Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taking the heat on global warming

Fellow QRP enthusiast Larry W2LJ has been taking some flak for expressing doubt that humans are entirely to blame for global warming. I expressed my own opinion some time ago in an article "The Great Global Warming Hoax". I am in total agreement with former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, who argues that current policies regarding climate change are completely misguided in his book "An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming". Lawson shows that there are many reasons to doubt current theories, but that even if they turn out to be true, the cost of the measures that are proposed to prevent climate change would be much greater than the cost of adapting to the consequences of it. Given that we now face a global recession, isn't it time we all took a long hard look at this "inconvenient truth"?

I'm not going to waste time arguing about alleged scientific facts with people who haven't even read Lawson's book - so don't even try. However I believe that the general public of the western world have been taken for mugs, while politicians have jumped on the climate change bandwagon in a quest for greater glory. It's hardly surprising that two of the most prominent political campaigners on this issue have been a failed presidential candidate, Al Gore, and that starry eyed idealist former British PM Tony Blair, the quality of whose judgement can be seen by the fact that he believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

I doubt if so many people would be so keen on "saving the planet" if they realised just what it would cost in terms of their personal lifestyles. Ordinary people in places like India and China are certainly not signing up for this. They don't want to forego their chance to own cars, TVs, fridges and travel the world on their holidays like we've been doing for decades. And how much of those luxuries are we prepared to give up so that they can enjoy a better life without adding to global carbon emissions? I thought not.

People have been hoodwinked into believing that the sacrifices they will have to make will amount to little more than switching off the TV at night instead of leaving it on standby, and changing to energy efficient light bulbs. And they are conned into paying a premium for "green" versions of products. Environmentally friendly has become a great sales gimmick that goes down well with affluent people who can carry on consuming while at the same time thinking that they are helping to save the planet.

In the EU it will apparently be illegal to use filament lamps after 2010. Now I don't like paying more for my electricity than the next man, so I use low energy bulbs where I can already. But there are some applications where filament lamps are the only solution. For example, I like "mood" lighting, and you can't use low energy lamps with dimmer switches. How will this law be enforced. Will "green" police peer through your windows at night and issue you with fines if they see illegal light bulbs glowing?

As radio amateurs, the implications of having the government decide what is a responsible use of energy is worrying. If using a filament lamp is a crime, what about running a 1KW linear amplifier whose sole purpose is in the pursuit of a non-essential hobby? As a QRP enthusiast, it would not be a disaster for me if it was decreed that henceforth, all amateur radio equipment must be powered by renewable energy sources. But really, I think the measures that would be needed to reduce global carbon emissions would have an unacceptable impact on everyone's freedom and standard of living. Given that the justification for this is some suspect predictions based on the theory du jour, which could well be discredited once new evidence comes to light (as so often happens with scientific theories) I think it's time more people stood up and said "Enough of this nonsense."

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