Predicting the future climate

Fortune telling is the preserve of entertainers and charlatans but predicting future climate changes is a science, albeit one in its infancy and that is a paradox, considering just how complex this infant is. Nevertheless this infant science is all that our leaders have to guide them in making the decisions that they make today. Those decisions will shape our future in ways far more fundamental than decisions ever made throughout human history. Continue reading

Why Kyoto will fail us all

The Kyoto treaty on climate change will fail us all.

Sometimes it can be difficult to do the right thing. Right now there are many reports of new plans for wind turbines, solar thermal and other renewable energy installations that someone reading the newspapers and watching television might be forgiven for thinking that there were plenty of new projects in the pipeline and that we are all committed to renewable energy.

The perception is different from reality. Continue reading

Why I do not buy energy on a green tariff

Why don’t I buy energy on a green tariff? 350,000 people have signed up to buy energy on a green tariff from one of the six major domestic energy suppliers in the United Kingdom. I am not one of them. I was never convinced by something that calls itself a “green” tariff. The phrase is actually meaningless. What does “green” mean when applied to electricity and gas supplies? Most people would think that ”green” means energy generated by sustainable renewable means – such as wind power, photovoltaics or possibly even by biomass (although I do not classify biomass as “green”). Notice that there are words that I have used which could be used by the energy suppliers to describe their energy tariff, but instead they have opted for the vaguer, almost mysterious word “green”. Continue reading

Marks & Spencer’s green profit centre

There is a tendency for people who try to sell you things to exaggerate the qualities and properties of what they sell. In modern times we smile at the propaganda of advertisements of many years ago. They seem so childish, but they worked because people believed them, not wanting to think that the manufacturers of toothpaste, soap or even carbolic smoke balls had set out to scam them.

Nowadays advertisers and merchandisers hone in on the words “green” and “organic” to sell their wares. Retailers like Marks & Spencer appeared to have created a “green” profit centre, where none existed before. Continue reading

Carbon trading creates ignorance

Larry Lohmann is a scholar and a researcher for the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. He has written important essays about carbon trading; I think it fair to say that Mr Lohmann, like me, does not think much of carbon trading. I approach the subject from the basis that it will harm the environment, as readers of these posts will know, but Mr Lohmann has a different and more philosophical perspective which I think is important. Continue reading

Civil disobedience and protests at coal deliveries to power stations

Environmentalists have been in the news recently for stopping a coal train in Yorkshire, on its way to the Drax power station near Selby. A small group of protesters stopped the train, draped a banner reading “leave it in the ground” and delayed the coal train for several days. They wanted to talk to the power station operators about the amounts of carbon dioxide that they were releasing into the atmosphere.

The operators were not too interested in talking to the protesters. They issued a statement explaining that in terms of unit of electricity generated Drax releases less carbon dioxide than any other UK power station. They just release loads of the stuff because they are the biggest coal fired power station in the UK and they are investing in technologies to reduce emissions.

Of course, being the cleanest coal power station in the UK is not necessarily something to be proud of, and the investment is not, I am sure, entirely voluntary for the good of society but new laws and regulations may have something to do with it.

Is it legitimate for protesters to target a coal train? To my way of thinking it is the wrong target. Energy companies do no more than provide people with the energy that people want, for a profit. Targeting them is a bit like treating the symptom of a disease, rather than the cause.

Protests like this are a form of civil disobedience. The protesters were acting as they did as a matter of conscious. They have to look beyond the coal train, beyond the power stations to find the true cause of emissions. Those causes are you me and virtually everyone else in this land. Those should be the targets for the protesters, because unless you target your civil disobedience at the cause, you are not excluding your own actions for the injustice that the emission do to the earth, but are doing no more than banging the drum.

What does “vote blue for green” mean?

Gregory Barker is the Conservative’s shadow environment minister and has been in this post since late 2005. With the Labour Government at an all time low in the opinion polls and the Prime Minister ,Gordon Brown, seeming to have lost the nation’s confidence, it seems likely that Mr Barker will be the environment minister when the next government is formed.

He will have a hard job in light of the state of the economy and our lack of an energy policy. Now is the time to do his basic thinking and to formulate his policies. Continue reading