NEVER before has the debate over global warming been so bitter or so public.
Climate change sceptics have been rubbing their hands with glee over the recent revelations about dodgy goings-on in the research laboratories and at the UN’s International Panel On Climate Change that suggest all is suddenly not so well with the theory of man-made global warming.
Some of the most alarmist claims about how the world is hurtling towards disaster unless we drastically curb carbon emissions have been shown to be nothing but, well, hot air. These damaging exposes may have shocked the public but were no surprise to Britain’s foremost climate change sceptic, Lord Lawson.
He was one of Margaret Thatcher’s most successful Chancellors and is father of TV chef Nigella. Now, at the age of 77, Lawson, has a new goal: to save the world from itself. His new think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation aims “to bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist”.
As in Lawson’s best-selling book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, the foundation argues against the fashionable policy of drastically cutting carbon emissions .
You might think that a politician who left the frontbench almost two decades ago might be out of touch with public opinion but he seems rather better in touch with British voters than all three main party leaders.
While Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have all signed up to the climate change agenda, polls show that only four out of 10 Britons accept as an established scientific fact that global warming is largely man-made; only a quarter believe climate change is the most serious problem facing the world; still fewer are in favour of the drastic economic measures required to tackle such a problem.
Their scepticism has been stoked by the recent stories about cover-ups at the University of East Anglia revealed in leaked emails between climate scientists, the IPCC’s claim that the Himalayan glaciers would “disappear by the year 2035”, which was based on a magazine article, and a claim that global warming could raise sea levels by 6ft by 2100, which was based on pure conjecture.
Yet these have done nothing to dampen the Government’s zeal for the green agenda. “I don’t think there’s any sign so far that they’ve had any impact on either the Government or the official Opposition but it has certainly had an impact on public opinion,” says Lawson. “I do think that public opinion does embody a great deal of practical common sense.”
The Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband is, says Lawson, one of many politicians who has failed to get to grips with the real issues. “He’s bright but he’s not taken the trouble to really inform himself about the issues. ”
And what about the Tory leader ? “David Cameron has taken a view that it is important for the Conservatives to be green . I have no quarrel with that but the environment is not one issue. It’s a whole lot of separate issues and the global warming issue is just one of many which, like the others, has to be judged on its own merits. The idea that you have to buy the whole green package is stupid.
“I don’t see how climate change can be a big issue at the next General Election because all the parties are on the same side and the voters are on the other side. Voters should tell candidates that they don’t buy this alarmism and its policy consequences and won’t support it.”
It is, says Lawson, the policy consequences that really matter. The 80 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2050 that the Government is pursuing, along with other G8 nations, will cause, he says, widespread economic misery for both the developed and the developing world.
The chief argument for cutting carbon emissions is that the costs of climate change are so great that, even if the chances of it happening are very small, the economic costs of slowing down global warming are worth it. But what if, Lawson asks, the costs of slowing down global warming are far greater than the costs of global warming itself? Would it not be better to invest our resources in adapting to a warmer climate than in trying to stop it happening?
His basic stance is this: the climate change argument is forever being bundled up as one huge great issue, when in fact it boils down to four entirely separate questions. First, is the world warming up? Second, is the warming being caused by man? Third, even if it is warming, is this necessarily a bad thing for humankind? And fourth, what should we be doing about it? Even if the climate scientists can tell us what is happening, and why they think it is happening, they cannot tell us what governments should be doing about it.”
Yet, his critics argue, if most scientists and governments accept climate change is happening and man-made, what makes him think he is right and they are all wrong? “Well, first of all, there is a very significant minority, including some very distinguished scientists, who disagree about climate change.
“There are a lot of uncertainties. I don’t pitch my tent on the science. I say: ‘let us suppose that the majority view is right. Then the question is: what should we do about it?’
“There is by no means political or economic agreement around the world on what do. Governments in the West tend to go through the motions because it is felt they are wicked or evil if they don’t but there is a huge disconnect, even in the West, between what governments say and what they do.
“The collapse of the Copenhagen summit was largely because China and India, quite rightly, are saying they will not pursue these policies.
“Since the particular policy which this country and others are committed to only could make sense, even if you believed it did, in the context of a global agreement, that completely kiboshes it anyway. When we had this great G20 meeting in London, what they were trying to do was find how they could work together to get out of this recession. If they really believed that the most important thing in the whole world was curbing the growth of carbon emissions, surely they would have had a meeting about how they can prolong the recession?”
Global warming, scientists claim, will lead to mass starvation and disease . Lawson points out that these claims ignore man’s ability to adapt to his changing environment . “There have always been droughts, there have always been floods, there has always been disease. even the projected effects of global warming only exacerbate these to a very limited extent.
“The single biggest cause of death in developing countries is poverty. So if you are going to slow down economic development in countries like India and China and slow down their emergence from poverty it’s going to make more people die from disease and malnutrition and make them less able to deal with the problems of drought and flooding.”
So what should governments be doing ?
“Four things. First, we need to attack the specific problems, like disease. Secondly, we need to support the market in the development of new technologies. Thirdly, we should do research into geo-engineering. And finally, we’ll do what humans have always done: we will adapt to whatever nature throws at us.”
Source Link: express.co.uk