By Paul Homewood
Obsession with climate change is now actively harming the environment
Environmentalists are increasingly finding themselves at odds with conservationists. Last week the head of the National Grid said the planning process will need to change because net zero requires the building of many new lines of pylons across the country. People in East Anglia are objecting to 110 miles of pylons scarring rural landscapes and ancient woodland to connect North Sea wind farms to the grid.
“We had to destroy the village to save it,” a probably apocryphal American general said in Vietnam. It is now clear that we are destroying the planet to save it from climate change. Many of the policies being pursued in the service of decarbonisation are not just economically damaging, but ecologically harmful too.
Wind farms kill hundreds of birds every year; so do cats, but these are rare species like golden eagles on land and red-throated divers offshore. They also kill bats by the thousand. If you or I killed an eagle or a bat we would go to jail. They spoil landscapes and require vast quantities of steel, concrete and rare earth metals, the mining of which is a source of pollution.
Then there’s the burning of wood by Drax power station in Yorkshire to generate electricity. Not only does wood produce more emissions than coal per unit of energy, this reverses a centuries-long trend of moving away from stealing the lunch of beetles and woodpeckers for our energy needs (nothing eats coal or gas). Much of Drax’s wood is imported from North Carolina because we don’t grow nearly enough timber in Britain. There, locals are horrified by the devastation to their woods. Yet it’s subsidised by you.
All over Wales, Scotland and northern England biodiversity-rich hills are disappearing under ecologically sterile monocultures of alien Sitka spruce thanks to government incentives to plant more trees to soak up carbon dioxide. Not only do grasslands and blanket bogs on moorland soak up CO2 almost as well, and sometimes better, they also hold back flood water and support rare birds like curlews.
In the south more and more fields are covered in futile solar “farms”, generating trickles of power when least needed – mostly on June afternoons. Sheep graze on the grass that grows under them, say their fans. Er, grass needs sunlight: the panels cut down the productivity of the land by around 90 per cent. They also displace food crops to other land elsewhere at the expense of natural habitats.
Biofuels, grown instead of food, put upward pressure on food prices and on the amount of land we need to grow food, while saving little or no emissions. On my local river, a new hydro plant generates a tiny quantity of power but threatens the migration of salmon smolts. The refusal to incinerate trash has led to it being fly-tipped in the countryside, or shipped to Asia for “recycling”, where it gets dumped in rivers or the sea. And don’t forget the diesel scandal, a worsening of urban air pollution as a direct result of a policy to reduce CO2 emissions by subsidising diesel cars.
Money available to save the red squirrel, the white clawed crayfish, or the water vole, is negligible; it all goes on decarbonisation. I once asked an ecological consultant why Natural England appeared to have lost interest in improving plant biodiversity on moorland. “You don’t understand,” she replied: “Carbon emissions are the only thing that count now.”
Climate change has become a convenient excuse for doing nothing about real conservation problem.
Where’s the outrage from environmentalists about the rape of the planet by the lucrative crony capitalists in the renewable industry? Silence. Real conservation can go hang, so long as we are seen to fight climate change.