Articles Tagged "Christopher Booker"
Saturday, March 30th 2013, 5:43 PM EDT
The government's chief scientific advisers are a waste of money
Last week, as Britain and much of Europe were struggling through the coldest spring in decades, Sir John Beddington marked his retirement from his £165,000-a-year post as the Government’s chief scientific adviser by touring the television and radio studios to terrify us all once more with his all-too-familiar message of how we are threatened by runaway global warming. Thanks to climate change, the litany runs, we now face ever more disruption to our weather, ever more floods, droughts, hurricanes, blizzards and all the rest. Whether it is too cold or too hot, too wet or too dry, we are meant to believe that it’s all our fault and we must bring the climate back under control.
In fact, it is far from clear why Sir John, as an expert in population biology, should be regarded as having any authority to pronounce on such matters. A year or two back, for instance, he was telling us that by the end of this century we can expect the warmest days in Europe to be 8C hotter than they are now, and that in America they will be 11C hotter – claims that exceed even the wildest predictions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
What is it about these chief scientific advisers that, one after another, they are expected to come up with the same old claptrap about the future of the climate, even though their scientific specialisms give them no more obvious qualification to sound off on this subject than a chap holding forth in the pub?
Sir John’s predecessor, for instance, was Sir David King, a “surface chemist” who got entangled in controversy over a seeming prediction that he made to MPs that by the end of this century, unless we curbed our CO2 emissions, the world could well get so hot that the only continent still habitable would be Antarctica. It was he who came up with the unique claim that the extinction of the dinosaurs “55 million years ago” was caused by the world overheating thanks to soaring levels of carbon dioxide. In fact, the end of the Mesozoic era is generally agreed to have been 65 million years ago, and no one apart from Sir David ever seems to have claimed that the dinosaurs’ disappearance was due to an excess of CO2.
Saturday, January 12th 2013, 5:22 PM EST
It is the graph the Met Office didn’t want you to see, in an episode which, according to one newspaper, represents “a crime against science and the public”.
Inevitably last week it didn’t take long for the bush fires set off by Australia’s “hottest summer ever” to be blamed on runaway global warming. Rather less attention was given to the heavy snow in Jerusalem (worst for 20 years) or the abnormal cold bringing death and destruction to China (worst for 30 years), northern India (coldest for 77 years) and Alaska, with average temperatures down in the past decade by more than a degree. But another story, which did attract coverage across the world, was the latest in a seemingly endless series of embarrassments for the UK Met Office.
Some of this story may be familiar – how on Christmas Eve the Met Office sneaked on to its website a revised version of the graph it had posted a year earlier showing its prediction of global temperatures for the next five years. Not until January 5 did sharp-eyed climate bloggers notice how different this was from the graph it replaced. When the two graphs were posted together on Tallbloke’s Talkshop, this was soon picked up by the Global Warming Policy Foundation which whizzed it around the media.
Saturday, October 20th 2012, 4:36 PM EDT
David Cameron's promise to control energy bills runs counter to the Government's own 'green' policies
Last week, I returned from a visit to India – which last July suffered the most extensive power cut in history, affecting 600 million people – to find our own energy policy in a worse shambles than ever. Provoked by soaring energy bills, which have recently risen by a further 13 per cent, David Cameron again displayed his astonishing naivety in such matters by promising to force energy companies to charge only the lowest prices for their gas and electricity – just when even Ofgem has been warning us that we too face the prospect of massive power cuts, thanks to the imminent closure of so many of our power stations.
It is more than five years since I began warning here that Britain’s lights were in danger of going out, thanks to the lunacy of successive governments in shutting their eyes to this crisis. Yet Mr Cameron’s only response is to indulge in a political gimmick prompting almost universal howls of derision, and serving only to show that he knows even less about the real world of energy than his technically illiterate Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey.
What Mr Cameron clearly hasn’t realised is that the main reason why our energy companies need to charge us ever more for electricity lies in his own Government’s deluded policies. He and his colleagues prattle on about how, over the next eight years, we need to spend £100 billion on building 30,000 useless, unreliable and grotesquely subsidised wind turbines. They want to see billions more spent on giant pylons and interconnectors, to carry power from the remote onshore and offshore wind farms where it is generated to the places where it is needed. Then, as even Mr Davey has finally admitted, further billions will need to be spent on new gas-fired power stations – not only to fill the gap left by all the coal-fired and nuclear plants that are due to close, but also to provide ever more expensive, “carbon”-emitting back-up for the times when the wind drops and our turbines are scarcely functioning.
