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Myles' fighting talk

Myles Allen has entered the climate fray again, with an article in the Mail on Sunday which strikes several blows at UK energy policy, and in particular windfarms, carbon trading and carbon taxes.

90 per cent of the measures adopted in Britain and elsewhere since the 1997 Kyoto agreement to cut global emissions are a waste of time and money – including windfarms in Scotland, carbon taxes and Byzantine carbon trading systems.

Unfortunately, he thinks the answer lies in carbon capture, an approach that can best be described as "speculative". However, recognition of the madness is the first step towards a cure, so we should probably welcome Myles' move.

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Reader Comments (67)

How seroiusly should I take a ten question quiz on climate change when two of the questions are ad hominem attacks on politicians?

After all, climate change remain the same regardless of payments to politicians , greens or sceptics.

May 27, 2013 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

Richard Drake- "Immense work by the editorial and graphics folk of the Mail on Sunday. You've made some of us look like wimps but this could, as Paul and others imply, change the UK debate overnight."

I doubt it, Richard. There are many people who will never be persuaded by anything printed in the Mail, just as there are those who take the same view of the Grauniad.

My particular problem is Myles "11C" Allen. With that in mind, I just cannot take him seriously. Even when he may be trying to appear sensible. I wouldn't buy a second-hand car from him.

May 27, 2013 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"After all, climate change remain the same regardless of payments to politicians , greens or sceptics."

There would be no dispute if climate change had no effect on our energy policies. The
greens have found a way to push their anti human policies without the irksome need to ask the public, they are being aided in this by politicians who stand to make a lot of money from the implementation of the green dream. I would have thought this was obvious. Even to you.

May 27, 2013 at 5:46 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Bish writes:

[Myles Allen] ... strikes several blows at UK energy policy, and in particular windfarms, carbon trading and carbon taxes.

Better (very, very) late than never, I suppose. But the first question that occurs to me is, what took Myles so long to see the light?! I also wonder what makes him so certain that:

a) there really is a "carbon dioxide" problem that requires "fixing"; and

b) that the panacea of choice is the untested, untried and very expensive CC&S

Colour me somewhat skeptical - or even cynical ... but, considering that approximately a year ago Myles declared himself unqualified (my word not his) to speak to the inadequacies of (inter alia) the Muir Russell and Oxburgh reports, I wonder what studies he has personally undertaken to lead him to this particular epiphany.

I also wonder if Myles is aware that the UN propaganda carbon-footprint generating machine is in the process of moving on from the obvious failures of the past twenty years. Nowadays, it's all about "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs) ... and, of course, there have been meetings of an "Open Working Group" (OWG) - the latest of which (OWG 3) took place:

22-24 May 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting brought together OWG members, other member states, observers, representatives from UN agencies and Major Groups. The meeting was devoted to addressing the thematic issues of: (a) food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, desertification, land degradation and drought, and (b) water and sanitation. The OWG is co-chaired by Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and Csaba Körösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary.

Evidently, this OWG of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) owes its existence to:

[...] ten days in Rio [+20 last June during which] government delegations concluded negotiations on the Conference outcome document, titled The Future We Want. Among other initiatives, The Future We Want calls for the establishment of an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on SDGs, with a view to developing global SDGs to be adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA). (emphasis added -hro)

This latest gathering gave rise to an 11,700+ word-salad with some new buzz phrases. But first some word counts:

Sustainable 89 (including 37 "sustainable development")

Climate change 20

Carbon 5 (including 1 "carbon dioxide" and 1 "carbon emissions")

Greenhouse gas 2

Financ* 10 (but it's early days for this "inclusive and transparent ... process")

Land degradation 32

You'll be pleased to know that there was considerable engagement in an "interactive exchange of views" (as opposed to a non-interactive exchange thereof, I suppose); however, only one of these exchanges was described as "dynamic".

One of the most remarkable insights was put forward by Amir Abdulla, World Food Programme (WFP). This person had declared (I kid you not!):

there is no point to producing more food if people cannot access it.

Amazing, eh?! But I digress ...

Science did get 6 mentions - most of which were the names of organizations participating in an:

Expert Group Meeting on Science and SDGs [which] took place from 20-21 March 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York. Participants discussed the need to make science more accessible to policy-makers and the general public, the importance of new forms of governance that can adequately address scientific evidence and phenomena, as well as scientific innovation and capacity building in developing countries.(emphasis added -hro)

It is worth noting - perhaps with some measure of, well, alarm - that during a "keynote" address on the matter of "FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION, SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE, DESERTIFICATION, LAND DEGRADATION AND DROUGHT", Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared that:

[...] achieving food security and nutrition must be at the heart of the SDGs, as these factors are prerequisites for sustainable development. To drive inclusive growth and poverty reduction in rural areas, Semedo highlighted the need to support small-scale farmers’ investments. Recognizing the interconnected nature of these challenges, Semedo stated that they are too big for any single government or organization to tackle alone. (emphasis added -hro)

This could be an exception to a rather long-standing rule that whenever a UN body declares that problem/challenge x is "too big for any government or organization to tackle alone", it invariably results in a plethora of panels (High Level and/or Low Level) and committees and subcommittees and working groups and Gaia knows what all geared towards demanding that the developed nations (who have invariably caused problem x) hand over some $$$ to a UN body who will fix it! But I digress ...

In skimming this well-dressed quasi-official word-salad, I noticed that there are no "footprints" (nor any of Santer's favoured "fingerprints") mentioned. However, an up and coming phrase to watch for is not "carbon neutral", but "land degradation neutral".

The term "sustainable development" has been hovering in the background for a few decades or so now. So I'm sure you will be as relieved as I to learn that at this third OWG session:

As the meeting concluded, several participants were cautiously optimistic that this process had the potential to finally define and operationalize sustainable development. However, others warned that it is still early in the process and success is far from certain.(emphasis added -hro)

[Source for above quotes]

Perhaps in his next Op Ed Myles will tell us how CC&S fits into this still undefined (after more than twenty years) - but very much favoured - concept of "sustainable development".

May 27, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

As the author of the quiz that some of you seem to like, I think some of these comments are too critical of Myles - who, by the way, as the Bish has already noted, is appearing in an Oxford Union debate tomorrow on the same side as Benny Peiser of the GWPF and myself. That, for someone in his position, takes a degree of courage: to appear on a platform on the same side as two people frequently vilified as "deniers". He displayed a similar courage in the same venue a few months ago, when rather then play to the green gallery, he effectively halted the cheap, ad hominem attacks being made by Mehdi Hasan of Aljazeera TV against Richard Lindzen. Tomorrow's motion is This House Would Stop the Annual UN Climate Summits.

You may not agree with his current conclusions. But in my eyes, he a man of integrity, and as well as recognising the follies of current policy, his proposed solution has two great virtues. First, it wouldn't bankrupt us, nor shackle the competitiveness of developed nations viz a viz China and India. Second, he says any CCS target should be flexible, and subject to revision, as the actual path being taken by global climate becomes clearer. I'd rather have that than the Yeo - Deben green industrial complex, anyday.

May 27, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rose

Let me try that Source - again (a gremlin seems to have wiped out all but the closing tag - which I cannot reproduce here so that it appears, no matter what I try!)

The "Source" link is:

And if that doesn't appear correctly (although it worked when I tested in preview!) pls. paste the following into your browser:

May 27, 2013 at 9:36 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Sorry David Rose but I beg to differ, Myles does not convince me. No point retyping the past but anybody is free to google his previous form and make their own minds up.

May 27, 2013 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

David Rose: Very well done with the quiz. For the record I for one am well impressed with how far Myles Allen has travelled in recent days. None of us can see inside another's heart but I'm certainly prepared to accept and welcome his moral courage. I look forward to hearing about tomorrow's debate.

May 27, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Getting to first place in the life boat queue isn't "moral courage".

May 27, 2013 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

May 27, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Richard Drake

I for one am well impressed with how far Myles Allen has travelled in recent days.

Perhaps "recent" days are very relative. I for one was decidedly unimpressed with the stuff Allen made up for the Guardian, in retwardian™ fashion - supposedly in response to Matt Ridley's article in The Times.

As for Allen's "moral courage" ... sorry, but it simply pales in comparison to that of Judith Curry, who long ago expressed her doubts about the efficacy of the UNFCCC's confabs - along with the work of the IPCC.

But that aside, this is not really a new position for Allen, who if I recall correctly [no thanks to Adam Corner's reporting] had expressed a similar view - at least wrt the IPCC - at a seminar/workshop some months ago.

May 27, 2013 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

To give some philosophical and practical background to my comments, I bought long ago the idea, expressed so well by Tom Sowell in The Quest for Cosmic Justice, that we won't find that thing in this life. So if someone moves in a reasonably good direction, good enough. Especially because the energy poor are the ones that really suffer from all this. If that's my motivation the hurt feelings of sceptics matter little as long as harmful policies are reversed.

But will they be reversed? Myles Allen has surely made that more likely by his comments in the Mail on Sunday. I agree with Hilary that his article in the Guardian was less impressive than this one. But Allen has been moving in the right direction and telling the world so in the MSM. Two cheers at least for that. And I trust David Rose's judgment of the situation also.

May 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

IMO, philosophically, Myles hasn't moved at all. He remains an advocate rather than a scientist. Evidence of a philosophical shift would be for him to show up on Doug's Met Office thread saying:

"I'm embarrassed that, as one of the official big brains pushing the end of the world, it has been a concerned citizen that has done my homework for me. Please ignore my comments in the DM about the essential nature of CCS whilst I review my position. I'll write to the Editor of the MoS accordingly."

May 27, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

The only efficient CO2 capture system is photosynthesis (coincidentally, the best use of solar energy). For those who persist in thinking that there is too much CO2 in the current atmosphere, the answer is to grow more plants. The real question is how to stop it getting back into the atmosphere when we eat/burn them.

I'm for a mass conversion to wooden houses/bridges instead of all this nasty steel and concrete (which release lots of the evil CO2 anyway). Sure, we'll lose a few hundred thousand people a year when they collapse, but that's a small price to pay for saving the planet.....

/sarc off

I'm beginning to think too many of these people have got the wrong idea from going to renaissance fairs - they think that the middle ages were a good time to be alive!

May 27, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Potter

Hilary makes good points w/ regards to Allen.

To earn his stripes doesn't mean yellow up is back. Yellow is cheap. Real stripes will take courage. Allen hasn't even passed "boot camp".

May 28, 2013 at 3:33 AM | Unregistered Commentereyesonu


Lots of money to be made on both sides of the debate. That's the problem. Both sides are pouring money into advocacy, and advocates, for their own point of view. The politics and propoganda coming from all directions is obscuring the science.

May 29, 2013 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

EM - "Both sides are pouring money into advocacy, and advocates, for their own point of view. The politics and propoganda coming from all directions is obscuring the science."

Please identify the 'sides' and the numbers involved.

Please identify the science too.

May 30, 2013 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Does anybody have a report of the Oxford Union debate that David Rose mentions above? I can find the result but no write up - apologies if it is somewhere obvious.

Jun 1, 2013 at 1:53 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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