Yes, the Earth is warming, and, yes, human activity is cause of part of this.

“But the preoccupation with carbon has led to billions being spent on pointless policies to mitigate the perceived problem,” Howard Winn, journalist at the South China Morning Post reminds us, and explains.

“Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, says that the European Union ‘will pay US$250 billion for its current climate policies each and every year for 87 years. For almost US$20 trillion, temperatures by the end of the century will be reduced by a negligible 0.05ºC.’ This is clearly nonsensical but governments and corporations are blithely committed to these policies, some because they believe the science, others because they feel they can’t afford not to and will incur reputational risk if they don’t, while governments feel it could cost them votes,” Winn says (South China Morning Post, September 28, 2013).

This article in reference to:

Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report
Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
Summary for Policymakers


Not all Hockey

It is notable that one thousand years ago Greenland was growing crops. It was then that life was pleasant and abundant enough in Europe for society to build the cathedrals – this was termed the Medieval Warm Period. This points at the climates natural cycling.

It was Michael Mann who determined the now famous Hockey Stick effect and subsequent studies have confirmed this effect that indicates an unprecedented steep rise in Earth temperature over these very recent years.

However, another contender came on stream saying the culprit was sunspots which generate a solar wind of charged particles thus: active Sun, Cosmic Rays, less clouds generated, a heating effect as the Earth had lost a certain amount of blanket protection.

Then again, to the contrary, there is evidence that there is a correlation between cosmic ray flux and low-altitude cloud formation. Now, correlation does not always imply causation, and it is also known that the sun is slightly brighter if it is more active, which may also affect cloud formation on earth. But it is at least possible that cosmic rays could have something to do with it. There is a possible mechanism for this: elevated levels of ionization seem to facilitate the coagulation of such molecules as sulfuric acid (H2SO4) in the atmosphere into tiny droplets, which then form condensation nuclei for water vapour. The condensed droplets of water then form clouds.

During the Little Ice Age there was a period of sunspot quiet and it was a period of bitter winters and famines.

Because of massive misinformation lobbies – primarily by Big Business – Global Climate Coalition (now disbanded) which started under USA President Bush, people in general are confused. They hear different stories from ‘authorities’.

It appears that during the 70s while one group was saying the Earth is warming another group was saying the opposite and indeed temperatures were measured falling. But that turned out to be temporary and due to an initial effect of carbon dioxide which in increasing at first deflecting sun’s heat away from Earth only to later, given higher concentrations, start an entrapment effect and the warming began to show, in compliance with what Science (meaning mainstream) thought.

By the 90s warming was clear, with all the signs, but that’s when the misinformation was strongest too.

Earth temperature measurements were shown to be altered by urban area heating which cast doubt on the collection method as satellite assessment of temperatures showed a declining level. Later, the Earth-bound measurements were found to be rising, even far from urban areas, and, fault was found in the satellite measurements because, over time, the satellites were lowering in their orbits toward Earth, which meant a time lapse thus the sun was in a lower thus cooler angle when the temperatures were recorded and that mathematical fault was corrected and indeed the Earth was determined to be in a rising temperature mode, affirming the Earth-bound measurements.

So, Climate Change – but which direction?

Looking at climate change (as against global warming), the different positions taken by different factions holding position on the matter is causing grief among people. The contrary opinions have people confused. It is quite difficult to simplify the matter – as it is very technical – but this needs doing to allow alleviating actions to be taken that are in proportion to the threat. Neither faction, ‘the scaremongers’ or ‘the soothsayers’ deny that many activities of the human species is adding to the problem, also, that something has to be done about it.
The fears aroused by the continuos fusillade of negative information (that are actualised in the psyche as images) relating to climate change is overlaid on the other layers of tension, from the sublimated apprehensions about nuclear war which surface issues seem to be repressed as likely they are too overwhelming to deal with, to the lesser tensions caused by all kinds of violence committed on and by the human race on itself, so widely reported in the news.

For sure, something needs doing to curb the negative effects of rampant consumerism and widespread over-industrialisation, in duplicated manufacturing and in wasteful agricultural practices, but in what manner and to what degree need our methods be changed?

Speaking of the individual, the family, and the worker, at that level the actions need not deviate between the divergent opinion groups (1) Placing climate change as primary; (2) Re-prioritising climate change at a lower level) but to see the matter clearly is important at the governmental and big industry level. Thus the topic has to be pursued – to advise and monitor those responsible organisations.

