Articles Tagged "Christopher Booker"
Sorted by: Date Posted
Monday, April 8th 2013, 3:48 PM EDT
Margaret Thatcher was the first leader to warn of global warming - but also the first to see the flaws in the climate change orthodoxy
A persistent claim made by believers in man-made global warming – they were at it again last week – is that no politician was more influential in launching the worldwide alarm over climate change than Margaret Thatcher. David Cameron, so the argument runs, is simply following in her footsteps by committing the Tory party to its present belief in the dangers of global warming, and thus showing himself in this respect, if few others, to be a loyal Thatcherite.
The truth behind this story is much more interesting than is generally realised, not least because it has a fascinating twist. Certainly, Mrs Thatcher was the first world leader to voice alarm over global warming, back in 1988, With her scientific background, she had fallen under the spell of Sir Crispin Tickell, then our man at the UN. In the 1970s, he had written a book warning that the world was cooling, but he had since become an ardent convert to the belief that it was warming, Under his influence, as she recorded in her memoirs, she made a series of speeches, in Britain and to world bodies, calling for urgent international action, and citing evidence given to the US Senate by the arch-alarmist Jim Hansen, head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
She found equally persuasive the views of a third prominent convert to the cause, Dr John Houghton, then head of the UK Met Office. She backed him in the setting up of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, and promised the Met Office lavish funding for its Hadley Centre, which she opened in 1990, as a world authority on "human-induced climate change".
Hadley then linked up with East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to become custodians of the most prestigious of the world's surface temperature records (alongside another compiled by Dr Hansen). This became the central nexus of influence driving a worldwide scare over global warming; and so it remains to this day – not least thanks to the key role of Houghton (now Sir John) in shaping the first three mammoth reports which established the IPCC's unequalled authority on the subject.
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.
Wednesday, March 27th 2013, 8:43 AM EDT
Just when we need heat and light for our homes and workplaces more than ever, we are rapidly heading for by far the most serious energy crisis this country has ever faced.
With much of Britain still freezing under a layer of snow, the timing of the action plan set out yesterday by Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, could not have been more immaculate.
He wanted to tell us just how committed his government is to cutting emissions of carbon dioxide from the ‘costly, carbon-intense fossil fuels’ we use for more than ’80 per cent of the heating used in UK homes, businesses and industry’.
And how does he propose to do this? He wants to spend £9 million to ‘help local authorities get heat network schemes [designed to pipe heat to homes from a central source] up and running in towns and cities across the country’.
Saturday, March 23rd 2013, 4:41 PM EDT
As the snow of the coldest March since 1963 continues to fall, we learn that we have barely 48 hours’ worth of stored gas left to keep us warm, and that the head of our second-largest electricity company, SSE, has warned that our generating capacity has fallen so low that we can expect power cuts to begin at any time. It seems the perfect storm is upon us.
The grotesque mishandling of Britain’s energy policy by the politicians of all parties, as they chase their childish chimeras of CO2-induced global warming and windmills, has been arguably the greatest act of political irresponsibility in our history.
Three more events last week brought home again just what a mad bubble of make-believe these people are living in. Under the EU’s Large Combustion Plants Directive, we lost two more major coal-fired power stations, Didcot A and Cockenzie, capable of contributing no less than a tenth to our average electricity demands. We saw a French state-owned company, EDF, being given planning permission to spend £14 billion on two new nuclear reactors in Somerset, but which it says it will only build, for completion in 10 years’ time, if it is guaranteed a subsidy that will double the price of its electricity. Then, hidden in the small print of the Budget, were new figures for the fast-escalating tax the Government introduces next week on every ton of CO2 emitted by fossil-fuel-powered stations, which will soon be adding billions of pounds more to our electricity bills every year.
Saturday, March 16th 2013, 8:25 PM EDT
De rigueur though it may be to describe Sir David Attenborough as a “national treasure” and our “greatest living naturalist”, it really is time he was called to account for the shameless way in which he has allowed himself to be made the front-man for one particular propaganda campaign that has stood all genuine scientific evidence on its head. Last week yet another report picked up on the part Sir David has played in promoting what the facts show to have been no more than a colossal scare story.
It is now seven years since Sir David was first wheeled out by the BBC as the main cheerleader in its campaign to whip up panic over man-made global warming. In two documentaries, he presented himself as a one-time “climate sceptic” who had now been convinced by the evidence. The only problem was that, as he repeated a series of familiar alarmist mantras, there was little sign that he had checked the evidence for any of them: not least his claim that, thanks to the melting of Arctic ice, the world’s polar bear population, already down by a quarter, could be facing extinction.
Pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth had already made polar bears the most iconic image for their crusade to save the planet. WWF, in its relentless pursuit of funds, was moving on from pandas to appealing to the public to “pay £3 a month to adopt a polar bear”.
Saturday, March 9th 2013, 4:50 PM EST
Met Office data show only a tiny change in world temperatures
Readers of this column do not need to be reminded why it is so important for us to know whether the world is truly in the grip of runaway global warming, or whether this belief has all been based on a colossal misreading of the scientific evidence. One reason why it is so vital for us to understand this, of course, has been all those devastating political responses to this fear, which promise to change our way of life out of recognition.
