Climate of failure in Copenhagen

Nigel Lawson:

Exactly a fortnight from today, the United Nations climate change conference opens in Copenhagen. Its purpose is (or was) clear: to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

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The greatest error in the current conventional wisdom is that, if you accept the (present) majority scientific view that most of the modest global warming in the last quarter of the last century — about half a degree centigrade — was caused by man-made carbon emissions, then you must also accept that we have to decarbonise our economies.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have no idea whether the majority scientific view (and it is far from a consensus) is correct. Certainly, it is curious that, whereas their models predicted an acceleration in global warming this century as the growth in emissions accelerated, so far this century there has been no further warming at all. But the current majority view may still be right.

Even if it is, however, that cannot determine the right policy choice. For a warmer climate brings benefits as well as disadvantages. Even if there is a net disadvantage, which is uncertain, it is far less than the economic cost (let alone the human cost) of decarbonisation. Moreover, the greatest single attribute of mankind is our capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. By adapting to any warming that may occur over the next century, we can pocket the benefits and greatly reduce the disadvantages, at a cost that is far less than the cost of global decarbonisation — even if that could be achieved.

Moreover, the scientific basis for global warming projections is now under scrutiny as never before. The principal source of these projections is produced by a small group of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), affiliated to the University of East Anglia.

Last week an apparent hacker obtained access to their computers and published in the blogosphere part of their internal e-mail traffic. And the CRU has conceded that the at least some of the published e-mails are genuine.

Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.

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I am pleased to see someone express an opinion on global warming or climate change that is in agreement with my on. Adaption makes much more sense than the carbon phobes insistence on reducing emissions. The apparent dishonest of the carbon phobes in suppressing dissenting opinions is a real scandal for an operation that is insisting on a control freak response to a problem that many remain skeptical of.

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