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Channel 4’s climate change debate was a sham

29 November 2019

1:24 PM

29 November 2019

1:24 PM

I’ve seen some mad political debates in my time, but none as bonkers as last night’s climate debate on Channel 4. It summed up beautifully how unhinged climate-change alarmism has become.

It wasn’t a debate at all, in fact. Everyone in the studio agreed that the end of the world is nigh, that mankind is polluting himself out of existence and that if we don’t take action right now against plastic straws and cotton buds — seriously — then our kids will inherit a barren planet.

It was less a political debate and more a self-help group for politicians in the grip of apocalyptic dread. It was a public display of chattering-class hysteria and it clarified precisely nothing about the serious political issues facing the UK.

Channel 4, being the most PC, eco-aware, arch-Remain broadcaster, set the scene with a ridiculously emotionalist short film before the discussion started.

We saw piles of rubbish in some unnamed Third World country. We saw floods. We saw bushfires in Australia and then — really tugging at the heartstrings now — an injured koala bear. The koala bear was rescued but then it died. You did this, you stupid, polluting inhabitant of an industrialised society — that’s what C4 was essentially saying to the great unwashed of the UK.

The short film provided an unwitting insight into the cultish ethos that now surrounds the eco-debate. The idea that fire and floods are some kind of punishment for humankind’s hubristic behaviour is straight out of the Old Testament. The only thing that was missing was plagues of locusts.

The non-debate swiftly descended into diktats from our eco-politicians about the sacrifices we must all make if we want to push back the apocalypse.

Nicola Sturgeon boasted about having banned cotton buds in Scotland. The Scots were also the first to ban plastic straws, she said. Such historic achievements! Jo Swinson got emotional over the fact her young kid has never seen a hedgehog (or a squirrel, I presume…). There’s a political vision you never thought you’d encounter: ‘See more hedgehogs — vote Lib Dem.’

Because Swinson can’t go more than five minutes without slagging off Brexit, she also described Brexit as a ‘climate crime’. Yep, Brexit is so evil it is now facilitating the end of planetary life as we know it, by removing the UK from climate debates in the EU.

Everyone promised to make sacrifices. Adam Price of Plaid Cymru said he would put his one-year-old in washable nappies and start riding a bike to work. Australia’s koala population can rest easy. Jeremy Corbyn says he already does his bit — he’s always turning off the heat in his home. He said he has a ‘miserable’ attitude to heaters.

‘Miserable’ summed the whole thing up. This was eco-miserabilism writ large. It was an orgy of downbeat, doom-laden, anti-progress blathering. Where were the arguments for going nuclear? For investing more in genetic modification? Nowhere.

We had a glimpse of the censorious streak in environmentalism, too. Heaven help anyone who criticises any of this eco-guff. Sian Berry of the Green party said we have to do what the science tells us to do, rather than what is ‘politically expedient’.

This strikes me as pretty anti-democratic. Science doesn’t tell us to do anything. All science can do is study and report on the natural world. It is down to politicians — and, more importantly, the people who elect them — to decide what to do in society. When Berry and others say we must obey the science, they are really treating science as a God-like force that instructs us all to live smaller, meeker lives.

Unable, unsurprisingly, to win the argument for economic restraint in the democratic sphere, the political class prefers to marshal the allegedly unquestionable power of science to make us change our ways.

It was a sad and unwittingly comical spectacle. Politicians coming together to try to outdo each other in the eco-signalling stakes. What we really need in the green discussion is an injection of reason. The world isn’t coming to an end, mankind is not a destructive force and our key priority should be liberating humanity from poverty, not weeping over a koala bear. If someone had said that, it would have been a proper debate.


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