Sammy Wilson’s climate scepticism

Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson, is quoted in this morning’s Newsletter on the flooding of the Broadway underpass. He claims, erroneously, that the flash floods contradict scientific climate change predictions of warming in the northern hemisphere. Wilson’s comments are not supported by the most recent findings. For example, Jonathan Cowie’s Climate Change: Biological and Human Impacts (2007), concludes that increased major floods could well happen in the summer despite European summers becoming drier. Seemingly paradoxically, computer models predict an increase in intense summer rainfall with global warming. Instead of the less rain being spread across summer months, there will a tendency for this precipitation to clump into extreme weather events (Christensen and Christensen, 2002). The climate blogger, Climate Progress, also cites scientific findings that undermine the Minister’s position. Mr Wilson is not moved by any of the science. Instead, he has informed the Irish News that ‘he is not going to engage in a frivolous sideshow argument on climate change.’

  • interested

    Peter
    If you’re going to post a link allegedly providing proof of some quote it would be nice if the link actually had said quote within it.

    Can’t find any evidence of any talk about climate change anywhere within the story.

    Not that you’d let that problem get in your way I suppose.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    But Sammy Wilson does lots of scientific research wheres the general consensus of the scientific community: specialist scientists, meteorological evidence and year on year evidence and the disappearing ice sheets in Canada Greenland and the “so-called” north pole are mere facts and evidence based conjecture. Sammy runs through the countryside ballack naked so i know which side I’m on the in the debate. The earth is 6000 years old and it’s not heating up – the DUP have said so and they should know. Shouldn’t they?

  • Peter Doran

    Interested, we see what we want to see…

  • Essentialist

    Sammy Wilson claims that “the flash floods contradict scientific climate change predictions of warming in the northern hemisphere.”

    His pal John O’Dowd tells us on the BBC that British soldiers cannot provide help to flood victims.

    Keep the storm drains and sewers blocked – drowning is the humane solution to the torture of these fools.

  • David

    One swallow doesn’t make a summer; neither does one flash flood make much evidence either for or against global warming.

    I can understand Sammy Wilson’s scepticism; I think that most people outside the green movement and the chattering classes take global warming with a big pinch of salt. I am old enough to remember the first climate change scare of the 1970s, when the particulate matter from fossil fuels was going to cause a new ice age. The hysteria with which a lot of the global warming agenda is pursued is also an instiller of scepticism, remember William Crawley’s silly programmes with the ice and the scarey music. Even the worst case scenarios don’t justify any reasonable risk of the shutting off of the Gulf stream as his programme theorised.

    I don’t do any scientific research, but a bit of common sense should tell anyone that if we can’t predict the weather next month we should be fairly sceptical of trying to predict it in 100 years. Is this contrary to the scientific consensus? Ignaz Semmelweis was also widely criticised for not going with the scientific consensus of his age, he went mad and committed suicide. What was his theory? That hand washing reduces infections. The scientific consensus doesn’t equal fact and it never will unless science has discovered everything. I doubt that that day will ever come.

  • CS Parnell

    David,

    What exactly is your point about the “new ice age” theories of the 1970s? I remember them too, and I also recall that they weren’t backed by any sort of scientific evidence anything like as comprehensive as that supporting global warming.

    If you are old enough to recall the 1970s then you’ll also recognise that the climate has changed since then – spring is coming earlier, winters are wetter and warmer.

    Your point about hand washing suggests to me you ought to think a bit more clearly about your own position – you are the one denying all the evidence. You cannot cite any serious evidence to back up your position except a couple of anecdotes.

    More generally on S Wilson – how long are the unionist population going to accept being represented by these charlatans? Pig ignorant boors who do nothing for their community except boast of how they’ve kept the fenians down…

    I am not a unionist but that doesn’t stop me from seeing how these numpties are damaging the unionist position: how about a bit more confidence and a willingness to engage with the modern world?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    What a shower.

    Presumably the DUP will be looking for explanations for the floods in the bible as that advises their social policy of being anti-gay and their education policy of being anti-evolution.

  • David

    CS Parnell, I have cautioned scepticism over the alleged scientific consensus, rather than putting out an alternative position. Anyone with any knowledge of the operation of science should know that it is not in the business of producing truths, but merely of testing hypotheses. It is a long and slow process and quite often large parts of the scientific community have been entirely wrong about things. Presumably you do not really think that everything on which there is a scientific consensus is actually true?

    Climatology is a science which is very much in its infancy when it comes to long term predictions. Here is the 1972 Time Magazine story on the subject:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html

    Sounds a bit like lots of the scare mongering today, unusual weather events being connected to a grand theory.

  • interested

    Peter
    “Interested, we see what we want to see…”

    Apparently we agree on something! I was simply making the point that you linked to a Newsletter article where you state that Sammy Wilson is quoted – he is quoted, but not apparently on climate change.

    He may or may not have made the comments you go on to suggest he made but you haven’t actually provided any documentary evidence.

    But, we see what we want to see apparently…..

    I suppose all the environmentalists have got over the grief of losing out on nice cushy, and co-incidentally probably well paid positions on an independent EPA. That probably clouds vision too….

  • Peter Doran

    David

    The global cooling myth of the 1970s has been decisively undermined by, among others, the scientist who first predicted that the cooling effect of aerosols would outweigh the warming impact of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere.

