Notorious climate activist and solar energy salesman Jeremy Leggett has a new book out, The Winning of The Carbon War. You can read the first few pages at the link if you really want to, and real gluttons for punishment can download the whole thing from his website. But here’s a brief summary in case you’d rather not. It starts with glowing recommendations from the usual suspects – Lord Stern, Caroline Lucas, Bill McKibben. The introductory blurb claims that
“Humanity is in a race, a kind of civil war. On the light side the believers in a sustainable future based on clean energy fight to save us from climate change. The dark side defends the continuing use of fossil fuels, often careless of the impact it has on the world. Jeremy Leggett fought for the light side for a quarter of a century as it lost battle after battle. Then, in 2013, the tide began to turn. By 2015, it was clear the the war could be won.”
The “book” turns out to consist of a cobbled together sequence of rambling diary entries starting in 2013 and ending after the spectacular triumph of the Paris COP21 meeting in December 2015 (“On Saturday December 12th, 2015, I witnessed something that nothing else in human history comes close to, in terms of scale and stakes…”).
The first staggering thing is the sheer hypocrisy of the climate activist as he jets around the world saving the planet. In the first year of the diary he travels to Shanghai, Geneva, South Korea, Oslo, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Berlin, London, Washington, New York, Davos, and Kenya. Ironically, the title of the chapter in which he visits Korea, Oslo and Amsterdam is called “Not responsible”. He’s probably done more air miles in that year than I have in my entire life.
If you are brave enough to actually read any of Leggett’s pretentious drivel, again it’s his hypocrisy that leaps out from the very first page. Flying to China in a fossil-fueled jet, he bemoans the air pollution in China. After a shower and breakfast at his luxury Shanghai hotel and lamenting over the vast amounts of coal that are being burnt in China, he drives to a huge solar panel factory and says how wonderful it is (honestly, I’m not making this up). He doesn’t appear to stop and wonder where the power for the factory comes from.
Anyway, the points that I wanted to make were firstly that Leggett approaches the subject in such an aggressive, warmongering way: humanity is in a state of civil war between the forces of ‘light’ and ‘dark’. The same war analogy is used by other climate activists, such as Michael Mann in the title of his book and Iain Stewart for his ‘Climate wars‘ BBC programme where the title of each episode included the word ‘fight’ or ‘battle’. In Chapter 13, Leggett admits that he is criticised for this by some of his friends; his defence is that this is how it “feels” to him, and he says “the belief systems breed hate as they skirmish”. Well yes, it’s primarily his side, with their rants about ‘deniers’ (there’s plenty of that in the book), who are creating the hate.
Secondly, the title of the book and its blurb seem to imply that Leggett has fooled himself into believing that his side of the “war” is “winning”. I searched in vain for any evidence to support his self-delusion. Chapter 13 is called “Winning dirty in an endless war”, and, comically, includes evidence that his side is losing – he says that in 2005, 82% of people said they were concerned about climate change, but now only 60% do. Opinion polls here, here and here show the same picture, with public concern about climate change decreasing, and global warming appearing near the bottom of the list of people’s worries. in US politics, the WSJ reports that the Republican candidates are sounding increasingly sceptical, while here in the UK the Government is “cutting the green crap“.
Yet again the Feynman quote applies: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool”