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The four horsemen of the climate apocalypse

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On the fourth day of our countdown to our crowdfunding campaign ending we look at four people who are materially affecting the climate change debate in the UK, and have powerful platforms to do so.

Climate change deniers come in all shapes and sizes. Strangely, very few seem to have the scientific credentials and back catalogue of peer-reviewed literature you’d expect considering the strength of their opinions on a scientific subject.

The four horsemen of the apocalypse were Pestilence (or Conquest), War, Famine and Death, which rather sounds like some investors’ portfolios. Here’s a brief summary of the four horsemen of the climate apocalypse: Delingpole, Monckton, Lawson and Osborne.

James Delingpole (degree in English literature, Oxford)

A friend of B&GT (he once described our editor as an “epic wanker”), the Telegraph blogger recently stood as an anti-wind candidate in the Corby by-election, a constituency that has no wind farms as pointed out by the New Statesman. On Wednesday, he stood down, querying whether his brief run at elected office was “the most successful campaign in the history of politics”. The fact that polling by Lord Ashcroft showed he had less than 1% support had nothing to do with his decision.

Delingpole gained fame by being one of the first to wrongly declare that illegally hacked emails showed climate scientists were trying to con the public. They didn’t and they weren’t.

Eight committees (House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Science Assessment Panel, Independent Climate Change Email Review, United States Environmental Protection Agency report, Inspector General of the US Department of Commerce, National Science Foundation and Pennsylvania State University twice) investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct.

Delingpole admits to not reading peer-reviewed scientific literature on climate (he reads what other people say, who claim to have read the literature), but still expresses very strong views on the subject nevertheless. Another friend of B&GT, Nobel prize-winner Sir Paul Nurse (PRS, PhD), spoke to Delingpole in 2010 in a Horizon programme entitled Science Under Attack. In this short five minute clip (well worth watching), you can draw your own conclusion over who is the individual we should take seriously and who is not.

The rather excellent Graham Redfearn provides lots of interesting insight into Delingpole’s connections here.

Christopher Monckton (degree in classics, Cambridge)

Monckton is an outspoken denier of human-caused climate change. On Wednesday (it was Halloween, after all, so all the ghouls were out), he claimed that global warming did not cause Hurricane Sandy. That’s a strawman argument anyway, as no serious climatologist was claiming that this was the case. Many were saying that a warmer sea would contribute to worse storms, and that has the coincidence of being true.

In a vain attempt to give himself some credibility, he claimed to be “an appointed expert reviewer” of the forthcoming fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – a claim that is beautifully demolished in this piece by Graham Redfearn.

In Redfearn’s subsequent conversation with the secretariat at the IPCC, he was told, “Anyone can register as an expert reviewer on the open online registration systems set up by the working groups. All registrants that provide the information requested and confirm their scientific expertise via a self-declaration of expertise are accepted for participation in the review. They are invited to list publications, but that is not a requirement and the section can be left blank when registering. There is no appointment.”

If you’re trying to make a case about scientific corruption and conspiracy it’s probably best not to make false claims to support your own credibility. It’s worth reading the Redfearn piece as it sets out quite clearly how seriously economic with the truth Monckton can be.

Nigel Lawson (degree in philosophy, politics and economics, Oxford)

The former chancellor of the exchequer secured his place on our list by being the author of An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming and, more recently, the founder and chairman of The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). With regard to the book, Robert Watson (PhD in Chemistry), the former head of the IPCC and now director of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, accused Lawson of selective quotation and not understanding “the current scientific and economic debate.”

The GWPF sounds innocent enough (we could certainly do with some more serious policy), but it stubbornly refuses to reveal its funding as all charities should. The only known funder is a leading Conservative party donor and Australian hedge fund owner, Michael Hintze. We would like to know why they are so shy.

The GWPF’s first act was to call for a high-level, independent inquiry into the aforementioned hacked e-mails. This they got eight times and, as we’ve pointed out, all eight found no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct.

A 2011 analysis by Carbon Brief concluded that nine out of 10 climate scientists who claim that climate change is not happening have ties to ExxonMobil (the oil giant). Many of their papers appear on the GWPF website.

Let us also not forget that this is the same Nigel Lawson who was the chancellor of the exchequer at the time of the Big Bang, which was the root cause of Black Monday and our current financial crisis, born of unregulated speculation. He also presided over the unsustainable and inflationary Lawson Boom, which precipitated the recession of 1990-1992. Talented chap.

George Osborne (degree in modern history, Oxford)

The current chancellor of the exchequer recently described parliamentary climate change campaigners as an environmental Taliban. Comparing colleagues who have a genuine, scientifically-evidenced concern for manmade climate change and the levels of pollution caused by burning fossil fuels with a group violent, oppressive, medievalist fundamentalists seems a little harsh and unbalanced.

One would genuinely hope that someone so well- and expensively-educated knew something about a reasoned and polite debate. This is not the Bullingdon Club after all, where you can trash restaurants, but a serious national debate. Daddy cannot simply pay for a trashed environment to be fixed.

It’s nice to know that the man in charge of the most powerful office of state and ministry that holds all the purse strings has such an open mind and is listening to all sides of the debate, particularly those with overwhelming scientific consensus on their side.

The forthcoming Channel 4 mini-series, Secret State (Wednesday November 7, 10pm), asks whether it is possible to have an honest politician and explores the collusion between government and big business. It seems not.

As recent lobbying scandals have repeatedly shown, vested interests in financial services spend millions lobbying parliamentarians and funding political parties either directly or at conference.  The investment industry loves the steady returns from mining, minerals and metals, and would prefer we continue with the status quo rather than a community-based and owned clean energy revolution.

We can only speculate whether someone other than the scientists and the voters are yanking Osborne’s chain.

Free market free thinkers or ill-informed fundamentalists?

What is most staggering about these highly affluent, Oxbridge-educated individuals, who claim to subscribe to free market thinking, is that not one of them seems to grasp the massive economic opportunity tackling climate change represents. Innovation equals growth and the fastest-growing, most innovative businesses are developing clean technology. This is a ‘perfect’ industry, which has the double benefit of improving our economy and our environment.

Even the founding fathers of free market thinking, Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, understood moral and environmental considerations.

In addition to his more famous arguments about free markets and liberalised trade, Smith also presented a theory of moral behaviour, which was not as neatly separated from his economic thought as we treat it today.

Smith’s arguments in favour of free trade included an assumption that owners of capital would naturally prefer domestic to foreign industry, even if the latter offered higher returns. Smith thought this was a good thing because it reflected the moral sentiments that ultimately help make markets function. Compare this founding father thought to the current flight of capital to highest returns around the world. The moral sentiment  in the UK and the US is clearly in favour of renewable energy and so free marketers should support it.

Sadly the pollutocrats and their political friends don’t agree.

Hayek noted that there are certain areas, such as the environment, where activities which cause damage to third parties (known to economists as “negative externalities”) cannot effectively be regulated solely by the marketplace. “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question, or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation.”

It is time that these gentlemen were listened to by supposed free marketers and the four horsemen quietly went away. They do not appear to have the training, academic background or independence a serious debate needs.

They are not entitled to their own opinion.

There are just four days left of our crowdfunding campaign. Please help us by donating here. Thank you.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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