Human activities are significantly influencing Earth’s environment in many ways in addition to causing greenhouse gas emissions that may increase or dampen the effects of climate change. They are causing changes to Earth’s land surface, oceans, coasts and atmosphere and to biological diversity, also to the water cycle and bio-geochemical cycles that are clearly identifiable beyond any natural variability. But even collectively, are they equal to the great forces of nature in their extent and impact. No! Global climatic change is real and is happening now. It always has been real of course, even before the advent of mankind’s Industrial Age.

Human-driven changes cause multiple effects that interact with each other and with local- and regional-scale changes that are difficult to predict because earth system dynamics are characterised by critical thresholds and even occasional abrupt changes. Human activities could inadvertently trigger such changes with severe consequences for Earth’s environment and inhabitants. However, this is a long shot. The Tipping Point phenomenon.

The Earth System has operated in different states over the last half million years, with abrupt transitions (a decade or less) sometimes occurring between those states. Human activities have the potential to switch the Earth System to alternative modes of operation that may prove irreversible and certainly less hospitable to humans and other today-present life. The probability of a human-driven abrupt change in Earth’s environment has yet to be quantified but is not negligible – one wave of nuclear bombs would do the trick!

Sea change effects

Life on our planet revolves around water and air availability. The oceans have been likened to a huge condition-conditioner due to ocean currents that circulate continuously, carrying heat energy and organic-inorganic matter from one place to another in a life producing-maintaining way. There is a definite stability, within thresholds, for those cyclical activities of the ocean currents. The weather systems are also dependant on what happens to the sea.

Surely our sun has a lot to do with climate, the radiant rays reaching Earth causing molecular reactions that bring life to the planet, not to overlook the composition of the protective atmosphere that is on the frontline in receiving that solar energy – and cosmic energy from the universe. This combo has to be given first place when it comes to a comprehensive study of life on Earth, human life as one constituent.

Given the concern over global warming it is worthwhile looking at what is said about the most well understood global warming incident in the past that relates to today’s problem – spoken of as the P-E boundary.

The Paleocene / Eocene boundary (P-E boundary), 55 million years ago, was marked by the most rapid and significant climatic perturbation of the Cenozoic Era – the Cenozoic is the most recent of the three major subdivisions of animal history. The other two are the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. The Cenozoic spans only about 65 million years, from the end of the Cretaceous and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs to the present.

That sudden global warming event, leading to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), is associated with changes in oceanic and atmospheric circulation, the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic (the ecological region at the lowest level of ocean) cellular life-forms and a major turnover in mammalian life on land which is coincident with the emergence of many of today’s major mammalian orders.

The event included a global temperature rise by around 6 degrees Centigrade it is said, over a period of 20,000 years, with a corresponding rise in sea level as all oceans warmed. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose, causing a shallowing of the lysocline.

The lysocline denotes the depth in the ocean below which the rate of dissolution of calcite increases dramatically. This is interesting for researchers in that, shallow marine waters are generally supersaturated in calcite, so as marine organisms (which often have shells made of calcite) die, they will tend to fall downwards without dissolving. As depth (and pressure) increases within the water column, the corresponding calcite saturation of seawater decreases and the shells start to dissolve. At the lysocline, the rate of dissolution increases dramatically. Below this, there exists a depth known as the carbonate compensation depth (CCD) below which the rate of supply of calcite equals the rate of dissolution, such that no calcite is deposited. This depth is the equivalent of a marine snow-line, and averages about 4,500 metres below sea level.

The depth of the CCD varies as a function of the chemical composition of the seawater and its temperature. Furthermore, it is not constant over time, having been globally much shallower in the Cretaceous through to the Eocene. If the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide continues to increase, the CCD can be expected to rise, along with the ocean’s acidity.

Regional deep-water anoxia may have played a part in marine extinctions. The P-E boundary event has been linked to a degassing of methane ice deposits, which accentuated a pre-existing warming trend. The trigger for that now favoured is an increase in volcanic activity as the main perpetrator.

Researchers also proposed that the increase in carbon sequestration (take-up) by phytoplankton may have contributed to CO2 drawdown and the termination of greenhouse warming at the end of the P/E boundary event.

This shows a balancing mechanism at work and speaks against ‘one way’ climate change as everything rights itself (or has done so far) within the complexity of the entire system.

