Fact free foolishness

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Aldous Huxley

David Potts, South Tyneside’s councillor for the bunga bunga party, put a remarkable example of science illiteracy on display for everyone to see.  Last Thursday, he declared on Twitter:

“I wish people would realise that climate change is a total myth backed by zero evidence.”

I’m not sure what he thinks of the masses of evidence for climate change that has been collected over decades.  The many years of work dedicated by scientists, the millions of pounds worth of experiments, the satellites and a planetary network of climate data collection.  If it’s a ‘myth’, did the legions of scientists make it up?  Is there a massive conspiracy by a shadowy green cabal with a diabolical plan for mind control?  Could all of those scientists be wrong?

Not likely.

Most climate scientists agree that the evidence points to one conclusion: climate change is proven.  If there’s any uncertainty, it’s the pace and severity of the changes that will come.  The impacts of climate change pose a real risk to current and future generations.  For the UK, it is a national security issue.  Ignoring it is foolhardy and dangerous, and addressing the risks is a sensible approach.  A destabilised ecosystem means a destabilised food supply, infrastructure and ultimately, society.  It’s also an ethical issue.  Those who are likely to suffer the most will be those from low incomes, or from countries where the support infrastructures are poor or non-existent.

The denial lobby have no credibility – scientific or otherwise.

From a party political standpoint, Potts’ view is entirely consistent with UKIP policy.  Xenophobia and homophobia aren’t the only personality disorders that UKIP shares with the BNP.  Like the BNP, UKIP holds a position denying that the planet’s climate is changing, or that the activities of homo sapiens could be responsible.  When challenged on Twitter, Potts responded:

“Show me one solid, irrefutable piece of evidence and I’ll believe it”

What about the mountains of evidence?  This is remarkably similar to his comment piece in the Journal newspaper in 2005 where he called on:

“anyone to show me just one single solitary shred of concrete proof that humans contributed or are at all responsible for global warming”

…and claimed that:

“reducing emissions is a complete and utter waste of time and money.”

Such buffoonery would be comical if it wasn’t for the fact that Potts sits in a position of responsibility.  There’s no excuse for a politician not to be familiar with climate change after all this time; the causes, the science, the risks, and the possible solutions and mitigation actions.  Potts makes decisions on policy.  He has a responsibility to be informed, to know what the science says.  If a politician claims the science to be a “myth”, then that’s not the voice of rationality, but an ignorant opinion poisoned by the confirmation bias of political ideology.

As Huxley also noted:

At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.

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6 responses to “Fact free foolishness”

  1. Peter W Skevington says :

    The two Cleadon and East Boldon ward councillors who get involved with and try to deal with resident’s concerns have spent a fair amount of their time dealing with flooding issues in Cleadon and East Boldon recently. Two recent CAF meetings have devoted time to discussing flooding issues. Where does that towering international statesman Berlusconi stand on the issue of climate change?

  2. Peter W Skevington says :

    To be fair Cllr Potts does not in any way espouse those other phobias that you attribute to UKIP, as his twitter postings and letters to the “Gazette” bear witness. My opinion of UKIP is that it would be interesting to see them in every day practical action as a majority party on a local council having to lead staff and deliver services for 4 years. I am far more interested in what local councillors do for their local ward and electorate, having had some experience of assisting a local councillor, I have become aware of the many and diverse demands made upon a diligent, responsive elected member. Political views and opinions about climate change do not really interest residents who have been flooded, burgled, potholed, parked on, or scared by excessively speeding traffic.

    • brian paget says :

      Whether he espouses those phobias is, in a party political context, irrelevant – he has chosen to be a member and representative of a party that displays a particularly distasteful approach to equal marriage. What’s that quote about being judged by the company you keep?

      Also, the issue on climate change isn’t a political one, it’s about the science, which he claims to be myth.

      If residents aren’t concerned about climate change, shouldn’t they? And if they’re not, don’t ambivalent politicians bear some responsibility?

      • Peter W Skevington says :

        I cannot reconcile Potts’ views with those of UKIP, unless you accept his take, expressed on twitter, that the party is a “free church”, but then he describes moderate members of the Labour Party as “hard left”, a view that would be appear to be more akin to that of the USA Tea Party. Of course a lot local residents are concerned about climate change, but those issues and concerns are not raised with local councillors; although the apparent consequences, such as recent flooding in the Cleadon and East Boldon area are.

  3. Peter W Skevington says :

    At least he has now espoused the mainstream in respect of sensible work patterns and holidays; no more tweets about working 100 hour weeks and never taking a holiday. May not be climate change, but it is definitely a sea change.

  4. Peter W Skevington says :

    But, mindful of the quote from Huxley I am reading his latest uninformed tweets about teachers. Regrettably, he in common with a substantial number of politicians both local and national have no idea what teachers and other public sector workers actually do, and the demands made upon them. I had to log how I spent my working day on a computer data base, what I could not log was the amount of my own time I spent reading articles on the law relating to my professional field, and doing research to assist my preparation of case reports, or advice given to stakeholders. Sadly this type of blinkered, uninformed mindset hampers progress whether in the field of climate change, or reform of public services. Currently reading Fynes history of local mining industry, and noting how it was miner’s unions and their lawyers who drove through reforms that resulted in the saving of countless lives during the C19th.

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