I’ve found the cure for climate anxiety

A new documentary, Climate: The Movie, by the maverick filmmaker Martin Durkin, is becoming a phenomenon, though it’s received almost no publicity in the mainstream media. It rejects the idea that we’re in the midst of a ‘climate emergency’, so that’s hardly surprising. But it has already racked up millions of views online and been translated into ten languages. I watched it on YouTube on Monday and can confirm it’s a dazzlingly entertaining film that distils the case against climate alarmism into a succinct 80 minutes. One of the reasons it’s so hard to challenge the narrative about climate change is because it supposedly reflects the ‘settled’ scientific consensus. We’re

Is your pet killing the planet?

As a travel writer, I used to joke about the so-called ‘downsides of the job’. The stupidly complex shower-fixture in the five-star Maldivian Paradise. The unexpected commission to go to Denmark in winter. The vague but real sting of disappointment upon realising that the free hotel pillow-chocolate is actually a mint. But in recent years a genuine and troubling downside has arisen. When I meet someone and tell them what I do, the listener often winces, perhaps with a hint of moral superiority, and says something like: ‘Don’t you feel guilty about your carbon footprint? You’re killing the planet!’ This query pains me because, while I may question a few

Net Zero is condemning more Brits to energy poverty

Here’s another great idea from the net zero establishment: only heat your home when it is warm and sunny outdoors. In its Sixth Carbon Budget paper, the government’s Climate Change Committee advises homeowners to turn their heating on in the afternoon, so that they can turn it off again during the evening when demand for electricity is higher. ‘Where homes are sufficiently well-insulated,’ it says, ‘it is possible to pre-heat ahead of peak times, enabling access to cheaper tariffs which reflect the reduced costs associated with running networks and producing power during off-peak times.’ In other words, boil yourself when the outdoor temperature is relatively warm, and with any luck

Who fact checks the fact-checkers?

Last week, a retired physics professor called Nick Cowern said it was time to get tough with ‘climate denialists’. ‘In my opinion the publication of climate disinformation should be a criminal offence,’ he posted on Twitter. He was ridiculed, but what sounds ludicrously over-the-top today could easily become the norm tomorrow. At least four EU member states have made it a criminal offence to spread disinformation – Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and France – and others including Ireland are preparing to do the same. In the UK, the Online Safety Bill will introduce a new false communications offence. I have a dog in this fight since I run a news publishing

Ben Lazarus

Keep calm and carry on having kids: the UN’s climate chief on eco-anxiety

Jim Skea has just taken on the most important job in climate science. As the new head of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he is now in charge of the organisation that has done more than any other to build the international consensus that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. ‘I’m very conscious that constant drip-drip anxiety messages could have a paralysing effect on climate action’ In the weeks since his appointment, however, the 69-year-old Scot, a former professor at Imperial and a founding member of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, has set out to strike a very different tone by casting doubt

Who lifted the ban on trans women taking part in Miss Universe?

Mx Universe A transgender woman was named ‘Miss Netherlands’, and will now compete in the Miss Universe contest. British TV viewers might be surprised to learn there are still such things as beauty pageants, given they disappeared from the main TV channels in the 1980s. They might be even more surprised to learn who was responsible for lifting the ban on transgender women taking part in Miss Universe. – The decision was made in 2012 by Donald Trump, who then owned the franchise for the competition, after a Canadian trans woman, Jenna Talackova, had been banned from taking part and her cause had been taken up by the Gay and Lesbian

Britain’s rivers are filthy

The name Chris Whitty will forever be associated in people’s minds with Covid-19. But in a recent cri de coeur he reminded us not only that he continues to exist following the end of his daily appearances on our TV screens, but that there are many other ways in which pathogens are out to get us. In a newspaper piece written with the chairs of Ofwat and the Environment Agency, the Chief Medical Officer raised the subject of Britain’s filthy rivers. While Britain’s environment has improved in many ways, with cleaner air, more trees and some species returning after centuries’ absence, our rivers have defied the trend, being more afflicted with sewage

Europe is turning against net zero

The contrast couldn’t be greater. In Britain a wealthy cabinet minister goes on television to boast of how he is installing a heat pump in his home – something his government is proposing to force on millions of British homeowners over the next few years in spite of them costing many thousands of pounds more than a gas or oil boiler. Meanwhile, in France, the President makes a speech calling for a ‘regulatory pause’ on green issues in order to push for the ‘re-industrialisation’ of his country. So far, Britain and the EU have moved more or less in tandem on climate change – which is not all that surprising

Carmageddon: the electric vehicle boondoggle

A couple of years ago I thought seriously about buying an electric car. Not a hybrid, but the full monty. There was one in particular I liked the look of and I even contacted a dealership to ask whether they’d accept my diesel-powered VW Touran in part-exchange. The answer was yes, but it was still eye-wateringly expensive. Was it worth it? I tried to persuade myself it would be, given the savings on fuel costs, the waiving of the congestion charge, etc. Boy, am I glad I dodged that bullet. Scarcely a day passes without a new horror story about electric vehicles in the press. Over the past week alone,

The battle to restore Britain’s hedgerows

‘I don’t know if hedgelaying is a dying art. But there’s a lot of old hedgelayers that are dying,’ says David Whitaker to chuckles from some of his fellow craftsmen. The occasion is the annual hedgelaying championship, organised by the National Hedgelaying Society, of which Whitaker is secretary. In a good year, the event draws around 100 competitors and a few curious spectators to a marquee in a muddy field in Hampshire. Britain’s oldest hedge dates back to the Bronze Age. Thousands of miles of hedgerow were laid in the late 1700s after the Enclosures Act carved up the countryside. There’s a formula for working out how old a hedge

