A favourite quote of mine is “a well-read man should know the second law of thermodynamics”.
It’s from CP Snow, who was the chief scientific adviser to Harold Wilson’s government. In just a few words it shows the snobbery we have about technical knowledge.
We need to be able to understand information and data. Every bit of information in the entire world is available on the click of a mouse. We need to know if it can be trusted. We need to know how to use it. How to draw valid conclusions. Much of this understanding involves basic statistics and some logical thought.
I see very little sign of these skills being generally taught.
There are two key skills that need better understanding. Cause and effect, and understanding the difference between reliable and unreliable data.
The world’s leading authority on climate change is the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2018 it warned global warming would reach the danger point of 1.50C by 2030. Global warming drives climate change. Up to 1.50C it will be very difficult but manageable. Above, it becomes unpredictable and dangerous.
In July 2019 the East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) declared a climate emergency, as did many other authorities, including Hampshire County Council.
These councils targeted 2030 to make their operations carbon neutral. The date EHDC used was 2050. I labelled this a “do-nothing” policy.
I said all this in my last article. It bears repeating as it’s a critical message that is not yet fully accepted.
This led to a reply in the letters page of this newspaper. It claimed “environment campaigners” had opposed nuclear energy since the 1960s. This caused a “do-nothing” policy on nuclear energy. Had it been allowed to develop and replace fossil fuel, there would be no climate emergency now.
It’s not the reasoning behind this I find interesting. It is the cause-and-effect aspect. Just because two things happen at the same time does not mean they are linked.
There was, and still is, opposition to nuclear power. But the cost of building and operating generators is the chief reason it’s not more used. It is also dirty (its deadly toxic waste cannot be disposed of safely) and insanely dangerous.
Despite opposition there is a new nuclear power station being built at Hinkley Point. It is years behind schedule and hugely over budget. Its power will cost £920 per megawatt hour.
Onshore wind power currently costs around £300pmwh.
“Environment campaigners” have long been calling for investment in, and development of, wind power. Far from investing in our future and the promise of cheap energy, the Conservatives actually banned onshore wind.
Little wonder, then, that the local Conservatives show the same disregard for our futures.
But our hung council (no overall control by one party) offers a chance for change. Will the Whitehill and Bordon Community Party choose the path to a better future or the current “do-nothing” climate policy?