The Real Climate Change Catastrophe

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Next Thursday
marks the first anniversary of one of the most remarkable events
ever to take place in the House of Commons. For six hours MPs debated
what was far and away the most expensive piece of legislation ever
put before Parliament.

The Climate
Change Bill laid down that, by 2050, the British people must cut
their emissions of carbon dioxide by well over 80 per cent. Short
of some unimaginable technological revolution, such a target could
not possibly be achieved without shutting down almost the whole
of our industrialised economy, changing our way of life out of recognition.

Even the Government
had to concede that the expense of doing this – which it now
admits will cost us £18 billion a year for the next 40 years
– would be twice the value of its supposed benefits. Yet, astonishingly,
although dozens of MPs queued up to speak in favour of the Bill,
only two dared to question the need for it. It passed by 463 votes
to just three.

One who voted
against it was Peter Lilley who, just before the vote was taken,
drew the Speaker’s attention to the fact that, outside the
Palace of Westminster, snow was falling, the first October snow
recorded in London for 74 years. As I observed at the time: “Who
says that God hasn’t got a sense of humour?”

By any measure,
the supposed menace of global warming – and the political response
to it – has become one of the overwhelmingly urgent issues
of our time. If one accepts the thesis that the planet faces a threat
unprecedented in history, the implications are mind-boggling. But
equally mind-boggling now are the implications of the price we are
being asked to pay by our politicians to meet that threat. More
than ever, it is a matter of the highest priority that we should
know whether or not the assumptions on which the politicians base
their proposals are founded on properly sound science.

This is why
I have been regularly reporting on the issue in my column in The
Sunday Telegraph, and this week I publish a book called The
Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the obsession with climate change
turning out to be the most costly scientific delusion in history?

There are already
many books on this subject, but mine is rather different from the
rest in that, for the first time, it tries to tell the whole tangled
story of how the debate over the threat of climate change has evolved
over the past 30 years, interweaving the science with the politicians’
response to it.

It is a story
that has unfolded in three stages. The first began back in the Seventies
when a number of scientists noticed that the world’s temperatures
had been falling for 30 years, leading them to warn that we might
be heading for a new ice age. Then, in the mid-Seventies, temperatures
started to rise again, and by the mid-Eighties, a still fairly small
number of scientists – including some of those who had been
predicting a new ice age – began to warn that we were now facing
the opposite problem: a world dangerously heating up, thanks to
our pumping out CO2 and all those
greenhouse gases inseparable from modern civilisation.

In 1988, a
handful of the scientists who passionately believed in this theory
won authorisation from the UN to set up the body known as the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This was the year when the scare
over global warming really exploded into the headlines, thanks above
all to the carefully staged testimony given to a US Senate Committee
by Dr James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space
Studies (GISS), also already an advocate for the theory that CO2
was causing potentially catastrophic warming.

The disaster-movie
scenario that rising levels of CO2 could lead
to droughts, hurricanes, heatwaves and, above all, that melting
of the polar ice caps, which would flood half the world’s major
cities, struck a rich chord. The media loved it. The environmentalists
loved it. More and more politicians, led by Al Gore in the United
States, jumped on the bandwagon. But easily their most influential
allies were the scientists running the new IPCC, led by a Swedish
meteorologist Bert Bolin and Dr John Houghton, head of the UK Met

The IPCC, through
its series of weighty reports, was now to become the central player
in the whole story. But rarely has the true nature of any international
body been more widely misrepresented. It is commonly believed that
the IPCC consists of “1,500 of the world’s top climate
scientists”, charged with weighing all the scientific evidence
for and against “human-induced climate change” in order
to arrive at a “consensus”.

the rest of the article

31, 2009

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