Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm sceptical about Global Warming Scepticism

I find myself in a difficult space. I am not a Global Warming sceptic, yet I find one of the writers and thinkers that I most admire is.

I've often thought the science did not seem completely cut and dried, but it also occured to me that funding from organisations with a vested interest in disproving global warming would far outweigh anything from the opposing viewpoint. Is it likely that manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbines could stump up more for research than the oil and motor industry? In that light, the sheer weight of evidence is what overcomes the sceptical view.

However, highly respected Australian broadcaster and writer, Clive James is a Global Warming sceptic.
I've just read his excellent book "A Point of View" - its made up of transcripts of radio monologues he gave for the BBC over several years, along with postscripts for each one revisiting and occasionally revising each piece.

A recurring theme is his sceptiscm of the anthropogenic global warming model. He frequently points out in his postcripts that every time he raised his sceptiscm in his broadcasts, there was resistance within the BBC to let him make the point. Fortunately, and James frequently credits his Producer, the right of free speech and the fact that the programme was called A Point of View, usually overruled the preferred, mainstream position.

A lot of the time, James is railing, not so much against the science of Global Warming, but more the unpleasant moves to try to silence any dissent. The lessons of history, particularly of those societies which have suppressed any dissenting voices, loom large in James's commentaries. He cites an unpleasant tendency to label those who question the prevailing view on Global Warming as "denialists".

James is no Tory, but it seems that age and experience lends him a perspective that is frequently missed by many left-wing commentators. Bullet-headed ideology will blame the evils of capitalism for bringing environmental ruin upon us all and prefer to leave the poor of the world without the decent standards of living that those of us in the corrupt and awful west enjoy.

I do join Clive James in refusing to join up to the view that the world has been ruined by the evil forces of Western capitalism. I'd say it is a fact that western capitalism and free trade has brought prosperity, freedom and health to more people than any planned economy has ever done. The evidence, and sadly the body count, largely points out that the more controlled the economy, and thus society, the more entrenched in poverty and oppression are the people stuck living in it.

Clive James has not turned me into a Global Warming sceptic, but he has provided a warning that we should always question the accepted wisdom - for the liberal democracies that western capitalism relies on, it is essential to have constructive and open debate.

Besides - as long as Fox News and the various lunatics campaigning for the Republican Presidential nomination tout the notion that Global Warming is a myth, then the smart money would say it certainly isn't.

In a very seperate vein, this month's drabble pays tribute to one of the great All BLacks and the imminent movie based on Edgar Rice Burrough's pulp classic Barsoom series.
Ladies and Gents, I present "Dan Carter of Mars":

The tackle had been brutal. Dan vaguely recalled the sensation of being carried off the pitch and laid out in the treatment room but then, everything went black.
He awoke on Mars.
He’d missed winning the World Cup through injury. Now he was on another planet. Maybe it just wasn’t his destiny.
He was picked up by green-skinned Tharks, who came to prize his strength and speed.
Later, they captured a beautiful, red-skinned Princess. Dan was determined to escape with her.
“You must kick this ball through their gates,” she explained.
“No worries, eh?” said Dan. His Destiny had arrived.

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