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UK Climate Change Secretary Slams Deniers As ‘Dogmatic And Blinkered’

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"UK Climate Change Secretary Slams Deniers As ‘Dogmatic And Blinkered’"

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At a UK Royal Society symposium last week, Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, was as blunt on the reality of climate science as he was critical of those who deny it. His full remarks are here.

Some excerpts on the science:

Two hundred years of good science – teasing out uncertainties, considering risk – has laid the foundation of what we now understand.

It screams out from decade upon decade of research.

The basic physics of climate change is irrefutable.

Greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere and cause changes to the climate.

Human activity is significantly contributing to the warming of our planet.

And on the mistaken notion that  reading on climate action is bad for a country’s economy:

Too often, we are told that those who go low-carbon first will sacrifice their competitiveness.

But as the Prime Minister set out last week, reaffirming our shared commitment to being the greenest government ever:

“We are in a global race and the countries that succeed in that race, the economies that will prosper, are those that are the greenest and the most energy efficient.”

The real danger we face is being outpaced by other countries who are investing in clean, low-carbon economies.

This is a boom market of £3.3 trillion, growing at 3.7% a year, with investment in renewables outpacing that in fossil fuels.

For our businesses this means opportunities, for our governments tax revenues, for our people jobs, for our societies insulation from the volatility of fossil fuel prices.

So this drive for low-carbon energy is a real engine of growth for hard-pressed economies around the world.

And on those who deny the science:

You know, when I am confronted by some of the most dogmatic and blinkered people who deny that climate change is happening, I am reminded of the sentiment of the famous USA Today cartoon.

“If we really are wrong about climate change, we will have created a better world for nothing”.

In reality, those who deny climate change and demand a halt to emissions reduction and mitigation work, want us to take a huge gamble with the future of every human being on the planet, every future human being, our children and grand children, and every other living species.

We will not take that risk.

Hear, hear! Act, act!

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72 Responses to UK Climate Change Secretary Slams Deniers As ‘Dogmatic And Blinkered’

  1. Superman1 says:

    It should be obvious from an objective reading of the data and the trends that the game is over; we are merely running out the clock. What is being posted here are reflections of complete Denial; the time has come for Acceptance.

    • Supe, what is the utility of that POV?

      Keep fighting. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it ain’t over until it’s over.

      • Superman1 says:

        I still play the Powerball Lottery, but have essentially zero expectations of winning. Keep fighting for climate change attenuation, but don’t have greater expectations than Powerball. You’re right; it’s not over ’til it’s over.

        • Niall says:

          In my more optimistic moments I go for small chance of success against rolling over and giving in.

          More realistically, for human “civilisation” and probably for humanity as a species, it’s game over. At that point I think it’s worth acting to try to make sure that cataclysm is not as big as it otherwise might be.

          It’s still a war worth fighting!

          • Superman1 says:

            If you’re fighting a war, the first step is to define the enemy. Who’s the enemy? And, if you can bring yourself to admit the major enemy is you and me, how do you fight that war?

          • Niall says:

            Superman:

            I have two responses to that question.

            1) One could argue that it’s not a war, but that we (H. “sapiens”) require a wartime-level response in order to limit the damage. This means an immediate conversion of energy production away from fossil fuels (and probably biomass). This brings me to:

            2) The “enemy” or biggest hurdle to overcoming this problem of he transformation of economic activity are those who deny the existence or severity of the problem of climate disruption.

          • K. Spangler says:

            I would also tend to agree with the fact that trying to “define an enemy” for this “war” to be successful or impassioned is a troublesome approach. By defining an evil, we make things too clear cut. Defining an enemy has proven to oversimplify the conflict in wars past and recent history. Thus, we must recognized the bad AND good in ourselves, that we are the enemies and the heroes. We can wait for governmental action all we want but we must also identify ourselves as the superheroes, or else this lack of confidence and creativity in mankind will be our greatest inhibitor.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      In terms of collapse we have hit the wall…
      but in terms of human spirit we live on and fight on….

      Must see…. you will be stunned…
      (Ill start u at this point but the whole vide is essential)

      A few sobering facts….
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=xugAC7XGosM#t=690s

    • Mark E says:

      The part of me that owns lots of mineral rights agrees with Superman completely. It’s hopeless and so I’d just like to ask……

      Would any natural gas landmen out there like to offer me a juicy signing bonus to execute a lease? How much did you squeeze ‘em for, Supe?

      • Superman1 says:

        I just deal with the facts, without any rose-colored glasses. The required technical solutions are not salable, and the salable solutions are guaranteed to drive us over the cliff, assuming we have not gone over already.

        • fj says:

          How we think is fundamental and the basis for everything and right now The President is being asked to justify a major initiative on the scale of the Human Genome Project: Mapping the Brain; terribly exciting stuff.

          About ten years Kristof Koch wrote the book Quest For Consciousness with Francis Crick who co-discovered the structure of DNA with James Watson. Most likely this project will expand on the same science.

          We waste many trillions of dollars in bad decisions. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman got the Noble Prize in Economics for proving that economics is not rational because humans are not ration.

          First, you try to find out the way things work. Then, you try to find out how to make things work better; not very profound pieces of insight but, true just the same.

        • fj says:

          The way we use information is fundamental to the rapid evolution of civilization and also pretty much informs everything we do and we continue to get much better at it. Intelligence is evolution on steroids.

          A chronicle of this you are invited to read is “The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood” by James Gleick.

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      Since you repeat yourself over and over I feel I should be able to do the same.

      Can you, for the sake of my grand children shut up! I am sick of your negativity. I try to skip over your posts but unfortunately read fast enough to get the tone in a second.

      You can NOT predict the future with absolute certainty but by your every post you’re doing your best to assure your predictions come true. Are you actually proud of this?

      I’m no Pollyanna – I know how bad it is. But the human race, when it finally wakes up, can do incredible things.

      WTF is the point of your posts? What POSSIBLE good to they do? The data is depressing enough.

      I was at the rally and it was incredibly inspiring. Then I come here and have to read your negative BS.

      Thanks a lot.

      • Mark E says:

        A refreshing breath of straight talk, that, and anyone who thinks different is “blinkered”. (That is such an AWESOME word….)

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Thanks Brooks. My sentiments exactly, ME

      • Superman1 says:

        Go beyond the invectives; what is your credible plan for preventing us from going over the cliff, and on what evidence is it based? Sounds-good feels-good proposals don’t do it for me, and that’s all I see on this blog. Give me a credible reason to be optimistic.

        • Mark E says:

          You ask the wrong question.

          The RIGHT question is “What is the ONLY thing that has ever really changed the world?”

          ANSWER…..

          “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

          Although *YOU* may feel despair, or have a political/financial incentive to act like you feel despair,

          ….the rest of us are still climbing up into the saddle, so kindly get out of the barn doorway.

          “Nearly everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is vitally important that you DO IT!”

          • Superman1 says:

            Cute slogans don’t do it for me; I need to see credible plans that address the central roadblocks. When you get into the ‘saddle’, where will you be riding?

          • Mark E says:

            could be I’ll be going backwards and we’ll all go over the cliff anyway.

            However, I will at least be in motion with my honor intact, while you’ll still be standing still, trying vainly to block the way.

        • Ken Barrows says:

          I have to agree that Superman1 is right in that you technooptimists don’t really have a plan. You can say that Organization A says that addressing climate change adequately will be a boon for the economy. But, besides numbers/assumptions pulled from thin air, I have never seen a good explanation of how that happens. Links welcome.

    • Joe Romm says:

      No.

    • fj says:

      Great having you here as a great parody . . . of that great Agnew fiendish illiteration . . . “those nattering nabobs of negativism” . . . a crotchety old fossil conceived by Beckett like Krapp’s Last Tape; to see how silly we’ve been sitting on our hands for way too long . . . and, so refreshing all those refusing to roll over, who have dreams of a far better future; blessed with the beauties of optimism and a sense of the great assymmetry of time, fearlessly chasing immortality . . . laughing all the way to the bank . . .

      instead of Waiting For Godot.

    • fj says:

      The technical solutions are very salable such as:

      Small light net zero vehicles; 500 million Chinese are already using a primitive version of them that are 3 times more efficient than walking, 3 times faster; 3 times further . . .

