Could Julia Gillard and Malcolm Turnbull please stop mischievously misquoting Margaret Thatcher?Both Gillard and Turnbull like to refer to the views of the former British conservative prime minister to convince us that their views are the only worthy, moral views, that man-made global warming is real and that action must be taken. Perhaps they should read Thatcher's memoirs.
The Labor Prime Minister has an army of staff to help her. And what about the Liberal MP? In fact, both know full well that Thatcher said much more about global warming than either of them reveal. Selectively quoting Thatcher does nothing to bolster Gillard or Turnbull's positions. On the contrary, the misleading way they use Thatcher's words suggests some shaky foundations of their own. Unfortunately, Gillard and Turnbull have revealed a willingness to engage in selectively quoting, the same ploy they ridicule their opponents for.
By all means, retell Thatcher's message about global warming. Not just the fact that in September 1988 the former British prime minister told the Royal Society that enormous changes to population, agricultural use and the burning of fossils fuels might have started a "massive experiment with the system of the planet".
Not just that, in November 1989, Thatcher told the UN General Assembly that global climate change affected us all and "action will only be effective if it is taken at the international level". Or that Thatcher warned of the dangers of global warming at the second World Climate Conference in 1990. All of that is true.
But there is also much more to Thatcher's views about global warming. The reticence from Gillard and Turnbull to complete the Thatcher picture suggests an intellectual dishonesty from them that, ironically and hypocritically, they claim is missing from those on the other side of the debate.
In the first volume of her memoirs, The Downing Street Years, published in 1993, Thatcher records her belief that Britain was too beholden to coal and the then power of the coalminers unions. She lamented that more money had not been spent on nuclear power to provide cheaper electricity and to ensure more secure supplies. And she made the rational observation that nuclear power was a cleaner source of power than coal as it did not produce carbon dioxide.
In her third book, Statecraft, published in 2002, Thatcher titles a chapter Hot Air and Global Warming, in which she talks about climate change as the “doomster's favourite subject” and records that she was “sceptical about the arguments about global warming” even though she said they should be taken seriously.
In other words, Thatcher's mind was open to new developments in the science. And she said that the science was "much less certain" than many politicians and global warming alarmists such as Al Gore would have us believe. She records that at that time "there was, in fact, very little scientific advice available to political leaders from experts who were doubtful of the global warming thesis".
What would Thatcher think now? You won't hear that question asked by those who selectively quote her. In fact, there are plenty of reputable scientists who reject the notion that man-made climate change is responsible for wrecking the environment.
For Gillard and Turnbull, the science is settled. Public debate is no longer required. At the inaugural Virginia Chadwick Memorial Foundation lecture last week, Turnbull rejected other views as "less reliable". By contrast, Thatcher embraced public debate.
In The Downing Street Years, she wrote that economic progress, scientific advance and public debate "which occur in free societies themselves offered the means to overcome" the threats. She wrote that since her time in Downing Street, the science had moved on. "As is always the way with scientific advance, the picture looks more rather than less complex."
Turnbull said "if Margaret Thatcher took climate change seriously, then taking action and supporting and accepting the science can hardly be the mark of incipient Bolshevism". In fact, the former British prime minister also had plenty sensible to say about socialists too.
She warned: "For the socialist, each new discovery revealed a 'problem' for which the repression of human activity by the state was the only 'solution'." She said global warming provided a "marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism". Have Gillard or Turnbull mentioned that?
Most importantly, Thatcher was willing to expose the anti-capitalism agenda of "campaigners against global warming". She wrote: "There is now, as always, nothing the liberal intelligentsia liked to believe more than 'we are guilty'. But are we?" she asked. "The facts are unclear," she concluded, citing the fact that less than 5 per cent of carbon moving through the atmosphere stemmed from human behaviour and the fact that we have seen periods of warming before, during the Dark Ages and the early medieval period.
If Gillard and Turnbull want to tell the Thatcher message, they would reveal she said: "The evidence [the world is facing a climate catastrophe] does not so far exist." They would tell us Thatcher said that "the world climate is always changing and man and nature are always, by one means or another, finding means to adapt to it".
When deriding those opposed to taking action to cut emissions, last week, Turnbull said "many [do so] because it does not suit their financial interests". Australians on an average wage aren't likely to be won over by that argument. But they may be interested to learn Thatcher refused to deride the economic concerns of countries, companies or individuals when she talked about finding solutions to environmental problems.
She unashamedly believed economic growth and industry inventiveness were crucial to the equation.Thatcher's early views about global warming were intrinsically linked to her rational pursuit of nuclear power to prevent the coalminers unions holding the nation to ransom.
And, as she acknowledges in her memoirs, when the facts about global warming became less certain, so did her own views. But you may not have heard that from Gillard or Turnbull either.
Author | Source | firstname.lastname@example.org