In this analysis of Tony Blair's speech to the CBI & Green Alliance in October 2000, the ABD debunks the ecobabble and green mythology that is leading UK plc into a third world oblivion.

To set the scene, here is a quote from Professor Garel Rhys of Cardiff Business School, commenting on Tony Blair's anti-car policies:

"plans to tax and penalise car use are leading Britain into a former Soviet-style regime"
Below, the ABD sets out its response to Tony Blair's recent speech in more detail.

Tony Blair saidThe ABD says
It is time to re-awaken the environmental challenge as part of the core of British and international politics. One of the Apollo 15 astronauts recently told me about his experience looking down at the Earth from the Moon in 1971. He described seeing a fragile blue ball suspended in space, the only colour in the universe, and the only place where the human species can survive; and of how conscious he and his fellow astronauts became about our stewardship in caring for our world, and the responsibility that brings. Another astronaut who had the privilege of visiting our planet's natural satellite, courtesy of NASA, visited a college at a time when the ABD's Environment Spokesman was a science educator there. The astronaut left a signed photograph with an inscription that said 'God walking on the Earth is more important than Man walking on the Moon'. Yet Tony Blair is not arguing for increased theological debate and conversions to the religious life; instead he is arguing for higher taxes under a phoney 'save the planet' banner, and asking for environmentalism to be accorded the status of a religion. Images of our beautiful planet in a black void did cause a review of perceptions about Earth in space. But the message is more profound and goes beyond the pictorial and sentimental. It reflects our vulnerability to external forces in the Solar System, particularly regarding the origin of all our heat and light: a distant but powerful nuclear furnace called 'the Sun'.
Much has happened since 1971. In particular, the late 1980s saw a marked resurgence in the green movement. It was a fresh political presence. There was an energy behind it. It appealed to the young. But the environment also became the focus for new doubts about the capitalist order. Unconstrained growth, unregulated business, modern levels of consumption would, some argued, end in destruction of the world around us. Describing the evolution of the green movement in the 1980's as a resurgence is ironic and to be taken literally conjures up a picture of Blair spinning more rapidly than a pulsar as he wrote the words. Dr Patrick Moore, one of the founders of the environmental pressure group Greenpeace, now laments what happened to his organisation at that time in its history. Here are his words: "Of course, there were always extreme, irrational and mystical elements within our movement, but they tended to be kept in their place during the early years. Then in the mid-Eighties the ultraleftists and extremists took over. After Greenham Common closed and the Berlin Wall came down these extremists were searching for a new cause and found it in environmentalism. The old agendas of class struggle and anti-corporatism are still there but now they are dressed up in environmental terminology." Moore also points out that figures for deforestation quoted by greens include the cyclical cutting down of renewable forests.
Evidence of global environmental damage did indeed increase with time. And the burgeoning movement sought to convey a sense of urgency, searching for global solutions for global problems. It was successful at raising awareness, alerting people to the environmental damage going on around them. But whilst many governments became greener, dialogue between them and the green movement did not always conclude with a meeting of minds. And slowly, as the message became less novel, as the publicity machine moved on environmental issues slid back down the political agenda. Today I want to invite you, environmentalists and business, to join me in changing that. I want to push green issues back up the political agenda. Reawaken the challenge. And I want to do it in constructive partnership — government, business, the green movement and the public. A partnership not where we always agree — that would be an impossible demand, but where we have at least some common aims and understanding of each other's necessary contribution to them. Evidence of environmental damage has not increased with time, but CLAIMS of environmental damage have indeed increased. These claims have been proved to be inaccurate and misleading in many cases. Fifty years ago sparrows proliferated for no known reason. Now the numbers are declining, again for no known reason, the green movement claims it