Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be subject to the best technology available with requirements to minimise the risk of harm unless the proponent of the activity shows that they present no appreciable risk of harm – Wikipedia
A recent UKIPD post had the following paragraph: “People… don’t want fracking and they don’t want pollution, flooding and other effects of unsustainable development. UKIP should be campaigning for the environment on behalf of the people because nobody in parliament is. Descending into climate denial will not win votes.”
During the 2015 election, I mentioned on Radio Suffolk – that we were having an all-candidate roundtable discussion – that I had waged a successful campaign against a wind turbine above my town. It was a 500MW midget which would have done damn all for the climate, damn all for the electricity supply but would nevertheless have made a local landowner much wealthier and reduced the value of houses within two kilometres by 12%. The LibDem candidate asked me very indignantly if I was a “climate denier” There was no thought involved, no use of the brains God gave her. As far as she was concerned the words were enough to prove her case. ‘Denier’, ‘denial’, ‘97% consensus’, the words and phrases trip easily off the tongues of those who have swallowed the dubious and politically-biased science that has been pushed for the last 20 years.
For UKIP to embrace the climate doom narrative now, just as the wheels begin to fall off the bus, would be very short-sighted indeed. Nobody campaigning for the environment? Ye Gods! I sometimes think that those in government have done little else for the last ten years – they have certainly lost sight of their primary responsibilities for the well-being of the people of these islands, of the importance of a balanced budget, of their primary job which is defending our country and our people. They have even forgotten the need to keep the wheels of industry turning and the lights burning. The irony is that their concern for the environment (which they define too narrowly as the global temperature) is largely counter-productive, making things worse rather than better for the creatures which share our land.
An example– That Ladygate turbine above Haverhill would have killed barbastelle
bats, a species which lives along the ridge on which the proposed turbine site was situated. Rare throughout its range, any threat to this creature would normally have the Greens all in a lather, but because the threat was a wind turbine they let the application go through on the nod. UKIP councillors appealed. When the final judgement came down it went our way, and the plan was scrapped, vindicating my claim that it is not the responsibility of the planning system to stuff the pockets of wealthy landowners with gold.
Let’s get a couple of points out of the way. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means that the more there is in the atmosphere the warmer the world should be: the amount warmer will depend on positive and negative feedbacks. The difficulty is that the primary feedbacks, cloud cover and water vapour, are not fully understood. When it gets warmer we know that there’s more water vapour in the air, and water vapour is a greenhouse gas, but we also know that when there’s more water vapour in the air we can expect more clouds to form. Low-level clouds like stratocumulus cool. Higher clouds act like a blanket and warm but still reflect a lot of the sun’s rays which reduces the amount of warming to a degree.
(Sorry, sorry….) Does the water vapour/cloud feedback act as a temperature controlling mechanism, with clear skies when it’s cold so the sun’s rays can reach the surface, clouding over when the world gets warmer than the optimum? Possibly. Maybe even probably, but it’s a fiendishly difficult problem to measure with all the various things that are going on. There’s one theory, still unproven, that high surface temperatures set off thunderstorms which siphon heat by the gigajoule up into the stratosphere, well above the majority of the greenhouse gases so that it radiates harmlessly away into space. Next time someone tells you that the primary greenhouse gas is CO2, point out that it isn’t, water vapour is more important by a factor of three.
The theory behind global warming is not simple, although those with an axe to grind (and subsidies to bank) will tell you the science is settled. It’s not: some warming is due to CO2 but we have not proved how much; flooding is a result of over-building; pollution is caused by population pressure; population pressure in the UK is largely caused by uncontrolled immigration. But hey, let’s blame global warming for everything; it makes us feel good about ourselves.
As far as humanity’s total effect on the environment is concerned we are in unknown territory. Is our fossil-fuel-burning generated CO2 the same CO2 that is increasing in the atmosphere? It has the same isotopic signature – the light C12 fraction is increasing – but if we have altered the ecosphere by, for example, increasing the amount of carbon fixed by C4 plants compared to C3 types then that would be expected. Maybe it’s a bit of both, some C12 from us while the C4 plants and phytoplankton pull down larger amounts of the heavier C13 isotope which leaves an unexpected deficiency of C13 so it looks as if there’s more C12… And the planet is greening because of the extra CO2, more carbon-fixing plants covering a combined total area bigger than the continental United States are now green and growing… See? I told you it is more complicated than they’re letting on.
Then there’s the Urban Heat Island effect where buildings and concrete and cars and roads make it warmer. And there’s albedo change – the amount of heat reflected back into space depends on the albedo – and we’ve been cutting down forests, polluting the seas, spewing black carbon onto the pristine Arctic, all of which will give a warming signal. And so on and on…
So complicated that I’m going to need more space, as I particularly want to mention the Chihuahua of Doom.
Editor’s note ~ This article will be continued on Saturday, with particular attention given to the Chihuahua of Doom.