Ocean acidification

The ongoing decrease in the relative acidity (in terms of pH) of the Earth’s oceans is caused by the uptake of man-made carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.179 to 8.104 (a change of -0.075).

In the natural carbon cycle, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide represents a balance of fluxes between the oceans, terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere. Human activities such as land-use changes, the combustion of fossil fuels, and the production of cement, for example, have led to a new flux of CO2 into the atmosphere. Some of this has remained in the atmosphere (where it is responsible for the rise in atmospheric concentrations) and having a blanket effect and warming the air, some is believed to have been taken up by terrestrial plants, and some has been absorbed by the oceans.

Leaving aside direct biological effects, it is expected that ocean acidification in the future will lead to a significant decrease in the burial of carbonate sediments for several centuries, and even the dissolution of existing carbonate sediments. This will cause an elevation of ocean alkalinity, leading to the enhancement of the ocean as a reservoir for CO2 with moderate (and potentially beneficial) implications for climate change as more CO2 leaves the atmosphere for the ocean.

Solubility Pump

Defined as the mechanism of carbon exchange that arises through changes in seawater temperature and circulation over the seasons, annually and over longer periods. There are two main directions: (1) processes affecting the air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide; and (2) processes affecting the changes in carbon inventories and transport in the ocean interior.

The solubility of carbon dioxide is greater in cooler water, and, what’s called the thermohaline circulation is driven by the depths of water at high latitudes where seawater is usually cooler and more dense.

The solubility pump has a biological counterpart known as the biological pump.

In common terms, the dense water formed below ice sinks rapidly to the depths taking with it much higher concentrations of those carbons. The area of deep circulation – the global conveyor belt – carries these around the world and keeps them out of contact with the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

Expected future changes in the ocean (e.g. in circulation, temperature, pH) due to climate change are likely to alter the functioning of both the solubility factors and biological pumps. If the natural carbon cycle in the ocean is reduced or ceased to operate and the stored carbon were re-equilibrated with the atmosphere, current concentrations would increase substantially.

But why would that happen?

The term thermohaline – heat-saltiness, determining the density of sea water – circulation refers to the idea of global density-driven circulation of the oceans. Wind-driven surface currents (such as the Gulf Stream) head polewards from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, cooling all the while and eventually sinking at high latitudes. This dense water then flows into the ocean basins. While the bulk of it upwells in the Southern Ocean, the oldest waters (with a transit time of around 1,600 years) upwell in the North Pacific. Extensive mixing therefore takes place between the ocean basins, reducing differences between them and making the Earth’s ocean a global system. On their journey, the water masses transport both energy (in the form of relative heat) and matter (solids, dissolved substances and gases) around the globe. As such, the state of the circulation has a big impact on the Earth’s climate and its dependant life forms.

Thus it can be likened to a global conveyor belt. Not to be confused with the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) as the MOC only occurs around the meridian and thus is confined to the Atlantic Ocean.

While ocean absorption of anthropogenic – man made – carbon dioxide from the atmosphere acts to decrease climate change, it causes ocean acidification which has negative consequences for presently existing marine ecosystems.

However, again, there is a self-regulatory mechanism at work.

Source of greenhouse effect gases

Three quarters of all carbon dioxide produced by mankind is from massive collective life in cities. Half of that is contributed by buildings which need to either heat or cool their interiors, a lot of the remainder is generated by motorised transport. Thus, it is urban dwellers who are largely responsible for the adverse man-made climate change effects.

Dubai (Burf Al Arab Hotel) and Shanghai (the high-rise Pudong financial district) have constructions that ignore completely any sense of efficient design. Heat trapping glass and concrete leave so much to be desired in these modern agglutinations. The UAE is one of the biggest new offenders when it comes to buildings and their carbon footprints, consuming resources from far beyond the place’s natural boundaries and population needs – including the ridiculous such as snow sports in the desert! Private cars are another area of major concern – including company vehicles – effective public services are the way to go.

While the rising economies like those of China and India are insensitively planning to duplicate the erroneous practices of the developed nations, because they think they can afford it and their pride pushes them with a ‘why not us too’ attitude, countries such as Bangladesh are in a quandary. The people have suffered sever storms and floods which seem to verify what was pointed at concerning climate change – its worsening cycle of erratic weather patterns that promise to bring even more devastation.

