Benny Peiser

The battle over global warming and low-carbon policies will not be decided over scientific issues. It will be determined by governments and law-makers on the basis of hard-nosed national and economic interests. This is where the green utopia for a low-carbon transition in the near future is likely to crash into the buffers.

As we get closer to the Copenhagen conference, the chances of a global climate agreement are fading rapidly. In fact, the probability of a Kyoto-style treaty with legally binding emissions targets are now close to zero as the gap between the developed and the developing nations has been growing ever wider.

The global economic crisis has rendered costly climate policies more or less untenable. It has become hugely unpopular among voters who are increasingly hostile to green taxes. The intriguing fact that the global warming trend of the late 20th century appears to have come to a halt has led to growing public scepticism about claims of impending climate catastrophe.

Carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes have turned into considerable liabilities for political parties and governments alike. A climate revolt among Eastern and central European countries has forced the EU to renounce its unilateral Kyoto-strategy. President Obama’s administration is struggling to push its cap-and-trade bill through the US Senate because senators of his own party, the Blue Dog Democrats, are opposed to proposals they fear as being too costly and too risky. 

Developing nations are demanding financial support to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars (per year) in return for their support of a post-Kyoto climate treaty. In view of the astronomical demands made by China, India and Africa, Western governments and their voters are increasingly reluctant to agree to injurious obligations that risk weakening their economic competitiveness even further.

Perhaps the most critical factor for the growing scepticism in Europe is the vanishing strength of Europe’s centre-left and green parties, whose members were once among the most forceful climate alarmists. Labour and green parties throughout Europe have lost much of their popularity and support. Today, few have remained in positions of power.

The principles of fairness, technological progress and economic growth used to stand at the heart of social democratic governments. Advancing the interests of poor and disadvantaged members of society was essential to the popular appeal of social democratic and Labour parties. The centre-left have substituted these social democratic ideals for an environmental programme in which the rhetoric of saving the planet has taken priority over the principle of liberating the underprivileged and disadvantaged from poverty and dereliction today.

In effect, green policies are gradually pricing the working and lower-middle classes out of their comfort zone. Labour parties may sincerely believe that their utopian low-carbon plans will save the planet. But in the process they are destroying the very foundations of their political support and movement.

Benny Peiser is a social anthropologist and senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University


12 responses to “Benny Peiser

  1. “…they are destroying the very foundations of their political support and movement.”
    Getting caught with their hand in the till only sped the process.
    The scientific advisers that governments heed all seem to have political motives. That makes the likes of Britmet biased advocates. If governments were to heed the science, Dr. Hansen’s original plots that were used to panic the world have all been underlined by reality – i.e. temperatures have followed or been below the best case scenario. There is no case for deprivation by taxation or carbon credits using the IPCC’s own “science”.

    Dr. Peiser, I would like your permission to reprint the article in full.

  2. feel free to republish my comment; please acknowlede the Policy Network conference.

  3. Dr. Peiser,

    This was a great read. Here in the U.S. we are slowly but surely seeing the effect of adopting economy wide green taxes on the moral and support of the controlling party’s constituencies. The Markey/Waxman legislation that will soon be on the floor of the House is beginning to enrage folks. As more articles like yours are published, people will have their skepticism confirmed that this legislation is less about saving the planet and more about income redistribution and government control over every facet of American life.

  4. Pingback: Celebrity Paycut - Encouraging celebrities all over the world to save us from global warming by taking a paycut.

  5. Pingback: The Politics of Climate Change – by Benny Peiser « The Climate Sceptics

  6. As a science writer and author on climate issues long before the term ‘climate sceptic’ was known, I am worried about the way the western scientific canon is under assault from all this nonsense.
    The knock-on effect is enormous. All the major science magazines promote global warming rhetoric. Meteorology, climatology, all the Earth sciences and even environmentalism itself are being insidiously undemined. The rot is spreading to ecology, organic chemistry and solar physics.
    How did this happen? The plain answer is that a few prominent scientists decided to put their left-liberal politics ahead of their objective, research-based science. People don’t believe that scientists would ever do this, but they did.
    Then the environmentalists and politicians took their cue from them. The band -waggon started to roll. ‘Climate change’ became a new post-Cold War doomsday scenario, with the melting polar ice caps replacing the nuclear mushroom cloud.
    It all started in the Eighties. Let me mention just a few names active at the time: Dr James Hansen of the Nasa space agency, Sir John Houghton of the Met Office, Prof Tom Wigley of the CRU, Dr Steven Schneider, a promiment atmospheric chemist, oceanographer Dr Wallace Broekcer, and Dr John Gribbin, British science writer.
    Worse than the dodgy science are the dodgy statistics. It is a straitforward lie that CO2 is being pumped into the air at a much greater rate than before. It remains at 385 ppm; it was the same in 1990, the same in 1980, and you could go right back to 1850. Bear in mind that 385 ppm equates to a paltry 0.03% of the total. The argument runs that it was 285 ppm (0.02%) before the Industrial Revolution about 300 years ago. But the difference between 0.02% and 0.03% would not make the slighest difference to the climate.

