of the planet, there is no limit to their authority - Josie Appleton
When David Icke claimed that the world is ruled by a race of reptilian humanoids in disguise, including George Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson and Elliot Gould, we all laughed.
Er ... which is which, I wonder?
If a bunch of lunatic scientists joined forces with self-seeking politicians to persuade us that the earth was under threat of imminent alien invasion by little green men from Mars, we'd probably laugh at them too. We probably wouldn't bother to form a United Nations committee to report on the threat.
Well, so far it seems we would. We'd just lie back, think of England and let them get on with it. But there are signs, just the teeniest hints, that the worm is finally turning.
Four days ago The Independent carried the following article by Dominic Lawson …
"Al Gore now has the satisfaction of seeing his climate change manifesto An Inconvenient Truth elected best documentary film by the American Academy of Motion Pictures in that peculiarly self-regarding ballot known as "the Oscars". As Gore beatifically absorbed the standing ovation from all those who had cruised via private jet and stretch-limo to the ceremony in Los Angeles, he could also smile in the knowledge of another piece of good news: the British Government had agreed to send An Inconvenient Truth to every secondary school in the country.
Announcing this unexpected bit of promotion, the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, declared: "I was struck by the visual evidence the film provides, making it clear that the changing climate is already having an impact on our world today, from Mt Kilimanjaro to the Himalayan mountains."
I shall be fascinated to learn what accolades Mr Miliband will bestow on another film about climate change, which is to be shown on Channel 4 next Thursday. This one is different, very different. "The Great Global Warming Swindle" claims to be nothing less than: "The morality tale of the decade." The film's director is Martin Durkin. That name might mean nothing to you, but among many British environmentalists it is more hated than that of any multinational oil company chairman.
In 1997, Channel 4 broadcast an earlier film of Durkin's - "Against Nature". This was a three-hour long polemic which tore into organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for the way in which they sought to deny the Third World the benefits of industrialisation which have given us lives of hygiene and plenty.
Durkin examined the Green campaigns against hydroelectric dams which would have brought clean water to parts of the subcontinent ravaged by water-borne disease, but which were opposed as "damaging to local biodiversity" - the same sort of argument, in fact, which caused countless millions of African children to die of malaria unnecessarily because the Green lobby successfully blocked the use of DDT.
Immediately after it was broadcast there was a concerted howl of rage from the eco-warriors interviewed by Durkin. Channel 4 felt obliged to broadcast an apology, confessing that some interviewees had been misled as to the ultimate content of the programme. Still, as Simon Hoggart wrote at the time: "The Greens have pulled the same dishonest stunts many, many times. It will do them tremendous good to get a taste of their own medicine."
A similar theme pervades The Great Global Warming Swindle. We are taken to those vast tracts of Africa where there is no electricity, and see families huddled round a fire in their mud hut. Then we are told that "five million children under five die every year as a result of respiratory diseases from indoor smoke". Remember that, the next time you read about the ecological purity of heating derived from "biomass". Next we are taken to some godforsaken health centre in the Kenyan hinterland, struggling to get by with electricity from a dilapidated but undeniably politically correct solar panel. It just about manages to keep alive the fridge with the medicine inside.
Despite such scenes, Durkin's latest effort is not a manipulative tear-jerker - there's none of Gore's politically practised treacliness ("Our children will say: what were our parents thinkin' about?"). Most of the advocacy is handed across to a series of eminent scientists, a number of whom have been involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They all believe that man's responsibility for the slight warming (of 0.6C) over the past century is much less than the "consensus" view - and ridicule the more alarmist predictions of future "man-made" climate change.
One, Professor Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, fulminates that "consensus is the stuff of politics, not of science" and says that it wasn't until he threatened legal action that the IPCC reluctantly removed his name from an assessment with which he profoundly disagreed: "That's how they make it seem that all the top scientists are agreed. It's not true."
At this point you will probably want to know: if these people claim that man isn't responsible for such global warming as has undoubtedly occurred in the past 30 years, then who or what is? The brief answer is: the Sun. Durkin gives most airtime to the theory recently advanced by Doctors Friis-Christensen and Svensmark of the Danish Meteorological Institute. It goes (I think) like this: C02 is a very small element among greenhouse gases; far and away the most significant element is water vapour - which forms clouds. When the sun is very active it emits more intense bursts of cosmic rays which, inter alia, have the effect of dissipating clouds on Earth, and therefore increasing temperatures.
