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The annoying perils of climate change scepticism

Alex Blackburne writes about how we must ensure recent instances of wind power opposition and climate change scepticism are anomalies and not trends. It’s not all that easy, though.  

Part of being a scientist means to be sceptical about everything. Children would be learning in science class about how an omnipotent, omniscient deity planted a fully formed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to set the human race on its way if it wasn’t for scientific questioning.

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Alex Blackburne writes about how we must ensure recent instances of wind power opposition and climate change scepticism are anomalies and not trends. It’s not all that easy, though.

Part of being a scientist means to be sceptical about everything. Children would be learning in science class about how an omnipotent, omniscient deity planted a fully formed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to set the human race on its way if it wasn’t for scientific questioning.

Evolution and the Big Bang would certainly not be on the curriculum.

The same goes for climate change. We know global temperatures are rising, causing the polar ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise. This is known because of scientific scepticism. And it’s predicted that the future will bring water wars, devastated major cities, widespread illness and an increase in natural disasters.

And the evidence for all of this leads to us humans, because climate change is caused by human activity: Fact.

Or is it? One UK-based think-tank, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, chaired by Lord Lawson, irrefutably deny that global warming is human created. It seeks to question and challenge governmental climate change mitigation policies.

The think-tank receives significant scrutiny from climate scientists on a regular basis, and faces an Information Rights Tribunal later this week. This is over the rejection of a Freedom of Information request that sought to reveal the identity of its seed donor, who allegedly donated £50,000 when it launched in 2009.

“Lord Lawson’s think-tank, which has been bankrolled by shadowy funders, is lobbying government for a change in climate policy that would affect the lives of millions of people”, Brendan Montague, director of the Request Initiative told the Guardian.

“The privacy of wealth has so far been valued above public accountability, even by our own civic institutions.

“The democratic principle of transparency is breached when a former chancellor can sit in the House of Lords influencing government policy on matters as important as climate change while accepting funding for his think-tank from secret supporters.”

Another climate sceptic think-tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Centre faces an uncertain future after the government in its native Denmark cut its funding.

Bjorn Lomborg, the self-styled ‘sceptical environmentalist’ is the think-tank’s founder. He has been widely criticised by climate scientists for his outlandish views on global prioritisation, in which he continually places climate change at the bottom of the world’s agenda. He explains his theory in this video on TED.

Whilst the overall issue of climate change is a hot topic for sceptics to discuss, the technologies needed to mitigate it have also come under scrutiny of late.

A paper by the Policy Exchange called The Full Cost to Households of Renewable Energy Policies labelled offshore wind power – one of the most readily available forms of renewable energy for the UK – as “hugely expensive”.

The think-tank, though, simply claims that the Government’s targets are too high for the current market’s need.

“We aren’t arguing never ever to build offshore wind”, a spokesperson said. “We aren’t even arguing that we should be building zero offshore wind now.

“What we are arguing is that the amount of offshore wind we should be building is enough to sustain those research development and demonstration learning improvements.

“This is not the same as the huge amount above that envisaged by current government deployment targets for offshore wind and the strategy for meeting the renewable energy target.”

Adam Bell, communications manager at RenewableUK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries, brushed off Policy Exchange’s report.

“Energy policy is an area vital to Britain’s economy”, he said.

“While we welcome debate, Policy Exchange’s note relies on a range of unwarranted assumptions, as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has demonstrated.

“As such, we do not believe it moves the debate forward.”

In addition, Nick Molho, head of energy policy at WWF-UK said, “Policy Exchange has used some pretty dubious maths and has ignored significant research by authoritative sources.

“Detailed modelling by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Ofgem and DECC shows the impacts on energy bills will be far lower in 2020 and confirms that bills are sky-high right now because of our over-reliance on fossil fuels – specifically, gas.

“Reports like this mislead the public and erode investor confidence in the sector at precisely the time when we need to attract investment.

“If we want to revitalise the UK’s economy we need to concentrate on building a new industry based on renewable energy and encourage investment through stable policies, not repeated chopping and changing.”

The Policy Exchange’s paper comes just as Chris Heaton-Harris, a Conservative MP, has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group to halt the expansion of the wind power sector.

Writing on his blog, Heaton-Harris said, “My main aim was to try and get the Government to stop for a few weeks and fundamentally review its massive support (through subsidy) for a renewable technology that I believe does more harm than good.

“Whilst we are unable to store the energy turbines produce, by pressing on with this policy, we are disrupting the grid and doing precious little to stop emitting carbon.”

Heaton-Harris went on to state his belief that nuclear power was in fact the way forward, and emphasised that he was by no means against renewables. He simply objected to the way DECC had gone about aiming to meet its renewable targets.

“DECC officials seem to only have eyes for wind energy”, he said.

“Fair enough, it was the only game in town for a number of years and it has a massive and powerful lobby behind it (unlike all the newer and better renewable technologies); but policy in this area needs to be constantly evaluated, so that the taxpayers’ subsidy gets the most value.”

The DECC’s apparent over-prioritisation of wind energy, though, is entirely necessary.

The UK’s incredible natural geography makes it the perfect place to harness power from the wind, not forgetting the vast seas surrounding it – the “Saudi Arabia of wind energy” as it’s been dubbed.

Sadly, climate change will always have deniers and sceptics. And equally, there will always be a better way of doing things in some people’s eyes.

Democracy inevitably brings this kind of opposition. Not everyone can be pleased.

The most important point in all of this is that climate change is most certainly happening, and we have to do something about it. The clean-up work begins with individuals and communities.

Investment in clean technology – like wind power – is imperative if we are to do this.

Ask your financial adviser, or fill in our online form if you don’t have one, and your money can start making a real difference.

To read more about climate change scepticism, visit Skeptical Science – a brilliant blog set up by John Cook to tackle the doubters.

Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
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Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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Lifestyle

5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House

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home renovation and improvement
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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

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Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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