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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 19:21 GMT
Lawson attacks green 'alarmists'
Lord Lawson
Lord Lawson called for more spending on sea defences
Scientists warning of climate change disaster are "eco-fundamentalists" who regard any argument as "blasphemy", former chancellor Lord Lawson has said.

He warned of "alarmist" predictions and said some countries would "actually benefit from a warmer climate".

This week, economist Sir Nicholas Stern said mankind had to act "urgently" to stop temperature increases.

But Lord Lawson told the Centre for Policy Studies sea level rises should not be "too difficult to live with".

He said that, according to Sir Nicholas' predictions, there would be "an additional sea rise of less than a quarter of an inch per century".

'Shrinking economy'

The Stern Report suggests that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20%.

But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study says.

The main change is that the new priests are scientists
Lord Lawson

Up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood, Sir Nicholas, a former chief economist of the World Bank, claims.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said the Queen's Speech would feature a climate bill to establish an independent Carbon Committee to "work with government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy".

Tory leader David Cameron has also led calls for action on climate change.

But Lord Lawson, who served as chancellor for six years under Margaret Thatcher, said scientists had a "pre-determined alarmist global narrative", containing "distinctly unconvincing" models for climate change.

Some countries would benefit from higher temperatures, as farmers would adapt by growing new crops, he added.

'Absurd response'

If ocean levels rose, there was a "clear case" for governments spending money on better defences for low-lying areas, such as already happened in the Netherlands.

Poorer countries, including Bangladesh, should be given help to achieve this, Lord Lawson said.

The Kyoto agreement, under which many of the world's industrialised countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions, was an "absurd response" to supposed global warming, he said.

It would do "virtually nothing" to slow change, as the US had not signed up and developing economies like Brazil, China and India would increase their building of coal-fired power stations.

People in rich countries would not be willing to pay higher fuel taxes, and the costs would affect poorer countries unfairly.

One possible solution to global warming could be "geo-engineering", such as "blasting aerosols into the stratosphere, so as to impede the sun's rays", Lord Lawson said.

He added: "In primitive societies it was customary for extreme weather events to be explained as punishment from the gods for the sins of the people; and there is no shortage of examples of this theme in the Bible, either - particularly but not exclusively in the Old Testament.

"The main change is that the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains), rather than clerics of the established religions, and the new religion is eco-fundamentalism."

Climate change fight 'can't wait'
31 Oct 06 |  Business
At-a-glance: The Stern Review
30 Oct 06 |  Business
Global warming: not a priority?
16 Dec 05 |  Hardtalk

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