In the UK we’ve faced a wet summer, whilst we’ve been told Europe burns. Are we being told the truth? Are these problems man-made or due to climate change? If climate change, what if anything should we do about it?
We asked our contributors for their views.
Zack Stiling, political activist.
As ever, the narrative we are fed from politicians and the mainstream media consists of a load of half-truths presented in a way which is designed to mislead. Parts of Europe may have had an uncommonly hot summer, but to frame that as part of a climate ‘emergency’ is completely disingenuous, and to attribute it to the wildfires is spurious in the extreme.
Everyone knows that the ignition point of paper is 451 degrees Fahrenheit. For wood, grass and all similar substances, it is generally between 450 and 500 degrees, so there is no way a temperature of 120 degrees – the hottest ever recorded in Europe – can cause the spontaneous combustion of grassland or scrub. In all cases, the wildfires could not have been started without the heat being magnified in some way or, as is more likely, an external heat source being applied. In short, the wildfires will have been started by human activity, deliberately or by accident, and not as a result of climate change.
Dry grass obviously makes the fires easier to spread, but that is caused more by prolonged dry spells than a few days of high temperatures, and is a normal characteristic of the summer climate which doesn’t usually result in a mass panic. Most, if not all, of the fires could have been avoided if people used their brains and took appropriate care.
The climate, of course, is permanently in a state of flux, and will warm up and cool down over periods of centuries as it always does. The only thing for us to do as adapt to it, as humans in times past did by wearing fur and hides to keep the cold out, or taking advantage of the warm summers to grow apricots, musk melons and figs, as we did in Tudor times. As friends of the Croydon Constitutionalists will know, Croydon’s name means ‘Valley of the Crocus’, commemorating its Roman use as a centre for saffron production. If the temperature gets warm enough, we could revive that industry.
Post-Industrial Revolution, the scope for mankind to overcome and adapt to obstacles has never been greater. There will always be options, and it is up for us to try them, reject them or improve them as we see fit. We do not need to take heed of the agenda-driven zealots who tell us we should all become miserable vegans and have our energy consumption monitored. As a case in point, a carbon-neutral synthetic fuel has recently been developed for internal combustion engines – no thanks to politicians, prophets of doom and their electric-car fixation – and works interchangeably with petrol, making the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel vehicles look pretty stupid.
Scott Neville, Hampshire Independents
There is a lot of things to unpack there. The first thing to remember is that the media is not there to tell you the facts, they are there to sell you the news, so there is always going to be some blurring of the truth to make it more marketable. So has the UK summer been wet…. yes, but it’s not been wet by biblical proportions and the UK has a long history of rubbish weather and it raining more than we want, ok sure its rained a lot more than we would want, but I don’t think this is anything that exceptional. I don’t really think there is anything special about the weather in the UK other than “it’s been a bit wetter than usual”.
Europe is a little different, so you ask, “are these problems man-made or due to climate change?” I would say, yes and yes. The south of Europe has always been hot, if the Mediterranean Sea were to be dammed in the straits of Gibraltar it would dry up as more water evaporates out of the sea than flows into it from the rivers of Europe/Africa. Given the longest river in the world connects to it, that tells you a LOT of water evaporates. So, it’s pretty hot there and always has been. So, the man-made bit. Historically a lot of farming has been conducted by small scale family farms in the south of Europe, they have had small fields which are well suited to the hilly terrain. This kind of landscape is far less suited to large scale farming. Now the EU really hates small scale farmers, they would much rather have big industrial farmers. Over the years a lot of these small-scale farmers have been put out of business and the big industrial ones have taken over some of the land. This is a critical change, because the fires while in part might be caused by slightly hotter temperatures, they are mostly caused by an abundance of fuel on the ground in these now abandoned fields.
We have seen this many times in other countries like Australia where the indigenous people would burn the land regularly to remove the excess fuel. For some reason we hold a certain arrogance over such things now, where our leaders have decided these people don’t know what they are doing because their actions have not been derived through the scientific method (which makes no sense when you consider the religious cult of “The Science” where is totally acceptable to abuse people in the street for contradicting the first slightly official looking thing you found on Google and academics like Peter Boghossian have shown deep flaws in the peer review process in some fields).
Now, I am all for the scientific method, both my degrees (BSc – Hons – 1st & MSc – Distinction) are in Science, so I am well signed up to the Scientific method (I don’t like to brag about my education, because you should judge me on the quality of my research / arguments / findings, but it was more to show that I am not some fly-by-night that looked up the definition of science yesterday, I have devoted my life to it). I really don’t agree with the modern fad of “there are other ways of knowing” and “my truth”, there is only the truth and the only way of knowing for sure is empirical evidence which is falsifiable. However, these old cultures and people have survived for a reason, so while burning the land or small-scale farming might be done to appease some god (which I don’t accept), there might be some valid practical reason for these practices evolving. Another example might be the rules in religious texts, like thou shalt not kill, I don’t believe any god said that (because I don’t believe they exist), but I do think that’s a pretty sensible rule to produce a functioning society, i.e. the reasoning is wrong, but the outcome is sound. One obvious outcome is that these practices produce a stable environment from which humans can flourish. While I would always doubt the reasoning, I am very open to the idea that there is good reason for doing these things and sure we can change what we do, that’s fine, but let’s be pretty sure about the consequences before doing that. In essence the fires in Europe are very much man made.
Climate change, yes the climate is changing, and yes its getting hotter, that is not going to help, one thing I have learned is that Earth has a lot of reinforcing feedback loops which is counterintuitive. For example, in an ice age its colder, colder means more snow, snow is very good at reflecting heat back into space, therefore it gets colder. The same could be true here, more heat, stuff burns more easily therefore more heat. It’s interesting that the planet does always appear to have some method of correcting itself (although we don’t really understand why, and life does play a part in that so past performance is not a guide to future returns blah blah).
In terms of climate change, I think there are some important things we can (and should do as quickly as possible). Firstly, get the plastic junk out of the seas. The seas are one of the most important regulators of our climate, they are the origins of all live on earth and produce vast quantities of food, why, why, why, are we ok with all this plastic being dumped in there? We need to get all that plastic junk out and stop putting any more of it in (which includes things like shipping recycling to China where it can fall off the sides of boats). We should think a bit more carefully about what we eat too. All the arguments I see make absolutely no sense, the better thing for the climate is to eat avocados shipped in from South America rather than meat from a farm I could walk to. What? This makes no sense. We should try to eat more locally grown produce as its generally better for us, uses less energy and animals have a higher welfare standard. Now I realize that not everyone can afford that, so I don’t complain about people buying cheap food I know plenty of people can’t afford anything else, but those that can afford, in my view should (although I have no right to force them).
The final thing I think we should all do is use less energy, not in some “you will own nothing and be happy” way, but because it just makes sense, if you don’t need the lights on, turn them off, it will save you some money. Insulated homes are cheaper to heat. We are going to have a few years with power cuts over winter thanks to our inept government not planning our energy security properly and building new power plants (Nick Clegg, “it will take a decade to build a new nuclear power plant, so we won’t do that” in 2010…. well would have been pretty handy now in 2023). Using as little energy as possible will help reduce your own costs and help mitigate the supply problems. Further to this the energy we have on earth is finite and controlled by the Sun (other than nuclear, though that’s still finite), at some point in our distance future humans will need to leave Earth and find a new home, I imagine that will need quite a lot of energy, so let’s not squander it all now on lighting up the outside wall of our house at night.
Scott can be emailed at [email protected] and is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottNevilleIndLib. The Hampshire Independents are online at https://hantsind.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hampshireindependents.