back to article Climate sceptic becomes UK Environment Secretary

Green campaigners are aghast at the news that a fairly blunt climate-change sceptic has been appointed to the post of Environment Secretary in the latest ministerial reshuffle - but they are no doubt also somewhat consoled by the fact that in the British government this post has very little to do with matters of climate change …

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  1. oldredlion
    Holmes

    "and the "subsidies" (actually special invisible levies added to electricity bills) which are the only reason any renewable powerplants exist."

    What are his view on subsidising nuclear? Or other "low carbon technology"?

    The Grauniad

  2. oldredlion
    Unhappy

    curses

    Hmmm, that linky doesn't appear to work...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/20/coalition-u-turn-nuclear-energy-subsidies

  3. Vendicar Decarian1
    Boffin

    Paige is another denialist loon doing his best to bring politics to the floor in order to deflect the scientific consensus view

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      denial?

      Well, maybe but that will help both us the bill payers and the environment.

      After all, if wind power really is so cheap to produce (no fuel, no CO2, little maintenance etc etc) why is it that the electricity produced is so damned expensive when it reaches us? There is clearly a flaw in the arguments or a huge rip off occurring. Either way I will be happy when my pocket isn't hurting nearly as much.

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        Re: denial?

        I don't think anyone is claiming that the defining feature of wind generated electricity is that it is cheap so you may be tilting at windmills there.

        It is, so its proponents would have us believe, sustainable and has low net CO2 emissions.

        As new infrastructure is required it would be most surprising if it was cheaper than existing methods of generation.

        Similarly the key downside of wind power is not that it is expensive - it's that is doesn't seem to be of any great use.

        I think most people would tolerate an initial subsidy to establish a generation system that was reliable, consistent, and had the capacity to meet our energy needs.

        Personally I suspect that nuclear is more likely to fit that brief and if it is being considered I'll be pleased.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: denial?

          Wind power is tremendously good value for money - Take for example the offshore wind farm near Barrow In Furness.

          The government made a £1billion investment in renewable energy - by buying German window turbines from a Danish company.

          They shipped them to Belfast - so making a £1billion peace dividend investment in Northern Ireland.

          They loaded them onto a crane barge in the old H&W shipyard in Belfast - making a £1billion investment in re-energising old industry for a brighter green technology future.

          And finally they hooked them up to the grid in Barrow - thus making a £1billion infrastrucre investment in a deprived area.

          For only £1billion heading to Seimens bank account at least a dozen government depts and quangos were able to claim a £1billion investment - that sounds like an excellent return.

          And that's before they even generate any electricity - if they ever do.

  4. Steve Crook
    Flame

    New boss, same as the old boss

    If there's any substantive change in the gubermints energy suicide note I'd be amazed. They are hell bent on having scheduled power cuts as a part of daily life, and probably before 2020. Or at least that's the way it seems.

    My recent annual summary from the energy company says that 11% of my electricity bill is "Government schemes including environmental and social schemes" and 3% of my gas bill. No doubt these will continue to rise as we pay the price of three decades of politicians sitting on their fat arses trying to avoid making a difficult decision.

    I'm not asking for bargain basement energy prices, but just something that looks coherent, workable and cost effective.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll believe in climate change

    the day it's illegal to have illuminated advertising hoardings.

    (Awaits downvotes)

    1. Richard Ball

      Re: I'll believe in climate change

      That's a nice point, but don't let your own conviction depend upon an Nth order result of the actions of some politicians. There are better ways for us to learn about the climate.

      1. Steve Crook

        Re: I'll believe in climate change

        Or lights and computers left on in offices most of the night, or having shop doors open with the heat/cooling going full blast, or shop chiller cabinets without doors, or large TVs in shops switched on all day, or churches and other historic buildings illuminated at night.

        It's not so much a question of climate change, but if you're going to insist I fill my house with CFLs, I'd expect some of the more in-your-face waste to be dealt with as well...

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: I'll believe in climate change

          Good points.

          I am sat here in an office next to the window with 8 strip lights above me - all of them on because the other 160 or so in the office are all on because someone somewhere in the office thinks their desk needs it. They have been on all day, all summer, all year, all night as well.

          Were the government to legislate to force my employer to let me work from home I would not need to drive a round trip of 40 miles a day. I would not need the 2' below the floor, the 3' above the ceiling and a total void of 15' between this floor and ceiling alternately heated and cooled, not to mention the massive corridor provided for me to access the desk, the internal stairs and fire escapes, the loos and extensive reception area. Further I would be able to enjoy fresh air from an open window (in the summer) and make use of the same heat as my wife and kids during the winter (thus not duplicating).

          It is clear that either the governments of the world (and its not just the UK) have no intention of doing something REAL about this supposedly urgent problem or the problem isn't real or urgent. Which ever of those two conclusions is the real truth there seems bugger all point in me buying an efficient light bulb, paying for wind turbines which spend most of their time off or paying through the nose for fuel to keep the 'green lobby' happy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            THANK YOU !

            my sentiments exactly.

            My grandfather used to say you get to be a Christian by watching the priest, not by going to church.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll believe in climate change

      "the day it's illegal to have illuminated advertising hoardings."

      You'll believe in something the second that the government introduce legislation in reaction to the evidence, against the will of every commercial interest and lobby group in the country?

      So, basically you're saying "regardless of actual evidence, I'm sticking to my guns"?

  6. A J Stiles
    FAIL

    Misnomer

    "Climate change sceptic" is a misnomer.

    There is no doubt that climate change is happening. It is not scepticism, but flat-out denial.

    1. Barracoder
      Thumb Down

      Re: Misnomer

      I'm going to be a skeptic until the day some Warmist uses his model to make a prediction that actually comes true. Until then, climate change isn't even a theory, it's a guess.

      Because that's how science works.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Misnomer

        "I'm going to be a skeptic until the day some Warmist uses his model to make a prediction that actually comes true. Until then, climate change isn't even a theory, it's a guess."

        No, it's a theory. Newton's Laws of Motion have been disproved by General Relativity in effect, but that doesn't make it less of a theory. A theory just needs to be a testable hypothesis.

        I agree that AGW theories have repeatedly failed testing in many cases, but that does not make them not theories. These are sophisticated models and one day, we will produce accurate ones. It is an iterative process as much as anything.

        1. QuinnDexter
          Stop

          Re: Misnomer

          I've not really got a strong opinion on climate change. Due to the fact that I have a lot in my life to cram in (and not cos I'm just too lazy) I'm part of a generation where peeling an orange is too much effort for not enough gain, and leading to the drop in orange purchases. Apples are easy, cos you just rub them a bit and bite. If you can be bothered to rub. Bearing that in mind, when my eyes passed over your statement "These are sophisticated models and one day, we will produce accurate ones" I actually read:- "we will produce ones that justify our stance."

          Full accurate evidence doesn't exist at the minute for either stance, so it doesn't concern me too much, until someone shows that having a shower every day kills one polar bear and three penguins each year. My electricty and bills do concern me more, and anything that can be done to lower those is good, and if that has an impact on my CO2 emmissions, whether relevant in the grand scheme of things or not, doesn't really affect me. So no evidence to prove either arguement exist, but anyone who suggests that you are wrong are denialists?

        2. Steve Crook

          Re: Misnomer

          Generally, I'd agree. Eventually, the models may actually be useful in predicting regional climate. The problem is that policy is being made on their predictions now, before they're able to produce reliable results.

          It is possible to be sceptical about *some* climate science and a lot of the proposed policy responses to climate change, without being in complete denial about the existence of climate change...

        3. Barracoder

          Re: Misnomer

          By your standards then, Creationism/Intelligent Design is a theory? Fails every scientific test but might possibly still be true?

          Thanks but I'll stick to science and I'm sure you'll forgive me my skepticism.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Misnomer

            "By your standards then, Creationism/Intelligent Design is a theory? Fails every scientific test but might possibly still be true? Thanks but I'll stick to science and I'm sure you'll forgive me my skepticism."

            Not by "my standards" so much as by normal definitions. You seem to be treating "theory" as meaning accurate science as a result rather than a method. Creationism is a hypothesis. I.e. "Everything was made by God in six days." There is nothing that says it is true or false, it's just an idea. Intelligent Design I don't know much about but you say it fails every scientific test. Well then if it presents things that are testable then it is presumably a theory. Your idea that "theory" means something can "fail every scientific test but might possibly still be true" suggests that you don't understand what a theory is. If it fails testing, then it is a disproved theory. If it can't be tested, it is not a theory, it is a hypothesis. I already gave an example in my previous post of Newton's Laws which are a theory which were testable and found false (though it took a few centuries delay and someone fantastically clever to do so). That doesn't make them not a theory.

            I have no idea where you're coming from when you say "you'll stick to science" other than to suggest you look up the definitions of hypothesis and theory. Nowhere is it written that theory means something is true. It's an idea that is testable.

            1. Fibbles

              Re: Misnomer

              I agree with your points on climate change but Intelligent Design is not testable and therefore not a scientific theory.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Misnomer

                but ID = !Evolution

                If you can't test for ID you can't test for !Evolution, which means evolution isn't testable/falsifiable either, therefore evolution isn't scientific.

                Uh oh!

                1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                  Re: Misnomer

                  Oh dear. I hope you're joking!

                  Evolution by means of natural selection can be tested like this:

                  Take a rapidly-breeding population, seal them in artificially-controlled environments, then change the environment of each in a different way.

                  Wait a few hundred or thousand generations, then compare the populations of the different environments. If each has changed in some way beneficial for their environment, the theory is correct.

                  If they have not changed, or all changed in the same way, it is incorrect.

                  This experiment has been done many times, most often with fruit flies, yeasts, bacteria and other small and rapidly reproducing life forms.

                  Evolution by means of natural selection is proven pretty well.

              2. h4rm0ny

                Re: Misnomer

                To be fair, I did write that *if* ID presents testable cases, it constitutes a theory. I've never really looked into ID as it doesn't interest me. I don't really see a purpose for it when Evolution already fits observable facts so well and passes scientific testing and observation.

                1. Fibbles

                  Re: Misnomer

                  @Harmony: Yes you did. Sorry, my mistake.

                  @Anon: As has been pointed out above, Evolution can be tested. ID always relies on a deity or some sort of unknowable super being at some point in its reasoning. If you want to believe in them that's fine but it throws a spanner in the works as far as testability is concerned. That's why it's not scientific.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Misnomer

      "There is no doubt that climate change is happening. It is not scepticism, but flat-out denial"

      Actually, it's a strawman. Pretty much everyone who gets called a "climate change skeptic" is more fairly described as a skeptic of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). We're not generally doubtful that the climate is changing - after all, it does that continually. Where we are skeptical, it is about how much of a role human activity is playing in that change. Calling people "denialists" and "climate change skeptics" is strawmanning badly and unhelpful to reasonable debate.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Peter principle

    Promote to the level of incompetence.

  8. Risky

    Scepticism is useful

    Generally scientists are best off as sceptics, requireing proof on a theory before accepting it. "Belief" is something appropriate to Theology and such.

    "Climate Change Denier" is a form of words cleantly meant to create some fuzzy equivalence between expressing doubts about global warming to claiming the Holocaust didn't happen. I find this a rather distatesful attempt at cheap politics.

    Myself I find the general theory plasible, but the projections of it's impact to be politicised and unreliable and the policy prescriptions variously inconsistent, self-interested or plain daft.

    1. SiempreTuna
      FAIL

      Re: Scepticism is useful

      Err - sticking to a blind assertion that, whatever the evidence, burning ever more fossil fuels is the ONLY answer to ANY question (that basically defines the 'climate sceptic' position) is NOT scepticism, it is - at best - cynicism, more accurately, blind stupidity.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Scepticism is useful

        Well then it's a good job that AGW-skepticism doesn't "burning ever more fossil fuels is the ONLY answer to ANY question". I'm a skeptic who is massively pro-Nuclear. Does that cause you cognitive dissonance or am I just not a true scotsman?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scepticism is useful

        @SiempreTuna.

