8 months in the climate change repeal petition has <1500 votes
HM Government’s e-petitions site was created to be an easy way for ‘ordinary people’ to influence government policy in the UK. Respondents can create an e-petition about anything that the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons. The first e-petition to prompt a Parliamentary debate was signed by more than 240,000 people and called for those convicted of involvement in the summer riots to be stripped of their benefits.
A Roger Longstaff created the following petition in August last year:
Responsible department: Department for Energy and Climate Change
The Climate Change Act will cripple the UK economy (to the tune of hundreds of billions of pounds) by imposing legally binding restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions that are more stringent than those of any other country on Earth. It is based on a totally false premise – the science of anthropogenic global warming was completely discredited by the “climategate” scandal – and the policy is being pursued solely for financial gain by academics (grants), government (“green” taxes) and vested interests such as investors in subsidised “green” technologies and “Enron-like” carbon trading scams. The Act must be repealed before it is too late.
What an opportunity for the climate change ‘sceptic’ movement to show the UK government how many people are sick of this climate change ‘scam’, eh?
Except that two thirds of the way into the 12 month period a pathetic 1,364 people have signed this petition. Here’s a few other ‘important’ petitions for comparison:
- Keep Formula 1 Free To Air in the UK: 42,658
- Recruit 5000 more NHS midwives in England : 38,558
- Grant a pardon to Alan Turing: 33,346
- Thatcher state funeral to be privatised: 32,054
- Stop the beer duty escalator: 29,351
Now, when you consider that this is the single most important Act of Parliament for climate change deniers you have to wonder how many of them there actually are in the UK. When you consider that this is an incredibly well organised, media savvy and manipulative group you really have to wonder.
Or do you? Perhaps not. I put it to you that there are less than 2,000 people in the whole of the UK who believe the Climate Change Act should be repealed. Over thte last three months I have posted this sad fact on climate denial blogs like Bishop Hill and Scottish Sceptic more than once in an attemptto warn the deniers that they are making fools of themselves with this petition, but in spite of my taunting the numbers have barely moved.
This is of course an extraordinarily small number when you consider the time and column inches the popular media give to reporting the so-called ‘debate’. What it shows is that there is no genuine ‘debate’ on the science of global warming. The self-styled ‘sceptics’ are a tiny number of people making a noise out of all proportion to their numbers and seeking to distort the public view of the issue.
This pathetic petition reveals the deniers as the tiny minority they really are. It is time that we all petitioned our media and their controllers demanding that they stop giving equal time and weight to an essentially non-existent point of view.
Imagine we lived in a world where climate change was an established fact, politically as well as scientifically. Governments believed it was a serious mid-term threat to our climate and our world, and that action must be taken, without violating civil liberties, to minimise the risk of global catastrophe.
What would we do? What could we do that we aren’t doing now?
Actually we could do a lot that we’re barely even looking at. A lot of it would have social benefits at the same time. The following are just my suggestions of what a government which truly believed in a green future would do.
- Seriously invest in public transport. I’ve been to Europe, and every country I’ve visited has better public transport than Glasgow does. They might have an extensive tram system, buses that give change, an extensive underground system, websites which actually mention where buses actually stop with reference to some map. German buses run to the minute on timetables; in Poland you can buy handfuls of bus tickets at newsagents. Compare this to Glasgow where the leading bus company provides maps with no street names, timetables that say “every twenty minutes” for much of the day, no information on fares, no change given, and buses that start and end in locations so far from Glasgow that nine times out of ten their stated destinations give no clue as to the route. (Campaign to change this: Better Buses.)
Bus companies are private, but if a government really wanted to see improvement there’s loads of things they could do, up to and including renationalising. They could have some sort of legal minimum standards to protect rural areas and vulnerable passengers. They could require frequent independent assessments of any bus service. They could provide funds to councils to maintain several bus stations of a reasonable size to negate the problem that you can only change from one route to the other in the city centre. And that’s just my ideas. On the trains there are problems of overcrowding, overpricing and underinvestment. When was the last time you saw a new housing estate which merited a new station? Or a new station for that matter? Glasgow’s underground is pretty reliable most of the time, from past experience, but it runs in a circle which is only of use if both origin and destination are on that circle.
