Last stand of the climate deniers

Independent, 29 Dec 15:

There is an almost total media black-out as to the cause of the recent floods (Like my family on Boxing Day, the Government is cut off from reality over flooding Dec 28) This is because right wing newspapers  have been in  denial about global warming over the past decade which makes it virtually impossible for them to change position without losing the last vestiges of their credibility.

Then of course there is the BBC, struggling to find a middle way between the scientists and the sceptics. On the one hand you have an outstanding 3-part documentary on  Radio 4 by the BBC’s Environment Correspondent Roger Harrabin, but none of this is followed through by  editors on BBC News. Why are there no interviews with Government Ministers challenging their destructive policies towards the renewables industry?  Why has the Prime Minister not been asked how he can reconcile the UK’s dash for gas with our climate change commitments.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire


Cameron’s double standards over climate change deal

Sunday Times, 20 Dec 15:

Your editorial last week, (A climate deal must work in our interests this time) appears contradictory.

The UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008 had all party support and was one of the most far-sighted pieces of legislation. In calling for an 80 per cent reduction in emissions of CO2 by 2050, it pre-dated the Paris Accord by seven years and encouraged green investors that the UK  was the best place to do business.

Since the election earlier this year all that has been put at risk. David Cameron’s Government  has cancelled the Green Deal, is stopping on-shore wind farm subsidies; has slashed subsidies for solar, and  has abandoned carbon capture and storage. It is also subsidising the development of yet another fossil fuel, shale gas, and bypassing local  authorities over fracking applications.

After the deal in Paris the prime minister stated: “We have secured our planet for many, many generations to come- and there is nothing more important than that”.  It is time for the real Cameron to stand up.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire

Could he be called George Osborne by any chance?

Independent on Sunday, 20 December 15:

Following the climate deal in Paris, David Cameron stated “We have secured our planet for many, many generations to come- and there is nothing more important than that” (World leaders agree historic action plan on climate Dec 13) So this must be the same David Cameron whose government has cancelled the Green Deal, stopped on-shore wind, slashed subsidies for solar, and  abandoned carbon capture and storage, all in the 6 months leading up to the Paris summit. It also appears to be the same David Cameron who is subsidising the development of yet another fossil fuel, shale gas, and bypassing local  authorities over fracking applications. Presumably he has a twin brother who is doing all these unspeakable things behind his back. Could he be called George Osborne by any chance?

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire

Climate change and the continual demand for economic growth

The Guardian, 15 December 15:

The Paris Accord has been hailed as a diplomatic triumph because the alternative is too awful to contemplate (One paragraph at a time: how the deal was done to save the planet Dec 14). Nevertheless the atmosphere does not respond to political craft and strategic compromise, it only responds to the laws of physics which are uncompromising and potentially lethal for more most species on Earth, including our own.

All of the really tough decisions such as carbon taxes, country-specific limits and financial penalties have been shelved, which will allow countries such as India , China and even the UK to carry on burning fossil fuels whilst paying lip-service to the need to reduce emissions. Instead the goal of 1.5 and even 2 degrees C will now rely on unproven and currently non-existent technologies such as nuclear fusion, carbon capture with storage or carbon negative technologies. I pray these will come in time but how many people would get on a flight in the hope that someone can defuse the bomb before it blows up?

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire


Business as usual for China now COP 21 is over?

Financial Times, 15 Dec 15:

Calvin Quek claims that levels of PM 2.5 in China are 15% lower this November than last year and that this can be attributed to government action on air pollution (Chinese authorities are responding to air pollution problem Letters Dec 11).  Clearly levels of small particulates are subject to weather conditions which I suspect is a more likely explanation for the short-term fluctuation that he has documented. In any event 17% of deaths in China are now attributable to air pollution, which makes it the biggest cause of mortality apart from smoking.

