Michael Gove has made a tit of himself yet again. Not Brexit, this time, but an excruciatingly stupid speech in his role as Secretary of State for the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs.
It’s the kind of alarmist green guff you might have expected from a second-rater like Ed Davey or Ed Miliband. Definitely not from somebody known as one of the best read, most intellectually curious and diligent members of Theresa May’s Cabinet. (Not that this is an exactly crowded field now that most of the talent has left to campaign against her rubbish Brexit plan.)
The speech begins promisingly enough:
Everything we do at Defra has to be rooted in science. Whether it is reflecting on the future of food, farming or the marine environment, considering what our approach should be to the chemicals we use in agriculture, revising how we should manage our water resources, reviewing how we enhance biodiversity, assessing where the greatest productivity gains from new technologies might accrue or in a countless number of other different areas, policy must be shaped above all by evidence, reason and rigour.
But then Gove goes on to demonstrate a complete disregard for the “evidence, reason, and rigour” he claims to hold in such high esteem.
Paul Homewood has taken him apart completely.
Normally, I’m not the kind of person who enjoys seeing a friend torn limb from limb. But on this occasion, sorry Gove, but you deserve it.
Gove’s speech rehearses the usual litany of man-made climate doom stories. He claims that sea level rise is accelerating, ice sheets are melting, flora and fauna are migrating to escape inhospitable climate, low lying atolls are in danger of inundation, combating climate change won’t affect prosperity, climate catastrophes are increasing, the Sahara is growing, hurricanes are worsening, weather is getting more extreme…
And in every case, he is either flat-out wrong or distorting the picture with misleading half-truths.
Here are a few examples, courtesy of Homewood:
1) Sea levels, for example – which we are becoming more accurate at measuring, thanks to advances in instruments and monitoring systems. In the 20th century the oceans rose around 15cm and the rate of increase has since quickened. Just since 2000, levels have risen around six centimetres, based on a global-average rise of 3.2mm a year
This is a grossly misleading statement. Sea levels have been steadily rising since the mid 19thC, when glaciers worldwide, which had grown enormously during the Little Ice Age, began to recede.
And as the IPCC have admitted, sea level rise in recent years has been no higher than between 1920 and 1950.
In short, sea level rise has not “quickened” at all.
2) The great ice sheets of Greenland and some parts of Antarctica are increasingly unstable.
There is no evidence whatsoever that Greenland’s climate is warmer than it has been for most of the time since the Ice Age. Nor that its ice sheet is smaller.
What we do know is that the Little Ice Age was the coldest time in Greenland in the last 10,000 years.
As for Antarctica, the ice sheet there has actually been growing in the last two decades.
3) Across the planet, people, plants, animals and also diseases are on the move, searching for habitats in which to thrive, escaping erratic and extreme weather events
These plants (triffids?), critters and iffy diseases who are migrating to escape extreme weather must be might clever! They must know more than the IPCC, which has already had to admit that there is little evidence to support the claim that global warming has made extreme weather worse.
4) WWF’s recent Living Planet report revealed a 60% fall in global wildlife populations in just over 40 years. One of the main causes of this devastating decline is climate change
I am not sure why Mr Gove feels he can rely on “scientific” evidence from a left wing, activist group.
There are many reasons for the decline in wildlife populations, such as habitat loss. But every time claims about climate change are examined in detail, they fall apart.
5) Deteriorating soil quality and moisture, coupled with less reliable water supply, will reduce agricultural yields, as we have already seen this summer.
The facts show that there is no long term trend in summer rainfall in the UK, and that there have been many drier summers than this year’s.
I could go on. Homewood does — and what a glorious job he has done, taking Gove’s speech apart fake news claim by fake news claim. And guess how he does it? Why only by using facts and data and evidence and charts and stuff: the kind of thing Gove assured us at the beginning his department, DEFRA, relies on for all the policy decisions which affect our lives.
Whoever wrote this speech is an embarrassment. Almost certainly he, she or it, has some cruddy, worthless degree in something like Environmental Sciences and Activism, probably from the University of Easy Access. Being stuck in the groupthink bubble at DEFRA, whichever gimp was responsible for this dross will never have been exposed to any countervailing arguments to these ludicrous eco-doom claims. For those stuck in that bubble, this drivel is holy writ.
Before I dipped my keyboard in vitriol and scorpion poison, I sent Gove a message warning him that I was going to take no prisoners. What particularly galls me is that I know he has read my book Watermelons, which though a gazillion times more readable than any policy statement or speech DEFRA has produced in the entirety of its largely pointless existence, also happens to be laden with facts. The footnotes at the end are really thorough because I wanted to make sure that however entertaining the book was it be impossible for all those green activists and peons of the climate-industrial complex to find fault with the actual science.
So there’s really no excuse for what he has done here. On some level, he knows what the truth is about the great climate scare. But rather than go with the evidence he has decided to endorse the leftist watermelon bureaucrats’ anti-market, anti-prosperity, anti-human vision of the world and reject the very empiricism and evidence-based policy making which ought to be at the heart of every Conservative minister’s decision process.
How is Britain going to enjoy a prosperous, independent future outside the European Union if even Conservative ministers like Michael Gove aren’t prepared to challenge the left’s shibboleths?
Green policy is expensive. Very expensive. Look, Gove? Here is the evidence:
7) Tackling climate change is not a binary process which requires us to champion the planet over national prosperity.
Has he forgotten that, according to the OBR, the cost of green subsidies will amount to £66bn over the next five years, equating to about £2500 per household?
People are suffering, even dying, in fuel poverty. The beautiful countryside is being laid waste by ugly, pointless wind and solar installations. British business has the highest energy costs in Europe. The Climate Change Act has left Britain on the hook for a bill that may eventually exceed £1 trillion.
And rather than fight this, the Conservative Party appears to be endorsing it.