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Discussion > Its the economy stupid!

Something that has been on my mind for years (marinating in large quantities of excellent red wine) is that various and successive governments seem to have lost sight of the idea of "priorities".
An example that really annoyed me was Defence. Before the election Cameron said (in one of the debates) that defence is the first priority of any government (or words to that effect).
Once in power, the coalition announced that there was a £38 billion hole in the defence budget and that regrettably we would have to make cuts in the defence budget.
At about the same time the coalition announced that it planned to build a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham (and beyond) and that the cost would be about £38 billion? Am I the only one who wonders about their sanity?
Then of course we come to our favourite nightmare; CAGW!
Lets assume for a moment that CAGW is real and that our use of fossil fuels will raise the temperature of the planet by 4 deg C or even more. What should the government's priorities be?
As I see it, the main duty of the UK government is to the UK and its population and a warming of 4 deg C would simply mean that we would not need to go to France for our holidays.
Some other countries would suffer and still more would benefit so what should we do?
Regardless of global temperature (unless our population is at risk) the well being of our people depends on our economy. When our economy grows people are better off and are able to buy the things they need and also some of the things they aspire to.
If we decide that the main priority is to try and prevent the world from warming by reducing fossil fuel use then our economic performance is totally dependent on the rest of the world adopting the same priority.
The rest of the world has NOT adopted the policy we are currently pursuing. The USA is going for gas, Germany is going for coal (the cheapest energy), India is totally dependent on coal and so is China but both are also going for gas.
Action on carbon reduction by the UK alone is as useful as a candle at the North Pole and so the government is faced with deciding priorities (thats what we pay them for).
The UK will not suffer if the global temperature rises by 4 deg C, in fact it may benefit.
Many of our our economic competitors are not going for carbon reduction, they are going for growth.
How can a group of sane, intelligent people decide that the best interests of the UK are served by castrating our economy?

Sep 22, 2012 at 12:47 AM | Registered CommenterDung

So you spent several years mulling a question that seems to be based upon one assertion:

The UK will not suffer if the global temperature rises by 4 deg C, in fact it may benefit.

In your years of mulling, did you come to a conclusion as to what detailed effects a global rise in temperature rise of 4 deg C will have on your little island? Or are you just saying it will be something like London now + 4C; Aberdeen now + 4C etc? You must have some serious models to be so sure of your conclusion. Perhaps you can describe your methods in a paper for a journal. Or a book, even!

Sep 22, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Dung, it looks like a case of the prisoner's dilemma. The UK benefits only if all other countries go for carbon reduction. If the UK defects from the mainstream, it will suffer.

Sep 22, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

BitBucket

I am not really sure why you pounce on my Discussion threads but hey ho;

I didnt say I had been mulling over the global rise in temperature.
If the average global temperature rises by 4 deg C the largest rise will be at the poles with virtually nothing at the equator.
I can not produce a paper since I am not a scientist.
This is a "Discussion thread" I invite people to discuss what I said.

Sep 22, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Sorry to pounce; take it as a compliment ;-) Discussions are boring without a source of disagreement.

Discussion involves, among other things, getting to the bottom of what other have said. Your central assertion that a global rise of 4C will have no effect on the UK needs explanation to be taken seriously, as does your new assertion that the equator would see virtually no temperature rise. Can you justify these statements?

Sep 22, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BitBucket

Compliment gratefully accepted ^.^
I can not quote a reference for my statement but if you need me to do so I will look one up. I honestly believe that it is widely accepted on all sides that when the planet warms; the poles warm most quickly and the Equator more slowly if at all (anybody got a ref?).
In terms of the effect on the UK of a 4 deg C rise, I did perhaps understate the problems. There would also be sea level rises (I think) but that is not an insurmountable problem and it does not constitute a catastrophy for the UK.

Sep 22, 2012 at 8:58 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Too often the claims of catastrophe are misrepresented and misunderstood. A catastrophe occurs when there is no means to mitigate the problem that causes it. In the case of 'catastrophic' warming we're considering periods of 10's of decades -centuries even - and in THAT context people move, businesses move etc.
For a catastrophe to happen under these circumstances we must consider the status quo to remain unchanged and THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Even now, people are moving (or considering moving) from areas that are prone to flooding, coastal erosion etc. Any rising sea levels won't happen overnight and the changes that WILL occur will happen transparently for all intent and purpose.
So what if temperatures rise 4C in the UK? So what if the sea level rises x feet? Unless it happens TONIGHT (or within the next couple of years) why should we worry?
This is, as we all know, EVOLUTION - if even on a small scale - and something we humans are rather good at.

Sep 22, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

So is that it? 4 degrees of warming and all we get is nicer weather and wetter feet at the beach? I'm feeling a bit deflated. There are academics and programmers all over the world busy with computers and models trying to figure out what happens when the climate warms by several degrees and all they had to do was ask you! They'll be feeling pretty stupid when they find out you're not even a scientist...

Sep 22, 2012 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Bit Bucket

No need to ridicule me and I am talking to the people on BH not the world. However although paleoclimate temperature records are always a bit dodgy I think all of them admit that the world has been much warmer in the past and it is still here?
Are you a scientist BitBucket? You do seem to claim to have more answers than I do.

Sep 23, 2012 at 12:00 AM | Registered CommenterDung

To get back to the basis of this discussion:

Should the government be more interested (including spending our taxes) in looking after the interests of the UK or should it be trying to lead the way on global action against Climate Change? For the purposes of this discussion lets assume CAGW is happening.

Sep 23, 2012 at 12:09 AM | Registered CommenterDung

As I have said elsewhere, I know little and have few answers. But I know enough to question that which I find incredible. You may be talking to BH and not the world, but does that mean your arguments should be held to lower standards? Silly question, I know. Otherwise how could you post something like, "...the world has been much warmer in the past and it is still here...", and expect anything but ridicule?

Sep 23, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

On the economic side, unless I misunderstood, you seem to have no objection to £38 billion of defence spending and yet object to the same amount being spent upon trains. But it is not clear to me why buying expensive military hardware (which one would hope never to use) is economically more beneficial than buying trains and tracks (which one would hope would be used like crazy).

Sep 23, 2012 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BitBucket

£38 billion was the amount committed to defence projects by the last Labour government that was in excess of the budgets available. I am pointing out that the coalition seemed to prefer to cut defence spending and cancel projects rather than use the £38 billion they seemed to have available to balance the defence budget and start afresh.
The trains for the HS rail project would not be British designed, pretty much everything scrapped in the SDR was designed and would have been built in the UK.
Like BBD you seem to have a preference for asking questions rather than answering them and for offering ridicule rather than argument.

Sep 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Otherwise how could you post something like, "...the world has been much warmer in the past and it is still here...", and expect anything but ridicule?

If you can't say anything useful, don't say anything at all.

Nothing is going to happen *because* of climate change. Things change, and then you go around and call it global change. The whole thing is upside down.

Yes, climate does change. At timescales that are meaningless to humanity as a whole.

Jumping around about century-scale climate change is like losing one's head about how hot the sun is at noon when there was dew on the ground in the morning. The climate is, unfortunately for the activist trash involved in climate issues, noisy at centennial timescales, and even beyond.

Tough luck.

Sep 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Registered Commentershub

Wait a minute, weren't you one of those objecting to wind-farms on the basis that the money was taken from other parts of the economy and so would kill jobs elsewhere, however many jobs were created in the wind industry? Now you are telling me that it is fine to take the money as long as you spend it on useless military kit. You have a consistency problem.

I ask questions, because I know that I know nothing. Many posters here are blissfully unaware of themselves.

Shub:

If you can't say anything useful, don't say anything at all.

I guess you took your own advice with your own blog...

Sep 23, 2012 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BitBucket

I am sorry but since you continue to avoid the questions I ask you; I shall not respond to any more of your comments.

Sep 23, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Yeah, probably best, after all nobody else seems to want to discuss it. Not surprising really, since the question has such weak foundations. Apart from what I already mentioned, you suggest that preventing the world from warming by reducing fossil fuel use might be the government's main priority. How much of the £600+ billion a year that the UK government spends goes towards this end? If it is the "main priority" it must be a pretty significant proportion, wouldn't you say? So how much is it?

Sep 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"Otherwise how could you post something like, "...the world has been much warmer in the past and it is still here...", and expect anything but ridicule?"

Not sure I understand that BB, the "natural" temperature of the Earth over the last 600 million years appears higher than 15C for almost the entire period - in geological terms that is.

Sep 24, 2012 at 7:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I believe you'll find that the Climate Change Act commits us to £18bn/annum until 2050 to get a reduction of 89% in our CO2 output, Using today's figure of the UK's contribution to CO2 emissions as 1.8%, and falling, that means we will have diverted £720bn out of actual economic/social progress to get the world's emissions down by 1.44%. I'll leave it to you to decide whether spending 2.5% of your taxes, and simultaneously doubling or trebling, if the experience of Denmark and Germany are anything to go by, the cost of energy are worthwhile activities. Unless you're a Greenie of course and don't give a damn about human beings.

Sep 24, 2012 at 7:37 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Yeah, probably best, after all nobody else seems to want to discuss it.
For one possible reason why, BitBucket, try looking in a mirror.

Sep 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

So if the "main priority" only gets 2.5% of taxes, let's hope that health, education and welfare don't become "main priorities" any time soon.

Sep 24, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

So £18 billion/year is not much in your book? Now whose being ridiculous? Seems like you come here, not to be constructive,but to pick a fight, particularly with Dung for some reason.

Sep 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Porter

it's bit's shtick - he knows nothing and has no opinions...he just tries to ridicule and never succeeds. The very model of a modern fatuous twerp. A sceptic with no knowledge apart from what his indoctrinators told him...appear to know nothing but at all costs ridicule people who do not kowtow to the IPCC.

Sep 24, 2012 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

David Porter, no, £18 billion/year is not a small amount. But that is not what I said, if you read it. Dung suggested that the government's "main priority" was reducing fossil fuel use. If you had 600bn to spend wouldn't you spend more on your "main priority" than on anything else?

I have nothing against Dung, it is just that this discussion is so full of holes. If you think differently, why not address his question and not me?

Sep 25, 2012 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BitBucket, I don't think the debate is full of holes and even if I did I would not have attacked it in the "smart" manner you did, and often do. As to the £18 billion, you can argue that you didn't say it was a small amount but, whether you like it or not, that was the message received. Surely it's not necessary to attack every point you disagree with.

Sep 25, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Porter