Doreen Wachmann discovers some surprising facts about global warming
A FOUNDER of Germany's Green Party is warning that current climate change policy has become "hysterical" and is causing economic hardship to the poorest in society.
Haifa-born Dr Benny Peiser was raised and educated in Germany where, as a "left-of-centre" student of political and social sciences, he co-founded the party, largely out of his concerns about nuclear energy and its waste which is radioactive for thousands of years.
Now heading the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, Dr Peiser has turned full circle and is warning of the huge economic cost of current climate change hype.
He said: "I and others in the environmental movement have become more critical of conventional wisdom. We are increasingly concerned about the exaggerations, alarmism and hype.
"We realise that a lot of scares are overdone and are not helping a proper debate in a democratic culture.
"As you grow and get more information, you realise the risks are not as catastrophic as imagined and your concerns become more balanced."
He said: "A growing number of the environmental movement now realise that a lot of the claims have unintended consequences, which are economically, morally dubious."
He continued: "In all likelihood climate change will be very moderate. The planet is not in danger in the foreseeable future.
"The warming trend has not increased for the last 10-15 years. It is not the crisis, the disaster people make out. People can adapt to climate change and live with it."
He maintained that recycling and turning off machines had no effect whatsoever on climate.
He said: "We should be doing much more of what we always have done. For millennia we have done it quite successfully.
"We should make our societies more resilient to protect ourselves.
"We have been quite successful in cleaning air and water. Look at the state of our rivers over the last 50 years. Environmental improvement is important, but it has to benefit all of society."
He added that it was morally wrong for richer societies to put pressure on poorer ones over climate change.
He said: "Millions of Indians and Chinese live in abject poverty with no access to electricity. Who are we to tell them how to grow and develop?"
Turning to the UK, where Dr Peiser felt that it was the poorer, who were paying the price for fuel change policies, he said: "A lot of government funding of green initiatives will be paid for by the poorest in society.
"Heating and electricity bills will go up and fuel poverty will increase in the name of saving the planet.
"The government is forcing people to buy highly-expensive energy, generated by wind farms or solar energy which are three to five times as expensive as conventional energy.
"This does not have any effect on climate whatsoever and is politically dubious, economically unsustainable and morally objectionable."
He continued: "There are huge quantities of gas all over the world, mainly in Russia. Recent technology has developed unconventional shale gas which is now so cheap.
"There is such an abundance of it that it has led to a gas glut. There is so much gas that the price has collapsed. It is so cheap that US companies have stopped drilling.
"It is not worth getting it out of the ground.
"But instead of using the cheapest form of energy which would help the poorest, who are struggling to pay their bills, the government is forcing people to buy highly-expensive energy."
Dr Peiser was born in Haifa to German parents. His father Hans left his native land in 1935 to move to then-Palestine.
His mother Cilly arrived after the Second World War during which she was hidden by Dutch Christian farmers.
After serving in the British army during the war, Hans joined the Israeli merchant navy.
Dr Peiser explained: "My father was a radio officer in the Israeli merchant navy. He went to Germany frequently because in the 1950s there was a lot of trade between Germany and Israel."
After Hans was offered a job as an air traffic controller at Frankfurt Airport, he took his wife and baby son back to Germany.
Dr Peiser said: "Not many had the opportunity to go back to Germany, nor wanted to. We never regretted it."
So what was it like for Dr Peiser to spend the first 35 years of his life in post-Holocaust Germany?
He said: "It was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we were very, very close to the history and location of the Holocaust.
"On the other hand, German democracy had confronted its past and did not hide from it. That made it easier to live there."
Dr Peiser claimed he never experienced any antisemitism in Germany.
His assimilated family lived in Frankfurt's small Jewish community, which was composed mainly of Eastern European Jews, many of them from displaced persons camps.
He said: "There was always a flux of Jewish immigrants."
After studying political and social sciences at Frankfurt University, 18 years ago Dr Peiser moved to Liverpool to lecture in social science at John Moores University.
It was there that he met his wife, John Moores education lecturer Gillian, nee Mandel, from Glasgow.
Before moving to his London-based job last year, from where he still commutes three days a week to his Liverpool home, Dr Peiser was a governor of the Merseyside city's King David Junior School.
His daughters Ruby, 12, and Tamara, nine, still attend KD.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation is an all-party and non-party educational charity.
Dr Peiser said: "On our board of trustees, we have representatives from all three parties.
"We are not party political and receive no funding from energy companies. We will not accept donations from industry-related interests.
"We feel that there has been a lack of vigorous debate and open discussion on climate change.
"We are not saying we're right and others are wrong."