Cool news for sceptics

Alarming the punters has always been a lucrative source of income for newspapers. There’s no news like bad news.

So it is no surprise to see the Norwich-based Eastern Daily Press – the biggest selling English regional paper – going to town on the threat to local post offices and to Norfolk villages abandoned to the sea. These are worthy subjects for a local newspaper, and both post offices and villages have my unconditional support. The EDP is doing a fine job in exposing their plight.

The post offices are in what might be described as a unique position, in that their probable demise is not being attributed to global warming. Possibly the connection has been overlooked. The cliff-edge villages of course are a different matter, though they share with the post offices a quite different and common cause: idiotic government policies. It might be amusing to speculate how the Government might top these two dunderheaded plans – perhaps they have a secret scheme to abolish villages altogether and pile everyone into a few massive metropolises where they can be carefully monitored.

If so, the EDP will tell us in due course. But at the moment they are just telling us that the villages are threatened because the sea level is rising. Those of you fortunate enough to visit Great Yarmouth on a regular basis will no doubt have noticed this. Others may suspect that erosion is an ongoing natural process that has nothing to do with rising sea levels.

But what about the Antarctic? The EDP thinks we should be concerned about this – so much so that it devoted pages two and three to the collapse of an ice shelf not long ago, together with a huge picture of what appeared to be ice of some kind. This is not the kind of thing one sees too much around Norfolk, but of course it could be heading this way. And it’s all to do with climate change, isn’t it?

Well, no, actually it isn’t. Ice does this sort of thing all the time. The ice shelf involved is one of many surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula, which itself represents just two per cent of the Antarctic land mass, and a still smaller proportion of its ice mass. I am told that “the seven ice shelves that have already disintegrated on the Antarctic Peninsula represent a combined area 1/55 the size of Texas”.

In the last 50 years the Antarctic as a whole has been cooling. This is not mentioned much by the media, which also rarely points out that melting ice shelves do not add an inch to sea level, because the ice is already floating. If sea level rises this century it is unlikely to be by more than the eight inches observed in the 20th century. Even the IPCC says says sea level will rise by 20ft only after several millennia.

So let’s get protecting those threatened villages (and their post offices). And while we’re at it, let’s note another couple of significant pieces of news that don’t seem to have reached the pages of the EDP – or many other parts of the media.

First, the earth is no longer warming. From 1998 it has actually cooled. From 2002, it has plateaued. This is not in dispute: the IPCC admits it. Since carbon dioxide levels are still increasing this is a bit puzzling – but only if you blame CO2 for warming.

Second, data from NASA’s Aqua satellite, launched in 2002, has supplied data that contradicts computer climate models and reveals that the climate has actually been compensating for the increased carbon dioxide and limiting the greenhouse effect.

Some might think this is worth bringing to people’s attention. But of course if global warming is not what has been suggested, a lot of people are going to look pretty silly. Some might even lose their jobs or businesses. The highly dubious practice of carbon trading would be rendered pointless, and environmental correspondents would have a few things to explain.

Headlines like “Switch off to save the earth” and pointless gimmicks like Earth Hour, in which gullible people switched off their power for an hour as some kind of symbol, would be exposed. Needless to say, Norwich was one of the first UK cities to sign up for this ludicrous event, though when I looked out of the window during the critical hour I didn’t see an awful lot of darkness. Maybe people have more sense than they are sometimes credited with. I suspect they do.