        I'm a AGW sceptic. I also do not believe that just solving everything with fossil fuels is the right answer either. Personally, I would love to expand the use of Nuclear for electricity generation. It is both cheaper and a better use of natural resources. We get so many useful petrochemicals from Oil that burning all of it to generate electricity is a bit nonsensical. Also, fuel cell cars that use nuclear generated electricity to produce Hydrogen for a fuel cell would be brilliant.

        Some of the things being done in favour of "green policies" though are downright stupid. The massive subsidy of wind power when it has no hope of being able to meet base band power requirements is crazy. Promotion of hybrid cars that use of vast quantities of rare natural resources and are no more efficient than a decent diesel car. There are many things like this that are ridiculous and only make the view of the greenies harder to accept.

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Scepticism is useful

      If - and it is still if - global warming is occurring as a result of us humans, then I note that most places rank methane as a worse problem than CO2. If this is really the case then why aren't the government or any commercial organisation taking the methane from our sewers and using that to power our cars?

      1. Tim Parker

        Re: Scepticism is useful

        "If - and it is still if - global warming is occurring as a result of us humans, "

        It's hard to explain the changes without some anthropogenic element, the degree of which seems to the main debate in some quarters.

        "then I note that most places rank methane as a worse problem than CO2."

        It has the potential to be if enough is released, but currently it is not.

        "If this is really the case then why aren't the government or any commercial organisation taking the methane from our sewers and using that to power our cars?"

        They are (indirectly) and increasingly so.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scepticism is useful

        At a more practical level, the question might be, IF we think we MUST reduce energy consumption, it seems obvious to ban un-needed consumption (electric shop signs) first. However, if its just promotion of financial interests or political manipulation rather than a concern for the environment, then you might devise a carbon trading scheme or extra tax which makes it look as though you are doing something while not really addressing the issues.

        I have an older brick veneer house in Australia. I'd love to replace it with a strawbale house - cheap, energy efficient, but I can't afford the capital cost, so I have to crank up the heating in winter (massive windows, thin walls with no insulation) and the a/c in summer both of which are inefficient to start with and their effects are dissipated quickly through the poor infrastructure. There are hundreds of thousands of homes built like this. If you really want to help the environment, how about a government campaign promoting and supporting better building using sustainable tech rather than a government campaign to increase taxes?

        As with all large organisations, the measure of sincerity can often be calculated by following the money.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Knochen Brittle
        Facepalm

        @ Dave 15

        er ... because they have a better plan? i.e. to mine your arse for LNG?

  9. RobinLarder
    Thumb Up

    The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

    Well, since climate change has now been shown to drive the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, not the other way around - the green lobby should be dumping all their wind farm ideas as being expensive nonsense - unless they like the idea of them so much they are willing to lose money erecting them. Of course, it has also been shown that wind turbines do nothing to offset CO2 emission anyway...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

      Ooh, look: It's a zombee argument - this CO2 lags not leads argument has been killed off more times than the bad guy at the end of an 90s thriller.

      1. Steve Crook

        Re: The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

        Actually there's enough paleo-climate evidence to show that indeed climate shifts *do* cause variation in atmospheric CO2 levels, because as you change water temps differing levels of CO2 are absorbed and released. This is settled science I think. Indeed, one of the possible +ve feedbacks from anthropogenic CO2 raising global temps is that CO2 from defrosted permafrost areas will be released significantly increasing atmospheric CO2.

        However, I'd agree that there's no evidence that current world CO2 levels are anything to do with that sort of behaviour, and like it or not, it's our CO2, and we'll have to do something about it....

      2. RobinLarder

        Re: The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

        No it has not been killed off. Papers are being written on it all the time. Here is one that was published on August 30th 2012 - just the other day.

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818112001658

        1. NomNomNom

          Re: The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

          That paper is just wrong.

          As a short-cut though, take a look at the CO2 rise:

          http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/CO2_history_1024.jpg

          If you really think that CO2 rise is caused by temperature rise, doesn't that simply current global temperatures must be unprecedented in at least 400,000 years? Do you believe that?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

            <sarcasm>

            I'm glad you told me that paper is wrong nomnomnom. At least now I don't have to worry about checking out the peer review because some unknown character on a web forum has told me the truth,

            </sarcasm>

            1. NomNomNom

              Re: The UK Needs Climate Change Sceptics to Restore Common Sense.

              I didn't say you had to believe me, I was just putting my opinion down. If you want the reason: they have analyzed short-term correlation and wrongly assumed this tells them about the long-term causation.

  10. Magister
    Alert

    The new NIMBYs = BANANAs

    BANANA = Build Anywhere, Not Anywhere Near Anything

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The new NIMBYs = BANANAs

      I thought it was: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything/one

  11. TonyHoyle

    Great reshuffle

    So we have an environment secratary who doesnt care about the environment

    A health secretary who's on record as saying he wants to destroy the NHS

    An equality minister who's solidly against equality

    Whatever criteria Cameron is using to appoint these people.. it isn't 'suitability for the job'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great reshuffle

      Don't forget the health secretary is also anti abortion, anti stem cell research and pro homeopathy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great reshuffle

        You're making this up, AC! I simply cannot believe that a cabinet minister - presumably someone with a modicum of intelligence, and a reasonable standard of education, can fall for the woo-woo of homeopathy!

    2. CCCP
      Unhappy

      Re: Great reshuffle

      Indeed. We just inched closer to the loony US right. Shudder.

      Less science and more dogma. More homeopathy and less women's rights. FFS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great reshuffle

        On the other hand I hear a great deal about the evil of plastic bags... and then I heard that you have to use a "reusable" on 300 times before it becomes as energy efficient as a plastic bag and that's before you reuse the plastic bag as a bin-liner.

        There are loonies at both ends of the spectrum.

        As for politics, since when has that been about science or doing the right thing?

    3. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Great reshuffle

      Does depend on what the job actually is....

      Destroy the NHS so the plebs die out quickly and don't require looking after in old age. This means the tax on the rich can be lowered. Ensure that the plebs don't get 'above their station' and return them to the old fashioned slave / serfdom they managed to creep out of while our back was turned. Above all ensure that the environment is made available for us to drive huge cars, fly out personal jets and holiday on massive yachts by keeping the serfs out of our way paying us a premium for the free electricity

  12. Steelhead

    Bed time reading

    Maybe we should give him the following book to read:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Obscured/dp/1408824833/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346844971&sr=1-1

  13. Chris Miller
    Headmaster

    Paterson is an Oxford-educated public schoolboy

    Who went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Paterson is an Oxford-educated public schoolboy

      Is he the one with the bdsm tendencies?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Paterson is an Oxford-educated public schoolboy

        Perhaps you are confusing him with one of the other 300+ Oxford educated public schoolboys in the government ?

        1. NomNomNom

          Re: Paterson is an Oxford-educated public schoolboy

          you exaggerate!

          some of them are Cambridge-educated

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Paterson is an Oxford-educated public schoolboy

            Possibly a few went there - I would question "educated"

  14. Badvok
    Black Helicopters

    New Environment Secretary is AGW sceptic.

    New Health Minister believes in Homeopathy.

    Is there a theme here?

    1. NomNomNom

      "New Health Minister believes in Homeopathy"

      please tell me you made that up

      1. h4rm0ny

        When I worked in the NHS I personally knew two GPs (and my sample size was small so undoubtedly there are many more) who believed in homeopathy. I am not joking.

      2. Chris Miller

        Sadly, NomNomNom

        It's true.

        All we need now is a creationist at education.

        1. Michael Dunn

          Re: Sadly, NomNomNom

          Yeah - get a creationist at education, and we could then have Dubya for prime minister.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      New health secretary is also keen to dismantle the NHS, to the extent of authoring books promoting this idea,

      Expect more fact-finding trips to the US (a "fact finding" trip is a trip to find the right facts).

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