The Iceland volcano

Having been in the renewables business longer than nearly everyone, we know a bit about the climate-change issue. I am not strongly on either side of the argument, which most people interpret as meaning that I am strongly sceptic, and that interpretation is entirely wrong. I have spent most of my life and risked most of my family wealth in developing systems to replace the use of fossil fuels with renewable natural resources. Very few other people have gone that far, and virtually none has made a successful business out of it.

What I say is that when you see the effects of quite a small volcano on the environment and on business, you have to wonder whether the emissions from Man's rapid use of fossil fuels and of Calcium Carbonate, have anything like as much effect on us as the activity of the sun (whose reduction contributed to this cold winter in Europe and Eastern USA), or eruptions from volcanoes and other irresistible natural occurrences.

My view is still that man is using the world's resources of the only cheap and flexible energy resource that it has, far too fast, and on balance, the evidence is that emissions from the use of fossil fuels are heating up the atmosphere. I am told that although last winter here was cold, on average across the world, it was a relatively warm winter.

The trouble is that I have to take the evidence presented by scientists at face value. I have not got the time to check their figures. And I don't trust the scientists on either side of the argument. They often seem to have a view and produce figures to prove it, obscuring figures that run counter to their beliefs. And scientists in the end are always wrong to a degree about something as complex as climate.

So my view is that we must find the cheapest ways of reducing our use of fossil fuels, and not indulge in currently fashionable ideas as politicians of all parties always do. How many politicians have been great enthusiasts for the 'hydrogen economy', seeing it as the panacea for the energy future of the world and which is now almost entirely discredited? It will be the same for carbon capture and storage, which must be vulnerable to natural occurrences like earth quakes, is energy inefficient, and would make our electricity very expensive. Photovoltaics are great in isolated cases where small amounts of electricity are needed in remote locations, but as a major energy source at those capital costs in these cloudy islands? The list goes on. The politicians themselves, of course, have no idea what will work and what won't, and take the advice of civil servants, themselves advised by enthusiasts with axes to grind and financial motives.

It's the market which best judges what is the most economical way of replacing fossil fuels. Governments shouldn't pick winners. They should apply taxes which raise the price of fossil fuels and encourage people to be frugal with their use. Use the tax to reduce or eliminate taxes on employment. Then we will have an economy prepared for the future years when fossil fuels really get scarce, and with a population not so reliant on handouts to survive.

It's worth a thought that if the sun had a prolonged period of reduced activity, we might be very glad of a warm blanket around the earth. Only fools indulge in expensive measures, when cheap ones leave us better off. But it is the fools who are in power.


Problem with activation

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