Climate change is the biggest scam in the history of the world – a $1.5 trillion-a-year conspiracy against the taxpayer, every cent, penny and centime of which ends in the pockets of the wrong kind of people, none of which goes towards a cause remotely worth funding, all of it a complete and utter waste.
Here is an edited version of a speech on this subject I gave last week to the World Taxpayers’ Associations in Berlin.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen; Guten Abend meine Damen und Herren. May I say how grateful I am to Staffan Wennberg and the World Taxpayers Associations for inviting me to speak in Berlin. This is my first time here since 1978.
I was a schoolboy then. I learned my first German: “Was trinken wir? Schultheiss Bier.” Now I’m grown up and married with children even older than I was then. Yesterday I went on a tour and I couldn’t help noticing there seem to have been one or two changes.
When I last came I have to confess that the Wall was the highlight of my trip. So echt Cold War. So Spy Who Came In From The Cold!
I remember taking the U-bahn underneath the wall, passing through the East German side, and seeing empty grey platforms where the train never stopped, and lurking in the shadows grim looking guards with machine guns.
And you know how they say: “If you’re not a communist by the time you’re 18 then you’re heartless and if you’re not a capitalist by the time you’re 40 then you’re brainless.”?
Well I’m afraid I skipped that first stage and went straight to the second. All it took was that little glimpse of East Germany – a place so horrible that if you tried to escape they would shoot you with machine guns – to give me an abiding preference for free markets. Small Government. And low taxes.
Low taxes. To many of us here, I suspect, it seems so obvious why low taxes are a desirable thing.
We know, as Bastiat says: “The State is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”
We’ve seen the performance of low-tax economies like Singapore and Hong Kong and compared it to the performance over the years of high-tax economies like Cuba, North Korea or France. And drawn the obvious conclusions.
It’s obvious to us. The evidence supports it. Why isn’t it obvious to the rest of the world?
Well one of the big problems I think is that over the years taxation has acquired a moral dimension it never had originally.
When bad King John sent his tax collectors round 13th century England, everyone knew it was to fund his unpopular wars with France. No one said as they handed over their hard-earned groats:”Well at least it’s going to make a better society.”
But today you hear it a lot. You hear people say things like “I don’t mind paying a bit extra in tax if it gives us a better health service.”
Celebrities who try to reduce their taxes in complicated offshore schemes are pilloried in the newspaper.
Companies like Google, Starbucks and Amazon which avoid paying taxes find themselves boycotted and the subject of angry campaigns on Twitter.
There’s an idea abroad that if you don’t pay your taxes you’re not being clever and canny – as you would have been considered in John’s day. Rather you’re shirking your moral duty to create a better world.
Well I disagree with this. I couldn’t disagree with it more strongly.
I believe that far from being a moral force for good, taxes are – almost invariably – a force for greed, corruption, profligacy and waste.
As PJ O’Rourke once noted:
“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
Nowhere is this truer in the field of the environment which, I sincerely believe – and I’ve been doing a lot of research into this – must count among the biggest wastes of tax money in the history of the world.
Last year Climate Change Business Journal – calculated that the total annual spend on the climate change industry is $1.5 trillion a year.
All those carbon traders, climate researchers, renewables and biofuels experts, environment correspondents, professors of climate science at the University of East Anglia and the Potsdam Institute, sustainability officers on local councils, and so on, add up the cost of their grants and salaries – and $1.5 trillion per year is the ballpark figure you reach.
So what does $1.5 trillion look like in a global economic context?
Well, it’s roughly the amount we spend every year on the online shopping industry.
$1.5 trillion on the global warming industry; $1.5 trillion on the online shopping industry.
But there’s a key difference between these two industries.
One exists to provide buyers and sellers what they want – to their mutual benefit; the other is a sham.
Buying stuff on the internet: it’s really useful, isn’t it? It has had a dramatically transforming effect on our quality of life, the way you can order a book at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night and have it appear on your doorstep the very next day.
But how did this marvellous industry spring up? Was it because of all the special incentives and tax breaks granted by wise governments? Nope of course not. They weren’t necessary. The online shopping industry sprung up and grew and grew because it was what people wanted, where they chose – of their own volition – to spend their money.
Now compare and contrast the global warming industry – which I call a Potemkin industry – because that’s what it is: a fraud; a sham; a conspiracy against the taxpayer.
Do you want to have a guess how much that industry would be worth if it weren’t for all the money funnelled into it via government grants and taxpayer levies and subsidies and regulatory capture?
Pretty close to zero, I’d say. Take wind farms – my hobby horse. The cost of intermittent, unreliable wind energy is roughly twice the market rate for onshore wind; three times the market rate for onshore. Nobody’s going to pay that kind of money in the open market. The only way it’s going to happen if people are mandated by the government to do so: which is what of course has happened across Europe and in the US.
Warren Buffett has said it: “wind farms don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
They’re inefficient; they kill birds and bats; they spoil views; they’re environmentally unfriendly – rare earth minerals from China; they’re hazardous; they’re expensive; they’re ugly (well I think they are….)
And in few countries is the damage these monstrosities have done more obvious than in Germany, home of the hateful Energiewende.
Energiewende means Energy Transition. It has been a disaster, as Rupert Darwall noted in a recent Telegraph article.
In 2004, the Green energy minister, Jürgen Trittin, claimed that the extra cost of renewable energy on monthly bills was equivalent to the cost of a scoop of ice cream. Nine years later, CDU minister Peter Altmaier said Energiewende could cost around €1 trillion by the end of the 2030s. The cost of feed-in tariffs and other subsidies is currently €21.8bn a year; €20bn is being spent on a new north-south high voltage line and investment in other grid infrastructure is likely to double that number.
They cause real people real misery.
In 2013, 345,000 German households could not pay their electricity bills because Energiewende had made them so expensive.
That’s the financial damage they’ve caused. What about the environmental damage? Here we are in Germany, the Greenest nation on earth. Aren’t Greens supposed to care about animals? Well they don’t about bats, clearly.
Bats are special. The reason they’re so heavily protected by so many laws is that they are a K-selected species. That is, they reproduce very slowly, live a long time and are easy to wipe out. Having evolved with few predators – flying at night helps – bats did very well with this strategy until the modern world.
But now we have all those eco-friendly wind turbines. Or as I call them bird-slicing, bat-chomping eco-crucifixes. A recent study in Germany by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research showed that bats killed by German turbines may have come from places 1000 or more miles away. This would suggest that German turbines – which one study claims kill more than 200,000 bats a year – may be depressing populations across the entire northeastern portion of Europe.
Why would anyone put up such things. One reason and one reason only: follow the money.
Where does the money come from? Us!
Who made the decision to spend that money? Not us.
Oh definitely not us. Had it been us we might have done a bit of basic due diligence.
Like, OK, so these wind turbines are necessary you say to save the planet from the threat of catastrophic and unprecedented man-made global warming?
So has the planet ever been as warm in human history as it is today?
Well, only in the Minoan warming period and the Roman warming period and the Medieval warming period.
Just those. Right. And presumably back then all that CO2 heavy industry was burning was a real problem? No just kidding…Out of interest how much has the planet warmed in the last few years?
About 0.8 degrees C since 1850.
Right so since the end of the Little Ice Age (so called because it was characterised by unpleasant cold) and years like the infamous Year Without A Summer (1816), the planet has heated by less than the temperature increase you’d get on a spring day between say breakfast and mid-morning coffee time?
Ah yes but the computer models…
Indeed the computer models. Those amazing models which have been predicting catastrophic, runaway warming, when there has been no significant warming since 1998 – so for eighteen years there has been no global warming?
Ah yes but the temperatures of February 2016….
Look I could go on like this forever. I’ve been listening to these increasingly desperate excuses for decades. Perhaps some of you here believe them – if so, there’s a bridge I’d like to sell you…
But it really doesn’t matter whether you believe in global warming or not because here’s the reality:
All that money we’re being to spend on the global warming industry – that $1.5 trillion I mentioned earlier siphoned straight out of taxpayers’ pockets – it isn’t going to make the blindest bit of difference.
No, I exaggerate. It will make a teeny weeny bit of difference. Bjorn Lomborg has done the calculations. You’re going to love this, if you haven’t heard this before. These figures are just amazing.
So recently you’ll recall there was a big UN climate conference in Paris COP 21 and all the leaders of the world flew in to save the planet from global warming. But before they turned up, each delegate nation made a voluntary agreement as to how much it was going to cut its carbon emissions. Not compulsory, note. So these countries are free at any stage to abandon their carbon reduction targets – as funnily enough South Korea did last week. This is how much – best case scenario – that various countries are prepared to do to combat climate change.
So Lomborg added up all the countries INDCs – that stands for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – and worked out, using the climate alarmists’ own models, what effect all this would have on global temperature.
Do you want to know how much? (Oh this is the optimistic scenario by the way, not the pessimistic one).
If all the countries do their bit then the total reduction in global warming – by the year 2100 will be 0.170 degrees Centigrade.
As a climate sceptic friend of mine pointed out at the time, you’d experience a bigger temperature increase than that just walking down from the top to the bottom of the Eiffel tower.
So there’s your deal folks: you – and taxpayers like you – are paying $1.5 trillion a year to reduce the world’s temperatures by the end of this century by 0.170.
It’s so perfectly ridiculous it’s almost funny.
And I suppose on a personal level I shouldn’t complain. I call climate change “the gift that goes on giving” because day in day out I get an endless stream of stories to write about the corruption, incompetence, skullduggery of the climate alarmism industry.
But, putting my career aside for the moment, is this really a world we’d like to live in? Can it be right that people who have worked hard for their money should have it taken from them and then wasted in so spectacular fashion?
And it’s not just the waste that’s so bad it’s worse than that.
If it were simply a form of taxpayer-funded welfare scheme for otherwise unemployable environmental sciences graduates that would be one thing.
But this is causing real, lasting harm in any number of ways.
The corrupting effects on science – and the scientific method – which at times are almost redolent of Lysenkoism of the Stalin era.
The brainwashing of schoolchildren such as you might have found with the Young Pioneers.
The economic damage caused by the misallocation of resources, as so frequently happens in Communist countries
The pollution caused by diesel (introduced, on EU recommendation, because it’s supposedly more CO2-friendly) which calls to mind Chernobyl or the poisoning of the Aral Sea.
The human suffering of those 345,000 German households I mentioned who can’t pay their electricity bills.
Does this authoritarianism and corruption and incompetence remind you of anything?
Well it has often been said – and there is much anecdotal evidence to support this – that after the Berlin Wall came down the left had a bit of a problem. Capitalism had won the economic argument. Where could the left go next?
But the solution was there waiting them – the green movement. In the guise of saving the world’s environment they could advance all their usual obsessions – control, regulation, state intervention, puritanism, compulsory immiseration – though this time with a smiling, fluffy face. Watermelons they call them: green on the outside, red on the inside.
So the Berlin Wall came down but it never really went away.
And sometimes I look at the world and what has been happening with the rise and rise of green lunacy and I ask myself: did the right side really win the Cold War or is it just an illusion?