Open Letter to David Cameron

29 March 2016 The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP The Prime Minister 10 Downing Street London SW1A 2AA Dear Prime Minister, Whatever happened to the greenest government ever? Given my experience of working in environmental consultancy or regulation, I understand the importance of making pragmatic, risk-based decisions (as opposed to dogmatic, opinion-based ones). I therefore believe that government policy should be formulated this way. Unfortunately, however, this does not always seem to be the case. As a pragmatic scientist, I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power. However, I do question the logic of pursuing ‘Hinkley Point C’ when equivalent investment in distributed renewable technologies – from domestic solar PV to submarine tidal stream – could probably generate more electricity faster. Indeed, as Greenpeace has recently pointed out, the UK could meet nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.[1] With regard to risk, the scientific consensus is that, in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the World must now embark upon the fastest-possible transition to a zero carbon economy. Therefore, I also question the logic of simultaneously promoting investment in shale gas; discouraging investment in renewables; and cancelling investment in Carbon Capture and Storage research. It is now over 50 years since scientists started warning of the climatic implications of continuing to burn fossil fuels;[2] and 50 years since fossil fuel company executives started spending huge sums of money on being “Merchants of Doubt”.[3] As such, along with their counterparts in the tobacco industry, they have clearly not acted in the long-term interest of humanity as a whole. However, as with the individual health benefit of ceasing to smoke tobacco, the sooner we stop burning fossil fuels the greater the collective environmental benefit will be. Therefore, I am pragmatically opposed to shale gas exploration because burning it is not consistent with the need to transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible. I am certain that you would like to secure an enduring political legacy; and would therefore like to ask just one question: What could be better than being remembered as the Prime Minister that committed the UK to meeting nearly all its electricity generation needs from renewable energy sources by 2030? Yours sincerely, Rick C. Altman ———— [1] See: [2] Nuccitelli, D. (2015), ‘Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today’, Guardian newspaper, 5 November 2015: London. [3] Oreskes, N. & Conway E. (2010), Merchants of Doubt, New York: Bloomsbury. See:


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Carbon Capture and Storage, Climate Science, Energy Crisis, Environment, Fossil Fuels, Greenpeace, Merchants of Doubt, Politics, Renewable Energy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Open Letter to David Cameron

  1. Rick, love this. Could I have your permission to republish it in full for tomorrow’s post over on Learning from Dogs?


  2. An excellent letter Rick. This government speaks with forked tongue in so many different areas and ways. “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” and that is especially so with Messrs Cameron and Osborne et al. As the Mossack Fonseca story today shows, they are simply the face of the greedy rich and corporate few fleecing the rest of us and stashing their cash away. The support given to costly nuclear fission and silly “fracking” in Britian is misplaced, ideologically driven and disastrous. Pulling the support rug out from under wind, solar and carbon capture developments is quite frankly, rather wicked and dangerous. Britain could be true leaders in new clean energy technologies and these shallow short termist ignorant little men are ruining things for all of us.


    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks, Chris. David Cameron is probably not being two-faced when it comes to tax avoidance but is certainly being double-minded when it comes to ACD-avoidance.


  3. Pingback: Keep shouting it out! – Learning from Dogs

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