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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Correspondence with David Drew

Click here to read my magical fairy story and click here for letters to MPs and Ministers and links to various interesting reports

If anyone doubts that climate change is not an issue or not going to happen in their life time, tell them to go outside and experience the warmest December ever. On top of this, we have now been told that polar bears and Scottish porpoises will soon be extinct, both as a direct result of global warming.

I was therefore amazed when the government announced a major expansion of Heathrow and Stanstead airports just before Christmas. This is absolutely counter to all the scientific evidence and the advice of the governments own advisers. The new proposals will allow 250,000 extra flights per year. It takes about 50,000 trees a year to absorb the CO2 of a single flight. Doing the maths, you will see there are not enough trees in the entire country to absorb all this new CO2!!

After our MP (David Drew) said in his election campaign “global warming was our biggest threat” and told us that he sat on a governmental environment committee I thought it would be useful to hear his comments and find what he was doing to challenge the decision. Between the two of us, there has been a lively exchange of emails, and he can not be accused of ignoring me. Amazingly, though he is doing nothing because he thinks only 2% of the people care enough and that it may cost him votes. We need to show our MP that we care and we are not as selfish as he thinks. I urge all readers to contact our MP to ask him to explain his position. My exchange of e-mails with David Drew makes entertaining reading and exerts of it are listed below.

The blue bits are David Drews, the black bits are mine, and the red bits are when the MP for Cheltenham joined the debate.

This month’s competition: Kev’s Climate Column will plant a tree in the garden for the person who can get the best response from David Drew. A sample letter is available by clicking the link at the top of this page. If David Drew makes a really positive change, we can invite him to the tree planting!!

email your replies to

My E-mails follow, start at the bottom of this post and enjoy!!!!!

Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2007 3:51 PM
Subject: RE: The governments policy on sustainable development.

Dear David,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for keeping up the correspondence on this vitally important issue. As you are now aware, our correspondence has wide coverage and I like to think it has informed the debate. I appreciate the demands on you from your other 80,000 constituents, however the problems that they face today are trivial compared to those that they will face tomorrow as a consequence of global warming. I have looked deeply into the mathematics of climate change. The conclusions are stark, horrifying and unequivocal.

We are currently sleepwalking into an unprecedented disaster. By not taking a stand when we can on damaging developments such as airport expansion, we are by default supporting them. We are repeating the mistakes of the German people before the war. They never challenged Hitler when they saw the Jews being persecuted. Had they done so, the horrors of what was to come may have been stopped. As Burke famously said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today, good men are doing nothing. Minority interests are being allowed to easily usurp majority interests and in the face of overwhelming evidence against their need. Change will not come from those who keep quiet and hope for the best.

I am pleased that you have given up air travel. I have done likewise and implore all my friends and colleagues to do the same.

I also thank you for the reports that you have sent through. They clearly present an extremely disturbing picture.

I quote from the Environmental Audit Committee

“DfT’s plan for a large expansion of aviation was incompatible with the Government’s very demanding target for 60% carbon reductions by 2050—especially when taking into account the wider global warming contribution of aviation (previously accepted by the Treasury as equivalent to 2.5 times the weight in emissions simply of CO2 )”

It goes onto say (bold in the report)

sadly, little has changed for the better since EAC’s last report on aviation. Progress on introducing financial mechanisms to reduce the growth in emissions from flying is slow, and both the Government and the industry are as intransigent as ever.”


even under the Government’s own and most optimistic projections, every other sector of the economy would have to cut its share of UK emissions, while that of aviation would be assisted to almost quintuple (to 24% of total UK emissions given a best case scenario).”

On the issue of direct controls, which you have said you favour, the report says of carbon trading within the EU that “a great many complications and uncertainties remain in the way of turning this model into reality.” Tony Juniper also warns that this will not work as cement and steel companies who have to make cuts to support the airline industry and will simply move to China to stay in business and will continue polluting there.

The second report that you attach (Greenhouse gas emissions) states “that under internationally agreed guidelines, emissions from international aviation are not included in any one country’s totals.” It goes on to say “air travel is projected to consume 60% of all energy used by transport in 2050”

The reports that you have sent through present a clear picture of why it is vital to act now to stop airport expansion. We must avoid significant further carbon emissions in the future. The evidence is overwhelming. Aircraft emissions will become a significant contributor and the only way to constrain them is to stop airport expansion. I, and many of your fellow constituents, seek your assurance that you will use your position within parliament to challenge this damaging and short sighted decision.

Kevin Lister

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

Thank you for your two further emails. I am afraid that I am unable to keep up with your prolixity and your expansion into other areas of publicity as I have to deal with the other 80,000 constituents that also have views and problems. However I confirm that sustainable development is very important which is why I am a key sponsor of tomorrow’s debate on the Sustainable Bill to have its Second Reading tomorrow.

I agree that this is not compatible with expanding airports. My point of disagreement with you, which I repeat is that I believe that we have to stem the rate of increase and then reverse this as the main objective of policy and then we will not need to have any expansion. My family and I have given up flying as a form of leisure and pleasure – I hope that this is what you and others will agree to do and perhaps a good use of your website is to challenge other candidates and councillors to do likewise. My only use of flights will be for humanitarian purposes given that I hope to re-visit Sudan in February but given that my father is seriously ill I suspect that this will not happen.

In the meantime I am copying you three documents, the last Environmental Audit Report on Transport Emissions, one on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and on Air Transport Statistics. They are detailed reports which whilst I make no apology for subjectively arguing explain why I believe that that it is vital that we concentrate efforts on reducing car use and also directly attacking flying through taxation but also direct controls so as to avoid the social unfairnesses of using price alone as a deflator.

Hopefully on that positive note we can end our correspondence. If I am guilty of anything it is that I did not spell out clearly enough that I want to go much further than just trying to stop airport growth by reversing our dependence on carbon based forms of transport.

I am copying Mike Jones and Philip Booth into this as they entered into our correspondence which I naively thought was private until your opening up to others.

Yours sincerely

David Drew

From: KEVIN LISTER [] Sent: 17 January 2007 08:47To: DREW, David
Subject: The government’s policy on sustainable development.

Dear David,

A colleague of mine has consulted the government’s sustainable development policy website and found the following statement:

“We need to secure a profound change in the way we generate and use energy, and in other activities that release these gases. We must set a good example and encourage others to follow it.”

In light of the airport expansion this is contradictorily; sustainable development, which has been so quickly absorbed into governmental rhetoric requires that we begin to start balancing economic and environmental priorities. If we are to be an advanced and “encouraging” nation, public policy should reflect that the environment and economy are inextricably linked - the condition of our economy will reflect the health of the earth’s natural systems. The time will come when the economy is substantially undermined by the environment.

Can you confirm if it is in fact the government’s policy to pursue sustainable development or to totally abandon this concept?


Dear David,

Thank you for replying again and continuing our friendly disagreement. You have however perplexed me again with your answers.

You have said that I should be concentrating on motor cars rather than flying. I accept that we should also be concentrating on motor cars. However, you will now have noticed how difficult it is to reduce or stop something that has already started. The government buckled immediately at the truck drivers’ protest over increased taxes. You have said below "we should use direct controls as well as pricing motorists the full environmental cost." This plays the exact argument that you have just made against my request of you to make a stand against airport expansion. You are effectively saying that the only people who will be able to travel by car will be rich footballer types, rather than poor deserving people. Personally I don't have a great problem with that because I can not see any other way and there are not that many rich footballer types, but you have consistently argued that you do have a problem with that concept. (This is not to say that I have any respect for rich footballer types whose car foot print far exceeds the national average). Your government also has a record of retreat in this area.

The failures that we have had trying to get road traffic under control clearly demonstrates how difficult it is to stop something once it is going and is all the more reason to stop it before it does get going and builds up its own momentum.

Your argument also seems to be that because car travel produces huge amounts of CO2, then it is okay to double airline capacity. Any sane and rational person would argue the opposite; because car travel has produced so much CO2 then it is even more important that we add no more to the environment than we absolutely have to.

You say that "We should start from the perspective of direct controls on who can fly." Can you explain what these direct controls would look like and how they would be implemented in practise? If you are serious about reducing flying by imposing direct controls, would we then not end up with an empty new terminal at Heathrow and unused runway around the country? Surely better not to build them in the first place.

Once you have worked out what these controls would look like, how long would it take to put them in place? We have a very limited time. Climate change is running faster and faster and we do not have time to procrastinate. Acidification of the oceans is threatening to move things to a tipping point far faster than we ever through possible.

Without wanting to be too personal, you sounding a bit like the fairies in my story. I am sure you are quite kind, but.......

Again, I seek your assurance that you will recognise global warming as the big threat to the planet that it is and use your position in parliament to challenge this unbelievably stupid decision. I have yet to meet any sane thinking person that supports airport expansion.

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

Thank you for this. I'm glad that we have got to the root of our disagreement. According to Question 1 you are quite happy to allow the Beckhams to tear around the world for celebrity shopping and worse and yet a pensioner who uses all his life savings to visit his fallen comrades in the Far East should be prevented from doing so. You make my point absolutely - the price mechanism is unfair and to use it alone just attacks the poor.

We should start from the perspective of direct controls on who can fly and how much and not rely on basic capitalist economics. Then we would not need to be talking about airport expansion. I agree with you on nuclear power it would appear, as we are not yet serious in trying to grapple with a move towards a non-carbon energy base. However by concentrating just on flying you miss out on the more important issue of the motor car where again we should use direct controls as well as pricing motorists the full environmental cost of them using the car. To me this is where we should start as airport expansion is in the future and if people start their everyday journeys by modal shift then persuading them not to fly is much easier.

Hope this goes up in lights to show our friendly disagreement.

Yours sincerely

David Drew
From: KEVIN LISTER [] Sent: 11 January 2007 10:05To: DREW, DavidSubject: RE: RE: Expansion of Heathrow / Stanstead and Luton Airports
Dear David,

I will answer the questions, but it still does not detract from the fact that you are supporting the airport expansion, despite you saying how concerned you were about the environment when running for election.

Question1: It is not up to me to decide who can and can not fly - it is up to the market. If taxes are increased, less people will fly because they can not afford to. If airport capacity is limited, prices will go up and less people will fly. If airlines are brought into the European emissions trading scheme, prices will go up (unless the targets set are so minimal as to not be worth while joining in the first place) as airlines compete for the the right to pollute. If you give people carbon rations, these become a defacto currency as they will be exchanged and sold. So, fundamentally affordability level of flying needs to increase, rather than have it be lowered year on year.

Question 2: See question 1 above, and read your basic books on economics.

Question 3: See question 1 above

Question 4: As per previous comments, safety is not a valid contribution into this argument. It is up to the airport management to ensure that airport operates safely within its existing capacity, and to ensure that the capacity is not exceeded. Also on this argument, if the airports expand in South East, we end up with double the number of aircraft flying over London and thereby increasing the risk of a mid air accident.

Question 5: If we go ahead with this development will breach the Kyoto agreements. This is one that I am not prepared to see broken.

Question 6: Certain military options are necessary such as bombing Taliban positions in Afghanistan and providing humanitarian relief. To the best of my knowledge, I have not seen any of these activities being planned from Heathrow! Even so, because we have to do this, it does not justify further expansion.

Question 7: Curtailing the use of the motor car is equally important. What are your policies on this?

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

Fine. Stand for election. Can I start with some questions for you.

1 Who are you going to stop from flying for tourist reasons?

2 Are you going to use the tax system alone, if so this is completely in egalitatarian.

3 How are you going to police this and what sanctions will you use for people who choose to continue to fly for tourism?

4 Would you take any responsibility if you failed to update airport facilities and a serious accident resulted from this decision?

5 What international agreements would you prepared to break to end flights between the UK and other parts of the world?

6 What other reasons do you think it right to stop people from flying? Business, humanitarian, military or personal?

7 I congratulate you like me on being a cyclist - why when motoring is a much greater threat to Co2 emissions and particulates especially is curtailing use of the car not more important than or at least equal importance to flying?

I look forward to your answers.


Dear David,

I concur with you. You are obviously extremely old fashioned.

May I remind you that you decided to run for office. You were not born into the job. In your effort to run for office you played the environment card. The issue we have discussed over this exchange of emails is not some private issue - it is a major public policy issue.

Are you trying to say that when you decide to change your position on an issue as critical as this, that I am impolite and vulgar by sharing it with similar like minded people? Some of these people voted for you in good faith.

Unlike some people, I am not cynical about politics. I believe politicans are the servants of the people. I believe in making sure that they are held to account on these most critical of issues.

Take it from me, if you do not make a positive move on this, I and my colleagues will do everything within our power to overturn your majority. That is democracy.

Todays latest news on global warming brings the impending chaos even closer to our doors - click on this link below.


"DREW, David" wrote: Dear Kevin

I am afraid that I am old fashioned enough to believe that correspondece is private. I don't have the need tobroadcast my views about.

Yours sincerely


-----Original Message-----
To: "DREW, David"
Cc: "Cathy Green" ; ""
Sent: 10/01/07 17:38
Subject: RE: RE: Expansion of Heathrow / Stanstead and Luton Airports

Dear David,

Firstly, I do not speak on behalf of the Lib Dem - so you need to put this question to them. Also, whilst Lib Dem's take their currrent position on nuclear power I cannot support them.

However, I will try and answer your points below, but firstly I need to clarify. When you say anyone - do you mean everyone?

The answer if you mean everyone - It is clearly not Lib Dem policy because they are not as yet advocating ripping up the existing run ways, which is what is needed to stop everyone flying.

If you mean anyone - then not everyone can fly anyway. Market forces dictate that. If it is your policy that anyone should be able to fly, then aswell as building additional runways, we should also be giving flying vouchers for state entitled free weekend breaks. That way anyone can fly. Silly comment I know - but it is the best way I can answer your silly point.

Again, I am not quite sure what you are trying to say in your last couple of sentences. If you are saying that Lib Dems policies are not worth the paper they are writen on because they will not stick to these policies and that they are thus worthless, then it will be up to the electorate to ensure that they are held to account in the event that they obtain power. Your critisism is a rather weak in light of your own current position when you said in the The Space "How important it was that we tackle climate change" and in the light of your own leader who has said he refuses to reduce air travel.

To me your position remains clear. By not using your position to challenge airport expansion, you are fundamentally supporting the expansion despite your misgivings and the overwhelming mountain of scientific evidence.

On a cautionary note, could I ask that you consider your replies, as our correspondence is now on wide circulation.

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

Thank you for sending me Martin Horwood's response. Can you confirm that it is now Liberal Democrat policy to stop anyone from flying on a holiday so as to stop any expansion in airport capacity. You seem to continue to misunderstand my position. You have to do this first - but if the Lib Dems are now saying that I am with them - otherwise it is just a completely dishonest and hypocritical statement which is not worth the paper it was printed out on.

Yours sincerely

David Drew

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 10 January 2007 14:17
To: DREW, David
Subject: Fwd: RE: Expansion of Heathrow / Stanstead and Luton Airports

Dear David,

For your interest, you may be interested in the response from the MP in Cheltenham on the issue of airport expansion.

I hope that this will finally persuade you to change your mind and use your position to challenge the expansion rather than limit yourself to expressing misgivings.


Cathy Green wrote:

Dear Cathy

Happy New Year.

I made my position on the airport expansions clear during a public e-meeting at our last party conference in Brighton, fully supporting and reinforcing our party policy which is to oppose all three major airport expansions. If aviation is to be prevented from rising to 20% of UK CO2 emissions as presently projected, we must restrict not expand major airport capacity.

Rest assured I will use my position as Lib Dem shadow environment minister to make this point in Parliament whenever the opportunity arises.


Martin Horwood
Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cheltenham

(Letter sent by David Drew, blue text is my reply back to him)

7th January 2007

Dear Kevin

Airline Priorities

Thank you for your further email of 3rd January. I think that you are being far too negative about what response the Select Committee made. The key recommendations are there that there needs a major investment in biofuels. Whilst synthetic biomass is behind other forms of bioenergy it certainly is worthy of major investment from now on.

To reiterate, the report stated that “that the cost of producing biomass-derived FT hydrocarbons was likely to rule out their commercial development for the foreseeable future.” This seems quite clear to me, I really am not quite sure what part of this I do not understand.

The report also did not cover the environmental implications of trying to produce enough biomass fuel to make a meaningful contribution to the environment.

On your second point I agree that it is wrong to allow demand to go on untrammelled, but I think it grossly unfair that flying becomes the pursuit of the rich. If we are serious about controlling demand then this must be rationed by quantity and not price. However many people fly for non-leisure reasons including humanitarian intervention.

The easiest way to ration by quantity is to not build any further runways!!

I can’t be as blasé as yourself regarding safety. All airports need to be regularly updated as does any transport form.

I am not at all blasé about safety. It is the airport management’s job to ensure that they operate with an appropriate level of safety margin for the capacity that they can provide. Thus, if an airport has capacity for 10 planes an hour, the airport management ensure that 10 planes per hour are planed and not 15 planes per hour.

On use I raised the point of the demand for flying to demonstrate the scale of the problem in changing mindsets, which brings to your point which is at best silly about the electorate being ahead of politicians.

It was you who said that the electorate were ahead of the politicians on this issue. You said it at the “Question time” forum at the Space in Stroud during your campaign. I thought at the time it was a very perceptive and powerful comment.

You also said at the same meeting, “If you want to be scared, read the report by Sir David King.” You went on to say how important it was that we took action against global warming. Clearly, you now think that expanding airport capacity is more important than taking action on global warming.

When I se people make the same sacrifices then I will concur with your view – until then I would urge you to be a little more circumspect in your views.

I am glad that you will concur with my views once you see people making sacrifices. I would be interested in how many people you would want to see make sacrifices before you changed your views. Would it by any chance be equal to your winning margin? The enclosed link shows some of the people who are making sacrifices. If you look carefully you may see some of your constituents.

However I did enjoy your website though I’m not sure if you shouldn’t be more positive in terms of what people do.

I am glad you have enjoyed my web site. There will be other exciting competitions in the near future which you will have the opportunity to take part in.

Your concluding point in no way represents my position as I said in my original letter to you.

In your original letter you said you had “misgivings” about airport expansion. However, it seems to me that your misgivings are different to your position and that your position is clear; you will not use your position to challenge the airport expansion in any way.

Yours sincerely

David Drew
MP for Stroud

Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 11:02:46 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: RE: Airport expansion
To: "DREW, David"
Dear David,

Thank you again for your reply and clarification of your position on this. In answer to your points:

1. I have not misunderstood the role of the Select Committee enquires at all. I appreciate fully that these will not and can not provide a complete answer. I also appreciate that they provide a provocative and current investigation; it is in this role that they have "proactively" concluded that the technology and concept behind bio-mass is a none starter. They are also made public, to inform the electorate of the current state of debate on such matters. It is not possible for any reader to come to a conclusion other than bio mass is not a viable alternative, not withstanding the other fundamental questions which the report did not cover.

2. On your second point, you are effectively stating that the proposed increase in airport expansion represents a proposed increase in demand that must be satisfied. The demand is only there because it is currently so cheap to fly. It is cheap to fly because air fuel is untaxed and airports expansion has been supported by past governments. The easiest way to stem demand is to restrict supply. Increasing air taxes is not an option due to the international treaties necessary, so the next obvious form of restriction is to limit airport expansion. As I pointed out in my earlier e-mail, the people stuck at Heathrow prior to Christmas were not on life and death critical missions. It is beyond me to understand why flying hundreds of thousands of people around the country at Christmas is somehow vital to our long term economic interests.

3. Your argument about safety is not a substantive point. It is up to the airport management to ensure that the airport operates safely, at what ever the capacity is.

4. On you point about a poll stating that 98% would be opposed to air travel restrictions, I can assure you that far more than 2% of the people that I know have already decided not to travel by air. You may also wish to challenge the validity of the poll you are referring to; for example, was it taken at an airport? was it commissioned by an airport authority? How were the questions presented to respondents? Were the questions posed along the lines of "would you still take an air trip knowing that by doing so you were contributing to the destruction of the planet and that the impact will deprive our children a full life."

In the question and answer session that was held at The Space in Stroud prior to your election, I raised the question of the environment positions of our prospective candidates. At the end of that heated debate, you made the very valid and perceptive point "that the electorate was ahead of the politicians on this issue." I can conclude from your answers and positions below that you are still prepared to have the electorate ahead of your thinking.

Can I further conclude that you will be supporting the governments position on allowing unrestricted airport expansion and thereby disregarding all the available science and evidence on the subject? Can I also further conclude that by not being prepared to challenge airport expansion, you are prepared to dismiss the recommendations of the Stern report and allow the sacrifice of our environment within the life time of our children so that people can enjoy cheap weekend breaks and exotic holidays.

Kevin Lister

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

Thank you for your further email. However you slightly misunderstand the role of Select Committee enquiries. These are never intended to be a complete answer to the enquiry but a provocative and current investigation into issues of concern that government has to grapple with. Though we were questioning of the validity of evidence on alternatives to current fossil fuels our main point is that until and unless government makes a decision on whether to try to make a leap to second generation biofuels we will be facing the current fudge on the first generation.

On restricting air travel the increase in airport capacity represents the rise in demand. Again you cannot stop this unless you are prepared to say who you wnat to stop from flying and how this will be done. I am quite happy to constrict growth but you can't just stop any expansion at present unless you are prepared to take enormous risks in safety as well as the wrath of stopping people from flying without putting alternatives in place or attempting to build a consensus on why this should be done. The latest poll indicated that 98% of people would oppose this - indicative of how far we have to travel in this area.

Yours sincerely

David Drew

Sent: 02 January 2007 23:18
To: DREW, David
Subject: RE: Airport expansion
Dear David,

Thank you for your clarification. I have read the select report document that you refer to.

I note that the reports conclusions on synthetic kerosene are extremely pessimistic with regard to it being a long term effective alternative to conventional fossil fuels.

The report concludes "that the cost of producing biomass-derived FT hydrocarbons was likely to rule out their commercial development for the foreseeable future."

It also goes on to say that "It is most likely that, as with the early South African experience, second generation bio fuels would feature only as part of a kerosene blend but significant work remains before this could demonstrated as viable in cost, energy and environmental terms and thus become be a system-wide reality. The energy required for the production of second generation bio fuels (from biomass) should be improved, but the efficiency of the process on a large scale is as yet uncertain."

The statement is deliberately vague as to what part of the total fuel mix biomass would be. Is it envisaged to be 1% or 99%? The only conclusion that can be reached from this report is that the increased demand that the new airport expansion will develop will be met by increased burning of fossil fuels. I note also from the report, that the synthetic kerosene that South Africa uses is made from coal, thereby demonstrating the idea of biomass becoming a significant supply chain for the aviation fuel as being even less credible.

Further to this, the report makes other serious omissions in its analysis. It does not for example consider how much of the environment we would need to sacrifice to have planes running on bio fuels.

In 1986, the first calculation of the worlds photosynethetic ceiling was carried out. It was calculated then that approximately half of the suns energy was already being used by humans use through crop growth, tree plantations, golf courses, etc, or wasted by falling on roads and cities (see Science 277:494-499 (1997). Since 1986 the world’s population has grown by 35%, thereby eating into the remaining margin. The idea of converting the remaining amount into monoculture crops to support an unnecessary leisure industry is mindless stupidity.

Thus the report and all the available scientific evidence challenges your contention that "aviation could already be making real inroads into its reliance upon carbon-based fuels."

I again urge you again to use your position to protest against this short sighted and damaging decision and seek your assurance that you will do so.

Yours sincerely,
Kevin Lister

For your interest, I enclose a link to my blog, which is published in Nailsworth News.

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

What I was referring to was synthetic kerosene which can be made from biomass. The Defra Select Committee of which I am still a member had a detailed look into this as part of its enquiry into bio-energy. This report can be obtained from the Select Committee pages on the Parliamentary website which can be accessed via Its worth a look as it shows how aviation could already be making real inroads into its reliance upon carbon-based fuels.

Yours sincerely

David Drew

Sent: 31 December 2006 00:45
To: DREW, David
Subject: RE: Airport expansion
Dear David,

Many thanks for you fast response on this. I am glad that you share similar concerns to me about this issue.

I am though perplexed by your comment on kerosene. Planes currently already run on kerosene and this is derived from fossil fuels. If you are alluding to bio fuels with this comment, then you need to be aware that we would have to replace virtually all our tropical rain forests with a mono culture of some crop such as sugar beat to provide enough fuel to run the airline industry. The critically of global warming is such that we need all our bio sphere operating to reduce the current critical build up of CO2 in the atmosphere and not delude ourselves into thinking that there is some relatively easy alternative that preserves our current standards of consumption. By using bio fuels we effectively sacrifice the planets lungs.

I am glad that you, like me disbelieve that 98% of the population would not be prepared to give up air travel. However, it is also worth considering that the combined advertising revenue of airline and associated tourist industries far outweighs what is available to the environmental movement, even in todays climate. If equal advertising was given to both both issues, then I am sure that 98% of the poulation would instantly give up air travel!

To provide you with some sober reading, I attach a word document which includes two further texts. One is from an annonymous author who articulates our approach on global warming in a more powerful way than I could ever hope to. The other is the trend in CO2 from the Hawaii observatory.

Could I again seek your assurance that you will challenge the governments plans for airport expansion. The plans are destructive and offer only a minor short term electoral gain at the expense of catastrophic environmental damage in the near term future for our children.

Kevin Lister

"DREW, David" wrote:
Dear Kevin

Thank you for this. I have misgivings about any expansion of airline use. However there are alternatives to gasoline such as kerosene which should be explored. Whilst I believe that we have to be careful about further expansion of Heathrow I am interested to know that the recent poll of 98% of britons who said they would not give up flying is an exaggeration and you like me only fly for reasons such as visiting those in peril and not for leisure reasons.

Yours sincerely

David Drew

Sent: 30 December 2006 15:56
To: DREW, David
Subject: Airport expansion
Dear David,

I am copying you on a letter my son has sent to the Transport Secretary, the Environment Secretary and the Prime Minister to protest against the proposed expansion of Heathrow and other airports that was announced before Christmas.

Your own government commissioned the Stern report which concluded that we need a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions. This decision to expand the airports shows complete and utter disregard to that reports conclusions. It ridicules our reputation in the world as a country that is prepared to show leadership on global warming which is the most critical issue of our time.

The recent pictures of delayed passengers at Heathrow before Christmas illustrated the stupidity of airport expansion. Not one person interviewed had an overwhelming need to travel and not one person interviewed gave any consideration to catastrophic environmental damage that they were about to cause.

I urge you to use your position to protest at this short sighted and damaging decision in Parliament.

Kevin Lister


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Philip Booth said...

I am a little shocked by seeing this correspondence and Mr Drews position.

As you will no doubt know Greens have been campaigning vigourously to stop the airport expansions - see two reports under 'Reports' on the Green party website:

Plus various letters - use search facility on that site.

We also managed to get Stroud District Council to question the expansion in their report to the Regional Spatial Strategy. We have already made submissions on that ourselves and also plan more to the public consultations in March.

I will be raising this issue with David myself as well and hope others will also take action on this. I'll also note this website on one of my latest blog entries - great to see your column in the Nailsworth News.

Copy of most recent letter to press (unpublished): The WDP reports that campaigners have little chance of success over stopping the massive expansion plans for Bristol airport (1/01/06). Let us all hope that analysis is very wrong. The facts speak for themselves: unless the government’s decision to double the size of UK airports is reversed, the rest of its climate change programme is a waste of time (i).

Last month Greens quizzed Mayor Ken Livingstone on airport expansions and he made a dramatic u-turn and said he would rule out any expansion in the South-east, arguing that the aviation industry had told him "a pack of lies" about the economic benefits of expansion. It is time others also woke up. Why should every industry have to make cuts in CO2 emissions so that aviation can be excluded?

