My colleague Geoffrey Lean is upset by the vitriol he attracts on the internet. I feel for him. Though I have never met Geoffrey colleagues tells me he’s a delightful fellow who means very well. I’m sure he does and, though our views on AGW are very different, I take no more pleasure in seeing him taken to pieces by Telegraph-reading sceptics than I do from all the charming emails I get from George Monbiot groupies calling me something beginning with “C”. (And it’s shorter than “Climate change denier”).
But there appears to be something Geoffrey doesn’t understand and I’d like to take this opportunity to explain. This misconception is implicit in his headline: “We need to cool this climate row.” What it implies is that somewhere in the AGW debate is a sensible, moderate, middle ground and that if we can only approach this business in the spirit of a sort of Tony-Blair-style Third-Way triangulation, everything can be solved and we can all live happily ever after. No it can’t and we won’t.
Here are the killer paragraphs that betray Geoffrey’s (and not just Geoffrey’s but almost the entire green movement’s) wrong thinking:
The extremes, as so often, have met. The rejectionists and fundamentalists both wanted the Copenhagen climate summit to fail. Both seem at least partly swayed by ideology. For the fundamentalists, global warming should be a serious threat, therefore it must be one. For rejectionists, it must not be happening, therefore it can’t be.
The debate will surely continue. But is there a productive way forward? All sides condemn waste of the world’s resources. Conserving energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with clean sources is important for national security, and reducing other forms of air pollution besides the emission of greenhouse gases. It is also, as more and more economists and entrepreneurs are realising, an effective way of creating jobs and stimulating new, and sustainable, economic growth.
I think such a programme is necessary to head off dangerous climate change. But even if I am wrong, it would make the world a better, more prosperous place. Could all sides back it while continuing to argue about the science? That really would be a shock.
There are so many false assumptions contained therein that I don’t know where to begin. Probably the most dangerous is the canard about “green jobs”. These are a chimera, as we know from the evidence of Spain where for every “green job” created by government subsidy 2.2 jobs have been lost in the real economy. Not that this inconvenient truth seems to concern Dave Cameron’s green Conservatives overmuch.
Certainly the most erroneous is the utter nonsense that the measures being proposed to deal with “climate change” will “make the world a better, more prosperous place.”
No they won’t Geoff, and that’s why so many of us are so angry; why some of the emails you get are filled with such poison. We see, as you apparently do not, that in the name of this AGW scare you and your environmental correspondent colleagues have been helping to cook up these last few years our world is being destroyed.
You rightly cite biofuels as an example of green zealotry gone horribly wrong. If only it were the only one.
But how about the fact that, in the name of preserving the environment, the choicest parts of our magnificent British landscape are going to be ruined for generations by ugly, energy-inefficient, wind farms which are really little more than a means of transferring taxpayers’ money into the pockets of a few canny businessmen and pandering to EU bureaucracy but which will contribute nothing to our “energy security” because their power output is negligible?
How about the fact that thanks to the Climate Act we are expected to commit, in the middle of our direst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an annual £18 billion towards pointless green projects in order to deal with a problem that doesn’t actually exist?
You talk about “the science” Geoffrey, as if this were the place in which the solution lay. Again this is a fallacy. AGW has never been about “the science”, but about the corruption and debasement thereof. Try reading AW “Bishop Hill” Montford’s superb, gripping The Hockey Stick Illusion and then try to tell me, with a straight face, that the IPCC’s scaremongering reports have even the merest shred of integrity or that the cabal of activist scientists who have been pushing AGW since the mid-Eighties were simply honest disinterested parties on a noble quest for pure scientific truth.
Climategate (which you persist in telling us was of no significance, though on what basis you have never quite made clear), was merely the iceberg tip not only of the greatest scientific scandal in history, but also of perhaps the most far reaching and deadly conspiracy ever inflicted on mankind. One that could ultimately lead to the destruction of the global economy and, by extension, industrial civilisation.
Yet here you are, telling us it can all be resolved if we only start talking a bit more nicely to one another. Well again I say this is not a moment for Tony-Blair-style triangulation. You rightly say that it is quite wrong to liken climate change denial to Holocaust denial. And the reason it’s wrong is because the Holocaust actually happened, whereas nobody is claiming that climate doesn’t change. The bone of contention is whether or not it is significantly, dangerously man-made.
What I don’t buy is the notion that in turn we sceptics should desist from calling the people on your side “eco-fascists” and “Nazis.” Why? The Nazis were the progenitors of the modern green movement and eco-fascism is exactly what organisations like the EU, the US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the current British government and the forthcoming Heath administration are trying to impose on their increasingly clued-up (and correspondingly sceptical) tax-paying, freedom-loving citizenry.
We love our world; we want our children and grandchildren to grow up with jobs and to be able to enjoy looking at landscapes which haven’t been destroyed by wind turbines; we understand that the richer an economy grows the more environmentally conscious it can afford to be. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Your side, Geoffrey, does not.