Erik Blakeley says:
Climate Change Deniers

Category: Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Fuel Poverty & Security, Green Electricity & Gas, Renewable Energy, Wind Power
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Climate Change Deniers

So right wingers are calling for us to ditch the Climate Change Act entirely and to stop making progress on decarbonisation unless it is matched by other countries. Sounds good? Sounds reasonable? Well No and No in my opinion.

It’s easy to say let’s not bother, let’s just go for the cheapest quickest option and to hell with the longer term consequences but sticking our heads in the sand won’t make those consequences go away. All these arguments hinge on what is likely to happen regarding Climate Change. We are all sceptical about individual scientific results after so many false scare stories about food or vaccinations etc etc but there is something different about the work of the IPCC. It doesn’t just look at one set of data from one scientist it has been looking at thousands of sets of data from huge numbers of scientists on all sides of the debate and has been returning to the data at regular intervals to incorporate new findings. This iterative process means that it rules out the occasional rogue set of results or biased experimentation. We can rely on the trends that the IPCC reports regarding the likely outcomes.

What the IPCC is saying is that scientists are more and more certain that the effects of Climate Change are real, dangerous and being initiated by human actions that we are in a position to modify and that we should be doing so. Climate Change deniers are on a par with believers in a flat Earth. They just refuse to accept anything that isn’t immediately obvious from their exceptionally limited vantage point or that upsets their preconceived assumptions. They grasp desperately at any individual piece of work that casts the tiniest doubt on the consensus opinion like the measurements that show that the recorded temperature figures over the last 15 years or so haven’t risen appreciably. They ignore all the other data such as the diminishing ice levels in the polar regions, the increasing occurrence of severe or extreme weather conditions, the changing pattern of the jet stream or the changing behaviour of flora and fauna in response to the changes in the timings of season changes. They ignore any logical explanation of their pet data that might still be compatible with the consensus view such as the suggestion that the oceans are acting as more of a buffer to temperature rise than we expected which, whilst it buys us some time to make the changes we need, does not mean that Climate Change and global warming do not exist.

The right wing economists suggesting that we do away with the Climate Change Act are like people who would rather burn all the furniture in their house than go out and chop some firewood in the yard. It’s certainly easier in the short term but doesn’t make much sense when you want to be able to sit down or go to bed in the future or need to pay for replacements for all the stuff you have ruined.

Is it reasonable to say that we shouldn’t do anything until we can get everyone else to agree? I think not for two main reasons. Firstly it is a false claim by the Climate Change deniers that the likes of India, China and the US are doing nothing. They are making significant efforts with renewable energy and new technologies and we actually need to try harder to keep up if we are to remain a country that makes much of its wealth by technical innovation. Secondly it is true China and India are also increasing their use of non-sustainable technologies but only because their per capita wealth and consumption is so much less than ours and they would like a richer and more affluent population. We cannot reasonably say that we will not lead the way on sustainable technologies unless we first get our per capita carbon footprint down to the level of India or China’s which I would suggest we need to do by advancing sustainable tech not by making ourselves poor.

The other thing that is being said is that we need to ditch the Act and reject renewable`s because “The lights might go out!” Well firstly I would argue that it is the anti-renewable campaigns that are stopping us building the scale and quantity of renewable capacity that is the problem here and a quick temporary fix through some dash for gas is not the answer. Secondly there is this unwritten assumption that the lights going out is the end of the world. If there were to be some limited phased outages during the 8pm winter peaks of demand during a couple of winters over the next few years would this really matter so much that we need to tear up our plans for long term improvements in favour of short term measures that will push us ever closer to real catastrophe? So you miss your favourate soap on broadcast TV and have to go to bed early. Hospitals and other vital services now have much better stand by generation due in part to the green incentives favouring CHP plants and old people’s homes are better insulated than they were due to the ECO schemes so a couple of hours without power won’t see the temperature drop excessively and you can always watch the program on your computer tomorrow. It is only the politicians who have made this an election losing issue who might suffer particularly if this were to happen. Lastly what are they suggesting doing that could come on line before these suggested outages in 2016-2020? About all we could do is build a few OCGT power plants of the sort that the anti-renewable lobby say are undoing any good that wind turbines do do because of the intermittency of wind. If we want to do something now we should be pushing ahead with the energy saving side of the “green crap” to keep demand down to the levels we can reach and keep building the sustainable low carbon capacity that we will need in the next decade as we reach the 2020 targets and progress beyond them toward true sustainability.

A relevant and interesting article can be found here: http://www.scoop.it/t/climate-change-science-risk-economics-sustainability

2Comments | Post your own comment

  • Erik Blakeley comments:
    "Anna has a point but unfortunately the news today is full of further calls by Owen Paterson to ditch the Climate Change Act because the National Grid is mildy concerned that there may be power cuts this winter. Ironically the final straws have been the ongoing problems with several of the nuclear power stations and the fire at Didcot gas powered station. Its hard to see what the logic is as no large scale centralized plant can be built between now and Jan 15 unless it is already under construction. There might be some fossil fuel capacity being underused but using it isn’t illegal it just means buying out a larger proportion of the ROCs so there is no need to scrap the Climate Change Act to get a short term fix like that. There might be time to build a bit more dispersed capacity which gives us a choice of fast tracking some solar and wind or building a few inefficient Open Cycle Gas units or internal combustion gas units both of which would be very polluting, expensive to run and would in all likelihood commit us to widespread fracking if we intend to use them as anything but a few months stopgap. There are people who are only interested in the easiest way to make more money. To some degree we all feel that way and that is why the cliche “Its the Economy Stupid” entered common usage. Short term the cheapest way of dealing with the problems we face are probably the dirtiest. This is why the question of climate change does matter. It is the reason why it is worth paying more for rapid decarbonisation now because it will save us much higher costs and loads of suffering in the future. The big tobacco firms spent ages casting doubt on the links between smoking and cancer and telling young smokers why give up something you enjoy now just because there might be a risk many years in the future and we cannot even be certain that there is a risk. They manipulated and bent the science until it was no sort of truth all in the name of profits. Climate Change deniers are doing the same thing now and they have the added advantage that many of the people with power and influence probably won’t live to see the worst results of climate change. "
    October 28, 2014 a 9:19 am

  • Anna Celeste comments:
    "In a way I personally feel that it almost doesn’t matter whether people believe in climate change or not, or disagree about whether it is a natural phenomena or man-made or a bit of both – what matters is that we should all have the common sense to realise either way, we simply can not go on exhausting our planet of its natural resources like we are currently doing, there will be nothing left very soon, and we have to work in balance with nature which means harnessing energy sustainably i.e., from renewable energy sources – IF we cherish the earth, its animals, our people and the future of our own children and family that is. I think that is what matters and that it is worth fighting for : ) "
    October 27, 2014 a 2:30 pm

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