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Simon Singh and James Delingpole, both of whom I know, like
and respect as fine writers, have been disagreeing about climate
Beneath Simon's latest blog on the subject there is a
debate in which several very sensible and non-inflammatory things
are said by Bishop Hill and Paul Dennis. Do read it.
An especially good comment came from Climate Resistance, who
spoke for me and I suspect many others when he asked:
I want to know what it means to 'reject
manmade climate change'.
If I say that the consequences of climate
change have been exaggerated, do I 'reject manmade climate
If I say that climate change is the issue on
which an authoritarian, illiberal and regressive form of politics
is being established, do I 'reject manmade climate change'?
If I say that 'science' is being used to
provide moral and political authority to otherwise hollow agendas,
do I 'reject manmade climate change'?
It seems to me that 'accepting climate
change' has much less to do with science that it has to do with
accepting a moral and political argument. After all, nobody is
making films about 'trust' in science being 'attacked' because
large numbers of the public don't have a sufficient grasp of some
obscure branch of physics or other. Nobody is tweeting about
dishonourable/unintelligent 'numpties' who don't understand quantum
Furthermore, it seems obvious to me that
there are positions between 'accepting manmande climate change' and
'rejecting manmade climate change'. But Simon only seems to allow
us to disagree or agree. Is this reduction of a complex debate into
simple, true/false, science vs numpty categories really
The IPCC `consensus', remember, is that
Most of the observed increase in
global average temperatures since the mid-20th century
is very likely due to the observed increase in
anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.
And that the temperature will rise by 1.1C-6.4C by the end of the
Since these two statements include distinctly undangerous
possibilities, there is absolutely no consensus that climate change
will definitely be dangerous. Lukewarmers like me have become
convinced that the lower end of `most' and the lower end of the
temperature range are more likely, and furthermore that drastic
action to curb carbon emissions soon would `very likely' do more
harm than good to both the economy and the environment. That
opinion is not what people such as Simon Singh think of when they
mean the consensus, but it is well within the consensus.