Posted 6 January 2012
If 'sovereign debt' is now acceptable as economic jargon popularised by the global financial meltdown, let me have a crack at inventing a new term, 'sovereign eco-cide" as descriptive of how nations can inflict on themselves economic suicide by means of carbon taxes, emissions trading schemes, cap-and-trade madness , etc, caused by the myth that human and animal emissions of carbon dioxide can cause 'dangerous global warming'. For what led to this invention, see three links below - Terry Dunleavy, New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.
The Scientific Alliance - UK. (click on Read more below)
Donna Laframboise: link
ConservativeHome/Civitas - UK link
From The Scientific Alliance, UK - 6th January 2012
New year, same issues
After a year largely dominated by economic issues, 2012 looks set to continue the trend rather than start a new one. For those of us lucky enough to be citizens of Europe or any other part of the developed world, our lives may still be privileged and comfortable, but neither the enormous economic growth nor the step changes in quality of life enjoyed over the 20th Century can necessarily be assumed to continue – let alone be exceeded – in the 21st.
In 1989, Francis Fukuyama famously wrote about the ‘end of history’ as the Soviet bloc collapsed and a future based on liberal democracy seemed assured. Two decades later, we may be experiencing one of those periodic times when capitalism reinvents itself, in this case because it has perhaps relied too heavily on banking and consumer spending to drive economic growth. Whatever the outcome, this is an uncomfortable time for everyone: consumers, taxpayers, companies and government. And it is a time when priorities are changing.
Concern for the environment blossoms when people are prosperous. The environmentalist movement gathered momentum from the 1960s and ‘70s and was a major driver of the creation of a body of legislation which now embeds standards for air and water quality, wildlife protection and a range of other issues in the general fabric of our lives. NGOs such as Greenpeace have in the meantime moved on. They are now professionally run organisations with a new set of priorities, and top of their list are combating climate change and moving away from oil dependence.
Campaigning to save natural habitats and reduce pollution were issues which were in tune with the times; Greenpeace did not create the concerns, but organised people (rather effectively) to do something about them. They, and similar organisations with more limited or localised scope, continue to campaign on what we might consider are ‘traditional’ environmental matters, but the key targets are the interlinked topics of climate change and energy generation and use.
But these issues are different in kind to saving the whale or cleaning up rivers and coastal waters. Things like that enjoy quite broad societal support and, in relative terms, are not major budget items. Energy, on the other hand, is vital for our whole economy and way of life. Unless we can guarantee energy and food security, other issues have to be put on the back burner, relatively speaking.
Energy has always been important, and the availability of steam power on a large scale enabled both the Industrial Revolution and the enormous economic growth which followed. But that power was for industry, and made little direct impact on the way that people lit and heated their houses or cooked their food. There are two things which have since transformed the lives of Europeans and which enable sophisticated modern societies to function: distributed electricity and fuel for personal transport. And it is the delivery of these, the argument goes, which has to be changed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate potentially dangerous climate change.
This is not like saving the whale or campaigning against nuclear weapons: re-engineering our energy system against the trend of market forces has the potential to change our lifestyles quite significantly. It can surely only be accomplished if it is both feasible and done with the consent of society. Leaving aside for now the feasibility question, citizens are more likely to give their tacit consent if they feel prosperous and are optimistic about the future. On the other hand, when times are tough, they are more likely to question government spending priorities, especially when they are feeling the pinch in terms of unemployment, radical changes to pensions and the black hole of rising healthcare costs.
In the heady days before the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit brought campaigners down to earth with a bang, there was a feeling that concerted emissions control was just a matter of will; once the major economies agreed a deal, their leaders would make sure that it was put into effect. The situation now is very different. Unsurprisingly, national priorities have come to the fore. The big emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are very happy to control their emissions as long as OECD countries pay for it, while Canada has bitten the bullet and formally withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol (something which others might be tempted to follow were it not for the bad PR).
Far from taking the lead and having the rest of the world follow, the European Union is looking increasingly isolated, with Australia perhaps being the most notable exception. The EU is very good at setting ambitious targets and then missing them – the Lisbon agenda being a very prominent example – and emissions control seems to be following the same course. With the very future of the euro still in doubt, priorities have changed.
2012 is likely to see little difference in the rhetoric on renewable energy, but progress will surely be slower. With Germany, Spain and the UK having scaled back their taxpayer-funded subsidy and taxpayers increasingly concerned about where their money is going, any concerted attempt to speed up the building of wind farms looks like eventual electoral suicide.
By 2013, things are unlikely to have changed much. Politicians will still pay lip service to current policies and targets, and some may even believe in them. But, unless real evidence comes in that CO2 is indeed the dominant driver of climate change, and unless China and the USA are prepared to join Europe in a concerted effort to reduce emissions, momentum is likely to ebb away. Unless, that is, elected politicians have the courage to look at the facts and adopt a more rational approach to energy policy. Don’t hold your breath.