We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. 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.

James Lovelock in 2010.

The Revenge of Gaia was over the top, but we were all so taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the ice-core analyses [from the ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, studied since the 1980s]. You could draw a straight line relating temperature and CO2, and it was such a temptation for everyone to say, “Well, with CO2 rising we can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all made.

James Lovelock in 2014.

When asked what the next 100 years will be like: “That’s impossible to answer. All I can say is that it will be nowhere as near as bad as the worst-case scenario.”

Incidentally, I am skeptical that heat is disappearing into the oceans, as he now appears to think. I think it is much more likely that the positive feedback needed to achieve high sensitivity to carbon dioxide doubling simply does not exist. Nonetheless, respect is due to James Lovelock for admitting a mistake. Let’s see if the rest of the global warming movement follows suit.

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35 comments to Back-pedalling

  • Let’s see if the rest of the global warming movement follows suit.

    Clearly Rob Fisher missed his calling as a stand-up comedian! 😀

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Indeed, Perry.

  • Aye. Can’t imagine the envirowhackos foregoing their best chance yet to destroy civilization.

  • Michael Jennings

    Also, do the best democracies really agree that democracy must be put on hold if a major war approaches? Count me as someone who doesn’t in fact think that.

  • Gene

    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.

    I have a habit, one that comes naturally to me and perhaps one that I should shed, of writing people off when they do or say certain things that offend or disgust me beyond a certain threshold. Likewise, people who display certain habits of mind or ways of thinking can permanently destroy their credibility with me. Lovelock’s statement above essentially goes beyond that threshold so, while I am grateful for his change of mind, the fact that he ever held the former opinion will always be disturbing.

  • I am with Gene on this. They did not get to set up gulags for the ‘deniers’, but that *is* what a large number of them wanted. People like that are why I am not a pacifist, for neither are they.

  • Thanks for picking up on this outrageous quote from Lovelock, which pissed me off when he first uttered it.

    There were only about twelve democracies left during World War II, but of those that survived only one, the UK, suspended elections. The US and Australia held elections on the usual timetable and so on, as I’m sure pretty much everyone else did.

    If he makes up the constitutional history, what else is he making up? I mean, the generality of his readership must live in a country about which his statement wasn’t true, so he must just not care.

  • Maximo Macaroni

    How doeis a society decide when to “put democracy on hold”? Take a vote?

  • Richard Thomas

    Martin, he may have been referring to Lincoln’s actions in the War for Federal Power.

  • Kevin B

    Incidentally, I am skeptical that heat is disappearing into the oceans, as he now appears to think.

    There is an El Nino building in ’14/’15 and some observers seem to think that it could be a big one – perhaps as big as ’97. This will kick up temperatures, as well as producing some ‘extreme’ – i.e. normal – weather events.

    We need, therefore, to brace ourselves for the warmists and their media claque to trot out the Trenberth theory – “the heat was lurking in the oceans” – and “this proves AGW” and “it’s worse than we thought!” and “we’re all going to die!!!”

    This will be their last big chance to get global anti CO2 agreements in place and they will go hard for it. Stout hearts will be needed on the skeptic side of the argument but hopefully the results of this month’s euro elections will have given the establishment elite a big enough fright that they won’t dare to do anything too stupid in Paris next year.

  • Richard,
    But there was an election during the US Civil War – elections on both sides, as a matter of fact.

  • CaptDMO

    Sorry, I just can’t wrap my head around rising heat not radiating through the atmosphere, desperately seeking it’s eternal quarry of….less heat.

  • Frank S

    The ‘mistake we all made’? Who were the ‘we’ I wonder. People who could not spot that the graphs clearly show CO2 levels changing after the temperatures changed? They were either not very bright, not very numerate, or just not inclined to let mere data get in the way of their fantasies.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    As James Lovelock recently sold his house in Devon, and moved to the US to escape the “extreme” cold and wet UK winters, I do respect James Lovelock for dealing with the reality and admitting a mistake. Unlike those Alarmists who are still busy trying to alter the reality by revising historical data in a direction that suits the theoretical models.

  • Sigivald

    we were all so taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the ice-core analyses

    And ignoring the paleological evidence that CO2 historically has almost nothing to do with temperature, and when it does, is a lagging indicator?

    “Perfect correlation” my ass. Your models had to invent forcing factors that never existed and never had any evidence, and whenever anyone called you on it you ignored them or called them anti-science.

  • Laird

    Give him points for admitting error, anyway. And he’s advocating a policy of mitigating the effects (if any) of GW, calling “sustainable retreat” the “better approach.” A rise in sea levels of a few inches over the course of a century is no catastrophe, and can be easily dealt with. That’s the only sensible approach (for anyone whose true objective is not expansion of the state, anyway).

    “A lot of investment in green technology has been a giant scam, if well intentioned.” Points for that, too (although I am far less inclined than Lovelock to ascribe good intentions to the proponents).

