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Letter: Disputing power station claims of an ‘expert’

SIR – I write in response to Dr Langford’s letter, ‘We will regret closing our fossil-fuel power stations’ (Letters, 4th September).

Dr Langford concludes his letter by berating politicians for not understanding science, yet in his letter he also claimed: “As for the environmental effects of fossil fuels, they were pretty minimal compared with the asset of on-demand electricity.”

Whilst I would never dream of denying anyone’s right to hold a differing opinion, I do take exception to an ‘expert’ making such a loose and highly disputable claim.

The consensus of scientists (80-97% depending on which source you choose to cite) believe that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is occurring and that the impact of climate change from AGW is certainly not “minimal”.

Meanwhile, I am confident that given his credentials Dr Langford will be well aware of the existence of nuclear and solar power, and the rapidly developing field of battery storage which can increasingly compensate for days when wind / gas cannot meet demand.

Furthermore, a transition away from fossil fuels isn’t only a sensible choice for air pollution (nitrogen oxide, particulate and CO2 reduction reasons) – it is a largely unavoidable one given that mankind has been using fossil fuels industrially for just over 250 years, yet at current rates of usage experts estimate that fossil fuels will be completely depleted by around 2060.

Where will the “on demand” electricity come from in the 2060s and beyond if we don’t start advancing the quantity and quality of renewable sources of energy now?

As a general comment, I think the A&T should consider treading carefully when publishing readers’ letters on such complex and important subjects as climate change – which requires citations and fact-checking, and so which naturally cannot be coherently reduced to a three or four-paragraph summary in a reader’s letter.

As happened with Dr Langford’s letter, there is clearly a risk that such letters by purported ‘experts’ become infused with opinions masquerading as ‘facts’.

As we all know in a climate of ‘fake news’ it doesn’t take much for such content to be regarded as a truth by its readers. I therefore think the A&T would do well to avoid this pernicious trend.

Ralph Kent,


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