Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Climate change strategy meeting

Professor Bjorn Lomborg, a professor of statistics and a former Greenpeace member, writes in his book "The Sceptical Environmentalist" of the "litany" of received ideas about the environment. These are ideas which are now politically-correct and beyond debate. Global warming is one of them.

Because the belief is quasi-religious, at least in its intensity, people don't catch themselves using it in contradictory ways. They sub-consciously edit evidence, noting anything that suggests global warming and ignoring anything that contradicts it.

Most data used by the environmental movement is simply taken from too short a period. Often the start and end points have been selected to support a particular view. Lomberg's book contains several interesting graphs which show all known historical data, with the misleading section selected by environmentalists highlighted. Some people in the movement, no doubt with honourable intent, are deliberately presenting propaganda as science.

Nobody knows whether the "hole in the ozone layer" is new, or whether it has always been there. The variations detected since we noticed it may well be natural.

Chester (then Deva) was one of the great wine-exporting ports of the Roman Empire. Long before the Industrial Revolution, the North of England was warm enough to grow wine. On the other hand, we have historical records of weather so cold in England that "ice fairs" were held on the Thames. Why do we now believe that the weather of modern times is "normal" and any climate change must be Nature's punishment for our wickedness?

If we take a really long-term perspective, we are actually in the middle of an Ice Age. The whole of human civilisation has risen (and may well fall) during what is technically an "interglacial interval".

Global warming is a theory, and not a very good one. Of course we must monitor climate changes and consider their implications. Of course we should use non-renewable resources carefully to make sure they last until there are viable alternatives. I am puritanical enough to object to waste in principle, without needed an all-embracing ideology to legitimise my view. However, there was human society before refined oil and deo volenti there will be human society after it. There is no reason to suppose (still less to advocate) that the latter should resemble the former.

The environmental movement (and I speak as one with a monthly standing order to FoE) draws attention to important issues but it often overstates its case. Many activists are single issue fanatics. Others are Luddite technophobes, Wordsworthian romantics or reborn Puritans. Some advocate reducing the population of the USA by 85% to make its economy ecologically "sustainable", for example. Their dreams of a simpler, more "natural", society can only be achieved by the forceful exercise of absolute power. Very few of us will choose to give up the technologies which have extended our lives and made them richer.

I don't think most environmentalists are fascists. However, they do provide power-hungry politicians with lots of "right on" excuses for state interference in everyday life. That's why the politicians like to say "we are all environmentalists now". That's why we cannot accept the environmental "litany" without debate.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Climate change strategy meeting

1 comment:

Bag said...

Funny that. Only a month ago I was talked into the same conclusion by an academic from a local educational establishment. The guy dealt in facts and we had an interesting discussion which I put on my own blog. Just after my discussion that I read 'State of Fear' by Crichon. Not a very good story but an interesting read.
I, like you, am not convinced that it is us that's causing it. Helping maybe, and there are things we can do but we can't cure it.