Dominic Lawson: Free Speech, Fake Science – And Why We Must Take The Fight To The Climate Zealots

  • Date: 07/09/20
  • Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

Their belief is not based on science but is quasi-religious: they regard any provider of information which does not conform to their strictures as wicked and to be silenced (if they refuse to be converted), rather in the same way that the Spanish Inquisition treated heretics.

As I write this column, I do so without knowing if all those who regularly purchase the Daily Mail from their newsagents will be allowed to buy the edition in which it appears.

That infringement of their — your — liberty is the purpose of Extinction Rebellion, a small-ish but increasingly influential group of middle-class climate change protesters who want to silence anyone or any organisation that doesn’t share their hysterical view that the planet and its inhabitants will fry to fossil-fuelled extinction within a decade or two unless we return immediately to a form of pre-industrial subsistence.

That, ostensibly, is why they had been blockading the print sites of most of our national newspapers.

Extinction Rebellion are pictured blockading Newsprinters in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on Friday night using vehicles and bamboo lock-ons to try to prevent newspapers from reaching newsstands on Saturday

Their belief is not based on science but is quasi-religious: they regard any provider of information which does not conform to their strictures as wicked and to be silenced (if they refuse to be converted), rather in the same way that the Spanish Inquisition treated heretics.

Extinction Rebellion are pictured blockading Newsprinters in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on Friday night using vehicles and bamboo lock-ons to try to prevent newspapers from reaching newsstands on Saturday

One of its founders and still an active member, Roger Hallam, went even further, declaring that ‘maybe we should put a bullet in the head’ as ‘punishment’ for those he deems responsible for this alleged impending planetary extinction. 

Intimidate

Although it was the bulk of the newspaper industry that his group has been attempting to intimidate and shut down this weekend, last year it tried something similar with the BBC, massing outside New Broadcasting House, preventing many of the corporation’s journalists from getting in, while holding up banners with the slogan ‘BBC, your silence is deadly’.

In fact it is Extinction Rebellion which wishes to silence voices it disapproves of; and it was almost comical that it should have targeted the national broadcaster, which has itself taken the decision not to allow airtime to anyone who questions the idea that man-made climate change is the biggest global threat to human health (although the coronavirus pandemic might have caused some inside that organisation to wonder belatedly whether in fact disease might be the true villain). […]

Scared

Indeed, two months later, the Government legislated to make the UK ‘net zero carbon by 2050’ — admittedly 25 years later than XR’s impossible demand. But it had no idea how much this would cost, or how it would be done.

The New Zealand government did carry out such an exercise, and concluded that to achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050 would cost 16 per cent of GDP annually. This would equate to £560 billion a year if applied to the UK — equivalent to almost three-quarters of all public expenditure.

Yet this legislation was passed without even a debate, let alone a vote in the House of Commons: it was enacted through a statutory instrument. This could only happen because the overwhelming majority of MPs are too scared to be seen as so-called ‘climate change deniers’.

And they absolutely refuse to engage with such rigorous thinkers as Bjorn Lomborg, the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre think-tank, or Michael Shellenberger (named as a ‘hero of the environment’ by Time Magazine in 2008), both of whom argue that grotesquely excessive resources are being ineffectually dedicated to ‘preventing’ climate change.

So Bjorn Lomborg’s latest book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts The Poor, And Fails To Fix The Planet, has been almost entirely ignored in the British media (forget about any BBC interviews with Lomborg).

And I believe the Daily Mail is the only British newspaper which has given much space to Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All — perhaps the most pertinent of his points being that to move to 100 per cent renewables ‘would require increasing the proportion of land used for energy from today’s 0.5 per cent to 50 per cent’.

The fact that the British political establishment — and the bulk of the media — have ceased even to engage in this debate, on an intellectual level, has left the ground free for Extinction Rebellion to occupy. Really, they didn’t need to try to silence the Press. The intimidation and groupthink has done its work quite thoroughly already.

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