I read a funny little article in my paper on Saturday by a witty, liberal, sweet columnist called Simon Hoggart. Here’s what he said:
As a climate change agnostic – and I suspect most of us are, especially now, and more especially after the Guardian series this week – I’ve been bothered by two aspects of the argument. The first is the religious overtone. Humankind has always wanted to blame its own behaviour for natural events, whether Noah’s flood, plagues of frogs, or volcanos which demonstrate that the gods are angry.
Three years ago a British bishop announced that gay marriage had caused our floods. I’ve often wondered whether global warming is another example of this, an irrational belief designed for a rationalist world.
In hs first paragraph Hoggart is referring of course to the Climategate ‘scandal’ concerning the British scientists who falsified data and deleted emails to protect their dubious views on global warming. Thus, the ‘greatest scientific fraud in this history of mankind has been exposed!
Except, of course, if you read enough articles, it’s clear that nothing of the kind occurred. A group of scientists at the University of East Anglia reacted to what they thought were idiotic attempts to muck up their working day with childlike rebellious gusto; but frankly, if someone used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to MY emails I would be similiarly enraged. (No scientific papers were censored; no scientific data, so far as I know, was wilfully falsified.)
But the damage is done; the mud sticks; and now liberal commentators like Hoggarts are ‘agnostic’ about climate change.
This isn’t an isolated opinion; another recent press report says that many Tory MPs in the UK are also ‘sceptical’ about climate change.
And if you want to go deeper into the science, here’s an interesting article setting out the case for and against climate change as an actual phenomenon.
Here’s my own particular take on the subject: Simon Hoggart walks with evil.
I haven’t, I should stress, ever met the man (though I once almost bumped in to him at a BBC Radio party); but I know, from his columns, that he’s a sweet loveable cove who is devoted to his family, has a delightful sense of humour, and often talks a good deal of sense.
So I’m not saying he IS evil. I’m sure he’s a really nice man! Nor am I crazed enough to believe that anyone who disagrees with me is wicked – far from it. I’m wrong far more often than my right; I love my opinions because they are my own, but I would never make a claim to be infallible.
But what is evil here is the wilful telling of lies. There are some who argue on the topic of climate change in a reasoned and scientific fashion, and whose views don’t exactly and in every respect tally with the consensus/mainstream. And that’s normal. But anyone who argues that there’s no such thing as global pollution is clearly talking nonsense. And anyone who argues that global pollution has and can have no effect on the biosphere is totally straining credulity.
And anyone who then goes on to argue that there is a global conspiracy of scientists to invent a phenomenon that does not exist is on a moral par with those that argue that 9/11 was caused by a global conspiracy of Jews. It’s just off the scale lunacy; but it’s out there, as an opinion, and an undercurrent. It’s the fuel of the anti global warming campaign. And it’s an opinion that denies and repudiates the notion that science has any authority in this – and by extension in any – sphere.
This is evil. Lies are evil. Sophistry is evil. Saying something is so when you know it is not so is evil. And pandering to the myth – by which I mean ******* falsehoold - that global warming is a lie cooked up by evil scientists is evil. Because that ludicrous opinion is clearly not a random lie; it’s a lie that suits the interests of the powerful interest groups I ranted at in the Tuesday blog on the BBGAE
A global conspiracy of scientists? Get real, they’re not that smart. A global conspiracy of the rich elite whose privilege depends on the football pitch sloping in their favour? Yeah, well, it’s happened before, it’ll happen again, and it’s a fair bet it’s happening now.
And that’s why so many scientists are jittery and angry and – at times – irrational. Not in their work, so far as I know, but certainly in their emails. (See below.) Because they GET it – this isn’t the usual process of scientific debate. It’s a war.
It’s the war between aspiring-to-the-truth and downright lies; a battle , as I say, between Good and Evil. And Hoggart, bless him, doesn’t get it at all.
There’s a saying that it is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph.
And THAT’S what Hoggart is doing – he’s doing nothing, and he should stop it forthwith.
He calls himself a ‘climate change agnostic’. But that’s like saying you’re an electromagnetism agnostic; it’s a nonsensical thing to say!
The fact is, I don’t really understand the science that underlies the scientific consensus that global warming is taking place at a dangerous level, as a consequence of human pollution. If I spent a couple of months reading up on it, I’d have a pretty good knowledge of the issues; but as a non-scientist, there would still be major gaps in my understanding. So on this matter, as on so many other matters (hel-lo? how does my television work?) I have to take it on faith that scientists know what they’re talking about.
I don’t understand general relativity either – not really, not in detailed mathematical detail. I also don’t entirely grasp quantum mechanics, though for a layperson, my reading in this area is fairly extensive. But I do understand scientific method, and the nature of scientific theories. And I know that for a ‘consensus’ to exist, a lot of very smart scientists must be very sure of their ground. That doesn’t mean global warming is a FACT, or is 100% certain. It’s a theory. The theory may be superseded by a better theory. Or the Earth’s biosphere may behave in ways that scientists don’t expect and can’t predict. It may be that the warming of the Earth will cause cryogenically frozen aliens in the Earth’s crust to wake up and conquer us – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. But some things are more likely than others.
If there is a scientific consensus on this matter, and there is, we have to heed it. We can’t expect to understand it – not to the degree of sophisticated understanding that world authorities in the field possess – but we have to believe that a huge number of people who know what they are talking about, using a system of peer review that involves a constant intellectual challenging of the theories and the data, are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that global warming is happening and is a threat to all of us. And the expertise of these experts, and the integrity of their time-hallowed scientific approach, has to be respected.
The trouble is, climate change science isn’t as scarily hard as quantum physics; so there are plenty of bungling amateurs out there who think they know better. They don’t! They are just bungling amateurs. (Former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson is one such bungler – my God, this man used to run our ECONOMY.)
So that’s why I strongly take exception to Hoggart’s casually uttered remarks. He’s the ultimate arts graduate, who is used to being able to judge the merits of an argument on the basis of common sense, and by employing the guiding principle of ‘If X argues one thing strongly, and Y argues the opposite equally strongly, then the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.’
But the truth is NOT somewhere in the middle. The truth is the truth, and it has to found, and searched for; but in this debate, there are people (scientists) who wants to find the truth and other people (rightly and rudely called the climate change ‘deniers’ ) who claim to know The Truth regardless of the scientific consensus. These ‘deniers’ are Flat Earthers, they are Creationists; they should not be humoured or indulged. They may – like Hoggart – be nice people, but they fellow travel with Evil.
Lies are Evil; so shame on you Simon for coming up with such lie-indulging claptrap.
Remember: like all scientific theories, the ‘climate change hypothesis’ is falsifiable. And it is also, because it’s a theory about a system full of variables (the biosphere) possible that this theory is correct in theory, but its predictions are totally wrong.
Or it could be the world goes to hell; and is that a risk you would be willing to take? I wouldn’t; only fools would ignore such a clear and present threat to the wellbeing of our planet, and of our children.
Evil. There’s a lot of it about. It’s like dog shit; it doesn’t matter how nice you are, you can still tread in it.
So my advice is: if you DO tread in dog shit, don’t believe the people who assure you – passionately and plausibly – that shit does not smell.
’Cause it does.
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