The quality of debate in deciding our energy policy is a sorry comment on the state of our science education.
We have seen the Media Circus assembling - first it was the Stern Report; then it was a "consensus" of
two thousand scientists agreeing with their employers (the state) that their Governments were spot -on
in their analysis of "global warming".
Much media hype followed, little of it coherent.
Michael O'Leary, boss of Ryanair, cuts through the nonsense and spells out a few home truths.
This article upon which this summary is based appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 17 Mar 07. The responsibility for any
errors is mine.
Over to Michael's article:
This week, airline chiefs have become the new villains. Global warming is all their fault, according to politicians and
environmentalists. Their cheap flights are damaging the ozone layer, melting glaciers, and must be stopped.
Michael O'Leary can't take the climate-change accusation seriously. "It's just politicians pandering to the latest
fashion. He blames Gordon Brown. "The Chancellor is probably the biggest polluter, given that the Government is
responsible for most of the power stations in the country. After that, it's drivers - they are responsible for a quarter
of carbon dioxide emissions. But Labout is already facing a huge rebellion on road taxing so now they're moving on to
"If the politicians read their own Stern Report they would see that air travel causes less than two percent of
greenhouse gases. It is not the cause or the solution to climate change".
"All the tree planting in the world isn't going to make up for our emissions. We have to think of bigger ideas...
Mr. Brown's proposals won't stop people flying; petrol tax doesn't stop us driving. The Chancellor is lying when
he says these new taxes are environmental".
"The BBC runs green week, ITV runs greener week, Channel 4 runs even greener week,and every time they use a
picture of aeroplanes taking off."
"What about marine transport? That accounts for five percent of greenhouse gases. I don't see pictures of ferries chugging
out from ports."
We have to influence the Russians, the Chinese and the Indians. "They keep opening more and more coal and oil-fired
power stations. Soon it won't matter how many lights we turn off or how many flights we make; the damage will have been
done on the other side of the world by a billion people who have only just discovered the delights of turning on
"I listen to all this drivel about turning down the central heating, going back to candles, going back to the dark ages.
Do it if you want to, but none of it wil make any difference. It just panders to middle-class angst and guilt."
He is sceptical about global warming's cause. "I don't think the advice of a bunch of UN scientists should be taken
as truth. Human breathing is one of the biggest problems, as far as I can see. Why don't the environmentalists just shoot all
Environmentalists go to the health store to buy their organic strawberries flown in from South Africa. Why aren't they putting a huge tax on
bananas and grapes from halfway around the world? Why don't they eat British turnips all winter if they want to save
air flights? Because they can't live without their scallops from Chile?"
"I would like to call for a serious debate on the next generation of nuclear power stations. Wind turbines on top of your house is not
"It is a lie that taxing flights will make any difference to polar bears or icebergs. It is just another way of politicians stealing
from hard-pressed consumers. Like congestion charging."
ND comment - we need more plain speaking on the global warming issue. No one disputes that some glaciers are melting, but
as for the cause - none of the politicians (nor the state-funded "consensus" of scientists) have convincing answers.
If sensible debate is suppressed, we won't get the right decisions.
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