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« Heartfelt but not Heartland - Josh 148 | Main | Conservative Home against wind subsidies »
Thursday
Feb162012

Watermelons

I try to keep anger out of my writing as much as possible - my USP is slightly detached, slightly amused, try to be civil. (That said, it's hard not to slip into angry mode occasionally, and there are still some moments of fury in the draft of the new book that may or may not make the final cut.)

James Delingpole isn't like me. His USP is angry; furious; appalled, disgusted, but he does it in such a funny way that you really have to be very green not to be amused by  his way with words.

In his new book, Watermelons, he asks us to:

Imagine that organic food, sustainability, biofuels and the WWF were far more harmful to the world and its inhabitants than GM food, industry, oil and Exxon Mobil...

This is a provocative argument, to the extent that it contradicts much received wisdom, but there is surely a strong case to be made that Delingpole is not mistaken. (More on this later today).

The watermelons hypothesis is not without its detractors, even on the sceptic side of the global warming debate - Ben Pile in particular has pointed to Margaret Thatcher's involvement in the early days of the global warming scare as falsifying the idea, and also observes that the debate does not divide on left-right lines. I see his point, but I must say that my observations of environmentalists suggests that left-wing ideology is an important factor in many greens' thinking.

Watermelons will give a you a feel for some of this and will also take you on a rip-roaring ride through Climategate in Delingpole's inimitable style. Oh yes, and you'll have fun on the way.

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Reader Comments (72)

USP? I'd have used MO, but perhaps you don't mean 'unique selling point'. :-)

Feb 16, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I have to say that it’s unfortunate that the organic food movement is bound up with green politics. I know local people who put a huge effort into sustainable horticulture and farming, and some of the results are amazing. We are lucky enough to have a proper butcher close by, and his produce is
in an utterly different class to the intensively-reared supermarket stuff.

I like JD, though, and his book could well end up on my shelf next to yours...

Feb 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Third of the way through on my kindle. Enjoying it. Even as an ex Guardian reader, and son of two war-time (WWII) socialists.

You know he gets under "their" skin and for that alone I enjoy it.

Ridicule does work. And always has done.

Feb 16, 2012 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

BH - Ben Pile in particular has pointed to Margaret Thatcher's involvement in the early days of the global warming scare as falsifying the idea, and also observes that the debate does not divide on left-right lines.

We can find others than Thatcher on the right, embracing environmentalism. My problem with the watermelon thesis is that it presupposes the categories 'right and left'. Environmentalists will claim to reject the categories. Ultimately, I believe the redundancy of these categories explains environmentalism: people have lost faith, the traditions and philosophies those directions represent have crumbled. Authority is legitimised differently in 'post-democratic' society...

I like James Delingpole as an individual, and as a writer I enjoy his prose. We have different views, but I do not wish to pick fights with him about them. The article of mine linked to above was addressed to the watermelon idea in general, not to James' book. Environmentalism is many things, and I think the one we all most object to is its resemblance to authoritarian, monolithic, dehumanising tyrannies, whether the current beast came from stage left, stage right, or always was there.

Feb 16, 2012 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

I have no problem with the book... A writer uses a title to grab attention..

How can I as I'm 'realclimategate' have a problem with a title to grab attention.
Yet, I'm thinking of changing it as it alienates some of the poplpe I would like to talk to..

My concern is to see it thrown around as just another insult, like alarmists or deniers.. and I have seen it used that way.

long discussion about it here:
http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/9/28/dellers-on-reason.html?currentPage=3#comments

extract from Tamsin:


Shub, I am an example of a consensusist who has stopped using denier directly because of Barry, Bish and this forum.

Name calling is ever so counterproductive. Today I was defending you lot to (particle physics) friends, yesterday to climate/stats friends, saying that denier offends and there is a spectrum of opinions anyway.

Scientists usually end up saying denier because they only really hear about those denying CO2 is a GHG and that the earth is warming, and they don't like skeptic (because they are themselves skeptical) and other terms haven't stuck. Some soften it with "denialist". They really don't intend it to echo Holocaust denier I don't think. They think of it more as equivalent to creationism.

But this is only because of an important reason...

Most. Scientists. Don't. Know. You. Exist.

Really! They are not aware that a significant part of people trying to prod science for weak spots actually are fine with AGW but not sure of magnitude/timing/impacts/policy. When I explain this they say "oh, that sounds perfectably reasonable!". After all we argue about the first two or three in conferences and the literature ourselves! They agree Mann analysis was wrong, and would agree on lots of other things like "All models are wrong" ("but some are useful" :) )

So give them a chance. Barry has won me over to you with respect, goodwill, and true listening. Please follow his example if you want to engage with climate scientists. Bish's too.

I am a modeller. My personal hygiene is not too questionable and I'm proud to be called one :) But not watermelon."
------

And yes I've ordered it now.

Feb 16, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

In the US there is a complex mix of Republicans, supposedly "right", who are on-board with global warming, dressed up as environmental protection, with the implication, as with all greens, that if you don't agree with the AGW paradigm, you are somehow "anti-environment". The web site Republicans for Environmental Protection for example, (http://www.rep.org/index.html) gives Katherine Hayhoe a slot, whereas she has been ridiculed by such as Marc Morano.

They also offer a download from the euphemistically named, Skeptical Science: "The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism" Courtesy of SkepticalScience.com. Several EPA Administrators have been Republican, including the first, Bill Ruckelshaus of DDT fame.

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

WHITHER BOUND?

The current economic crisis signals the weakness of ageing populations
- not exhaustion of resources and physical limits of the planet.

