Former United States Senator, George J. Mitchell, once claimed: “[Global warming] would match nuclear war in its potential for devastation.”
He wasn’t pulling any punches, was he? But what if he’s wrong? And what if we’d all actually be better off with a slightly warmer climate? After all, 6000 years ago the earth witnessed temperatures more than four degrees Fahrenheit hotter than those of the twentieth century, yet the planet flourished. History shows that mankind prospers during periods of higher temperatures. A warmer climate combined with more carbon dioxide encourages plant and crop growth, providing more food for poorer populations. The truth is: even if the much-maligned climate models prove correct, we don’t really know for sure that global warming would have catastrophic consequences. The history of the globe shows that climate patterns are dynamic and are as likely to be benign as harmful. So all the hysterical political interference in the worldwide energy sector may well be based on a false premise.
This is particularly galling in the UK, where the degree of climate change hysteria has reached fever pitch and is starting to hurt us very badly. Deconstruction and demolition of coal-fired power stations, like the Didcot A Power Station close to us here in Reading, is already underway, forcing the country to turn to costlier imported gas, grossly inadequate wind farms and new uranium nuclear power plants like the one planned for Hinkley Point. Our political masters are dragging their heels over shale gas and inexcusably ignoring the potential benefits of thorium, which would be a safer, cheaper alternative to uranium.
As if the cost of imported gas isn’t bad enough, offshore wind farms are going to get a simply staggering £155 per megawatt-hour, and EDF will be guaranteed a strike price of £92.50 for every megawatt-hour generated at Hinkley Point. The market rate for electricity is currently less than £50 per megawatt-hour! Yes, that means offshore wind farms that generate for about 30 per cent of the time will get triple the market rate!
The difference between the market rate and the so-called strike prices is made up by taxpayer-funded subsidies.
These avoidable, ludicrously high energy costs make our businesses uncompetitive, threaten our balance of payments and force many of us into fuel poverty. Fossil fuels are obviously finite resources that will run out one day. But it won’t be tomorrow, and it won’t be 2050, by which time we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80%. We need to take a more measured approach to energy development. Here in the UK, we should ensure that the evolution from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency is a steady, systematic one and not a unilateral act of false bravado.
If you feel proud that the UK was the first country to set legally binding carbon budgets, you should be aware that the rest of the world was sniggering behind their hands, clearly enjoying the spectacle of us shooting ourselves in the foot.