Any Questions?

On BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions, on 7 June, one of the questions was this:

Are those concerned about climate change talking anti-scientific green ideological nonsense?

One of the panel members was the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson, and his answer was:

Well I’m sitting like a rose between two thorns here and I have to take practical decisions – erm – the climate’s always been changing – er – Peter mentioned the Arctic and I think in the Holocene the Arctic melted completely and you can see there were beaches there – when Greenland was occupied, you know, people growing crops – we then had a little ice age, we had a middle age warming – the climate’s been going up and down – but the real question which I think everyone’s trying to address is – is this influenced by man-made activity in recent years and James is actually correct – the climate has not changed – the temperature has not changed in the last seventeen years and what I think we’ve got to be careful of is that there is almost certainly – bound to be – some influence by man-made activity but I think we’ve just got to be rational (audience laughter)  – rational people – and make sure the measures that we take to counter it don’t actually cause more damage – …

Now, the first thing that strikes me about this rambling paragraph is that it’s largely inco-herent, and I’m not talking about the content – just the syntax, for God’s sake! Consider the context: the programme was recorded in Machynlleth in Mid Wales and more specifically in the Centre for Alternative Technology ; also on the panel were Leanna Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, Peter Hain, and James Delingpole whose main purpose in life appears to be the spreading of rabid disinformation about climate change. So Minister Paterson knew there was bound to be a question on climate change. Yet he couldn’t be bothered to prepare a few succinct, clear and coherent remarks? Might it just be that he doesn’t take the issue seriously.

As for what he actually said, it beggars belief. It was, as John Mason so aptly put it (here) utterly, breathtakingly, gobsmacking. And then he pulled the minister’s little speech apart, bit by stupid bit, to demonstrate just what a load of drivel it was. Here is Mason’s annotated version:

Well I’m sitting like a rose between two thorns here and I have to take practical decisions – erm – the climate’s always been changing – er – Peter mentioned the Arctic and I think in the Holocene the Arctic melted completely and you can see there were beaches there – when Greenland was occupied, you know, people growing crops – we then had a little ice age, we had a middle age warming – the climate’s been going up and down – but the real question which I think everyone’s trying to address is – is this influenced by manmade activity in recent years and James is actually correct – the climate has not changed – the temperature has not changed in the last seventeen years and what I think we’ve got to be careful of is that there is almost certainly – bound to be – some influence by manmade activity but I think we’ve just got to be rational (audience laughter)  – rational people – and make sure the measures that we take to counter it don’t actually cause more damage – …

I trust you followed the links, because otherwise – unless you know it all by heart – you won’t realise, you won’t want to believe that the UK Secretary of State for the Environment patently knows fuck-all about climate science. That much is clear. But what I don’t under-stand is this: why were there no banner headlines the next day proclaiming, “Environment Minister Reveals Total Ignorance”?

Why? Can anyone tell me why?

And, as ever, where is the public anger, for fuck’s sake?

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