Fruitcakes, Loonies and Climate Change Deniers

The UK Independence Party and its guffawing figurehead Nigel Farage are predicted to make substantial electoral gains in both the Local and European elections that are being held on 22nd May.

While much attention has been focussed on the pontifications of some of its more unreconstructed members on immigrants, women and same-sex marriage, UKIP’s environmental and energy policies show all the hallmarks of having been jotted down on the back of a beer mat as the minutes of a late night meeting in the back room of a Home Counties pub of a focus group consisting of Daily Mail readers and assorted other swivel-eyed loons.

The assertion by Oxfordshire-based UKIP councillor David Silvester that last winter’s devastating floods were divine retribution for the legalisation of marriage for gay couples [1] turns out to be not much less well founded in science than many of the party’s other policies.

The UKIP 2014 Energy Policy is subtitled “Keeping the Lights On” [2]. Having read the document, many will come to the conclusion that “The Lights are on but No-one’s Home” might be a more apt description.

The paper starts with a dig at wind farms, quoting the fact that one particular day in 2010 the contribution of wind to the UK’s energy consumption was 0.04%. Whether that figure is true or not, it is seriously out of date give that there was a 35% increase in installed generation during 2013. If one-off figures for the situation on a single day are to be quoted, then on 21st December 2013, wind generation accounted for 17% of the nation’s total electricity demand [3].

The document then goes on to repeat the myth that wind energy requires 100% conventional generation backup so we are paying twice for every megawatt-hour of wind generation. In reality, all the power stations on the grid – conventional or renewable – provide backup to one another and no new plants have to be built to backup wind power.
By page 2 the focus group had got another round in and were really getting into their stride. “There are increasing doubts about the theory of man-made climate change” they opined. Such doubts may emanate from the lobbyists employed by oil companies and the likes of Lord Lawson’s avowedly sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation but the scientists of the IPCC feel that they can be 95% confident that human activity is affecting the climate [4] (up from 90% in their previous report). The proportion of articles in peer-reviewed journals that take the contrary view is something like 1 in 9,000 [5]. So, if there are increasing doubts, they are not to be found among those who understood the question.

The party also gives a nod to the idea that more CO2 is a good thing as it stimulates plant growth before launching into some purple prose extolling the benefits of fracking for shale gas – under the heading “safe and clean fracking” – the clincher for UKIP voters of course being that this is good British gas and not the nasty foreign stuff.

The policy concludes with a summary of “What We Should Do”. The list, which would be laughable if it were not for the terrifying thought that many people will believe this stuff, having fallen for Farage and UKIP’s “good old fashioned British Common Sense” shtick, consists of cancelling all subsidies for renewable energy, stopping wind power development, keeping coal-fired power stations, repealing the 2008 Climate Change Act, urgently assessing shale gas potential, urgently building gas-fired generation capacity and basing energy strategy on coal, gas and nuclear.

A better recipe for disaster it is hard to imagine.


One thought on “Fruitcakes, Loonies and Climate Change Deniers

  1. Hello Peter, at ‘swivel-eyed loons’ I laughed and spluttered coffee over my keypad, but your message is clear. People will believe UKIP’s drivel because of the so-called patriotic hype. Fear for where we are currently heading will put ticks into the wrong ballot boxes. I am glad to see you here on WP, as it is a much better platform for your strong and eloquent views. 🙂

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