Confusion in the air

On one side we have what is known as a scientific consensus on climate change, but it is really a political consensus, with many scientists in supporting roles. On the other we have perhaps a smaller number of scientists who are resisting the consensus.

The scientists on one side receive Government funding; others, we are told, are funded by oil companies, the assumption being that oil companies have a vested interest, and the Government doesn’t.

One lot of scientists, backed by most politicians and huge numbers of predominantly young citizens without special knowledge, is very keen to get us all to stop emitting carbon dioxide. The others say it doesn’t matter, because carbon dioxide emitted by human activity has no effect on climate change – or very, very little. Action or inaction on this may have a huge effect on whole countries, as well as impacting on poorer people across the world, and on you and me. There are many implications.

Publicity for the consensus has been huge, including unquestioning support from such huge media outlets as the BBC. The Government has even put ads on TV, targeting children. But those supporting the consensus suggest that right-wing media, in giving publicity to sceptics, are blocking attempts to save the planet.

In the last few days files have been leaked or hacked from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. They seem to indicate certain questionable behaviour by the consensus scientists in the area of data concealment and cherry-picking, as well as exerting influence to prevent publication of articles expressing different views and putting pressure on publications and organisations to stick to the orthodox line. Those backing the consensus suggest this is all trivial and will soon blow over.

Confused? You should be. But least the files are out there on the internet, and they have been admitted to be genuine. They are not a hoax or concocted by opponents. This is the time, surely, to read those files and come to a conclusion as to what sort of people wrote them, and how they operate. And what sort of people made them public.

I am not going to direct you to a site: they are easy to find, if you really want to know. And why wouldn’t you?

Victory for free speech

I have no desire to criticise homosexual activity or lifestyle. I am too aware of my own shortcomings in the lifestyle area to pick holes in the way other people live.

But I am delighted that the House of Lords has ensured this month that such criticism is possible. This is not a sexual issue, but a free speech issue.

We live in a liberal democracy, but within that democracy that there are a disturbing number of people who would like to insist that we all think the same thing, and that some things must not be said.

Promoting hatred is abhorrent to me, and to everyone I know. But hatred and criticism are not the same thing, and as long as a belief is generous and based on love, it should be expressible without fear of legal penalty.