Category Archives: Greenery

Antibiotic resistance has the potential to be another man-made warming mania

Robert Henderson

A team led by the  economist Jim O’Neill has just published their findings  into a review of   the resistance to antibiotics by bacteria.  The review was ordered by David Cameron.

The research concluded that as things stand the growing inefficacy of antibiotics would result in as many as  ten million extra deaths a year  throughout the world by  2050 and an economic loss  from these deaths of  £64 trillion over the period  (or as much as £128 trillion if additional healthcare costs are added in).

Ominously O’Neill has consulted with Lord Stern, the global warming religionist, and likens the situation with antibiotic resistance to  that of  the manmade  global warming  mania:

“Mr O’Neill said he had consulted closely with Lord Stern, the President of the Royal Academy who carried out a landmark investigation into the threat from climate change for Tony Blair, about parallels between the two threats and possible responses.

“But he added that, despite the vastly higher public profile of climate change in comparison with drug resistance, there is greater consensus about the danger to humanity from the latter.

“It feels to me, from the scientific knowledge, that there is more certainty about this being a problem,” he said.

“Now I’m somebody that is very sympathetic to the climate change case … but, with the kind of debate that goes on and data, it feels to me that there is more certainty about this becoming a problem over a reasonably short time period.

“He added: “In some ways to try and solve is a little bit like climate change, because we are talking about the problem getting a lot bigger in the future than it is today and what we are presuming … that the cost of stopping the problem is significantly lower than the cost of not stopping it.”

He goes on to say that recommendations will be made next year as to what might be done to save us from this doomsday through international agreement on action, action which you can bet will be to reduce the use of antibiotics. It is also likely to result in yet more demands for Aid to the developing world because “  The inquiry’s initial estimates suggest that while the crisis will affect rich and poor countries alike the developing world will bear the brunt.”

O’Neill is correct in likening this threat to the man-made global warming circus, but not for the reason he believes.  Both are problems which are inherently unsolvable through the means of restricting  the use of the agents which produce the  supposed or real damaging effects.

The rule of Occam’s Razor (don’t multiply entities unnecessarily or keep things simple)  is in operation here in it most potent form.  In the cases of both global warming and antibiotic resistance the entities can be reduced to one: the size of the population outside of the First World  in the first case and the fact that bacteria know no geographical boundaries  in the second case.

For the man-made warming  problem the reducing emissions solution  fails because of the  size of the population in the world outside of the First World. There are approximately 7 billion humans alive today. At the most generous estimate only a billion of those live in the First World.  If the six billion people who do not live there raised their  carbon emissions to only half that of the average of  the First World,  the amount of carbon in the atmosphere  would greatly exceed the levels  judged to be dangerous by climate scientists.  Moreover, it is most unlikely that the carbon emission levels of the developing world  would  remain at only half the First World average. Indeed, they may well  end up exceeding the first world average as the developing world  generally uses dirty fossil fuels without regard to emissions.  Nor is there anything the First World can do to prevent  them continuing to behave like this.   Consequently, the only sensible course of action is to watch and see how things develop and devote resources  to ameliorating whatever ill effects may arise if  climate change,  whether natural or man-made,  produces  circumstances which threaten human environments.

The idea that bacterial immunity to antibiotics can be meaningfully prevented by restricting their use is  different from man-made global warming  in that it is an unequivocal fact that it exists.   But  like man-made global warming the remedy of  restricting its use  is a pipe dream  because all countries would have to agree to such a regime and enforce it.

In many countries, including a good number in Europe,  antibiotics do not require a prescription and they can be purchased as easily as a pack of aspirin in Britain. If one country or even a group of first world countries – say, the EU states –  were to restrict antibiotic use  it would make no difference in anything other than the short run  because bacteria know no boundaries.  Eventually, bacteria with immunity would take as hosts those whose countries had restricted the use of antibiotics.

The other fly in the ointment is the widespread use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.  When animal products from such animals  are eaten they will pass on small but significant   amounts of antibiotics. That will over time will build antibiotic resistance.

In both the case of restricting direct antibiotics to humans and in their indirect transmission through animal products , there is zero chance of getting global agreement to restrict their use and to take  serious action to enforce the restriction. Therefore, it is  pointless  to try to restrict their use. Therefore, it is  at best pointless to  discuss such measures and at worst a distraction from what needs to be done.

What should be done? Governments need to initiate a large and perpetual publicly funded  programme of research to firstly constantly search for new antibiotics and secondly to examine new approaches to attacking infections, for example, by discovering ways to destroy bacteria by  irradiation.   If it is left  to Big Pharma  the research they will undertake will be both insufficient in terms of unearthing new antibiotics and in investigating new approaches, viz:

“Drug-resistant bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are on the rise as the discovery of new medicines has failed to keep pace with the evolution of the bugs.

This is partly because the pharmaceutical industry moved out of antibiotic research en masse over the last decade and a half due to tough regulations and poor returns on investment, though the pattern has started to reverse.”

The British Green Party expose their totalitarian mentality

Robert Henderson

The British Green Party has put its undemocratic cards blatantly on the table.  One of their most recent policy statements is a “ 10 point flood response plan” . Point number three is of especially interest:

“3. Get rid of any cabinet Ministers or senior governmental advisors who refuse to accept the scientific consensus on climate change or who won’t take the risks to the UK seriously” (

The leader of the British Green Party Natalie Bennett enlarged on this in an interview with the BBC conducted by Ross Hawkins  ( These exchanges took place:

Hawkins: “ Every , as this [the 10 point plan] says, senior government advisor who refused to accept the scientific consensus on climate change as you describe it shouldn’t be in their post; every one of them?”

Bennett:  “Yes. We need the whole government behind this. This is an emergency situation we’re facing now. We need to take action. We need everyone signed up behind that.”

Hawkins: “ And,  I am not reducing this to the absurd;  that literally would include every senior government advisor , i.e., it could be the Chief Veterinary Officer ; it could be any  advisor whether or not they are directly connected with the issue of flooding? “

Bennett; “Yes.”

Hawkins: “And you would see them removed from their posts?”

Bennett: “We would ask the government to remove them”.

Bennett: “It’s an insult to flood victims that we have an Environment Secretary (Owen Paterson) who is a denier of the reality of climate change and we also can’t have anyone in the cabinet who is denying the realities that we’re facing with climate change.”

This is the voice of the true fanatic, so captured by an ideology that any dissent from the “true way”  becomes heresy which must be eradicated.  For Bennett it is not enough to have policies implemented , only those who unreservedly  support the policies can be tolerated in government even if they are not involved in implementing the policies themselves.

In short, Greens want the debate on man-made global warming to be officially over as far as the government is concerned.   They belong to the one class of person who should be denied a public voice, namely the class of those who would deny a public voice to others.

Bennett is a very odd sort of public campaigner.  I know her  personally  because we were both members of a group trying to stop a laboratory handling dangerous toxins  being built in the centre of London next to St Pancras station. (The site is approximately 100 feet from my front window).

Because all the major Westminster parties were wildly in favour of the project the only chance of stopping it was to show was to show that the bidding process was tainted. This I did comprehensively using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain documents which showed unambiguously that Gordon Brown had illegally interfered with the bidding process. Further details including the Brown documents  can be found at

Despite being a Guardian journalist with ready access to the media, Bennett refused to use the material and the campaign comprehensively failed because it was reduced to using bog-standard street politics: going on marches, making banners, sending deputations to the local council and so on.

Why wouldn’t Bennett use my FOIA material? I could never get a meaningful answer out of her. All she would say was that it wasn’t  of public interest, a self-evident absurdity as it not only struck directly at the sale of the land,   but was of general public interest because a Prime Minister had interfered in a bidding process for an enterprise he favoured.  On the face of it the story appeared to be right up the Guardian’s street.

Perhaps she refused to use the material  because she could not claim the information as her own.  Surprisingly for a journalist she made no attempt to use the FOIA herself to aid that campaign.

Population – the elephant in the global warming green room

Robert Henderson

Let me put my cards on the table: I see no hard evidence for man-made global warming, nor do I believe that pollution generally will be the undoing of humanity, although it can obviously have severe effects on particular populations. Readers interested in my reasons for dismissing environmental scares in general and man made global warming in particular may refer to “my  The overheated climate debate “ which was published in the Mother Earth Feb 2007 issue (

Notwithstanding the lack of firm evidence, Western political elites, egged on by the religiously devoted greens through their powerful pressure groups, are behaving as though we shall all be going to Hell in a handcart if things do not change and are consequently burdening their societies with environmental laws. These laws, apart from making life unpleasant for the masses because of their impingement on their liberty, are imposing great costs on Western economies which are not shared by the rest of the world. Nor will these laws have any meaningful impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere because of the vast and ever growing increase in emissions taking place in the developing world.