A death wish has crept into the behavior of Western societies. Long in coming, it is not as brazen as “Viva la muerte!” the paradox shouted by fascist hooligans who disrupted an appeal for peace at the University of Salamanca, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Fascists also chanted “Muera la inteligencia!”, in admission of the state of their minds at the most august cultural center of Spain.
The mainly European death wish is unnatural; it runs against the instinct of preservation of species, a primordial urge that drives all living creatures. It opposes existence, a central theme of religious beliefs that exalt the work of men and women in bringing to life and raising the next generation. In the 1970s, the liberalization of the Western economies unleashed market forces that encouraged women to look for jobs, at a time when contraception and legalized abortion gave them control over birth. A second paycheck is a convenience for a household, but should be balanced against the claims of raising kids, the long term demand that drives an economy. With the erosion of traditional values among secularized urban dwellers, the average Western couple started to have fewer than 2 children; in 1999 the number had fallen to 1.3.
This is a far cry from the structure of European populations in 1900. Nurtured by the Industrial Revolution, European Union countries then represented 14% of world population, even while they sent a great flow of settlers to occupy the New World. The population of the UE is now 6% and tends to 4% of world total. They may have fewer mouths to feed, but also fewer and weaker arms to produce and create.
Neglect of the young carries a grim foreboding. The median age of Greeks, Italians and Spaniards will rise above 50 years in 2050 - this means that one in three persons in these countries will be 65 years old or older. A 75% tax burden will have to be exacted on the incomes of economically active adults, mainly to defray entitlements of the aged. Existing free health care, pensions and subsidies are bound to end. Greece, Italy and Spain are now at the center of a Euro zone crisis because the Viva la Muerte culture is closing a full circle. Worse is coming to the Chinese, with their one child per couple policy. After the years of heady economic expansion are gone, the Chinese will face the same exhaustion dictated by the human life span, now faced by Europeans. The Japanese government estimates a one third reduction of population by 2060, when 40% of citizens will be of retirement age. If the trend continues until the end of this century, Japan will become a land inhabited by robots.
The current misanthropic mood has intellectual roots in a London lecture more than two centuries ago, when Benjamin Franklin spoke about the American population, then growing at a rate of 3% a year. The number captured the mind of a Cambridge youth, Thomas Malthus, a divinity student and also a mathematician. With compound interest arithmetic he reckoned that population would double every 23.5 years; the number of people in successive periods would be proportional to the series: 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128…. After two generations, four persons would contend for the food available to one person. Exponential growth would stop long before this; Malthus assumed that the land available for food production is fixed and that crop yields would not improve. He concluded that universal famine would be the lot of future generations. Nature would restore the balance in a catastrophic way, with war, hunger and disease, unless public policy contained the trend to overcrowding. Malthus’ book, Essay on the Principle of Population attracted attention in the first decades of the 19th century, but interest fell when its forecasts failed. In the Europe and North America, the Industrial Revolution brought increasing prosperity to support unprecedented growth of the population. Malthus ignored the vastness of the planet and the role of technology in the improvement of agricultural productivity and in shipping and preserving foodstuffs.
Discredited by facts, Malthusian thought remained dormant until the 1960s. At that time, the enormous advances in medical science, the advent of antibiotics and control of disease with better sanitation, had combined to bring a world-wide drop of death rates, while birth rates were remained at the traditional levels, practiced to compensate for the early deaths of previous times. The uncommon growth of world population in middle of 20th century prompted the publication alarmist books of Malthusian persuasion. Population Bomb, of Paul Erlich, predicted hundreds of millions of deaths by hunger in Asia, and even the increase of mortality rates due to poor nutrition, in the 1980s, in the United States. The pessimistic perspective was amplified by another influential book, Limits to Growth, of which 12 million copies were distributed. Its message is that a limited planet cannot support unlimited growth. The book introduced the concept of a fixed stock of non-renewable resources depleted at an alarming rate, in an analogy with the Malthus concept of limited food availability.
HIGH SEAS…
Aging populations are already a burden on declining economies; widespread pessimism drives them further down with restrictive measures to curtail economic growth. Their rationale has three tenets Malthusian pessimists accept with an act of faith:
• We are running out of space. World population already is excessive for a limited planet, and grows at exponential rates, tending to disastrous overpopulation.
• We are running out of resources. Non-renewable resources of the planet are being depleted to support unneeded consumption, at rates that render further economic growth unsustainable.
• We are running against time, as tipping points of irreversible climate change are reached. Carbon dioxide emissions by human activity cause global warming that will render the planet uninhabitable.
Many adopt the three tenets uncritically, but belief has no role in dealing with measurable physical things. When matters are quantified, the difference between true and false stands out.
SPACE IS AMPLE
Is excessive population a serious world problem? It may seem so to the dweller of a congested metropolis, living in discomfort, but is not something that can be generalized for the planet. The sum of the urban + suburban areas of the U.S. is equivalent to 2% of the area of the country, and 6% in densely populated countries such as England or Holland. It can be argued that 7 billion people would live a comfortable urban life on one million square kilometers, four times the area of the state of Wyoming, less than 0.8% of a total terrestrial area of 148 million square kilometers. Population density, in inhabitants/square kilometer, would be 7000. This density is not unusual. It is 26640 for Manhattan and 20000 for the Copacabana beachfront district in Rio de Janeiro, and 5000 for London, with an abundance of green in its large parks. Given 99.2% of free space, the idea of an overcrowded planet is exaggerated.
Exponential growth ceased long ago. Demographic forecasts are uncertain, but most accepted ones of the UN foresee stability of world population, to be reached in the 21st century. According some, world population will start to decline at the end of the 21st century. An aging population is the current worry. With so much space available, it cannot be held that the world population is excessive or may become so.
RESOURCES ARE ADEQUATE
Mining companies are aware of how little is known about the content of the vast terrestrial crust and dismiss the notion of a limited, measured and known stock, of minerals. The pessimists say that, ultimately, a limited planet cannot support limitless growth, and hold this as axiomatic. It can also be countered that, ultimately, there are no non-renewable resources, in a universe ruled by the Law of Conservation of Mass. Stated by Lavoisier in the 18th century it holds that “nothing it is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed.” Human consumption never deducted one gram from the mass of the planet and, theoretically, all used materials can be recycled. Its feasibility depends on the availability of low cost energy. When fusion energy becomes operational, it will be available in practically unlimited quantities.
The potential source of energy is deuterium, a hydrogen isotope found in water in a ratio of 0.03%. One cubic kilometer of sea water contains more energy than would be gotten with the combustion of all known reserves of oil in the world. Since the oceans contain 1400 million cubic kilometers of water it is safe to say that energy will last longer than the human species. Potable water need not be a limitation, as is sometimes said; new nanotube membranes promise to reduce the cost of energy for desalination to one tenth of its current cost. It would become viable to use desalinated water on coastal areas of the continents, an area on which much of the world population is settled.
It may be argued that such technologies are in development and not yet available, but no historical precedent supports the notion of that human ingenuity is gone and that technology will remain frozen forever at current levels. Malthusian thought is erroneous on this count alone.
There is no scarcity of resources signaled by price increases. Since middle of the 19th century, a periodical, The Economist, has kept consistent and comparable records of the prices of commodities in real values; these have fallen for 150 years, thanks to technological progress. The decline has been benign. The cost of feeding of a human being was eight times higher in 1850 than it is today. In 1950, less than half of a world population of 2 billion had an adequate diet of more than 2000 calories per day, today, 80% has it, for a world population that tripled.

…DESTINATION UNKNOWN
UNCERTAINTIES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
There is no consensus regarding future climate change. It can be said that there is acceptance of Malthusian ideas by European governments worried over a global warming they attribute to carbon dioxide generated by industrial activity. They make forecasts for world climate decades ahead, with a certainty that reminds one of the precision of astronomical calculations. However, climate has a chaotic behavior, in the mathematical sense, and is inherently subject to high degree of uncertainty, that will not be diminished by advances in scientific knowledge. There is no climate science with forecasting power comparable to the one of exact sciences and such power will never come into being. Climate is new as a field of study and yet to be developed. Until recent times, no university offered a B.Sc. in climate science. Climate studies resort to numerous different fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, botany, zoology, paleontology, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics etc… fields with variable degrees of uncertainty, and compounded in climate studies by those of economics.
In studies where the science is uncertain, different hypotheses contend to establish relationships of cause and effect. If a hypothesis is hijacked by a commercial interest in support of its claims, the debate slides from the academic plane to the political plane, on which the gimmicks of propaganda and public relations are to be expected.
The debate becomes polarized between political factions, each side with its own agenda. In climate matters, one side appeals to the authority of researchers in support of an anti-carbon agenda, admitted as painful, but necessary. The other side points to the lack of scientific basis for such a policy, qualified as suicidal. The clash of interests has transformed global warming into a journalistic and political phenomenon, not a physical one.
INTERESTS AT PLAY
Unfortunately, there are base motives in a campaign to vilify an Industrial Revolution that has, over two centuries, redeemed a large part of mankind from extreme misery. However, much of humanity still does not have access to electricity and suffers from all the ills of it. Calling their needs unneeded consumption is callous. Their needs can only be met by economic growth stimulated by increasing supply of cheap energy. An additional reason is that carbon dioxide is not toxic or a pollutant. Photosynthesis makes the gas a nutrient of plants that support the food chain of all living beings on the planet.
In this issue it is fit to ask the question: Qui bono? Who gains? In its modern version, it recommends following the money trail to an interest behind a cause. Suspect is the haste with which restrictive measures are proposed to reduce fuel use, with the pretext that tipping points of disastrous climatic change are being reached. Politicians are in a hurry to use this unverifiable hypothesis to support special interests. These include: governments that need huge revenues and an excuse to tax fuels; manufacturers benefited by regulation in favor of one form of energy generation and against competitors; empire building bureaucrats who want ample controls over everything and every soul; research entities that seek funding. To the list of beneficiaries of the global warming cause one must not underestimate the big international banks.
In 1985, banking was a staid activity that accounted for 16% of the profits of all companies in the U.S. In 2008, 40% of total profits were earned by banks, a clear measurement of the size of the speculative bubble that followed the availability of easy credit, under government policies. The subsequent banking crisis was precipitated by excesses which did much damage to the legitimate economy of the world. Greater mischief was on the way. The banks had hoped to put into circulation huge and unlimited issues of a fictitious asset, the Carbon Credit securities. The Chicago Climate Exchange, an entity parallel to the Chicago Commodities Exchange, went broke and closed; the European Union Emission Trading Scheme is heading the same way amid a wave of fraud. Emission credits were hailed as a way to enlist the efficiency of markets to put a price on fuel use to curtail demand. Now there are cries for government intervention to correct “market imperfections” that led to collapse of carbon credit quotations in Europe. If the past shows anything, it is the uncanny ability of governments to pick losers where their intent was to pick winners. The worse of gambling with carbon credits was stopped by the banking crisis.
Thus a cluster of interests supports the manmade global warming cause while empirical evidence and alternative explanations of climate change challenge them. Against the expectation raised by computer climate models, measurement has evidenced the stability or decline of global temperature since 1995. It had risen in the two previous decades, provoking a scare about unchecked global warming. Evidence shows that there are natural forces shaping the climate, that may have greater magnitude than the effect of the carbon dioxide, whatever its origin. These include the oscillations in ocean cycles and their temperatures, variations of solar activity and their effect on cloud cover and cloud height, the sensitivity of climate to increase of carbon dioxide, the role of water vapor. Natural cycles still are little understood, but have demonstrable weight compared to the effect of manmade carbon dioxide. Moreover, mankind can do little for or against natural forces of this magnitude. Sensible public measures are welcome to mitigate the effect of climate changes, when they occur and whatever the cause.
Alternative explanations of climate change are met with undue hostility. Politically motivated climate researchers who support manmade causes had minimized uncertainties, in a field rife with them, to give their forecasts an appearance of solidity, backed by unanimous opinion, with the refrain: The debate is over; the science is settled. The unethical conduct of researchers was disclosed in the scandal labeled Climategate. It cast doubt on the impartiality and trustworthiness of UN-IPCC studies by people clearly engaged in promoting their political agendas.
A claim of consensus of scientists over global warming does not make sense. In science, matters are never settled; there is always room for additional layers of knowledge provided by successful challenges to conventional wisdom. In the scientific mind there is no place for Magister Dixit, the master spoke, a reference to philosophers as final arbitrators of truth. An argument from authority deserves rejoinder with the motto of the Royal Society, Nullius in Verba (on the word of no one); science rejects the word of authority above verifiable experimental evidence and logical reasoning, A version of this attitude is found in a principle of Roman law, In dubio pro reu, Justice must benefit the defendant where doubt exists, in this in case, the defendant is the maligned industrial economy with its need for inexpensive energy.
THE POLITICAL CAUSE
The forecasts of UN-IPCC are speculations that reflect the assumptions fed to the computer models in support of the cause of the sponsors. These computer simulations are too uncertain to furnish rational grounds for public policies to inhibit economic activity “to save the planet”. In support of such policies, stories of imminent disaster are told in the strident tones typical of the propaganda of totalitarian regimes to deceive masses. Their tactics were described by H. L. Mencken:
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

The propaganda machine quickly attributes to global warming anything that happens on the planet, such as: influenza pandemics; an earthquake in the Himalayas, a volcanic eruption in Iceland, the 2004 tsunami on the Indian Ocean; tribal wars in Africa; heat wave in Paris; plague of snails on the tiny Isle of Wight. In Australia: forest fires, sand storms in the dry season and floods in the rainy season. In North America: the last severe winters, the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota, the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico. Evo Morales blames Americans for summer floods in Bolivia. Hugo Chaves thinks that capitalism killed an advanced civilization on Mars, with climate warming. Fidel Castro says that earthquakes are induced by the current boom in gas and oil production of U.S. With friends like these, do environmental causes need enemies?
In the opinion of the Professor Aaron Wildavsky, global warming is the mother of all environmental activism:
"Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist's dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population's eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.''
This was the youthful fantasy of now elderly hippies, bound to extinction by their barren life style.
When they are gone, Viva la vida! could become the motto of a hopeful world to be reached with a return to ancient truths that uphold the sanctity of life.

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered Commenteralan neil ditchfield

Oh the irony !!!

http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/44007

"A new study by Professor Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth has found alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice and Brown Rice Syrup. This is particularly alarming since Brown Rice Syrup is being sought by health conscious consumers as a "healthy" alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup."

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatthew W

This post is again like the post and comments about the Heartlands post. Misleading and off subject! Lets get back on topic about CAGW. For goodness sake, can we not see that this is what Moneybot etc have to resort to? As much as I like Delingpole winding them up he is just selling his book.

Forget, Dellers, forget yesterdays Heartlands and stick to the "Science" Sorry Bish, this has been happening for a couple of weeks, we have the high ground and lets stick to it!

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Thanks Bish!

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Delingpole

Feb 16, 2012 at 2:42 PM | Ben Pile

Ben
MT had ulterieur motives. She was not a believer in AGW she was a user. A user against the miners and Scargill.

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Had James been Italian he might have carried the analogy further by noticing there is plenty of black peppered inside the reddish bit of every watermelon...

ps I don't believe every red is a watermelon. I believe most greens act as watermelons.

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Pete H,

I completely agree!

The CAGW fraud is about dodgy science that promotes money making scams. Conflating this with other areas, and the wider aspects of left/right politics, muddies the issues and leaves the protagonists open to attack.

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Hi Ben,

Thatcher was not a convinced warmer. She was just using it to advocate more nuclear power, partly to break the power of the coal mining unions. There is a good description of her motives <A href="http://www.john-daly.com/history.htm">here</A>. Although that reference does not contain any reliable citations, I first became aware that her espousal of global warming was purely to promote nuclear power form a interview on the BBC with one of her cabinet, perhaps Nigel Lawson.

Maggie's greeness was just a sham and it is wrong to cite her as proof that not all right wing extremists are global warming deniers.

Cheers, Alastair.

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlastair McDonald

@Ben Pile,

Left and right can be looked at as a belief that the state can and should control just about everything, against a belief that the state is basically incompetent and should have clearly limited duties.

CAGW is a glorious reason for the state (as big a state as possible) to greatly extend its control. I believe that's the basic reason why there tends to be a division the left and the right on this matter with the left naturally sympathetic and the right naturally distrustful.

It certainly isn't a completely clear division and there will be counter examples on both sides.

Left and Right are fairly vague terms anyway and you have to increase the defining factors to reduce nonsenses. E.g. a left-right wing economic axis and a Libertarian-Authoritarian axis. You could add others.


Maybe it helps explain Thatcher's role by seeing her as a right wing authoritarian?

I argue that we've gone from having a horizontal division between an aristocracy and the plebs to a vertical division with left-right politics and have now arrived back at a horizontal division with another kind of aristocracy with a political and administrative class which seeks to maintain itself and with no significant differences between the main parties.


There appears to be something to the Watermelon jibe as environmentalism seems to have been used to sell an authoritarian, big-state agenda on a false prospectus. It often appears to be more about controlling people than saving the planet. Of course, not everyone supportive of the old totalitarian USSR moved to environmentalism as the next best way of furthering the faith.

What do you expect JD to be other than provocative?

Feb 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Stephen - MT had ulterieur motives. She was not a believer in AGW she was a user. A user against the miners and Scargill.

I don't see what difference the authenticity of her convictions makes to the analysis. Of course people make instrumental use of the climate... That's my point -- they can't make an argument for X,Y or Z on its own terms.

And that's why I think Roger makes a mistake in saying that looking at the politics 'muddies the issues and leaves the protagonists open to attack'.

Watermelons is an attempt to understand the politics behind environmental alarmism. The problem with Roger's approach is that it presupposes the science is wrong, and that there has been fraud. That's a hell of a lot more muddy than the politics -- you have to look for and identify the fraud, and the fraudsters, and the motive, and so on. Oh, but wasn't it about science?

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

I agree with Ben Pile that the desire to see science done right and for derived policy decisions to be well-founded is not party-political. I describe myself as a "hard of centre" pragmatist. Increasingly the "hard" is in relation to sciences and empirical evidence and their treatment (or maltreatment, moreover).

Having conceded defeat at Kloor's site long ago, and left it to become the echo chamber of political muppetry that it subsequently became, I recognise that the responsibility for the perceived divide over climate science along party lines IS the responsibility of the politically motivated - from Morano to Cook. I do wish sometimes that there were more elucidating scientific voices out there - someone to fight the scientific corner with as much ferocity and panache as Dellers, as much scientific integrity as Judy Curry, Steve McIntyre or Tallbloke, and with a complete absence of political overtone.

I have a vision of a co-authorship between two brilliant authors - Dellers and the Bish - where Dellers' blistering style might be both tempered and underpinned by Bish's extraordinarily deep understanding of the subject and wonderfully incisive observation. If they were to collaborate, I can't imagine a more compelling and definitive read - the sceptic's 5000lb bunker-busting JDAM.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Jiminy.

Where did you get the Kindle version from? According to Amazon it isn't available yet. They're only taking requests.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Ridicule ceases to work when its author makes himself ridiculous.

Which is what Dellers did in his interview with Paul Nurse.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Ben,

I take your point, but I respectfully disagree.

For me, at least, the "climate wars" are over. The dodgy science has been exposed and the final nails in the coffin are flatlining temperatures, freezing winters and (above all) economic meltdown. We won, they lost. Game over, thanks for playing.

To me it makes no sense to conflate this with anything else. The fraudsters (money men) are deserting this scam like rats from a sinking ship, and the "climate change scientists" are stranded, with nowhere to go. For them it is all over but the dying, but I won't hang around for that bit.

Your Grace, thanks for the ride.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Delingpole's central thesis is correct. Most environmentalists lean left, in their outlook on social justice and in their outlook on government regulation. Many progressive causes have adopted an environmental cloak.

That does not mean that all environmentalists lean left, or that there are no conservative causes that have adopted environmentalism. But the balance of evidence suggests a red hue in the green.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

@Stuck-record. I bought mine off amazon uk about a week ago.

@Russell, ridicule is always there, people just highlight it. Ridicule does not belong to the author but to the subject. Ridicule follows the subject around like a bad smell.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Roger - For me, at least, the "climate wars" are over. The dodgy science has been exposed and the final nails in the coffin are flatlining temperatures, freezing winters and (above all) economic meltdown.

I hope so. But my argument is that the institutions established to deal with climate change will simply emphasise some other -- and far more nebulous -- concept in the environmentalists repertoire: biodiversity, optimum population, resource depletion, etc. This is why I think we should emphasise the politics/ideology. I don't think we will understand why people have such a limited view of humans, and are so prone to catastrophism if we only look at science.

Delingpole takes a more robust view of humans than the environmentalists do. He has a clearer idea about right and wrong than greens who can only understand 'morality' in terms of an action's carbon footprint. He has a better focus on the future than the hippies, who can see only doom. Ditto, Matt Ridley has this positive view of humans, and an optimistic account of the possibilities that exist for an improving future.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Watermelons, a great read. But here is the untold story of tireless work to save the planet from the Green Treens....

http://fenbeagleblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/the-green-treens/

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Well in some ways I think Dellers has picked the wrong time to publish such a book.

It isn't that I don't agree with his usual assessment and as BH says there is a lot of circumstantial evidence for the Watermelon Hypothesis. BUT there are examples like Tim Yeo MP recently in his "discussion" with Lord Lawson that prove the rule perhaps.

One of the most damaging aspects of the whole AGW/Eco debate is that the faithful have to support any crap postulated by the high priests. In fact the Bishop Hill Blog's subtitle sums up the position that an Eco/Green adherent can't take. I was an early member of Friends of the Earth and have had an interest in low energy housing since the 70's, but I quickly saw much that convinced me that there was little common-sense coming out in my name. I would have to say I was right wing simply because I am not a Statist, but many opinions I express would sound leftish to some.

Political parties in the UK and elsewhere crowd the middle ground because most people are middle of the road in their views - there is, in reality, a large overlap in the two sets of left and right.

I am personally heartened that people on the Eco side of the fence are beginning to realise that the AGW position is not totally justified by data, and there are people who do have the ability to see that much done in their name is wrong.

The new book by Professor Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt and Dr. Luning is a move back towards proper science and not just believing in a "cause".

The fact that the website EcoWho has provided the ClimateGate Grepper shows that they are thinking people who don't necessarily like what they see in those emails, but are still supporting a move to a more sustainable future. The two positions are not mutually exclusive and we on the "sceptic" side of the debate (including Dellers) should remember that as well.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

Many of us are uncomfortable about the idea of Mrs Thatcher as green zealot.

It is true that she supported the setting up of the IPCC, and her speech to the UN in 1989 shows that she was clearly converted to the cause then.

However, Mrs Thatcher was capable of changing her mind, as she did also on the European project. In the final volume of her memoirs "Statecraft" she put the record straight. Unfortunately I do not possess that volume, so cannot quote from the text itself, so I'll have to rely on the summary by Christopher Booker of the section "Hot Air and Global Warming" (the title of which alone suggests a change of heart).

Booker writes:


She voiced precisely the fundamental doubts about the warming scare that have since become familiar to us. Pouring scorn on the "doomsters", she questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive the scare, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of "costly and economically damaging" schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.
In other words, long before it became fashionable, Lady Thatcher was converted to the view of those who, on both scientific and political grounds, are profoundly sceptical of the climate change ideology. Alas, what she set in train earlier continues to exercise its baleful influence to this day. But the fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of "climate sceptics" has been almost entirely buried from view.

It would be a surprise if she hadn't seen through it by now.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

The problem with classifying politics as left vs right are numerous. It is black and white thinking, ignoring moderates. Even liberal/conservative is problematic, economics should only be labelled liberal or managed. Many Greens are deeply conservative when they reject progress and materialism, you see this in neo-nazis and christian cults as well.

If you look at far left and right in the US, what they both share is religion and imposing it on others. The left's religion is cultural Marxism, the right's is christian/jewish/muslim fundamentalism.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gisin

All generalisations are wrong, but some are indicative.

Feb 16, 2012 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Buy the book! It is a great hugely enjoyable read - funny, dark and reassuringly outspoken, I cannot recommend it more highly.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

To regain the high ground, the Bishop might collaborate with the RS in funding a set prize in mathematical topology for the first geometric proof of an operator that transforms a watermelon into an ellipsoid of revolution that turns green with envy every time the other side abandons a cliche'.

Folks who bewail failures of transparency in the IPCC process shouldn't brag about their paper shredders, or their reluctance to write things down in evidence - here's Watts on both:

"3. One of the first questions I asked Joe Bast of Heartland when I saw this printed then scanned document was “do you not shred your trash”? His response was, “there’s no need, all the communications are done electronically by email”. That suggests a paper copy never existed in the Heartland office. The fact that none of the documents contains any personal signatures lends credence to this."

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

By the way Fen's latest creation is a must view! It is most amusing and of course delightfully drawn as ever.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:16 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

Booker: "the fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of "climate sceptics" has been almost entirely buried from view."

It is all well and good, changing your mind once you leave office.

But it isn't what counts.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Ben Pile

"It is all well and good, changing your mind once you leave office."

Now I don't think that's fair about Mrs Thatcher. Her change of mind about the direction of Europe was while she was in office. That was brave and that was why she had to go, so that Britain would sign up to the Maastricht Treaty with a few opt-outs.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Roger Scruton's 'Green Philosophy. How to think seriously about the planet' has been published at the same time as James Delingpole's 'Watermelons' and covers some of the same ground, in perhaps a more measured way. He explains the psychology behind left leaning and right leaning tendencies. His views would reinforce those given by Cosmic and Richard Tol, above. And he argues that, while our common future is by no means assured, rather than entrusting the environment to unweildy NGOs and international committees we must assume personal responsibility and foster local sovereignty.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuercus

Nicholas - Now I don't think that's fair about Mrs Thatcher. Her change of mind about the direction of Europe was while she was in office.

The comment related to her climate scepticism, as did the comment it was a response to.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Ben

I don't want to sound like a hagiographer of Mrs Thatcher. All I am saying is that, unlike many in politics, she didn't lack the courage to change her mind while in office. She hardly had to time then to change her mind about climate change

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

It's not a matter of a battle between left and right, that is a smokescreen and manoeuvre of distraction.

There is little distinction to be made in the policies and ideology of any of the main political parties in Britain.
They [Lib/lab/Con], all believe in big government and distrust and dislike 'the people' having a voice, we live in what can only be described as an 'elective dictatorship',ie, every five years we get a chance to place an X by an individuals' name and that's the end of the story.

It is the end of the story. But, where does the real power lie, in Westminster? NO, it is a rubber stamp council for laws and diktats emanating from the absolute authority imposed from Brussels and there is no comeback. Because, your MP of whatever political hue he or she is, will vote along party lines who are thus beholden to Brussels and thus, the democratic vacuum in which we live is sealed tight.

The central immutable tenet, of all three parties is; a slavish and moronic adherence to the idea that - membership of the EU is a benign and positive influence and greatly beneficial to Britain's economic well being and that, withdrawal from this Federal Union is anathema to all three big political parties.


Nothing could be further from the real truth.

Margaret Thatcher, saw the possibilities of the green agenda and used it to shape British energy policy - which amounted to the dash for gas and the closure of those troublesome pits and ended the powerful mining union and the coal hegemony, Cernobyl proved useful too.
Brussels also realised the AGW possibilities early and the tax goldmine it could provide for its allies and backers in the corporate banking sector. The EU, carbon trading and its blinkered green ideology has been the greatest champion of the green agenda and of all the current madness which has ensued. The EU is strong in Britain, Britain is its closest and best friend - the political elite, chatterati, MSM, the civil service and quangocracy are the EU's most zealous cheerleaders and of the green agenda sustainability, renewables thing.

One very big chicken has come home to roost, you can see it in the unemployment figures across Europe. EU Carbon taxes and impositions, are the major factor in the decline in European industry and manufacturing competitiveness and if you come back and reply that Germany seems to be doing alright - I'd reply that Germany cut costs and sensibly rebuilt its manufacturing base [something Britain should learn from] but - is riding on the back of a cheap exchange rate for the euro, from which it has benefitted greatly. It is true to say that Britain has a floating exchange but its industry and manufacturing have been saddled with high costs and meddlesome unnecessary EU legislation. Along with onerous business taxes and government laxity with banking sector, a disinclination to lend to anybody unless their order books are loaded and business model is perfect....... [risk capital from British banks? - You're having a laugh] British business is fighting a losing battle, with a carbon floor price soon to be imposed - it will be the final nail in the coffin of British competitiveness.

Cheap energy and an end to the 'green agenda' could change all of this, we can, could have cheap energy with the abundant resources under our feet and with the technological capability we already possess - the EU and British politicians prevent it.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice"

That sounds like a problem of certification, rather than method of cultivation. The arsenic is either in the soil, which should have been tested, or has been applied as a pesticide, which isn't allowed. Food companies (especially US) can be rather cavalier with the term 'organic'.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Nicholas - I don't want to sound like a hagiographer of Mrs Thatcher. All I am saying is that, unlike many in politics, she didn't lack the courage to change her mind while in office.

"You turn, if you want to. The lady's not for turning." - Margaret Thatcher, 10 October 1980.

I think she ran out of steam. Or rather, her political project did. I think people overstate her role in the good and bad they claim she caused. That's why we see environmentalism emerge, from her first. And that's why we see the left seemingly regrouping, attaching itself to the environment. It's a neutered left. It has no muscle, no guts, no balls, no spine and no brains. Doesn't that sound like today's politics, across the spectrum? A nebulous cloud of intangible guff.

Feb 16, 2012 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

@Ben Pile,

"It's a neutered left. It has no muscle, no guts, no balls, no spine and no brains. Doesn't that sound like today's politics, across the spectrum? A nebulous cloud of intangible guff."

It isn't the old left of unions and bosses and the workers owning the means of production. That pretty much died with the USSR. But there was always another aspect to the left, and that was belief in a big state and the ability of the state to run things properly, a dislike of personal wealth (but a lot of humbug on that score) and the tendency to spawn bureaucracy. I'd say that the left, or its successor, was alive and well and we can see it in the three political parties we have with very little to distinguish them.

We see a state sector which can be increased but never decreased and we see all sorts of other things like companies which are really part of the government and so therefore not subject to normal commercial disciplines.

All left wing thinking in my view and it's permeated everything. Environmentalism, green taxes and emissions control, various jobs and industries created entirely on the back of government legislation, all supports this very neatly.

Feb 16, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

'Roger Scruton's 'Green Philosophy. How to think seriously about the planet' has been published at the same time as James Delingpole's 'Watermelons' and covers some of the same ground, in perhaps a more measured way.'

Quercus, that's funny, I'm trying to imagine dear Scruton writing in a less measured way than practically anyone, let alone Delingpole, with absolutely no success whatsoever.

Feb 16, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Fox

In other news, according to Reuters Al Gore is taking aim at "unsustainable capitalism". I wrote to them asking if his pronouncement was made from his $5,000,000 house, his $250,000 private helicopter, or his $25,000 a day private jet. So far they haven't got back to me.

Feb 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Cosmic It isn't the old left of unions and bosses and the workers owning the means of production.

I think we're moving towards a discussion in which I just can't help criticise the general watermelon thesis -- which I wanted to avoid doing.

You're reducing a great deal of stuff -- history, politics, theories -- into a short sharp sentence that's easy to dismiss. It's a bit like saying 'the right is just about making money and stuff everyone else'. It's just not true.

Your three paragraphs outline stuff you're against. Nothing wrong with that. But you put it all into this category - left. Why use the category at all? Why not just say 'I'm against a big state', bureaucracy, etc. Thinkers from both traditions hated the state and its bureaucracies. And both have a tendency to create them. Athelstan is on to this, I think. And the point I was trying to make is similar (if I understand him correctly).

Today's politics is post-political, an equally confusing way of expressing the idea is post-ideological. There isn't really a battle between left and right going on. And those traditions aren't really represented by the parties. There is a consensus amongst politicians, and democracy only exists in the gaps, if at all: you get to choose a style of management -- blue, yellow, green, or red -- but not really a philosophy. There is no real contest of ideas. Rather than being left or right, its a bit more of a compromise: culturally left, politically centre, and economically right. But nobody in mainstream politics dares challenge it. That's the atmosphere in which environmentalism thrives, I argue. Because it's a problem from 'outside', which seems to demand a managerial, technocratic approach, giving the whole thing legitimacy.

Feb 16, 2012 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Indeed, Ben most of us now live not under socialism, communism, totalitarianism, liberalism or conservatism but under managerialism.

Feb 16, 2012 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Despite Arthur Dent's doxology;" most of us now live not under socialism, communism, totalitarianism, liberalism or conservatism but " roofs.

