Decades of inaction on global warming

The Guardian, 22 December 2014:

It is worth recalling that world leaders all agreed to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change as long ago as 1992 at the Earth summit in Rio (Poorer countries demand more from rich on climate change, 13 December). Anything agreed in Paris next year will not be implemented until 2020 at the earliest, and will probably be voluntary. There will be no independent monitoring, so countries can continue to emit carbon while their leaders pay lip service to the need to tackle global warming. Since 1992, annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by 60% globally, and the rate is accelerating.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire

The world is reneging on the promises made 22 years ago

The Independent, 21 December 2014:

Your article states “More and more countries are now taking climate crisis seriously” (“Rich square up to poor at climate talks”, 14 December). It is worth recalling that world leaders all agreed to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change as long ago as 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio. Since then, annual emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by 60 per cent, the United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Canada has withdrawn from the protocol, and China has become the largest emitter on the planet. In truth, the world is reneging on the promises made 22 years ago.

Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Fracking as an unproven technology

The Independent on Sunday, 7 December 2014:

Opponents of fracking in North Yorkshire have received critical support from the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport, whose recent report described fracking as an unproven technology carrying similar risks to CFCs, asbestos, smoking and lead in petrol (“Fracking firm’s plans criticised”, 30 November). This fatally undermines the Government’s current policy which is to promote fracking at the expense of energy conservation and renewables. But Government policy does not stop at promoting the wrong business model. It also seeks to remove environment-friendly MPs from the ranks of the Conservative Party. Both Tim Yeo, chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, and Anne McIntosh, chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, have been deselected by their local Conservative Associations. Ms McIntosh is the local Yorkshire MP who has opposed fracking in her constituency, while Mr Yeo has been outspoken in his support for renewables. It appears that sustainable development is incompatible with being a Conservative MP.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Climate change

The Independent on Sunday, 23 Nov 2014:

Your editorial alludes to the deal struck by China and the US over climate change but fails to mention that China’s emissions will rise until 2030. Since 1990, annual emissions of carbon dioxide have risen by 60 per cent globally, and the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now passed 400 parts per million. Irreversible climate change will kick in at 450 ppm, a level which will be reached in 20 years, about the same time that China’s emissions will peak. This deal is nothing more than posturing by the planet’s two biggest polluters.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Global Warming Policy Foundation

The Independent on Sunday, 18 May 2014:

An investigation into Nigel Lawson’s so-called charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is long overdue (“Lawson’s charity ‘intimidated’ environmental expert”, 11 May)

It was launched in 2009, just before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, and Lord Lawson used the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia to cast doubt on the science of global warming and the independence of key researchers.

Subsequently there were five official inquiries into “Climategate” including three in the UK, none of which found any evidence of scientific misconduct or manipulation of data, but these inquiries took years and allowed climate-change deniers to argue that the science of global warming was suspect.

Lawson also criticised Professor Phil Jones and his colleagues at CRU for failing to provide data following Freedom of Information requests, but has himself refused to declare who is funding GWPF, a stance that has been criticised by the editors of both the Lancet and the BMJ.

Finally it is richly ironic that a trustee of GWPF should accuse Bob Ward from the London School of Economics of “not being an academic”, whilst Lawson himself has no scientific credentials of any sort.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Why are the climate-change deniers so scared?

The Independent, 18 November 2014:

Your editorial “Brisbane’s legacy” (17 November) needs a reality check. Obama may have forced climate change on to the G20 agenda, but nothing substantial was agreed. Australia’s prime minister is in denial about climate change and has disbanded his advisory panel. Both Abbot and Putin wanted climate change off the agenda because both countries are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for their energy needs and foreign revenue. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and Australia of coal. What Brisbane demonstrated is that the chances of the UN brokering a meaningful climate-change deal next year in Paris are close to zero as long as deniers and dictators are in a position to sabotage the negotiations.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Sorry, shale gas isn’t green

The Independent, 21 May 2014:

Dr James Verdon (letter, 13 May) misrepresents the position of the IPCC.

Natural gas is less polluting than coal but this does not apply to shale gas because of the large amounts of methane released by fracking. Shale gas could only be part of a future energy mix if three important conditions are met. First that shale gas replaces coal and doesn’t just displace it to other countries. Second that methane releases are 10 times lower than current practices. And third that gas-fired power stations are fitted with an effective method of carbon capture (as stated in the IPCC press conference).

Since none of these conditions currently apply, shale gas is inconsistent with a low carbon future.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

‘Green’ gas is just a distraction

The Independent, 18 April 2014:

Vernon Yarker (Letters, 16 April) tries to justify shale gas as a bridging technology to genuinely low carbon or zero-carbon renewables. He is probably unaware that the gas industry has been using this argument for over 30 years, so it is high time that we reached the other side of the bridge. Fracking in the UK will simply divert money from renewables and result in another 30 years of “locked-in” fossil-fuel dependency. By that time, as the IPCC emphasises, we will be beyond the point of no return.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges

BBC ‘balance’ on climate change

The Independent, 10 April 2014:

The letter from the BBC Trust member Alison Hastings typifies the complacent approach to climate change adopted by the BBC (8 April).

On the last three occasions that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced a major report, BBC News has interviewed Bob Carter, a retired geologist from Australia who belongs to the Non-IPCC, Bjorn Lomborg, a well-known sceptic, Nigel Lawson, who chairs the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and Richard Tol, an economist affiliated to GWPF.

It is true that Richard Tol contributed to the latest IPCC report, but his submission was the only academic study out of 20 claiming that climate change might be beneficial and was rejected by the IPCC as unduly complacent.

There is not a single reputable scientific journal in the world that disputes the reality of climate change, nor of man’s contribution to it. Yet the BBC seems utterly incapable of moving beyond  the science to the much more urgent question of what needs to be done. It is high time that the BBC ditched its obsession with political balance and started reporting the facts.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire