DO you remember President Ronald Reagan’s spoof five-minute warning in 1984?
During a voice check for his weekly radio broadcast to the nation he said: “I am pleased to tell you today that I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia for ever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”
I am reminded of this by the Climate Change Commission’s early warning that the cliffs of this sceptred isle are avalanching into rising seas.
When you add Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s doom-laden response to Monday’s Budget and the dire predictions about the consequences of Brexit – even, we are told, affecting the supply of dancers for Strictly Come Dancing – I would entirely understand your reaching for a glass of whisky and a revolver.
A veritable legion of prophets of doom is walking this land. Project Fears are multiplying. What a pain it is to be alive in the 21st century.
Let me now cheer you up. While I do not under-estimate the pettiness of the French to muck about post-Brexit with cross-Channel traffic, they will soon think twice when our wine, cheese, pate and cognac imports are plummeting.
As for climate change, more unmitigated nonsense has been talked about it than even Brexit. And that’s saying something.
Moreover, it has been going on for exactly 30 years. You can blame Margaret Thatcher who, in 1988, became the first world leader tentatively to canvas the idea that planet Earth is warming up with possibly serious consequences.
Mind you, by 2002 she was berating the high and mighty for talking all sorts of nonsense about it, seeing it being hijacked for anti-capitalist purposes and emphasising the need to found policies on sound science.
Well, that is the last thing we have done. And Chancellor Philip Hammond, in trying to spread cheer with his gambling Budget, did nothing to repair the damage in proclaiming the end of “austerity”, as if it existed.
So, while easing personal income tax, he profligately splashed the cash he doesn’t have to show it’s all going wonderfully well.
He could have found the brass he needed by cutting overseas aid, the HS2 project and the tax we pay through energy bills in the form of subsidies for wind farms, solar panels and biomass – the imported wood chips to fuel Drax power station that ludicrously require deforestation while adding to carbon pollution of the atmosphere.
I write as one who, in 1978 – long before a word was breathed about global warming as distinct from global cooling – went into all this as the first head of the new energy conservation division in the Department of Energy.
What we have seen in the last 30 years is science brought into disrepute by false claims of unanimity on global warming. Governments have been hijacked by anti-capitalist environmental zealots to transfer the West’s resources to protect the undeveloped world from a calamity that never comes – the low-lying Maldives are, for example, still above the waves – and energy policies not worth the paper they are written on.
Yes, we have just had a hot summer (after a cold winter) but my long memory is stuffed with recollections of both. After 250 years of industrialisation, the average world temperature is still well below the dreaded two per cent. In 1988, one per cent was the limit.
I would be astonished if the planet had not warmed since the Industrial Revolution, given the amount of energy used since then.
But the continuing hysteria of environmentalists – echoed by Corbyn this week – about climate change has left the UK, among others in Europe, dangerously exposed by closing coal, oil and nuclear plants, or not replacing them.
And the hypocritical hostility to fracking for gas not merely weakens our economy, assuming any quantity is trapped in the earth, but also plays into the hands of Vladimir Putin’s attempts to destabilise the West as well as Opec, the oil producer cartel.
We simply cannot rely on those ugly, whirling dervishes called wind turbines or solar panels. Their output swings wildly with the weather.
Fossil fuels are still crucial to our civilisation.
When our politicians sort themselves out – and the Budget, with its largesse while we are in debt, suggests we have a long way to go yet – we must take advantage of leaving the politically-correct EU and get ourselves a sensible and robust energy policy that seeks clean security at lowest possible cost.
Or the lights may go out without any five-minute warning. And where is the economy then, poor thing?