  • Runcie Balspune

    There was always a potential irony in whatever Lovelock said, his Gaia theory seemed to promote the idea you can’t buck nature, that the Earth as a living system would compromise whatever happened, yet he threw in his lot with the hubris-afflicted and joined their chorus warning of the coming catastrophe caused by man, in direct contradiction that Gaia could be broken.

    The “heating ocean” trope is a cop out, the message was clear, that the earth was warming, that the climate was changing, and it has not.

  • Lucis Ferre

    IMO, “Global Warming” is hogwash even in its most fundamental conception. It’s illogical. Concider: ‘If mankind is contributing to the warming of the planet, then mankind ceasing and desisting their actions will stop the warming or even lead to global cooling.’

    That’s a logical fallacy called denying the antecedent. It is not deductive. And if this IS NOT what the environmentallists are shooting for, then what the hell is their REAL agenda?

  • Paul Marks

    The first statement by James Lovelock is both chilling (because it supports tyranny) and FALSE.

    For example, during World War II the American mid term elections of 1942 went ahead – as did the Presidential election of 1944 (pity Tom Dewey did not win).

    Even during the Civil War the Presidential election of 1864 (although far from perfect) at least happened.

    To throw away the chance of changing the government (and changing POLICY) is to accept tyranny.

  • Eric

    The Revenge of Gaia was over the top, but we were all so taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the ice-core analyses

    Of course you were. Because the ice core data was correlated with temperature data that had been hand-adjusted until it fit nicely.

  • veryretired

    It’s not the warming—the Earth warms, it cools, the cycles are well known and oscillate over centuries in some cases, and millennia in others.

    It’s the policy proposals that the statists push relentlessly, regardless of the nature of the problem.

    Global cooling—more state power.

    Global warming—more state power.

    Economy is going well—more state programs, more state resources required.

    Economy is in the tank—more state programs, more resources for the state desperately needed.

    Yes, to the true believers, any and all problems are crises equivalent to war—for in war, it is accepted that the population will allow a certain regimentation and curtailment of liberty.

    Some populations more, some less.

    Collectivists hate and fear the people who desire freedom and individual liberty, because those populations will not accept the regimentation as readily as those unused to liberty.

    The current cultural and educational climate is structured to produce people that haven’t had an identity as an autonomous individual deserving of liberty inculcated into their fundamental mental and psychological frameworks.

    If agw doesn’t work as well as had been hoped, there will be another crisis soon enough, and then another.

    And the solutions, from all the tranzis and their chattering acolytes, will be, mirabile dictu, more power and resources to the state.

    I just wish the Kentucky Derby was such a sure bet.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The U.S. also held Congressional elections in 1918, during WW I; also Congressional elections in 1862, during the Civil War, and in 1846, during the Mexican War.

    During the War of 1812, the U.S. had a Presidential election in 1812, and Congressional elections in 1812 and 1814.

    However, I note that Britain, France, Germany, and Italy suspended elections during WW I. I am also pretty sure that France postponed elections scheduled for the spring of 1940. (There were elections in 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936; all were held, or at least begun, before 10 May, when the 1940 German invasion began.)

  • […] Back-pedalling […]

  • Lucis Ferre: “And if this IS NOT what the environmentallists are shooting for, then what the hell is their REAL agenda?”

    Solitaire Townsend (Futerra Sustainability Communications) describes a rather revealing thought experiment she once carried out:

    “I was making a speech to nearly 200 really hard core, deep environmentalists and I played a little thought game on them. I said imagine I am the carbon fairy and I wave a magic wand. We can get rid of all the carbon in the atmosphere, take it down to two hundred fifty parts per million and I will ensure with my little magic wand that we do not go above two degrees of global warming. However, by waving my magic wand I will be interfering with the laws of physics not with people – they will be as selfish, they will be as desiring of status. The cars will get bigger, the houses will get bigger, the planes will fly all over the place but there will be no climate change. And I asked them, would you ask the fairy to wave its magic wand? And about 2 people of the 200 raised their hands.”

  • Stonyground

    @Alex Cull
    Hence the opposition to shale gas. Gas causes much lower CO2 emissions than coal or oil, so a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved at no cost. Why would anyone be against it?

  • Laird

    Stonyground: Same with nuclear power, too. Zero carbom emissions (admittedly some radioactive waste, but that can be managed). Drill deep enough and you find that hard core environmentalists aren’t so much interested in “saving” Gaia as in eliminating the human infestation. Which is why they should be given no respect, and no quarter. They are a plague on humanity and should be treated as such.

  • @ Stonyground, @ Laird, exactly, e.g., the UK Green Party loathe fracking, hate coal and abhor nuclear, which would leave us very little, alas, to keep warm with, should they ever come to power.

    For a further glimpse into the mindset, here’s another BBC transcript from 2010: Analysis: Doomed by Democracy?

    It’s interesting to note variations in the “we must suspend democracy” argument. Michael Jacobs (climate advisor to Gordon Brown) calls for “skilful political management” to keep the public on board. Halina Ward (serial NGO person) would label suspension of democracy “an acceptable compromise” instead (just call it something else).

    Mayer Hillman (town planner and co-author of book “The Suicidal Planet”) wheels out the “future people” argument:

    “We have an obligation to look after the interests of future generations because they’re going to have to live in a world which is in a deteriorating condition. And we already, some of us, can see the lives that our children and grandchildren are going to have to live within, and it is pretty horrific and it is because we’re not prepared to make the changes necessary. Democracy allows people the freedom not to be obliged to do things that we know we must do, so how can one possibly say yes but the principle of democracy must prevail over and above protection of the global environment from excessive burning of fossil fuels? Given the choice, I would sadly – very, very sadly – say that the condition of the planet in the future for future generations is more important than the retention of democratic principles.”

    Somehow, you know, I suspect that actually he isn’t very, very sad about the idea at all.

  • Jim

    All the people who want to be in charge of other people didn’t just disappear when Communism died in 1990. They just changed their clothing.

  • Laird

    “We have an obligation to look after the interests of future generations because they’re going to have to live in a world which is in a deteriorating condition.”

    This soi-disant “argument” is risible. These people who claim to be so concerned for the interests of our descendants are only too willing to subject them to abject, grinding poverty. We (and our descendants) can live with a slightly warmer planet (which, indeed, might actually be a net benefit), and a sea level higher by a few inches, far better than in a world deprived of modern technology and economic opportunity. But that is precisely the fate to which Hillman and his ilk would consign them.

    Rather than tilting at the windmill of climate change (which has always been a simple fact of nature, with or without the presence of humans), those who are concerned with the wellbeing of our descendants would do much better to fight against a true human-caused problem: governments which spend far beyond their means and thus incur massive debts which will impose a huge burden on our children and grandchildren. I call it CAOS (“catastrophic anthropogenic over-spending”). Anyone with a concern for the future would be demanding massive cuts in government spending, and that our governments live strictly within their means (and actually begin to reduce the debt load already incurred). But of course such people never do that; they are far too interested in retaining their own current benefits and comforts, and the future be damned. Because it most certainly will be.

  • CAOS! (CIS – Consider It Stolen :-))

    Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. 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 we fight major wars to install democracy, and then we suspend democracy because we need to fight a major war?

  • @ Alisa, how they tend to argue this is to point to things like wartime rationing, i.e. the public complying with certain kinds of imposed lifestyle restrictions, with the understanding that they are for the greater good.

    Here’s a report from something called the UK Energy Research Centre, in 2005:

    In particular, (now ex-) Labour MP Colin Challen has a piece called “Musings on the politics of carbon rationing”, where you can see the mindset at work, in great detail:

    “We should study the components of what it takes to wage total war when we live in a democracy made up of selfish individuals. One of the first questions must be how fast can we introduce conscription? Voluntarism is not working. If the answer is tomorrow, then tomorrow we will have the new politics – whether some people like it or not. The elements of this form of conscription, that is the enforcement of carbon rationing or quotas for the adult population, will not be popular, but I would wager that if the government successfully pulls off the feat of re-introducing ID cards in the UK, the move to carbon quotas will be made very much easier.

    This might sound like a surprising prediction. But by virtue of the fact that ID cards could eventually become compulsory for every adult, (and of course people are likely to be quite averse to having to pay a sizeable sum for this imposition) we will be taking a very important component from the armoury of total war and putting it into place. This is perhaps the first step that must be taken, since it will be the first time for a long time that the government has said to every individual ‘you must do this’ because we have decided it is good for the state (and world) of which you are a part. Selfish people may or may not like ID cards. But ID cards signify an individual’s contract with the state, a contract which can only be made void by permanently emigrating, for most people there can be no escape. ID cards underpin the notion of citizenship, even a sense of belonging, and this sense is an essential requirement if selfishness is to be defeated. I believe ID cards are an option which must be taken.”

    Colin Challen is now apparently working for Scarborough Borough Council – lucky old Scarborough!

  • Andrew Duffin

    “It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”

    “For a while” – because once their pretended emergency is over, they’ll retreat and hand the power back over again. Of course. I trust them, don’t you?


  • Richard Thomas

    One of the biggest, starkest of examples of the doublethink the left is capable of is their bemoaning of an ever-increasing population alongside them doing their very best to ensure that it continues to do so.

  • That quote is chilling, Alex, no other way to put it…

  • Kirk Parker

    Frank S. has it. James Lovelock, when you write ‘we’, you despicable scumbag *ssh*le, please do me the courtesy of excluding me by name, ok???