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Net zero and the politics of narcissism Climate hysteria is symptomatic of our absurdist age

'I'm not a climate sceptic' (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

'I'm not a climate sceptic' (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)


September 23, 2023   5 mins

Earlier this week, John Gray visited the UnHerd Club. Below is an edited excerpt from his interview with Freddie Sayers. 

I’m not a climate sceptic. I’m a disciple in that regard of a great friend who died recently, James Lovelock. He used to say that climate science is inexact, but if it has a bias, it’s probably towards underestimating the speed of climate change. He thought that climate change would consist of sudden jumps and it could transform things quite quickly, in a couple of decades. We might be in the middle of it. That’s my view — I’m not a climate sceptic.

What I am very sceptical about is net zero, and the kind of conventional green policies that are being launched. Firstly, they were launched before the infrastructure was there — before the technology was developed that could make them work. No consideration was given to the fact that many of the raw materials that were needed for the inputs, the batteries and so on, were now substantially or even largely controlled by China in Africa and elsewhere. It’s in Africa that the Great Game of the 19th century is being refought.

Now, they might be found in other countries; in Sweden and America, various deposits have been found. But they are not easily developed. And in the meantime, these programmes can’t go ahead. Nor were the economic costs of these green programmes properly assessed. There was a constant insistence that they would be job-creative. Even in America, they haven’t been that job-creative. And remember, America is very big, and can throw very large amounts of money at these things — the Green New Deal is largely a protectionist scheme. We can’t do that because we’re too small; we’re too exposed to flows of international capital. The idea that in Britain or in Europe these programmes could ever possibly work — it’s a bit like suffering from cancer and using candle therapy.

 

Some people might say: “But we’ve got to, we’ve got to show that we’re on the right side, we’ve got to accomplish it, even if other people don’t do it.” I think that’s the politics of narcissism: “I want to feel good.” But in the meantime, you’re wasting resources and you’re wasting time. There is a serious possibility that we’re now in the early stages of runaway climate change. We should be focusing everything we’ve got — not on having an infinitesimal impact on global carbon levels, which would be the case even if the whole net-zero programme was implemented, but on policies of adaptation. And adaptation is not going to be easy. Remember, most climate scientists agree that once human-induced climate change is in the works, it goes on for decades or even centuries. You can’t just stop it. There’s a general idea among environmentalists that we started this so we can stop it. They are wrong. We started it, probably, but we can’t stop it.

I’ve said previously we’re living in an age of tragedy. I’m not too sure about that anymore. I think we’ve advanced further than tragedy. We’re entering an age of absurdity. Consider German climate policy. Germany, as we keep hearing, is incomparably more adult, more advanced, more modern, and in every way superior to bungling Britain. But in Germany, the result of their closing down of nuclear and going for renewables has been an increased reliance on the dirtiest kind of coal. Well, this is tragic, but it’s even more than tragic. It is completely absurd.

And it’s difficult to put these arguments forward because people start shouting at you or they start crying or they say they can’t get up in the morning. I rather brutally suggest: “Well don’t. Stay in bed until you get a better reason for getting up. And if you don’t, well, there we are. Progress always has casualties.”

One of the great books of the last century in English was by the American scholar, Philip Rieff, called Freud: The Mind of the Moralist. He quotes a wonderful letter of Freud’s, in which he describes how his aim in therapy was not to enable people to realise themselves or to achieve happiness — his aim was to change hysterical misery into the everyday suffering of normal human life. Today, that’s been somehow forgotten.

Rieff later wrote a book called The Triumph of the Therapeutic, in which he said that a therapeutic model of behaviour was spreading through every part of society. Rather than using moral terms or even political terms, people started using psychoanalytical terms. “What do you want out of this? I want closure.” Well, the thing about Freud is there’s never any closure. Closure is impossible for Freud. We bear the scars as well as the good things from infancy, whatever we do. I think conventional climate policy is for therapeutic people to feel good. They don’t want to feel powerless, so they deceive themselves.

But with these policies, there is also the question of political legitimacy. And what’s being discovered now is that there are limits to political legitimacy for policies that severely disrupt the practical lives and incomes of large numbers of people in society. So, if you impose a Ulez scheme in an area where there’s practically no public transport, that has a severe impact on people trying to get to work. And there’s also the subjective feeling, which is very important, of being imprisoned in one of these 15-minute cities — of somebody doing something to you which you resist.

In London, there are reports of people going round and smashing or disabling Ulez cameras. What will happen is that these numbers will build and either the policy will eventually be overturned or you’ll have a period of anarchy. I remember when Thatcher, having tried and failed to impose the poll tax in Scotland, introduced it in England. And this happens to all leaders, whether they are liberals or not. They tend to become anti-empirical. They double down instead of learning from their mistakes. For Thatcher, this resulted in riots and her being toppled. And something similar could happen with these green policies — because not only is it a huge blow to the worldview of the technocratic elites who support it, but also to our perception of their competence.

So what’s the solution? In Britain, I have a tiny sliver of hope. I’m hoping for a hung parliament, which might not happen because Labour has been rejuvenated in Scotland. But if it doesn’t get a working majority, there is a realistic chance of electoral reform. The only way you can really have any new ideas filtering into politics is by creating new incentives, which involves the destruction of the existing party framework. And the parties would split immediately. Perhaps two or three parts of Labour will split: you could have a real socialist party (hopefully non-Corbynite); you could have a green party but not not a not a conventional green party; you could have a liberal party; you could have a libertarian party. You could have a variety of parties, and that would be a much healthier situation. I think that’s still possible. There’s a sliver of hope.

The full discussion with John Gray will be available shortly on UnHerd’s YouTube channel. John Gray’s new book, The New Leviathans, is published by Penguin.


John Gray is a political philosopher and author. His books include Seven Types of Atheism, False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism, and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and The Death of Utopia.


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Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
9 months ago

Starting with the end; Germany has PR, and since the end of 2021 a government comprised of the socialist SPD, the Greens and the liberals of the FDP. As would be expected, It has been a complete disaster.
Leaving aside the debate about climate change, the trajectory of Net Zero is somewhat predictable
In due course it will be increasingly obvious to an ever greater number of people that the “green revolution” that promised cheap abundant green energy, countless new jobs and energy security was complete hokum and the exact opposite is the case. An energy system based on renewables will cost untold trillions to implement and, to deal with the intermittency problem, will require the maintenance of an entire secondary generation system based on fossil fuels until commercially viable long term grid level storage capacity becomes available. A detailed analysis by MIT suggests that such technology may be available in around 23-30 years time. Energy will be prohibitively expensive and rationed. Our industry will be shut down with attendant job losses, and our standard of living will be greatly diminished.
But people are simply not going to put up with that future. Governments imposing these costs on society will be booted out. There will be ever increasing social disobedience and unrest. As more and more countries throw the towel in, the futility for other countries still making sacrifices will become apparent, the whole scheme will collapse and countries will scramble back to fossil fuels.
Going back to the author’s friend, James Lovelock, he was adamant that the only viable solution was the embrace of nuclear power. He ridiculed the idea that renewables could supply the needs of modern economies, On this I think he was entirely right. Going full in on nuclear as quickly as possible rather than getting side tracked by the environmentalists’ fetishistic attachment to a fantasy of renewables will be a guarantee of a dependable source of all our energy needs and energy security, for many decades.

Last edited 9 months ago by Marcus Leach
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

The collapse of net zero is inevitable. The question still remains how much social and economic damage will be inflicted beforehand. I suppose if we jumped off the train right away, the damage will be manageable. I’m lucky to live in Canada. We have energy abundance. Britain and Europe will be the canary in the coal mine. We can witness the damage across the Atlantic before it hits us. Still, Ford and GM are investing $85 billion in EVs. They are shutting down ICE lines to make EVs. There will be economic harm created by this. Then there’s the billions upon billions invested in battery manufacturing, most of which is destined to be wasted. I know it’s not right, but I have this morbid fascination to see how this absurdity plays out, even knowing the pain and suffering that might be inflicted by it.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Good points all! How will this epic folly plsy out? I was intrigued by Gray’s suggestion that a Great Awakening and Realignment may happen in politics. For a moment…but realistically they are so low calibre – and – as we are debating elsewhere – real power has been stolen by the Unelected Perma Blob . These CCC Petty Dictators are immune (pension/property) to the public immiseration their neglect of cheap energy and cheap housing and open door insanity has caused. That leaves just one possible catalyst for revolutionary change; a Crash. A very very Big One. Brace!

