CPS Research Fellow Rupert Darwall's book 'The Age of Global Warming' received a five-star review from David Rose in the Mail On Sunday. Below is an extract from the article.
Having written a lot about global warming, I sometimes wonder if I’ve been beamed to some weird parallel universe, where apparently sensible people think they can make ludicrous assertions without fear of contradiction.
Pinching myself to make sure that none of this is a dream, I’ve often pondered a question how on earth did we get here? This superb and compelling book provides the answer.
In charting the history of both the idea of global warming and its consequences, Rupert Darwall exposes the openly Fascistic origins of parts of the green movement and charts what he calls the ‘first wave’ of Government-sponsored environmentalism in the Sixties and Seventies. (Then, of course, people were worried about global cooling, rather than its opposite).
Many of the themes that dominate international green debate today emerged back then, such as the notion of ‘sustainable development’, the largely meaningless phrase that supposedly makes it OK for emerging nations to continue to develop energy-intensive industries at the same time as richer nations make themselves poor.
Darwall argues that the computer predictions of future climate are a classic example of what the great Karl Popper termed a ‘pseudo-science’, much like Freudian psychology or Marx’s ‘scientific’ historical materialism. Why? Because the computer models cannot be proven or falsified by experiment or evidence, and their exponents will all be safely dead before the accuracy or otherwise of their forecasts can finally be demonstrated.
He also cites the example of ancient astronomical theories, enforced by the Inquisition, which held that the Earth was the centre of the universe. When astronomical observations suggested they must be wrong, their adherents argued that objects which did not appear to be orbiting our planet must be following so-called ‘epicycles’. In similar fashion, some climate scientists have made unproven claims to explain the current absence of global warming, such as that the heat has been absorbed by water deep in the oceans.
But the most astonishing part of Darwall’s narrative concerns the way politicians and civil servants throughout Europe were so quick to embrace the theory that the world was approaching disaster. Within a very few years, they were disregarding the initially quite cautious approach of the scientists to advocate extreme means of dealing with it.
Soon politicians and scientists were engaged in a mutually reinforcing rhetorical debate whose language grew steadily more evangelical. This well suited Tony Blair’s personal messianic streak, although his successor Gordon Brown, was equally prone to exaggeration, stating in advance of the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen that there were just three months to save the world.
Darwall’s account of the final collapse of attempts to negotiate a meaningful global agreement at that conference is intensely dramatic. He also provides a clear and succinct explanation of global warming’s big lie: the now-discredited but still widely promulgated ‘hockey stick’ graph. This purports to show that present temperatures have not been felt for thousands of years, thanks to a series of statistical manipulations.
This book has many profound lessons, not least an analysis of what Darwall calls the ‘Global Warming Policy Paradox’: solutions whose effects are more damaging than the problem they are meant to solve. The large-scale planting of biofuel crops and palm oils which have driven up food prices and actually increased emissions is one example.
Beautifully written, and imbued with a tinge of mordant humour, this book is a tour de force.
Rupert Darwall's 'The Age of Global Warming' is available now from book retailers.