Who will tell the Minister? January 16, 2009Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
Tags: climate change, global warming, Professor Will Alexander, professor william alexander
Who will tell the Minister?
By Professor Will Alexander
Via email, January 16, 2009
Scientists are understandably very cautious when criticising government policies. This is particularly so in the situation of state funded institutions. The Anthony Turton case that I described last November is a good example. He was forced to resign from the CSIR because his activities embarrassed the government.
An unfortunate consequence is that in the absence of criticism, the authorities have no way of discerning the truth. This is further amplified when ignorant scientists use this protection from criticism to feather their own nests.
In this situation, the only scientists who can speak out without fear are those who are no longer vulnerable. I am in that position. I also have a very strong motivation to present the truth. It is the plight of the poor and disadvantaged people of Africa. My professional and ethical concerns force me to speak on their behalf whether or not this may upset the authorities.
In the attached memo I caution the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism that his advisers are leading him into a situation that could easily cause considerable damage to the economy of this country and its peoples, without any balancing benefits. There are appreciable political risks as well.
Please distribute these memos widely.
Hopefully somebody will slip this memo under the Minister’s door.
Climate change fantacies. Who will tell the Minister?
Friday 16 January 2009
South Africa is one of the few western democracies where climate change is not a political issue. With a general election due within months, not one of the parties has climate change on its election manifesto. This has advantages for the governing party but it also has considerable political risks.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has chosen to accept the advice of a handful of climatological and environmental extremists and ignore the views of scientists who disagree with them. Scientists of the National Biodiversity Institute accompanied him to the UNFCCC conference in Poznan, Poland last month.
Last Sunday the Sunday Independent newspaper gave prominence to the Minister’s strongly held views expressed after the failed UNFCCC conference. He expressed no doubts at all on the climate change issue. He detailed measures that South Africa will enforce to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels.
The article also contained comments urging the Minister not to take steps that will damage our economy. There was an accompanying tongue-in-cheek photograph of a river in Bosnia that could no longer generate hydroelectric power because it was frozen solid. The caption commented: Scientists warn that an increase in the global average temperature of more than 2°C could have disastrous consequences.
I have attached a one-page cut-and-paste copy of the article. Please read it and note the Minister’s views and the balanced reaction to his views on economic grounds.
Who will tell the Minister?
The Minister has chosen to appoint a scientific bodyguard of climate alarmists. At the Midrand conference he stated:
‘We will not be derailed from our responsibility to act by endless engagement with fringe scientists… we have reached and passed this in the debate about the science of climate change.’
Now he has a serious problem. For the past four years several of us have repeatedly warned that there are very serious scientific errors in this whole climate change issue. All of a sudden, around the world scientists in other disciplines have started demonstrating the fundamental errors in current climate change theory. The basic assumption that greenhouse gas emissions cause global temperatures to rise is seriously questioned. My colleagues and I have demonstrated the dominant role of variations in solar activity on multi-year climatic variations. The Internet is full of critical comments of climate change theory and those who propagate it.
In the newspaper article, the Minister mentioned the introduction of a carbon tax; encouraging the use of renewable energy sources; and carbon capture requirements for new coal-fired power stations and oil-from-coal industries.
Has he not been informed that carbon taxes will be passed on to the consumers and so pose a political risk?
Has he not been informed that there are no economically viable sources of renewable energy on the required scale other than nuclear energy?
Has he not been informed that carbon capture technology does not exist?
Is he not aware that at least 90% of the population of this country do not have the slightest interest in climate change?
He complained that some of the developed countries are still playing hide-and-seek with the climate and that this is irresponsible. Surely he must realise that they have a reason for their reluctance. The imposition of uniform restrictions on all countries is not economically feasible because they will result in trade disadvantages to some and advantages to others. It seems that the Minister was chuffed because the rich nations refused to donate large sums of money to the developing nations, including South Africa, for adaptation and mitigation measures.
Surely the Minister must appreciate that there is no way that all nations of the world, developed and developing; rich and poor; will simultaneously agree to commit economic suicide.
Surely he must appreciate that the measures he proposes will cause further job losses and increased poverty and social unrest.
Surely he must realise that there will be no meaningful international agreement at Copenhagen in December. This will leave South Africa high and dry and expose him to ridicule.
Above all, does he not realise the potential risk that he faces when the machinations of his scientific advisers are exposed?
The media and his political opponents will be unforgiving.
The Minister should be informed that it is not only his own ministry that is at risk. Press releases issued before the sudden blackouts show that Eskom’s delay in building new power stations was the consequence of pressures from the Minister. This cost South Africa tens of millions of Rand and thousands of job losses, particularly in the mining and in the construction industries. South Africa is still suffering from this decision.
Given this experience, it is pure fantasy to assume that South Africa can halt further increases in emissions by 2020 (11 years from now), and have absolute emissions reductions of between 80% and 95% below the 1990 levels by mid-century. This target is totally unattainable, particularly in view of our rising population and our progression towards prosperity. Where will our additional electricity supplies come from? What will be the cost to our economy and our citizens? What will the effect be on our national economy? Why does our Minister not supply this information so that the electorate can have a say in his proposals? His dictatorial attitude is not appropriate in our democratic society.
Above all, these actions will not have even a miniscule effect on global warming. Ask any climate alarmist to provide his calculations that support his claims that South Africa’s actions will have a measurable effect on global climate.
His scientific advisers can expect no mercy once their manipulations of the truth become known. The reputation of science as an honourable profession will also be severely damaged.
Given these questions, why does the Minister not establish a multi-disciplinary committee of experts to advise him instead of relying on a small group of climatological and environmental extremists who have zero knowledge in this field? Why do these scientists not make this recommendation themselves? Failure to do so places them at serious risk of being accused of unprofessional conduct.
There are also other state departments that are being dragged into the climatological quicksands. These include the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry as well as the Water Research Commission.
I will discuss the Water Research Commission’s predicament in my next memo.
National disaster ahead.
South Africa has an expanding coal mining and export industry. Why does the Minister not mention this and the associated job losses if the industry succumbs to his pressures?
The Minister’s second portfolio is tourism. This makes up a significant part of our economy. Why does he not mention the consequences of restrictions and increased costs of air and road travel on our tourism industry?
Greenpeace has just established an office in South Africa. There will soon be head-on collisions with the South African authorities.
Internationally, our Minister is fast losing friends. His policies are in direct conflict with those of the powerful developing nations of India and China, and now with the developed nations of Europe and the USA as well.
Put all the above together and what do you get? A national disaster in the making.
As a start the Minister should seriously consider firing his scientific bodyguard.
There is only one solution that can save the Minister and his party from considerable political embarrassment. It is one that I have repeatedly recommended. It is that he should appoint a multi-disciplinary commission of enquiry as a matter of urgency.
But who is going to inform the Minister? His entourage are isolating him from the truth.
[Copy of Sunday Independent newspaper article attached.