So Farewell Then Roger Harrabin – May We Never See Your Like Again

The BBC’s long-serving Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin is due to retire in June. What must his thoughts be as he contemplates the possible destruction of his cherished Net Zero fantasy, crushed, as seems more than likely, by its first encounter with hard financial reality? A lifetime’s work, all for nothing, as people, inexplicably, turn their back on the prospect of blackouts, being colder and poorer, restricted diets, personal travel rationing, impracticable electric buggies and no foreign holidays. How could they be so selfish?

It was all so carefully prepared from the seminar he helped organise back in 2006 that led green activist cabals from within and outside the BBC to stamp out debate about the science of climate change. From that date on, the science was ‘settled’. To this day, the BBC has ignored scientific work that disputes humans cause all or most climate change. This work involves hundreds of dissenting atmospheric scientists, and many of their findings have been reported in the Daily Sceptic. Rather than repeat ourselves, further details are available in a recent article here.

For the last 20 years, a highly politicised doomsday agenda has been constructed that highlights the work of ‘post normal’ activists determined to show that burning fossil fuel is leading to a ‘climate emergency’. Describing themselves as scientists, Harrabin and his pals have created increasingly implausible doomsday scenarios, full of value judgements, light on evidence and easily debunked. Many of these people work out of re-branded geography and social science university departments and seek to impose a command-and-control Net Zero global system. The IPCC has come to play a central role in promoting this narrative.

Let’s have a more detailed look at how Harrabin helps the agenda along. Last week he published the following article on the BBC News site. Here is the heading: “Climate change: Can the Russian energy crisis help to curb global heating?”

What is this “global heating”? Nothing to do with domestic warmth, of course. Rather, it is a product of the doubling down that the BBC and Guardian undertook a few years ago to rebrand global warming as global heating, since that sounded more threatening. This rhetorical upping of the ante was necessary because the small rise in temperature from the late 1970s started to run out of steam two decades ago. For over seven years the global temperature hasn’t moved, so obviously something drastic had to be done. A similar exercise was undertaken around the same time by upgrading bad weather to ‘extreme’ weather. According to Harrabin:

The Business Department (BEIS), and most experts, tell him [Boris Johnson] existing plans to cut fossil fuels to protect the climate will help shield the U.K. from rocketing global prices for oil and gas.

Classic wishful thinking. Quite how reducing the supply of a commodity already in short supply will “shield” the U.K. from rocketing prices is not immediately clear. Even the imaginative BBC fact-checking department might have difficulty with this one. But it must be true – “most experts” say so.

Insulation is another no-brainer quick hit… A speed limit of 55mph could be set… Trains could reduce their top speed… Boilers running on imported gas would be replaced by electric heat pumps powered by electricity generated by British wind farms… Save energy – bath with a friend.

May the leprechauns dance on your bed, and bring you sweet dreams, as my Irish grandmother used to say. Is it too unkind to suggest that Harrabin is away with the fairies with these suggestions? The recent report from Professor Michael Kelly for the Global Warming Policy Foundation put the cost of this ‘quick hit’ of insulation at around £2 trillion, equivalent to the current GDP of the U.K. Installing heat and air pump systems in houses that haven’t been sealed completely is a waste of time. It has been estimated that the average expenditure per house for new insulation and heat pumps is over £65,000. There are also another 5.5 million non-residential buildings to consider and Professor Kelly reckons that £3 trillion will be required for a full retrofit of all U.K. buildings.

Meanwhile, doing 55mph on the M25 these days is an increasingly rare experience, while Kremlin leaders must be quaking in their boots to hear that the Brits are taking a very serious view of recent events in Ukraine by reintroducing 1970s style communal bathing.

 … Economists warned that any fracked gas would be sold on to the global market so it wouldn’t lower U.K. prices much anyway

Ah, the old increase supply and prices stay the same argument. Even if it is true, Harrabin, inexplicably, failed to note that well paid and badly needed British jobs would be created in deprived areas, tax revenues would get a massive boost, dividends would flow into cash-strapped pension funds and Britain would become energy self-sufficient again. Another small advantage is that the war coffers of people who don’t seem to like us will not be filled quite so quickly.

Former head of the gas giant Centrica Iain Conn – previously a shale fan – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think it is possible to drill enough wells to be able to make a material difference to the U.K. supplies.”

So says Mr. Conn, a man who earned £13 million for four years work at Centrica. During his period of employment, he put the company’s oil and gas exploration interests up for sale, lost over two million customers and saw the company’s share price fall significantly.

On-shore wind power is cheap… There is no fossil fuel bonanza in the North Sea… The International Energy Agency wants to halt all new fossil fuel operations because enough has been found already to wreck the climate.

Wind power is not cheap since it requires an annual subsidy of £11 billion to bring it to market, rising to £14 billion in 2026. In addition, it needs efficient gas fired turbines to stand idle, ready to be fired up when the wind doesn’t blow. In total, wind and solar provide just 5% of total U.K. energy needs (as opposed to electricity needs, where the proportion is higher). There is plenty of oil and gas left in the North Sea and higher prices and improved technology will help extract it. That is why green activists will do anything to stop production and demonise the exploration companies.

 And “wreck the climate” – what is that about? A gently warming climate – warming since long before mass industrialisation – and higher levels of CO2 have led to record levels of global food production and falling incidences of famine. So-called extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding are not generally increasing. Wildfires have shown a dramatic fall in North America over the last 100 years and coral is growing furiously across the Great Barrier Reef. Wine is produced commercially in the south of England, as it was during the Roman Warming Period. So no change there.

We wish Mr. Harrabin well in his retirement, as he enjoys the pleasures and standard of living made possible by a BBC pension and fossil fuel. These fuels accounted for about 80% of the energy mix 100 years ago. They still account for that percentage today and it’s likely the figure will be similar in the next century. In the meantime, the BBC should take advantage of Harrabin’s departure to remove the infantile ‘settled’ science ban, stop slavishly promoting the political and financial interests behind Net Zero, and start to report on all the different views surrounding this increasingly controversial agenda.

Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic‘s Environment Editor.

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