February 17, 2010

Power, profits and the grim cost of climate myths


By Andrew Alexander

The climate change doomsters are having a rough time, as their 'evidence' is probed and proves to include travellers' tales and casual speculation.

Recently came the illuminating case of the scientist who had to resign from the inquiry into the standards of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia. It transpired that he had given an interview in advance saying he was sure the CRU people had done no wrong. So much for the assumed impartiality of science!

The number who believe in the fashionable religion of man-made climate change diminishes steadily, according to opinion polls.

The proportion of sceptics would no doubt be larger but for the daunting question which inevitably pops up: can we seriously believe that those who run our affairs are in thrall to a myth?

And not just any old myth, but one with huge and still-rising costs, threatening power shortages as power stations are closed and our landscape is desecrated by wind turbine - can it really be so?

Yes, why not? Myths are normal in history and play a major role in deciding the fate of nations.

Iraq's WMD turned out to be a fable - and just look at what that led to. On a still larger scale, Christianity has ruled in the Western world for 2,000 years. Whether you are a believer or not, few will deny that the papacy's claim to sole access to God was preposterous and offensive. Yet untold numbers fought and died for that fantasy.

While on the subject of wars, Americans largely believed their leaders who said that if they lost in Vietnam, as they did, all of South-East Asia would turn Communist, which it never did. It is easy to go on and on about the legends of our time: big myths, small myths, local myths and, of course, political myths. Jim Callaghan never said 'Crisis, what crisis?' Norman Tebbit never said to the unemployed: 'On yer bike.'

The power and persistence of myths is often explained by something as simple and old fashioned as financial rackets. You don't need to spend a lifetime studying public affairs to get a nose for them.

Who stands to benefit from a particular legend doing the rounds of parliament, party propaganda and media? In the climate catastrophe business, we can sniff out numerous parties who succumb to the lure of money, fame, departmental grants and academic promotion.

And if politicians suspect that some new cause might garner votes - well, need I say more?
Business has eagerly latched on, promoting new vehicles, the chance to sell wind turbines, to make and sell the insulation without which you, the citizen, may have a carbon footprint which your children are taught is the mark of an irresponsible citizen.

Business can have a good time in wars, too. We may recall the huge profits made by the defence industries when the U.S. fought in Vietnam; and they are not doing too badly today, either.

President Eisenhower warned in vain when leaving office about the 'military-industrial complex' which was driving foreign policy. It was one of the greatest of all rackets.

The power and the cost of myths can be grim. But that is not unusual, says the natural sceptic - which is what scientists should be, but all too often are not.


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