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Climate change and the left

This comment on why the left has fallen head over heels in love with global warming ideology was left on the discussion board by Lord Donoughue. I thought it worth of promotion to a full post.

The issue of why the political left is overwhelmingly supportive of the climate change alarmist ideology/faith, and hence there are relatively few left wing sceptics, is quite complex and would take more space and time than I intend to impose on you here. But may I, as a lifelong Labour supporter, offer a couple of broad observations. They are by no means comprehensive and omit many nuances. But they are major general factors which I have observed in the party for 61 years, and in Parliament for almost 30 years.

First is that most leftish British people get politically involved because they genuinely believe they wish to contribute to the common good in our society. (They tend to believe , rightly or wrongly, that the right wing wishes to contribute to their own individual or class good). At first this drew many to sympathise with Marxist ideology, until the Soviets discredited that. More sympathised and many still do with the social democratic ideals of equality and civil liberty, though that position lacks the ideological certainties and claimed scientific basis of old Marxism. With the collapse of Marxism, there was created a vacuum on the left. Those seeking an ideological faith to cling on to for moral certainty, felt bereft. They also wanted a faith which again gave them a feeling of still pursuing the common good of society, especially the new global society, and even more a feeling of moral superiority, which is a characteristic of many middle and professional types on the left. Climate change and the moral common good of saving the planet , with its claimed scientific certainties, offered to fill the vacuum. It may or may not be a coincidence that the climate change faith gained momentum in the 1990s immediately after Marxism collapsed with the Berlin Wall.

I notice that my Labour colleagues who are troubled by the cost of the war on climate change, and especially when I point out that its costs fall heavily on the poorer classes, while its financial benefits go to rich landowners and individuals on the Climate Change Committee, still won't face those facts because they want to cling on to the new climate faith because they want to believe it is in the common good. They are not bad or stupid people. Many are better and cleverer than me. But they have a need for a faith which they believe is for the global good. They don't want a moral vacuum. And the current leaders of the social democratic parties in Britain and Europe are not offering them much else. For Ed Miliband, who is not a bad or stupid man, but coming from a Marxist heritage, when asked for more vision, he grasps climate change like a drowning man clasping a lifebelt.

While this need persists and there persists the misconception that the Green faith is somehow leftish and in pursuit of the common good, then most on the political left will stay with it. To shake them it will be necessary to show them that the costs of implementing climate alarmism will actually destroy the economic hopes of the poor and is often a cynical device to enrich the wealthy. That it enables self righteous middle class posturers to parade their assumed moral superiority at the expense of the poor. And that it's so-called scientific certainties are very uncertain indeed. It is also necessary for the sceptical and realistic side to show more publicly that they accept the proven aspects of climate change (which every sceptic I know does) and care about the genuine concerns of the environment (which the Greens ignore by littering our landscapes with inefficient and costly windmills.)

My second point concerns the Stalinist tactics of the Green activists in trying to suppress any questioning of their dogmatic faith and to damage the lives and careers of any professional person who attempts to examine this subject in an honest way which might undermine their dogmatic claims. Their use of Holocaust language such as 'Denier', implying their target is akin to a neo Nazi, is but one example of the Stalinist mentality. In that political context, where any questioner is so derided, it is no surprise that most Labour supporters choose not to take the risk - especially when it immediately throws them into confrontation with their embattled leader.

Sorry to go on so long. But they are my observational conclusions on why it is not easy for the sceptical side to make progress on the political left. Interestingly, polls suggest it is among Labour working classes, always more practical than our Hampstead/Guardian types, that there is the biggest dissent from the Green religion - and some of them are already slipping off to UKIP, which shows more concern for their suffering under the Green taxes.

This battle to bring understanding to Labour that its climate policies punish its core supporters, will take a while to win, partly for the two reasons I offer above.

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Reader Comments (224)

As Melanie Philips calls "filling a God sized hole" she did a good interview on the subject.

Nov 15, 2014 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Its about power for some , they known that when it comes down to it the people reject the left when they have a choice , AGW offers the left a chance to get their ideology established without having to get people to want it , the greens follow a similar path , hence all the water-mellows. And in both cases they 'love ' to tell people want to do and micro manage their lives , for their own good ' of course.

Nov 15, 2014 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

KNR, no offence, but I think you meant "Watermelons" - green on the outside but red on the inside.

Nov 15, 2014 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Lord Donoughue is a working class boy done good, a 100% establishment figure with no left wing credentials. What makes him different from Miliband is that he is old, largely irrelevant and can say what he likes.

The history of global warming politics can be found on the 'ere web page thingy I done wrote myself. It is a gigantic Enron generated scam promoted by Gore and Clinton.

This sums it up well.

On Aug. 4, 1997, Lay and seven other energy executives met with Clinton, Gore, Rubin and other top officials at the White House to discuss the U.S. position at the upcoming conference on global warming in Kyoto, Japan. Lay, in a memo to Enron employees, said there was broad consensus in favor of an emissions-trading system.

Enron officials later expressed elation at the results of the Kyoto conference. An internal memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would "do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States."

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Nov 15, 2014 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The assumption round here is that capitalism is being attacked by vile Greenies. That isn't true. They are funded by the capitalist establishment.

Putting the hippies on the payroll: Green Capitalism: Manufacturing Scarcity in an Age of Abundance, by James Heartfield

"In other words, green capitalism is not a passing fad adopted by a few corporate bosses, too spineless to stand up to the hippies; it expresses an essential feature of the social system. As Heartfield reminds us, the origins of modern environmentalism lie in the 1970s when the elite industrialists of the Club of Rome commissioned The Limits to Growth report. As the long post-war boom ended, arguing that the world was running out of resources was another way of saying that there was nothing left to redistribute, and that trade unions must settle for lower wages (p27). (Needless to say, the Club of Rome’s predictions about the exhaustion of natural resources were all confounded [p13]).

Nov 15, 2014 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Naomi Klein

The whole affair, according to Klein, underlines a painful truth behind the “catastrophic failure” of some environmental organisations to combat the fossil-fuel industries responsible for soaring greenhouse gas emissions. “Large parts of the movement aren’t actually fighting those interests – they have merged with them,” she writes, pointing to green groups that have accepted fossil-fuel industry donations or partnerships and invited industry executives on to their boards.

It is no coincidence, suggests Klein, that several environmental organisations have also championed climate policies that are the least burdensome to the energy industry, including generously designed carbon markets and the use of natural gas as a bridge to a cleaner energy system.

Nov 15, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I enjoyed reading this but I am not sure I agreed with much of it.

I am a left wing climate sceptic and a highly qualified scientist. It was the scientist side of me that prompted my sceptism. Although I was a lifelong Labour voter, comprehensive school and red brick university educated, I have always been uneasy about the labour leadership and membership. How many Labour MPs send their children to public school? How many have had a public school education? How many went to Oxbridge?

The lack of realism in the Labour party have allowed Ed Miliband to be leader. These academic socialists do not see the common man and are oblivious to the consequences of their actions. They want to save the planet and do not care how they do it. Hence, CAGW is a good vehicle for their energy.

Nov 15, 2014 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

I too believe the left just wants to 'do good' and when whatever crash politiek they advocaten fail, it doesn't matter because they are good people who meant well. And so when the climate cause crashes and burns they'll move to a new hobby. Maybe even ending world hunger through stimulating economic growth?

Nov 15, 2014 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

I fear it is much simpler.

Social trends continually lurk into and banish from existence. Every so often politicians (governmental or dinner table ones) adopt and encourage some of these trends in order to manufacture an overt social agenda with which to pursue a covert personal agenda. When these people successfully market these trends, we get trainwrecks like climate warming.

Voters, even foot soldiers, generally don't have the remotest idea of what the actual issues are beyond the slogan. Not even the start of an understanding. Not even the seed of a desire to eventually begin to come to preliminary terms regarding what they are supporting.

This applies to the "left" as it does to the "right". Indeed, how many people could even properly explain what political "left" and "right" mean? No more than a ridiculously tiny minority of the population at large.

It's an issue of self-interest for some and alignment for most. There is no content.

Nov 15, 2014 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Well at least there is one denizen of the House of Lords in possession of a sharp intellect.

I can't speak for 'the left' with the same authority as Donoughue though I grew up with the centrist/left-of-center views that were probably best described by the BBC (and that hurts right now). But, like CharmingQuark my objections stem largely from being an experienced and qualified scientist.
The added politics is an extra cause of distress.

People of the left who have swallowed the global-warming alarm clock should realise that it is doing them more long term harm than good, IMO. It has already caused me to recently vote for a party I have never voted for before, and I shall do again if necessary.

As soon as I hear the topic mentioned by a politician, this voter runs a metaphorical mile.

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Brilliant, and thanks Charming Quark and Brute for enlightening comments. Now read this article by Mark Morano and perhaps we can leave behind a stale irrelevant division between us

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:18 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"The issue of why the political left is overwhelmingly supportive of the climate change alarmist ideology/faith, and hence there are relatively few left wing sceptics, is quite complex"

Well, yes and no. There is a simple underlying belief to all of it and that is statism. The leaders of the political left know what that is, and do their best to promote it, often deceptively. The reasons people on the street glom onto this belief might be a little complicated, but it often involves having the state do things for them, which is attractive to a lot of people. Saving the world (through bureaucracy, of course) could be a grand and glorious endeavor to be involved in (by proxy, of course) and you just need to vote for lefties and use different light bulbs. Political heroes will take care of the rest.

Now this might sound like the street lefty is a bit disconnected from reality and history (it certainly does to me), but that's where we are.


Nov 15, 2014 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

I think this analyzing makes good sense, and it did not demonizes any. Very few do evil deeds because they are evil. Mostly they are trying to do good, but forget to take all in concideration. And always be aware of those who want to save you.

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSvend Ferdinandsen

The need of the left for moral certainties after the collapse of Marxism that Lord Donoughue lays out is extremely important, To study climate one needs to be able to deal with generalisations, incomplete information and seemingly contradictory results from looking at an aspect of climate in different ways. The belief in one set of results does not sit well. It is far better to believe in something entirely different.
This is even more important with respect to policy. For mitigation policy to be successful requires a global solution. Entering onto a moralistic crusade of "the decadent West that has wrecked the planet for most of humanity" ignores the good news of the last 20-30 years that now a majority of humanity are in countries with high economic (and hence emissions) growth rates.

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

I'd like to thank Lord Donoughue for his interesting insights. As some one who is not on the political left, I would not have dared assume that I could guess their motivations. I just knew that many/most seem sincere but completely deluded. I suspect it will howls of rage when the left finally realise that they have been robbing the poor to pay the rich.


Nov 15, 2014 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterikh

Oh come on this is crap even as a a parody?

"But may I, as a lifelong Labour supporter"

A lie about himself....

"because they genuinely believe "

his lie about everyone else.....

"Sorry to go on so long"

Also a lie. He loves going on for so long....

However this is true for me. I am sorry he went on so long.

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

It's great to hear these thoughts expressed by someone inside the Labour Party. Particularly the distinction between the self-righteous middle class posturing Guardian left (an apt description of many university academics) and the traditional left that used to be concerned with improving life for the poor.
I am not sure why charmingquark says he disagrees, since his last paragraph seems to be just what Lord D is saying.

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:42 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

...To shake them it will be necessary to show them that the costs of implementing climate alarmism will actually destroy the economic hopes of the poor and is often a cynical device to enrich the wealthy. That it enables self righteous middle class posturers to parade their assumed moral superiority at the expense of the poor. And that it's so-called scientific certainties are very uncertain indeed. ..

I recognise the truth of much of what Lord Donoughue says, and it makes sense. As a philosopher, I am appalled that humans should think that way, but it does explain much of the pointless arguments I hear from political activists, both on the left and on the right.

However, I do not think that his prescription for 'shaking them' will be very successful. From my experience, if you show a climate alarmist that their proposals will enrich the wealthy and impoverish the poor, they will reject your economics as a plot funded by the Koch brothers. If you talk about middle-class posturers they will simply say you are insulting them. And when I pointed out the mathematical uncertainties - in black and white - to my liberal councilor canvassing in our area, he looked at the data and then said "Well, I don't know about that - I simply believe what the authoritative scientists say...".

There will be no way to 'shake' belief of that kind. You might as well try to persuade a cult member that the world is not coming to an end this Friday....

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

"It's great to hear these thoughts..."

Ah! I see.

It is great to hear some "thoughts"

Seriously I have been on a history of quantum theory jag for the last three months and knowing the history of Heisenberg make me believe Matthews is very much cut from the same cloth now. In personality if not scientific resonance.

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:12 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Many on the left seem to believe that climate catastrophe is punishment for the sin of capitalism. There's something almost Old Testament in their views.

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

@The Leopard in the Basement

..."But may I, as a lifelong Labour supporter" - A lie about himself....

I'm intrigued. Do you have any evidence that Lord Donoughue has supported some other party? Do Tell!!

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

@Dodgy Geezer

If you find the "lifelong" in there a comforting thing to believe then gawd luv ya guvner ;)

The rest of us* are middle aged and have a real world non-Dick-Van Dyke varied life ;)

*real people

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:29 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Hello Leopard, where did you vanish, from Twitter etc?

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:33 PM | Registered Commentershub

Seriouly what convinces you this guy has ever been Labor?


Nov 15, 2014 at 11:37 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement


So your concern is that he didn't support the Labour party until he had heard about it?

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

@Nov 15, 2014 at 11:33 PM | Registered Commentershub
Most of my neutrons still exists and is explained by every day physics but my self important enui does not ;)

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:41 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

For those who don't know Lord Donoughue, he has a Wikipedia article:

CharmingQuark and michael hart, the post is about the motivations of the large majority of people on the left, who are not professional scientists like you! I agree with Paul Matthews.

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSara Chan

@Shub and Geezer


Nov 15, 2014 at 11:47 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Labour considers itself the party of the poor and down trodden, but Britain’s working classes are not impoverished enough for the champagne quaffing, Guardian reading socialists, who prefer the poor of Africa or the East instead. The planet and its flora and fauna also come before less affluent Brits in their green lefty agendas. The party has widened its scope to represent the under represented to the point it is acting for people and things that couldn’t vote for them, even if they wanted to.

Labour (big L) seeks to destroy wicked, unsustainable consumption without ever wondering what that means to its supporters. The party was originally set up to represent the labouring classes but they’ve forgotten that labour (small L) is inherent to consumerism. Those little red followers are also eager consumers and by trying to bring down the edifice without anything to replace it with, they are destined to hurt their own side.

Ironically the right has also abandoned it's own side. Millionaire Conservatives indulge in their philanthropist fantasies with public money, spending it with all the enthusiasm of a Labour government, secure in the knowledge that their own raised bills can easily be funded by income from windmill and solar farm subsidies.

Both sides have been caught up with the romance of saving the planet and forgot who they are working for. They'll only be able to claim they were doing it for us if a) CAGW is real, b) renewables actually cut CO2 and c) we don't all discover that reliable, affordable energy is essential to our happiness.

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Dodgy Geeze on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:02 PM
"There will be no way to 'shake' belief of that kind. You might as well try to persuade a cult member that the world is not coming to an end this Friday...."

At least, on Friday, you can ask the cult member what time it is to occur. On Saturday, it will be that the world is coming to an end next Friday, and it will be even worse!

So many people enter the workplace to do a job that helps to create products or fragments of information or understanding, or shifts them closer to the potential customer or even participates in the selling process, or to support others, and they do this in order to lead their own lives and help support their own family to do the same. Politics are not part of their everyday lives.

But there are a few who think they can do better: those aiming for a political life before they are out of nappies! They want to change the world, without understanding it, they want to organise the community without understanding what motivates people, they want to redistribute wealth, not understanding how it is created and they want to run industry without understanding any physical laws or economic reality. They think long term subsidised activities are wealth creating and people do jobs because they do, not because of self interest. They do not understand that many people will do their job, diligently, unaware that those above them have corrupted what results.

These people believe everything that their like minded, academically validated, friends tell them. Ironically, 'nullius in verba' is not for them! There is little point in trying to understand their logic. It is Groupthink of the highest order and while it appeals to the Left, anyone can prosper if they are willing to forget the wisdom they have gathered.

Getting academics to pontificate on subjects outside their area of expertise ensures that they are enveloped by the web of intrigue, yet they can still fool the sheep!

"This battle to bring understanding to Labour that its climate policies punish its core supporters, will take a while to win ..."
I cannot see Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne or Ed Davey changing their minds, nor David Cameron for that matter!

Their parties will just loose members ..... :)

Nov 15, 2014 at 11:58 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

There are no "both" sides in our county.

We are all extraordinarily wealthy.

Hear we find some luxury in defining what side of that line of OK and well off we want to be on...

I think that we should only care about poor people that clever could people bring to our attention now................................................................................................

