Environmentalists Need To Listen to The Science – Conservative Article

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Environmentalists Need To Listen to The Science – Conservative Article

All environmentalists claim to listen to the science. Yet a growing number are beginning to venture into the realms of hysteria and go far beyond what reasonable scientists are saying. This concept of an imminent apocalypse is hyperbolic at best and intentionally exaggerated at worst. This is not to say that climate change is a myth, but predictions such as ‘we are mere years away from extinction’ are wrong.
Billions dying, widespread starvation, and regular deadly natural disasters have all been promised as features of the upcoming apocalypse. But very few scientists would make such wild projections. Andrew Neil even managed to get an Extinction Rebellion (XR) spokesperson to admit this exaggeration was all a tactic in service of the movement. This was after claims about weather-related deaths and billions dying in the next 20 years had to be walked back on live television.
In light of this hysteria, the solution is stated to be ‘system change, not climate change’. Speak to environmentalists and it will become clear that a great number of them are simply communists looking to overthrow capitalism. Or at least radical democratic socialists looking for some intangible eco-utopia.
I have no idea what their system change would involve or how calls to ban meat and limit childbirth would be enforced. In truth, it is a platitude that could mean a great number of things to a great many people. However, when questioned, they demand the existing system be dismantled without a clear vision of what will be filling the void.
It is taken for granted that this vague ‘system change’ is the only solution. As a result, shutting down the press, vandalising government buildings, and preventing commuters from going to work on what were once considered eco-friendly trains is all justifiable. I think this last example exposes a lot about the extreme wings of the environmental movement.
Few solutions work for them unless capitalism takes a hit with it. Trains are far better for the environment, minimising urban sprawl and reducing air pollution (a far more immediate risk to public health than global warming). Yet even these modes of transport aren’t good enough for extinction rebellion. People need to travel and we cannot expect everyone to ride bikes or find donors willing to pay for biodegradable yachts like Greta.
This trend of rejecting solutions extends to those that could both provide zero-carbon energy and spare capitalism the ritualistic slaughter the system changers likely have in mind. The most notable example is nuclear energy. Fukushima or Chernobyl are used regularly to advocate against nuclear power yet the science simply doesn’t back up this depiction of nuclear energy.
Thousands of plants are scattered across the globe. No one seems genuinely concerned by their presence. There are even some in the UK, and two in Scotland where the SNP remains ideologically opposed to new projects. If these things are as dangerous as it has been suggested why does the issue seldom get discussed? The reason is that no one beyond those Facebook comments sections is overtly concerned is that ‘the science’ is broadly behind nuclear energy.
Over the last 60 years accidents have been on the decline as technology, legislation and policies ensure risks are low. The World Nuclear Association notes that there have been three major nuclear accidents in the history of nuclear energy. Two could have been easily avoided. Even when things go wrong they have a relatively minor impact. Even the infamous Fukushima disaster failed to kill anyone directly and caused only indirect deaths; many related to the stress of evacuation made worse by the tsunami which killed 15,897 people.
There have been attempts to link instances of lung cancer to the incident. Yet, scientists have stated there is little likelihood of such cancer occurring from such an accident. The Financial Times even questioned whether the deadly evacuation did more harm than good. Scientists had reported that the effect of the radiation on lifespans would be at most a loss of 82 days had many communities not been evacuated.
Other sources of energy also bring some of the concerns associated with nuclear. It has been reported that coal power stations actually emit more radiation into the environment than a nuclear plant generating the same energy. It has also been noted by the Council on Radiation and Protection Measurements that on average 0.005% of the radiation every American is exposed to comes from nuclear power stations/waste and that coal plants actually contribute more (The American Nuclear Society claims 100x more). Wild concerns are not rooted in any data or science but fear and misinformation.
Even nuclear waste, an accepted downside, can be processed safely. Why do barrels stored safely out of mind and out of sight by trained professionals worry environmentalists so much?
I am unwilling to believe that people willing to interrupt a remembrance service at The Cenotaph, blockade the streets of London on a cyclical basis and disrupt the press are unwilling to accept a less than perfect solution. After all, theirs involve our lives and the economy being radically transformed. For the eco-warriors, surely the drawbacks of nuclear energy are not as bad as the doomsday they warn us about? And for most normal people the toss-up between some nuclear waste and the radical upheaval of modern society is a no brainer.
Alarmists have not only taken artistic liberty with their depiction of science on the basis of a common, broad concern, but they have failed to give credence to numerous solutions that have scientific backing and spare us revolutionary system change. In these regards, alarmist eco-warriors are engaging in the same flawed logic as climate change deniers. However, in this case, there might be an ulterior motive.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Oliver Pike

Point of Information

It’s not just environmentalists; we should all listen to the science – A Labour Response

This piece did make me giggle, I initially thought it was satire. Oliver did bring up a lot of points, some good, and some (more importantly) just wrong. Let’s go through them.

1. Environmentalists don’t listen to science

Honestly, I don’t think this is a totally unfair observation. It is inevitable that when you have a widespread movement made up of multiple groups from different backgrounds, people will differ in opinion and practice. However, exactly for that reason, such a generalisation is unfounded. Climate science is the foundation for most climate activism. Without it, we’d probably be unaware of the danger that global warming poses to us.

Obviously, climate science cannot faultlessly predict the future. Rather, it can only gather evidence and research to make predictions. This is exactly what ‘the ice caps will be gone by 2014’ was. A prediction. Weirdly, I had never heard this, so I looked it up. It was actually Al Gore, a politician (aka not a scientist), who touted this in 2009. Most of the climate scientists did not back this prediction.

Despite the inherent uncertainty of climate science, nearly all climate scientists do agree that ‘billions dying, widespread starvation and regular deadly natural disasters’ are inevitable consequences of climate change. Scarily, this is not a far-off future. We are beginning to face these consequence now: extreme weather events are occurring more frequently, according to the UN; the scientific model that said climate change will cause 250,000 climate-related deaths annually was found to be too conservative a prediction. A UN report concluded that we only have 60 years of topsoil left for agriculture (although this has been heavily contested).

Ultimately, certain factors of climate change are disputed amongst climate scientists. So much depends on factors we cannot control or know. For example, many climate models do not take into account the snowballing effects triggered by certain tipping points. These include the permafrost melting, Amazon rainforest dieback, or West African and Indian monsoon shifts. Nevertheless, the one thing that all climate scientists agree upon is that climate change’s results will be catastrophic and the future apocalyptic.

2. Environmentalists (commies) actually only want system-change

Again, a fair point because most environmentalists do, in fact, want system-change, myself included. This is primarily because our current system of neoliberal capitalism prioritises profit over the environment. It is premised upon the exploitation of both people and natural resources (primarily people and resources in the Global South). So, when concerned for the planet, it makes sense to oppose the system that is responsible. Oliver even admits that he ‘has no idea what system change would involve’. My advice: research it and talk with environmentalists to understand such a position. Here to help if you ever want to chat.

As highlighted, Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a prominent group that advocates as such. XR is far from perfect, its tactics (as outlined by Oliver) have been extremely ostracising and elitist. However, I think it’s also important to note that climate scientists have to present their research neutrally. What’s more, their data is often too inaccessible and complicated for most people. XR’s role is the opposite; it aims to inspire climate action and political revolution. As noted earlier, hyperbole is a politician’s best friend and so the same tactics are used by XR.

Personally, I do not see much wrong with this due to the difficulty of comprehending climate change as a threat. Humanity evolved to be psychologically unable to prioritise a long-term, existential threat over short-term concerns (such as the economy). Consequently, election cycles of five or so years make it unlikely that voting will produce the action necessary to avoid the worst consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Environmentalists are against nuclear waste

Actually, there are just as many environmentalists who promote nuclear waste than there are those who dislike it. One of the most prominent is James Lovelock, literally the climate scientist who created Gaia theory. He argues that we do not have enough time left to experiment with other, safer resources. To him, renewable energy such as wind turbines or solar panels would not produce enough energy for us all.