is due to pollution, an easy point to score but an unsustainable claim as made here (see below) by Tony Blair. John Prescott has claimed that coral was being destroyed by global warming when sea temperatures have not risen. Similarly when a now infamous oil platform was about to be decommissioned, we had the fiasco of 'green' pressure leading to an environmentally inferior 'solution'. While the environmental lobby, aided and abetted by the Government, paint a picture (as here) of worsening environmental conditions to prop up their fiscal policies, the truth is different. Air quality across the UK has been improving for ten years and is forecast to go on increasing for the next ten, and on a global note Dr Moore (Greenpeace co-founder) has this to say:
"Greenpeace says that in the past four years an area [of rainforest] the size of France has been destroyed. William Shatner — Star Trek's Captain Kirk — came down to earth to narrate a National Geographic video, saying 'Rainforest is being cleared at the rate of 20 football fields per minute'. They portray the forests as the 'lungs of the earth', absorbing carbon dioxide and pumping out oxygen without which we would all suffocate on a mess of polluting hydrocarbons. But it is all nonsense. You could burn every forest in the world, never mind the Amazon, and it would have an insignificant effect on oxygen levels in the atmosphere. It amazes me to see the movement behaving in the same way over forestry — our most sustainable industry — as it did about nuclear war. And into this heady brew came pop singers and actors, anxious to create a caring impression."
Mark Lamarr, take note.
We might begin by agreeing a set of core principles:
  • That we proceed according to science and a set of common values
  • That we build a business case for the environment, working to harness clean technologies, seeing business as part of the answer rather as the problem
  • That we acknowledge that technology alone will not fix things, and that there also has to be a framework, set by government, within which business works
  • That we must seek global solutions to global problems, as we have done at the Climate Change summit in Kyoto
  • And that we must find new ways for people to play their part individually in developing a common agenda to improve quality of life.
So let's move the debate on. We should not kid ourselves. There will be some areas of professional disagreement and others where there are hard choices between ideals and realism.
We might begin by exposing Tony Blair's suggested core principles as chicanery:
  • Comment on environmental issues frequently ignores science in favour of political correctness and received wisdom
  • Climate change is a man-made problem, but only in that some men (and women) are making it up; here are the words of Christine Stewart, Canadian Environment Minister, from the Calgary Herald (14 Dec 1998): "No matter if the science is all phoney, there are collateral environmental benefits.... climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world."
  • Quality of life improvements depend on society rejecting the 'poverty is good' maxim of fundamentalist post-eighties environmentalism — mobility and enterprise are essential to quality of life.
Take petrol.
We know the damage carbon dioxide emissions do to our environment. Individual families experience air pollution. We also know many of those same families depend on their car, especially in rural areas, to work, to take children to school, for leisure. We need to find a way through this for them, not simply pose two extremes, one of which is environmentally dangerous, the other of which is unrealistic. Take housing. We are balancing the huge pressure to build in the south east, with the necessity to protect the countryside. We have rightly increased the proportion of new housing built on brownfield sites to 60 per cent. But I am acutely aware that for many that is not enough. But even attaining that, will be full of real political risks.
Take petrol, but also take petrol duty, buildings, and their true environmental impact. Carbon dioxide from cars amounts to 0.6% of total global emissions each year, according to Dr D S Schimmel in 'Global Change Biology'. Not much more than one half of one percent. This means that, if all the cars on the planet were to be parked up for good in an instant, there would be no detectable change in the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide, not least because the cycles and equilibria in nature would shift to counteract the minuscule, infinitesimally and immeasurably small impact such a drastic step would produce. There is also no convincing scientific evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels CAUSE climate change, but there is plenty of convincing evidence that carbon dioxide levels change AS A RESULT of climate change driven by another source.
Global warming happened between 450BC and 350 AD, while global cooling occurred between 1645 and 1715 (when the River Thames repeatedly froze over and Frost Festivals were held on it). Before and within this mini Ice Age, astronomers had begun to observe the Sun using the recently invented telescope, and had discovered sunspots and their cycle of activity. Before the 1645 cooling, no seventeenth century Tony Blair banned cars and shut factories — there weren't any cars or factories. The Sun's face remained inactive (spotless) and the cycle slowed. This is associated with cooler climates on Earth, while a spotty and active Sun with shorter cycles — as we have had during the latter part of the last century — conditions on our planet warm up. Climate change is a natural phenomenon, and environmentalists are confusing cause and effect in the role they allocate to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. As to buildings, there are two aspects of relevance to 'the environment' which the prime Minister conveniently ignores. Buildings emit approximately twice the annual volume of carbon dioxide (an irrelevancy but we will continue within the carbon dioxide myth) as transport, yet fuel to heat buildings is taxed at 5% while fuel to move vehicles is taxed at 300%. Governments are supposed to prioritise, so on this basis we should be seeking ways to heat, light and operate our buildings which reduce emissions before we even start to look at cars. Then in terms of indoor air quality, Dr Jeff Llewellyn of the Government Buildings Research Establishment has found that the air in the average UK home is ten times more polluted than city smog. As there are no indirect taxes available from this source (unless Tony Blair is considering reviving a Window Tax) and as no opportunity for exerting social control exists there either (so far) this is ignored. In terms of buildings themselves, an EU directive outlaws subsidies for cleaning up brownfield sites, without which they would be uneconomic. Attempts to socially engineer car-free communities on either brown- or greenfield sites have proved to be a disaster outside central London, with rock-bottom demand and reports that home buyers continue to place a high premium on the availablility of secure parking when buying a house.
We have made a lot of progress over this Parliament. Through John Prescott's leadership, and the hard work of Michael here on the platform with me, we can point to measurable achievements. We are on track to meet our Kyoto targets. Air quality is improving. London now has the cleanest river of any major city. But we have to face a stark fact. Neither we here in Britain, nor our partners abroad, have succeeded in reversing the overall destructive trend. The environmental challenge continues to grow and become more urgent:
  • There are alarming changes in our atmosphere, in global temperatures, in weather patterns, in sea levels and in the protective ozone layer. As a result, across the world millions face drought, flooding, disease. Here in the UK we too face threats — the prospect of exotic diseases becoming commonplace, of increased levels of skin cancer, of floods in some years, droughts in others, of low lying areas being swallowed by the sea.
  • Global population growth will put increased pressure on natural resources. The world population is set to rise from 6bn to 9bn by 2050. So that economies across the world have the opportunity to develop, we must all use resources far more efficiently and switch to clean technologies.
  • Fresh water is being polluted or simply used up. Demand is doubling every 21 years while supply is broadly unchanged.
  • Soil degradation has affected two-thirds of the world's agricultural lands over the last 50 years, and the situation is getting worse.
  • Half the world's wetlands have been lost over the past century and with them their unique plants and animals; and this is accelerating
  • One in ten of the world's tree species are at risk of extinction, and increasingly whole forest systems are under threat
  • Fishing fleets are still 40 per cent larger than the oceans can sustain and yet it still benefits from subsidies, world wide
  • Here in the UK farmland birds are disappearing, the house sparrow, once more cockney than the Cockneys, is now a rarity in London, and congestion means that urban traffic moves at the same speed as in 1890.
Of two things I am certain. We are not going to turn this round unless we re-engage the political system on the importance of the environmental challenge. We are not going to be able to engage consumers and business unless we offer them a positive agenda. A new approach to the environment
 

Here Tony Blair discusses a catalogue of symptoms without one attempt at diagnosis. Climate change is real, it has been happening throughout the Earth's 4.7 billion year history, but it is a natural process and its consequences are merely symptoms which prove nothing about mankind's (lack of) involvement.

It is then seemly to pass quickly over the risible claim for leadership as a quality of John Prescott, the most unpopular man in the Government; a Government which confuses the unpopularity associated with some leadership decisions with a desire to be continuously unpopular by reducing parliamentary democracy, pandering to (minority) green pressure groups possibly because (rather than in spite of) the fact that they are now driven by leftists, insulting the intelligence of the countryside with specious comments from Towny Tony, railroading the media and decision making bodies with preferment for Tony's Cronies, demeaning the UK electorate with spin, and ignoring the pressing needs of large sections of the community (farmers, hauliers, small businesses) essential to UK plc.

We will not ignore the contradictions — the Thames is now clean but water is being polluted, extinction is a natural endpoint of evolution that has happened to well over 90% of all species that ever existed but is now a crime and the human race (we haven't been here long, remember) is guilty, wetlands are being lost but sea levels are rising (they're not, they are falling).

The importance of the environmental challenge to Tony Blair rests with its ability to act as a flag of convenience, in providing a — hopefully — bombproof excuse to justify extortionate levels of indirect stealth taxation.

First, the greatest threat to our environment today is climate change. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has said that the UK will have to cut the carbon dioxide we produce by 60% by 2050 if we are to slow down the pace of change. If there is one immediate issue that threatens global disaster, it is the changes in our atmosphere. First, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution may hold this particular view; any consensus which includes pronouncements against the available scientific evidence may be a consensus but it is still wrong. For example, NASA announced — promulgated by Reuters in April 2000 — that planet Earth had entered a period of significant global cooling in March 1999, such that 15% of the claimed warming of the last century had been wiped out in just 12 months. Needless to say, no preceding or contemporaneous drop in carbon dioxide emissions or atmospheric levels had occurred to 'explain' this. Few environmentalists, no matter how academically qualified, have knowledge of stellar astrophysics plus geology, as these are the disciplines needed to understand climate change which is in reality driven by these factors:
  • Changes in the activity of the Sun, causing atmospheric changes on Earth due to amplifying and smoothing mechanisms identified at Leicester and South Bank Universities
  • Mhe Milankovitch cycles (changes in the axial tilt, and orbital eccentricity, of our planet)
  • Interaction between our planet's atmosphere and the interplanetary medium
  • Tectonic events (e.g. volcanism)
If Tony Blair believes he can alter these factors, he must be closer to royalty (or deity) than his present self-image, but he will simply make King Canute pale into insignificance with his phoney attempts to tax us all off the planet while claiming to save it.
New Labour's Green Agenda
I make no apology for the priority we have given education, health and crime. Yet no other British Government has had a Deputy Prime Minister in charge of environment policy. And no other British Government has put the environment at the heart of its policy-making across the board — from foreign affairs to the national curriculum — in the way this Government has.
Since 1997, we have:
  • Taken a lead internationally, as at Kyoto.

  • Introduced an air quality strategy going beyond even the tough new European standards

  • Cleaned up decades of pollution of our beaches and rivers, and given greater protection to important wildlife sites

  • Factored environmental considerations into all our legislation and policy, from the Utilities Act to innovative fiscal measures such as incentives and hypothecation

  • And as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, started to invest billions in transport to increase choice and cut congestion and pollution

Yet I would be the first to say that there is still a lot more we could and will do.
No other UK Government has:
  • Tried to spin (propagandise) its electorate, and particularly its school pupils (curriculum re-writing) and teachers (through 'In-Service-Training for Geography teachers from a quango) with green ecobabble which is unsustainable scientifically at a time when sustainability is high on the agenda. Little if any educational material and precious few teacher resources explain the overwhelming evidence for the Sun as the driving force for climate change, sticking as they do to the vacuous carbon dioxide myth
  • Promoted filthy, dangerous, polluting and unsustainable public transport over the car when there is no reason for this other than social re-engineering (property is theft, car ownership can identify status, and 'collective' transport is a real equaliser, perhaps the grey tunics with a red rose emblem, to wear on our bikes and buses, will be here soon thanks to Chairman Blair).
The National Environment Technology Centre has shown that on average, a single diesel engined bus produces as much particulate pollution (PM 10s) as 128 cars, and as much nitrogen oxides NOx as 39 cars, while the University of Tokyo has found the chemical 3-nitrobenzanthrone in bus exhausts when the engine is under load — at the time of its identification this was, and probably still is, the most carcinogenic chemical known to science. Meanwhile the European group Automotive Advisers and Associates (Hilden, Germany) have studied public and private modes of transport and concluded that public transport is less sustainable: it consumes 60% more energy per person transported, and uses up 200% more public space per person transported. As for congestion, there we have one of the biggest abuses of statistics today. Traffic surveys showed small overall growth for both 1998 and 1999 (1%), much lower than green scaremongering forecasts. Yet the increase has been largely due to volumes on motorways and trunk roads, as the figures for major urban routes show traffic levels are static or falling. Congestion is being deliberately engineered by transport planners to justify parking fee hikes, congestion charging and so on, and in support of Labour's social experiment of 'modal shift'. Road space is being reduced by road closures and narrowing, flow rates decreased by humps, bumps, pillows, cushions, tables, chicanes and ever lower speed limits; pot holes remain unrepaired and road digging is uncoordinated; road systems are closed to cars clogging up other roads — these are the real causes of increased urban congestion when traffic levels are falling or constant. The case for public transport over the car is non existent, as the Transport Research Laboratory concluded in their report TRL 431: "restrictions on cars...have been shown not to be warranted".
Any environmental policy has to address the implications of the car. Transport produces around 25% of global carbon dioxide and rising. Making public transport more attractive will take us only so far. The long-term solution is to make vehicles cleaner and more fuel efficient. That is why we have used the tax system to roll out cleaner fuels. Lead in petrol is now a thing of the past, and we are now using tax incentives to promote ultra-low sulphur petrol. Through the EU, we have persuaded manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency by 25%. Vehicle Excise Duty is now linked to vehicle emissions for the first time. Toyota and Honda are now selling "hybrid" cars which are twice as efficient as conventional models. Honda's Insight does 80 mpg. Fuel cell powered electric cars will offer even more — truly pollution-free motoring. Both Mercedes and Ford plan to have them in the showrooms by 2004. Here we have what is suspiciously close to bare-faced deception. Just under 98% of total global carbon dioxide emissions are from natural sources. This fact is scandalously absent from the above statement. Of the remaining two-plus percent, about one-quarter (this is the 0.6% the ABD refers to above) does come from cars. As pointed out above, removing all cars from the world's roads instantly will NOT lead to a 25% drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as implied by this above misleading statement. In fact the change will be immeasurably small for reasons already outlined. However, the ABD agrees with Tony Blair that the role of emissions technology is vital, but only in a psychological sense as modern car emissions are already over 99.9% colourless, odourless, naturally occurring gases which pose NO THREAT to air quality or climate change, which is driven by the Sun. Some cars actually clean the air they drive through, as it is polluted more by buses, buildings and foreign industry (trans-boundary pollution, a most unwelcome import).

In conclusion, there is a great deal resting on the Government's ability to continue to spin their way through the environment issue — a great deal of taxpayers' money and levies on business.

Don't let them tax you off the road


REFERENCES

EPILOGUE

A famous UN-backed 1995 statement that ‘the balance of evidence suggests that man has had an impact on climate’ is frequently used to justify government action. It whas been repeated more or less word-for-word by John Prescott on several occasions. This statement came from a chapter written by Ben Santer in the UN report, which was heavily criticised by Frederick Seitz for containing "the worse abuse of the peer review process" that he had seen in 60 years. Seitz, a former President of the American Academy of Sciences, was incensed that conclusions should be drawn from a report subject to what he saw as methodological trickery. Nevertheless, Santer’s conclusions were widely reported by the media. They were based primarily on the evidence of a climate model designed by Joyce Penner, then of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in USA. Penner was also a co-author with Santer of the key paper referred to by the UN in its report. The paper concluded that "our results suggest that the similarities between observed and model-predicted change....are unlikely to have resulted from natural internally-generated variability of the climate system". Penner later moved and began to research independently at the University of Michigan. In a recent press release from a paper she gave to the American Geophysical Union, she has clearly defected, stating that "contrary to conventional wisdom, new computer modelling from the University of Michigan suggests that global warming might not be the product of human activity". In other words Tim Wirth, then US Under-Secretary of State, told the UN that "the science is settled", yet now that the green movement has the protocol it wanted, it turns out that warming, according to Penner "may simply be due to natural variability". No surprise there.

The ABD's catalogue of evidence presented here is a testimony to the shamefully duplicitous nature of green information pollution.


Top of this page ABD Home Page     Environment     Global Warming links