A response to James Lovelock’s ‘Enjoy it while you can’ stance

A friend asked me what I thought about this interview with James Lovelock. My response:

I think Lovelock is a dangerous crank, and it deeply upsets me that the media continually portray him as some sort of elder statesman of the environmental movement. For example, this article says that the Gaia ‘theory’ is the basis of all climate science, which is utter bollocks.

Insofar as Gaia is a falsifiable scientific theory, my understanding is that it is incorrect – what we know about Paleoclimate is that it has been in different ‘steady’ states in the past, and the issue with greenhouse gas tipping points is that there are probably warmer ‘steady’ states that the complex system that is climate may eventually end up in – ie the planet is not a self-regulating organism.

I’ve not read his recent writings, but I would guess that Lovelock may have some crazy notion that climate change itself is the way the ‘organism’ is ridding itself of some pestilent humans, but that takes us out of the realms of falsifiable scientific theory and into the domain of unhinged millenarianism.

Basically, he’s not to be trusted on climate policy, and his views should be treated as dangerous lunacy, rather than as the authentic voice of environmentalism. He is not a climate scientist and his ‘revelation’ in 2004 that climate change is irreversible has no grounding in the science. His statement about it being impossible to power the UK with renewables is also complete bollocks – see for example: –

  • http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com/
  • http://www.withouthotair.com/

One last point – we don’t have the luxury of deciding that climate change is a lost cause and we should just get on with our lives. Apart from it being incorrect on an objective level (though the social, political and economic barriers to making the necessary changes in an appropriate timescale are certainly formidable), we simply don’t have the right.

Those of us in the wealthy, developed world are responsible, individually and collectively, for most of the cumulative emissions, and yet live in societies that are the most resilient in terms of cushioning ourselves from the effects of climate change. Those of us in North West Europe are also living in a pocket where the effects will be significantly less severe than elsewhere.

Climate change isn’t just something that is being done to the planet, it is something that we are doing to other people, and it’s causing them to die in increasing numbers. While none of us are able to stop it happening individually and we very much need to see it as a collective responsibility that needs radical collective solutions, we can’t just decide that the consequences of our actions on other people is inevitable and therefore we might as well not worry about it. In fact, as a suggestion, it’s beyond obscene.

Policing in the absense of democracy – Barton Moss article on OpenDemocracy

I wrote a long piece about the policing of the Barton Moss anti-fracking protests. I’m rather pleased with it, and you should totally take a look if you haven’t already:

…The policing at Barton Moss needs to be understood in the light of this discrepancy between the support of elected representatives and the widespread opposition of local people. When those in power feel they are entitled to decide policy without consulting people who are likely to be affected, it is hardly surprising that any dissent by those people will be regarded as illegitimate. It is only a small step from there to enforcing contentious policy using violence, and deploying the law as a tool to suppress dissent.


Just as the most obvious explanation for the violence used by individual officers is that they believe they have tacit approval of their superiors and expect to be protected by them, the most obvious explanation for the tactics and strategy that GMP are pursuing is that they believe they have tacit approval and expect to be protected by their political masters. The indications are that police violence at Barton Moss has got worse over the last few weeks, rather than better. There are fears that if Peel Holdings are successful in their application for an eviction order for the camp, GMP may take the opportunity to be even more brutal.


Barton Moss is an advanced case of what policing looks like when those in power work on behalf of private and corporate interests, rather than the people they are supposed to be serving. We need to pay attention, because unless we engage in wholesale reform of our governing structures and the police, this is something we are going to be seeing a lot more of in the future.