This essay is designed to challenge these newly green political elites on their own grounds, to take their claims and test them against their actual policies by asking questions such as is there any possibility that the claimed necessary reductions in greenhouse gases can be achieved? Will the developed world “setting an example” persuade the undeveloped world to cut back on greenhouse gases? Can the industrialisation of the developing world continue without the creation of vastly more greenhouse gases? Is the calculation of greenhouse gases sound? Most importantly ,what are the implications of the world’s present population and projected future growth for the environment?


A monstrous and ever expanding elephant sits in the green crusaders’ room. Amidst all the liberal internationalist angst about greenhouse gases and pollution generally, the greatest and most obvious cause of both is ignored by mainstream politicians: the already great and rapidly rising population of the world.

The world population is estimated to be 6.5 billion now. Extrapolations to 2050 go as high as 9.5 billion. The vast majority living now come from the underdeveloped world and their proportion of the world population will increase in the coming decades because the populations of underdeveloped countries have much younger populations than those of the developed world, viz:

“One of every six people on earth is an adolescent. In the developing world, more than 40 percent of the population is under age 20. The decisions these young people make will shape our world and the prospects of future generations. On this World Population Day, let us recognize their right to the health, information and services they need and deserve.” (

If the swelling world population was overwhelmingly due to increases in the still very white first world you may be sure that we would be daily berated for our selfish breeding. We would be told that any increase in our population was at the expense of the third world, that every extra mouth to feed, house, clothe and supply with energy was absolutely unconscionable. Western governments would be instigating programmes to reduce our populations and some of the bolder would be advocating rationing of children and any industrial process deemed to be producing the putative greenhouse gases,

But the overwhelming majority of people living today do not live in the first world and the projected future expansion of the world’s population is due almost entirely to third world increases, the first world having at best stabilised their populations and at worst actually set themselves on the path of democratic decline through a mixture of contraception and too readily available abortion (Britain does not have a fertility crisis but an abortion crisis, with 200,000 abortions being carried out a year. If those babies were born Britain’s birth rate would be above replacement level. Such increases in the first world as occur will be due to immigration from the third world and the generally higher breeding rates of immigrants.) Consequently, the subject goes unmentioned by politicians because it is beyond the Pale for Western liberal internationalist elites and not in the interests of the developing world to raise it.

The Western green suicide national advocates

If Western politicians are as yet unwilling to advocate the most extreme measures such as a dramatic reduction of Western populations, there are pressure groups such as the Optimum Population Trust ( who will. They think it should be the wicked energy guzzling first world which should show the way on the grounds that each first worlder consumes zillions of times more energy than each third worlder. Their recipe is that the first world effectively commit suicide by reducing its on average below replacement reproductive level even further. Here are a couple of snippets from their website which relate to the UK. The OPT advocate the following policies:

“• (i) to welcome the current below-replacement total fertility rate;

• (ii) to oppose fiscal incentives specifically intended to encourage women to have large families;

• (iii) to reduce further (by contraception and education) the number of teenage pregnancies, which are still among the highest in Europe; “

‘The UK’s sustainable population based on current patterns of resource use is just over 17 million, less than a third of its actual population of 60 million*, according to new research from the Optimum Population Trust….

‘If the whole world lived a “modest” Western European lifestyle based on current energy patterns, it could support only 1.9 billion people. If that “Western European” world then managed to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent, this sustainable population figure would rise to 2.8 billion. However, this would still only represent 40 per cent of the current world population.’  (OPT NEWS RELEASE December 4 2006

The danger for the West is that our politicians may buy into this dangerous nonsense sufficiently to act to suppress Western breeding rates even further.

Calculating emissions

The questioning reader may have a provoking question niggling away at the back of their mind: how is that the industrialised First World with only 1 billion of population at best, a population which lives in countries which monitor and control their emissions ever more rigorously, is so much more at fault for emissions than the 5.5 billion who live in countries where the vast majority of energy is generated either by the direct burning of fossil fuels in the home or workplace or through power stations, mainly coal fired, which pump pollution into the air with poor filtration and who are responsible for far more agricultural generated greenhouse gas emissions than the First World?

The answer ostensibly lies in the convenience of scientists. Here is the UN Environment Programme website giving the game away:

“ Central to any study of climate change is the development of an emissions inventory that identifies and quantifies a country’s primary anthropogenic sources and sinks of greenhouse gas. Emissions are not usually monitored directly, but are generally estimated using models. Some emissions can be calculated with only limited accuracy. Emissions from energy and industrial processes are the most reliable (using energy consumption statistics and industrial point sources). Some agricultural emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide carry major uncertainties because they are generated through biological processes that can be quite variable.”  (

Translated that means scientists rely on the sort of statistics which the developed world produces (and the undeveloped world does not ), while ignoring at worst and under-estimating at best emissions which are not readily calculated or available. Take the case of methane and nitrous oxide, the most plentiful greenhouse gases after water vapour and carbon dioxide. Here is what the says about methane produced by man made means:

“The primary sources for the additional methane added to the atmosphere (in order of importance) are: rice cultivation; domestic grazing animals; termites; landfills; coal mining; and, oil and gas extraction. Anaerobic conditions associated with rice paddy flooding results in the formation of methane gas. However, an accurate estimate of how much methane is being produced from rice paddies has been difficult to ascertain. More than 60 % of all rice paddies are found in India and China where scientific data concerning emission rates are unavailable. Nevertheless, scientists believe that the contribution of rice paddies is large because this form of crop production has more than doubled since 1950. Grazing animals release methane to the environment as a result of herbaceous digestion. Some researchers believe the addition of methane from this source has more than quadrupled over the last century. Termites also release methane through similar processes. Land-use change in the tropics, due to deforestation, ranching, and farming, may be causing termite numbers to expand. If this assumption is correct, the contribution from these insects may be important. Methane is also released from landfills, coal mines, and gas and oil drilling. Landfills produce methane as organic wastes decompose over time. Coal, oil, and natural gas deposits release methane to the atmosphere when these deposits are excavated or drilled.“ (

And here is the journal Nature on methane emissions:

“There is a strong link between human diet and methane emissions from livestock. Nations where beef forms a large part of the diet, for example, tend to have large herds of cattle. As beef consumption rises or falls, the number of livestock will, in general, also rise or fall, as will the related methane emissions. Similarly, the consumption of dairy goods, pork, mutton, and other meats, as well non-food items such as wool and draft labor (by oxen, camels, and horses), also influences the size of herds and methane emissions. The figures below present recent estimates of methane emissions by type of animal and by region. Due to their large numbers, cattle and dairy cows produce the bulk of total emissions. In addition, certain regions – both developing and industrialized – produce significant percentages of the global total. Emissions in South and East Asia are high principally because of large human populations; emissions per-capita are slightly lower than the world average”  (

As for nitrous oxide, here is the physical geography website again:

”The average concentration of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is now increasing at a rate of 0.2 to 0.3 % per year. Its part in the enhancement of the greenhouse effect is minor relative to the other greenhouse gases already mentioned. However, it does have an important role in the artificial fertilization of ecosystems. In extreme cases, this fertilization can lead to the death of forests, eutrophication of aquatic habitats, and species exclusion. Sources for the increase of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere include: land-use conversion; fossil fuel combustion; biomass burning; and soil fertilization. “Most of the nitrous oxide added to the atmosphere each year comes from deforestation and the conversion of forest, savanna and grassland ecosystems into agricultural fields and rangeland. Both of these processes reduce the amount of nitrogen stored in living vegetation and soil through the decomposition of organic matter. Nitrous oxide is also released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels and biomass are burned. However, the combined contribution to the increase of this gas in the atmosphere is thought to be minor. The use of nitrate and ammonium fertilizers to enhance plant growth is another source of nitrous oxide. How much is released from this process has been difficult to quantify. Estimates suggest that the contribution from this source represents from 50 % to 0.2 % of nitrous oxide added to the atmosphere annually “ (“

It is also important to understand that the quantity of the various gases in the atmosphere is not a simple guide to their effectiveness as greenhouse gases. Methane and Nitrous Oxide are thought to be much more effective than Carbon Dioxide at warming the atmosphere, viz:

“Global Warming Potential (GWP). The normal reference is Carbon Dioxide for which the GWP is 1. By comparison the GWP for Methane is 21, Nitrous Oxide 310, most of the FCs are up in the 1000s with Sulphur hexafluoride at the top with a whopping GWP of 23,900.” (

The GWP ratings mean that methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 and Nitrous Oxide 310 times more potent.

Finally, all greenhouse gases have to be put into the contexts of (1) that greenhouse gases form less than 1% of the atmosphere and (2) that water vapour is the most common greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, accounting for the majority of the greenhouse effect.

