The Association of British Drivers
Quality of Life Challenged
An ABD Response to the Conservative Party "Quality of Life Challenge"
A document(1) published under the above title sets out eight fundamental principles:
Of these statements, four are incorrect and a fifth contradicts two earlier claims.
- Climate change matters for society
- Climate is changing around the world
- These changes are unusual
- Human influence on climate is detectable and growing
- Climate around the world will continue to warm
- Climate change means new risks and new opportunities
- Global climate can be re-stabilised
- There are limits to our knowledge about future climate
It is true that climate is changing around the world, climate change has been with our planet since it solidified as part of the solar system billions of years ago.
It is not true that the current level or degree of climate change is unusual. The extent under discussion is 0.6 C ± 0.2 C over 150 years. Most of it occurred before the bulk of the rise in greenhouse gases. Compared to changes ten times this size in the space of a human lifetime, which has occurred on several occasions, the present moderately warming climate is by no means unusual.
It is not true that human influence on climate is detectable and growing. The IPCC said in 2001:
"Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural."
Dr K Lassen investigated the last 400 years of climate data and concluded
"70-90 years oscillations in global mean temperature are correlated with corresponding oscillations in solar activity. Whereas the solar influence is obvious in the data from the last four centuries, signatures of human activity are not yet distinguishable in the observations."
It is not true that climate around the world will continue to warm. The atmosphere (troposphere) has barely changed in temperature for the last 30 years and has cooled over timescales of a decade (Christy, UAH) while the southern hemisphere surface has seen slight cooling. The solar cycles referred to by Lassen above are widely expected to take the Earth into a period of cooling climate from about 2012. NASA scientists and the Russian Academy expect cooling. Our climate system has warmed and cooled and both will continue into the future. The faith placed on carbon dioxide models of global warming is not warranted.
Climate change, natural and inevitable, does present risks and opportunities. The biggest risk is that governments, including the UK government which collects over £30 billion annually in ecotaxes, is doing nothing to mitigate the impact of climate change or support adaptation. Our money is being wasted.
It is not true that global climate can be re-stabilised. It was never stable in the first place, having changed continuously over billions of years. Our climate is a chaotic non-linear coupled ocean-atmosphere system. We cannot predict what will happen to it, particularly as a result of merely fiscal policy making, with any degree of certainty. As no human influence on climate has yet been detected, political confidence regarding future manipulation is premature to say the least.
It is true that there are limits to our knowledge about future climate, for the reason outlined above. This appears to contradict an earlier definitive statement that we can (re-)stabilise future climate conditions, and another statement that it is certain the climate will continue to warm.
The consequence of major shifts in energy policy towards wind and solar power will be unreliability and inadequacy of supply and power cuts, any transport policy that fails to develop our infrastructure and restricts car use in any way will lead to economic harm, social exclusion and a lower quality of life.
However, some things do need to be done — the steps suggested in the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs report 'The Economics of Climate Change' (2) need to be addressed urgently. No further premature treaties or taxes, particularly motoring taxes which currently total over £40 billion each year, should be implemented when their absolute futility in the face of inevitable natural change and wider global developments is plain to see.
1. Conservative Party document
2. House of Lords committee report [pdf]
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