Prescott wrong to blame car drivers for coral bleaching
The Association of British Drivers today awarded bottom marks to new sub-aqua convert John Prescott over his comments concerning the effects of transport emissions on coral reefs.
In a DETR Press release (233, 15 March 1999) which announced financial support for coral conservation in the South Asian region, the Deputy Prime Minister blamed car drivers for the problems he had seen. After being shown the alleged impact of rising sea temperatures and pollution, Mr Prescott opined "We all have a part to play in helping to solve the problem. One of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases is the motor vehicle. By choosing to use our cars less and public transport more, we can be part of the solution."
ABD Environment spokesman Julian Rowden comments: "As an example of political science this statement is unrivalled in its inaccuracy:
- Transport accounts for less than 15% of the UK's man made carbon dioxide emissions, so it's clearly not one of the biggest sources.
- A typical house emits nearly three times the carbon dioxide of the average family car, and proper insulation could reduce emissions more than cutting out all car use.
- Public transport is no more efficient in terms of carbon emissions than cars at typical average utilisation rates of 20-25%. More use of public transport will require more services and so the utilisation will not increase.
The coral reef story is yet more ecomythology to excuse policies which hammer drivers in a cynical dash for cash," continued Rowden.
ABD committee member and environment analyst Bernard Abrams takes Mr Prescott to task more severely:
"Prescott is clearly suffering from premature interjection, and it's not the first time. Similar fears over Antarctic ice caps melting have been shown by the people who know - scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - to be unjustified and unrelated to global climate change. The BAS has identified a small-scale local (rather than global) phenomenon, and adds that any future rise in sea temperatures would lead to a thickening of the ice sheet due to salinity effects. The key point here is that shooting from the hip and taking the science for granted leads to serious errors. Reported effects on coral have not been proved to be linked to any one factor, and attempting to change patterns of car use will not make one iota of environmental difference."
Notes for Editors