There are signs that the global consensus (or conspiracy, if you prefer) on climate change is beginning to crack in the face of opposition and reasoned argument from the so-called "global warming deniers".
Viscount Monckton has issued a challenge to Senator Al Gore, inviting him to take part in a televised debate about Global Warming. Gore has not, so far, accepted the challenge and in our view is unlikely to do so because even he knows that his sanctimonious, alarmist film An Inconvenient Truth is a tissue of lies, and that faced with an intelligent, erudite and highly articulate opponent he will only be shown up as the tosser he is.
Two leading UK climate researchers say some of their peers are "overplaying" the global warming message and risk confusing the public about the threat. Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier, both Royal Meteorological Society figures, voiced their concern at a conference in Oxford, saying that some researchers make claims about possible future impacts that cannot be justified by the science, thus damaging the credibility of all climate scientists.
Both men hold the mainstream view on climate change - that human activity is the cause, but they think catastrophism and the "Hollywoodisation" of weather and climate only work to create confusion in the public mind.
"Organisations have been guilty of overplaying the message," says Hardaker. "There's no evidence to show we're all due for very short-term devastating impacts as a result of global warming. We have to stick to what the science is telling us; and I don't think making that sound more sensational, or more sexy, because it gets us more newspaper columns, is the right thing for us to be doing. We have to let the science argument win out."
Meanwhile commentators abroad are increasingly alarmed by what they see happening in Britain. Writing on the American website Human Events, Vasko Kohlmayer says "Something disturbing and ominous is happening in Great Britain as the country embarks on an all-out fight against the threat of global warming. Intent on making Britain the world's first "green" economy, the government will soon introduce legislation designed to take SUVs and other "gas guzzling" vehicles off the road.
At the same time, homeowners will be asked to make their homes "carbon neutral" and required to draw their energy primarily from low or zero carbon sources such as wave, tide, solar or nuclear power. To ensure compliance, the government will send out inspectors to scrutinize everything from how a home is insulated to the kind of appliances it uses. Those who fail to meet the decreed standards will be fined and penalized. Just how serious the government is about enforcement can be sensed from the words of Environment Secretary David Miliband who stated that it would be "painful" for home owners to continue to have an "energy inefficient home."
These sentiments were echoed by a group of cabinet ministers who said that complying with the new regulations will necessitate sweeping changes in lifestyle across the board. Everybody in Britain, they concurred, will have to "live, work and travel differently."
It is essential that we see these developments for what they really are: A thinly-veiled attempt by devotees of the state to take over a western society the like of which has not been seen since the Soviet-sponsored revolutions of the late 1940s.
The practical consequence of these plans -- should they succeed -- will be a radical empowerment of the state which will end up with virtually unlimited powers to regulate nearly every facet of life. Everything from the way people travel to the manner in which they furnish and maintain their homes will now be subject to governmental decree and oversight. Those who refuse to comply will be punished.
The tremendous efficacy of the global warming frenzy in advancing the left's agenda can be seen in Britain where state zealots are in the process of taking over one of the world's oldest democracies. Above all, no one should make the mistake of assuming that this is the work of environmental extremists who have somehow managed to worm their way into positions of power and influence. Rather it is the inevitable consequence of accepting the claim of man-made global warming. As such, it is a dire warning of what lies in store for all those who receive this left-induced hysteria as unassailable truth."
And in the Chicago Sun-Times, John O'Sullivan says "Green is the universal sign of conspicuous virtue, of concern for planet, of a new paganism that worships the goddess Gaia and treats the Earth as itself a single living organism. Anyone who questions this newly fashionable faith is regarded as a dangerous heretic to be cast into the outer darkness. A minister in the British government suggested to the BBC that it should not allow air time to any scientists who doubted ''global warming'' (a minority of scientists but a distinguished group). Other high priests of the creed have called for "Nuremberg trials" of "climate change deniers."
In this overbearing moral atmosphere politicians are likely to salute any green flag that the environmentalists run up. And, sure enough, in 10 days there has been in succession:
A "summit" of European Union leaders that pledged to cut Europe's carbon emissions by 20 percent from their 1990 levels and, if other countries (especially America) follow their example, by 30 percent.
The publication in Britain of a Climate Change Bill, supported by all major parties, that would set legally binding targets to cut Britain's carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050.
A proposal by the supposedly free-market Conservative Party to "allow" every citizen one untaxed air flight a year but then to levy heavy taxes on additional flights in order to discourage air travel.
All this is likely to be applauded by voters swept up in this green tornado, but will they applaud its effects, large and small, when they pinch?
Take light bulbs, for instance. Under the EU summit agreement, the familiar light bulb is to be outlawed in the next few years in favor of a more carbon-neutral one. Unfortunately, the new bulb is several times more expensive than the existing one and it sheds much less light. Those who can afford the (considerable) expense will use more bulbs to illuminate the same space. Poorer people will develop eye problems and push up health costs. Such are the unintended consequences of thoughtless legislation."
