Scientist James Lovelock, best known for his development (with Lynn Margulis) of the “Gaia hypothesis” and for his ardent advocacy of radical measures to prevent global warming, surprised us all a little while back when he told MSNBC that in retrospect he thought he had been too “alarmist” about climate change. (It is no small thing to admit that one has been wrong about something one has staked one’s reputation on, and Dr. Lovelock deserves our respect for doing so, and for showing us what it means to be a scientist.)
Now he has given a remarkable interview to the Guardian, in which he pricks a few more green balloons.
Gas is almost a give-away in the US at the moment. They’ve gone for fracking in a big way. This is what makes me very cross with the greens for trying to knock it: the amount of CO2 produced by burning gas in a good turbine gives you 60% efficiency. In a coal-fired power station, it is 30% per unit of fuel. So you get a two-to-one gain there straight away. The next two-to-one gain you get is that methane has only got half its energy in the carbon, the other half is in the hydrogen, so there’s a four-to-one gain in CO2 output from the same amount of electricity by burning methane. Let’s be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it. The fear of nuclear is now too great after Fukushima and the cost of building new build plants is very expensive and impractical. And it takes a long time to get them running. It is very obvious in America that fracking took almost no time at all to get going. It happened without any debate whatsoever. Suddenly you found there was this abundant fuel source. There’s only a finite amount of it [in the UK] so before it runs out we should really be thinking sensibly about what to do next.
On wind and other “renewable” energy sources:
We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price. Hydro, biomass, solar, etc, have all got great promise, but they’re not available tomorrow, or even in 10 years. There’s a very good tidal stream farm that I’ve come across using a sunken barge with a turbine on it. It’s much more reliable. They should have gone ahead with the Severn Barrage.
Next comes some strong stuff about European “green” politics:
I’m neither strongly left or right, but I detest the Liberal Democrats. They are all well-meaning, but they have mostly had little experience of power. The coalition [government] has behaved disgraceful[ly] on environmental and energy policies. They haven’t done at all well. It would have been much better if they had been properly rightwing. We haven’t had one for a long time. I don’t mean something like Thatcher; that was a revolutionary Conservative government. Just a regular one. Our political system works because they tend to self-correct each other. What you’ve got to avoid at all costs is ideologues. Germany is a great country and has always been a natural leader of Europe, and so many great ideas, music, art, etc, come out of it, but they have this fatal flaw that they always fall for an ideologue and Europe has suffered intensely from the last two episodes of that. And it looks to me as if the green ideas they have picked up now could be just as damaging. They are burning lignite now to try and make up for switching off nuclear. They call themselves green, but to me this is utter madness. All ideologues are harmful. They are never right. We get to our stable position through checks and balances. The whole of nature does that through natural selection.
Next he offers some gratifyingly frank and realistic commentary on human nature, diversity and multiculturalism (my emphasis):
The problem with ideologues from Marx onwards is that they tend to imagine that human nature is very different from what it actually is. [MP: Leftist ideologues, that is. Right-wing ideologues do the opposite: they seize on the very aspects of human nature that Lovelock mentions here, and play them like a violin.] We’re still animals and we behave like animals and it doesn’t take much to knock our “civilisation” away. People are very, very sensitive about territory and if you move a new lot of people into their territory, they don’t like it one bit. Politicians are very stupid if they think they can get away with that sort of thing. You could easily get me to generalise about things that I’m not really competent to talk about, but I do feel that’s the case. It’s not that people are racist per se. We’re naturally racist, you can’t get away from it. We try to curb it and be sensible. People are very rarely individually racist, but they don’t want a large culture dumped on them. I don’t know anyone personally who would be nasty to someone because of their colour or because they come from a different country. It’s not in our style in these islands.
And here Dr. Lovelock questions the very idea of democracy (has he been spending time over at Moldbug’s?):
….Proportional representation is a very bad idea and an absolute gift to ideologues…. Monarchy is a very good idea, I think. It means there’s no way a politician can dominate. Monarchy ensures that there is someone you can’t beat by being a crafty politician.
On environmental zealots:
One thing being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope you get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it. It’s just the way the humans go that if there’s a cause of some sort, a religion starts forming around it. It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion. I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use. [MP: Oh yes, we've noticed.]
…The greens use guilt. That shows just how religious the greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting CO2 in the air. We do now know what we are doing when it comes to CO2 [emissions], but you don’t have to go right over the top like the greens and shouting, “You’re guilty!” I don’t like it.
There’s much more. Read the rest here.