James Lovelock Says Humans 'Not Clever Enough' to Stop Climate Change
photo: John Bracken via flickr.
Ah, James Lovelock... The 90-year old originator of the Gaia Theory has just been interviewed by The Guardian and boy is it a doozy. Lovelock covers everything from Climategate, the over-reliance on computer modeling, the necessity of climate skepticism, wind power versus nuclear, the IPCC and the influence of lobbyists, and (as the headline suggests) the ability of humans to meaningfully deal with a situation as complex as climate change. Read the whole thing (linked below), but here are some of the juicier excerpts.Climate Change is War: We Need More Authoritarian Action
Jumping right into the hook, Lovelock proclaims that,
I don't think we're yet evolved to the point where we're clever enough to handle as complex a situation as climate change. We're very active animals. We like to think, 'Ah, yes, this will be a good policy,' but it's almost never that simple. Wars show this to be true...climate change is kind of a repetition of a war-time situation. It could easily lead to a physical war.
Going on with the war metaphor, Lovelock argues that tackling climate change requires a more authoritative world, saying,
We've become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It's all very well, but there are certain circumstances--a war is a typical example--where you can't do do that...even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for a while.
There Are Good and Mad Climate Skeptics
On climate skeptics, Lovelock says, the good skeptics (he singles out Nigel Lawson as one) have done a good service, but "some of the mad ones...have not done anyone any favors." Some of these mad ones work for oil companies, governments and the like, adding that whatever mistakes any climate scientists have made, it's nothing like the damage lobbyists who are politically motivated and "who will manipulate data or select data to make their political point."
It's Absurd To Fly 10,000 People to Bali to Talk About Climate
Even the excerpted transcript is pretty long but here are the other quasi-curmudgeonly bits Lovelock has come out with: 1) Climategate was bound to happen, now that science is no longer primarily a vocational calling, like it was back in the day; 2) We've become overly reliant on computer models, and "tend to be too hubristic to notice their limitations"; 3) COP15 was doomed to fail and it was "obscene" to fly 10,000 people to Bali to talk about the environment; 4) adaptation and nuclear power, rather than wind turbines which don't really work, is where we should be spending our money.
In the end Lovelock concludes, it's going to take a a catastrophe such as the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica collapsing and rapidly raising sea levels or dust bowl conditions throughout the American Midwest to actually get humans to act on climate.
Read more: James Lovelock on the value of sceptics and why Copenhagen was doomed
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