Just in Britain alone, paying for our Climate Change Act is officially due to cost us up to £18 billion a year. It is now driving our entire national energy policy, threatening us with ever more crippling bills, power blackouts, and the sight of our countryside being covered in ever more giant wind factories. In convincing the world that we must make such a dramatic response to man-made climate change, nothing has been more persuasive than those graphs that purport to show global temperature soaring to dangerous levels.
That iconic “hockey stick” graph, showing temperatures recently shooting up into the stratosphere, may now have been discredited. But just as important have been all those graphs showing how temperatures have changed in recent decades. These have the effect of greatly exaggerating those changes, by narrowly focusing just on what are called temperature “anomalies”, showing how they have risen and fallen round their average level in the past 30-odd years.
Saturday, March 9th 2013, 4:01 AM EST
There could be no better symbol of the madness of Britain’s energy policy than what is happening at the giant Drax power station in Yorkshire, easily the largest in Britain.
Indeed, it is one of the biggest and most efficiently run coal-fired power stations in the world. Its almost 1,000ft-tall flue chimney is the highest in the country, and its 12 monster cooling towers (each taller than St Paul’s Cathedral) dominate the flat countryside of eastern Yorkshire for miles around.
Every day, Drax burns 36,000 tons of coal, brought to its vast site by 140 coal trains every week — and it supplies seven per cent of all the electricity used in Britain. That’s enough to light up a good many of our major cities.
But as a result of a change in Government policy, triggered by EU rules, Drax is about to undergo a major change that would have astonished those who built it in the Seventies and Eighties right next to Selby coalfield, which was then highly productive but has since closed.
Saturday, February 23rd 2013, 7:42 PM EST
Readers of this column might have been astonished by the media response last week to that warning by Alistair Buchanan, retiring head of the energy regulator Ofgem, that next month we will see the closure of five major coal-fired power stations that between them contribute nearly a sixth of the UK’s average electricity needs.
Over the next few years, Mr Buchanan feared, we will be dangerously close to not having enough power in the grid to keep Britain’s lights on.
I have been trying to explain this here for so long that my readers may be weary of it. It was back in 2006 that I first reported on why, within a decade or so, we might see Britain’s lights going out. In fact, as I set out in my book, The Real Global Warming Disaster, in 2009, the writing was already on the wall in the government’s energy White Paper of 2003. Tony Blair signed us up to an energy policy centred on building thousands of windmills, already fully aware that we would be losing many of our coal-fired power stations due to an EU anti-pollution directive, and that we were unlikely to build any new nuclear power stations to replace those that by now would be nearing the end of their life.
Saturday, February 9th 2013, 2:18 PM EST
Talk about bees clustering round a honeypot… When are we going to wake up to the extraordinary goings-on at the heart of Britain’s energy policy?
Last week, it was announced that Charles Hendry — who was, until September, the minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in charge of wind farms — is to become chairman of Forewind, a consortium planning to build the world’s biggest and most lucrative wind farm in the North Sea. His predecessor, Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer), had to step down when he was made chairman of the Climate Change Committee, the hugely influential body set up under the Climate Change Act to advise DECC on Britain’s energy policy. Deben’s appointment was approved by the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, chaired by his friend Tim Yeo, who makes more than £200,000 a year advising firms in the “low-carbon” energy sector.
It was also announced last week that a new company, Greencoat, is to be floated on the Stock Exchange and given £50 million of taxpayers’ money to buy stakes in six wind farm companies, and that one of its directors is William Rickett, formerly head of the Energy Group at DECC.
Mr Hendry has also been hired by a cross-party lobby group, CarbonConnect, to co-chair a review of energy policy with Baroness Worthington. She is the former Friends of the Earth campaigner who was hired by the Department for Environment to mastermind the drafting of the 2008 Climate Change Act. This put at the centre of our energy policy a plan to spend £100 billion on up to 30,000 wind turbines, so hopelessly inefficient that they have to be given absurdly lavish subsidies. For offshore windfarms like the one planned by Mr Hendry’s firm, the subsidies amount to 200 per cent of the value of the electricity they produce.
Saturday, January 26th 2013, 4:46 PM EST
President Obama suggested in his second inaugural speech that God expects us to “preserve our planet” by taking steps to combat “the threat of climate change”. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science,” he said, “but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling droughts and more powerful storms.”
He seemed clearly to be blaming man-made climate change for the fact that his country last year endured its worst drought for 75 years; for Storm Sandy, which flooded New York; and for a record acreage of forest lost to fires. But one wonders how closely Mr Obama consulted “the overwhelming judgment of science” on these matters.
The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows no rising trend of drought in the US since the 1880s (the 1930s Dust Bowl disaster long preceding the scare over global warming). Figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration similarly show no rising trend in US hurricane activity (more intense in the 1950s than in recent years). As for forest fires, there are many experts (as in Australia and Spain) who argue that much of the increase in fire damage is due to pressure from “green” environmentalists to forbid the clearing of underbrush, which encourages fires to spread quicker and further than proper woodland management would allow.
I am not sure that the President’s wish to see yet more subsidies poured into windmills and solar panels will do as much to change the Earth’s climate as he fondly believes.
Click source for more from Christopher Booker [Forget Brussels: now we are ruled by the giants of Geneva]
218 articles foundshowing page 1 of 22« previous 1 2 3 4
. . . 21 22 next »