I doubt Dellers will be raising any with a rip-roaring ride through DenialGate in his inimitable style.

Feb 16, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

'The new book that may or may not make the final cut' - could you explain please Andrew.
I see the kindle edition of 'Watermelons - How the environmentalists.....' is no longer available at Amazon.co.uk (though you can get 'Watermelons' The Green Movements true colours' on Amazon.com)
I've only just ordered my UK version print copy off Amazon.co.uk as WHSmug didn't have it.

[Toad - My new book, not James' one]

Feb 16, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Some good, robust comment here, and I'm glad Ben is taking part. A few points about Thatcher's role:

1) Let's not forget that, before becoming a politician (or at least, an active one) she was a scientist. She was well versed in the traditional (pre "post-normal") scientific tradition.

2) At the time when she was pushing for the establishment of IPCC, the setting up of Hadlow etc, she was also facing the political problems of what was thought to be a declining coal stock (combined with a rebarbative, militant union, inherited from previous governments - both Tory and Labour) and it may well be, as several commenters have suggested, the concept of "global warming" offered a convenient way to push for nuclear power etc, fitting in with her economic policies.

3) That she since changed her mind is hardly surprising, despite Ben's quoting the "lady's not for turning" line (which incidentally referred to her economic policies at the time she spoke them). She changed her mind about a lot of things (grammar schools, for one, though not, to her loss, about poll tax). But I think that at the time she was waving the flag about "global warming" she was doing so because of short-term political goals, without seeing what would be unleased in its name. And to be fair to scientific part of the lady, the evidence presented at the time pointed to rise in global warming: since her background was as an applied scientist, as opposed to a theoretical one, one can almost forgive the political half of her brain seizing on it.

I believe Ben's argument about the false left/right dichotomy regarding AGW is a valid one, although it does rest on your definition of left and right, which, I submit, is fairly nebulous in this country. Most folk I know tend to be mixture of both: extreme right when it comes to capital or corporal punishment for murderers, child rapists and council parking enforcement executives, extreme left wing when it comes to the NHS, funding the BBC and bashing the bankers. Go figure.

Feb 16, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermorpork

If anyone wants to know more about Mrs Thatcher's initially quite genuine enthusiasm for AGW and her later recantation in 2003, this is how I reported on it in the Sunday Telegraph in 2010:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7823477/Was-Margaret-Thatcher-the-first-climate-sceptic.html

Feb 16, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterchristopher booker

Ben,

I think you are railing against the use of the terms 'Left' and 'Right' and this is perfectly reasonable as they are horribly imprecise. I did say that if you want to categorise political beliefs, trying to wedge them onto a single line breaks down and things make far more sense if you introduce at least one other axis.

They started with seatings on the French Revolutionary Assembly and continued to be applied to movements which promoted the interests of the Common Man against the established order of basically inherited wealth and power. So we had communalism, the pooling of resources to help each and every one and the state managing this. These ideas were generally internationalist rather than nationalist. They have tended to create bureaucracies. Of course there have been people of the left who rejected that. Orwell could see and spelt out the dangers.

The "right wing" came to be the forces opposing; maintaining the old order, generally associated with nationalism and things like fundamental Christianity in the USA.

I'd say we had something else emerging which was moving from the radical idea of equality of opportunity, (which had to be socialised) and accepting inequality of outcome, to something else, which was a new sort of class system appealing to its roots of sticking up for the low born, but actually reliant on maintaining an dependent underclass.

If I said "The Guardian is a left wing newspaper" few would disagree. If I said, "The Guardian is a managerialist newspaper", I'd almost certainly have some explaining to do.

We're stuck with terms, left wing and right wing, which most people think they understand. You can either go along with them, largely imposing your own meaning, or object to them and be left with the difficult task of defining and establishing a new vocabulary.


Today's politics is post-political, an equally confusing way of expressing the idea is post-ideological. There isn't really a battle between left and right going on. And those traditions aren't really represented by the parties. There is a consensus amongst politicians, and democracy only exists in the gaps, if at all: you get to choose a style of management -- blue, yellow, green, or red -- but not really a philosophy. There is no real contest of ideas. Rather than being left or right, its a bit more of a compromise: culturally left, politically centre, and economically right. But nobody in mainstream politics dares challenge it. That's the atmosphere in which environmentalism thrives, I argue. Because it's a problem from 'outside', which seems to demand a managerial, technocratic approach, giving the whole thing legitimacy.

I think I'd pretty much agree with that, apart from it being economically right. You see you are slipping into it now. I see nothing economically or otherwise right, about government mandated bogus demand, companies which are effectively part of the state, and privatised profits and socialised losses.

I completely agree with Athelstan on the EU. We are seeing politics reduced to an impotent sideshow and the business of government conducted by supposedly ever wise technocrats who turn out to be not so wise and the UK political scene as an exact replica in miniature, in fact eagerly leading the way.The dangerous thing is that having disarmed politics, there's no gentle way to correct it.

I still maintain that environmentalism is a thing which appeals naturally to the left, requiring a big state solution and removing choice. I have acknowledged that 'left' is a very loose term.

Feb 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

'Watermelons' is a joy to read - all of it is familiar from several years of following the Global Warming scam and Delingpole's articles and all those blogs, and articles by all the other heroes mentioned in this book. I can see that all the thoughts in Delingpole's book are indeed the beliefs of my Church, as opposed to the beliefs of the Green and Global Warming Church. I prefer my Church, where Delingpole is a priest. The people are so much nicer, and much more intelligent and think along the right tracks.

Feb 16, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMariwarcwm

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