King's Evangelical Divinity School

3 December 2009

Ten Features (8 bad, 2 good) of the Current AGW Debate

In the lead-up to the forthcoming Copenhagen summit, man-made climate change (also known as Anthropogenic Global Warming, or AGW ) is being even more ubiquitously reported in the media than usual (if that were possible), with a flurry of apocalyptic scare stories and grave pronouncements by government officials. Deliciously, the climate change ideologues have become more apoplectic of late, as Copenhagen looms and, one suspects, in the wake of the highly damaging so-called "Climategate" leaked emails scandal. Anyway, not wishing to be left out of the current media frenzy, here’s my ha’penny’s worth... Ten features (eight bad, two good) of the current AGW debate.

1. It is not proven
Many, perhaps most people accept the existence of ongoing climate change (it even happens on Mars!), but some well-known and respected scientists and millions of us remain unconvinced it is caused by Man. Even those scientists who agree AGW is taking place can’t agree on the data, with warming projected at anything between 1-7 degrees Celsius this century.

2. It is not transparent
“Climategate” has certainly proved that! Besmirching scientists who question AGW, mocking “climate change deniers”, rooting out of climate heretics, blocking the publication in peer-reviewed journals of articles questioning AGW etc etc. Greenpeace even refuses to debate with those who question AGW. Where’s the transparency there, then? Yet whatever the climate lobby would have you believe, Climategate has changed things for ever. And with a flurry of anti-AGW stories out right now, even more people will be willing to challenge the perceived wisdom. It’s a bit like when we began to emerge from the witchfinder hysteria.

3. It is ideologically driven
Druidism, geolatry, hard-left anti-establishmentism, anti-Capitalism, or simply chattering liberal elites seeking to control the pesky proles, the fact is too much of the AGW debate has been hijacked by ideologues. When, for example, solutions such as carbon capture are dismissed out of hand immediately, and instead we are told not to fly or drive, clearly there is too little pragmatism, too much ideology. For some, the whole AGW myth is to get us proletarians out of our cars and into buses (sandals even), leaving the liberal elites with the money to pay for "carbon offsetting", allowing them to salve their consciences and fly on half empty 'planes without the great unwashed.

4. It is a means of disguising other agendas
Whether ideology, higher taxes (ever wondered why governments love the whole green thing?), funding for scientific projects, helping to rid us of feelings of guilt for whatever reason (the list is endless), AGW offers a bandwagon for disguising all sorts of agendas.

5. It relies on alarmism, sensationalism, hysteria and scaremongering
Frankly, I’m sick of my kids having come home from school for years having been scared to death about the end of the world. And besides, it's beginning to have the opposite effect (school kids aren't stupid), leading to ever greater scepticism. You can fool some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time (or something like that). The emperor is naked!

6. It is costly
Yesterday Lord Stern, environmental ideologue extraordinaire and author of the Stern report, said it will cost us billions upon billions more than we (he) thought to control AGW (I bet Gordon Brown's rubbing his hands with glee, all that extra tax income to waste). Even then, Stern says, we only have a 50-50 chance of slowing AGW down beyond a 2C rise. Given the huge debt of the country and the current economic situation, he's not a very good salesman, is he? He'll have to pluck out of the air much better odds to make us feel even remotely happy about giving all our hard-earned cash for such a lost cause.

7. It is immoral.
These astronomical costs, together with how AGW distracts from other issues, makes this new morality in fact deeply immoral. Imagine those billions spent on combating poverty and hunger now! In short, we can throw resources at a problem which may not even be man-made, which might benefit future generations, or else divert those resources to helping real people alive today who definitely will benefit . I simply cannot understand why within Christendom this bandwagon has been jumped upon at the expense of other far more important issues. It is ironic, isn't it, how some liberal Protestants criticise more conservative believers for emphasising pie-in-the-sky, afterlife theology, saying we should be doing something for the here and now, AGW does precisely the same. Tragic.

8. It is hypocritical
I won’t be told by wealthy liberal elites to get out of my car or stop flying abroad when they constantly jet off to their Italian villas or this or that climate change conference. More seriously, it is pure environmental imperialism for the rich West to tell Third World countries how to live. As a good friend of mine never tires of telling me, only the liberal elites can afford to be liberal.

So is there anything good about the whole AGW agenda. Try as I may, I could only think of two positive aspects:

9. It helps us rely less on Middle East oil
I can’t think of another region, where volatility, religious fanaticism, authoritarianism and anti-Western sentiment abound, which I would prefer not to rely on for our future energy needs.

10. It makes us think about not being wasteful
Society is incredibly wasteful, and at least it has made us think about that. Pity the Church can’t focus on more of this – good stewardship and its positive outworking – than the great carbon swindle.

So there it is, for what it's worth. Pity Obama and David Cameron seem to have jumped on the bandwagon just as looks like breaking down by the side of the road. By the way, though I'm somewhat inclined to block comments by AGW ideologues, that would make me just like them. Shoot away...

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