Saturday, December 29th 2012, 5:17 PM EST
It was the year when many long-dominant belief systems began to collapse
There could be few more apt epitaphs for the year now ending than a recollection of the headlines in April that greeted a stark warning from the Environment Agency. Fuelled by the predictions of the climate-change-obsessed Met Office (and the the official policy, since 2007, of the similarly fixated EU) that we will have “hotter, drier summers” for decades to come, the agency foretold that the drought conditions of the early spring were likely to last “until Christmas and perhaps beyond”. The prophecy was swiftly followed by the wettest late spring, the wettest summer, the wettest autumn and the wettest Christmas we have ever known – eight months of near-continuous rain and floods amounting to England’s wettest year since records began.
For many of the major stories which have long been followed by this column, 2012 has been the year when long-dominant belief systems and fondly held illusions have been conspicuously falling apart, portending a time of agonising reappraisal when familiar certainties give way to greater realism and painful rethinking.
Saturday, May 12th 2012, 4:26 PM EDT
Failure to fix leaks and increase reservoir capacity are behind our water problems.
When I returned last week to a grey, cold, rainswept Heathrow, after a brief visit to Australia on rather sad family business, I naturally wanted to know what had been going on while I was away. It hardly said much for our democracy that Boris Johnson should have owed his “triumphant” re-election as Mayor to the support of just 16.8 per cent of those Londoners eligible to vote – while Labour owed its “victory” in council elections to just 12 per cent of the potential voters. The Greek and French election results heralded another sharp downward lurch in the slow-motion collapse of the euro. The prospect of Britain’s lights going out moved nearer with the pulling out of France’s state-owned EDF as the last company that might have provided us with new nuclear power stations, while the Environment Agency’s Chris Smith announced that Britain may be hoping for a glut of cheap gas from “fracking” shale, but that this could be allowed to generate electricity only on condition that all the resulting CO₂ is buried in holes in the ground, by a wishful-thinking technology that would double its price and is unlikely ever to work anyway.
As big a story as any, however, was the ongoing drama of our “wettest-ever drought” as, despite record recent rainfall, we are told that hosepipe bans are still unlikely to be lifted because we don’t have enough water to go round. And here, it turns out, there is a startling twist to the tale.
The great water shambles, as we know, centres on two major failings of national policy. One is the water companies’ failure to plug the leaks that are costing us nearly as much water every two years as is contained in all our reservoirs. The other is their failure to add to that reservoir capacity, which has barely increased in the 20 years since water was privatised, despite our 10 per cent growth in population.
Saturday, October 6th 2012, 6:12 PM EDT
Two weeks ago I described one of this year’s A-level General Studies papers which asked candidates to discuss various “source materials” on climate change. Drawn from propaganda documents wholly biased in favour of climate alarmism, these contained a plethora of scientific errors. I suggested that, if any clued-up students tore these “sources” apart as they deserved, they might have been given a “fail”.
Sure enough, an email from the mother of just such a student confirmed my fears. Her son is “an excellent scientist” who got “straight As” on his other science papers, but he is also “very knowledgeable about climate change and very sceptical about man-made global warming”. His questioning of the sources earned an “E”, the lowest possible score. His mother then paid £60 for his paper to be re-marked. It was judged to be “articulate, well-structured” and clearly well-informed, but again he was marked down with “E” for fail.
This young man’s experience speaks volumes about the way the official global-warming religion has so corrupted our education system that it has parted company with proper scientific principles. In his efforts to reform our dysfunctional exam system, Michael Gove should ask for this bizarre episode to be investigated.
Original Article below
Saturday, September 29th 2012, 3:05 PM EDT
There's a nasty shock in store for the British householder when a new 'carbon' tax comes into force
Fast approaching, if largely unnoticed, is yet another massive shock the Government has in store for us with its weirdly distorted energy policy. It is surprising to see what an abnormally high proportion of the electricity needed to keep our lights on has lately been coming from coal-fired power stations. Last Wednesday evening, for instance, this was over 50 per cent, with only 1.3 per cent coming from wind power. Yet by next March, we learn, five of our largest coal-fired plants, capable of supplying a fifth of our average power needs, are to be shut down, much earlier than expected, under an EU anti-pollution directive.
