Clear analysis of the relative merits of reactions to climate change is overdue

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Your articles and commentary on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency's report (3 October) reveal how one-sided the debate on climate change is becoming. All we hear is that "something must be done", with no clear analysis of the relative merits of different reactions to climate change.

Climate change itself has both costs and benefits. If there are net costs, how do we quantify these? How do they compare to the costs of trying to stop climate change? Might it be more sensible to cope with climate change rather than halt it? After all, the switch to non-polluting power generation might impose serious implications for economic growth that will hit the poorest hard. Should we really be asking developing countries to restrict growth in the uncertain quest for perfect environmental stability?

The same conundrum applies at home. A wind farm presumably restricts climate change by some miniscule amount, saving us what, exactly; The cost of five sandbags and ten roof tiles? No-one seems to have any idea, or be making any effort to find out.

However, wind farms cost us subsidies which might better be spent on cancer care or schooling, not to speak of its visual environmental impact.

Scientists, commentators and newspapers have a duty to address these questions rationally if we are to persuade our politicians to select the right environmental policies; otherwise we will simply be prisoners to the ideology of lobby groups that pay little heed to the social and material well-being of human beings.


Executive director, Policy Institute

Queen Street


In his review of George Monbiot's new book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning (Critique, 30 September), John Burnside adopts the author's assertion that man-made climate change will shortly destroy our planet. "Wake up to what the science is saying," he quotes Monbiot as writing.

According to Burnside, Monbiot is the "scourge of the lying industry". He would be better employed using his skills to investigate the lies of science, which in my lifetime alone has predicted the death of the human species by: thermonuclear bombs (1950s), freezing to death in a new ice age (1970s), AIDS (1980s), baking in cosmic rays because of a hole in the atmosphere (1990s), and now man-made heat.


Glenluiart, Moniaive