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The Gaia Panic, aka, Climate Change

Once, discussing energy policy would have been a simple case of merely examining the various options available, in terms of relative costs, the efficiency of available technologies and future possibilities. However, in recent times humans have been panic struck by Gaia. Now, discussions of energy policy must take account of climate change, ongoing environmental destruction and sustainability going forward. Above all, energy policy must be green because greening is where the smart future money will grow.

The Climate Change Debating Society v. the Sooty Society

The 1997 Kyoto protocol is the world's only existing treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but the cuts only apply to developed countries and the US has never joined in. The current Kyoto targets have expired, the EU intends to press on but Japan, Russia and Canada have all dropped out.

Accords were also struck in 2009 and 2010 at Copenhagen and Cancun respectively, by which most countries and all of the biggest economies set out national targets on emissions curbs up to 2020. But these are voluntary, not legally binding.

And then came Durban, 2011, did they reach a legally binding agreement, no, but they have given themselves three years to think about it. Meanwhile the Sooties, that's the Bric economies, will press on with their polluting industrial revolutions. However, by 2015 they will have a legal document ready to be signed. Governments will then have five years to ratify it. Will it then be legally binding, ur, no!

Result? The Climate Change Debating Society have taken the moral high ground but the Sooty Society are refusing to engage with them, in fact, they couldn't care less about carbon offsetting.


"I have three children. I feel it is my duty to attempt to re-populate the World with intelligent individuals in an attempt to offset Jonathon Porritt's stupidity. Idiocy-offsetting, kind of like carbon offsetting, just a little more immediate."

A lady posted the comment above after reading Mr Porritt's thoughts on population control, in which he states that people who choose to have more than two children are selfish and irresponsible.

To wit:

"Every additional human being is increasing the burden on this planet which is becoming increasingly intolerable," J Porritt

Mr Porritt is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). For the pendants among you, for those who live in fear of "over-population", the optimum number is 70 million for the UK.

If you have never heard of Porritt, he's been around for years banging on about environmental issues. Everyone should have a hobby, however, Porritt has no expertise in climate science, or anything else. The problem is that people like Porritt represent a strong body of opinion that taps into human vulnerability and provides the fuel for the continuation of the Gaia panic.

Footnote? The entire world's population could stand upright on the Isle of Wright and the Isle of Mann - fodder for a trivia quiz. The entire population of the UK, 60 million, live on only 10% of the land, with room to sit down.

Climate Change: Panic if it suits your personality

The argument

The Global temperature is rising, this rise must be held in check at 2°C by 2050. If nothing is done, the globe will see a rise of 4°C by 2100, with catastrophic consequences for the planet.

This warming is being caused by man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat rising in the atmosphere, causing the earth to warm, disrupting the earth's climate.

The Evidence to support the case for global warming

The evidence does not support the case. From 1500 to 1990 the record shows no significant rise in average global temperatures. We are told by climate scientists, or more often by people who are not experts at all, e.g. pop singers and quangocrats like Jonathan Porritt, that we are now seeing a steady rise in temperatures.

However, the data is not conclusive, indeed few have actually seen the data. Mainly because no data, in terms of temperature readings, actually exist. Meaningful data recording only began around 1850, measurement before then is done using 'proxies', e.g. tree rings.

Recent data evidence has been the preserve of a very small select group of climate scientists who have been busy sharing their conclusions, that support the global warming argument, but not allowing anyone else to see their evidence base.

 The Argument becomes Common Sense

In actuality, so good has the global warming marketing campaign been that only a mad person will dare to question its truth. Saving the planet is the new religion, the scientists its apostles, the politicians its acolytes. The people will cooperate without any opt-outs, the need for action on climate change outweighs individual preferences, indeed individual preferences will be shaped to favour pro-planet activity, e.g. driving your car five miles less a week, fitting dull light bulbs etc. Saving the planet is the only rational consumer choice.

Dissenting voices within the science community are not being funded and their ideas are going unpublished. At climate summits no dissenting voices are heard or indeed tolerated.

A recent publication advising magistrates on sentencing in pollution cases told them to be strident and as environmentally active as any Friend of the Earth in their condemnation of polluters, i.e. smokers who use the high street like a giant ashtray.

So from a scientific endeavour to explain the anomalies of climate change and from funding pressure on that endeavour for answers, a whole belief system is building into a new and unquestionable common sense.

There's a major catastrophe on the horizon and action must be taken. The key message of this campaign is that it's everyone's problem.

Who are the key players in this new hysteria?

The UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change, the Climate Research Unit and the Hadley Centre (Met Office/MoD). These agencies supply the 'evidence' that activist lobby groups and politicians embellish to suit their own agendas.

Interestingly, the Met Office claims that it can't support or participate in any kind of lobbying activity because it adheres to the Civil Service Code of behaviour... please. And sometimes climate change zealots let their passions get the better of themselves. 

The significance of Copenhagen (Dec. 09)

The Copenhagen meeting of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP15 for short is about money.

Of the 190 countries attending, around 130 can be described as poor. Some of these countries can't even afford to send more than a couple of representative to the meeting, they are being given an attendance allowance of $220 a day. Once they have arrived they couldn't function without the assistance of organisations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth acting in support roles for them.

In contrast the US will have around 100 reps present and ditto the rest of the G20 countries. These rich countries will pledge £100b to assist the poor countries in their efforts in the fight against global warming. This 'gift' will also allow the rich countries to dodge their own responsibilities using language like 'common and differentiated' responsibility. Meaning due the variability of economic development existing globally, key polluters will be reviewing and revising emissions targets annually rendering long-term targets worthless.