He goes on to point out that …
"Almost all the European countries have already failed to meet much lower carbon emission targets under Kyoto than the new targets they adopted 10 days ago, when Brown increased fuel taxes six years ago in Britain, nationwide blockades by truck drivers almost brought down the government, and the British economy accounts for only 2 percent of global carbon emissions. If it were to close down entirely, it would have little or no impact on the world's total carbon output, and even less impact on the willingness of the Indian and Chinese governments to cut back on building power stations that they consider essential to their nation's prosperity but that are now the main drivers of increased carbon usage.
Europe's green establishment believes that global warming is caused by carbon usage and thus can be solved only by its massive reduction. But global warming has several possible causes, some of which, such as the activity of the sun, are unrelated to humans.
While we are seeking to understand global warming scientifically, we should adapt to it - shoring up coasts against erosion, changing the use of agricultural land to suit the changing climate, building dams, developing new technologies. Adaptation would include measures to encourage the use of cleaner fuels, notably nuclear energy. It would be a practical solution to the effects of warming, whatever science eventually established definitively as its cause.
To be sure, adaptation would be expensive. Not nearly so expensive, however, as trying to close down the free market in Europe and to reverse the Industrial Revolution in Asia. But Gaia is a jealous goddess and does not consider costs."
And at home, Brendan O'Neill of Spiked is even more down to earth:
"There has been a great deal of witch-hunting of Martin Durkin and the contributors to his film The Great Global Warming Swindle over the past two weeks. This witch hunt does not only point to a high level of intolerance in the global warming debate - it also suggests widespread ignorance about who and what is really undermining science today. It is not Durkin, a lone filmmaker with few friends in high places, who is damaging science, but rather those mainstream figures in politics and the media who are using science for cynical and narrow political campaigns.
There is something profoundly inhumane in the politics of global warming, in the widespread discussion of humans as problems to be worked around rather than beings with needs and desires. Anyone interested in real and meaningful dissent today - who believes that questions about the future of humanity are not reducible to graphs and pie charts - should aim their fire at the denigration of both science and politics by today's Great Global Warming Consensus.
As a layperson largely following this debate via my laptop, I can see that a scientific consensus has been reached which says there has been some global warming," (not for the last eight years, Brendan - GOS) "and most scientists believe that man's carbon emissions are contributing to that warming. There is still a clear need for debate, it seems, over whether manmade CO2 alone is the cause of warming, how much warmer the planet is likely to get, and what the consequences will be. The problem, however, is that this scientific consensus is being used by the powers-that-be to justify all sorts of inhumane, illiberal and repressive political measures, often with the support, or at least complicity, of the scientists.
Public figures are using the language of climate change science to force through a new political consensus. The scientific consensus around CO2 emissions and global warming is now used to justify reining in development, narrowing people's ambitions, and policing our behaviour in an ever-more petty fashion. Elites don the garb of 'scientific fact' as a cover for their own loss of nerve and ambition, and as an argument for holding back the potential for further progress and development. From the demand for small-scale 'sustainable development' in Africa to new taxes designed to determine what kind of cars we Westerners drive and how many holidays we may take a year, politicians, activists and commentators increasingly marshal the men in white coats to show that we have no choice but to narrow our horizons because the science demands it.
Over the past two weeks, a handful of climate change scientists have instinctively kicked against the politicisation of their work. Some very respectable scientists have told the New York Times that some of the claims made by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth were exaggerated and erroneous. "I don't want to pick on Al Gore", said Don J Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, "but there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements."
In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Hans von Storch, one of Germany's leading researchers on climate change, attacked scientists for 'doom-mongering' over global warming. Von Storch compared the moral message that is attached to today's climate change science with earlier religious and mythical stories about the Earth punishing humanity for its hubris. "The fear of climatic catastrophes is an ancient one", he said. "In the past, people believed that the climate almost always changes for the worse, and only rarely for the better - God's punishment for sinful behaviour. And nowadays, it's those hedonistic wastrels who pollute the air so that they can look at some pretty fish in the South Seas. It would be better if we only ever rode bikes. Oh, there's always someone wagging a finger in disapproval."
The subordination of science to politics has a horrendous historical track record. In Russia in the 1930s and 40s, the Stalinists championed the 'agricultural science' of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko in order to clamp down on research and advances in genetics, which they viewed as 'bourgeois science'. That had a dire impact on the forward development of agriculture in Russia for more than 30 years. The Nazis, of course, used the science of eugenics to justify their racism and anti-Semitism.
The Stalinists' and Nazis' science may have been junk, whereas the consensus around manmade global warming is more respectable. Yet the marshalling of the science of global warming to bolster political campaigns today has echoes of the Nazis' use of science to back up their poisonous politics of race and the Stalinists' use of science to stifle research on genetics. Whether your science is right or wrong, respectable or racist, its prostitution for political ends is bad news - both for politics and for science."
