Climate change: the sceptics’ tough sell

April 10, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Climate Change | 3 Comments
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If you woke up this morning, stepped out into unseasonably cold weather and thought ‘aha! I always knew this global warming thing was a hoax!’, well, today’s your lucky day: Melanie Phillips, who has quite the reputation for reporting fringe science as absolute truth (see the MMR scandal), brings us the latest round-up of ‘evidence’ against the existence of climate change.

Now, the science of climate change doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Nor, for that matter, does the hyper-emotional street brawl between environmentalists, sceptics, big business and government. I recognise there’s a broad consensus on climate change and I’ll vote for a party that offers sensible policies to reduce our contribution to it, but my passion for and participation in this well-meaning movement won’t extend too far beyond that. But what I find interesting about the politics of climate change is how lousy those sceptics on the right (and they’re overwhelmingly on the right) have been in finding a decent argument.

If there’s one thing people like Melanie are good at, it’s stoking outrage, spreading fear, stretching the smallest policy disagreement into an affront to moral decency. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about: feral, hash-happy teens are prowling our streets with a lust for blood, Islamomurderers hatch sinister plots to turn your church into a Mosque-cum-death-palace, godless liberal hippies plan sex education so our 9-year-olds can learn how to pout and pose and work a stipclub pole. To put it rather less charitably, they practice the politics of Chicken Little.

But when it comes to global warming, they just don’t seem able to pull the same stunt. Sure, they might quibble with the science, moan about ‘Climate Change Fascists‘ (how tasteful, by the way, to compare mass-murderers to mass recyclers) and whinge about how composting is just like being in a gulag, but all it really amounts to is the lazy-arsed whinging of obnoxious loudmouths who think they know better than everyone else. In short, they don’t give us anything to fear.

I think their general weakness on this subject can be summed up with the following question. Let’s just assume for a moment that we all wake up in 30 years to find that neither temperatures nor sea levels nor species extinctions have risen dramatically, that the problem’s been grossly exaggerated and all our recycling and energy conservation has been for naught.

Well, so what?

What harm will have been done to our country and our planet by implementing pro-environment policies? When we walk around our villages, towns and cities and see more widespread recycling, increased energy independence, greater use of renewable energy, cleaner air and more responsible, sustainable economic development, will we really hold our hands over our heads and cry “OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE WE DONE?!!” Yeah, I doubt it, too.

By failing to convince us about the disastrous consequences of tackling climate change, the sceptical right is fast slipping into irrelevancy. Which, if you’ll forgive the pun, should give the rest of us a slightly sunnier outlook



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  1. on the contrary, the battle has only just begun. whilst you’re right to point to the rather anti-climatic cries of hoax or conspiracy on the part of the climate-sceptic right and the associated limited scope for fear-mongering, you perhaps overlook the obvious. we are now entering the era of boring, nagging and persistent complaints of the ‘cost of action’, cos doing nothing must be cheaper than doing something right?

    sure, inaction can’t be sold as easily as tightening of immigration policies or tougher sentences for criminals, but its the economy, stupid. anything to protect us from european bureaucrats and their deadly creeping environmental legislation must be good; its like the new soviet threat or something. they probably believe marxists are behind it all.

    and god forbid some other country leads the way with green technology or green business a la the danes or germans with wind turbines. then it can be sold as some zero sum game, where tackling climate change may actually be attacked as a way to lose jobs overseas, undermine our international competitiveness and destroy our national culture of dirty capitalism.

    alas i think they have ammunition enough to see phillips et al. into retirement and beyond.

  2. […] change: a reader writes 13Apr08 Reacting to this piece. Not so much a dissent as a warning against […]

  3. we shoud save the planet earth

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