The natural side of the calamities in Asia is played down and the effects of the developed countries lifestyles are highlighted in the media as a cause, an easy target, and one preferred by governments and industry alike as placing the blame for their deflects and the solution away from their own doorsteps. It is the governments and their links to business that can effect mitigating local changes of the type needed to combat the ills generated by climate change, all governments.

The western model is being blamed: the consumerism, the demand for an overly comfortable lifestyle, mass entertainments, destructive tourism, unsatiable markets for the planet’s foodstuffs that are siphoned away from the needy for sale elsewhere and invariably returned for sale in the same rural areas at higher city prices.

Among the many skeptics who do not place climate change as the priority to be tackled when looking at the world’s problems are passionate environmentalists. These thinkers are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what is more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet. These include problems of nuclear weaponry, conflicts in border regions, political woes thus instability which stops progress, medical emergencies where cholera, malaria, TB, and other preventable diseases are running rampant, social injustices of all kinds owing a lack of education for life, and environmental degradations outside the realm of climate change but affecting rainfall, soil salinity, air purity, and the nutritional value of staple foods.

Climate change is being blamed for everything and the consultants are cashing in, even academics with bountiful research funds. In the Bangladesh example, it’s a cop out for the politicians allied with business that see all sorts of contracts on the climate change horizon and these partners ignore simple cost-free labour intensive measures that will make an immediate difference.

“Any slightly odd weather such as a harsh winter storm, perhaps one extra hurricane making landfall on the US Gulf Coast in one summer, is taken as evidence of impending climate meltdown”, says Hong Kong University geologist Jason Ali. (His letter follows)

Climate change evidence open to question

Dec 17, 2009 South China Morning Post

It was great to see some spirited responses to my letter questioning the whole notion of anthropogenically induced global warming (“No proof of

global warming”, December 8). It may come as a surprise but, until a few years ago, I was similarly agitated about the earth’s future climate.

Then, in 2006, I began to realise that there was another side to the anthropogenically induced global-warming story, and that the people making the counterclaims came from very credible scientific backgrounds.

As an academic, whenever I am confronted by a new view, I set about exploring the ideas to see if they have any merit. That is the only way
progress is ever made.

I found the alternative compelling and began to question the views of advocates of anthropogenically induced global warming theory, such as Al Gore, Lord Stern and Rajendra Pachauri ***, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For better or worse, the South China Morning Post is not an appropriate forum for us to be doing “Earth, Climate 101”.

All I can say, though, is that there is some excellent, technically accessible information out there in the form of books, reports and websites. Some names to look for, or to pop into a search engine, include Sallie Baliunas, Bob Carter, Piers Corbyn, John Christy, John Daly and Richard Lindzen.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, which has just been set up by former British finance minister Lord Lawson, also looks pretty interesting.

The key issue is that the average global temperature has not risen for more than a decade, a time interval when human-related CO2 emissions have been at their highest. This is exactly why the anthropogenically induced global-warming story does not do it for me.

Jason Ali.

*** My – Tony Henderson – Note: Mr Pachauri places nuclear energy in the clean energy category which is an indicator of his way of thinking.

The Doomsday side and the other side

While proponents of such as the Peak Oil phenomenon take recourse in such as James Hansen, who states:

“…begin to move our energy systems in a fundamentally different direction within about a decade, or we will have pushed the planet past a tipping point beyond which it will be impossible to avoid far-ranging undesirable consequences”. Global warming of 2–3°C above the present temperature, he warns, would produce a planet without Arctic sea-ice, a catastrophic sea level rise in the pipeline of around 25 metres, and a super-drought in the American west, southern Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa. “Such a scenario threatens even greater calamity, because it could unleash positive feedbacks such as melting of frozen methane in the Arctic, as occurred 55 million years ago, when more than 90% of species on Earth went extinct”.

…others find that people are beset with enough scary scenarios and doubts without additional scaremongering even if it is done with the best on intentions, that of getting people off their bums and into the cause – saving Plant Earth.

The other ‘side’ would rather look to the stands taken by such as Dr. Timothy Ball who reminds his readers that the Greenhouse Effect is a poorly chosen term as our planet has an open system whereas the greenhouse (with the door shut) is a closed system. Also, Climate Change, also poorly chosen, in that the weather itself is hardly predictable and as climate is the mean of weather variations, that is a multiple number of times more difficult to foretell. Also, there is no ‘hole’ in the ozone layer, it’s just that the ozone layer is weaker over the Antarctic – due to the effects of cosmic radiation. The media loves buzz-words but crowd pleasers are not useful in this case.

