Was Margaret Thatcher the first climate sceptic?
Margaret Thatcher was the first leader to warn of global warming - but also the first to see the flaws in the climate change orthodoxy
A persistent claim made by believers in man-made global warming – they were at it again last week – is that no politician was more influential in launching the worldwide alarm over climate change than Margaret Thatcher. David Cameron, so the argument runs, is simply following in her footsteps by committing the Tory party to its present belief in the dangers of global warming, and thus showing himself in this respect, if few others, to be a loyal Thatcherite.
The truth behind this story is much more interesting than is generally realised, not least because it has a fascinating twist. Certainly, Mrs Thatcher was the first world leader to voice alarm over global warming, back in 1988, With her scientific background, she had fallen under the spell of Sir Crispin Tickell, then our man at the UN. In the 1970s, he had written a book warning that the world was cooling, but he had since become an ardent convert to the belief that it was warming.
She found equally persuasive the views of a third prominent convert to the cause, Dr John Houghton, then head of the UK Met Office. She backed him in the setting up of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, and promised the Met Office lavish funding for its Hadley Centre, which she opened in 1990, as a world authority on "human-induced climate change".
In bringing this about, Mrs Thatcher played an important part. It is not widely appreciated, however, that there was a dramatic twist to her story. In 2003, towards the end of her last book, Statecraft, in a passage headed "Hot Air and Global Warming", she issued what amounts to an almost complete recantation of her earlier views.
She voiced precisely the fundamental doubts about the warming scare that have since become familiar to us. Pouring scorn on the "doomsters", she questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive the scare, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of "costly and economically damaging" schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.
In other words, long before it became fashionable, Lady Thatcher was converted to the view of those who, on both scientific and political grounds, are profoundly sceptical of the climate change ideology. Alas, what she set in train earlier continues to exercise its baleful influence to this day. But the fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of "climate sceptics" has been almost entirely buried from view.
Margaret Thatcher: Hot Air And Global Warming
An excerpt from her 2002 book "Statecraft" below:
The doomsters’ favourite subject today is climate change. This has a number of attractions for them. First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong. Second, we all have ideas about the weather: traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else. Third, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.
All this suggests a degree of calculation. Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point. Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method. Indeed, the lack of any sense of proportion is what characterises many pronouncements on the matter by otherwise sensible people. Thus President Clinton on a visit to China, which poses a serious strategic challenge to the US, confided to his host, President Jiang Zemin, that his greatest concern was the prospect that ‘your people may get rich like our people, and instead of riding bicycles, they will drive automobiles, and the increase in greenhouse gases will make the planet more dangerous for all.’
It would, though, be difficult to beat for apocalyptic hyperbole former Vic President Gore. Mr Gore believes: ‘The cleavage in the modern world between mind and body, man and nature, has created a new kind of addiction: I believe that our civilisation is, in effect, addicted to the consumption of the earth itself.’ And he warns: ‘Unless we find a way to dramatically change our civilisation and our way of thinking about the relationship between humankind and the earth, our children will inherit a wasteland.’
But why pick on the Americans? Britain’s then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has observed: ‘There is no greater national duty than the defence of our shoreline. But the most immediate threat to it today is the encroaching sea.’ Britain has found, it seems, a worthy successor to King Canute.
The fact that seasoned politicians can say such ridiculous things – and get away with it – illustrates the degree to which the new dogma about climate change has swept through the left-of-centre governing classes. [...]*
Is renewable energy law good for NC? No.
One of the most effective ways to reduce the purchasing power of every person and business in North Carolina would be to raise energy costs.
Everyone and everything relies on energy, so artificially increasing the price of electricity automatically reduces the amount of money left over to spend on anything else. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) does to N.C. residents.
Passed in August 2007, the RPS requires investor-owned utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy by 2021. Municipal utilities and cooperatives must meet a target of 10 percent renewables by 2018.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, those renewable but intermittent energy sources, such as wind and solar, are significantly more expensive per kilowatt-hour than conventional sources, and those costs are being passed along to ratepayers.
Supporters say these costs pay for greater environmental protection, but there is little evidence of that. Wind and solar technologies are diffuse, which means harnessing them requires copious amounts of land, resulting in reduction of wildlife habitat, which scientists say is the leading cause of species endangerment.
What about pollution? If there’s one thing you can’t argue against, it’s that renewables are 100 percent pollution-free, right? Wrong. Every second the sun doesn’t shine or a wind turbine doesn’t spin, fossil fuel generators are required to provide electricity instead. Revving fossil fuel generators up and down this way can emit more pollutants than if they were allowed to run more efficiently as the primary power source.
So what are N.C. residents getting in return for their higher costs? Reduced economic competitiveness, less investment, and diminished job growth. The beneficiaries are the companies that produce the renewable electricity.
A report by the John Locke Foundation and Beacon Hill Institute found ratepayers will fork over nearly an additional $2 billion from 2008 through 2021 because of the RPS mandate. This means by 2021 the real disposable income of North Carolinians will shrink by nearly $59 million and more than 3,500 net jobs will be lost.
But far more serious is the matter of who the law hurts most: low-income families and seniors.
Families living on a low income and seniors on a fixed income have the least capacity to spend higher percentages of their income on energy, so they’ll feel the most pain. A repeal of the renewable portfolio standard would provide them much-needed relief.
In some ways, the standard is like a giant, regressive tax increase. And like many tax hikes, the RPS reduces government revenue instead of increasing it. It cuts revenue by reducing growth while placing further strain on government budgets through higher energy costs. That will surely lead to even more tax hikes. The renewable portfolio standard is truly all pain and no gain.
Whether you’re a fiscal conservative, social egalitarian or environmentalist, the renewable portfolio standard is a severe violation of your principles. It’s no surprise that in the past three years legislators in states such as Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, and Ohio have introduced bills to repeal the requirements, and several more states are considering reducing or freezing them.
Legislation was filed in North Carolina last month to repeal the standard. With unemployment above 9 percent, North Carolina is in no position to force expensive energy on the state’s hard-pressed consumers. Renewable energy can and should have a chance to develop, but it shouldn’t be done on the backs of the people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, by mandating the use of higher-cost intermittent energy sources.
Climate change skeptics seize on reports showing temperatures leveling
From Fox News:
Climate change skeptics are doing a bit of gloating following a series of mainstream media reports that acknowledge what those skeptics have long held -- the earth is not warming, at least not in the last 10 years.
"The idea that CO2 is the tail that wags the dog is no longer scientifically tenable," said Marc Morano of ClimateDepot.com, a website devoted to countering the prevailing acceptance of man-made global warming.
In recent weeks, Der Spiegel, the Telegraph and the Economist have reported the unexpected stabilizing of global surface temperatures. Even former NASA scientist and outspoken climate change activist James Hansen has acknowledged the 10-year lull.
Morano said: "In the peer-reviewed literature we're finding hundreds of factors influence global temperature, everything from ocean cycles to the tilt of the earth's axis to water vapor, methane, cloud feedback, volcanic dust, all of these factors are coming together. They're now realizing it wasn't the simple story we've been told of your SUV is creating a dangerously warm planet."
Many climate scientists and environmentalists agree with Morano's description of climate complexity, but reject his denials of global warming as a problem.
"This is a highly complex calculation to make in the first place. The short period of time, only 10 years in which the increasing temperature has leveled, really doesn't tell us very much other than the fact that temperatures may still be rising but just not as fast as they were before," said Elgie Holstein, the senior director for strategic planning at the Environmental Defense Fund and a former assistant secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"What's compelling about the climate science," Holstein said, "is that we have literally thousands of the world's leading scientists around the country pretty much saying the same thing about where we're headed, and it's not reassuring."
But the surface temperature stabilization suggests that computer models which predict harsh consequences of global warming may need reassessing.
As The Economist put it on March 30, "It may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy."
Indeed, no one disputes that levels of carbon dioxide are increasing globally, but CO2's impact has not been as great as many scientists had predicted.
"In the peer-reviewed literature, they've tried to explain away this lull," said Morano. "In the proceedings of the National Academy of Science a year or two ago they had a study blaming Chinese coal use for the lack of global warming. So, in an ironic twist, global warming proponents are now claiming that that coal use is saving us from dangerous global warming."
Holstein believes the temperature lull is not entirely unexpected or unpredicted.
"We're within ranges of these climate models that are saying we're still on track to some pretty troublesome impacts if we don't do something about it," he said.
A Gallup survey conducted March 7-10 found 58 percent of Americans say they worry a great deal or fair amount about global warming.
That was up from 51 percent in 2011 -- but still below the 62-72 percent levels seen between 1999 and 2001.
Rajendra Pachauri’s Conspiracy Theory
It takes chutzpah to accuse other people of something you yourself are peddling. But that ("projection") is what the Green/Left do
Climate skeptics are routinely accused of being conspiracy theorists. For example, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has claimed that much of the criticism directed at his organization relies on “unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.”
But Pachauri is peddling a conspiracy theory of his own. According to him, the reason the world isn’t taking his climate change advice has nothing to do with the IPCC’s profound credibility problems. It isn’t because he himself behaves like an activist rather than a dispassionate scientist.
No, Pachauri has a far more exciting explanation: it involves a conspiracy of “powerful vested interests.” If it weren’t for evil oil companies using their influence behind the scenes, he implies, all would be well with the world.
In an article he wrote for the Guardian newspaper in 2010, Pachauri laid it on thick, referring to “vested interests” on four separate occasions (not counting the subtitle at the top):
It is a well-known fact that powerful vested interests and those opposed to action on climate change are working overtime to see that they can stall action for as long as possible.
…powerful vested interests are perhaps likely to get overactive in the coming months, and would perhaps do everything in their power to impede progress towards a binding agreement that is hoped for by the end of 2010…
…given the slow pace of progress and the power that vested interests exercise over legislative and policy initiatives…
…thwarting the efforts of skeptics and vested interests, who will do everything possible to maintain the status quo.
There are many vested interests. Some of them are aligned against Pachauri’s worldview. Many are aligned with it.
To complain about oil companies trying to protect their interests while ignoring the fact that firms involved in wind and solar power, carbon offsets, or green investment funds are doing exactly the same thing is intellectually dishonest.
To overlook the massive vested interest that Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Environmental Defense Fund, and hundreds of other organizations now have in selling the public alarming stories is naive.
Yet that is exactly what Pachauri does. He shines a light on a tiny sliver of the battlefield, screams and shouts about what’s happening there, but studiously ignores everything else going on around it.
In fact, people on all sides of the climate debate – and, indeed, at all points along the political spectrum – are susceptible to conspiracy theories.
For example, many of us are prepared to believe that electric cars would be commonplace today if it weren’t for a conspiracy involving oil companies and auto manufacturers that extends back to the early 1900s. (See the documentary film, Who Killed the Electric Car?)
But real life is more complicated than that. In recent years Fisker Automotive received generous assistance from the US government ($529 million in low-interest loans). So did the maker of the battery for its plug-in hybrid cars (a $250 million grant). Despite all of that, Fisker has now fired 75 percent of its workforce and hired bankruptcy lawyers.
Last month, Reuters published a story titled Electric cars headed toward another dead end. It reported that recent developments suggest that electric cars still aren’t ready “for prime time – and may never be.” In the words of this article,
despite billions of dollars in investment…[electric vehicles] continue to be plagued by many of the problems that eventually scuttled electrics in the 1910s and more recently in the 1990s. Those include high cost, short driving range and lack of charging stations.
When we embrace a conspiracy theory, we adopt an over-simplified view of a complex situation. More disturbingly, we reduce other people to comic book characters – pure-hearted good guys and nefarious evil-doers.
On occasion, we’re all guilty of this sort of thinking. When Rajendra Pachauri accuses people of being conspiracy theorists, therefore, he’s merely saying they’re human. Ho-hum.
Now can have a grownup conversation about why so many people distrust his organization?
The falsehoods never stop
An EPA backgrounder below:
“Declining Snow Cover”??? They’ve GOT to be kidding!!!
“Albedo” = reflectivity from snow cover and clouds. Siberian, Asian, and Eurasian snow-cover albedo eclipsed that of 2007-2008 this year. 2007-08 was the prior all-time snow cover extent record since satellites began tracking it 47 years ago. The enormous snow cover was initiated with record open Arctic and attendant Lake/Ocean Effect snows on land surrounding the Arctic.
Snowpack, covering Asia all the way to the Himalayas and Istanbul, reflected GigaWatts of sunlight at all wavelengths, most of which CO2 does NOT intercept and re-radiate back down to the surface.
The resulting colder temperatures assured that moisture entering Eurasia from the North Sea, Baltic, Atlantic, and Mediterranean would fall mostly as snow, adding to albedo as winter ended. For a video explanation see here (Video).
This year the Baltic set a late season ice cover record too!
Simply stated: EPA has lost its focus on environmental poisons and carcinogens. Its vision has been blurred by stupidly useless concentration on CO2.
Correction to that sentence: The EPA is not behaving in a “…stupidly useless…” manner. The real objective they have is to get the public ready to accept some kind of carbon taxation that will “correct” the climate, and then, with alacrity, deliver the tax!
So I should have used a term such as “subterfuge” or “slight-of-hand” to describe what is going on. Carbon taxation with a real effect on climate is a non-starter, and cannot and will not work. For petrochemical “husbandry” or pollution abatement, taxation is one possible vehicle when properly targeted, but CO2 is not a poison, and certainly not the appropriate target
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