I’d been meaning to write today about why Oxford University should divest itself of one of its zoology graduates. But I’m afraid that will have to wait because I’ve just read today’s Guardian cover story and have realised that the stupid runs much deeper than George Monbiot and goes right to the top.
The piece is sub-headed “Why it’s time to start divesting from the companies that already have far more fossil fuels than they can ever be allowed to use” and it’s written by the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger.
Now in the past I have been fairly agnostic about Rusbridger. His Harry Potterish appearance, his Quixotic secret ambition to be a concert pianist, his £400,000 salary package and his public school education (Cranleigh) all led me to believe that, for all the ghastliness of his newspaper’s politics, he was deep down a loveably ramshackle closet capitalist and probably not nearly as brainlessly left-wing as the Guardian.
What changed my view first was the Guardian’s disgusting complicity in the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks. Amazingly Rusbridger’s newspaper shared a Pullitzer prize for this, despite growing evidence that these leaks have done untold damage to the security of both Britain and the US and have certainly aided and abetted Islamist terror groups like ISIS.
Now Rusbridger has jumped onto yet another suicidal bandwagon, this time cheerleading a campaign for all the world’s big institutions, fund managers and so on to “divest” their share portfolios of their fossil fuel holdings. (Among the logos of companies featured on the Guardian’s cover as examples of “the most polluting coal, gas and oil companies in the world” is that of Shell, which for a long time sponsored the Guardian’s Environment pages. I hope Shell appreciates this display of gratitude).
In vain, though, do you find in Rusbridger’s lengthy apologia for this campaign any evidence as to why it is justified.
It is, rather, little more than a collection of slogans and dubious assertions. This first paragraph gives you a taste.
The world has much more coal, oil and gas in the ground than it can safely burn. That much is physics. Anyone studying the question with an open mind will almost certainly come to a similar conclusion: if we and our children are to have a reasonable chance of living stable and secure lives 30 or so years from now, according to one recent study 80 per cent of the known coal reserves will have to stay underground, along with half the gas and a third of the oil reserves.
This is scientific, political, economic and social illiteracy. It presupposes, first, that the case for man-made global warming theory is proven (which – duh – it so totally isn’t); and second, that all the nations of the world will have the collective will refuse to take advantage of the natural resources beneath their seas and their soil on the say so of kooks like the Prince of Wales, Al Gore and Alan Rusbridger. I particularly love that phrase “anyone studying the question with an open mind….”, which clearly doesn’t apply to Rusbridger himself. If it did, he would surely at least have acquainted himself with the fact the 87 per cent of the world’s energy demand is currently satisfied by fossil fuels and that renewable energy has proved itself quite unable to replace them on any economically viable level.As Matt Ridley notes:
Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.
It’s easy to console oneself with the notion that, being as no one reads the Guardian, none of this matters. But this won’t wash because the few people who do read the Guardian – civil servants, the BBC, politicians – punch far above their weight in the influence they can bring to bear on public policy.
Astonishingly, when these people read the Guardian, they don’t see it for what it is – an activist rag – but for what it once possibly was – a serious newspaper of record still committed to the old values.
Alan Rusbridger has shredded what was left of his journalistic credibility endorsing a campaign which has no intellectual basis, which will benefit nobody and which will make not the slightest bit of difference to the health of the planet.
Obviously he should be ashamed of himself. But a £400,000 a year journalist capable of writing such unutterable bilge as that clearly has no shame.