This piece appeared in the Methodist Recorder, 25 Jul 14, and is republished here by permission.
According to a report in theMethodist Recorder, (July 4), "Christian Aid has called on political parties to put climate change at the heart of their plans for government..." But what exactly is meant by this? Is Christian Aid seeking a proliferation of wind and solar farms?
There are considerable numbers of both here in the South West - they may be profitable for those whose land they occupy, but when the need for back-up (at night, or when there is no - or too much - wind) is taken into account, it is questionable how much difference they make to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The Christian Aid appeal does not use the term "anthropogenic global warming", but this theory is surely what lies behind their call to our political parties. I must confess it is a mystery to me how this theory came so quickly to be regarded as established fact, and any questioning of it as akin to heresy. For, consider the past 70-odd years.
During the whole of this period, carbon dioxide levels have been rising, yet from approximately 1940 to 1970 the earth was not warming but cooling (to the extent that some scientists were warning of a new ice age). Then from about 1970 to the turn of the century we did have a period of global warming. However, for at least 15 years now the warming seems to have stopped again (and the supporters of the theory have tended to talk about 'climate change' rather than "global warming"!).
Clearly the relationship between increasing levels of carbon dioxide and the temperature of the earth is nothing like as simple as many (including the IPCC) would have us believe; yet many Government policies are driven by the belief that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced - hence the large subsidies for wind farms and solar panels.
This gas, so essential for plant life and our very existence, is even spoken of as a "pollutant" - if it is, humans become polluters on a grand scale simply by breathing.
Just one more fact, and a question. The fact: the earth was warmer in the medieval period than it is now (humans enjoyed that warm period, but they certainly did not cause it).
The question: given that the earth has been warmer in the past than it is now, why is the prospect of those same temperatures being reached again regarded as an impending disaster?
Rev. Howard Curnow
Many thanks,Howard, for permission to reproduce this piece.
Richard Ewbank, the Climate Adviser for Christian Aid, replied and I have paraphrased his main points.
1.The theory of anthropogenic climate change became established scientific fact through peer-reviewed science, led by the IPCC.
2.The earth warmed from 1940 to 1970 and has continued to warm for the last 15 years.
3.A carbon dioxide level above 400ppm is moving us into a new environment, with dangerous consequences.
4.Renewable energy receives a small fraction of the subsidies received by fossil fuel.
5.Tackling climate change will be cheaper than tackling its consequences if nothing is done.
1. Point 1 is untrue.
2. The second half of point 2 is untrue. The Met Office records a levelling-off since 1997.
3. The consequences of 400+ ppm carbon dioxide will be minimal. Water vapour is the main greenhouse gas and responsible for 95%+ of any warming effect.
4. Renewables receive about one sixth the subsidy of fossil fuel but provide only one hundredth of the energy.
5. Point 5: A government report several years ago came to the opposite conclusion.
Speaking as a scientist (I have been working in Chemistry since 1978), I am concerned that spending money on futile carbon dioxide regulation is diverting attention and money away from issues which really matter; for example, supplying clean water to the Third World, dealing with heavy-metal pollution, and ensuring that flood defences and other civil protection measures are given the attention they deserve.
The catastrophic failure of EU policy leading to the debacle in Somerset earlier this year (the floods) showed a complete lack of awareness of real-world problems; the inevitable result of policy being based on targets rather than needs.