Britain should stop investing in wind farms as they are no longer an efficient source of energy, a leading global warming expert has warned.
Turbines have been hailed as a clean, alternative fuel supply but the UK should not expect them to play a major part in how we try to solve climate change, claimed a leading scientist.
In 2009, the UK Budget meant that the budget for wind power in the UK could amount to £525million between 2011 and the end of this year.
In the latest debate hosted by the Daily Express, two experts maintain mankind is not doomed, despite some scientists pointing to melting ice caps, rising sea levels and erratic weather.
But they debate the extent to which we are to blame for the current situation and question whether new kinds of energy are the solution.
Dr Benny Peiser, Director of The Global Warming Policy Forum, said wind turbines have reached the limit of their effectiveness and money should be spent elsewhere.
“I’m all in favour of alternative energy,” he insisted. “[But] I’m against picking winners and throwing money at technologies that might not have a future.
“Wind energy I think has come to a limit to how efficient can get.
“I think solar has a brighter future.”
However Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Directory at The Grantham Research Institute, urged the Government to continue investing in new “cleaner” means of fuel, such as wind farms.
Arguing climate change could not be explained by natural phenomena alone, he said mankind had clearly played a part and suggested we need to completely re-think the way that we fuel our planet.
Fossil fuels, he argues, are becoming an outdated means of energy – meaning that we now face pressure to find new sources of energy.
“It’s far better to invest in modern, clean form of energy than looking backward and saying we must continue burning all these old, polluting fossil fuels,” he said.
“Progress is about new, clean energy.”
The pair both acknowledged that even if the UK changes tack on energy, emerging powers like China and India burn massive amounts of dirty fuel and need to change.
Dr Peiser said China was building one new coal-powered plant per week and only ten per cent of its energy needs by 2030 would be met by a renewable source.
However Mr Ward said China did take the situation very seriously because poorer countries are more at risk from the adverse effects of global warming. He added it was easier to put solar power in villages than to build large plants.
Scientific research shows that the Earth’s surface temperature first rose in the last half of the 20th century, but several scientists say the overall temperature has not actually risen for 18 years.
Dr Peiser admits that tackling climate change is a tricky problem, because no-one really knows when, if ever, the Earth’s temperature will rise again – and we don’t know what the climate was like thousands of years ago.
“We don’t know if climate change in the next 50 or 100 years will be a big problem, a moderate problem or a small problem,” admits Dr Peiser.
“We’re not sure how much warming we will see.”
Mr Ward agreed there was no easy answer but said the risks of climate change were “clearly huge.”
He added: “We can do this and it’s really up to us. This is a decision not just for ourselves but for our children and our grandchildren.
The debate on global warming comes just weeks after thousands of people gathered around the world to protest against climate change at the People’s Climate March.
It is believed that over 40,000 people attended the march in London, while over 300,000 people protested in New York.
This coincided with the start of the UN Climate Change Summit where US President Barack Obama said it was an issue “that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other”.