Global warming

There’s no point in just outsourcing our CO2 emissions

The global warming question is back on the political agenda with David Cameron likening cutting greenhouse gas emissions to house insurance. His argument is that if there’s a risk that they may be harmful, you want to guard against it. But given that ‘global warming’ is no respected of national boundaries, one thing that isn’t sensible is to simply send energy intensive industries and their jobs and profits overseas. But this is just what the EU is doing, according to Bjørn Lomborg. He reports that: ‘From 1990 to 2008, the EU cut its emissions by about 270 million metric tons of CO2. But it turns out that the increase in

Global warming isn’t to blame for the disaster in the Philippines

According to news reports, Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines a few days ago, is now overshadowing the UN climate summit in Warsaw. Some delegates and climate campaigners have been quick to suggest that global warming was to blame for this disaster. Nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to cyclones and tropical storms, something quite remarkable has happened this year. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which forecasters had predicted would be more active than normal, turned out to be a complete washout. For the first time in 45 years, no major hurricane made landfall. This year has also been marked by the fewest number of hurricanes since

A response to my critics on global warming

My Spectator cover story on the net benefits of climate change sparked a lot of interest. There was an explosion of fury from all the predictable places. Yet not one of my critics managed to disprove my central assertion, that climate change is probably causing net benefits now and is likely to continue doing so for some decades yet. I’ve written responses to some of the critical articles and reproduce them here. 1. Duncan Geere in the New Statesman. Four paragraphs in his piece in turn begin with ‘He’s right…’ so I am glad that Geere confirms that I am right about all my main points. If you read my

Ed Davey’s energy fantasies

As energy prices continue to — with British Gas imposing a 9.2 per cent rise — the government is under growing pressure. The tragedy is that any genuine solution to the largely self-inflicted energy fiasco will not be considered let alone enacted any time soon – as we can tell by the recent outings of the climate change secretary Ed Davey. The controversy about the proportion of green taxes on energy bills looks trivial compared to the tornado that is going to hit parties in coming years – as the government’s self-imposed decarbonisation targets drive energy prices up relentlessly. If the rise in wholesale gas prices is seen as a crisis,

Why climate change is good for the world

Climate change has done more good than harm so far and is likely to continue doing so for most of this century. This is not some barmy, right-wing fantasy; it is the consensus of expert opinion. Yet almost nobody seems to know this. Whenever I make the point in public, I am told by those who are paid to insult anybody who departs from climate alarm that I have got it embarrassingly wrong, don’t know what I am talking about, must be referring to Britain only, rather than the world as a whole, and so forth. At first, I thought this was just their usual bluster. But then I realised

The View from 22 podcast: is climate change good, Tommy Robinson and another Tory/Lib Dem pact

Are there any upsides to climate change? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, author and columnist Matt Ridley discusses the economic impact of global warming with Fraser Nelson, and whether there are any benefits to a rise in temperatures. Will there be a tipping point for disastrous effects? Are we taking the right precautions to deal with that point? Douglas Murray also looks at his encounter with ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, and what lies ahead for the far-right movement in Britain. Will the EDL wither away without Robinson? And are all far right parties finished in this country? Plus, Isabel Hardman and James Forsyth examine the prospects for another Conservative coalition

Greg Barker: BBC gives too much coverage to climate change sceptics

If you asked most people about the BBC, few people would describe it as a hotbed of scepticism about global warming. But the coverage that the BBC gives to those who have doubts about the orthodoxy on the subject is too much for Barker. He, as the Press Association reports, told the Science and Technology Committee, ‘In the case of the BBC they have a very clear statutory responsibility. It’s in the original charter to inform. I think we need the BBC to look very hard, particularly at whether or not they are getting the balance right. I don’t think they are.’ Barker did say, ‘I’m not trying to ban

Climatology’s great dilemma

Climate science is, once again, on the horns of a very uncomfortable dilemma. Whatever the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chooses to do in the next few weeks its decision looks set to explode in its face. Crises are something of a feature of the IPCC. Since its First Assessment appeared back in 1990, each of the panel’s periodic pronouncements on the global climate has plunged it into controversy. In the Second Assessment of 1995, the report’s headline claim – that a ‘fingerprint’ of manmade global warming had been detected – caused uproar when it was discovered that it had been inserted into the text at the last moment.

Musicians are roasting at the Proms; freezing at the Bachathon

Gossip that an orchestral player fainted while performing in the Albert Hall during the recent heatwave points to a strange lacuna in the policing of concert conditions. The unions who like to stipulate how professional musicians are treated — Equity and the MU — have long made a big song and dance about minimum temperatures in the workplace. If the temperature falls below the agreed level, we are all entitled to walk out, without any further questions asked, since obviously the management is trying to save money on heating bills, to the detriment of the workers’ health. But global warming has produced a different set of difficulties. In their ancient

The Man Who Plants Trees, by Jim Robbins – review

Remember the ‘Plant a Tree in ’73’ campaign? Forty years on, has anyone inquired into what happened to all those trees and how many are still alive? Since then, planting amenity trees has grown into an industry, and turns out to have its down sides. One is that little trees are imported in industrial quantities from other countries, as if they were cars or tins of paint, and inevitably bring with them foreign pests and diseases which destroy established trees. Globalisation of tree diseases has overtaken climate change and too many deer to become the number one threat to the world’s trees and forests. This book, by a scientific journalist,

At long last the mainstream media are paying attention to global warming sceptics

