Cold Facts on Hot Air; IMPERFECT STORM: Victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi in 2005 - but Was It the Result of Global Warming?

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Meacher

An Appeal To Reason: A Cool Look At Global WarmingOnce an idea has become the conventional wisdom, even if it is broadly right,intellectual sloppiness can easily slip in. Nigel Lawson has provided avaluable antidote to the sloppiness surrounding climate change. This short bookforces a rethink not only of some of the more alarmist predictions of globalwarming theory, but also of the fundamental underpinnings of the theory itself.

Lawson rightly rejects the easy assumption that every major catastrophe, suchas Hurricane Katrina, is due simply to climate change. While global warming maymake such events more likely, other factors may well play a significant role.

Disentangling the natural variability of the climate from that which is new andman-made is fraught with difficulty.

The former Chancellor is right, too, to mock some of the solutions that havebeen all too readily peddled. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme, so favoured bythe marketers, has turned out to be a gigantic scam, allowing businesses toinvent a host of devices to cream off billions of pounds by making imaginarycarbon reductions.

The current stampede into biofuels is hugely counter-productive both because itleads to the destruction of rain-forests and because it takes up land thatwould otherwise be used for food crops, thus forcing up world food prices..

Lawson also points out that carbon offsets, so beloved of today's political andbusiness jet-setting classes, are no better than the sale of indulgences by themediaeval church, allowing the sinner to go on sinning so long as he pays thegoing price for it.

But he wants to go further than tilting his lance at the sillier eccentricitiesof what he sees as the climate-change establishment.

He wants to demolish the entire infrastructure of climate-change theory.

Here his arguments are badly flawed.

His attack centres on three main contentions.

First, he argues that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere do notautomatically translate into rising average global temperatures, since therewas a pause in the latter between 1940 and 1975, and again between 2001 and2007, so the basic theory fails. …