11 July 2010
Two Books For All Environmentalists
I have just finished the second of two books that are must-reads for those interested in our planet. They are Nigel Lawson's "An appeal to reason - a cool look at global warming" and Bjørn Lomborg’s “Cool it – the skeptical environmentalist’s guide to global warming”, both of which are very much in the skeptical to anti-climate change camp. It is important that you read all sides of an argument to be sure that there is nothing that you have missed out nor that you simply are self-justifying your position by selective reading of information and data, so there's something healthy about reading such diatribes.
If you don't have the fibre to read both, then Nigel Lawson's book is shorter, tauter and much better written. Bjørn Lomborg’s book does not match the hype, blurbs and comments on the book; it was a really slow and boring read and I almost gave up as it had no real forward motion to its argumentation, ranking as one of those smarmy, smartass sort of books that are basically dull - a bit like your classic Booker Prize winning book that you can really do without reading, as it makes you feel intellectually inadequate as you just don't get why it is meant to be a good book in the first place.
Both books are unconvincing, and wrong, in their attempts to refute the science of climate change or global warming; both basically misinterpret weather for climate, using the short term vagaries of weather to try and undermine the longer term patterns of climate. Then, they simply state a truism for the rest of their books, being that people must make a socio-political and economic decision on how to address the issues that may arise from global warming and climate change. Well, that's clever, but not worth the fancy intellectual credibility that they have been afforded.
For me, there does need to be a greater collaboration between scientists and people on these issues and a deeper explanation of the science and potential issues arising from climate change, together certainly with a whole lot more openness. The two camps slugging out each side of the global warming debate need to be ignored and the conservatively-minded, prudent and slightly humdrum people like me, who occupy that big bulge in the middle ground of socio-economic thinking, should be allowed to come to their own conclusions on the priorities of each country's socio-economic development over the short-, medium- and longer terms. Leaving it to the intellectuals on both sides will simply result in a huge muddle like everything our lords and masters ever touch - money wasted on grand schemes that spend our money on their individual desires to be written into the history books. A nervous shiver runs down my spine every time I hear politicians dreaming of how much money they can spend and commit for climate change projects, potentially one of the biggest attempts to transfer current and future wealth from the pockets of ordinary people in the developed world to infrastructure projects and to provide aide to other countries.
Let an honest debate begin, with honest science and sensible criteria rather than the garbage that has been, and continues to be, spouted by the media and the political oligarchy. We do have a little time, so let's have some quiet, calm thinking time as the sums and impacts of addressing climate change are life changing for the economies of the world, so must not be imposed by ukase.
And please stop damning all people all the time, as an ennui has set in about environmentalism, especially climate change, as we - the people - are sick of being stigmatised and blamed for leading lives that are better for us, yet are told that we are simultaneously destroying the planet; it's become like a collective guilt complex that ignores the great heap of good and goodness that ordinary people do every day for the planet, for themselves and for others.
[By the way, I find it highly ironic that I sound like the smartass fool in this blog post, having accused Bjørn Lomborg of the same about his book "Cool It..."]