Two events last week led me to muse on the links between the man who is now our Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, and the extinction of the woolly mammoth. A team of scientists suggest in Nature Geoscience that the sudden extinction of the mammoths some 12,000 years ago, as the world emerged from the last ice age, may have had a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate. They argue that the emission by these giant herbivores of nine million tons a year of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than CO2, was so significant that their disappearance led to a sharp drop in global temperatures, and the world temporarily froze over again in the re-glaciation known as the Younger Dryas.
This is a theory so batty one scarcely knows whether to laugh or cry. If that comparatively tiny amount of methane was so powerful, how did the world manage to remain so cold during the million years of ice ages when eructating megafauna were abundant? Clearly those scientists were so carried away by the obsession with climate change that they hadn’t the slightest idea what they were talking about. But even more is this true, it seems, of the man now in charge of Britain’s energy policy.