Interestingly, estimates of how much water vapour contributes vary widely:

“If one pursues the question of how much of the greenhouse effect is due to each of the various greenhouse gases one finds a perplexing variety of answers in the literature. One source says that 95 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, another 98 percent. These figures may be referring to the proportion, by weight or volume, of water vapor among the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere. Another source says that proportion water vapor is responsible for is between 36 and 70 percent. Water droplets in clouds account for another 10 to 15 percent so water as liquid or vapor accounts for between 46 and 85 percent of the greenhouse effect. The same source attributes 9 to 26 percent of the greenhouse effect to carbon dioxide (CO2).” (

If there is such disagreement and uncertainty amongst climate scientists about the extent of water vapour’s influence a gigantic question mark hangs over claims for other gases such as CO2 and Methane. Suppose 90%+ is down to water vapour, about which Man can do little, it is difficult to see that any increases due to Man made gases will be of more than peripheral importance. It is also interesting to note that that estimates of the other gases such as CO2 vary widely.

Imagine man made climate change is occurring

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that global warming is occurring largely or wholly because of man made emissions. Even in those circumstances it would be madness for Britain or any other developed country to load themselves with taxes and other burdens because quite clearly the five sixths of the world’s population which does not live in the First World is going to carry on industrialising without regard to what the First World does. China is on course to become the largest carbon dioxide emitter by 2010 , overtaking the USA. Previous “expert” estimates which said this would not happen until 2020:

“China, one of the fastest growing economies of the world is all set to overtake U.S as the leading air polluter by as early as 2010; a whole decade faster than the previous estimates of 2020.

“The International Energy Agency has concluded this based on extensive data studies, changing climatic conditions in the region etc. On the other hand the United Nations is holding a conference in Nairobi to find solutions to global warming and cutting the emission of greenhouse gases.”  (

China will be in this position because she is quite naturally seeking her national advantage by using a resource which she has in abundance – coal – to fuel the energy need of her rapidly expanding economy. Nor does she show any sign of slowing down:

“A blueprint to save the world from the worst effects of climate change, drawn up at UN talks in Bangkok, is under threat from China. Delegates said that Europe was insisting that the world should try to keep the global temperature rise to an average of no more than 2°C or risk “dangerous” consequences.

“But China wanted to retain the right to pump out greenhouse gases that would result in temperatures increasing by more than 2°C.

“ It was objecting to any wording that would mean it should impose a Cap on its emissions, slow its economic growth or spend large amounts on clean technologies in the future.

“China could overtake the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases by the end of this year, according to the International Energy Agency.” (Daily Telegraph 03/05/2007)

China’s “one-child” policy is also coming apart:

“China’s new rich are sparking a population crisis by disregarding the nation’s one-child rule. Under the controversial policy introduced in 1979, families face fines if they have two or more children. But rising incomes, especially in the affluent eastern and coastal regions, mean that more people can afford to pay to have as many offspring as they like.

“According to a recent survey by China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, the number of wealthy people and celebrities deciding to have more than one child has increased rapidly, despite fines that can be as high as 200,000 Yuan (£13,000) for each extra child.

“Almost 10 per cent of high earners are now choosing to have three children because large families are associated with wealth, status and happiness in China. “ (Daily Telegraph 08/05/2007).

Of course, vast and rapidly growing as she is, China is simply part of a larger picture of developing world pollution. Take the second largest country on Earth, India. Just as China is happy to build coal- fired power stations with abandon, India is content to engage in a policy of small wood powered stations, a policy which not only introduces CO2 into the atmosphere but results in deforestation which reduces the natural capture of CO2.

India is changing its greenhouse emissions contribution very rapidly:

”Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, contribute to global warming and climate change. According to the US-based ‘think tank’ the World Resources Institute, India was responsible for over four per cent of total emissions in 2000 — making the country the sixth largest emitter in the world. Emissions are set to rise further still over the next 20 years as the Indian economy rapidly develops. Both the International Energy Agency and the government of the United States’ Energy Information Administration predict over 90 per cent growth in carbon dioxide emissions alone by 2025….

“India’s coal consumption has increased from 110 million tonnes in 1980 to more than 350 million tones in 2000, representing an annual growth rate of almost 6 per cent. Natural gas consumption has grown similarly, at 5.6 per cent a year, to 75 million cubic metres in 2000. But petroleum consumption has grown fastest since the 1980s, at an annual rate of 14 per cent, to over 350 million tonnes in 2000….

”India emitted 16 million tonnes of methane in 1990, and 24 million tonnes in 2000 — a little under 35 per cent of the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. [4] The agricultural sector dominates (see Figure 2), contributing about 64 per cent. Within this sector, the largest contributions come from livestock, which produce methane in their digestive tracts, and rice crops, which emit approximately four terragrams of methane per hectare as organic matter decomposes in flooded fields. …

”India’s greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, making up 4.47 per cent of the global total in 2000. This places India in the top ten emitters of the world. The United States leads the way, producing five times more emissions than India, at almost 16 per cent of the world total. China is the largest developing country emitter, accounting for nearly 12 per cent of global emissions “. 31 August 2006 Source: SciDev.Net (

The hopelessness of the liberal internationalist’s belief that if the “West sets an example” to the developing world is clear to see. Even if the developing world population was stabilised immediately and they restricted their emissions growth to half of the average of the first world at present, that would increase emissions by several times what they are currently. If the first world ceased to emit anything at all, the increase in the rest of the world’s emissions, through development and an expanding population, would still push the emissions level way beyond what we have now and what climate scientists consider safe.

The sane response for the first world is to accept that even if Man is creating global warming, the best that can be done is to guard against its effects by doing what it has always done, namely, use its scientific and technological skills to combat adverse effects. If Dutch engineers could reclaim much of the land which now constitutes the Netherlands in the 17 century it really should not be the wit of 21st century man to do the same.

Green laws are only for “the little people”

Although they are forever berating their populations about global warming, Western political elites subscribe to policies which positively thwart their ostensible aims. They do this for reasons of political ideology, fear of political repercussions if they follow the logic of their ideas and personal selfishness.

Their greatest hypocrisy is to sign up to the free trade, free movement of peoples agenda. The consequence of this is twofold: much energy is expended transporting people and goods around the world and much of the energy use needed for manufacture is exported from the developed world , with its high standards of pollution control, to the developing world, most notably China, where such controls are practically next to non-existent and coal fired power stations are the primary means of producing the necessary energy. The globalisation of business must also have an impact on energy use because of the increased need to transmit data over long distances by electronic means. If Western governments were truly committed to the green agenda they would be advocating much more national self sufficiency.

Then there is the mania for economic growth. All first world governments seek continual growth. None says, hold on, if we want to “save the planet” we should not be seeking ever more growth, ever more expenditure of resources. That alone makes their supposed commitment to “green” solutions to “global warming” a nonsense. If first world economies continue to grow so must their emissions, at least for the foreseeable future, because there is no ready made solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to counter the growth.

Congruent with free trade and growth is the “throwaway society”. We increasingly produce and consume goods which are thrown away because they are not worth repairing because of the cost, because they rapidly become obsolescent or which are b poorly made but so cheap that the owner is content to use them for a short period before purchasing something else. How can that be squared with the idea that greenhouse emissions must be radically reduced not in twenty years or even ten years, but right now? The answer of course is that it cannot be squared.

The general approach of Western governments is not to honestly tackle the problem they perceive to exist but to eat away piecemeal at one or two visible aspects of the putative causes of the problem. For example, “green” taxes are put on 4x4s and congestion charging applied to cities, but such policies have little effect on the overall use of motor vehicles.

Even where something is indubitably not for necessary purposes nothing radical is done. Take the case of leisure air travel. Rhetoric spouts from politicians about carbon offsetting and taxes on aviation fuel but everyone knows nothing much will happen. There is of course a very practical reason for this, the better off are the prime users of air travel. The middle classes are generally the loudest proclaimers of the virtues of green values yet they are also the ones most committed to frequent flying as they go off on multiple foreign holidays a year and regularly visit their foreign second home, but no British Government would dream of overtly actually rationing such flights however much they might talk about it. The most they will do is put on an aviation tax, which of course penalises the poor.

The selfishness of the better off is a general problem for greens, because on average the richer the person the more energy the person will consume. An hilarious example of this came earlier in the year when the “Unjolly Green Giant” Al Gore was exposed as a man whose private residence consumed more than 20 times as much electricity as the average American home in 2006:

“The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year. “  (

Or take the case of the Prince Charles’ second wife who recently unconscionably embarrassed the religiously green Prince:

“The Duchess of Cornwall has flown out for a cruise, leaving Prince Charles behind and his aides counting the cost of her gigantic carbon footprint.

“ She took a private plane laid on by her holiday host, the billionaire Dr Spiros Latsis, to join girlfriends for her annual jaunt around the Greek islands on the Latsis yacht.” (Daily Telegraph16/05/2007)

The rich and powerful do not think that the green rules apply to them. They are for “the little people” ,as the American millionairess Leona Helmsley memorably said about taxes.