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:00 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Does someone have contact info for TLIB? Should let him know some idiot's posting in his name.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:08 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Simon Hopkinson

You are registered so click on "The Leopard In The Basement" and send an email

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:15 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Ironically the right has also abandoned it's own side. Millionaire Conservatives indulge in their philanthropist fantasies with public money...
Nov 15, 2014 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

This also occurred to me when I considered the left/right fiscal debates in the USA. I almost suspect they came to an unspoken gentleman's agreement that there was no point running a fiscal surplus or balance, such as did occasionally happen by accident. The 'considered' course of action seems to be "spend the money before the other side gets the chance".

In many ways, I can live with that. But deliberately making energy more expensive means there will be less GNP for anybody to spend. And it won't help the environment in any way, probably the reverse.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:18 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"spend the money before the other side gets the chance". michael hart

yes, and then they spend the family silver (public organisations like the CEGB) and then they run up huge debts. I've always thought evidence of lunacy was making a donation to charity (and let's face it, the NHS and welfare state are effectively a charities) with borrowed money.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Maybe labour misses a trick, can an old dog learn new cons?

Reverting to fossil fuels, cheap energy and the benefits of a booming economy?! Just look over the pond. Where, Obama is actually the biggest con merchant in history, where everyone thinks he is a green ideologue, but he has overseen and rode roustabout the not inconsiderable benefits that the development of the shale gas/oil plays in the USA, the great politician promoting green but reliant upon the nation's economic regeneration - through a fossil fueled bonanza!

The first thing which strikes, Donoughue alludes to, at the core of the labour party is a all consuming unwillingness to confront the economic reality.

Britain is bust and in deep debt, this year, the economic illiterates currently running the treasury are borrowing £100 billion±, what with the national debt north of £1.4 trillion, domestic or household debt in the region of £1.7 trillion and an economy in trouble despite what you may read in the FT or Bloomberg.

Throw out the undead?

Britain, which is still in a zombie-like state and our big banks still strapped - nigh on, as bad as they were in 2007.

QE and funny money. low interest rates are keeping hundreds of thousands of home owners just above the waterline. Thousands of businesses are still treading water, only just solvent,. During the early 1990's slump, bank foreclosures were much higher. However, in the recent crash, foreclosures were much reduced, this was a political design installed by the then Chancellor, one named Darling under the eagle eye of Gordon Brown. Brown and Darling, of the labour party who just loved massaging figures and creative accountancy and with a weather eye for covering up just how bad it really was. It was Brown and Darling - who leaned heavily on the big banks to go easy on many businesses. That and the fact though banks swallow up the assets of business bankruptcies, sometimes keeping them afloat is preferable, in effect some money coming in is better than an empty lot and a for sale notice in the shop window.

Thus, though the property market and construction and tertiary sectors are pulling the UK out of recession, there are deep fault lines in the so called British recovery and a massive debt overhang which needs to be serviced.

It is common knowledge that, after the 2015 general election, real cuts will have to be made in government spending, some £48 billion pa [but probably more] in the ensuing years.

Even if, labour were to win the forthcoming general election, they cannot avoid making some drastic economic decisions [CUTS!]. As Donoughue tells us, they're in denial about the mythology of global warming, as they are in denial about most other major policy areas - particularly the nation debt.............

But think, economically speaking - what could change matters concerning Britain's balance sheet and almost overnight?

It is maybe time for labour to think outside of the box, fill the vacuum at its core to get rid of Ed and dump the green agenda [and the rest of the shadow cabinet in the process].

Crikey, people could even start voting for them again.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"some idiot" mate, 'Simon Hopkinson', being attached to that concept? you really need to hope could ever rise to that level ;)

You have to start thinking first ...

off you go... )

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:35 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

It does not strike as unlikely that someone who was a Labour MP for 28 years and minister under Tony Blair would be a "lifelong labour supporter", and he certainly has no need to prove his left-wing credentials.

I don't know what drugs TLITB is on, but I've got to get me some.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit


" get rid of Ed and dump the green agenda [and the rest of the shadow cabinet in the process]."

Crikey, people could even start voting for them again.

Not until they drop the EU millstone on to the AGW Albatross.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:39 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"I don't know what drugs TLITB is on, but I've got to get me some."


Nov 16, 2014 at 12:43 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I spy strangers! (ecclesiastical)

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:48 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

To me the reason why the left embraces climate change is simple -- Placing onerous restrictions on CO2 is a simply a way to put sand into the gears of capitalism.


Nov 16, 2014 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJD Ohio

'89 certainly played its part, but I think it was only the second of three major turning points that brought about the present alignment between the left and centre-left and climate-change activism.

The first was the big event that forged the modern environmental movement in the first place, the 'Sixties. The Western world seems to have gone into the 'Sixties with a shared cultural master-narrative that was a fairly straightforward Enlightenment march-of-progress story, in which science and industry were benign forces leading us to the Future. But in the new post-'Sixties mindset consumption and wealth, technology and science and even rationality were suspect; the new cultural hero was the native person, conceived as a noble savage and of course under threat from the technologically–advanced colonizer. (Of course this wasn't really a clean break with the Enlightenment, more a rejiggering of the old Enlightenment/counter-Enlightenment Meccano set of ideas and themes.) As in '89, one part of the attraction of this new outlook was as a substitute for orthodox Communism: the arrival of mass prosperity made a Marxist proletarian revolution less likely and less justified, not joyful news for anyone who was hankering emotionally for one. (The arrival of the ICBM clearly must have been another powerful influence.)

Culturally, you can see this trend reflected and amplified in Hollywood—watch the Imperial Stormtroopers with their gucci kit being humiliated by the tribal, forest-dwelling Ewoks in <cite>Return of the Jedi</cite>: the Indians beating the cowboys, while the audience cheers. Or in things like the change of tone on <cite>Horizon</cite> which has been mentioned here earlier. It's also easy to see how the modern environmental movement which emerged from all this is basically the same one which was fighting genetically-modified food and animal testing in labs in the year 2000 as well as worrying about global warming or not long earlier acid rain. The pomo Science Wars flap from the '90s is another manifestation of the post-'Sixties climate.

(Whether all this was a bad thing or a good thing is much too wide-ranging a question to have a pat answer; and in any case it's quite off the topic of what did happen and why.)

And there's one more consequence of the 'Sixties which turns out to be important to us later: a reactionary movement this time. The modern "official skeptic" movement is formed in the '70s by people horrified by the rising popularity and near-respectability of things like telepathy research, ufology and astrology in the new post-'60s cultural/intellectual climate. Their familiar battlecry of "science is under attack, a new Dark Age is looming" dates back to this '70s juncture, a time when it had some bearing on reality. The movement has a cultural impact, building up a grassroots movement of activists and browbeating newspaper editors back into line on "fringe" topics, but it remains a minority, almost counter-cultural pastime at this stage. Its real time in the sun will come after the third big turning point: the aftermath of 9/11.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:03 AM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

I enjoyed Lord Donoughue's comments and his observations resonate with my own experiences.

I have faced the challenge of the moral common good of saving the planet. Given that we face many serious issues of pain and suffering, the moral question comes down to careful choice of which issues we wish to direct our attention to. We do not have the resources for all of them. If we make bad choices, the misallocation of resources will increase the sum total of pain and suffering.

In that context, is it truly the case that "solving climate change" is justified in terms of (otherwise) avoidable suffering?

The words of Svend Ferdinandsen are worth repeating (comment above Nov 15, 2014 at 10:30 PM): "Very few do evil deeds because they are evil. Mostly they are trying to do good, but forget to take all in concideration. And always be aware of those who want to save you."

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJordan

[snip] . I have read it it . While hitting some clever stereotypical expectations this is rubbish.

Who is first to admit this?

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:12 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I don't know what drugs TLITB is on, but I've got to get me some."

I assume he is drunk right now.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Religion has two dimensions: spiritual and moral. It's the latter that leads to authoritarian politics, be it communism, islamism or saving the planet.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gisin

Nov 15, 2014 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

+1. Well said.

Nov 16, 2014 at 2:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke in Central Illinois

Esmif, your "history" seems to be confined to the United States. The Global Warming issue was pushed into international politics by Margaret Thatcher, who was using it as a club to bashe the coal mining unions.

Since I am an old lefty myself, I find it very depressing to see so many left-wingers caught up in a scam initially peddled by right-wingers. (The Democrats in the US are right wingers. Just not as right wing as the Republicans. )

Nov 16, 2014 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoHa

Surely TLITB hasn't gone and done a BBD on us.

Nov 16, 2014 at 3:33 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

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