A load of hot air

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We can all agree to listen to the experts on wind power (Letters, 6 May) but many of Tom ­Ballantine’s experts in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are not climatologists – it is led by a railway engineer – and some of its reports have been criticised as misleading and lacking in objectivity.

The doubts of other experts – power engineers, energy economists, medics and environmentalists – expressed in your columns and elsewhere over the past few years about the efficacy of wind turbines, other than at the margin of a modern economy’s needs, are no less worthy of respect.

If turbines, whose lifespan seems to be only 20 years, require more energy and produce more carbon dioxide in terms of their manufacture, transport to site, creation of access roads, erection on concrete installation beds, grid connections, ­operation and decommissioning, than they generate in net electricity in the 25 per cent of the time that the right wind levels are blowing, then they are not a wise use of our resources and subsidies.

These considerations are just as important, if not more so, as the aesthetic effects on our landscape and tourism.

Without such subsidies by the relatively poor to the relatively rich, they would not be built in the first place.

Neither Germany nor Denmark, despite their massive ­turbine developments, have been able to close one fossil-fuel power station.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews

The context for recent public policy decisions on energy is the fear of dangerous human-caused climate change, as Tom Ballantine points out.

It is a fear which cannot be substantiated by his appeals to authority. The paper he cites, ­Expert Credibility in Climate Change, was compiled by a ­partisan group of activist scientists whose definition of ­climate sceptics and climate ­experts lacks credibility.

It is more a propaganda piece of which Mr Ballantine is happy to take advantage.

Nor has his other source of ­authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), given any reason to be regarded as a ­sufficient authority on which to base public policy.

In one case its claim that Himalayan glaciers would likely melt by 2035 was challenged by observers. The IPCC chairman accused the observers of “voodoo science” in an unfortunate demonisation tactic. The IPCC claim was shown to be wildly unfounded and its chairman diminished.

Another example is global warming. We can now go back 15 to 17 years before seeing any statistically significant rise in global mean temperature. That contrasts with IPCC reports which led policymakers to ­expect a dangerous rise.

So it is not just the economics of wind which calls into question our energy policy. Empirical observational science is to date contradicting the model-dominated, doom-laden predictions of the IPCC.

There never was a consensus of expert opinion. There are plenty of brilliant scientists who have never bought into imminent, human-caused, dangerous climate change.

(Cllr) Cameron Rose

City Chambers

Edinburgh