Lean, mean budgeting machine Lord Nigel Lawson is back in the news, still resolutely sceptical but, for a change, not about climate science. He’s returned to his old stamping ground, the European Union, and is now being resolutely sceptical about that. These two positions, climate scepticism and euroscepticism, are complementary.
About 80% of environmental legislation protecting our wildlife, water, air and climate comes from Europe. For example, Europe imposes the air quality limits which several British cities have been in breach of for the last five years, at a cost of around 175,000 British lives so far.
So, if you were convinced that it was economically desirable to allow corporations total freedom to pollute, it would naturally follow that you would oppose both EU legislation and the potential limits on CO2 emissions which climate science demands.
Lawson - probably the UK’s most prominent climate sceptic and eurosceptic - joins Ukip, the UK’s most Eurosceptic party which is also the only large political party to deny climate science, with famous members such as their former spokesman on climate issues and deputy leader, Lord Monckton (possibly the most prominent UK climate sceptic on the global stage).
Then there’s our old friend the one-trick wind-farm whinger, the Telegraph’s number two climate sceptic James Delingpole, also a fanatical UKIP cheerleader and brother and son to UKIP candidates. Latest blog title: ‘Lord Lawson's right: of course we should quit the EU’.
The Telegraph’s number one climate sceptic, Christopher Booker, has written several book-length attacks on the EU in collaboration with Richard North. North also publishes his climate scepticism on a blog entitled – wait for it – EU Referendum.
Other notable climate sceptics include Roger Helmer MEP, science-denying Eurosceptic who recently left the Conservative party to become UKIP’s climate change spokesman, and Godfrey Bloom MEP.
Bloom rails against action on climate change whilst spending £2,000 of European taxpayers’ money a month on a "climate and environment researcher" who is, of course, a climate sceptic blogger. In his spare time, Bloom is an enthusiastic supporter of his local hunt and international state-sponsored terrorism in which Greenpeace campaigners are killed.
Being open about climate scepticism isn’t very fashionable in the UK’s main three parliamentary parties. But arch-Eurosceptic Peter Lilley, one of only five MPs to oppose the 2008 climate change act and a key figure in our Energygate investigation, appears to have had a bit of a resurgence. He's now in the prime minister’s policy unit (while apparently briefing against him). John Redwood and John Hayes also fit neatly into the pattern.
The point here is not that climate sceptics tend to be Eurosceptics, but that the climate sceptic high-command and the supreme council of Euroscepticism are the same people.
Every prominent UK climate sceptic is either a published Eurosceptic, a leading member of a Eurosceptic party, or both.
Delingpole has an explanation for this in his latest blog:
Euroscepticism and climate scepticism often go hand in hand, first because many of the very worst, most destructive environmental policies (such as the commitment to "decarbonise" the economy which led to Bryony Worthington's 2008 Climate Change Act) are originally dreamed up by EU apparatchiks. And second because to express such views in public life requires a fearless, cussed, contra mundum temperament, the product of an intellectual self-confidence and independence many, if not most of our craven political class lack.
Forgive my scepticism, but I rather doubt that we’re dealing with a disparate group of fiercely independent free thinkers who just happened, en masse but entirely independently, to be the only people to spot the flaws in the European model and become the leading voices against European integration, and then a few years later just happened, en masse but entirely independently, to be the only people to spot the supposed flaws in climate models and become the leading voices against action to limit emissions.
Delingpole’s explanation is clearly dishonest. For the truth, we need to turn to Telegraph journalist James Delingpole:
It’s because I understand that “Environmentalism” is but one strategically significant theatre in a much greater ideological war being waged across the world. It’s the same one Toby Young is fighting over education; the same one the likes of Rod Liddle, Andrew Gilligan, Nick Cohen and Mark Steyn are fighting over political Islam; the same one Melanie Phillips is fighting over Israel; the same one Douglas Murray is fighting on pretty much everything.
So apparently it’s not a public debate about the reliability of climate science after all. It is, in the minds of Delingpole and his allies, "but one strategically significant theatre in an ideological war".
Climate sceptics haven’t looked at the problem and decided it isn’t really there. They’ve looked at the solution - regulation of corporate power and restrictions on emissions - and decided it isn’t ideologically acceptable. And as it’s the only solution on the table, they have to pretend there is no problem to solve.
This ‘ideological war’ isn’t a right versus left battle. This is shown by the large majority of right wingers, including most of the cabinet, who are cautious of new restrictions on economic activity, but are not prepared to accuse the entire scientific community of being party to history’s greatest conspiracy.
The ideology driving this ‘war’ is not conservatism, but neo-conservatism, the only ideology since the second world war to consciously and deliberately go to war against reality.
Ron Suskind of the New York Times recorded a conversation he had at the White House which explains, to some degree, what’s going on here:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued.
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
The ‘aide’ was allegedly Karl Rove, otherwise known as Bush’s brain.
Finally, some judicious study of discernible reality from Lord Deben, former Secretary of State for the Environment and chairman of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher:
I agree about sceptics. They are people who allow their desire for a world that does not exist to become their rational understanding of the world we live in. Eurosceptics can't understand that we live 22 miles off the coast of France, and we either get on with our neighbours and work together or we can't solve the problems which face us mutually.
Half our air pollution is blown over from them, and half we produce is blown over to them. How can you possibly have an environmental policy except on a European basis? Just as Eurosceptics refuse to accept the geographical, political, cultural, religious, and historic facts of life, so the climate sceptics deny the scientific realities.
I'm all for being prudential, careful and suspicious of simplistic solutions - that's good business sense. Scepticism, on the other hand, is corrosive, damaging, and always leads to mistaken solutions.
Incidentally, for those readers who believe that Britain is the only country in Europe which actually bothers to implement EU directives – our government is currently promising to rectify this problem and meet the 2008 air quality standards no later than 2025. Up ‘til then, our government will try to ignore the law, because what’s the point of being in government if you have to obey the law?
And for those readers who believe that we’re the only country who are honest about whether we implement them or not, as opposed to those untrustworthy continentals who agree to everything and then try to fudge the data, here’s Boris’s solution to London’s toxic pollution problem – spread glue on the roads in the immediate vicinity of the air quality monitoring stations to stick the pollution to the ground.