What do (some) Greens and Climate Change Deniers have in common?
Oh, the UK’s new energy bill. Otherwise much lauded by green industry commentators, the bill put off setting a 2030 decarbonisation target until 2016 – a compromise between Energy Secretary Ed Davey and the Chancellor George Osborne. An amendment to the bill to set the target now was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons. You’d think the world had ended from the Twitterstorm that followed.
For interest, I challenged a couple of people who were venting off, asking what they thought the problem was with delaying that target. Nobody could give me a clear answer apart from it would be better to have it sooner than later. In fact many tweeters seemed to think the target had been rejected outright rather than delayed, and some seemed to think the whole energy bill had been voted down. Few seemed to actually have investigated what they were tweeting about before hitting that blue button. One resorted to personal abuse for daring to ask.
All of this reminds me of the dank underworld of the climate change denier. Keyboard warriors hunched over their screens, repeating the mantra in BTL article comments without ever stopping to ask key questions – or check the evidence. People who don’t automatically agree are clearly inferior and should be put in their place with brutal efficiency.
At worst this is groupthink – repeating the myths ‘cos the rest of the tribe is doing so it must be right. Often it is confirmation bias (which we all suffer from to some degree) where we exaggerate the evidence that suits our argument and ignore that which contradicts it.
The commentators I really respect are those who think for themselves, considering the evidence and coming to their own conclusions. Mark Lynas has proposed that GM and nuclear are required to saving the world, going against the green grain. Uber-greenie George Monbiot has considered the relative impacts of coal-power and nuclear power and concluded that the latter is preferable by a country mile – again upsetting the green doctrine. James Murray at BusinessGreen has made his name by objective analysis of the pros and cons Government policy rather than the kneejerk and predictable condemnation of the NGOs. I might not agree 100% with everything these guys say, but I always find their arguments valid and thought provoking.
Let’s be clear, if we are going to shift towards a sustainable future, we need to be pragmatic. That means concentrating on what is possible and getting that done quickly, rather than getting all holier than thou. This may involve, dare I say it, compromise and certainly requires objectivity.
We expect rabid nonsense from the deniers, but what we need from the green community is a little more signal and a lot less noise.