First, a thank you to “scmjerram” for nominating my post about Liberal Vision complaining about a lack of debate of Global Warming for the Golden Dozen.  Much appreciated.

I had always wondered whether the suggestion that Tories were natural global warming sceptics was just political slander, of the sort you’d expect in our culture.  Up there with “you don’t care about the poor, do you?”

But the evidence from Iain Dale’s blog is fairly convincing. Read the comments.  Right Wingers seem to think that they have a unique ability to see through a giant conspiracy.  From the comfort of their living rooms they can tell, apparently, which piece of historical-environmental research proves or disproves an enormously investigated scientific theory.   It’s like they say on the Now show: scientists from the greenest hippy to the Association of Petroleum Geologists accept it, but the equivalent of TalkSport DJs think their take on a tree-ring graph might be able to blow the whole thing apart.

John Redwood’s analysis of Ed Miliband is slightly better (go through my blog: I try to be fair to Redwood, he may be wrong but he’s bright. ) His post attacking Ed Miliband is not of the science, but whether politicians have been honest about the costs involved.  Here I think I agree with the basic gist (though Redwood masks it in his usual wasteful Government theme):

Mr Miliband, doutbless thinking all the time of the downside in seeking to tell people how to lead their lives and in taxing and regulating to make them follow certain precepts, spent most of his time explaining that the government could and should not do too much to try to change individual behaviour.

To deal with carbon, we will have to shift from those technologies we would choose if economic growth and (short term) quality of life were the only considerations, to a variety of second-bests (and third-, fourth-, fifth-bests at that).  Shifting from electricity at 3p/kwH to 18p/kwH (coal to solar) surely has economic consequences.  Ultimately people will have to be coerced or taxed into lower-carbon lifestyles, and that will mean lower outcomes in a variety of ways.  Less meat, less travel, less convenience.

So if there are three broad opinions:

  • carbon dioxide emissions are a real problem, but we can deal with them and enjoy fine high growth lives, because building wind farms is ‘growth’
  • carbon dioxide emissions are a real problem, and dealing with them will hurt, including trampling on some cherished political beliefs about freedom to do what I want
  • Dealing with carbon emissions will really hurt and involve trampling on cherished libertarian beliefs.  So I will try to emphasise all the evidence I can find that it is not a problem, and also impugn the motives of its adherents

then I am of the middle.  I would mostly attack the last for its transparent bad faith.  But the first is also a folly – and one Liberals are perhaps too prone to, with their Green Roads out of Recession.  But this division helps me understand how a subject of scientific nature can have such a clear political dividing line.

By the way Redwood is clearly inconsistent.  He – rightly – warns that cutting carbon involves political and lifestyle costs.  But he also thinks that cutting public spending is technically easy, and seems to think that no pain will come from a public spending round the tightness of which we have not seen in 40 years.  If it is so easy, why was there a Winter of Discontent after just 1 year of this treatment 30 years ago?  We are due for 5 of those.


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