      Net zero homes where 12,000 have been built in Germany alone

      Passive solar design which has been around for at least hundreds of years, probably a lot longer

      Solar Thermal Concentrator

      Super insulation

      High efficiency

      Zero waste

      Social change

      Education

      High speed easy communication

      Computers technology

      Science and technology

      Democracy

      The Bill of Rights

      Poor People First

      End Deforestation

      (to name a few)

      . . . .

      It should be noted that social change largely depends on fundamental technologies.

      • Ken Barrows says:

        Ok, let’s require that all new homes built in the entire world be “net zero” homes. Let’s figure out what it takes from the environment to build all of these homes in the short run.

        Shoot, my wife and I drive a 2005 Toyota Camry that is “partial net zero emissions.” WTF does that mean? Still seems to take gasoline. As Superman1 says, perhaps I am the problem.

  2. Tami Kennedy says:

    I wish a bigger bat was used to reach across the Atlantic to persuade the U.S. deniers. Might take a couple ‘taps’ for those claiming a GOP affection.

    • Superman1 says:

      If we eliminated every USA denier (which I would have no hesitation supporting), how would the battle against the impending catastrophe change one iota? If you and I (and our addictions to a profligate energy use lifestyle enabled by the availability of cheap fossil fuels) are the main problem, how would the elimination of the deniers affect the outcome?

      • Mike Roddy says:

        Their bosses would stop bribing Congressmen and media companies.

        • Superman1 says:

          And if Inhofe voted to double the gasoline tax, or whatever was required to really cut into fossil fuel consumption, how long would he last as Oklahoma’s Senator?

          • Brooks Bridges says:

            It becomes clearer and clearer.

            With your every post you argue against any action to fight climate change.

            Funny, the fossil fuel companies and other deniers are doing the same thing. How do you differentiate yourself?

          • Superman1 says:

            Brooks Bridges: No, I have yet to see any action that will effectively fight climate change; I wish I did. All I see are sounds-good feels-good proposals directed at the wrong targets. How can that be effective?

          • Brooks Bridges says:

            What is the goal of the fossil fuel industry?

            To delay/avoid action on climate change as long as possible.

            What’s your constant stream of discouragement of action on climate change likely to accomplish?

            I would think discouraged people are less likely to participate in action on climate change.

            So whether you intend to be or not you’re walking and talking like a fossil fuel stooge.

            Please explain any subtleties I have missed.

          • Niall says:

            Brooks. There is a second possible explanation of the data. People coming out of a state of denial often go through a phase of “strategic hopelessness”, where they argue that nothing they do will make any difference.

            Superman may be moving out of one of two possible phases of denial. One is denial of the existence of a problem. The second is denial of how serious the problem is.

            I suspect the latter is more likely. I actually concur that there are few if any reasons for optimism.

            I disagree utterly that this should stop us trying. Anything we can do to mitigate the effects may be the difference between someone starving and not, or a species surviving or not, or an ecosystem making it through more or less intact or not.

            For that reason, I agree with Mark. Superman should get out of the barn doorway, because I will cheerfully encourage Mark to ride out with the rest of us, whether Superman is in the way or not.

          • John McCormick says:

            Super, dare him to do it. I’ll give you his address if you need it.

      • Dennis Tomlinson says:

        There was an episode of M.A.S.H. in which a CIA rocket landed in the compound, but failed to detonate. Our heroes Trapper and B.J. crawled out to the rocket with tools and instructions for defusing it but failed, whence the rocket exploded, littering paper messages all over the camp. Trapper picked up one of the messages and it read, “Give up. You can’t win.” -General Douglass MacArthur
        So Superman, did we give up when the German’s bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO!

        • Merrelyn Emery says:

          Dennis, I think it was the Japanese but I agree with your intentions, ME

          • Sasparilla says:

            You’re quite right ME, however I believe he was quoting an old John Belushi (comedic actor) movie who said it on purpose. ;-)

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Sorry, I am not well educated when it comes to American movies, ME

          • Dennis Tomlinson says:

            Tora! Tora! Tora!
            Or, as it was parodied in the movie “Animal House”,
            Toga! Toga! Toga!
            Sorry Merrelyn for the vague reference. Sorry also for the misused apostrophe in, “German’s”. Sorry to any actual Germans who likely didn’t get the reference either.

  3. Lionel A says:

    I would like to know what Davey’s opinion is on the race to frack in the UK and on how some authorities are hamstringing the installation of wind turbines. For example the leader of the council of my home county of Hampshire, Ken Thornber, has ruled that no such turbines will be installed on council land.

    Then there is the fuss about an off-shore installation off the Dorset coast and of course Donald Trump harrumphing about turbines blighting his golf course development on Scotland’s East Coast, which latter is itself a blot on the landscape.

    • Niall says:

      I would like to know his opinion as well, but he’s a Liberal Democrat who’s sold his soul to the Tories for the illusion of power.

      That’s ultimately what it comes down to. Davey may have his views as a LibDem, but he has to talk up the coalition. Do not expect to see action, because that will have to be backed by “Auld” Nick Clegg and his master.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Davey’s spiel was pure PR balderdash, as phony as Cameron’s original mendacity in promising ‘the Greenest ever Government’ in the UK.The Tories’ record has been absolutely appalling, in every field of environmental policy, and this speech, in my opinion, surely deserves some award for sheer gall and chutzpah, even with so very much competition.

    • Spike says:

      Lincolnshire County Council, another cohort of ignorant Tories, also stated that they would tolerate no more windfarms but have just had one approved by Davey after an enquiry. There is a real fight going on within the coalition about clean energy, with Osbourne batting for fossil fuel interests and others for clean energy, with the hapless Cameron vacillating from the sidelines. Much damage is being done but the battle is not yet lost.

  4. Nick B says:

    It’s shame that others in the UK government (such as Peter Lilley MP) are brazenly lobbying on behalf of the fossil fuel industries and misinforming anyone who will listen to them. The Colonel Gaddafi look-a-like Lord Lawson is there with his influential Global Warming Policy Foundation (Climate Change Denial Foundation) trying to obstruct progress that benefits the many.

  5. The cartoonist’s name is Joel Pett and his home paper is the Lexington (Ky) Herald-Leader. Although that one did first appear in USA Today. The question in the cartoon is, of course, unanswerable. There are no good arguments for the policies associated with climate denial.

    First, the science is on the side of AGW.
    Second, renewable energy will be needed anyway as carbon based energies are depleted.
    Third, carbon based energies have other side effects than AGW. Coal, in particular, is a noxious polluter.
    Fourth, carbon energies involve us deeply (here in the USA) with the volatile politics of the Middle East.
    Fifth, renewable will help us our of our impossible trade balance deficits.
    And lastly, there’s much more money to be made by getting in early on renewable energy forms than by being the poor schlub who has to buy the technologies from somewhere else.

    Which makes me believe that climate deniers are in league with foreign governments.

  6. Jacqueline Gibson says:

    So why is the silly bugger still supporting fracking?

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    I wish Obama’s scientific advisers would speak out this directly. What, or who, are they afraid of?

  8. Mark E says:

    Suppose you are NOT fighting a war and you don’t HAVE any enemies?

    http://www.jmu.edu/gandhicenter/wm_library/gandhiana-hindswaraj.pdf

  9. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    I think it is already too late. But I might be wrong. Even if I am not wrong, I would prefer to put off our doom as long as possible.

    We spend millions keeping old men alive for a few years, what price all of humanity for a few decades? Maybe even a few centuries.

    We know already the future is going to be nasty. There are many changes we must make to cope with what is ahead. Many of those changes are what is needed to mitigate or just delay what is ahead.

    Transitioning to a new sort of economy will be a very hard task. Had we started fifty years ago this task would have been painless, wait much longer and it may not be possible.

    Do we really want to wait until the answer to the question of it being too late is a resounding yes?

  10. The vast majority of billions won’t get through the end of this century. We must never give up. We must fight on. But we don’t need lies about good it will be when we know it won’t. We need honesty and perseverance. Some have to survive.

  11. Paul Magnus says:

    Rob Stewart>
    Want to help make a difference? Get people to see Revolution. There is no government or corporation guiding us to a world that works – to a planet that is beautiful for us and millions of other species. All we have is our humanity – our emotions and our feelings. When we’re educated, we unleash the power of humanity to guide us – we’ll feel bad about engaging in activities that are destructive for life and feel good about engaging in activities that promote life and future generations. Education is the most important part of saving our future, and that’s why we’re focused on getting as many people as possible to see Revolution. PLEASE take a moment to invite 5 friends to LIKE the Revolution page and help us achieve our goal of sparking a worldwide movement!

    https://www.facebook.com/revolutionmovie

  12. ToddInNorway says:

    Superman1, I suppose if you saw first hand Berlin, Hiroshima, Warsaw, Dresden, Moscow, Nagasaki, etc. shortly after they were completely destroyed in WWII you could be forgiven that you believed they would never recover….the task was too big, the whole world was broke except for the USA, most of the able-bodied youth were killed or maimed in battle…what a mess… You may not believe it, but transforming and fixing our energy system is in fact a much smaller and more manageable task. We just need business leaders and policy makers to align to get the job started and it will happen. The amount of effort and materials required to manufacture and install PV is really trivial. Electric transport really only costs marginally more than our current system. Fuel and energy efficiency are even easier than all that. All the technologies are basically ready to go. It is not hard, it is just different than what we do today. No doubt some “value” in fossil fuels will be destroyed, but it is a very small part of society that will take a hit.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Moscow was not ‘totally destroyed’. Just substitute Stalingrad.

      • ToddInNorway says:

        Thanks, MM, indeed you are correct. Stalingrad was flattened, Moscow merely severely damaged. But The Battle of Moscow is still considered one of the most lethal battles in world history (Wikipedia).

    • Ken Barrows says:

      Since we are all keeping our cars, does anyone know how many barrels of oil would be needed to repave all of the world’s roads? Most of them probably could use a bit of maintenance before 2050.

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    The Energy Shift
    http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/02/18/Big-Energy-Shift

    We use 17TW of it and oil provides 90% of transport energy. Can we switch it to renewables in time?

    • Paul Magnus says:

      “hope begins with recognizing the challenges we face and the opportunities they present. Once gauged with clarity, we can get on with the task at hand, minimizing the risk and hardship that any big shift necessarily entails.”

    • ToddInNorway says:

      It will take about 15 years after aggressive transitioning to replace about half of current oil use with electricity/fuel efficiency. But all the required technology is already commercially available. It is just a matter of policy push and industrial scale-up. Remember that the CAFE fuel efficiency requirement in the USA is 54.5 MPG (US gallons!) by 2025. This is only 12 years away ;) .

    • David Smith says:

      Its like we are being eaten alive by our own system. The question is not “Can we?”. The question is “will we?”. Will we collectively summon the will and the tools to make it happen? It’s our collective choice and can probably only be accomplished with the support of our government of the people.

      The deck is stacked against us, because the political realm has made it inpossible to even have an actual conversation about how to do it.

      • David Smith says:

        Correction – Because of the state of the pollitical realm an actual useful conversation about this, and action, is not occuring where it needs to occur; the houses of congress. Those with the majority financial interest have done a wonderful job of exploiting human weakness and reducing or eliminating useful dialogue and replacing it with name calling and such, coming from the lowest level of our moral and intellectural selves. Our worst natures are being expressed at the very time that we need our best. It is a perfect play (which will one day be seen clearly as the crime against humanity that it is.)

    • Mark E says:

      well OF COURSE we *can*…. we *could* implement the highest level epidemic lockdown in the file cabinet (Clancy’s “Executive Orders” was a very good read)

      freaked out about the economy?

      so what? The economy is all psychology. We *could* decide to think/regulate whatever we want about interest and derivatives and stocks.

      We CAN instantly halt the majority of emissions. We just don’t want to….. yet.