Why are Western political elites so keen on seeming green? The answer lies in the type of personality which is attracted to politics. Politicians are generally people who wish to control the lives of others. In addition, even if they are not formally religious they tend to have the religious temperament, that is, they have an instinctive desire to believe in something and to force that belief on others. The green ideology in general and global warming in particular provide an outlet for those religious impulses.

The combination of the desire to control and the religious impulse fit neatly together, because as every “religious” believer knows, their creed cannot stand up to rational questioning. Consequently, the natural tendency of all believers, religious and secular, is to quash dissent. When they have power they invariably do so. Hence, the abuse and censorship which currently is taking place of those who do not buy into the green religion.

The other things which the green religion does is allow the political elites to constantly interfere in the lives of the masses and to manipulate public debate to keep the general public confused and afraid and thus more malleable. Hence, we have the petty authoritarianism of ever more draconian domestic waste obligations with householders being turned into criminals for not sorting their waste “correctly” and motorists being constantly berated for using their cars and threatened with ever higher motoring costs through policies such as road charging.

The green agenda is also being cynically exploited by stories such as the one below which tap a true and real fear of our age, mass immigration:

“Climate change will take the number of refugees worldwide to a billion by 2050, according to a report. Global warming and its consequences will exacerbate a global crisis In which 155 million people have been displaced by wars, natural disasters and development projects, the study by Christian Aid warns.  (Daily Telegraph 14/05/2007)

The green message is implicit but clear: obey us or you will be swamped with immigrants.

An example of a green propaganda tool  

Generally, Western elites, both politicians and the broader elite, are happy to allow the new green religion to go unchallenged. To illustrate the absurdities which are treated as fact I will examine one prime example of this unquestioning attitude.

“Taking the past year as a whole, it has also been the hottest 12-month period since 1659. Daily telegraph 28/04/2007

The year 1659 appears with remarkable frequency in the media in connection with the English climate, often in the form “since records began in 1659”. It is a statement rarely if every questioned by anyone with access to the mainstream media.

Just pause and think about that claim. Does it seem probable that official weather records have been meticulously kept for three and a half centuries, kept before the scientific and industrial revolutions, kept before the English or British state became a bureaucratic monster? The answer of course is that it is extremely improbable and did not happen. What did happen in the third quarter of the last century is that a British meteorologist by the name of Gordon Manley attempted to produce an historical series for temperature in England which he eventually extended to 1659. His work over a quarter of a century is summarised in two papers published by the Royal Meteorological Society: The mean temperature of central England 1698-1952 (1953) and Central England temperatures – monthly means 1959-1973 (1974) The two papers can be found at academics have built on his work since.

Manley, like a good academic, was scrupulous in admitting the difficulties in constructing such an historical series: “Methods of approximation must be resorted to [when constructing any historical series], most notably in England where, despite our very long scientific tradition, almost all observation before 1841 was dependant on amateur effort so that widely scattered records of diverse length and accuracy provide endless problems… The English records offer a formidable problem”. The opening paragraph of his 1953 paper.

“Formidable problem” is understating matters. Even readings of temperature today using highly sophisticated equipment cause considerable dispute because where the measurement is taken is all important, for example, readings taken in or close to urban areas will produce a higher temperature than ones taken in areas with little or no human habitation. Trying to get a consistent environment to take temperature over a long period of time is obviously difficult and comparisons with the past questionable because we can never know what the conditions were exactly at any point in the past. Hence, even with the advent of official records early in Victoria’s reign it is not simply a question of comparing data from one time with another. For example, has can temperatures in London today be meaningfully compared with those of 150 years ago when there were no motorised vehicles and coal was the main energy source?

Once Manley enters the period before the official records (pre 1841) his caveats become ever more severe, whether it be the paucity of the data, breaks in the data, the widely different means used to collect data, the absence of any information about how data was collected and even the switch between the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 which means every record prior to the change has to be recalibrated to the Gregorian.

Manley’s research and analysis was honest but the most rational thing to conclude from it is that it proved no meaningful historical temperature series for England could be constructed over the period. Yet his research is trotted out as having the status of certain fact by the mainstream media, politicians and, to their shame, often by scientists when they enter the realm of public debate.


The only sane conclusion to draw from the way the world is developing is that nothing is going to prevent a massive increase in greenhouse gases as the developing world industrialises. That being so, the rational response of Western politicians would be to stop burdening their own countries with expensive green laws and concentrate instead on dealing with the effects of global warming if they materialise. That should not be impossible because any change will be gradual and our technological ability, already very substantial, will increase mightily in the next century or so.

Western elites must shift their mentality from that of liberal internationalism to concern for their own countries and people rather than the third world. Ultimately, it is for every nation to look after its own people and territory. Western politicians should stop kowtowing to their liberal guilt and start pointing out the facts of life to the developing world.

These facts are, that the pollution from the developing world is on schedule to utterly dwarf the pollution of the first world; that the developing world must take responsibility for their population growth; that the developing nations are responsible for the pollution they create and its effects on their own people; that the first world cannot be a milch cow for the rest of the world any longer and should not be expected to pay for any ill-effects of industrialisation created by the developing world.

Most importantly, Western elites need to stop peddling the line that the fact that the first world is industrialised is a justification for the rest of the world to industrialise to the same degree without regard to the consequences. That is akin to arguing that because ten people are on a life raft, the 100 in the water have the right to climb on as well regardless of whether it sinks the life raft.

The existing population disparity between the first world and the rest of the world places the question of development in a different moral context. Nor is this simply a case of industrialisation. The likely population expansion alone creates a great deal more pollution, whether it be greenhouse gases, deforestation, pressure on water resources or mass migration. That is the responsibility of the developing nations. If they cannot or will not restrict their population growth, they must take the consequences. The first world must look to its own interests and safety.

London Zoo and the global warming religion

This  precious piece of warmist propaganda is plastered all over London  Zoo. (I reproduce  the gem as it appears in the Zoo, the illiteracies and capitalisation being their own).


350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is the safe upper limit for almost all life

We are currently at 387 ppm and rising by 2ppm per year, higher than at any time in human history


The wild relatives of the amazing animals you see in the zoo today are already  at risk from:

Melting poles and glaciers

Rising sea levels

Spread of disease carrying mosquitoes to move, warmer places

Increased drought

Warming and acidifying oceans carbonising coral reefs and other species to extinction

In fact, all life, including human life is at peril

The World Association of Zoos and Aquaria supports the urgent call to stabilise atmospheric CO2 as far below 350 ppm as is possible


Visit and 350.0rg “

CO2  is currently “higher than at any time in human history, eh?  Well, maybe, but even that fact is far from certain.  Take this article in Nature in 2000:

‘Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years

Paul N. Pearson1 & Martin R. Palmer2

1.Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK

2.T. H. Huxley School, Imperial College, RSM Building, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BP, UK

“Knowledge of the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations throughout the Earth’s history is important for a reconstruction of the links between climate and radiative forcing of the Earth’s surface temperatures. Although atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the early Cenozoic era (about 60 Myr ago) are widely believed to have been higher than at present, there is disagreement regarding the exact carbon dioxide levels, the timing of the decline and the mechanisms that are most important for the control of CO2 concentrations over geological timescales. Here we use the boron-isotope ratios of ancient planktonic foraminifer shells to estimate the pH of surface-layer sea water throughout the past 60 million years, which can be used to reconstruct atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We estimate CO2 concentrations of more than 2,000 p.p.m. for the late Palaeocene and earliest Eocene periods (from about 60 to 52 Myr ago), and find an erratic decline between 55 and 40 Myr ago that may have been caused by reduced CO2 outgassing from ocean ridges, volcanoes and metamorphic belts and increased carbon burial. Since the early Miocene (about 24 Myr ago), atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to have remained below 500 p.p.m. and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 Myr ago.”’

That is saying CO2 levels are thought to have remained below 500 ppm for 24 million years or so. That means fully fledged  mammals have survived happily enough at higher concentrations than  350 ppm and in the not too distant geological past before that date,  proto mammals and of course organic life in general managed to get along with a massive 2,000 ppm of CO2.

The other thing to note is the failure to make any mention of the other main greenhouse gases water vapour (the most prevalent greenhouse gas)  and methane. This is a common  turning of a blind eye by the warmist religionists. In the case of water vapour,  they do this  primarily  because  little  can be done about reducing it,   and in as much as man is responsible for producing water vapour,  a great deal of this results from the creation of  paddyfields. As this is  something which is done overwhelmingly by developing nations ,   political correctness kicks in to produce silence amongst Western elites. It is also very inconvenient for the man-made warming argument  to have to admit that the most prevalent  greenhouse gas is effectively beyond human control.   As for methane, that also has a politically correct dimension because  paddyfields produce a large amount of the gas.