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes, it’s the same question as with mass immigration, trans ideology and the rest of the woke nonsense; it’s all destined to terminate in social and economic catastrophe, but how far will it go and what damage will it do before it comes off the rails?
Examples of politicians continuing to waste enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money on things that have become futile or economically unviable are plentiful. We cannot depend on a political awaking on fiscal responsibility to save us.
As we know, climate catastrophism has become a quasi-religious belief within the dogma of the leftist “progressive” class that has come to dominate our institutions and positions of power. They will use all tools at their disposal, and all methods fair and foul, to fight manically against any retreat from Net Zero. They will subvert government policy from the inside; use control over education to indoctrinate children; use their dominance in cultural institutions to demonise opposition and continue the apocalyptic narrative to deceive and terrify the populace.
The army of NGOs and the now large number of business with billions invested in the “green revolution” with be using the courts, lobbying and bribes to ensure government presses ahead.
Realistically, then, we cannot expect either the political system or our institutions to save us. The end will come when either the money runs out, or when ordinary people just can’t take any more impoverishment, and serious civil disorder breaks out. At that point the State will lose its ability to function or will cease to have the legitimate authority to govern, and in doing so will no longer be able to proceed with the futility of Net Zero.
Given that the majority of western countries are massively in debt and are essentially insolvent; only continuing to function through accumulating more debt, it might be a surprisingly short time before the dire financial reality of national finances, when faced with exorbitant cost of Net Zero, will produce enough economic and social calamity to bring the folly to an abrupt end.

Last edited 9 months ago by Marcus Leach
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

It is also a spiritual madness which only a spiritual great awakening can save us from. Meanwhile we murder millions of babies as birth control, believe we can change to another sex etc. etc. And we have sex slavery in the world which has now reached 60 million with most of them being children.Surely this global warming deception is the fruit of our godlessness?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The amount of money Canada is putting into ‘subsidies’ for EV manufacturers (in Ontario of course) is irrational. 23 Billion. Inflation adjusted we built the trans Canada railway for less. All for a technology that consumers don’t want, requires government subsidies to even exist and which is actually not better for the environment (let’s mine the seabed- what possible harm could come from that.) or human well being (Congolese slave children). A bit like Jim –
I am morbidly curious where our delusional elites – particularly politicians- are taking us. For example I was really hoping Michigan’s governor managed to shut down that major pipeline to Ontario so Ontario and Quebec could suddenly bask in the glory of Net Zero – which they keep voting for.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Geez PJ, I felt the same way about Whitmer shutting down the pipeline! The economic and social disruption would be spectacular and immediate. And I was secretly hoping she would do it. It’s kinda creepy though, hoping for something to happen that world create so much suffering. What can say? I’m not so nice I guess.

By the way, if everything goes according to plan with those subsided battery plants – and this will definitely not happen – the cost will be $6 million per job. Charles Dickens couldn’t make this sh$t up.

Marcie Neville
Marcie Neville
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I too live in Canada but am not optimistic. Trudeau endlessly imposes impossible demands on the natural gas industry and is absolutely determined to shut it down. Investment is plummeting. We have abundant energy but a zealot is in power. He doesn’t care that Germany and Japan have come hat in hand begging for natural gas. He is committed to net zero with religious zeal and an election cannot come soon enough!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcie Neville

I live in Alberta. My power bill for August was $500 Canadian!!! I swear on a stack of bibles I’m not making it up. In a province blessed with some of the most abundant energy sources in the world, this is what I paid for electricity in one month.

To be fair, the reason for this is ridiculously complex regulations that prevented my provider from lowering rates, and I have now switched companies and will pay much less going forward.

Nevertheless, that this could happen even one time in Alberta is mind blowing. Trudeau hates Alberta and is trying to force it away from using natural gas to produce power.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Until recently I lived in a small town on the Oregon coast whose leaders have always had delusions of industrial grandeur. So they bowed and scraped and courted and subsidized a Canadian gas company, headquartered in Alberta, to bring its gas a thousand miles by pipeline to the SW Oregon coast to turn it into LNG, and ship that out through the insufficiently deep harbor. After a 15-year fight the State refused permission for any further dredging in a ‘natural port’ that had started out 12 feet deep in 1853, and that was the end of it.
But many of us wondered: Why don’t they ship their stuff out through a BC harbor that is closer and has sufficient natural depth, like Prince Rupert? You seem to have given the answer.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

The Trudeau Liberals so badly screwed over a company building a pipeline to British Columbia they ended up buying what was already built, for I believe $6 billion. That was about four years ago and not a whisper has been heard since. The truly silly thing is the pipeline would run alongside an existing pipeline. No more land was needed – just doubling up what was already there.

Nad Man
Nad Man
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcie Neville

Well put. I’m moving to Alberta once it leaves Canada.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcie Neville

Whatever possessed Canadians, who are usually quite level-headed, pragmatic people, to vote for this peculiar and rather creepy character in the first place?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

He is practically a dictator as far as I can see.

Phineas
Phineas
9 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Well he is a fanatic surrounded by people who are not the brightest

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
9 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The answer is the FPTP electoral system that Canada shares with us. FPTP favours geographical concentrations of likeminded voters that can dominate constituencies.
In Britain the SNP at the last election received 3.8% of the vote and 48 seats. The Brexit Party received 2% of the vote and no seats.
Like much of the rest of the world. the cities are dominated by young university educated “progressives”, a low wage ancillary class that services them and a wealthy elite that largely benefits from the largesse of bloated spending socialist policies.
Outside of the cities, Canadians are the hard word working, good natured practical people that we generally imagine. But under a FPTP system, a heavily concentrated urban collective of woke indoctrinated young people and exploited low wage workers gives a grossly disproportionate number of seats to Trudeau’s party.
In the 2021 Canadian Federal election Trudeau’s liberal party received 32.6% of the vote and 160 seats. The Conservatives received 33.7% of the vote and 119 seats.

Last edited 9 months ago by Marcus Leach
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcie Neville

I agree. He is a bit of a madman. One of ours does not even know what a woman is so we also are potentialy ruled by madmen who look sane.

Chipoko
Chipoko
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcie Neville

The Western ‘democracies’ (do these still exist in reality?) are led by ruthless zealots who use power to impose their world view on their own nation states and the world generally through political organisation like the United Nations. These zealots are archetypal champagne socialists who seek to change the world order by weakening the economic status of the capitalist West through the transfer of wealth to the so-called ‘developing word’. Climate change/green politics is one key vehicle by which they aim to achieve this goal. For example, there are calls for the West to pay crippling reparations to the developing world* to ‘compensate’ it for all problems of pollution and poverty the capitalist system has caused since the birth of the Industrial Revolution (stand up UK as the evil originator of this ghastly order in the history of human affairs). Top this with policies like Net Zero which will massively damage economies (and in UK’s case make virtually no significant direct impact on ‘the problem’). Just this morning, on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today news the awful Gordon Brown (last Labour Prime Minister) was baffing on about setting up an international fund of trillions of dollars to deal with (i.e. transfer wealth to) poverty and hardship caused by and as yet to be caused by climate change originating in the evil Western capitalist nation states.
Like all of the political class (the Tories are no different) Brown catastrophises the future by flogging the consequences of climate change and the bleak prospects ahead if we fail radically to act NOW! Stop private car ownership, curtail meat eating, ban fossil fuels, cease air travel, control populations by confining them to public transport, make boilers illegal and replace them with crappy heat pumps that cost ten times as much, overrun western nations with immigrants who have no interest in or respect for their host cultures and so on ad nauseam. This will be the legacy of the likes of Brown, Trudeau, Biden, etc. to our grandchildren and their grandchildren to come.
James Lovelock was absolutely right: invest in nuclear power. So why is this not happening? I suggest because this would help to consolidate western capitalism, not destroy it via transfer of its wealth to the southern hemisphere.
Everyone seems conveniently to forget the countless trillions of dollars of foreign aid that have drenched the African continent over the past 80 years and which have fuelled the bank accounts and overseas investments of one Black African leader after the next, continuing today.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I believe also that this net zero road will end in tradegy and one big mess. I think the world can take us burning things to stay warm and cook. The pollution is the danger. The overcrowded Britain and Europe will be the areas which will suffer in the end and be a signal to the world, as you say, to back peddle on the madness..

dave dobbin
dave dobbin
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

A lot of what you’re saying makes sense to me.
What are your thoughts on dealing with nuclear waste and got anything better then putting it in a very deep hole?
Nuclear fission seems short termist and we are simply ignoring the issue of waste building up. Just like we chose to ignore the medium term issues of fossil fuels we are experiencing now.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

The French have been dealing with nuclear waste for 50 years. It’s a problem, but it’s manageable.

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

It is managable and we are likely about 20 yrs away from having commercial fusion plants. We could probably do that sooner if we really invested in it.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

“Fusion plants in 20 years.” Scientists have been sayng that for about fifty years. We could have had Thorium nuclear power plants before the turn of the millenium – cheaper and safer than Uranium which was only needed for nuclear weapons.

Ed Newman
Ed Newman
9 months ago
Reply to  dave dobbin

Nuclear wast will take up a whole lot less space than used batteries, solar panels ad wind turbines. The world is much larger than we realize. It’s not an issue.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago
Reply to  Ed Newman

Having been involved in a nuclear waste project (it didn’t go ahead) , I was very surprised at how tiny the volume of waste actually is.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago

Small enough to be jettisoned into space?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

.

Last edited 9 months ago by Samir Iker
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Best comment so far!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Which was?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Sometime in 2026 the Prime Minister speaks to the nation:

“After a great deal of thought I have reluctantly concluded that the successful de-carbonisation of our economy requires a national effort on the scale of that which was achieved in the 1940s. To that end we are now in talks with our political opponents with a view to forming a Government of National Unity. Accordingly, the normal machinery of democracy will be suspended until further notice. In addition the police will be given special powers to arrest and intern potential saboteurs and subversives. I have appointed my friend and colleague Tony Blair to oversee this operation. Thank you and goodnight.”

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
9 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Coincidently, James Lovelock, the environmentalist referred to in the article, said in 2010 that one of the main obstructions to meaningful action is “modern democracy”. He said: “Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”
It is something I have thought about before: if governments across the world are touting climate change as an existential crisis for humanity, then is it much of a leap to think that declarations of the suspension of democracy could be made?
Whilst there are a small number of regimes around the world where this may be achievable without uprising, the democratic tradition of the West is too strong for governments to hope to get away with that. Further, our armed forces, who would need to enforce the suspension, see themselves as much more as the defenders of the people and as owing loyalty to the country, rather than to the government or the State. As such there is little chance they would side with a dictatorships against the people

Last edited 9 months ago by Marcus Leach
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Lovelock was right in this, I think. Net Zero cannot be achieved in a democracy except through the market – ie: by the introduction of new cheaper fuels and technologies that make fossil fuels obsolete.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

This explains why war-rhetoric has been used to sell other grand government projects of more dubious utility: The War on Poverty, the War on Terror, the War on Drugs … So watch out.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Lets hope that you are right. Dictatorships are generally evil.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Covid

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Is Blair the antichrist then?

Rohan Achnay
Rohan Achnay
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

For me, the underlying delusion of Net Zero is not that it will solve climate instability but that it is actually a green growth strategy in which the public are forcibly expected to pay for economic expansion.

In this respect, economic expansion is not as a result of (energy) productivity increases but as a result of a zero sum game in which consumption choices are being pre-determined by government policy.

In turn, these enforced zero sum consumption choices are reducing demand in other sectors of the economy so the net result is not sustainable growth but more debt whether through increased household liabilities or increased governmental liabilities.

Underlying the attempt to grow the economy through Net Zero is the fact that Net Zero is highly dependent on fossil fuels whether for the mining, processing or transportation of critical materials or for the production of useable energy to charge electric vehicles.

In this regard, Net Zero environmentalists solely focus on end use rather than the life cycle of renewable energy technologies. This is perhaps the greatest absurdity of all, Net Zero will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions rather than reduce them.

jason mann
jason mann
9 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Bingo

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago

So….Is climate change real?

Of course it is real! The climate has ALWAYS been changing. It has changed constantly since the earth was formed.

We do not have continents break up and shift without also having climate change. They do break up. They do shift. Plate tectonics is real. If it were not then Pangiea would still exist, land bridges between North America and Asia would still exist. That does not happen without changes on land and sea.

We do not have new volcanoes form, new islands form and grow, without also having climate change. Which, we do.They do form, as many as 100 have been recently identified, and they impact land and sea.

We do not have shifts in the earths magnetic poles and reversing of the earth magnetic field without also having climate change.It has and it is again and it impacts where and how the suns radiation impacts the earth, its land and seas.

We do not have ice ages and warm periods without climate change.There have been FIVE MAJOR ice ages and dozens of little one. Ice ages that formed mountain ranges and left seas behind when they retreated. By definition that is major climate change and even when over what is left behind leaves the climate altered from what it was before that ice age.

None of these required or could have been due to human activity.

The simple fact is that the earth is dynamic, always has been and it always will be. So yes, the climate is changing.

The fact is that humans activity probably has SOME impact on climate but very little. We have a larger impact on specific environments such as plastics in the oceans or oil spills in the arctic or over fishing. We create toxic environments and we poorly manage forests and we do stupid things like run high power lines through dry forests.

SO, why do we think that there is a “climate crisis”? We think so because, in my opinion, a collection of scientists, some just incompetent, some with and agenda, some who see an opportunity to make a name for themselves and make a lot of money, have managed to create a hysteria among the ignorant, the intellectually lazy, in other words, politicians and the media, both of whom have see opportunity in a climate crisis.

There are a lot of good reasons to move away from existing fossil fuels. First, they are gonna run out eventually. Second, they are dirty and they are risky and they do create environmental and health challenges. Third, as they run out they are going to become increasingly expensive.

But does any of this mean that we need to engage in wholesale disruption, overnight, of our economies? Does this merit making the poor and middle classes suffer cold or even hunger? Does it merit eliminating food production? Does it merit actually increasing poverty in the west, and it will be the west because China, India, Latin America and Africa are not overly concerned and are not doing what the west is doing. China and India happily keep building coal fired electric plants. They happily keep using and burning the oil that we are passing on.

Has nobody in the west bothered to stop and ask WHY China, India, Latin America, and Africa feel like they can keep doing these things? Are they just stupid and suicidal or do they know something we do not? Maybe they know that there is no crisis and they are happily willing to sell us the things we need like solar panels, EVs and turbine blades? Maybe they see economic opportunity and the potential to grow their geopolitical influence as they charge ahead and we slit our own throats.

Maybe we should be thinking about adaptation to a changing climate instead of being so arrogant as to believe we have the power to stop anything at a planetary level. There is a certain arrogance in that kind of thinking. Maybe we have TIME to adjust without radical change. Maybe we have time to explore other technologies like hydrogen and fusion. Maybe we have time to develop safer, cleaner battery technology and other storage technologies.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I don’t really believe in climate change apart from that which is natural. I think there are those that work themselves up in a laver for nothing and we have to suffer from their delusions. It is the delusions that will damage us not climate change.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

To semi-quote ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’, “Mostly natural”.
The extra CO2 will almost certainly trap more heat, but the effects on temperature (a wholly different thing) remain to be seen – but will almost certainly not be as bad as the ‘sky is falling’ climate acolytes predict.

Phineas
Phineas
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Why not simply go with nuclear and stop the stupidity of EVs that Trudeau and pals waste vast amounts of money on?

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  Phineas

I think at this point fusion has come far enough that we can say with a high level of confidence that within a decade or two we will have working reactors that can be commercialized.

We could probably do it sooner if we put a major focus on it.

I’m convinced that the research has been stymied by special interests in the fossil fuel industry. But I also think they see that the writing is on the wall, that there is going to be a need at some point in the not very distant future to have alternatives that are renewable. Not due to Co2 but because the cost of accessing fossil fuels is going to be too high. Think they have had time to start shifting their investments to other energy sources so less risk to their bottom lines.

Strategically, fusion really frees the west from dependence on the Middle East and places like Venezuela.

But we need to look at alternatives to batteries for cars. Hydrogen really deserves another look. But again, that is a threat to the existing economic interests. Lot of investment has been made in EVs and we still have years to run on oil. But, I think ultimately hydrogen or something along that line is going to be the answer.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I think a maybe a little more than a “decade or two” – everything in fusion work seems to take longer than the enthusiasts predict.
ITER was founded in about 1987; construction started in 2013, and it will be complete in 2025. And it won’t produce any power; it’s just for research on large plasma systems. DEMO, the successor, will, but it won’t start operating until 2033 (full operating of the phase 2 upgrade is estimated to be 2050), and will be just a prototype. (Translation: ‘place to learn things you don’t know yet’.)

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
9 months ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

stymied by bureaucracy. There are about 70 venture capital funded startups bypassing ETER. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIjxJM_KPsM

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
9 months ago

Agreed about Net Zero. The problem is that it is a nice buzzy slogan, adopted both by clueless politicians who failed to understand the magnitude and costs of change required to meet this, or adopted by Green zealots who don’t actually care about people or even like them. The super-rich fall into this second category, because they will never be impacted as they’ve got enough money and despise the “little people” anyway.

I’m not a climate sceptic either, but I have yet to read a convincing explanation why just 0.4% CO2 in the world’s atmosphere leads to runaway climate change, given that CO2 is supposed to block heat escaping into outer space. I’d be delighted if somebody could explain.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

People are playing games with red flags.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It’s 0.041% CO2, or 410 parts per million.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Yes, and we produce 3% of that, so our contribution to atmospheric CO2 is 0.0012%.
Recently DrClauser, who seems to be one of the great physicists of our time, winning last year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for disproving some of Einstein’s theories, joined the Clintel World Climate Declaration with 1600 other sceptical scientists. He delivered a scathing speech to young Korean physicists, how the IPCC was delivering pure pseudoscience, becoming”misguided marketing agents for politicians, journalists, green business and environmentalists” and was promptly disinvited by the IMF, where he was scheduled for a speech about Climate Change.
I guess, humans might contribute a very small part to Climate Change, which seems to have occurred over millions of years without our input, and I agree with the article and Bjorn Lomborg, that it is better to invest in adaptation as in the misguided billions for Net Zero policies.

Last edited 9 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
9 months ago

That’s not the case. 97% of emissions are from natural sources but these are around 100% reabsorbed as part of the carbon cycle. The 3% that human emit exceed the capacity to be absorbed into carbon sinks and so accumulate in that atmosphere. Since this has been happening since the Industrial Revolution it now accounts for around 30% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today.

I’ve already addressed how a trace gas can have a disproportionate effect in a comment that’s disappeared into cyberspace so i won’t repeat it here as hopefully it will reappear soon.

Last edited 9 months ago by Matthew Powell
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago

That makes a lot of sense to me. It is basically politics then.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Some have managed to fear monger the majority somehow but I for one am not taking the bait. Research finance was stopped from those scientists who did not believe in the narrative and the ones that kept their research finance are too scared to rock the boat. A bit like the covid narrative to sell vaccines.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

As the author suggests, a good place to understand the bigger picture is referring to James Lovelock. I recommend his title A Final Warning.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I think the operative word in this article is disciple. Gaia worship remains Gaia worship, Mr Lovelock is deceased so won’t have hurt feelings if we let his ideas rest with him.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Energy from the sun enters the atmosphere in the form of visible light but when it reaches the ground is absorbed and then re-admitted in the infrared spectrum. Since the electrons in atoms can only absorb and emit certain wave lengths due to the quantized nature of their energy states ( the phenomenon which gives its name to quantum theory) only those particles that absorb energy in these frequencies can interact with these waves lengths. The rest of the atmosphere is essentially transparent to these wave lengths and can be disregarded. Therefore it doesn’t matter what proportion of the atmosphere is made up of of Green House gases such as co2, only what the total amount is, as that determines the extent of the greenhouse effect.

To use a metaphor to illustrate. If I asked you to cross a space which contained 1000 kittens and 1 man eating lion, the only impediment to you reaching the other side would be the lion, you could safely ignore the kittens. Despite being a tiny fraction of the felines present the only thing that matters is the total number of lions when determining your changes of survival crossing the room, so increasing the number of lions by only 1 or 2 dramatically reduces your survival changes despite still being in a huge minority. That’s why the proportion of co2 isn’t relevant.

Last edited 9 months ago by Matthew Powell
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Make that 0.04% of the atmosphere, not 0.4%

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Without CO2 in the world all plants will die and life will not exist. Why do we have this suicide wish? Talk about a mad mad world.

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
9 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“The direct warming due to a doubling of CO2 is a little over 1 degreeC. However, if we add this water vapour feedback, the warming doubles to just over 2 degrees C.” Tim Palmer “The Primacy of Doubt”.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago

Gray’s idea of a hung parliament with a lot of differing viewpoints is, of course, a beginning of PR. In the UK we have resisted this for a long time because we believe that the result is wishy-washy; you could hardly get more feeble than today’s government – that would include Starmer’s lot. The main thing to me is that the voting age should not be reduced to 16 – at 16 we definitely do not have maturity.

I have spent my whole life in the electrical industry, working on batteries and the various projects to design wind turbines to be situated in the sea. Groups of young people like Greta, zoologists like Attenborough and Packham just have no idea what they are talking about. They can believe anything they want to believe but they can’t understand.
To go to wind and solar power will kill millions of people, people who haven’t done anything wrong – just switched on the fire to get warm. To me, this is more important than anything else, more important than a vague notion of saving the planet – whatever that means.
I wholly support moving away from fossil fuels so that we are not dependent on countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia in the future. The way we are going will just move that dependence to China.
Lithium batteries are not the answer – maybe other battery systems will be better. There seems to be a confusion between short distance driving and long distance driving. If you design cars for long distances (greater than 300 miles) you are limited in your battery systems – not so if you design cars for a 60 mile limit. Why not define two systems – the city system and the inter-city system (like trains). For the city system you could have a light, non-lithium battery which has to be charged every night. The battery would limit cars to a speed of 30mph. This could be easily detachable so that in emergencies you could just swap batteries in a battery station.
For long distances you could look at other possibilities. For motorways you could provide overhead electric power, as with trains – you could then switch to battery power as you left the motorway.

These ideas may be stupid because they spring out of my head. But where is the national discussion? Where are the invitations to come up with ideas? Competitions for ideas with prizes for the winners? Why aren’t we all talking about these things?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

I’ll look forward to seeing the whole interview. I’ve just started reading his book.
On the topic here, the Chinese Climate Envoy has said that phasing out fossil fuels is unrealistic, Reuters reported yesterday (https://www.reuters.com/sustainability/climate-energy/china-climate-envoy-says-phasing-out-fossil-fuels-unrealistic-2023-09-22/).
How can Western governments continue to justify imposing draconian measures on the poor in light of that? It is time to lay the Net Zero insanity to rest.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

People are playing games with red flags. We are infiltrated.
I have two posts, one 2 hours ago and one 3 hours ago. They disappeared originally, then returned for a minute and then disappeared again.
Now they’ve returned but without the thumbs-up and thumbs-down signs at the bottom. As if they were in limbo.

Last edited 9 months ago by Caradog Wiliams
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
9 months ago

Happens to me a lot as well. Although I think it’s technical issue, it’s very frustrating.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Frustrating, isn’t it. The voting system makes no sense to me. I don’t think it’s intentional I just think that Unheard doesn’t have their shit together.

T Bone
T Bone
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

If you want to see a funny compilation of Progressives espousing Angry Earth Theory with absolute fear and confidence, go out to the “Democracy Now” YouTube Channel and watch March to End Fossil Fuels. It’s about 15 minutes but it’s the kind of activist satire that’ll sustain you for a week. The Irish granny President is excellent but the NASA climate scientist starting at 12 minutes is probably my favorite. These people talk to the Earth.

Starts with furious Democrat. Granny gives a “hopeful” stirring speech about organizing the “Just transition.” You even get Susan Sarandon to really let the people know Celebrities are ALSO ANGRY!

Last edited 9 months ago by T Bone
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I’m familiar with Kalmus; I follow him on X. He does get a bit hysterical there 🙂
I keep reading articles suggesting we are heading in the next few years for a new Maunder Minimum. That’ll give us about three decades with a degree or two of cooling, giving us time to build the infrastructure – no point building wind farms if you can’t connect them to the grid – and new energy sources, fusion hopefully, and then we can make the transition in an orderly manner.

jim peden
jim peden
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

The theory seems to be down to the work of Prof. Zharkova and colleagues a few years ago. They suggested that solar output may be about to drop based on the physics of magnetism in the sun. I did a brief summary in panocracy 23.
Their model did retrospectively account for the mediaeval warm period and the subsequent cooling in the ‘little ice age’ (Maunder minimum.)
However, sunspot activity (predictor of solar output) has recently risen faster than their model predicted. Which only goes to show how little we know about the detailed physics inside the sun!

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  jim peden

Thanks. That is a good analysis, which I agree with.
I looked at one paper I saved, and it does reference Zharkova. I have others who think we’re in for weak 25 & 26, then rising again to a new maximum in 29 (23 levels). I agree that it’s all a bit uncertain, though, within noise ranges.
I worry far more about misguided mitigation measures than I worry about climate change. We will adapt to whatever; as humans, we’re good at that.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

A bit like the world was freezing in the previous era to global warming. Are we becoming educated idiots?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

A bit like Stop Oil crowd then.

Ed Newman
Ed Newman
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Philosophical evolution: Nihilism ->Existentialism->Post-Modernism-> The Will to Fiction…

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

We need someone to recognise that the Emperor has no clothes on.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

It is worth pointing out that James Lovelock, in addition to supporting the only means of actually replacing hydrocarbons, also rowed back somewhat on the extent of near-term danger associated with climate change. He is on record as saying that the various signals in the data that were predicted in line with the modelling were not appearing as fast as expected.

He also completely rejected the notion of “fighting” climate change through methods that seek to reduce/eradicate CO2 emissions as opposed to adaptation to its consequences, because even if we could achieve a nuclear transformation tomorrow and stop net CO2 emissions immediately, the consequences of past emissions are baked into the climate system already. So CO2 controls are not a substitute for adaptation: we need adaptation even if we have an immediate and effective hydrocarbon replacement strategy. And, of course, we do not even have that, because the renewables strategy we’ve chosen cannot replace hydrocarbon energy anyway, it in fact entrenches hydrocarbons in the global energy system for decades. (I am more sceptical about how much damage higher CO2 levels will really do to the biosphere, I’m just going with the argument because irrespective of climate change, I support energy decarbonisation for other reasons).

The enormous irony is that hydrocarbons as an energy source have been obsolete for decades, since the invention of nuclear power, and the awkward fact of this could well have achieved at least the start of a nuclear energy transformation by now if idiotic near-term solutions like wind power had not been needed by a panic-striken political class facing an ill-defined climate change problem. For me, climate politics is little more than proof that collective stupidity can be institutionalised all the way to the top. And as people have memorably observed for time immemorial, you can’t fix stupid.

Last edited 9 months ago by John Riordan
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Rebuke a fool and he will hate you for it.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
9 months ago

“… most climate scientists agree that once human-induced climate change is in the works, it goes on for decades or even centuries.”
Resigned to being identified as a climate heretic, I reject this as a reason for despair, for the simple reason that for at least fifty years such scientists have been predicting global catastrophes that never happened. I remember how on Earth Day 1970 already, the prophets of doom were out in full force, not predicting Global Warming but a new Ice Age. Paul Ehrlich, author of ‘The Population Bomb’, announced that during the next 10 years — which ended in 1980 — a billion people would starve because we would run out of food; besides, there’d be water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980; so he loudly called for us to implement Mao’s one-child policy, which would include jailing people with more than one child. It did not happen, but for Ehrlich’s reasons India forcibly sterilized 200 million Indians; and at the University I was attending then, lawn lecturers were recommending hard-core Communism as the solution for Ehrlich’s doomsday scenarios. Ehrlich also announced that by the end of the decade all important sea life would be extinct; I’m not sure why, but perhaps because desperate humans had eaten it all. But — proving that if nothing else, doom-saying leads to longevity — this year he was announcing that we need “5 more Earths” to sustain humanity’s present lifestyle, or else. But Ehrlich’s damage has been done: on January 10 the Wall Street Journal published a letter by an elderly woman who was a university student in 1970 and, convinced by his vociferous rhetoric, she decided to be moral and remain childless: and now, sadly, she knows she was being ‘stupid’ and has ‘no grandchildren’. 
I could go on, citing more ‘scientists’ of Ehrlich’s caliber (quite ironically, his surname in German means ‘honest’!) but this would get too long. Better to cite the old Chinaman who made no claims of being a scientist, and was wiser for it: “Making predictions is extremely difficult – especially about the future.” Or the Duke of Rochefoucauld: “There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.”

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

Yeah the ice age predictions gradually died out and now we have the global warming predictions. I wonder what the next thing will be after that that doesn’t happen?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago

They all talk about the Austrian painter who shall not be named, but not the Weimar Republic that came before him and paved the way.

We are in Weimar 2.0

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Yep, I keep wondering whether I’m being alarmist, but the sight of St Ursula popping down to Lampedusa to waffle and clearly having no idea what to do, makes me think that their time may be running out.

Starmer looks more and more like a patsy, Trudeau and even Meloni look desperate. Only the Poles and the Hungarians seem to even have grown-up discussions and real plans.

As for the rest of the ‘free world’….

God help us (whoever he is).

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

God help us in our delusions. Thankyou for the Poles and the Hungarians who have lived through the Communist delusions and have learned a thing or two.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

I think CO2 is warming the planet, but we are bombarded by hysterical stories every day that simply fly in the face of reality and objective facts. In this era of global warming, climate related deaths have fallen off the map, from 500,000 per year in 1920 to about 25,000 per year today. And it’s not like they are creeping up. They have dropped about 50% in recent years, from 50,000 per year in the early 90s.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Where did you get these figures?

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago

Gray’s idea is PR in disguise, as others have said. In the UK we have always dismissed PR as wishy-washy but nothing could get more wishy-washy than our government now and that includes Starmer’s lot.
I believe that we should avoid fossil fuels in the future – for two reasons. Firstly, we should not spew out gases into the atmosphere just because it is easy and, secondly, we can’t afford to be dependent politically on countries like Russia and China and Saudi Arabia. NetZero is different, just a political manipulation to make politicians look good. NetZero is meaningless – it means what you want it to mean.
I have worked all my life in the electrical industry and this work was not just in the UK. Corrosion and battery technology are my strongpoints. I know two things,
1) Even if wind turbines are the answer to our prayers (not sure), they most definitely should not be in the sea. The sea is such an extreme place that if the turbines break down you could wait for weeks to repair them. The sea is incredibly corrosive and errosive so lifetimes will be short, whatever people say about new technology (I am comparing here to normal power stations). Finally, the point of generation of the electricity has to be connected to the grid and this means long runs of pylons, which people don’t want. There could be a case for local wind turbines – a few in each town perhaps BUT they would not be invisible.
2) Cars based on Lithium batteries are not the answer. The Lithium ties us politically and the batteries are basically a box containing chemicals – a heavy box at that. The cost of charging facilities for long drives and charging problems in streets of terraced housing come to mind.

To me the problem is that we are designing cars for long journeys with heavy batteries and high speeds. Why not design cars for cities and towns (where 87% of people live) with a range of 60 miles and top speeds of 30mph. These would have to be charged every night at home. For emergencies, in towns and cities, you could have battery exchanges in the existing petrol stations – take out your battery and replace it with a fully charged one. Such cars would not have to be hi-tech.
For long journeys there would be a different solution as we have intercity trains and local trains today.
These ideas could be stupid but they are ideas. Where are we discussing these issues as a nation? Where are the annual prizes for new transportation ideas? Where is the dialogue? Answer- discussion has been suppressed so that politicians and their advisors can give lucrative contracts to their friends.
Time to ignore the Attenboroughs and the Packhams and the Gretas who have nothing positive to say. Time for dialogue with the people.

