Bill Carmichael: ‘Hot air’ over climate change

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ARE the gales and heavy rain Britain has experienced over recent weeks a direct result of global warming?

Well, certainly that famed climate expert, hugger of huskies and erector of useless windmills David Cameron thinks so.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that he “very much suspects” that global warming is behind the recent storms. And he is basing that “suspicion” on what exactly? Erm…on not very much as it happens.

But Mr Cameron is not alone. This week chemist Sir David King, who labours under the title of the UK government’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, also popped up to say that “extreme weather events” may be happening more frequently as a result of global warming.

Unfortunately Sir David is basing his assumption on the same evidence – or rather lack of it – as the Prime Minister.

Both men are making the same basic, and increasingly common, error – they are confusing the weather with the climate.

In other words they are extrapolating from individual weather events – which, let’s face it, have happened every winter since Adam was a lad – to spin a tale of global catastrophe out of nothing.

In fact there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that there is an increase in “extreme weather events” however you may define these. And even if in future such an increase was detected there is currently no evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are to blame.

It is an interesting theory – nothing more. We simply do not have the data to test it one way or another.

The fact that it is mild, wet and windy in the UK no more “proves” global warming is happening, than record breaking cold temperatures currently sweeping the US “disproves” it.

Weather and climate are not the same thing. But that won’t stop Mr Cameron and Sir David calling for more public spending to prevent more “extreme weather events”.

Apparently, if we pay more tax, the Government will be able to control the weather. Sure, and if we sacrifice some virgins, perhaps we may persuade the gods to be less angry with us.

As we are battered by gales and struggle through the floods, it is tempting to think all this terrible weather presages an awful disaster that is about to befall us all. And the doom mongers and catastrophists of the international global warming industry are happy to feed that fear so long as there is a few quid in it for them.

I suspect the truth is far simpler and more prosaic and can be summed up by one simple fact – it is winter and it happens every year.

Spinning the facts

Drivers on the M1 in South Yorkshire are to be limited to 60mph in a bid to cut air pollution. The restrictions will operate during peak hours on a 34-mile stretch of the motorway from Matlock in Derbyshire to Rotherham. Er okay. But if my memory serves me correctly not so very long ago this same Government was recommending speed limits on motorways should be increased from 70 to 80mph.

Then Transport Ministers confidently informed us that the new 80mph limit would bring billions of pounds in economic benefits through faster journey times. Now we are told that lowering the speed limit will not only cut emissions but also reduce congestion and improve journey times.

So, according to the Government, increasing the speed limit improves journey times, and guess what – reducing the speed limit also improves journey times! Politicians can spin the facts to mean anything they want. In the meantime ,I suspect the new restrictions will make little difference. Congestion is usually so bad on the M1 that you are more likely to be travelling at 6mph rather than 60.