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Well I wish you all luck in the good old US of A. In Australia the situation is so bad that it is quite funny, in a ridiculously contemptible way. The country has been hit in recent years by deep drought, followed by flooding of the type dubbed ‘once in 100 years’ by the soft denialists in the Government meteorology bureaux. Unfortunately they now occur quite often -every one or two years in unlucky places, like Queensland. Mega-fires are pretty much annual events, too, and temperatures this year have been the highest on record, across the country as a whole and in Sydney the largest city.
    Other ecological crises are numerous. The Great Barrier Reef is rapidly dying (a situation denied for years, now suddenly admitted, then forgotten)from toxic runoff, dredging for more and more coal-export ports, warming and acidification. Coal seam gas, (like fracked gas) is polluting scarce water and agricultural soil. And mass tree death is occurring, as elsewhere across the planet.
    In the face of these crises the far Right Liberal party pretends to acknowledge the problems, but its newest generation of state regimes is the most violently anti-environmental ever, attacking environmental protection and renewable energy with Tea Party-esque fury. The Nationals, the rural boofhead party, openly laugh at all environmental problems.
    The so-called Labor Party, now moribund due to the unpalatable leadership of Julia Gillard, has recently joined the green-bashing bandwaggon. The precious Tarkine rain-forest one of the largest temperate rainforests left on the planet, was handed over to the miners and loggers, and the Rightwing trade union thugs who organised the sell-out (it was unanimously recommended for preservation as being of the highest ecological importance)openly sneer their contempt for the hated ‘Greenies’. Every day the business bosses demand the abolition of all ‘green tape’ ie any and every environmental law that hinders their pillage in the least, aided and abetted by the Murdoch infestation, who also vilify Greens every single day. And coal and gas mining is the highest priority for all regimes. So, if humanity is to be saved, don’t expect any help from ‘The Lackey Country’- just the same self-satisfied moral stupour of which we are so inordinately proud.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Paul, Mr Burke misses Mr Hare! I cannot express myself honestly here as to my opinion of Mr Burke. Needless to say, an ‘Environment’ Minister who rejects unanimous advice as to the preciousness of the Tarkine, and only preserves a narrow coastal strip, for indigenous reasons, is just the type, I believe, who have brought humanity to its end. A Minister for the ‘Environment’ who rubber-stamps coal and gas extraction, in my opinion, either doesn’t understand climate science or doesn’t care for our childrens’ future. Under his ‘stewardship’ the Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed ( a long-term process, being rapidly accelerated by the coal-mining and gas extraction frenzy), the Murray-Darling Plan is a fiasco, the Tasmanian forests plan full of carefully designed loopholes, and environmental progress is virtually zero. And the big reality is that destruction is forever,(in abbreviated human terms)the Tarkine will now be pillaged like all the other precious biospheres, and the so-called ‘protected’ areas, partially saved with numerous caveats and cop-outs, are never, ever, truly safe. It just takes the arrival of some savage, atavistic, far Right regime, as have taken power in several states recently, for new and frankly unimagined horrors to unfold. I stand by my belief that truly extreme anti-environmentalism, amounting to raw hatred and an almost maniacal lust to destroy, is now bi-partisan policy, and is being pushed harder and harder, by Big Business and the Murdoch villainy. The irrefutable scientific facts of ecological collapse and crisis have no affect on our politicians-it just seems to incite them to new atrocities. Burke is, in my opinion, one of the worst ‘Environment’ Ministers, but only so far.

  15. Stephen says:

    Given the way our anything but “the greenest government ever” is behaving, I think Ed Davey’s final line should read:

    We will not take that risk, as long as it doesn’t damage our prospects for economic growth for a single moment.

    However, we can hope against the odds …

  16. Bruce S says:

    Yesterday I hiked several miles through the Santa Monica mountains( Los Angeles ). Spring has the local chaparral in bloom but after hours of hiking through a canopy of flowers I noticed something odd, no honey bees. I mean none, not one. Spooky. It isn’t climate change but a nasty omen none the less. So many parts of nature showing stress , not all climate related but part of a trend. Red sky at morning.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      My understanding is that insects like all animals are more likely to become sick when they are in stressful conditions. These can include small changes in temperature or a food source. Changing the energy balance of the planet will ultimately affect every life form, ME

  17. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    I fear most looking back in twenty years and finding out that it would not have been too late in 2013.

    I do not plan giving up, even though I have little hope.