According to an article in The Times (London) earlier this week, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, is about to start a lecture tour, which ‘will put climate change back on the political agenda’. With the global effort to reduce CO2 emissions in tatters, with the EU doing a volte-face on its own green energy targets, with the UK examining its own commitment to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and to green legislation, and with scientists scratching their heads about the absence of warming over the past 17 years, Walport’s words seem incautious, possibly foolish.
Environmentalists have a tendency to do their own negative PR. Too much was invested by too many in the notion that, by now, we would be seeing the natural world fall apart, taking human civilisation with it. It didn’t happen. Environmentalists’ prophecies about the climate have gone the way of their prophecies about population, resource depletion, and toxic chemicals. The IPCC – the embodiment of the consensus itself – recently reported that there is no climate change signal in extreme weather events, except a slight tendency toward warmer days and increased precipitation. Nature, it seems, abhors vacuous alarmists.
Worse, environmentalists have failed to reflect on their own failures, and to find some other way of accounting for them. Accordingly, Walport’s opening salvo in this new climate offensive were ‘There are some people who don’t like the policy implications of climate change and think that the best way to duck the discussion is to deny the science’. The government’s soothsayer points his expert finger.
Walport is wrong. There have been countless criticisms of UK, EU, and UN climate and energy policies, quite apart from the criticisms of mainstream climate science, from climate sceptics. Climate sceptics have long been critical of the UK government’s hastily-constructed attempts to save the planet. And sceptics have observed that green-energy policies are expensive, don’t provide adequate or reliable supply, and have created deep distortions in the energy market – problems which are now being felt across Europe. Furthermore, sceptics have argued that emission-reduction targets were never tested for feasibility, much less for costs and benefits, and even less for their effectiveness at saving the planet.
There is even a think-tank established precisely to interrogate climate policy – the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The clue is in the name. The GWPF has published reports on EU policy, shale gas, alarmism in policymaking, green jobs, problems with the IPCC, the Stern Review, and many other topics. If Walport had read just one of them, he would surely address them.