This comes from the advertising notice for the latest Spectator which is an interesting summary of where we now are. For myself, I remain the deepest kind of sceptic, having cut my teeth on predictions of famine, resource depletion and ecological disasters for over fifty years, not a single one of which has ever turned out to be remotely true. Both of The Spectator authors unfortunately accept there may be something to this global warming creed. Seems a weak position from which to start but maybe when in the grip of such delusion, that is the only available course.
The hype around Monday’s IPCC global warming report was the usual alarmist nonsense. The real story lay in the small print. In our cover piece this week, Matt Ridley has done the digging and found that the authors of the UN climate consensus have now accepted what Nigel Lawson has argued for years: that we may not be able to do much about the planet warming, but we can adapt to it. The apocalyptic scenarios need never emerge, as long as we take the right action.
Meanwhile, Bjørn Lomborg exposes the true green scandal. When Rowan Williams talks about climate change, his assumption is that it hurts the poorest hardest. There’s much truth in that, says Bjørn, but what the alarmists don’t realise (or don’t want to accept) is that green policies inflict far more harm on the poor than the global warming they are trying to avert. Access to cheap and plentiful electricity is one of the most effective ways to escape poverty; green energy is neither cheap nor plentiful.
But for more of this apocalyptic doomsaying, let me take you to a book written exactly a century ago, and to its introduction dated 21 March 1914. Reading the economics of the past is beneficial for a hundred reasons (see my Defending the History of Economic Thought) but one of the most important is that it takes you out of the time in which you live and allows you to look at things in a wholly different way. This is from the preface of a book titled, The Nation’s Wealth which was written by L.G. Chiozza Money:
That the conditions of British wealth are static is a common and dangerous assumption. That assumption is challenged in this volume. The British national economy is revealed as a thing of uncertain equilibrium, the future of which it may be beyond the power of the British people to determine. From a careful examination of the facts of the case, the conclusion emerges that as modern British wealth depends upon a peculiarly good supply of coal, and as the duration of the Coal Age is uncertain, it is the supreme duty to regard the present as a preparation, during which it is necessary to train our people, and so to mould our social and industrial institutions, that the nation may be fortified for that scientific future as to which, while are many uncertainties, there is one absolute certainty – that Coal will pass. [My bolding]
Those absolute certainties! Six months later, his world would be plunged into a different kind of disequilibrium but in the meantime the absolute certainty was that coal would run out and soon. A century later, coal has not run out, there is something like 500 years’ worth of the stuff in easy reach, never mind all of the other forms of carbon-based energy. The effort is therefore being made to rid us of carbon-based energy through another kind of apocalyptic vision, one about as accurate as the one held by L.G. Money a century ago.
So if there is one absolute certainty it is this: these same apocalyptic the-end-is-nigh types will be forecasting the end a hundred years from now just as they will be there two hundred years from now and so on ad nauseam ad infinitum.