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Theory of the month: global cooling

Friday 11 April 2008

Our countryside commentator John Sheard, who twenty years ago was writing about the threat of a new Ice Age, welcomes a new book which casts doubt on the doom-and-gloom theory of global warming – but fears for the economic consequences of political panice

This week, I continued to fill my unwelcome extra wheelie bin with the newspapers I used to take to the recycling centre myself and paid the first of this year’s council tax, which has doubled in a decade. Some £50 of this has gone to provide the aforesaid wheelie bin and there are about 20,000 like it in the Craven area of the Yorkshire Dales alone.

I bought a new (cheap) watch which came with a printed warning that should I need a new battery, I must take the old one to the council tip for recycling – a battery which is smaller than a 5p piece.

Theory of the month: global cooling
Theory of the month: global cooling

And Craven District Councillors gave planning permission for the next stage of a development which could see five huge wind turbines rearing up to 1,000 feet above sea level on the fringe of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (see last week’s column).

All these measures are necessary, say the so-called experts, to prevent global warming. Yet I also read this week that this year, world temperatures are about to cool by a degree or so – and global temperatures have in fact not increased at all in the 21st Century!

In the past, when I have raised this subject, I have been excoriated because – it was said – world scientific opinion was unanimous that man-made greenhouse gasses were causing global warming. This is just not true – there are scores of top notch scientists who oppose this view.

Trouble is, nobody listens to their views because politically correct politicians and their media lickspittles dismiss such renegade views as if they were scientific racism: the science that has no name.

In fact, I have never argued that the world did not get a little warmer in the 1990s. But I believed and still believe that this is probably due to one of the planet’s regular cycles. After all, the Romans grew vines in York 2,000 years ago – but it was so cold in Elizabethan times that they could spit-roast oxen on the ice-bound River Thames.

I am not a scientist, just someone who has been writing about environmental matters for half a century, but I can spot a band wagon when one comes along. The clues are pretty easy to pick up: the scramble of politicians to jump aboard and the pathetic pleading of the science community demanding more and more funding at the time when we can’t even cure the common cold never mind malaria.

But, also this week, a most unlikely fellow has jumped off the global warming band wagon to write a book which, with a bit of luck, might start a sensible, considered and cool-headed backlash against the mounting panic: Lord Lawson, formerly Maggie Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson.

there is no doubt that Lawson knows how to do in depth research

Now Lawson isn’t a scientist, either, but an economist with a formidable brain. A former colleague of mine was at Oxford with him and swears that he paid his way through university on his poker winnings – until his reputation as a player got so huge that no-one would take a hand against him.

That story may be apocryphal but there is no doubt that Lawson knows how to do in depth research and his book, An appeal to reason: a cool look at global warming, sets out to demolish many of the myths that now carry the weight of religious belief in some quarters, including Westminster and Whitehall.

I had never known, for instance that the warming process stopped before the year 2,000 after less than a decade, and even scientists admit that it will not start again for another few years (how they can forecast that is a another mystery!). And an increase in carbon gasses, which plants breathe, could even boost bigger and better crops at a time when the world is facing a growing food crisis.

But most of all, Lawson worries that knee-jerk measures – like my £50 wheelie bin and deadly 5p watch battery – could bring about a world recession when we all get poorer and poorer as the population grows. In other words, millions more mouths to feed and reduced productivity to feed them. This is a subject that Lord Lawson really does understand. Let’s hope that someone is listening.

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