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Budget 2020 & Carbon Taxes

By October 9, 2019Media

It is a given that Ireland is now on track to deliver on our commitment to impose a Carbon Tax of €80 per tonne by 2030. Budget 2020 increases the existing taxes by 30% by adding more tax to sources like petrol, kerosene, diesel, coal, natural gas and peat. Now moved to €26 per tonne, a third of the Irish carbon tax journey is complete. Should we be happy? Yes if the cash is ring-fenced and recycled into effective schemes that drive up energy efficiencies but also commits to our own R&D on the green economy. Keep in mind that the last ring-fenced structure, the National Pension Reserve Fund was redeployed during the last crisis to save the banks.

It is a fact that CO2 causing global warming has become a global political and economic impulse which why I decided, using the time- tested method of enquiry, to check in on the foundations of the paradigm in the full confidence that the science was concluded. Just like everyone else I’d read extensive media coverage and watched big weather events, but I was also active. In 2008 I’d co-authored a business plan to build a French-Irish interconnector at the South coast liaising between with EDF in Paris, RTE the French grid operator and Eirgrid with the aim of getting lower energy prices from non-fossil fuel into the Irish market. The foundation report is available as a PDF for those in the energy media interested in contrasting it to the announcement this year of plans by Eirgrid to connect to the Nuclear-powered French grid backed by substantial EU funding. This interconnector is a key piece of the Irish energy jigsaw and reduces our sole dependence on UK interconnection.

Anyway, I was all set to find that man-made CO2 emission was the culprit driving the current global warming trend, after all the UN were saying so, Governments had rallied and global agreements like Paris were complete. I was a convert, all I felt I needed to do was temporarily swap to a parallax view, hold back frustration and read on. What I’ve found, I didn’t expect. Pressing past the heat on all sides, is the simple observation that man-made CO2 driving global warming remains a Hypothesis. It is not a Scientific Theory and can only be so when there is zero evidence from repeated scientific testing that it hasn’t a single hole.

Science isn’t a numbers game, consensus is irrelevant, it is quality that counts and besides there is a lot of scientific dissent.  This isn’t clear from the doctrinal language that has accompanied the fear of climate collapse and is aimed at contra scientific evidence and opinion. That is understandable given the perceived stakes. I buy the argument, even though the science isn’t a theory, that we cannot afford a misstep. I also believe that we are in a warming period which is changing the climate.

What sits uncomfortably is the widespread and unchallenged use of the term scientific consensus, even though it is an oxymoron. Scientific breakthroughs from Galileo to Edison and Einstein were all characterised by challenging consensus and conventions about how the universe works. Bear in mind our global climate is highly complex, it is not yet a space conquered by accuracy which is why forecasts still are often wrong and models are models. This, personal conclusion leaked into a recent post-budget panel discussion on TV because, faced with a reaction to carbon taxes, my choice was to keep the head down or make the obvious observation that CO2 as the driver remains a hypothesis. I chose the latter.

Inevitably this drew a personalised response, after all who is anyone, especially a non-scientist, to question a central tenant of faith which “97% of Scientists” have agreed upon. This is intended to crush dissent but the 97% slogan is a ball of smoke, touch it and it crumbles because it is not grounded by evidence. It is, rather, an effective myth designed to intimidate the remaining “3%. Elsewhere, if needs be, dissent is met by labelling challengers a “Denier” a term typically reserved for those who do not accept historical facts associated with the Holocausts of the Jews and Armenians.

Look I’m around long enough to grasp that changing belief cannot be won by facts, just look at Brexiteers next door. The only way to change beliefs is by going on the journey oneself, you don’t need to be a scientist, average reading ability will do just fine accompanied by an open mind. Don’t be surprised to learn that most politicians, media leaders and economists haven’t done this but instead, just like me, absorbed their beliefs from newspaper headlines and repetitive messages. Search for your own dissenting scientists to read, there are plenty of them out there but if you want a good starting point why not begin close to home, with two Irish scientists?

Below is a link to a recent lecture in Tucson, Arizona by Ronan and Michael Connolly based on their scientific study of 20 million data points over 70 years from weather balloons but focused on the density of gas at different strata and which ought not to have drawn linear graphs, but it did. This confounds the consensus that energy is being trapped at the Tropopause, the moving boundary at the stratosphere. Instead it chimes with Einstein’s finding that, when air is in thermodynamic equilibrium, the rate of absorption equals the rate of emission which means energy passes through, it is not stored. The duo conclude there is no energy retention except when the sun comes out. That by the way is a Hypothesis, not a Theory.

Best of luck

Eddie Hobbs