Last edited 9 months ago by Caradog Wiliams
Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago

Well said re transport. Rather like the answer to energy requirements being ‘use less’, not ‘find a better way to generate more’, the answer to ‘how do we travel efficiently’ is going to be about communal travel, not new varieties of under-used and over-specified status symbol.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

What do you think of the idea that electric cars using methanol fuel cells should be developed now, with the plan that they would be eventually convertible to hydrogen fuel cells once the technology is ready?

Yes, there would be some CO2 emissions from methanol powered car, but these would be much much lower than those from any combustion engine. Given that the switchover to a predominantly electric car fleet will take decades and that therefore even new zero emission cars cannot reduce CO2 emissions from road transport quickly anyway, this surely has some attraction?

P Branagan
P Branagan
9 months ago

Mr Williams thinks cars are solely about transport. However, in reality, they are more about lifestyle – ego and prestige – than the need to get from A to B!

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  P Branagan

What a load of nonsense.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
9 months ago

I can cycle more than 30 mph. If that is as fast the cars would be allowed to go bikes would be better. Perhaps muscle power would be the answer?

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
9 months ago

” … of somebody doing something to you which you resist.”
Of somebody doing something to you which they are not willing to accept for themselves.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

A very user friendly, readable piece that resonates with me. I didn’t know what Ulez was so I looked it up and, yes it sounds punitive for low income people. It would seem an emissions test like that In the US would be more logical. I don’t profess to be very well informed on Net Zero, but I get the gist of it and it does sound somewhat self defeating. I never thought I would say that nuclear power seems to be better option, but now I do.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
9 months ago

Is it me, or does Gray just jump from one stream of consciousness to another without really providing a coherent argument for anything in particular?

I understand this is a transcript of someone talking, so that is to be somewhat expected. But what is he driving at?

Please help.

Margie Murphy
Margie Murphy
9 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Hanke

I agree. I finished the article no wiser than when I started. Whether it be about climate change in general.or about any specific point he was making. Maybe I too am missing somethhing.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
9 months ago

This UK electoral diagnosis is correct for year insofar as if Labour get to govern with the support of the Liberals and SNP then there will be ideological stasis and only a(nother) populist uprising will be possible. The reason for such certainty is that are just too many green liberals in the Tory Party today.
As far as climate change goes, I see that today’s green movement is anti-oil and gas. They are extremists going beyond even the German Greens’ roots in the early 1970s.
Gas and oil are indispensable to a clean energy mix. The reason why I agree that global warming is happening (even if it can be tackled practically) is that this awful communist behemoth, the People’s Republic of China, has been burning an inordinate amount of coal to keep production costs down. Not oil, not gas, the old dirty fuel that the West progressively shut down over the decades.
The CCP’s coal policy exposes all the Western green hypocrisy. Biden’s green corporatism seems to be based on subbing both US and Chinese tech by importing renewable energy hardware. China is effectively being subsidised to burn more coal; real global average temperatures will shoot up 2 Celsius in the coming decade because they have already done so in the last 5 years in southern Europe where I live.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

You are predicting that average global temperatures will rise 2ºC by 2033? This is not a scientifically-reached prediction, I take it?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

What’s your definition of ‘clean’ in your phrase ‘..clean energy mix..’ ?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago

Rather emblematic for me was a friend who, in the wake of the summer stories asserting global *boiling* , declared that governments need to ban air-conditioning NOW.

I remonstrated that AC will be more necessary than ever if millions are not to die from this *boiling* but she was unmoved.

Nor was she impressed by me pointing out that poor people from hot countries are increasingly going to the much hotter Arabian gulf countries to work. They’re looking for economic opportunities, not a milder climate.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
9 months ago

Whichever political party has the guts and sense to call a halt to the Net Zero lunacy will be well rewarded at the ballot box.
Just as we had a dash to gas we now need to go full pelt to nuclear – and keep the gas and oil flowing in the meantime.
Current U.K. Energy Policy is the modern day version of The Emperors Clothes.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
9 months ago

“So what’s the solution?” Not rearranging the deck chairs on the UK party system. The solution is for the educated class to be shown the door. But, experts agree, they won’t leave without leaving a big butcher’s bill behind.

Chipoko
Chipoko
9 months ago

“… the politics of narcissism … in the age of absurdity …”
I like that insight!

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago

Net Zero is what Tony Blair called an aspiration, not a promise, and as an energetically pursued aspiration, its fine. Can’t we have aspirational net zero and adaption at the same time? Inevitably, the two will go together, whether we call it a policy or not.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

You cannot “energetically” pursue an objective that requires you first surrender the energy needed to achieve it.

Last edited 9 months ago by John Riordan
Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Not sure what you mean

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Not sure why it isn’t clear, tbh.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Humour me, explain

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Well said, not either or but both.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
9 months ago

No need to wet your knickers folks, absolutely nothing is being done, and nothing will continue to be done. Humans are too short-termist, and too selfish, ever to make the slightest bit of adjustment to our comfortable lives, for any altruistic or wider purpose. Those calling for climate change mitigation measures are going nowhere, and your bourgeois outrage is tiresomely performative. Do calm down.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I agree with everything you have said but I have two questions:
1) Why shouldn’t humans be short-termish and selfish. Every other species suffers from these ‘maladies’. If an old lady is spending the last few years of her life in front of an inefficient electric fire, should she jump up, throw off her blankets and become less selfish? I don’t see why she should, especially if she is being told by some youngster who doesn’t actually know anything.
2) Don’t you see that big changes in lifestyle have to meet a resistance? The climate freaks can only wait until everyone over 60 has died and then the indoctrinated young people won’t argue with anything.

Your post implies that only you understand what is happening and that everyone else is selfish – or thick.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago

There are several problems directly related to climate change issues (whatever you think the cause of CC is) – mass species extinction, air pollution, sustainability, scramble for resources. On these matters it rather looks like the narcissists are the people who are ‘relaxed’ about our activities and population growth.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Having read through several thousand words of ever so slightly pompous self-satisfaction here in the comments, I have to agree. I worry that we over here in middle-class Western civilisation don’t realise that the rest of the world’s population would like what we have for themselves (food, energy, cars, tourism, weak politicians, etc), and as they start to get these things, the earth is going to struggle to survive. Unless that chap a dozen comments back forecasting a nuclear fission grid in ‘20-30 years’ is right ho ho ho ho….

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
9 months ago

Where is the full interview posted?

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
9 months ago

The first past the post electoral system has done immense damage to UK politics. Thatcherism would never have happened under a PR system. I would agree that a multiplicity of parties is a good thing, but unlike this author, I would be happy to join one led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Look at countries which use a PR system; unsteady governments which are often in turmoil as minor parties flounce out.

John Lammi
John Lammi
9 months ago

@early stages of runaway climate change “. What is he smoking? There is evidence for that at all, not even in the IPCC scientific reports. The report for Policymakers is, of course, propaganda.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

2050 Net Zero remains some way away. Suspect carbon capture and Nuclear will inevitably play a much bigger part if we are to get anywhere near and this reality will become much more recognised next few years. Alot can of course happen in 27 years. Humankind pretty innovative esp when a crises arises. But the Author’s cautions relevant.
Part of the dilemma is judging the pros/cons of being ahead of the curve in industrial and economic development. These are massive ‘switching costs’ that need confidence in returns.
Pretty marginal issue in truth but the ULEZ debate is all a bit over-simplified. It only affects c10% of cars travelling through it, and the problem for London is it can’t afford the current public transport systems without some cross-subsidy from road usage or other taxes. That’s a dilemma not going away, and whilst a rebalanced economy might rely less on London and reduce the volumes trekking into our largest City and primary economic engine-room, that’s not quick.
Finally the part of the article that sticks in the mind most is Author’s reference to Lovelock’s comment – we may be underestimating run away climate change. Whatever the policy responses that’s a very sobering thought.

Last edited 9 months ago by j watson
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

What I find most offensive about ULEZ is the 10% are the poorest, most vulnerable people in the city – the ones who cannot afford to fines, the ones who cannot afford to buy an EV.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The scrappage is £2k. The poorest probably haven’t got a car at all and rely on public transport. The biggest grouping caught by ULEZ are diesel Vans.
I’d probably raise the scrappage myself, but it’s not quite as regressive as you imply.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

How refreshing to have a reasonable article on Unherd on this subject. I pretty much agree with everything the author says, but with two caveats.
Yes net zero is aspirational, and the technology to support it is weak – but, something has to be done, we need strong policies and focus, because imho it’s actually too late.
The concept of a political upheaval as a solution to this is just wishful thinking, even if it did happen it would take a decade to sort out and come up with fresh policies which probably wouldn’t look much different.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Normally I go for the jugular with your posts but today I want to ask a question.
You are primed with the jargon, you have read books and you are clearly a learned person. You are a believer, you have faith. But have you wondered why so many learned people don’t have faith?
Nietzsche said once that 0.1% of people controlled the world and dismissed the rest as the Herd. Hence the name UnHerd. So on this site are a couple of thousand people of above average intelligence and ability – definitely not the Herd – who can make reasoned, well planned written arguments. A high percentage disagree with you. Why is that? Do you dismiss everybody as ‘old’ or ‘selfish’ or uninformed. Have you tried to read books with opposite views?

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

The issue with the Unherd audience that you refer to is that they see this as a purely political subject. A good example is the post from Marcus Leach above, who lumps climate change in with other forms of wokery. It doesn’t help of course that we have your typical socialists active in groups such as JSO. I’m a life long Tory, but view climate change as a humanities problem spanning the political spectrum and immediately therefore more open minded to it.
The other problem seems to be an educational one, again we have a prime example from Daniel P who feels ‘the climate has always changed’ etc and not grasped this concerns the greenhouse effect caused by CO2.
I have read plenty of material with opposing views, some of which has some great points to make. Most of it however is excrutiating in it’s ignorance, and even dangerous, since folks actually believe it.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

So what do we do about the fact that climate related deaths have dropped from 500,000 to 25,000 in the last 100 years? And it’s not like they are starting to creep up. They have dropped from 50,000 to 25,000 in the last 35 years. And of those 25,000 deaths, I would suggest 90% occur in the poorest nations in the world, the ones without access to cheep, reliable electricity.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Ahem. Some of us are scientists (albeit in other fields), and have studied it significantly (in my case 5 years or so). There is certainly a lot of politics involved, but at base it’s a scientific issue.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

I’d contend the proportion of Unherd comment makers who can make logical well considered arguments much lower than you suggest CW, though there are some. More often Unherd subject to what alot of social media suffers from – in the past if we wanted to spout a silly opinion we’d have to leave the Living room, get a pen and paper, a stamp and walk to the Post Box. Vast majority wouldn’t be bothered. Now we can demonstrate our stupidity and prejudices within seconds. C;est la Vie.
IMO opinion, and it’s certainly intriguing, Unherd attracts a disproportionate number of comment-makers who tend towards the conspiratorial. That’s not necessarily representative of the vast majority and rather a small narcissistic niche.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Your own rant’s sloppy spelling and deficient grammar convict you of the very charges you make.

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Robbie, you can relax. There is no climate CRISIS.

There is, and there always has been climate CHANGE.

The earth and its climate have been dynamic since it was formed. It is not stagnant, it is not fixed, it never has been.

The earth has seen FIVE major ice ages. I mean major as in glaciers miles high and able to create mountain chains. Glaciers so large that when the earth finally warmed again they left behind inland seas.

The continents shift and that changes climate. It changes climate on land and it changes climate in the oceans. You need look no further than the state Utah. Mountains and dry desert, yet sea fossils are plentiful. Look no further than the petrified forest in the deserts of Arizona. Places where there has been radical and I mean radical climate change long before humans were moving out of caves or even around.

Neither the ice ages or the warming periods after were created by human beings.

Climate change, even radical climate change, is not abnormal. In fact radical climate change is the norm over time.

There is a kind of arrogance that goes with thinking humans are capable of radically altering the earths climate, as though we are more powerful than the forces that created and have altered the planet over millennia.

We need to do what humans do best, and that is adapt to what is coming our way. But adaptation does no mean taking fantastical, self harming steps on hopes of preventing the inevitable. It means finding ways to thrive as a species in the face of an environment largely out of our control

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I am relaxed Daniel. I realised 25 years ago that nothing can be done to stop this – that’s when I learned the difference between weather, geology and what was referred to as global warming at the time. Much of what you have written there is correct, but it has nothing to do with this subject. I doubt I can change your mind, but it might be worth reading up on the greenhouse effect. Do you trust encyclopedia Britannica?
https://www.britannica.com/science/greenhouse-effect

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I am sure that we can scientifically prove that a greenhouse gas effect exists. I am sure that we can create experiments that are replicable.

What I am not sure of is the ability of scientists to control for all the variables.

What I am also sure of is that there is hard science from NASA and other agencies that show that warming happens BEFORE carbon rises based on ice core data, tree ring data, etc. Nobody seems to have a good explanation as to why that is and why it would run counter to the idea that carbon drives warming rather than the other way around.

What I am also sure of is that where there is change or risk there is also opportunity.

A few years ago, I was listening to a radio talk show run by a university in FL. They had on as one of their guests one of these climate scientists that said global warming was going to be devastating to all the usual suspects.

I called in and managed to get on to ask a question. I said to the scientist and the host that I heard all the bad things they were saying and predicting but I asked them “What is the upside?”.

They were flabbergasted that I asked that. I pointed out to them that change meant change, change can be good or it can be bad, it generally presents opportunities. I wanted to know what the upside would be. After a minute or two the scientist talked about increased food production, longer growing seasons, more areas that may be open to human development. He pointed out that it would probably increase the size and density of forests. All true.

So, instead of simply focusing on the potential negatives, we should be looking at the opportunities a warming globe may present.

Change is not inherently bad. Yes, bad things CAN happen but so can good things if we are smart and take advantage of them. We manage the bad, we exploit the good. It is what humans do. It is what we need to do. But before we can get there we need to stop the foolish panic that has taken over our politics and we need to force our scientists to not only stop exploiting and pumping the fear but to provide us a better picture with better options.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Some interesting ideas and you may be right on many of the opportunities that it could represent in the short term. It kinda feels like a scenario in which your house is on fire, so the best approach is to break out some sausages and have a bbq. Unfortunately there really is a horrible scenario looming and it will be a humanitarian one, with crops failing, people displaced and conflicts erupting. The refugee issue has only just begun.

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Robbie,

There is not, just not, a horrible scenario heading toward us. There are going to be some challenges but nothing we cannot easily handle.

The opposite is true about what you say regarding crops. Warmth and CO2 are beneficial to food production. In fact, in some places on the globe deserts are retreating and new land is open to extended farming of crops.

If we have a humanitarian crisis of people fleeing the south to the north it has much more to do with economic instability and political instability than ANYTHING having to do with food or water.

The climate did not create the problems in central and south America. Those are all driven by corruption in bad governments, driven by crime and poverty. The fleeing of Africa is much the same. These are man made issues that have nothing to do with the climate.

Do we have floods and fires and drought? YES….but we have always had those things. And when the media or politicians or NGOs tell you any particular new thing is the “hottest” or the “most ….whatever” ever recorded, they always fail to mention what was recorded, how it was recorded and when it was recorded. ANYBODY who tells you we have the most, worst, whatver in the last 500 yrs or even the last 1k yrs is talking out there ass. That is not even a blip on the timescale of the earth. It is not even a rounding error on the years humans have been on the planet. NOBODY knows how to adequatly compare global temps over time because we lack the tools and the records to do so. Even when we have access to things like tree ring data or ice cores, they have limits and the require interpretation. A whole lot of climate science is guess work supported by models that are unable to replicate known times. The models do not work.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

The immigrant crisis is both man made and nature made, not either or.

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Let’s say I agree with you that partly it is the result of nature.

Weather and climate are not the same things.

And, as I have said, the climate is dynamic and always has been and always will be. The point being that weather patterns will change as climate changes but humans have no real control of the climate changing or the resulting changes in weather patterns. What we can do is adapt to the changing weather patterns.

