Journal Column – Energy Crisis

Journal Column – War In Ukraine
7th March 2022
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Energy Crisi

The two year COVID pandemic and, more recently, Russia’s despicable invasion of Ukraine, are being tabled as the main reason for the current cost of living crisis.


Indeed, not since the days of the 1970’s have things been so bad. The Chancellor’s recent mini budget offered little respite if anything.  Frankly, a few pounds off the community charge and a £200 loan, whether one wants it or not, towards energy bills isn’t going to offer much help really, particularly with energy bills set to soar by over 50%.  Sadly, the phrase “having to choose heating or eating” has become a stark reality for a great many people and I fear the worst is yet to come.


Despite calls, from all sides of the House, urging Chancellor Sunak to abandon the proposed 1.25% increase to National Insurance contributions, he decided to keep it.  He defended it by saying it would raise an additional £12bn a year to help fund health and social care and to reduce the backlog to the NHS due to the pandemic.


All well and good, but then the combined cost of the Test and Trace failure, wasted PPE equipment and fraudulent furlough claims came to around £50 Billion.  So I can’t help thinking, if the Government hadn’t been so wasteful and made an effort to recover the fraudulent furlough payments it could have delayed the hike by about 5 years.


The war in Ukraine has brought to light the risk, fragility and cost of relying on overseas counties for key resources such as energy and food. The war is certainly not helping, but the foundation to the problem is overzealous green schemes and an unrealistic net zero target.


For some 50 years we have been told that use of fossil fuels increases greenhouse gases which, if unchecked, will contribute to severe climate change.


Indeed, there are many scientists that regularly publish papers illustrating a correlation between manmade greenhouse gases and climate change. Many of these scientists also use very alarmist language such as climate change will lead to mass extinctions and the end of the world. There are, though, many eminent scientists who present a less alarmist view.  Unfortunately, it does seem the powers that be prefer to air views of the doom-mongers over the more sceptical.  We saw this during the COVID pandemic too.


So, in small way of redressing the balance, I thought I’d share the news that there are now signs of global cooling. Yup! According to satellite measurements compiled by NASA and scientist Dr Roy Spencer, there have now been 90 straight months of a standstill in global temperature. In fact, there is now a small downwards trend of 0.01°C, which equates to minus -0.14°C a century.


Satellite temperature measurements of the atmosphere are generally considered extremely accurate because they avoid the urban heat distortions common to surface measurements. The Met Office shows almost no movement over the last 96 months. Despite this, there has been little mention of the global temperature standstill in the mainstream media.


I think it is fair to say that climate change can be very severe and damaging.  Indeed, over the past 5 Billion years the Earth has undergone many changes from extreme cold, to fiery hot. Geographic history tells us that severe climate change in the past has seen sweeping changes to the land, fauna and flora of the planet with new species being introduced and the extinction of others.  


Many climate activists defend the more extreme green schemes on the premise that it is to protect future generations.  My main issue with the more extreme elements of the climate debate is the idea that we can control the climate. We can’t.  Severe climate change and the destruction it brings is natural and will happen again. There’s nothing we can do to stop it.


Having said that, I believe we can reduce pollution and maybe help to slow it down. But we have to realistic about how that can be done, the timescales needed and the price to be paid.


I believe the governments net zero targets are too much too soon. The economy and society we enjoy today needs an abundance of reliable energy.  Our target of a net zero UK by 2050 is simply not feasible. 30 years is too short a time to abandon all non-renewable energy sources.  Let’s not forget too, the UK only emits 1% of the world’s greenhouse gasses, whereas China emits the most at a massive 30%. Indeed, just five countries: China, the USA, India, Russia and Japan collectively emit 50% of the world’s greenhouse gases.  So it seems crazy for today’s UK generation to endure severe hardship in the name of achieving net zero emissions. Because, even if we do, it will have no impact whatsoever unless the bigger polluters do likewise. That seems unlikely given China’s top economic planners last year stated they see economic growth as more important than reducing carbon emissions.


As mentioned earlier, even if the world miraculously achieved a net zero existence, severe climate change will still occur at some future point. So, perhaps we should invest some money and resources defending our homes and infrastructures from the inevitable.  Because, sure as night follows day, it’s coming. 


This column was published in the Newcastle Journal on the 7th April 2022.