Previously, you may recall that Lovelock threw global warming under the bus. Now, he’s got another zinger the greens will be none to happy to hear in the middle of Rio+20. That “disturbance in the force” felt earlier today was the wailing and gnashing of teeth heard from eco-followers worldwide when they heard the father of Gaia say the much hated and maligned fracking process is “OK”.
I can’t wait to see how the Rommulans and McKibbenites spin this one.
Excerpts from the Guardian article by Leo Hickman:
Given that Lovelock predicted in 2006 that by this century’s end “billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable”, this new laissez-faire attitude to our environmental fate smells and sounds like of a screeching handbrake turn.
Indeed, earlier this year he admitted to MSNBC in an interview reported around the world with somewhat mocking headlines along the lines of “Doom-monger recants”, that he had been “extrapolating too far” in reaching such a conclusion and had made a “mistake” in claiming to know with such certainty what will happen to the climate.
But Lovelock is relaxed about how this reversal might be perceived. He says being allowed to change your mind and follow the evidence is one of the liberating marvels of being an independent scientist, something he has revelled in since leaving Nasa, his last full-time employer, in the late 1960s.
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.”
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.”
Nestled deep into an armchair, Lovelock brushes a biscuit crumb from his lips, and lowers his cup of tea on to the table: “I’m neither strongly left nor right, but I detest the Liberal Democrats.”
He delivers his mischievous bombshells with such rapidity and meekness that there is a danger one can miss the all-important clarification and context.
“They are all well-meaning, but they have mostly had little experience of power,” he adds. “The coalition has behaved disgracefully on environmental and energy policies. It would have been much better if they had been properly rightwing. I don’t mean something like Thatcher; that was a revolutionary Conservative government. Just a regular one. Our political system works because they tend to self-correct each other.”
The greens use guilt. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting CO2 in the air.”
He displays equal disdain for those who do not accept science on climate change: “They’ve got their own religion. They believe that the world was right before these damn people [the greens] came along and want to go back to where we were 20 years ago. That’s also silly in its own way.”
Read the full Guardian article by Leo Hickman here and his complementary article: