I have an article at Quadrant Online in reply to Robert Manne’s “A Dark Victory” published in The Monthly for August which he had subtitled “how vested interests defeated climate science”. The theme of my reply is built around his observation that far and away the largest identifiable group on the sceptical side were what he described as “ageing conservative white males”, that is, people just like me. I think there is therefore quite a lot to be said for my little ACWM cohort but it also got me to wonder how it came about that we were so perceptive in this way. The article therefore deals with the various scientific frauds we had lived through and had learned from including, amongst others, Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb, The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, the “Global Cooling” issue that emerged in the 1970s when temperatures were falling, and then the Y2K phenomenon, an almost perfect parallel to the global warming debate in that the entire “scientific” community of computer scientists insisted we had a real problem that had to be fixed if we were to forestall massive economic dislocation.
But my main point was what being a conservative in this ACWM classification brings to the debate. It is the attack on our personal freedoms that is at the core of those who pursue global warming as an issue. The paths to power come in many forms and the will to power lies in many a heart. What a conservative temperament is wary of before all is the uses made of any and every vehicle that comes to hand to undermine the freedoms we have accumulated over the centuries. Global warming may have begun as a scientific theory but the debate is not just about science.
As an ageing conservative white male my hope is to pass on to the next generation a world of rising prosperity and greater personal freedom. It is not a small matter that to follow the Robert Mannes of the world would mean that we would leave behind a world far less prosperous and far less free than it is today. Manne treats these as if they are trivial matters, that given the speculations of these climate scientists, thinking about the effects on our standard of living or on personal freedom should be mere dust on the balance, given virtually no weight at all.
This is the part of the global warming debate that is usually left out. But given that there are no facts about the future, there are tremendous social and political risks that are almost never brought into this debate. Only economic losses are usually considered as the costs of dealing with global warming. But the economic losses, which are potentially immense, are really only one part of what needs to be considered when dealing with those who wish to ride to political power in the here and now on the back of promises to protect us from the end of the earth some 75 years into the future. If I don’t trust them, I have some very good reasons for that mistrust.