Monday, 14 December 2009

Con-gate: the financial crisis and climate change

Interesting to see the way that Righties like Iain Dale have leapt on "climate-gate" to starting "asking questions" about the whole issue of climate change. Despite the way that the Cameroons have positioned the Tories publicly on climate change it is very clear that much of the membership isn't convinced.

I've never been entirely clear why there is such an obvious left-right split on climate change, but it's obviously there. Righties seem to have a tendency to see the whole thing as a con dreamt up by scientists in the pay of Big Government and politicos trying to use the environment as a way to smuggle in an anti-capitalist agenda. There doesn't seem to be much science behind their scepticism in most cases.

As such, you can see that "climate-gate" has given Righties who could never really be bothered to learn about the issue in any detail an easy way out. If you always thought it was some sort of con the revelation that some of the scientists working on the issue were indulging in some shady behaviour is all the evidence you need. It doesn't really matter what the specifics of the "climate-gate" emails were about, there's been some foul play and so that means the whole thing can be considered rotten, and let's start posting up some graphs we don't understand to link the emails to a broader scepticism.

Funnily enough I think we on the Left have sometimes done exactly the same thing in respect of the financial crisis. A prolonged period of growth and the obvious failure of centrally-planned economies forced us to face some hard truths, but recent events make it clear that a lot of lefties were never really convinced of the need to re-calibrate their approach. Then - whammo - the financial crisis and similarly it can look like the whole "neo-liberal" era has been a giant con. Again attention isn't really focused on the specifics - because there have been failures the whole of the last 30 years has been repudiated. And again people start putting together bits they don't understand, or aren't really linked, because they want to blow the previous consensus away.

In both cases I think this reflects (and I speak from experience) an unwillingness to properly learn about the issues. Therefore when an opportunity comes along that both allows us to both rehearse our existing prejudice, and tell ourselves that actually we didn't need to put the effort in to learn about the issue because it was a con all along, we leap on it.