Climate Change or Climate Variability?

There is an important debate taking place, much of it behind the scenes, about the way in which our society should be run.

Many of the decisions made will be about energy policy.

There is widespread agreement that we are not living sustainably, and that we must make finite resources last longer, especially oil, coal and gas.

But that is where the agreement ends.

As regards Energy policy, the waters are being muddied because political statements are being made which in many cases are grossly inaccurate and in some cases completely untrue.

One argument centres on global warming, or climate change, or climate variability, depending on your point of view. The official body of UK opinion (Government, the Met. Office, Royal Society, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the BBC) is that climate change is caused by man. It is under man's control, and is ascribed to an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by industrial activity.

The websites of these bodies show a surprising homogeneity.

I do not know if this is truth or a victory of spin over science, but offer the following comments:

    1. I am a chemist, and spend a significant part of my working week finding out what absorbs infrared radiation and what does not. I have noticed that carbon dioxide is a less good absorber of infrared than water vapour.

    2. There is much more water vapour in the air than carbon dioxide. The atmosphere holds up to 4% of it. Carbon dioxide is only .04%; two orders of magnitude less. Therefore water must be (overwhelmingly) the most important greenhouse gas.

    In which case - why are we concentrating on carbon dioxide?

    3. We are told that carbon dioxide is harming our planet, but if there was real political interest in reducing it, surely we would be building more nuclear power stations, which emit none at all?

    4. There is enormous political and financial capital to be made out of a highly-taxed carbon economy; so enormous that it amounts to a re-structuring of the way in which Western society operates.

    5. The dissenting view, which seems to be held by most of the people I know (man is not responsible for climate change, and that climate varies widely anyway) is not being reported.

    6. We are building enormous wind farms which are not able to meet our energy requirements. As I type this, it is very cold and frosty, as it was last New Year, and the turbines are stationary because there is no wind. Fossil fuel is providing our electricity and heat.

    7. I have read accusations in the media that the 'scientific process' is not being followed by those who summarise the findings of the IPCC. Some IPCC scientists have resigned as a result.

    8. I read that several hundred dissenters from the official view (scientists, economists and industry leaders) met in New York to declare their position (The Manhattan Declaration, unreported by the mainstream media) and to ask that all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.

That's a summary of the problem as I see it.

It's difficult to know what to believe, but it's clear that the media are not being objective or impartial, and that the public are being misinformed.

We can't expect politicians to be interested in a intellectual tennis match, with global warmists on one side and climate change sceptics on the other. They have to operate in the real world - make a best guess on the basis of the evidence, and go from there. Bearing in mind the above, one wonders whether this has been done.

One spin-off from global warming alarmism is that it's forcing us to look for affordable energy which is not derived from fossil fuels. Gas shortages are driving us in the same direction. We must decide our energy policy rationally. Money must not be wasted on technologies which cannot provide the energy we need.

It's also important that unelected pressure groups should have no part in deciding our energy future. They have done enough damage already. Witness the wind farms standing idle each time it gets cold.

Nigel Deacon

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