On its own, this is just a theory - and not an entirely new one, but Friis-Christensen and Svensmark have accompanied it with a very detailed multi-era superimposition of global temperatures against solar activity (measured by sunspots). The correlation turns out to be striking, to put it mildly. As I said, the idea itself is not breathtakingly new: a long-dead British astronomer, E W Maunder, noted that the coldest part of the "Little Ice Age" (1645 to 1715) coincided with a period of very few detectable solar eruptions - now gratifyingly referred to in the textbooks as "the Maunder Minimum".
Even if you don't buy that, you should definitely watch the programme, if only to see the head of the International Arctic Research Centre, Syun-Ichi Akasofu, describe how "the Arctic has always been expanding and contracting ... the press come here all the time and ask us: will you say something about the Greenhouse disaster? And I say: there is none."
Then Dr Akasofu emits a tiny laugh - the laugh of a true scientist at the idiocy and hysteria of the world's media and politicians."
And two days ago in the Daily Mail we found this by Julie Wheldon …
"Greenhouse effect is a myth, say scientists
Research said to prove that greenhouse gases cause climate change has been condemned as a sham by scientists. A United Nations report earlier this year said humans are very likely to be to blame for global warming and there is "virtually no doubt" it is linked to man's use of fossil fuels. But other climate experts say there is little scientific evidence to support the theory.
In fact global warming could be caused by increased solar activity such as a massive eruption. Their argument will be outlined on Channel 4 this Thursday in a programme called The Great Global Warming Swindle raising major questions about some of the evidence used for global warming.
Ice core samples from Antarctica have been used as proof of how warming over the centuries has been accompanied by raised CO2 levels. But Professor Ian Clark, an expert in palaeoclimatology from the University of Ottawa, claims that warmer periods of the Earth's history came around 800 years before rises in carbon dioxide levels. The programme also highlights how, after the Second World War, there was a huge surge in carbon dioxide emissions, yet global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940.
The UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was published in February. At the time it was promoted as being backed by more than 2,000 of the world's leading scientists. But Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said it was a "sham" given that this list included the names of scientists who disagreed with its findings. Professor Reiter, an expert in malaria, said his name was removed from an assessment only when he threatened legal action against the panel. "That is how they make it seem that all the top scientists are agreed," he said. "It's not true."
Gary Calder, a former editor of New Scientist, claims clouds and solar activity are the real reason behind climate change. "The government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King is supposed to be the representative of all that is good in British science, so it is disturbing he and the government are ignoring a raft of evidence against the greenhouse effect being the main driver against climate change," he said.
Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said climate change is too complicated to be caused by just one factor, whether CO2 or clouds. He said: "The system is too complex to say exactly what the effect of cutting back on CO2 production would be or indeed of continuing to produce CO2. "It is ridiculous to see politicians arguing over whether they will allow the global temperature to rise by 2c or 3c."
The documentary is likely to spark fierce criticism from the scientific establishment. A spokesman for the Royal Society said yesterday: "We are not saying carbon dioxide emissions are the only factor in climate change and it is very important that debate keeps going. But, based on the situation at the moment, we have to do something about CO2 emissions."
That's rather like Tony Bliar bleating "We have to tackle congestion. Doing nothing is not an option", which is Bliar-speak for "I'm going to do whatever I want and it doesn't matter what you say".
We'd be the last to claim that the climate hasn't changed. We may be old and grumpy, but we're not stupid - in fact, there's a view that we wouldn't be so grumpy if we weren't, in fact, intelligent enough to see straight through much of the tree-hugging PC nonsense that passes for political thought these days.
Obviously the climate has changed, and is changing. But it's always done so. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is now. 30,000 years ago there was no Arctic ice-cap. 30 years ago we were being threatened with the total death of all marine life, the diversion of the Gulf Stream bringing an Arctic climate to the British Isles, and the deaths of millions as global temperatures plummeted and crops failed. It was all our fault, of course - but not the fault of the good scientists and politicians who issued the warning. They were the good guys. Vote for them, and give them shedloads of money.
A mere thirty years later that's all forgotten. It's amazing, isn't it, that we remember the Holocaust, we remember our dead in two World Wars, we remember Hiroshima, Viet Nam seems like yesterday, but the cold-death of the planet has conveniently slipped our minds? Today, it's heat and ice melting and seas rising and it's still all our fault - but not the fault of the good scientists and politicians who issue the warnings. They are the good guys. Vote for them, and give them shedloads of money. And just to remind ourselves what we're up against, and who's doing it, there's this by Josie Appleton from spiked ….