The empty eco-activism of renting clothes

From time to time my Instagram algorithm will taunt me with a dress. It is – unequivocally ­– the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. Satin, emerald green, halter-neck. The dress retails for about £200, and is always sold out in my size. The ad that Instagram teases me with is for a rental, which you can pick up for £73. This is the latest fad in so-called eco-activism. Rent a dress for an astonishing amount – usually a dress that’s sold out or difficult to track down – and you will save the world! Fighting back against the mortal sin that is fast-fashion. The trend is so popular now

Extreme E: how motor racing turned green

Prior to kick-off, Fifa declared the World Cup in Qatar to be ‘a fully carbon-neutral event’, triggering enough spluttering, snorting and involuntary cackles to feed an entire wind farm. Seven giant brand-new stadiums, open-air air-conditioning in the desert, goodness knows how many long-haul flights in and out, and an armada of cruise ships to store the Wags. Righto, Mr Infantino. The Fifa president is the poster boy of talking tripe – the Comical Ali of sports-washing. Football is losing the climate fight like Costa Rica lost against Spain (7-0). Instead, the world’s most eco-friendly sport is motor racing. I’m serious. Let me introduce you to Extreme E. Extreme E, or

A daily shower is money down the drain

When did it become an inalienable human right to have a shower every day? I ask the question because pretty clearly it wasn’t always so. Yes, the Romans had showers – of course they did (they probably had the internet, too, but archaeologists can’t see it). A potter about online will tell you that we got the first mechanical shower here (hand pumped) thanks to the ingenuity of a plumber from Ludgate Hill named William Feetham. That was in 1767, which means that by the time Jane Austen was getting ink on her fingers a shower was an option for some. So the answer to my question is somewhere between 1767, when

Why I admire Saudi Arabia’s monstrous new city

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wants me to know that it is building a new city. Its adverts follow me around the internet. ‘Imagine a traditional city and consolidating its footprint, designing to protect and enhance nature.’ I’m imagining. Their city ‘will be home to nine million residents, and will be built with a footprint of just 34 square kilometres. And we are designing it to provide a healthier, more sustainable quality of life’. According to its website, this new town ‘is a civilisational resource that puts humans first’. Which all sounds vaguely nice, if also nicely vague (although as I happen to be a human myself, I do appreciate

The rise of the eco-mansion

In a wide clearing in woodland in a county of southern England that shall remain unnamed, a very unusual property is being built from brick and wood. When complete in a couple of years’ time, a lost rambler who stumbles across it may think he has found an old country house dating from the early 18th century, perhaps even the late 17th. With its classical proportions and time-honoured elegance, the building could be mistaken for an unadvertised outpost of the National Trust, the ancestral home of minor gentry, or even the setting for Bridgerton or some other regency drama. Yet this will be a thoroughly modern home, albeit one that embraces certain

Sunak and Truss are wrong about solar

Rishi Sunak has joined Liz Truss in grumbling about solar panels in fields. This is all rather dismaying, and revealing. It suggests that Conservative leadership contenders – and the party faithful they’re appealing to – lack faith in the transformative power of markets and free enterprise. Those solar panels that Sunak and Truss deplore are nothing less than an economic miracle, delivered by private companies seeking profit. Anyone who proclaims themselves supporters of markets should be shouting from the rooftops about this miracle, since it shows how people and organisations freely allocating capital makes our world better, fast. Private enterprise works because the incentive to make a profit by selling

A tribute to my friend James Lovelock

The scientist James Lovelock died this week at the age of 103. He was best known for his Gaia theory, which found that Earth is a self-regulating system formed by the interaction between living organisms and their surroundings. Here, Bryan Appleyard, who co-wrote ‘Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence’ with Lovelock, pays tribute to his friend: James Lovelock died this Tuesday on his 103rd birthday. I had known him since 1988 when I met him at his then home in Devon. He later moved to Dorset where he lived with his wife, Sandy, in a coastguard’s cottage overlooking Chesil Beach. He loved the landscapes of the west of England. In

What the new GCSE in global warming should teach

For years, environmentalists have campaigned for children to study global warming as a subject rather than simply as a part of geography. Their wish has now been granted in England with a new GCSE in natural history, starting from 2025. We know nothing yet about the syllabus but it’s quite the opportunity to ask what our planet’s problems really are, and how effective the net-zero agenda is as a solution. Rather than be scared to death about the future of the planet, pupils should instead be encouraged to take a rationalist approach. They might ask whether the obsession with climate change in recent decades has taken attention away from the

How I finally learned to love my eco-home

Nine years ago, when I invested every-thing I had in a part-rent, part-buy, one-bedroom, government-backed eco-home which proved to be a boiling box in summer, my first instinct was to throw myself out of a window – but I couldn’t because they opened only ten centimetres. My second was to complain about it in The Spectator. Now, I return to update you on my energy bills. Prepare to turn green with envy. Friends who live successful sorts of lives – involving houses, spouses and gardens – exclaim ‘Oh, so you weren’t joking about living in a J.G. Ballard novel?’ when they come around for the book launches I host in

Britain is paying the price for its fracking panic

Between 1980 and 2005, the UK produced more energy than it needed. Today, we import more than a third of our energy and over half of our natural gas. Households are facing an increase in their annual tax bills from £1,500 to an eye-watering £3,000. While the Business Secretary may have tweeted this week that the current situation is a matter of high prices rather than security of supply, families already struggling to heat their homes are unlikely to tell the difference as they decide whether to heat their homes or pay for food. This was never a foregone conclusion. A decade ago, the US shale gas revolution was well