Lord Turnbull was Permanent Secretary of the UK Department for the Environment from 1994 to 1998, and Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service 2002-05.
He has written a twenty page briefing paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It is called The Really Inconvenient Truth Or “It ain’t necessarily so.” You can download the report in PDF format here.
Lord Turnbull discusses the claims of the IPCC specifically from the point of view of providing a basis for government policy.
He notes that there is general agreement that the world has gotten warmer by about 0.8 degress Celsius over the last 150 years. There is general agreement that there is a ‘greenhouse effect’ and that CO2 contributes to it.
(Not every scientist agrees that this is so. Alan Siddons, for example, claims there is no evidence of any real world greenhouse effect at all, and that it is not even theoretically possible.)
But back to Turnbull. He goes on to point that the alarm over climate change is based on the untested and increasingly unlikely looking assumption that a harmless and possibly beneficial 1 degree increase in global temperature caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would be amplified to between 3 and 6 degrees by various other ‘positive feedbacks,’ mainly a dramatically increased greenhouse effect caused by higher levels of water vapour.
Now in his own words:
The Really Inconvenient Truth is that the propositions of the IPCC do not bear the weight of certainty with which they are expressed. However, the purpose of the paper is not to argue that there is another truth which should become the new consensus, but to point out the doubts that exist about the IPCC viewpoint and serious flaws in its procedures. It is also to question why the UK Government has placed such heavy bets on one particular source of advice.
Even if the IPCC scenarios were correct, the impacts are frequently selective and exaggerated. The economic policy choices being made will not minimize the cost of mitigation. The paper concludes with a call for more humility from scientists, more rational reflection from politicians, and more challenge from our parliamentarians.
There it is: The economic policy choices being made will not minimize the cost of mitigation.
Climate change is inevitable, and difficult to predict.
Responsible government would act so as to minimise the negative effects of climate change.
But the Gillard Labor government is acting in exactly the opposite way. Its policies are designed to slow development and economic growth.
A ‘carbon tax’ is meant to hurt. It is meant to force us (the poorer of us, anyway) to reduce the amount we travel, to reduce our levels of consumption.
This means less tax income for government, less expenditure on infrastructure, less money for companies to put into research and development.
In other words, current policy directions will not enhance, but rather severely reduce our ability to mitigate the effects of future climate change whether warmer or, more likely and more damagingly, colder.