Stop climate chaos within the UK government

Jesus of Nazareth once said, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall…” If so, the next UK government is likely to be (at least led by) the Labour Party. OMG – the thought of it is almost enough to make me emigrate to Australia…

For those of you who are not following UK politics (i.e. about 99% of the Earth’s human population), I shall, in due course, explain what makes me say that our government is divided and therefore, even if it is not going to fall, is certainly going to be ineffective. For now, given the nature of this blog, you will not be surprised to learn that I intend to focus on the ways in which the UK’s current (coalition) government appears to be completely schizophrenic – in statements made regarding anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). Before getting into this subject, however, I should like first to deal with a couple of objections that may be raised as a result of this introduction:

1. Will not coalition governments always be somewhat schizophrenic? May be so, but, this has not stopped our coalition government making progress. Indeed, in the midst of an unprecedented global financial crisis, I think it has worked well. This remark will no doubt surprise many readers in the UK – especially those who have amnesia and have forgotten the mess into which the last Labour government got this country; and/or have been duped into thinking the Labour Party must have learned from its mistakes. Hopefully, this begins to address the second objection…

2. What would be so bad about the UK having a Labour government? Sadly, all I think Labour Party politicians have learned to do (as did the Conservatives) is to say whatever is most likely to get them elected. They are still just as beholden to vested interests (trade unions) as they ever were – just as the Conservatives are beholden to vested interests (big business). Sadly, although it would be better if vested interests did not control politicians, it has always been in the long-term best interests of this country to favour the interests of big business (rather than trade unions).

Again, this will probably surprise (if not anger) many readers in the UK (and elsewhere). However, although I have a great deal of sympathy with the views of people like Oliver Stone and John Pilger (who see Capitalism as the root of all evil in the World), if the 20th Century can teach us anything, it is one very simple thing: Marxism does not work. This is because Marxism = [Growthmania – Capitalism] …and you cannot blame politics for a problem that resides within the human heart, as in: “the love of money is the root of all evil”.

All of the above will hopefully explain why, apart from a brief mental aberration (between 1997 and 2003 – prompted by a certain Anthony Blair), I have always voted for the Conservative Party.

However, unless the Party kills off the libertarian and anti-scientific cancer that is currently growing within it, I am not sure that I will be able to vote for it in the future. Sadly, I think I will become one of the many that does not vote in elections. This is because our democracy is a complete sham. This is something else we can learn from the 20th Century: Without a form of proportional representation, the majority of voters (who do not vote for winning candidates) are disenfranchised by first-past-the-post electoral systems.

However, I digress. I was supposed to be explaining how our current coalition government is divided when it comes to policy on acknowledging and mitigating ACD – and why this matters.

I am very grateful to a faithful follower of this blog – one Lionel A Smith – for alerting me to the content of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions programme on 7 June 2013 and for sending me a link to a post on the SkepticalScience website that was prompted by this broadcast. This post begins as follows:

An extraordinary – and worrying – insight into the mind of Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment here in the UK, was provided during a June 7th edition of the political Q&A programme Any Questions… This week’s panel was made up of Peter Hain, Labour MP for Neath, Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, Owen Paterson, UK Secretary of State for the Environment and James Delingpole, blogger and well-known inhabitant of an alternate universe when it comes to climate science…

Having read this piece on SkepticalScience, I decided – as was suggested by one of the many commenters – to send a message to the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron via the Internet. I also sent the message to my MP (who has confirmed she has forwarded to the PM’s office asking for a response). My message was as follows:

Subject: The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP

I refer to Mr Patterson’s remarks in response to a question about climate change on BBC Radio Four’s Any Questions programme last week (the question posed approximately 29 minutes and 20 seconds into the broadcast).

Can the Prime Minister please explain how Mr Paterson can be Environment Minister and make so comprehensively flawed remarks as he did in response to this question?

Mr Paterson’s remarks are completely at odds with those of Edward Davey.

Given the recent attempts by Energy Minister Michael Fallon to question the credibility of Tim Yeo in the recent Energy Bill debate (at about 1345 hrs on 4 June [c.1405-06]), could the Prime Minister also offer any kind of reassurance that, in the future, the government will speak with one voice on the subject of anthropogenic climate disruption?

The message was subject to a 1000-character limit – hence the absence of any quotations. However, for the benefit of those wanting to understand the issue without having to follow all the links, here are the important bits, which demonstrate the extent to which the Coalition is currently being completely schizophrenic, intellectually incoherent, and – therefore – completely ineffective.

Paterson: “…the climate’s always been changing… Peter [Hain] mentioned the Arctic and I think in the Holocene the Arctic melted completely… we then had a little ice age, we had a middle age warming – the climate’s been going up and down – but the real question which I think everyone’s trying to address is – is this influenced by manmade activity in recent years and James [Delingpole] is actually correct… the temperature has not changed in the last seventeen years and what I think we’ve got to be careful of is that there is almost certainly… some influence by manmade activity but I think we’ve just got to be rational (audience laughter)… and make sure the measures that we take to counter it don’t actually cause more damage…”

Davey: “Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue… But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups who reject outright the fact that climate change is a result of human activity. Some who even deny the reality of climate change itself. This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing. This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking… or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness… By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care. This is a superficially seductive message, but it is absolutely wrong and really quite dangerous.”

Fallon: “I have read a report of a speech delivered by [Tim Yeo] during the recess, in which—I was somewhat puzzled to see this—he said about climate change that, ‘the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place’… [Tim Yeo interjects with an explanation of the context of this selective quotation, after which Fallon continues]… I am sure that those who support my hon. Friend will be grateful for that explanation. The quotation I have seems pretty clear to me, but it is for him to explain it. If he is not so sure any more, why should the rest of us be so sure?”

Net result: Climate change deniers 2, environmental realists 1 …and this is just the tip of the iceberg… The Energy Bill debate (from which the latter quotation is extracted) was littered with speeches and interjections by Conservative politicians who very are very clearly convinced that ACD is either a scientific hoax or a political conspiracy.

Given this level of inconsistency within the Coalition, the government only just defeated an amendment to this Bill (that would have required carbon reduction targets to be set now). It therefore must be hoped that – helped by the House of Lords – reality will dawn on enough of these anti-science MPs to get the Bill amended before it is passed into Law (it would only require about 15 MPs to vote for the amendment to get it inserted).

Why? Well as John Ashton, has said, no one who votes against carbon reduction targets can be considered to be taking the need to reduce carbon emissions seriously (see here). Sadly, by doing so, they are going against the advice of the vast majority of relevant experts in atmospheric physics and – given the stance of the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund – that of experts in energy policy and economics as well.


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Capitalism, Climate Science, Cognitive Dissonance, Denial, Economics, Environment, Financial Crisis, Fossil Fuels, Growthmania, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Stop climate chaos within the UK government

  1. Lionel A says:

    Now this is not entirely off topic for it should be brought to the attention of Paterson’s who ISTR was pushing fracking over wind energy Fracking Is Already Straining U.S. Water Supplies where at reply 4 Mike Roddy, as ever, makes a very salient point:

    As Joan noted, water consumption is a big issue, but so are toxic chemical additions to deep aquifers. We don’t know the precise consequences, but the news is certain to be bad.


    • Rick Altman says:

      For Lionel, “ISTR” could mean ‘it stands to reason’ or ‘I seem to recall’. In this case, I suspect it is the latter. Either way, thanks for the link. Personally, I think most of the problems with fracking experienced in the USA are down to poor execution and/or confusion of correlation with causation. However, that does not make fracking right or sensible; and I still think the pursuit of shale gas (rather than renewables) is “a form of collective hypnosis” (Michael Liebreich) and that it is a resource bubble that will burst much sooner than anyone expects.


  2. livinginabox says:

    It’s a great shame that no-one reminded the arrogant pipsqueak James Delingpole of his experience when Paul Nurse revealed him for what he is. As for Owen Paterson, he needs to get himself educated or be sacked.


  3. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, June 23, 2013 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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