The failure of the Earth to warm since the start of the century has been a talking point for global warming sceptics for many years, but it is only in the past few months that the mainstream media have started to pay attention too. In recent weeks the Economist, Channel Four News, and even ultra-green writers like the Telegraph’s Geoffrey Lean have sat up and taken notice. And on top of the pause, a series of recent studies of how fast temperature will rise in response to carbon dioxide emissions has produced estimates that are decidedly un-scary. Together with the plateau in global temperatures these estimates have a profound impact

What’s strange about this weather? Nothing at all

How can we stop weather hyperbole? I am so staggeringly bored of waking up each morning to headlines which insist we’re all going to be killed – on the roads, or through freezing to death, or in a flood. There have been four weather hyperboles already so far this year; warmest January, or warmest day in January ever, wettest February, coldest March. There are so many criteria for awarding a hyperbole sticker that almost every day of the year could qualify. So, snow in March? An unheard of experience? Nope, it happens every other year, more or less – and that’s in the south of the country. Last year at

In Doha, a big green rent-seeking machine

A couple of weeks ago the great global warming bandwagon coughed and spluttered to a halt in Doha, the latest stop on its never-ending world tour. The annual UN climate conference COP18 is no small affair. This is a bandwagon whose riders number in the thousands: motorcades of politicians, buses full of technocrats and policy wonks and jumbo-jets full of hippies travelling half way round the world, (ostensibly) to save the planet from the (allegedly) pressing problem of climate change This is despite the fact that nobody seems able to point to any great problems caused by the modest warming of the globe at the end of the last century

Seeing red

With each passing year it becomes clearer that the cure for global warming is worse than the disease. While wind power and biofuels devastate ecosystems and economies, temperatures and sea levels rise ever more slowly, just as the greenhouse theory— minus feedbacks — predicts. As James Delingpole acutely observes, the true believers are left with a version of Pascal’s wager embodying a ‘dismally feeble grasp of cost-benefit analysis’: that, however unlikely it is, the potential cost of global warming is so high that anything is justified. Not only does this argument apply to the cure as well as the disease; it also applies to every small risk of something big

An important intervention on energy policies, but will the Lib Dems pay attention?

The economist Dieter Helm is one of the few policy thinkers respected on both sides of the coalition. Oliver Letwin is a long-standing friend of his and Clegg’s office views him as one of the best economic brains in the country. All of which makes Helm’s attack on Chris Huhne’s energy policies in The Times today as interesting as the anti-wind farm letter signed by a 101 Tory MPs. Helm argues that the policy of huge subsidies for renewables is a mistake and that shale gas is a game-changer. Helm writes that, while renewables have a role to play, ‘Coal burning is not going to go away because of wind.

Whatever Chris Huhne says, Durban hasn’t changed anything

This morning the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told us that the climate summit in Durban, which concluded over the weekend, has been ‘heralded a success’. As they say, the ‘talks resulted in a decision to adopt the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol next year in return for a roadmap to a global legal agreement covering all parties for the first time’. Should anyone be heralding that as some kind of step forward? Was I wrong to be sceptical last week? As it happens, the various parties were actually trying to secure that ‘global legal agreement’, covering all of them, two years ago in Copenhagen —

Good news! Sea levels aren’t rising dangerously

This week’s Spectator cover star Nils-Axel Mörner brings some good news to a world otherwise mired in misery: sea levels are not rising dangerously – and haven’t been for at least 300 years. To many readers this may come as a surprise. After all, are not rising sea levels – caused, we are given to understand, by melting glaciers and shrinking polar ice – one of the main planks of the IPCC’s argument that we need to act now to ‘combat climate change’? But where the IPCC’s sea level figures are based on computer ‘projections’, questionable measurements and arbitrary adjustments, Mörner’s are based on extensive field observations. His most recent

Monbiot’s mission

George Monbiot is undergoing an astounding and very public transformation. Last week he overcame the habit of a lifetime and fully endorsed nuclear power as a safe energy source. He went further this week, attacking the anti-nuclear movement for perpetuating lies and ignoring the consensus around scientific facts. He levels special criticism at the allegedly lax scholarship of Dr Helen Caldicott, a decorated primate of the anti-nuclear communion.  He also debunks the myths surrounding the disaster at Chernobyl and laments that campaigners have abused that tragedy by exaggerating its consequences. Monbiot’s tone is neither arch nor righteous. Rather, he’s disappointed and the piece has a dignified poignancy. He concludes:     

When it comes to global warming, rational debate is what we need

We had a sell-out debate on global warming at The Spectator on Tuesday and, as I found out this morning, the debate is still going on. The teams were led by Nigel Lawson and Sir David King, and I was in the audience. I tweeted my praise of Simon Singh’s argument as he made it: it was a brilliant variation on the theme of “don’t think – trust the experts”. He seems to have discovered the tweet this morning, and responded with a volley of five questions for me. Then David Aaronovitch weighed in, followed by Simon Mayo. At 8.35am! I had the choice between replying, or carrying on with

A flooded world

It looks like the opening of a Hollywood disaster film. The South African government has declared parts of the country disaster areas, after 40 people died in floods in a month. At the same time, the UN is to launch an appeal for emergency flood aid for Sri Lanka, where at least 32 people have died and more than 300,000 have been displaced. Meanwhile flood waters in Australia have left a trail of destruction, at least 18 dead and a billion dollar bill for reconstruction. And in Brazil, survivors of the floods that have killed more than 600 people are frustrated by the lack of government help. Are these floods