Gerald Warner: Wind of change is blowing

'Alex Salmond is a born-again renewables fanatic'. Picture: Neil Hanna
'Alex Salmond is a born-again renewables fanatic'. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE climate is changing – but not in the style prognosticated by the global warmist fanatics.

As the bottom falls out of the man-made climate change industry, those who were among its most bullish investors at the height of the scam are now covering their positions in a bear market.

Great damage was done to this much-hyped imposture by Climategate (“Hide the decline!”), by the discredited “hockey stick”, by the farce over “melting” Himalayan glaciers and the “decrease” in the polar bear population from 5,000 in 1970 to 25,000 today. Yet what has chiefly discredited the climate change superstition is the basic, inescapable fact that there has been no global warming since 1997.

The official face-saving response is that this is a “pause” in an otherwise menacing trend – a pause of a decade and a half. The warmist fanatics will freeze to death in their solar bunkers before they will admit defeat; but the more worldly wise, especially scientists anxious to preserve a vestige of academic credibility, are now striving to effect a withdrawal in good order.

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began to ratchet down its more extravagant predictions as early as 2007. In 2010 the Royal Society reviewed its stance on the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory and assumed a more neutral position. Since then, it has been like the retreat from Moscow: last month Oxford scientists, albeit in Delphic language, moderated forecasts of climate disaster.

Last week the ultimate warmist zealot among the political class, Tim Yeo MP, 
executed a spectacular volte-face. In 2009 Yeo said: “The dying gasps of the deniers [sic] will be put to bed. In five years’ 
time no-one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.” Now, four years later, he is saying: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are 
not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.” Within the Anthropogenic Global Warming hierarchy, that retraction is broadly akin to Richard Dawkins joining the Cistercian Order.

The global warming hysteria began in the 1880s but was discredited when its prediction that CO2 would increase the mean global temperature by more than 1C by 1940 was not borne out. What gave it fresh life over the past two decades was the realisation by governments that it could provide a pretext for taxing citizens to unprecedented levels and by private entrepreneurs that government subsidies could supply a dripping roast. Of all the damage that politicians have inflicted on the public, the “green” scam has been among the most extreme.

The Renewables Obligation, introduced in Scotland in 2002, was scheduled to end in 2027, by which time UK energy customers will have been robbed of £32 billion. It has now been extended to 2037 for new projects. By 2011 Ofgem confirmed that 10 per cent of every electricity bill went towards “renewables”. Proliferating wind turbines are blighting the landscape despite being a wholly inefficient source of energy. Turbines operate at just 24 per cent of capacity – for more than a third of the time at only 10 per cent – and conventional power stations have to remain in service as backup: two energy systems pointlessly working in tandem.

South of the Border a modicum of sanity has entered government thinking since UK energy minister John Hayes’ “Enough is enough” remarks. In England and Wales turbines are falling out of favour.

Not so in Scotland. Alex Salmond is a born-again renewables fanatic – understandably, since he has always had an affinity with wind. At the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference in Edinburgh in 2011, in the hallowed presence of Al Gore, Salmond described Scotland’s renewables policy: “It’s a turning point, like the discovery of a new world or the change from hunter-gathering to agriculture.” He forecast the low carbon sector would create 130,000 new jobs in Scotland by 2020. Last March an expert told Holyrood’s economy, energy and tourism committee the actual number of new jobs would be between 300 and 1,100.

Local objections to wind farms are routinely overruled by central government (that would be the listening, accountable Scottish Nationalist government). At the end of last year only ten out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities admitted to knowing how many wind turbines were sited in their areas.

They could cover every inch of Scottish soil with Martian whirligigs and the lights will still go out, due to the SNP’s refusal to replace Hunterston B, due to close in 2016, and Torness, closing in 2023. All this to satisfy a superstition: if all mankind stopped producing CO2 (try selling that idea in China and India), 96.5 per cent would remain. The climate Anabaptists will never recant, but their mad creed is doomed all the same. «

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1