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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)

you are saying TLITB is scarily challenging me

You give yourself too much credit. When someone says something that makes no sense at all it is not a challenge
but merely a curiosity, like a chicken with three legs.

Nov 16, 2014 at 5:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterrabbit

And before anyone else does, I will point out that Thatcher later changed her tune on the matter, but it was too late. The damage had been done.

Nov 16, 2014 at 6:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoHa

Watching the BBC news from about 04:30 this morning the broadcast kept cutting across to Australia updating the viewers on the state of play as to the late arrival of Tony Abbott and his G20 closing address to the press. The build up went on for the best part 30 minutes with the event underway 10 or 15 minutes later than planned. After 3 or 4 minutes of broadcasting the the BBC cut away rather abruptly to broadcast a news item that had been on the TV for the last 3 or 4 days nothing in my opinion worthy of cutting away from a live broadcast from Australia so I switched channel to CNN and found Mr Abbott giving the journalist his views on energy and climate change.

I don't suppose the BBC cut the broadcast short because they new Abbott was siding with coal and suspected his views to the press might be controversial.

Nov 16, 2014 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Certainly not restricted to British leftists.

"...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..."

Perhaps. But as KNR identifies they have this watermelon image. On top of that, their "contribute to the common good" quickly assumes the classic fire and brimstone evocative manner combined with viewing all before them as damned or saved. Not forgetting that every dyed in the wool leftist fervently believes it is their personal mission adjudicate whether a soul is permanently damned or one of the worthy by the loudest most shrill methods possible.

When attempting to discuss science and data with leftists willing to attempt such discussions one quickly reaches levels where science is either denied, ignored or both.

Possibly worse is when semi-rational leftists exhaust their repertoire of settled science claims they fall back onto emotional gut questions like; e.g. "Don't you believe man is responsible?", "Wouldn't you agree that mankind has upset the balance of nature?"

It has always been a question of faith. Pragmatists who question faith attempting to discover any of the science are reviled as infidels.
A very ugly repercussion from this is how those with the 'faith' have substantially damaged science through intolerance of anyone following the scientific method.

Nov 16, 2014 at 7:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Martyn, that's interesting.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Climate change in G20 communique after 'trench warfare'
-"The final G20 communique includes a significant passage on climate change after "difficult discussions" among leaders on Sunday, and despite an impassioned defence of coal and fossil fuel industry by prime minister Tony Abbott."

The front of the BBC website reports

Abbott outlines G20 economic pledges.
-"Australian PM Tony Abbott brings the G20 to a close with pledges to boost the global economy, while Russian leader Vladimir Putin leaves the summit early."

The linked article makes no mention of what he actually said about the BBC's pet subject. However, they did find time and space to insert information about Koala bears and some cute pictures of them posing with leaders' spouses.

Nov 16, 2014 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

An excellent exposure of the man-made global warming scam is given in the book “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science” by Dr Tim Ball. The preface of his book is available at

Nov 16, 2014 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Brodie

I didn't read what leopard wrote until now... gee, .

Wonder what's going on.

Nov 16, 2014 at 8:40 AM | Registered Commentershub

'That it enables self righteous middle class posturers to parade their assumed moral superiority'

Pretty much sums it up for me.

Sanctimonious bastards.

Nov 16, 2014 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

IOW, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In my experience, good intentions can be far more dangerous than bad ones, not least because bad ones generally have a narrow focus. Apart from in comics and the movies, evil people rarely have global ambitions - they'll settle for personal vindictiveness, private financial gain on a relatively small scale, or blowing up a building or two.

Whereas the entire Green movement wants to control the whole planet and everyone on it. With the best of intentions, of course. Similarly, radical Muslims want to control entire countries to save them from the infidel - who'd want Afghanistan in the hope of personal gain?

As a policy analyst, I found over and over again that "good intentions" tend to lead to perverse consequences.

That is the great failure of ideologues everywhere, but is especially prevalent on the Left, which continues in the face of all evidence to believe in the perfectibility of people and society by means of government intervention.

Nov 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

"Instead of selling the populace the dream of a coming Worker’s Utopia, sell them the vision of getting back to some equally mythical Garden of Eden. Instead of telling them they had to fight Capitalism or be exploited by it, tell them that they had to fight Capitalism, because it was destroying the Earth. Instead of telling them that individual liberty had to be sacrificed in the greater interest of the state, tell them it had to be minutely controlled in the greater interest of the environment. Instead of the state controlling and using all the organs of the media as propaganda outlets, let an overwhelmingly left-wing media, do it for you voluntarily. Any opposition to the movement was never to have a platform."


Nov 16, 2014 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

The second point is the critical one for 2015.

Nov 16, 2014 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Global carbon use is absolutely inelastic to politics and policy-making. Look at Figs 1 and 5 on this page:

Fig 4 shows North American coal consumption to have slightly increased from 1965. 1965 is a long time ago - many, many political trends have washed over and receded. It changed nothing. Look at the pathetic sliver for Africa. - near invisible in 1965, barely a smidgen in 2013.

To bring global coal consumption down, you would have to force the world to go back to 1965, i.e., ask China, India, Brazil and Russia to de-industrialized. What 'politics' - right or left - is capable of accomplishing this? None of them.

Nov 16, 2014 at 9:52 AM | Registered Commentershub

I don't know what drugs TLITB is on, but I've got to get me some.
Nov 16, 2014 at 12:35 AM | rabbit

I shouldn't bother. They seem to induce paranoia.

Nov 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

The whole global warming scam is undoubtedly due to the confluence of politics and pseudo-religious need. If you look at the subject of global warming in a properly objective and scientifically rigorous way the alarmism disappears. Compare the claims of the most enthusiastic alarmists with the real world and it is laughable just how wide is the divide. As each mechanism of doom fails to deliver it is claimed to be a postponement and the eventual consequences made even worse. That otherwise intelligent people can deny what is staring them in the face shows there is some form of psychological dependency underlying this.

Nov 16, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Lord Donoughue~ permission to repost your thoughts to another site?

Nov 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

The 'Greens' are not concerned about the environment, or about 'sustainability' (whatever that means), or about poverty. They clearly aren't in favour of industry or anything that has proven successful at reducing poverty and making everyones lives more comfortable, and are not particularly concerned about pollution unless it suit's them to target some with that accusation. But not others, (and never themselves.)

They sit upon the branch we all sit upon and happily busy themselves at sawing it off.

All this is obvious, but we still waste time by crediting them with these concerns, to the detriment of those that really are concerned about our environment but aren't calling themselves 'green'.

They have enlisted the aid of many others to promote the myth they wished to create, simply by repeating it over and over until most other people repeat it too. Many of them are victims of their own scam and seem to believe it also, but fumble and become lost for words to explain it when seriously challenged.

What makes us fall so easily for such shallow tricks? What leads us even in debate to cede moral high ground to them that they don't occupy, as a starting point, and then attempt to push against nothing at all, because they aren't there to push against.

Who really gains from this illusion and confusion?

Nov 16, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

To improve my understanding of this global warming development, and to put on the first glove of historical perspective, I read this link:

Nov 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commenteroebele bruinsma

For a second level of understanding I may recommend the translation of this historic "development" in economic terms:

Nov 16, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commenteroebele bruinsma

I haven't commented here for quite some time and am not sure if this will get through - I don't really mind if it doesn't. This post is essentially a diatribe in which the author is labeling the Left as being failed Marxists, that accepting climate science is a form faith-based belief, and that anyone who uses the term denier has Stalinist tendencies. This appears somewhat ironic given that I haven't seen anyone who uses denier link it to the holocaust (the only ones who do so are those who complain about it) and yet someone criticising its use is happy to associate those who use it with a murderous dictator. Not that I really care, mind you. I find the whole whining about labeling a bit pathetic.

I have, however, for quite some time held the view that actual dialogue is not possible. Sometimes I feel that this is rather cynical and maybe I should consider that it is actually possible and that some of this is because of how I've chosen to engage. Maybe I could have behaved differently and maybe it would have been possible to have some actual dialogue. It's post like this that make me think that I'm wrong. It really isn't possible, is it? Cue abuse?

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

"I am a left wing climate sceptic and a highly qualified scientist.". I'm trying to work out how the latter item of information is relevant to the point you're making. I do so hope you're not making an argument from authority. Sounds a bit like 'trust me, I'm a doctor'.

I dare say (and indeed there are) quite a number of those contributing to this column who are distinguished in their field but we listen to their reasoned point rather than rely on their credentials.

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

The rise of environmentalism in the 1960s and 70s in the West had nothing to do with evil capitalists jumping on the bandwagon to cash in - that came later.

It was overwhelmingly driven by genuine, if misguided and naive, idealists who had "good intentions." Note that at that time Marxists were still a force to be reckoned with and believed, at least nominally, in science, industry and human progress. There was seepage between the two movements, some of which was a deliberate ploy by the Marxists to infiltrate and annex green outfits to their own causes. Ironically, in the end the reverse occurred, but that is another story.

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

"All this is obvious, but we still waste time by crediting them with these concerns" fenbeagle.

Ill applied concern is still concern. It would be unfair to say that greens don't think they care about the issues they campaign for, they just have a warped ability to apply the right solutions. We all know people who are poor at solving or even understanding problems. Just because they're ineffectual doesn't mean they don't mean what they say. If you had to collect together a larger group of time wasters and pointless busy bodies I can't think how you'd better the warmist movement. Celebs, politicians, religious types, every crackpot activist and anti progress nut out there. The only thing they're really, really good at is spending other people's money, but they have their own convictions. Convictions all the stronger because they're not blunted by an appreciation of the practicalities of life.

For them the world IS black and white, it's why they really can't understand the many shades of sceptic grey. Even when they accept the picture is unclear, they don't admit it because they're all about belief and facts don't matter much in that mindset.

That old saying 'when a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything' is wrong. Those who are passionate believers are a personality type. If not god, then they seek something else to believe in. Dawkins is as passionate an atheist as the religious people he condemns. Most of us can take or leave religion and that is the true opposite to belief. One of the reasons it's so hard to organise sceptics is because we aren't unifocus people. We see the benefit of applying some effort to climate scepticism but mostly we have other issues that take precedence. Most of us are open to a wide range of climate possibilities but we are reacting against the polarised view of warmists.

So the problem with warmists and greens is not a lack of genuine concern for AGW but their inability to consider all the other issues at the same time.

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"I have, however, for quite some time held the view that actual dialogue is not possible." ATTP.

You read Lord Donoughue's post and found nothing to agree with. You gained no understanding of how sceptics think from how he saw the greens on his own side. You just want to find a magic key to get us to agree with you and you didn't find it so you whinge about us. So yes, dialogue is not possible. How's that going for you? CO2 falling yet?

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Life is really simple.

The reason the Left is all in for climate change is the need to convince the commoner the totalitarianism they desire is acceptable. Everything from the Left, be it fascism or statism or social justice or communism or the vagracies of the Labour Party is all about imposing dictatorial will on a frothing mass. They even write about it. Oh, and have you ever wonder why all the Gorbache-communists now orbit the Greens and Climate "science"?

If you Brits haven't heard about a lefty named Gruber, do a search. That is if you're not too "stupid" (per Gruber).

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

You read Lord Donoughue's post and found nothing to agree with.
I am struggling. It's not that I disagree with every single sentence, but I'm finding it difficult to find a broader point that I agree with. On the other hand, are there people on the left who are using climate change to promote their own political agenda? I'm sure there are. Are their people who simply believe climate science because it suits their narrative and their political goals? Sure. That, however, doesn't really appear to be what the post is suggesting. It just appears to be a simplistic diatribe against a very large and diverse group with whom the author disagrees.

You gained no understanding of how sceptics think from how he saw the greens on his own side.
If this article does reflect how sceptics think and how he sees the Greens on his own side, I fail to see how that would be something worth promoting. It appears narrow-minded and insulting.

You just want to find a magic key to get us to agree with you and you didn't find it so you whinge about us.
Nope, not in the slightest. I might be interested in finding a way to have a discussion that didn't degenerate into an insulting slanging match, but am unconvinced that that is actually possible - which I really all I was suggesting.

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

I think you're wandering off the topic but I'll reply anyway.
Of course dialogue is possible. All it needs is for both sides (dialogue needs two sides, the clue is in the word!) to engage.
Engagement means avoiding ad hominems, accepting that the other side may just possibly have a point of view, and above all listening and responding to those views.
I don't hear a lot of that from those defending the global warming hypotheses. What I do hear (and read) is a stout defence of more extreme situations than the science — as provided by AR5, for example, which is supposed to be the best up-to-date and accurate summary thereof — warrants and an obsession with "being right" rather than "getting it right".
As witness the speed with which any paper that queries any aspect of the hypothesis is rebutted, rejected or simply panned out of existence even before the rebutters, rejecters or panners can have had time to read the abstract!
What I also hear, virtually every day, is the sound of minds slamming shut. Lawson is not allowed even to discuss the economics of climate change for all that was the reason for setting up the GWPF and the man is a former Chancellor. To take one example; there are numerous others.
Yes, by all means let's engage. But the climate activists do need to modify their behaviour vis-a-vis those who disagree with their conclusions and whom they offensively call "deniers" or categorise (inaccurately and deviously) as conspiracy-theorists or even criminals and the genuine scientists have to accept a certain level of responsibility for allowing the non-scientists (that is the non-climate scientists) to mislead the politicians and the public on their behalf.
The one thing which is singularly lacking in this whole debate is a proper sense of humility, something out of fashion in the Allaboutme Age but an essential for both good science and good human relations.
And good debate.

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Environmentalism appeals to the us vs them mentality of the Left, us being the downtrodden, them being the exploiters such as farmers and large corporations, especially those in the fossil fuel and agriculture businesses.

The Right needs to maintain its involvement in environmentalism, not cede it completely to the Left.

Nov 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Engagement means avoiding ad hominems, accepting that the other side may just possibly have a point of view, and above all listening and responding to those views.
Agreed. I do think, however, that your criticism may be a tad one-sided. I'm more than willing to accept that the rhetoric on what you would probably call the "alarmist side" is not always ideal, or even very good sometimes. I would suggest, however, that you read some of the comment streams on some high-profile "skeptic" blogs with a bit more of an open mind, As I may have said before, I'm amazed that scientists at the Met Office are still willing to comment here. I wouldn't, If it was me.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

I've said it before. "CAGW" has allowed the lunatic left and rent-a-mob to align itself with the establishment.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

ATTP one of the first things he writes about is the faith based nature of AGW belief. Tell me, how may warmists actually know much about what's really happening with climate? Do they know which bits of Al Gore's movie is wrong? Can they tell you if hurricanes are increasing or not? Will most of them respond with '97% of climate scientists say' if they're asked a difficult question? In other words, the vast majority of people supporting (or disputing) climate do so with almost no knowledge at all. ie faith based. Why is that? Why, decades after Hansen's 1988 presentation, are we all so unsure of the basic facts? Is that not something that warmists could solve? But you won't. You fear the raw facts aren't convincing enough, so you wrap them up in spin and interpretation so that we make the 'right' decision. Well to us it looks a lot like lying. Very quickly we stop listening to liars, even when they have something important to say.

When sceptics write, we echo many of the people of this planet. We are telling you over and over what problems we have with the science and the solutions. We tell you what needs to change or be improved. But instead of listening, you see it as a challange and fight back. Fine, do it your way. It's not like you need everyone on board with cutting CO2... oh hang on, you do.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

#DeniedDebate - No leftwing skeptics, well of course not it is NOT ALLOWED, try setting up your climate skeptic bookstall at a green/left event and see what happens.
Strangely green/left became the epitome of fascism. You'd expect freedom of thought, but step out of line e.g. on climate, or things like political correctness, immigration etc. and the atmosphere will quickly become toxic and the person is heavily berated.
- With this level of control people come to live in the Lala-land fantasy universe" note this morning on Radio4 Broadcasting House the panel of media bubble luvvies were united in calling UKIP" the voice of BNP",
one of them the unelected policy maker Lord Winston expressed hope (and certainty) that such people won't come to effect our laws .. The reason I say "media bubble" is cos whatever your politics the fact is 4 million people voted for UKIP and in the last by-election and the next it seems like the largest part of the electorate will vote for them. And that the left certainly expect these peoples tax money to fund green-loony policies..
-Saying that taxation without representation is OK is echoed in ATTP's* comment "I have, however, for quite some time held the view that actual dialogue is not possible" ..which he says he is reconsidering ..Wow the arrogance ..Of course the debate has always been open from this side. We've never thought there was an option to close it, as this is a society of equals not a world where an aristocracy of self appointed DramaGreens benevolently govern us,

* I pity the poor guy, "I find the whole whining about labelling a bit pathetic.". There are contexts for labeling e.g. there is evidence that ATTP is a Serial Deceiver from the very beginning. He started off with a deceptive blog name, and then relabelled it; but also deceptively trying to gain credibility by claiming his views are "Physics" ..just as ambush website cynically led by trying to hijack those respected terms, but has dragged them down into the mud.

(apologies for not having time to read properly previous comments etc.)

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Stop derailing, ATTP. Dialogue is not the topic here.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

- Note that green/left contradiction
"We love minorities, they are special" .. "Shutup skeptics, we can totally dismiss your views, cos skeptics are a minority*"

* "Skeptics are a minority" I doubt that . Probably another one of the warmists fantasies as there is little evidence in free elections that people vote for DramaGreen policies, note how the Australian Carbon tax was imposed through the lie "We will not have a carbon tax"

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Others have pointed out that the collapse of the leftist empire, the USSR, and the success of the utter transformation of China from Maoism to a mixed economy was for our lefty friends a world shaking event.
When early Christians were faced with huge persecutions and challenges they found comfort in the idea of the apocalypse. The most famous example of that is now the last book in the Bible, the Revelation of St. John. Our lefty friends were primed and ready to find an apocalypse they could blame on all they believe in their hearts is behind the collapse of their political religion. The climate apocalypse filled their needs perfectly.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The physics of harum-scarum.
If the shoes fit, wear 'em.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

ATTP "I do think, however, that your criticism may be a tad one-sided."

Whoever said you'd get a level playing field? Your side is asking for something huge. It demands it, instead of acting with humility at the enormity of the request. It expects awe and gratitude before it's convinced the target audience the demand is justified.

When all but three MPs voted for the Climate Change Act, they did so out of ignorance. They did so as an act of faith in science and as people who were ignorant and insulated to the problems inherent in the proposed solutions. The population have ignored their negligent leaders and voted with their carbon footprints. That's what happens when you try to take shortcuts and use faith rather than facts.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

It is no doubt true that many bright and decent people continued to defend Communist governments in the face of considerable evidence of the harm they did to their own people. This became more difficult with the fall of the Soviet Union, so some fellow travellers shifted to environmentalism. In the meantime, however, many bright and decent people had already become environmentalists with, shall we say, a certain disregard for evidence. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is a great example, and she helped bring the work of British "ecologists" to the U.S.

There is a big question of group think: what causes bright and decent people to get caught up in a cause that makes them pick and choose evidence in a somewhat cavalier way? How does politics--being on the right side, being a person with the right views--prevail over education, scientific training, ordinary skepticism, etc.? How does group think work when it comes precisely to educated people? This is far more interesting than the well-known phenomena of stupid people doing stupid things, or people who have a financial interest to defend doing exactly that.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterLloyd R

I don't recall where I read this, but someone once posted the observation that the Left had the wagon packed and ready and was standing around waiting for something to pull it. Then along came 'global warming'.

The congruency between the measures 'required to combat global warming' and what the Left has historically advocated is so strong that only the wilfully blind cannot recognise it for what it is.

As for Lord Donaghue, we clearly do not share the same definitions of the words 'bad' or 'stupid'. I consider it stupid to believe in catastrophic AGW and bad to behave as so many on the Left do in pursuit of this delusion.

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

A lot more on this theme in Andy West's paper on the CAGW 'Memeplex', as featured @ BH last year

Nov 16, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Drew

The left have never been driven by a desire to be kind or driven by a desire to improve the common good. They are vile, envious hate filled people who wish to have power over other people.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterandy

Just as now, major events were sought to be driven by science at the the turn of the last century. Eugenics played a major part in shaping German Nazi history. Economic scientism was dear to the Communists. The 'success' of science in this role has two criteria:

- is it useful to persuade or bulldoze opponents into submission?
- does it accomplish what it sets out for itself?

Science has proved very successful in the former. In the latter, directed top-down implementation science accomplishes exactly the opposite of its stated aims - genocide and economic destruction. It should be considered an axiom: Never translate science directly into wide-spread, blanket policy.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commentershub

I don't consider I'm being 'unfair' at all. Or that many people who embrace 'green' don't mean well bydoing this. I do however consider the 'Green' movement (which is a political movement as well as a political party). and the more recent spin off 'sustainalism' to be dangerous movements that should not be ceded any ground at all that they haven't earned, as this is clearly unfair to everyone else, who then (by implication,) are considered less concerned, or not concerned at all.

...A political trap, like considering socialists as being more 'sociable' than non socialists. Or communists as more concerned about the community than non communists...... We can surely see above this?...... Ignore the dogma, consider the individual.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

I thought Lord Donoughue's piece was very honest and thoughtful and I was very interested in his explanation.

I would add, from my own observations, that those on the left are more likely to become activists, form movements and mobilise mass actions than those on the right. They seem more likely to turn an opinion into a mission.

In contrast, I think that those leaning to the right tend to judge things on their merits and not be over influenced by whether it presents idealogical opportunities. They tend to operate as individuals and are less likely to create a movement to further the cause. They tend not to regard their preferred course of action as either a struggle or a cause.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

off topic but more greens go by air. This time Bono on a learjet.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterpeter

I fear that this article is a serious misreading of the history of the British Left. While it's tempting to remark that the fall of the USSR discombobulated the Left (Lord Lawson is fond of retailing this idea), in truth it was the serial defeats inflicted upon the working class movement by Mrs Thatcher and the retreat of the trades union leadership which disorientated what was left of the Socialist movement in the UK. There was never much support for the Soviet Union here after the shocking treatment of the Czech uprising. The CPGB had withered from 200,000 members post war to less than 10,000 when it made its switch to Euro-Communism in the late 1970s.

The rotation into "green" politics in the late 1980s was as much a symptom of defeat as of a positive move. Any reading of the Communist Manifesto must conclude that industrialisation is a necessary evil, given that a) it mobilises huge productive forces which free people from mediaeval drudgery, and b) it creates a self conscious proletariat with its own political agenda. Anyone can see this in action as China has developed over the last 20 years.

