Descendants usually praise their ancestors: ours are likely to curse us

It is unseasonably warm in London; I suppose that it is sod’s law that we get a warm winter when energy prices are falling. This illustrates the difficulty that policy makers have when they deal with two key and interlinked areas of policy – energy and climate change.

The warm winter and the record rainfall in parts of Britain are linked to climate change; we do not know enough to be able to claim a direct causal link,  but with 2105 likely to be the warmest year on record, thin Arctic sea ice in winter, and unusual weather events are all classic precursors of climate change, according to climatologists.

It is not our problem today (apart from those affected by these events) but is likely to be the problem that our descendants have to deal with in practical terms. They will look at the talking done at meetings like the Paris Climate Change Conference which results in opportunistic money grabs by some nations and a new improved target of holding back temperature rises to half a degree less than the previous target, and wonder about our intelligence and wonder at our greed.

Descendants usually praise their ancestors: ours are likely to curse us.

It Will be Our Fault

There are a number of ways of measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide. I have thought the most useful measurements come from Mona Loa in Hawaii, which regularly (recently) has been recording measurements in excess of 400 parts per million but the World Meteorological Organisation measures the average concentration across the world, and although its figures are not 100% accurate they are scientifically robust and reliable. Their measurements show 396 parts per million but what is more significant is that they show that atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is growing at its fastest rate since 1984, notwithstanding all the treaties, measures, carbon credits, fine words and all the other means humanity has adopted in what has so far proved to be a futile attempt to halt or even limit the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading

Carbon Cheers and Methane Chants

Perhaps in London summer has come and gone, and not yet half way through July. But the weather will come through, with its diverse extremities as it always does, though sharper than we have known. Our climate ten thousand years ago was different from that of today and so was the weather. The climate will come through, with its ruthless events, just as it has always done, though this time spurred on by our carbon cheers and methane chants as we ride our planet harder than ever imaginable.

The Wettest Winter

The months of December, January and February have been the wettest on record in the southern half of England and Wales, and February still has a week to run. These months have also been considerably warmer than normal. The rain has fallen and the cold has stayed away. Continue reading

Flying into an Environmental Crisis

Greenhouse gas emissions from air traffic are entirely uncontrolled. Aircraft emit greenhouse gas at a high level in the atmosphere and it is believed that these emissions are particularly damaging. Aircraft fuel is entirely untaxed, so there is a limit on making the polluter pay. Air Passenger duty is becoming increasing used as a means of taxing civil aviation flights, but it is a crude measure the proceeds of which go to the general fund of tax collected rather than to any anti greenhouse gas measures. Continue reading

Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report has just been published. As is the way these days snippets have been released before publication and the headline is that the scientists say that they are 95% certain that climate change is mainly, or dominantly caused by human activity.  Continue reading

The Change of Pace in the Economy

The economy is apparently changing reasonably quickly as each new set of statistics shows a small improvement on the last set of economic statistics, but we must be careful not to confuse the pace of change with a change of pace. Continue reading