Monday, August 30, 2010

Let’s ‘Engage’ the oldies in the climate change ‘debate’

Back in 2007 there was a report published that showed that oldies have a disproportionally large carbon footprint.

I was not too happy with the methodology that was used to come to this conclusion and wrote a blog about it pointing out the weaknesses in the way the figures were calculated.

Since then the climate change industry has suffered something of a setback with the COP15 joke and the stream of evidence of bad and possibly criminal science that supports many of the arguments.

I think it is a tragedy that such an important subject seems to have been hijacked by people who are only concerned with the next headline rather than the grunt work that is required to construct solid arguments to support their cause. Interestingly, many scientists in the green lobby would agree.

Why am I telling you this? Well the guy who was behind the 2007 report has now produced another document “Older People and Climate Change: the Case for Better Engagement”. I am sure his heart is in the right place but somehow I don’t think this is going to change the world.

The questions I asked about his methodology for his conclusions about age and carbon footprint are still unanswered. As long as they are I will continue to consign the report to the same pile that reckons the Himalayan glaciers are going to melt by 2035.

My questions are:

1. The research didn’t take account of the geographic spread of older people (i.e. far more are based in a rural and suburban than urban areas). This changes their need for car transport. To provide an accurate comparison the researchers should have compared the carbon consumption of rural 30 year olds with the rural 50-plus. Also cities have a higher ambient temperature which reduces the need carbon used in household heating.

2. Older people are more likely to have larger properties, with all of the implications this has on heating and lighting etc. Also older people are likely to live in their own properties whilst many younger people live in rented multi-occupied properties.

3. No consideration was given for the way that older people consume carbon on behalf of their children and grandchildren (i.e. kids not leaving home until much later and the amount of time that grandparents spend looking after grandchildren). Since 2007 the number of multi-generational households has skyrocket. Was this taken into account in the form the conclusions?

4. The report used a measurement of carbon efficiency (kg/£/capita) which is misleading since older people (75+) spend a disproportional amount of their total incomes on heating/lighting. The true comparison is the total amount spent on heating - not as a proportion of total income.

5. The research didn’t appear to take account of the carbon that employers consume on behalf of their employees. Since there are a lot less 50+ in employment than 30 year olds that is an important factor.

Answers welcome. Yep, nearly forgot. There is no mention of the level of confidence about the research result. Dick Stroud

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