[Ed: This article continues where “A Precautionary Principle”, published yesterday, left off, but can be read as a stand-alone article.]
The difficulty for anyone who wants to point out that the climate king has no clothes is the sheer inertia of the narrative, the absolute power of the climate change story which is, when you look at it closely, nothing more than just another millennial panic. I’ve watched those who normally would have been very suspicious of, for example, an American millionaire who proclaims that rising sea levels will drown Miami while at the same time buying a waterfront property. The two halves of their brains do not connect. They see no contradiction because they love Big Climate and they can sweep aside any doubts without a qualm.
That was the state of things in 2013 when we were elected, so I thought I’d try a little humour. In a motion to Suffolk County Council (which boasted that it had the ambition to be ‘the greenest county’) I wrapped the lessons of science in the robes of pantomime and explained how the world works.
The claim at the time was that doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would give us 3º C warming and this would be catastrophic. The atmosphere on average cools 3º for every thousand feet you go up. I explained this, then pointed out that the latest science showed the warming for doubled CO2 would only be 1.5º C, so to live at the same temperature as we’d enjoyed before warming we would have to move up a hill by 500 ft. But what about the UK, what was our contribution? Less than 2%.
To offset UK’s contribution we’d have to go up 10 ft. What about the amount Suffolk contributed? With pure science and a bit of hand-waving I showed that to offset Suffolk’s warming contribution we would have to live at an altitude of 8 inches, the height of a small chihuahua. “Mr Chairman”, I intoned portentously in true pantomime style, “I give you… the Chihuahua of Doom.”
© Fenbeagle, reproduced by kind permission
Cue hysteria, cue much mockery, but as time went on the lesson was absorbed – the opposition even asked my advice when plans were debated for the building of an open-cycle gas turbine at Eye, and they understood what I was talking about when I pointed out that it was just another way of soaking consumers for the benefit of the fat climate cats.
Would I do it again? Probably not, even though it made the point, because humour lends hostages to hostile media – badger-strangler Henry has learnt the same lesson. Humour and politics are a dangerous combination. Even so I still wish I’d thought of another metaphor – Elton John’s more extreme boots could be worn by everyone in Suffolk, a lovely image, but the chihuahua it was.
Joking aside and regardless of the failure of climate science to prove its case, there is still a possibility that the situation is really serious. We need to be cautious and adopt policies which address that possibility while not making things worse if the science is wrong.
Climate hysterics claim that we can only save the world by reducing CO2 emissions, and that the danger is here and urgent. OK, let’s take them at their word and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we emit. There are two obvious ways of doing this, one quick, one medium term, neither of which make matters worse for birds and bats and people.
The quick way is to use natural gas instead of oil and coal. The last is almost solid carbon and all of that turns to CO2 when burnt. Oil is mostly carbon with a reasonable amount of hydrogen. It burns to CO2 and water. Natural gas is four atoms of hydrogen and one carbon, so a lot of its energy comes with no CO2 emissions at all.
Natural gas, mainly nowadays fracked natural gas, is a wonderful fuel, clean burning (you can run diesel engines on it and reduce their pollution immensely), easily moved around the mains network which is already bought and paid for, safe, hugely available from all over the world, not just a few countries which could blackmail us if push came to shove. The UK may even have a few decades supply under our feet. Less pollution from gas-powered vehicles, less black carbon to warm the Arctic, less CO2, it’s a good short-term approach.
Medium term, build SMRs (Small and Medium-sized nuclear Reactors). Carbon free and comparatively easy to build, they are poles apart from the ridiculous EPRs (European Pressurised Reactors) which are proposed for Hinkley C and Sizewell.
SMRs can be build in modules in a factory, solving most of the construction difficulties which dog larger projects, and are then shipped in to their site by barge or even train. Technology exists to “burn” their waste products, so reducing disposal problems. Rolls Royce is already designing them and putting its supply chain in place. We could fund development and tooling-up from the overseas aid budget on the principle that developing countries would suffer most if we do not solve the CO2 problem. Clean and reliable, SMRs could power us into the next century.
Why do the Greens and their hangers-on oppose both solutions if, as they claim, the matter is of overwhelming importance? Well, I note that Greenpeace is the child of the CND, so that’s the reason for the nuke opposition, but opposed to using natural gas, our own natural gas, what’s that about? Who stands to gain if the UK remains tied to imported fossil fuel? Cui bono? Well, Russia. Qatar. Russia. Saudi. Did I mention Russia? And, of course, Russia.
This is not “climate denial” (noxious phrase), it is taking the situation more seriously than any of the other parties: they advocate going all out for renewables, a policy which will increase the price of electricity to such an extent that it will kill, literally kill many of the old, the poor and the sick, will destroy our energy-intensive industries and lead, unless we are very lucky, to major power cuts on still, dark winter days, all this without actually solving the CO2 problem.
We can save the planet using our own resources, developing a technology with huge export potential and exploiting our own unique abilities. We can save the planet and achieve strategic independence of energy supplies. What’s not to like?
Nothing – unless you’re Russia of course.
Mind the chihuahua. It bites.