One reason why these plants are being hammered through their remaining quota of hours allowed by the EU is that a new UK tax comes into force next April, which aims to make fossil-fuel power significantly more expensive. In 2010, George Osborne announced his intention to impose, from April 2013, a “carbon floor price” of £16 on every tonne of CO2 emitted by British industry, rising to £30 a tonne by 2020 and £70 a tonne by 2030.
Thursday, December 27th 2012, 7:32 AM EST
Once you're at the top, it seems your very incompetence will be rewarded
One of the more conspicuous features of British life nowadays is how many people who are, in one way or another, found seriously at fault, such as by failing to do their job properly, are nevertheless allowed to get away with it without having to pay any penalty. We see almost daily examples, as when the head of a major news organisation, forced to resign in what should be disgrace, walks away with £11 million; or a senior council executive fired for incompetence is then given a grotesquely inflated pay-off, such as the former head of Haringey social services compensated with £1 million for her wrongful dismissal after the Baby P scandal.
Even more familiar are the cases of people who make every kind of mess of a job they are overpaid for and never get sacked at all, such as those “quango queens”, who move effortlessly from one post to another, hopelessly out of their depth in every one. “What does it take to get sacked,” we may ask, “if you are at the top of an organisation in modern Britain?”
Saturday, September 15th 2012, 3:37 PM EDT
Green lobby groups have been defeated, as energy minister favours massive investment in gas generation
Last week saw a truly momentous defeat for the green lobby groups which, in the past decade, have exercised almost complete control over Britain’s future energy policy. The fact that this took the form of a mighty slapdown for Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer), newly confirmed chairman of the Climate Change Committee, makes it all the more telling.
As his first act on being appointed to head this committee, set up to advise the Government under the 2008 Climate Change Act, Lord Deben wrote an extraordinary open letter to Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. This expressed his committee’s “great concern” over a statement by Mr Davey in July that indicated that Britain must continue to rely heavily on gas to produce electricity. Although Mr Davey is still proposing to build 30,000 inefficient and unreliable wind turbines, he was implicitly recognising that these could only help to keep Britain’s lights on if they are supplemented by a massive new “dash for gas”.
As I wrote at the time, this drives a coach and horses through Britain’s legal commitment under the Climate Change Act to reduce CO2 emissions by four fifths in less than 40 years. Lord Deben’s letter made exactly the same point. In the letter, signed by seven members of his committee, all unquestioning believers in the need for renewables to combat global warming, he and his colleagues went even further. Astoundingly, they called on Mr Davey to issue a statutory instrument banning the use of fossil fuels to provide electricity. Of course, they did not put it like that. They urged him to impose a maximum emissions limit on power generation of 50 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour (kWh). But since only nuclear and renewables are below that threshold, while gas emits 400 grams per kWh and coal 700, what in effect they were calling for was an end to any further use of the fuels that currently supply some 75 per cent of our electricity.
Wednesday, July 6th 2011, 5:26 AM EDT
Who would possibly have thought it? The latest news is that the world may be threatened by a sharp drop in temperatures, possibly so severe that it could herald a new mini ice age.
And one reason being put forward for this is that all the pollution being chucked out by thousands of coal-fired power stations may be blocking the sun's heat from the Earth.
Dr Robert Kaufman of Boston University blamed China this week. 'During the Chinese economic expansion there was a huge increase in sulphur emissions,' he said. And this was the cause of global cooling.
But hang on a moment. Aren't these new climate scaremongers the very same people who only a few years back were telling us that the planet was in danger of being fried to a crisp by runaway global warming?
And wasn't it on their say so that the world's politicians, led by our own here in Britain, were committing us to spending hundreds of billions of pounds to save the planet from the catastrophic warming caused by those same evil power stations?
The question this extraordinary turn of events raises is whether any of these supposed experts actually have the faintest idea what they are talking about.
But perhaps the most bizarre thing about this latest twist in the ongoing climate scare story is the way it takes us precisely back to where it all started 40 years ago.
All of us today have become so accustomed to the notion of global warming that it is hard to believe that in the Seventies, U.S. scientists began to warn us the world was heading for a cooling so severe it might even herald a new ice age.