(TELEGRAPH BLOGS) – “Climate change” has become a “substitute religion” for people with a “nakedly political” agenda which has less to do with saving the planet than it does with reining in economic growth and wealth redistribution.
by James Delingpole
Well we knew this. But how how nice it is to hear it from the mouth of a statesman as distinguished as former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whose blistering speech last night at the Global Warming Policy Foundation you can read in full here.
Howard’s own record during the great climate change scare is not entirely unblemished. It was on his watch that Australia introduced its disastrous policy of declaring its trees a “carbon sink”, thus effectively removing the property rights of farmers who could no longer legally clear their land for agriculture or, indeed, to create firebreaks to stop their houses being burned down by bush fires. He also backed the opposition ALP’s plans for an Emissions Trading Scheme.
But reading his speech, you begin to appreciate the pressure he came under to be seen to “do something” at the peak of the great global warming scare.
Two years on and late in 2006 my government hit a “perfect storm” on the issue. Drought had lingered for several years in many parts of Eastern Australia leading to severe restrictions on the daily use of water; not for the first or last time the bushfire season started early; the report by Sir Nicholas Stern hit the shelves with the author himself visiting Australia and lastly the former US Vice President Al Gore released his movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. To put it bluntly, “doing something” gathered political momentum in Australia.
The atmosphere political that is was certainly conducive. The Australian economy was surging; unemployment was approaching a thirty year low; the budget was in robust condition and the Liberal Party’s internal research revealed that such was the optimism of the people that they believed the economy was virtually running itself. It was not hard to persuade the voters that more should be done to fight global warming. After all we could afford it.
Here, Howard goes some way towards answering a question which is going to be asked an awful lot by future historians, students of economic disaster and psychologists of mass hysteria: why didn’t more people speak out sooner against this costly, environmentally damaging, and utterly specious “climate change” craze.
The answer, it seems, is that even the more principled ones buckled. Howard, a notably unflappable, level-headed sort of fellow had considered the evidence (both scientific and economic), done the maths and looked at history. He remembered, for example, the “apocalyptic warnings” 40 years ago of the Club of Rome. “They were experts; they predicted the world would run out of resources to sustain itself; they were wrong.” What he’d also learned from history is that man has an “infinite capacity to adapt to the changing circumstances in which he lives.” Yet recognising the climate change madness for what it was did not render him proof to the clamour of the times. Realpolitik had to come first – and even then he lost, for such was the mood of the moment that the man who spouted the most fervent environmental claptrap (in this case Labor’s Kevin Rudd) was always going to win the next general election.
What we also learn from Howard’s speech is that a special corner of hell is currently being reserved for the really quite small number of zealots and snake-oil-salesmen who punched far, far above their weight in promulgating the scare. He singles out Al Gore; and the dismal, droney-voiced but extremely dangerous ex-World Bank economist Nicholas (now Lord) Stern; and he is right to do so. Both of these men’s doommongering claims about the climate change menace have been thoroughly and repeatedly discredited beyond all reasonable doubt. Yet the influence their junk-science and voodoo-economics drivel had on public policy was truly extraordinary.
Gore isn’t quite the force he was now that even his former allies consider him a blubbery joke. But Lord Stern is still at it, for all the world as if the 17-year pause never happened, using his parliamentary lobbying influence (funded by a true believer US hedge fund manager called Jeremy Grantham) and the attack dog muscle of his palaeopiezometry chum Bob Ward, to pursue his ongoing campaign against scientific evidence, free markets and economic progress. You can see the Stern Gang in action here.
Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a Howard-knocking piece. In my view, Howard is one of the greatest world political leaders of the last fifty years. And the excellent speech he gave to the Global Warming Policy Foundation last night affords yet another reason why. Even now, despite all the evidence that it’s little more than a junk-science scam, barely a single world leader past or currently serving has had the integrity, bluntness and regard for truth to tell it like it is about the great climate con. (The only other one, as far as I can recall, is former Czech president Vaclav Klaus).
He already deservedly holds the highest honour in the Queen’s gift: the Order of Merit. Maybe the time has come to give him a knighthood to go with it.