If Only They’d Called Boaty McBoatface ‘Titanic II’…

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: The keel arrives prior to the keel-laying ceremony of the new polar research ship for Britain, RRS Sir David Attenborough, which is named after him, at Cammell Laird shipyard, on October 17, 2016 in Birkenhead, England. World-renowned naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough initiated the …
Christopher Furlong/Getty

Whispery-voiced, gorilla-hugging Malthusian Sir David Attenborough was on the BBC this morning explaining why the polar research vessel which has just been named after him – the one that was supposed to be called Boaty McBoatface till some killjoys intervened – will be so vital in the war on climate change.

Actually no.

The best thing this boat could do for the environment would be to hit an iceberg as soon as possible after it leaves shore. The sooner it’s on the ocean floor – providing a marvellous £200 million habitat for all manner of marine creatures – the sooner it will be unavailable to ferry around activist scientists making mischief with their cherry picked data, politically loaded hypotheses, and insane policy prescriptions.

A good example of this was given by Attenborough himself: the British Antarctic Survey scientists who spotted the hole in the ozone layer and helped effect the worldwide ban in 1996 on CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) – used in aerosol cans and refrigerators.

And what was the effect on the ozone layer of this massively intrusive, monumentally expensive piece of meddling global legislation?

It made no difference. The hole stopped growing before the ban took effect, then failed to shrink afterwards. We still can’t be sure that CFCs were the culprit. What we can be sure of is that this well-meaning legislation led to a massive explosion in the use of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) as a substitute. And if you believe experts like US Secretary of State John Kerry, these are a pollutant even more powerful than CFCs because of their deadly greenhouse gas capability, “equivalent to the emissions of 300 coal-fired power plants every year.”

So now, at even more expense, HFCs are going to be banned too. This was decided at a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda last week attended by delegates (and their entourages) from 150 nations. (Luckily they all arrived by bicycle – otherwise, just imagine the carbon footprint of all those jets they didn’t take…)

Christopher Booker captures the absurdity and pointlessness of the exercise well:

As usual, of course, the West, led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, is absolutely gung-ho for the ban to be introduced as soon as possible, in not more than five to 10 years.

But, equally inevitably, other countries, led by China and India, say they cannot possibly ban HFCs so quickly, not before 2031. Indeed, as we know, many “developing” countries, again led by China and India, as already the world’s first and third largest CO2 emitters, have made clear that they have every intention of building thousands more coal-fired power stations, which will massively to increase those emissions anyway.

Although it would be sad then to see £200 million of taxpayers’ money to go straight to the bottom after the tragic iceberg collision, the money saved in the wider global economy would be enormous.

And we haven’t even got onto the benefits in the field of “climate change.” With fewer scientists stomping around the Antarctic looking for stories to give to BBC journalists that the case for action on climate change is more urgent than ever before, there will be less pressure on governments to take pointless measures to deal with this non existent problem.

So that will mean: fewer rainforests being chopped down to grow biofuels; fewer solar arrays frying birds; fewer wind turbines slicing and dicing bats and eagles; fewer old people dying in fuel poverty as a result of energy prices artificially inflated by renewable tariffs; more money available to deal with real environmental problems like overfishing by out-of-control EU member state factory fleets…

If Mother Gaia could speak, I’m sure she’d want this vessel sunk as soon as possible. Or maybe if Greenpeace’s more zealous representatives were listening to her wounded cries, they could take direct action themselves. Call it revenge for the Rainbow Warrior.