The climate change deniers club

Independent, 20 February 2016:

Your exposure of the nefarious activities of various right-wing think-tanks is timely (“Where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders”, 11 February) As Bob Ward rightly says, “This small cabal is undermining the democratic process which should be based on robust and open debate”.

I have first-hand experience of this. Four years ago I organised an international conference on climate change in central London and invited Nigel Lawson to speak. He accepted “in principle”, but when I sent him the programme containing many knowledgable experts in the field of climate science, he immediately withdrew on the grounds that the other speakers on the programme were not “sufficiently eminent”.

Was what he actually meant that his absurd views on global warming would not stand scrutiny for a single minute in a room of people who actually understand the science?

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire



Climate Solutions that would work

Independent, 20 January 2016:

Richard Mountford keeps proposing geo-engineering as a solution to climate change, but conspicuously fails to identify any technology that might actually work (Letters Jan 14) Carbon negative technologies offer a much greater prospect of success.

For example it is perfectly feasible to grow sea-weed in prodigious quantities which would fix atmospheric CO2.  This could be harvested and turned into biogas.  If this was burnt in combination with carbon capture, then you would have an energy source that removes carbon from the atmosphere.

Obviously a large investment is required to turn such “third-way” technologies into reality. It is Britain’s tragedy that our scientifically illiterate Cabinet, in thrall to the fossil fuel industry, appears totally blind to the possibilities.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges,Buckinghamshire


Better to cut CO2 than complain about Paris deal

Independent, 12 January 2016:

I applaud everything in the letter from Professor Beckwith and colleagues apart from their faith in geo-engineering as a solution to climate change.

If you succeed in promoting the growth of plankton, then the oceans may well absorb more CO2, but this will result in greater acidification. Artificial whitening of clouds may produce a local benefit, but if extended globally it may well have a devastating impact on crop growth.

There is no easy techno-fix for climate change, and pretending otherwise delays the measures that are so desperately needed to address the problem: namely renewables, energy conservation, and a carbon tax that reflects the damage that fossil fuels wreak.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire


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


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

What if the City of London is flooded?

Independent, 20 November 2015:

The Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK claims that the industry has “never been in receipt of government subsidy” (letter, 18 November). Well, that might be true of direct subsidies, but the fossil fuel industry has been using the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for its waste products for over 200 years, and it is society that is paying for the consequences.

Earlier this year the IMF calculated this cost at $5.3 trillion annually, of which one quarter is attributable to the effects of climate change on agriculture, and the rest to the medical costs of outdoor air pollution. Even this figure, however, does not capture the enormity of what is likely to happen with unchecked global warming.

For example, the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is already showing signs of irreversible decline, and when that dissolves sea levels will rise by 20 feet. Greenland will add another 23 feet. So how does the City of London, or the New York Stock Exchange compute the financial costs of burning fossil fuels when they are both 13 metres under water.

The problem was best expressed by Tim Wirth, Under secretary of State for Global Affairs under President Clinton,  when he stated: “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.”

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

BBC spinning the latest news on climate change

Independent, 10 November 2015 (phrase in bold omitted):

It is quite extraordinary how the BBC is choosing to spin the latest news on climate change (“Halfway to climate disaster”, 10 November). The BBC’s science correspondent informed viewers that we are  half way to 2 degrees of warming, the temperature level that is widely regarded as “safe” .

No reputable scientist thinks 2 degrees C is safe. Warming of 1.5  will flood low-lying areas. Two degrees is the point at which climate change becomes irreversible.

The carbon budget to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees C will be exhausted by 2040 at current emission rates. After that climate change will fuel its own progress through positive feed-back systems, notably methane releases from permafrost and the Arctic sea-bed, so the process becomes irreversible and mankind will lose control of the process.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Free market does whatever it can get away with

Independent, 25 Sept 2015:

It is extraordinary how car manufacturers will spend millions to evade or delay regulation rather than introducing technology that benefits public health (Volkswagen boss quits, while lawyer warns of huge group action in UK Sept 24).

It is 30 years since leaded petrol was banned in the UK, but that proposal was fiercely resisted by car manufacturers, who also opposed the subsequent introduction of catalytic converters. In those days less than 10 per cent of new cars were diesel, but nowadays it is 50 percent. The dangers of diesel particulates have also been well known for 30 years, but the car industry cynically proposed diesel as a means of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide instead of opting for genuinely clean alternative fuels. As a result air pollution now kills over 50,000 people annually in the UK and the UK Government was taken to the Supreme Court as it is unable to comply with EU air quality standards. There is a message here for those in the fossil fuel industry who promote shale gas as an alternative to coal. Industry appears completely incapable of acting in the public interest whilst civil servants and their political masters are toothless guardians of public health.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Trade agreement could bar action to save climate

Independent, 1 September 2015:

TTIP may  pose dangers  for public  health, but it is even worse for the environment,  particularly in relation to the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels (EU holds vast majority of TTIP meeting with corporate lobbyists August 28).

The independent UK committee on climate change supports fracking in the UK , but its Chair, Lord Deben has also stated  that his committee would not hesitate to ban  fracking if  the UK was unable to meet its climate change commitments.

So imagine a scenario in 2030 whereby several US or European-based  companies are extracting shale gas and/or shale oil in the UK, and Lord Deben’s committee announced that further extraction was incompatible with the UK’s Climate Change Act which requires an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. I have no doubt that those same companies would sue the British Government under the terms of TTIP, and the result would either be massive compensation or repeal of the Climate Change Act.

It needs to be remembered that the World Trade Organisation has the power to impose punitive fines on governments  as well as other public institutions. There  is no equivalent body to enforce environmental standards.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire