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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Response to Roger Smith

Dear Madam,

I refer to Roger Smith’s letter “Airport Protests Are Hypocritical” where he claims that those protesting against the airport “have, on the same writing desk, their next holiday tickets jetting them from Birmingham, Bristol, Luton etc.”

As someone who has been vociferous against the airport’s expansion proposals in this letters page, I would like to assure him that I do not fly and have no holiday tickets on my writing desk for any exotic destinations. In fact, I refused to attend my brother in-law’s wedding in America this summer! I would also like to assure him that other people that I know of who are protesting against the airport also do not fly. They have chosen not to fly because they have carefully considered the evidence of the contibution that flying makes to the very real risk of runaway global warming.

I would further suggest that if Roger Smith took local holidays he would appreciate his local environment much more and see the importance of protecting it against the short-term profit motives of organisations such as Gloucestershire Airport.

Roger Smith may be able to get use to the noise of living under an airport. However, many others may not be able to get so used to it and do not want to do so. Furthermore, he is unlikely to be able to get so use to the impacts of global warming, such as food shortages and economic collapse, so easily which this development will contribute to.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Letter to Prince Charles

Contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com


Dear Prince Charles,

As you may be aware a runway extension is proposed at Staverton Airport. This is causing considerable controversy due to its global warming implications, especially at a time when it is becoming so apparent that we stand on the brink of runaway global warming.

You have been bought into the debate by the supporters of the airport and through your visit to the airport during the flooding. A copy of the letter in today’s Gloucestershire Echo referencing your visit is attached. Other letters have been submitted to the Echo from the airport’s management referencing the importance of being able to support your visit during the crisis.

Given your concerns about global warming, I would imagine that you would be horrified to have your name being used in support of the airports expansion plans.

You should be aware that in order for the airport to justify their proposals, they issued a report that attempted to discredit the entire science of global warming and also stated that only a small and vociferous minority opposed the expansion. This is absolutely reprehensible behaviour and a total abuse of privilege.

Those of us that are concerned about global warming would welcome a clear statement from you on the environmental implications of the airports expansion proposals.

Furthermore, those of us who are concerned will be holding a mini-climate camp on the weekend of the 20/21st October. We extend an invite to yourself and we would be privileged to have you attendance at the debates and discussions we are planning on the Saturday. Your support to a well-versed audience that recognises action on global warming rather than talk is what is needed will send one of the most important messages in the campaign to save our planet, and may be a turning point in the minds of many.

I enclose a copy of the flier for the camp.

This letter will be copied on my blog, see http://kevsclimatecolumn.blogspot.com/
Regards,
Kevin Lister

Text of letter in Gloucestershire Echo

Madam - You criticised Gloucestershire Airport (Echo, September 11) for saying that claims that climate change was down to human intervention had been proven wrong.

I must point out more positive points. During the floods the airport staff did a fantastic job of keeping the airport open to allow the rescue helicopters round-the-clock cover.

They looked after the people who were rescued, until more permanent solutions were found.The airport also provided about 25 acres of runway and grass ground for Severn Trent Water to store the huge amount of equipment that was needed to service the rest of us with water.

Prince Charles has recognised and thanked the airport staff for their contribution.When the floods receded and it was apparent that farmers close to the Severn had lost large amounts of hay and silage, the airport suggested that the grass should be preserved for the flood victims.

They donated this grass and farmers have some hope of surviving the winter for which they are grateful. Thanks must be given to Derek Pither Agriculture, a local contracting business, which did the silaging work at cost.

Ben Pullen,FD Pullen & Sons.

Friday, September 14, 2007

email from Deputy Leader of the Cheltenham Lib Dems

Contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com

John,

Thank you for replying to my previous emails and clarifying your position.

I am glad that you recognise that the airport is simply wrong to deny global warming. I would also trust that you recognise by making light of such an important issue that their behaviour was scurrilous and reprehensible.

I am however still concerned that you are unquestioningly accepting the safety argument from the airport, especially when their credibility is now so low after their misconceptions document.

In the recent article in the Gloucester Echo at the start of the new Manx services, it was absolutely clear that new services were the objective of the works. The article specifically quotes Mr Norman as saying, "I think there are all sorts of routes you could have. I can see potential in double daily routes to Scottish destinations, like Edinburgh, mainland Europe and Dublin and Belfast." Following statements like these, to continue to believing the proposed work is purely safety related in absolute nonsense.

It is clear the runway length will be too small for Boeing and Airbus jets even after the extension; however it will comfortably accommodate the new generation of short take off turbo props. These planes have ranges of up to 800 miles and thus are comfortably within the range of many northern European cities.

The runaway will also be capable of supporting many “business jets” which will be used for recreational flights to places such as Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo.

To believe that Staverton airport will somehow not expand its service offering to cover continental flights after the runway extension is clearly nonsense.

It is further clear that there is a demand for an airport in this area, which again was recognised in the Gloucester Echo with the quote from Manx’s Mr Filleul who said, “The service will compete with Bristol and Birmingham airports and attract its customer base from within a 60 to 90-minute drive radius of Staverton.” Again, this demonstrates that it is absolutely na├»ve to think that the airport does not propose to tap into current demand for flying.
Finally, amongst the airport proposals is the idea of traffic lighting Bramfurlong Lane, with the idea of stopping traffic near the end of the runway from interfering with the approach path for the new aircraft landing under Instrument Landing Systems. It is hard to believe that anyone can seriously argue that this will improve safety. It will take only one reasonably high sided vehicle to jump the lights to cause a fatal disaster.

On the issue of housing being built on the Airport site, this is a different debate altogether and it needs to be considered on its own merits. It is unacceptable to determine the outcome of this equally important debate by expanding an airport.
As regards your initial point on global warming, you clearly believe in it. It is now vitally important that you follow through to the next question and ask how severe this will become. As I have pointed out many times now, the science is brutally stark, and we are currently facing the very real possibility of a runaway global warming. The situation is so dire that we must not allow any developments that cause any unnecessary CO2 emissions.

I trust that you will finally recognise that the proposed works are about service increases and airport expansion and nothing to do with safety. I would further urge you to stand by the policies of your party by unequivocally opposing this airport expansion.

Regards,Kevin Lister

John Webster wrote:

Kevin;

Following your request a couple of weeks ago I discussed this with the Leader, Steve Jordon and we have agreed the following.
I would have replied sooner, but have been away.

'We disagree with the Airport Board that Global Warming is not happening. They are simply wrong.
We will oppose any further growth at the airport.
However, the current plans are necessary in order to conform with safety and operational requirements.
Our policy is to keep Staverton as it is. We see no prospects for dramatic expansion in the future, and certainly not for increasing charter flights beyond the United Kingdom.'


As you know, there are elements that wish to sell Staverton off and cover the area with houses which we are opposed to because of the urban sprawl that will result.You are right in not wanting to see Staverton grow into something we do not support.

Best wishes,

Cllr John Webster
Deputy Leader, Lib Dem Group.
Cheltenham Borough Council.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Even more emails from Phil Taylor

contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com


Dear Phillip,

Thank you again for replying to my emails and maintaining this important debate.

I am extremely grateful that you have pointed out who has the cabinet role on the environement and who the leader of the council is. Both are noticable in this debate only by their silence and it is extremely concerning that they are not prepared to come forward on a critical issue such as this. This is in contrast to Cheltenham. Despite the frankness of our recent exchanges and disagreements, I deeply respect you for engaging in the debate and trust that others on the council will have the courage to come forward and engage likewise, either for or against the airport.

I understand that your responsbility is to the citizens of Barnwood and that you are in opposition on the council, however as a member of the opposition, you have the obligation to oppose those policies that are short term and damaging in the long run. As regards you not having an obligation to act on my behalf, I also understand this. However as a representitive of the people of Barnwood, you have a duty to ensure that by representing the desires of your group, it does not cause damage and suffering to others. As one of "the others" who will be disadvantaged, I will target people who support environmentally damaging policies.

You may have caught the article on Radio 4 PM last night, where it was reported that we are on course for a 3 deg C temperature rise. This is absolutely catostrophic and well outside the range that our civilisation can withstand. Even worse, it is in the range were we can see run away global warming occur, which will lead to the extinction of most, if not all, life on earth.

As regards your question on "what did I make of the comments written by a local resident," if you could clarify exactly whose comments you are referring to, I will comment furher.

Regards,
Kevin

Phillip Taylor wrote:

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you. As a matter of interest, what did you make of the comments written by a local resident? It is opinions such as his that also have to be considered by elected members. I should point out to you that I was elected by the residents of Barnwood Ward to represent them on the Gloucester City Council. I have no duty as a member of the council to represent the views of those outside Barnwood Ward, let alone outside the city; they have chosen their own representatives. You will realise, therefore, that I have no obligation to act on your behalf. As a member of the opposition group I don't have decision-making power. On environmental issues you would be better off trying to gain the attention and interest of the Conservatives who lead the council. Cllr Andy Lewis has the Cabinet role on environment and Cllr Paul James is the Council's leader. This is not 'buck-passing', merely the reality of the position in GCC.

It seems to me that we have a common wish, which is to see greenhouse gas emissions reduced rapidly to tolerable levels. Neither of us, in fact, believes that there is a realistic alternative. Where we appear to differ is on the appropriate way to approach this problem. The important thing is to succeed in the overall aim. You do it your way and I will do it in my way.

I will continue to press the Conservatives to play their part in taking effective action in the reduction of the city's carbon footprint, because I recognise the vital requirement to do so. What I believe is necessary is for the reduction to be delivered through wide ranging measures that cover all the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The urgency of this requirement is not lost on me. However, if you wish to achieve your unequivocal aim in relation to Gloucestershire Airport, you must find a way to persuade those who have control within the various councils involved.

Yours Sincerely,

Phil Taylor

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More emails from Phillip Taylor, Lib Dem Concillor at Gloucester

Contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com


Dear Mr. Taylor,

I am sorry if I have upset your feelings on the issue of your support for Staverton Airport .

My comparison with the situation in Germany before the war was not targeted at you specifically. I use the analogy to compare the unquestioning acceptance of the benefits that the German population initially gained through confiscating Jewish and Eastern European properties with the unquestioning acceptance that many people have of the benefits of our consumerist society whilst condemning the rest of the planet and future generations to environmental oblivion. I will leave it to you to decide where you stand on this comparison by judging your own actions.

You point out that you are “a student of history and well aware of the results of adopting an extreme stance and zealously sweeping aside the views of those who are prepared to consider the possibility that there might be another way forward.” I would suggest that you read you history books a little further. Before making statements like this, you should be absolutely clear by what you mean by an extreme stance. I believe that your support of Staverton Airport in the face of the scientific evidence of the high risk of catastrophic climate chance is an incredibly extreme stance and that you are zealously sweeping aside the views of the scientific community. As you read your history books further, you will realise that horrific results do not come about by a minority adopting extreme stances; they come about by the failure of the representatives of the people to debate critical issues or through environmental degradation, or a combination of both. The zealots simply emerge from the chaos.

You go on to say, “The science community has given us the benefit of its detailed research but, regrettably, does not appear to have matched it with a practical solution as to how to deal with the massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions it is calling for.” I find it difficult to believe that you are unable to realise the scientific community has not come up with a practical solution because there is not one. You almost imply here that the scientific community just can not be bothered to think up a solution.

Contrary to your opinion that the scientific community has not come up with any ideas on what to do, it has actually been extremely clear on what we must do. We must reduce our emissions, and that means stopping airports, power stations, roads, etc. That is a hard message to swallow.

You further go on to say you “would venture to suggest that I am being somewhat naive if I think that my approach could be brought about without commensurately massive economic and social problems.” I can assure you, I am not. I would suggest alternatively, that you are far more naive than I if you think that the economy will continue expanding and the world will continue to become a better place in the face of climate change, and that severe social upheaval will not result as a consequence. If you still do not believe me, I would suggest that you spend some time becoming a student of game theory.

You again say, “I am being naive if I think that China , India and the USA are going to pay any attention to what the UK does, let alone what goes on in Gloucester . Those countries will act in the interests - or perceived interests - of their country and would be quite content to see us carry out an act of economic self-immolation and drive the UK into penury.” Maybe I am, but if by taking action on Staverton, I can encourage hundreds more naive people to do the same in this country and abroad, then effective global action may ultimately result. I will hold on to this hope, and consider that you are more naive than me if you think that emerging economies like China and India will do anything if we are simply going to allow our carbon foot print to continue expanding.

Finally, and most importantly, you have requested that I do not contact you until I have a solution. I will not accept or respect your wishes on this. The only solution to global warming is to persuade people like you not to support things like airports. You are in an elected position; you sought this position out and did not get it by accident of birth. If the narrow minded and short term position that you are taking for your electoral gain is going to affect my children’s future, then I have every right to publicly challenge your position.

I would again suggest that you re-read your history books and abide by your parties manifesto position on opposing all airport expansions.

Regards,
Kevin Lister

Phillip Taylor wrote:

Dear Mr Lister,

You are clearly very knowledgeable on this subject, but I fear that you are very different to me in your view of how this very serious issue should be dealt with. Your accusations about my approach to this are distasteful and gratuitous, as was your decision to draw upon horrific events prior to and during World War Two. As a student of history I am well aware of the results of adopting an extreme stance and zealously sweeping aside the views of those who are prepared to consider the possibility that there might be another way forward. The science community has given us the benefit of its detailed research but, regrettably, does not appear to have matched it with a practical solution as to how to deal with the massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions it is calling for. I would venture to suggest that you are being somewhat naive if you think that your approach could be brought about without commensurately massive economic and social problems. You are also being naive if you think that China, India and the USA are going to pay any attention to what the UK does, let alone what goes on in Gloucester. Those countries will act in the interests - or perceived interests - of their country and would be quite content to see us carry out an act of economic self-immolation and drive the UK into penury.

Thank you for bringing your views to my attention; it has been interesting. However, until your detailed knowledge of how we are heading for Armageddon is matched with detailed, well-researched ways of how we might implement your approach without bringing this county and country to its knees, I would be grateful if you did not contact me in future.

Yours Sincerely,

Phil Taylor

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Your invite to "Camp Hope"

Contact me at Kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com


Following the statements made by the Staverton Airport in their misconceptions document were they said there was no such thing as global warming, and went on to say “we all know, it is only a small minority that are opposed to the development," those of us that are concerned about the development have agreed to show that we are not a small minority. We have now started organising a mini weekend climate camp near the airport during October to coincide with the planning reviews that Tewksbury County Council will be undertaking.

We have located land for this near the airport. We will advise our proposed date shortly and later we will advise the location shortly before the camp.

In common with the Heathrow climate camp we will have workshops and discussions on the Saturday with peaceful protests against the Airport on Sunday.

Climate change is the most overwhelming crisis that will affect our planet. It is vital that we act at all levels and challenge those people and organisations who are prepared to dismiss and ridicule the science. It has never been more important to maintain hope; hence we are naming our camp, “Camp Hope.”

We invite you to come to our camp, to join the debates and we would appreciate your contribution.

Contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com

Friday, September 07, 2007

Further E-mails with Lib Dem Councillors on thier position on airport expansions

Contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com

Dear Mr Taylor,

I would like to thank you again for so promptly replying to my previous email. I am delighted that you are equally unimpressed by the opening paragraphs of the airports report and that you accept global warming is a serious issue.

I would however like to challenge your position on wanting to "see sensible discussion and rational decision making." It is clear from your response that you are aware of the magnitude of the problem of global warming and you must recognise that we are not faced with a minor and manageable temperature increase, but a cataclysmic step change in average temperatures that our already environmentally stressed society will be totally unable to cope with. The science community has already spent over 20 years having sensible and rational discussions which are backed up by computer simulation and extensive peer review. The consensus opinion of the science community is that we need 90% cuts in CO2 if we are to avoid runaway global warming. So, unfortunately the 20% target that Gloucester is trying to achieve is far too small and merely guarantees runaway global warming. Arguing for a policy of “sensible discussion and rational decision making” whilst not opposing airport expansions is simply procrastination and avoidance of decision making.

More worryingly, no country or city has achieved significant and sustainable overall reductions in CO2 emissions. I would suggest that an element of naivety is creeping in if you believe that Gloucester will somehow buck the trend, especially as its population and economy is continuing to grow, and still be able to make sufficient reductions to enable the offsetting of extra emissions from the airport. Without a draconian plan of carbon rationing or some other similar approach, it is impossible to envisage how the city could reliably make the CO2 cuts necessary to achieve the current targets whilst simultaneously accommodating the additional emissions from the airport.

It is also worth considering that the emissions from Staverton Airport will be emitted at high altitude where their global warming impact is increased by a factor between 4 and 6. This implies that Gloucester would need to make even larger cuts in its CO2 to accommodate Staverton.

You have said in your response that “However, I don't wish to join in the game of claim and counter-claim.” Not wanting to “join the game of claim and counter-claim” is equivalent to sitting on the fence and not having the courage to decide either way. During the rise of fascism in Germany before the war, people did not want to challenge what was being done to the Jews and they were silent whilst terrible crimes were allowed to build up into what became the biggest catastrophe that mankind experienced. The situation today is the same, but far more serious. Airport expansions are a crime against the next geration who have no voice, in the same way as crimes were committed against the Jews who had no voice. You cannot afford to avoid “joining the game.” You are part of the game.

It is finally worth pointing out that the Lib Dems have had a public policy of opposing airport expansion. However, they have almost consistently failed to have the courage to support this policy every time it has been put to the test, such as at Exeter, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool . This duplicity is what makes the public cynical about the politicians at a time when we can least afford this.

I would urge you to fully consider the science and your responsibility to your voters’ long term interests and unequivocally oppose this expansion in line with your parties policies.

Regards,
Kevin Lister

http://kevsclimatecolumn.blogspot.com/Phillip Taylor wrote:
Dear Mr Lister,

I don't believe that it is to anybody's credit to doubt that the climate is changing partially as a result of increasing and massive consumption of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution began over 200 years ago. I happen to believe the weight of scientific evidence, not because I am any sort of expert in the subject but rather more because of the application of common sense. Never in this planet's history has so much heat and pollution been created unnaturally ie by human beings rather than natural forces. So, I find myself unconvinced by the opening comments in the report. However, I don't wish to join in the game of claim and counter-claim. Nor do I wish to insinuate that others are barking mad. What I would like to see is sensible discussion and rational decision-making. I am not sure if Cheltenham Borough Council has signed up to the Nottingham Declaration - I hope it has - but I do know that Gloucestershire County Council has done so. This obliges the County Council, inter alia, to contribute at local level to the delivery of the UK Climate Change Programme. Gloucester City Council has a Climate Change Strategy that lists as one of its objectives in its action plan the following: "To reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Gloucester by 20% by 2010." You can find this document on the Gloucester City Council web site. The County Council has a similar document and aims (rather more modest) that can be viewed on its web site.

I won't go on at length, just suffice it to say that I would expect the various councils involved to accept that a decision that might lead to increased pollution eg increased air traffic, must be counter-balanced by decisions and actions that lead to a net reduction in fossil fuel consumption and consequent pollution. I can understand why you might want to target the possible expansion of the airport. However, if councils meet their targets, with or without airport expansion, they will have done what is necessary to provide a lead for others to follow and to play their part in reducing fossil fuel consumption. I'm not sure, in that case, what more could reasonably be expected. I do accept, however, that you and others have every right to expect the relevant councils to meet their targets.



Yours sincerely,

Phil Taylor

Liberal Democrat
Gloucester City Councillor

Cheltenham Mayor Condems Airport Reports that tries to deny global warming

Contact me a kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com

Dear Gloucester Councillors,

You have probably seen some of ongoing debates regarding the environmental impact of Staverton Airport.

As you are probably also aware, we face a crisis of unprecedented and unimaginable consequence from global warming. The maths and science is brutally stark. We must reduce our CO2 emissions by 90% to have any reasonable chance of our civilisation surviving. In this context there is no rational or moral basis for expanding airports.

Some may say that I am naive because Staverton is only small in the grand scale of things. However, this is a lot less naive than simply relying on America, China and India to reach a deal that will somehow not place any obligations on us to reduce our emissions. Action is needed at all levels to achieve the cuts needed. How can we expect China and India to take global warming seriously and act on our behalf when we are not prepared to stop the development of even a small airport?

Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence behind global warming, Staverton Airport have recently issued a report to try to persuade MPs and local Councillors that the science is nonsense and that the airport will have no adverse effect on the local community. This scurrilous behaviour is not worthy of any credible company in this country. It is grossly irresponsible to play with facts as serious these when it is already difficult to get much of the population to take global warming seriously. I have also produced a counter report. Both documents are attached to this email for your consideration.

Cheltenham Mayor, John Rawson, on seeing the report said, “I am utterly shocked that the Airport should be promoting the idea that climate change is a hoax and that the world's scientists and governments are systematically pulling the wool over people's eyes. This is lunatic stuff, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves. The fact is that the world's most eminent scientists are overwhelmingly convinced that human behaviour is contributing to climate change. It won't do the Airport any good to associate itself with mad conspiracy theories.”

We welcome John Rawson's forthright and clear condemnation of the report. We also would welcome your thoughts on the Airport's behavior and your perception of the business case.

Regards,
Kevin

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

E-mails with a Gloucester Councillor on Staverton, following the 5 things you need to know about global warming email to the Mayor of Gloucester

Contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com

Dear Mr. Taylor,

Thank you for your reply and the time that you have put in to making your argument, however I would suggest that it is worth more fully reconsidering some of the points that you have made, and I trust that you will bear with me whilst I try and answer them. I apologise in advance for the length of the reply.

You have said that that the information I have provided is well known to you. I therefore trust that you also appreciate the ultimate and over riding urgency of taking action. No matter how optimistically we hope, global warming will not go away and it is absolutely certain to become an overwhelming problem in the very near future. The problem is so immense that it will not be resolved by simply putting up a few windmills and hoping for the best.

