May I be permitted a partial recantation? (For God’s sake, man, get a grip! This is your blog. You can do anything you like.) I may have slightly over-egged the pudding – only slightly, mind you – in my earlier post (see below) on the recent replay of a Radio New Zealand discussion about climate change. So I want to make a few points in elaboration (and no, this is not because anyone has browbeaten me on the subject).
The first point is that Guy Salmon, whom I first encountered more than 40 years ago, is a man I respect, and I did him an injustice by stereotyping him – at least by implication – as a leftie. Guy’s position is far more complex and nuanced than that. He is neither a strident ideologue nor a panic merchant, and he deserves credit for arguing that the climate change lobby should engage collaboratively with, for instance, the agriculture sector.
The second point is that the panel discussion (rather smugly entitled Smart Talk) was not just about climate change, as my blog post might have implied. It was nominally about sustainability, so Radio New Zealand could argue, at a stretch, that there was no reason why a climate change sceptic should have been included. But it was entirely predictable that much of the discussion would turn on climate change, and I still maintain that the views expressed failed to meet any reasonable test of balance.
In fact when I went to the RNZ website and looked at other programmes in the Smart Talk series hosted by Finlay Macdonald, I noted a distinctly pinkish tinge to most of the participants. This may explain why I occasionally get dyspeptic about political bias within the state broadcaster, as I did this week.
Getting back to climate change, my own position is that I’m a sceptic rather than a denier. I believe some good can flow from the climate change debate if it results in reduced pollution and more careful use of finite resources. But we now know that much of the research cited in support of global warming theories is decidedly dodgy, and that some unscrupulous climate change alarmists will dishonestly manipulate data to support their cause.
We also have reason to be deeply suspicious of their underlying agenda. The Left lost the great ideological battle of the 20th century when people the world over saw that socialism was oppressive and economically ruinous. Now the Left’s strategy is to weaken capitalism by launching lateral rather than full-frontal attacks. The moral panic whipped up over climate change – which presents a perfect excuse for the state to assert yet more power, and for a massive transfer of wealth from the democratic, capitalist West to the developing world (where, in many cases, it would end up in the hands of tyrants and despots) – is a prime example.