    The New Scientist dealt with the cooling myth in a special edition (http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11643)

    Environmentalists are well aware of the role of uncertainty in the scientific endeavour. That’s why we have the ‘precautionary principle’…we never get away from a balance of risk and probability….

  • Greenflag

    IWSMNWDI,

    ‘Presumably the DUP will be looking for explanations for the floods in the bible ‘

    There are and always have been any number of charlatans out there who blame the problems of the world on ‘God ‘ getting ‘angry’ with his chosen people who either have not obeyed his commandments by not exterminating the Moabites poperly and allowing some of the ‘male ‘ children to survive etc etc . US Presidential candidate Pat Robertson being one of the more famous ‘charlatans’ of the ‘angry ‘ God stage act .

    Anybody who is now denying ‘global warming ‘ is not looking at the numbers . But then anybody who believes that the Earth has been around just 6,000 years and that ‘evolution’ just ain’t true cos it can’t be cos well cos why then have we still got monkeys ‘ should keep away from numbers in the first place .

    What the longer effect of global warming will be on North Western Europe is open to ‘debate ‘. Whether it is a 200 ft increase in sea levels thus drowning the Netherlands and all coastal and low lying cities cities -bye bye Belfast , London , Dublin – hello Munich or whether it’s a new ice age with mile high ice sheets sending Spanish riviera property prices through the roof who knows .

    The Earth has not always been as ‘quiescent ‘ as it has been for the past 11,000 years . We may think we can change CO2 levels and I believe we can -Whether this will ever seriously dent the Earth from ‘wobbling ‘ it’s way to another Ice Age or prevent major worldwide vulcan eruptions set off by a Yellowstone uprising is another story .

    However just because we look down the road before we cross and see no oncoming traffic is no excuse for putting on a blindfold before stepping out on the road . It would seem that Mr Wilson in a vain attempt tp cover his ‘nakedness’ has done just that re ‘global warming ‘ . Someone ought to tell him that blindfolds while useful for playing childrens ‘blind man’s buff’ are not a sufficient cover for ‘nakedness’ either of the physical or political kind .

    But then some might add what use a ‘blindfold’ in a country where the blind lead the blind anyway and the onl;y political choice is between the parties of the blind alley on the one hand and the parties of the cul de sac on the other 🙁

  • Peter Doran

    ‘Interested’,

    The Newsletter story carries the following quote, to which I refer:

    “But Mr Wilson said that his well-known scepticism about increased carbon dioxide being responsible for damaging climate change was unshaken by the deluge.

    “Those people (who believe we are responsible for climate change) would say from their models that this should be happening less often because this part of the northern hemisphere should be getting dryer,” he insisted.”

    The Minister is attempting to suggest that the flooding is not consistent with climate change science. He is wrong. While drier summers are predicted for the Northern hemisphere overall, warming can also amplify precipitation, causing flash floods.

  • Jean Baudrillard

    David – You claim to know how science works and that is isn’t about producing ‘truths’.

    I agree with you – but aren’t you asking here for just such impossible ‘truths’ before you will be forced to act?

    I don’t know if you’ve given it some thought – but isn’t it obvious to you that your position is completely contradictory?

    You are like someone standing in a tunnel looking at a light and weighing up the evidence for and against the likelihood of it being an on-coming train. In real life you hedge your bets and stand to one side. ‘Truth’ is often too late or impossible.

    The mass of evidence for serious global climate change (with effects that will make last weekend look like a fun day out) is now overwhelming. Thousands of scientists working for more that 30 years have amassed huge realms of data that point only one way.

    To deny this is in 2008 is now becoming ethically unacceptable – in the same league as those who still claim that there is still no conclusive evidence to link cancer with smoking.

    There never will be ‘conclusive proof’ (ie, truth with a capital T) of the link between lung cancer and smoking. But only a fool would argue otherwise.

  • interested

    Peter
    Thanks for providing that – it just wasn’t in the online version.

  • manichaeism

    Sammy Wilson has a very insular view of global warming. If it’s not happening in Northern Ireland then it can’t be true! Someone should tell him it is called GLOBAL warming for a reason!

  • ben

    interesting article over on the register regarding north poles melting see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/15/goddard_arctic_ice_mystery/ . If you are going to start saying “look at the numbers”, post the link so we can examine it.

  • David

    Jean, your analogies don’t hold water. Moving out of the way of a train or giving up smoking are both options that cost nothing and which avoid a high risk.

    This is where scepticism should come into play. The policies proposed to fight global warming are expensive and need to be carried out at a time of economic downturn.

    Let’s think of another analogy. It is virtually a statistical certainty that a big asteroid will hit the earth at some stage in the future. Should we be developing a great planetary wide asteroid interception rocket system? Well, despite the virtual certainty nobody has. Why? Well they carry out a cost/benefit analysis, looking at the likely costs and looking at the likely benefits and decide it isn’t worth it. A big asteroid strike could kill millions of people, but statistically the risk is too low to justify the massive expense.

    Unfortunately when we read anything about global warming in the popular press it tends to be quasi sci-fi stuff about sea level rises of hundreds of feet and the stopping of the Gulf Stream. Neither of those are part of the “scientific consensus”.

    The consequences of global warming are simply not catastrophic. The only hypothesis that suggests they are is where it is proposed that there will be a “tipping point” after which things will suddenly get a lot worse. That is pure speculation.

    If the costs are high and the benefits uncertain the policy is probably a bad one.

  • Jean Baudrillard

    David – agreed – and my analogy is a bit leaky.

    However, the odds for your asteroid comparison can be measured reasonably accurately – I think it’s once in every 100,000 years tha the earth will be visited by a ‘dinosaur-killer’.

    Even with those log odds the US government are planning a Near Earth Object programme to monitor the orbits of such bodies.

    The point you are missing is that that odds for a Tipping Point towards runaway climate change are approaching one – ie, it will almost certainly happen over the next generation unless something is done. I don’t know if you’re spending any time reading the evidence but even Stern’s previous extreme 10% chance of a 5 degree increase in temperature is now starting to look optimistic.

    The costs? Yes, they are large – but not impossibly so – less than the conflict in Iraq to date.

  • cynic

    “There never will be ‘conclusive proof’ (ie, truth with a capital T) of the link between lung cancer and smoking. ”

    Tripe. There is clear evidence that components of tobacco smoke are carcinogenic in animal and human tissue. There is also evidence that those who smoke have higher rates of cancer and other smoking related illnesses and die younger. Then there is evidence that even passive smoking correlates strongly with higher cancer risk. All of that comes from peer reviewed repeated studies and the underlying molecular and biological processes that lead to the mutations are reasonably well explained. That is real science.

    The problem is that a lot of the climate change guff that is produced just isn’t supported by evidence in the same way and is blown out of proportion of extrapolated to infinity by zealots and interest groups whose careers or existence depend upon scaring us.

    There is also an orthodoxy that anyone who challenges the climate change thesis is a heretic who must be destroyed professionally and personally. A few researchers have been vilified and hounded out of post for seeking basic corroboration of claims of suggesting different hypothesis. Some lobbying groups specifically monitor media output and have email lobby groups to shower broadcasters with complaints if any other views are expressed.

    This means that different views don’t get heard. This is reminiscent of witch burnings in the 13th century.

    The zealots also are keen to conflate a number of different problems into one. What happened to the hole in the ozone layer? Its been subsumed into Global Warming theology when its a distinctly different problem with different causes. Where did all the tree huggers protesting against new motorways go to? They now are part of the Global Warming Bandwagon.

    Is global warming real? Possibly it is…we simply haven’t watched the earth for long enough to gather enough information to know if this is a real phenomenon or a short term blip in the figures. Its a bit like trying to call the FTSE 100 index for the next 5 years from the last weeks figures. If we had lived in the 1870s for example we would have been panicking about the little ice age when Britain went through a super cold period when the Thames froze in winter. “Ah ha, it’s all that soot from chimneys blocking out the sun”, they said!

    And what a shock they got when Government seized the opportunity and said, OK, global warming is real so the medium term future has to be a massive expansion of nuclear power. Oh the joy of seeing environmentalists trying to face two ways at once.

    So the truth is, noone really knows if Global Warming is a real phenomenon or not. But I wouldn’t lose much sleep on it.

    Oh yes, and heavy rain in Ballymena in August is, well, pretty normal.

  • cynic

    “The point you are missing is that that odds for a Tipping Point towards runaway climate change are approaching one ”

    Where’s the evidence for that statement? Its nonsense and rests on a pile of extreme assumptions 10 ft (or if you prefer, 3 metres) tall

  • Turgon

    Peter Dorian,

    Although I am a fundamentalist and a bit sceptical on climate change I do accept that we should take this all seriously and try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If you like I would do what you want but just not believe that it is true. That has, however, the same beneficial environmental effect.

    My concern, however, is the plight of people in places like Africa. If they are to avoid dying and their children dying now they need things like transport, refrigeration and other things which consume energy. Now I am sure you will suggest that the solution is new technologies. I am sure you are correct. Again, however, those technologies are expensive and not instantly available. As such, helping people now requires additional carbon expenditure.

    This is one of my worries about the Green lobby: they will say that in the present and future Africans will be hurt by climate change. However, Africans now need to do things which might in the future be bad for the environment. I am very supportive of their right to do that. I am not willing to tell them to let their children now die or remain in poverty to protect the environment. The environment is a pretty abstract concept if your under 5 year old children are going to die of diarrhoea and vomiting because you do not have a fridge.

  • Diluted Orange

    Anyone who dismisses, the [i]entire[/i] scientific community in their assertion that Global Warming is happening, should not hold a position of public officialdom. They are obviously too irretrievably stupid to be trusted with making any decisions about the lives of anyone else.

    How much evidence do these cretins need? The DUP should be made aware that there is probably infinitely more evidence of global warming being real than there is of a God being in existence. I gather we all trust science when it suits us, e.g. to find cures for killer diseases, to send rockets into space, to build an atomic bomb, even to create the internet so saddos like me can post their views on blogs like this. Yet when it comes to global warming, or anything else which might warn us about our impending doom, we bury our heads in the sand! So oil [b]isn’t[/b] running out, global warming [b]isn’t[/b] happening and smoking [b]doesn’t[/b] cause cancer

    If global warming isn’t happening then why have the warmest 10 years on record on Earth over the past 100,000 years occurred in the past 15 years? It may be uncomfortable for people to want to fathom out but the facts are clear:

    There are 6.5 billion people on this planet – that is more people than have ever existed, cumulatively, throughout the entire previous history of man-kind. Earth is seriously over-populated. We are plundering the world’s resources at an unprecedented rate to feed, clothe, shelter and fuel all these people.

    The ice-caps are melting at a faster rate than ever. Scientists reckon next summer that for the first time in history there may be no ice at the North Pole! More and more cases of drowned polar bears are occurring because they have had to swim ever increasing distances to find ice. The inhabitants of some Papuan New Guinean islands have been evacuated permanently due to rising sea levels flooding their homeland. How can anyone could deny the cold, hard facts that we are slowly killing the planet, is beyond me.

  • CS Parnell

    There are 6.5 billion people on this planet – that is more people than have ever existed, cumulatively, throughout the entire previous history of man-kind.

    That, sir is bollocks. In fact about 100 billion humans have died before we got to today.

  • Diluted Orange

    [i] That, sir is bollocks. In fact about 100 billion humans have died before we got to today. [/i]

    Apologies, I am wrong in retrospect. My other points still stand however.

  • observer

    the problem with global warming is that it isnt happening, the earth has been cooling for the last decade, then again never let the facts get in the way of crap

  • Peter Doran

    Turgon

    Your observations about the rights of peoples in Africa to the development opportunities we take for granted demonstrate how climate change poses a profound ethical challenge engaging many faith communities. Its as much a development issue as an environmental issue. One of the aims of the current UN negotiations on the future of the Kyoto Protocol is to massively expand the Clean Development Mechanism and other means of transferring finance and clean technology to developing countries.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon:

    My concern, however, is the plight of people in places like Africa. If they are to avoid dying and their children dying now they need things like transport, refrigeration and other things which consume energy.

    Actually, they need inward investment and capitalism, as well as aid. I don’t mean slavery and exploitation; I mean the sort of capitalism that rebuilt Europe, Japan and South Korea after the second world war. The only way to spread sustainable prosperity and put a stop to war is to start building an economy in Africa – starting with agriculture. But will we give up our own self interests to do so ?

    On the wider point, I see it as pointless debating the science on climate change. I do think we need to be doing more work on energy efficency. I don’t mean stupid bullshit stunts like turning off your devices which are on standby, or driving a Toyota Prius. I mean, stuff like insulating people’s houses properly (starting with the elderly), providing steep tax incentives for solar electricity and water heating, and looking for better ways to provide energy and heat in houses rather than burning fossil fuels. Aside from the environment, it’s energy dependency which is the issue. The people providing us with our energy aren’t all very nice. And they’ve made it very clear indeed that they’ll turn the screw on us if it suits them to do so politically. We need to heed their message and find ways to stop handing them over vast amounts of money on a regular basis in order to float the economy.

    There was an editorial article in the Belfast Telegraph a couple of weeks ago, about France. France is frequently criticized for being socialistic with heavy government spending. The Trente Glorieuse is over, everyone parrotted, they need a good dose of Thatcherism if they are to recover. Well, guess what, they’ve not applied Thatcherism in France – they’ve taken a gradual approach. And what have they got ? It looks like they’ve escaped the worst of the credit crunch. Are their industries decrepit, run down, crippled by unions and state intervention ? No, they lead the world, in aviation engineering and transport engineering. They sell cars all over Europe. And what powers the French economy ? Nuclear. That’s where the ticket lies, and it’s taken a bunch of cheese loving frogs to make it clear to us.

  • The Raven

    “Earth is seriously over-populated. We are plundering the world’s resources at an unprecedented rate to feed, clothe, shelter and fuel all these people.”

    “The ice-caps are melting at a faster rate than ever.”

    “I do accept that we should take this all seriously and try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

    I just cut-and-paste these out from a few posts above. I think it underlines a point that many often miss.

    We’re so busy to-ing and fro-ing about which opinion is correct, that we’re missing a very fundamental question. That regardless of what the cause is, are some of the effects of whatever the causes happen to be, acceptable as the way we “treat” the planet”?

    Reducing CO2 emissions may not halt global warming or climate change. But is it acceptable to continue generating such large amounts of it?

    Is hacking the shit out of the rainforest to provide McGrazing grounds or soya plantations the way forward?

    Cutting back on our packaging may not save the planet. But is it morally right to continue the levels of waste that we generate?

    I remember a previous debate on eco-themed topic recently on Slugger – it was with regard to the ripping-up of some 150 protected, native trees (near Newcastle I think). Despite having explained to the other party that the trees themselves formed a part of a micro eco-system that sheltered a spawning ground for fish, the statement that particularly warmed my heart was “look people have been chopping down trees for thousands of years, and they will continue to do so”.

    If I can refer back to a previous point, cumulatively or otherwise, there ARE 6.5billion people on the planet here and now. Morally, economically, whatever, we are simply no longer in a position to survive on this planet with the footprint of consumption that we have generated.

    I find Sammy’s head-in-the-sand stance frankly appalling.

  • aquifer

    Any of these climate change sceptics offering cheap flood insurance?

  • Turgon

    Comrade,

    Thank you for that. I largely agree but I do worry that what people in Africa need is pretty rapid development. Distant concerns like climate change are of no importance if your children face dying due to your lack of transport or infrastructure or lack of things like fridges.

    On a more specific note can you or anyone else explain this to me: I drive an 11 year old car which does about 35mpg. Is it more environmentally friendly to keep driving it or is it better to change it for a more economical one?

  • Peter Doran

    Turgon

    As a rule of thumb, over the average lifetime of a typical car driven an average number of miles per year, the overall energy footprint

    is:

    5-15% embodied energy (total energy involved in the materials, production, and shipping of the vehicle)

    85-95% usage energy (fuel, oil changes, tires, etc)

    So if you buy a new vehicle that gets at least 20% better fuel economy, you drive the same mileage per year, and your current car is purchased or recycled, the world is better off.

    Otherwise, just reduce mileage, maintain the vehicle (especially the exhaust etc), check tyre pressures regularly, and try not to let the engine idle.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’ve no straight answer to that one, Turgon. 35mpg doesn’t sound like a lot to me. That’s roughly what I get only a little more than that out of my 2003 Civic (1.6l), give or take. The majority of that is me going to work from Whiteabbey to the city centre, namely a six-mile cruise down the M5/M2/Westlink and a bit of stop-start. And I thought I drove it reasonably carefully.

    Parker’s claims that it’s supposed to get 42, when it’s new, so I’m doing OK. Apparently, the Toyota Prius (new) will get mid-40s when it’s driven at 70mph on the motorway. That’s not impressive. It gets best performance when driven about town. That’s handy for the weekly shopping or whatever, but I think most people who drive to work in the UK are commuting some distance. It’s pretty standard in Birmingham or London to spend at least an hour driving to work, and a lot of that’s going to be on the motorway. I can’t see the case for the Prius.

    What I can see coming is the all-electric car, like the Tesla Roadster. Dumb that down a bit and make it mass-market, and you’ve got something which will make a real difference. The stupid thing about regular combustion engines is that 70% of the energy they consume is burnt off into nothing. Electric motors are far more efficient, approaching 100%. The Tesla gets 126mpg (projected), and that’s on a machine tuned for speed rather than efficiency.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Peter,

    How on earth is the world better off if someone buys your car and drives it instead of you ? Recycled, maybe.

  • Diluted Orange

    [i]What I can see coming is the all-electric car, like the Tesla Roadster. Dumb that down a bit and make it mass-market, and you’ve got something which will make a real difference. The stupid thing about regular combustion engines is that 70% of the energy they consume is burnt off into nothing. Electric motors are far more efficient, approaching 100%. The Tesla gets 126mpg (projected), and that’s on a machine tuned for speed rather than efficiency.[/i]

    And where do you get the energy for your electric car? The [b]local[/b] power station, or more likely, if you happen to live in Britain or Ireland, a power station hundreds of miles away, linked by a DC cross channel link.

    So even if electric cars were 100% efficient, which they are no where near being, the fuel powering them is not 100% efficient. You’re probably talking 10% losses in the transmission cables alone, then there is the fuel that goes into the power station, which will most likely be natural gas or coal, so that’s about another 40 to 50% loss, at a minimum. You’ve then also got to think of the degradation in the rechargable capacity of the battery, which powers the car, itself, which will gradually wear down and have to be replaced.

    Electric cars are not the answer. The answers will come from humanity being forced en masse, by economics if nothing else, to address its care-free attitude to e.g. using the car to go the shops at the bottom of the road, or making a 30 mile round trip commute to work everyday, when taking the bus or train or living closer to work is the only sustainable solution.

  • cynic

    “Anyone who dismisses, the entire scientific community in their assertion that Global Warming is happening, should not hold a position of public officialdom. ”

    Thats an objective start. But read again, its not ‘the entire scientific community’

    “They are obviously too irretrievably stupid to be trusted”

    and why should we trust your judgement in preference to theirs?

    “The ice-caps are melting at a faster rate than ever.”

    I think you will find they melted a bit more at the end of the ice age but who knows. Men weren’t around then. We have only known of their existence for about 400 years so how do you justify that? You are looking at a very small window of evidence in planetary terms…. perhaps only 150 yrs of reliable data

    “Yet when it comes to global warming, or anything else which might warn us about our impending doom, we bury our heads in the sand! So oil isn’t running out, global warming isn’t happening and smoking doesn’t cause cancer”

    See my earlier post. you are conflating several disparate things. First oil isn’t running out. We have at least 80 years of proven supplies and are almost certain to find more. Second the link between smoking and cancer is scientifically provable. Space rockets work…we have seen them and use them all the time.

    Global warming isn’t in the same league. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening but it does mean that no-one can PROVE that it is or prove the real causation factors and long term prognosis.

    “Scientists reckon next summer that for the first time in history there may be no ice at the North Pole”

    Well, lets see. Predictions like this ate two a penny, especially when grant renewal time comes around.

    Also ‘what does first time in history’ mean? Again, we have only been about to observe this for say 400 years.

    “The inhabitants of some Papuan New Guinean islands have been evacuated permanently due to rising sea levels flooding their homeland. ”

    Haven’t heard this one before so i would like to see the evidence. But even then the rise in sea level is tiny(so far). But South Seas islands do have habit of rising out of the ocean and also sinking. Its nothing to do with global warming … it’s ground movement and volcanic activity. This is a typical example where one perfectly normal natural change is added to the Global Warming catechism and becomes touted about as scientific fact when, frankly, its bollocks.

    I have no doubt that you are genuine in your belief on all this. Its just that you have been sold a pup. Scientifically you have bought what the dealer said was a sports-car but on closer examination it is a Citroen 2 CV with ‘go faster’ stripes stuck on.

  • cynic

    “Electric cars are not the answer. The answers will come from humanity being forced en masse, by economics if nothing else, to address its care-free attitude to e.g. using the car to go the shops at the bottom of the road, or making a 30 mile round trip commute to work everyday, when taking the bus or train or living closer to work is the only sustainable solution.”

    ….. and like that is going to happen. If you feel that way there are some nice caves near Napoleons nose that our ancestors probably lived in. I think they are vacant.

    Life changes and the world changes too. There are over 1 billion people in China. They want the living standard we have. How do you say no to them? So lets abandon ou=r advanced technologies and revert to some bucolic former model (that never existed). Do you want to go back to say a life expectancy of 55? Lower standards of health? Education?

    Nope? Sorry then, that’s progress and there may be some consequences. We need to find ways to deal with them or accept them as part of the cost of progress.

  • Peter Doran

    Comrade Stalin

    is correct of course…I should have referred to ‘materials purchased for reuse’ as in reusing the materials so as to conserve the embedded energy…or recycled…

    thanks

  • Harry Flashman

    One of the few benefits to emerge from the current economic and political difficulties that the western world is undergoing in the past year is that idiotic, irrelevant, fripperies like the global warming nonsense will now be quietly shelved and put away, maybe to be brought down again and dusted off when we’re all rich, comfortable and secure again.

    We can no longer afford the luxury of such expensive and distracting indulgences. It’s suddenly a mean and tough world out there and we need to grow up and leave our undergraduate silliness behind.

    Perhaps when we have come to terms with a world economic slowdown, the rise of the Asian powerhouses, militant Islam and a belligerent Russia we can once again get back to playing with toytown issues like Global Warming, we could alternatively decide that some of the other Chicken Little scares that we seem to enjoy so much could do equally as well, Y2K bugs, new Ice Age, global AIDS holocaust, bird flu pandemics, perhaps.

    Now however it’s time to get serious and deal with actual adult, real world concerns.

  • Mark Simpson

    Sammy Wilson said on UTV Live last night (on the flooding of the Broadway underpass) that the rainfall was unprecedented.

    John Wylie of the Met Office, some moments later on the same programme said the rainfall was not unprecedented.

  • cynic

    The contractors said of the underpass that the drainage system performed to specification but was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water.

    If that’s true and the rainfall wasn’t unprecedented, have we bought a lemon or has the Roads Service decided on cost grounds to accept that this will happen every so often but its acceptable and cheaper than designing it out? Don’t get me wrong, that may be a perfectly acceptable stance for say a 1 year in 10 event, but they need to come clean on it.

    Perhaps the Inquiry promised by Conor Murphy will explain. By the way, who is conducting this? The Roads Service?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry, your solution to everything is “let’s have a war”. Where do you think the money to invade and stay in Iraq came from, and how do you see that changing as a result of economics ?

    we could alternatively decide that some of the other Chicken Little scares that we seem to enjoy so much could do equally as well, Y2K bugs, new Ice Age, global AIDS holocaust, bird flu pandemics, perhaps.

    I notice you didn’t list “nonexistent WMD” or “Muslims storming the West to establish Sharia law”.

    My buttons get really pushed by the Y2K thing. The world seems to be full of people who know absolutely nothing about IT who reckon that the Y2K problem was a massive fake on the basis that a couple of fuckwits wrote a few books to exploit the problem, all of whom kept their mouths firmly shut during the year in the run up to 2000. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    The Y2K problem was very real and very serious. I was working in a major Irish financial institution at the time. It would never have resulted in planes falling out of the sky or stupid crap like that, but it could have caused a collapse in the banking system (banks, right now, run on computer installations which trace their origins to the 1960s) which would, on balance, have been substantially worse. Hundreds of software bugs were identified and corrected which would have been extremely serious had they not been caught. One bank having a computer problem isn’t a big deal, it happens from time to time, but if they all have them at the same time, on all of their installed computers, then it’s a different kettle of fish. Outside of the banks, failures in billing and invoicing systems (especially in business which rely on IT, but do not have a large core IT investment in the way that banks do) could have led to the economy coming to a standstill and the implications would have been impossible to predict. As it stands, there were a number of failures when the year rolled over anyway – Eircom had a minor billing system problem and a power station in Italy ran into difficulties of some kind.

    Diluted energy:

    And where do you get the energy for your electric car? The local power station, or more likely, if you happen to live in Britain or Ireland, a power station hundreds of miles away, linked by a DC cross channel link.

    You build more nuclear power stations. I don’t see why this is a big deal.

    So even if electric cars were 100% efficient, which they are no where near being,

    Electric motors are as close as you can get and are substantially more efficient than combustion engines.

    the fuel powering them is not 100% efficient. You’re probably talking 10% losses in the transmission cables alone, then there is the fuel that goes into the power station, which will most likely be natural gas or coal, so that’s about another 40 to 50% loss, at a minimum.

    The plant efficiency is a problem I see being addressed by nuclear power, although one principal selling point with electric cars is that you leave them on charge overnight. If this happened on a large scale this would improve energy efficiency at the power plants. Isn’t that what they essentially try to achieve with economy 7 ?

    You’ve then also got to think of the degradation in the rechargable capacity of the battery, which powers the car, itself, which will gradually wear down and have to be replaced.

    I’ve not factored that in, but maintenance and wear and tear are to be expected over the life of any vehicle.

    Electric cars are not the answer. The answers will come from humanity being forced en masse, by economics if nothing else, to address its care-free attitude to e.g. using the car to go the shops at the bottom of the road, or making a 30 mile round trip commute to work everyday, when taking the bus or train or living closer to work is the only sustainable solution.

    Rebuild the cities and build railway lines everywhere ? That’ll be cheap.

  • Jean Baudrillard

    Turgon ‘Distant concerns like climate change are of no importance if your children face dying due to your lack of transport or infrastructure or lack of things like fridges.’

    Actually Turgon, it is not a distant concern for people in developing countries. They are likely to feel the direct impact of climate change much sooner than we will.

    For example, the desertification of most of north Africa and widespread flooding in places like Bangladesh and Burma.

    Not much point in encouraging economic growth if they are going to be dead by starvation or drowning…

  • Turgon

    Jean Baudrillard,
    I am afraid your statement makes my point more eloquently than I could manage. You said: “They are likely to feel the direct impact of climate change much sooner than we will.”

    The key phrase is “They are likely to feel.” Their children are dying now for want of things like fridges, things which require energy and which are likely to cause climate change. However, when it is their children doing the dying “likely to feel” is indeed a distant concern.

  • cynic

    Jean Baudrillard

    From being so vocal and passionate you have gone very quiet when we asked for evidence?

  • TAFKABO

    The common mistake is to presume that the overwhelming evidence for climate change is overwhelming evidence for man made climate change.

  • runciter

    Their children are dying now for want of things like fridges

    Are you serious?

  • Turgon

    runciter,
    Yes. The major causes of death in under 5s are infections which cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Many are picked up due to inadequate sanitation and sewerage systems and others from the inability to keep food from beginning to go off.

    Malaria is also a major cause but not as bad as D+V.

    So yes boring things like fridges save lives as do proper water and sewerage. They are actually probably the most effective ways of stopping children dying. Now if less children died people might have smaller numbers of children. That might help in the long term re development and the climate but is not my main interest in this issue. People dying is my main interest.

  • Turgon

    runciter,
    Forgot to add: the other great use for fridges is medical. If you can refrigerate vaccines they can last longer. This means that you can keep the vaccines in more places and hence, vaccinate more children against lethal diseases such as measles. Measles is a major killer in Africa.

  • runciter

    Many are picked up due to inadequate sanitation and sewerage systems

    What have sanitation and sewerage systems got to do with fridges?

    So yes boring things like fridges save lives as do proper water and sewerage. They are actually probably the most effective ways of stopping children dying.

    If you meant to say “children are dying now for want of things like water and sewerage” why did you say “children are dying now for want of things like fridges”?

    Was it just to imply that environmentalists were unreasonable?

    Or do you really think these things are somehow very similar?

    People dying is my main interest.

    I think you are probably exaggerating here.

  • Turgon

    Well runciter you see I worked there so it is a bit of an interest of mine.

    No comment on the vaccines I see.

  • joeCanuck

    So, Ireland is going to get warmer and sunnier. Sammy and certain others will probably like that; more nude sunbathing days to look forward to.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    I do find it amusing that scientists who cannot tell you what the weather will be next week with any sort of assurance, let alone provide a reliable track for a given storm, are taken at face value when they tell you what the weather is going to be over the next couple decades…

    But, then, global warming has its desperate moves, equating those who have skepticism in their “science” — consensus is not science — Holocaust deniers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I have to say Turgon, I would have thought it more important to get proper sanitation and clean water in place, ahead of installing the electrical infrastructure that would be required to allow everyone to have fridges.

  • Diluted Orange

    cynic

    [i]”“The ice-caps are melting at a faster rate than ever.”

    I think you will find they melted a bit more at the end of the ice age but who knows. Men weren’t around then. [b] We have only known of their existence for about 400 years so how do you justify that? [/b] You are looking at a very small window of evidence in planetary terms…. perhaps only 150 yrs of reliable data”[/i]

    The ice holds plenty of evidence about how screwed we are. In an earlier post I stated that “the warmest 10 years on record in the last 100,000 years have happened in the past 15 years” How do I know this? How do I know that CO2 levels, for instance, are currently the highest they have ever been in that time period too? Scientists are able to gather climatic data, from long periods ago by drilling 100s of metres into the Antarctic ice sheet, which accumulates a new layer of ice, and therefore a new layer of valuable information associated with it, every year over the past 100,000 years.

    [i]First oil isn’t running out. We have at least 80 years of proven supplies and are almost certain to find more. [/i]

    Are you for real? No significantly large oil field (i.e. Saudi Arabia like) has been found, or has been deemed economical to extract oil from in the past 20 years. The largest oil field in the world, Ghawaz, which also happens to be the largest oil field ever found, is set to hit peak oil production in the next few years. Some scientists even believe that this peak oil period has already passed. Once that happens the yearly supply from that field will dwindle, year on year, just as world demand is steadily increasing.

    If you really don’t believe that oil is running out then I suggest you read this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Long-Emergency-Converging-Catastrophes-Twenty-First/dp/0871138883/ref=cm_lmf_tit_3

    I’ve read it. Now I will admit it can be a little bit melodramatic at times but the message is pretty clear I believe.

    The problem we face is that any oil, which has already been extracted was the easy stuff to get at. Any new fields will require more energy to be used in extracting the oil from it because they are found in deeper and deeper pockets of the Earth’s crust. The law of diminishing returns will eventually set in – i.e. are you wasting more oil by extracting, refining and transporting new resources than what you will get in return?

