James Lovelock on the Green Taliban and the emergence of their ‘religion’

wind turbines

James Lovelock is the inventor of Gaia theory and the father of modern environmentalism. The Guardian interviews him and finds that he is recanting. He discusses nuclear (good), wind power (bad) and why fracking is the future.

On sea level rises:

After more than three decades living amid acres of trees he planted himself by hand, he and his wife Sandy have decided to downsize and move to an old lifeguard’s cottage by the beach in Dorset. “I’m not worried about sea-level rises,” he laughs. “At worst, I think it will be 2ft a century.”

On the Green Taliban:

Lovelock does not miss a chance to criticise the green movement that has long paid heed to his views. “It’s just the way the humans are that if there’s a cause of some sort, a religion starts forming around it. It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion. I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use. The greens use guilt. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting CO2 in the air.”

On proportional representation:

Even with politics, it seems, Lovelock’s celebrated idea of a self-regulating organism applies. “We get to our stable position through checks and balances. The whole of nature does that through natural selection. Proportional representation is a very bad idea and an absolute gift to ideologues.”

On nuclear power:

The reaction in Germany to Fukushima – which announced within weeks of the disaster that it was to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022 – particularly infuriates Lovelock: “Germany is a great country and has always been a natural leader of Europe, and so many great ideas, music, art, etc, come out of it, but they have this fatal flaw that they always fall for an ideologue, and Europe has suffered intensely from the last two episodes of that. It looks to me as if the green ideas they have picked up now could be just as damaging. They are burning lignite now to try to make up for switching off nuclear. They call themselves green, but to me this is utter madness.”

On fracking:

Having already upset many environmentalists – for whom he is something of a guru – with his long-time support for nuclear power and his hatred of wind power (he has a picture of a wind turbine on the wall of his study to remind him how “ugly and useless they are”), he is now coming out in favour of “fracking”, the controversial technique for extracting natural gas from the ground. He argues that, while not perfect, it produces far less CO2 than burning coal: “Gas is almost a give-away in the US at the moment. They’ve gone for fracking in a big way. Let’s be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it.”

On the UN:

Lovelock says he’s doubtful that internationalist efforts of this sort achieve much: “Whenever the UN puts its finger in, it seems to become a mess. The burden of my thoughts are very much that the climate situation is more complex than we at present are capable of handling, or possibly even in the future. You can’t treat it as a scientific problem alone. You have to involve the whole world, and then there’s the time constant of human activity. Look at how long ago the Kyoto treaty was – 15 years ago – and damn all has been done. The human time constant is very slow. You don’t get major changes in under 50-100 years, and climate doesn’t wait for that.”

 

  • Guest

    He’s not recanting Whale, he is maintaining and outlining ideas he has consistently held for many years.

  • maninblack

    Give that man a DB.

  • Edwin Wigmore

    He most certainly is recanting. Lovelock was a green guru for years. He was a staunch defender of the work over heating, massive sea level rise and the rest of that nonsense.

    It caused a huge upset when he changed his tune.

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