Is anyone else as baffled as I am by the crazy, crazy world of James Lovelock? (Hat tip: Ed West)
Here is the kindly, distinguished inventor of the Gaia hypothesis interviewed in the Guardian, when asked how humans will ever manage to tackle ‘climate change’.
We need a more authoritative world. We’ve become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It’s all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. And they should be very accountable too, of course.
But it can’t happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What’s the alternative to democracy? There isn’t one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.
“It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.” Hmm. I’m sure he said it in a gentle, quavery, tentative voice, but even so, don’t phrases like that tend to make the blood run cold – especially when spoken by the man viewed by many of the world’s eco-loons as the ultimate environmental guru?
Here’s the puzzling part, though. Elsewhere he talks a lot of sense:
Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science. I’m not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It’s the one thing you do not ever do. You’ve got to have standards.
On computer models:
I remember when the Americans sent up a satellite to measure ozone and it started saying that a hole was developing over the South Pole. But the damn fool scientists were so mad on the models that they said the satellite must have a fault. We tend to now get carried away by our giant computer models. But they’re not complete models. They’re based more or less entirely on geophysics. They don’t take into account the climate of the oceans to any great extent, or the responses of the living stuff on the planet. So I don’t see how they can accurately predict the climate. It’s not the computational power that we lack today, but the ability to take what we know and convert it into a form the computers will understand.
On the uncertainty of climate science:
The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they’re scared stiff of the fact that they don’t really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven’t got the physics worked out yet. One of the chiefs once said to me that he agreed that they should include the biology in their models, but he said they hadn’t got the physics right yet and it would be five years before they do. So why on earth are the politicians spending a fortune of our money when we can least afford it on doing things to prevent events 50 years from now? They’ve employed scientists to tell them what they want to hear. The Germans and the Danes are making a fortune out of renewable energy. I’m puzzled why politicians are not a bit more pragmatic about all this.
On climate sceptics:
What I like about sceptics is that in good science you need critics that make you think: “Crumbs, have I made a mistake here?” If you don’t have that continuously, you really are up the creek.
On carbon trading:
I don’t know enough about carbon trading, but I suspect that it is basically a scam. The whole thing is not very sensible. We have this crazy idea that we are setting an example to the world. What we’re doing is trying to make money out of the world by selling them renewable gadgetry and green ideas. It might be worthy from the national interest, but it is moonshine if you think what the Chinese and Indians are doing [in terms of emissions].
On wind farms and nuclear power:
I’ve always said that adaptation is the most serious thing we can do. Are our sea defences adequate? Can we prevent London from flooding? This is where we should be spending our billions. If wind turbines really worked, I wouldn’t object to them. To hell with the aesthetics, we might need them to save ourselves. But they don’t work – the Germans have admitted it. It’s like the [EU] Common Agricultural Policy which led to corruption and inefficiencies. A common energy policy across Europe is not a good idea. I’m in favour of nuclear for crowded places like Britain for the simple reason that it’s cheap, effective and exceedingly safe when you look at the record. We’ve had it for 50 years, but I can understand the left hating it because it was Thatcher’s greatest weapon against the miners because we were then getting 30% of our electricity from nuclear. We could build a nuclear power station in five years, but it’s the legal and planning stuff that makes it take 15 years. If governments were serious they would undo this legislation that holds it back.
In other words James Lovelock agrees with almost everything we sceptics believe. Yet still, in his most recent book The Vanishing Face of Gaia, he concludes that the damage caused by overpopulation, species decline and carbon emissions is already so great that modern civilisation is finished. Before the end of this century, he argues, rising sea levels and overheating will have rendered whole swathes of our planet uninhabitable and such few survivors as there are will have to make do as best they can.
This is more than just cognitive dissonance. This is borderline lunacy.