I particularly enjoyed  the plea to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere “as far below 350 ppm as is possible. “ Reduce it very  substantially and,  others things being equal,  we would be heading for an ice age or even an earth which became  a permanent snowball.  The plea  also ignores the fact that CO2 is plant food.  Lower CO2 levels means less vegetation which means fewer  animals. Atmospheric greenhouse gases  including CO2 are necessary to maintain the planet in a state in which humans can live.

What this crass piece of warmist propaganda shows is how closed are the minds of the warmists and how  determined they are to proselytise their creed without any regard for logic or  scientific  research   which undermines their case . (It is important to understand that  the place is not just a Zoo,  but also one of Britain’s leading research institutions in the field of the life sciences, this being a consequence of its foundation by the Royal Zoological Society. Hence, they have no excuse for not understanding or being aware of the science).

“…since records began in 1659″

The year 1659 appears with remarkable frequency in the media in 
connection with the English climate, often in the form “since records 
began in 1659”. It is a statement  rarely if every questioned by 
anyone with access to the mainstream media. 

Just pause and think about that claim. Does it seem probable that 
official weather records have been meticulously kept for three and a 
half centuries, kept before the scientific and industrial revolutions, 
kept before the English or British state became a bureaucratic monster? 
The answer of course is that it is extremely improbable  and did not 
happen. What did happen in the third quarter of the last century is that 
a British meteorologist by the name of  Gordon Manley attempted to 
produce an historical series  for temperature in England which he 
eventually extended to 1659. His work over a quarter of a century is 
summarised in two papers published by the Royal Meteorological Society: 
The mean temperature of central England 1698-1952 (1953) and Central 
England temperatures – monthly means 1959-1973 (1974) The two papers 
can be found at Other 
academics have built on his work since. 

Manley, like a good academic, was scrupulous in admitting the 
difficulties in constructing such an historical series: “Methods of 
approximation must be resorted to [when constructing any historical 
series],  most notably in England where, despite our very long 
scientific tradition, almost all observation before 1841  was dependant 
on amateur effort so that widely scattered records of diverse length and 
accuracy provide endless problems… The English records offer a 
formidable problem”. The opening paragraph of  his 1953 paper. 

“Formidable problem” is understating matters. Even readings of 
temperature today using highly sophisticated equipment  cause 
considerable dispute because where the measurement is taken is all 
important, for example,  readings taken in or close to urban  areas will 
produce a higher temperature than ones taken in areas with little or no 
human habitation. Trying to get a consistent environment to take 
temperature over a long period of time is obviously difficult and 
comparisons with the past questionable because we can never know what 
the conditions were exactly at any point in the past.  Hence, even with 
the advent of official records early in Victoria’s reign it is not 
simply a question of comparing data from one time with another. For 
example, has can temperatures in London today be meaningfully compared 
with those of 150 years ago when there were no motorised vehicles and 
coal was the main energy source? 

Once Manley enters the period before the official records (pre 1841) his 
caveats  become ever more severe, whether it be the paucity of the data, 
breaks in the data, the widely different means used to collect data, the 
absence of any information about how data was collected and even the 
switch between the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 which means 
every record prior to the change has to be recalibrated to the 

Manley’s research and analysis was honest but the most rational thing 
to conclude from it is that it proved no meaningful  historical 
temperature series  for England could be constructed over the period. 
Yet his research is trotted out as having the status of certain fact by 
the mainstream media, politicians and, to their shame, often  by 
scientists when they enter the realm of public debate.

If weather persists it becomes the climate

Letter published  in Sunday Telegraph 26 December 2010

The advocates of man-made global warming meet any meteorological event such as the recent severe winters we have experienced   which does not fit into their ideology by chanting one of their favourite mantras ” weather should not be confused with climate”. The problem for warmists is that when weather lasts for years it becomes the climate.
Flows between decades of  warmer and colder climate in Britain are the norm. The decades leading up to the 1940s were unusually warm; those from the mid-1940s to the mid 1970s unusually cold. The odds are that we are now reverting to a colder period.
The warmists might care to ask themselves why the period 1945-1975 was unusually cold, when massive increases in man-made greenhouse gases took place during both that period and the warmer decades before 1945.  
Yours sincerely,
Robert Henderson  

Man-made global warming is the 21st century phlogiston

In the 18th century a   theory arose to explain the process of oxidation (combustion and rusting). The theory involved a non-existent substance named  phlogiston (from the ancient  Greek for burning up. It was a theory which neatly accounted for oxidation processes such as combustion and rusting. Phlogiston was supposedly contained within every flammable substance and released when a substance was  burnt. This meant that the residue (the calx) of what was burnt should be lighter than the original substance. Inconveniently for the phlogistonists , experiments showed that, for example, a the calx of a metal such as  magnesium gained weight when burnt in the air. The most excitable  phlogistonists  in desperation then floated the idea that  phlogiston had a negative weight. Some of the less excitable suggested that phlogiston was lighter than air, which obfuscated matters until the measurement of the weight of gases as well as the remainders of a burnt substance became possible  through the use of hermetically sealed containers .  Eventually an end was brought to this nonsense by a combination of  Lavoisier’s  identification of  oxygen and its combinational  qualities and numerous experiments by antiphlogistonists  which  showed that results of any substance that  was combusted or corroded in air could only be explained by the phlogiston theory if phlogiston had a negative weight.  The discrediting of phlogiston theory took the better part of a century.

The behaviour  of the man-made global warmists is reminiscent of  the believers in phlogiston. Time and again they are confronted with facts which are as damaging to their  creed as the weight gain of combusted material was to phlogiston theory.  Just like the believers in phlogiston, they meet every  unwelcome fact with increasingly absurd adjustments to their  theory. It gets warmer; that proves man-mad global warming. It gets colder; that proves global warming .  Here’s my all-time favourite of such reasoning: 

Daily TELEGRAPH   1.5.08

Global warming may ‘stop’, scientists predict

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor

Global warming will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said.

Researchers studying long-term changes in sea temperatures said they now expect a “lull” for up to a decade while natural variations in climate  cancel out the increases caused by man-made greenhouse gas  emissions…..

… Noel Keenlyside of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Kiel, Germany, said: “The IPCC would predict a 0.3°C warming over the next  decade. Our prediction is that there will be no warming until 2015 but it  will pick up after that.”

If this was an idea believed only be a few harmless academics it would be of no account. As it is part of the politically correct political elites of  most of the developed world it is potent  danger as massive costs are piled on developed economies while the economies of the developing world carry on merrily without such costs.  It is a recipe to make the West dependent on the likes of China and India and to inflate the wealth and power of the developing world at the expense of the West.  As a matter of simple self-preservation, the West needs to rapidly change the mentality of its elites.

The age of stupid

 Film Review

 This is a film to make “An inconvenient truth”  (AIT) look like a model of

objective open-mindedness.

 Unlike AIT it does not engage in a bogus one-eyed scientific approach in  which any fact that contradicts the man-made global warming thesis is ignored and claims ranging from the highly contentious to the objectively false, eg, the “hockey stick” temperature graph, are presented as fact.  Instead it relies almost entirely on an appeal to emotion. Nowhere was there any questioning of man-made global warming, not even to examine the other side’s claims to dismiss them. Rather, it accepted man-made

global warming as an unquestionable fact, a supposed fact sanctified by the bogus claim that “99% of climate scientists support the view”.  (Note that it is not  98% or 96% but the propaganda figure of 99%). 

The film revolves around an ancient French mountain guide lamenting the shrinking of a favourite glacier over the past 50 years, a diatribe against oil companies in the Niger delta and a preternaturally wet English environmentalist called Piers and his disciple wife who first met at a party where they immediately spent absolutely hours talking about wind farms. (Note to party givers: don’t let this couple anywhere near your parties).

The one really enjoyable scene in the film involved Piers trying to get planning permission for a large windfarm in the home counties and losing the planning application by 10 votes to one. Cue much shaking of head and sighing  from Piers as he pondered the reckless folly of everyone who opposed the plan.

To add to the general green jollity , Pete Postlethwaite acts as a narrator from the year 2055 who is living in a man-made global warming ruined world. He spends his time looking  back at our own time and sententiously asking why nothing was done and adopting varying expressions denoting mystification at the sheer blindness of the mass of humanity who had refused to swallow the man-made global warming propaganda wholesale and had instead, horror of horror, carried on living their lives as normal.

 At the end of the film there is trotted out the green mantra that “Americans use 50 times the energy of those in Africa, Europeans 25 times the energy of those in Africa ” etc. These figures are meaningless because they are based industrial output and energy consumption. The only countries which have even halfway reliable approximations to such statistics are of course the advanced industrial economies in Europe, North America and Australasia plus  Japan. Figures from the rest of the world are either not available or cannot be treated seriously because they are produced by totalitarian regimes such as China. (Ask yourself who is likely to be causing more carbon dioxide to go into the atmosphere, those who use electricity which is produced in modern power stations either with  efficient filters  or in the form of non-emitting nuclear power and transport fitted with efficient filters or the individual living in the Third World who simple burn fossil fuels every day without any filtration and run ancient vehicles without filters or trains using coal).

 There is also the little matter of methane. This is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide because it remains in the atmosphere far longer. The UN website which deals with climate change admits that the estimates of greenhouse gas emissions considerably understate  the amount of methane produced, especially in rice producing countries – vast amounts of methane are produced in paddy fields. This of course, is an impossible question for the politically correct to address because rice production is overwhelmingly in the Third Word.

The elephant in the green room – population in the Third World  – went unaddressed. Whether or not those in the Third World do produce as much greenhouse gases as official estimates say, there is the stark fact that of an estimated world population of 6.5 billion, at the most generous estimate only a billion live in the First World. Thus even if the First World reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% – a most improbable thing – and the rest of the world increased their emissions to match those of this new  First World emission total – an even more improbable thing –   global emissions would increase from their present level.

 The film ended with a sinister  green utopian vision of everyone in the world having the same energy consumption by 2050 with – wait for it – a right to the same amount of energy.  

I saw the film at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square and afterwards there was a Q and A with the director Lizzie Gillett. There were around 60 people in the audience.

 I asked the first question by describing  the mediaeval warm period – when Europe was several degrees warmer than it is now, so warm that Greenland was settled by Scandinavian farmers  who survived there  for centuries until the world cooled – and several other ups and down of climate in more modern times, including the fact that mean global temperature has stabilised since 1998.  I then asked in view of this variation, most of which could not even in theory  be blamed on human emissions,  why we should believe that man-made global warming existed? This was met by a hostile silence eventually broken by Gillett who announced that “I am not interested in getting into a debate”. Further prodding by me produced such gems from Gillett as “I don’t understand the science, but 99% of scientists says it exists and that is what I believe”and, in response to my suggestion that the film was crude propaganda a startling  “We need such propaganda”. She also made the revealing statement addressed to the audience generally that she was surprised by my intervention because during other Q and As after film showings “there has been very little climate-change denial”. The other interesting thing was the response of the audience. There was not  a single other person questioning man-made global warming but there were many standing up and becoming “born again” believers in man-made global warming in true revivalist meeting fashion. Quite a few hurled climate-change denier at me and some of the more seriously precious spoke about how my views were frightening and dangerous.

 Robert Henderson 21 4 2009

The overheated climate debate

NB I wrote this in 2006 but it still holds true, even more so perhaps because of the discrediting of the IPCC.  

 The hysteria

“Britain has 4 years to help cool the planet” shrieked a headline in the Metro (15 9 2006).   It was prompted by a report commissioned by  the Cooperative Bank and Friends of the Earth and produced by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research of the University of Manchester.

The story by Anne Campbell continued in the same purple prose vein: “Ministers have only four years to carry out a major new plan to cut carbon emissions if Britain is to help cool the planet. The claim was made as green campaigners spelt out a new roadmap to saving the world.”

Tabloid journalistic excess grossly distorting research? Perhaps, because scientific research papers are normally full of caveats even if their final message is clear. Putting forward a message at odds  with the sponsors of the report’s views? Sadly no, for commenting on the report, the Co-operative Bank’s director of corporate affairs, Simon Williams,  spoke in the same emotive,  cliched,  hectoring  and meaningless way: “This is more than the yet another wake-up call. Even if scientists take an increasingly gloomy view of the continually increasing  view of the continually increasing impact  on  our environment, this report shows that if we start acting now we can cut carbons. But we need decisive action by the Government.”

The story and its media presentation demonstrates all that is wrong with the debate on global warming: it is hysterical and absurdly alarmist in tone, the report is financed by those with a vested interest in one side of the debate,  debatable ideas are presented as incontrovertible fact and calls are made for governments to  pursue policies without any proper regard to the effects on their own people or the behaviour of other governments throughout the world.

Expert opinion

Notwithstanding the unsatisfactory way the global warming debate is conducted, the large majority of climate scientists agree that man-made global warming is occurring. Can the “experts” all be wrong?  Are we all going  to Hell in a man-made global warming handcart?  I put experts in inverted commas because “expert” advice so often proves to be nonsense and frequently dangerous nonsense to boot.

Here are a few stories drawn from the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs over one month which show “experts” either contradicting previous expert opinion or expert opinion being show to be inadequate. “Trauma patient care ‘may do more harm than good'” (Daily Telegraph 7 9 2006 – study shows brain damaged patients taking anti-inflammatory corticosteroids are 3.2 per cent more likely to die than those taking a placebo), “Counsellors raise victims’ stress” (Sunday Telegraph 20/8/2006 – University of Amsterdam study shows victims of traumatic events  who received counselling displayed poorer mental health – based on such symptoms as depression and anxiety -than those who had no counselling),

“Beta blockers blamed for ‘8,000 needless diabetes cases a year (Daily Telegraph 7 9 2006 – inadequate expert opinion),  DDT in Africa saves babies lives says WHO (Sunday Telegraph 17 9 2006 – this after decades of experts saying DDT is very dangerous), Woman in a persistent vegetative state uses thought to communicate (Daily Telegraph 8 9 2006 – brain scanning shows woman diagnosed as brain-dead is conscious and able to respond to words spoken to her, this after the medical experts have consistently sworn blind that such a diagnosis meant the person was effectively dead. The effect of such a diagnosis is that people have had life support systems turned off and been left to die of thirst and starvation).

Of course these are all newspaper stories not scientific reports, albeit from broadsheets rather than tabloids. The reports may be to a degree inaccurate or give an incomplete picture of the research. But however cautious one might be in taking the stories as gospel or complete, it is difficult to see how, for example, the WHO DDT story could be anything other than true in its basic message that DDT should be used. What the stories illustrate is the fact that “expert opinion” is far from being exact or permanent even when it is dealing with areas which might be broadly described as scientific.

Where “expert” opinion strays into fields which are not scientific, for example, economics, it  is even less credible as superior opinion because its predictive power is poor verging on non-existent. Sometimes the human experts’  bluff is called in the most embarrassing way. In “The unsaid truth: machines are better [company] stock pickers, a  Dresdner Kleinwort “behavioural specialist” James Montier  described  the results of an exercise in which he compared the results of mechanistic (computer) stock selection with human selection and found the mechanistic approach was significantly better (Daily Telegraph 15 8 2006).

When scientific “experts” are shown to have been wrong they will say they gave the best opinion possible on the known facts at the time; that science is a work in progress not a finished corpus of facts.  Emma Dickinson, a spokesman for the British Medical Journal, recently stated this  quasi-official scientific position nicely:  “Science moves from observation to observation and you get scientific progress. There is no end point…It is the nature of scientists to disagree with each other – that’s how science moves on.” (Sunday Telegraph 27 8 2006)

Whether scientists always behave like that and never go beyond the existing evidence or miss obvious flaws in their experiments’ designs, their data collection and their interpretation of data is to say the least very debatable – my mind turns to the recent British cot death cases involving Professor Roy Meadows, whose “expert” evidence wrongly sent a number of women to prison with life sentences for murdering their babies – most disturbingly, his “expert” evidence was wrong because he did not understand basic statistics.

Nor is it true that scientists always present their data in an unsensational and accurate way. Several years ago the Human Genome project was announced as “completed” by the scientists who won the race to publish. This gave a whole new meaning to the word “completed”,  because not only was the function of most genes and the relationship between genes not known,  after the announcement the geneticists involved in the project were still unable to give an accurate number for the genes which make up the human genome.

But even if scientists did by some miracle always behave in the most competent, intelligent and conscientious way, it would not solve the basic problem arising from their get-out clause of “no scientific certainty”. If science is as they say always “a work in progress” and any erroneous “expert opinion” can be explained away by the “best opinion on the available evidence at the time” ploy, they have no responsibility and, by extension, nor do the politicians who accept their advice with the rider “we must be guided by the experts.”

It is in the context of the general fallibility of expert opinion that  we need to judge the climate scientists who support global warming. We should also remember that they are the same class of people who were saying 30 years ago that there would be a new Ice Age (In another thirty years I suspect we shall be back to the Ice Age just around the corner “expert” advice.) Anything they claim now can reasonably be treated with suspicion.

If scientists were simply academics whose work had no  general significance the get-out clause would not matter. They could be right or wrong as often as they liked and their mistakes or ignorance  would have no more effect on society than do the mistakes and ignorance of classicists. But the reverse is true: scientific “knowledge” has a most powerful effect on society.   Politicians and interest groups grab hold of the research which suits their purposes and treat it as objective fact. Often they do not understand the science.   The  consequence is that much public policy is made on scientific claims which are at best the most educated of guesses and at worst no more than wild speculation.

Governments and elites everywhere have a natural tendency towards authoritarianism  and social control and consequently  need  no encouragement to use scare stories to increase their power. Scientific scare stories are the perfect type because the general public is even less equipped to judge the truth or otherwise of scientific research than politicians and is collectively a sucker for “scare stories” –  that is particularly true of  the-end-of-the-world-is-nigh-unless-we-do- this” stories.

But even if the public was not so easy to manipulate with scare stories there would be little they could do even in a supposed democracy such as Britain. In fact, what Britain (and all other reputed democracies) has is not democracy but what academics like to call elective oligarchy. This allows the electorate to do no more than  choose between competing parts of the elite every few years. If the competing parts of the elite have different policies there is some electoral choice and democratic control; where the elite agrees on a policy there is no choice for the electorate.

If an elite has bound a country by treaties into supranational bodies the electorate is even further removed from any chance of exercising their will if the decision is made outside the framework of national politics. That is precisely what has happened to Britain through her membership of the EU and treaties such as the UN Convention on Refugees. In the case of global warming, policy is made by the EU and consequently  while Britain remains within the EU  the  British electorate has no choice to make. Currently, the EU policy on man-made global warming is both to treat it as an established fact and to adopt, at least in theory, severe CO2 reduction measures. More on that later.

But it is not only CO2 which is a greenhouse gas, although it is reckoned to be the most important one. Methane is next on the list of villains. It is produced by for example animals, agriculture, coal mines and decomposing matter  in landfill waste disposal sites. Happily, governments have not as yet decided to place limits on the number of animals, including human beings in the world, but they have started to ban landfills. Again this is a policy forced on Britain by the EU.  

Bringing up the rear are nitrous oxide (5 percent of total emissions), which comes from burning fossil fuels and from some  fertilizers and industrial processes and human created gases (2 percent of total emissions) are by-products of industrial processes. These are also increasingly subject to government controls.

The joker in the greenhouse warming pack is water vapour which can vary from virtually zero to 4 per cent of the atmosphere. This cannot be directly controlled by Man.  

Political correctness

The global  debate is further skewed by the inclusion of  man-made global  warming  within the protective fortress of  political correctness.

Man-made global warming slipped neatly into political correctness because it fits naturally with the liberal internationalist creed which instinctively  seeks “world action” on anything and everything  and starts from the view that the West is only rich and successful (while the rest of the world wallows in various states of social and economic ineptitude) because the West has both historically and now, in some curious way, exploited and abusd the rest of the world.   Indeed, the wealth and success of the West is frequently described as “obscene”  by the man-made global warmers.   At the political level, both within mainstream parties and pressure groups, the belief in man-made global warming is a conduit for liberal angst.

Let me illustrate the mentality of the global warmers with  reference to a couple prominent figures: Frances Cairncross (the president of the British Association and chairman of the Economic and Social Research Council) and  the losing democratic candidate in the 2000 presidential election Al Gore, who has a documentary film in the cinemas at present (Sept 2006) entitled An inconvenient truth.

Cairncross believes that global warming can only be dealt with by “persuading  this generation to accept sacrifices on behalf  of posterity; and persuading countries that will gain from climate change,or lose little, to take action not on behalf of their own grandchildren but of the descendants of people in other nations”‘ ((Daily Telegraph 04/09/2006).

Gore’s film is two hours or so of unashamed man-made global warming polemic, which is delivered in the form of a lecture by Gore intercutwith film from outside the lecture theatre. He gives the ideological game away early in the piece with his statement “Global warming is not  really  a political issue; it is a moral issue”. The reason he considers it a moral issue is made clear in the rest of the film: most of the land which is thought to be most at risk from rising sea levels is in the Third World.

Nowhere in the film is anyone allowed to put the case that each nation should look to its own safety and convenience and not to some  international salvation. This is par for the course for public discussion of the subject in Britain and most of the First World – I have been unable to find any mainstream politician in the West who puts the nationalist case. The nearest one gets to it is the resistance, mainly in the USA and Australia, to the economic disruption which would result from taking the action the global warmers demand. But even here, the resistance is not on the grounds that warming will not affect their country much or at all, but rather it is based either on a denial that warming is occurring or that warming is simply a natural cyclical phenomenon which cannot be affected by any action Man takes.  

The essentially ideological nature of the man-made global warming side of the argument  can  also be seen from the reluctance of many campaigners to address the question of whether Man can adjust to the effects of global warming. Gore makes great play with the fate of New Orleans when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina as a global warming  disaster. In fact, Katrina did not demonstrate that Man is helpless in the face of such climatic events as a particularly violent hurricane. Instead it showed what happens when Man does not plan properly for natural disasters. Katrina was a fiasco because the flood defences of New Orleans (the levees) were inadequate. Had the money been spent strengthening the levees (and this was known before the hurricane hit) the city could have withstood the worst effects of the hurricane. The same applies to the aftermath of the hurricane. The failure at both state and federal level to adequately respond after the hurricane hit was also human failure not a failure to deal with an impossible situation.

What could have been done for New Orleans could be done in principle for much of the land which would be flooded if the global warmers’ most lurid predictions for a rise in global sea levels (20 feet or so) came true. The problem of course from the global warmers’ point of view is that most of the land which would be flooded without man-made defences is in the Third World which has neither the money nor the expertise to build the necessary sea defences or to deal with disasters once they have hit. This knowledge prevents most global warmers from pushing prevention and mitigation as a solution to the alleged threat rather than a reduction in CO2 emissions. Nor, of course, do the global warmers mention the fact that much of the Third World’s problems are caused by uncontrolled breeding and that most of the world’s population now and for the foreseeable future will live in the now developing countries. Responsibility for the global warmers in the first world is a one way street: the first world is responsible for what their peoples do; the peoples of the rest of the world are not. 

Finally take the global warmers’ response to the fact that  Britain’s share of CO2 emissions is tiny,  2pc of the world total. When the point is made that whatever Britain does it can have very little effect on global warming because we are responsible for so little of the CO2, the global warmers retreat to the adolescent moral exhortation of “Britain needing to set an example to the rest of the world”.

The consequences of a quasi-belief in man-made global warming becoming part of the elite ideology are considerable. It means that those who oppose either the idea of man-made global warming or  the favoured elite means of adjusting to it are denied regular opportunities to publicly put it.   Most dangerously it prompts politicians construct policies to deal with the alleged problem, most notably  the Kyoto Protocol (1997) designed to reduce CO2 emissions. Such measures  may be ineffective in achieving their aim but they do place burdens on the countries which  take them seriously and implement measures to meet their treaty obligation. Of course, most countries do not and never will meet such obligations.

The Third World and energy related greenhouse gases.

Apart from their current and ongoing industrialisation,  it  is surprising that no one ever queries the type of claims made about energy consumption in the underdeveloped world as it is now. The global warming campaigners are forever telling us that the Great Satan of Global Warming, the USA, has a per capita use of energy many times that of the toiling masses of the Third World. The rest of the developed world including Britain is less of a demon, but still a considerable global warming villain in the eyes of the likes of Friends of the Earth.

These claims have always struck me as somewhat odd. How is that the five billion or so people who live in undeveloped or developing economies and burn raw fossil fuels straight into the air manage to emit less global warming gases than the billion or so people living in the developed world whose energy waste outputs are generally filtered, whether that be in a power station or in a car?  I am not saying that the current quantificatins of energy use and greenhouse emissions are wrong, merely that it is odd that no one with a public voice ever questions whether they are.

Let’s assume that man-made global warming is happening

Some facts. At the most generous estimate, five sixths of the world’s population live in countries which are either still far from fully fledged industrialised societies (India, China), or are essentially non-industrialised (take your pick from any country in sub-Saharan Africa). The idea that  those countries will not continue with industrialisation is fanciful to the point of madness. If only half of the developing world achieves full industrialisation within the next quarter century their output of the gases supposedly responsible for global warming will utterly dwarf what we have now, especially if the projections of world population rising from 6.5 billion to nine billion over the century turn out to be correct. Most of that increase will come in the Third World.

Even within the developed world it is improbable in the extreme that most governments will  be prepared to take action that will severely affect the lives of their people. The USA and Australia for two are not committed to the Kyoto Protocol. Frances Cairncross,  the president of the British Association and chairman of the Economic and Social Research Council and a man-made global warming advocate, recently admitted this: ‘Miss Cairncross says the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions is having little impact. India and China, representing a third of humanity, have not signed up and the United States “does not take any notice”.   (Daily Telegraph 04/09/2006). Anyone who believes that most of the world will forgo industrialisation or that industrialised societies will de-industrialise is being naive to the point of idiocy.   If the world is going to Hell in global warming handcart nothing is going to stop it.

The worst policy for any developed state would be to take action to pile costs and restrictions on their own societies while most of the world goes its own sweet non-green way.   Yet the British political elite are doing just that. Not only have they signed up Britain to the Kyoto Protocol, Britain, through its membership of the EU, is committed to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which began operating in 2005. Under this scheme each EU member has to set a target for emissions. It then issues permits up to that target to private companies and public bodies within the member state. If the member state’s emissions exceed the permits it has issued, permits have to be purchased from elsewhere in Europe – the permits issued by a member state can also be traded within that country.

In practice this has the consequence of twice disadvantaging Britain. First, we have burdens on our industry and economy which most of the world does not have. Second, there is no equality within the EU because the various EU members set their own targets for CO2 reduction. In Britain’s case that is a more stringent target (12.5pc reduction on the 1990 UK emissions) than most EU members , including Germany. According to an OpenEurope pamphlet “The high price of hot air: the EU Emissions Scheme is an environmental and economic failure (July 2006), this meant in 2005 that the UK had to buy in œ500m worth of additional permits from foreign business rivals while German firms made a profit of £300m selling some of their permits to foreigners, something they could do because their emissions target reduction was significantly less than that of Britain.

There is an irony in the fact that the governments, political parties and many of the interest groups who promote the man-made global warming agenda  are supporters of globalism and consequently supporters of policies which are directly in conflict with any reduction in CO2. At one and the same time these people advocate a world in which goods and people can move freely across national borders and the under-developed world is encouraged to industrialise while insisting that CO2 emissions are reduced.  

 The academics

Any academic who wishes to challenge the man-made global warming orthodoxy faces two problems: he or she will find it very difficult to (1)  get grants to conduct research and (2) get their work published in leading academic journals.   These are great disincentives to go against the orthodoxy because in the modern academic world continued employment,  promotion and academic reputation rests heavily on published work. If those disincentives are not enough, any academic who goes against the orthodoxy is likely to be shunned by his fellow academics. He will not be invited to conferences.

Nonetheless, there are sceptics, for example the Australian based  Lavoisier Group argues that global warming is simply part of Nature.  One of their number is William Kininmonth, a former head of the Australian National Climate Centre. His book, Climate Change: A Natural Hazard, sums up their ethos. The Age 29 November 2004.  

A  different sort of sceptic is Bjorn Lomborg, author of  The Skeptical Environmentalist. Lomburg does not deny that man-made global warming is occurring. Rather, he disagrees with the idea that reducing greenhouse  gases is the answer to the alleged problem.Lomburg’s argument is that even if really savage cuts in hothouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are made over the next century or so, the effect on global warming would be trivial, delaying warming to the levels projected by the global warming believers by a few years at most. 

Lomburg adds to this argument the immense cost of doing what the global warmers want. He argues that this money would be better used by  adapting to higher temperatures and/or diverted to other issues such as AIDS and providing clean water. Most of this money would be directed  at the Third World.   Lomburg is in fact  a  liberal internationalist who differs from the global warmers only in his preferred solution to the alleged problem.

It says much about the quasi-religious nature of the man-made global warmers that despite Lomburg’s liberal internationalist credentials and intentions he is a hate figure in global warming circle. For the true believers it is not enough to believe in man-made global warming you have to buy into the “right” solution. The fact that they are so violent in their response to anyone who dares to challenge them tells you  a great deal about their confidence in the strength of their arguments, namely, they have little actual confidence. Like religious believers they love their faith but know in their heart of hearts that it is not fact but belief and consequently open to challenge. This they cannot deal with emotionally.   

The extent to which the man-made global warming has become the international orthodoxy can be seen from the stance of  the  United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   Its  chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri is a man without doubt,viz: “One can say scientifically it is human action that is driving the bulk of changes that are taking place today.”  The Age 29 November 2004

The sceptics’ main arguments

The claims of the man-made global warmers fall towards  the wild speculation side of the educated guess/wild speculation spectrum. Even the claims that the world is getting warmer are  far from being rock-solid.   Some global-warming sceptics point out that modern temperature data tends to come from people measuring the temperature near to or within towns and cities, whose temperature is higher than that of the natural (non-urban) temperature of the area.   The rise in temperature which has been measured may be wholly or  largely a consequence of the great increase in urbanisation since the Industrial Revolution.   This consideration would be particularly pertinent where historical records are compared with modern records because the older the record the less urbanisation and the greater the chance that the actual temperature has been recorded. In short, comparing temperatures now with temperatures in the past may be a case of comparing apples and oranges. It is also worth noting that the claims such as that Britain has reliable temperature records going back 350 years are grossly misleading. There are records made by individuals at different places and times which have been collated in an attempt to give a historical temperature chronology. There is no standardisation of measurement or continuity of measurement in any place over the centuries  and consequently even comparisons between recordings of temperature made by different people at different times in the same place are dubious.

Global warming sceptics also refer to the  discrepancy  between  temperature records taken at the earth’s surface and those recorded by  satellites and balloons in the low to mid-troposphere – the atmosphere which extends to about 6 miles above the earth. The  satellite and balloon studies show no warming in the low to mid-troposphere in the past twenty years or so.   This is very strange if warming is occurring at ground level for hot air rises and should heat the troposphere. It is worth noting that the troposphere is not intimately affected by Man’s energy emissions as is the case with measurements taken in or close to the urban heat islands.  The scientific sceptics also attack the global warming thesis on two other main grounds: the fallibility of computer models and the effect of the sun’s activity.

Global warming predictions are made using computer models so GIGO – garbage in, garbage out – applies. As the weather forecasters show, predicting the weather even in the immediate future is fraught with insuperable difficulties. If that is so difficult, why should we believe the climatic future can be meaningfully predicted fifty or one hundred years hence, particularly when  phenomena such as  cloud formation, oceanic heat transport and the mixing of the air are still poorly understood?

The Sun’s magnetic field and solar wind – mainly consisting  of  electrons and protons emitted by the Sun – shields our solar system by from cosmic rays (very energetic particles and radiation from outer space). The shield is not 100% effective and some cosmic rays reach the Earth. Moreover, the sun’s activity is not constant which means the shielding effect of the sun varies because the strength of the shield is dependent on the sun’s activity.

Cosmic rays influence cloud formation. Consequently,  the amount of cosmic rays reaching the Earth affects the planet’s overall cloudiness. Clouds affect the radiation from the Sun which reaches  the Earth’s surface and that affects global temperature. Interestingly, satellite data shows a strong correlation between the amount of low clouds over the Earth and the quantity of cosmic rays hitting the  Earth. The implication is that the Sun’s activity is the major or even sole culprit for global warming.  

Assuming the worst

Let us allow that the world is warming, whether due in whole or part to Man or through natural changes, what should we do? Build sea defences, ban building in threatened areas, abandon areas which are incapable of defence, build stronger buildings, develop new strains of crops to deal with changing environments.  Even the most apocalyptic  global warming scientists  do not project a rapid and catastrophic event such as that depicted in the film the Day after tomorrow. Even if the global warmers are correct, the future is controllable.

How do we decide?

Some history. 10,000 years ago the world was just emerging from the  Ice Age, the last of many ice ages. 4,000 years ago much of the Sahara desert was fertile land. 2,000 years ago and Britain was warm enough for the Romans to introduce wine growing on a significant scale. 1,000 years ago Europe, including Britain, entered a period of considerable warming, warming strong enough to allow Greenland to be colonised by Norsemen.   A few centuries later and the glaciers  re-advanced sufficiently  to  cause the Greenland settlements to fail.   All of these events took place before industrialisation. They represent  dramatic changes in climate and the general environment, yet humanity managed to survive without any difficulty.

Similarly, Man has greatly changed his environment throughout history. The most obvious change has been in the size of the human population. This was tiny 10,000 years ago, moderate 2,000 years ago, large 200 years ago and is now truly gigantic for an organism of Man’s size – we are in the top 5% of land animals by size.

The environmental consequences of Man’s increase has been immense. Large tracts of land have been converted from forest to open land, much of it cultivated. Nowhere is this seen more dramatically than in Europe. Yet despite this qualitative change Europe has not suffered any environmental disaster. On a more local scale England went from a medieval agricultural world which had a large component of open (communal) fields with few hedgerows to a world of smaller, privately owned fields following the various bouts of enclosure in the period 1450-1850. Again, no environmental disaster occurred, despite the fact that greens today are forever warning of a loss of diversity through a reduction in the variety of habitat because of the re-creation of larger fields in England.

Finally, consider this fact: no general ecological scare story has ever come to pass. It may be that the world does warm for a while, but it has done so before and the balance of probability is that the earth and Man will accommodate the current warming without causing any general environmental disaster just as they have accommodated previous climatic change.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 210 other followers

%d bloggers like this: