Every green initiative has been a disaster says Christopher Booker

What a parable for our times the great diesel scandal has been, as councils vie to see which can devise the heaviest taxes on nearly half the cars in Britain because they are powered by nasty, polluting diesel.

This week, it was announced many diesel drivers will soon have to pay fully £24 a day to drive into Central London, while 35 towns across the country are thinking of following suit. Already some councils charge up to £90 more for a permit to park a diesel car.

The roots of this debacle go back to the heyday of Tony Blair’s government, when his chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, became obsessed with the need to fight global warming.

Although he was an expert in ‘surface chemistry’ — roughly speaking, the study of what happens when, for example, a liquid meets a gas — King had no qualifications in climate science.

On one occasion he famously told an environmental audit committee of MPs that the world was warming so dangerously fast that, by the end of this century, the only continent on earth left habitable would be Antarctica.

His light-bulb moment came when he learned that diesel emits less CO2 than petrol. What a brilliant way it would be to save the planet, he thought, to manipulate the tax system to encourage motorists to make the switch — which millions did.

And here we are 15 years later, being told that, as an unexpected side-effect, more than ten million diesel vehicles on Britain’s roads are chucking out so much nitrogen oxide and other toxic pollutants they are being linked to 12,000 premature deaths a year.

This is only the latest in a seemingly endless flow of examples of supposedly ‘green’ government schemes which, one after another, turn out to have been standing common sense on its head, at a cost which is rocketing up by billions of pounds a year.

There may be other competitors for the title of the greatest scandal in Britain today, but this is so crazy that it is time we all woke up to how damagingly mad it has become.

Nine years ago, MPs voted almost unanimously for then Labour minister Ed Miliband’s Climate Change Act, thus making Britain the only country in the world committed by law to cut its ‘carbon emissions’ by 80 per cent in just 40 years.

Not one of those politicians bothered to wonder how in practice such an absurdly ambitious target could be met: which is why we have since seen successive governments thrashing about trying to adopt one dotty ‘green’ scheme after another.

Last week, I was asked in conversation: ‘Why is it that almost all these green schemes seem to end up as a fiasco?’ To which I replied: ‘You’ve only got one word wrong there. You can leave out the word “almost”.’

The truth is that every single green scheme the politicians have fallen for has proved to be a total fiasco: failing to achieve any of the results claimed for them and costing us more billions with every year that passes.

Consider the scandal of Drax in Yorkshire, until recently the largest, cleanest, most efficient coal-fired power station in Europe.

Now, thanks to an annual half-a-billion pounds of public subsidy, Drax has been switching from burning coal to millions of tons a year of wood pellets.

Absurdly, these are shipped 3,500 miles to Britain from the U.S., where vast acreages of virgin forest are being felled, supposedly to be replaced with new trees that will eventually soak up all the CO2 emitted by burning them.

Unfortunately, a bright spark has just pointed out in a report for a respected think-tank that it could take a replacement tree hundreds of years to grow to maturity — which would be far too long to have any supposed effect on any climate change. (It should be noted that the former coalition energy minister Chris Huhne, having been released from prison for perverting the course of justice over speeding points, became the European chairman of a firm called Zilkha Biomass, which makes its money supplying wood pellets from North America to Europe.)

The bottom line is that a new report has just confirmed that, far from reducing its CO2 footprint, Drax is now emitting more than it did when it was only burning coal.

Meanwhile, why is Northern Ireland going through its worst political crisis since the end of the Troubles? Because of the collapse of its power-sharing government over another green scheme, the Renewable Heat Incentive.

When businesses discovered that for every £100 they paid for wood chips to heat their offices, warehouses and factories, UK taxpayers would pay them £160 in subsidies, not surprisingly they kept their boilers running round the clock as if there were no tomorrow.

When it was discovered that, by 2020, we will have paid those businesses ¬£1 billion — even to heat buildings left empty for years — this created such a scandal that it brought down the government.

That example made headlines, but the same is happening quietly in the rest of the country, too, where owners of large houses openly boast that they are running their boilers flat out, even in summer, to cash in on the racket which gives them a 60 per cent profit on every £1 they spend on wood chips.

Some of that wood is now coming from clearing priceless ancient woodlands, such as a National Trust estate in Cheshire which the charity plans to turn back into open heathland.

Another scandal created under the same scheme is the way canny developers are plonking down large industrial installations called ‘anaerobic digesters’ in the middle of the English countryside, to turn huge quantities of crops into small quantities of methane for the national gas grid.

Official figures show that, thanks to subsidies costing us more than £200 million a year, 131,000 acres of maize are now being grown to feed the anaerobic digesters, on land formerly used for food crops.

Separately, toxic spills of the ammonia that is used in the process have repeatedly poisoned livestock and fish in nearby fields and rivers.

Then there was the dream of ‘carbon capture and storage’, for which Gordon Brown’s government offered ¬£4 billion for companies to come up with a way of removing CO2 from the coal and gas used to make electricity, and then piping it away for burial in holes under the North Sea.

Only one Scottish power station took up the offer, spending ¬£1 billion before it discovered that it didn’t work.

But even though geologists say it can never work, the Government still talks about it as the only way it can allow coal and gas-fired power plants — which still supply more than half our electricity — to stay in business.

Consider, too, the not-so brilliant idea of bribing motorists to switch to supposedly ‘green’ all-electric cars. So far, this has cost us more than ¬£50 million in subsidies, for the mere 50,000 cars which have been sold, at ¬£25,000 or more a time. This is only a fraction of the 26 million cars on Britain’s roads.

And what gets cynically hidden by the authorities is that much of the electricity used to charge their batteries comes, of course, from fossil fuels. Add in emissions from the manufacturing process and, unsurprisingly, these vehicles give out more CO2 than they are claimed to save.

Yet under the latest ‘carbon budget’, a five-yearly environmental plan nodded through by MPs to meet our commitments under Miliband’s misguided Climate Change Act, they still fondly imagine that, within 13 years, 60 per cent of all Britain’s cars will be electric.

The latest wheeze to catch the attention of gullible politicians has been a mega-project to spend ¬£40 billion on six giant ‘tidal lagoons’ around Britain’s coasts, beginning with one in Swansea Bay, to harness the power of the tide to provide ‘clean, green’ electricity.

This seemed so irresistible to David Cameron and George Osborne that they put it in the Tory manifesto at the last election — and the then chancellor even mentioned it in his Budget speech. Only when the figures were looked at more carefully did they realise how little electricity this would produce. Not only that, it would be the most expensive in the world!

The firm behind the scheme asked the Government to agree to give it a uniquely high subsidy. The project will only work, it said, if the power produced could be sold to the National Grid at a staggering £168 per megawatt hour.

This was well over three times the wholesale price of unsubsidised electricity from coal or gas-fired power stations, and would naturally be paid for by every UK householder through green surcharges on our electricity bills.

As a result of such concerns, a report on tidal energy was commissioned from a former energy minister, Charles Hendry. His objectivity can be guessed at when you learn that he is chairman of the world’s largest offshore wind farm project. Unsurprisingly, he was gung-ho for giving tidal lagoons the go-ahead.

But how can ministers justify proceeding with another pipe dream which, according to some conservationists, apart from its ludicrous cost would inflict serious damage on wading birds, eels and other fish?

This is because the building of gigantic stone tidal barriers miles long interferes with the natural ecosystem. Indeed, this disruption to the natural order is a common problem with schemes which are designed to be good for ‘the environment’. When, for example, the Somerset Levels suffered serious flooding in 2014, it emerged that this was not just a freak of nature.

For 18 years, the local rivers and drainage ditches had not been dredged by the Environment Agency, with the deliberate intention of keeping more water flooding out on to the Levels, to provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife.

One former head of the agency, who previously ran the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, had remarked that she wanted to see ‘a limpet mine’ on every one of the pumping stations which — separately from the dredging — were used to pump out the water channels to prevent flooding.

When the lack of dredging led to the inevitable, and the Levels disastrously flooded for the second time in three years, it not only did £100 million worth of damage to homes and businesses.

With bitter irony, it also resulted in the drowning of huge numbers of the birds, badgers and other creatures the conservationists had wanted to save.

Flooding aside, however, by far the greatest environmental damage, at the greatest cost to our household bills, has been done by the £52 billion so far spent on covering vast areas of our countryside and the sea around our coasts with wind and solar farms, which are now adding £5 billion a year to our electricity bills.

Apart from the way these eyesores have come to dominate parts of our landscape, studies have shown the shocking damage the windmills do to birds and bats, including species such as golden eagles, which are supposed to be protected by law.

Research by the ornithological society SEO/Birdlife suggested that each turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds a year, though the RSPB countered this saying that ‘our own research suggests that a well-located wind farm is unlikely to be causing birds any harm’.

(Conservationists claim the wind industry has a vested interest in covering up the true extent of bird deaths.)

And all this is to produce just 14 per cent of our electricity, available so intermittently that if it wasn’t for those remaining CO2-emitting coal and gas-fired power stations stepping in when the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun wasn’t shining, our lights would have already gone out.

Yet to meet that Climate Change Act target, the Government still dreams of closing down all our remaining fossil-fuel power stations, instead relying on ‘zero-carbon’ electricity from renewables such as wind, sun and wood-burning, and a number of new nuclear power stations, which seem ever less likely to be built after wrangles over funding.

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Comments (6)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    Enviromentalisms become a radical idea from the liberal watermellons(Green on outside red inside)to use to force all the world back into a stoneage misery sacrificing virgins and children to the pagan deities they worship during their profaine earthday celebrations

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    Charles S. Opalek, PE



    Global Warming is Dead

    The argument about global warming has morphed into climate change. This subtle shift was necessary because the warming as evidenced by satellite measurements has stopped since 1998, even while CO2 concentrations have continued to increase. It has become increasingly obvious CO2 is not driving the warming, the climate, or anything else.

    The hysteria about melting ice caps, sea level rise, stronger storms, droughts, floods, forest fires, etc., has not materialized:
    * ice continues to accumulate at record levels in the Antarctic wherein lies 90% of the world’s ice inventory. Meanwhile, the Arctic Ice Cap has survived decades of predictions of its demise.
    * sea level rise according to Nils-Axil Morner, the world’s leading authority on sea level change, has not changed at all.
    * annual accumulated cyclonic energy is at historical lows, as are the overall number and strength of hurricanes and tornadoes.
    * Droughts and floods continue their march in tune with oceanic oscillations, such as, La Ninas and the Indian Ocean Dipole.
    * Forest fire activity remains at the mercy of lightning strikes, underbrush stockpiles and interference with nature by humans.

    Climate Change has no Evidence

    There is not one piece of empirical evidence linking human activities to the climate – NOT ONE. The only arguments for climate change are anecdotes, computer projections, Hockey Sticks, and consensus.
    * Anecdotes are short, obscure historical or biographical accounts. Anecdotes cannot be traced to one another or anything else. Anecdotes are not proof.
    * Computer projections are Ludic fallacies based on dubious initial conditions. The computer projections have failed, because their only input is greenhouse gases. Computer projections are not proof.
    * Hockey Sticks are the cobbling together of two unrelated proxy data sets. These FrankenGraphs, which would have received an “F” in JHS science class 50 years ago, are incredibly embraced by many scientists today. Hockey Sticks are artificial fabrications, not proof.
    * Consensus is an opinion or position reached by a group as a whole. Millennia and centuries ago the consensus believed the Earth was the center of the Universe and Solar System. Consensus is not proof.

    To the contrary, there is abundant evidence proving the climate has changed often and sometimes violently, all without any human influence.

    The Historical Temperature Record

    For the last 600,000,000 years temperatures have hovered around 12C about 14% of the time, around 22C about 50% of the time, and somewhere in between 36% of the time. Right now we are at 14.5C, about 25% above the bottom of the historical range. (Ref: Dr. Christopher R. Scotese‘s PALEOMAP Project at http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm). We are no where near any temperature tipping point.

    The 0.4C rise in temperature since the Industrial Revolution (IR) pales in comparison to the 1.6C increase of the Medieval Warming Period (WP), the 2.5C increase of the Roman WP, and the 3.2C increase of the Minoan WP using the IR as a baseline. The average temperature has been declining for the last 6,000 years. (Alley, R.B. 2000, The Younger Dryas cold interval as viewed from central Greenland, Quaternary Science Reviews, 19:213-226.) We are at the very end of the present 10,500 year old Interglacial WP. After this comes about 90,000 years of snow, ice, advancing glaciers and incredible loss of life. Enjoy the warmth while you can.

    The Recent Temperature Record

    The temperature data for the last 100 years has been twisted and contorted by scientists to comply with the global warming agenda. Under the guise of ‘homogenizing’ data sets, NOAA has chopped off the cooler temperatures of the late 1800s, thus making trends afterwards look warmer. Also, the percentage of fake temperature measurement stations since 1993 has increased from 5% to 43%, over an 800% increase. A new fake station was created in Africa which helped conclude that 2016 was the warmest year ever. This fake science from fake data has created an ever-increasing temperature record, when the satellite data says since 1998 there has been no warming at all.

    The Historical CO2 Record

    About 550,000,000 years ago CO2 was 7,000 ppm and has wound it‘s way down to where it is today, near it’s historic low (Berner, R.A. and Z. Kothavala, 2001. GEOCARB III: A Revised Model of Atmospheric CO2 over Phanerozoic Time, American Journal of Science, v.301, pp.182-204, February 2001.) Below 100 ppm photosynthesis ceases. We are very close to the tipping point of Earth turning into a lifeless snowball with too little CO2 for plants to reproduce. On the other hand, plants thrive in nurseries kept at CO2 concentrations of 1,000 ppm. Thanks to recent CO2 increases, vegetation has increased 11% in arid areas of the world.

    The Recent CO2 Record

    The famous Mauna Loa CO2 measurements began in 1958, coincidentally at a historic low CO2 level of 315 ppm. In 1942 and again in 1822 CO2 was 440 ppm, 40 ppm higher than today. (Ernst-Georg Beck, 180 Years of Atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis By Chemical Methods, Energy & Environment, Volume 18 No. 2, 2007, Fig. 2).

    For the last 1400 years there have been 6 distinctive cycles of CO2 concentration as registered in plant leaf stomata proxy data. Each cycle is about 230 years in duration with a 300 ppm minimum and 400 ppm maximum. As of 2016 400 ppm was reached, the top of the cycle. If history repeats, expect this deVries cycle to reverse and produce lower CO2 readings over the next 115 or so years.

    To say we are nearing runaway, irreversible global warming due to recent paltry CO2 increases is ludicrous.

    Temperatures and Fossil Fuel Use

    For the last 150 years there has not always been a correlation between fossil fuel use and temperature. Between 1940 and 1970 while CO2 increased, fossil fuel use leveled off and slightly decreased. (Klyashtorin and Lyubushim, Energy & Environment, Vol 14, No 6, Fig 1). So, for 30 years while less fossil fuel was burned, more CO2 was being generated. The question is: how can this be?

    Temperatures and Solar Irradiance

    There have been three global cooling and three global warming periods within the last 250 years. These periods all march to the tune of changing solar irradiance, not CO2 concentrations. (Douglas V. Hoyt and Kenneth H. Schatten, A Discussion of Plausible Solar Irradiance Variations, 1700-1992, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 98, No. All, Pages 18,895-18,906, November 1, 1993). Isn’t the correlation obvious? It’s the Sun, not CO2.

    Greenhouse Gas Effect (GGE)

    Only 3.27% of all CO2 generated comes from man, the other 96.73% comes from nature. Only 0.001% of water vapor comes from man; the other 99.999% comes from nature. Water vapor by a factor of 26 has more of a spectral absorption bandwidth or GGE than does CO2. After adding the contributions of methane, nitrous oxide, and CFCs it turns out only 0.28% of the GGE comes from man, the other 99.72% comes from nature. If man ceased to exist, the reduction in the GGE would be one part out of 357, or barely noticeable.

    Planetary Mechanics – THE Driver of Climate Change

    Planetary mechanics is the study of orbiting celestial bodies, including changes to the solar system barycenter, spin orbit coupling, and changes in angular momentum. It is the very interaction of the motion of the planets, Sun and moon which dictate our climate and our weather. This isn’t theory. This is astrophysics.

    Jupiter, Venus and Earth are called the Tidal Planets for good reason. They control the Sun’s tide and its 11 year sunspot cycle. There are many harmonics of this basic 11 year Schwab cycle. There is the 22 year Hale magnetic cycle. There is the 44 year Solar Conveyor Belt cycle. Every 88 years there is the Gleisberg cycle Рan amplitude modulation of Schwab cycles. There is the 230 deVries cycle. The 1,440 year Bond or Ice Debris Cycle. The 2,200 year Hallstadt Cycle.

    There are numerous other cycles built from combinations of solar, lunar and planetary cycles. Every 18 years there is the Lunar Tidal Cycle which corresponds to abundance cycles on Earth. About every 60 years there is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation cycle, the most powerful climate force on the planet.

    Then there is Uranus and Neptune (U-N) with their 178 year orbit beat cycle. The Sun also operates in 360 year cycles, a harmonic of the U-N cycle. Each 360 year cycle is composed of Regular Oscillations, followed by a Grand Solar Maximum, followed by a Grand Solar Minimum. This totally predictable 360 year cycle has resulted in the Oort, Sporer, Maunder, Dalton and other unnamed Minimums within the past two millennia.

    In 2009, we entered the next Grand Solar Minimum Рthe Landscheidt Minimum. This isn’t unfounded speculation. This is traceable, predictable planetary mechanics (Duhau and de Jager, The Forthcoming Grand Minimum of Solar Activity, Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 8, 1983-1999). From this point forward be prepared for relentless colder winter temperatures which will reach bottom around 2040. Along the way there will be ever-increasing fuel scarcity, crop failures, food shortages, famines and loss of life of millions. The next Little Ice Age has begun. No amount of pithy CO2 increase is going to provide enough life-saving warmth.

    Planetary mechanics is the elephant in the room of climate change. The planets control the climate of the Sun which, combined with the Moon, control the climate on the Earth. CO2 is only a flea on the elephant’s ass coming along for the ride.

    Climate Change is Big Business

    The myth of global warming, climate change, climate change catastrophe – or whatever they are calling it today – continues, because of the trillions of dollars that would be lost and millions of leaf-raking jobs eliminated, if this charade were to be exposed.
    * Banks and brokerage houses reap huge commissions from it.
    * Scam artists like Maurice Strong thrive on it, creating schemes like carbon trading which suck billions of dollars from consumers’ wallets.
    * Politicians need it to save us from imaginary hobgoblins and to justify tax increases to fund largesse programs that garner votes.
    * Scientists keep busy by grazing at the trough of free grant money made available, but only if it can be shown that man is the cause.
    * Corporations need it to sell cures for which there is no disease, and fatten up their bottom lines.
    * The alternative energy, Green Building and sustainability industries came into existence and thrive off of it.
    * The news media needs it to keep the frenzy going, the ratings up, and ad revenue coming in.
    * The United Nations needs it to forge its role as the leader in One World Governance.
    * Environmentalists, anti-industrialists, and other Communists need it in order to cut the legs out from underneath the evil, Capitalist United States and level the playing field for the world‘s less fortunate nations.

    This is the hideous symbiosis of individuals, groups, businesses and governments that need the myth of climate change kept alive for their very financial survival. They are not going to go away, so long as they can continue to mainline on the juice. It is time to yank the tube out of their arms.

    And one last thing: According to ice core records, the CO2 increases occur about 800 years AFTER the temperature increases. That is, CO2 doesn’t cause rising temperatures, rising water temperatures cause CO2 to gas out of solution from the world’s oceans into the atmosphere. CO2 is not a driver of climate. CO2 is a passenger.

    Get the facts visit:

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      Interesting information Charles, however, I take issue with the following:
      “…only 0.28% of the GGE comes from man, the other 99.72% comes from nature.”

      This is HOGWASH! … exactly ZERO % of the so-called GGE comes from man, and exactly ZERO % of the so-called GGE comes from nature. Because the total sum of ALL GGE is exactly ZERO! … There is no such thing as a GGE! .. It is impossible in this universe.

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    “And here we are 15 years later, being told that, as an unexpected side-effect, more than ten million diesel vehicles on Britain‚Äôs roads are chucking out so much nitrogen oxide and other toxic pollutants they are being linked to 12,000 premature deaths a year.”

    This bogus claim of “premature” deaths is as fictitous as so-called “climate change”.

    Neither can be quantified. Neither can be falsified.

    Neither are, therefore, scientific.

    Except we know for a fact that average life expectancy continues to rise in first world countries.

    I am now faced with the prospect of running out of my retirement money because I might live too long!

    We have reached a point in time when so-called scientists are looked on with disdain.

    Not to be trusted.

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      NO2, like CO2, is plant food. NO2 is produced during lightning strikes and farmers regard it as free fertilizer. Since sulfur has been removed from diesel fuel and coal-fired power plants decommissioned or retrofitted with scrubbers, farmers are now forced to buy sulfur as a crop supplement. Atmospheric NO2 and SO2 precipitate as acid rain, true. But there was some benefit from it.

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    But fewer people on the earth is what the eco-wackos want since they beleive the Population Bomb/Population Explosion poppycock of Paul Erlich

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