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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Sinners that repent

Some greens have seen the light on nuclear power and GM food. It's a start.

Update: I'd like to add one thing to the story below. Stewart Brand, who I know and admire, played a prominent part in the Channel 4 film. He's not a `convert' to these views. He has always been strongly pro-GM food and mildly pro-nuclear. So my comments here were not aimed at him.

 

Last night saw a TV programme in the UK called What the Green Movement Got Wrong, in which various greens admitted that they had done terrible harm by opposing nuclear power and GM food and indoor DDT. It was a pretty good programme, especially on Chernobyl.

But my first instinct was to say would it not be nice if the TV channels gave space to those who got these issues right from the start, rather than celebrating the converts? Or as James Delingpole puts it:

But why, pray, do they deserve any credit for reaching conclusions that those of us who aren't blinkered eco-zealots reached years ago?

What about the hundreds - perhaps thousands - of starving Zambians who died in the 2002 famine when, thanks to the misinformed campaigning of green activists like Lynas, the Zambian government refused to distribute US foreign aid packages of GM food?

What about all the honest, decent scientists and agricultural engineers and nuclear workers whose career path was stymied as a result of green hysteria?

My second instinct was to notice the glaring inconsistency in not even nodding at the possibility that if catastrophic prognostication was wrong for those issues, it might be wrong for climate change too. Or as Delingpole puts it so well:

Had these Greenies been capable of a scrap of insight or self-analysis, they would have understood that the current (now fading) hysteria about AGW comes from exactly the same school of junk science and muddled thinking that gave us Atomkraft Nein Danke and know-nothing idiots in masks and white jumpsuits (Lynas among them) destroying fields of GM crops.

My third instinct, though, is that hard as it is, we must welcome the apostates. Their conversion will do far more to worry the green movement than our effusions.

During the debate programme that came afterwards, Monbiot was allowed to get away with outrageous nonsense that the alarmists are being outspent by the sinister right-wing sceptic conspiracy with its `hundreds of millions of dollars'. He was sitting next to representatives of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. The latter alone spends $2.2 billion in ten years!!! Then there is the United Nations, lots of governments, most universities, most big corporations, the Grantham Institute, scores of pressure groups, the BBC, the Guardian, etc etc etc. The alarm industry is far, far better funded than the sceptics.