"Red Ken's green tyranny
A 50-Year Plan of petty rules: the London mayor's climate change proposals show you can justify anything in the name of 'saving the planet'.
The 'climate change manifesto' is one of the few bold political statements on the public landscape today. London mayor Ken Livingstone has now added to the genre with his 'climate change action plan', a grandiose piece of political pomposity that future generations will find it hard to beat.
The climate change manifesto goes something like this (delete where necessary): a politician/writer/environmentalist decides on a target for how much he/she thinks a particular city/country/continent needs to cut its carbon emissions. Then they consider various options, and put together their favoured portfolio for how this figure can be reached. Once published, their report is all but chiselled in tablets of holy rock. They have done the figures, and the figures add up: now we must all obey.
Livingstone's target is a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2025. Around half of this will be achieved by telling Londoners how to live, and around half by telling UK and European governments which laws to pass.
There will be a 'major marketing campaign' to inform Londoners of the changes they can make to cut their emissions, from turning off appliances to installing renewable energy sources in their homes. A pilot Green Homes 'concierge service' will carry out energy audits of people's homes, and help them manage the transition to greener ways of living.
Livingstone sees no barriers to his effort to get Londoners to reduce their collective carbon footprint. He tells us which method of transport to use, steering us away from the private motor car and plane, by 'promoting alternatives to the car' and 'educating Londoners and advocating alternatives to air travel'.
He tells us which model of car to drive: 'a gas-guzzling 4x4 vehicle' should be 'no more sociably acceptable' than to 'dump rubbish in the street', and so these drivers will pay £25 congestion charge, while low pollution cars drive free. He even tells us how to drive: 'The mayor will promote ecodriving (for example, smoother acceleration/braking and proper vehicle maintenance) by all car, freight, taxi and public transport drivers.'
In order for Livingstone's target to be met, he also requires 'a small number of key national regulatory and policy changes' from UK and EU governments. He elaborates: 'Action will be necessary at a national and European level to save the further 13.4million tonnes needed each year to constrain London's total carbon dioxide emissions to 600million tonnes between now and 2025.'
Government must apparently introduce a 'comprehensive system of carbon pricing', and bring through 'regulatory change to incentivise widespread rollout of decentralised energy [solar panels and wind turbines on houses]'. Meanwhile, EU and international authorities have responsibilities, including the 'earliest possible inclusion of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and levying duty on aviation fuel'.
In the name of tackling the climate emergency, it seems that anything can be justified. 'London must...', we read; 'it is imperative that we do find ways to meet these targets'; 'action will be necessary'. The normal mechanisms of politics - proposals, debates, arguments - are apparently suspended. Once an individual can pose as the mouthpiece for the needs of the planet, there is no limit to their authority.
Now, it may be the case that London should bring through a change in its energy economy. The capital has done so simply and effectively before, with the 1956 Clean Air Act, which set up 'smokeless' zones and persuaded Londoners and industry to shift from coal to smokeless forms of energy. Within 10 years, emissions fell by 74 per cent.
But any change in energy use should be the outcome of measured public debate about the different practical options - and one proviso should be minimal disruption to Londoners' lives and lifestyle choices. By contrast, Livingstone's plan for tackling climate change is a high-impact plan, with targeted fallout on everything from bus-drivers' acceleration to EU emissions legislation.
This is what happens when environmental management becomes a political and moral programme rather than a pragmatic response to a particular problem. The aim becomes to have a bigger and more far-reaching impact on people's lives, to design measures that we notice. After all, if Livingstone's action plan didn't affect us that much, it wouldn't be such a radical political statement, would it?
Livingstone's report reveals the true colours of the climate change manifesto. We see how the justification of environmental emergency gives a local mayor carte blanche to lord it over not just the capital, but Europe as a whole. Small wonder that one Livingstone aide described climate change as 'the defining issue' that lay at the heart of his political programme."
See what we mean? Vote for us, and give us shedloads of money, because you have no choice - if you don't obey, the planet will die. Bastards.
I think, on the whole, I prefer David Icke and the little green men. At least we all know he's a fruitcake and everything he says is b*ll*cks.
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