My point being that the constant focus on trying to stop the climate from changing because the resulting weather may threaten us is a waste of time and resources. Rather, we should be looking at how we manage the changes in a way that provides the greatest level of security and prosperity to the greatest number of people.

Maybe we change building codes to not construct homes right on the coast.

Maybe we invest in large scale indoor farming.

Maybe we start better managing our forests and stop building in above ground power lines through them.

There are a whole lot of things we can invest in that might be cheaper and easier and more effective than the investments we are making in solar and wind etc.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Nothing wrong with trying to have some positive ideas, your understanding of the issue however is totally naive. One way or another we will be forced to adapt, for many people however the changes will undermine their very existence and way of life, tens of millions will be displaced.

Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You make my point.

Stop trying to stop the climate from changing, accept that it always has, is and always will, and work to adapt. Put the energy into adaptation instead of pissing into the wind.

And yes, sure, there are going to be impacts. Yes, some tens of millions of people out of billions of people are going to want to move.

BUT, if we work to develop technologies and strategies to adapt, then perhaps they do not need to move, they can adapt where they are.

Yes, things are going to change. Yes, there are going to be winners and losers. Yes, some societies will adapt better and quicker than others. But that is inevitable.

Hell, that super volcanoe under Yellowstone could go off and make the entire eastern US uninhabitable for decades. All kinds of things can and will happen.

But acting as though we can do what we cannot, alter the climate, is a waste of time and resources that could be better spent adapting. We need food, water, shelter and energy. Those need to be our focus. How do we produce those for a global population in a changing climate.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

You say ‘…they always fail to mention what was recorded, how it was recorded and when it was recorded…’ – that’s simply not true. Have you come across a body called the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? Much derided here on UnHerd, but their mission in life is to do exactly what you say nobody ever does. In great detail, at great expense, recurrently. And I think you may be wrong about our ability to compare temperatures over time, too, but clearly neither of us is an expert. We rely on those who are.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

You draw a false distinction between experts and non-experts. I am not a climate science expert in any of the various disciplines relevant to climate change – the core discipline of atmospheric physics is necessarily surrounded by geologists, marine biologists, economists, energy technology experts, political advisers, financial analysts etc – the field is enormous and the IPCC necessarily contains all these disciplines in order to make sense of the vast amount of ongoing work produced by them all. Nonetheless, non-experts like me are perfectly entitled to take a consumerist attitude towards what they may say because although we may not understand their disciplines, we can still tell whether their predictions match reality or not, and in the case of the work produced by the IPCC, the prediction success rate is so poor that layman scepticism is entirely justified.

The IPCC is not particularly derided on Unherd compared with anywhere else, the derision almost completely arises when the IPCC is misrepresented in online debates by climate alarmists who claim that it supports a political consensus that it does not in fact support.

The IPCC is a political organisation that produces policy advice based upon the work submitted to it by its scientists and other experts. The process by which this is done does unfortunately create the impression that there’s a political consensus on climate change that differs considerably from a scientific consensus, always in the direction of being more politically alarmist than scientifically so. This is a constant complaint from expert sceptics: the Summary for Policymakers of every Assessment Report usually removes a great deal of the qualification that appears in the scientific documentation that forms the main body of the report.

Broadly speaking, the scientific consensus on climate change amounts to the following: that atmospheric CO2 levels are rising as a consequence of human activity, mainly the burning of hydrocarbons for energy, and that this is almost certainly causing increased heat capture via the long-understood greenhouse effect.

There is also a political consensus that goes much further than this and which claims that the human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere has created a situation where CO2 levels are now the dominant factor controlling global temperature change, that this is on the point of introducing dangerous near term instability to the global climate that threatens humanity and possibly life in general, and that the only means by which we must deal with this involves deindustrialisation, reduced liberty and living standards, and moving over to energy harvesting technoloiges that are intermittent and unreliable. There is NO scientific consensus that supports this additional political position. There are scientists who agree with it certainly, but there are also scientists who assert that there is no evidence for it. This means that there isn’t a scientific consensus for it. It’s important to bear this in mind when referring to experts and how we must rely upon them.

Last edited 9 months ago by John Riordan
Daniel P
Daniel P
9 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Simply put, we heard them but their predictions have proven wrong again and again and again.

At some point, ya gotta ask if they have a clue what they are doing.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

Agreed. The outlook from the IPCC is unequivocal in it’s bleak warnings.
https://www.wri.org/insights/ipcc-climate-report

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Exactly.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
9 months ago

Part of this is right and part of it wrong. Yes I agree that electric cars are over hyped and probably not the solution. Just another opportunity for consumer capitalism to sell us new shiny status symbols. Why not actually try to improve the appalling public transport in this country and get people out of their cars altogether.

But what about the boring obvious stuff like insulating our homes properly – something that governments could lead on, rather than spending billions supporting the car industry. And I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t move away from gas boilers since gas clearly is not a great means of heating homes. Electric power, which can be produced by a range of different energy sources including gas, is clearly the direction to go in.

His anti ULEZ argument is pretty thin. First you have to ask why public transport is so bad in outer London? But putting that aside there is a so much nonsense talked about the issue. Well over 90% of vehicles are compliant anyway, and getting polluting vehicles off the road is surely a good idea isn’t it? Vast majority of Londoners support it. The basic liberal principle should apply – you can do what you want as long as you don’t harm others. Well driving around in polluting vehicles is harming other people. The whole thing is just based on a visceral hatred for Sadiq Khan.

Last edited 9 months ago by Martin Butler
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Pollution isn’t a binary issue. This is infantile emotional rubbish. On that basis, let’s ban all cars then, and for that matter buses, because they ALL produce particulate pollution from tyre and brake pad wear. Let’s certainly ban entirely unnecessary wood burning stoves, beloved of the wealthy middle classes.

With Ulez and other similar, probably essentially revenue gaining policies, the rich can pollute just as much as the hell they like with their several cars per family, poorer people for whom changing their vehicle is extremely expensive, are hammered. If 90% of vehicles comply, it isn’t going to make much difference, which indeed is exactly what we find in modelling and empirical studies.

We have the best air quality in decades in cities, not that you’d ever realise that to listen to the public discourse over this, and you should not put one policy issue above every other consideration.

People use

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Is the problem any kind of pollution control measures, or the class divide problem? If you are saying that air pollution is not a problem in our cities, I’m not sure that’s entirely backed up by the science. It has certainly improved in London since the days I used to live on the south circular, and that’s perhaps due to the inner ULEZ. Or is the problem just extending it to outer London? If it’s worked for inner London why such an outcry for extending it? With regards to the class divide, I certainly agree that we should be discouraged from installing wood burners (I was going to install one but decided against.) Same with two cars. But just because we can’t deal with all sources of pollution immediately it surely shouldn’t mean we do nothing. And I am all for giving more support to those who can’t afford less polluting vehicles. In fact I would be in favour of taxing second cars and to using the revenue to finance a full cost scrapage scheme.
I like John Gray a lot and agree with much that he says. But is he seriously saying that we can do nothing about from more nuclear power? – which I’m not against by the way.

Last edited 9 months ago by Martin Butler
John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

“Why not actually try to improve the appalling public transport in this country and get people out of their cars altogether.”

Because even an improved public transport system is still appalling compared with the flexibility and utility of personal transport. There is probably scope to expand the areas of cities presently served by public transport that’s good enough to replace the car: London, for instance, in the central postcodes possesses such a thing, but even in London it does not exist outside anywhere outside the A406 (and many parts inside it still don’t either, which is why Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion wasn’t even defensible beyond the congestion zone, let alone the expansion to the outer boroughs).

However, below certain population density (ie the density of a typical city centre), it is impossible in principle for public transport to replace cars, motorbikes and the various other forms of powered movement that are available on demand. That includes not just rural areas, but also suburbs, industrial areas and villages/small towns. The reason isn’t so much the technical nature of the vehicles in question, it’s the network itself: roads are the only system capable of reaching any door in the country. It is impossible for trains, buses etc to do this. That’s why the personal transport system will remain essential irrespective of government policy or popular support mitigating against it.

Last edited 9 months ago by John Riordan
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

The 10% figure is highly disputed. Don’t say it’s more like 25%. And please note the switch to EVs is not being driven by the auto industry. It’s being driven by govt.