- Sanctions on new home energy efficiency.New homes would have to meet minimum standards for insulation, double glazing and energy efficiency. Any appliances provided would have to meet a minimum criteria. It’s far easier insulating properly as you build rather than re-doing it later, especially if it’s been decorated for you and you don’t want to do it again. Refurbishments for letting or that require planning could have similar standards applied.
Sanctions applied on new builds now mean that 10 years down the line all homes up to ten years old meet reasonable modern standards. If we hesitate that’s even longer with valuable heat leaking out unnecessarily. Bonus is of course that the people who live in the house are warmer in winter, cooler in summer and spend less on fuel: everybody wins (except the big six, apparently).
- Reduction of cheap short-haul air travel.Want to go to London from Glasgow? Considered taking the train? Well you’ll find it can be twice the cost of a flight. You need to be really serious about your eco footprint to pay double for the sake of the environment. Ferry trips to Ireland or the continent are similarly enormously expensive compared to flights.
A serious government would put systems in place to allow the same sort of cheap rates to apply to rail and ferry travel as apply to air travel. Or would put sanctions on cheap flights. I know that forcing things to be more expensive means the rich get as much as they like and the poor get squat. Sadly I haven’t come up with a better alternative to capitalism that will sell. The rich always get what they like in a capitalist system.
- Help to people making their home more efficient.There is some of this about. It’s restricted to cavity wall and loft insulation, though, there’s no “of equivalent value” for alternatives where necessary. I’ve not heard of any government schemes to install double glazing in rented accomondation, nor relaxing of planning consent requirements for energy-efficiency options. Listed buildings still need to put the look of any planned improvements ahead of their functional use.
Free energy-efficient light bulbs just doesn’t cut the mustard in my book though.
- Recycling facilities. There are some recycling facilities. It’s fairly common to have doorstop recycling and landfill collections. This is a step forward: five years ago I could only drop off my recycling by driving to an obscure supermarket about fifteen miles away which seemed daft. However most bins in public spaces are simple rubbish bins with no option for recycling. But other reuse schemes seem to have mostly stopped. Remember the 20p collection for glass bottles? They still exist but it’s far harder to find them, or a shop that will exchange them, and far easier to find plastic bottles. Not to mention that 20p buys far less these days. Or morning milk deliveries that collected your glass bottles to refill them?
I think we could do better on this, and I don’t think it’d take much effort. (I also fully expect that at some point in the future people will mine our landfill sites for rare earth metals. Not sure if it’ll happen in my lifetime… unless the recession gets really bad.)
- International negotiating. There are global resources that we all benefit from preserving. But I’ve yet to see a rich nation voluntarily paying rent to a poorer nation for a share of their resources. We condemn Brazil for chopping down the rainforest, but will we suggest or pay for other ways to feed their population than farming on previously rainforest land?
I’ve not mentioned renewable energy in here much. Although we could do more, our installed capacity of renewable energy has been growing at a huge rate, so that of the three main carbon producers in public life — electricity, heat, and transport — we’re doing far better on electricity than on heat or transport. Part of me wonders if that’s because you can wear renewable energy like a badge: Look at me, I’m eco-conscious, look how many wind farms I have! Harder to do with an inexpensive, fast and efficient railway system.
The evidence is that we in the UK are not living in a world which accepts climate change. We might say we want to reduce energy bills for vulnerable customers, but we want to do it by reducing profits of utility companies rather than by ensuring homes are as warm as possible. None of these suggestions are particularly risky, and most offer benefits to the poorest even if you don’t consider climate change a problem.
In a very real sense, we are not serious about climate change.
Perhaps we do need a true, personal catastrophe before we can take even these small steps. If so, what does that say about us?
‘Turbinetastic’ is a wind industry professional who has kindly agreed to syndicate their posts to this blog. This post was originally published on turbinetastic’s own blog on 13/04/2012.
Public opinion changes with the weather . . .
Recent poll data from the USA show that public ‘belief’ in global warming is swinging back in favour after reaching an all-time low in 2010 and early 2011. 62% of respondents now agree the earth is warming, compared to a low point of only 52% two years ago in Spring 2010.
Analysts ascribe this resurgence to the record-breaking March heatwave that has gripped most of the continental USA for the entire month of March.
Meanwhile, scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies are predicting that an upswing in solar activity combined with the next El Niño will trigger record global temperatures over the next three years.
Climate models and their interpreters all agree that the number/percentage of extreme weather events will increase as a result of global warming. Although it cannot be proved that any individual event would or would not have occurred in a pre-industrial atmosphere, statistics and avarages will increasingly bear out that hypothesis as more and more extreme weather events occur.
The ordinary people so beloved of pollsters will make their judgement based not on what the IPCC or politicians tell them but on ‘common sense’ and what they see happening around them. An increase in extreme weather events will lead to increased ‘belief’ in MMGW and increased support for policies designed to mitigate it.
I think that we will see this trend taking hold increasingly over the next three years, which are likely to be record-breakers all over the globe.
I predict that 2011 will go down in history as the year the wave of climate change denial reached its highest point and broke, foaming and hissing impotently, on the jagged rocks of reality.
If I ask you what colour the sky was, you’d say blue. If I asked what colour it was right now where you are, the only way for you to answer correctly would be to go and look. That’s science: the go and look bit. Science is where we try and get past the rote answer and use evidence to understand what’s going on.
There have always been people who don’t like the go-and-look philosophy. Most of the time they’re the same people who would prefer we all take on the listen-to-them philosophy. It rankles with a certain type of person that they can’t just say anything they like without being fact-checked. It used to be religious authority who were most guilty of this; now it seems to be marketers & PR people working for rich corporations, billionaires and politicians. Or at least so the documents about the Heartland Institute released this week would lead us to conclude. (I’ll not go through this, you can read more about it here if you’re interested.
I don’t like this war. To me, if you want to know what colour the sky is, you go and look. If you can’t do that, you use the scientific method to find the most probable answer. You don’t ask yourself, what is the most beneficial answer? And then shout out to everyone who’ll listen that the sky is in fact black-and-white-stripes, punching anyone who disagrees with you in the mouth. The trouble is that in human affairs, what matters most isn’t what you can prove, it’s what you can get people to believe. And the anti-climate-change lobby have been very, very effective at getting the public to accept the idea that there’s any scientific controversy. There isn’t. Human action is causing the climate to change. (The graph in that last link is particularly compelling.)
Over and over again, I encounter the idea that renewables are only being developed for the subsidies; like there are fat cats putting up useless wind farms and then laughing at us all the way to the bank. I’ve seen no evidence for this. Firstly the subsidies are generally paid out alongside the electricity being generated, so that if you build a wind farm in a bad location or if you don’t maintain it you get far less in terms of subsidies. Secondly the expense of building the project and the risk of failure all fall on the developer, and many wind farms do fail at various points after significant time and money has been invested in them; not really something that encourages risky development and then running off with the cash. Thirdly, the renewables lobby, like the climate change lobby, are nowhere near as effective as their various counterparts. And fourthly, electricity prices are driven by gas prices. Renewables aren’t driving profits or costs to any large extent, and a lot of their profits goes back into the next development. Profits which are being invested in infrastructure aren’t lining fat cat pockets.
If there are powerful people with lots of spare money about, they’re not coming from the renewables industry. They’re more likely to be coming from the oil and gas sector. Those are the people who don’t want us to invest in renewable energy which doesn’t require a constant fuel source. Those are the people with both the motivation and the money to actually get their voice heard. And the evidence seems to suggest that they’re using that voice: they’re using it to lie to you.
The worst thing about it is that if we don’t know the facts we make poor decisions. We all want our grandchildren to live on a planet that’s at least as good as the one we have. No-one wants the luxury of a private jet if the direct cost is watching their grandchildren starve in a climate-change induced drought. If we change things now, we can do it slowly, keep the level of technology we have. If we don’t…
Well, the way I see it, if we don’t reduce our reliance on oil and gas we face much bigger problems than just climate change. We face the increasing instability of the Middle East, and hugely fluctuating prices. We face increasingly desperate technologies (like fracking) used in increasingly unsuitable environments. We face dwindling global supplies and perhaps even wars over what remains (the question of who owns North Sea oil if Scotland gains independence will seem tame in comparison). On a human level there could be a global crisis of a level not seen since the second world war. And on top of that we could have hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and monsoons, rising sea levels and dwindling water supplies.
Unless we work to avert it. Now. Little by little.
‘Turbinetastic’ is a wind industry professional who has kindly agreed to syndicate their posts to this blog. This post was originally published on turbinetastic’s own blog on 22/02/2012.