climate change

Climate Change Scepticism in Line For Censorship

Enjoy the Daily Sceptic while you can. A powerful network of climate change activists are working on “stamping out climate change misinformation once and for all”. And by “climate change misinformation” they don’t mean things like claiming that we have 18 months to save the planet. (See this piece by the BBC’s Environment Correspondent.) They mean anything that challenges the prevailing orthodoxy about climate change, however well-evidenced.

A reader received this email today, inviting him to attend a Censors’ Conference organised by the Institute of Government and Public Policy.

Dear XXX,

I wanted to get in touch with you this morning as we have received a small pot of funding for the Tackling Online Misinformation and Disinformation virtual conference which has allowed us to allocate X part-funded tickets to attend on January 18th. Would this be of interest to you or your colleagues?

View the event agenda and keynote speakers here.

Major U.K. brands including Virgin Media O2, Sky, British Gas, Ben & Jerry’s and SSE have signed an open letter calling on Cop26 decision-makers and technology platforms to take immediate action on stamping out climate change misinformation once and for all. Led by the Conscious Advertising Network, a voluntary coalition of organisations on a mission to prevent advertisers from inadvertently funding harmful content online, the letter says climate change has reached a “crisis point”. Recent research from Stop Funding Heat also found 113 ads on Facebook with messages like “climate change is a hoax” between January and October 2021, with an estimated spend of between £42,000 and £55,000.

This timely event will explore the emerging threat landscape of misinformation and disinformation online, and provide actionable insights into tackling this pressing issue.

Hear from Sterling Rippy, Strategic Lead Behavioural Insights, Public Health, London Borough of Hounslow as he discusses addressing vaccine misinformation by using the messenger principle and providing insight on how to best launch information campaigns.

Why attend?

* Discover effective strategies and software which can help to identify and counter disinformation online
* Discuss and debate the impact of the Online Harms Whitepaper with regards to digital disinformation
* Increasing media literacy as a defence against disinformation
* Assess the potential role of AI in the counter-disinformation framework
* Hear the ways in which Ofcom will balance upholding freedom of expression whilst providing a duty of care
* Improving the Social Media Landscape – dismantling incentivisation

We hope to see you at the event.

Sinister, or what?

Beijing Has Brought Western Environmental Activism Under Its Control

At COP26 China refused to promise to phase out coal and last week the nation broke its own daily record for coal production at 12.05 million tonnes. Bizarrely, China is not perceived as a villain by many of the West’s environmental activists, who instead put the blame for global warming on nations closer to home. The reason for this is likely because Beijing has infiltrated and seized control of much of the West’s environmental institutions, creating an army of ‘useful idiots’ who turn a blind eye to the sins of the Communist regime. The Daily Mail has the story.

Yesterday, green campaigners hailed some modest successes, such as pledges to reduce methane. But back in the real world, China, whose President, Xi Jinping, did not even turn up, is still building coal-fired power stations at a rate of knots and the ‘agreement’ it reached with America to ‘co-operate’ on global warming lacked any substance.

Yet the campaigners in Glasgow barely mentioned, let alone criticised, China. A spokesman for Insulate Britain told me: “We mustn’t use China as a scapegoat.”

Some campaigners even heap praise on China. So why is there such an apparent lack of concern? One answer lies in a book called Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World, by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg. Serialised in the Mail last year, it argues that China has extended its influence over certain institutions in Britain and other democracies in order to blind them to Beijing’s drive for supremacy.

China, the book says, seduces politicians, business people, academics and campaigners into supporting its aims. It regards them as ‘useful idiots’, unwitting instruments of its goal of becoming the world’s only superpower.

Evidence unearthed by this newspaper, working with researchers fluent in Mandarin, shows Western environmentalists have indeed become a target. Documents suggest they are enmeshed with bodies subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and staffed by figures from its most ruthless departments.

They include Xie Zhenhua, China’s Chief Climate Envoy. Until 2012, he was a member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which enforces state orthodoxy. According to Human Rights Watch, it has been responsible for illegal detention, torture and forced confessions.

“I’m dismayed that some leading Western environmentalists are talking up the CCP as the saviour of the world,” Hamilton says. Take, for example, Professor Lord Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, who advises the Government.

