Peter Hitchens, like the paper he writes for, is wrong on almost everything and like my opinion of the Tories sincerity, I doubt he believes what he says half the time, but he did get one thing right tonight on Question Time. He stated that we should be environmentally conscious regardless of whether climate change is manmade. This is a crucial point. There has been so much emphasis on climate change we have forgotten about how our environment improves our quality of life.
There has been heightened debate on the importance of manmade CO2 emissions since Channel Four aired its 'global warming swindle' conspiracy theory programme, which presented old and largely discredited 'evidence' as if it was fact (the director Martin Durkin has form). Paul Flynn MP raised an EDM over the outrageousness of the presentation but of course like any scientific theory if you focus an 80 minute programme on all the negatives and use misrepresented evidence then of course the 'facts' can be compelling.
We know global temperatures were higher millions of years ago, this programme claimed the speed of change in temperature was just as rapid then and that higher temperatures preceded higher CO2 levels-citing ice core evidence in support. This has been discredited.
Nobody doubts 'something' is causing the global temperature to rise and just like smoking causes cancer, we all know CO2 is a 'greenhouse gas' (think of Venus), so it seems reasonable to assume that pumping an extra 8-10% CO2 into the atmosphere has 'some' warming effect (even if this could be more than cancelled out by other factors). How much of a total effect is debatable.
Those who argue not to worry, say it is a negligible effect and that the costs of reducing emissions (especially unilaterally) are a waste of economic potential that harm the poor the most and there is nothing we can do to make any difference to climate change anyway.
Whether the naysayers are right or not (and I believe in this case that they are wrong), I would still like to see less congestion, safer roads, less pollution, less waste, more efficient energy use, better public transport and less car friendly, pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly sprawl. These will always be good aims.
Finally, with the top earners in this country responsible for the majority of emissions, the 'friends of the rich' Tories will never have the stomach to sanction the reduction in inequality needed to tackle climate change. The big question is; as Anthony Giddens and Jenni Russell ask, will the next leader of the Labour party have the courage to be a proud egalitarian - it is the only way to be truly Green.