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