Ann Widdecombe on Climate Change

Total Politics Magazine has interviewed Ann Widdecombe. Of note was the views expressed on climate change.


It so happens that I know that an awful lot of people in our party – and by that I mean a lot – are deeply unhappy with the way that we’ve signed up apparently quite blindly to the climate change agenda. It isn’t that they don’t want sensible things like recycling, it isn’t a silly rebellion. But there is a deep unease that we’re rushing in virtually to a theology: those who asked questions are ‘deniers’. The language is theological. We’re rushing in to what has become a theology imposed by the equivalent of what has become the mediaeval church and that nobody’s allowed to question it. And that even by questioning it, you’re doing the world a massive disservice and bringing it under perdition.


For those conservatives who share that unease, here are some basic points that may help get the issue in perspective.


  1. The rise in  temperatures over the past century of 0.70C is nothing unusual in the climate since the last ice-age. For much of the Roman Period 250 BC to 450 AD and the Medieval Period (900 to 1300) there is considerable evidence that temperatures were warmer than today. The view that recent temperatures are the highest in many thousands of years (held by the UN IPCC and Al Gore) is based on a single, now-discredited paper. (Shorter, but older, statement here) If there is nothing unusual historically in the recent rise in temperatures, then it is unlikely mostly or entirely by anthropogenic factors. If this is the case, then reducing carbon emissions is a waste of time.
  2. The UN IPCC forecasts that the warming will accelerate is based on positive feedback. That is the small rise in temperatures already experienced (0.70C) will cause a much larger rise in temperatures in the future (predicted to be 2 to 4.50C this century). This view is not supported by actual evidence. See here. If there is no sign runaway warming, then there is no need to panic about drastic action now. Rather we should revise our long-term forecasts downwards.
  3. There is a certain bias in

i)                    The collection of temperature data, meaning recent warming has been overstated (most recent discussion see here)

ii)                   Reporting the news when it supports the consensus, but not when it does not (e.g. Antarctic warming, hurricanes and Himalayan glacier melt.)

iii)                 Political spin in the presentation of the data. For instance ehe IPCC’s 4th assessment report of 2007, instead of saying that warming had paused (or ceased) this century said “Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850).” (page 30 Col 1)


 In other words, far from “the science being settled” there are huge questions that must be answered. Before a new drug is launched we ask that tests should be independently verified. If a doctor gives us a diagnosis that we do not think is right we get a second opinion. If someone calls at the door saying “Your roof is about to cave in, but I can replace it for you bargain price of £20,000 if you let me start tomorrow” we would normally see through it and get an alternative opinion from an independent surveyor.


Ann Widdecombe may be overstating her case, but we need the alternative voices to be heard, so that between the extremes of Global Warming Alarmists and Climate Change Deniers, we get an honest assessment and realistic policy.

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