Recent editions refer to climate change, energy initiatives, a climate emergency, DCC’s environmental plan, and councillors at demos using kids to press their point.
Only a few decades ago our main industries were mining, ship building, steel making and chemicals. Coal and wood were the main power source. Smoke and chemicals gushed from chimneys. Cars ran on leaded petrol. There were no fish in the Tees. The Skerne was one of the most polluted rivers in the land. People still survived. We were worried about running out of fossil fuels, even after finding large oil and gas reserves in the North Sea.
Coal for heating was partly replaced by cleaner coking coal, then natural gas or electricity (mainly from coal based power stations). Leaded petrol was replaced by cleaner unleaded, then diesel prevailed.
Now, despite all this, we have a climate emergency! We are told gas gives off too much CO2, as does unleaded petrol, and diesel gives off worse nitrous oxide! Spray cans give off ‘CHC’, which destroys the ozone layer. Cows fart, giving off methane – worse still!
The earth has been warming since the early 1900s, seen in retreating glaciers and ice sheets. A few years ago we were worried about another ice age, now it’s global warming. We are told the earth will be between 2 and 7 degrees warmer by 2050, but if we act now, we can limit this to 1.5 degrees!!!
We know the earth’s temperature fluctuates over geological time, we know what has happened in the past, and we know we are on an upward short term curve, which man has exacerbated. We also know that man’s control on the earth’s climate is extremely limited.
DCC is looking at promoting cycling and walking, banning cars from town centres, spending public money on solar power and wind farms, telling us we can’t eat meat (even though eating more vegetables will make us fart more methane, like the cows!), telling us we can’t take flights etc. Conversely, it promotes huge amounts of building on farm land, inward migration, and the extension of Teesside Airport!
Meanwhile, other countries dwarfing us in size exploit minerals, frack coal, denigrate rain forests, and pollute the air as we used to.
Forests absorb and store CO2 and emit oxygen. Ongoing worldwide deforestation will have a bigger negative effect on global warming than anything we can conceivably do within the UK, but we are told we must set an example to the rest of the world! How condescending!
To make matters worse, actions so far do not inspire confidence.
Incentives for diesel cars are now widely considered flawed.
Millions were blown on smart meters, which don’t work once you change supplier, and all they tell us is that energy costs money!
Millions were spent on wall and loft insulation, which often caused condensation, and was often done inappropriately by opportunist companies.
Energy Performance Certificates are scandalous. I had one recommending cavity wall insulation, which had already been done, and recommendations costing thousands to save pennies, because ‘this is what the government tells me I have to recommend’!
New boilers are designed to last only 10 years: old ones lasted much longer. Mine was installed in 1990, and it’s almost as low on emissions as the current energy efficient boilers, some being even less energy efficient! How can scrapping a boiler after 10 years be good for the environment?
Solar energy sounds great, but if a system costs £5K, saves £200 a year and must be replaced after 15 years, it’s a bad investment, irrespective of how it’s funded. The steel used to build it has to be made using coking coal, components have to be shipped in, the old system has to be scrapped. Would anyone be surprised if suddenly they tell us solar isn’t the solution they originally thought?
Electric cars may sound great, but this surely depends on the carbon cost of scrappage and the source of the electricity (eg coal powered cars!).
Nuclear energy is considered clean, and can generate huge amounts of power, but nuclear plants are immensely expensive and nuclear waste is a problem. We were told they were safe, then Chernobyl happened!
There are no easy answers, but if calcs nearer 7 degrees are right, it won’t matter whether we save half a degree or not – all the polar ice is going to melt anyway, the coral will die off, the Australian bats have had it, and we will have to evolve into another species!
How ironic that local politicians now marching on climate demos fought tooth and nail to avoid closing coal mines, steel plants and shipyards!