically irrational, says the former chancellor Lord Lawson, who thinks alarm about man-made climate change has similarities to religion
Fear about man-made climate change doesn’t feature quite so prominently in the transport policy debate today as it did five or ten years ago but it continues to be a fundamental building block in how policy-makers frame ‘the transport problem’. With the exception of grassroots organisations such as motorist group the Alliance of British Drivers, there appears to be universal acceptance within the transport sector that man-made climate change is real, that it poses a serious threat to life on this planet, and that we should mitigate its impacts by dramatically cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
But how will historians look back at this thinking? Nigel Lawson thinks the judgment will be very harsh indeed. The former Conservative chancellor wrote a book in 2008, An appeal to reason: a cool look at global warming, and a year later set up a think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, to challenge what he regarded as widespread misinformation in the scientific, political and economic debate about global warming. The Foundation’s director is Benny Peiser, who LTT interviewed in 2006 and 2008 as climate alarm reached its peak in the UK, with the Government’s world-leading Climate Change Act 2008 committing the UK to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 against 1990 levels.
Lawson believes policy-makers have got things badly wrong and his explanation for how this has happened reads something like this: take a credible theory; record a temperature rise that excites scientists; set up a United Nations body to look into the matter; build some computer models with flawed assumptions that generate projections of runaway temperatures; stoke these fears with the help of a largely uncritical media and a vibrant environmental movement; and, finally, add some politicians who see ‘saving the planet’ as the ultimate cause célêbre.
Lawson recently fleshed out his thinking in a lecture in Bath, which the GWPF circulated this month. As a distinguished politician, he has had plenty of bad-tempered exchanges with political opponents but none have been so bitter as those over climate change. “I have never in my life experienced the extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification which I – along with other dissenters, of course – have received for my views on global warming and global warming policies.”
After a recent appearance on the BBC, many listeners complained to the broadcaster that Lawson was unqualified to speak on the topic because he wasn’t a climate scientist. “I must admit I am strongly tempted to agree with that... on the clear understanding, of course, that everyone else plays by the same rules. No more statements by Ed Davey, or indeed any other politician, including Ed Miliband, Lord Deben [John Gummer] and Al Gore. Nothing more from the Prince of Wales, or from Lord Stern. What bliss!”
But Lawson said he and other non-scientists had every right to speak about the topic because, ultimately, it was not a scientific one. “The issue is not climate change but climate change alarmism. And alarmism is a feature not of the physical world, but of human behaviour.
“There is, indeed, an accepted scientific theory – the greenhouse effect – which I do not dispute and which, the alarmists claim, justifies their belief and their alarm,” he said. The effect of increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide was, however, highly uncertain. Temperature records suggest that mean global temperature increased by about 0.5ºC in the last quarter of the 20th century. “But since then, and wholly contrary to the expectations of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, who confidently predicted that global warming would not merely continue but would accelerate, given the unprecedented growth in global carbon dioxide emissions, there has been no further warming at all.
“To be precise, the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a deeply flawed body whose non-scientist chairman is a committed climate alarmist, reckons that global warming has latterly been occurring at the rate of 0.05ºC per decade, plus or minus 0.1ºC. In other words, the observed rate of warming is less than the margin of error.”
Lawson said this showed that the computer models used by the climate science community to predict future dramatic temperature rises were “scarcely worth the computer code they are written in” and “almost certainly mistaken”.
Evidence, what evidence?
Some pundits have pointed to the floods that affected much of southern England this winter, caused by a shift in the jetstream, as evidence of man-made climate change. But Lawson was scathing. There was “no credible scientific theory that links this behaviour [the movement of the jetstream] to the fact that the earth’s surface is some 0.8C warmer than it was 150 years ago”.
“That has not stopped some climate scientists, such as the publicity-hungry chief scientist at the UK Met Office, Dame Julia Slingo, from telling the media that it is likely that ‘climate change’ (by which they mean warming) is partly to blame.”
Society was now much more sensitised to extreme weather events, he said, “partly because of sensitivity to the climate change doctrine, and partly simply as a result of the explosion of global communications”. “It is perfectly true that many more people are affected by extreme weather events than ever before. But that is simply because of the great growth in world population.”
With temperature datasets suggesting there stable average global surface temperatures for 17 years, Lawson said adaptation, not mitigation, was the correct response to the possibility of warming resuming. “It clearly makes sense to make ourselves more resilient and robust in the face of extreme weather events, whether or not there is a slight increase in the frequency or severity of such events.
“Astonishingly, this is not the course on which our leaders in the Western world generally, and the UK in particular, have embarked. They have decided that what we must do, at inordinate cost, is prevent the possibility (as they see it) of any further warming by abandoning the use of fossil fuels.”
Lawson said there was “no way in which this could be remotely cost-effective”. Lord Stern’s 2006 report for the UK Government, The Economics of Climate Change, suggested otherwise but Lawson said it was “a bible for the economically illiterate”, full of “dodgy economics”, and had been “comprehensively demolished by the most distinguished economists on both sides of the Atlantic”.
Stern based his conclusions on weighing up the costs and benefits of action to cut emissions, but Lawson said other commentators ignored any economic assessment of the case for mitigation at all. These people urged dramatic reductions in fossil fuel use on the basis of the ‘precautionary principle’ – the possibility that failing to kerb emissions will have a catastrophic outcome.
This made no sense either, said Lawson. “A moment’s reflection would remind us that there are a number of possible catastrophes, many of them less unlikely than that caused by runaway warming… and there is no way we can afford the cost of unlimited spending to reduce the likelihood of all of them.”
Turning to the politics of cutting emissions, Lawson said there was “no chance” of a meaningful global agreement at the supposedly ‘crunch’ United Nations-sponsored conference in Paris next year. Developing countries such as China rightly saw fossil fuels as a vital way of delivering economic growth and lifting their populations out of poverty.
“We use fossil fuels not because we love them, or because we are in thrall to the multinational oil companies, but simply because they provide far and away the cheapest source of large-scale energy, and will continue to do so, no doubt not forever, but for the foreseeable future.”
The UK’s Climate Change Act was pointless. “There is little point in setting an example, at great cost, if no one is going to follow it. Around the world, governments are now gradually watering down or even abandoning their decarbonisation ambitions.”
So why, Lawson wondered, has Western society “succumbed to the self-harming collective madness that is climate change orthodoxy?” “It is difficult to escape the conclusion that it has in effect become a substitute religion, attended by all the intolerant zealotry that has so often marred religion in the past, and in some places still does today.”
The two creeds that used to vie for popular support in the western world – Christianity and Communism – were in decline, “yet people still feel the need both for comfort and for the transcendent values that religion can provide”.
“It is the quasi-religion of green alarmism and global salvationism, of which the climate change dogma is the prime example, which has filled the vacuum, with reasoned questioning of its mantras regarded as little short of sacrilege. Throughout the ages, something deep in man’s psyche has made him receptive to apocalyptic warnings that the end of the world is nigh.
“It is a cruel irony that, while it was science which, more than anything else, was able by its great achievements, to establish the age of reason, it is all too many climate scientists and their hangers-on who have become the high priests of a new age of unreason.”