For some time now, I have been struck by a strange paradox about the more radical members of the green movement: if they love nature so much, how come they expend so much energy trying to destroy it?
I’m thinking, for example, of their championing of biofuels – a disastrous idea which not only helped starve the poor by causing a massive hike in global food prices but which has also led to still further devastation of their beloved rainforests. And also of the windfarms with which they plan to carpet the British landscape, in theory to save it from an apocalyptic future envisioned by their highly suspect computer models, in practice to render it ugly and unnatural and damaged almost beyond rescue.
Or listen to Any Questions and hear it for yourself in the visceral hatred, contempt and shrill self-righteousness in the voice of ecology campaigner Sir Jonathan Porritt (Bart.) as he pours scorn on my suggestion that the Severn Barrage project will cause massive environmental damage to the bird-rich mud flats of the Severn Estuary (not to mention killing off one of Britain’s quirkier national phenomena, the mini-tidal-wave-like Severn Bore).
The £20 billion project, if it ever happens, will produce the same amount of energy as one nuclear power station – but at about eight times the cost. Porritt, naturally, is a huge fan – and seems to have little regard for the unfortunate environmental side-effects.
“Wonderful that James is such an ardent defender of the mud flats. At last he’s found a cause worth defending,” sneers Porritt doing his bravura impersonation of Alan Rickman’s oleaginously evil Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies.
Elsewhere in the programme, Porritt calls me a “flat earther” and shrieks “Lies. All lies” when I make several perfectly truthful and valid statements questioning the so-called scientific “consensus” regarding Anthropogenic Global Warming. Needless to say, he makes no attempt to answer when I put to him that if, as Al Gore claims in An Inconvenient Truth global warming increases inexorably with higher CO2 emissions then how come, when CO2 emissions have continued to rise in the last 12 years global temperatures have actually fallen. Displaying the grandeur and pomposity you might imagine an-Old-Etonian-baronet turned eco-freak progressive would have striven a little harder to mask, Porritt carries on as if anyone who disagrees with him is scum quite beneath his contempt.
I’d never met Porritt before. I found his zealotry genuinely frightening, not least because – except when the mask slips, as I think it did on occasion during the programme, enabling listeners to make up their own minds as to what a piece of work this man is – he speaks his apocalyptic (and often scientifically dubious) views in a voice of such persuasive, modulated reasonableness. Worse still, he has the ear of our future King.
I didn’t mention this during the programme, because I thought things were already getting pretty mucky, but I do think there’s something a bit scary about a man who publicly advocates, in all seriousness, that couples should limit themselves to having two children only in order to save Mother Gaia from the deleterious influence of loathsome mankind. I come from a large happy family. I love my little bro and my two little sisters. If we followed Porritt’s fascistic strictures, they wouldn’t now exist.
Was the programme quite as biased towards the liberal-left as I predicted in yesterday’s blog? Well to be fair to Jonathan Dimbleby I believe he tries as hard as he possibly can to be neutral. (As neutral as a man can be when he’s such a believer in AGW that he’s erecting a wind turbine in his Devon garden, much to the fury of some of his neighbours). The audience at beautiful Middle Wallop’s magnificent Museum Of Army Flying (highly recommended, especially for its Arnhem dioramas with Horsa gliders, and Gallipoli, a six-pounder that was actually used in the battle) were generous and pleasant. But I can’t pretend it wasn’t an uphill struggle being the only libertarian right-wing “AGW denier” against a panel of three liberal-lefties.
Even my nice neighbour, novelist Kate Mosse, who was supposed to be at best neutral came out on the deep green leftie side with possibly the most ludicrously stupid remark of the evening. If we put up with electric pylons, she said, we should put up with wind turbines too. And actually, she thought, the windfarms in South West France where she has her second home look rather pretty.
Yes Kate, and I’d bet they’d look even prettier with a makeover by Cath Kidston. Why on earth didn’t we think of this before?