The government, and even Staverton Airport, have said we need to take action at local, national and international levels. First consider each of these levels. Effective action at an international level that results in CO2 and other greenhouse gas reductions has been none existent. As you have pointed out China, India and the USA have not signed the Kyoto Protocol and have little intention of doing so. In fact China’s position is that they are concerned about global warming, but do not intend to reduce emissions. Even those countries that have signed the Kyoto agreement have signed targets that are either easy to achieve or require no actual cuts in CO2 emissions to be made. At a national level, little progress is being made. Alternative solutions for energy supply such as wind power are consistently being proven to be ineffective in terms of consistently meeting the energy demands of a energy hungry country with 60 million people, and other ideas such as bio fuels are actually far worse for the environment than burning fossil fuels. That leaves us with no option but to take robust action at the local level, and this means taking action in all areas. It ultimately means completely changing our expectations and life style. Whilst persuading people to cut down on car journies and reduce heating will help, it will be far too small to be effective, and will do nothing more than provide false hope.

It is precisely because action in all other areas is failing that makes the necessity for taking local action imperative. Solving global warming will not come about by us all determining that we should have an equal slice of CO2 emissions as there is not enough time to reach such a complicated agreement. Global warming will only be resolved by the masses recognising that the earth is saturated with CO2 and nearing the point of catastrophic climate change and then taking urgent action to reduce our emissions and avoid creating any new emissions in all areas.

I accept your point that vehicle emissions and power emissions are large, but at least their rate of increase is relatively steady. Aviation by contrast is the most rapidly growing source of emissions. It makes absolutely no sense that we allow something as dangerous to the environment as this to expand when we actually need everything else to contract. By allowing Staverton Airport to expand, it sends out the loud and clear message that the environment is actually not important. If you allow the airport to expand, you will certainly face the car owners arguing that there is no point in them cutting back their journeys if you do not have the courage to oppose a relatively small airport expansion.

It is also worth taking a lesson from road transport. We now know the environmental damage from road traffic is enormous and potentially catastrophic, yet we are virtually powerless to do anything to stop it, so addicted have we become as a society to it. It is clear from the experience of the road, that it is easier to stop a bad thing from starting than to stop a bad thing from continuing. Staverton Airport is no different. Once new services start, it would be virtually impossible to stop them as various vested interests would argue that their businesses or life styles had become dependent on the new services, or contractual obligations prevents them from being stopped.

Further more, the total green house effect from aircraft is considerably more that the CO2 emissions alone. The exhaust from planes is a cocktail of gases; in particular there are large amounts of NO2. As well as this being a dangerous gas at ground level that causes asthma and respiratory ailments around airports, it is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas which is in the region of 300 times more potent that CO2 alone. The high altitude that this is emitted at further increases the global warming impact. The result is that the additional radiative forcing increases the global warming impact of aviation by a factor of 4 to 6 over the actual CO2 emissions alone.

When evaluating total CO2 emissions from planes, you also need to consider that international travel is not counted, despite this being the largest source of emissions. With international emissions counted, aviation accounts for 6% of the UK’s total emissions. With the radiative forcing, this suggests that aviation is potentially contributing about 20% of our total global warming impact. This is not insignificant.

I further believe that your point about Britain’s contribution to the world CO2 emissions being negligible also needs further consideration. Firstly, Britain is the 7th biggest contributor of CO2 emissions in the world. One of the reasons why our emissions have been able to stay stable recently is that we have simply exported much heavy industry abroad to countries such as China. Even still, on a per capita basis, China’s emissions are still only 30% of ours and India’s are 10%. It therefore completely destroys our position in trying to persuade these countries to make cuts in their emissions when we are not prepared to stop even a relatively small airport.

Bring the debate fully home to Staverton. We have calculated that approximately 1.5 million trees would be required to absorb the CO2 from the new services outlined in their business plan. For Staverton to make their investment viable, they would need many more services than publicly admitted, thus many more trees would be required than my estimate. So whilst Staverton, may be small in relation to Heathrow, it is only small because the other airports are so large. Trying to argue that it is acceptable to expand Staverton because it is smaller is akin to arguing that it is okay to rob the corner shop because it is smaller than the Great Train Robbery.

Given your initial point of your deep interest in environmental matters, and hence I would suppose your recognition of the risk that we face, you must appreciate that the idea of supporting an airport expansion is not logical. You must recognise that if we were to actually build the airport it is likely to become a white elephant very soon as the economic impacts of climate change will bite and reduce any utility for an airport. From your interest in environemental matters you must be aware that we face the risk of world temperatures rises being in excess of 4 deg C. At this point, the few survivors on the planet would not be interested in flying off for holiday weekends. The recent falls in the stock market are the first global warming economic impacts, as poor weather around the world and demand for bio fuels has pushed basic food prices up, with corresponding impacts in inflation and interest rates. This is a situation that it only going to become much worse, and potentially very quickly. Gloucester tax payers will simply be left trying to support a financial liability at the time when they are least able to do so.

I note with interest that you are in the Liberal Democrats. I had been highly impressed with their public position on opposing all airport expansions. Ultimately stopping airport’s and other instruments of ecomomic development are painful decisions, but often the correct decisions are the most difficult to make and not making them will be far worse in the long run.

You must finally recognise that many of the flights from the airport will be made for ultimately frivolous reasons, such as holidays and weekend’s away. As you may be aware, Staverton see business jets as being one of their main growth areas following the expansion. However, European Air Traffic data shows that amongst the top 20 destinations for business jets are Cannes, Nice and Mallorca. For those of us who are concerned parents with children who are trying to make reductions in our emissions we find it galling that a few elitist people are prepared to completely ignore the science and negate any reductions in CO2 that thousands of us will make.

Staverton airport’s publicly owned status offers a unique position where the council, as the representatives of the people, can take a real lead on this issue and put the environement above short term profit motives. You have the opportunity to stop this development and potentially form a coalition of other willing organisations that would be prepared to make cut backs in their output to safe guard the future. I would offer this as a vision of what you can achieve rather than contributing to the biggest disaster that mankind will see. The alternative is that your hope "that the major international polluters act in unison before the debate becomes irrelevant" will simply remain an unfulfilled hope unless people at the local level are prepared to take leadership positions where they can.

Regards,
Kevin Lister

Phillip Taylor wrote:
Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for sending me a copy of your e-mail. The information that you provided is well known to me, as I have a deep interest in environmental matters. My personal wish would be to see a reduction in air travel and, in that sense, I support your position. However, I would like to introduce a little balance into this debate. You are doubtless well aware that a complete cessation of fossil fuel consumption today by the entire United Kingdom would do little or nothing to diminish global warming. The UK's consumption of fossil fuels simply is not big enough for us alone to bring about significant change. What is required is a massive global shift away from fossil fuel consumption. The signs are not too promising that China, India and the USA are on the verge of making such a shift. It's also clear that the EU is a long way from making the necessary progress in this vitally important issue. I read today that e.on are hoping to win approval to build a coal-fired power station in the UK, something that would represent a major backward step in our own country's approach to this issue if granted by the Govt. I could go on, but trust that I have demonstrated how utterly insignificant an expansion of Staverton Airport would be as far as global warming is concerned.

I believe that we must all continue to press major polluting nations to make necessary, massive and rapid reductions in their fossil fuel consumption. We as individuals must also take a responsible approach. The Council, too, has a duty of care to protect our hard-pressed environment in whatever small way it can. However, let's keep an open mind about all of this and evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of the expansion proposals fairly and dispassionately. The major polluters are domestic heating, vehicle usage and industry. Persuading people en masse to turn their heating down a little and/or drive their cars less would be far more effective in reducing the production of greenhouse gases in Gloucester than limiting flights in and out of Staverton. My recommendation would be that we all devote our attention to the areas that will bring the best return.

It is probably worth noting that I am a LibDem City Councillor for Barnwood Ward and am not a member of the City Council's Cabinet.

I'm sure that this debate has some way to go. I just hope that the major international polluters act in unison before the debate becomes irrelevant.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Taylor

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Letter to the Mayor of Gloucester following his support of Staverton Airport

Five things to know about global warming before supporting the extension at Staverton Airport.


Dear Councillor Gill,

1. The IPCC report published in Feb 2007 predicts temperatures increases for various scenarios (graph below). The best case is that we reduce our emissions to zero today. The worst case is that nothing changes and we develop the economy as we are doing today. The worst case scenario is the most likely scenario. There is no stopping the temperatures rise in this circumstance. The IPCC report is considered the most "concentual" agreement of the worlds scientists on global warming.




2. Over the 5 billion years that life has existed on the plant, the temperature has not changed by more that more the +/- 4 deg C, this covers the time from the first formations of single cell organisims to now. The predictions from the IPCC report indicate that we will see more than 4 deg C by the end of this centrury. It is unlikely that our civilisation will survive a sustained average temperatures increase of 1 deg C. By the time the temperature increases to 2 deg C, a feedback process will be set in place that will cause runaway temperature increases. Most life on the planet will become extinct with a temperture increase of 4 deg C, potentially to be followed by extinction of all life on earth.

3. It is now considered that there is a high likelihood that the IPCC predictions have underestimated the risk. From the polictical context, the conclusions had to be consentual, which required agreement from countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and the US, whose scientists did everything within their power to discredit the conclusions. Since the initial analysis, alarming new discoveries have concluded that the planets main CO2 sinks are in much more crisis than initally thought. Specifically, it has been discovered that the Southern Ocean is now fully saturated with CO2 and the tropical rainforests hold much more carbon than initally thought. The tropical rainforests are currently being felled at a rapid rate to support the rush for bio fuels, which simultaneously releases huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and removes the planets ability to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere.

4, As global warming accelerates, usable land will be at a premium. That is land that is not on river flood plains and reasonably above sea level. This land will be needed for crops and housing. Given the certainty of the science, quality land should not be taken into unnecessary industrial use, such as airports. A key problem with the world economy today, is that most industrial and urban development takes place on prime land. This is contributing to the fall in world wide food production, just as it is needed the most. China's development is a prime example of this. Many of the previously self sufficent villages that had existed for thousands of years have been developed into industrial areas and they are now having to importing food from elsewhere in the world.

5. For us to survive we need to reduce our CO2 emissions by over 90%. This is achivable only by major life style changes. In this context, expanding airports is madness.

It is becoming clear that the likelihood of anyone under the age of 20 today living out their natural life is increasingly remote. Despite the overwhelming evidence of global warming, organisations with vested interests still shamefully try and discredit the science to support short term profit goals. Staverton Airport is one of these, it recently published a report trying to discredit the entire science of global warming in its attempt to stiffle legitemate protest and concern about its development. It is vitally important that you and those in Gloucester Council become familiar with these facts before supporting the airports development.

Kevin Lister,

Letter to Gloucester Echo in response to new business services from Staverton and copied to Councillors

Dear Editor,

Your article on "New Air Services" from Staverton confirms the worst fears about the airport expansion, and totally discredits the airports claims that the expansion is simply safety related which will have no environemental impact.

If the airport's claim that the runway extension is simply safety related is true, then it would imply that the airport has introduced a service that is dangerous to operate as the service is being introduced before the runway has been extended. In this case, the management should be reconsidering their position for putting their customer’s lives in danger. Clearly, no rational manager would knowingly put himself in this position. Their argument about safety being the issue only works because the management want to run additional larger planes that cannot be safely operated from the existing runway. Running additional larger planes from the airport is service expansion, what ever way you look at it. No sane and rational person could come to any other conclusion.

Despite the bad news from an environmental perspective, the article does at least confirm that a significant increase in plane movements from the airport is the true intention of the runway extension works and it eliminates any doubt that it is simply safety related. It further demonstrates the complete contempt that the airport and its backers have to the environmental impacts that their proposals will cause.

The airport's consultant Tony Norman says, "The new services will succeed and will mark the transformation of Gloucestershire Airport ." This is an unequivocal statement of the airports intent to expand. It is rather bizarre when the airport has continually tried to claim that the runway extension is simply safety related.

Tony Norman's position is further confirmed by Mr Filleul from Manx2.com who says that "the services will compete with Bristol and Birmingham airports." This again is an unbelievable statement as it is completely counter to airport's claims on its own web site where they say "We will never be competing with the major, 24-hour Airports like Bristol and Birmingham," when they were assuaging local concern on the environmental impact.

It is extremely worrying that even the Major of Gloucester (Councillor Harjit Gill) has allowed himself to be convinced by the airports argument when he says, "taxi drivers will get more jobs and the economy will benefit. I think it is wonderful." It has clearly not occurred to him that virtually all the roads in the area are already at grid lock for most of the time. It would also appear that he has not fully gotten to grips with the issues of global warming, even after the flooding of his city.

Given aspirations for service growth that the article outlines, then it is a reasonable assumption that at least 100,000 additional customers could be using this airport. The impact on the local environment would be catastrophic. The combined effect of additional traffic and aircraft pollution would force the NO2 far beyond safety limits. The airport would then follow the pattern of other airports in the country by becoming an asthma and respiratory problem hot spot. Unlike the airport’s recent claims that house prices in the area would rise, it is more likely that they would collapse as the quality of the local environment is systematically destroyed. It would be interesting if either the airport or its backers could point to a single case in the country where an airport had not adversely affected the local environment.

As well as the additional stress on the local economy and environment, the proposals for the airport’s expansion are madness in an environment where global warming is becoming an increasing risk to the very survival of today’s children. The science on global warming is clear and those that lead the decision making processes have an absolute obligation to ensure that they understand it. Supporting reckless proposals like this are an abrogation of responsibility.

Kevin Lister