The fear mongers of climate change

James Lovelock made his mark in developing the Gaia theory that the earth is a single organism. I never found that theory satisfactory. The earth, he thought, was a giant self-regulating whole, which adapts and responds to changes with all the forms of life that inhabit it. Perhaps I have over simplified Gaia theory, but to me if the theory is true then we need not worry about climate change.

Mr Lovelock and those that adhered to his views did not postulate as to how the self-regulation would extend to climate change so when he wrote about climate change in alarmist terms predicting massive changes before the end of this century most people took his views seriously. Mr Lovelock may be a good thinker but not all of his thoughts have been right, just perhaps fashionable. He now admits that he got his climate change predictions wrong. He thinks that he has been alarmist, but climate change is still happening, although not as quickly as he thought.

There are fashions in science and fashions in every branch of it.

In the medieval world bleeding – the taking of blood from a vessel of a sick patient, was thought by virtually everyone to be an essential and effective form of treatment. Modern medicine is much more about transfusing blood into a body to cure it, rather than by taking it away.

In the early part of the last century eugenics was a fashionable branch of science. It was the science of improving the bloodstock of humanity by selective breeding and sterilisation. Many eminent people of the day believed in it. It led to tens of thousands of people thought to be mentally retarded in Sweden being compulsorily sterilised. It led to Adolf Hitler developing his ideas about a master race, with all that entailed for humanity. Yet, from about 1900 onwards until about 1950 the eugenics idea was thought to be essential for the survival of humanity and people acted accordingly. It seems to have re-appeared in the form of genetic modification of life forms; we no longer need to cull animals or send people to the lunatic asylum; we can simply change their DNA.

When the theory of climate change first came forth many adherents to my mind exaggerated it and its effects. Al Gore, who has made a career and a lot of money out of explaining the theory of climate change, was one such person. Other scientists, such as James Lovelock made terrifying predictions of what would happen in the short term.

I have concluded that climate change caused by human activity is a problem. It is a long term problem. It will be unlikely to affect us significantly in my lifetime, but it will gradually and then with increasing harm, affect those who descend from the grandchildren of those born today. When I wrote the Energy Age, I tried to do so from a balanced view, explaining that climate change is a long term problem not a short term event. We see its effects not in an exceptionally hot summer or a dry winter in temperate climes but in drought in the horn of Africa and changes in precipitation patterns in Central Asia and the strength and frequency of monsoons. This may be small beer, but it is nevertheless beer and pretty big beer if you live in Dafur.

Predicting the future is always a difficult business and the applause is usually loudest when the predictions are made, not when people look back and say “gosh, he was right to say that then”; if anyone is to take any note of a prediction it must be earth shattering, tremendous and of great consequence. Predictions that are so stupendous have two reactions. Some people believe devoutly every word while others think that the words are complete nonsense. The truth is usually much more complicated and often much less attention grabbing.

Mr Lovelock and Mr Gore have made predictions that have been full of doom and gloom. They are raging fear mongers, that people adore while they ignore those who speak in more moderate terms, Fear is a whip stroke on the back of humanity to drive it on, as if we were pack horses, by fear and pain and more fear. If we are whipped many of us will not pull harder, but will refuse to pull at all. It is better to avoid frightening people; we are clever enough to be able to think of solutions to the greatest problem without having to be frightened into doing so.

The point is simple. We have to stop treating climate change as a religion or a fashion or  a fad but regard it as a fact although a very indistinct and uncertain fact. Climate change caused by humanity is happening; the earth is slowly warming. Eventually, maybe over many hundred years, that warming will contain the seeds of destruction of humanity. Be afraid for the future but remember your duty is to manage the future. We have the skills and abilities to stop that warming and thus we can save future generations, if we so chose. If, for some reason we find that climate change is not a threat and not happening then the worst we will have done is to live devouring fewer resources, left a bit for the next generations and left the place a lot cleaner than when we found it.

5 Responses

  1. The problem with climate change, is that we have not yet aware of the problems we are creating the next generations. As a wise man and told the world not inherited from our fathers, just the borrowed from our children. It is the hour, leading companies and citizens to help to change the behavior of us all.

    • There is nothing wrong with changing your beahvior. If you want to eat tofu and drive an electric car, go ahead knock yourself out. Just leave me and my beautiful SUV alone.


  2. Quote:
    “If, for some reason we find that climate change is not a threat and not happening then the worst we will have done is to live devouring fewer resources, left a bit for the next generations and left the place a lot cleaner than when we found it.”

    Unfortunately, thats not true.

    The UK has abundant coal, shale gas, some oil and 60Million people.

    That number of people cannot survive on solar and wind power and by trying to do so we will impoverish ourselves and our children.

    We need transport, food, heating. We need to earn our income and not just borrow and we need to use (at least) the shale gas.

    If we do not use the resources we have because of an unfounded fear of man made climate change the UK will become poorer and hungrier. That will mean 3rd world type health service, few public services, poor schools. Currently, these social services are paid for by borrowing not earning. Insistence on solar and wind power will mke that situation worse and will render us uncompetitive and unable even to sell what we now make.

    This will make it even more difficult to borrow.

    Meanwhile China, India, Brazil will use their coal, gas and ethanol to build a better society, hopefully nuclear powered, but also making proper use of solar and wind. But in any case more affluent.

    Without adequate supplies of energy in the next 20 years, the UK will descend to a poor, indebted and overcrowded island… all because of a ridiculous fear of what might happen in 100 years.

    So, far from leaving our children a cleaner island, reliance on solar/wind power is much more likely to make this island poverty ridden, sickly, badly educated and overcrowded.

    Our feeble, but expensive, measures to combat the myth of manmade climate change will not make one iota of difference to the air we, or our children, breathe.

    PS. So Lovelock is now a denier too. At least he had the common sense to agree with the facts, albeit belatedly”

    • No I don’t think he is a denier, he is still a climate alarmist. And as time passes he will become less and less alarmist. Many people like myself were at one time climate alarmists, it took awhile to gradualy transit to the skeptic side. But he is an old school scientist, and when the data does not support a theory he changes his opinion. Many modern scientists adjust the data to make it fit the theory, especally if it means more research money. He’s not one of them.

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