An Appeal To Reason: Lord Lawson’s take on green alarmism

The new religion of global warming 'contains a grain of truth and a mountain of nonsense', according to former chancellor Nigel Lawson in his new book.

The view that climate change is a global emergency is so entrenched among scientists, politicians and environment­alists that sceptics are derided as "climate-change deniers akin to holocaust deniers", says Clive Crook in the FT.

That explains why this new book by former chancellor Nigel Lawson, who helped produce a report on the economics of climate change by the Lords' economic affairs committee in 2005, failed to find a UK publisher. He claims the fuss over global warming reflects "a new age of unreason, which threatens to be as economically harmful as it is profoundly disquieting". The book is "elegantly written, thorough, entertaining and above all, convincing", says Crook.

Man has contributed to the slight warming of the planet, says Lawson, although it's not clear to what extent. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the mean global temperature over the next 100 years will rise by 1.8 to 4 degrees, but this was before the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, a part of the Met Office, conceded that there was no further warming in the first seven years of this century, says Lawson.

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The IPCC, then, assumes, without allowing for mankind's ability to adapt and improve technology, that both the developing and the industrialised world lack the capacity to deal with global warming. Its consequent estimate of the reduction in global GDP over the next 100 years looks too gloomy. And even doubling the figure suggests that by 2100 the developing world will be 8.5 times, rather than 9.5 times, wealthier than today hardly the end of the world.

But it's on the subject of our response to climate change that "this book really deserves attention", says Graham Stewart in The Spectator. For Britain to slash emissions by between 60% and 80% by 2050 would be hugely expensive, and pointless with India and China refusing to countenance emission cuts. That's because Britain accounts for just 2% of global emissions (Europe produces 15%), notes Lawson.

Even if there could be a global agreement on cutting carbon, the costs would outweight the benefits. Biofuels do more harm than good and the European emissions-trading scheme is anti-competitive and susceptible to abuse.

The best response to global warming is continual adaptation, such as concentrating on bolstering flood defences in certain areas and growing new crops in others, rather than huge and expensive gestures. The new religion of global warming, says Lawson, "contains a grain of truth and a mountain of nonsense".

An Appeal To Reason: A Cool Look At Global Warming is published by Duckworth.