For Dr Ball. “The ozone issue is worth revisiting because of the parallels between its origins and evolution and the current global warming and the climate change debate. … the ozone issue offers valuable lessons about how to establish the scientific reality about climate change currently suppressed by exploitation of fear and lack of understanding….” He quotes University of Waterloo physics and astronomy professor, Qing-Bin Lu, who published a paper showing that cosmic rays are the major cause of variations in the extent of the so-called ozone hole.

Remember the fuss over CFCs? These were banned and the HCFCs came on-stream but the entire episode is called into question by Dr Ball who takes the stand that public understanding is essential to prevent politicians pursuing expensive and totally unnecessary climate change policies – as in the case of the CFCs.

Also, that: “politicians did not understand the science, were not interested in the facts, and merely wanted to make green political points in this era of environmental hysteria.” In fact, they produced real and potential problems because the research and testing was pushed aside.

For Dr Ball, that CFC-HCFC episode was only one example of spending billions of dollars, disrupting people’s lives and economies, to solve a nonexistent problem.

As for Mr Lovelock, now leaning on the side of the doomsayers, as commentator Jeff Goodell says in his essay on this creator of Gaia: “… he may well be wrong, not because he’s misread the science (although that’s certainly possible) but because he’s misread human beings.”

“Few serious scientists doubt that we’re on the verge of a climate catastrophe. But for all Lovelock’s sensitivity to the subtle dynamics and feedback loops in the climate system, he is curiously tone-deaf to the subtle dynamics and feedback loops in the human system. He believes that, despite our iPhones and space shuttles, we are still tribal animals, largely incapable of acting for the greater good or making long-term decisions for our own welfare.”

“Our moral progress,” says Lovelock, “has not kept up with our technological progress.” But maybe that’s exactly what the coming apocalypse is all about Mr Goodell adds.

On my part as the writer of this survey of the climate change issue, I do not see a catastrophe. Yes, there is a big job to do: look at mainland China now; look at the old Eastern Block countries’ industrial areas; the oil extraction zones; the strip mining areas outside the developed countries; and can we locate those hazardous chemicals and radioactive wastes dumped at sea? Look at the populations increasing; the potable water shortages; the food crisis in the less developed world; and look at the over-fishing!

One of the questions that fascinated Lovelock is that life has been evolving on Earth for more than 3 billion years – and to what purpose? “Like it or not, we are the brains and nervous system of Gaia,” he says. “We have now assumed responsibility for the welfare of the planet. How will we manage it?”

He says our real problem environmentally is not climate change, it’s the environmental degradation caused by the activities of mankind and it’s mankind that will in the end suffer the most.

“Study of the geological record of climate reveals many instances of natural changes of a speed and magnitude that would be hazardous to human life and economic well being should they be revisited upon our planet today,” says Robert Carter, research professor, James Cook University, USA.

“Many of these changes are unpredictable. That such natural changes will occur again in the future, both coolings and warmings, is certain. It is therefore indeed true that future climate change is an important subject that requires to be approached via appropriate public policy-making. Unfortunately, current policy approaches have been formulated from a combustible combination of poor science, special-interest-group pleading and public hysteria, which together distract from, rather than deal with, the very real risks of natural climate change. Indeed, the risks of natural change are almost entirely ignored by the IPCC and by the politicians, press and public who participate in the current climate ‘debate’.”

This has been summarised by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) senior scientist and lead author, Kevin Trenberth (in 2007), who wrote: ‘There are no (climate) predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been’. Instead, there are only ‘what if’ projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios’. For ‘none of the models used by IPCC is initialised to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models corresponds even remotely to the current observed climate’.

The document:

by Robert M. Carter, Adjunct Research Professor, James Cook University, in Queensland, says – “Despite the great variability and high magnitudes of natural climate change, it is clearly also the case that human activities have a measurable effect on local climates. For example – leaving aside as too obvious the mass deforestation that is taking place in many countries – the concrete, glass, steel and macadam that are used to build a conurbation absorb more radiant heat from the sun during the day than did the pre-existing natural vegetation. The result is a local warming called the urban heat island effect which, for a large city, has a magnitude of several degrees.