If one considers Bejing, levels of PM 2.5 peak  in the early morning, an anomalous observation explained by the fact that this is when diesel-powered lorries make  deliveries to the city centre. Although these lorries carry certificates that they are compliant with government regulations, most of them carry no pollution control devices of any sort, so NOx and particulates are vented straight into the night sky. Traffic police are not allowed to ban such vehicles if they are making “essential deliveries”  which all claim to do.

The factories that supply these untrapped vehicles claim that they are only for export to Africa. Government legislation that allows both drivers and manufacturers to be prosecuted have been on the statute books for more than a decade, but so far there has not been a single prosecution.

So I am perplexed how Mr Quek concludes that air quality in China is improving as a result of government action. My concern is that  China’s  decision to close factories during a recent smog alert was a cosmetic exercise cynically timed to coincide with the Paris summit on climate change.Now that is behind them, I suspect that China will go straight back to “business as usual”. I would love to be proven wrong.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire

To destroy human civilisation we just need to continue with business as usual

The Guardian, 10 December 2015:

China’s strategy for dealing with air pollution is a cosmetic exercise cynically timed to coincide with the Paris summit on climate change (Airpocalypse now: factories and schools in Beijing shut by unprecedented smog alert, 9 December).

The 24-hour WHO limit for small particulates is 25 microgrammes per cubic metre of air, though recent studies have demonstrated adverse effects on foetal development at levels well below this. During recent pollution episodes, levels as high as 900 have been recorded in Bejing and other large cities such as Baoding. China’s ruthless determination to grow its economy has therefore rendered its cities wholly unfit for human habitation, and especially dangerous for pregnant women.

Despite all the fine speeches in Paris, China has 368 coal-fired plants under construction, and is planning a further 800. It may be investing in renewables but this does not alter the fact that China is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gases worldwide. It has also admitted understating its emissions of CO2 by 14%. To destroy human civilisation it is not necessary to send in an army. We just needs to continue with business as usual.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire


Climate think tank tactics no surprise

Independent, 12 Dec 2015:

It is hardly surprising that the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has had to manufacture its own peer review process, as no reputable scientific journal would dream of publishing the ideologically driven nonsense that emanates from this organisation (“Lawson foundation adviser offered to write paper for fake oil firm”, 10 December).

Lord Lawson launched his think tank in 2009, just before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, and used the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia to justify his initiative.

Since then, there have been five official inquiries into “Climategate”, none of which has found any evidence of any scientific misconduct or manipulation of data. So why hasn’t Lawson apologised to the scientists at CRU and closed GWPF down?

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Floods show depth of climate change denial

Independent, 8 Dec 2015:

“China’s next test is to square growth with the environment” says Hamish McRae (2 December), but China should have considered the environment before growing its economy.

China’s headlong rush for economic growth has rendered its cities wholly unfit for human habitation, and especially dangerous for pregnant women. Roughly one death in five among the adult population of China can now be attributed to air pollution.

Despite all the fine speeches in Paris, China has 368 coal-fired plants under construction, and is planning a further 800. Society no longer needs to send armies to destroy human civilisation. It just needs to continue with business as usual.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Examples of societies collapsing through force of habit

The Guardian (sentence in bold was omitted), 25 November 2015:

History provides us with several examples of societies collapsing through force of habit, including an addiction to meat (Tax on meat not too hard to swallow, study suggests, 24 November). When the Vikings colonised Greenland in the 10th century, they were determined to preserve their tribal customs, which included raising cattle. Because pasture was limited and the growing season only three months, virtually all of the land was used to grow silage to see the cattle through the winter. After nine months indoors, cattle were so weak they had to be carried out to pasture. The irony is that they were surrounded by a plentiful source of protein in the oceans, but another Viking custom in Greenland was a refusal to eat fish.  When the climate turned harsher this agricultural system became unsustainable and the Vikings of Greenland perished. I wonder whether the modern world will fare any better as we career towards climate catastrophe.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire