back to article Fighting Thermageddon just got £1 trillion cheaper

As if by magic, a trillion pounds has been shaved off the estimated cost of Global Warming regulation in the UK overnight. Parliament has yet to be informed of this numerical feat. When MPs and Lords passed the Climate Change Act late last year - see Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate - they did so without so much …


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  1. Ash

    I can save them even more money!

    By giving just me £2bn, they can save giving everyone else £2bn each! A saving of almost £140,000,000,000,000,000,000 (One hundred and fourty million billion pounds!)

    So, how much is a trillion? I believe a US trillion would be quite a lot less than a UK trillion...

  2. General A. Annoying

    "The UK's annual GDP is over £2tn"

    We should be even cheaper then, as I suspect our GDP is likely to be substantially below that.

    And isn't it just a teensy bit coincidental, £1Tn in "benefits which had previously escaped your notice" is surprisingly like the amount this country is likely to be in debt by (at least) to get us 'out' of the current economic situation?

    As a certain Mr. Royle would say; "Coincidence, my arse!"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually give each household £20,000...

    To spend on creating a more efficient house.

    Solar Panels, wind turbines, solar water heating..

    All doable with 20K.

    And you could probably even pump energy back into the grid from most houses.

  4. Colin

    no such thing as UK trillion any more

    The UK has officially abandoned the old number system where 1 trillion would be 1 million billion (and one billion would be 1 million million).

    The UK now uses the so-called "american" system where 1 trillion = 1 thousand billion.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Lovely new term

    Thermageddon. I like that and will begin using immediately. Thanks, Reg!

  6. Dave


    "The UK has officially abandoned the old number system"

    I'm in the UK, and I haven't abandoned proper numbers.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  8. Colin


    I was referring to the government - who have switched to using the "US" system in official documentation. Clearly it won't work to use the two interchangeably (although this would make the basis of a good "yes minister" episode.....)

    I don't think this is written in law anywhere but the old "UK" method is clearly falling out of favour.

    Looking at any UK science publications - science magazine articles, Royal Society articles online, etc - "billion" is explained as 10^9. Most countries have now adopted this convention (including the UK government) - clearly an international standard is necessary or some major problems could occur in international collaborative projects eh ....

    Courtesy of the late great Douglas Adams - " due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog" .... heh heh

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    Those looking for sources might want to use Wikipedia as a search engine...

    IMHO, however, it would be better for public debate if both "billion" and "trillion" were expunged from public life and the politicians forced to count in "millions" or "pounds per head of population". The latter is more meaningful in nearly all cases and the former is at least a mouthful when the figures get scandalously large.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the "US" system

    In the US, I think we call it the Standard International system. Go figger.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Orwellian economics

    In everything this government touches, the actual costs are far more than estimated and the realised benefits are far less. Its even more likely to happen when they have no idea of the real costs and the true benefits are likely to be minimal.

  12. Quirkafleeg


    If a thousand million is a milliard, does that make a thousand billion a billiard?

  13. Simian Antics
    Paris Hilton


    Maybe Jaqui Smith should put a plug in the ozone layer. I hear they cost just 88p.

  14. CTG
    Dead Vulture

    One sided reporting

    This one-sided reporting by El Reg is getting very tedious. Climate change is real and it is happening now, guys. Arguing over how much it is going to cost doesn't alter the fact that we still have to do something about it. In fact, by helping Big Oil spread its misinformation, you are only adding to the eventual cost of cleaning up, because the more you fuel the denialist lobby by printing their garbage, the harder it is to persuade politicians to do something about it.

    Meanwhile, it the real world, the effects of AGW are becoming more and more obvious, but I don't see any stories on El Reg about that. Take a couple of examples from the last few days:

    Why have those not been covered on El Reg? Too *inconvenient* for your denialist fantasies?

  15. cloudberry
    Paris Hilton

    congratulations, Register

    You must be feeling very pleased with yourself over seeing through all the hype and propaganda.

    No matter what the overwhelming majority of the climate scientists -- you know, the people who study the issue -- say, you surely know better. After all, if all those scientists agree that we are facing a horrendously serious global problem, the only rational explanation must be that they are all deluded and/or greedy for more research funds, right?

    It is only the brave naysayers, such as yourselves and all the others "experts" vigorously commenting on every one of the numerous news stories about global climate change, who are fighting against this monstrous fraud, this horrible scam on the public. But you and I know that going against the established scientific opinion only makes you the far-seeing mavericks who wouldn't let the establishment cow them. You are, inded, the veritable Galileos of our time, so to speak.

    Some deluded fools might say that the increased amounts of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels (along with other so-called "greenhouse" gases) will act to trap more of the energy in the sun's radiation in the atmosphere, but you surely know better than this deluded physics. Climatologists might point out to increasing global average temperatures, melting glaciers and permafrost, and other phenomena consistent with the predicted effects of increased amounts of greenhouse gases, but you surely know better than to believe this propaganda -- or at any rate, you can explain it away much more convincingly than these self-styled "scientists".

    What a noble crusade you have joined. Future generations will look back thankfully on those brave souls, such as yourselves, who didn't let the perfidious scientists, and all those politicians in their thrall, pull the wool over their eyes.

  16. Paul M.
    Thumb Up

    @cloudberry the gullible

    "Climatologists might point out to increasing global average temperatures"

    Global average temperatures haven't increased in a decade.

    "all those scientists agree that we are facing a horrendously serious global problem"

    Are you this dumb every day of the week?

  17. David Robinson


    Why should we believe a crazy theory, based on misinformation, disinformation and downright lies? The 'science' concerned is based upon a view of Co2 that is in direct conflict with the basic natural, physical laws. The 'evidence' claimed is very often manufactured and is 'cherry picked' to suit.

    The claim is that because something like 2,500 'climate scientists' believe in it that it must be right. What about the fact that about 32,000 'leading scientists' have signed a petiition that humans usage has no effect on the climate? Anything against AGW is ignored, never discussed properly and scientifically, but met with personal attacks on people and their motives, claiming that they don't care about destroying the earth, when in fact this is highly unlikely.

    Theories are merely speculation without experimental verification with experiments that are repeatable by other scientists. Where are the experiments in situ witnessing the actions claimed to be taking place? Who has gone up to the areas where the processes are claimed to be happening? Who has gone to the edge of space and experienced these 1600 deg C temperatures? Who can explain how these temperatures can exist next to near absolute zero?

    Who has been able to demonstrate that Co2 molecules at some unknown site in the air can reflect heat? (this latter being only possible by exposure to high infra red? i.e. bright red heat).

    We have spent millions, maybe billions on people claiming this happens without any serious proof or even evidence. We are being committed to spending billions more and facing the destruction of western civilisation because of this stupid claim of AGW. This, it seems, is the objective of the people behind the AGW claims. The people behind all this are those who wish to use it for social engineering, or, the extreme 'greens', destroy humans altogether to make way for 'natural paradise'. Al Gore some time back was overheard to tell the truth when he said that 'If we did'nt have this [ global warming] then we would have to find something else'.


  18. Aron
    Thumb Up

    We demand debate!

    A democracy demands that politicians and scientists, who we are forced to pay a wage to out of our incomes, should debate any policies with the public or representatives of the public's choosing.

    So when are we going to see debates like the following with scaremongers such as James Hansen, leading politicians (Ed Milliband, Stern, Gore, Obama et al) and environmentalists (Monbiot et al) on the BBC, who we are also forced to pay for.

  19. CTG


    Ok, David Robinson, you want to talk about misinformation?

    Have you heard of a blog called Watts Up With That (WUWT)? One of the leading proponents of the "AGW is a hoax" theory. A brave, concerned individual called Anthony Watts, who is bravely outing the AGW scientists for the frauds that they are. Or is he?

    Recently, Watts posted an article about a paper that had just been published concerning the Ozone hole. He suggested that this article said that the Ozone hole is not caused by CFCs after all, but by cosmic radiation. A veritable howl of indignation was let loose upon cybersphere - after all, if the scientist have been lying to us about CFCs, they must be lying to us about climate change as well, right?

    Unfortunately for the ignorati who hadn't bothered to even read the paper, it actually said the exact opposite. The role of cosmic rays is that they act *upon* the CFCs in the atmosphere to produce the Ozone hole. The paper was actually explaining *how* CFCs cause the Ozone hole. When this was pointed out to Watts, did he correct his (surely innocent) mistake? No, he attacked the people who pointed out his mistake.

    Much like the way you yourself have attacked a whole field of science, because it doesn't agree with the way you think the world should work. For your information - not that you will care - those 2,500 climate scientists have spent their entire careers looking at the information, and hoping beyond hope that AGW is not happening. The 32,000 you quote are not leading scientists at all, but anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes at college who happen to vote Republican.

    As for claiming that billions of dollars have to be spent on solving climate change, those numbers look pretty small compared to the numbers being thrown about to "solve" the financial crisis. Which do *you* think would be a better investment.

    Oh, that's right, you don't think. You just regurgitate the tripe you've been fed by the oil companies. I hope you sleep well at night.

  20. Aron


    You're doing the same thing most crazed fanatics of a movement do.

    You pick on irrelevant points of debate to slander critics and accuse them, of course, of being dishonest because they aren't aligned with celebrity politics/beliefs. You know the funny way celebs see the world: Democrats = saints, Bush = Hitler, Obama = Messiah, Terrorists = misunderstood, Chakras = scientific, African babies = pets, Global warming = noble religion.

    One Brit journalist (John Sweeney) got that kind of treatment at the hands of Scientology a few years back. He questioned a celebrity cult and they made him out to be a cretinous bully.

    To save you the hassle of writing 8 paragraphs, keep it short next time and just say the following:

    "Don't see the world like a celebrity sees it? You're no good then and I won't debate any science with you!"

    This is a British site and most of us here are Brits. We don't care about Democrat vs Republican nonsense. It doesn't apply to us when we talk about science.

    Gwyneth "shampoo gives children cancer" Paltrow and Madonna "I need an African child to match my eco-handbag" Ciccone might live on our shores but they don't see the world the way a lot of us (excluding the INGSOC supporters who protest about anything) normal folk see the world. Please stick to scientific debate and stop trying to convince us that Democrats are a colleciton of saints and Republicans are pure evil scum.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    I nearly choked on my coffee laughing...

    ...when I read "This one-sided reporting by El Reg is getting very tedious. Climate change is real..."

    Actually, the debate has indeed been extremely one-sided, but as more and more evidence mounts up, there is actually ever greater doubt to the validity of global warming theories.

    Yes, a big chunk has floated away in antarctica, while on the other side of the planet:

    swings and roundabouts, mate.

    There is no doubt that the earths climate is going through change. The big debate is how much of this has been caused by us as a species.

    Our perceived impact on the global climate has steadily shrunk, not increased, as more scientific study has been applied.

    Unfortunately, ignorance and poor educational standards have allowed the vocal to stand before us with terrifying looking pie charts, and we've taken their word as the gospel truth, when we should have instead demanded to see their working out.

    I genuinley beleived Al Gore when I first saw his presentations. On closer examination though, his conclusions are based on mathematical models which could be called simplistic at best, naive at worst.

    Don't just come to the table shouting "because it's so!". Listen, analyse, question and debate. That's how progress is made.

  22. IS

    Re: Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Coward:

    Have you actually read the link in thedailygreen you posted? It is talking about ice extent in Dec 2007. Of course it re-froze; this is what happens in winter!

    Summer ice extent in 2007 was the lowest ever recorded. 2008 was the second lowest. There is a widespread and significant loss of multiyear ice. Arctic ice is melting much faster than any models predicted.

    "...swings and roundabouts, mate.". Is it really? Larsen B ice shelf was stable for 10,000 years when it collapsed in March 2002. The same will probably apply to Wilkins Ice shelf which is disintegrating in front of our eyes. It will be the tenth major ice shelf to collapse recently.

    Swings and roundabouts, is it?

    "...On closer examination though, his conclusions are based on mathematical models which could be called simplistic at best, naive at worst.". This statement betrays a shocking lack of understanding of climatology. All based on models, is it? Let me open your eyes a bit - climatology is based on: 1) paleo record over the last 500 million years, 2) recent instrumental record over the last several centuries and 3) climate models.

    Want to see what happens when you dump gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere in a short period of time without relying on models? Google PETM (except that was over 10,000 years and we will do it in 300 years if we burn all fossil fuel).

    Have a look at ocean acidification whilst you are at it. At 450ppm polar oceans are expected to become corrosive to key marine calcifiers:

    The evidence for unusual nature of recent warming is widespread based on observational evidence: "melting on the summits of ice caps on Ellesmere Island and Quelccaya and other Andean mountains, the widespread retreat of glaciers in mountain ranges around the world (which in some places has exposed decomposing organic matter that dates to well before A.D. 1000), the recent disintegration of the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, and the fact that ice cores from both Greenland and coastal Antarctica show evidence of 20th century warming (whereas only Greenland shows warming during medieval times). Ice cores from the Andes and Tibetan plateau and the recession of the ice caps on mountains in equatorial Africa, which reflect both temperature and hydrologic processes, also suggest that the 20th century climate is unusual in the context of the last few thousand years."

    "...Unfortunately, ignorance and poor educational standards..." - tell me about it!

  23. CTG


    I don't know how you arrive at your conclusions, but I reach my conclusions by reading the science.

    The science is actually fairly simple:

    1) CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This has been known for over 100 years, and can be demonstrated with laboratory experiments.

    2) CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been rising steadily for the past 150 years. This is an emprical observation that doesn't require any computer models. The main reason for this increase is the activities of humans, chiefly burning fossil fuels and deforestation.

    3) The global average temperature has been rising steadily for the past 150 years. This is an emprical observation that doesn't require any computer models.

    1 + 2 = 3

    Which bit of this do you not understand?

  24. David Robinson


    There you go again, trying to kill the messenger because you don't like the messenger.

    Do you really know anything about Co2 other than the nonsense behind the AGW propaganda? Well, one thing I can tell you is that it has no reaction to heat until it is subjected to high infra-red i.e. red hot, 800plus degC. radiation. If you took the trouble to look up things like Co2 detectors and analysers you would see that they all have red hot heat sources to excite the Co2. You don't think they are there just for fun do you? They are there because that is the only way to get a signal from the Co2.

    As for the scientists involved, most of the climate scientists involved in this appear to have been those that were spending more time studying marxism at college than physics and are now trying to carry out their promise to 'change the world' at vast cost to the rest of us. The 33,000 scientists quoted have among them leading physicists that know how things really work and know a 'con' when they see one. To list the discredited 'evidence' in favour of AGW would take far too long as most of it comes into that category.


  25. CTG

    @David Robinson

    There *you* go again, trying to kill the messenger because you don't like the messenger. The comment about marxism is the giveaway.

    Please do cite your sources for your assertions about CO2. Or is this original research that you have yet to publish? Please do publish it as soon as possible, coz you're bound to get a Nobel prize. It's not often that someone completely overturns the laws of physics.

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas because it *absorbs* infrared.

    It's okay to be in denial, David. It's a natural response. You just have to recognize that you are in denial, and then move on to acceptance.

  26. CTG

    Wait a minute...

    Are you saying you actually *believe* that stuff about CO2? I thought you were just trolling, but reading your posts again, it seems that you really do believe that nonsense.

    Take half an hour and google for "John Tyndall" and "Leslie cube". Then go ahead and build Tyndall's apparatus and see for yourself - CO2 is a very efficient absorber of even small amounts of infrared radiation.

    Tyndall was doing this in 1859, so Al Gore sure as heck didn't have anything to do with that.

    Try it. Seriously.

  27. David Robinson

    Wait again

    I am afraid that your contention is the basis of the misunderstanding. Yes, Co2 does reflect infra red but only high i-f. On an analyser you have to wait until the heaters are at bright red to get a reaction; lower than around 750-800 deg cC the signal virtually disappears and at ambient or lower temperatures is non existant. This is why, as I said, detectors and analysers have a red hot heater coil in them. Not many of those about in the areas of the atmosphere where all this reflection is supposed to take place.

    I used the term reflect regarding the so-called re-reflection claim that has it that Co2 rereflects Co2 back to earth, an impossible claim because you cannot re-reflect heat back to it's sourceas heat ONLY moves from warm to cold, not vice versa.

    Of course Co2 absorbs more heat than O2 or nitrogen, it is after all a larger molecule. Absorbtion and reflection are totally different processes. Absorbed heat makes the molecule hotter and thus to rise. In fact Co2 is a transporter of heat away from earth. The gas laws indicate that in the atmosphere all gases move toward complete mixing. Thus air as a whole and Co2 with it are, when warmed, transporters of heat away from the earth. Co2 does not hang around like a blanket, it moves with the rest of the air in a process producing weather.


  28. CTG

    CO2 101

    Dave, please do tell me where you are getting this from, because it's not in any of the scientific literature I have read.

    The greenhouse effect is nothing to do with reflection. It happens because certain molecules *absorb* long-wave radiation (i.e. infrared). Short-wave radiation (light) enters the atmosphere from the sun, and is reflected back off the earth's surface as infrared. Nitrogen and oxygen, which make up the bulk of the atmosphere, do not absorb infrared, but the small amounts of water vapour, carbon dioxide and other molecules do absorb infrared. This means that the energy from solar radiation is in the atmosphere much longer than if it were simply reflected straight back into space.

    The energy is not trapped in the atmosphere forever, though. Absorbing infrared causes the CO2 to be heated, and as you rightly point out, heated objects rise. Eventually the heat will be emitted back into space, and the now cooled CO2 will sink back down into the lower atmosphere. It is the height at which the heat gets emitted back into space that determines the heat of the planet underneath. Increased CO2 in the troposphere causes this radiative height to be increased, which in turn means that the troposphere and the earth's surface get hotter.

    This greenhouse effect is the reason that the earth is not a big ball of ice - without it, the average global temperature would be about -18ºC instead of around +15ºC.

    As I said, there is no *reflection* involved in this. It is the very fact that CO2 can absorb infrared (i.e. be heated) that causes the process. You don't have to heat CO2 to 800ºC *before* it can cause the greenhouse effect. Indeed, CO2 is such an efficient absorber of infrared that it will capture very small amounts of IR. Look at Tyndall's experiment from 1859. The heat sources he used were Leslie cubes - a small metal cube that you fill with boiling water. The heat produced by a Leslie cube is considerably less than 100ºC, and yet Tyndall was still able to observe CO2 absorbing the IR.

    If you have to heat CO2 to 800ºC in order for it to "produce a signal" as you put it, how on earth do you explain Tyndall's results?

    All this stuff is well documented in the scientific literature. I suggest you start here:

  29. David Robinson

    Co2 101

    If you are still reading this then I am relieved to see that you do not believe in the reflection back to earth as this was a great part of the AGW propaganda at one time. However, you mention heat being emitted to space, as it is. How is that delayed on its journey to space because it is slightly warmer? Surely the warmer the molecules, the quicker the move to space. It cannot be radiated down toward earth because the temperature gets warmer as you go down and you can only radiate to somewhere cooler. It could well be argued that Co2 improves the heat flow to space, not slows it. Where is the evidence that this happens or does not? Why does convection suddenly get slower when it should get quicker. I suppose that the seemingly mythical 'thermopause' was invented for just this reason, to make an excuse for Co2 to dally in it's journey.

    I have used for some forty years infra-red Co2 analysers, even owned one for eight of them.

    I have also used chemical analysers and even today can find no more than around 310ppm Co2 just north of London. Funny place to take world samples, on the top of an extinct volcano, surrounded by active volcanos that have increased in activity from the eighties (just like the world Co2 Is claimed to have).

  30. CTG


    If you had read the reference I gave you, you would understand how an increase in radiative height forces warming of the troposphere, and how this induces warming of the surface below it.

    David, there is no marxist conspiracy among climate scientist to ruin your life. AGW is true, sadly, and it is the failure of people like yourself to accept it that is the biggest obstacle to doing something about it.

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