    [i]“The inhabitants of some Papuan New Guinean islands have been evacuated permanently due to rising sea levels flooding their homeland. “

    Haven’t heard this one before so i would like to see the evidence.[/i]

    They are the Carteret Islands to be precise: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article759319.ece

    [i]I have no doubt that you are genuine in your belief on all this. Its just that you have been sold a pup. [/i]

    This is where I take real issue with you. Where exactly are your credentials to criticise my views? I get my views on this subject from scientific research and fact, not Jeremy Clarkson. I haven’t been sold a pup, just an education. A 1st class Masters degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, at the risk of sounding pompous, to be exact. I currently work in the field too, have done so for a number of years and regularly read journals surrounding this particular issue too, so I think I’m pretty damn qualified to express an opinion here.

    [i]There are over 1 billion people in China. They want the living standard we have. How do you say no to them?[/i]

    I’m afraid that is what is going to have to happen. In fact there is more like 1.4 billion folk in China and we are seeing the emergence of India (1 billion people) and Brazil (a few 100 million) as economic powerhouses. The really scary thing here is that we in the West have had it good for so long that we cannot face the fact that our living standards have been so high, only because we have had to subjugate the rest of the world in order to achieve these levels of personal wealth. If the Chinese all want a more comfortable existence, then I’m afraid me and you will have to suffer as a consequence. The economics of opportunity cost come into play here, we can’t all have our demands sated because there are not enough resources available for that to be possible.

  • Turgon

    Comrade,
    It is all needed and it all takes energy. There is a certain dilemma there but I think we in the West need to look aggressively at out own emissions, develop clean technologies and not preach to the Developing World. Maybe they can be persuaded to adopt some of these clean technologies such as carbon capture but they are interested in developing and developing rapidly and we are in no place to lecture them about the dangers of that. As I said if children are dying then the climate becomes a rather abstract concern. Of course if children stopped dying and then family size fell, then people in the developing world might start to be able to worry about their energy use. At the moment, however, I do feel that lecturing them about it is extremely trite. Saying that they are going to be the first ones to suffer from climate change does not really cut it either since they are already facing disasters like infant mortality.

    Of course another low carbon technology which they might develop would be nuclear but I do not see anyone either in the Green lobby or from Western governments proposing that (somewhat unsurprisingly).

    I guess at one level one might regard the whole thing as hopeless. However, I do not think that we can morally in any way impede or slow poor countries’ development.

  • Diluted Orange

    Comrade

    [i]The plant efficiency is a problem I see being addressed by nuclear power, although one principal selling point with electric cars is that you leave them on charge overnight. If this happened on a large scale this would improve energy efficiency at the power plants. Isn’t that what they essentially try to achieve with economy 7 ?[/i]

    As an electrical engineer I too believe that nuclear is the only medium term option going forward, but that ship has sailed. The Labour government has procrastinated to a point that we are going to see most of the UK’s current batch of nuclear power stations shut down over the next 15 years. It takes approximately 15 years to build a new one! This is a national disgrace IMO of the highest order.

    The UK is going to be held to ransom by Russia for natural gas – currently over 40% of the UK’s energy is generated from gas turbine power plants, this trend will continue well into the future because we have not planned adequately enough for the future. Wind is also a non-starter. Where is the most wind potential in the UK? And where is the most sparsely populated region of the UK – both questions have the same answer: the NW of Scotland. It is precisely because no people live there that the electrical power grid in that area is very low grade, so in order to tap all of that potential wind energy we are going to have to dramatically reinforce the infrastructure in that area – something which is estimated to cost in the region of a few £100 billion (I kid you not) if we are to reach the admirable target of providing 10% of our energy from renewable sources.

    Nuclear is not without its problems either. There are the obvious problems of toxic waste and terrorism but there’s also the question about how much energy is needed to extract uranium from the ground (most probably in Australia), to transport it to these shores (in shielded containers) and to enrich it so it is of reactor quality. I’m merely trying to demonstrate how there is no such thing as a free lunch here.

    You talk about charging an electric car overnight. How efficient is that? How much energy will escape in heat alone from charging any battery? When it comes down to it electric cars are little better, in efficiency terms, than a normal car and you can’t even go as fast. The only difference you get is that all that pollution is created somewhere else – at the power plant, rather than in the city centre traffic jams. This does nothing to allay the problems of global warming.

    [i]Rebuild the cities and build railway lines everywhere ? That’ll be cheap.[/i]

    The point I’m trying to convey is that no option is cheap. I never said to build railway lines everywhere, but if more people were to use public transport, bicycles or their feet to move themselves from one place to another i.e. exercised a little bit of personal responsibility, then we might not be in such a pickle.

  • runciter

    Turgon,

    I just thought it was a strange thing to say. I mean there can’t be many people who think the solution to Africa’s problems is more fridges.

    But what do I know? I haven’t worked there. And clearly those Europeans who have been there must know what they’re doing.

    After all, if it wasn’t for European intervention, I’m sure Africa would be in a terrible mess.

  • joeCanuck

    if it wasn’t for European intervention, I’m sure Africa would be in a terrible mess.

    You might want to think a little more deeply about that. They are in a mess and how did they get there?

  • Big Maggie

    The Belfast Telegraph reported this today:

    “Victims of Saturday’s freak downpours were last night praying that more rain would not bring further flooding misery.

    “Weather experts last night forecast more heavy rain to fall across the province before the completion of a massive clean-up operation to deal with thousands of households affected by flash flooding.”

    Proving conclusively that God doesn’t heed prayers from Ulster people. I wonder if Sammy Wilson has a theory about why that is.

  • runciter

    You might want to think a little more deeply about that. They are in a mess and how did they get there?

    I was being sarcastic.