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Straight from the horse’s mouth

“I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

So says James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia theory.

Other than the fascism, Mrs Lincoln, he talks some quite good sense. For instance he says that “You need sceptics, especially when the science gets very big and monolithic.” I presume he envisages a situation where sceptics are still allowed to talk but not to vote.

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30 comments to Straight from the horse’s mouth

  • Steven Rockwell

    And, of course, it will be he and his ilk that will be in charge during this crisis and the necessary, if beneficial, dictatorship.

  • Steven Rockwell

    And yes, I intentionally wrote “beneficial dicatorship” and not “benevolent dictatorship” for obvious reasons.

  • Laird

    Well, at 90 I suppose one can be forgiven a little dementia. But he is correct that if sea levels do begin to rise (which I doubt) the best defense will be “adaptation measures”.

    Note that the subhead of this article refers to the “theft” of UEA emails (which charge is repeated in the body), even though all evidence indicates that it was an inside job. No bias here, just honest journalism.

  • bill-tb

    And all this for a lie. Who knew … Has there ever been a bigger scam, government grants for science that purports to say government needs to tax everyone.

  • At least he’s honest and straightforward (an attitude people who get to live long enough tend to adopt).

  • Careful what you wish for, mate. I would happily see his ilk put up against a wall.

  • I suspect he finds sceptics useful in the same snese the Medieval church found heretics useful; to be made examples of. Extra crispy examples.

  • James

    Does the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland put it’s democracy on hold during wartime? That seems contrary to my knowledge of military history, but perhaps I am thinking of a different Crimean War.

  • James: At times, yes. The term of parliament was extended during the second world war, and an election only held after victory was achieved.

    Coming from Australia – which most certainly does not put democracy on hold during wartime and which would find it constitutionally impossible to do so – I must say that I find this astonishing also.

  • Sunfish

    Even during WWII with that evil dipshit FDR in charge, the 1944 US elections took place.

    Even during Vietnam with the worthless strokes GWB-The Prequel and Richard Nixon in the Oval Orifice, the 1968 and 1972 elections took place.

    Even during the hotly-debated OIF going on, the 2004 elections still happened.

    Oh, hell, the 1864 elections came off on schedule even with that authoritarian assclown Lincoln as President.

    I don’t know what the UK’s founding documents say about suspending elections, but in the US? It on like Donkey Kong if that happens.

  • Nuke Gray

    Sunfish, sorry to rain on your parade, but Britain doesn’t have founding documents, as such. Magna Carta is a list of rights and wrongs, but doesn’t set up Parliament, or mention terms of office, or anything like that. British Institutions have simply evolved as they have been needed. There is no Constitutional provision for a Prime Minister, for example, in either Britain or Australia- it just grew.

  • However, despite what Lovelock said, democracy was not put on hold in WWII – still less because of “a major war approaching“. Parliament continued to sit throughout the war. Elections were not called, but that is not because war was “too important” to allow people to vote about it; it was because it was too difficult to hold an election while under fire, with a substantial proportion of the electorate overseas, and with the resources that would have been used to administer the election otherwise engaged.

    Now myself, I have no problem with getting rid of democracy, I just could do with an explanation of why democracy is a good way of deciding what to do with anything else, if it’s not a good way of deciding what to do about climate change.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Lovelock is still regarded as an amiable, if eccentric idealist by a still largely indulgent MSM. Although I note that some Greenies hate him for his championing of nuclear power.

  • Frank S

    Some nasty people are attracted to climate alarmism. And climate alarmism can make some people nasty. I’d like to think Lovelock is in the second group.

  • Chuckles

    I’d recommend clicking through to the full interview transcript. The summary article does not really capture the full flavour of what he said.

    Christmas/Winter Solstice Card lists are being amended as you read.

  • Arty

    Wrong end of the horse Steven.

  • Thanks to Chuckles I skipped the article and went straight to the transcript. Lovelock rambles on a bit. He’s nuanced, you could say.

    One of the chiefs once said to me that he agreed that they should include the biology in their models, but he said they hadn’t got the physics right yet and it would be five years before they do. So why on earth are the politicians spending a fortune of our money when we can least afford it on doing things to prevent events 50 years from now? They’ve employed scientists to tell them what they want to hear. The Germans and the Danes are making a fortune out of renewable energy. I’m puzzled why politicians are not a bit more pragmatic about all this.

    Given the way he speaks I’m inclined to put the democracy comment under the heading “idle speculation”.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I’m surprised no one’s made the obvious point: what evidence is there that non-democratic regimes can deal with climate change any better than democratic ones can, or even as well? The Soviet Bloc, after all, was an environmental hell-hole.

  • Brad

    Sceptics will be tolerated in theory when the discussion is in the corridors of academia and the fourth estate. But the young Robespierre was a little more touchy-feely than what he was to become. Somehow when such folk enter the corridors of power, and those whom which they desire to lead to the promised land refuse the invitation, the kid gloves tend to come off.

  • pete

    Maybe humanity is not intelligent enough to stop itself being bossed about from time to time by intolerant nutters like Lovelock who demand obedience and agreement with some crackpot theory or other.

  • John Galt

    Sorry Pete, but if that is your idea of humanity, then I demand an opt-out.

    Perry has it on the button – You can say what you like, it’s a free world, but when you start enforcing your views with the force of law, then up against the wall you go and it’s revolution time again.

  • Laird

    Leaving aside the obvious point that the US is supposed to be a republic, not a democracy, the term “democracy” means more than merely elections. Sunfish should know better. In the US, habeas corpus was suspended during the Civil War, Japanese-Americans were interned during WWII, etc., etc. Supression of important democratic elements (i.e., free speech) is routine during time of war. I would suggest that elections are just about the least important element of popular government, especially if you’re given a “choice” between two essentially interchangeable parts. (Or, as Emma Goldman put it, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”)

    None of which is to suggest, of course, that I believe self-government is an unalloyed good. (I suspect I’m with AMcGuinn on this.) In fact, I’m not convinced that the bulk of people are ready for it. Popular elections seem almost designed to result in the worst possible government: mendacious politicians pandering to the lowest common denominator to win office, offering inducements stolen under color of law from a defenseless minority. Selection by lottery would be a vast improvement.

  • Paul Marks

    Even if one accepts the doctrine of man made globel warming Mr Lovelock is still talking crap (even though he does talk sense on some other matters).

    First of all if “democracy is on hold” why does he assume the dictatorship will be under his control.

    Why not an evil “denyer” as dictator?

    Also the comparison with war fails.

    Not just WWII but also during the Civil War (which killed more Americans than all other wars put together) democracy continued.

    Indeed Lincoln might have lost in 1864 had the Union Army failed to take Atlanta.

    The modern British attitude that “oh there is a major war on – so no general election is possible” is not held by all other people.

  • Nuke Gray

    I don’t know why would-be dictators dislike democracy, since it keeps delivering more power to the center, all the time! Our Australian Constitution was designed to have Canberra as a power vacuum, sucking up rights and powers from the States to itself. In WW2, Canberra took up its’ latent powers of taxation, and kept them. the States are losing their prerogatives, and they don’t object, since they can then blame Canberra for anything bad that happens, whilst photo-opping any good news.

  • veryretired

    Person from Porlock is the only one who seems to catch the underlying assumption that “strong leadership”, i.e., authoritarian political regimentation, is some sort of default position for so many people whenever a crisis seems to threaten, regardless of any evidence, or lack thereof, that such leadership actually results in beneficial outcomes.

    This is a mindset that is literally prehistoric, and yet it pops up again and again in the beliefs of allegedly intelligient and sophisticated people, as it has recently in the love songs by the columnist Friedman to the authoritarian Chinese.

    For millenia, when an endless series of criminal gangs masquerading as governments and aristocratic ruling elites vied for control of the peasantry, trade, and everything else, it seemed necessary to have one’s own strongman in order to fight off the other group’s thugs.

    Politics around the world was the story of one group of psychopaths dueling with some other lunatics to see who could steal and murder the best. The terrified peasants and local craftsmen cowered in their homes, hoping against hope for a few years of peace and stability when one group finally triumphed.

    Slowly, painfully, a few people began to question, and then seriously oppose this age old serial thugocracy, and, finally, the concept of representative government managed a few beachheads in a world of kings, emperors, and caliphs.

    But the primitive attraction to the political ideology of the cave—that super strong Urg will protect us from the devils in that other cave if we just do what he says—remains powerful.

    The fact that humans under uncounted numbers of Urgs remained mired in poverty, disease, and ignorance for thousands of years until a system of individual rights was established that, even deeply flawed as it was, allowed men to walk on the moon within a couple of centuries doesn’t penetrate the invincible ignorance of the mind that longs for the comfort of the whip, and rejects the agony of individual choice and responsibility.

    It is long past time to treat those who desire to live on their knees, or dream of being the man on the balcony basking in the adoration of the peasantry, with the contempt and ridicule they so deeply deserve.

    The proper response to this fool, and any others who long to grovel at their master’s feet or, worse, long to be the master, is a mocking laugh and a nice, green loogy, if not in the face, then on their shoes.

    For far too long, those of us who demand to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit have either been too uninvolved, too fearful, or too polite to respond the way a display of such primitive ignorance requires.

    Those who wish to hold the whip, or long for its caress to relieve the agony of having to actually decide things for themselves, are not deterred by morals or scruples or manners. They want power, and will do anything to get it, and keep it.

    Those who require control over their own lives to live as independent human beings must be equally willing to do what needs to be done. Whatever needs to be done.

    As the book says, no one knows the day or the hour.

    What will you do, when the day of decision arrives?

  • Kevin B

    The fact that humans under uncounted numbers of Urgs remained mired in poverty, disease, and ignorance for thousands of years until a system of individual rights was established that, even deeply flawed as it was, allowed men to walk on the moon within a couple of centuries doesn’t penetrate the invincible ignorance of the mind that longs for the comfort of the whip, and rejects the agony of individual choice and responsibility.

    All very true vr, but for the likes of Lovelock the advancement of mankind was a disaster. They would be much happier as 17th century Lords of the Manor with, (the remaining few of), us as the serfs happy in tilling the land for them as our forebears had done for centuries. Sadly, those would be serfs that you describe so well don’t realise that the sort of life they crave is very different when lived for real, rather than in a historical romance.

  • Well, Rule of Law is more important than being able to vote for two differently named centrist Authoritarian parties who tramp on Rule of Law and exercise Tyranny of the Majority as they have “a mandate”.

    Interesting to see in the full transcript that Lovelock says that Wind Turbines are useless. Funny how that did not make it to the main Guardian article…

  • tehag

    “I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

    Because during the darkest days of WW2, only the fascist dictatorship that overthrew Churchill was able to save Great Britain. Seriously, where did this man go to school and where has he been living?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Interesting to see in the full transcript that Lovelock says that Wind Turbines are useless. Funny how that did not make it to the main Guardian article…

    Posted by Tim Carpenter (Libertarian Party) at March 31, 2010 02:42 PM

    In the real and wicked world, nothing that generates a subsidy is ‘useless’.

  • James

    James: At times, yes. The term of parliament was extended during the second world war, and an election only held after victory was achieved.

    There may not have been an election, but parliament still met. I agree with AMcguinn’s assesment that it was probably a logistics issue as much as anything. I understand it’s still quite complicated if you want to vote while in a foreign theatre of operations.