I recently came across a web-site that offered twelve ways to deal with those pesky climate change deniers that you were likely to meet in the bar on holiday. And I was struck by a suggested question for the scientifically illiterate denier. Ask them this:
“What’s worse, the majority of climate change scientists being wrong but we act anyway, or climate change deniers being wrong and we don’t?”
In fact the first option is clearly the worst.
Most economic analyses (except the Stern Report, which is shot through with errors) find that mitigation costs exceed any damage that inaction might do (even if the IPCC is right). And mitigation costs are heavily front-loaded. We spend trillions now, in the fond hope that we might make a difference in fifty or a hundred years. By the time we prove the IPCC was wrong, the money is long gone.
Secondly, CO2 emissions will keep going up whatever we do. There are 1,200 new coal-fired power stations in the global pipeline. For decades we’ve been unable to do a global emissions deal. “Peak Oil” is receding over the horizon, and oil prices are coming down.
But thirdly: the biggest objection to the green policies we’ve legislated for is that they don’t reduce emissions, they merely drive energy-intensive industries out of the UK (and the EU), taking their jobs and their investments with them. And frequently they go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, and so arguably increase global emissions.
These are futile policies which damage our economy, drive industries off-shore, force households and pensioners into fuel poverty, and may well increase emissions at the same time. Gesture politics may make Ed Davey feel good, but they severely damage the rest of us. And they do nothing for the environment.
For more detail, see my blog.
Photo by B Rosen