The environmental coverage of the Daily Telegraph: so much nonsense, so little time. Regular readers may recall that we have already examined the Telegraph’s climate contrarianism at some length. But it truly is the gift that keeps on giving, so we return for a second visit.
“The game is up for climate change believers”, proclaims the headline of a piece by Charles Moore. He has read a book by a historian that tells him so. Leaving aside the question as to why one would trust a historian’s opinion on climate change over that of many hundreds of climate scientists, there is much in those eight words to delight the well informed.
‘Believers’ is what those of us who accept the say-so of climate scientists are frequently called – and it is not a term that is intended to flatter. The implication is that environmentalism is not a concern; it is a religion. Al Gore is its pope. Nature magazine is its catechism. In defiance of, presumably, common sense, we allow science to slip into the blindlessness of faith. People who accept predictions of warmer things to come are drawn as those awaiting some kind of malign reverse rapture.
Of course, this overlooks the fact that climate science is founded on, ahem, science. Admittedly, there are those who sometimes allow things to get a little out of hand. Prince Charles is taken to task for saying that there are “only 100 months to avert irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse”. But what may be one man’s over enthusiasm does not undermine the scientific consensus. Indeed, his zeal is arguably more grounded in reality than Moore’s belief that climate science is merely “a gigantic weather forecast”. If that is what he is looking for, he is almost certain to be disappointed.
The second point of interest is Moore’s contention that “the game is up”. This is another common theme among climate change deniers. Their every “revelation” is heralded as the death knell of climate science – although, as a body of knowledge, it appears to be unfortunately resilient. In particular, Moore points out with no small amount of glee that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has examined ways in which we can adapt to climate change. This, Moore says, is a “huge concession”.
It isn’t. Analysis of adaptation policies has long been a part of the IPCC’s brief, as is apparent to anyone who’s read – skim read, even – one of their exhaustive reports. But more importantly, adaptation is set to become a more prominent topic as effective action on climate change becomes less and less likely. Had we been more proactive, say, twenty years ago – and the IPCC published its first report in 1990 – we would perhaps have saved ourselves the bother of worring about picking up the pieces at this late stage.
But we weren’t. Sceptics may be relied upon to crow that discussion of mitigation is an admission that climate change was either too big a problem to solve, or else that it was never our fault in the first place. In reality, neither position is true. In reality, climate change was eminently solvable, but we have all but passed up the opportunity to do so.
Whether denying the science or criticising the response, the Telegraph can be relied upon to not quite get it right. If we have learnt anything, it is that we should take a great deal of its environmental coverage with a very large pinch of salt.