The adherence of the European "Left" to corporate Greenery is more to do with how it has evolved into a Statist sensibility (which has contempt for the working class it is supposed to represent). That's how we end up with the ex-Maoist Barroso heading up the EU. The narrative it espouses is a struggle for State control of pernicious corporates. Each trope, whether smoking, "environment", or diet, is accompanied by a "big" something -- tobacco, oil, food -- which is attempting to "destroy" the world (although why.. they don't say). Street activists can be mobilised by these children's tales. Anti-capitalism is evoked, although these movements are actually anti-industrialist, anti-growth, and heavily funded by retired tycoons. Imposing bodies are established to lobby the very governments who pay for them. And the corporate agenda is well served by the subsequent Byzantine regulation which is enacted.

There's nothing left-wing about any of this. Both the socialist and environmental movements have been hijacked and sold to the highest bidder. In evidence I give you Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBraqueish

Among many great comments hunter just has nailed it, as did mailman some way back in the thread.

The Left have hijacked environmentalism as their preferred vehicle to deliver policy-change on a global basis. They're using environmentalism to implement their aims - which are almost always deliberately misrepresented via a series of alarmist re-brands. (Note how NO dissent is tolerated, which clashes horribly with so-called 'liberal' values.)

An unholy alliance of ex-Marxists, Socialists and Communists + Noble cause + moral superiority + suppression of opposition + evangelist zeal = dangerous zealots. Their demise cannot come about quickly enough.

Nov 16, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

fenbeagle "I do however consider the 'Green' movement (which is a political movement as well as a political party). and the more recent spin off 'sustainalism' to be dangerous movements."

On that we absolutely agree and it seems we both accept than many of those who follow those political lines firmly believe they're doing the right thing. It's part of what makes them harder to deal with. Funnily, I've had plenty of arguments with warmists about whether sceptics genuinely have a problem with the science and I'm told we do believe the science but for some obscure reasoning ignore it. I point out that surely we should know our own minds. They reply that either we’re deluded or lying. Where do they go from there? They’ll never be able to persuade us to stop lying about the science because we’re not lying about it. Similarly we won’t be able to persuade warmists they’re not concerned for the planet because they are. We might be able to persuade them that their concern is at best premature and at worst, wrong.

The left (indeed the whole UK) need to stop trying to solve the World’s problems and instead focus a little closer to home. It’s arrogant in the extreme for scientists and activists to march about the global stage demanding international action, when they’ve failed to convince their own people.

Nov 16, 2014 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


Absolutely correct. I cover Thatcher, Gore and Pachauri on the politics page. All three deeply connected to the oil industry.

Many of the biggest political promoters of global warming like Gore, Thatcher and IPCC chief, Pachauri are closely connected to the oil and gas industry. Al Gore spent his entire career fronting for Occidental Oil - (his father was a director) Margaret Thatcher ( her husband was a director of Burmah Oil), Kenneth Lay (Enron), Rajendra K Pachauri (director of Indian Oil Corp.even during his time as head of the IPCC ).

Nov 16, 2014 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Global warming is the biggest banking scam in history. Big business awarded itself trillions of dollars in free carbon credits. That's why you used to read daily updates on Tesco saving energy. It meant they could sell their carbon credits on.

Carbon credits bring Lakshmi Mittal £1bn bonanza

LAKSHMI MITTAL, Britain’s richest man, stands to benefit from a £1 billion windfall from a European scheme to curb global warming. His company ArcelorMittal, the steel business where he is chairman and chief executive, will make the gain on “carbon credits” given to it under the European emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The scheme grants companies permits to emit CO2 up to a specified “cap”. Beyond this they must buy extra permits. An investigation has revealed that ArcelorMittal has been given far more carbon permits than it needs. It has the largest allocation of any organisation in Europe

Nov 16, 2014 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion." - Prof Steven Weinberg - Nobel Prize in Physics 1979.

Nov 16, 2014 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

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