“Alternatively, when humans clear forested areas, the pasture or crops that are planted are often lighter in colour than was the forest. This results in reflection of more of the incoming solar energy than before, and hence cooling. So humans, through changed land usage, have an effect on local climate that is variously warming or cooling.

“Summing these local signals all over the globe, it follows that humans must exercise an effect on global climate also. The question in context, therefore, is not ‘do humans have an effect on global climate’, but rather ‘what is the sign and magnitude of the net global human effect on climate, and can it be measured?'”

To return to Mr Trenberth he says that public discussion about ‘carbon policy’ or ‘reducing greenhouse gases’ centres around the need to reduce human emissions of carbon dioxide. Yet even educated persons mostly have no comprehension that the overwhelmingly dominant greenhouse gas is water vapour; that, as a minor greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide causes less than 4% of the warming produced by all atmospheric greenhouse gases; and that human emissions represent just a tiny portion (~3%) of that 4%. What is presently missing from the public debate, then – and it is not provided by computer model outputs, either – is an appreciation of the small scale (in context) of human emissions.”

The IPCC is constituted under the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), and defines climate change as ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’. Thus at its point of origin and reporting, the IPCC is set up to consider not climate change in general, but only change caused by human perturbation of the atmosphere. This is an unbalanced brief that predictably and inevitably leads to unbalanced advice. [Mr Trenbert again.]

The media hardly distinguishes just what the IPCC is reporting, nor on the difference between computer projections and real-world predictions.

Emissions Trading Legislation

“There is presently animated public discussion about introduction of carbon dioxide emissions trading legislation in both Australia and New Zealand in order to ‘stop global warming’,” continues Mr Trenbert. “This planned policy development is underpinned by a political conviction that flies in the face of science reality, and is now maintained by a highly diverse and very strong group of special interests. The self-interest groups include politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, environmental lobby groups, energy companies, other big businesses, financial marketeers and the media.

“The 2008 global food crisis is an example of previous well-intentioned environmental policy relating to climate change that went sadly wrong. The disastrous results of the idea of putting corn in your petrol tank have included an increase in grocery bills in most western nations, food rationing in parts of the USA, and food riots, starvation and an accelerated cutting down of native rainforests in third world countries. These results were, of course, unintended, but they most certainly were not unanticipated. It’s simply that those who predicted the negative effects of the biodiesel craze were not listened to, their voices lost against the clamour of shrill environmental hysteria.”

A famous earlier example of the same phenomenon was the world ban on DDT use, which was similarly based upon false environmental scaremongering. Thankfully, the DDT ban was finally lifted by the UN, but not before it had resulted in many millions of unnecessary deaths in underdeveloped countries. Nowadays DDT is used for public sanitation and for anti-mosquito measures but not as a pesticide in agriculture.

“These earlier examples of tragically miscarried policy epitomize the pitfalls of listening to the siren song of the great eco-salvationist scare of our age – that of dangerous human-caused global warming. The economic and social effects of schemes like biofuel subsidy and emissions trading are costly, and above all regressive. That is, they will hurt most the underprivileged in all societies. Given that schemes like these are unlikely to exert any measurable influence on future climate, such policies can only be adjudged as immoral.”

As for carbon offset trading, again it is useful to quote the people at the Transnational Institute: “…the existence of offset schemes presents the public with an opportunity to take a ‘business as usual’ attitude to the climate change threat. Instead of encouraging individuals and institutions to profoundly change consumption patterns as well as social, economic and political structures, we are being asked to believe that paying a little extra for certain goods and services is sufficient. For example, if one is willing to pay a bit more for ‘offset petrol’ one doesn’t have to worry about how much is consumed, because the price automatically includes offsetting the emissions it produces.”

I would like to give the penultimate word to the same people: “…the solutions to climate change need to be much more systemic, empowered and politically engaged than is permitted within the scope of carbon offsets.”

I would add though – the nuclear threat far outweighs anything else on the environmental front. Anything to do with war is a more immediate threat as conventional bombs and mines are instant destroyers of life. This is why nuclear disarmament is top of the list for many activists, and a clear and immediate initiative toward progressive and proportional global nuclear disarmament is demanded, as is conventional weapons reduction programmes and armies returning to base camp within their own borders.