Incredibly Environment Minister Ian Pearson, who has a collective responsibility for this massive expansion in aviation, said this week that the Government is powerless to face down airline lobbyists! It simply beggars belief that he admits that the Government isn’t up to the job of facing down unelected industrial apologists. This is despite a recognition that climate change is the biggest single security threat facing us today.

Mr Pearson should consider resigning from the government in protest and let someone else take on this vital task (ii).

Cllr. Philip Booth, Stroud District Green Party.

Firedog said...

Your correspondence with David Drew MP makes for riveting reading. There was a Danish politician who became world famous (in Denmark) for "standing firm on his position, until he adopted a new one". Unfortunately, that is the hallmark of all politicians.

I should be interested, however, to hear what you have to say about the "global dimming" effect of aviation. 11 September 2001 gave scientists a unique opportunity to test the theory that aircraft vapour trails contribute significantly to the cooling effects of cloud cover. Almost all flights in the 48 contiguous United States were banned for three days, and a study of meteorological data for the 48 hours between 12 and 14 September at noon (thus allowing for time zones) for the whole area showed a highly abnormal, but statistically significant, increase of 2ºF in the difference between daytime maximum and night-time minimum temperatures. In other words, any limitation in the volume of aviation will aggravate the effects of global warming.

It would also be interesting to hear your views on a recent statement by Jeffrey Sachs, a highly respected academic committed to responsible sustainable development and to combatting climate change. Prof. Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General and Director of the Earth Institute in New York, was quoted as saying, “Finding a way to achieve economic development and environmental sustainability is the biggest challenge we face globally and it doesn't lend itself to a simple answer. The climate change issue will not be changed by cutting air travel."

Kev's Climate Column said...

Dear Firedog,

Thank you for commenting on my blog and soliciting my opinion on these matters.

You are correct about what you say on the dimming effect; we currently stand at risk of the aggravating climate change by not considering the impacts of removing the dimming effect. One suggestion that has been put forward has been to inject sulphur back into the fuel of aircraft to create high level sulphur clouds to reflect heat. Maybe the solution eventually is that we have a small number of aircraft flying at high altitude injecting massive amounts of smoke particles back into the atmosphere.

The down side of this is that we need the planets full photosynethic capacity to bring down the already high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Though we don’t know exactly what the impacts would be today of reducing flights, one can fairly accurately predict from the experience of September 11th that things would warm, due to far quicker time it takes to lose the dimming than for the CO2 to reduce in the atmosphere. However, it can also equally be predicted that if nothing is done runaway global warming will ultimately beat the dimming effects in the long run. The longer we leave the situation unchallenged, the more likely we suffer the later scenario.

On your points about professor Sachs, it is worth pointing out that Prof Sachs is an economist and not a scientist of mathematician. Perhaps this is the reason why he does not see the paradox when he talks about sustainable development. There is simply no such thing. You can not develop indefinitely even if you think it is sustainable. We simply do not have infinite resources of space. Rwanda is classic case in point. The country developed, as sustainably as any country could, in as much as the people of Rwanda grew their own crops, were generally self sufficient and imposed a carbon footprint that was a mere fraction of someone in the developed West. However the massive population growth that they suffered caused the country to implode on its self and it is building back up to a similar problem again. Lower grow rates merely mean that it takes slightly longer to reach these problems. Specifically on climate change, he has said in the past,

“The struggle against manmade climate change is one of the great challenges of our century. If we continue on the current course, we will put societies in all parts of the world into jeopardy of falling food productivity, increased transmission of disease, heat waves, droughts, extreme weather events such as Hurricane Katrina, rising sea levels, and more. Yet the closer one looks at this issue, the more we become aware of our ability to head off these grave risks at modest cost to humanity. The problem is our inaction, including the stark lack of leadership from President Bush and others in Washington, rather than the absence of good choices. There are solutions, but only if we grasp them, individually and through government action.”

It is difficult to see how he could reconcile that position, with supporting the expansion of airports.