Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Margaret Thatcher on climate (2)

In her 11 pages devoted to global warming in Statecraft she traces the development of her views and analyses the evidence.   She emphasised repeatedly that the science was uncertain.  Then she railed against the alarmists, such as Al Gore, who had gone all apocalyptic without any firm basis in science.  Her recognition of the limits and uncertainty of science in this area, and her smoking out unscientific alarmism looks very impressive from a present day perspective.   

Let me give you a flavour from the 11 pages as she analyses the (then) current state of the arguments.
  • 'Firstly, is the climate actually warming?. . . But the facts are in some doubt. . .'  (depends on the time period being analysed)
  • 'Secondly, is carbon dioxide responsible for whatever global warming has occurred? Here too the uncertainties are formidable. . .
  • 'Thirdly, is human activity. . . responsible for the production of carbon dioxide which has contributed to any global warming?  . . . The facts are unclear. . .'
Her conclusions:
  1. We should be suspicious of plans for global regulation that all too clearly fit in with other preconceived agendas.
  2. We should demand of politicians that they apply the same criteria of common sense and a sense of proportion to their pronouncements on the environment as to anything else.
  3. We must never forget that although prosperity brings problems is also permits solutions - and less prosperity, fewer solutions.
  4. All decisions must be made on the basis of the best science whose conclusions have been properly evaluated.
Cautious scepticism.

Previous post is here.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Setting the record straight on Margaret Thatcher's views on climate

'Madness in their method' (of alarmist scientists)
In distinction from her earlier enthusiasm for taking measures to prevent harmful climate change her later views were firmly in the sceptical camp.

Here is what she said in her last book Statecraft in 2002 in a passage titled 'Hot Air and Global Warming':
"The doomsayers' favourite subject today is global warming.  This has a number of attractions for them.  First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong.  Second, we all have ideas about the weather:  traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else.  Thirdly, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.
"All this suggests a degree of calculation.  Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point.  Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method.  Indeed, the lack of any sense of proportion is what characterises many pronouncements on the matter by otherwise sensible people. . . 
" It would, though, be difficult to beat for apocalyptic hyperbole former Vice-President Gore.  Mr Gore believes: "The cleavage in the modern world between mind and body, man and nature has created a new kind of addiction:  I believe that our civilisation is, in effect, addicted to the consumption of the earth itself."  And he warns:  "Unless we find a way to dramatically change our civilisation and our thinking about the relationship between humankind and the earth, our children will inherit a wasteland."
". . . . . I was more sceptical about arguments about global warming, though I considered that they should be taken very seriously."
"But why pick on the Americans? Britain’s then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has observed: ‘There is no greater national duty than the defence of our shoreline. But the most immediate threat to it today is the encroaching sea.’ Britain has found, it seems, a worthy successor to King Canute.

"The fact that seasoned politicians can say such ridiculous things – and get away with it – illustrates the degree to which the new dogma about climate change has swept through the left-of-centre governing classes." 
Pages 449-451
See also Margaret Thatcher on Climate (2) here.

(Last two paragraphs of quote added 9.4.13)