Many agree with him, citing how nuclear energy is low-carbon, is not intermittent (unlike renewables), and is relatively cheap to run. However, for many, the risks outweigh the benefits. The examples of Chernobyl and Fukushima are enough to make anyone wary. When nuclear energy goes wrong, it goes seriously wrong. Ultimately, it’s a matter of opinion of whether one fears a nuclear meltdown more than the sixth mass extinction that we’re currently experiencing.

Overall, I would stress that everyone should be listening to climate science. I beg, please do your research before spreading dangerous misinformation around. Climate denial is partially why we have been so inept at combatting climate change.

Written by Senior Labour Writer, Abi Smuts

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The science does suggest we should be worried – A Liberal Response

While I share Oliver’s frustration that more needs to be done to tackle climate change, I fear the framing of the science in this article is incorrect. The “hysteria” of the environmentalists cited here might be an “artistic liberty”, but that does not change the reality that the science does give us a lot to be fearful of.

Climate science, like all science, has areas and degrees of uncertainty. What is near certain however is that the cumulative effect of CO2 and of other greenhouse gases is of paramount concern. There is a growing body of evidence which suggests a worrying time lag between emissions and the increases in temperature and shifting weather patterns.

The point is, science is telling us that while the effects of climate change are not imminent (although it is likely weather patterns have begun to be influenced by Climate Change) we are likely reaching a ‘tipping point’ in which we will have started a sequence of events which will harm the planet beyond any hope of human control. That is why there is “hysteria” amongst climate activists and academics. The fear is that we are not doing near enough to prevent this first domino from falling. Hence, why people like Extinction Rebellion are demanding radical change.

Not knowing when the climate will disastrously change is not the same as knowing it won’t happen to us, the current generation. It also ignores the already negative impacts it is having in parts of the developing world. If the arctic permafrost completely melts, which is possible in the near future, 100 years worth of methane will be emitted. This is enough to increase the prevalence of it in the atmosphere 12-fold. Methane is between 28-36 times more potent for warming compared to CO2. Such an event would most likely be the end of hope for us to prevent the worst, leaving the wealthiest and most able countries scrambling to adapt while the rest suffer. 

While the nuclear debate is an interesting one, I feel Oliver does not portray the risks associated with nuclear waste to its full extent. Its long-term storage is expensive, space-consuming, and dangerous. Whether you consider it a necessary evil or something to avoid comes down to the extent you are willing to burden future generations. It is also a cybersecurity threat. Although all electrical grids are vulnerable, you can only disconnect a wind-turbine, not create a nuclear bomb out of one. 

We need to take significant action, which is why Extinction Rebellion are being so disruptive. The actions we take today are all but locking in extinction down the line. That is not alarmist, that is what science tells us. We do not have the luxury of time. I cannot condone all that Extinction Rebellion has done. Nor can I support upending the entire economic system. But I do share in their anger that things are not being done fast enough.

Written by Junior Liberal Writer, Daniel Jones

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Oliver Pike
Guest Conservative Writer
Abi Smuts
Labour Senior Writer | Website

Hi, I’m Abi, a final year at Uni of Exeter studying International Relations and English. To me, it was only in A Levels that I realised how important politics was, when I was stuck in my male-only, extremely conservative Politics class having to constantly justify and defend my opinions to them.

Daniel Jones
Junior Liberal Writer | Website

I’m a queer loving feminist liberal, enough to make a hard-line conservative have an aneurism. I have been forced to this position having grown up witnessing and experiencing injustice first-hand. Politics sort of came to me, which it does if you are anything but a cis-white-heterosexual man. My life and the way I wanted to live it was unavoidably political, so I may as well get involved.

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