Spiked is a quite bottomless resource of cogent comment, highly recommended to Grumpy Readers. In particular, have a look at this excellent article by Mick Hume.
Also on Spiked we found the following interesting comments about the dreaded 4x4, vehicle of choice for all disciples of the Devil, psychopaths, serial killers, child abusers and war criminals (er … that is right, isn't it?) …
"Listening to anti-4x4 campaigners, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this one breed of car is responsible for destroying the planet. They are demanding road tax to be raised to somewhere between Ł1,000 and Ł2,000 for `the worst offending cars', especially 4x4s, which are described as `vile', `vulgar', and damaging both to the environment and to social cohesion.
The 4x4 has become the bęte noire of the chattering classes. Pop into any dinner-party gathering in the leafiest of Britain's leafy suburbs and you are guaranteed to hear someone bemoaning these big vehicles as they pass around the pesto. There is more to this anti-4x4 fever than a desire to protect the environment or pedestrians from exhaust fumes. Rather it seems to be underpinned by a snobbery against the `wrong' kind of consumption, especially the kind indulged by apparently unsophisticated noveau riche types who garishly like to flaunt their wealth with their mock-Tudor homes, big hair and big cars.
When you think about it, the obsessive focus on 4x4s in the debate about cars and pollution is pretty crazy. These jeeps make up a tiny minority of the cars in action across Britain. There are an estimated 30 million vehicles in the UK, and those labelled the `least fuel-efficient' - which include sports cars as well as the hated 4x4 - number only 225,000.
The level of CO2 coughed up by a 4x4 is not that much greater than various other modern machines. Campaigners say that 4x4s emit more CO2 than most other cars - that may be true, but they emit less CO2 than some of the things we use in the home day in and day out. According to research published in 2005, one cycle of a kitchen dishwasher releases around 756g of CO2, more than double that produced by a short spin in a Range Rover Turbo Diesel, which releases 299g per kilometre. Using a petrol lawnmower for an hour releases more than 1,000g of CO2. Why are there no campaigns against `evil' dishwashers, or demands that Gordon Brown slap big fat taxes on lawnmowers?
There is also little hard evidence that, when involved in collisions, 4x4s are more dangerous for motorists and pedestrians than other cars. Of course, none of us would like to be on the receiving end of a speeding 4x4 - but nor would we want to be hit by a big red bus, a delivery truck, a black taxi or even a Mini for that matter. According to Chris Patience, head of technical policy at the Automobile Association (AA): `There is no shared characteristic of 4x4s that make them any more or less aggressive towards pedestrians compared to a "normal" car.'
It isn't so much the car that the campaigners can't stand (after all, they like big red carbon-producing buses) but rather the people who tend to drive them - whether it's uppity working-class-done-good people, or country folk who talk in posh tones and probably watch Top Gear. You can tell this is about more than pollution and pedestrians if you listen to the language used to describe 4x4 drivers. They're talked about in the most vituperative terms, not only as polluters but as Bad People. The website of the UK campaign group the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s describes itself as a collection of `concerned citizens' and 4x4s as `The Bad Guys'. It says its aim is to make driving a 4x4 as `socially unacceptable as drink-driving'. Ken Livingstone says mums who drop their kids at school in 4x4s are `complete idiots'. A left-leaning British think-tank, the New Economics Foundation, describes 4x4s as `Satan's little run-arounds'. In the US, a website called What Would Jesus Drive? says pollution from 4x4s `has a major impact on human health and the rest of God's creation'. So 4x4 drivers are not only dangerous and greedy and anti-social - they're ungodly, too."
And who knows, for some people global warming may turn out to be a very good thing. The number of households facing a choice between heating and eating has almost doubled in the past two years.
Spiralling gas and electricity bills have left nearly 4 million UK residents having to spend more than 10% of their disposable income on heating and lighting and are thus officially in 'fuel poverty'. This is an increase of more than 1.7 million, according to research commissioned by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes. It shows that the Government is hopelessly failing to hit its own targets to stamp out fuel poverty.
In 2001, the Government publicly stated that it would eradicate fuel poverty for all vulnerable and low-income households by 2010 and all other households by 2016. Given the increase in the problem over the last two years, it would seem that this is now an impossible task. The research pointed out that electricity prices surged by 39% and gas prices by 61% between 2003 and 2006.
The Government has cashed in on the increases, with a huge rise in the tax paid by North Sea gas companies and VAT on bills. Very little of this has been used to help families struggling with their bills, however.
Charities have drawn a clear link between rising power bills, fuel poverty and deaths of pensioners. The number of deaths between December 2005 and March 2006 exceeded the non-winter average by 25,700. Age Concern believes a significant number were hastened by cold, with elderly people worried about the cost of using their heating. It said: "Older people are particularly at risk during the winter as they are often less resilient to cold-related illnesses, especially those with existing health problems. Keeping warm at home can be difficult as they are more likely to live in sub-standard or energy inefficient homes and more likely to be living in fuel poverty."
(Material from ThisIsMoney.co.uk.)
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