Having taught in China since 1998, in 2009 he told a Chinese magazine he had “close contacts” with CCP officials. In 2014, he wrote a paper for the World Economic Forum claiming China was “emerging as a global leader in climate policy”. In 2016 he claimed China’s emissions “may already have peaked”. They hadn’t. The following year, he insisted there was “compelling evidence” China’s coal use had also peaked.

Stern even praised President Jinping’s “personal commitment to driving climate action”, concluding: “The world is looking for a climate champion. In China, it has one.” But in March he sounded less optimistic, saying it is “crucial” China stops building new coal-fired power plants and stops increasing its emissions by 2025.

Nevertheless, Bob Ward, Stern’s Spokesman, told me China was taking “significant action” and the rate of increase in its emissions had slowed enormously. He said China was “keen to learn from the UK’s example of world-leading action on climate change”.

Worth reading in full.

The Creator of the 1.5C Climate Target has Admitted That the “Simple Number” Was Invented for the Benefit of Politicians

We’re publishing a guest post today by journalist Chris Morrison about the 1.5°C target, the climate change models and the way in which ambitious politicians, self-described ‘scientists’ and rent-seeking industrialists have leapt on the bandwagon to end all bandwagons.

Politics, not science, lies behind the drive to keep global temperatures to 1.5°C. Not the thoughts of your correspondent, but the clear implication of words spoken in 2010 by the so-called father of 2°C, an earlier IPCC target, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. Interviewed by the Der Speigel, Mr Schellnhuber, the IPCC lead author and at the time Angela Merkel’s Climate Adviser, was asked why he had imposed the “magical limit” to which all countries must slavishly adhere. He said: “Politicians like to have clear targets and a simple number is easier to handle.”

Of course, the push to net zero and the ‘settled’ science that is claimed to support the move is political. It is in fact the great political debate of the age, which makes it surprising to see the head of the BBC Tim Davie attempt last week to promote the impartiality of the Corporation by suggesting that climate change is no longer a political issue. To which it might be tempting to reply that Mr Davie no longer fears the approaching climate fireball, because he has already relocated to another planet. Perhaps he hasn’t seen the BBC’s climate editor Justin Rowlett become increasingly agitated with Boris Johnson because the Prime Minister refused to commit to shut down all coal mining. Or read the one-sided output of Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s Energy and Environment Analyst, whom Charles Moore suggests would be happier in a pulpit.

Almost two weeks ago, Jon Snow fronted an hour long Channel 4 News shaking with emotion as he introduced stories featuring fire, flood and climate collapse of almost biblical proportion. Last week he attributed a large plant blocking the rail tracks on his way to Glasgow to climate change. His behaviour might call to mind George Orwell’s famous quote that some ideas are so stupid “that only intellectuals believe them”, but Mr Snow is actually at the cutting edge of new academic research trying to shift the political narrative from global warming to “extreme” weather.

In 2020 the IPCC lead author Professor Reto Knutti published a paper entitled “Climate change now detectable from any single day of weather on a global scale”. This of course is the Holy Grail of climate activism. The last two decades have seen little actual global warming despite higher levels of mostly naturally produced CO2 entering the atmosphere. According to satellite readings published last month, the global temperatures haven’t moved for seven years. In fact, the current high points in the record correspond to the peak of the brief warming in the 1980s and 1990s, suggesting temperatures haven’t really risen for almost 25 years. Perhaps because of this, the move to demonise bad weather, or “extreme” weather, continues apace.

Growth Doesn’t Mean More Environmental Impacts

Environmental activist George Monbiot recently published a long article in The Guardian titled ‘Capitalism is killing the planet’. The article – which Monbiot described as “the best thing I’ve ever written” – ended up going viral, earning 14K likes on Twitter.

Its basic thesis is: ‘capitalism bad’. And while capitalism is in some sense responsible for environmental problems – it’s hard to pollute if you haven’t produced anything – the problem for Monbiot is that socialism’s record is even worse.

As I said, it’s a long piece, and I don’t want to discuss every detail. But there was one paragraph in particular that caught my eye, and not because it was the ‘best thing I’ve ever read’. Far from it, in fact.

The first thing we encounter, looming out of the depths, should scare us almost out of our wits. It’s called growth. Economic growth is universally hailed as a good thing. Governments measure their success on their ability to deliver it. But think for a moment about what it means. Say we achieve the modest aim, promoted by bodies like the IMF and the World Bank, of 3% global growth a year. This means that all the economic activity you see today – and most of the environmental impacts it causes – doubles in 24 years; in other words, by 2045. Then it doubles again by 2069. Then again by 2093.

What’s wrong with this reasoning? It’s that Monbiot assumes there’s a one-to-one relationship between GDP and “environmental impacts”. In reality, there’s no reason why environmental impacts can’t go down as GDP goes up.

After all, GDP just measures the total value of goods and services in the economy. It’s not a measure of ‘total materials used’ or ‘total energy consumed’. So in principle, it can keep on rising forever.

Monbiot claims that if we shoot for 3% growth a year, then environmental impacts will double in just 24 years. (1.03 raised to the 24th power equals 2.) To see why this conclusion is wrong, let’s look at one particular environmental impact, namely CO2 emissions.

Between 1990 and 2018, the UK’s total GDP (measured in inflation-adjusted terms) increased by 74%. If Monbiot were right, then CO2 emissions should have increased by roughly the same amount. But they actually fell by 19%.

And this isn’t just because we offshored our emissions to China. That 19% figure corresponds to consumption-based CO2 emissions, which adjusts for emissions released in the production of traded goods.

What’s more, if the UK got serious about nuclear power, we could bring down emissions even further. France relies on nuclear more than any other country, and it’s per-capita emissions (again, adjusted for offshoring) are 20% lower than the UK’s.

In fact, economists talk about an ‘environmental Kuznets curve’, whereby pollution rises during the early stages of economic development, but then starts to fall during the later stages. This suggests that, in some circumstances, growth’s actually good for the environment.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to Monbiot’s critique of growth. He’s right that governments sometimes treat it at as the only thing that matters, forgetting that human flourishing depends on more than just our living standards. We also need safety, access to nature, a sense of community, and many other things.

Yet critiques of growth can only go so far. After all, it’s only thanks to growth that Monbiot can make a living as a journalist and write articles telling people that growth should “scare us almost out of our wits”. (In an earlier time, he would have probably been a peasant farmer or shop-keeper, along with almost everyone else.)

Growth in GDP isn’t the same thing as growth in our impact on nature. And in fact, being richer often means we have more to spend on the environment.

Why Boris Has Gone Gaga For ‘Build Back Better’

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We’re publishing a guest post by an academic economist about why Boris, who used to be a borderline climate change sceptic, has passionately embraced a ‘Net Zero’ agenda. Could it be because he wants to curry favour with Joe Biden?

Many of his supporters are dismayed that Boris Johnson seems to be buying in so deeply to the hardcore green agenda. This is doubly so when we consider how this agenda might overlap with the powers the Government has accrued over the course of repeated lockdowns. You need not be a full-throated believer in the coming Great Reset to see that green activists are angling to leverage these new powers to impose their radical program on the population.

Those that are dismayed by this latest evolution of Johnson’s politics have been scrambling for an answer. Johnson does not personally seem like an enthusiast for hard green policies. Yes, he used to bike around London as mayor – but this hardly indicated that he was interested in the more totalitarian aspects of the green agenda.

Some have turned to the influence of Johnson’s latest wife: Carrie Symonds. The profile fits. Symonds seems like a squishy ‘right-thinking’ London liberal with an instinct finely-tuned to get as close to power as possible. Sorry Boris, but she probably did not marry you for your looks or your dependability.

In what follows I am not dismissing this personal dimension but think that it needs to be viewed in a broader context. Johnson may bend to Carrie’s will behind closed doors, but this cannot explain why the whole Tory Party has painted itself green.

Dodgy Climate Models Should be Discarded

There follows a guest post by journalist Chris Morrison looking at a recent paper by the physicist Nicola Scafetta. It suggests that the main climate models used to predict rising global temperatures aren’t fit for purpose.

A devastating indictment of the accuracy of climate models is contained in a paper just published by the highly credentialed Physicist Nicola Scafetta from the University of Naples. Professor Scafetta analysed 38 of the main models and found that most had over-estimated global warming over the last 40 years and many of them should be “dismissed and not used by policymakers”.

But the majority still are. In the absence of conclusive proof that humans are causing all or most global warming, the science is deemed to be settled almost entirely on the basis of forecasts from models that have never been correct. And of course this lies at the heart of a drive to so-called net zero and the removal from human use of the one cheap and efficient fuel we all rely on to sustain a comfortable, healthy, modern lifestyle – namely, fossil fuel.

At the heart of the climate model problem is determining the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). This is defined in climate science as the increase in the global mean surface temperature that follows a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Nobody knows what this figure is – the science for this crucial piece of the jigsaw is missing, unsettled you may say. So guesses are made and they usually range from 1C to as high as 6C. Models that use a higher figure invariably run hot and Professor Scafetta has proved them to be the least accurate in their forecasts.

Scafetta demonstrates this clearly in the graph (below). The thick green line is the actual average global temperature and all the other lines are the models’ projections. The red lines show the models that put the temperature at 6C. Interestingly, the models started to go haywire at a time when global warming was gaining political traction and debate on the science started to be discouraged. Perish the thought, of course, that the two are in any way related. Scafetta also goes into great detail about the performance of models in all latitudes and concludes “significant model data discrepancies are still observed over extended world regions for all models”.

Is it Really True, as Climate Change Activists Claim, That 97% of Scientists Agree With Them?

We’re publishing a guest post today by David Craig, author of There Is No Climate Crisis. This is the first of a number of guest posts we’ll be running about global warming and net zero in the run up to and during COP26.

Our Government is imposing draconian limitations on our lifestyles, our economy and our finances in order to achieve net zero carbon emissions to supposedly save the planet from catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW), now renamed as climate change. Probably one of the most repeated arguments you’ll hear, over and over again, in support of the need to achieve net zero is that “97% of scientists agree CAGW is happening”.

Former President Barack Obama is just one of many who have made this claim: “97% percent of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

So did President Joe Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, when he warned of the “crippling consequences” of climate change and that: “97% percent of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent.”

This claim is widely accepted. Yet, in spite of the damaging effects reaching net zero will have on Western economies, not a single politician or journalist seems to have made the effort to find out where this ‘97%’ figure came from and how accurate it actually is.

The Unholy Trinity of Social Control: Covid, Climate Change and Critical Race Theory

Is it any wonder reports of mental illness have sky-rocketed in recent years when we are all constantly berated over what an awful state the world is in and how disaster is imminent unless our whole way of life is radically changed for the worse?

People living in 2021 are now burdened with at least three major issues, all of which have arisen or reached a new intensity in the last 18 months. First there is obviously Covid, with lockdown restrictions – unheard of before February 2020 – fast becoming normalised as a form of disease management. Second is climate change, the recent IPCC doomsday report and the approach of COP26 triggering the release of all kinds of new schemes and threats of punitive taxes and bans. Third, there is Critical Race Theory and the wider woke agenda of demonising and delegitimising ‘whiteness’, men, heterosexuality, women, and anything else deemed to be oppressive to minorities and insufficiently inclusive, egalitarian and diverse.

On the face of it these three things have little or nothing in common. Disease management, global temperature changes, race and minority relations – the issues are distinct. Yet their supposed urgency makes them and their approved solutions core tenets of the reigning governing philosophy of our day. Covid is such a serious disease it must be suppressed via restrictions whenever it surges; climate change is such a threat to human life it must be combated by drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as quickly as possible; the oppression of minorities is so serious and pervasive that drastic action must be taken to increase diversity and remove oppressive cultural expressions in short order.

The three are also united in that all of them demand a high degree of social control. Normal life and liberty spreads disease, emits carbon dioxide and oppresses minorities. It is therefore unacceptable and must be curbed and brought under a heavy degree of governmental and social regulation. People must be compelled not to gather, to stay at home, to wear face coverings, to take tests and medicines, not to burn gas, oil, coal or petrol, not to eat meat, not to offend favoured minorities, to promote diversity. The people in charge are always attracted to an agenda that justifies them throwing around the power they have, and this unholy trinity of righteous causes has that in buckets.

The three are also based on ‘science’, or at least academia. They involve supposedly impartial, objective experts pronouncing on what the world’s biggest problems are and formulating the solutions that will save us. This is a very appealing formula for elites, who gain perceived legitimacy by allying themselves with expertise.

Another thing the three have in common, though the scientists, academics and politicians themselves will never admit it, is that they are all based on an underlying mistake, and the pursuit of their supposedly necessary solutions will frequently cause more harm than good.

To cap it off, they are also all totally impossible to achieve, giving rise to the ultimate soul-destroying ideology: urgent, impossible, and ultimately pointless.

Hospital Appointments in Glasgow Being Cancelled to Reduce Road Traffic during COP26

Hundreds of patients in Glasgow are having face-to-face hospital appointments cancelled or rescheduled ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which begins next week in the hope that this will help to clear up the roads. The Herald has the story.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it would be increasing the number of virtual consultations and moving some face-to-face consultations to different times of the day in order to accommodate a “temporary increase in population” in the city over the two-week climate summit.

Patients began receiving letters over the past week notifying them of changes to their appointments.

It comes amid warnings that the event itself could trigger a fresh spike in Covid cases, piling preassure on an already overstretched NHS.

Health cheifs at neighbouring NHS Lanarkshire – where the majority of non-urgent elective surgeries have been paused since August – have now escalated its risk status to ‘Black’ and confirmed that a number of cancer procedures will be postponed. These will be rescheduled “as soon as possible”, they said.

One Glasgow patient with long Covid symptoms, who is due to see several specialists, told the Herald their face-to-face appointments had been changed suddenly to telephone consultations after months of waiting. …

[They said] that it was ironic patients were being switched to phone and video appointments to free up roads for climate deligates flying into Scotland who “really should have held their meetings virtually”.

Worth reading in full.

To read more of the article without hitting a paywall, view the cover of today’s Herald here.

Leaked Documents Reveal Chancellor’s Concerns about Cost of Moving Towards a Zero-Carbon Economy

Leaked documents obtained by the Observer reveal deep concerns within the Treasury about the economic cost of moving towards a zero-carbon economy. The Chancellor is worried that additional costs from green initiatives would push companies to move production elsewhere.

As Johnson prepares to position the U.K. at the head of global efforts to combat climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions as host of the Glasgow COP26 meeting, the documents show the Treasury is warning of serious economic damage to the U.K. economy and future tax rises if the U.K. overspends on, or misdirects, green investment.

Green experts said the “half-baked” and “one-sided” Treasury net-zero review presented only the costs of action on emissions, rather than the benefits, such as green jobs, lower energy bills and avoiding the disastrous impact of global heating. They said the review could be “weaponised” by climate-change deniers around the world before COP26, undermining Johnson’s attempts at climate leadership on the global stage.

The internal Treasury documents say that while there may be economic benefits to U.K. companies from swift and appropriate climate action, there is also a danger that economic activity could move abroad if firms found their costs were increasing by more than those of their overseas competitors.

The leaked papers are understood to have been produced to accompany a slide show given confidentially to key groups outside Government in the last month. The documents state: “The investment required to decarbonise the U.K. economy is uncertain but could help to improve the U.K.’s relatively low investment levels and increase productivity.

“However, more green investment is likely to attract diminishing returns, reducing the positive impact of ever more investment on GDP. Some green investments could displace other, more productive, investment opportunities. If more productive investments are made earlier in the transition, this risk may be accentuated later in the transition.”

On the risk of additional costs to companies from green initiatives, the documents say: “Climate action in the U.K. can lead to economic activity moving abroad if it directly leads to costs increasing, and it is more profitable to produce in countries with less stringent climate policies.”

On the fiscal implications, the documents say the cost of moving towards net zero could mean tax rises because of “the erosion of tax revenue from fossil fuel-related activity”. They say: “The Government may need to consider changes to existing taxes and new sources of revenue throughout the transition in order to deliver net zero sustainably, and consistently with the government’s fiscal principles.”

Worth reading in full.