    It will cost billions to retool the West’s energy generations systems, all for no purpose.
    We are heading for a political, scientific and economic crisis over this madness from which we may never recover.

  7. Just a different point of view:

    The rise in temperature may or not be due to human activity, but it is under our eyes every day. Not only the main ice caps are reducing their mass (this is not under our eyes), but the snow is just falling less, and for shorter time, since long time now.

    The increase of CO2. An increase from 0.02 to 0.03 is a stunning 50% of increase! As we know so little of the complexity of the atmosphere, but we know very well that the threshold effect is extremely common in chemical and physical processes, I would be more cautious in dismissing the possible impact of that 50%.

    Economics: the reduction of purchase power of the people can hardly be attributed to green taxes and similar costs: I am from Italy, one of the western countries that have less invested in greenness, and we are one of the few that has increased its emissions after signing Kyoto. Nonetheless the purchase power is declining, more due to the general economic crisis than other.

    Still economics. Yes, this is presented as a new war, as a replacement of the cold war and some other hot war that however still have appeal on somebody. I wish to remind that, albeit their costs, wars have always brought about technological advancement, at least in the past century. From aviation to electronics, all have been fostered by war needs. So, if now we can fight a bloodless war, we could get the same effects with much less pain. In particular, we could get more efficient ways of producing, transporting, using and storing energy. And if doing so we will reduce the use of fossil fuel, we may or not get climatic benefits, but surely our lungs will thank us!

  8. Is CO2 aiding ozone to recover? From NASA research it is apparent that as CO2 has increased, biomass extent has grown approx. 1% every 3 years. That amount of biomass means a sizeable increase in conversion of CO2 to C and O2. More O2 in the troposphere means more in the ozone layer. If that holds, ozone being a warming molecule means CO2 (indirectly) contributes to warming.
    Ricardo, the clean air acts from the 1950s on very likely contributed to warming by reducing the sulphate aerosols that reflect sunlight and by reducing particle emissions that provided a base for water vapour to condense on and so form low cloud that cools by reflecting sunlight, and by precipitation.
    In both cases I’m happy to accept a small temperature penalty in return for the benefits.
    BTW from the mid 1940s to mid 70s CO2 drove cooling??? Find something more worthwhile to worry about please!

    • Clothcap, I am not worried, and above all I try not to use irony as if this was a personal issue.

      Rather, I would be interested in having some details on the NASA findings on CO2 and biomass you mention.

      Finally, what really worries me, as I tried to explain in the previous post, is a debate driven by ideology, which could lead to a halt to useful energy innovation.

  9. There seems to be a general view among the science sceptics that it is all to do with leftists trying to dupe us with taxes by hyping the dangers of global warming. During two terms of George Bush the USA economy went from 200 billion surplus to 1.5 trillion deficit. He did not believe in global warming so it was ok for him to dupe you?

  10. Riccardo, real pollution is a big problem that has been sidelined by the extremist greens and the profiteers (political and financial) that jumped on the bandwagon and promoted the warmist cause for their own benefit.

    Info on greening (NPP)
    Watts has posted several articles on the topic:
    Surprise: Earths’ Biosphere is Booming, Satellite Data Suggests CO2 the Cause
    Another Al Gore Reality Check: “Rising tree mortality”?“rising-tree-mortality”
    Crops (CO2Science)
    Regarding energy innovation, windmills are premature in that they need batteries.
    Biofuel is a catastrophe except to investors.
    There is no sensible alternative to fossil fuels yet. Nuclear will take around 20 years to build and overrun cost by ~50%.
    Peak oil is a phantom. We have enough now for ~100+ years if the Chinese don’t lock it all down.
    Poorer nations need coal. We need to help them to build plants and to filter its real pollution. Britain is now a poorer nation!
    Any other info you wish for, just ask.

    Phil, Bush is an entirely different issue. His actions are irrelevant to the ACO2 hypethesis.

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