Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category
29 March 2016
The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
Whatever happened to the greenest government ever?
Given my experience of working in environmental consultancy or regulation, I understand the importance of making pragmatic, risk-based decisions (as opposed to dogmatic, opinion-based ones). I therefore believe that government policy should be formulated this way. Unfortunately, however, this does not always seem to be the case.
As a pragmatic scientist, I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power. However, I do question the logic of pursuing ‘Hinkley Point C’ when equivalent investment in distributed renewable technologies – from domestic solar PV to submarine tidal stream – could probably generate more electricity faster. Indeed, as Greenpeace has recently pointed out, the UK could meet nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.
With regard to risk, the scientific consensus is that, in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the World must now embark upon the fastest-possible transition to a zero carbon economy. Therefore, I also question the logic of simultaneously promoting investment in shale gas; discouraging investment in renewables; and cancelling investment in Carbon Capture and Storage research.
It is now over 50 years since scientists started warning of the climatic implications of continuing to burn fossil fuels; and 50 years since fossil fuel company executives started spending huge sums of money on being “Merchants of Doubt”. As such, along with their counterparts in the tobacco industry, they have clearly not acted in the long-term interest of humanity as a whole.
However, as with the individual health benefit of ceasing to smoke tobacco, the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels the greater the collective environmental benefit will be. Therefore, I am pragmatically opposed to shale gas exploration because burning it is not consistent with the need to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible.
I am certain that you would like to secure an enduring political legacy; and would therefore like to ask just one question:
What could be better than being remembered as the Prime Minister that committed the UK to meeting nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030?
Martin C. Lack
 Nuccitelli, D. (2015), ‘Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today’, Guardian newspaper, 5 November 2015: London.
Last month was the warmest February on record; 1.6 C above its pre-industrial average.
The post-1998 pause in warming, which has also included the warmest-ever decade, is almost certainly over.
Therefore, I hope the ideologically-blinded, not-at-all-like Galileo, pseudo-sceptics will now stop arguing about what is happening; and start engaging in the debate about how best to stop it happening.
In short, there is now no valid excuse for being anything other than a ‘policy sceptic’.
After all, it is almost 4 months since Mark Carney said as much at the Bank of England: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/09/30/bank-england-head-warns-potentially-huge-risks-literally-unburnable-fossil-fuel
It is also 20 months since Lloyds of London urged financial investors to consider the risks of continuing to back fossil fuels: http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/05/09/insurers-should-consider-climate-risks-says-lloyds-of-london/
No wonder academics that have watched 50% of the Great Barrier Reef disappear in the last 30 years – and say it will all be gone in another 20 years – are almost reduced to tears:
‘Does Australia Care About Saving The Great Barrier Reef?’ (Andrew McMillen, in GQ Australia, 18 January 2016)
The Guardian may be five years late with it’s warning that humanity has now delayed the onset of the next Ice Age by 100 thousand years – a prospect first highlighted by the Geological Society of London in 2010 – but this is no excuse for the oil industry to continue to deny the nature of reality.
The game is up. Now is the time to invest in non-fossil alternatives that could even make Forumla1 carbon neutral. Alternatives like the mixed alcohol fuels being produced by Bioroot Energy: Fuels that can be created from any waste product containing carbon.
This is the hydrocarbon equivalent of the nuclear industry’s Fast Breeder Reactor, which could burn all the world’s nuclear waste and the 99% of the Earth’s uranium that a conventional reactor cannot burn and, when we’re through with all of that, we could extract uranium from seawater…
Whilst I have the greatest of sympathy for all those affected by flooding in Cumbria, they should not seek to blame the government or the Environment Agency.
If anybody is to blame it is the fossil fuel industry, which has spent the last 50 years trying to discredit climate science and climate scientists, in a short-sighted and mean-spirited attempt to prevent effective regulation of the pollution caused by burning their products.
A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture more of the time.
14 of the last 15 years have been the warmest on record. This rainfall in Cumbria is the highest on record for any 24 hour period in over 300 years.
How many more statistical records must we see broken before the denial of the validity of climate science becomes as socially unacceptable as farting in an elevator?
Please tell me you are still not mad with me for something I did 5 years ago? If not ‘Pilegate’, I hope you are not still annoyed by the ‘Background’ page of my blog. Can you not see that was my tribute to your style of writing?
Given that I meant every single word of the above, how much longer do you think it will be until even ‘policy scepticsm’ is untenable?
Given that ‘watermelons’ seem to be emerging everywhere – in the Pentagon, OECD, IMF (etc) – even Viscount Monckton’s Agenda 21 conspiracy makes more sense than your Watermelon fallacy.
As almost any athiest will tell you, Galileo triumphed over the ideologically-motivated rejection of science by sheer weight of scientific evidence. So, how much longer will it be until you accept that your ‘scepticism’ regarding climate science is the no better than that of fundamentalist Christians regarding the age of the Earth?
With very best wishes for Christmas,
Here is my attempt to make sense of the academic literature categorising the rhetorical positions adopted by climate change ‘sceptics’. However, please note that the term ‘sceptic’ is used solely for convenience: Given that the totality of post-industrial climate change can only be explained as primarily human-caused, these forms of ‘scepticism’ represent varying degrees of ideological blindness.
Given the recent speech by Pope Francis on Capitol Hill, it will be interesting to see how resilient this ideological blindness is – and/or how strong the cognitive dissonance is – amongst the Catholic members of the Republican Party.
I can barely believe it. One of Germany’s best-value exports (i.e. in the non-luxury end of the car market) has been caught faking the CO2 emission test data on its diesel cars in the USA (and, it has subsequently emerged, elsewhere).
Has it been doing the same in Europe? Is this the beginning of an international scandal similar to the rigging of financial markets in the City of London?
One thing is for sure, in putting profit before doing their bit to reduce the carbon footprint of their cars, I think the manufacturer should be re-branded: