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Saturday, 19 December 2015


In 2009 my heart was gladdened by the complete failure of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. Nothing of any substance was agreed. However, a great deal of money was wasted.

About a week ago its successor was alleged to have come up with a meaningful agreement. It did not. The final communique had two parts. The first part declared that the nations of the world were resolved that the global mean temperature would not be allowed to rise by more than 2oC (preferably 1.5oC) by the end of the century. Well done, you statesmen of the world! You have outdone King Canute! He forbade the tide to wet his feet. You have told the entire climate of the world how it must henceforth behave. Bravo! We will all sleep more easily.

The second part was vaporising about carbon dioxide emissions; but no one was prepared to commit to binding targets.

Odd, really, when you think that the whole substance of the Climate Change hysteria is that the climate is warming dangerously and that the cause is manmade emission of carbon dioxide. Perhaps it would have been a bit more convincing to say something like the following: If we keep emissions below a certain arbitrary level (and we will), the threat of warming will go away Hurrah! It wouldn’t have convinced me; but it would have been less transparently absurd.

China and India are among the greatest emitters of CO2. They are not going to stop any time soon. Or rather, they are not going to stop vastly increasing their emissions any time soon. Good luck to them! Energy is the sine qua non of economic development and rising living standards. Fossil fuels (so called[1]) provide something like 98% of the world’s energy. To achieve development, we are going to have to use a lot more of it – and we will.

The most under reported (and most cheerful) fact of our time is that since 1970 the number of people living in abject poverty (ie the number of people who do not know where they will get their next meal and who expect to see their children die of malnutrition or disease) has fallen by 80% - EIGHTY PERCENT. Globalisation and freer markets account for this; but abundant and affordable energy are also necessary for industrialisation. Industrialisation has made us in the west spectacularly rich. To deny abundant and affordable energy (and therefore industrialisation) to poor countries is wicked.
Incidentally, the use of agricultural land to produce biofuels (to replace ‘fossil fuels) is also wicked because it raises the price of food. Slightly higher food prices for western nations may be acceptable but higher food prices hurt the poorest in the world disproportionately. And there are still too many poor people in the word. And too many of the world’s population are still poor. I corrected myself because I do not subscribe to the idea that we should get rid of people. Some ‘environmentalists’ have opined that malaria has an upside – it reduces populations. Banning of DDT has killed millions of children.

I rejoice that Paris has been almost as great a failure as Copenhagen, while deploring the vast sums spent on the summit and deploring the smugness of the delegates who congratulate themselves on having ‘saved the plant’.

[1] The term ‘fossil fuels’ come from the idea that coal and crude oil and methane are the products of decaying biological material. Astronomers have detected hydrocarbons in comets. Coal, crude oil and methane are hydrocarbons. This fact undermines the idea that all hydrocarbons are fossil fuels.

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