Copenhagen is also about technology. The rich countries have it and the poor ones want it. The question is, how willing will the rich be to share with their poor neighbours. They will need to draft in a Russian chess master to figure the geopolitical consequences of giving away technological advantages to potential competitors. These poor countries don't like the rich ones. Let's remember our competitive edge was won by the bullet. We distorted the natural developmental paths of many poor countries for our own gain in the past.

Ultimately, Copenhagen is just about preparing the groundwork for a series of other meetings already on the agenda for the coming years. The circus rolls on....

So is the planet at DEF-CON 1

No. Man-made activity is causing irreparable damage to the planet, a long list of examples could be provided but to no purpose.

The real problem is the lack of regulation by governments.

The real problem is government denial of polluting activity.

The real problem is the cavalier attitude of business.

The real problem is McDonald's - you can't have your burger and eat it! It doesn't matter how much nutritional information McD provides, too much of it aint good for you but its quick and cheap, allowing you to get on with your life... to do what exactly? Save the bloody planet, what else!

The Outcome of Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen....

Nothing meaningful happened at the Climate Change Conference in terms of reducing carbon emissions. A few promises have been made but without any kind of verification.

However, the conference was different to all that went before in a couple of respects. Firstly, developing countries showed that they have had enough of being treated like small children who really don't understand the arguments and that are best left to the G20 grown-ups. Secondly, the transparent cynicism of the organisers was laid bare to the world's public, as they watched thousands of delegates being barred from entering. Fire regs were used as the excuse.

CO2 emissions = GDP x Carbon Intensity

Gordon Brown offered to cut CO2 emissions by 42% by 2020. So, the question is, could the man who had already saved the world once do it again, even more miraculously, i.e. by simultaneously reducing carbon intensity and not reducing the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. (Update: Obviously not.)

The figures suggest that a 42% cut in emissions will result in a corresponding fall of 30% in output, that is, by 2020 the value of production will be the same as it was in 2004.
Progress on cutting emissions has been quite good to date but in order to meet the 42% target the rate of improvement would need to double over the next ten years and the technology to support that improvement is just not available.

To a large extent the gains made in reducing emissions over the past decade have relied on the ‘dash for gas’ but further opportunities here are now limited and there’s a big security question mark over using imported gas.

However, the Brown promise relied heavily on a technological solution; the introduction of new nuclear power stations, more wind and tidal power, and the widespread introduction of carbon capture and storage. In sum, carbon intensity reduction that does not harm the nation’s prosperity can only occur via rapid technical change.

Alternatively, CO2 emissions could be reduced by producing less. We know this is not possible for a nation with a massive debt problem. The economy must grow, must produce much more rapidly and this will lead to increased emissions over the next ten years.

Cancun 2010

Nothing happened, third world countries went home happier, based on big promises from rich countries?, but all serious decision making was deferred until Durban 2011 - where again nothing decisive came to pass.

Carbon Credits: the dream scheme for saving the planet

Lehman Brothers, famously one of the first casualties of the fresh air trading frenzy that brought down the banking community, had plans to move into the trade in emissions permits, i.e. carbon credits. Banks that survived the crunch have moved into the trade in carbon credits in a big way, the market was worth $130 billion 2006, by 2020 the market will be worth $3 trillion.

Governments issue emissions permits to polluters, these allow the polluter to pollute up to a stated limit of CO2 emissions. If the polluter pollutes less than expected they are allowed to sell the permit to another polluter, so that they can pollute a bit more. The surplus of permits, known as carbon credits are traded like other financial products by banks.

How exactly a price for a carbon credit is arrived at is one of life’s abiding mysteries, in fact the price is arbitrary. Lord Nicholas Stern of Brentford, green economist, wrote a seven hundred page report for the Government on the subject of carbon credits and wrestled variously with the problem of price setting.

Well, he meandered this way and that but failed to provide an adequate answer, acknowledging that the notion of ‘marginal social cost’ just didn’t do the job – just too difficult to calculate.

The upshot was that they left price setting, not to the market but to the bureaucrats. So some chump with a biro said that a metric tonne of carbon was worth $30 – let the trading begin.

Now pay attention: emissions permits are monopoly rights to pollute, they are limited in number, and therefore susceptible to big price swings, and are therefore ripe for speculation. Which becomes very lucrative for polluters when the fool with the biro issues too many permits.

In 2005, the EU carbon trading authority issued 170 million surplus credits, UK electricity generators earned £800million in each of three years by selling their spare carbon credits, oil companies also made a killing. Basically, these companies were able to make a small fortune for doing nothing?

Doha: Another Year, Another Five Star Bash

The Climate Change Debating Society, the UN talking shop spent 10 days in Doha, where 200 countries hammered out a final deal – called the Doha climate gateway. For the first time those countries who are damaging the planet with their CO2 emissions have pledged funds for poor countries suffering 'loss and damage' caused by the polluters.

The Kyoto protocol, the initial targets which run out at the end of 2012 will be renewed and raised, even though the initial targets were not met? The EU, Australia, Norway and a handful of other developed countries have agreed to take on new carbon-cutting targets under the treaty, running to 2020.

The treaty is supposed to be signed in 2015, at a conference in Paris, and come into effect in 2020. And will the US be signing, probably not and will China, the world's biggest polluter, continue to hide behide its 'developing' country status, almost certainly. And will consumer bills rise and rise, almost certainly.